October 19, 2011

Respect Life Course Assignment #1

This is an assignment for the students enrolled in my "Philosophical Foundations for Respect Life" course being hosted in Phoenix. However, any readers who want to do this assignment for fun are more than welcome.

Assignment: Debate Review
Due Date: November 10th
Submission Guidelines: Email as a MS Word doc to thorn@diocesephoenix.org
Objective: Write a 750 - 1000 word review of ONE of the following abortion debates linked below. In your review summarize the arguments made by each side and then review the performance of each debater in terms of the strength of their argument and the persuasiveness of their appeal (voice, tone, rapport, clarity, organization, confidence, civility, etc.). Finally, explain how you would or would not have argued the pro-life position differently than how it was argued in the debate.

Here are the debates you can choose from:


Scott Klusendorf vs. Nadine Strossen

Alan Shlemon vs. Cecili Chadwick 


Peter Kreeft vs. David Boonin

Patrick Lee vs. David Boonin


Don Marquis vs. Michael Tooley

Leave a comment if you have any questions about the assignment or feel free to email me at thorn@diocesephoenix.org.

October 10, 2011

Where do they get these ideas?

On October 8th Ann Rose’s article “Fertilized Eggs Are NOT People!” appeared on the pro-choice blog RH Reality Check. Rose claims the unborn at fertilization are not persons and tries to argue by means of a reduction ad absurdum that fetal personhood would lead to unacceptable consequences.  She uses the upcoming vote in Mississippi to define the unborn as persons as her springboard. Here are my responses to her. She writes (in red):

Here are some examples that come to mind of the possible impacts this amendment would have.  Add your own insane scenarios in the comments section:

September 20, 2011

"We Trust Black Women"

Watch this video where Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation is shouted down by pro-choice advocates.

The hypocrisy is revealed near the end of the video where they shout down a black woman who wants to hear both sides of the issue. Right, you trust SOME women . . . the ones who already agree with you.

Also, this is philosophically one of the worst arguments for abortion I can imagine.

1. Black women's decisions involving the lives of human beings they are caring for are beyond   moral scrutiny (we trust black women)
2. Abortion is a decision that involves the life of a human being that is being cared for
3. Therefore, a black woman's choice to have an abortion is beyond moral scrutiny.

Premise 1 is obviously false. Conclusion is not supported but asserted. Pro-choice FAIL.

Stephen Hawking vs. God

This past weekend I led a retreat at the ASU Newman Center. It was an apologetics retreat called God is Real and I hope to use it to teach Catholics that science, philosophy, and history can provide good evidence that God exists and that he has revealed himself in the person of Christ. I’ve been busy in the last few weeks preparing for the retreat as well as a talk on God’s existence that I gave at the Newman Center last Thursday. But since that is over, I’ve had a chance to view the recent Discovery channel show Curiosity and their first episode “Did God Create the Universe?" hosted by Stephen Hawking. Hawking is a world-famous physicist, but most people know him as “the smart guy in a wheelchair who sounds like a computer.” 

So how would I summarize the show and Hawking’s view on God? Basically, “religion was something stupid people used to explain the universe, but now science has answered everything and we don’t need God. In fact, God couldn’t have made the universe even if he tried.” . . . Okay, let me make a few points:

September 16, 2011

How Far Away is the Moon from the Earth?

If the earth were the size of a basketball and the moon was the size of a tennis ball, how far apart would you have to hold them to keep everything to scale? What do you think most people think the scaled distance is? Watch this fun video to find out.

September 15, 2011

One Ella Lot of Confusion

Over at RH Reality Check Jodi Jacobson tries to take Michelle Bachman to task for supposed exaggerations about contraception causing abortions. After claiming that talking to “anti-choicers” about the distinction between contraception and abortion is like arguing with a two-year-old (I suppose name-calling is a tactic reserved for five-year-olds and pro-choice bloggers) Jacobson goes on to say:
"In the GOP-Tea Party debate Monday night, co-hosted by CNN, Michele Bachmann repeated the falsehood once again that emergency contraception, also known as the "morning after pill," causes abortion and that by including contraceptives under health reform without a co-pay, the Obama Administration was forcing people to pay for abortion.
What the Obama Administration did was to include contraception under health reform without a co-pay, because it is an essential form of primary preventive care for women and because among other things, the use of contraception to space and limit births also contributes to dramatic improvements of infant and child health in planned pregnancies.
And what the morning after pill does not do is to cause abortion, because it prevents pregnancy and by definition you can't have an abortion if you are not pregnant."
The whole disagreement comes from defining pregnancy as the moment when an embryo implants in the mother’s body (usually in the uterus). 

September 14, 2011

Should we "Let him die?"

I tuned in late to the Monday night CNN Republican Presidential debate, but I was in time to watch what would be considered the most “shocking” moment of the evening. The Huffington Post describes the event this way:
A bit of a startling moment happened near the end of Monday night's CNN debate when a hypothetical question was posed to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
"What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn't have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage? Are you saying society should just let him die?" Wolf Blitzer asked.
"Yeah!" several members of the crowd yelled out.
Paul interjected to offer an explanation for how this was, more-or-less, the root choice of a free society. He added that communities and non-government institutions can fill the void that the public sector is currently playing.
I think two rebukes are in order.