Archive for November 4th, 2017

Fallacious Choices? Am I Pro-Life?

Welcome back, interwebbers!

As we come close to the close of 40 Days for Life, it is fitting that I should focus on the topic of abortion and the like.

Honestly, this could be a long conversation covering several areas in this topic.

Today, however, I going to focus on one thing:

Choosing Which Life Is Greater?

Author Patrick S. Tomlinson feels he has asked a question, a thought experiment, “that shut down the whole anti-abortion argument.” (WARNING: unbecoming language used throughout the article)

This author feels that pro-lifers (or, as he calls them, anti-abortion) reveal they are not really pro-life, or perhaps they are inconsistent in their beliefs. And, after years of asking this question, not a single pro-lifer has truthfully and adequately answered this question.

My first thought is, “Who has he been asking?” Because I find this relatively easy to answer. And I know I am far from alone.

However, here is his question:

For some unimportant reason, you are in a fertility clinic, when the building catches fire. As you are about to run out, you hear screaming.

You run back in and find the room where the screaming is emanating. When you open the door you see a 5-year-old child on one side, fire in the middle, and a container holding 1000 viable embryos. (Just assume the container is able to preserve the embryos indefinitely.) You know you only can save one.

Which do you choose?

His argument is that if you choose the child, you prove you are not really pro-life, because you allow all of those embryos – potential humans – to die. If you choose the embryos, you are a monster for letting a child burn.

My initial response is this: Thanks for admitting those embryos are alive!

In connection with this, he and others assert that scientists and politicians can not agree when life begins.

However, all embryologists and many biologists agree that life begins at conception.

  1. There is DNA for a distinct human life.
  2. Check any biology textbook: a cell is a living thing, so they are alive.

The debate then becomes, “But does it have a soul?”

I would argue, yes! Based on:

  • Psalm 139:13-16 — We were formed in the womb and are fearfully and wonderfully made;
  • Jeremiah 1:5 — This prophet was chosen before he was even conceived, demonstrating his soul already existed at fertilization. This can be applied to all humans.

As to my answer:

I would save the 5-year-old child.

Does this prove I am not pro-life?

Not at all. In fact, I mourn the loss of those embryos, and I trust God to take care of those lost embryos in His way. But as Christians we also are called to ease suffering.

This child was screaming. Further, being a fertility clinic, this child probably has parents who were there, so I am also helping those parents not to lose a child they already have.

If we change the scenario, maybe my response would be different.

What if I was on a space station above earth or on ship to a new human colony, and the future of the human race depended on those 1000 embryos. I would probably save the embryos.

But this shows the major issue with this question: It is avoiding the point, and it does not show whether a person is truly pro-life.

It is one of those impossible situations in which any choice is not ideal.

If I were on a bus about to go over the edge of a bridge, I would save the first person closest to me. I would not look over the other 36 people on the bus and try to decide who to choose, I would just grab who was closest. I am not responsible for those others, especially if I only have time to save one. No one would question my convictions (except perhaps loved ones of the others on the bus, but most would understand).

Likewise, being in such a situation as this question suggests does not demonstrate that someone is not truly pro-life. It is the complex question fallacy, begging the question. It is basically asking, “Why do you want to let innocents die?” without properly considering other options that are clearly available.

So, what do you think?

Did I answer the question?

How would you answer?