Last night, Mike S. Adams, PhD debated Willie Parker M.D. on whether abortion was morally wrong. While it would be easy to say that Mike won the debate (hands down), I would rather focus on Dr. Parker's responses to Mike Adam's arguments for the pro life position.
1. Argument from Ad Hominem
Surprisingly, Dr. Parker's first salvo in this debate was a claim that Mike Adams attacked his character. In reality, Mike used arguments from the science of embryology and read excerpts from Dr. Parker's book. This was confined to Dr. Parker's justifications for abortion, not against his character. It seemed that Dr. Parker attempted to argue from emotion from the outset by claiming a personal attack and this set the tone for his responses the rest of the night. Arguing from emotion is what you most often confront when making a prolife argument. After all, these are in fact real issues that concern real people everyday and they are not easy to deal with. However, truth doesn't rely on how someone feels about that truth and it shouldn't be the deciding factor in determining truth.
2. What about the science?
Mike Adams based his arguments on the science of embryology to show that a fetus is wholly, biologically human the same as those who have already been born and from the philosophical argument that the unborn are persons. He argued that because of this, they had equal human rights as the mother or anyone else. Dr. Parker did not dispute the scientific arguments at all. This is what surprised me most of all about this debate. He would sometimes refer to "medical facts" and seem to infer that Mike was not repeating true medical facts but would never say what those facts were or how Mike was incorrect.
3. What is personhood?
The main thrust of Dr. Parker's position was that the unborn were fully human, but not persons. He claimed that Mike Adams never used the word "persons" in his arguments (which was not the case) so that meant he knew being human was not the same as being a person. This is always a strange position because you must show what the difference is. I've never heard the definition of a non-person human from someone on the pro choice side and it's something they should be able to define if they believe it's the case. Dr. Parker also seemed to be stating that personhood was a legal term, but in fact, it's a philosophical/metaphysical term. He also stated he felt sentience determined personhood. This is a bad line of reasoning. For example, a person in a coma due to a brain injury could be said to not be sentient. Since they are not able to experience their environment, are this still a person?
4. Is abortion murder?
Dr. Parker also stated that no police officer would arrest him because abortion was not murder. He seemed to be confused as to what Mike Adams meant when he said something could be legal but not moral. Slavery was legal, but immoral. Eventually, the laws reflected this. However, the fact that abortion is legal doesn't mean it's not murder. This is a moral truth claim about a set of actions and the law is based on this underlying, objective moral value, not the other way around. This was a very strange argument to say the least.
5. What about Religion?
Dr. Parker in his opening statements began to refute arguments from Christianity stating that because we live in a pluralistic society, we cannot make laws based on a particular religion. While there are philosophical problems with that statement, it was confusing as Mike Adams never made a single argument from Christianity or the Bible. While Mike comes from a Christian worldview, he contained his arguments to the science of embryology and the philosophical argument that the unborn were persons. This appeared to be a pre-emptive strike against any religious argument for the pro-life position, but it was an awkward line of reasoning.
In the end, while I expected to hear some new scientific arguments for abortion to contend with, I only heard the same arguments that are always made and was shocked at the line of reasoning Dr. Parker used. This was a good debate as it brought out the pro-life position and showed the weakness of the pro-choice view.
A popular level objection to Christianity today is to ask a Christian if Jesus killed little babies in the Old Testament. This banks on the idea of the Trinity and judgments recorded in the Old Testament such as the Flood or the slaughtering of the Canaanites. Another version of the problem of evil, the objection is that Jesus doesn't love people and is a baby killer. But this objection makes a number of mistakes that I will address here.
1. Who is God?
It may seem strange to start here, but this is where we should always begin. God is the maximally great being. Triune in nature, He is just, holy, righteous, and merciful. He is also love. So how could God judge? The issue comes down to thinking of God on equal footing with man. However, God is not man. Man is His creation - created in His image. But man is fallen. God however, is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, all powerful, personal, and all loving. To bring God down to our level is to misidentify the creator of the universe.
2. What is Murder?
Murder is rightly said to be the intentional taking of innocent human life without good cause. But, it is the taking of innocent human life by other humans. God is creator and the author of life and death. When God judges and takes life, He judges rightly as He is the standard of good. When we violate God's law, He is right to judge. When judgement befell man in the flood, God would have known several things: Noah was the only righteous man left, it would have been impossible for him to care for all of the children left. In wiping out mankind other than Noah's family, God was able to start over again to curtail the corruption that had overtaken the earth.
3. A Wrong View of Eternity
In the taking of the lives of children, God brought their innocent lives into His presence for eternity - to be raised up on the last day. We often think of life as only being the short time we have here, yet God has put eternity into the hearts of man. It is why so many cannot fathom there isn't an afterlife. We have an innate sense of it. But if this is the case, then why is abortion wrong some may ask? Reviewing our definition of murder, we do not have the ability or right to decide life or death outside of what authority God has given for keeping law and order. Abortion is the taking of innocent human life without sufficient cause. Because God brings an aborted child into His presence doesn't change the crime that was committed.
This objection is designed to bring the issue into an emotional arena, yet our emotions have nothing to do with the truth. Strangely, God judged the Canaanites for sacrificing their infants to the god Molech. In 2015, the total number of abortions performed in the US - including data from non reporting states - was 826,169. That is nearly 1 million abortions in 2015 alone. Yet the objection is claiming God is a moral monster for judging the earth and for killing babies. It would be good to find out if the person making the objection has an issue with this number.