Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Randy Sly

1/1/2012 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

'Ten Universal Principles' Focuses on Reason in the Battle for the Unborn

America has stopped reasoning and principled thinking. That is my conviction after reading "Ten Universal Principles" by Fr. Robert Spitzer. Fancy word crafting, personal attacks and other techniques can't hide the shallowness of the culture of death - particularly with regard to life.

Fr. Robert Spitzer

Fr. Robert Spitzer

Highlights

By Randy Sly

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/1/2012 (4 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Ten Universal Principles, Pro-life, Abortion, Philosophy, Culture of Death, Fr. Robert Spitzer,


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - "Ten Universal Principles" is a small book with a huge wallop! This is a must-read for serious Catholics, especially those involved in the pro-life movement.

The 10 Universal Principles he outlines form the bedrock of natural law, reminding humanity of our inalienable rights and moderating essential behavior in society - how we approach life, how we treat others, how we should expect to be treated and how we should frame the laws that govern us.

Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D. wrote this book to strengthen the reason side of the Catholic argument for life, but the implications of his work extend much further. As a philosopher, educator, author and former President of Gonzaga University, Father Spitzer has dedicated his life to helping people attain an approach to life built upon faith and reason.

I recently talked with Fr. Spitzer about his book and what he sees for the future of the pro-life movement, particularly here in America. His most recent work provides new ammunition to the pro-life movement in the war of words where the battle for life is currently being waged.

"Ten Universal Principles," which was written in a very easy-to-read manner, was published for two main reasons. "We have to use a vocabulary," he states, "that will be accepted in secular society. Our opposition is in a dogmatic slump. Their principles are not the great principles of civilization. Once you throw out justice or other principles then anything is possible."

For this reason he begins with the basic philosophical principles that everyone can agree upon - the 10 universal principles of civilization. This provides a common ground for discussion.

Secondly, he sees that the current generation of young people is truly scared of being accused of naivety or stupidity. People have pretty made up their mind that there is no rational justification for our Catholic position and this mindset needs to be challenged.

"Our young kids are not accustomed to doing this kind of rational discourse; we have to give them ammunition that is sophisticated. We have to help them formulate some arguments; we have to take the high road back from secular culture. When our kids start presenting these extremely nuanced and sophisticated arguments, that's going to give them a ton of ammo, particularly in college."

Spitzer begins with a detailed presentation on the three principles of reason.
1.    The Principle of Complete Explanation, which states that the best theory is the one that explains the most data.
2.    The Principle of Noncontradiction, that valid theories cannot contradict themselves.
3.    The Principle of Objective Evidence, which says that non-arbitrary theories are based on publicly verifiable evidence.

"You can't assume anymore that people have a notion of objective truth," Fr. Spitzer explains. "And, furthermore, you can't assume anymore that people are willing to say that one opinion is better than another opinion. So you have to start at the very basic level of non-contradiction, complete explanation and objective evidence."

"You can't assume anymore that people have a notion of objective goodness, that some things are good and some things are evil."

He also outlines the Principles of Ethics, Principles of Justice and Nature Rights, followed by the Fundamental Principle of Identity and Culture.

For example, Principle 4 is the Principle of Nonmaleficence, which states that we are to avoid all unnecessary harm and, if harm is unavoidable, it should be minimized.

Spitzer says, "If you can't agree with that principle, truly you are sociopathic. Everyone in the philosophical world agrees that's ethical minimalism. It's the whole idea of when in doubt you can't cause unnecessary harm to somebody if you're in doubt. As the Supreme Court admitted, 'Gee, we're confused when personhood begins,' as if it were a biological state.

"It's like hunting with your buddy. He goes in one direction and you go in another. You hear rustling in the bushes and you say, 'Well, gosh, it could be my friend or it could be the dear. I may as well shoot. You know, maybe I should have taken enough time to find out if it was my buddy.' When in doubt, don't shoot!

When it comes to the issues of life and personhood, the burden of proof has been shifted 180 degrees. "Now you have to prove that you are a person to be defended rather than the burden of proof being: prove that he or she is not a person."

This shift is dangerous when dealing with the values of intrinsic human rights. From the moment of conception these right should have been in place "when they are a full human being with a full human genome," as Fr. Spitzer describes it, "as a unique human being and nothing other than a human being like a chimp.

"We know scientifically that's this is what exists at the single cell zygote stage. If that's the case, it ought to be up to you to prove that being is not a person and not to say it's up to the appellant to prove that human being is a person."

Rich with historical citations and practical applications, the author weaves together a comprehensive defense of life and our other inalienable rights supported by the very principles that every society is built upon. These rights are assumed not assigned. They are the intrinsic rights of the human person prior to the introduction of any government's involvement.

"You have to ask yourself 'why did our founding fathers leave them out of the Constitution if they believed they needed to be extrinsically defined?' They are inalienable, that's why Jefferson and Franklin chose to use the word 'self-evident' in the Declaration."

The book, which is a short read, significantly underscores the reality that our country has ceased principled thinking - and the most glaring contemporary error of this cessation can be seen in the passage and strong support for Roe vs Wade.

Father Spitzer sees two converging issues that brought about this ruling. The first has to do with the rampant hedonistic culture.

"People did enjoy a sexual liberty or license with birth control pill, part of the mentality that I can do what I want to gratify my libido" he explains. "It became a right and 'no one can take this away from me.'"

The second was an aspect of the women's movement, where a woman's autonomy became more important than the life of the child. It became an "absolutization" of license over life.

"When there is another human life in the picture, its no longer just protecting autonomy in the bedroom, you are sanctioning the killing of a human being under your control."

These two movements merged beautifully to form a huge propaganda machine.

I asked Fr. Spitzer what he would want to say to the Supreme Court Justices, if he had their undivided attention for a few minutes.

"First, I would go to Principle 4 (Ed - Nonmeleficence, see above), 6 (Ed - The end does not justify the means), and 7 (Ed - Inalienable rights) and try to give them a sense: you have such vast powers. You can make the principle of non-maleficence come alive or you can just shut it down in the culture because of the vast power you have.

"And you can make the whole notion of personhood and the respect for all persons - the universality of personhood - either come alive and shut it down because of the vast powers that you have.

"Finally, you can make justice and natural rights. you can make it come alive or you can shut it down because of the vast powers that you have.

"Just remember this: first and foremost, all laws are based on justice and all justice is based on the universality of personhood and the principle of non-maleficence.

"And if people do not remember that; if they want to say that somehow that laws don't have to be beholding to justice and natural rights; and justice and natural rights are not grounded in not doing unnecessary harm and the universality of personhood; if that's the case, then, I think, we will have laws detached from justice and natural rights; we will have a tyranny of the majority.

"The second thing I would tell them is - Look, what becomes legal becomes normal. If you give legal sanction to something, people start doing it, it becomes quite normal. And what becomes normal becomes moral.

"So its not just that you just have some kind of legal authority, you wind up having a kind of moral authority in our culture. What are doing? What are you saying? How are you giving a kind of description to morality - to a collective morality - with decisions that violate all of these principles of civilization? What are you saying, what are you justifying for the whole culture?

"You have vast powers and you should take responsibility for everything that you have done including the negative because, at the end of the day, you will see your legacy and all the destruction which you have wrought through this terrible process of succumbing to a social agenda of the majority instead of trying to uphold the principles you were sworn to defend."

While much of the book focuses on the 10 Universal Principles for Civilization as they relate to pro-life, Fr. Spitzer also emphasizes the need for all of us to live lives based on these principles. By doing so we are taking our lives to a higher, more principled level of existence.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Fr. Spitzer has published five books. He is currently the President of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith (www.magisreasonfaith.org) and the Spitzer Center for Catholic Organizations (www.spitzercenter.org). He is also the Chief Educational Officer for the Ethics and Performance Institute (www.learnepi.com).

The Magis Center produces documentaries, books, high school curricula, college courses, adult-education curricula, and new media materials to show the close connection between faith and reason in contemporary astrophysics, philosophy, and historical study of the New Testament. The Spitzer Center produces facilitated curricula to strengthen culture, faith, and spirit in Catholic organizations for the new evangelization. EPI (Ethics and Performance Institute) produces web-based education to corporations on personal efficacy, organizational culture, leadership, and ethics.

Published by Ingatius Press, "Ten Universal Principles" is definitely THE book to read at the beginning of 2012. It will not only strengthen you argument for life but also arm you will information that will strip the spin and façade off a lot of the political rhetoric you are going to receive this year.

-----
 
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More U.S.

'It was an escape:' father of Scientology founder tells all Watch

Image of Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige, opens up (20/20)

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Ron and Becky Miscavige escaped the California Scientology compound known as the "Gold Base" and have stepped forward to share their story. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientology is a quiet religion shrouded in secrets - many of which are believed to be ... continue reading


No Phony Truces in the Battle to Block Most Anti-Life, Liberal Court in a Generation

Image of The United States Supreme Court

By J. Kenneth Blackwell

While much of our attention is on the Presidential race, the looming battle over a Supreme Court nomination merits no less attention.  The battle lines are clear in this nomination and the future of the Court and our Constitutional principles are at ... continue reading


Fr Frank Pavone - Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis' Encouraging Roadmap for Families Watch

Image of Fr Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

By Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Amoris Laetitia is a timely and loving exhortation for families towards genuine charity that begins within the nuclear family. It can be described as a new road-map for a culture that has taken a sad and tragic detour. The Joy of Love recognizes women's ... continue reading


Catherine of Siena: We Need Saints for this Missionary Age Watch

Image of Today, in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, we commemorate one of the greatest women saints of Christian history, Catherine of Siena.  While praying at Peter's tomb, she experienced the great weight of the Church fall on her shoulders.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Father, raise up women like Catherine of Siena for this new missionary age of your Church. Women who are so in love with you, and so conformed to the Image of your Son, they can do for your Church in this hour, what she did in her own. Saints are a gift for the ... continue reading


Christian student shockingly dropped from master's program for practicing religious rights Watch

Image of Andrew Cash was discriminated against for practicing his religious rights (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Andrew Cash practiced his religious rights at Missouri State University - and was dismissed from the master's program in counseling as a result. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Catholic News Agency, Cash was referring same-sex couples to another ... continue reading


Not a newsflash, U.S. government authorized use of propaganda on American people...in 2013. Here's who to blame Watch

Image of Obama signed the amendment into law in 2013.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Does the news seem a little too pro-American to you? Does it seem reporters pull punches and that the real issues are ignored? Perhaps that's the result of a quiet change to the law that took place in 2013. A law banning the use of government propaganda on the American ... continue reading


The cost of incarceration: What can we do? Watch

Image of What can we do about overpopulated prisons and ex-cons' ability to find work (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)?

By Matt Hadro (CNA)

Experts from across the political spectrum are calling for criminal justice reform, as a new White House report shows the human and economic costs of the current justice system. Washington D.C. (CNA) - "This is a singular moment in one of the most challenging issues ... continue reading


Sickening portrayal of Jesus pinned to a dartboard presented as art in university library Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

An appalling portrayal of Jesus plastered to a dartboard was posted up as artwork inside the Art Library at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The "art piece," titled "Vitruvian Man," shows Jesus nailed to the dartboard ... continue reading


Which bathroom should you use? And why is this a question? Watch

Image of Figuring out which restroom to use isn't supposed to be a dilemma.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The American people are seemingly obsessed with public restrooms these days and precisely how people use the potty. The fear is being stoked by concerns that individuals who "self-identify" as the opposite sex, will take advantage of liberal policies and assault ... continue reading


Prayer Is the Path to Real Freedom Watch

Image of Prayer is the lifeline of a Christian

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Jesus said to his disciples: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. CHESAPEAKE, VA. ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
1 Then some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, 'Unless ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
2 Then the earth will acknowledge your ways, and all nations your power ... Read More

Gospel, John 14:23-29
23 Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
10 In the spirit, he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 1st, 2016 Image

St. Marculf
May 1: Marculf is also known as Marcoul. He was born at ... Read More