Monday, November 29, 2010

How to Teach a Basic Pro-Life Apologetics Seminar [Scott]

I've been asked many times how to structure a basic pro-life training seminar for Christians. I suggest a time frame of two to three hours, with breaks. The goal is to equip Christians to engage friends with a winsome and persuasive defense of the pro-life view. I'll be teaching this same material to staff members at For Faith and Family tomorrow in Nashville. I've included links to better explain each point.

Title: Pro-Life 101--Making a Case for Life

Suggested Text: The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture (Crossway, 2009)

Thesis: To be an effective pro-life apologist, you must meet 3 key objectives:

1) You must simplify the issue
2) You must make a persuasive case using science and philosophy
3) You must handle objections graciously and incisively

I. Effective pro-life apologists simplify the issue by focusing the debate on one question, What is the unobrn?

A. Example: Daddy can I kill this? (Koukl) That depends: What is it?
B. Debate w/ Nadine Strossen: “I agree, IF. If What?
C. Trot out a toddler for objections based on privacy, trusting women, poverty, etc.
D. Visuals: Use them to awaken moral intuitions, but use them wisely.

II. Effective pro-life apologists make a persuasive case for the lives of the unborn w/ science and philosophy.

A. Science: From the beginning, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings.

1. Objections and replies:
a. Twining
b. Miscarriages
c. Women don’t grieve
d. Burning Research lab
e. Sperm and egg are alive.
2. More examples that demonstrate scientific support for the pro-life view:
a. Richard Stith: Construct versus develop
b. Maureen Condic: Corpses versus embryos
B. Philosophy: There is no essential difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that would justify killing you at that earlier stage of development

1. SLED test
2. Objection: “The embryo is not self-aware”
3. Replies to objection:
a. Why is some development needed?
b. Newborns aren’t self-aware until several weeks after birth—may we kill them?
c. Can’t account for human equality
4. Natural rights versus positive (legal) ones
5. Human exceptionalism: Is it evil? (Michael Vick)
6. The “Religion” objection--Why it fails:
a. Non-believers can recognize humanity of unborn
b. What do you mean by “religious?”
c. The pro-life view is inherently religious, but no more so than alternative explanations
d. Just because a view is grounded in religion doesn’t mean it can only be defended that way
e. Why should anyone suppose religious views don’t count as real knowledge? The Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, and Lincoln’s 2nd Inugural Address all have their roots in the Biblical concept of Imago Dei.

III. Effective pro-life apologists answer objections persuasively.

A. Columbo Tactic (Koukl)
B. The 3 Columbo questions:

1. What do you mean by that?
2. How did you come to that conclusion?
3. Have you considered the implications of your view?

C. Eight bad ways people argue about abortion:

1. They assume the unborn are not human:
a. Appeals to the dangers of back-alley abortions
b. Appeals to privacy, choice, and trusting women
c. Appeals to not forcing morality
2. They assert rather than argue:
a. Women have a right to choose
b. The unborn are not self-aware (hidden premise: Self-awareness is value-giving.)
3. They attack the person rather than the argument:
a. You have no right to oppose abortion unless you adopt.
b. You men can’t get pregnant, so shut up about abortion!

(Bottom line: Even if these assertions are true, they do nothing to refute the evidence that the unborn are fully human. Can the fetus be human even if I’m a man?)
4. They confuse moral claims with preference ones--relativism’s 3 fatal flaws:
a. Relativism self-destructs
b. Relativism can’t say why anything is right or wrong, including intolerance
c. Relativism can’t live with it’s own rule
5. They advance a radical bodily rights theory:
a. The alleged parallels are not parallel: Are we to assume that a mother has no more duty to her own child than she does a total stranger who is unnaturally hooked up to her?
b. The bodily rights view justifies killing newborns through neglect or abandonment
6. They twist Scripture:
a. Faulty argument from silence: Ask, "Are you saying that whatever the Bible doesn't condemn it condones?
b. There's a reason for the Bible's silence on abortion: The Hebrews of the OT and the Christians of the NT were not tempted to kill their unborn offspring.
7. They confuse contingent evils with absolute evils. To be worse than abortion, how bad would an unjust war have to be?

8. They hide behind the hard cases

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