Tag Archives: Greg Koukl

Answering my Humanist Friends concerning the Problem of Evil (Plus Atheist Ricky Gervais says he embraces the Golden Rule)

Ricky Gervais: Christians Haven’t Got A Monopoly On Good

Josh Wilson – Before The Morning (Official Music Video)

One of my favorite songs  is called “Before the Morning” and it is by  the Christian singer Josh Wilson. The lyrics start out: “Why do you have to feel the things that hurt you? If there’s a God who loves you where is He now?” Over the years I have corresponded with several atheists and many times they confront me on this  very issue such as this letter did from Dr. Brian Charlesworth, Dept of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago in letter dated May 10, 1994:

Thank you for your various communications. I am afraid that I formed the view many years ago that there is no foundation for any belief in a benevolent creator of the world. For me, there is too much suffering in the world to be compatible with the existence of such a being. 

Let me make three points concerning the problem of evil and suffering. First, the problem of evil and suffering hit this world in a big way because of Adam and what happened in Genesis Chapter 3. Second, if there is no God then there is no way to distinguish good from evil and there will be no ultimate punishment for Hitler and Josef Mengele. Third. Christ came and suffered and will destroy all evil from this world eventually forever.

Recently I went to see the movie GOD’S NOT DEAD in a local theater and that prompted me to read the book of the same name by Rice Broocks. In the movie the problem of evil and suffering is discussed just like it is in the book  and would love to interact further with anyone who would like to see the film is a big hit in theaters this year. On page 5 on the book you will find these words:
Atheists claim that the universe isn’t what you would expect
if a supernatural God existed. All this death and suffering, they say,
are plain evidence that a loving, intelligent God could not be behind
it all. The truth is that God has created a world where free moral
agents are able to have real choices to do good or evil. If God had
created a world without that fundamental choice and option to do
evil, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion. God made a world
where choices are real and humanity is affected by the choices of
other humans. Drunk drivers kill innocent people. Some murder
and steal from their fellow men. Though God gave clear com-
mandments to humanity, we have for the most part ignored these
directives. The mess that results is not God’s fault. It’s ours.
We are called to follow God and love Him with all our hearts
and minds. This means we have to think and investigate. Truth
is another word for reality. When something is true it’s true
everywhere. The multiplication tables are just as true in China
as they are in America. Gravity works in Africa the way it does
in Asia. The fact that there are moral truths that are true every-
where points to a transcendent morality that we did not invent
and from which we cannot escape (C.S.Lewis, MERE CHRISTIANITY,[1952:
New York: Harper Collins, 2001], p. 35).
As Creator, God has placed not only natural laws in the earth
but also spiritual laws. For instance, lying is wrong everywhere.
So is stealing. Cruelty to children is wrong regardless of what
culture you’re in or country you’re from. When these laws are
broken, people are broken. Not only does violating these spiritual
laws separate us from God, but it causes pain in our lives and
in the lives of those around us. The big question becomes, what
can be done about our condition? When we break these spiritual
laws, whom can we call for help? How can we be reconciled to
God as well as break free from this cycle of pain and dysfunction?

Francis Schaeffer in his fine book about modern man ESCAPE FROM REASON  states,

“the True Christian position is that, in space and time and history, there was an unprogrammed man who made a choice, and actually rebelled against God…without Christianity’s answer that God made a significant man in a significant history with evil being the result of Satan’s and then man’s historic space-time revolt, there is no answer but to accept Baudelaire’s answer [‘If there is a God, He is the devil’] with tears. Once the historic Christian answer is put away, all we can do is to leap upstairs and say that against all reason God is good.”(pg. 81)

Someone I knew in 1985 grew up in Germany and was part of the Hitler Youth Program, Was he wrong in his beliefs? 

On what basis does the atheist have to say “Hitler was wrong!!!”

Early in his career Hitler was popular and many of the German people bought into his anti-semetic views. Does the atheist have an intellectual basis to condemn Hitler’s actions?

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My friend who grew up in Germany  believed until his dying day that Hitler was right. I had a basis for knowing that Hitler was wrong and here it is below.
It is my view that according the Bible all men are created by God and are valuable.  However, the atheist has no basis for coming to this same conclusion. Francis Schaeffer put it this way:
We cannot deal with people like human beings, we cannot deal with them on the high level of true humanity, unless we really know their origin—who they are. God tells man who he is. God tells us that He created man in His image. So man is some- thing wonderful.
In 1972 Schaeffer wrote the book “He is There and He is Not Silent.” Here is the statement that sums up that book:

One of philosophy’s biggest problems is that anything exists at all and has the form that it does. Another is that man exists as a personal being and makes true choices and has moral responsibility. The Bible gives sufficient answers to these problems. In fact, the only sufficient answer is that the infinite-personal triune God is there and He is not silent. He has spoken to man in the Bible.

In the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS the basic question Woody Allen is presenting to his own agnostic humanistic worldview is: If you really believe there is no God there to punish you in an afterlife, then why not murder if you can get away with it?   The secular humanist worldview that modern man has adopted does not work in the real world that God has created. God “has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is a direct result of our God-given conscience. The apostle Paul said it best in Romans 1:19, “For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God  has shown it to them” (Amplified Version).

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” The Humanist, May/June 1997, pp.38-39). Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism.

Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (The Humanist, September/October 1997, p. 2.). Humanists don’t really have an intellectual basis for saying that Hitler was wrong, but their God-given conscience tells them that they are wrong on this issue.

Here is fine film by Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop that makes the case for human dignity.

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

Also here is the link for  another fine article on this same issue by Chuck Colson.

Crimes? What Crimes?

The Grand ‘Sez Who’

Let us take a close look at how you are going to come up with morality as an atheist. When you think about it there is no way around the final conclusion that it is just your opinion against mine concerning morality. There is no final answers. However, if God does exist and he has imparted final answers to us then everything changes.

Take a look at a portion of this paper by Greg Koukl. In this article he points out that atheists don’t even have a basis for saying that Hitler was wrong:

What doesn’t make sense is to look at the existence of evil and question the existence of God. The reason is that atheism turns out being a self-defeating philosophic solution to this problem of evil. Think of what evil is for a minute when we make this kind of objection. Evil is a value judgment that must be measured against a morally perfect standard in order to be meaningful. In other words, something is evil in that it departs from a perfect standard of good. C.S. Lewis made the point, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call something crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”] He also goes on to point out that a portrait is a good or a bad likeness depending on how it compares with the “perfect” original. So to talk about evil, which is a departure from good, actually presumes something that exists that is absolutely good. If there is no God there’s no perfect standard, no absolute right or wrong, and therefore no departure from that standard. So if there is no God, there can’t be any evil, only personal likes and dislikes–what I prefer morally and what I don’t prefer morally.

This is the big problem with moral relativism as a moral point of view when talking about the problem of evil. If morality is ultimately a matter of personal taste–that’s what most people hold nowadays–then it’s just your opinion what’s good or bad, but it might not be my opinion. Everybody has their own view of morality and if it’s just a matter of personal taste–like preferring steak over broccoli or Brussels sprouts–the objection against the existence of God based on evil actually vanishes because the objection depends on the fact that some things are intrinsically evil–that evil isn’t just a matter of my personal taste, my personal definition. But that evil has absolute existence and the problem for most people today is that there is no thing that is absolutely wrong. Premarital sex? If it’s right for you. Abortion? It’s an individual choice. Killing? It depends on the circumstances. Stealing? Not if it’s from a corporation.

The fact is that most people are drowning in a sea of moral relativism. If everything is allowed then nothing is disallowed. Then nothing is wrong. Then nothing is ultimately evil. What I’m saying is that if moral relativism is true, which it seems like most people seem to believe–even those that object against evil in the world, then the talk of objective evil as a philosophical problem is nonsense. To put it another way, if there is no God, then morals are all relative. And if moral relativism is true, then something like true moral evil can’t exist because evil becomes a relative thing.

An excellent illustration of this point comes from the movie The Quarrel . In this movie, a rabbi and a Jewish secularist meet again after the Second World War after they had been separated. They had gotten into a quarrel as young men, separated on bad terms, and then had their village and their family and everything destroyed through the Second World War, both thinking the other was dead. They meet serendipitously in Toronto, Canada in a park and renew their friendship and renew their old quarrel.divider

Rabbi Hersch says to the secularist Jew Chiam, “If a person does not have the Almighty to turn to, if there’s nothing in the universe that’s higher than human beings, then what’s morality? Well, it’s a matter of opinion. I like milk; you like meat. Hitler likes to kill people; I like to save them. Who’s to say which is better? Do you begin to see the horror of this? If there is no Master of the universe then who’s to say that Hitler did anything wrong? If there is no God then the people that murdered your wife and kids did nothing wrong.”

That is a very, very compelling point coming from the rabbi. In other words, to argue against the existence of God based on the existence of evil forces us into saying something like this: Evil exists, therefore there is no God. If there is no God then good and evil are relative and not absolute, so true evil doesn’t exist, contradicting the first point. Simply put, there cannot be a world in which it makes any sense to say that evil is real and at the same time say that God doesn’t exist. If there is no God then nothing is ultimately bad, deplorable, tragic or worthy of blame. The converse, by the way, is also true. This is the other hard part about this, it cuts both ways. Nothing is ultimately good, honorable, noble or worthy of praise. Everything is ultimately lost in a twilight zone of moral nothingness. To paraphrase the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the person who argues against the existence of God based on the existence of evil in the world has both feet firmly planted in mid-air.

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Ricky Gervais in a You Tube clip from the show Piers Morgan Tonight on  1-20-2011 said that he embraced the golden rule because it made sense to him to be good to others so they would be good to you. However, how would that work if there is no ultimate lawmaker that also is our final judge? Rabbi Hersch’s argument to the secularist Jew Chiam seems to point out that without God in the picture it really does come to : “If a person does not have the Almighty to turn to, if there’s nothing in the universe that’s higher than human beings, then what’s morality? Well, it’s a matter of opinion. I like milk; you like meat. Hitler likes to kill people; I like to save them. Who’s to say which is better?”

Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer pictured above.

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Many crime victims feel forsaken by God. So do many divorced people, war prisoners, and starving refugees. But this young man’s cry of desperation carried added significance because of its historical allusion.
The words had appeared about a thousand years earlier in a song written by a king. The details of the song are remarkably similar to the suffering the young man endured. It said, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads …. They have pierced my hands and my feet…. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”{2}
Historians record precisely this behavior during the young man’s execution.{3} It was as if a divine drama were unfolding as the man slipped into death.
Researchers have uncovered more than 300 predictions or prophesies literally fulfilled in the life and death of this unique individual. Many of these statements written hundreds of years before his birth-were beyond his human control. One correctly foretold the place of his birth. {4} Another said he would be born of a virgin. {5} He would be preceded by a messenger who would prepare the way for his work, {6} He would enter the capital city as a king but riding on a donkeys back {7} He would be betrayed for thirty pieces of Silver, {8} pierced, {9} executed among thieves, {10} and yet, though wounded, {11} he would suffer no broken bones.{12}
Peter Stoner, a California mathematics professor, calculated the chance probability of just eight of these 300 prophecies coming true in one person. Using conservative estimates, Stoner concluded that the probability is 1 in 10 to the 17th power that those eight could be fulfilled by a fluke.
He says 1017silver dollars would cover the state of Texas two feet deep. Mark one coin with red fingernail polish. Stir the whole batch thoroughly. What chance would a blindfolded person have of picking the marked coin on the first try? One in 1017, the same chance that just eight of the 300 prophecies “just happened” to come true in this man, Jesus. {13}
In his dying cry from the cross Jesus reminded His hearers that His life and death precisely fulfilled God’s previously stated plan. According to the biblical perspective, at the moment of death Jesus experienced the equivalent of eternal separation from God in our place so that we might be forgiven and find new life.
He took the penalty due for all the crime, injustice, evil, sin, and shortcomings of the world-including yours and mine.
Though sinless Himself, He likely felt guilty and abandoned. Then-again in fulfillment of prophecy{14} and contrary to natural law-He came back to life. As somewhat of a skeptic I investigated the evidence for Christ’s resurrection and found it to be one of the best-attested facts in history. {15} To the seeker Jesus Christ offers true inner peace, forgiveness, purpose, and strength for contented living.

SO WHAT?

“OK, great,” you might say, “but what hope does this give the crime or divorce victim, the hungry and bleeding refugee, the citizen paralyzed by a world gone bad?” Will Jesus prevent every crime, reconcile every troubled marriage, restore every refugee, stop every war? No. God has given us free will. Suffering–even unjust suffering–is a necessary consequence of sin.
Sometimes God does intervene to change circumstances. (I’m glad my assailant became nervous and left.) Other times God gives those who believe in Him strength to endure and confidence that He will see them through. In the process, believers mature.
Most significantly we can hope in what He has told us about the future. Seeing how God has fulfilled prophecies in the past gives us confidence to believe those not yet fulfilled. Jesus promises eternal life to all who trust Him for it: “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”{16}
He promised He would return to rescue people from this dying planet.{17}
He will judge all evil.{18}
Finally justice will prevail. Those who have chosen to place their faith in Him will know true joy: “He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain.”{19}
Does God intend that we ignore temporal evil and mentally float off into unrealistic ethereal bliss? Nor at all. God is in the business of working through people to turn hearts to Him, resolve conflicts, make peace. After my assailant went to prison, I felt motivated to tell him that I forgave him because of Christ. He apologized, saying he, too, has now come to believe in Jesus.
But through every trial, every injustice you suffer, you can know that God is your friend and that one day He will set things right. You can know that He is still on the throne of the universe and that He cares for you. You can know this because His Son was born (Christmas is, of course, a celebration of His birth), lived, died, and came back to life in fulfillment of prophecy. Because of Jesus, if you personally receive His free gift of forgiveness, you can have hope!
Will you trust Him?
Notes
1. Matthew 27:46.
2. Psalm 22.
3. Matthew 27:35-44; John 20:25.
4. Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1.
5. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18, 24-25; Luke 1:26-35.
6. Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-2.
7. Zechariah 9:9; John 12:15; Matthew 21: 1-9.
8. Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15.
9. Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34, 37.
10. Isaiah 53:12.
11. Matthew 27:38; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 13:6; Matthew 27:26.
12. Psalm 34:20; John 19:33, 36.
13. Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, pp. 99-112.
14. Psalm 6:10; Acts 2:31-32.
15. Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, pp. 185-273.
16. John 5:24.
17. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
18. Revelation 20:10-15.
19. Revelation 21:4 NAS.
©1994 Rusty Wright. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission from Pursuit magazine (© 1994, Vol. III, No. 3)

About the Author
Rusty Wright, former associate speaker and writer with Probe Ministries, is an international lecturer, award-winning author, and journalist who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. http://www.rustywright.com/

The Bible and Archaeology (1/5)

The Bible and Archaeology (2/5)

God Is A Luxury I Can’t Afford – From Crimes And Misdemeanors

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 1 HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? “The Roman Age” (Feature on artist Tracey Emin)

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

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I want to make two points today. First, Greg Koukl has rightly noted that the nudity of a ten year old girl in the art of Robert Mapplethorpe is not defensible, and it demonstrates where our culture is  morally. It the same place morally where  Rome was 2000 years ago as Francis Schaeffer has demonstrated in his excellent film HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? (Schaeffer cites some of the art work from Pompeii.) Second, I am going to comment on some of the art of Tracey Emin who has reminded me how the moral standards put forth in art in the last 2000 years have fallen so far. I give Tracey credit for at least putting God in the discussion. One of her biggest shows was entitled “I need art like I need God,” (Solo Exhibition,  Moo Gallery, Helsinki, London Gallery, London, Istanbul Biennial, Pera Palace Hotel, Turkey in 1997).

Here is what Tracey Emin had to say in her interview with Matthew Collings in his 1999 film series THIS IS MODERN ART (Episode 2):

A lot of my art ideas come out of an anxiety of feeling, lonely, morose, nostalgic, sad…I would give up the art instantly now to remove those feelings from myself. (Matt Collings then comments, “You don’t look very tormented.”) I am really…tormented, I am really upset. I am really brokenhearted…angst ridden.

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Tracey went for a long time before she hit it big financially but now  she  still has  a longing in her heart to find peace.  Solomon had all the resources in the world and he found himself searching for meaning in life and trying to come up with answers concerning the afterlife. (Tracey says she also fears getting old).  However, it seems every door he tried to open was locked. Solomon found no lasting satisfaction in riches (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11), pleasure (2:1), education (2:3) and his work (2:4). None of those were able to “fill the God-sized vacuum in his heart” (quote from famous mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal). Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of the rock band Kansas found that satisfaction by putting their faith in Christ. Earlier they had written and performed the hit song “Dust in the Wind” which describes the vain attempt to find meaning in life apart from God.

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Kerry Livgren/Dave Hope: 700 Club Interview (Kansas) Part 1

Kerry Livgren/Dave Hope: 700 Club Interview (Kansas) Part2

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Art Nation Interview – Tracy Emin Part 2

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On Collaboration Ep4 “Tracey Emin x Harland Miller” by Johnnie Shand Kydd

Tracey Emin talking to BBC Culture about her life.

Tracey Emin’s BIOGRAPHY

Tracey EminBorn in 1963, London
Lives and works in London

Hermann Vaske’s interview with Tracey Emin

Uploaded on Nov 12, 2007

In 1999 I was invited to Tracey’s place. My friends Tina and Stefan from the Maxwell Restaurant in Berlin made the contact. Tracey ate Lychees, and I rolled the cameras.

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Tracey Emin EXHIBITED AT THE SAATCHI GALLERY

My Bed
Tracey Emin
My Bed1998Mattress, linens, pillows, objects79 x 211 x 234 cm
A consummate storyteller, Tracey Emin engages the viewer with her candid exploration of universal emotions. Well-known for her confessional art, Tracey Emin reveals intimate details from her life to engage the viewer with her expressions of universal emotions. Her ability to integrate her work and personal life enables Emin to establish an intimacy with the viewer.Tracey shows us her own bed, in all its embarrassing glory. Empty booze bottles, fag butts, stained sheets, worn panties: the bloody aftermath of a nervous breakdown. By presenting her bed as art, Tracey Emin shares her most personal space, revealing she’s as insecure and imperfect as the rest of the world.

Tracey Emin on the loose

Published on Jul 10, 2013

Not everyone understands, likes or respects Tracey Emin’s work. But in this short montage of interview clips from BBC Culture, produced on her 50th birthday, you can really see the passion that she has for her work and the focus in which she has pursued it at all costs.

I love her she smiles and is so confident when she talks of the sacrifices she has made for her work, but views it as a wonderful gift that she has something that she is so passionate about. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could be so connected to and grateful for their work?

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Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000 years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” , episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted,Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not a philosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplified intellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pill because Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art and culture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about them because they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not that of a cautious academic who labors for exhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts and they have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our western society was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? There is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.” 

Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE.

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

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Francis and Edith Schaeffer

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below

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episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation,” ,

episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age,” Calvin: 1509-1564
Samuel Rutherford: 1600-1661 Rutherford’s Lex Rex: 1644, John Locke: 1631-1704, John Wesley: 1703-1791, Voltaire: 1694-1778,Letters on the English Nation: 1733 George Whitefield: 1714-1770 John Witherspoon: 1723-1794 John Newton: 1725-1807,John Howard: 1726-1790 Jefferson: 1743-1826,Robespierre: 1758-1794 Wilberforce: 1759-1833,Clarkson: 1760-1846,Napoleon: 1769-1821,Elizabeth Fry: 1780-1845,Declaration of Rights of Man: 1789,National Constituent Assembly: 1789-1791,Second French Revolution and Revolutionary Calendar: 1792 The Reign of Terror: 1792-1794,Lord Shaftesbury: 1801-1855,English slave trade ended: 1807,Slavery ended in Great Britain and Empire: 1833
Karl Marx: 1818-1883,Lenin: 1870-1924,Trotsky: 1879-1940,Stalin: 1879-1953,February and October Russian Revolutions: 1917,Berlin Wall: 1961,Czechoslovakian repression: 1968

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Francis Schaeffer with his son Franky pictured below. Francis and Edith (who passed away in 2013) opened L’ Abri in 1955 in Switzerland.

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 1 “The Roman Age”

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part1)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 2)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 3)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 4)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 5)

10 Worldview and Truth

Published on Jun 11, 2013

An excerpt from Francis Schaeffer…his recommendation to the people of the future.

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer takes a look at Rome and why it fell. It fell because of inward problems. We have many of these same problems today in the USA.

The late Francis Schaeffer wrote of the significance of one’s world view, which, in the final analysis, represents one’s doctrinal perspective about God and life:

As the Empire ground down, the decadent Romans were given to a thirst for violence and a gratification of the senses. This is especially evident in their rampant sexuality. For example, in’ Pompeii, a century or so after the Republic had become a thing of the past, the phallus cult was strong. Statues and paintings of exaggerated sexuality adorned the houses of the more affluent. Not all the art in Pompeii was like this, but the sexual representations were unabashedly blatant.

Perhaps no one has presented more vividly to our generation the inner weakness of imperial Rome than has Fellini (1920-) in his film Satyricon. He reminds us that the classical world is not to be romanticized, but that it was both cruel and decadent as it came to the logical conclusion of its world view.


 

E P I S O D E 1

ROMAN AGE

I. Introduction

A. Problem: dilemma of social breakdown and violence leading to authoritarianism which limits freedom.

B. We are, however, not helpless. Why?

C. Answer approached through consideration of the past.

D. Any starting point in history would be good; we start with Rome because it is direct ancestor of modern West.

II. Rome: The Empire Triumphant

A. Size and military strength of Empire.

B. Imperial sway evoked by Aventicum (Avenches), Switzerland.

III. Rome: Cultural Analysis

A. Greece and Rome: cultural influences and parallels.

1. Society as the absolute, to give meaning to life.

2. Finite gods as ground of accepted values.

B. Problems arising from Roman culture.

1. No infinite reference point as base for values and society.

2. Collapse of civic ideals therefore inevitable.

C. Results of collapse of ideals.

1. Dictatorship of Julius Caesar a response to civil disorder.

2. Firmly established authoritarian rule of Augustus.

D. Characteristics of regime introduced by Augustus.

1. Claim to give peace and the fruits of civilization.

2. Care to maintain facade of republican constitution.

3. People ready to accept absolute power in return for peace and prosperity.

4. Religious sanction for emperor-dictators: the emperor as God.

E. Christian persecution

1. Religious toleration in the Empire.

2. Christians persecuted because they would worship only the infinite-personal God and not Caesar also. They had an absolute whereby to judge the Roman state and its actions.

F. Viability of presuppositions facing social and political tension.

1. Christians had infinite reference point in God and His revelation in the Old Testament, the revelation through Christ, and the growing New Testament.

2. Christians could confront Roman culture and be untouched by its inner weakness, including its relativism and syncretism.

3. Roman hump-backed bridge, like Roman culture, could only stand if not subjected to overwhelming pressures.

IV. Rome: Eventual Decline and Fall

A. Growth of taste for cruelty.

B. Decadence seen in rampant sexuality and lust for violence.

C. General apathy, as seen in decline in artistic creativity.

D. Economic decline, more expensive government, and tighter centralization.

E. Successful barbarian invasions because of internal rot.

V. Conclusion

There is no foundation strong enough for society or the individual life within the realm of finiteness and beginning from Man alone as autonomous.

Questions

1. Dr. Schaeffer claims that, through looking at history, we can see how presuppositions determine events. Does his discussion bear this out and, if so, how?

2. How can a survey of Roman history in one-half hour be either useful or responsible? Discuss.

3. “History does not repeat itself.” —The parallels between the history of Rome and the twentieth century West are many and obvious.” How may these statements be reconciled?

Key Events and Persons

Julius Caesar: 100-44 B.C.

Augustus Caesar (Octavian): 63 B.C.-A.D. 14

Declared Pontifex Maximus: 12 B.C.

Diocletian: (Emperor) A.D. 284-305

Further Study

Here, as in succeeding suggestions for further study, it will be assumed that if you want to devote a great deal of time to a topic you can consult a library or a good bookstore. Suggestions given below are made on the basis of relevance to the text, readability, and availability.

Not all the books will necessarily agree at all—or in all details—with Dr. Schaeffer’s presentation. But as in the general conduct of life, so in matters of the mind, one must learn to discriminate. If you avoid reading things with which you disagree, you will be naive about what most of the world thinks. On the other hand, if you read everything—but without a critical mind—you will end up accepting by default all that the world (and especially your own moment of history) thinks.

J.P.V.D. Balsdon, Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome (1969).

E.M. Blaiklock, The Christian in Pagean Society (1956).

Samuel Dill, Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire (1962).

E.M.B. Green, Evangelism in the Early Church (1970).

Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans: A Selection (1972).

Virgil, The Aeneid (1965).

Film: Fellini, Satyricon (1969).

The Death of Truth

 Greg Koukl

  • Photo of: Greg Koukl Greg Koukl is the founder and President of Stand to Reason (www.str.org). He has written a number of books, including ‘Tactics’ and ‘Relativism’, and hosts a radio talk show. View all resources by Greg Koukl

Allan Bloom, author of the landmark critique of American education The Closing of the American Mind, starts his analysis this way: ‘There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2 + 2 = 4.’ [1]

What Professor Bloom observes is not a trend but a revolution. Like most revolutions, it did not start with a rifle shot or a cannon but with an idea that was whispered in many different environments and diverse situations. This revolution started in academia and eventually engulfed the common person. Its growth has been so subtle and thorough that it is now a core belief-not just of the college elite, but also of the rank and file, white collar and blue collar alike.

What Is Truth?

Since the sixties we have been in the throes of this quiet but desperate revolution of thought – the death of truth. We don’t mean ‘truth’ in the sense of something being my personal opinion. Rather we refer to the death of what the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer called ‘true truth,’ the extinction of the idea that any particular thing can be known for sure.

Today we’ve lost the confidence that statements of fact can ever be anything more than just opinions; we no longer know that anything is certain beyond our subjective preferences. The word truth now means ‘true for me’ and nothing more. We have entered an era of dogmatic scepticism.

Ideas that are whispered are seldom analyzed well, for they simply don’t draw enough attention. By means of repetition and passive acceptance over time, they take on the force of common wisdom, a ‘truth’ that everyone knows but no one has stopped to examine, a kind of intellectual urban legend.

Once ideas like these take root, they are difficult to dislodge. Attempts to do so result in Bloom’s ‘uncomprehending’ stares. [2] The ideas become so much a part of our emerging intellectual constitution that we are increasingly incapable of critical self-reflection. Even if we did, we have little conviction that such analysis would do any good anyway. As Kelly Monroe remarked in her book Finding God at Harvard, ‘Students feel safer as doubters than as believers, and as perpetual seekers rather than eventual finders.’ [3]

When truth dies, all of its subspecies, such as ethics, perish with it. If truth can’t be known, then the concept of moral truth becomes incoherent. Ethics become relative, right and wrong matters of individual opinion. This may seem a moral liberty, but it ultimately rings hollow. ‘The freedom of our day,’ lamented a graduate in a Harvard commencement address, ‘is the freedom to devote ourselves to any values we please, on the mere condition that we do not believe them to be true.’ [4]

The death of truth in our society has created a moral decay in which ‘every debate ends with the barroom question “says who?” ‘ [5] When we abandon the idea that one set of laws applies to every human being, all that remains is subjective, personal opinion.

Pleasure as Ethics

When morality is reduced to personal tastes, people exchange the moral question, What is good? for the pleasure question, What feels good? They assert their desires and then attempt to rationalize their choices with moral language. In this case, the tail wags the dog. Instead of morality constraining pleasures (‘I want to do that, but I really shouldn’t’), the pleasures define morality (‘I want to do that, and I’m going to find a way to rationalize it’). This effort at ethical decision making is really nothing more than thinly veiled self-interest-pleasure as ethics.

When self-interest rules, it has a profound impact on behaviour, especially affecting how we treat other human beings. The notions of human respect and dignity depend on the existence of moral truth. Without it, there is no obligation of self-sacrifice on behalf of others. Instead, we can discard people when they become trouble-some or expensive, or simply when they cramp our lifestyles.

What follows is a true story about a newborn child we’ll call Baby Garcia. This event took place in a major hospital in the Los Angeles area. I pass on the exact details as Jennifer, the nurse involved, related them to me:

One night a nurse on my shift came up to me and said, ‘Jennifer, you need to see the Garcia baby’ There was something suspicious about the way she said it, though. I see babies born every hour, I thought.
She led me to a utility room the nurses used for their breaks. Women were smoking and drinking coffee, their feet up on the stainless steel counter. There, lying on the metal, was the naked body of a newborn baby.
‘What is this baby doing here on this counter?’ I asked timidly. ‘That’s a preemie born at nineteen weeks,’ she said. ‘We don’t do anything to save them unless they’re twenty weeks.’
I noticed that his chest was fluttering rapidly. I picked him up for a closer look. ‘This baby is still alive!’ I exclaimed. I thought they hadn’t noticed.
Then I learned the horrible truth. The nurses knew, and it didn’t matter. They had presented the baby to its mother as a dead, premature child. Then they took him away and tossed him on the cold, steel counter in the lunch room until he died. His skin was blotchy white, and his mouth was gaping open as he tried to breathe.
I did the one thing I could think of. I held him in his last moments so he’d at least have some warmth and love when he died.
Just then one of the nurses-a large, harsh woman-burst into the room. ‘Jennifer, what are you doing with that baby?’ she yelled. ‘He’s still alive…’
‘He’s still alive because you’re holding him,’ she said. Grabbing him by the back with one hand, she snatched him from me, opened one of the stainless steel cabinets, and pulled out a specimen container with formaldehyde in it. She tossed the baby in and snapped the lid on. It was over in an instant.
To them, this child wasn’t human. In seven more days he would have qualified, but at nineteen weeks he was just trash. [6]

If there is no truth, nothing has transcendent value, including human beings. The death of morality reduces people to the status of mere creatures. When persons are viewed as things, they begin to be treated as things.

Anything Goes

The death of morality also produces an ‘anything goes’ mentality. Sexual norms not only become more liberal, they expand without boundaries because no boundaries exist. Ann Landers recorded the following letter from one of her ‘morally liberated’ readers:

Dear Ann:
I am a man in my early 60s, divorced and retired. My sister is in her late 50s and widowed. We go to bed together twice a week. This has been going on since her husband died 8 years ago. Actually, when we were teenagers, we fooled around a lot, but never had intercourse. This is not a love match, but it is sex, and good sex at that.
We both enjoy these escapades, and they always produce a good night’s sleep. No one knows about this, and no one is getting hurt, or do you think we are fooling ourselves?
-No NAME, NO CITY, PLEASE

Dear No Name:
Sick, sick, sick. If I had your address I would send you a ‘get well’ card. [7]

Even more sobering is how America responded when art went on trial in a Cincinnati courthouse. At issue was an exhibit in the Contemporary Art Center of the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, a talented photographer who had distinguished himself with, among other things, still-life photography of flowers. The photographs on display included the following: a picture of a ten-year-old girl sitting in a chair with her knees up and genitals exposed; a photograph of a man who was naked except for cowboy boots, bent over with a bull-whip in his anus; and a shot of one man expelling a stream of urine into the mouth of another.

The museum was charged with exhibiting pornography. During the trial, a curator of another museum who testified on behalf of the Mapplethorpe exhibit was asked if the urination picture was art. ‘Yes,’ she said.

‘Is it fine art?’
‘Yes.’
‘Why?’
‘Because of the composition and the lighting.’

Each photograph was acquitted of the charge of pornography and judged as fine art, after which social commentator and radio talkshow host Dennis Prager observed, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, if some of the leading artists in a civilization see a man urinating in another man’s mouth and see composition and lighting and do not see their civilization being pissed upon, we are in trouble.’ [8]

Ours is a generation that has institutionalized moral relativism. We’ve cut our eye-teeth on the philosophy that life’s most sublime goal is to be happy and that virtually any means justifies this self-serving end. No longer will we allow a hint of moral censure on sexual practices that were regarded as perverse only a generation before. We consider bullwhips in the butt and urination in the face fine art, abortion a constitutional right, infanticide a reasonable alternative to caring for a child with a troublesome birth defect, lesbian and homosexual families normal, and drug use a national pastime.’It is possible,’ Prager observes, ‘that some societies have declined as rapidly as has America since the 1960s, but I am not aware of any.’ [12]

Traitors in Our Midst

This is not a ‘morality’ we simply tolerate; we champion it. We take pride in our tolerance, yet tolerate no one who doesn’t share our moral open-mindedness. ‘Who are you to pass judgment?’ we ask. ‘Where do you get off condemning a nurse for what she does with a foetus that was dying anyway? Or for criticizing the sexual preferences of siblings? Or for challenging another’s view of art?’

This stinking stew of ethical nothingness is the sad legacy of the sixties. Yet when our own moral philosophy turns us into victims when our personal liberty is interrupted by random acts of anarchy – suddenly something like moral consciousness tries to lift its head.

Take the Los Angeles riots of 1992, for example. As the buildings burned we watched with horror. Shops were plundered not by hooded looters but by families made up of mom, dad, and the kids – moral mutants on the shopping spree of their lives, giggling and laughing with impunity while stuffing their spoils into shopping carts and oversized trash bags.

We shouldn’t have been surprised. During the L.A. riots these families did exactly what they had been taught. Nobody wanted to ‘impose’ their morality on anyone else, so they learned that values are relative and that morality is a matter of personal preference. Make your own rules, define your own reality, seek your own truth. In the spring of ’92, thousands of people did just what we told them to do, and civilization burned.

If we reject truth, why should we be surprised at the moral turbulence that follows? As C. S. Lewis said, ‘We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.’ [13]

This is the chaotic and confusing world of moral relativism, a world made more confusing because moral relativism isn’t even moral. It doesn’t qualify as a genuine moral view, as we will learn in the next chapter

Notes

1. Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 25.
2. When Chuck Colson gave an address at Harvard titled ‘Why It’s Impossible to Teach Ethics at Harvard Business School,’ this was precisely the response he received. As mentioned in a radio interview with James Dobson, Focus On the Family. The tape aired by Focus on the Family is Chuck Colson, ‘The Problem of Ethics: Why Good People Do Bad Things,’ an address to the Harvard Business School; copyright 1991, Prison Fellowship, PO. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041.
3. Kelly Monroe, ed., Finding God at Harvard (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 15. 4. Ibid., 17.
5. Recorded in The Presbyterian Layman, July-August 1996, 8.
6. As told to Gregory Koukl by Jennifer Personius, November 1988.
7. Los Angeles Times, 22 August 1992, E4.
8. Dennis Prager, ‘Multiculturalism and the War Against Western Values’ (audiotape), 7 October 1991, available through Ultimate Issues, 800-225-8584.
9. Stephanie Saul, New York Newsday, 20 July 1995, A17.
10. Ingrid Newkirk, national director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), quoted in ‘To Market, To Market,’ L.A. Times Magazine, 22 March 1992.
11. New York Times, 26 March 1992 and 29 March 1992; Time, 6 April 1992; referenced in World News Digest, 13 April 1992.
12. Dennis Prager, ‘Just Another Two Days in the Decline of America,’ The Prager Perspective, 1 January 1997, 1.
13. C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (New York: Collier Macmillan, 1955), 35.

This is a sample chapter from the book Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air by Greg Koukl and Francis J. Beckwith available in the UK from STL through Wesley Owen bookshops.

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Liberals at Ark Times can not stand up to Scott Klusendorf’s pro-life arguments (Part 1) Prochoice blogger stated, “You people will kill and murder doctors and anyone who is pro choice…”

Anti Abortion Pro-Life Training Video by Scott Klusendorf Part 1 of 4

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 1) ABORTION OF THE HUMAN RACE

Published on Oct 6, 2012 by

This crucial series is narrated by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer and former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. Today, choices are being made that undermine human rights at their most basic level. Practices once considered unthinkable are now acceptable – abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. The destruction of human life, young and old, is being sanctioned on an ever-increasing scale by the medical profession, by the courts, by parents and by silent Christians. The five episodes in this series examine the sanctity of life as a social, moral and spiritual issue which the Christian must not ignore. The conclusion presents the Christian alternative as the only real solution to man’s problems.

I have gone back and forth with Ark Times liberal bloggers on the issue of abortion, but I am going to try something new. I am going to respond with logical and rational reasons the pro-life view is true. All of this material is from a paper by Scott Klusendorf called FIVE BAD WAYS TO ARGUE ABOUT ABORTION .

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Here is a common prochoice argument I have heard from Ark Times liberal bloggers. Take a look at “Spunkrat”:

I am so sick and tired of your ridiculous ability to fit two completely different ideas into a head the size and consistency of, a baking pumpkin!

You people will kill and murder doctors and anyone who is pro choice to protect, in YOUR words, the “unborn (and by this word unhuman)” from being “murdered,” while your ilk arm as many in this country as you can, so they can “protect” themselves by murdering anyone who gets in their way, AND once they do, you’ll try and strap them to a gurney and execute/murder them, IF you can! The reasoning ability you people have is at best–at BEST, mentally stooped and decrepit.

Find an Ozark cliff and jump. Just jump! But before you do, set fire to your housetrailer so we can clean up the neighborhood!

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Here is my response:
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 Scott Klusendorf responded to this kind of thinking by stating:

On July 11, 2000, a knife-wielding man attacked Vancouver (BC) abortionist Garson Romalis in a downtown clinic.  Abortion advocacy groups seized on his brush with death to score cheap political points against their opponents, notably Canadian Alliance Party leader Stockwell Day, who opposes abortion.22

Day was quick to condemn the attack against Romalis as “outrageous and untenable,” but that did not satisfy local abortion advocates.  Marilyn Wilson, president of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, said Day had “indirectly sanctioned” the violence against Romalis with his extremist rhetoric.

Why was Mr. Day responsible for the attack?  It’s really quite simple: He disagrees with Ms. Wilson on abortion and has said publicly that elective abortion is the unjust killing of an innocent human being.  “Day is going to try and deny that he would support any violence,” she said in a press release, “but his rhetoric does incite other people who share his beliefs against abortion to violence.”  She then called Day a “fanatic” for “the amount of anti-choice, extremist rhetoric that’s out there.”

Bear in mind that to Ms. Wilson, “fanatic” and “extremist” mean anyone who deviates in the slightest from her own position, which is that abortion should be legal for any reason whatsoever during all nine months of pregnancy.  If you say that elective abortion takes the life of a defenseless child, as Day believes it does, your irresponsible rhetoric will cost an abortionist his life.

Ms. Wilson is using scaremongering tactics to poison the public debate over abortion.  Her statements are intellectually dishonest for at least four reasons.  First, let’s assume that pro-life rhetoric does in fact lead to acts of violence against abortionists (though there is no good reason to suppose that this is so).  Would this in anyway refute the pro-life argument that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of an innocent human being?  Keep in mind that pro-life advocates do not merely state their case; they buttress it with scientific and philosophic reasoning.  If Ms. Wilson thinks we are wrong about the humanity of the unborn and the inhumanity of abortion, she should patiently explain why our arguments are mistaken and why fetuses should be disqualified from membership in the human community.  But instead of refuting the pro-life view, she attempts to silence it with personal attacks.

Second, it is blatantly unfair of Ms. Wilson to demonize pro-life advocates for espousing their sincerely held beliefs.  Let’s assume that I’m an animal rights activist opposed to the sale of fur.  If a deranged environmentalist firebombs a local clothing store, am I responsible?  More to the point, is Ms. Wilson responsible if, upon reading her press release, a pro-abortion activist shoots Stockwell Day for the purpose of saving the community from such an awful extremist?  (In a press release one day prior to the stabbing, Wilson accused Mr. Day of favoring “state-sanctioned violence against women by forcing them to bear children they may not want.”23)  If she is serious that merely disagreeing with her on abortion is itself an incitement to violence, then let’s not fool around: Ms. Wilson should lead the charge to ban all pro-life speech.  (Actually, she would like that, but lacks the courage to say so publicly.)

Third, it does not follow that because a lone extremist stabs an abortionist, the pro-life cause itself is unjust.  Dr. Martin Luther King, for example, used strong language to condemn the evil of racism during the 1960s.  In response to his peaceful but confrontational tactics, racists unjustly blamed him for the violent unrest that sometimes followed his public demonstrations.  Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago argued that if Dr. King would stop exposing racial injustice, black people would be less likely to riot.24  The Mayor’s remarks, like those of Ms. Wilson, were an outrage.  Are we to believe that a handful of rioters made Dr. King’s crusade for civil rights entirely unjust?

In his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, King rebuts this dishonest attempt to change the subject:

In your statement you asserted that our actions, though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence….[I]t is immoral to urge an individual to withdraw his efforts to gain…basic constitutional rights because the quest precipitates violence….Non-violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such a creative tension that a community…is forced to confront the issue.  It seeks to dramatize the issue so it can be no longer ignored.

Footnotes:

22  The facts from this story, as well as some of the analysis, come from Andrew Coyne, “Opinions are not Crimes,” The National Post, July 14, 2000.

23  Canadian Abortion Rights Action League press release, July 10, 2000.

24  Gregg Cunningham, Why Abortion is Genocide, available from www.abortionno.org

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