Friday, August 6, 2010

Don't Like It, Don't Have One Pt. III [Megan]

Check out parts I and II to get the full response to a recent article in the Birmingham Atheism Examiner.

I’ll begin by posting two key paragraphs from the author, numbering the sentences so my responses will match.

1. Personal religious convictions toward abortion do not constitute legal opposition to the right to an abortion.”

2. (a.)“Laws should not exist to enforce morality, (b.) and history should show us the problems that inevitably arise when we attempt to legislate it, especially biblical morality.”

3. (a.) “Murder and abortion were in existence before the advent of Christianity and the canonization of the Bible, and so were laws prohibiting murder. (b.) We need laws against murder to regulate behavior to allow the civil function of human society. (c.) A god is not needed to regulate murder, because if left unregulated, civil society could not exist. (d.) Abortion does not have an equal effect on society as murder.”

My responses, corresponding to the numbers and letters above:

1. I agree. Legal opposition to abortion should not be on grounds of any kind of personal preference (which is the author’s understanding of the nature of religious convictions); but it should be grounded in the acknowledgement of the objective wrong of taking the life of a defenseless human being without justification.

2. This segment was divided into two parts:

a. All laws enforce morality (of which dictionary definitions generally read: “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior”). In claiming that laws “should” not exist to enforce morality, the author is stepping on his own foot. In other words — Is that a law he is proposing should exist?

b. What specific examples can the author give from history in which attempts to legislate morality have gone wrong? One has to wonder if any example given is one in which a moral good was properly enforced. This is a claim that demands solid evidence, and there are several factors involved.

3. This segment was divided into four parts:

a. To this assertion, I think the proper response (to borrow Greg Koukl’s favorite two-word reply) is a gracious “So?”. What exactly does this prove — that murder is universally wrong? If this is an attempt by the author to debunk God, it is unsuccessful. God exists long before the advent of Christianity and the canonization of the Bible. If you’re going to argue against Christianity, you have to play in bounds, so to speak. This statement’s universal claim about the prohibition of murder might make a strong premise in the moral argument for God’s existence, but it does little to help the author’s case.

b. Key words here: “We need laws against murder…” See the author’s assertion in 2-a. The two statements are contradictory.

c. This is a premise and conclusion that don’t really work. Premise: If murder is unregulated, civil society can’t exist. Conclusion: God is not needed to regulate murder. This in itself is a non sequitur. Even if the author’s statement in 3-a is meant as a premise to this conclusion, we’ve already seen why that premise doesn’t work.

d. Here, the author (once again) begs the question. He assumes the unborn are not human beings. He has done an insufficient job of defending that view.

Taken as a whole, #3 is meant to argue, I believe, that because both abortion and murder existed prior to the advent of Christianity, and murder (understood as the unjust taking of a defenseless human life) has, for that span, been universally regulated, abortion and murder do not affect society in the same way. A read back through my response to each part of #3 should show that the insufficiency of the premises dismantles the conclusion.

Furthermore, Life Training Institute makes a compelling case to show that from the beginning, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. We make our case by appealing to science (which is where you go when you want to find out what kind of thing the unborn is), and philosophy (to answer the question of human value). On those grounds, I would argue that murder and abortion have exactly the same effect, in that each takes the life of a defenseless human being without justification.

As I said in the first post, by stripping away some of the rhetoric, the core of the arguments are exposed, and they’re answerable.


  1. "Abortion does not have an equal effect on society as murder"

    The pro-abort is assuming that unborn babies are not part of society. Obviously, he needs to provide evidence to support the supposition instead of just assuming it.

    Of course, unborn babies are part of society. They're just the weakest and most vulnerable part of society. Their weakness and concealment make them easy targets.

  2. I wonder what the author would say if someone argued:

    Murder and slavery were in existence before Christianity and murder was universally wrong but slavery was permitted. Therefore slavery ...


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