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Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: Aborting Aristotle: Examining the Fatal Fallacies in the Abortion Debate by Dave Sterrett

Special thanks to Dave Sterrett for the free copy of the book to review.

There are a lot of great books out there defending the pro-life position. There are also some great books to help you get started in pro-life apologetics. Dave Sterrett's book really functions as a pre-starter book, whereas in introductory books the information you learn about are the basics that you need, Aborting Aristotle gives a grounding, the sort of metaphysical basement, for our pro-life views. You won't learn how to defend the pro-life view, that's not its purpose. You'll learn about why the pro-life position works and why pro-choice thinkers fail to justify abortion by jettisoning an Aristotelian framework.

There is a lot of great information contained in this book. His discussions on how naturalistic metaphysics is self-refuting is especially important to understand. His chapter on personhood was also very good. Usually discussions of personhood certain around who counts as persons, but it seems that rarely do these discussions get to the heart of what the concept of "person" actually means. Sterrett shows admirably that our personhood, while different than our humanity, cannot be separated from it. He even talks about some common ground that we can find with pro-choice people in his concluding chapter, which is an excellent thing for pro-life people to keep in mind when talking to pro-choice people.

The only main problems I had with the book are:

1) There was no real discussion about substances and why humans count as substances. It really seems like you'd need at least a basic familiarity with Aristotle in order to know what he's talking about, even in his excellent rebuttals of naturalistic philosophy.

2) There was no real discussion about potentiality and actuality. It was mentioned, but not really discussed. This does seem like a glaring omission, since not knowing what potentiality actually means leads even modern philosophers to make bad arguments against the personhood of the unborn. Two examples are when Michael Tooley, in his book Abortion and Infanticide, argues about injecting a rationality serum into cats, and when Singer, I believe in his book Practical Ethics, argues that potential presidents don't have the same privileges and duties as actual presidents. If Sterrett does a second edition, I think a chapter on potentiality vs. actuality would be in order.

3) The 17.00 price tag is a bit steep for a 120-page book. Granted, this is not the fault of the author, the publisher sets the price tag.

There are a couple of other minor issues that should probably be corrected for future editions. In at least a couple of the chapters, I felt the endings weren't tightened up. They seemed to just end abruptly. Additionally, for many of the quotes regarding Aristotle, he used secondary sources, not the primary sources, themselves. This may affect credibility.

I am an Aristotelian/Thomist in my view of metaphysics. As such, I think this is an important book to add to the discussion. It's a helpful primer on the metaphysical grounding of the pro-life position.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Responding to a Video From Bill Nye, the Anti-Science Guy

I've seen a video being shared on Facebook from a website called Big Think, in which Bill Nye (heralded as "The Science Guy" because he plays one on TV) condescendingly tells pro-lifers that we should not tell women what to do, and that the pro-life position is based on "outdated" science. That is, the science that Alan Guttmacher, in 1933 said is "so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn't part of the common knowledge" (see Life in the Making: The Story of Human Procreation). The science that every embryology textbook of the 20th and 21st centuries supports. This science is "outdated" to Bill Nye. Perhaps most egregiously he tries to pit science against religion in this video, which belies a severe ignorance of how science actually developed.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

How Not to Argue Pro-Choice: Eleven Completely Misguided Arguments

I was recently introduced to an article written by one Seth Millstein, called How to Argue Pro-Choice: 11 Arguments Against Abortion Access, Debunked [sic]. Let's ignore the misplaced comma for a moment. Actually, let's comment on it. That comma doesn't belong there. I was once like Millstein, haphazardly placing commas with abandon, putting commas where they don't belong. My college English professor called me "comma happy" because of it and soon broke me of the habit. But I digress.

Let's start with the fact that when Millstein wants to indicate someone says something embarrassing, he points to an unrelated case of Piers Morgan not being politically correct when talking to a transgender person. It's not hard to find a video of Piers Morgan trying to come off as educated when he's clearly not. Here's a video of Michael Brown educating Piers Morgan on what the Bible actually says about same-sex marriage. But as I said, this is irrelevant anyway.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Is Abortion Equatable to Circumcision?

A friend on Facebook posed a question to me that he had received from a pro-choice person. The question was, "if the unborn feel pain, should we, then, outlaw circumcision?"

Now, it's not my desire here to get into the circumcision debate. I actually don't have a firm view on it one way or the other. What I do want to comment on quickly is the inability of many people to understand what is good for a person, and/or to think critically about their arguments and reject them if they are bad. This one is a really bad argument.

I understand the person who posted this likely doesn't consider abortion to be bad. But he/she should have at least been able to understand that since my friend is pro-life, he would consider abortion to be bad. Which means that there is a difference between abortion and circumcision -- one that is meant to kill the child, and one that is meant for the child's own good. Whether or not the infant feels pain or can consent to it, since circumcision is meant for the child's good, the doctor and parent has a moral right to make that decision on behalf of the child. There might be an argument that circumcision really does not do the child good. I don't know enough about the debate to make this determination. But if circumcision does have good benefits for the child, then it is certainly moral to circumcise a child.

So there is a huge difference between a procedure meant to kill a child, abortion, and one meant for the child's own good, circumcision. The inability of many people to be able to distinguish between good and bad (or moral and immoral) is but a sad commentary on the state of our society.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Should Men Be Able to Back Out of Pregnancy?

I'd like to take a moment to respond to a meme that I have seen floating around Facebook:

Essentially, this meme is stating that if women can't back out of pregnancy, then men shouldn't be able to, either. This is one of those arguments that pro-choice people should be able to immediately recognize as a bad argument, but it still gets traction anyway.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Friday, June 12, 2015

On Human Cloning

I recently made an appearance on the Atheist Analysis podcast to talk about stem cell research and cloning. In this podcast I decided to focus on non-religious reasons for my position since I was talking to two atheists. However, I recently received a follow-up e-mail from a listener regarding what the theological response to cloning would be. I was informed that this would make a good topic for an article, so here it is. Most of the information contained in this article was influenced by Edwin Hui's fantastic book, At the Beginning of Life: Dilemmas in Theological Bioethics. I don't agree with absolutely everything in the book, but that's only a small minority. If you are interested in more information on cloning, or most other topics relating to bioethics, you should read that book. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "do it! Do it now!"

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Politically Correct Human Inequality

Last weekend, I spent time in Ventura and Los Angeles speaking at seminars for Justice for All, then went out to UCLA for two days of pro-life outreach. One of the arguments used at JFA is regarding human rights, and whether or not all human beings deserve those rights. We ask whether or not people with darker skin deserve equal rights, whether females and males deserve equal rights, and whether or not unborn and born humans deserve equal rights. Most people treat the first two questions as if they're patently obvious, and then either hesitate on that third question, or are quick to answer that no, born and unborn human beings don't deserve equal rights. It seems absurd and evil now to assert that blacks don't have the same equal rights that whites do, or that women don't have the same equal rights that men do. But 100 years ago, it would have seemed obvious to a lot of people that blacks don't deserve equal rights to whites. Two hundred years ago, it would have seemed obvious to most that women don't deserve equal rights to men. The unborn are the current politically correct group of people to deny equal rights to.