Arguing Well or (Ground Rules)
Arguing well in a fighting world, or making your case for life on hostile turf.
Welcome back, everyone to the Case for Life podcast, where we help you think clearly on pro-life issues. I’m Scott Korff. I am the instructor on the Case for Life course that you will soon see, uh, advertising about, and we’ll direct you to what I want to do today though we are a year out from Dobbs, since Roe v.
Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey were cast down, these were tremendous victories for our side. Make no mistake about it, anybody who’s trying to tell you that, It was a bad thing. These things were reversed and that pro-lifers would be better off if they hadn’t been. Has no idea what they’re talking about.
However, it doesn’t follow that there aren’t challenges in front of us. And I wanna highlight a few because they relate to why this podcast is important for you. Whether you’re a seminary student, a first time, pro-life lay leader. And you’re just getting started or maybe a high school teacher and you’re thinking, how can I help my students think clearly about this issue?
Here’s why you being here is, is important in light of what’s happened with Dobbs. Number one, the pro-life movement right now is being infiltrated by what I call poser pro-lifers. Let me define that so it doesn’t sound just like I’m being pejorative. Opposer Pro-Lifer is someone who claims to speak for our interests, but really they’re pawns of the other side.
They are people who look like pro-lifers, but they’re actually not. And example after example of this comes to mind, especially in election season. And as we approach the 2024 presidential election, you will see posers crawl out of the woodwork. In Legion form, they will be all over the place. You won’t be able to miss them, but what they tend to do is say things like, Hey, don’t vote pro-life.
That’s really not going to help the issue. Don’t vote for pro-life candidates who truly oppose abortion. What you should do is vote for people who have a more general respect for life and who will put in place policies that make abortion rare. These are people who wanna keep abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy, and they’re trying to hit you with a carrot that says, Hey, listen, if you bite here, we’ll reduce abortion and make it less.
Likely to happen because we’ll implement programs that will make it less likely. But these are not people who want to protect unborn humans legally. They’re, they’re, they’re actually faking on that. So be, we need to be on the watch for those people. And the way you recognize counterfeits is to be very clear on what the pro-life argument actually is.
And that’s what this podcast is about. Thinking clearly about the pro-life argument. You may remember in our last session, we gave you three key words, syllogism, syllogism, syllogism. Why? Because if you don’t stay focused on the actual pro-life argument, people will lead you astray with all kinds of nonsense that has nothing to do.
With a pointed hand, so we’ve gotta watch out for posers. The second reason in light of Dobbs in a post-roll world, that we need a podcast like this. Again, whether you’re a student, a layperson, a professional, pro-lifer, or maybe even a pastor, the truth is the public is not with us on the abortion issue. I want you to think with me for a moment since Dobbs, since a year ago.
Every single time without exception, that pro-life was put before the voters with a direct vote. We lost even in red states like Kentucky, um, Kansas, Montana, heck in Montana, we couldn’t even get people to vote to protect babies who survive abortion procedures that got voted down. Why? It’s very easy. Why at the worldview level?
The public is not with the pro-life movement. They are actually against us, and this is a shock to many institutional pro-lifers who for decades taught. That our biggest problem was judges who were activists and a hostile press. It goes way deeper than that. We don’t have activist judges working against us anymore, and yet the public is clearly not with us.
Now, whether that’s because 50 years of abortion advocacy has had its impact, or we just haven’t done our job getting our case out there, it really doesn’t matter. The point is, if you are not equipped to make a case for life where you are at, you’re not helping the cause. The days of saying, we’ll leave this to a, a small group of professional pro-lifers who will get it done for us, no.
Those days are so far over. Forget it. We are in a new time where all hands need to be on deck. We need everyone contending for the pro-life view and that means you. Wherever you are, student professional, whatever, we need you all hands on deck. A third reason is we need people who understand pro-life apologetics in their churches.
It’s bad enough, the public isn’t with us. It’s really bad that the audience is predisposed to be favorable to our view, aren’t hearing our message in the first place because a lot of their church leaders have convinced themselves. Abortion is a. Separate political issue over here that has nothing to do with conveying biblical gospel.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and we’ll discuss that in this show as time goes on. Again, all of us have to be AP apologists now. That’s why this show matters to you wherever you are in your pro-life journey. Now, last week we talked about arguments. We talked about the need to make our case persuasively, and we presented a formal pro-life argument, and I told you then, and I’ll remind you again.
Now you’ve gotta start with that argument. That argument is that premise one, it’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Premise two, abortion does that. Therefore abortion is wrong. Now the thing about that, Syllogism as we call it, is you can only refute it a couple of different ways. Number one, you can show that the premises are false, that one or more of them is untrue, meaning the argument is unsound.
Or you can show the conclusion doesn’t logically follow and therefore the argument is invalid. There is the third way you can refute it, which we’re gonna look at today. Show that the terminology is unclear. That the premises contain definitions that are not clear, or maybe they’re equivocal. They can mean more than one thing as we’ll.
Look at today, none of that is true with a pro-life argument. Our terms are clear. So let’s dive in. What do we mean by some of the terms we use in our argument when we say that it’s wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being? Abortion does that, therefore it’s wrong. Let’s start with the term wrong.
We need to be very clear on what we mean here, because what we mean by it is pro-life advocates, and what a lot of people in the public mean by the word wrong, are two completely different things. The term wrong has been retained, but it’s been completely redefined. Here’s what we mean by wrong. It is objectively wrong.
Now, when we say something is objective, what we mean is it’s true regardless of how I feel about it. It’s possible that I may like stealing my father-in-law’s Corvette and taking it for a nice drive up P c H, past Malibu, all the way to Santa Barbara. But that does not mean that it’s okay for me to do it, just because I feel it’s okay.
I. You, most people would say, no, you can’t do that. It would be wrong, and here’s what they mean. It, it would be wrong even if I wanna do it, even if he would never know about it, even if it suits my preferences. It’s wrong objectively. And when pro-lifers say abortion is wrong, objectively. We do not mean we dislike abortion.
In fact, it’s quite possible to like something and still say it’s wrong. Think of the example of me taking my father-in-law’s Corvette. I may like to do that, but it would still be wrong. Therefore, I’m not going to do it. When we say abortion is wrong. We are not talking about a subjective claim about likes and dislikes.
We’re talking about what’s true objectively in the real world. Uh, and the public doesn’t understand this. This is a huge problem a lot of pro-lifers don’t get. They launch right into saying abortion is wrong, or abortion kills children and they don’t understand. The public listening is going, well, it’s wrong for you, but it’s not wrong for me.
I don’t think it’s wrong. Therefore, you have a different view than me. We disagree. Obviously, nobody’s right, and that’s a worldview known as relativism, and that worldview of relativism sabotages your Christian witness, your pro-life witness. It’s something you have to deal with. Relativism, strictly speaking, is the belief that right and wrong.
Are up to you, the individual or your society, but there’s no objective moral truths that we’re supposed to line up with. We make the rules for ourselves, and you see relativism everywhere you go. How about this bumper sticker? Don’t like abortion. Well, don’t have one. Notice what this does to the Pro-Lifers objective claim.
The pro-lifer says abortion is wrong because it intentionally kills an innocent human being. That bumper sticker took that objective truth claim and changed it to a subjective one about likes and dislikes, as if the wrong of abortion is simply about not liking it. But that’s not what the pro-lifer argued, and what our critics have done at that point is they have.
Change the kind of claim that we’re making and we need to call ’em out on it. You may need to stop and say, listen, um, I need to make an observation here. And quite frankly, it’s one that, uh, you need to be aware of. I made an objective claim. You rudely changed it to a subjective one that you liked better.
That’s not fair. You need to let my claim stand on its own terms instead of redefining my terms. And what I mean, you need to call people out on this. They’re taking an objective claim and making it subjective into something they like better. This should not be allowed to fly. Another term we use in our, our debate is, what is abortion?
What do we mean by abortion? Now, we defined it in our syllogism as the intentional killing of an innocent human being. But is that a fair way for us to define abortion? Because other people might say, well, it’s just removing the products of conception. Or it’s just allowing a woman to exercise her right to choose.
So where do we get off calling it the intentional killing of an innocent human being? And right here, I’ve got with me, uh, quotes from people on the other side that affirm our definition of what abortion is. So I’m gonna read you some of these quotes. Pardon me while I put on my Elton John glasses to do it.
These are my Dr. Zeke uh, glasses. Um, They’re the only ones I have at the moment. So before you wonder if I’ve gone transgender on you or something? No. They just happen to be the cheap dollar readers you get at Dollar Tree. And I’ve got ’em all over the house because whenever I wanna read something, I can’t seem to find glasses.
These are the only ones I could find. So you’re stuck with ’em. All right. Uh, we defined abortion as the intentional killing of an innocent human being, but is that something we can logically hold onto? Well, I commend to your. Listening, a definition of abortion from Dr. Warren Hearn. Now, Dr. Warren Hearn, if you’re wondering who that is, he is the abortionist who wrote the book Abortion Practice.
This book is the medical teaching text. I got it right over there on my shelf, uh, that teaches abortion procedures. His clinic in Boulder, Colorado is without question the single most influential abortion clinic in the US today. And Dr. Hearn is looked to as the leader in teaching abortion techniques. And here’s what Dr.
Hearn told a Planned Parenthood conference a while back. He said, and I’ll quote him directly, we have reached a point in this particular technology, meaning abortion procedures. Where there is no possibility of denying an act of destruction, it is before one’s eyes. Now listen to this last sentence he puts in there, the sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current.
That’s not a pro-life activist. That’s an abortionist. Perhaps the world’s leading abortionist saying that abortion can no longer be denied for what it is. It is dismembering, a living human being. There’s no way to deny an act of destruction. It’s right there before us. And by the way, when you’re doing it, the sensations of tearing apart this child in the womb flow through the forceps like an electric current.
I don’t think it gets any clearer than that. Now what about feminists? Would they agree with this? Well, Camille Pallia. In a salon piece writes, and I’ll quote her directly here. This is stunning. Now keep in mind, this is a woman who defends abortion and supports it, but thinks we’re right in the way we describe it.
Hence, I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder. I. The extermination of the powerless by the powerful liberals, for the most part, have shrunk from facing the eth ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue.
Did you catch that? She says abortion results in the annihilation. She calls it murder of concrete individuals, not just clumps of cells. Uh, philosopher and jurist. Richard or Ronald Dorchen, pardon me, describes abortion as quote, a choice for death in his book’s Life Dominion. He says it is a choice that deliberately kills a developing embryo.
Now that’s pretty direct. Former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, uh, writes even further. He gets very graphic, so be aware what I’m about to read. May shock some of you. He says, quote, the fetus, in many cases dies just as an adult or child would. It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while it’s limbs are being torn off.
Now, one more quote here from Feminist Naomi Wolf. She is again. An ardent abortion advocate, but she writes here that abortion involves a choice of real death, and that if we claim that it’s not a real death, we’re being intellectually dishonest. In fact, she goes on to attack her fellow Libs who support abortion for being genuinely genu.
Let me speak now. I’ll go to speech therapy after this for being genuinely disingenuous for saying, Abortion is just no big deal. She says, no, it involves a real death. So when pro-lifers say abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being, our definition is consistent with many of our critics on the other side who wanna do it anyway, but at least some of them are being honest about the rhetoric that’s involved.
Now, here’s another term we need to define. What do we mean by innocent? This is one that trips up a lot of Christians ’cause they say nobody is interest or nobody is innocent. We’re all guilty before God. We’re all by nature under the wrath of God for. Our sinful natures. And that is true theologically.
Every last one of us is justly under the wrath of God. And only if we have been found in Christ does he remove us from that being under God’s wrath. And instead, we are judged by the merits of Christ. But here’s the point we are making. When we say the unborn or innocent, we’re not meaning it in a theological term as much as we are.
In a criminal or moral term, what we’re saying is the unborn have done, done nothing that deserves death. Pardon me, while I switch back to glasses, I can stand to look at myself. We’re saying the unborn do not deserve to be intentionally killed. They’ve done nothing that warrants. Intentional dismemberment, as Warren Hearn talked about those three terms.
What do we mean by wrong? We mean objective rather than subjective. What do we mean by abortion? The intentional killing of an innocent human being. And what do we mean by innocent Are terms we ought to be ready to define in case people press back on us. These terms in the argument are consistent. They are not equivocal.
They are clearly stated. And our argument therefore remains standing on the ground of being both valid and sound. We can’t be accused of, oh, we’re just using shady terminology. No, we’re actually being very clear in what we argue as we just demonstrated with those quotes. Um, so when we say that the unborn are human though, How are we gonna defend that?
How do we make that claim? And, and the typical response from a lot of people that are in this debate is to say, well, theologically, some people think the unborn are human and other people don’t. And you know, people disagree. As if somehow the, the, the, the, the reality of people disagreeing means nobody’s, right?
I mean, this is silly to me. People once disagreed on whether slaves were human. Did it mean there wasn’t a right answer? They once disagreed on whether women should have the right to vote. Did it follow? There was no right view on women voting. The absence of consensus does not mean an absence of truth, but our society has talked itself into that view and we’ve gotta talk ’em out of it.
Um, when we say the unborn or human, we are asking the question, what is the unborn? And that’s the most important question in this debate. What is the unborn? Can we kill the unborn? Your answer should be yes, if. If what if the unborn are not human? In fact, I think it’s good for pro-lifers to say that because it takes away from our opponents, uh, any idea that we’re just shutting off debate.
In fact, we appear to agree with them and then say, if it’s quite a dramatic way to pose what the real issue is here, yeah, we can kill the unborn. If they’re not human, I don’t care how many abortions you have, have as many as you want. I don’t care how many teeth you have pulled. I don’t care if you have an appendectomy.
I don’t care how many fingernails you clip, but I do care if we’re talking about intentionally killing an innocent human being. That’s something very different than likes or dislikes. So when we ask the question, What is the unborn? We’re not going to theology to answer it. We’re not going to philosophy to answer it.
We’re not going to the teaching magisterium of any church. We’re gonna go to the empirical sources found in embryology, the science of embryology, and when we look there, here’s what we find from the earliest stages of development, meaning from the one cell stage you. We’re a distinct living and whole human being.
You weren’t part of another human being, like skin cells on the back of my hand. You were already a whole living member of the human family, even though you had yet to grow and develop. That’s the science of embryology. And people can try to dismiss this by saying, oh, you know what, uh, twinning can occur.
Yeah, twinning can occur up to 21 days after fertilization in some cases. But how does it follow that? Because an entity splits, it wasn’t a whole living entity prior to the split. Or they may say, women don’t grieve miscarriages the way they grieve the death of an older human being, like a two-year-old or maybe a toddler or five-year-old.
Okay, let’s say that’s true. In some cases it may not be, but let’s grant it for the sake of this discussion, how do my feelings about something change? What? It is. I would feel far worse learning that one of my own children died today than I would reading that thousands died in India last week from th from starvation in third world countries.
Does it follow? My own kid is more human and valuable than those children? Not at all. It just means I’m more connected emotionally as I should be to my own kids. It doesn’t follow. Those children are any less human than my own children. These are not good arguments against the scientific case for the lives of the unborn.
A final one you’ll get that is quite popular involves the infamous burning research lab. In fact, I have seen pro abortionists brag that they can prove beyond all doubt. That pro-lifers are not really against abortion, and that abortion itself is perfectly permissible, morally based on a thought experiment they love to throw out there.
And it goes like this. You are in a burning research lab and the place is an inferno and one corner of the room, there’s a six year old girl screaming in terror. In the other corner of the room, on the other side of the room is a vial full of of a thousand frozen embryos. You only have time to save the embryos or the six-year-old.
You do not have time to save both, which are you going to save? Well, We’re all going for the six year old, and our critics say, see, even you don’t think abortion is a big deal. You think it’s okay because notice who you saved. You saved the six year old, not the thousand embryos. And they think that this is a knockdown slap down conclusion that we cannot navigate our way out of.
And it is anything but. It’s actually a very bogus illustration, and I’ll tell you why. Number one, notice what this thought experiment is about. It’s not about who we get to kill. It’s about who we ought to save. Abortion is not about who we save. It’s about who we get to intentionally kill. So this whole thought experiment has nothing to do with the morality of abortion.
It’s speaking to the question, who ought we save? Not, who do we get to intentionally kill? Even if I did save, let’s say the building were on fire and I could save you or one of my own kids. Well, I’m gonna save one of my own kids. But here’s the thing, I won’t shoot you on the way out. I will save my own kid first, but that doesn’t gimme license to intentionally kill you as I’m trying to make my escape.
So this thought analogy just doesn’t work. In fact, you could think of other examples, the Secret Service. We’ll take a bullet for the President, but not you. Not me. Does it follow The President is more human and valuable than us, simply because the Secret service defends him and not us. No. It means that for the sake of the nation’s wellbeing, the loss of the president is catastrophic in a way that the loss of you and I is not in terms of the overall nation’s health and safety.
But that doesn’t mean that because they saved the President instead of you that you’re less human. And somehow less valuable. It just means the cost of losing the President is catastrophic for the nation, and that’s why the Secret Service is there to make sure that doesn’t happen. It speaks nothing about it being okay to intentionally kill you because the Secret Service would save the President first.
These are very bogus arguments, but they come up all the time and they don’t refute the scientific view that the unborn are distinct living and whole human beings from the very. These are truths we need to be clear on. These are things we’ll continue to to discuss in the Case For Life podcast as we move along.
Stay tuned Next week we’ll dive into some of the philosophical defense for the pro-life view. There actually is one, some people think we, we base our view totally on religion. That’s not really true. We make a very sophisticated philosophic case, and we’re gonna make that next time we gather for today, though, keep this in mind.
In a post Roe v Wade world, you have a job to expose, posers a job to make your case persuasively as an apologist because we’re all apologists now and you have a job, as do I, to make sure our churches are properly informed on this issue. All of these things will be things we help train you on as our episodes continue.
Thank you for tuning in today. Look forward to seeing you next time.