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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Richard Dawkins Has Done it Again

Richard Dawkins is no stranger to controversy. From going on a tirade regarding a woman who felt uncomfortable in a situation on an elevator at an atheist conference, to stating that mild pedophilia is not morally blameworth, Richard Dawkins has consistently espoused problematic ideas. His latest is a statement regarding people with Down's syndrome, in which he stated that most women with a Down's syndrome baby do abort (which is true), but that it would be immoral to bring a child with Down's syndrome into the world if you have a choice. He later defended himself saying that he will not apologize for approaching moral philospohic [sic] questions in a logical way.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Another Aspect of Persuasive Dialogue

Oscar Wilde once said, "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth." Wilde, of course, lived in the 19th century, born over a century before the internet was merely a gleam in Al Gore's eye. However, his statement is just as true now as it was back then. Internet anonymity allows people who would otherwise not be blatantly honest with people to show their true colors without having to look the person they're denigrating in the eye when they're saying it.

This article is a follow-up, of sorts, to my previous article about being persuasive in your conversations with pro-choice people. It was actually inspired by the recent tragedy regarding comedy legend Robin Williams taking his own life. It's bad enough that his family had to go through this situation, but Williams' daughter Zelda was forced off of social media because internet trolls posted fake pictures regarding her father. Thankfully many people have more sense than this, but if you want a true taste of human nature, just peruse the comments section on any YouTube video on blog article. There have been numerous accounts of teenagers pushed by internet bullies into committing suicide.

This, of course, also happens often in the abortion debate. People who are allegedly pro-life will attack pro-choice people verbally, even going so far as to make death threats against pro-choice people. Now right away, I know there are going to be people who are going to say that "it happens on both sides" (and I know there are going to be people who won't read the article so they won't see my prediction before making that statement). But that doesn't make it okay for us to do it. Yes, it's frustrating when things don't go our way. We're fighting an up-hill battle against our own government and the multi-billion dollar abortion giant Planned Parenthood. But if we really have truth on our side, and if we truly want to be persuasive, we have to stop acting as if we don't really believe our own arguments. If the unborn are human beings (P1), and all human beings are deserving of protection (P2), then the unborn are deserving of protection. This goes for pro-choice people, too. If pro-choice people aren't deserving of protection, then that invalidates our second premise and leaves the door open for arguing against the unborn deserving protection.

I have already written about being persuasive in our arguments by treating the other person with respect. Another aspect of persuasiveness is to let our actions match our words. If we argue one way and live another, on what grounds should pro-choice people accept our argument? Let's stop with the rhetoric and the name-calling; let's stop with the death threats made in frustration and anonymously over the internet. We need to become a movement that can truly be respected so that when a pro-choice person brings an accusation against us, we can honestly say that there may have been people like that in the past, but you'll be hard-pressed to find someone like that now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Responding to Difficult Situations Regarding Human Development

I am currently reading through a book called Who Killed Homer?: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath. In the book they make the following observation: "We in the university have invented the very tenets of specialization. We have developed the strange notion that if we can find a single exception to a sound generalization then the entire thesis itself must therefore be rejected. Deeply suspicious of grand theories, we are schooled to be quibblers and clerks, to live in fear of having our work tainted with the humiliating label of 'popularization, of one scholar finding one exception to a sensible principle of history or literature" (Encounter Books, New York, NY, p. 24). The entire book examines Greek thought and the detriments to our culture that rejecting Greek wisdom has wrought. This passage struck me as particularly poignant. In no other discussion do I see the rejection of Greek thought (such as the reality of human nature) more than in my discussions on abortion.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Art of Persuasiveness

Abortion is an injustice. Pro-life people are passionate about ending it. Those are good things. But they are no excuse for name-calling. Unfortunately, some pro-lifers make really mean and nasty comments toward pro-choice people. This needs to stop and I intend to show you why.

Consider a recent talk by atheist writer Phil Plait, colorfully titled "Don't be a Dick." As a Christian I don't agree with everything in the talk, but I am sharing it because I agree wholeheartedly with the general message of the speech. Plait was speaking to atheists and telling them not to be jerks to religious people, but his message can be applied to any area of contention.

I believe the pro-life position is true. But at least as important, if not more so, than being true is being persuasive. What good is being right if you can't persuade anyone to your point of view?

As Plait asked in his speech, when was the last time someone changed your mind by getting in your face and calling you a brain-damaged idiot? Conversely, how is it you expect to be able to change a pro-choice person's mind by calling them an evil baby-killer?

No, we cannot and should not downplay the wrongness of abortion or ignore its victims. Having that conversation may be uncomfortable when talking to post-abortive people, but the hope is that they will come to the realization that what they did was wrong so they can get past it. How do you expect that to happen if you open the conversation by calling the person a murderer? The short answer is, it won't.

Not all post-abortive women (and men) are murderers. There are any number of reasons people have abortions of varying moral culpability: Undoubtedly, many women do have abortions knowing full well what they are doing. But not all women are the same. Our society has failed them by providing false information about the unborn child, and abortion "counselors" have exacerbated that failure. Sometimes a young girl is pregnant and scared and thinks abortion is her only way out. Many women and girls are coerced into abortions by their boyfriends and/or parents. But whatever the situation, the key question is: what is the most persuasive? Is it more persuasive to call a pro-choice person a baby-killer, or to make your case as to why abortion is murder and help them realize what it is they are really supporting?

Jesus once said to "love your neighbor as yourself", and to "treat others as you would have them treat you." These statements have given way to a new belief that the mere act of speaking the truth is loving in and of itself. But telling the truth can be loving or unloving, depending in large part on the speaker's attitude. Ask yourself: are you truly interested in seeing the person in front of you reject a false belief and accept a true one? Or are you mainly concerned with being right? Love requires respect. It means taking the person seriously and trying to understand their position, even if you vehemently disagree or find their ideas to be ridiculous. Isn't that how you would want a pro-choice person to treat you?

As pro-life people, we have much to gain—yet there is much to lose if we fail to concern ourselves with being persuasive. There are unborn children at stake. Shouldn't we put our pride aside and engage in persuasive, productive conversations? We have science and philosophy on our side, but we also have intense stereotypes and caricatures to overcome. Name-calling only reinforces those caricatures and makes it more difficult to convince pro-choicers to drop their support of abortion.

This article appeared, in a slightly altered form, on the Secular Pro-Life blog, as well as on the LifeNews blog with the title Calling Pro-Abortion People Names Won't Change Their Mind (I didn't come up with the title, otherwise I would have used "Pro-Choice" instead of "Pro-Abortion").

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What the Hobby Lobby Decision Really Was

Pro-choice bloggers have been generally confused regarding the recent decision by the Supreme Court to uphold their religious freedom by not forcing them to provide abortifacient contraceptives. They think that this ruling has given religious employs carte blanche to mistreat their employees, or to oppress them, or all manner of silly things. NARAL alleged this gives employers a right to "interfere" in their employees' medical decisions. What they don't seem to understand is that Hobby Lobby is still providing 16 different forms of contraceptives to their employers. The ones they are no longer forced to provide, since it goes against their deeply held religious convictions, are contraceptives that cause an early abortion. But why let facts get in the way of a rhetorical argument?

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Monday, June 23, 2014

One Absurd Conclusion of the Pro-Choice Position

One of the problems with the pro-choice position, aside from the fact that abortion unjustly kills an innocent child, is the fact that it places the will of the parents over the needs of the child, when in fact it should be the other way around. The vast, vast majority of children are conceived through a consensual act by the mother and father, and the child is conceived through no fault or desire of their own. After all, you cannot consent to being brought into existence because you would have to precede your own conception in order to do that, which is logically absurd. So a child is brought into existence, then killed once deemed inconvenient by the mother, father (in which case coercion usually follows), or both.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How Now to Address Pro-Choice Arguments in 1,000 Words

There's a video on YouTube that claims to be able to destroy "pro-abortion" arguments in two minutes by vlogger Buster Stein. I believe that we should be making the best arguments we can for the pro-life position, and responding adequately to the best arguments from the pro-choice side. Unfortunately Mr. Stein here does neither of those two things. Despite the title of his video, he doesn't address a single pro-choice argument nor does he make a very compelling case for the pro-life position. Stein's pro-life arguments are just taken from internet memes that you see floating around Facebook, but as is the case with memes they make lousy arguments. Additionally, his entire video is spent making a positive case, defending the pro-life position, instead of making a negative case, responding to pro-choice arguments against the pro-life position. Let's take a look at his arguments.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.