Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pro-Life AND Pro-Capital Punishment???

That's awfully inconsistent, isn't it? How could anyone possibly be pro-life when it comes to the abortion issue and yet at the same time support capital punishment? After all, the "death penalty" certainly doesn't sound pro-life!

Pro-abortion choice advocates (and even some pro-lifers) will occasionally make the claim that being pro-life and in favor of capital punishment is inconsistent. The objection here seems to be that these pro-lifers oppose killing in the case of abortion and yet support killing in the case of capital punishment. It is then concluded by some that the pro-life position on abortion is incorrect. Just recently I heard one pro-lifer said, "If only we didn't support capital punishment," as if to insinuate that this was hurting the pro-life cause. This objection and line of reasoning is flawed in several respects.

First, this objection commits a red herring fallacy. The topic under debate is abortion and our concern is whether or not abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. What exactly does capital punishment have to do with that? Capital punishment is brought up as a distraction to divert attention off of the main issue: abortion. The fact that a pro-lifer may be inconsistent in their views has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not abortion kills a valuable human person. An inconsistent individual can still draw a good conclusion. But this alleged inconsistency does nothing to support either the pro-life or pro-choice position. Furthermore, wouldn't this argument also make those who are pro-abortion choice and against capital punishment equally inconsistent?

Second, some pro-life advocates do not believe capital punishment is morally justifiable. Certainly these pro-lifers cannot be accused of inconsistency. If a perceived inconsistency is the problem, why not take this position which retains the merits of the pro-life position rather than presumptively conclude the pro-life position is incorrect?

Third, it can be rationally and persuasively argued that the pro-life position on abortion is consistent with capital punishment. The reason pro-life advocates are opposed to abortion is because abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. But not so with capital punishment. Capital punishment is reserved for those guilty parties who have received due process and have been convicted of committing a capital offense, such as murder. Notice that in both cases, abortion and capital punishment, a life is taken. The difference is that one is an innocent life and the other is not. To say that the pro-life position on abortion is inconsistent with capital punishment is to say that there is no difference between taking the life of an innocent human being and taking the life of a guilty one. There is nothing inconsistent about being pro-life and pro-capital punishment since pro-lifers are against killing an innocent human person and capital punishment does not kill an innocent human person.

Finally, this objection is a great example of an ad hominem fallacy. Instead of dealing with the arguments offered by the pro-life position against abortion, the pro-abortion choice advocate attacks the character of the pro-lifer by claiming intellectual inconsistency.

The major points and commentary presented here were taken from two sources:
Defending Life by Francis Beckwith, pg. 126-127, and also this article by the same author.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thirty-Five Years Since Roe v. Wade

January 22, 2008, marks the 35th anniversary since the landmark case decision Roe v. Wade. A recent article in the OC Register entitled "Who gets an abortion and why?" discusses some of the reasons women are choosing to abort their unborn and provides some very interesting statistics and quotes. While 2005 saw the lowest number of abortions in the United States (1.2 million) since 1976, the total number of abortions for the past 35 years is estimated at close to 50 million. More than one-third of adult women are estimated to have had at least one abortion.

So why are women having abortions? According to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization which supports abortion rights, the majority of abortions, well over 90 percent, are performed for what would be considered social/economic reasons. In other words, the unborn are being aborted simply because they are not wanted or due to the economic strain they might incur.

The following quotes in italics are from the above mentioned article. These quotes provide excellent examples of the rhetoric and fallacious reasoning which often accompanies the assertions of pro-abortion choice advocates.

"But often the women getting the abortions say they act in the interests of children they already have. 'It wasn't a hard decision for me to make, because I knew where I wanted to go in my life – I've never regretted it...It wasn't hard to realize I didn't want another child at that time...I was trying to take care of the one I had, and going to college and working at the same time.' She was able to graduate, now has an insurance job, and – still a single mother – has a 3-year-old son as well as her first-born, now 11."
  • Notice the assumption that the unborn is not a human being. The article states that women who have abortions "act in the interests of children they already have." This assumes the unborn is not a child they already have! This is begging the question plain and simple. The question is, What is the unborn? If the unborn is a human being, it certainly is not acting in the interest of the unborn to have an abortion.
  • Furthermore, the mother says, "It wasn't hard to realize I didn't want another child at that time." Again, this assumes the unborn is not a child and begs the question.
  • The mother goes on to say, "I was trying to take care of the one I had." Think about that line of reasoning for a moment. In order to better take care of the child which was already born, she decided to kill the unborn one. This also, once again, begs the question since she assumes the unborn child is not a child she already has. Furthermore, why didn't she consider killing the child which was already born so she would be able to take care of her unborn? That would be wrong of course since she would be killing a human being. Ah, so the question is, What is the unborn? You cannot justify killing the unborn to take care of the born anymore than you can justify killing the born to take care of the unborn, if in fact the unborn is a human being.
  • Finally, notice the writer puts this abortion in a positive light by saying, "She was able to graduate, now has an insurance job, and – still a single mother – has a 3-year-old son as well as her first-born, now 11." Notice the rhetoric. A happy ending to this story. No good arguments or reasons are given which justify the taking of an innocent human life for economic reasons. But a nice persuasive story is told which leaves everyone feeling like the mother made the right decision. Pro-abortion choice advocates dare to suggest that women should kill their unborn children in order to make life better for everyone else.

"Martha Girard, on the other hand, says she's appalled by the notion that women should lose the right to choose...'I knew that this pregnancy would end up badly – I could feel it – and we've already got enough problems with the mentally ill son...I was very sad and depressed the first week...But because it's hard on you emotionally and some women regret it, that doesn't mean it's wrong, that you shouldn't have done it, that someone else should decide for you."

  • Abortion here is referred to as the "right to choose." Choose what? This is an incomplete sentence. Choice is a relationship between an individual making the choice and a particular thing which is chosen. "The right to choose" is nothing more than a euphemism which distracts people from the real issue: whether or not abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. You first have to establish what exactly is being chosen before you can assert that you have a right to choose it.
  • Notice that she doesn't consider killing her already born mentally ill son. After all, that would be wrong. Instead, she kills her unborn child. Like the other comments, this begs the question and assumes her unborn is not a human being.
  • Finally, she admits this was a very emotional experience, as I am sure it is. There is no doubt that abortion can be a very psychologically complex decision. But notice that she has to rationalize her decision. She admits she was sad and depressed but ends by saying "that doesn't means it's wrong." Here's something to consider. Maybe the reason you feel sad and depressed is because it is wrong. Is that at least a possibility? Maybe the reason we feel guilty is because we are guilty. In addition, just because something may be psychologically complex does not mean it is morally complex. It's wrong to take an innocent human life simply because they are in the way and can't defend themselves, regardless of how psychologically complex that decision may be.

"The Journal of Family Issues published a report earlier this month asserting that women often choose abortion because of their wish to be good parents...'The women believed that it was more responsible to terminate a pregnancy than to have a child whose health and welfare could be in question.'"

  • Once again, think about what this is saying. Women choose abortion because they want to be good parents? Does that seem wrong to anyone else? Why on earth would anyone think that having an abortion makes them a good parent? Unless of course they are assuming the unborn is not a human being. Our society is so morally confused it sees nothing wrong with suggesting that parents kill their unborn in order to be considered "good."
  • Also, notice the euphemism "terminate a pregnancy." Another great example of rhetoric. You're not "ending a life" or "killing your unborn." You're simply terminating a pregnancy...a simple standard procedure to remove a piece of non-viable tissue mass, no different than an appendectomy. How tragic and degrading for our unborn.

Interestingly enough, why isn't adoption every mentioned? Isn't that an option anymore in our society? In fact, there are currently close to 2 million families in this country waiting to adopt. 35 years after Roe v. Wade and unfortunately our culture seems just as morally confused over the issue of abortion as the Supreme Court Justices were on this fateful day in 1973. One pro-life advocate in the article stated, "We've begun to depend on abortions...We feel we have to choose between our unborn child and our born children. We shouldn't have to choose." She's right. Some choices are wrong. We can do better than abortion.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Upcoming Apologetics Events!

The Christian Apologetics program at Biola University will be hosting three weekend seminars with world-class Christian scholars. These lectures are open to the public and an excellent opportunity to hear from some of the greatest Christian minds of our time. The seminars take place on a Thursday night, Friday night, and all day Saturday, making them accessible to those who work full time.

Topics include:
February 7-9: "Cultural Apologetics: Goodness, Truth, and Beauty from Dante to Harry Potter" with John Mark Reynolds
March 6-8: "Evidence for the Reliability of the New Testament" with Craig Blomberg
April 24-26: "Key Philosophical Issues in Apologetics" with William Lane Craig

For more information and prices, check out the Biola Apologetics Events page.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"No One Has THE Truth...So Be Tolerant!"

Relativists often make the claim that no one has the truth and that we should therefore be open-minded and "tolerant." Francis Beckwith presents us with an excellent dialogue (based loosely on a real-life exchange) which demonstrates why the relativist position is itself, ironically, close-minded and intolerant. This particular exchange takes place between a student and teacher but can easily be adapted to other real-life situations you may find yourself in.

Teacher: "Welcome, students. This is the first day of class, and so I want to lay down some ground rules. First, because no one has the truth about morality, you should be open-minded to the opinions of your fellow students."

Student: "If nobody has the truth, isn't that a good reason for me not to listen to my fellow students? After all, if nobody has the truth, why should I waste my time listening to other people and their opinions? What's the point? Only if somebody has the truth does it make sense to be open-minded. Don't you agree?"

Teacher: "No, I don't. Are you claiming to know the truth? Isn't that a bit arrogant and dogmatic?"

Student: "Not at all. Rather I think it's dogmatic, as well as arrogant, to assert that no single person on earth knows the truth. After all, have you met every person in the world and quizzed these people exhaustively? If not, how can you make such a claim? Also, I believe it is actually the opposite of arrogance to say that I will alter my opinions to fit the truth whenever and wherever I find it. And if I happen to think that I have good reason to believe I do know the truth and would like to share it with you, why wouldn't you listen to me? Why would you automatically discredit my opinion before it is even uttered? I thought we were supposed to listen to everyone's opinion."

Teacher: "This should prove to be an interesting semester."

At this point, another student blurts out, "Ain't that the truth," provoking the class to laughter.

Recommended Reading:
This dialogue can be found in at least two books by Beckwith: Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (p. 13), and Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (p. 74, co-authored by Greg Koukl).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Prayer for the New Year

As we begin the New Year, my hope for you and I as ambassadors for Jesus Christ is that we seek to live out to the fullest the exhortations of the Apostle Paul and follow his example found in Colossians 1:9-12:

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

My prayer is that we will:
1) Be constantly in prayer
2) Be filled with knowledge of His will
3) Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
4) Bear fruit in every good work
5) Increase in the knowledge of God
6) Be strengthened with all power
7) Joyously give thanks

Happy New Year and may God bless us as we seek His face and proclaim His Kingdom!