January 25, 2023

APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity — NEW BOOK!!!

 APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity — NEW BOOK!!!

By Hendrik van der Breggen


APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity is now available for purchase at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com and elsewhere! 

In this collection of newspaper/blog columns (also titled APOLOGIA) a retired philosophy professor (a.k.a. Hendrik van der Breggen) presents important evidences and philosophical arguments related to the major truths of Christianity. The columns (chapters) are short, readable, and thoughtful—now complete with extensive explanatory notes and guides for further investigation. 

 

Endorsements

“This collection of newspaper columns by Hendrik van der Breggen is unlike most other books you will read. The sheer number of hot button issues addressed, alone, makes the book a unique resource for people in need of thoughtful, yet concise, help when faced with the multitude of cultural questions currently swirling around.

Not everyone is able to boil complex issues down to their essential elements and provide thoughtful assessment and direction all in two or three pages. Doing that requires deep understanding of the issues being addressed. Hendrik van der Breggen brings a life-time of teaching philosophy and apologetics to this task and it shows.

These columns include intriguing questions, interactive dialogues, and even humorous anecdotes as issue after issue is concisely dissected and explained. In the process, readers will encounter a fresh and well-reasoned defense of the central teachings Christians have always believed along with a number of the philosophical foundations upon which they rest.

For those wanting to raise the level of precision and care in their thinking, this book is packed full of concise definitions, often followed by fuller descriptions, of important terms and concepts such as philosophy, apologetics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, scientism, truth and the various theories of it, many logical fallacies, and others. The author has also provided assistance for those looking to dig deeper by drawing upon a large number of well-respected sources which are included under the ‘further reading’ sections. This book will be an invaluable resource for many.” 

  • Paul Chamberlain, PhD, Professor of Ethics and Leadership, Director of Institute for Christian Apologetics, Trinity Western University, author of Why People Don’t Believe: Confronting Seven Challenges to Christian Faith (Baker Books, 2011) 

 

“For anyone looking for a comprehensive, yet easy-to-read defense of the Christian faith, I highly recommend this book. Dr. Hendrik van der Breggen has helpfully compiled some of his best newspaper columns from over the years and he also added supporting references and explanatory notes. The end product is a book that is weighty in substance, sharp in argumentation, and winsome in tone. This book is a model of what Christian apologetics should look like.” 

  • Michael Zwaagstra, MEd, MA, high school teacher, city councillor, newspaper columnist, author of A Sage on the Stage: Common Sense Reflections on Teaching and Learning (John Catt Educational, 2020) 

 

“I had the pleasure of reading many of these columns in their original form: as op-ed pieces in a local newspaper. And it is a great privilege to read them again, expanded, noted, and gathered together in one place. Dr. van der Breggen is the rare scholar who strives to express complex ideas simply, and to lead readers to reflect on often unintended, and always unhappy, but logically inevitable conclusions of popular positions in religious and moral debate today. This is an accessible, broad, and lively book. It deserves a readership as large as it is!” 

  • Rev’d Tim Perry, PhD, Professor of Theology, Providence Theological Seminary, editor of The Theology of Benedict XVI: A Protestant Appreciation (Lexham Press, 2019) 

 

“Hendrik van der Breggen’s APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity provides readers with a comprehensive case for what C. S. Lewis famously termed ‘mere Christianity.’ Like Lewis, Hendrik has a gift for making philosophical arguments accessible, without sacrificing rigor. Those new to exploring the credentials of Christianity cannot do better than this book and those of us familiar with Christian apologetics will appreciate the wealth of suggestions provided for further study. This is a book that deserves a wide readership both within and outside Christian faith.” 

  • Robert A. Larmer, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Philosophy Department Chair, University of New Brunswick, author of The Legitimacy of Miracle (Lexington Books, 2014) 

 

“Ideas have consequences. What is believed matters. Thus asserts Hendrik van der Breggen in APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity. With highly relevant, poignant stories, fastidious attention to detail, and copious (yet not overwhelming) references, including immeasurably helpful ‘for further study’ sections at the end of each chapter, van der Breggen effectively engages (with enviable wisdom and transparent conviction) the most important evidences and philosophical arguments related to the major truths of Christianity. APOLOGIA: The Columns provides expert guidance for both the uninitiated and seasoned individuals alike concerning critical thinking, logical principles of discourse, and so-called ‘mere Christianity.’ Would that every author provided as sure footing as Hendrik van der Breggen does in this text!” 

  • Dustin Burlet, PhD, Instructor of Bible, Millar College of the Bible, author of Judgment and Salvation: A Rhetorical-Critical Reading of Noah's Flood in Genesis (Pickwick Publications, 2022) 

 

“This book is the distillation of decades of careful Christian thinking on a wide range of important topics, from skepticism to tolerance to ethics. Dr. van der Breggen models the passion for truth and posture of humble confidence he recommends to his readers. No question or line of argument is off-limits. Whatever their views, readers will find themselves challenged to think, and think again.” 

  • Kevin N. Flatt, PhD, Professor of History, Associate Dean of Humanities, Redeemer University, author of After Evangelicalism: The Sixties and the United Church of Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014) 


December 04, 2022

Canada’s government should help Canadians live, not help kill them

 


Canada’s government should help Canadians live, not help kill them

To offer a “choice” between suffering and death which neglects the option of actual assistance in living is evil

 

By Hendrik van der Breggen

December 4, 2022

 

“Medically assisted deaths could save millions in health care spending”—so stated the headline of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News on January 23, 2017, six months after Canada legalized Medical Assistance in Dying/ MAID (a euphemism for physicians killing patients). 

If that’s a justification of MAID (and for some it is), it’s sheer wickedness. 

First, some perspective is in order. Here is the MAID casualty list for Canada thus far: 

  • 2016 – 1,018
  • 2017 – 2,838
  • 2018 – 4,480
  • 2019 – 5,661
  • 2020 – 7,603
  • 2021 – 10,064
  • 2022 – Number is yet to be calculated, but the trend is dark.

The above numbers are from the Canadian government document “Third annual report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada 2021.”

I should note that I wonder about the accuracy of this report. I suspect the numbers may be higher. Why? Because, according to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario: “When completing the death certificate physicians: a. must list the illness, disease, or disability leading to the request for MAID as the cause of death; and b. must not make any reference to MAID or the drugs administered on the death certificate.”

This erodes trust in at least some (a lot?) of Canada’s doctors.

But trust in Canada’s federal government (lead by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) is also eroding.

Canada’s federal government supports MAID and, in recent years, has been making MAID accessible to more and more people by loosening restrictions. At first MAID was only supposed to end the suffering of the terminally ill. But now reasonably foreseeable death is no longer a requirement.

In fact, in March 2022 restrictions were broadened so people with disabilities or people struggling with pain could access MAID, even if not close to death. And in March 2023 the procedure will be available to the mentally ill. And now there is discussion about offering MAID to “mature minors.”

This brings me to my main point, which is hugely significant: Canada’s federal government supports the “choice” for medically-assisted suicide before ensuring Canadians actually have real options.

It turns out that the vast majority of Canadians don’t have access to good palliative care (palliative care is care that optimizes quality of life and mitigates suffering). Also, Canadian veterans (at least six so far) have been offered MAID to deal with their suffering instead of actually helping them (one veteran was offered MAID as an alternative to a wheel chair ramp/elevator). And there has been a case in which a disabled man successfully began the application process for MAID because he had trouble paying his bills and was afraid of becoming homeless.

This last case caught the attention of local news and, happily, a kind stranger set up a GoFundMe page for the disabled man and he subsequently changed his mind about accessing MAID (at least for now).

The GoFundMe case is heart-warming—and revealing. It sheds much-needed light onto Canada’s dark and dismal dismissal of life.

Surely it is an evil to offer a “choice” between suffering and death which neglects the option of actual assistance in living.

My suggested solution: Instead of justifying or encouraging suicide in terms of saving health care dollars, Canadians should demand their government cut frivolous spending—and redirect it to people who actually need it to live.

Think of the actual help that could be given to people if Canada’s government stopped squandering taxpayers’ dollars on things like the following: 

  • our prime minister’s C$1.6 million family trip to India (complete with personal celebrity chef)
  • our federal government’s $8.1 million temporary hockey rink in front of Ottawa’s parliament buildings (on which only relatively few skated)
  • our prime minister’s $610 million waste of calling a not-needed federal election during a pandemic
  • government officials flying across the ocean to climate conferences in fuel-guzzling jets
  • a government official staying in a $6,000 per night hotel for five nights
  • funding a boat-sized rubber duck
  • etc., etc.

And maybe Canada should say yes to some pipelines that would generate huge revenues and increase tax-dollar funding (billions?) for, say, hospitals, ICUs, palliative care, hospices, mental health services, and life-enhancing help for people with disabilities.

 

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada.

 

FOR ADDITIONAL THOUGHT 

 

October 01, 2022

Trudeau is Gaslighting Canadians about Abortion

 


Trudeau is Gaslighting Canadians about Abortion

By Hendrik van der Breggen

October 1, 2022


On September 30, 2022, Canadians observed Orange Shirt Day, also known as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: Every Child Matters. Amen to that. 

But two days before Orange Shirt Day, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promoted the view that not every child matters. How? By his statement on International Safe Abortion Day. 

The question arises: How can Canada’s PM get away with this inconsistency? It turns out that our PM is engaged in gaslighting Canadians, i.e., telling us lies (some bigger than others) so we’ll doubt truth and believe him (and his abortion ideology). 

Bear with me as I make my case. 

First, I will set out Trudeau’s statement. Second, I will assess its major claims—its “gaslights.” 

 

Prime Minister’s Statement on International Safe Abortion Day

Below is a copy of “Statement by the Prime Minister on International Safe Abortion Day” (September 28, 2022):

 

Today, on International Safe Abortion Day, we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to upholding a woman’s fundamental right to choose. No one should ever be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy, and the Government of Canada is unequivocal in that pursuit. 

Here in Canada, we have had access to safe and legal abortions for almost 35 years thanks to decades of hard-fought activism. Abortion is covered under our universal health care system. But there is still more work to be done to improve accessibility, particularly in rural and remote communities. In May, the Government of Canada announced funding to support civil society organizations, such as Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights and the National Abortion Federation Canada, to strengthen access to safe and inclusive sexual and reproductive health services, including by offering financial assistance to cover travel costs for those seeking an abortion and training for health care providers offering abortion services. 

Abortions are an essential health service which, when performed following medical guidelines, are safe. Unfortunately, nearly half of all abortions performed worldwide are unsafe and these unsafe abortions are a leading cause of maternal deaths. Tragic and preventable deaths will continue for as long as women are denied the right to make choices for their own bodies. That’s why we’re helping to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in developing countries, with funding to improve access to safe abortions, post-abortion care, and family planning. 

Today, we reflect on the progress we have made and the work that still needs to be done to ensure everyone has access to a safe abortion, including standing up to those who want to take us backwards. To those at home and around the world continuing to fight for their safety and their bodily autonomy: know that we will always stand up for your right to choose. 

 

Hendrik’s Assessment

Think along with me. I’m going to look at six of PM Trudeau’s claims and I’ll ask whether those claims are true. Please keep in mind that “true” means that what is stated to be the case corresponds to what is actually the case in reality (when language is used carefully and accurately to describe reality).

 

Gaslight 1

Trudeau says women have a “fundamental right” to choose abortion. Is this true? 

Not in Canada. Abortion is not a right, according to Canadian law. In fact, Canada has no abortion law. 

In 1988, thanks to abortionist Henry Morgentaler, Canada’s Supreme Court struck down abortion law at the time (which required a therapeutic abortion committee, and which was deemed unfair for women who couldn’t get access to such a panel) and the court asked parliament to craft a law. This law hasn’t (yet) been crafted. But also no fundamental right to abortion was granted. 

“Ultimately, the 1988 Morgentaler decision did not assume a right to abortion, did not create a right to abortion, and cannot be interpreted as implying a right to abortion.” See “Under Section 7 Abortion is Not a Charter Right.”

 

Gaslight 2

Trudeau says abortion is a choice women make “for their own bodies.” Is this true? 

Not completely. The fact is that in abortion there are two bodies: the body of the mother and the body of the pre-natal child. Abortion destroys the child’s body.

 

Gaslight 3

Trudeau says that abortions, “when performed following medical guidelines, are safe.” Are abortions safe? Nope. 

Each abortion is the targeted killing of a pre-natal human being. Abortion suffocates and/or tears apart the unborn human being. Only unsuccessful or “botched” abortions are safe for the unborn child. 

Also, there can be complications for the mother. See the documentary Hush: A Liberating Conversation about Abortion and Women's Health, directed by Punam Kumar Gill (Mighty Motion Pictures, 2016). For trailer, see here. See too Angela Lanfranchi, Ian Gentles, and Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy's book Complications: Abortion's Impact on Women (DeVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2018).

 

Gaslight 4

Trudeau says abortion is part of “sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Is this true? Nope. 

Reproduction, i.e., the creation of a child (pre-natal human being/person) conceived via sex, occurs before abortion takes place. The right to reproductive freedom is exercised before abortion takes place. 

The late Michael Bauman, Professor of Theology and Culture at Hillsdale College, observes: “When pro-choicers have unforced sex, they are choosing. That is freedom of choice. When they decide to kill the child conceived during that sexual encounter, that is freedom from choice. They chose; now they want to be free from the consequences of that choice, even if someone has to die.” 

In other words, justifying abortion via “sexual and reproductive health and rights” is a ruse.

 

Gaslight 5

Trudeau says abortions are “an essential health service.” Is this true? Nope. 

The claim that abortion (in general) is essential health care is false because most abortions are not done for medical reasons. 

The vast majority of abortions are done not for medical reasons but for other reasons. 

It turns out the hard cases—rape, incest, threat to life of the mother—to which many abortion-choice proponents point as justification for abortion account for fewer than 5 percent of all the abortion cases. 

In his 2015 book The Abortion Wars ethicist Charles Camosy reports that the number for the hard cases is 2 percent. (Camosy bases his number on research from the Guttmacher Institute, which is a pro-choice organization.) 

But there is more to be said—much more. 

It turns out that abortion is not even needed medically. 

Dr. Kendra Kolb, a neonatologist, stated this in 2019: “There is no medical reason why the life of the child must be directly and intentionally ended with an abortion procedure.” 

Yes, treatments for ectopic pregnancies occur, but they’re not abortions per se, if we use language accurately. Yes, treatments for heart disease or cancer can involve pre-term deliveries that might result in the death of a child, but they’re not abortions per se, if we use language accurately. When we accurately define “abortion” as the direct and intentional ending of a pre-natal human being’s life, abortions are not medically necessary. 

As Kolb points out, medical treatments/procedures have different purposes, which need to be made clear with language that accurately describes reality. This is important to remember, especially when we are being told by politicians and others that, in general, abortion is “an essential health service.” 

Also in 2019, Omar L. Hamada, M.D., Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, stated this: “There is absolutely no medically justifiable reason for abortion (‘the intentional and elective targeted killing of an infant at any stage of pregnancy for matters of maternal choice or convenience’) to save the life of the mother. Period. End of story.” 

Also, Dr. C. Everett Koop in 1980 (when he was Surgeon General of the US) stated this: “In my 36 years in pediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life.” (C. Everett Koop, “Deception-on-demand,” Moody Monthly, May 1980, p. 27.) 

Also, consider that Dr. R. J. Hefferman of Tufts University stated this in 1951: “Anyone who performs a therapeutic abortion (for physical disease) is either ignorant of modern methods of treating the complications of pregnancy, or is unwilling to take time to use them.” (Congress of American College of Surgeons, 1951; cited by Dr. and Mrs. Willke in Abortion: Questions and Answers [Cincinnati, Ohio: Hays Publishing Company, Inc., 1985], 120.) 

And consider this: The Dublin Declaration on Maternal Healthcare (signed by over 1,000 medical professionals) stated this in 2012: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion—the purposeful destruction of the unborn child—is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.” 

So why are there still politicians who say abortion is sometimes a necessary medical procedure? I submit that it’s because they are not using language accurately. As Dr. Kolb (mentioned above) points out, medical treatments/ procedures have different purposes, which need to be made clear. Many politicians are not making this clear. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one such politician. 

Summary: Even if abortions are needed to preserve the health of a mother, this small number (less than 5 percent) doesn’t justify the abortion practice in general; and according to many doctors (who use language accurately), abortions are not even needed medically nor to save the life of a mother. 

Again: Is abortion is “essential health care”? In the vast, vast majority of cases this is definitely false. 

For more on this topic, see “Is abortion really ‘essential health care’? Social and economic problems require social and economic solutions, not the killing of children.” And, again, see Dr. Kendra Kolb (5 minute video).

 

Gaslight 6

According to Trudeau, “Abortion is covered under our universal health care system.” This is true. But in the context of Trudeau’s statement, the suggestion or implication is that it also should remain true. 

Should it remain true? In view of the above falsehoods set out by Trudeau, the answer is no. 

Because abortion is not essential health care, Canadian taxpayers can correctly judge abortion to be a non-essential medical procedure, and thus taxpayers have reasonable grounds for thinking their tax dollars need not fund abortions. These grounds are reasonable, whether one is pro-life or pro-choice. 

Of course, many choices for abortion, though not medically necessary, are not made lightly (the Shout Your Abortion crowd notwithstanding, which sees abortion as a badge of honour). Those cases in which abortion choice is not medically necessary and not made lightly seem to be due to social and economic pressures. But if there are social and economic reasons for why mothers feel their only option is abortion, then tax dollars should be directed not to abortion as faux “essential health care” but instead to help pregnancy resource centers, mothers and families in need, foster care, and adoption agencies. 

Surely, social and economic problems require social and economic solutions, not the killing of children. 

 

Conclusion

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is gaslighting the Canadian public. Don’t let him, for the sake of the children. After all, every child matters.

 

For additional thought

 

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired Canadian philosopher and author of the book Untangling Popular Pro-Choice Arguments: Critical Thinking about Abortion.

 

June 25, 2022

About consent and pregnancy

About consent and pregnancy

By Hendrik van der Breggen

 

Here is a popular pro-choice argument on the abortion issue:

An impregnated female has the right to consent to having sex without consenting to becoming pregnant.

 

Reply: 

This argument doesn’t seem to make sense. This argument requires believing that it’s meaningful to give consent to the beginning of a causal chain of events and do so without consenting to the causal effects—the risks of which one admits and knows are real and yet goes on to risk. 

It’s like saying I have a right to consent to lighting a match in a room full of gasoline without consenting to the room catching on fire. Or I have a right to consent to smoking without consenting to getting cancer. That’s odd, surely. 

And this oddness counts against this pro-choice argument. 

The point is this: If you consent to action X and X has known consequences (or a known high risk of consequences) then basically you are consenting to accepting responsibility for those (risked) consequences. As in gambling at Las Vegas, when you decide to gamble you risk your money and are responsible for your possible losses, so too in initiating a causal chain of events you risk the outcome of the causal consequences—and are responsible for them even if you hoped they wouldn’t occur. Again: Claiming one isn’t consenting to the consequences is odd—and this oddness counts against the above argument. 

One may not want to get pregnant and one may take precautions against getting pregnant, but because no precaution is foolproof—and we know this—by engaging in sexual intercourse one takes the risk of pregnancy for which one is responsible.

If the outcome is a person with the right to life, then killing that person via abortion is not morally permissible. 


For further thought: 

Jen Westmoreland and Josh Brahm, Is Consent to Sex Consent to Pregnancy?, Equal Rights Institute, June 14, 2022 (54 minute video). 

Hendrik van der Breggen, Untangling Popular Pro-Choice Arguments: Critical Thinking About Abortion (Amazon/KDP, 2020).


Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor, formerly at Providence University College, Manitoba, Canada.