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November 12, 2013

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Some Christian friends made this argument. They said that since permitting the right to abortion lowers the number of abortions, that it is morally correct. I asked them if in the case that permitting contract killings would lower the number of contract murders, then shouldn't we allow contract killings? My friends response was that yes, if it lowered it, we should allow it. I guess at least he's consistent.

What is the purpose of each? Pro-choice desires that abortions are private matters and safe procedures. Pro-life would seek that abortions are rare. In one abortion is a medical option. In the other abortion involves a moral decision. The fact that pro-choice promotes only the procedure without regards for careful choice (the refusal for parental influence, waiting periods, ultrasounds)seems to belie the notion of reduction of abortions. Yes, education is an important part of the pro-choice movement, but it is also the case in pro-life.

It is the content of such education that is the deciding factor in this challenge. If on side promotes abortion, how could they insist on being the side that caused the reduction of them?

oops,

on side should read "one side"

My first objection to the argument would be to attack the moral utilitarianism that lies underneath the argument. Abortion should be illegal because it is wrong to kill innocent human beings for the reasons that most people have abortions. Our laws reflect (and shape) our morals. Therefore, any action that is so gravely immoral and unjust as abortion should also be illegal.

Borrowing JB's point, I'd like to "take the roof off" of this utilitarian thinking. If eliminating laws against domestic abuse would decrease the incidence of domestic abuse, should we legalize wife-beating? How about rape, or incest, or any other horrible crime? Hopefully, we can find some sticking point where the hypothetical pro-choicer would have to say, "No, that's wrong and evil, and it should be illegal." If we can't find such a sticking point, then I suspect the hypothetical pro-choicer would be merely defending turf. As Greg mentioned in a recent broadcast, sometimes folks will agree to the most outrageous statements in order to avoid "giving ground" on a cherished position.

My second objection to the argument would be to dispute its first premise. Specifically, I strongly object to the notion that increasing contraception use will prevent abortions. How's that working out for us so far? Public schools, health clinics, and Planned Parenthood shovel contraception with the same fervor as Jehovah's Witnesses handing out their literature. In most first-world countries, an interested person can get free condoms easily from any number of sources. In short, I don't know how we could increase contraception usage unless we started spiking the water supply.

How's that working out for us?

In New York City, over 40% of pregnancies end in abortion. If NYC (not known as a hotbed of anti-contraception fervor) can't distribute enough contraception to prevent abortions, then why should anyone agree to this premise? By the way, NYC is not an anomaly. Most of the "blue" states and cities, where one should expect the strongest push for contraception, also have the highest abortion ratios. In short, the premise of reducing abortions through increased contraception has been tried in many locations. It has not been successful yet. How's that working out for us?

I guess my take is slightly different. If it is true that increased use of contraceptives decreases abortions, then one could support that while maintaining that abortion is a moral wrong. The two are not necessarily contradictory. In that way you could be pro-life in the moral sense of your beliefs while supporting a policy that decreases abortions. BUT, this leads to another question: Does the increased education and availability of contraceptives promote sexual promiscuity among people likely to abort? And does it promote a culture where a lot more people are engaging in sexual activity increasing the odds for unwanted pregnancies. If so, then the premise of the original statement could be challenged that "the increased availability and education about contraception decreases abortions."

Are you making a mistake by taking the pro-life position? Would you actually be more pro-life if you were pro-choice?

I think this question reduced the post that is linked so far that it doesn't actually resemble the full challenge.

The post is a criticism of the pro-life movement as a whole, largely for being inconsistent and hypocritical. I know this is just a quick blog post to generate thinking and conversation, and that the post is extremely long (too long to repost in entirety), but it's still important.

For example, I consider myself "pro-life" in that I want us, the human race, to follow Jesus' example and end killing and violence against one another, and that includes violence toward unborn fetuses among a host of other things.

However, I do not identify as "pro-life" in that sense that I don't identify with the movement as a whole that is largely anti-science, pro-war, anti-contraception, and so on as described in the article.

The most effective way to minimize abortion is to promote contraception and sex education; yet, all over the country (and world), "pro-life" Christians oppose sex education and contraception.

It is a completely incoherent position.

That is the position being criticized in the article, and I think the responses ought to consider that in full, not

Is the argument that promoting contraceptives is more effective than TRYING to have abortion banned, or than actually succeeding in banning abortion? If it is compared to a sense of futility in the attempt to have it banned, then why wouldn't you remain "pro-life" but simply choose to put your effort where it will really make a difference; promoting contraceptives? Who cares what other views usually go along with pro-choice? What if contraceptives were promoted AND abortion was made illegal? Wouldn't that be the best scenario of all? Why is it necessary to allow abortions in order to have an overall reduction in abortions? Does anyone seriously think that abortion rates would rise when abortion is made illegal?

To brgulker:

Your comment makes a number of broad, sweeping generalizations. The key generalization is that you claim the pro-life position to be "completely incoherent" because many pro-lifers do not support contraception as the "most effective way" to minimize abortion. Actually, two of the responses prior to your comment -- mine and Erik Elvgren's -- dealt with that very issue. Bluntly put, I do not agree with the claim that widespread promotion of contraception will reduce abortions. I reject the premise.

In my previous response, I offered my reasoning to reject this premise. Specifically, it seems that the liberal localities with the most aggressive promotion of contraception also have the highest abortion ratios. As I mentioned, 41% of pregnancies in NYC end in abortion. 41%! New York City is a ultra-liberal city in an ultra-liberal state. Are they not promoting contraception? If not, why not?

Here's a link for your consideration:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pam.21731/abstract

The link leads to an abstract of a study (the full text of the study requires a membership to view) concerning emergency contraception (or EC for short). It seems that increasing access to EC has not changed birth or abortion rates. In other words, more EC does not decrease abortions. I realize that EC is not the entire spectrum of contraception, but this study is one piece of evidence to challenge the pro-contraception premise.

The second set of generalizations that you make is to label the pro-life movement as "largely anti-science, pro-war, anti-contraception, and so on...." Concerning your charge of being anti-science, this claim is a baseless accusation. Many pro-life arguments (including those promoted by Stand to Reason) are based in the sciences of biology and embryology to prove that the unborn child is a human being from the moment of conception. One of the biggest legislative fronts in the pro-life struggle is attempting to ban abortions after 20 weeks' gestation because of the pain that abortion will inflict on a 20-week-old fetus. These laws are also based in the science of embryology. Science is an important part of pro-life arguments, and pro-lifers are hardly anti-science!

I won't address the "pro-war" claim, except to point out that I don't know anyone who is "pro-war" in any general sense. Someone might have specific reasons for supporting the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, the Libyan "Action," potential military action in Syria, or any other use of military force ... just like someone might have specific reasons to oppose any or all of the above. If you're going to label pro-lifers as "pro-war," it would be helpful if you could support that sort of generalization with some sort of evidence to indicate that pro-lifers are generally supportive of war.

The more I argue for the pro-life position the more I find that the other side doesn't care what it is that is developing in the woman's womb.
I make my arguments based on consistency of everything; whether it be the law, actions or biology. And non of it to them supersedes their entitlement.

A woman who takes control of her own body does so when she chooses to or not to have consensual sex. I get the stupidest arguments here that are mainly category errors and some that just plain don't make sense. But whatever they can do to remove responsibility they will bring up.

If I move on to biology, they never really acknowledge my evidence, which is mainly taken directly from textbooks used to train new and up and coming embryologists. I have even had people argue that because I'm using the word embryologist, that I'm using old data. I guess there is a new term that is used that escapes me. But once again, when I ask them to prove my arguments wrong, I get no takers. They only use philosophical arguments instead of trying to defeat my proof.

If I discuss morally the issues of abortion, they deal in subjective terms and have no grounding. They don't agree on my definitions even if they are from Webster's.

I ask them questions to learn what they are meaning and I get comments like, "All you are doing is JAQing off!" Which is meaning I am Just Asking Questions to persuade others to my side. They use that mainly to bring in tangents and avoid direct questions.

Then there is 'Human being', human and person issues. Again, they ignore Webster's and do as they please.

I see no real way to win these arguments unless we can get someone one on one and in a position where they are not being egged on by those around them. People tend no to think rationally when approached where they have to save face.

The assertions that we are only trying to control women is nothing more than inferring ideas to put us on the defense and remove the issue from the argument.

Pro-life has a great up hill battle with this issue and I'm not clear on how they can win it.

My biggest issue is world view differences. I'm still not clear how to argue across world views without talking past each other.


I have literally had someone claim to not be 'human' but a 'person' because it fit his argument. I don't know how you argue with people like that. And the sad part this is happening more and more. And the sad part is I am seeing this as people reach collage age. Just like the person that wrote the article. Her views changed as she was more absorbed into that environment. Peer pressure I'm sure was a major player in her 'conversion'


I have used almost every tactic I can use to convince people that this is wrong and I feel like facts, evidence and the truth do not matter anymore. And I'm sure it will get worse.

When they bring up rape or medical issues, I have even gave them those two things as a concession to see if they would agree to allow all other abortions not related to death situations for the mother or in cases of rape and they will not give an inch. They go right back to saying I just want to control them.

Quite honestly, I have no clue how someone makes these arguments when our world view defines value differently than their world view.

Rational thought and logic fail when someone isn't willing to admit their position is inconsistent with reality.

And lastly, they call me names if all else fails.


Burden of proof no longer is valid either if they are the ones having to provide it. But man, I make one claim and BAM!, time to cough up all my evidence to back it up or I'm called a liar. And then once I present my evidence, which was thought out very well and is rational and logical, they still call me a liar.

Sorry. I'm pretty frustrated with this world right now.

In regards to the questions:
Are you making a mistake by taking the pro-life position?
No, not in the least.

Would you actually be more pro-life if you were pro-choice?

No. Caring for those that are based on a certain criteria that isn't consistent across all humans is not being more pro-life. This is discrimination at its best.

How would you respond to this challenge?
I would say that we need to continue sticking to what we know is true. We need to use science and biology as our weapons as they can not fight those arguments. Though it might not change their minds, it will put a stone in their show that they are applying logic and reason incorrectly. and hopefully with clear minds and in time they will understand.
I don't talk to people to win an argument, I talk to them to help logic and knowledge enter their minds if even for just a while.

Perhaps this isn't only a philosophical argument, but I believe this is where it first needs to be fought. Defining the value of a human being/human/person with your opponent is critical to continuing the conversation. Creating building blocks to lay a foundation for your case is important. And last but not least, pray and acknowledge God for your efforts. Because without Him, we would not be here to make these points.

The pro-contraception argument is a classic example of static thinking. It is undeniably true that contraception reduces the likelihood that sex will result in pregnancy in each instance. It does not follow from that that a pro-contraceptive policy will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies.

That is because a pro-contraceptive policy may have the effect of increasing the amount of sex among irresponsible people (like teenagers). For starters, all contraceptives have a failure rate. You increase the total number of instances where the contraceptive is put to the test enough and you can still end up with more pregnancies.

Now, you might say, "Yeah, but the pill is 99% effective. Condoms are 90% effective. You'd have to increase the amount of sex by a lot to increase pregnancies even with that level of protection!"

It is funny that most (though of course not all) people who are liberal about this matter tend to have a bunch of other attitudes that would be characterized as liberal. This includes a deep and abiding mistrust of corporations and most other commercial endeavors. But in this case, you have an argument based entirely on what can only be described as naked advertising. I simply do not believe that contraceptives are as effective as advertised, even when used perfectly. That's simply a result of a successful marketing campaigns.

Then there's that caveat, "when used perfectly". They never are. Especially be those who are most likely to end up with an unwanted pregnancy. So, as for the actual success rate of a given form of contraception, you know, your mileage may vary.

And this. It is just undeniably true that the number of abortions has gone way, way up since it was legalized. It is further undeniably true that pregnancy rates among those who are not likely to welcome pregnancy have gone way, way up since pro-contraceptive, sex education policies have held sway.

That is hardly an argument that pro-contraceptive, pro-sex-ed policies cause greater promiscuity among the irresponsible and, in turn, greater numbers of unplanned pregnancies. After all, correlation does not equal causation.

With that said, correlation is at least a necessary condition for causation. But that is precisely what does not exist between pro-contraceptive, pro-sex-ed policies and reduction of unplanned pregnancies.

If an increase in A was followed by an increase in B, I'll grant that we don't yet know that A causes B. But one theory that I think we can probably discount is that A prevents B.

But that is essentially the argument that the challenger is making.

Here's a related thought: Perhaps legalizing post-birth abortions could ultimately lead to banning all of them by making the death and gore more visible.
These issues have become so frustrating that sometimes I feel like saying "fine! you think that's gonna make for a good society! Take it, see where it gets you!"
but we can't give up!

How about a fun analogy?

Let’s say a robber breaks into your house. Later, you find out that your neighbor, who witnessed the act, gave the robber the spare key to your house, citing the argument that if he had not, then the robber would have to damage your property to get inside and perhaps in the process hurt or kill himself. Was he right in aiding the robber?

If increasing contraceptive use actually reduced the number of abortions, then it is also pro-life action.

I can concur with its face value practicality, though I highly doubt the accuracy of the assertion.

Easy access to contraceptives has been available in the US for decades, but the number of abortions is still too high.

To put it bluntly, every child aborted is one too many and the appeal to contraceptive use is just a red-herring.

Greg has made it crystal clear by his “one question” that no justification is sufficient to sanction the wanton killing of children that is euphemistically called abortion.

The correct answer to his “one question” indicates the destruction of an individual human being by abortion. Each one aborted has been denied his or her full protection under the Constitution of the United States of America as well as his or her inalienable right to life granted by his Creator. The innocent bloodshed and injustice of these human rights violations will not go unpunished.

The S.L.E.D. assessment leaves no quarter.

Pro-choice is a euphemism for the contract killing of innocent, voiceless victims.
Pro-choice is a philosophy that turns noble caretakers into selfish malefactors.
Pro-choice is a lie that promises life, liberty and freedom but delivers death, guilt and bondage.

Pro-Life philosophy is rational, logical and Biblical.
Each person begins his or her life in the same way whether wanted or not.
God is the source of all life and we are made in His image. Though we are fallen, we retain priceless worth.

Gen 1:27-28 God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

John 10:10 Then Jesus said… “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

The more I argue for the pro-life position the more I find that the other side doesn't care what it is that is developing in the woman's womb.

This is consistent with reports I hear from a friend's dad, who consistently makes stops near abortion clinics to witness to women who are going in for abortions. He reports that more and more, these women are looking him in the eye and saying that basically they realize it's a personal, human baby life that is growing inside them, and they either just don't care or they value their own considerations over that of the helpless infant.

Easy access to contraceptives has been available in the US for decades, but the number of abortions is still too high.

To put it bluntly, every child aborted is one too many and the appeal to contraceptive use is just a red-herring.

Also spot on, Scott. I won't sully your well-articulated statements by adding drivel of my own.

To claim that a near-term fetus is no different from a new born is one thing. To claim that a 5 day embryo is no different from a toddler is quite another. When you realize the difference, we can talk.

Who is claiming no difference between a 5-day old embryo and a toddler?

Equivocation, Ron!

Of course there is a difference. Are you familiar with S.L.E.D.?
Different Size, Level of development, Environment, degree of Dependency of every human being, but fixed value and humanity.

To claim that mothers and doctors can ABORT the unborn with impunity and yet charge others with MURDER when they cause the DEATH of the "fetus" (aka: baby) is truly incoherent equivocation.

When you and our state realize that the human being inside of his or her mother is a developing child and yet assign value and humanity to that developing child on a sliding scale, then you equivocate.

What is purpose of mentioning a 5-day old embryo? Is it any less human or less valuable than me?

I was a 5-day old embryo on June 14th, 1967, the day that California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act. My mentally impaired mother with two teenagers was told by her OB/GYN that she could abort me.
Thankfully, she chose LIFE for me.

But how many others whose mothers chose DEATH are not here to add their posts? 10? 1000? 10,000? 10 million?

Stop equivocating, Ron!

Pity poor Alan. He's going to have to be very careful answering this challenge without drawing upon the massive amount of Catholic anti-contraception literature. STR is a Reformed organization. Bad Alan. I can't imagine the irresistible temptation posed by preprocessed, canned talking points, the taint of Rome notwithstanding.

Contraception actually leads to abortion, because it promotes promiscuity! That's why Planned Parenthood is so fond of it! More money for their abortion business! Well, condoms are about 70% effective (actually a bit more, but..), even when used imperfectly. That means that a population that always uses condoms will experience about 30% of the pregnancies as a population that never uses condoms. So, if we introduce a "promiscuity factor" into the equation, then the pregnancy rates of the two populations will break even when the condom folks have more than three times the sex as the non-condom folks. Man, that "sexual revolution"...

Kudos, Scott Richardson, for your well thought out responses. They are very much appreciated!

Scott Richardson,

Speaking of equivocation, yes, I am familiar with SLED.

'Development' can refer to a process of change in something that already exists. Develop your mind.

'Development' can also refer to a process where something entirely new comes into existence. Develop a tumor.

SLED is an apologetic (not an argument) that trades on the fact that one English word is used for two such different processes. Like so:

The unborn is less developed than the toddler, but toddlers are less developed than elementary school kids.
The 'development' that takes place between 5DE's and newborns is a completely different thing from the 'development' that takes place between toddlers and elementary school kids.

In the first case, by and large, things come into existence. In the second case they grow and change in other ways.

(I like to call a five day embryo a 5DE.)

RonH writes:

"The 'development' that takes place between 5DE's and newborns is a completely different thing from the 'development' that takes place between toddlers and elementary school kids.
In the first case, by and large, things come into existence. In the second case they grow and change in other ways."

What does it mean to say that the "development that takes place between...."? Either something is developing or it isn't. You're suggesting that "development happens." It doesn't, since it is not a thing. It is something that a thing undergoes. An embryo develops into a newborn, since the embryo is a thing that is ordered toward a mature version of itself, which is the newborn. Organisms are individual things that have parts and properties. Those parts and properties work in concert for the good of the whole, and in the case of the embryo, its good is in fact to become what it is by nature ordered to become, a mature human being. This is why we say that a child with congenital blindness lacks something that he ought to have, for we know precisely the sort of thing that it is and the sorts of ends that are the perfections of its nature. Consequently, if we can fix the defect in the early stages of its development--assuming it is the consequence of some developmental problem--before the defect arises later in development, we maintain, quite correctly, that the child has been healed. But if we were to provide this healing, let's say, 2 months after conception, with some form of microsurgery, we would have provided a good for the same being that develops into the newborn, the toddler, the teen, and the adult. If the adult were to express gratitude to the surgeons who cared for him while he was an early fetus he would in fact be in the right.

Francis Beckwith,

What does it mean to say that the "development that takes place between...."?

It sometimes means 'something changes' and it sometimes means 'something comes into existence'.

Either something is developing or it isn't

That's true (but not the way you meant it):

In one case, 'develop' means 'change over time'. In this case, some previously existing thing 'is developing' - as you say.

And in the other case, 'develop' means 'come into existence'. Here, nothing 'is developing' (changing) - until it 'develops' (comes into existence).

Between 5DE and newborn, among those things that come into existence is the brain.

------------

To be sure, after the brain comes into existence it changes.

But that doesn't fix SLED.

The difference between 5DE-to-newborn 'development' and toddler-to-first-grader 'development' is important to the subject and SLED ignores that difference.

SLED equivocates.

To fix SLED you'd need to supply an argument that having a brain (or not) is morally insignificant.

"Pity poor Alan. He's going to have to be very careful answering this challenge without drawing upon the massive amount of Catholic anti-contraception literature. STR is a Reformed organization."

Yes, and let's see. Who was it that predicted the contraceptive lifestyle would eventuate in increased abortion and homosexuality? Oh yeah - The Pope!

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/07/002-the-vindication-of-ihumanae-vitaei-28

Taking control of your own bodily autonomy would be to get a tubal ligation or a vasectomy, use condoms and not have sex during the woman's ovulation cycle. This would provide the least possible chance to not get pregnant and still be able to have sex all you want.

The problem is, this is not a 100% guarantee that the woman will still not get pregnant. So you would still have to contend with the whole responsibility of consequences issue.

Contraception, though I don't disagree with it for keeping the egg and the sperm from joining, I do disagree with any contraceptive that is used for situations after they have joined.

To me, if a woman chooses to have consensual sex, then she is liable for every and any outcome from that action she chose to do.

The problem is, we have an entitlement society that believes everything is owed to them and at no cost to themselves. They have a right to the freedom of sex without the idea of dealing with consequences.

I can't tell you how many conversations I have had going round and round with this issue alone.
The equate a pregnancy to a broken leg from skiing. the problem is, they equate it incorrectly because it fits their own world view.
The will state unequivocally that if you know that you could break your leg skiing, and then that happens to happen, you will still fix the leg. You don't suffer through it for the next 9 months or longer hoping that it will heal. and then they say pregnancy is the same thing.

No matter how much I try to explain to them in different terms and from different perspectives that the unborn created at conception is not an intruder, it's not there to harm the woman like a cancer and it's not needing to be healed or fixed, they still insist that what it is doing is violence against the mother; damn the fact that she chose to have consensual sex fully knowing that this was a possibility.

The woman's value is exponentially greater than anything else. So nothing else matters. Her freedoms trump another woman's(unborn of course) rights.

I'm starting to understand that this is a huge world view issue and would like Alan to address how we move past that world view issue and into dealing with the issue directly. I have yet to find a door into that realm.
Even offering up their views as 'true'(you know, to see what follows) for the sake of argument and then bringing up the problematic issues with their view, it still gets me nowhere.

They call themselves intelligent and yet they are so willing to set aside reason and logic for their emotional desires to kill and maim.

This argument begs the question that there is no link between permissiveness and pervasiveness. That is to say, if we teach that we are resigned enough to the fact that some people will have illicit sex by admonishing them to use protection, it will decrease the social moral barriers that would pressure people to abstain from such destructive behavior.

(That's another question that it begged. Indeed, it is destructive although many who make the argument actually don't think it is so. It's dishonest to make an argument on the unstated basis that it is when one doesn't actually believe it.)

Another aspect is that advocacy doesn't lead people to use birth control responsibly, especially when we observe that we are already condoning irresponsible behavior in the first place. We can't expect people to be responsible on one point when we concede that they can't be responsible on another point. So one could make the argument that since they will will likely have illicit sex anyway, they will likely fail to use birth control anyway.

However, we have historical evidence that cultures with social strictures result in more people following those strictures. Therefore, it is better to make it culturally normal to abstain from illicit sex than to allow illicit sex and vainly advocate responsible self-control in carrying out their lack of responsible self-control.

Hi Ron,

How does development affect the value or humanity of a human being?

Is that 5DE less valuable or less human than I am now?

Now that my mother has osteoporosis and her mind is degenerating due to Alzheimer’s and is now dependent upon me and others to care for her basic needs, is she less valuable or less human than when she was 20 years old?

SLED is not an apologetic.

The relative argument is:
Based upon the fact that every human being begins life as one cell and lives as a distinct individual until death, every human being possesses the same fixed value and degree of humanity regardless of:
Size,
Level of development,
Environment,
Dependency on others

The 5DE is fully an individual human being. He or she is not merely extraneous tissue or a lump of cells.

I hope that clears things up for you.

Perhaps the acronym should include the argument.
How about CHISSLED?
Completely Human Intrinsically Sans Size, Level-of-development, Environment, degree-of-Dependency.

Scott Richardson,

Do you have an answer to my critique of SLED?

RonH

“To fix SLED you'd need to supply an argument that having a brain (or not) is morally insignificant.”
OK, I’ll take a shot…

The lack of a developed brain or differentiated brain cells does not make a 5DE any less valuable or less human than its later stage of development when differentiation/possession of brain cells begins, or, to be precise, at any stage of its development and/or degeneration.

A human being does not become more human by degree of brain development and less human by degeneration.

The brain is only one of many organs that must develop before birth. Even a mature person may become brain dead and yet be kept alive with assistance. People in comas may have little brain function and yet be kept alive with assistance and even recover. The brain is certainly critical to proper functioning of each human being, but the degree of development and function does not determine the value or the humanness of the individual.

A dolphin and a gorilla may have a more highly developed and functional brain than a toddler, coma patient, or brain-dead patient, but that does not mean that the toddler, coma patient, or brain-dead patient is worth less than the dolphin or gorilla. It also does not make the dolphin or gorilla more human than the toddler, coma patient, or brain-dead patient.

If the Scarecrow got a brain from the Wizard, he would not become a human being.

Scott,

Look at "Nov. 20, 2012 The Moral Pro life Case" here on STR.

But don't expect cutting unbroken chains in blind axiom to be an intellectual burden atheists aren't willing to carry. They're willing.

It would seem to me that a two pronged attack on a problem is always a better one than a single prong. So, why not both increase contraception and ban abortions?

It would seem to me that what we are going for here is effective methods that bring about desired results and dropping one of the weapons in the middle of battle seems foolish to me because it certainly cannot bring about a victorious outcome.

RonH

"The 'development' that takes place between 5DE's and newborns is a completely different thing from the 'development' that takes place between toddlers and elementary school kids.

In the first case, by and large, things come into existence. In the second case they grow and change in other ways.

(I like to call a five day embryo a 5DE.)"


I have to disagree with you in regards to this argument. I think we could say that in the course of human development we renew the entire body with pretty much all new replacement cells several times during a lifetime. So, you cannot say that the whole thing gets renewed quite a few times over. At any rate, new things do indeed come to be during the entire life cycle of a human being as he develops through all the stages of human development. So, it is not all that different at all at its foundation.

I'm glad to see people keeping RonH busy answering his challenges. A couple of thing strike me along the way.

I wonder why a brain? Scott Richardson is tackling this. I think Ron's materialistic worldview is prompting question begging prior to claiming the brain is what makes a human worthy of life protection. First, prove that thinking and consciousness happens because of brain cells. Second, how many brain cells does it take? A 5DE has everything she needs within, nothing is imported from outside to her that isn't also necessary for you or I to live,[normal care and feeding].

scblhrm beat me to the reference, but we had similar conversations previously that I think were fruitful in development of an argument from continuity of being and the idea that "future capacity for autonomy" is what you lose when someone takes a life. A 5DE has that...so does everyone else whose tomorrows precariously depend on their yesterdays, even to back to 1DE.

here is a link to the Moral Pro-life Case by Melinda

I find the comment that pro-lifers are pro-war to be extremely offensive. As a Christian pacifist, I will only support the use of non-violent resistance. And yet I am totally against abortion. The two issues are not necessarily completely connected. Just because you have an opinion on one issue does not mean you have to hold an entire spectrum of beliefs.

I think Ron's materialistic worldview is prompting question begging prior to claiming the brain is what makes a human worthy of life protection.

Glad to see this point made. Not sure if RonH is a materialist, but to those that are, there is no fact of the human body that you can point to and say "That's what makes you innately valuable. Let us now write a law proclaiming this universal, and natural truth of materialism".

For the materialist, there is only one answer to the question, "what is the unborn?". A: matter and energy.

All of this debating over when a human becomes valuable presumes that some things have innate value in their natural state. Hmmmm...

I wonder why a brain?

If you had a brain disease, would you ask for a brain transplant?

SteveK

Not sure if RonH is a materialist
Good for you, man.

I am not a materialist.

How could I ever defend such a position?

But I'm unconvinced in dualism and won't agree to have anyone forced to live as if it were true.

But I'm unconvinced in dualism and won't agree to have anyone forced to live as if it were true.

Well, how about this form of "dualism", RonH? - some things have innate value in their natural state of being?

I know that's not dualism in the typical sense, but it seems you *are* arguing for a natural human essence of "matter/energy + something not physical (i.e. natural value)".

True?

Not physical?

Hi Brad & Mr. Brown,
Thank you for pointing me to The Moral Pro-life Case posted by Melinda on November 20, 2012.

I greatly enjoyed your interaction with Ben and the developments of your arguments.

Thank you for also posting the links to the photos and PFL site.
http://www.priestsforlife.org/resources/abortionimages/

To see the actual carnage and brutality of abortion goes far beyond what words and arguments can convey.

Life is precious from beginning to end.

Hi RonH, if you are not a materialist, my bad. Maybe I'm using the term imprecisely and should have said "naturalist". I think you'd be classified as a philosophical naturalist because your preferred/only method=naturalism. This is the form of proof you always seemed to be wanting.

You're welcome Scott, couldn't have moved that discussion along without WisdomLover also. That argument should work even in a secular context. Science and experience provide all of the necessary premises such that not one person can deny their own journey from 1DE-5DE-...etc etc..to elderly human and the capacity for future autonomy relies inextricably on the previous days...all the way back to conception. But everyone already really knows this.

Not physical?

Sure. Innate value requires a proper, and necessary ontological grounding. Matter and energy are insufficient so what's left?

SteveK,

Nothing is left. That is why nothing has any value. Insects make sex-slaves, just as, they kill their young, sometimes of a particular sex. They value that. Such is, therefore, valuable.

The atheist, with each nudge of ought and ought-not-have, self-diagnosis his own psychosis. But then, Pan-Psychosis just is the end of his regress for thought-content itself is but the slave of some other precursor.

The Necessary and Sufficient Cause of All-Effects, ever actual, stands amid This-Effect but not That-Effect, leaving mechanistic determinism incoherent, and, therein, the atheist’s diagnosis of Pan-Psychosis is simply too short-sighted, too self-focused. Void of Mind’s Other, Love’s Self-Other, in Unity, E Pluribus Unum, wherein the destruction of either stands wholly Outside.


Brad B,

No, I'm not a naturalist or a philosophical naturalist either.

Same reason: How could I ever defend such a position?

It happens that I'm only aware of natural things; I'm not convinced that any supernatural thing exists.

But I have no grounds to deny that there are supernatural things. So I don't do that. I don't assert naturalism.

By the way, I hope you see that I needn't believe there are no supernatural things in order be justified in challenging bad evidence/arguments offered in favor of such things.

In particular, I need not believe 'there is no God' to be justified in challenging each and every argument for His existence.

If someone were to assert naturalism, I would ask: What is your evidence? What is your argument? If these did not seem to be adequate, I'd say as much.

I think you'd be classified as a philosophical naturalist because your preferred/only method=naturalism. This is the form of proof you always seemed to be wanting.

I would be classified as a philosophical naturalist if I asserted something like

reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing ‘supernatural’, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the ‘human spirit’ (Krikorian 1944, Kim 2003).

- http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/

RonH

And yet natural things cannot self-account.

A Necessary and Sufficient Cause of All-Effects amid This-Effect yet not That-Effect only has one observable, measurable geography my eyes see: Intent.


Imaginary time and big spheres with bubbles not withstanding.

Natural things have causes.

Sufficient causes have effects.....well....unless Will is the cause, in which case All-Effects need not be manifest. Like Time. Like so many things.

I believe my eyes. I see no good reason not to regress to Will. In fact, every bit of evidence my fingers touch in repeatable experiences lines up with every bit of observable behavior of all physical stuff and I see no evidence to the contrary.

None at all.

Imaginary spheres are fine for make believe.....but I see no evidence of such a thing.

None.

I see repeatable, falsifiable, measurable evidence of sufficient causes and their necessary effects, warped only by Intent.

Why in any universe would anyone believe in any other regress other than Cosmic Choice?

I see no reason to believe anything else. And I see irrefutable evidence all around me to confirm such a conclusion.

I only believe my eyes, and measurable data. Hence my Theism. That of a triune sort for previously described observations.

Louis K,

I think we could say that in the course of human development we renew the entire body with pretty much all new replacement cells several times during a lifetime.
It doesn't matter to me if there is turnover in the material my brain is made of - what matters to me is that my memories remain largely intact over time. If they didn't I wouldn't exist - I'd be something else. In spite of this turnover, our experience and personality are quite continuous - once we have experience and personality. A 5DE has not the kind of thing that can have either personality or experience. So a 5DE is a different sort of thing from you.

blockquote>"So a 5DE is a different sort of thing from you."Nonsense, I hope Louis K runs with this.

Hi RonH, I'll need a little time to digest your statements about not being a committed naturalist, intellectually, I'm going to have to deal with the ole duck test-"quacks like a duck/must be a duck", although my charitable side wants to give you the benefit of doubt and look closer to make sure I'm not imposing my judgements onto your statements. This I'll try to do.

Also, you responded earlier:

"If you had a brain disease, would you ask for a brain transplant?"

I was just going to let this question pass because it seems too hypothetical to be even considered. Anyway, it might be useful to discuss it. If it were possible to even do, I wouldn't get a brain transplant, because I believe that my brain is the corporeal part of me that my self has interacted with in such an intimate way that I cannot be separated from it and still be me. It's not as if any old brain will do in the Christian worldview. But, similarly, in the purely physical system, consciousness cannot be accounted for, nor for the concepts of categories necessary for thought.

Above, you mention that you believe that your memories remian largely intact over time, yet your current brain cells are probably not the same ones that were present when your experience occurred. I dont see how you come to this conclusion that the physical matter or energy field in your brain possesses the memory when they [brain cells] are not the same any longer.

[got distracted watching "Grimm"-need to end it for the day-fighting a bug and need to sleep, so I'm going to let this go for now, respond if you want to.]

"Once we have"

Lots of us enter states in which we "no longer have" but may one day have again.... assuming intervention of intent.

Like our whole universe, consciousness here is non-entity until intention. The effect of actualized future potential shows an intent to intervene in order to bring something in where that something is not.

The chain of continuity thus has nothing to do with current consciousness, as we intervene based not on that but on tomorrow's possibility.

It's the same incoherence of cutting unbroken chains we saw in the thread "the moral pro life case" linked earlier.

Nothing new here, RonH......

Time, Physical Existence, and Consciousness are not on RonH’s side here.


Once we have…..” ?


Okay. Let’s go there. It’s a nice path into tomorrow’s possibility’s and consciousness.


A Necessary and Sufficient Cause of All-Effects standing amid This-Effect yet not That-Effect speaks of the incoherence of mechanistic determinism. My eyes see no geography which accounts for this, in the real world which my mind perceives, other than a world laced with Intention.


I just don’t see any evidence for Hawking’s imaginary sphere.


None.


But my eyes do see the real world.
I’m only interested in what my eyes see.


I see all around me repeatable, falsifiable, measurable evidence of sufficient causes and their necessary effects, those necessary effect’s actualizations warped only by Intent. Why in any universe would anyone believe in any other regress other than Cosmic Choice where Time and the Universe is concerned? I see no reason to believe anything else. And I see irrefutable evidence all around me to confirm such a conclusion of Intention at the end of regress. Only a pre-supposition of naturalism would ground the intent to believe in imaginary spheres, for which we find no evidence, rather than the very obvious and objective geography of Necessary and Sufficient Cause-Effect-Intention for which we find objective, measurable evidence all around us.


This line of continuity saturated with Intention is what we find in intervention of intent motivated not by what is, but by what will be tomorrow.


Time and Consciousness both seem wholly unaccounted for but for a value placed on, not what is, but on what will be. Like Universes. Like Time. Like Consciousness.


We do this all the time in traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and a whole array of states now void of consciousness and memories and which may one day, tomorrow, have but half-as-much, or none, or all. We just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But it is tomorrow which drives today’s Intention, today’s Valuing.


If we mean to present an Ethic based on now-having rather than on tomorrow’s possibilities, then we find an Ethic wholly incoherent with what we all are doing in the real world, as the value in that Ethic just is an alien ethic to what we objectively find, almost innately, in our real world.


Time and Consciousness seem to come into existence based not on what is, but on what is not, and each is spoken of in the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, and value in all of these arenas speaks toward, not what is, but what may be.


The reason Naturalists (and RonH apparently) does not like this chain and where it leads is because in the arena of Time and the Universe and the Multi-Verse it leads them, not to Hawking’s imaginary spheres, for which we find no evidence at all, none, but to Effects which must be, but are not, and the only thing their eyes see in repeatable, falsifiable, measurable empirical anthologies which accounts for such geography is Intention, and that Intention accounts for something of non-entity now actualizing and now not actualizing all the while the Necessary and Sufficient Cause is ever-actual. What will be tomorrow, but is not today. Their eyes see that, but their conclusion goes elsewhere, perhaps to Hawking’s imaginary spheres for which their eyes see no evidence. They see irrefutable evidence all around them to confirm such a conclusion of Intention. Only a pre-supposition of naturalism would ground the intent to believe in imaginary spheres, for which we find no evidence, rather than the very obvious, measurable, and objective geography of Necessary and Sufficient Cause-Effect-Intention for which they find objective evidence all around them.


It is the same reason Naturalists (and RonH apparently) do not like this chain of continuity where Consciousness is concerned: because it brings us again back to Intention based not on what is now, but on what may be tomorrow. Again we find the necessary and sufficient cause ever-actual in our intentions tenderly loving not what is, but will be, what may be, tomorrow. We hope in what we do not now have. That just is the Ethic, the Accounting, of Time, of the Multi-Verse, of Consciousness, of Life, of the unbroken chain of continuity.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. That is how we, on intent, treat, value, consciousness in the real world, just as, that is how Intention treats, values, Time and the Mulit-Verse.

RonH

" A 5DE has not the kind of thing that can have either personality or experience. So a 5DE is a different sort of thing from you."

Experience is not what makes us a "sort of thing". There are millions of people all over the world all having different types of experience and simply not having the same kinds of experiences does not diminish one's individual identity. There was a time when I was a 5DE, but what does that actually say? It says that I experienced the 5DE stage of my development. The term 5DE says nothing about the nature of what I was, it only designates the length of time I was alive then. I will not be reduced to a label today and I certainly do not permit others to reduce me to a label back then. To change the paraphrase of one of my favorite shows..."I am not a label...I am a free man I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or labeled".

To state that simply because one has a diminished capacity to experience certain things for a relatively short period of time, it somehow makes them something alien and inhuman does not seem to be a very reasonable position. I should think that the 5DE is far more similar to me than a pupa is to a butterfly, yet there is no question that in both examples we are talking about one species and only different stages of development in each case. Is a pupa a different kind of thing from a butterfly? Who cares. It doesn't matter to what the thing actually is. The morphology of the thing does not determine its nature, but its nature determines its morphology and it is that nature that defines what the thing actually is and the direction the morphology develops into.

I think that is where you are making your mistake.

Non-entity. Wombs, tomorrow’s consciousness, now non-entity. Traumatic brain injuries, tomorrow’s consciousness, now non-entity. Strokes, tomorrow’s consciousness, now non-entity. Intensive Care Units, tomorrow’s consciousness, now non-entity. Normal care and feeding. Unbroken chain. Care. We let go. We don’t take. And when we do take the life of a man, we locate that man’s stolen property in his tomorrow. Francis Beckwith notes, “You're suggesting that "development happens." It doesn't, since it is not a thing. It is something that a thing undergoes…”. Louis Kuhelj notes, “The morphology of the thing does not determine its nature, but its nature determines its morphology and it is that nature that defines what the thing actually is….”. Future potential and how such applies to the Ethics of everything is developed by WisdomLover more completely in the link provided earlier by Brad B to “The Moral Pro Life Case”.

We find inside of Mankind’s consciousness an Ethic of Life, of Value, of Person grounded not in Today, but in Tomorrow. On Love’s ontological grounds of the necessary E Pluribus Unum we come to a kind of commitment to the sanctity of life, and a kind of commitment to the factual nature of the darkness found in violence against it. An Ethic based on now-having and not on tomorrow’s possibilities is so incoherent and disconnected to how we perceive and experience actuality that we just cannot make sense of such a thing. Perhaps when a man’s tomorrows are stolen by one, that one must surrender his own tomorrows. Perhaps, perhaps not. In Man’s Now, perhaps, or perhaps not. In Grace, in Ransom’s Eternity, perhaps not, as He finds in Himself a Capacity to undo, restore, all things. Such contexts are not wholly alien to us and need not ever embrace this odd and bizarre ethic of now-having.

We find a unavoidable some-thing actualizing right before our eyes. As the Womb and our Care therein wanes, we find with this waning care a coherent decline of Care in all the contexts that follow, as the needle given to end life finds a path into all arenas, whether in traumatic brain injuries, ICU’s, Hospice Houses, or simply being of eighteen years of age and feeling like seeing what happens next. Autonomy! ends in, well, what locations? On what grounds? Is it your eighteenth birthday? Feeling the existential pull? “Have at it!” is the shout for which we find on coherent answer inside of unbridled autonomy. The unbroken chain of continuity works in both directions, and such has horrific necessary ends. We hear the opening melodies of such ominous chain-breaking already leaking through the breaks in the chain. Love and Logic, properly applied, have necessary consequences, just as, Love and Logic, misapplied, have necessary consequences. It is okay to rip the needle out of the eighteen year old’s hands, though he be of sufficient mental and emotional capacity to self-determine. Because the chain never ends, all breaks being but something less than Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum.

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