The Gospel Coalition

Last month I spoke to the Heretics Club at Colgate University. Given the prevailing secular orthodoxy at most universities, I wasn't sure if the term "heretic" applied to the speaker or his listeners!

To my great joy, the turnout was above normal---thanks to excellent promotional work by the two chaplains who sponsor the club. I began with a statement of goodwill: "I'm not here to change your mind on the spot, but to simply lay out my reasons for thinking the pro-life view is true and reasonable to believe. I will argue my case using science and philosophy, as well as discuss the two strongest objections to my view---David Boonin's 'desire' argument and Judith Jarvis Thomson's 'violinist' argument. Then, I hope to hear from you. It will be your turn to ask anything you want, and I'll do my best to give your concerns a fair hearing."

By all accounts, the event was a smashing success. Three secular students told a faculty adviser they were rethinking their views as a result of the talk. A dozen students stayed long after the formal question-and-answer session to pepper me with additional questions.

Of course, not everyone was convinced on the spot. During the extended question and answer, a polite female student replied (paraphrase), "I'm against abortion and will never have one. If one of my friends gets pregnant and wants an abortion, I will do everything I can to talk her out of it. But I don't want the government involved in taking away a woman's choice. I guess that's why I'm against abortion and am pro-choice."

The student was hardly alone. She was echoing the sentiments of millions of Americans who personally dislike abortion but do not identify as pro-life. Their beliefs are perfectly summed up in this popular bumper sticker: "Don't like abortion? Don't have one."

Confusing Moral Claims with Preference Claims


Notice the bumper sticker completely transforms the nature of the abortion debate with a single word---"like."

When pro-life advocates claim that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being, they aren't saying they dislike abortion. They are saying it's objectively wrong, regardless of how one feels about it. Notice what's going on here. The pro-life advocate makes a moral claim that he believes is objectively true---namely, that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. The abortion-choice advocate responds by changing that objective truth claim into a subjective one about likes and dislikes, as if the pro-lifer were talking about a mere preference. But this misses the point entirely. As Francis J. Beckwith points out, pro-life advocates don't oppose abortion because they find it distasteful; they oppose it because it violates rational moral principles.

Imagine if I said, "Don't like slavery? Then don't own a slave." Or, "Don't like spousal abuse? Then don't beat your wife!" If I said such things, you would immediately realize I don't grasp why slavery and spousal abuse are wrong. They are not wrong because I personally dislike them. They are wrong because slaves and spouses are intrinsically valuable human beings who have a natural right not to be treated as property. Whether I personally like slavery or spousal abuse is completely beside the point. If I liked spousal abuse, you would rightly say I was sick! You wouldn't resign yourself to, "I guess abuse is right for you but not for me."

And yet this is precisely what the pro-choicer does. He reduces abortion to a mere preference and then declares, "Hands off! Keep the government out of the abortion business!"

What Do You Mean By 'Keep Government Out'?


Ironically, the pro-choicer fails to recognize two key facts that completely undermine his appeal for government neutrality. First, the federal government is already deeply involved in abortion. In fact, one branch of the government, the federal courts, has completely co-opted the abortion issue---leaving the executive and legislative branches with no say. As law professor Hadley Arkes stated in his testimony before Congress, the courts have exclusive authority to first invent, then broadly apply, the abortion license---leaving the people with no voice on the matter through their elected officials. The American people may talk about abortion all they want, but they have no real say on the matter. Federal judges speak for them.

Second, government neutrality is impossible on abortion. The law either recognizes the unborn as valuable human beings and thus protects them, or it doesn't and permits killing them. By agreeing that human fetuses are fitting subjects for abortion, the federal courts are taking a public policy position that the unborn don't deserve the same protections owed toddlers or other human beings. This is hardly a neutral position; it's an extremely controversial one with deep metaphysical underpinnings. Thus, when people tell me the federal government should stay out of the abortion decision, I take my cue from Arkes and ask, "Including the federal courts?"

The Fix: Ask Why


Here's how I engaged the student at Colgate University. When she said she was personally against abortion but wanted to keep it legal, I asked a very simple question I learned from Greg Koukl: "Why are you against abortion?" When she replied, "Because it's killing, and I personally think it's wrong to do that," I asked: "What does abortion kill?" She was hesitant, but honest: "Um, I guess a human being?"

She's right. If abortion doesn't unjustly kill an innocent human being, why oppose it at all? Then, very gently, I pressed the point home. "Let me see if I understand you correctly---and if I don't, please feel free to clarify. You're personally against abortion because you think it wrongly kills a human being, but you want it to be legal to kill that human being?"

I appreciated her candid reply. "I don't know. I'm still trying to figure that out."

Notice two things I did. First, when she essentially said women have a right to choose, I asked her to complete her own sentence: Choose what? Never proceed without spelling out exactly what will be chosen! Second, once she clarified the choice in question, I asked why she thought that particular choice was wrong. That one question transformed the debate from a discussion about likes and dislikes to one about what's right and what's wrong.

Until that transformation takes place, don't be surprised if your friends are "pro-choice."


Comments:

Keith

November 9, 2012 at 03:50 PM

Obviously, that's not what she meant: people who use portable oxygen tanks or inhalers are breathing on their own. In one case they're breathing a different mix of gases, in the other they're taking a drug.

A better response would have been a negative pressure ventilator (iron lung), a machine used to treat polio victims that were unable to breathe on their own, but were obviously "alive".

Of course I agree with Cristy, she's making a point I've been hammering at on this thread for awhile.

Society has consensus that there is a point in end-of-life care where there's no reason to attempt to keep people "alive", because whatever it is that makes you a person is gone.

Society also has consensus that there is a point before a fetus is "alive", and permits abortion on demand before that time.

The fundamental problem for the pro-life side of the argument is that only religious dogma can justify giving a pair of cells voting rights. Only those subscribing to that dogma are going to agree, it's not convincing to anyone else.

steve hays

November 9, 2012 at 03:08 PM

I see. So as a "Christian nurse," you don't think old folks who use portable oxygen tanks are even alive. Likewise, you don't think asthmatics who use inhalers are even alive.

Nice to see the depth of your Christian understanding. Remind me to avoid the hospital where you work.

Cristy

November 9, 2012 at 01:54 PM

All this arguing about bunches of cells vs human life. Look at it the same way you look at death. A fetus isn't a "human being/life" until viable, which I realize is changing, but until that fetus can live and breathe on its own outside the womb, it's not "alive". It's so funny how people can be so opposed to abortion, but when people are on their death bed, on life-support, whether at age 20 or 90, once they can't live and breathe on their own the agreement is almost always to pull the plug. Why? Because living and breathing on your own is a requirement for life! They aren't alive. They aren't a "life" anymore. A fetus, until viable, isn't a "life". My 2 cents, as a Christian and nurse.

Keith

November 8, 2012 at 07:01 PM

Thank you. I know this is a messy question, but I am not yanking your chain -- it's a question that genuinely puzzles me about the Christian pro-life worldview, and I welcome the response.

First, I accept your point about intent, and I do see the difference.

But my question is more about the fact that spontaneous abortion is "designed" into humanity.

How do you make sense of every human life being precious to God from the moment of conception, when 25% of those lives don't make it to birth?

As I'm sure you know, a standard response to evil in the world is the exercise of free will, and the simple form is something like (1) bad things happen, (2) God gave us free will to fix the bad thing or not, and if He were to fix it, that would overrule our free will. OK, agree with it or not, it's an argument.

But spontaneous abortion has nothing to do with free will. There's no human action or inaction that affects it, it's simply part of how we are.

How does a Christian and pro-life person make sense of spontaneous abortion as part of God's design?

Keith

November 8, 2012 at 05:36 PM

"Can we not simply agree that abortion is the murder of an unborn child, that abortion legislation should be overturned?"

As long as the pro-life position refuses to distinguish between a baby moments before natural birth and a pair of cells that met a few minutes ago, we won't find common ground. If the pro-life position changes from the belief that conception is the marker of humanity, and agrees there are better markers, we will be able to find consensus.

And it's reasonable for people to work and hope for that change. After all, evangelicals did not hold the extreme positions many hold today until relatively recently. Here's a quote from a 1979 article published in Christianity Today, written by a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary:

"God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: “If a man kills any human life he will be put to death” (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense. … Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.

Societies and cultures do change.

Charlie Johnson

November 8, 2012 at 01:33 PM

It seems this whole discussion has gotten quite out of hand...

Can we not simply agree that abortion is the murder of an unborn child, that abortion legislation should be overturned? This is a shameful policy and it is unbelievable to me how uneducated the average person is.

There is so much intellect gathered in this chat room. How many of you take this information, this intelligence to the street -- not to debate with your informed and educated pro-life friends, but with the average person in America who has been "brainwashed" for decades into believing abortion is the easy out.

You should watch Ray Comfort's video (180 the movie) -- I have experienced first-hand how uninformed and thoughtless people are when it comes to abortion. People blindly accept abortion and so many have never even considered personally why abortion may be wrong!

Charlie Johnson, CPC
http://www.nabpc.org

Charlie Johnson

November 8, 2012 at 01:22 PM

You say you are not yanking my chain, so I'll believe you on that, but do you not see a stark difference when you consider intent?

There is a complete difference between a baby that dies due to miscarriage and a baby which is murdered by the will of the mother and the action of the medical practitioner.

Charlie Johnson, CPC
http://www.nabpc.org

Matthew W

November 7, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Hi,

I know that I am rather butting in to this conversation; but as rockingwithhawking is having to leave the thread, I thought I would offer a reply to your assertions re: points 3-6... or at least explain what I believe to be his(/her?) basis for making those points.

I agree that #3 is not relevant to the particular argument; however, I do appreciate that rockingw/ made a point to express that yes, it is incredibly hard; and yes, it's impossible for us to truly get what she's going through; and no, we can't make it all better; but still, insofar as we are aware of the situation, we will help to the greatest extent possible. Less of a point in the debate at hand and more of an "I don't want there to be any possibility of us losing sight that this is a /person/ that we're dealing with." I very much appreciate that.

I believe that #6 was meant less as an argument and more as a parenthetical observation of common caricatures of the side that rockingw/ advocates: a sort of, "while we're on the subject...."


As to #4-#5, I am left wondering why you feel that those criteria are invalid. My guess is that you do not view life as beginning at conception. (Of course, you two probably discussed that among the many comments above; I've only skimmed parts of the thread, so I'm not sure of who has said what and when they said it.) If someone is convinced (for whatever reason) that life begins at conception, then #4 and #5 necessarily follow as considerations in the rape/abortion debate. So while that may not be a rationale that you accept, it is nevertheless a rationale that leads rockingw/ et al. toward their conclusions.


I am left thinking that I have perhaps added many words, but little content; I apologize if that is the case. In any event, take the good and the helpful; cast away the rambling and the unhelpful.

--Matthew

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Keith

“With respect to the sense of being stared at, multiple subsequent studies attempted to repeat Sheldrake's results and failed. Further, his study methodology has been attacked (if you want references, let me know, but I'm sure you can Google as well as I can). Bluntly, as his results can't be reproduced by anybody else, they're almost certainly experimental bias or a badly designed experiment.”

I’ve seen shoddy efforts to debunk Sheldrake. But if you think you have something better to offer, go ahead.

“With respect to the accounts of telepathy and precognition in Chapter 9 (you didn't say specifically, so I'm guessing as to what you're referring), it's all anecdotal stories, and where Sheldrake tries to approach the level of evidence, it's all uncontrolled, unrepeatable experiments.”

i) You’re arbitrarily restricting the evidence to protect your position. But there’s nothing wrong with anecdotal evidence. Most of what we know is based on anecdotal or testimonial evidence.

ii) You’re also assuming that paranormal phenomena should operate with the same uniformity as “natural” events. But to the degree that paranormal phenomena involve personal agency or mental causation, it isn’t mechanically repeatable. You’re making another category mistake.

“Maybe psychic phenomenon is too subtle for our science to detect, maybe only an experimenter who "believes" can reproduce the results. Those are possible explanations. I think that's less probable than the fact all researchers make mistakes, researchers are as prone as the rest of us to bias, and we can all be fooled by our desire to believe. That is why we have the scientific method, after all: if we were logical, rational beings, we wouldn't need it.”

I wasn’t attempting to make a general case for the paranormal. Rather, I was citing a particular case which intersects with dualism.

As far as evidence for the paranormal generally, Stephen Braude has a number of philosophically rigorous monographs on the subject.

“I hope I'm not rigid or irrational about that belief: if there is evidence for dualism, I'd like to believe I'm eager to be proven wrong and I assert it would be a tremendous thing to learn about the universe and our place in it.”

To the contrary, it’s pretty obvious that you’re a committed physicalist. Your throwaway disclaimers are belied by your actual conduct.

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Keith

“On the one hand, God says abortion is murder. On the other hand, humans spontaneously abort roughly a quarter of the time. If God thinks abortion is a bad thing, why would humans naturally and unavoidably do it all of the time?”

i) To begin with, yes, God has the right to do some things which humans don’t have the right to do.

ii) Many things happen in a fallen world. People die of “natural causes” like cancer. That doesn’t mean we’re entitled to induce cancer in people.

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 11:38 AM

DL didn't come here to be persuaded, but to persuade others. He's been using this forum as a platform to lobby for his proabortion stance.

DL

November 7, 2012 at 11:11 AM

rockingwithhawking November 7, 2012 at 8:56 AM:
Thank you for your comments in #1.

Alas, #2 didn't answer the question at hand. Which is where you argued that even in the exceptional case of rape, abortion is unnatural simply because a mother has certain emotional attachments or bonds with her baby. My question was - on what do you base that, especially given that the morning afterpill (preganancy prevention) could be given within 24 hours of the act? There would absolutely not be a maternal connection present; therefore, the original argument you suggested doesn't work.


And points # 3-6 are completely irrelevant to the argument. I've never brought these up. Someone else might have, somewhere else. But I'd say you've got a strawman there, since those are not the basis that I would use to determine whether a young woman who was raped should legally be allowed to consider taking the morning after pill immediately after the fact.

Blessings on your exams. Take good care in the Lord.
-Deb

DL

November 7, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Steve Hays: "You’re not my dialogue partner. You’re a foil."

Thank you very much for proving my point - EXACTLY.

Let the entire above dialogue at November 7, 2012 at 9:58 AM serve as evidence as to why I do not engage with Mr. Hays. Prayer is all that remains.

Peace, out,
-Deb

Keith

November 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM

With respect to the sense of being stared at, multiple subsequent studies attempted to repeat Sheldrake's results and failed. Further, his study methodology has been attacked (if you want references, let me know, but I'm sure you can Google as well as I can). Bluntly, as his results can't be reproduced by anybody else, they're almost certainly experimental bias or a badly designed experiment.

With respect to the accounts of telepathy and precognition in Chapter 9 (you didn't say specifically, so I'm guessing as to what you're referring), it's all anecdotal stories, and where Sheldrake tries to approach the level of evidence, it's all uncontrolled, unrepeatable experiments.

For example, he writes about a boy who could identify letters his mother saw, over the phone, and says the boy got 38% in a single guess, over 60% in two guesses, and the researchers could detect no sign of cueing. I know you realize how incredibly important and earth-shattering that result could be. The correct response was to hire a team of a researchers and statisticians, create strong protocols, double-blind the test and publish it everywhere... but that's not what happened, the researchers wrote it up and moved on.

There are two things that have proven true in every piece of psychic research of which I'm aware: first, the psychic researchers invariably refuse to create the protocols and perform the test in ways that would show evidence for their theories, and second, anybody who does create those protocols and perform the test in a rigorous fashion can't reproduce their results.

Maybe psychic phenomenon is too subtle for our science to detect, maybe only an experimenter who "believes" can reproduce the results. Those are possible explanations. I think that's less probable than the fact all researchers make mistakes, researchers are as prone as the rest of us to bias, and we can all be fooled by our desire to believe. That is why we have the scientific method, after all: if we were logical, rational beings, we wouldn't need it.

To bring this one home: I'm a physicalist. I hope I'm not rigid or irrational about that belief: if there is evidence for dualism, I'd like to believe I'm eager to be proven wrong and I assert it would be a tremendous thing to learn about the universe and our place in it. But so far, I don't see any evidence at all that dualism is true.

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 09:58 AM

DL

“For starters: Why in the world would you just assume that I'm a guy?”

You said you were a combat vet. Women aren’t supposed to serve in combat. And even if the restrictions have been relaxed in the past few years, you indicated that you were retired. So that would be a while ago.

“You see, therein lies my trouble with trying to dialogue with you.”

You’re not my dialogue partner. You’re a foil.

“You make so many assumptions about the other person's character and person before you even engage their arguments.”

We can properly draw inferences about someone’s moral character from their position on ethical issues, viz. Peter Singer.

“The reason why I have ceased to engage you on this topic, is not because of any perceived slight…”

I haven’t complained about your refusal to engage the argument. It’s fine with me if you opt out.

“…but rather the inability to have you answer a single objection on the terms in which the objection is made and without committing any number of gross logical fallacies.”

That’s just your tendentious, self-serving characterization, which you resort to as a substitute for actual argument.

“For instance, please, do tell how invoking my military service to this country and my willingness to lay down my life in a combat environment -voluntarily- as a point of argumentation for a citizen's "choice" is an ad passiones fallacy?”

Because it’s irrelevant to whether or not there ought to be a rape exception. So your interjecting that into the debate is a transparent emotional ploy to elicit bogus respect for your proabortion position.

Your military record creates no more presumption in favor of abortion than Wesley Clark’s military record.

“I only brought it up as a minor point.”

I notice that some people have a habit of raising points which suddenly become “minor” points after the fact once their point is shot down.

“You avoided all of the important points and got hung up on this one.”

I haven’t avoided any of your points. By contrast, you’ve avoided the counterarguments.

“I chose not to belabor it because it wasn't an essential piece; however, the point made still stands.”

Your point was knocked down.

“By your continued mischaracterization of logical fallacies, you've demonstated that you've probably not had any formal rhetoric training. Perhaps that is the crux of our particular communication problem?”

Notice that throughout his comment, DL hasn’t made a reasoned argument for his position. Instead, he tries to characterize his opponent’s argument.

“In his eyes, I'm 'morally depraved', mentally deranged, and equivalent to Jack Kevorkian, neonazis, and Hitler.”

As I noted before, how people react to comparisons is a test of their emotional maturity and critical detachment, or lack thereof.

For instance, the example of neonazis was used to illustrate the fact that beliefs can be culpable as well as mistaken. That immoral beliefs reflect back on the moral character of their proponent. That’s the level at which the comparison operates. For someone who touts logic, DL’s reaction is illogical.

“Granted, I'm coming at this as a person who was orphaned at birth and whose ‘biological parents’ have never shown any parental concern in the sense you and Steve are arguing for."

In which case you should have more compassion for children conceived in rape.

Not to mention that this is yet another argumentum ad passiones on your part.

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 09:29 AM

Take the sense of being stared at, which he's extensively documented over the years. Or, in the next chapter, take the case of the patient on 234-35 (pagination refers to the UK edition).

rockingwithhawking

November 7, 2012 at 08:56 AM

Hi DL,

"Given your definition above, how do any of those biological facts equate to the decision making process that a woman who has been raped faces within 24 hours of the act? Of any of the facts you've given, which of those would necessitate a motherly care and concern as a determining factor. (Granted, I'm coming at this as a person who was orphaned at birth and whose "biological parents" have never shown any parental concern in the sense you and Steve are arguing for.)"

1. First of all I'd like to say I'm sorry to hear about your past history as an orphan whose biological parents never showed you any parental concern. I'm sure there's a lot more to this story, and a lot more one could ask such as to clarify some details, but at the same time I don't wish to pry into anyone's personal matters. So I'll leave it there and hope that's okay with you. But in any case my sympathies to you.

2. As far as the "biological facts" are concerned. Of course, given the necessary info, various scientific techniques can be used to establish beyond any reasonable doubt that this child is (or is not) the son or daughter of this man and this woman. In the case where the couple desired to have a baby (i.e. most couples who are pregnant) we could talk about the science behind some of that at least to the extent that science can even explain it. Horomones and stuff like that.

3. But in the case of rape, each woman could very well feel differently, but I imagine many if not most women who are raped would feel a tremendous mix of emotions in the 24 hours after they were raped. Tremendous sorrow and grief, fear and confusion, hatred and revenge against her rapist a la the girl with the dragon tattoo, etc. Obviously if we were in a position to help we'd want to do as much for her as we could. To show as much active care and concern for her as we can muster.

4. All that said, I suspect what's at the bottom of most who argue for abortion in the case of rape is that they believe a woman's mental and emotional health caused by her rape (not to mention the added mental and emotional, as well as physical, distress of having to bear this unwanted baby for nine months) is more valuable than the baby's life.

Hence the real question is whether killing a human being is ever justified in order to alleviate another human being's mental and emotional pain and suffering. Or to put it another way, is killing a human being ever justified in order to save one's own life? As the Jews ask, is your blood redder than his blood?

5. If the raped woman has the right to kill her baby in order to save her own life including her own mental and emotional health, then what about the baby? Does the baby have no right to life? Instead does the baby have the duty to die for her sake?

6. By the way, I never quite understood how prolife advocates including in cases of rape are the ones who are being heartless and cruel toward the raped woman by allegedly forcing her to carry the baby to term. After all, wasn't it the rapist who was being heartless and cruel toward the woman by forcing her to carry the baby to term? It's not as if most men including rapists don't realize if they have unprotected sex with a woman then it's possible she will get pregnant. (Prolifers are just trying to protect the baby, trying to say two wrongs don't make a right.)

7. Regrettably I have some exams coming up for which I'll need to study. So this is probably going to be my last word on the topic in this post. Sorry about that. But thank you and everyone else for the dialogue.

Matthew W

November 7, 2012 at 08:45 AM

This is definitely a good question. I want to thank you for being honest and open with it and phrasing it in a way that invites a response.

I won't address the question in the last paragraph; I simply don't know enough relevant passages of Scripture to attempt an assertion.

I will, however, attempt to answer the question in the second paragraph.

(A quick note on terminology: since I'm answering this from a Christian perspective, I'll use Christian definitions. If I think a word could be easily misconstrued, I'll be sure to clarify. And, I'll use "miscarriage" rather than "spontaneous abortion." Same thing, just easier to differentiate from "[induced] abortion.")


If we look at abortion vs. miscarriage , there is an important distinction: the agent who enacts the death.

In an abortion, a human decides that this unborn baby dies. A creature takes it upon himself/herself to end the life of another creature. But these aren't just any two creatures - animals given as food (Genesis 9:2-3), or plants given to cultivate (cf. Genesis 2:15), etc. These two creatures are each made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). One image-bearer has decided that another image-bearer is unworthy of life.

But in miscarriage, the Creator deigns to remove the life of one of his creatures. And yes, this is also an image-bearer. But the Creator rules over his creation, and he may do what he pleases (Psalm 135:6, cf. Job 38-41). There is no higher authority than the Creator: who is a creature to demand that his Maker contort his will to conform with that of his inferior? What the All-Sufficient, Self-Sufficient One gives - or begins to give - he has the authority to take away (Job 1:21).

This is why abortion is bad, and miscarriage is not. In miscarriage, the King rules. In abortion, the subject declares himself king.

rockingwithhawking

November 7, 2012 at 08:35 PM

Hi Matthew W,

Thanks for your comments! I appreciate them. As I said to Deb, I really should go and study, but I thought you had asked a good question here, and I wanted to try to respond to it. And apologies in advance if any of this is brusque sounding too.

"If, on the other hand, the morning after pill is allowed, the baby suffers the loss of potential life, but he/she does not suffer physically or emotionally. And the woman no longer has the added suffering from the pregnancy and the child; she can concentrate on healing from the suffering that started the whole mess in the first place."

Nowadays we can kill someone pain-free via anesthesia and analgesia for example. No physical or emotional pain or suffering needs to be involved. But the fact that we can kill someone pain-free doesn't mean it's okay for us to kill them of course.

Or take people who can't feel pain at all. It doesn't therefore mean it's okay for us to punch them or burn them or whatever. They're still human beings.

So I think the question still remains: is someone's mental and emotional health or well-being more valuable than someone else's life such that it is justifiable to end the latter person's life for the former person's mental and emotional health or well-being? I don't think so. In fact I'm strongly against it. I could flesh it out in the future, and take counter-examples (e.g. what if the woman wants to commit suicide as a result of being pregnant), but for now I'll have to leave it as is.

Okay, this is now my very last comment in this thread.

Thanks again.

rockingwithhawking

November 7, 2012 at 08:27 PM

Hi DL (Deb),

Sorry I do have to study, but I'll just try to make a quick response (and apologies in advance if it sounds too brusque, but it may sound brusque because I'm rushing a bit since I shouldn't spend too much time here):

"Alas, #2 didn't answer the question at hand. Which is where you argued that even in the exceptional case of rape, abortion is unnatural simply because a mother has certain emotional attachments or bonds with her baby. My question was - on what do you base that, especially given that the morning afterpill (preganancy prevention) could be given within 24 hours of the act? There would absolutely not be a maternal connection present; therefore, the original argument you suggested doesn't work."

1. Perhaps my previous comments weren't clear enough, but I've actually never described abortion as "unnatural." Rather I would simply say abortion even in case of rape is morally wrong. (Someday I may try to say something about "natural" or spontaneous abortions and related.)

2. Also I don't say abortion in case of rape is morally wrong "because a mother has certain emotional attachments or bonds with her baby." Rather I would say abortion in case of rape is morally wrong because ultimately I believe a baby's life is more valuable than its mother's mental and emotional health including her pain and suffering. (And I don't say this because I don't care about women who were raped. Rather I say this because I think the baby is a human being and I don't think the baby did anything wrong to deserve death.)

3. I only brought up the science-y bits because you had asked how I define parent. Although admittedly I wasn't quite sure why you were asking about how I define "parent" in the context of my recommending Steve Hays' comment in response to the violinist hypothetical? As I see it:

a. Steve had said the female patient:stranger violinist relationship is disanalogous to the mother:baby relationship, and I entirely agree. But the inference from this is not therefore that I am against abortion in case of rape "simply because a mother has certain emotional attachments or bonds with her baby." The inference from Steve's point should be that the violinist hypothetical fails because it is based on an analogy and the analogy doesn't work in reality.

b. In addition, the mother:baby relationship is not primarily "predicated on emotional attachments or bonds with her baby." Sure, in an ideal pregnancy, the emotional bonds are present. But emotional bonds alone are incomplete in defining the mother:baby relationship. It's possible for adoptive parents to feel the same or similar emotional bonds with their non-biologically related child for instance. I'm also not at all suggesting any of this takes away from the adoptive parents' love for their adopted child, which could be even greater than some biological parents would have toward their children. I'm only pointing out the distinction between biological vs. adopted with regard to emotions.

Rather I think the mother:baby relationship is also predicated on cold hard facts. Hence my response about how I define parent was to appeal to DNA testing and the like.

By contrast, there are some women who have had such severe post-partum depression that they end up hating their baby. Indeed, an OB/GYN physician told us how one of his past patients with PPD who had otherwise apparently had a normal pregnancy and a loving husband and so forth nevertheless in a fit threw her baby out the window because she didn't want it and somehow thought it was ruining her life. The OB/GYN was walking outside the hospital and suddenly he heard a noise and whirled around to see the baby splat on the ground. Horrible. But I think all this goes to show how emotions come and go, how severe they can be, how emotions are not always indexed to facts and truth, and how emotions alone are insufficient to define the mother:baby relationship.

4. Thanks for taking the time to interact with me. And thanks for your blessings. Now I really should go and study!

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 07:50 PM

Keith

"That's exactly what it means. We now know that every time your brain remembers an event, it rewrites the memory. In other words, you are continually rewriting your memories as you access them. This is why humans are so bad at reporting events after the fact."

Which instantly cuts the ground out from under your appeal to experimental evidence. If memory is that unstable, then scientists can't trust their recollection of the experimental results.

DL

November 7, 2012 at 07:29 AM

Steve,
Wow. There you go again.
For starters: Why in the world would you just assume that I'm a guy?

You see, therein lies my trouble with trying to dialogue with you. You make so many assumptions about the other person's character and person before you even engage their arguments. The reason why I have ceased to engage you on this topic, is not because of any perceived slight, but rather the inability to have you answer a single objection on the terms in which the objection is made and without committing any number of gross logical fallacies.

For instance, please, do tell how invoking my military service to this country and my willingness to lay down my life in a combat environment -voluntarily- as a point of argumentation for a citizen's "choice" is an ad passiones fallacy? I only brought it up as a minor point. You avoided all of the important points and got hung up on this one. I chose not to belabor it because it wasn't an essential piece; however, the point made still stands.

By your continued mischaracterization of logical fallacies, you've demonstated that you've probably not had any formal rhetoric training. Perhaps that is the crux of our particular communication problem?

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 07:27 PM

Keith

"That's exactly what it means. We now know that every time your brain remembers an event, it rewrites the memory. In other words, you are continually rewriting your memories as you access them. This is why humans are so bad at reporting events after the fact."

That's a gross overstatement. Memories are often quite stable over time.

"There's a fair amount research on this, including some recent publications in the context of a drug intended to help you forget bad memories."

Your appeal is self-defeating. You're appealing to your recollection of what these studies say. But if every time you access your memory you rewrite it, then you can't trust your memory of what the studies say.

"In summary, if your memory is not validated by some outside, fixed context, or at least corroborated by multiple people, there's little reason to believe it happened the way you remember it happening."

That's viciously regressive. Appeal to multiple attestation is a form of testimonial evidence. And it takes for granted the collective memories of the corroborative witnesses.

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 07:18 PM

Keith

"You're really saying there's evidence for telepathy..."

Yes, there's evidence for telepathy.

"...and it's my responsibility to prove you wrong?"

If evidence for telepathy dovetails with evidence for dualism, and you're arguing for physicalism, then it's incumbent on you to refute the counterevidence (counter to physicalism).

"Did I tell you my cats juggle chainsaws when there's nobody in the room? (Refute me if you dare! I patiently await your citations of the best studies by the most reputable groups!)"

i) That wouldn't be telepathy, that would be telekinesis. In fact, there's evidence for both.

ii) More to the point, your illustration is a ploy. You ridicule the notion by using a made-up example. Since you made it up, you can make it ridiculous–like Russell's celestial teapot.

That ploy allows you to duck actual cases (of telepathy/telekinesis) involving actual witnesses, actual evidence.

Keith

November 7, 2012 at 07:17 AM

Steve, what exactly in Chapter 8 do you consider "evidence" of dualism?

I don't see anything there that looks like evidence. His ideas are interesting and thought-provoking, but they're almost certainly wrong, and Sheldrake offers no evidence in support of them.

If the best evidence you have for dualism is people claim to notice when they're being stared at (a hypothesis that has been tested and repeatedly rejected), you have no evidence at all.

I mean, what do you want me to do with the sentence "Materialism is unpersuasive if one takes one's own experience into account". Well, duh. The reason we invented the scientific method is because none of us can trust our own experiences. If you doubt that, review the "list of biases in judgment and decision making" page at Wikipedia. More simply, anybody who has looked at a "harvest moon", and noticed the moon was larger than usual, should know their experiences are inherently untrustworthy.

I'm trying not to criticize Sheldrake here: I think speculation is a good thing, and the more ideas we have to evaluate, the better. But Sheldrake is simply speculating, and he offers no evidence to support his ideas.

DL

November 7, 2012 at 07:07 AM

Market: Thanks for chiming in before following the long history of comments on this topic over the past several articles TGC has posted. Just so you know: Steve and I have a long history. In his eyes, I'm 'morally depraved', mentally deranged, and equivalent to Jack Kevorkian, neonazis, and Hitler. Plus, he yanks any legitmate argument that I've made completely out of its context, and posts it to his own website and then attacks me as an infidel so that all of his friends can pat him on the back and tell him how smart he is.

So yeah, I'm not engaging with him on this topic. But I wouldn't call it ego. And therein lies the main problem with these comment threads-- most of you guys want to assume everyone's motives (at least the ones who disagree with you) and have contempt prior to investigation. Then we wonder where the secularists get their bizarre opinions of Christians. Gee, I wonder.

DL

November 7, 2012 at 06:50 AM

rockingwithhawking:

#3. - Fair enough. Certainly his arguments have improved on this thread.


However:
"Define parent - Well, if you want a more tangible definition, we could appeal to paternity and maternity testing. I can elaborate if need be but this could involve genetic fingerprinting (e.g. nDNA, mtDNA), blood typing, protein and enzyme analysis, etc."

Given your definition above, how do any of those biological facts equate to the decision making process that a woman who has been raped faces within 24 hours of the act? Of any of the facts you've given, which of those would necessitate a motherly care and concern as a determining factor. (Granted, I'm coming at this as a person who was orphaned at birth and whose "biological parents" have never shown any parental concern in the sense you and Steve are arguing for.)

(Sorry for the location of this comment. Thread posting protocol seems to have gone haywire)

Keith

November 7, 2012 at 05:03 PM

A ton of snark:

> No. That’s not my job. You raised the objection. The onus lies squarely on your shoulders to cite what you think are the best studies by the most reputable groups. I hope you have something a cut above CSICOP.

You're really saying there's evidence for telepathy and it's my responsibility to prove you wrong?

LOL.

Did I tell you my cats juggle chainsaws when there's nobody in the room? (Refute me if you dare! I patiently await your citations of the best studies by the most reputable groups!)

Keith

November 7, 2012 at 05:01 PM

No snark:

"Does that mean we should systematically doubt every memory that can’t be scientifically tested?"

That's exactly what it means. We now know that every time your brain remembers an event, it rewrites the memory. In other words, you are continually rewriting your memories as you access them. This is why humans are so bad at reporting events after the fact.

We imagine our memories as photographs or movies, and it turns out they are nothing like that, they are constantly being revised as we access them. There's a fair amount research on this, including some recent publications in the context of a drug intended to help you forget bad memories.

In summary, if your memory is not validated by some outside, fixed context, or at least corroborated by multiple people, there's little reason to believe it happened the way you remember it happening.

See http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/02/ff_forgettingpill/all/ for an interesting and accessible paper on how memory works.

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 04:13 PM

Keith

“Google is all you need; there are multiple studies, by multiple groups, all unable to reproduce his results. There's simply nothing else to say.”

No. That’s not my job. You raised the objection. The onus lies squarely on your shoulders to cite what you think are the best studies by the most reputable groups. I hope you have something a cut above CSICOP.

“I can't imagine how you might justify that statement: first, most of what we ‘know’ is based on science, and science is strongly antipathetic to anecdotal or testimonial evidence. Please name a single broad area of human knowledge based on anecdotal or testimonial evidence!”

Historical knowledge, including the history of science. Or my personal knowledge of my own past. My own observations and memories of people I’ve known, places I’ve lived. Or news reports of contemporary events.

Likewise, a lot of science is conducted outside the laboratory. Take a zoologist who studies wildlife in the field.

“Second, it has been well-studied: humans are genuinely bad reporters of events, and are often mistaken in the big details and invariably mistaken in the little ones.”

That would undercut experimental evidence, which relies on tedious observation.

“You have no evidential support for this statement, you're simply using it as a way to avoid the fact that paranormal phenomenon invariably fails any and all scientific testing.”

To the contrary, you’re prejudging the nature of the paranormal, as if the paranormal ought to operate like a chemical reaction. You’re view of science is prescriptive rather than descriptive.

“In other words, if something cannot be scientifically tested, it must be ‘special’. OK, fine, it's an argument, but it's not a particularly good one.”

Many things can’t be scientifically tested. I remember things my grandmother told me in private conversations. Those remembered conversations can’t be scientifically tested. Does that mean we should systematically doubt every memory that can’t be scientifically tested?

You aren’t beginning with reality. You aren’t beginning with human experience. Rather, you’re beginning with your narrow, preconceived theory, then using that artificial filter to screen out broad swaths of experienced reality.

Matthew W

November 7, 2012 at 03:45 PM

Hi DL,

First, I want to thank you for being so gracious in your reply. I know that a lot of professing Christians on the internet would have gotten very... testy, when responding to an incorrect guess such as the one that I made concerning your stance on abortion. I really do appreciate it. :-)


Now on to the issue at hand. I certainly see your conundrum. Such a scenario is very tricky indeed, and I'm not sure that I see an answer for it. I suppose one way to measure it would be by the amount of suffering the victim receives. In rape, the victim undergoes incomprehensible suffering - both in the act itself and in the psychological and emotional scars that result. Should the woman be forced to carry the baby to a full term, she would have the suffering common to rape victims (I hate using that phrasing as though it's somehow acceptable or normal, but I can't think of a different wording), as well as the additional suffering common to pregnant women. But she would also have the suffering of being daily reminded by every aspect of her pregnancy that she was forced to conceive this baby by being violated. If she should then keep this baby, she would have a daily reminder for the rest of the child's life of the time when she was grievously sinned against. This is akin to an exponential compounding.

If, on the other hand, the morning after pill is allowed, the baby suffers the loss of potential life, but he/she does not suffer physically or emotionally. And the woman no longer has the added suffering from the pregnancy and the child; she can concentrate on healing from the suffering that started the whole mess in the first place.


I seem to have changed my mind as my comment developed.


The one thing I have a problem with - not a moral problem, but a practical problem - is that laws are generally inflexible. I'm not sure how feasible it would be to weigh and discern those situations individually. This is unless, of course, you mean that the woman is the person who is weighing and discerning as opposed to the government. In that case, I am leaning heavily toward agreeing with you.

I'd lie to thank you for this discussion. It has certainly helped me develop my thoughts further.

--Matthew

Lou G.

November 7, 2012 at 02:41 PM

Steve, you're out of line. Again.

Lou G.

November 7, 2012 at 01:45 PM

Hi DL,
I've been wrestling with this question for a while myself, ever since the Murdouck debacle.

I think I may have found a Gospel answer to this question. "God Became a Zygote (Bethlehem's Bioethics)"
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/decemberweb-only/42.0b.html

Let me know what you think...

steve hays

November 7, 2012 at 01:32 PM

Your tu quoque fails. Yes, I have an agenda. I'm promoting a consistent prolife position. I don't hide that. I'm upfront about my agenda. No concealment at my end.

You're the one who's pretending that you don't have an agenda.

And of course there are situations in which we're supposed to infer motives. For instance, to convict someone of a crime, you must generally infer criminal intent.

Likewise, we infer the motives of used car salesmen and political candidates.

Why are you so concerned about rhetorical bashing and so unconcerned about physically bashing little babies to pieces? You have no sense of moral proportion.

Finally, all you've been doing in comment after comment is to whine. You offer no constructive substantive input. You just whine.

DL

November 7, 2012 at 01:18 PM

Steve didn't come here to persuade. He's been using this forum as a platform .. oh heck.. who knows why he comes on a Gospel forum to bash people in the name of Christ? (hint: only the Lord knows the motives of the heart).
But there you have it folks. In black and white.

Peace, out,

Deb

DL

November 7, 2012 at 01:11 PM

Hi Matthew,
Okay, I'm pro-life and I do agree that life begins at the point of conception. However, I have a sticking point though. No matter how long I've studied and prayed about this issue, I cannot see eye to eye with my stident pro-lifer friends when it comes to an all out ban that would exclude the use of the morning after pill in the exceptional case of the rape. That's just some background, so you know where I'm coming from.

So, it's not to say that Mr. Rocking's arguments in #4 and #5 aren't generally valid and worthy of consideration. I've simply been saying that I don't think they apply to the reasons why I do see the rape exception is a valid position. To Mr. Rocking's credit, he has helped me refine my thinking considerably over the past week or so that we've been having these exchanges.

And certainly, point #6 is a valid observation - ie, two wrongs don't make a right and don't punish the baby, when the perp is the offender, etc..

My key objection is that after a woman's body has been so grieviously violated, why should we insist that the federal government force her to carry and sustain this other human being inside of her own body for nine full months?

Whether from general revelation or from special revelation (the Bible), so far, I haven't seen a clear call on the role of civil law to determine such rare cases. Why wouldn't we simply be content to leave every situation involving rape to be weighed and discerned individually on its own merits? That's my quandry. Thanks!

Keith

November 7, 2012 at 01:00 PM

> I’ve seen shoddy efforts to debunk Sheldrake. But if you think you have something better to offer, go ahead.

Google is all you need; there are multiple studies, by multiple groups, all unable to reproduce his results. There's simply nothing else to say.

> i) But there’s nothing wrong with anecdotal evidence. Most of what we know is based on anecdotal or testimonial evidence.

I can't imagine how you might justify that statement: first, most of what we "know" is based on science, and science is strongly antipathetic to anecdotal or testimonial evidence. Please name a single broad area of human knowledge based on anecdotal or testimonial evidence!

Second, it has been well-studied: humans are genuinely bad reporters of events, and are often mistaken in the big details and invariably mistaken in the little ones.

> ii) You’re also assuming that paranormal phenomena should operate with the same uniformity as “natural” events. But to the degree that paranormal phenomena involve personal agency or mental causation, it isn’t mechanically repeatable.

You have no evidential support for this statement, you're simply using it as a way to avoid the fact that paranormal phenomenon invariably fails any and all scientific testing. In other words, if something cannot be scientifically tested, it must be "special". OK, fine, it's an argument, but it's not a particularly good one.

LJ

November 6, 2012 at 12:26 AM

The lady in your example who decided to do that made a choice. The government did not force her to. She automatically does not fit into the category of people I am advocating for.

I am not demonizing pregnancy. I am arguing that the state should not be able to make abortion illegal. I am demonizing the government forcing individuals to carry their pregnancy to term when they don't want to (especially abortions in the first stages of pregnancy)

"they now have spousal duties to their ailing wife."

They can legally get a divorce their spouse. They are allowed to leave them within the confines of the law.

Atheism is not a moral system or code. It is a lack of belief in God. Nothing more, nothing less. Atheists have nothing in common inherently besides this.

Also, it depends on the relationship. I had someone in my life whom was with an abusive partner who got diagnosed with cancer. They had to leave them in order to escape abuse and an unhealthy relationship. Context matters.

"All you’re doing is to assert atheism. That’s no reason to take your assertion seriously."

No I am telling you why your main argument means nothing to me. I literally don't think God is real. I only mention it to give you an idea of what it means to me when you add God to your argument.

But really all your examples are in the hypothetical as much as mine. I keep saying over and over, I think the circumstance of the person being inside the other person completely changes everything about the argument. My opinion is based on the specific instance of an unwanted pregnancy with its particular implications, not the system of thinking itself. There is no more logical extreme to my specific argument because the foundation is the fact that they are pregnant.

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 11:03 AM

LJ

“The lady in your example who decided to do that made a choice. The government did not force her to. She automatically does not fit into the category of people I am advocating for.”

i) You sound as if you never heard of Sophia Loren.

ii) You absurdly compared pregnancy to imprisonment. However, the condition of a pregnant woman is rarely analogous to the condition of the woman in the hypothetical who’s confined to a hospital bed to keep another patient alive. The thought-experiment of Jarvis is highly artificial. Highly unrealistic.

iii) However, for the sake of argument, I gave an example of the worst-case scenario. Sophia Loren was in that situation. So what?

“I am not demonizing pregnancy.”

When you compare pregnancy to imprisonment, you’re demonizing pregnancy.

“I am arguing that the state should not be able to make abortion illegal. I am demonizing the government forcing individuals to carry their pregnancy to term when they don't want to (especially abortions in the first stages of pregnancy)”

That objection has already been rebutted multiple times on this very thread. Try to keep up with the actual state of the argument instead of rehashing stale talking-points.

“They can legally get a divorce their spouse. They are allowed to leave them within the confines of the law.”

You’re not following your own argument. You made lack of consent the deal-breaker.

i) My point is that a person can acquire social obligations absent informed consent. Try to keep track of the argument.

ii) Your appeal to current law is circular. We could toughen up divorce laws. Divorce laws used to be stricter. The law is whatever we make the law to be.

“Atheism is not a moral system or code. It is a lack of belief in God. Nothing more, nothing less. Atheists have nothing in common inherently besides this.”

Atheism has logical implications. So your statement is irrational.

“Also, it depends on the relationship. I had someone in my life whom was with an abusive partner who got diagnosed with cancer. They had to leave them in order to escape abuse and an unhealthy relationship. Context matters.”

Which is disanalogous to pregnancy. Context matters.

“No I am telling you why your main argument means nothing to me. I literally don't think God is real. I only mention it to give you an idea of what it means to me when you add God to your argument.”

And when we subtract God from the argument, we end up with nihilism. You’re illustrating the sociopathic consequences of atheism. Thanks for the reminder. That’s one more reason to reject atheism.

“But really all your examples are in the hypothetical as much as mine.”

i) Which misses the point. You’re acting as though, just because you’d unplug the violinist, that this somehow justifies abortion. But that’s a diversionary tactic.

For the argument to work, you have to show that the situation of the woman in the hypothetical is relevantly analogous to a pregnant woman. Once again, try to be logical.

ii) Moreover, I haven’t confined myself to hypothetical examples. I’ve used real life examples.

iii) Furthermore, there’s a difference between a totally artificial hypothetical (like the Violinist), and a hypothetical with many real world analogues.

“I keep saying over and over, I think the circumstance of the person being inside the other person completely changes everything about the argument.”

It’s not just “one person inside another person.” It’s a baby inside its mother. That’s a relationship with built-in social obligations. Maternal duties.

“My opinion is based on the specific instance of an unwanted pregnancy with its particular implications, not the system of thinking itself. There is no more logical extreme to my specific argument because the foundation is the fact that they are pregnant.”

And you’re rehashing objections that have already been refuted in this very thread. You’ve done nothing to advance the argument.

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 10:56 AM

deleted

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 09:32 PM

Keith

"I think Sheldrake is very, very unlikely to be proven correct in his theories."

That's a bait-n-switch. The question at issue is not whether you think his theory of morphic causation is correct, but the narrowing issue of his evidence for dualism re philosophy of mind in chap. 8 of the book I referenced.

Keith

November 6, 2012 at 08:03 PM

I think we're reaching the end of this branch, so I'm happy to give you the last word.

One clarification: I've read both Beauregard and Sheldrake. Well, read Beauregard and skimmed Sheldrake. I think Sheldrake is very, very unlikely to be proven correct in his theories.

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 06:57 PM

Keith

“Physicalism should be the default position because we have never found anything that wasn't physical.”

i) You’re appeal is viciously circular. Apparently, you’re presuming empirical discovery or empirical verification as the measure of realty. But, of course, abstract objects wouldn’t be empirical objects to begin with. So your contention is question-begging.

ii) BTW, testing or finding something isn’t the only way to establish its existence. There’s also a transcendental argument for the indispensable explanatory power of abstract objects.

iii) You disregard arguments for abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible worlds). For instance, Roger Penrose is an eminent physicist and mathematician who argues for the existence of abstract objects. Cf. The Road to Reality, chap. 1.

“That doesn't prove we won't find something, but physicalism has an unbroken track record over thousands of years.”

Well, the success of science depends on such nonphysical entities as numbers, as well as mental causation and consciousness (i.e. the mind of the scientist).

“An argument from utility certainly doesn't equal evidence...”

Arguments against physicalism or for dualism aren’t predicated on utility. Try again.

“…and in this particular case, the utter lack of evidence of anything that isn't physical trumps the philosophical argument.”

You’re assuming what you need to prove.

“I understand Mario Beauregard is a distinguished neuroscientist, but he is not making scientific arguments when he talks about dualism. Ditto Rupert Sheldrake.”

Unless you read the material I cited, your denial is a reflection of your knee-jerk prejudice.

“As I said, I have never seen any argument supporting dualism that approached a ‘scientific argument.’”

It’s surprisingly easy not to see something if you shut your eyes or turn your back.

“...but physicalism can explain them as far as we can tell, and I would say that Occam's Razor applies.”

You have a simplistic grasp of simplicity. For instance, there can be a tradeoff between a simpler theory and a richer ontology, or vice versa.

Keith

November 6, 2012 at 06:30 PM

Physicalism should be the default position because we have never found anything that wasn't physical. That doesn't prove we won't find something, but physicalism has an unbroken track record over thousands of years. To quote Damon Runyon, "The race may not always be to the swift nor the victory to the strong, but that's how you bet."

I agree there are good philosophical objections to physicalism, but they are limited by their nature: I can argue with perfect logic that my cats juggle chainsaws when nobody is looking and you will be unable to prove me wrong. But, the best you can do with a philosophy of undetectable chainsaw-juggling-cats is to argue its utility: it might be useful if we all agree to believe my cats juggle chainsaws. An argument from utility certainly doesn't equal evidence, and in this particular case, the utter lack of evidence of anything that isn't physical trumps the philosophical argument.

I understand Mario Beauregard is a distinguished neuroscientist, but he is not making scientific arguments when he talks about dualism. Ditto Rupert Sheldrake. As I said, I have never seen any argument supporting dualism that approached a "scientific argument". The closest thing I've seen is NDE's (they at least include a physical, reproducible component), but physicalism can explain them as far as we can tell, and I would say that Occam's Razor applies.

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 06:03 PM

Chap. 8 of Rupert Sheldrake's Science Set Free presents another scientific argument for dualism.

rockingwithhawking

November 6, 2012 at 05:53 PM

Hi DL,

Sorry, I'll have to make this quick as I have to rush off to something.

"Yeah, well, we will have to agree to disagree there. Hays didn't directly answer any of my objections."

1. Strictly speaking, there's a difference between your objections and Thomson's violinist argument or thought experiment.

2. Originally you wrote:

"Steve Hays has never actually answered the 'violinist argument' in the previous thread or otherwise. The content of his responses have been limited to: 1) stating that the argument was a thought-experiment written by Judith Jarvis-Thompson and 2) that her argument is morally depraved and that no Christian should ever consider it seriously."

The comments Steve Hays made including the one to which I linked do more than (1) and (2). In addition he points out the relationship between a female patient to a stranger violinist is disanalogous to the relationship between a real life mother to her baby. He also alludes to the fact that fathers are involved in creating a child.

3. However, let's say I'm wrong and you're right with regard to comments Steve Hays made prior to my response to Lily where I recommended she consider these prior comments. Since this point in time, Steve Hays has made follow-up comments with regard to Thomson's violinist hypothetical, he's provided links to his own blog posts over on Triablogue which offer more detailed critiques of Thomson's violinist hypothetical, he's responded to your own comment to me, etc.

"Define parent"

Well, if you want a more tangible definition, we could appeal to paternity and maternity testing. I can elaborate if need be but this could involve genetic fingerprinting (e.g. nDNA, mtDNA), blood typing, protein and enzyme analysis, etc.

Kathryn

November 6, 2012 at 04:51 PM

The Feminst Marketing Campaign: taking their cues from men since 1963

A lot of men are allowed to do whatever they want no matter how cruel. See: rapist are allowed to claim parental rights and often do to harrass the mother into not pressing charges.

Lily, would love to chat more :) PM me on FB if interested. Public discussions suck

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 03:52 PM

Philosophical arguments don't have to be testable. That's a category mistake. Given intractable philosophical objections to physicalism which even atheists like Searle and Chalmers champion, you can't simply treat physicalism as the default position in this debate.

As for science, I pointed you to the recent book by Mario Beauregard, who's a distinguished neuroscientist.

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 03:47 PM

For someone who touts logic, it's amusing to see DL caricaturing the arguments of his opponent. What we're getting from DL isn't logic, but a fit of pique.

And this is the same guy who resorted to the argumentum ad passiones fallacy by invoking his military service to win sympathy for his position.

LJ

November 6, 2012 at 03:30 PM

Arguments for is not hard evidence.

Keith

November 6, 2012 at 03:24 PM

Yes; I agree with this statement, I am a physicalist.

I know of exactly zero scientific arguments for dualism. There are philosophical arguments for dualism and there are scientific questions for which it is argued that dualism has explanatory power, but I know of nothing testable about dualism, let alone evidence approaching the level of scientific argument.

If I'm wrong on that, I'd be interested in a pointer -- thanks!

DL

November 6, 2012 at 03:17 PM

RockinwithH,
Yeah, well, we will have to agree to disagree there. Hays didn't directly answer any of my objections.
You say, thanks for my opinion, when I'm actually stating a fact. He simply answered manufactured objections (not the ones I put forth) that he created based on what he thought my motives were. I've taught formal logic and formal debate, but those concepts aren't valid presuppositions for Mr. Hays.

As far as your "link" goes:
1- Define parent.

2-Everything else stated at that link matches up perfectly to what I said, which is that Hays' general argument over on that thread boils down to -- oh, that scenario is just a version of the violinist experiment put forth by Jarvis-Thompson; therefore it's invalid.

Neither of these are a logical form of argumentation.

Keith

November 6, 2012 at 03:05 PM

I apologize, Kevin, I should have been more explicit. (That's a problem with thinking about something for awhile, you forget to spell out the connections that brought you here.)

On the one hand, God says abortion is murder. On the other hand, humans spontaneously abort roughly a quarter of the time. If God thinks abortion is a bad thing, why would humans naturally and unavoidably do it all of the time?

I mean, you can always answer "mysterious ways", or "a result of original sin", but I don't see how to understand God would ensoul so many humans he knows will never be born.

Do they burn in hell because of original sin? Do they delight in heaven because they're sinless? Either way, the largest population block in one of heaven or hell is unborn babies: which makes no sense, what exactly could be an unborn baby's experience of salvation or damnation?

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 02:39 PM

LJ

"Neither have you. The arguments were never settled. You have never made a point that is impossible to refute."

Then refute it.

"You don't get to decide when a talking point is done."

Sure I do. I doubt you even bothered to read through the entire comment thread before you commented. Rather, you're a late-comer who jumped into the middle of an ongoing debate and proceeded to recycle stock objections that have already been dealt with further up the thread.

Since you haven't refuted that material, you lose by default.

"For instance, the fact that you think atheism is equated to nihilism is not evidence for God's existence."

I never said otherwise. You give no evidence that you're even acquainted with the arguments for God's existence. What Christian philosophers or apologists have you studied?

LJ

November 6, 2012 at 02:14 PM

Neither have you. The arguments were never settled. You have never made a point that is impossible to refute. You don't get to decide when a talking point is done. For instance, the fact that you think atheism is equated to nihilism is not evidence for God's existence.

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 01:30 PM

Throughout this thread, Keith's argument for abortion takes physicalism for granted. That, however, disregards philosophical and scientific arguments for dualism, such as Mario Beauregard's Brain Wars, or the "hard problem" of consciousness.

steve hays

November 6, 2012 at 01:18 PM

Even if, for the sake of argument, we cast abortion as a women’s rights issue, that would only warrant a very restrictive abortion policy. That’s because roughly half of pregnancies involve baby girls. So even if we treat this as a female-only issue, we’re dealing with two females, not one.

And that also applies in situations where rape results in pregnancy. Roughly half the babies conceived in rape will be baby girls.

At best, then, even if we cast abortion as a women’s rights issue, that would only justify aborting baby boys, not baby girls. Yet how many feminists take that position? Are some women more equal than others?

Kevin

November 6, 2012 at 01:15 PM

The statement "God says abortion is murder" is an opinion based on someone's knowledge of scripture. I see killing an unborn child (zygote, foetus, whatever...) as murder. We are commanded not to murder. The context and definition of this command is outside of man-made law and in the realm of love for one another as human beings. I must recognize that because of the laws in most countries abortion does not fit the dictionary definition of "murder" because it is not "unlawful." The differences between abortion and murder in this context are not moral but legal.

Murder is an unlawful action carried out by one person against another. If I were to murder a pregnant woman I (depending on circumstance and the State where it happened) could be charged with double murder. "Spontaneous" abortion is not the action of an individual. By its definition it is an incident without an immediately identifiable cause. The one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Why you are puzzled about this is equally puzzling to me.

rockingwithhawking

November 5, 2012 at 12:09 AM

Hi Lily,

You said: "The women you are talking about aren't the same women whom do not want to be pregnant so much that they get an abortion...But the women I'm talking about do not want to be pregnant...A person wants the fetus out of them so desperately that they get an abortion."

Say a man is married to the most wonderful and most beautiful woman in the world. Say his wife has been nothing but good and loving to him from when they first started dating to the day they got married. She's an exemplary person in all respects. Is it morally permissible for the husband to leave his wife solely because he doesn't want to be married any more?

"I do not think it should be within the governments power to force people to use their literal bodies as life support for other people."

There are many good responses to the violinist argument if that's what you're alluding to. For instance, I'm sure you're well aware of Steve Hays' responses in this and the previous thread. I'd also recommend you interact with a book like The Ethics of Abortion: Women's Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice by Christopher Kaczor.

rockingwithhawking

November 5, 2012 at 12:06 AM

Thanks, DL!

steve hays

November 5, 2012 at 11:47 AM

David

“Steve Hayes, it's interesting how whenever someone brings up a question that you don't have an answer for…”

That’s demonstrably false. On this thread, no one has directed a question at me that I haven’t answered. You’re the one who’s ignoring the answers.

“However, it's intellectually dishonest for you to dismiss Lily's point as a deflection or a ruse instead of answering her. You've had some pretty good defenses on other points (not including the personal insults, of course).”

I didn’t merely say she was using a rhetorical ruse. I also explained the nature of the ruse. You’ve chosen to ignore the supporting reason I gave. So you’re the one who suffers from intellectual dishonesty at this juncture. Try again.

“At the end of the day, I think you (and all Christians) need to have an actual answer to this in order to complete your (our) defense.”

I have provided an actual answer. Either you’re ignoring the answer, or–for some odd reason–you’re unable to absorb the rudimentary distinction I drew. This isn’t difficult.

We’re not talking about the social obligations between two strangers. Rather, we’re talking about the social obligations between mother and child.

For instance, murder is evil. But not all murder is equally evil. Matricide, patricide, and fratricide are cases of aggravated murderous evil. It’s even more culpable than garden-variety murder because the murderer is taking the life of someone to whom he owes a special obligation to care about.

It’s striking that we have commenters on this thread who profess to be Christians, yet they are so morally obtuse that they can’t register these bedrock moral distinctions.

…you either call it a rhetorical ruse or resort to labeling their position mentally deranged, pathological, morally depraved, etc.. You do know that those are not actual arguments, right?

i) Characterizing your opponent or his position is not a substitute for argument. However, I haven’t used that as a substitute for argument. I’ve presented a slew of arguments on this thread.

ii) It is, however, legitimate to include that characterization, in addition to presenting arguments.

iii) There’s such a thing as the ethics of belief. Epistemic duties. Intellectual virtues and vices.

If a skinhead promotes Neonazi ideology, we should point out that his arguments rest of factually false assumptions regarding race and history.

However, we don’t have to stop there. We can rightly point out that his Neonazi ideology is morally reprehensible. Moreover, we can rightly point out that his adopted ideology is a reflection of his own character.

It’s not merely that he’s mistaken. We’re not dealing with an innocent mistake. Rather, it’s culpable for him to promote Neonazism.

iv) Likewise, the Bible isn’t merely concerned with truth and falsehood, but with the source of truth and falsehood. Not merely with being factually correct, but with moral formation. With character.

The Bible routinely traces evil behavior (e.g. murder) and evil beliefs (e.g. idolatry) to an evil heart. What you believe or do is mirrors the kind of person you are. There’s a cause-and-effect relation. You are what you do–or believe.

v) On the one hand, some commenters on this thread are atheists. According to the Christian ethics of belief, their advocacy of abortion isn’t merely misguided, but culpable. What they are doing is evil. It is evil for them to promote evil. And they promote evil because they are evil.

Of course they resent that characterization, but this is a Christian site. Christian commenters like me have the right to render Christian value-judgments.

vi) On the hand, some of the abortion proponents on this thread (or the parallel thread at Taylor’s blog) profess to be Christians. In that event, it’s proper to hold them to Christian standards vis-à-vis the ethics of belief. If you profess to be a Christian, yet you promote evil, then that’s contrary to your Christian profession. That’s impermissible. That’s inexcusable.

This isn’t a value free or morally neutral discussion where you can think whatever you please, but still claim to be a faithful follower of Jesus. If you follow Jesus, then you’re not at liberty to think whatever you please and call it Christian.

steve hays

November 5, 2012 at 11:17 PM

LJ

“I think the person in the violinist example has every right to pull the plug.”

Big deal. Jarvis deliberately designed her thought-experiment to evoke that reaction. She invented a hypothetical situation which was intended to make her position as sympathetic as possible. So she’s manipulating the reader.

But that’s a decoy. The question isn’t whether you’d have a right to disconnect yourself from another patient on life support. The real question is whether that’s properly analogous to parental duties.

It’s striking how many abortionists are duped by the hypothetical. Remember, though, that this is an argument from analogy. The question is not whether you agree with the hypothetical analogy, but whether the hypothetical analogue is, in fact, parallel to the relationship between a mother and her child.

“And would actually have the right to take violent retaliation if they are really being forced. Life support involves the other person be attached the entire time. That means he could literally not go where he wants to go for 9 whole months.”

i) To begin with, that’s disanalogous to the situation of a pregnant woman. Most pregnant women can continue to go wherever they want.

ii) However, let’s play along with the comparison. Sophia Loren has two sons. But she was prone to miscarriage. In order to carry two pregnancies to term, she had to put her movie career on hold and confine herself to bed for months.

For her motherhood was worth it. Pity some many women lack that maternal instinct.

“This makes the bodies of every citizen the constant status as a criminal.”

What does that even mean in the context of pregnancy?

“It is a prison.”

Pregnancy isn’t equivalent to house arrest. You need to get a grip on your emoting and think straight.

“The force makes the person in the example have the right to utilize the self defense argument. The attachment is the attack. The effect on your body is the attack.”

Pregnancy is the way in which all of us, including feminists, come into this world. It’s morbidly fascinating to see this seething hostility towards the critic’s own source of being. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. We all began in the womb. To demonize pregnancy is thankless and perverse.

“I don't see how this is different than arguing that if rape sustained life, you could force it.”

I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. Rape doesn’t sustain life. On rare occasion it produces life.

“The lack of consent concerning your body is what makes sexual violence so traumatic. You'd be being raped by the state. I have seen no argument on this thread that was really that insightful and addressing this specifically.”
i) Of course, “rape by the state” is hyperbolic nonsense.

ii) In addition, not all duties are contingent on consent. For instance, take a man who married a women who later develops a degenerative illness. And this isn’t just hypothetical. Daniel Barenboim’s wife (Jacqueline du Pré) developed MS. Likewise, John Feinberg’s wife (Patricia) developed Huntington’s disease.

Neither husband had that in mind when they married. There was no informed consent in that respect. And it’s quite possible that had they known ahead of time what would happen, they would have married someone else instead. But having married the woman in question, they now have spousal duties to their ailing wife.

Of course, the abortionists on this thread might bite the bullet and say, “Sure, dump your sick wife! That wasn’t part of the bargain doing in. Desert your wife in her hour of greatest need.”

And if that’s your position, then that’s just one more reason why atheism is evil.

Or suppose your daughter is crippled in a traffic accident. Now she needs lifelong care. Is it okay to disown your daughter? Ditch her on the shoulder of the freeway and drive away?

“Furthermore, there is no proof the of the God that is the foundation of the moral code that the arguments lie in. As long as their argument is that God does not want us to do it, it remains irrelevant b/c I do not believe the foundation even exists and there is no evidence for it anywhere.”

All you’re doing is to assert atheism. That’s no reason to take your assertion seriously.

[...] like spousal abuse? Then don’t beat your wife!” Great point. See his full post here. Share this:EmailFacebookPrintPinterestMoreStumbleUponTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

steve hays

November 5, 2012 at 11:07 AM

I've also discussed it here, in connection with a book review:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/01/when-life-begins-and-ends-with-womans.html

steve hays

November 5, 2012 at 11:06 AM

This is an open comment thread. Any commenter is free to comment on someone else's comment.

i) Your claim is demonstrably false. I've repeatedly pointed out that her argument from analogy is vitiated by a fundamental disanalogy: the relationship of a female hospital patient to a perfect stranger is hardly equivalent to the relationship between a mother and her baby. Parents have duties to their kids which they don't have to adult strangers.

ii) In addition, I've discussed her argument elsewhere. For instance:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2005/12/defense-of-abortion.html

[...] Read More [...]

Market Garden

November 5, 2012 at 09:51 PM

So unless the author himself responds to you it's not worth your time. Quite an ego there.

Keith

November 5, 2012 at 09:07 AM

The phrase "logical end results" is misleading, and to say "where your position will ultimately lead" claims foreknowledge you don't have.

Of course there are bad paths that can be logically derived from various pro-choice arguments, but society gets to choose which paths to take and how far to take them.

I can make the exact same style of arguments using pro-life positions.

As a example: stress is believed to increase the risk of miscarriage, and as a logical consequence of declaring a fetus to be a person, no pregnant woman will be allowed to work because a job increases stress. Or, as alcohol and caffeine are believed to increase the risk of miscarriage, no fertile woman will be allowed to purchase wine or coffee (a woman might become pregnant and not realize it soon enough to stop consuming risky beverages).

And, just because you don't like it doesn't make it exactly what it is, a real life example of where your position (if your position were incredibly, stupidly applied), will ultimately lead.

DL

November 5, 2012 at 08:51 AM

rockingwithhawking:
I complimented you earlier, but here I think I need to throw up the red flag.
In correction to your reference above, Steve Hays has never actually answered the "violinist argument" in the previous thread or otherwise. The content of his responses have been limited to: 1) stating that the argument was a thought-experiment written by Judith Jarvis-Thompson and 2) that her argument is morally depraved and that no Christian should ever consider it seriously.

Sorry, but I'm not sure in what world one would have to live in order to see such logic and say, "gee, you've got a good point there!"

Please note: This comment is directed to rockingwithhawking, only.

DL

November 5, 2012 at 08:50 AM

rockingwithhawking (November 5, 2012 at 12:09 AM):
I complimented you earlier, but here I think I need to throw up the red flag.
In correction to your reference above, Steve Hays has never actually answered the "violinist argument" in the previous thread or otherwise. The content of his responses have been limited to: 1) stating that the argument was a thought-experiment written by Judith Jarvis-Thompson and 2) that her argument is morally depraved and that no Christian should ever consider it seriously.

Sorry, but I'm not sure in what world one would have to live in order to see such logic and say, "gee, you've got a good point there!"

Please note: This comment is directed to rockingwithhawking, only.

Keith

November 5, 2012 at 08:41 AM

I'm not quite on the same page as Lily either, but she and David have a valid question.

The pro-life movement is focused on convincing society that abortion is murder, which I understand, but I have seen no legal framework which would make protection of the fetus practical. Once a fetus is a "person", all sorts of laws would reasonably apply.

Is this country going to prosecute a woman and her doctor for murder, and execute them, for an abortion?

It's known that drugs (including caffeine!), stress, exercise and diet do or do not increase the chance of spontaneous abortion: is this country going to make a woman liable for exercising too much or too little, or consuming too much coffee, during a pregnancy and endangering another human being?

The answer I anticipate to this question is "of course not!", but that's not helpful. If killing a fetus is murder, the aborting mother and doctor are a risk to society, it's statistically likely they will repeat the offense. If a bus driver drinks, has an accident and kills a passenger, she or he are liable for that death. Why would a mother not be liable for endangering the life of another person?

Imagine we voted tomorrow for personhood from the moment of conception. Pro-lifers, what's the plan for the day after?

LJ

November 5, 2012 at 08:39 PM

I think the person in the violinist example has every right to pull the plug. And would actually have the right to take violent retaliation if they are really being forced. Life support involves the other person be attached the entire time. That means he could literally not go where he wants to go for 9 whole months. This makes the bodies of every citizen the constant status as a criminal. It is a prison. The force makes the person in the example have the right to utilize the self defense argument. The attachment is the attack. The effect on your body is the attack. I don't see how this is different than arguing that if rape sustained life, you could force it. The lack of consent concerning your body is what makes sexual violence so traumatic. You'd be being raped by the state. I have seen no argument on this thread that was really that insightful and addressing this specifically. Furthermore, there is no proof the of the God that is the foundation of the moral code that the arguments lie in. As long as their argument is that God does not want us to do it, it remains irrelevant b/c I do not believe the foundation even exists and there is no evidence for it anywhere.

David

November 5, 2012 at 07:51 AM

Steve Hayes, it's interesting how whenever someone brings up a question that you don't have an answer for, you either call it a rhetorical ruse or resort to labeling their position mentally deranged, pathological, morally depraved, etc.. You do know that those are not actual arguments, right?

While I disagree with Lily on almost every other point, the 20,000 lb gorilla in the room for your argument against is this statement by Lily: “Making abortion illegal means the government is forcing citizens to forgo (all the things I listed) for another citizen. I do not think it should be within the governments power to force people to use their literal bodies as life support for other people.....”

I'm not saying there is isn't an adequate retort to be found. Scott brought the argument up briefly in the original post, but he doesn't actually answer it. And Rockinwithhawking has addressed this point in a few of his comments, decently. However, it's intellectually dishonest for you to dismiss Lily's point as a deflection or a ruse instead of answering her. You've had some pretty good defenses on other points (not including the personal insults, of course).

At the end of the day, I think you (and all Christians) need to have an actual answer to this in order to complete your (our) defense.

rockingwithhawking

November 5, 2012 at 07:41 PM

Hi DL,

Thanks for your opinion. But respectfully I do stand by what I said about Steve Hays and his comment, particularly this comment about the violinist argument.

What's more, but hopefully without detracting from several other fine comments, I think Steve Hays has quite arguably made many of the most intellectually rigorous and insightful comments in these abortion threads. Not that what I say is probably worth much, but for what it is worth, I would highly recommend everyone interested in the topic at hand take the time to carefully consider Steve Hays' comments.

Also, if I can gently probe with some slight pushback too, I suspect it's not so much his arguments (or supposed lack thereof) that you find troubling, but perhaps his supposed poor tone? If that's the case, might I please suggest the statement "I'm not sure in what world one would have to live in order to see such logic and say, 'gee, you've got a good point there!'" could arguably be a bit on the poor tone side of the equation?

rockingwithhawking

November 5, 2012 at 07:15 PM

Hi Keith,

"What is your estimate, how long do you think it's going to take? Are you willing to say it's impossible, or even unlikely?"

1. Hm, I honestly have no idea how long it'd take to clone a human being. Let alone clone a human being such that there are no health problems and so forth. Sure, we could discuss the various medical scientific and technological issues. We could also talk about stuff like Dolly the sheep, people like Craig Venter, etc. Indeed, there'd be so much to say; I'd hardly know where to start.

2. But as we obviously know cloning and especially cloning humans is fraught with all sorts of ethical controversy too. I don't see any of the major governments of the world with the theoretical know-how to clone humans permitting human cloning within 20 years.

3. Although a nation like China might. But currently and despite what's in the media I don't think China is on the bleeding edge of science and technology, which I would be inclined to think is where they'd have to be if they were to attempt human cloning. At least not unless they somehow happen (ahem) to obtain the scientific knowledge, expertise, personnel, etc. from a Western nation like ours.

4. In any case, the claim "we can cause any human ovum to develop into a new human being" is unfortunately too scientifically simplistic for the reasons I've given above.

"As to the relevance, my point was your argument from potential: if the potential of the blastocyst is what matters, and when any ovum can become a human being, what does it mean when we discard one?"

Actually, I wasn't attempting to make the argument from potential. (Not that I'm entirely against it.) I was mainly just trying to correct the science (embryology) behind the Sam Harris quote to the feeble extent that I was able.

Keith

November 5, 2012 at 06:21 AM

If "God sees abortion as murder", how do you understand the fact that 20-25% of all pregnancies miscarry?

From the statistics I can find, in the US the number of spontaneous abortions is roughly the same as the number of induced abortions.

To be clear, I'm not just yanking your chain, I'm seriously interested in an answer to this question.

I honestly don't understand how a pro-life person can reconcile a belief that "God says abortion is murder" with the fact that a quarter of all fertilizations end in spontaneous abortion.

Keith

November 5, 2012 at 06:01 AM

> In light of stuff like this, how realistic is it to claim "20 years from now...we can cause any human ovum to develop into a new human being"?

I won't hesitate to agree you know more about this than I do!

What is your estimate, how long do you think it's going to take? Are you willing to say it's impossible, or even unlikely?

As to the relevance, my point was your argument from potential: if the potential of the blastocyst is what matters, and when any ovum can become a human being, what does it mean when we discard one?

Keith

November 5, 2012 at 05:50 PM

> How can you KNOW for certain that you are NOT ending a human life?

How can you KNOW for certain that you are NOT ending a human life when you affirm death because there's no brain or heart activity?

As a society, we've reached consensus that certain facts mean "death", and, in this particular society, we've also reached (perhaps temporary) consensus that certain facts mean "human".

> When dealing with life and death issues and issues of murder (the ending of a human life without cause), then one must be SURE that you are ending is not human and must have the evidence necessary to back that up.

I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear I believe the evidence is in: there's nothing even remotely "human" about two cells meeting for the first time.

> Once we decided that THIS is not human (< 100 cells) then it becomes much easier to decide that THAT (old people with terminal illnesses) are not really human. It also becomes possible to determine that infants and young children (< 5 yrs old) are not human either.

We've had legal abortion for almost 40 years, and not a single 5-year-old has been aborted. I think we can continue to take this risk.

Michael

November 5, 2012 at 05:09 PM

The difference between a handful of cells and a trunk load of cells? Quantity, not quality. A 1 yr old child has less cells than a 30 yr old adult. Should they be killed as well due to lack of cell quantity?

Phil Snyder

November 5, 2012 at 04:45 PM

So, Keith, what is that mass of 100 cells? It is life (as it fills all the biological necessities for life), but what KIND of life is it? How can you KNOW for certain that you are NOT ending a human life? It has its own DNA structure and that DNA structure is the simply a permutation on the human DNA structure. Those 100 cells will not develop into a different mammal, a reptile, or plant, or single celled animal.

When dealing with life and death issues and issues of murder (the ending of a human life without cause), then one must be SURE that you are ending is not human and must have the evidence necessary to back that up. Once we decided that THIS is not human (<100 cells) then it becomes much easier to decide that THAT (old people with terminal illnesses) are not really human. It also becomes possible to determine that infants and young children (< 5 yrs old) are not human either.

Keith

November 5, 2012 at 04:25 PM

We have "standards" of death, points where we say "this person is dead", and those standards ignore things like some metabolic activity. You can donate skin and corneal cells for some hours or even days after "death", so those cells certainly aren't dead. To say "we don't hasten [their death]" is wrong: from the point of view of those cells, by taking the body off, for example, a cardiopulmonary bypass pump, we most certainly do hasten their death.

But… we don't care about those cells, because "you" are dead.

Now, to your analogy, think of fertilization as the start of a "glide path" to becoming human, where, barring something from preventing it, the original pair of cells will be born as a human baby.

But... we don't care about those cells, because "you" don't yet exist.

I see no reason not to have "standards" of life, a point where we say "this fetus is human", and those standards should ignore (as a pretty obvious lower boundary), anything under 100 cells.

To say "either the life in the womb is human or it is not" makes no sense to me: the "life in the womb" can be two cells or a fully-formed baby able to survive on its own, and I see no reason to treat those two cases as equivalent.

Phil Snyder

November 5, 2012 at 01:49 PM

Keith - We don't define death as the end of all metabolic activity within the cells. But neither do we hasten it. Death is when the person is on a "glide path" to the end of all metabolic activity. e.g. barring something from preventing it, the person will die.

When dealing with life in the womb, shouldn't we use the same definition - barring something ending life, that life will emerge as an identifiable human being. If you are opposed to using the moment of conception, what should we use? Implantation? "Quickening?" Birth? Why then and not before or after? How about when the being is fully capable of caring for itself e.g. some time after adolescence)?

Either the life in the womb is human or it is not. If it is human that abortion is murder - the ending of a life without justification. If it is not human, then abortion doesn't matter.

I would rather subject a person to involuntary servitude (e.g. bearing a child and giving it up for adoption) than commit murder or kill another person. How about you? Where is the greater or lesser crime?

LG

November 4, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Yeah, that's not a citation that gives evidence that "ALL THESE PRO-CHOICERS" (your words) are trying to expand abortion rights to kill babies up to AGE SEVEN (again, your words). Try again.

steve hays

November 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Lily

“Ah yes, the right to remove something growing inside of my body…”

You make it sound as if a baby is a cancerous growth. Something alien to a woman’s body. Something harmful.

“A person wants the fetus out of them so desperately that they get an abortion.”

Frankly, that attitude resembles amputee-identity disorder (BIID). It’s pathological for a woman to feel that alienated from the natural, normal process of gestation.

“Making abortion illegal means the government is forcing citizens to forgo (all the things I listed) for another citizen. I do not think it should be within the governments power to force people to use their literal bodies as life support for other people.....”

You keep falling back on generic euphemisms about “citizens” or “people,” instead of the “mother” and “her baby.” That’s a rhetorical ruse to deflect attention away from familial obligations.

steve hays

November 4, 2012 at 10:54 AM

"According to CIR, one in five women who attend college will be victims of rape or attempted rape during their college career. But when Haavik and Dill looked at their own campus, they found zero incidents reported in 2008, one reported in 2009, and two reported in 2010."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/youth-radio-youth-media-international/doesnt-add-up-1-in-5-coll_b_1875546.html

"Regarding this study, 41% (n = 45) of the total disposed rape cases (n = 109) were officially declared false during this 9-year period, that is, by the complainant’s admission that no rape had occurred and the charge, therefore, was false. The incidence figure was variable from year to year and ranged from a low of 27% (3 out of 11 cases) to a high of 70% (7 out of 10 cases). The 9-year period suggests no trends, and no explanation has been made for the year-to-year fluctuation."

Archives of Sexual Behavior
Feb 1994 v23 n1 p81(12)
False rape allegations.
by Eugene J. Kanin

rockingwithhawking

November 4, 2012 at 09:50 PM

Hi Keith,

Well, maybe what's best is if we get into some of the more technical details (and people can just Google or Wiki if there are any unfamiliar terms or whatever):

1. Actually, in SCNT, what's happening is we're removing an oocyte nucleus in culture such that the oocyte becomes enucleated, performing a biopsy on a patient and taking out a somatic cell nucleus, and placing this somatic cell nucleus containing genetic material (DNA) into the enucleated oocyte.

In other words, the key point is SCNT involves *donor DNA*. This donor DNA is ideally taken from a somatic cell to be placed into the enucleated oocyte. We can't simply "cause any human ovum to develop into a new human being" absent additional genetic material.

2. Not "any human ovum" will do. Oocytes come in various stages of developmental maturity (e.g. primary, secondary, mature ova or an ovum).

And, of course, an ovum can deteriorate in quality over time.

3. Similarly, not that you claimed otherwise, but I should mention not any somatic cell will do.

4. Moreover, after this nuclear transfer, the gene expression patterns of this newly transferred nucleus have to be reprogrammed. This is typically done by DNA modifications like in cytosine methylation, chromatin remodeling, histone protein modification, re-engineering normal methylation patterns, etc. We could delve into further details if necessary. But again this isn't as straightforward as "caus[ing] any human ovum to develop into a new human being."

5. Assuming we could actually create a human embryo (like Dolly the sheep), we would also need the embryo to be implanted into a pseudopregnant female's uterus in order to carry it to term. Once again, this isn't as simple as "caus[ing] any human ovum to develop into a new human being."

6. Another reason I mention all this is because it's directly relevant when speculating about future medical and scientific technological possibilities. In light of stuff like this, how realistic is it to claim "20 years from now...we can cause any human ovum to develop into a new human being"?

7. At any rate, even if using SCNT for reproductive cloning in humans were possible, I don't see how SCNT would be an argument against the clone being a human life if that's what you're suggesting? I mean, why isn't a cloned human being still a human being?

DL

November 4, 2012 at 06:54 AM

Hi, "Rocking". Just a quick note to tell you that I've appreciated your interaction - you've been the rare example of what respectful and effective Christian engagement on this subject ought to be. Thanks.

LJ

November 4, 2012 at 06:50 PM

There is no proof for or evidence for God's existence therefore I do not agree with any moral system based on the assumption of his existence......

Because I do not believe, it is literally making a moral system based on the hypothetical .

Tony

November 4, 2012 at 05:24 PM

The writer of this article is not necessarily making an assumption about all who are pro-choice, but specifically addressing the population that believe abortion is wrong but should be legal.

Akash Charles

November 4, 2012 at 03:21 PM

Try again yourself

I am just saying this is what your arguments lead too,its silly that these supposed christian's claim to defend the voice of the weak while murdering them.

Akash Charles

November 4, 2012 at 03:17 PM

I understand, basically women are allowed to do whatever they want no matter how cruel.

Feminists need a better marketing campaign

Keith

November 4, 2012 at 01:57 PM

Ensoulment only at conception is confusing at best: human chimeras are known, implying two souls with one brain/body, or identical twins would presumably have to share a soul.

Mike

November 4, 2012 at 01:38 PM

I'm dropping this in here because I couldn't figure anywhere else to put it. There is no question that from conception a fertilized ovum is genetically a human being. But the discussion does not revolve around that fact, as no scientifically reasonable person would argue against that fact. What really is the issue is when the creaturely human becomes sufficiently complex to warrant specific protection. I agree that ensoulment is an insufficient argument as the moment of its occurrence is nowhere discussed in scripture, though I personally feel that it is at first breath (both from the view that an unborn child is an incomplete vessel, and you don't fill vessels until they are complete, and the close tie in scripture between the soul and the life-breath). I think we should instead look at a very helpful boundary in development, sentience. There are already many laws protecting the unwarranted termination of sentient creatures and while it may not be possible to exactly determine when it develops, we can be clear that it requires a functioning brain to occur. This would provide a scientific basis that could serve as a basis for discussion. Functionally while most pro-lifers speak toward a conception basis, they tend to function under an implantation basis for their objections save where they have been scared into believing otherwise (like in the case of the morning-after pill) considering the lack of objection to IUD's, which act to prevent implantation.

[...] 10.  How you can respond to your pro-choice friends. Thoughts from Scott Klusendorf. [...]

Charlie Johnson

November 3, 2012 at 12:25 AM

Abortion is murder. It is the murder of an unborn child.

My response to my friends or colleagues who have this response is:

"Do you believe that abortion is murder, and that God sees abortion as murder?"

The answer is consistently yes.

My follow-up question is, "What if we changed this discussion from the murder of unborn children to Jews. Or African Americans. Or mentally challenged children? Now do you believe that the government shouldn't be able to tell someone that it is murder?"

The answer is consistently "Uhm... well..."

We say we believe abortion is the murder of an unborn child. But really, we view it as the disappearance of what would have become a visible child. We need to step up and people need to see abortion for what it truly is: Government-sanctioned, culturally accepted, infanticide.

Don't forget, in Nazi-Germany, it was legal to kill a Jew. Watch Ray Comfort's movie 180, follow this link to watch it... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI


Charlie Johnson, CPC
http://www.nabpc.org

rockingwithhawking

November 3, 2012 at 12:10 AM

Keith said:

"To quote Sam Harris: A 3-day-old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly. We'd rather kill a few hundred cells than force someone to give birth to a baby they don't want -- cells that aren't 'human' in any reasonable sense of the word."

1. The interpolation of "cells that aren't 'human' in any reasonable sense of the word" is an assertion without an argument.

2. Why is the sheer quantity of cells, i.e. 150 cells vs. 100,000 cells, relevant to the morality of abortion? Why make the comparison in the first place? After all, there are, for the sake of comparison, more than a few trillion cells or so in a human being. If another species with a trillion times more cells than a human being existed or arrived on planet Earth (and a trillion times more cells is orders of magnitude greater than the number of cells in a fly's brain in contrast to the number of cells in a blastocyst), would this other species be justified in killing a human being based on a human being having merely a few trillion cells or so? Where does one draw the line?

3. Why is the comparison on the level of a blastocyst vs. a brain? For example, a brain is at the tissue level rather than the cellular level. The comparisons are at odds with one another in this respect.

4. Of course, the type of cell is relevant to the abortion debate. The cells which constitute a blastocyst are considerably different from neurons or other brain cells like ganglion cells. For example, a blastocyst can survive and develop (for lack of a better term) into an entire human being if it were implanted in say the womb of another woman, and also possibly an entirely genetically different human baby than the same woman. Indeed blastocyst tranfers can commonly occur in IVF. Even if it were possible to transplant a fly's brain into another fly's brain, a fly's brain wouldn't develop into anything more than a fly's brain. And we wouldn't expect otherwise. But we would expect a normal blastocyst to continue to develop. There are several other ways I could detail about how a blastocyst is hardly analogous to a fly's brain. But anyway is Harris truly that ignorant despite being a neuroscientist?

5. Speaking of ignorance, a blastocyst is not a "3-day-old human embryo." Rather that's a morula. A blastocyst is generally on day 5. This occurs via the secretion of fluid within the morula to form the blastocyst cavity, and the compaction of the morula's cells wherein the outer cells become the trophoblast and the inner cells become the embryoblast. This is embryology 101. Has Harris studied embryology at all?

6. Related, there's a phenomenon known as blastocyst hatching in which the embryo bursts forth from the zona pellucida, and the zona pellucida eventually degenerates and disappears, via a series of rhythmic expansion-contraction cycles. Can other "collections of cells" carry out similar sorts of activities?

7. Speaking of the morula, which contains 32 cells (a blastomere), a blastomere is totipotent up to a certain point in time, which means each blastomere can form a complete embyro, which in turn is significant in monozygomatic twinning. That's another difference between the "collection of cells" known as the embryo vs. a "collections of cells" like a fly's brain cells.

8. We haven't even begun to talk about the sorts of hormonal as well as other resultant changes which are engendered in the mother when a zygote is formed. Are there other "collections of cells" which can so effect a woman's body?

9. All this is the tip of the iceberg too. There's much more that could be said. And I (and surely others) can say more if need be. But point being, given all this, I'd be hard-pressed to conclude a zygote let alone a blastocyst is a mere "collection of cells." (Perhaps the argument can be made that the embryo is more than a mere "collection of cells" but less than human. But I think this poses other problems. In any case, the argument hasn't been made in this forum.)

rockingwithhawking

November 3, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Keith said:

"20 years from now, when we can cause any human ovum to develop into a new human being,"

Hi, Keith. I say this respectfully but it sounds like you have a rather poor grasp of the medical science or at least embryology here? An ovum must be fertilized by a sperm to become "a new human being." We can't somehow "cause any human ovum [in and of itself] to develop into a new human being." An egg needs genetic material from sperm for starters.

Sure, "20 years from now," a lot of things could happen including the introduction of new medical technology. But I don't see how any future medical technology could ever alter how human beings are created such that human beings only require an ovum but no sperm to be created.

Besides, it'd all be speculative at this point, even if it's based on current research. For example, I'm straining here, but I suppose you could be talking about something like creating some sort of synthetic robotic sperm which are identical to current sperm and having these robotic sperm fertilize the egg. But if so, this is still not using an egg alone without any sort of input from other sources to create a human being.

In any case, I'm afraid you'll have to spell out what you mean exactly, if you like, because as it currently stands your statement would seem to be quite absurd.

"will that mean menstruation is murder, because we're killing a huge number of potential humans?"

Not to harp on the absurd point, but normally menstruation involves unfertilized eggs. I've never argued an unfertilized egg is a potential human being let alone a human being.

"You introduced this in #4, with 'the type of cell is relevant to the abortion debate'. To borrow a phrase from an esteemed colleague, that is 'an assertion without an argument'. Cells are specialized, sure, I get it. Human conception is wondrous, amazing, incredible, a miracle of evolution, and is of such rarity that it only happens maybe 250 million times a year on planet Earth. How can that be relevant?"

Actually, I think what I've said is quite relevant in that it's responsive to the Harris quote. Anyone interested can simply read or re-read the Harris quote and my response above and see what they think.

Not sure what else to say since you haven't given much to work with here. Anyway, I guess that's all for now then.

steve hays

November 3, 2012 at 11:29 PM

Keith

"Yes, there are conclusions we might reasonably reach from the conclusion that gods don't exist, but those are entirely separate from whether or not atheism is true."

i) To begin with, I used a conditional (if-then) argument.

ii) Since Lily is an atheist, she thinks atheism is true–in which case, by your own admission, atheism yields those conclusions.

"In other words, just because you don't like where an idea leads does not mean the idea is any more or less true."

The question is whether Lily dislikes dislikes the logical implications of atheism.

Keith

November 3, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Steve, Steve, whoa there, big guy.

Atheism means the disbelief in gods. That's all, nothing more, nothing less.

Atheism itself says nothing about women's rights, the value of life, how we might view "arrangements of matter", or whether women's sole purpose is to be "packets of matter which exist to groom their replacements". Atheism is "the disbelief in gods", that's all.

Yes, there are conclusions we might reasonably reach from the conclusion that gods don't exist, but those are entirely separate from whether or not atheism is true. In other words, just because you don't like where an idea leads does not mean the idea is any more or less true.

steve hays

November 3, 2012 at 10:25 PM

In that comment you said you were an atheist. If atheism is true, then women have no inherent rights. If atheism is true, then men and women are simply fleeting, fortuitous arrangements of matter. Society can confer rights on women, but that doesn't derive from the nature of women. Given atheism, women are just packets of matter which exist to groom their replacements.

steve hays

November 3, 2012 at 10:14 PM

[Lily] "To your other comment about different hierarchies in society somehow being a counter argument to my point. What you are citing is called the intersection of systems of oppression within a given society. It is one of the more basic ideas explored and analyzed within feminist theory and sociology. It is not a counter argument. The intersection of classism, racism, and sexism does not disprove their systematic existence. Seriously this is high school level sociology."

You fixate on "patriarchy" as if that's the dominant "system of oppression." But as I pointed out, that grossly oversimplifies male/female social dynamics.

steve hays

November 3, 2012 at 10:09 PM

i) You act like TGC advocates arranged marriage. If a woman doesn't want to have "habitual sex," then don't get married in the first place! No one is forcing them into marriage.

ii) You have no concept of marriage. It doesn't even occur to you that marriage requires mutual accommodation. You seem to imagine that in a relationship with someone else, you should never ever have to do anything you don’t want to do. That doesn’t work in marriage–or friendship.

ii) Paul's command (if that's what you’re alluding to) requires mutual accommodation (1 Cor 7:3-4). It's not a command to wives, but a command to couples. A command to husbands and wives alike.

iii) Is it actually true that men want sex more often than women, or is that, itself, a sexist stereotype?

iv) Take the hook-up culture on your average college campus. You can't have sexually active single men without sexually active single women. So why assume that women are less interested in sex than men?

vi) Or is that even though women are (allegedly) less interested in sex, they offer sex because that's the only way to hang onto their boyfriend? If the don't offer sex, he will dump them.

But even if that's true, that's damaging to feminism. For that means women are so emotionally dependent on having a man in their life that they will do things to keep him which they find personally disagreeable.

vii) Another explanation is that women are trying to keep up with other women. It's a female competition. Every girl has to have her own boyfriend.

But if that's the case, it makes women look too emotionally weak to resist peer pressure.

Keith

November 3, 2012 at 09:33 AM

> 1. The interpolation of "cells that aren't 'human' in any reasonable sense of the word" is an assertion without an argument.

I thought the argument obvious, I apologize: a collection of 150 cells cannot do anything we might consider a "human" activity: think, breath, love, have a secret desire for Domino's pizza.

> 2. Why is the sheer quantity of cells, i.e. 150 cells vs. 100,000 cells, relevant to the morality of abortion?

It's relevant if you agree a certain number and organization of cells are requirements of "being human".

It's not relevant if you believe that a sperm is not human, an ovum is not human, but the instant they touch a "human" is magically created.

> 3. Why is the comparison on the level of a blastocyst vs. a brain? For example, a brain is at the tissue level rather than the cellular level. The comparisons are at odds with one another in this respect.

I believe the point was entirely to contrast the number of cells in a simple brain with the number of cells being killed.

> 4. Of course, the type of cell is relevant to the abortion debate. The cells which constitute a blastocyst are considerably different from neurons or other brain cells like ganglion cells. For example, a blastocyst can survive and develop (for lack of a better term) into an entire human being if it were implanted in say the womb of another woman, and also possibly an entirely genetically different human baby than the same woman.

I understand the argument from potential but I think it's flawed: 20 years from now, when we can cause any human ovum to develop into a new human being, will that mean menstruation is murder, because we're killing a huge number of potential humans? Existing and anticipated medical technology makes the argument from potential a dead-end.

> 5. Speaking of ignorance, a blastocyst is not a "3-day-old human embryo."

Fair enough.

> 6, 7, 8, 9:

You introduced this in #4, with "the type of cell is relevant to the abortion debate". To borrow a phrase from an esteemed colleague, that is "an assertion without an argument".

Cells are specialized, sure, I get it. Human conception is wondrous, amazing, incredible, a miracle of evolution, and is of such rarity that it only happens maybe 250 million times a year on planet Earth. How can that be relevant?

Akash Charles

November 3, 2012 at 09:22 PM

thats not my logic!! its the logic of people like you!-hence i posted the article

Pro choicer's just cannot admit that its all about a woman trying to eliminate the consequence of her sleeping around like a fool with as many men as possible.

Yes rape is by far a minority of cases where abortion occurs,pout as much as you want

Keith

November 3, 2012 at 09:08 PM

> An egg needs genetic material from sperm for starters.

Somatic-cell nuclear transfer requires no sperm, just an unfertilized egg.

[...] Why Your Friends are ‘Pro-Choice’ (And What To Do About It) by Scott Klusendorf via TGC. Great article that did not involve voting republican to convince your friends. [...]

Lily

November 3, 2012 at 08:19 PM

Ah yes, the right to remove something growing inside of my body and the right to attack someone who poses no immediate threat to me would both be defended with the same logic. Watch out for the slippery slope!

Lol..

Lily

November 3, 2012 at 08:14 PM

Because rapists and pedophiles are not being forced to grow and carry other beings inside of them, and rape and pedophilia is not a means to remove something unwanted from your own body........

Lily

November 3, 2012 at 08:09 PM

To your first paragraph I would like to say, those are not the women I am advocating for! The existence of the women you are talking about does not eliminate the situation of the ones I am. The women you are talking about aren't the same women whom do not want to be pregnant so much that they get an abortion.

"A parasite feeds off its host so that the parasite benefits but the host usually not only doesn't benefit but is positively harmed. But a normal healthy pregnancy isn't unilaterally bad for the mother."

But the women I'm talking about do not want to be pregnant.......
The "negative" things I listed about pregnancy are reasons why a person might not want to carry a fetus to term. They carry implications that make government force horrific.

You can list a bunch of reasons how a pregnancy could be beneficial but that does not negate the fact that

1. A person wants the fetus out of them so desperately that they get an abortion
2. Making abortion illegal means the government is forcing citizens to forgo (all the things I listed) for another citizen. I do not think it should be within the governments power to force people to use their literal bodies as life support for other people.....

Scott

November 3, 2012 at 07:50 PM

Because it shows very clearly the logical end result of the Pro Abortion argument. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it exactly what it is, a real life example of where your position will ultimately lead.

Lily

November 3, 2012 at 07:38 PM

See the problem with your assumptions is that you have simply not met people who do not meet either criteria. The men in my life whom I associate with are neither chivalrous nor misogynist. They treat me how I ask to be treated. They treat me with utmost respect.

The point you just made implies that I have a choice between men who will pressure me into sex sometimes b/c that's just biology , and men who objectify women.

No amount of opening doors, "protection", paying for my meals, calling me mam, providing for me etc. will ever justify the coercion that you ADMIT is normalized within relationships in this society. At the end of the day, I need protection FROM these Christian men you deem the best for me as much as I need protection from the men you have defined as a threat.

I refuse to succumb to this binary in which I am always the loser. In which I am always subjected to sexual desires of men against my will. In which sexual coercion is shrugged off as a natural component of marriage and relationships.

Based on how you yourself have defined chivalrous Christian men vs. "men who objectify women" I come to the conclusion that both are just as dangerous and just as threatening to me as the other.

To your other point about taking my argument to its logical extreme. My main point is based on the fact that they are inside the other person and 100% dependent on them based on the physical connection. Once they are not my point does not apply. I am my body.

To your other comment about different hierarchies in society somehow being a counter argument to my point. What you are citing is called the intersection of systems of oppression within a given society. It is one of the more basic ideas explored and analyzed within feminist theory and sociology. It is not a counter argument. The intersection of classism, racism, and sexism does not disprove their systematic existence. Seriously this is high school level sociology.

[...] In a recent post on The Gospel Coalition, Scott Klusendorf presented a compelling argument. The title of the post, “Why Your Friends Are ‘Pro-Choice’ (And What to Do About It)”. [...]

steve hays

November 2, 2012 at 12:38 AM

Lily

"Ever asked a woman whether they've had sex to appease their husband, boyfriend, random boy, some expectation, or compromise etc. even though they really didn't want to?"

Why are you so resentful? If you think men and women are simply evolved primates, then what do you expect? Assuming that the male sex drive is different from the female sex drive, so what? That's how natural selection made us. It's futile to think you can change that. Our brute sexual instincts are hardwired.

David

November 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM

"But I don't want the government involved in taking away a woman's choice. I guess that's why I'm against abortion and am pro-choice."

Good grief! Do you want government to allow the pedophile the choice to molest and rape children? This isn't a social issue, it's freaking murder. How could someone like yourself make such a gross categorical error. You don't try and talk your friend out of an abortion, you call them to repentance via the gospel.

What is the Church coming to? Seriously.

steve hays

November 2, 2012 at 12:15 AM

Lily

"I will reply to the rest of your comments later. I would just like to sit back and laugh hysterically at the fact that you just used the intersection of systematic oppression as a mode of trying to disprove systematic oppression."

I'm responding to you on your own terms, and highlighting your lopsided appeal by an obvious counterexample. But feel free to laugh at yourself.

"Please continue to ignore that pregnancy involves pregnancy."

You're refusing to take your own argument to its logical extreme. Your objection implicitly goes well beyond pregnancy. When you complain that pregnancy involves "a complete change in lifestyle," that's nothing compared to 18 years (give or take) of childrearing.

So if you think the disruption to your precious lifestyle caused by pregnancy justifies killing your child, then that rationale justifies killing your child as long as your child is dependent on you. Is "parasitic," in your charming characterization.

steve hays

November 2, 2012 at 12:05 AM

That's disingenuous. What makes you think that natural process is even preventable? And that's completely different from an induced abortion.

DL

November 2, 2012 at 12:02 PM

My question was directed to Scott. Goodbye.

Wina

November 2, 2012 at 12:01 AM

four weeks after conception, the neural tube along your baby's back is closing and your baby's heart is pumping blood. - Mayo Clinic
life is life, whether it can live outside the womb or not and deserves an equal chance at life.

[...] Conversations about abortion rarely go well – most people who are talking about abortion usually disagree.  So this article is helpful for when you do have a conversation: Why Your Friends Are “Pro-Choice” (And What To Do About It) [...]

Tedstur

November 2, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Since the violinist argument is an anology, can I try another?

Let's say you and your friend are out in the woods, hunting for deer. You see a rustling in the woods and a big buck emerges from the foliage. You raise your weapon to bag the quarry. You friend yells, "Wait! I think that's another hunter." At this point you have a choice. You can ignore your buddy on the assumption that you are certain it is a deer *or* you can lower your weapon and wait until both you and your friend are assured that it is a deer.

The prudent hunter knows that the best thing to do is not shoot. A life is on the line, after all - the stakes are high.

From my perspective, the burden of proof regarding life rests on the shoulders of those who argue in favor of legal abortion. Unless they can prove beyond any doubt that a life is not at stake the prudent thing to do is to avoid risking taking that life.

steve hays

November 2, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Lily

"This is because the reality of pregnancy implies impaired mobility, health risks every step of the way..."

Other issues to one side, you're ignoring the medical benefits of pregnancy. For instance:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/women_shealth/3314614/The-unexpected-benefits-of-pregnancy.html

steve hays

November 2, 2012 at 10:45 AM

No, the violinist argument is not valid in case of rape. The baby is not analogous to a rapist. To suggest that is morally depraved.

Mark G

November 2, 2012 at 10:32 AM

We are not better off by the devaluation of human life, regardless.

[...] An article said, “Imagine if I said, ‘Don’t like slavery? Then don’t own a slave.’ Or, ‘Don’t like spousal abuse? Then don’t beat your wife’!” Read the rest HERE. [...]

Keith

November 2, 2012 at 08:58 PM

Babies? Not so much.

To quote Sam Harris: A 3-day-old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly.

We'd rather kill a few hundred cells than force someone to give birth to a baby they don't want -- cells that aren't "human" in any reasonable sense of the word.

Akash Charles

November 2, 2012 at 08:51 PM

Abortion is ultimately selfishness not a right, something all humans are prone to.

I would not be surprised if in the future women can murder/rape/abuse anyone all in the name of preserving their so called Rights!
I also would not be surprised if Christians endorsed this in the name of removing patriarchal oppression!

Akash Charles

November 2, 2012 at 08:46 PM

Since they talk about the rights of female murderers, why do they not fight for the right of pedophiles and rapists.

Why do one group of people have the right to do as they please to whoever they want and not the other?

Akash Charles

November 2, 2012 at 08:43 PM

because its murder it makes sense to have a law against it, because we have a law against murder.

There are so many sins that do not have laws, like a simple lie.Does this mean we should have no laws against another sin murder?rape?.

Abortion is basically killing another human being, a morally sound society will have a law against it.

A Civil war over the justification of murder.That makes no sense!

John K

November 2, 2012 at 08:43 AM

Here's logical support: dna. Next question?

rockingwithhawking

November 2, 2012 at 08:35 PM

Keith said:

"FWIW, the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence quotes The World Health Report Fact Sheet on Sexual Violence, 2002, and says 1 in 4 women experience sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime."

Thanks for this.

1. I don't know if it's the same as where Lily gets it though. I'd be interested to hear where she has received her info.

2. If it is from the same place, then the following remarks would be relevant:

a. Lily said: "Btw, about 1/5 of all American's women are raped so theres that." Her focus was on American women. But sexual violence or rape in the US is quite different from rape in the rest of the world, which is presumably what "The World Health Report Fact Sheet on Sexual Violence" canvasses. To begin with, we could have different statistics than other parts of the world. Also, we don't have the same social, cultural, behavioral, and other factors feeding into sexual violence as do say some developing nations.

b. Sexual violence isn't necessarily always identical to rape. Sexual violence or assault definitions appear able to vary depending on locale. For example, is penetration always involved in all sexual assaults, which would be directly relevant in abortion in rape cases since pregnancy usually cannot occur without penetration, or is "attempted" sexual assault also part of the definition? What about child sexual abuse - is this figured into the sexual assault statistics, and if so, why?

c. Also, an "intimate" partner is different from a stranger. If we include strangers, then how would this effect the statistics? Would they go up or down? On the face of it, it'd seem the statistics would have to go up. But that's based on a direct combination of the figures. Yet is this sort of methodology valid in terms of sexual assault statistics?

d. 2002 is about 10 years out of date.

e. What's the basis for the WHO's stats (assuming this is the organization you're referring to in "The World Health Report Fact Sheet on Sexual Violence")? At least from what I've seen the WHO usually relies heavily on medical journals and other studies for its information. Maybe it runs its own research on sexual violence and assault, for instance, but if so I'm not aware of it. Usually the WHO will cite a study or several studies done in journals like the NEJM, the JAMA, the BMJ, etc. So I wonder what the basis is for the WHO's stats? This is relevant to how the sexual assault data collected and analyzed, since not all studies are necessarily sound studies.

3. By the way, I should make clear I'm not implying the rarity or frequency of rape has any bearing on the morality of abortion. I was just curious about where Lily got her figures.

"Each year, it is estimated 25,000 American women will become pregnant following an act of sexual violence. As many as 22,000 of those pregnancies could be prevented through the prompt use of emergency contraception."

Check out my comment here for starters.

Steve

November 2, 2012 at 08:31 PM

Hi all,

I generally agree with the author's arguments but am still wrestling with a few questions. Anyone care to respond?

If I believe abortion is morally wrong or sin, must i also believe there must be a law against it? What about adultery or other sins?

For those that like the slavery analogy (and I do). Was the civil war justified? Should we have a civil war over abortion?

Steven Simpson

November 2, 2012 at 08:31 AM

I tried to say the same thing as a senior at Colgate University 30 years ago through a series of movies and discussions co-sponsored by Colgate's chapter of IVCF. But Scott says it so much more eloquently--and respectfully. The most revealing point: "Don't like abortion? Then don't have one." = "Don't like slavery? Then don't own a slave."

rockingwithhawking

November 2, 2012 at 07:57 PM

Lily said:

"This is because the reality of pregnancy implies impaired mobility, health risks every step of the way, a complete change in lifestyle, torture at the end, and oh yeah growing a person inside of you in a relationship that is scientifically parasitic (literally the biology term sorry)."

You use a lot of loaded terms here.

For example, I doubt most women would describe "the reality of pregnancy" as "torture at the end." The women I've seen who have given birth look pretty darn happy, to say the least! Sure, there is tremendous pain in birth. But torture assumes for one thing the pain is positively unwanted, whereas most women expect pain on delivery even prior to their attempting to get pregnant, and they are content to bear with pregnancy for the greater joy of having a baby. Not that women positively desire the pain in the same way a masochist would, but it's also not akin to "torture" where the pain is positively undesired.

Also, we have epidurals nowadays, you know.

As far as pregnancy being "scientifically parasitic," it sounds like you've been watching stuff like the alien abortion scence in Prometheus a bit too much! But having a baby isn't like having a parasite. A parasite feeds off its host so that the parasite benefits but the host usually not only doesn't benefit but is positively harmed. But a normal healthy pregnancy isn't unilaterally bad for the mother. She no longer has her period, for starters. Steve Hays links to an article which talks a bit about some other more beneficial aspects of pregnancy. Also, "scientifically" speaking, a parasite isn't usually genetically similar or the same as its host, whereas babies share half their DNA with their mothers. Moreover hosts frequently attempt to dislodge parasites through various means such as immunological responses, but normally a mother's immune system isn't on attack mode against her baby. Indeed, this only occurs in something like a Rhesus pregnancy, which is considered problematic to put it mildly.

Annie

November 2, 2012 at 07:51 AM

I agree with you David. This has escalated too much. It is so contrary to the spirit of the article the prompted it.

Akash Charles

November 2, 2012 at 07:48 PM

the pro choice arguments allow for such crimes!

In Sweden the bill was put into parliament and since prochoicers/UN/leftists hail Sweden as the pinnacle of democracy we know where we are heading towards.

Also abortion decades ago would have been in the same condition as this idea!

Goes to show women can do whatever they want no matter how evil as long as they label it as a women's right!

Annie

November 2, 2012 at 07:45 AM

Lily,
Please hear me when I tell you that I do not want to bait you, but just to understand you better. I am interested to know why you are so familar with TGC, when your views are so seemingly opposed.

Is there anything about TGC you do agree with?

Keith

November 2, 2012 at 07:43 PM

How does a single academic paper by two philosophers, that challenges/discusses the ethics of abortion, somehow become "all these pro choicers ... trying to expand a woman's right to kill her child till [sic] age 7"?

Keith

November 2, 2012 at 07:35 PM

It's hard to nail this down: under reporting is an issue, defining "rape" (and especially if by an previously intimate or spousal partner), so on and so forth.

FWIW, the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence quotes The World Health Report Fact Sheet on Sexual Violence, 2002, and says 1 in 4 women experience sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

In summary: not rare at all.

Quoting from the same source: Each year, it is estimated 25,000 American women will become pregnant following an act of sexual violence. As many as 22,000 of those pregnancies could be prevented through the prompt use of emergency contraception.

DL

November 2, 2012 at 07:21 AM

Scott, great article. I hold to a pro-life position and have come to these same conclusions myself. I appreciate the examples very much. In addition, though, I want to see anti-abortion legislation that allows for exceptions.

Scott, have you ever addressed the rape exception argument? I just looked up the Judith Jarvis Thomson's 'violinist' argument and that argument seems valid in the case of rape. According to her scenario, human life is assumed. I've not seen anyone on the pro-life side answer that objection, in the case of rape, effectively (ie, without ad hominem attack, existential/genetic fallacy, or outright rejecting the premises).

Thanks!

Keith

November 2, 2012 at 07:18 AM

Regretfully, I have no more faith in society than you or Mark; however, as Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

On a planet with limited resources, some form of government inevitably determines the value of life, if for no other reason than somebody gets to decide where the sandbags go when the hurricane hits. To say that government will make bad decisions is to state the obvious, because of course it will. However, what is the alternative you suggest to "popular opinion", or "society", that will result in all of us being better off?

rockingwithhawking

November 2, 2012 at 07:14 PM

Lily said:

"Btw, about 1/5 of all American's women are raped so theres that. Rape is not some rare thing either."

I'd be interested to see where you received this statistic. This figure seems a bit high (ignoring the under reporting issue, which presumably would have no statistics associated with it, or at best conjectural figures).

rockingwithhawking

November 2, 2012 at 07:05 PM

For what it's worth, I've left several comments about rape and abortion over on this post.

Sam

November 2, 2012 at 07:03 AM

But if I had read further down the column, I'd have seen that those ideas have been addressed already, although in much bigger words than I was using!

Sam

November 2, 2012 at 07:02 AM

Keith and Brent: I have to disagree that this is "a tough one to decipher." I also disagree with the idea that the fertilized ovum is not already a human being - - but I will accept that idea momentarily, for the sake of this point in the discussion.

Keith, if a fertilized ovum is not a human being, then what is it? If it continues to develop, will it become anything OTHER than a human being? Is there any possibility of something else emerging from the womb? Of course not. If development continues, we WILL see a human being at some point -- other than death, there are no other possibilities.

This last paragraph shows that part of the difficulty in discussing these things is that we're using different kinds of words and making it sound as though they are the same kind of thing. "Human being" is a word of species reference -- "human being" as opposed to "canine" or "feline" or "mineral" or "vegetable". "Ovum" is not that kind of word. "Ovum" is a word of developmental stage -- "ovum" as opposed to "zygote" or "embryo" or "infant" or "teenager". "Ovum" and "human being" are terms that neither compare nor contrast with each other -- they aren't two sides of an argument. As long as this kind of discussion is a matter of trying to use the terms as though they were the same kind of term, the discussion can't really make any worthwhile progress.

Akash Charles

November 2, 2012 at 06:38 PM

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2012/03/after_birth_abortion_the_pro_choice_case_for_infanticide_.html

sorry about that, but this is really scary,if leftists were not so keen for murder I might actually vote for them

William Brake

November 2, 2012 at 06:33 PM

People, whether my friends or not, would rather kill babies than be inconvenienced.

Keith

November 2, 2012 at 05:13 PM

Why do you not apply the same logic to death?

Why does no electrical activity in the brain mean that life is gone? Trillions of cells are still alive, the peripheral nervous system can still be active -- but everyone pretty much agrees that when the brain is dead, so is the person. Nobody argues we need to keep bodies around until they decompose, because we don't want to risk "taking that life".

Similarly, we can agree there is a point in the development of a fetus where killing it is a moral choice, where killing it is murder -- while acknowledging that discarding a couple of cells is sufficiently removed from that point in time that a woman simply has the right to make that choice for herself, without interference from anyone else.

Keith

November 2, 2012 at 04:58 PM

You do understand that we disagree? We don't believe discarding a few cells from a woman's body is murder. Seriously.

LG

November 2, 2012 at 04:12 PM

"All these pro choicers, especially the ones in europe and Australia are not trying to expand "woman's right" to kill her child till age 7 because it i snot a full human being till then."

Citation please.

Akash Charles

November 2, 2012 at 03:20 PM

Its my opinion that anyone who advocate for murder is basically saying its okay to murder them as well.


All these pro choicers, especially the ones in europe and Australia are not trying to expand "woman's right" to kill her child till age 7 because it i snot a full human being till then.
This was inevitable considering the flawed logic pro choicer's use.

Basically now days women can do what they want no matter how evil by labeling it as a women's right.

If all these female murderers went to prison for their crimes, there would be more equality in numbers in prisons!

Dave Miller

November 2, 2012 at 01:31 PM

Megan,

There are so many illogical and eisegetical statements in your message that it is barely worth responding. Suffice to say that the third chapter of the Gospel of John is not about when life begins or about abortion; it's about salvation, and you are twisting the Word of the Lord to mean something that fits your own particular worldview. Reading such things on TGC is distressing to say the least.

steve hays

November 2, 2012 at 01:05 PM

Lily

"Ever asked a woman whether they've had sex to appease their husband, boyfriend, random boy, some expectation, or compromise etc. even though they really didn't want to?"

Feminists resent Christian men. Feminists resent Christian marriage. Yet feminists also resent men who "objectify" women.

However, if you disdain Christian men with Christian values, if you disdain chivalry, then the kind of men you're left with are, predictably enough, men who objectify women. Men who simply use women and discard women. As Lydia McGrew has pointed out:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2011/12/the_reduction_of_masculinity.html

Keith

November 18, 2012 at 03:26 PM

Thank you for the thought Jonathan, but that's cool.

Steve is obviously more inclined to the heat of the discussion than the light, but that's not always a bad thing: sometimes in the middle of unexpected heat you find unexpected light. :-)

And since this post is already off-topic, thank you, and the entire TGC community for allowing such strongly different views to mingle here. I've learned from you all, and I appreciate your willingness to teach.

steve hays

November 18, 2012 at 02:52 PM

Jonathan Frame

“One could just as easily and correctly give you the same advice yourself, based on your performance in the comments of this blog.”

My performance consists of giving reasoned arguments for my position. Your performance consists of a knee-jerk defense of another commenter’s knee-jerk objection.

“Perhaps you've heard of the pointing finger axiom: Whenever you judgingly point your finger at someone else's supposed sin, there are four fingers pointing right back at you.”

That’s a handy cliché for folks like yourself who apparently can’t muster anything resembling a meaningful argument for their position.

“Or to paraphrase the words of Jesus: Get the log out of your own eye. Only then will you be able to help your brother with his own splinter.”

Which assumes, without benefit of argument, that my comments reflect a log in my own eye.

BTW, your own statement is judgmental. I guess Jonathan hasn’t heard of the pointing finger axiom: Whenever you judgingly point your finger at someone else's supposed sin, there are four fingers pointing right back at you.

“Keith: did you know that Steve has a blog where he copies and pastes bit and pieces of your exchange in these comments (out of context, of course)…”

I’m waiting to see you demonstrate how his comments were taken out of context.

“…in order to make himself look like a big man to his friends?”

Once again, that’s a pretty judgmental remark on your part. Didn’t you know you had four fingers pointing back at you when you say something like that?

Jonathan Frame

November 18, 2012 at 01:20 PM

"You need scale back your knee-jerk reactions and think through what you’re about to say before spouting off."

One could just as easily and correctly give you the same advice yourself, based on your performance in the comments of this blog. Perhaps you've heard of the pointing finger axiom: Whenever you judgingly point your finger at someone else's supposed sin, there are four fingers pointing right back at you. Or to paraphrase the words of Jesus: Get the log out of your own eye. Only then will you be able to help your brother with his own splinter.

Keith: did you know that Steve has a blog where he copies and pastes bit and pieces of your exchange in these comments (out of context, of course) -- in order to make himself look like a big man to his friends? If not, you might want to google it. You deserve to know the truth about Steve Hays's online activities.

steve hays

November 17, 2012 at 02:17 PM

Keith

“I don't understand Christian reliance on individual exegesis of the Word.”

Whether or not the exegesis is “individual” is irrelevant. What’s relevant is the quality of the supporting arguments.

“Only someone utterly ignorant of Christian history could trust their exegesis in any way at all, and yet Christians confidently utter the phrase ‘because the Bible says so’ without the slightest hint of irony.

i) You just cut the ground out from under your own appeal to Scripture. In a previous comment, you said “Steve, there's a long list of awful behaviors the Word of God doesn't ‘treat as sin.’”

But that allegation is only as good as your individual interpretation of the incidents you allude to. So Keith must be utterly ignorant of church history to trust his exegesis of Scripture.

ii) Many traditional interpretations of Scripture are traditionally justified, not by exegetical arguments, but by an argument from authority. Appeals to the authority of the church (e.g. the church of Rome, the Orthodox church) to validate the interpretation.

Since Keith isn’t Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, he doesn’t consider that to be a valid appeal.

“Trevor may not be theologically confused: he's read the exact same texts as you have and come to a different conclusion (a conclusion shared by eminent Christians both modern and historical).”

i) Trevor didn’t even address the textual evidence. For instance, the Mosaic law has about 16 capital crimes. So it’s not as if capital punishment is equivalent to murder from a Biblical perspective.

ii) Moreover, when you relativize the interpretation of Scripture, as you’ve just done, you thereby undercut Trevor’s (alleged) interpretation.

You need scale back your knee-jerk reactions and think through what you’re about to say before spouting off.

Keith

November 17, 2012 at 01:14 PM

I don't understand Christian reliance on individual exegesis of the Word.

Only someone utterly ignorant of Christian history could trust their exegesis in any way at all, and yet Christians confidently utter the phrase "because the Bible says so" without the slightest hint of irony.

Trevor may not be theologically confused: he's read the exact same texts as you have and come to a different conclusion (a conclusion shared by eminent Christians both modern and historical).

steve hays

November 16, 2012 at 05:27 PM

Try to keep your eye on the ball. Trevor is pretending to operate from Christian presuppositions. But his objection is theologically confused.

Your atheistic opinion of Biblical morality is irrelevant to the way in which Trevor famed the issue.

And as far as your own opinion goes, since many atheists rightly admit that atheism can't ground objective moral norms, your disapproval of Biblical morality carries no more weight than if you dislike spinach.

Keith

November 16, 2012 at 05:05 PM

I'm with Trevor: I don't think supporting both right-to-life and capital punishment is an incoherent position, but I think it is arguably an inconsistent position.

Steve, there's a long list of awful behaviors the Word of God doesn't "treat as sin".

Perhaps recklessly (in light of that fact), our society frowns on stoning people for adultery.

steve hays

November 16, 2012 at 04:20 PM

Trevor Minyard

"I have found a majority of pro-lifers are pro-capital punishment. That is a really sad fact."

It's a really sad fact that you reject the Word of God.

"In just reading the Bible (this is still 'The Gospel Coalition' right) its easy to see there is no such thing as an "innocent" life outside of Christ."

You're confusing guilt before God with guilt before man. The Bible doesn't share your confusion.

I'm can be falsely accused of a crime. I'm innocent with respect to the allegation that I committed a crime. For instance, if I'm accused of robbing a 7/11 when I didn't do so, then I'm innocent as charged.

"Plain and simply: people shouldn't kill other people."

Based on your do-it-yourself morality. But according to the Word of God, killing can be just.

"The abortion of a human life (however one decides to define when said life is), and the act of capital punishment are the exact same sin at the end of the day."

The Word of God doesn't treat capital punishment as a sin. That's a made-up sin of your own imagining.

Akash Charles

November 16, 2012 at 03:36 PM

I love how feminists hail that the most important thing a woman can do is behave like a man!!

Trevor Minyard

November 16, 2012 at 03:33 PM

Steve,

Do you love the Lord dude?

Trevor Minyard

November 16, 2012 at 03:12 PM

Chris,

I have found a majority of pro-lifers are pro-capital punishment. That is a really sad fact.

In just reading the Bible (this is still "The Gospel Coalition" right) its easy to see there is no such thing as an "innocent" life outside of Christ.

Plain and simply: people shouldn't kill other people. The abortion of a human life (however one decides to define when said life is), and the act of capital punishment are the exact same sin at the end of the day.

Charlie Johnson

November 12, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Christy,

Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139 clearly speak of God's knowing and forming people before they were born. David, in the Old Testament states that he knows he will see his son again one day in heaven.

There is biblical evidence to support that life does indeed begin before the birth of a child. Furthermore, as a nurse, you know that thirty years ago a child that was born prematurely at 28 weeks, would be a death sentence. Now, that child can survive due to medical advances.

The child that before could not have survived, is now able to survive. Are these children in the NICU, born at 22-28 weeks, and who cannot breathe on their own, dead to you? Would you have no problem pulling the plug on a tiny infant born at 25 weeks, who cannot yet breathe on her own? Or would you recognize that this tiny child is a life, one that needs protected?

As a culture and society, we have quietly accepted the lies about abortion. Please do respond, I'd love to hear your arguments or comments.


Charlie Johnson, CPC
http://www.nabpc.org

Charlie Johnson

November 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM

"How does a Christian and pro-life person make sense of spontaneous abortion as part of God's design?"

Theologically we see that the fall of man in the garden of Eden all of creation to be negatively affected. I believe that miscarriages, or as you call them, spontaneous abortions, are a sad fact that occur due to the effects of the fall and sin on our world and the decay of human bodies.

Charlie Johnson, CPC
http://www.nabpc.org

Chris

November 11, 2012 at 08:03 PM

People might check out Christopher Tollefsen's work too (e.g. here, here).

(Hat-tip to Triablogue)

steve hays

November 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

What about people with pacemakers? I guess they're not "alive." They're not human.

After all, their heart will stop beating without the pacemaker, and you can't live if your heart ceases to pump blood. If the heart can't continue to function "on its own, you aren't a human being.

steve hays

November 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM

They can't live on their own without technological assistance. Without the inhaler or oxygen tank, they will die. They will cease breathing. They aren't "viable" without artificial means of life support.

The same is true for people who depend on certain medications to stay alive. So her argument is utterly arbitrary, and all the worse coming from a nurse.

"Society has consensus that there is a point in end-of-life care where there's no reason to attempt to keep people 'alive', because whatever it is that makes you a person is gone."

The inability to breathe on your own (her example) doesn't mean the "person is gone." If ER physicians must intubate an injured teenager, does that mean the "person is gone"?

Letting someone die from natural causes and actively killing them are often morally distinct. For instance, if someone is in the final stage of terminal cancer, there may be no obligation to extend their life by a few more days or weeks. That's completely different from killing a normal healthy baby (to take one example).

"The fundamental problem for the pro-life side of the argument is that only religious dogma can justify giving a pair of cells voting rights. Only those subscribing to that dogma are going to agree, it's not convincing to anyone else."

The fundamental problem for the secular side of the argument is that only religious dogma can justify human value–at any stage of development or decline.

Keith

November 10, 2012 at 07:27 AM

This is good -- thanks! I haven't read Beckwith, but I clearly need to.

Chris

November 10, 2012 at 03:45 AM

Objection 3: Because so many pregnancies result in miscarriages or spontaneous abortions, it is difficult to believe the unborn are complete human beings during their entire gestation.

Not every conception results in the birth of a child. In fact, some have estimated that between 20% and 50% of all concepti die before birth. And some have claimed that up to 30% die before implantation. Thomas Shannon and Allan Wolter maintain that only 45% of sperm-egg unions result in live births, with the remaining ending in miscarriage, which leads them to hold that the individual human being does not come to be at conception. That is, because of the apparently vast number of unborn entities that perish prior to birth (and usually very early in pregnancy), some people find it difficult to believe that the newly conceived unborn entity is fully human. But this is clearly an invalid argument, for it does not logically follow from the number of unborn entities who die that these entities are by nature not human beings who have begun their existence. To cite an example, it does not follow from the fact that under-developed countries have a high infant mortality rate that their babies are not as human as those born in countries with low infant mortality rates. After all, what if it were discovered that the numbers cited above are mistaken, that in fact 90% of all conceptions come to term? Would it now be the case that the early embryo is an individual human being that began her existence at conception? Again, why would the number of entities who perish make a difference as to whether these entities were human beings who had begun their existence at conception? After all, all human beings who are conceived die, whether they die as a result of a miscarriage at three months gestation or as an adult in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 42. Are we to infer from this 100% mortality rate that none of these beings are human beings who have begun their existence?

It should be noted, as Patrick Lee points out, that “the percentages mentioned by proponents” of the spontaneous abortion “argument are disputable. For one thing...[as we saw earlier], in many cases the fertilization process is in effect incomplete, so that what is growing is not a complete human being. Many of the products of fertilization which fail to implant are no doubt the results of incomplete fertilizations and so are not human persons [or human beings].”

But suppose someone were to respond to this analysis by arguing that if we really believe that every conception is a human being, are we not obligated to prevent all spontaneous abortions even though it may lead to overpopulation and an appropriation of medical and other resources that may have catastrophic results?

First, this response does not show that the newly conceived entity is not a human being who began her existence at conception; rather, it is an attack upon the intellectual consistency of those who offer arguments to support their belief that the newly conceived entity is a human being whose existence began at conception. It is those arguments, and not the people who offer them, that are the proper object of analysis.

Second, in this chapter I am not arguing that all human beings are full-fledged members of the moral community (i.e., persons). Rather, I am making the argument that a human being begins her existence at conception. Whether that human being while in her mother’s womb should be a subject of moral concern from conception on par with typical adult human beings is another question and the focus of Chapter 6. So, in reply to the response, I could simply say that a human being dies as a result of a spontaneous abortion, but whether that human being is a subject of moral concern on par with a typical adult human being is another question altogether.

Third, assuming that the unborn from conception is a subject of moral concern (i.e., a person), this response is flawed in another way: it confuses our obvious prima facie moral obligation not to commit homicide (that is, to intentionally kill an innocent human person) with the questionable moral obligation to interfere with natural death of a human person in every instance. Clearly the former does not entail the latter. “Protecting life is a moral obligation, but resisting natural death is not necessarily a moral duty....There is no inconsistency between preserving natural life, opposing artificial abortion and allowing natural death by spontaneous abortion.” Consider an illustration outside of the context of abortion: a healthy 82-year-old man is clearly a human person as would be his twin. Imagine that the twin is in the last stages of cancer and no known remedy can save him. Suppose, however, he could prolong his life for a little bit more but only if he undergoes painful chemotherapy that will result in several months of misery. Our prima facie duty not to kill the healthy twin does not entail that we have a duty to require that the dying twin undergo the chemotherapy, even though both are human persons. Consequently, just as difficult questions about withholding and withdrawing treatment from dying patients do not count against our prohibition against killing innocent healthy adults, the question of how we should ethically respond to spontaneous abortions does not count against the pro-life position that it is morally wrong to directly and intentionally kill the healthy and normally developing unborn.

-- Francis Beckwith, Defending Life, pages 75-77

Chris

November 10, 2012 at 03:43 AM

+

Ben

November 1, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Thanks for this helpful article. My position has been akin to that of the young woman in the article, so I will have to be reevaluating my position. God bless!

steve hays

November 1, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Keith

"I don't understand how to rationally argue that preventing a (literal) handful of cells from becoming a child at some future time is 'killing a human being.'"

i) To begin with , prolifers typically argue that the fertilized egg is already a human being, not a potential human being.

ii) If you're going to a take a purely physicalist, reductionist view of human beings, then an adult man or woman is just a collection of cells.

"I'm pro-choice..."

Gee, who coulda guessed.

Brent

November 1, 2012 at 11:59 AM

That is a tough one to decipher, and I think we would agree in saying that that fertilized ovum, if left to itself, would, if it survives, emerge as a human being in its earliest stages of growth. Because of this, I feel that the most prudent course of action is to operate as if we know that the fertilized ovum is a human being. Otherwise, we are taking a big chance with life.

Keith

November 1, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Brent, I agree we should be asking when an abortion kills a human being, and I believe there is common ground we could find; as you noted, advancing medical techniques continue to push back viability, and that is relevant.

What I don't agree with is the answer that a fertilized ovum is a human being, because I see no logical support for that argument.

Annie

November 1, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Thank you Scott, for bringing more light than heat to a difficult conversation. You've given us all clarity to go forward and engage at the most rational level. Years ago, I well remember conversing with some teens on this topic in a simalar vein. They didn't think it was okay to have lots of abortions but if somebody made one mistake, then it would be okay. I guess the idea being, they would hopefully learn their lesson and go forward more carefully, never to find themselves in the unforunate situation of an unplanned pregnancy.(Just one "get out of jail free" card per customer allowed) I asked, if it is not wrong, then why not have as many as you like? If it is wrong, how do you justify it even once? It gave them some food for thought, perhaps. Please keep up what you are doing. I hope you can participate in many, many more such conversations.

Lily

November 1, 2012 at 10:55 PM

My point is that if you believe that then why is there absolutely no effort to keep that from happening? The effort is literally non existent. People are trying to cure breast cancer.

Brent

November 1, 2012 at 10:55 PM

Lily, I think you should read this.

http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9801/budziszewski.html

Brent

November 1, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Keith, I think the question you're asking is the opposite of what we should be asking, which is, "How can pro-choice people definitively know that abortion does not kill a human being?" It would seem that the burden of proof lies on them. With each advance in medical science, it seems that their argument shrinks in the face of the evidence for pre-born human life. Just a thought.

Brent

November 1, 2012 at 10:33 AM

FINALLY!!!!!

Scott, thank you so much for your concern for truth in the midst of this raging battle. This is a great article that expresses the inconsistencies of the pro-choice movement, or at least one segment of it. The people you described --- the ones who say they hate abortion but want people to be able to choose --- are the ones who concern me most. Many of them would claim to know Christ, and, indeed, they may, but they are very confused on how that affects our neighbor --- the pre-born neighbor.

Thanks again for being clear, insightful, gentle, and truthful.

-Brent

Keith

November 1, 2012 at 10:32 AM

An assumption in this post is that terminating a pregnancy is a moral choice, regardless of the term.

I don't understand how to rationally argue that preventing a (literal) handful of cells from becoming a child at some future time is "killing a human being."

Arguing from potential doesn't work: yes, the cells have the potential to become a child, but 20 years from now, when we can induce any stem cell to "become a child", will you argue that discarding stem cells is "murder"? Arguing from potential gets you nowhere at all. Second, arguing from ensoulment doesn't help, because nobody knows what a soul actually is or when you get one, and Christian sects have historically disagreed on the issue, there's no consensus, Biblical mention or evidence to argue.

What else is there? How can you make this argument, what is it that am I missing?

I'm pro-choice, but there's potential common ground for us because you and I would quickly agree that aborting a fetus an hour before natural birth is morally wrong, there's obviously a time where abortion must be viewed as a moral choice. But until there's equivalent agreement from the pro-life side that preventing the implantation of a fertilized cell is not the moral equivalent of stabbing a mature adult to death in an alley, we can't make progress.

Lily

November 1, 2012 at 10:26 PM

"We’ve never had patriarchy. That’s just a feminist myth.

Traditionally, most cultures are hierarchical. You’ve had upper-class women as well as lower-class men. Although a man might be at the very top of the pyramid, lots of men were subject to women who were above them on the social scale."

I will reply to the rest of your comments later. I would just like to sit back and laugh hysterically at the fact that you just used the intersection of systematic oppression as a mode of trying to disprove systematic oppression. Sociology 101 is calling.

Also,

"At what point do you think your mother or father doesn’t have the right to kill you?"

Please continue to ignore that pregnancy involves pregnancy.

steve hays

November 1, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Lily

“My ‘euphemisms’ shed light on the aspects of the debate that pro-lifers regularly ignore.”

To the contrary, your euphemisms deflect attention away from parental duties. That’s an aspect of the debate which abortionists regularly ignore.

“My wording is just as accurate…”

No, it’s deliberately vague, imprecise language that’s intended to shy away from loaded words like “mother” and “her baby” because the more specific language carries dutiful connotations.

“If I am pregnant, and I do not want to be pregnant. I am pregnant against my will.”

Why would a woman with access to contraception be pregnant against her will? Are you saying women are too dense to predict the easily avoidable consequences of their actions? Or are you saying woman have no control over their sexual impulses. They are just like animals in heat?

“If I do not want to carry it to term and the law states I have to, then yes I am being forced.”

If parents fail to feed their kids, resulting in malnutrition or starvation, the law can rightly punish them. Because some parents are evil, the law must motivate them to do their duty.

“Newsflash pregnant people who get abortions don't want to be pregnant!”

Newsflash: husbands who murder their wives don’t want to be married!

“Also I'm assuming you do not believe in exceptions for rape so your point is irrelevant.”

It’s relevant to *your* point because you are framing the issue in terms of consent.

For instance, if you voluntarily enter into a contract, then you can be “forced” to comply with the terms of the contract. If you change your mind after you sign the contract, tough luck.

“Very funny. Actually observing the obvious systems that exist around me I realize that women are not given universal, free access to birth control…”

“Free” because someone else is paying for it. Once again, why do you have such a low view of women that you think they shouldn’t pay for birth control? Do you think they shouldn’t pay for gasoline?

For that matter, if they are going to have sex with a man, why shouldn’t he pay for contraception?

Why do you think someone else ought to pay for your contraceptives? Why are you treating women like children who expect a parental figure to foot the bill for their lifestyle choices?

“…(which would decrease abortions by up to 70% according to many studies that actually happen to be coming out right now)…”

That’s a non sequitur.
“…are not taught comprehensive and informative sex education…”

You think women are too simple-minded to know where babies come from? Even women in primitive tribes are quite able to make a causal connection between sex and pregnancy.

“…and most importantly are not even in complete control of their own sex lives…”

You think women ought to be autonomous, but you’re also admitting that woman are emotionally dependent on men for sexual fulfillment.

“…due to the visceral and horrible effects of patriarchy.”

We’ve never had patriarchy. That’s just a feminist myth.

Traditionally, most cultures are hierarchical. You’ve had upper-class women as well as lower-class men. Although a man might be at the very top of the pyramid, lots of men were subject to women who were above them on the social scale.

And, of course, in our own culture, many women have power over many men. Why is “patriarchy” oppressive, but matriarchy is not?

“Ever asked a woman whether they've had sex to appease their husband, boyfriend, random boy, some expectation, or compromise etc. even though they really didn't want to?”

Why are women getting into sexual relationships if they don’t want sex? If that’s their attitude, why not get a pet dog or cat?

“I was. And I don't think the government had the right to force my mother to undergo the sacrifice and pain she did to have me.”

i) Of course, that doesn’t end at birth. Children are dependent on their parents for many years after birth. At what point do you think your mother or father doesn’t have the right to kill you?

ii) Or what happens if an adult woman become very sick and must depend on others to care for her until she recovers. Is it okay for them to just leave you by the side of the road to die?

Mark G

November 1, 2012 at 10:17 PM

I would just add that my point was in response to your claim that a logical pro-life stance can be presented. I would point out that your appeal to popular opinion makes the outcome arbitrary at best. Jesus was crucified by popular opinion.

Mark G

November 1, 2012 at 10:08 PM

If society determines truth or the value of life, Houston we've got a problem. If the value or humanity of "a bunch of cells" is determined by popular opinion shat is human today may not be human tomorrow. What is an ecceptable quality of life for the handicapped or elderly today may not be acceptable tomorrow. Your left with tyranny of the masses, or I guess you could turn it over to gov't. Is it wrong for a society to support genocide and who gets to decide? In some societies they have institutionalized pedophilia. Is that right? In some societies families kill daughters who associate with men they don't approve of. The Taliban recently shot a teen age girl in the head for promoting education for girls. In their minds their justified. You have a lot more faith in society than I do.

Lily

November 1, 2012 at 09:51 PM

Nothing you have said to me addresses my main argument about the government forcing someone to be life support for another person. Also I spend my entire life fighting for gender equality which means fighting for pragmatic ways to make abortion virtually non existent and fighting the notion that a baby girl is undesirable.

Many of the things that would decrease abortion rates significantly are things that TGC outright argues against. (and they are things that would decrease rates MORE than making it illegal) It is a hilarious tendency of hypocrisy on this issue that the pro-life movement can't seem to shake.

Now while people aborting fetus's because of their gender breaks my heart, I still do not think the government should be able to force a woman to undergo 9 months of pregnancy. This is because the reality of pregnancy implies impaired mobility, health risks every step of the way, a complete change in lifestyle, torture at the end, and oh yeah growing a person inside of you in a relationship that is scientifically parasitic (literally the biology term sorry). The health risks that go along with pregnancy are not fleeting and rare so don't think about shrugging them off. I just don't see how anyone could argue that the government could force a citizen to do this for another, especially given the implications of patriarchy that I listed in my other comment. My very body would be in a constant state of threat. Btw, about 1/5 of all American's women are raped so theres that. Rape is not some rare thing either. And coercion? Forget it.

Mark G

November 1, 2012 at 09:43 PM

Traducianism is the doctrinal view that one's human nature is inherited from their parents. Thus the fertilized egg has a human nature inherited from the parents. The whole debate about at what point in development one becomes human is moot. Creationism is the view that God creates each individual person. That might raise the question at what point does the developing embryo receive a human nature.

steve hays

November 1, 2012 at 09:41 PM

Keep in mind that most aborted babies are girls. Evidently, Lily thinks there are too many women in the world.

steve hays

November 1, 2012 at 09:39 PM

Lily

“Exactly. Its horrible logic and reads as even worse once you simplify it. For instance did you know that between 50% and 75% of all embryos are actually disposed of practically immediately because of a woman's own body? To believe that all embryos are human beings is to believe than 50% of our population is unaccounted for and dies without anyone knowing of their existence.”

Exactly. Its horrible logic and reads as even worse once you simplify it. For instance, did you know that every year about 230,000 American woman get breast cancer because of a woman's own body? To believe that all breast cancer victims are human beings is to believe that millions of female human beings prematurely die from natural causes. Heck, why should we event treat them? Why not let nature take its course?

Lily

November 1, 2012 at 09:35 PM

i) My "euphemisms" shed light on the aspects of the debate that pro-lifers regularly ignore. Nothing I am stating is contrary to fact but it does make my position more understandable by those who think differently. My wording is just as accurate, I am just paying more attention to the fact that its against her will than you are when I make my phrasing. I use those words because it is precisely what is happening.

ii) If I am pregnant, and I do not want to be pregnant. I am pregnant against my will. If I do not want to carry it to term and the law states I have to, then yes I am being forced. Newsflash pregnant people who get abortions don't want to be pregnant! Also I'm assuming you do not believe in exceptions for rape so your point is irrelevant.

"For a woman, you have a very low opinion of women. Do you think women are so shortsighted and dominated by animal passions that they can't appreciate the easily foreseeable consequences of their voluntary actions?"

Very funny. Actually observing the obvious systems that exist around me I realize that women are not given universal, free access to birth control (which would decrease abortions by up to 70% according to many studies that actually happen to be coming out right now) , are not taught comprehensive and informative sex education and most importantly are not even in complete control of their own sex lives due to the visceral and horrible effects of patriarchy.

Ever asked a woman whether they've had sex to appease their husband, boyfriend, random boy, some expectation, or compromise etc. even though they really didn't want to? I have yet to get a no :) Think about what that means. For heavens sake the TGC takes the position that regular sex with your spouse is an order from God and if that you refuse for a long enough time, there's something wrong with you morally. So yeah there's that small ounce of insanity and systematic coercion that I am taking into account.

iii) I was. And I don't think the government had the right to force my mother to undergo the sacrifice and pain she did to have me. That is why I am so grateful to her for my existence.

steve hays

November 1, 2012 at 09:27 PM

Chris

"I'd be interested to know where the Pro-Lifers here stand on the death penalty."

Prolifers distinguish between protecting innocent life and punishing those who take innocent life. A pretty elementary distinction. Next question.

steve hays

November 1, 2012 at 09:24 PM

Lily

"I don't understand why this is viewed as a hypocritical stance. For instance, I can be against abortion personally because I believe it kills a human, but also think its unethical for the law to force a woman to risk her life and carry another person in her body for 9 months. I could think that the government has no right to force people to be life support for other people. It's a perfectly consistent argument to make...To make the case that the government should be able to force you to rent out your body for 9 months to keep someone else alive is a very difficult one to make (especially when it involves such risk and such vast implications), and I honestly barely see this point even being addressed which is interesting."

i) To begin with, you yourself are morally uncomfortable with abortion. That's why you resort to distancing euphemisms like "a woman to risk her life and carry another person in her body for 9 months."

Why do you avoid more accurate terms like "mother" and "her baby"?

ii) Moreover, except in case of rape, the "woman" isn't being "forced" to do anything. She knowingly engaged in a consensual activity that's specifically designed to produce that result.

For a woman, you have a very low opinion of women. Do you think women are so shortsighted and dominated by animal passions that they can't appreciate the easily foreseeable consequences of their voluntary actions?

iii) Oh, and at the risk of stating the obvious, Lily was once a baby in her mother's womb.

Lily

November 1, 2012 at 09:18 PM

Exactly. Its horrible logic and reads as even worse once you simplify it.

For instance did you know that between 50% and 75% of all embryos are actually disposed of practically immediately because of a woman's own body? To believe that all embryos are human beings is to believe than 50% of our population is unaccounted for and dies without anyone knowing of their existence. Why aren't you investing all your energy into stopping the number one human being killer hm?

Lily

November 1, 2012 at 09:01 PM

Here we go again.

"You're personally against abortion because you think it wrongly kills a human being, but you want it to be legal to kill that human being?"

I don't understand why this is viewed as a hypocritical stance. For instance, I can be against abortion personally because I believe it kills a human, but also think its unethical for the law to force a woman to risk her life and carry another person in her body for 9 months. I could think that the government has no right to force people to be life support for other people. It's a perfectly consistent argument to make.

There are many things I deem as "wrong" which I still think should be legal. Your retorts aren't as well thought out and lacking in holes as you think.

To make the case that the government should be able to force you to rent out your body for 9 months to keep someone else alive is a very difficult one to make (especially when it involves such risk and such vast implications) , and I honestly barely see this point even being addressed which is interesting.

Chris

November 1, 2012 at 08:46 PM

I'd be interested to know where the Pro-Lifers here stand on the death penalty.

Mark

November 1, 2012 at 07:19 PM

"I don't understand how to rationally argue that preventing a (literal) handful of cells from becoming a child at some future time is "killing a human being."

"Preventing" the cells from becoming a larger organism is accomplished by killing them. "Human being" is because the "handful of cells" are human cells.

Sarah

November 1, 2012 at 06:57 PM

Thank you, Scott, for what you are doing! There aren't enough people standing for the truth these days. Keep it up!

Keith

November 1, 2012 at 06:18 PM

I'm sorry, would you please explain this a little further? I'm missing your point w.r.t. traducianism, why would it be a "moot point"?

Keith

November 1, 2012 at 06:14 PM

It is a continuum, but I don't agree we must define the second where a fertilized egg "becomes" human.

Consider the other end of the continuum, death. We don't require cell death, or the cessation of all cell electrical activity before we declare a person dead: cessation of electrical activity in the brain is a relatively common standard. Like fetal viability, the definition of death has changed because of medical technology: death used to be defined by the cessation of the heart-beat, but that's no longer the case as we can now, under some conditions, restart the heart.

In other words, there's a continuum, and while reasonable people disagree when exactly physical death occurs, we can (hopefully) agree that bodily decomposition occurs somewhat after death in the continuum.

In the same way, I can look at fertilization, admit I don't know exactly when the fetus "becomes human", but still say with a great deal of confidence that it happens quite a bit after fertilization.

I would anticipate you might respond there's nothing after death on the continuum, but that's arguably not the case: there may be trillions of cells that are still "alive" after brain-death, whereas at fertilization there are exactly two. How can you ignore all the live cells after brain-death, but find two cells at fertilization of paramount importance? If society can largely reach consensus on when death occurs, I see no reason we can't also reach consensus on when "becoming human" occurs, without having to resort to declaring a fertilized egg a citizen.

Robert

November 1, 2012 at 06:06 PM

This is a really helpful article! I appreciate the stories of interactions with students. It's encouraging to see clear thinking used to change minds.

[...] stimulating article on Why Your Friends Are ‘Pro-Choice’ (And What to Do About It). Rate this:Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

[...] In a helpful blog article today, Scott Klusendorf discusses how pro-choice advocates try to win the abortion argument by changing the fundamental question from an issue of morality to an issue of personal preference. He also gives some helpful tactics for getting the argument back on track. Klusendorf mentions Greg Koukl in his article. Koukl has written a powerful book on apologetics that every Christian needs to read. Check out Klusendorf’s article, and then get Koukl’s book. Arm yourself to defend the truth in a culture whose foundations are built on the shifting sands of personal preferences. Share this:FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle +1TwitterDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted in: Christianity, Current Events, Politics ← Why I Voted for Mitt Romney: Judicial Appointments Be the first to start a conversation [...]

Mark G

November 1, 2012 at 01:32 PM

Then of course if you hold to traducianism, i.e., inheritance of human nature from the parents, when human life begins is a moot point. The issue is more relevant to creationism.

Mark G

November 1, 2012 at 01:18 PM

I doubt that it is illogical to argue that a fertilized egg is a human being. I'm a biologist and pro-life. My argument would be that human life is on a continuum from fertilization to death. By way of analogy with metamorphisis we recognize that a butterfly egg develops into a larva, a pupa, and an adult we recognize as a butterfly. However, we all recognize larva, pupa, and adult to be different life stages of the same individul; one individual, several life stages. Given gradual development I think the burden of proof is on the pro-choicer to show at what point in development a fertilized egg "becomes" human if this is other than at fertilization.

[...] Why Your Friends are ‘Pro-Choice’ (Scott Klusendorf): This article analyzes the common claim, “I don’t like abortion, but I don’t think the government should be involved in taking away a woman’s choice” (or, “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.”). Abortion is wrong not because pro-lifers find it distasteful, but because it violates rational moral principles. [...]

Over 50 Million | Three Passions

January 19, 2013 at 03:51 PM

[...] Why Your Friends Are Pro-Choice (And What To Do About It) – Scott Klusendorf [...]