The best of Fred Hutchison
Intellectual decadence of pro-abortion ideology
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
September 13, 2012

Originally published January 23, 2005

A coherent philosophy or ideology must be true to the world view upon which it is based. When a philosophy or ideology borrows from two contradictory world views in order to sustain its position, it is intellectually decadent. Such is the sorry case of pro-abortion ideologues. Their sole allegiance is to the defense of abortion. They are opportunistic in seeking arguments to support their case and use arguments which are mutually contradictory. When irresponsible arguments are used, it is a signal that the motives for pushing an agenda trump any interest in reason and logic. The motivation behind building an irrational case to support abortion seems self-evident. The driving force behind the pro-abortion movement is a fantasy of unlimited sex without consequences or responsibilities. Abortion gets rid of the "consequences."

Hedonism (lust for pleasure) is like avarice (lust for money). Both the hedonist and the greedy seek selfish gratification and both are indifferent to truth. Both will tell lies and manipulate arguments to satisfy a lust. Do not trust the lustful man or the greedy man to tell you the truth. (Clinton: "I did not practice sex with that woman.") ("Trust me: you have won a prize. All we need is a modest claim processing fee.") Do not expect the members of a clique to prefer truth over loyalty to the clique. (Rather: "I see no ideological bias.")

Dualism and materialism

Patrick Lee and Robert George wrote about the self contradiction of pro-abortion arguments in Dualistic Delusions, published in the February, 2005 edition of First Things. They describe how the pro-abortion ideologues jump back and forth between dualism and materialism when it suits them. In order to appreciate this nonsense for what it is, one must understand why dualism is incompatible with materialism.

Materialism is the belief that nothing exists but matter and that we are entirely material creatures. According to this view, the seeming independence of the mind and the will are illusions. These are "epiphenomena" of the functions of the material brain. Marx said, "As the liver excretes bile, the brain excretes thought." But if this be true, how can reason, will, consciousness and a moral sense have any existence at all, even as a dream or an illusion? How can our experience of our lives so radically contradict the materialist theory of our lives? What ulterior motives could cause so many to subscribe to such an irrational and counter-intuitive theory as materialism? Be patient. We are getting to that.

Dualism is worlds away from materialism. There are several kinds of dualism: a mind/matter dualism, a spirit/matter dualism, a soul/body dualism, a self/body dualism and no doubt, other kinds as well. Descarte's dualism of mind and matter (the "Cartesian" philosophy) is a good example. He thought the realm of mind is superior to and independent of the realm of matter. He saw the body as a material machine, an inferior entity which exists to serve the decrees of the mind. The strength of his philosophy is that it explains the existence of consciousness and the will and provides insights about the activities of the mind. The dualistic mind is a good objective observer and analyst of the world and Descartes himself is a good example of this. The weakness of Cartesian dualism are revealed in these questions and points: a) If mind is separate from body, how does the mind receive messages from the body and how does the mind tell the body what to do and decree that its will be done? b) How does one particular mind come into being and get associated with one particular body? c) The low functional view of the body of dualism can lead to indifference to the body or destructive treatment of the body. Asceticism goes with dualism. Descartes was indifferent to his body and all he wanted to do is think and be undisturbed. d) Dualism can lead to egotism and an elitism of the mind or the soul. e) The high aspirations of the detached mind can lead to despair because the lowly body and the earth-bound world of men cannot go to the exalted pastures where the mind leads. f) Dualism cannot be directly proven by science. Later in this essay I shall present the solution of Lee & Georges to the dilemmas of materialism and dualism along with my own solution. Stay tuned.

It is crystal clear that materialism is radically contradictory to dualism and anyone who opportunistically leaps back and forth between the two is intellectually decadent. According to Lee & George, when anti-abortion Christians claim that the baby in the womb has a soul, the pro-abortionists respond along these lines: "The Christian is asserting dualism when he claims the baby has a soul and dualism cannot be proven by science. We are materialists and materialism is proven by science." Boys and girls, neither dualism nor materialism can be directly proven by empirical science. Science is designed to address material evidence. It cannot directly address the existence or non-existence of a non-material realm. It is foolish to say, "We cannot find the soul in the laboratory data, therefore, the soul must not exist." Laboratory experiment is not designed to find the soul, so this statement is logically absurd.

One necessary qualification must be made here. Specially designed tests of negative evidence can be set up to indirectly infer the probability of a non-material realm. "Did a miracle occur, or can a naturalistic explanation be found?" "Can he read minds or is it a trick?" "Is the house haunted, or was it the wind that made those scary noises?" "Is a species created, or can an apparent design of seemingly irreducible complexity be adequately explained by evolution?" Negative evidence can be gathered to provide probable answers to such questions but probability is not proof.. For example, if no naturalistic cause can be found to explain a prodigy, a miracle is not proven but the probability of a miracle is significantly increased. A friend who was a former assistant of Dr. J. B. Rhine, once the nations leading parapsychologist, told me that a carefully controlled experiment in ESP involving negative evidence is perfectly scientific. However, with such tests the result will always be probabilities and not proofs leaving wiggle room for skepticism, credulity or faith.

Bait and switch

Lee & George claimed that pro-abortion ideologues switch from materialism to dualism at will. The trendy dualism among contemporary pro-abortionists is a self-body dualism with the self defined by consciousness. When the consciousness comes into existence, then the self appears, or so they claim. They assert (without evidence) that the babe in the womb has no consciousness, therefore the babe is not a person — it is a biological sub-human creature. It is mere matter. Matter is there to serve the desires and needs of the self. Therefore, the fetus can be disposed of if the self decrees it. (Notice the characteristically low view of the body which attends all dualisms.) However, the pro-abortion ideologue does not stick with dualism. When the chance for a sexual encounter presents itself, the pro-abortionist instantly abandons the inconvenient dualism. "We are scientific materialists. The body is the only thing that exists. The sex urge is programmed into the body. It must be indulged."

Notice the journey of the insincere pro-abortionist. 1) A diehard materialist response to the Christian who claims that the babe in the womb has a soul. 2) An instant conversion to dualism when it is time to abort the baby. 3) A materialist once again when the next round of irresponsible sex is at hand. The bait a switch tactics of the pro-abortion ideologue resemble those of a con-man.

The insincerity has no limits. "I demand to have control of my own body." It can be easily proven that the babe in the womb is not part of the mother's body. The baby has his own genetic code, his own body chemistry and his own will, as any mother who has a kicking baby in side of her can tell you. But such talk ceases on the way to the abortion clinic. "Let's remove this growth of tissue in my stomach. It is my body and my life," she lies.

Finally, the idea that the consciousness equals the self is surely the flimsiest form of dualism that has ever devised. I first became aware of the difference between my inner self and my outer identity at age thirteen. Should I have been killed when I was twelve if my presence was inconvenient? I first remember being aware of the fact that I am aware of myself — aware that I am aware that I exist — at age eight. Already a philosopher! Was I a non-person or a non-being when I was seven? I can remember being aware of myself in a simple direct way at age six. Was I a nothing at five? I can remember being aware of a snowman at age 3 and aware of chasing one-eyed cat under a house at age 2. Was I a post-embrionic blob of matter when I was one? Who is to say that I did not have a simple kind of consciousness in the womb which I cannot remember? At what point in this development of consciousness did I qualify to be a person and have the right to live? Or is my personhood one thing and my awareness of my personhood something else? Do I stop being a person the moment I shift my awareness away from myself? I cannot believe that the most extreme solipsist really believes this stuff. But in the clique of abortion ideologues the idea that consciousness equals self passes without question. Ah, the nutty things people are willing to believe if they think it will lead to sex without guilt and without responsibility!

A third way

Lee & George propose a third way which does not have the dilemmas of either materialism or dualism. They use a modified version of Aristotle's philosophy. Man is an integrated unity of body and soul. This is not materialism because it includes the existence of a soul. It is not dualism, because the soul is not separated from the body. All the difficulties of materialism and dualism disappear.

However three problems remain: a) The Aristotelian dilemma is that the inner "essence" overwhelms the outer "accidents." If the soul is the inner essence, the quality of soul will overwhelm the quality of body. The body will be reduced to the incidental qualities as the superficial container of the soul. The contempt for the body will be even worse than that of the dualist who is at least neutral and objective about the body. In contrast, if the body is the essence and soul is accidental, then the quality of being embodied will overwhelm the soul which will be reduced to an incidental mascot of the body. Even extreme hedonists don't usually go this far. Aristotelianism which seeks a sensible golden mean can generate monstrosities when inappropriately applied to theology or psychology. b) There is no detached observer in the Aristotelean way. Descartes provided a detached observing mind and hence an explanation of consciousness. That disappears in the integration of soul and spirit. c) There is no higher ground to stand on to provide a moral sense or a spirituality if the integrated unity of body and soul is the whole of man. The two elements are melted into each other and the soul cannot escape to higher ground.

A better way

I propose a better way which is free from all the problems of materialism, dualism and Aristotelianism. Watchman Nee developed a bible based psychology in which man has a three part nature: body, soul, and spirit. I propose that the soul is an integrated hybrid of body and spirit yet has unique qualities which are different from bodily qualities and different from spiritual qualities. The person subsists in the spirit but personality and identity is expressed through the soul. The mind subsists in the soul with connections to the physical brain and connections to the spirit. Brain activities are interwoven with spiritual activities in a hybrid entity we call the mind. The incorporeal human spirit provides a higher moral sense. It also serves as a detached observer of the mind, personality and the body. That is why we have self- consciousness. The spirit observer can observe others. That is why we have consciousness of social relationships and need not be self-absorbed. The body is not downgraded because it is linked to the whole human being but is not submerged in the whole. The body is joined but not overwhelmed. It still has its own nature. The spirit is the source of spirituality and a higher moral sense. The spirit as a detached observer can fairly evaluate the body and the soul without playing favorites. That is why the spiritual man has wisdom, versatility, and inner harmony. Wisdom because of the objective appraisal of each aspect of life. Versatility because each faculty can be valued and deployed as orchestrated by the spirit. Inner harmony, because the functions of the soul and body have a wise overseer so that all departments of life cooperate with one another and are not in conflict with one another. The spirit can detach itself for perspective but is not cut off from the body as Descartes' dualistic mind is cut off from the body. The soul is partly spirit so it can interact with the spirit. The soul is partly matter, so it can interact with the body. Through the intermediation of the soul, the spirit is indirectly connected with the body even though spirit and matter have different natures. My system has all the advantages of the Cartesian and Aristotelian systems and none of the disadvantages.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison


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