Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

A simple case for the pro-life position by Scott Klusendorf

Are you able to make a basic case for the pro-life view?

Here’s a short 38-lecture by Scott Klusendorf, president of the Life Training Institute.

This is a long treatment that talks about the challenge of moral relativism and the case for the pro-life view. He does show a clip of abortion in the video to the audience.

There’s also a 35-minute audio recording of Scott on the LTI web site. (H/T Apologetics 315) You can put that on your podcast player and listen to it. Listen to it a lot and soon you’ll sound like Scott.

Scott also has an article posted on the LTI web site for those who don’t have time for the video or the audio.

In the article makes three points:

  1. Clarify the issue
  2. Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy
  3. Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest

Here’s the second point:

Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”3 Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.4

Philosophically, we can say that embryos are less developed than newborns (or, for that matter, toddlers) but this difference is not morally significant in the way abortion advocates need it to be. Consider the claim that the immediate capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings. Notice that this is not an argument, but an arbitrary assertion. Why is some development needed? And why is this particular degree of development (i.e., higher brain function) decisive rather than another? These are questions that abortion advocates do not adequately address.

As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:5

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

That’s the core of the basic pro-life case right there. There’s also a good interview of Mr. Klusendorf that I blogged about.

Advanced Objections

You can learn more by reading basic pro-life apologetics… from Francis Beckwith. You might recognize Frank Beckwith as the author of “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“. He wrote that book for Cambridge University Press, a top academic press. But before Cambridge University Press, Beckwith wrote easy-to-understand essays for the Christian Research Journal.

Here are four essays that answer common arguments in favor of legalized abortion.

Here’s an excerpt from Part II:

Excerpt:

A woman who becomes pregnant due to an act of either rape or incest is the victim of a horribly violent and morally reprehensible crime. Although pregnancy as a result of either rape or incest is extremely rare, [1] there is no getting around the fact that pregnancy does occur in some instances.

[...]Despite its forceful appeal to our sympathies, there are several problems with this argument. First, it is not relevant to the case for abortion on demand, the position defended by the popular pro-choice movement. This position states that a woman has a right to have an abortion for any reason she prefers during the entire nine months of pregnancy, whether it be for gender-selection, convenience, or rape. [3] To argue for abortion on demand from the hard cases of rape and incest is like trying to argue for the elimination of traffic laws from the fact that one might have to violate some of them in rare circumstances, such as when one’s spouse or child needs to be rushed to the hospital. Proving an exception does not establish a general rule.

[...]Fourth, this argument begs the question by assuming that the unborn is not fully human. For if the unborn is fully human, then we must weigh the relieving of the woman’s mental suffering against the right-to-life of an innocent human being. And homicide of another is never justified to relieve one of emotional distress. Although such a judgment is indeed anguishing, we must not forget that the same innocent unborn entity that the career-oriented woman will abort in order to avoid interference with a job promotion is biologically and morally indistinguishable from the unborn entity that results from an act of rape or incest. And since abortion for career advancement cannot be justified if the unborn entity is fully human, abortion cannot be justified in the cases of rape and incest. In both cases abortion results in the death of an innocent human life. As Dr. Bernard Nathanson has written, “The unwanted pregnancy flows biologically from the sexual act, but not morally from it.” [5]Hence, this argument, like the ones we have already covered in this series, is successful only if the unborn are not fully human.

Scott Klusendorf wrote the The Case for Life, which is the best book for beginners on the pro-life view. For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

I found a very polished hour-long talk by Scott on Youtube. That talk was delivered to students and faculty at Furman University.

Finally, if you want to see Scott Klusendorf in a debate with a former ACLU executive, you can see it right here.

My friend Papa Georgio sent me a post that features THREE talks by Scott Klusendorf. (H/T Religio-Political Talk)

Learn about the pro-life case

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on sex and sexuality at Harvard University

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Morse delivers a talk based on her book “Smart Sex” at Harvard University.

The MP3 file is here. (30 Mb)

Topics:

  • the hook-up culture and its effects on men and women
  • cohabitation and its effect on marriage stability
  • balancing marriage, family and career
  • single motherhood by choice and IVF
  • donor-conceived children
  • modern sex: a sterile, recreation activity
  • the real purposes of sex: procreation and spousal unity
  • the hormone oxytocin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the hormone vassopressin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the sexual revolution and the commoditization of sex
  • the consumer view of sex vs the organic view of sex
  • fatherlessness and multi-partner fertility
  • how the “sex-without-relationship” view harms children

52 minutes of lecture, 33 minutes of Q&A from the Harvard students. The Q&A is worth listening to – the first question is from a gay student, and Dr. Morse pulls a William Lane Craig to defeat her objection. It was awesome! I never get tired of listening to her talk, and especially on the topics of marriage and family. She is a debater, as well (see below).

And just so everyone knows, the Wintery Knight is pro-chastity and pro-marriage. I believe in chastity and I am chaste. I recommend chastity to men who are contemplating a stable, effective marriage. The research shows that you will have a better marriage by being chaste before marriage.

Related posts

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A basic case for the pro-life position by Scott Klusendorf

Are you able to make a basic case for the pro-life view?

Here’s a short 35-lecture by Scott Klusendorf, president of the Life Training Institute.

This is a long treatment that talks about the challenge of moral relativism and the case for the pro-life view. He does show a clip of abortion in the video to the audience.

There’s also a 35-minute audio recording of Scott on the LTI web site. (H/T Apologetics 315) You can put that on your podcast player and listen to it. Listen to it a lot and soon you’ll sound like Scott.

Scott also has an article posted on the LTI web site for those who don’t have time for the video or the audio.

In the article makes three points:

  1. Clarify the issue
  2. Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy
  3. Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest

Here’s the second point:

Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”3 Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.4

Philosophically, we can say that embryos are less developed than newborns (or, for that matter, toddlers) but this difference is not morally significant in the way abortion advocates need it to be. Consider the claim that the immediate capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings. Notice that this is not an argument, but an arbitrary assertion. Why is some development needed? And why is this particular degree of development (i.e., higher brain function) decisive rather than another? These are questions that abortion advocates do not adequately address.

As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:5

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

That’s the core of the basic pro-life case right there. There’s also a good interview of Mr. Klusendorf that I blogged about.

Advanced Objections

You can learn more by reading basic pro-life apologetics… from Francis Beckwith. You might recognize Frank Beckwith as the author of “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“. He wrote that book for Cambridge University Press, a top academic press. But before Cambridge University Press, Beckwith wrote easy-to-understand essays for the Christian Research Journal.

Here are four essays that answer common arguments in favor of legalized abortion.

Here’s an excerpt from Part II:

Excerpt:

A woman who becomes pregnant due to an act of either rape or incest is the victim of a horribly violent and morally reprehensible crime. Although pregnancy as a result of either rape or incest is extremely rare, [1] there is no getting around the fact that pregnancy does occur in some instances.

[...]Despite its forceful appeal to our sympathies, there are several problems with this argument. First, it is not relevant to the case for abortion on demand, the position defended by the popular pro-choice movement. This position states that a woman has a right to have an abortion for any reason she prefers during the entire nine months of pregnancy, whether it be for gender-selection, convenience, or rape. [3] To argue for abortion on demand from the hard cases of rape and incest is like trying to argue for the elimination of traffic laws from the fact that one might have to violate some of them in rare circumstances, such as when one’s spouse or child needs to be rushed to the hospital. Proving an exception does not establish a general rule.

[...]Fourth, this argument begs the question by assuming that the unborn is not fully human. For if the unborn is fully human, then we must weigh the relieving of the woman’s mental suffering against the right-to-life of an innocent human being. And homicide of another is never justified to relieve one of emotional distress. Although such a judgment is indeed anguishing, we must not forget that the same innocent unborn entity that the career-oriented woman will abort in order to avoid interference with a job promotion is biologically and morally indistinguishable from the unborn entity that results from an act of rape or incest. And since abortion for career advancement cannot be justified if the unborn entity is fully human, abortion cannot be justified in the cases of rape and incest. In both cases abortion results in the death of an innocent human life. As Dr. Bernard Nathanson has written, “The unwanted pregnancy flows biologically from the sexual act, but not morally from it.” [5]Hence, this argument, like the ones we have already covered in this series, is successful only if the unborn are not fully human.

Scott Klusendorf wrote the The Case for Life, which is the best book for beginners on the pro-life view. For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Finally, if you want to see Scott Klusendorf in a debate with a former ACLU executive, you can see it right here.

UPDATE: My friend Papa Georgio sent me a post that features THREE talks by Scott Klusendorf. (H/T Religio-Political Talk)

Learn about the pro-life case

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How do children end up fatherless? One woman’s story

Dina sent me this revealing article from the UK Daily Mail. It tells the story of a woman whose children are fatherless.

Excerpt:

My marriage ended, without rancour or argument, 18 months after it had begun. There was no recrimination, just a realisation, as sharp as physical pain, that we would never — could never — agree on one fundamental point.

I wanted children; my husband Anthony did not. You may think we should have resolved this crucial issue long before we bought a house and vowed to spend the rest of our lives together, but love had a way of blinding us to the depth of our disagreement.

[...]Today, I am 37 and a single mum to gorgeous three-month-old twin boys Charlie and William. They were conceived through IVF, using my eggs and sperm from an anonymous donor, and the love I feel for them is all-consuming.

[...]Anthony, a policeman, was easy and fun; we chatted comfortably together, and when we started dating I was impressed by his integrity. He had passionate views about fairness and loyalty. He was attractive, too — tall, dark hair, blue eyes — and I felt we could build a loving relationship together.

It seems to me that many women tend to prefer the wrong kind of men these days when it comes to marriage and parenting. Marriage requires a man to have a strong moral compass. That way, he can be expected to behave morally, himself. A man with a strong moral compass fuldills his moral obligations, but he also makes moral judgments. And women need to prefer men who make these moral judgments. The woman’s phrase “Easy and fun” tells me that her choice of man was not a good one. A man who is easy and fun does not make divisive truth claims, does not make moral judgments, and does not set up moral boundaries. He can’t be trusted to honor moral obligations. He can only be trusted to be “easy and fun”. But marriage is not for men who want an easy life, nor a fun life. Marry requires self-sacrificial service. She should not have chosen an “easy and fun” man to have children with. That would be like me choosing a Paris Hilton and expecting her to be frugal and homeschool our kids. It’s not going to happen. But many women these days are so clouded by “tall, dark hair, blue eyes” that they cannot connect what a man can do to what a man is supposed to do in a marriage. So long as he looks good, then he is good.

More:

After a month or so, our physical relationship began, but we did not rush things. It was a couple of years before he moved into my flat in Crawley, West Sussex, and I expected we’d eventually marry and have kids.

Looking back, I suppose I should have heeded the warning signals. When I broached the subject of children, he stalled. His stock reply was: ‘We’ll have them later.’

So although he was non-committal, I loved him and assumed that his paternal instinct would kick in as he grew older. But the years passed and I was not reassured.

She thinks that a man who agrees to recreational sex after a month and then agrees to cohabitation after two years is the kind of man who is capable of making a lifelong commitment to be faithful to her and to raise children. That strikes me as equivalent to saying that a man whose favorite movie is Top Gun would also make a good airline pilot.

More:

And then I reached 30. My friends were marrying; settling into comfortable domesticity, preparing for parenthood, and Anthony and I were still in this limbo.

[...]Then my best friend announced she was pregnant and the joy I felt for her was tainted by Anthony’s absence of commitment to the idea of having children with me. So we had another discussion — this time, it was a passionate one. ‘It’s a deal-breaker,’ I said. ‘Much as I love you, if you don’t want children we can’t carry on.’

But, again, he assured me that it would all happen. I just had to bide my time.

So I waited until Anthony was 30, an age when I felt he was old enough to settle down. We loved each other whole-heartedly; we’d bought two successive homes together and the understanding was implicit: my future was bound up in his.

[...]I wanted so much to believe he would warm to the idea, but Anthony equivocated. He still wasn’t ready, he protested.

[...]But then Anthony demonstrated just how strong his aversion to babies was. We were visiting a friend who’d recently given birth and, when her baby cried, Anthony made his excuses and went home.

‘I just can’t stand the sound of that crying,’ he said testily when I confronted him later. ‘If we had a baby, I’d have to move out for the first six weeks.’

It wasn’t a propitious sign, but eventually he seemed to soften.

‘If we’re going to have children, we’ll have to get married first,’ he said the next time I raised the subject, and for once I agreed absolutely. We should get married; by making a public commitment to stay together for the rest of our lives, we would be taking the first step towards establishing a secure home for our future babies.

[...]After six months as man and wife, there had been no mention from Anthony of children. So one day, as we walked home from town, I broached the subject again.

‘We can’t afford to have children,’ he responded sharply and, rather than discuss the topic further, he marched off ahead of me.

[...]This was not the life I had planned for myself: for the first time I started to feel anger towards Anthony. I felt he had forced this situation onto me.

The woman went on to have fatherless children using taxpayer-funded IVF.

What I find troubling about this story is that the first instinct of women – Christian women – and Christian pastors – is to blame men. Those rotten, no-good men. With their tallness, blue-eyes and dark hair! They are “easy and fun” one minute, and then the next minute they are… easy and fun. Yeah. Good-looking men who are easy and fun cannot be assumed to be good at marriage and parenting. They cannot be assumed to be good providers. They can’t be assumed to be good protectors. They can’t be assumed to be moral leaders. They can’t be assumed to be spiritual leaders. The faster that we learn to judge women who make poor decisions with men, the better it will be for children who need to 1) not be killed in the womb and 2) not grow up fatherless. The loving thing to do is to hold women accountable for making decisions about men with their eyes, instead of with their minds.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How one woman decided to have an abortion… then another… then another

Dina said me this astonishing article from the UK Daily Mail, which shows one case where a woman chose abortion over and over.

Excerpt:

Her first abortion came when she was 17, following a bitterly regretted drunken encounter with a colleague at an office party. 

[...]Her bold decision to speak out about her abortions comes after it was revealed that the NHS spends more than £50  million a year on repeat terminations.

One third of the 189,000 abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2010 involved women who’d had at least one before. In some cases, a staggering seven abortions had previously been carried out on the same woman.

Abortion one:

The first one… was when she… got pregnant when she ended up in bed with a  22-year-old colleague called Brian.

‘Although I knew I could get pregnant, we didn’t use contraception. I just didn’t think it would happen to me…

[...]Michelle visited her GP and found out she was entitled to a free NHS abortion at her local hospital. 

Abortion two:

[S]he met John, 35, an Irish soldier stationed at barracks near her home, and they embarked on a three-week fling. It left her with another unplanned, and unwanted, pregnancy. 

[...]Michelle was once again granted an NHS abortion at nine weeks — this time at a private London clinic, in July 2000.

Abortion three:

Then, a year later, she met her current partner, Paul, at a local pub.

[...]Michelle says she was open about her abortions, and told Paul, 36 — who is an estates manager — that she didn’t want any more children.

[...][I]n July, Michelle was going through a rocky period with Paul when she discovered she was pregnant again.

She says: ‘At the time we were barely speaking, as we were both so stressed out. We hadn’t been intimate for months, but one night relations thawed and we had sex.

‘Until then, we’d been using condoms but this time we didn’t. Although I thought about getting the morning-after pill, I ended up leaving it to chance.’

[...]At nine weeks, Michelle was granted a third NHS abortion, at another London clinic.

Three taxpayer-funded abortions for three pregnancies brought on by this woman’s own free decisions.

In the UK, abortions, IVF and single motherhood are all taxpayer-funded. If women had to pay for their own abortions, their own IVF, their own out-of-wedlock births, then maybe they would not be making decisions like this woman has. When you pay people to do something, you mustn’t be surprised when they do that thing more. Lowering the cost of anything means that more people will buy it. And making it free makes even more people do it.

The first step to ending abortion is that society needs to understand that virtually every woman who has one is at least partly responsible for her own decision-making.  Very often, when it comes to abortion, we seem to place blame on men and assume that women can do no wrong – that they are victims of men. But clearly that is not always true. We seem to have a real problem in this society holding women accountable for making poor decisions. Maybe that needs to change? Pregnancy does not happen by accident – both the man and the woman have to make a choice to have recreational sex when they aren’t ready to welcome a baby into the world. We have to stop looking at people who have recreational sex as victims and expect more from them.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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