Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Randy Sly

1/1/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

'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


By Randy Sly

Catholic Online (

1/1/2012 (3 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 ( and the Spitzer Center for Catholic Organizations ( He is also the Chief Educational Officer for the Ethics and Performance Institute (

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 ( 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'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More U.S.

Public school students banned from performing at the Christmas Festival to save school from legal case Watch

Image of


Two unnamed families filed complaints with an atheist organization regarding the public schools' student participation in a longtime tradition. While the choral festival has been there for years, authorities decided to ban a number of public schools in Portland from ... continue reading

Irving officials received threatening emails following their treatment of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed Watch

Image of Ahmed Mohamed


Following the incident of police handcuffing a 14-year-old teen for bringing a homemade clock project to school, many are still infuriated and have resorted to sending Irving officials threatening messages. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Blaze reported that ... continue reading

Authorities confident El Nino will dump lots of rain in California -- soon Watch

Image of In fact, there is an over 60 percent possibility that Southern California will have a wet winter, and an over 40 percent possibility that San Francisco will have a wet winter.


In the State of California, people look up into cloudless skies and sweat in 90 degrees weather or higher -- in October. Never fear, meteorologists say, this winter's El Nino promises to be a BIG ONE. Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA's Jet Propulsion ... continue reading

What it was like to fly Pope Francis around America: American Airlines crew speaks out Watch

Image of The Pope blessed the crew, their families, and the plane during his tour.


Pope Francis' American Airlines flight crew has opened up about the spiritual experience, claiming the papal meeting was "like seeing God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pilot George Griffin, his co-pilots and 15 cabin crew members were picked from a pool of ... continue reading

New ISIS video features a 'cub of the caliphate' directly threaten US President Barack Obama Watch

Image of A young ISIS member delivers a threat to US President Barack Obama (YouTube).


A young ISIS jihadi was featured in an ISIS video dressed in army fatigues and holding a rocket launcher as he  delivered a threat to US President Barack Obama. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A young boy who looks to be no more than 10-years-old was recorded ... continue reading

Did Clinton hide the discovery of the Khobar Towers bombers? Watch

Image of Former US President Bill Clinton (Brothersoft)


In order to reestablish diplomatic ties with Tehran, former U.S. President Bill Clinton hid the discovery of Iran's involvement of the Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 U.S. servicemen in 1996. The allegations are not new, but in a recent report, heavy evidence ... continue reading

Terrorists can easily enter the U.S. through Texas/Mexico border Watch

Image of


Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, warned the U.S. was vulnerable in terms of infiltration through the country's southern border. McCraw reported some people coming from countries flagged to have "terrorism presence."  LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

STUDY: Arabic, Urdu the fastest growing secondary languages in the United States Watch

Image of The most recent census study shows that the fastest-growing foreign languages are languages spoken by immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.


The Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey reports that between 2010 and 2014, there was a 29 percent increase in Arabic spoken in the United States. There is also a 23 percent increase in Urdu, and a nine percent jump in Persian, the language spoken in ... continue reading

California mother punched in the face by police files lawsuit Watch

Image of The police officer allegedly pulled over Cindy Hahn moments later on an alleged seat belt violation and arrested Hahn as her children watched.


The one sure thing about cell phone technology is that authority figures will not be able to slip easily from the law. A 40-year-old mother is suing the city of Carlsbad, California after being physically assaulted by police officers in July of 2013. It was all ... continue reading

Cargo ship missing after sailing into Hurricane Joaquin Watch

Image of Katie and Keith Griffin (Facebook).


El Faro, a cargo ship, was caught in Hurricane Joaquin, leaving several American crew members missing. Worried friends and family of the missing staff members continue to hope for survivors. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The US Coast Guard announced that they ... continue reading

All U.S. News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 1:16-25
16 For I see no reason to be ashamed of the gospel; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:37-41
37 He had just finished speaking when a Pharisee ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 13th, 2015 Image

St. Edward the Confessor
October 13: Edward the Confessor was the son of King Ethelred III and his ... Read More