March 2007


I have been in dialogue with a fellow pro-life apologist about the appropriate amount of moral outrage pro-lifers should feel against the genocide of the unborn. I would like to expand the discussion to include you.

 

What if there came a day in America wherein 10 year olds were being killed in state-sanctioned facilities? Would you feel the same, more, or less emotional outrage at the genocide of these 10 year olds as you do the genocide of 10 week old embryos? Why?

 

For those of you who answer less, do you think the disparity of emotional response is worthy of a pro-lifer, or does it indicate a deficiency in one’s perspective? Remember, according to the pro-life worldview the humanity and value of both the 10 week old, and 10 year old is equal. If you feel less emotional outrage over the death of the unborn, why do you think that is, given what you know to be true? Why do your feelings not match what you believe to be true?

 

Here’s a related question. How important is emotional outrage at the practice of abortion to our advocacy against it? Do you think we can effectively campaign against abortion if we do not feel a sufficient amount of emotional outrage against it? Do you think confessing pro-lifers currently have enough emotional outrage against abortion? If not, why not?

The assumption of atheism argues that apart from evidence for the existence of God, people are justified in assuming atheism to be true. The motto of this brand of atheism is that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” From their perspective, the evidence in favor of theism is not extraordinary, so they are intellectually justified in dismissing theism. Bob and Gretchen Passantino respond to this argument as follows: 

It is an extraordinary claim to say this vast and complex universe came from nothing and was caused by nothing. It’s an extraordinary claim to tell us the incredible order we see throughout the universe was caused by blind chance. It’s an extraordinary claim to argue that the innate sense of right and wrong that all of us share – even when it condemns our own actions – came about by non-moral mindlessness or mere human consensus. … In conclusion, no, the evidence is far too weak to believe the extraordinary claim of atheism that there is no God behind these things.[1]

How atheists miss this is an extraordinary phenomenon!


[1]Bob and Gretchen Passantino, “The 2002 Great Debate: Atheism vs. Christianity. Testing the Case: Which View Prevailed”; available from http://www.answers.org/atheism/debate.html; Internet; accessed 26 September 2006.

Some dismiss the independent testimony of the various Biblical witnesses of the resurrection on the basis that these witnesses are Christians, and their testimony is recorded in the Bible. Since they are Christians, it is reasoned, they are biased to believe in the resurrection, making their testimony unreliable. Greg Koukl discussed the merits of this argument on his March 18th radio broadcast. I would like to share some of his comments with you, as well as add a few of my own.

 

This sort of thinking is logically fallacious. First, it presumes that rational objectivity is impossible if one has taken a position on the matter (in this case, the resurrection of Jesus Christ). This ignores the fact that rational objectivity may be what led these individuals to believe in the resurrection in the first place. The evidence could have been so strong in favor of that conclusion that they were incapable of remaining intellectually honest without affirming that Jesus rose from the dead.

 

Furthermore, this standard works both ways. Those who deny the resurrection have taken a position on the matter. If taking a position eliminates objectivity, and hence trustworthiness, then we should dismiss the evidence against Christ’s resurrection presented by those who deny it. Their belief that Jesus was not raised from the dead makes their testimony against it unreliable. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

 

It also ignores the fact that those who are psychologically biased (i.e. have come to a conclusion) are still capable of rational objectivity. If that were not so, none of us would ever change our mind about anything we have come to believe. Clearly we have, and thus psychological bias does not preclude rational objectivity. Another way of saying this is that psychological objectivity (i.e. having formed no conclusions) is not a prerequisite for rational objectivity.

 

Secondly, it presumes that the only valid, objective evidence for the resurrection of Jesus must come from those who do not already believe in the resurrection of Jesus. But if they do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, why would they present evidence for the resurrection of Jesus? Those who do not believe in the resurrection are not going to provide evidence for that which they do not believe! Can you imagine this standard being applied to any other topic? What if I said the only valid, objective evidence for global warming must come from opponents of global warming? That is nonsensical. We would expect the evidence for global warming to come from those who are convinced that it is a real phenomenon.

 

Furthermore, if those who deny the resurrection knew the evidence for the resurrection, they would probably believe in the resurrection as did the earliest Christians. At that moment we would have to reject their testimony as well.

 

The skeptics have set up an impossible, self-serving standard, and then claim victory when it cannot be met. Don’t take the bait. The testimony of those who believe in the resurrection is valid evidence, and needs to be evaluated on its own merits.

South Carolina is attempting to pass a bill that would require women to view an ultrasound of their baby prior to electing an abortion. The bill’s key sponsor, Greg Delleney (R), explains the reason for the bill: “I’m just trying to save lives and protect people from regret and inform women with the most accurate non-judgemental information that can be provided.” Providing women information to help them make the best choice sounds fair enough. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D), however, disagrees: “I see it as some kind of emotional blackmail, and I think we’re putting an undue burden on our healthcare providers and on folk who are providing those services. … The supporters of this legislation seem to believe that women enter into this decision blindly or without a lot of thought.”Emotional blackmail? Notice how she assumes that viewing the images will arouse an emotion in women—emotions that would likely lead them to keep their child. Abortion-choice advocates know how powerful sonogram images are. Sonograms make it clear that what is being terminated is a nascent human being, not a mere clump of cells. The opposition fears that women who want an abortion will change their minds after seeing the images because their conscience could no longer bear going through with the process. Rather than commending the information-bearers (the sonogram operators) for helping women make a more informed choice, they are characterized as emotional blackmailers. Same ‘ol abortion rhetoric.

Illinois is on the bandwagon of legalizing cloning while pretending to ban it. Senate Bill 004, a.k.a. the Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning Prohibition Act, legalizes cloning while pretending to ban it via the same verbal sleight of hand other states have used. The devil is in the details. Here is the relevant text:

Section 40. Cloning prohibited.

1 (a) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.
2 For purposes of this Section, “clone or attempt to clone a
3 human being” means to transfer to a uterus or attempt to
4 transfer to a uterus anything other than the product of
5 fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human
6 male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could
7 result in the creation of a human fetus or the birth of a human
8 being.

What is being outlawed?: cloning, or attempting to clone a human being. Notice that the drafters of the bill are using “clone” as a verb, not a noun. This means the drafters are outlawing a particular act. What is that act? They define it as the transfer of a non-fertilized “product” into a woman’s uterus. How can this be considered cloning? Even the most scientifically illiterate man on the street understands that cloning involves copying something. How does moving a “product” from one location (lab) to another location (uterus) fit the bill? Clearly something more must be involved. That “something” is what the drafters so desperately want to avoid.

Attempting to clone a human being has nothing to do with where you put some unnamed “product.” It has everything to do with copying some “product.” In this case we are talking about copying a human being. And if you copy a human being, what do you end up with? That’s right…another human being. So how is it again that this law prohibits cloning human beings?

Like other bills legalizing cloning while pretending to ban it, the intent of the researcher is integral to the definition of cloning. Rather than referring to what the scientist makes in the lab, cloning is said to be defined by what the scientist intends to do with that which he has created. Unfortunately, what a scientist intends to do with the embryos he has cloned is irrelevant. A clone is a clone is a clone, regardless of what the scientist does with them. If he freezes them, they are clones; if he dismembers them for their stem cells to be used in treating other human beings, they are still clones.

In an earlier section they explicitly affirm their intent to clone
embryos:

6 Section 5. Policy permitting research. The policy of the
7 State of Illinois shall be as follows:
8 (1) Research involving the derivation and use of human
9 embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells, and human
10 adult stem cells from any source, including somatic cell
11 nuclear transplantation, shall be permitted and the ethical and
12 medical implications of this research shall be given full
13 consideration.

What? You didn’t see the word cloning? No, you didn’t. But “somatic cell nuclear transplantation” is the scientific term used to describe the process of what is more commonly called “cloning.” By employing a scientific term unfamiliar to most people, and then later defining “cloning” in a very narrow, unscientific manner, the drafters of the bill are able to claim they are banning cloning.

Even the grammar betrays their deception. The bill says “research involving the derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells…from any source, including somatic cell nuclear transplantation.” “Somatic cell nuclear transplantation” is a process, not a thing. As such, it is not a source for obtaining stem cells; it is a means of obtaining stem cells. What is a source of stem cells? Cloned embryos, created through the process of somatic cell nuclear transplantation. That’s what the drafters were thinking, but they couldn’t say it without blowing their cover.

These lawmakers are distorting science and language for political purposes, and should be ashamed of themselves.

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