Love and Being
by JUSTIN D. BARNARD
Director of the Institute for Intellectual Discipleship
August 14, 2013 -
Commenting on recent state laws that tighten restrictions on abortion, Dr. Barbara Levy, vice president for health policy for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is quoted as saying: “These states that are passing these laws are being driven by politics. They’re being driven by ideals, but not by science and evidence.”
Philosophically, the rhetorical divide between “ideals” and “science and evidence” is at least as old as David Hume. In fact, it is so commonplace that it has a name: the fact/value dichotomy. It is a convenient rhetorical trope for those who wish to pit the calm, reasonable deliverances of paternalistic science against the insanity of the village idiots clinging to their guns, religion, politics, ideals, moral values, etc. But convenience is cheap. Truth costs. And in this case, the distinction is a phony.
Effective evangelical engagement in the public square depends crucially upon the insistence that the fact/value dichotomy is, at rock bottom, an illusion. Christian belief provides the grounds for this insistence. The fundamental Fact of reality is the existence of a tri-personal God who is Love. Thus, the fact of God’s existence is inseparable from the goodness of his being. The fact of being is laden with the value of love all the way down.
This means that “ideals” or value-laden thinking is inescapable – even if “values” are rhetorically separable from “science and evidence.” So, no one should be scandalized by the fact that laws are driven by ideals. Science and evidence are too.
To deny this is to hate God. For the impulse to deny that reality comes pre-laden with God’s loving intentions is to wish reality to be otherwise than it is. The urge to cleave the ontological unity of goodness and being is the rebellious volition that seeks space to know (i.e., become the measure of) good and evil. For the creation of such fictitious space is the only hope of rationalizing what the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve otherwise know to be acts of disobedience. Those who deny the unity of love and being, ultimately hate the beings whose being is Love's fruit.