The Christian is the real radical of our generation, for he stands against the monolithic, modern concept of truth as relative. But too often, instead of being the radical, standing against the shifting sands of relativism, he subsides into merely maintaining the status quo. If it is true that evil is evil, that God hates it to the point of the cross, and that there is a moral law fixed in what God is in Himself, then Christians should be the first into the field against what is wrong—including man’s inhumanity to man.
The God Who is There, Francis Schaeffer
Thursday, May 10, 2012
In response to Created Equal, a student at Columbus State today passed out slips of paper as seen in the photo above. On it are four images: a chicken egg, an acorn, a silk worm and a bit of silk, and sperm-egg fusion. Each image has its respective caption: "This is not a chicken/tree/dress/person." And the conclusion at the bottom (which my finger is partially covering): "This is not a difficult concept."
I must say that I agree--that this argument is not difficult. But ease of comprehension does not guarantee veracity.
Let's break it down:
1. "This is not a chicken." I agree. Here's why: this is an egg which has not been fertilized.
A non-fertilized chicken egg is analogous to a woman's non-fertilized egg that is shed monthly during menstruation. Those opposed to abortion do not argue that the egg lost during a period is the death of a human being. Our contention is this: what is made when sperm and egg unite is a new human being. To compare that non-fertilized chicken egg with a human zygote is to make a categorical mistake.
To be fair, you would need to compare a fertilized chicken egg (i.e., a chicken embryo) with a human embryo. In that case, the caption would need to read: "This is a very young chicken." And with that, I'd agree.
2. "This is not a tree." True, an acorn is not an oak tree. But, would anyone deny that an acorn is a very young member of the oak family?
An acorn is to a tree as a fetus is to an adult--or a toddler is to a teenager. These are merely phases of development living things go through. Oak family: acorn, sapling, tree (I'm certain a botanist could take us through phases in between, as well). Human family: zygote, embryo, fetus, newborn, toddler, teenager, adult.
Far from proving us wrong, this actually is a great illustration of the pro-life case--that living things go through various statuses/phases of development in which they look and act differently, but this does not change the kind of thing they are (kind being defined as a member of the oak family [genus: quercus, with over 600 species--thanks to an OSU student who clued me in], human family [species homo sapiens], etc).
3. "This is not a dress." This is just disingenuous.
It is true that the silk put out by the worm is not yet a dress. However, there is a difference between property things and substances. Property things are merely the sum totals of their parts (like cars, clothing, houses). If you change all of the parts of these things (like the engine, body, wheels of a car or rip off the skirt and sleeves of a dress to put new ones on), in the end you have a new car or dress. There is no nature or essence to the car or the dress that binds its identity over time. Change all its parts, and you have a new something.
Contrast that with human beings (or other living organisms). We are constantly replacing our cells. However, when our cells die and are replaced by new ones, we do not find a new human being where an old one used to be. We maintain our identity over time even though our parts are replacing themselves. I have experienced great change since I was born. I even grew to a towering height of five and (almost) a half feet (not bad for a Drayer). But that does not mean that the Seth I am today is a different person than the Seth born in the 80s. I have an enduring identity.
Thus, to compare taking silk from a worm to make a dress with a human being is a categorical mistake. It confuses property things with substances. A dress does not have an enduring nature over time. It is made slowly from the outside part by part. Humans are made by fertilization and direct their own development from within.
4. The above three images/captions lead to the supposedly equally obvious truth that a zygote is not a person.
However, no evidence is given for why this is not a person. The matter of fact wording implies that it is obvious and intuitive (just like we all know a non-fertilized egg isn't a chicken, an acorn isn't a tree, and a bit of silk isn't a dress). However, why is it so obvious? Who determined that the youngest member of the human family doesn't make the cut of personhood?
To pause here and ask for evidence, though, is not the intent of this piece of propaganda. The point is to lead from one "Oh, I get it" moment to the next until the reader concludes: "Of course. It is obvious. Who would actually think that this picture could be a person?"
Difficult? No. On that note, they are right. This is not a difficult concept.
But here's what it also is: false. It misleads with categorical mistakes and a disingenuous smokescreen. But while this could make it effective, it is nevertheless bad logic.
If it is so obvious that a zygote is not a person, could someone bring forth objective evidence to the fact?