Why Should I Read | The Case for Life

If you’ve never thought logically about a deeply emotional issue like abortion, welcome, this article won’t overwhelm you.

If you’ve already had many conversations about worldviews and how your ideas relate to others, then there are resources linked below that will give you material for those conversations.

The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf isn’t the ultimate philosophical and academic work of the prolife position but it does give lay individuals the tools and tactics to logically articulate their position. Klusendorf draws heavily from sources on both sides of the aisle on this issue and puts them in perspective so someone without prior knowledge on the subject can immediately grasp the collision of ideas.

case for life cover

As mentioned in the video, if you find yourself in a conversation about abortion the issue boils down to how to define the humanity of the unborn and whether they differ in fundamental ways from adults that justify ending their life.

What clarifies the conversation?

Syllogism.

Yes, syllogism.

If it’s been awhile since 7th grade logic class, a syllogism is a formula for constructing a deductive argument that consists of two premises and a conclusion. In order to disprove the conclusion, one must show that it is either illogical or disprove one of the premises. Here is the syllogism of the abortion issue.

  1. It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
  2. Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.
  3. Therefore, abortion is wrong.

This is a tactic that Klusendorf  states will narrow the conversation at least to the question “Are the unborn human?”

He writes in the book that if one can prove the the unborn are NOT human than the entire case for life is moot and there should be no moral qualms for obtaining an abortion than there would be to have one’s appendix removed.

This question is addressed by the science of embryology in that from the earliest stages of development you were a distinct, living, and whole human being. See these quotes from embryology texts at princeton.edu for more information. Another tactic for clarifying these differences is known as “Trot out the Toddler” and can be found on Klusendorf’s website.

In the one minute case for life I state at the beginning of the video, I quote Scott as saying “While science can tell us what the unborn are, we turn to philosophy to determine if their differences are fundamental in ways that would justify ending their life.”

Klusendorf runs a training company called Life Training Institute that educates people in the prolife position and they excel in the explanation of the philosophical differences between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today. From the page “How to Defend Your Pro-Life Views in 5 Minutes or Less:”

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:

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.

In those two basic points and utilizing the Columbo Tactic to clarify what the other person truly believes, you can have a rational conversation about the abortion issue. This doesn’t mean however that we can expect everyone to coalesce around a shared view, this is an issue that is deeply personal and tough to address for many.

You will hear some common issues come up when talking with proponents of the right to choose.

The most common are issues of bodily autonomy of the mother, exceptions based on cases of rape or incest, the alleged silence of the Bible on the topic of abortion, and the issue of embryonic stem-cell research and cloning. Check out these links to read about Klusendorf’s response to each in turn.

If you wish to dive deeply into the issue and look at the logical reasoning on each side of the issue, you’ll discover names like Francis J Beckwith, David Boonin, Peter Kreeft, Peter Singer, and Nadine Strossen. These individuals are all involved in writing, debating, and speaking extensively on the opposing views surrounding the abortion issue.

In conclusion, I encourage you to examine this issue logically. Go do your own study, I’m sure it will be an enlightening process.

Keep reading friends!

-Jon

P.S. For extra credit, here are two links to debates that have happened in the past few years on the subject.

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Why Should I Read | Tactics

You’re at lunch and your co-worker looks at you a bit oddly and says with a smirk. “Hey you’re a Christian just like those folks at Westborogh Baptist Church, why do you believe in gay-bashing?”

At a family reunion, you are catching up with a cousin you haven’t seen in awhile and she says that Christians are intolerant, and even Jesus says that the Father desires that none should perish….

What do you do? You have 10 seconds…

Tactics: A Game plan for discussing your Christian convictions is a book by world-class apologist Greg Koukl and provides a framework for responding to worldview issues like those in the intro. I’m going to share with you the main tactic for responding to others about their claims and your beliefs, and it’s named after this guy… Lieutenant Colombo. Colombo 1

This book goes beyond just rhetoric for defending the Christian faith however and gives you the ability to steer a conversation so each person can be heard and offered the opportunity to see the strengths… and weaknesses of their views.

While most of the world in the 21st century communicates entirely emotionally, this book is built on the premise that in order to converse successfully in the world of ideas one needs three skills. From pg. 25.

  1. Knowledge: An accurately informed mind.
  2. Wisdom: An artful method
  3. Character: An attractive manner

Tactics is structured around building wisdom and being artful in your conversations with others. To build Knowledge, it really depends on the subject- although in apologetics the Bible is always a great start for Christians. I recommend the book How to Win Friends and Influence People for building an character and an attractive manner with others.

Note: This tactic we are going to cover is extremely powerful and can be used to verbally bludgeon another person. Please don’t use this if you’re going to be a jerk about it. Speak the truth in love, and realize that many in our society are emotionally driven and when confronted with logic can resort to anger or attacks on you.

Let’s get down to the heart of the book.

Colombo 2

COLUMBO — Sleuth Series — Pictured: Peter Faulk as Lt. Frank Columbo — Sleuth Photo

This guy again.

The Colombo tactic is built around questions.

Why?

Questions are friendly, they are educational, and they put you back in the drivers seat.

Never make a statement, at least at first, when a question will do the job. p.47

Here’s your first Colombo Question that you can always return to when someone makes a claim. “What do you mean by that?”

“All truth is relative” What do you mean by that?

“Trump is a terrible candidate” What do you mean by that?

“All Christians are hate mongers” What do you mean by that?

The other person then has to take the time to respond (remember, some people are simply blowing steam or merely repeating slogans they heard) and clarify exactly what they are asserting. General statements like “You’re a man. You shouldn’t have an opinion on abortion” are vague and need refining before you can move on to your second Colombo question.

Once the other person responds and clarifies, your second question is this:

Now, how did you come to that conclusion?

Say for example you are told, “Well there are thousands of universes and ours just happens to be the one that looks designed.”

How did you come to that conclusion?

This question puts the burden of proof back on the person who put forth the view instead of asking you to respond to the assertion. (Are they going to visit the other universes to figure out if they appear to be designed? How did you find out there are other universes?)

In order to stand up, their explanation needs to not only be possible and plausible, it also needs to be probable or more likely than the idea you hold. To determine this, you’ll need the third point of the Colombo tactic.

You can use this third question method to lead the other person to a logical conclusion. This “leading with questions” step of the Colombo tactic requires practice, as well as listening carefully to their line of reasoning and being able to respond to assumptions one at a time as they appear. When a new idea surfaces, go back you your tried and true “What do you mean by that” and take it from the top. Your most non-threatening approach is to continue to point out errors of logic with questions.

While you won’t be prepared to respond to every conversation after watching this 5 minute video or reading one blog post, I encourage you to use this knowledge for building others up by strengthening their thought process. You don’t have to convince everyone that they are wrong and you are right, but you shouldn’t let them get away with making assertions you know are false.

Lastly, don’t be a “logical justice warrior” and go looking for fights with your new found tactics. Build your knowledge. Grow in wisdom. Develop your character.

Thank you so much for reading, The next two weeks will continue to be apologetics books since I’m prepping for a couple classes in July. Go Subscribe on youtube, like the page on facebook and I’ll see you next week for book #22. ­­

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