Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Bad Do We Want To Win? [Bob]

Though I haven't posted here for quite some time, I enjoy observing the way the Scott, Serge, and Jay respond to the issues that they address both here and in the new LTI Podcast format. For anyone who pays attention, it soon becomes obvious that there are no better advocates for the pro-life position than these three. Maybe the reason I don't post here too often is because I'm afraid I'll make some dunderheaded comment that will in some way detract from their message. Or maybe it's just intimidation -- I know that whatever meager addition I hope to make to the conversation will be underwhelming in comparison to the nuanced thought they each offer every day. I am humbled that they even allow me the option to share their forum.

But sometimes, being a "regular" guy pays off. Sometimes it is beneficial to all the other "regular" folks out there to hear the message that gives them reason to think they can make a difference too. I think this past month solidified that notion for me. I just finished teaching a 5-week course at my local church titled, Defending Life. We covered abortion, stem cell research, death criteria, euthanasia and even talked about the Bodies Exhibit that recently passed through our city. It was an encouraging reminder to me about just how powerful the pro-life message is to those who have lived in blissful ignorance about what is going on in this world and about how we regular folks can prepare ourselves to engage it.

Don't get me wrong -- I didn't come up with a single original idea. I stole stuff from Frank Beckwith and Robert George right and left (always giving credit, of course). I taught them the S-L-E-D Test. I "trotted out the toddler." I analyzed the RH Reality Check video that Scott and Serge ripped in Podcast # 4. I replayed Scott's talk at Gordon College about his encounter with the lady at the swingset. I let them see Bill Clinton yammer on about the moral imperative that we only use "embryos that have not been fertilized" (huh?) when we do ESCR. I opened up the casket on abortion.

In short, I was not too proud or too shy to use anything I could get my hands on from the heavy-hitters ... and I was equally uninhibited about what subjects might be "off limits." The response was astounding.

There were people who admitted never knowing the distinctions between stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research. There were people who had never seen the clear evidence we find in embryology textbooks that life begins at conception; never seen the developmental stages of a human embryo; never heard the morally vacuous and arbitrary attempts to distinguish between human beings and human persons. There were people who left the room in tears. After five short hours, people were able to recognize and counter many of the common, but ludicrous, statements we hear from the abortion-choice crowd and their political apologists. It was one of the most rewarding classes I have ever taught.

Please hear me. The last thing I mean to do is toot my own horn. Far from it. I have no horn to toot (remember, I am admitting to open plagiarism here!). My only hope in daring to post here again is to remind every one of us of two vitally important things:
  1. There would be no hope of promoting the pro-life view without the clear, careful thinking of those who do the heavy intellectual work like what you find here at LTI.

  2. At its core, our message is simple and powerful because it is true -- but too many of our brothers and sisters are unaware of it and untrained to defend it.
On the last day of class, a gentleman stopped me and thanked me for tackling this subject. But along with his compliment came this: "I have never heard most of these arguments anywhere before. And I have never been in a church that would allow this kind of material to be taught." It is sad but true. And I am embarrassed to admit that this was the first time I have ever attempted to broach this subject. But it won't be the last.

Scott and Serge and Jay can't be in all of our little spheres of influence -- but their material can be -- and so can we.

How bad do we want to win this?


  1. Great Job, Bob. Did you tape the class? Also, how soon can we get you to join our podcast team? We want you...now!

    Keep up the great work,

  2. A few years back, I attended Scott K's lecture just south of Boston. I was thrilled. I'd always been pro-life but I'd never before heard such a concise and comprehensive defense of the pro-life position.

  3. No video Scott -- I should have but didn't dare :)

    As for the podcast team, I could fill in as the comic sidekick if you want! Let me know ...


  4. Suppose a woman's womb contains two embryos.
    In your view, that's two persons.

    Now suppose at five days the embryos fuse to make a chimera.*
    Nine months later a beautiful baby girl is born.

    How many persons is this?
    Please explain.


  5. Hi Ron and welcome.

    We addressed the chimera issue in another thread. I can post a link in the future (I'm on my iphone right now).

    Let's stick with science for a second. It does appear that under very rare and mysterious circumstances, two individual human organisms in the embryonic stage of development may have the capacity to recombine into one individual human organism. An individual human organism appears to lose this rare capacity early on it's development.

    Since personhood is not a scientific but a metaphysical one, please give a clear definition of personhood that would account for denying value to early embryos due to the fact that they have a capacity that we also once had, but now do not.

  6. Hi Serge,

    Thanks for welcoming me.

    I tried to search the LTI Blog for 'chimera'. I only found one post. It dealt with chimeras which combine human and non-human DNA. That's not what we are talking about. Maybe there is another post? Somewhere else?

    I think there's a crucial word missing in your reply. It looks like you were aiming at saying something like "personhood is not a scientific concept but a metaphysical one".

    If that's right, it's fine with me... at least for the sake of discussion.

    Still, whatever kind of concept 'person' is, a coherent definition needs to account for their numbers.

    You say that in a chimera two 'organisms' REcombine; two become one.

    I think you just mean combine, right? Otherwise it sounds like they used to be one and that would be a new twist to the discussion as far as I know.

    But, why do you switch from the word 'person' to the word 'organism'? Are you saying two persons combine?




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