Tuesday, February 2, 2016
The Scientific, Philosophical & Metaphysical Case for Life
For many, abortion is a controversial subject. For some it may be difficult, perhaps even painful to think about. And I know it is likely that some here this morning have been touched by abortion in some way. If that is your experience, while you cannot escape the truth about abortion nor some of the consequences of being involved in an abortion, please know that there is hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We will never understand God's grace apart from God's truth. But God's truth always leads us to God's grace. That is why it is my personal conviction that abortion is a gospel issue. In other words, you cannot address abortion from a biblical perspective without acknowledging that God has made every provision through the death of His Son Jesus Christ to forgive, heal and restore those who have been involved in the abortion of a child.
The blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cleanse us from any and every sin if in repentance and faith we call upon Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Therefore, if you life has been touched by abortion in any way, know that you are in a safe place today in this church. I am personally so glad this morning that the gospel is God's powerful remedy for my sin and yours.
On January 22, 1973, two U. S. Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalized the deliberate, premeditated killing of preborn children at anytime during all nine months of pregnancy right up to the very moment of natural child birth for virtually any reason. The Court ruled that unborn children are not persons and therefore lie outside the protection of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, the words of the Declaration of Independence, "...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” these words of our Constitution do not apply to unborn children. Therefore an unborn child is the property of the mother, the Court having given her the legal “right” to keep or kill her unborn child. Justice Harry Blackmun, author of the prevailing opinion in Roe v. Wade, recognized the significance of the personhood of the unborn in the courts decision, writing,
“The appellee…argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment…If this suggestion of [fetal] personhood is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
You see, If the Court were to acknowledge the personhood of unborn children they would have every reason and the moral imperative to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Forty three years after Roe v. Wade there are two questions that must be answered in the abortion debate: "Is the unborn a human being?" If you answer this question in the affirmative the second question, a metaphysical question, is of equal importance. "What makes human life valuable?" Or more specifically "What value do you place on unborn human life?" These two questions are central to the abortion debate.
As Prolife apologist Scott Klusendorf asks in his book The Case for Life, "Is the unborn a member of the human family? ...If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, elective abortion requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled." (page 27)
In other words, from both a legal and moral perspective, if the unborn are human beings the central issue in the abortion debate is not women’s rights, a woman's right to choose, or a woman's right to privacy, but the human rights, the civil rights of the unborn. If the unborn are human beings you cannot extend to a mother the right to kill her unborn child, without denying her child the most basic civil right, the right to life.
But we are now in the forty-fourth year of state sanctioned abortion in America. And as our nation slips further into spiritual darkness we have come to the place where our political leaders are now debating what should be both rationally and morally inconceivable - tax payer funding of America's largest abortion provider that has been caught harvesting and selling body parts of dismembered unborn children. And in this election season, we again have candidates running for president and other political office who brazenly defend, promote and advocate for a mother's right to kill her own offspring. Therefore we must consider the scientific, philosophical and metaphysical case for life. We begin with the scientific case for life.
Is the preborn a human being? Merriam-Webster defines science as: "knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation." Scientific evidence indicates that human life begins at conception. Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, in their book The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, write,
"A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm...unites with a female gamete or oocyte...to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual." (1998, page 2)
Jerome LeJeune, M.D., Professor of genetics University of Descartes writes,“…after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being.”
Douglas Erlandson, “When the fertilized egg (or zygote) is first formed, it already possesses its full complement of DNA or genetic information.” He continues, "That information never changes. A person’s sex, blood type, hair and skin color, and future height are all determined in that first cell. From that moment on, unless its life is terminated, it will develop until it becomes an adult human being.” He adds, “It will never become a cat, dog, gorilla, or anything other than a member of the species homo sapiens. From the moment of conception, it is every bit as much a human being as you or I. Nothing radically changes at birth. Birth is simply a change of address one stage on a continuum of life stages.”
David McDonald, further explains the science, "Every human cell has 46 chromosomes (Chr) except the sperm and the egg which have 23 each. At conception they become a unique human with 46 Chr." (see McDonald's diagram slide)
Again, Scott Klusendorf, "...the embryo...is different in kind from any cell of its parents....From the start this new entity not only directs its own internal development, it has something completely different from both parents--its own unique chromosomal structure. Later it will bear other distinctions such as a different blood type and different internal organs." (The Case for Life page 37)
In other words there are at least two bodies present in every pregnancy: two heads, two set of hands, two set of legs, - two beating hearts and two distinctly different DNA. The science of embryology is definitive as to the humanity of life in the womb and the biological evidence that the embryo is a person distinct and separate from its mother.
In Lennart Nilsson’s famous Life magazine photo essay "Drama of Life Before Birth,” of April 30, 1965, he writes of the unborn at 3 1/2 weeks, or about 25 days. “This embryo is so tiny - about a tenth of an inch long that the mother may not even know she is pregnant. Yet there is already impressive internal development, though not visible here. This embryo has the beginnings of eyes, spinal cord, nervous system, thyroid gland, lungs, stomach kidney and intestines. Its primitive heart, which began beating haltingly on the 18th day, is now pumping more confidently. On the bulge of the chest, the tiny buds of arms-not yet visible are forming.”
At 28 days, four weeks, forty pairs of muscles are developing along the trunk of the new life; arms and legs forming. At thirty days, regular blood flows within the vascular system; the ears and nasal development have begun. By the 40-43 day, the brain registers waves on an electro encephalogram and the heart energy output is reported to be almost 20 percent of an adult. By the forty second day the skeleton is complete and reflexes are present and movement of the baby in the womb may begin.
By the eighth week or 56th day you have a perfectly formed baby with hands, fingers, including distinctive fingerprints feet and toes. All vital organs are present and functioning. The baby responds to touch. By the ninth week the baby is the size of your thumb and will respond to pain, can grasp an object and make a fist. In the 11th week, about three and a half months, all bodily systems work. The baby swallows, tastes, sleeps, wakes, responds to light and darkness, warmth and cold. In the 11th and 12th weeks, the arms and legs move, the baby sucks its thumb, inhales and exhales amniotic fluid and nails begin to appear.
By four months - or 16 weeks, the fetus is five and a half inches long. The genital organs are clearly differentiated. The baby swims, kicks and turns somersaults. The baby cries, hears voices, has rapid eye movement, eyebrows and eyelashes. Here is a photo of Baby Walter Joshua Fretz, born premature at 19 weeks surviving for only moments.
At five months the baby can learn and remember, is well coordinated and kicks are being felt by the mother. A photo of a six month-old preborn child. This [slide] shows us the inevitable conclusion; "It is wrong to kill this person, [the unborn], for the same reason it is wrong to kill this person." [the newborn].
Is the unborn a human being? Based on objective, empirical scientific evidence the answer is an emphatic "yes!"
Secondly, note the philosophical case for life. Jim Holt, writes, "Broadly speaking, philosophy has three concerns: how the world hangs together, how our beliefs can be justified, and how to live " (New York Times Book Review, 15 Feb. 2009)
On The Case for Life.com, this question is posed: "Do all human beings have an equal right to life or do humans come to be at one point, but only become valuable later in virtue of some acquired characteristic?"
This is the philosophical and moral dilemma faced by those who despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that the unborn are human beings insist that they are disposable.
Scott Klusendorf, in his book, Stand for Life, co-authored with John Ensor writes,
"As philosophy professor Stephen Schwartz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult that you are today that would justify killing you at the early stage of development." He continues, "Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today." (page 9)
Philosopher Stephen Schwartz uses the acronym SLED to help us remember these nonessential differences. Please note the four nonessential differences between the preborn and human life outside the womb.
Size: While it is true that an embryo or fetus is smaller than an adult size does not determine their value. In other words, they are not of lesser value because they are smaller in size. Most men are larger than women. Are they more human because they are larger in size? Larger men do not have more rights than smaller women. Size does not determine one's value. As you can see (slide) My size does not affect my humanity.
Level of development: There is no question that a fetus is less developed than a 21 year old, just as a toddler is less developed than a teenager, but the value we place on a human being is not determined by their level of development.
Environment: Does where you are determine who you are? Does your value change when you get out of bed or walk outdoors? Does the value of the unborn change because it moves six inches down the birth canal? As you can see (slide) Location does not determine personhood.
Degree of dependency: Viability does not determine value. Diabetics depend on insulin and those with kidney failure on dialysis. Are they therefore less valuable? A two year old is more dependent on parental care than an eighteen year old. Does that determine their value? Can we kill the unborn because of their heightened degree of dependency while in the womb of their mother? Again, "...there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult that you are today that would justify killing you at the early stage of development."
Inevitably this brings us to, the metaphysical the case for life. The science of embryology is conclusive: life begins at conception. The unborn are human beings at every stage of development and gestation in the womb. Philosophy compels us to acknowledge that there is no morally significance difference between the unborn and an adult that would justify killing unborn children at an earlier stage of development.
Yet despite the compelling scientific and philosophical case for life our government sanctions and pro-abortion advocates and politicians insist on promoting and preserving a mother's right to kill her unborn child. Why is that?
The following words were posted on the progressive magazine solon.com by Mary Elizabeth Williams on January 2013. The title of the article? "So What if abortion Ends a Life" The subtitle: "I believe that life starts at conception. And it's never stopped me from being pro-choice." Ms. Williams writes,
"While opponents of abortion eagerly describe themselves as 'pro-life,' the rest of us have had to scramble around with not nearly as big-ticket words like 'choice' and 'reproductive freedom.' The 'life' conversation is often too thorny to even broach. Yet I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me. I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice." She goes on to explain,
"Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers.' Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always."
An astounding admission! She continues, "I can say anecdotally that I’m a mom who loved the lives she incubated...If by some random fluke I learned today I was pregnant, you bet your [expletive] I’d have an abortion. I’d have the World’s Greatest Abortion."
This is why we must make a metaphysical case for life. Ms. Williams acknowledged that "a fetus is: a human life" but goes on to declare, "Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides." Because the mother is "the boss. "
While acknowledging the scientific evidence that the preborn are human beings, she denies their right to live for a metaphysical reason. Metaphysics literally means "beyond the physical" In other words, it explores the nature of reality. Merriam Webster, "a study of what is outside objective experience." Scott Klusendorf writes,
"...although the pro-life view is implicitly religious, and we will come to that in a moment, it is no more religious than alternative explanations about human value and human rights. Everyone is asking the same exact question: what makes humans valuable in the first place?" He continues,
"Science can't answer that question because science deals only with things we can measure empirically through the senses. If you want an answer, you'll have to do metaphysics." (The Case for Life, page. 57)
Ms. Williams has answered that question. She defends the right of a mother to take the life of what she admits to be a human being, her own child, because all human beings in the world in which she lives, do not have the same rights. In the case of a mother she's the boss with both the power and ability and in America the legal right, to end the life of her unborn child for her own personal reasons. That's her metaphysical explanation and defense of her position. It sounds like the survival of the fittest, doesn't it?
Let me attempt to explain how Ms. Williams could come to that conclusion, and then give you the only viable metaphysical explanation for determining the value to human life. The Apostle Paul in Romans chapter one points out that there are essentially only two worldviews that govern our metaphysical decisions. Verse 25: "they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." According to Paul, you can either acknowledge God the Creator and worship Him or you can deny the Creator and worship the creature, the latter being the premise of secular humanism which inevitably leads to moral relativism.
Over thirty years ago, Dr. Francis Shaeffer in his book, A Christian Manifesto wrote, "The term humanism...means Man beginning from himself, with no knowledge except what he himself can discover and no standard outside of himself. In this view Man is the measure of all things, as the Enlightenment expressed it." (page 24)
When you deny God the Creator; when you repudiate any notion of transcendent truth; there is inevitably only one alternative; man becomes the center of his own universe. He puts himself in charge, and is therefore accountable to no one but himself as Paul has written.
In essence, secular humanism is the self-deification of man. This is the premise of Darwinian evolution. And here is the devastating result. Again Dr. Schaeffer,
"Those who hold the material-energy, chance concept of reality...not only do not know the truth of the final reality, God, they do not know who Man is...They have reduced Man to even less than his natural finiteness by seeing him only as a complex arrangement of molecules, made complex by blind chance. Instead of seeing him as something great who is significant even in his sinning, they see Man in his essence only as an intrinsically competitive animal, that has no other basic operating principle than natural selection brought about by the strongest, the fittest, ending on top. And they see Man as acting in this way both individually and collectively as society." (A Christian Manifesto, pages 25-26)
Therein lies the explanation for Ms. Williams defense of abortion. That is the metaphysical argument for those who, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence and the compelling philosophical argument, seek to justify the killing of unborn children. But as the Apostle Paul wrote, there is an alternative worldview, the acknowledgment and worship of the Creator.
You see the Bible provides us with the most compelling metaphysical case for life. We look to transcendent truth to answer the question "what makes humans valuable in the first place?"
In making that case we begin at the beginning. Notice first of all, man was created By God Genesis 1:26a (ESV) God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness....then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." Genesis 2:7 (ESV)
The Biblical record indicates that man was not the product of a meaningless, random evolutionary process over billions of years rising to he top of the evolutionary chain having succeeded in the survival of the fittest. Man was not the result of a cosmic accident. Not the product of random chance. How is this relevant to the abortion debate? As already noted, the Founding Fathers recognized that man was endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life. Endowed by their Creator. Not the Federal Government, not the Supreme Court, not the state of Florida but their Crestor! You see the Founding Fathers understood Genesis one. They looked to creation to answer the metaphysical question "What makes human life valuable?"
Secondly notice that, man was created in God’s image and likeness. The intrinsic value of human life is implicit in this transcendent truth. Genesis 1:27 (ESV) "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them."
Pediatrician, Dr. John Rendle-Short identifies some of the Godlike qualities man shares with God. (Godlike Qualities Man Shares with God)
Language, humans can communicate. My dog Maggie can bark, whine, growl, but I have never heard her utter a single word, no less speak a sentence.
Intelligence, man can think. Not only can he think as a rational being he can think in the abstract. He can compute complex mathematical, chemical and engineering problems and formulas.
Creativity, he can create sophisticated products. Think of the technology of our modern scientific, medical, engineering and construction industries, just to name a few. He can send a man to the moon and back, and communicate instantly around the world from iphones and the internet.
Love, relationships, fellowship, community; man is a social creature with the ability to love and be loved; to care for and nurture its young; live in enduring committed relationships like marriage and family.
Holiness, man has a moral conscience, the ability to tell right from wrong.
Immortality, man is eternal. Unlike the rest of the animal world, he will live forever.
Freedom, man can make choices. his is “because he is human, made in the image of God.” (John Rendle-Short, M.D, “Man: The image of God”)
What a huge statement this makes about man’s capacity to relate to God. You see the fact that God created man in His image and likeness speaks of God’s intention and purpose in creating a unique creature having the capacity to live in relationship with His creator. Here is where creation and the gospel intersect.
Remember that Dr. Shaeffer's assertion that the humanist "do not know the truth of the ultimate reality God" and do "not know who Man is"? In contrast, notice the implications of the Creation account. Michael C. Sherrard in his book The Death of Relativism, writes,
'Only in the context of theism can life have purpose. And Christianity shows us that purpose. Humans are made in God’s image. As His image-bearers, we have a unique capacity to know Him in a relational way. We can experience the fullness of God and His love more than anything else in all of creation. We possess dignity and value because of our nature: God made us in His image. We are valuable because He values us. Because our value is secured in the nature of God, who is unchangeable, eternal, and good, our value remains constant."
Adam and Eve in their pristine sinless state walked in fellowship with God in the Garden because they were made in His image and likeness. In other words, they had the capacity to know God. Sin broke that relationship, but God in His love for mankind, went to extraordinary length’s to redeem sinful man through the incarnation.
God became a human being died a substitutionary death on the cross, paid the penalty for our sin, and offers forgiveness and eternal life through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. That act of love, is in itself one of the greatest statements as to the intrinsic value God places on human life created in His image and likeness. Do you see why abortion is a gospel issue? A church issue?
The biblical metaphysical case for life includes, the personhood of the unborn. Judie Brown of the American Life League writes,
“Personhood” is not a debate topic, but rather a term applied in the philosophical sense to an individual human being who is easily identified at his biological beginning as unique in every way because he possesses his own DNA—not his mother’s, not his father’s....In other words, personhood means that each human being is uniquely individual." ("The People at the Center of Abortion Politics" Life Site News 01-27-16)
This is precisely what the Bible teaches. We see personhood in God’s relationship to the unborn. Of John the Baptist: “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” Luke 1:15 (ESV) The prophet Isaiah’s testimony, "Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.” Isaiah 49:1b The Apostle Paul, "But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.” Galatians 1:15 (ESV)
Listen to this incredible incident. These words were spoken by Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist when her cousin Mary, just days pregnant with Jesus Christ, came to visit her. Luke 1:41-44,
"When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.'"
Do you realize what took place here? The text says that John the Baptist six months old, leaped for joy in his mother's womb when he came into the presence of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, who was but days old in the womb of his mother Mary. This is the first recorded worship of the Messiah, and it took place in the womb.
The Psalmist wrote, 139:13,16 (NIV) "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb...“Your eyes say my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Do you see the personhood of the unborn in these biblical accounts? Pastor John Piper,
“Psalm 139 emphasize(s) God as the primary workman - nurturer, fashioner, knitter, Creator - in this time of gestation. Why is this important? It’s important because God is the only One who can create personhood. Mothers and fathers can contribute some impersonal egg and some impersonal sperm, but only God creates independent personhood.” (Brothers We Are Not Professionals, pages 219-220)
What is God’s View of human life in the womb? Douglas Erlandson has written,
“God deals with the lives [of man] from conception to adulthood. The Bible does not appear to recognize a special change in God’s dealings with man at birth. God values each of the above men while he is still in the womb – knows him, chooses him, shapes him.” (Abortion: Answering the Arguments)
The Bible gives an answer to the metaphysical question that everyone is asking, "What makes human beings valuable in the first place?" The unborn are created by God and for God. They are created in His image and likeness and are recognized by God as distinct and unique persons from the moment of conception. So valuable to Him that He sent His Son to die on the cross so they could be reconciled to their Creator. This biblical claim and worldview provides us with the answer to the metaphysical question apologist Scott Klusendorf posed earlier "what makes humans valuable in the first place?" It is the only credible alternative to Mary William's claim that all life is not equal because "she's the boss" therefore unborn children are expendable.
On January 21 of 2011 I had the privilege to stand in front of the U.S. Federal Court building in downtown Ft. Lauderdale and delivery the message at the Rally for Life. This was part of my concluding remarks. "Ultimately, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the solution to America’s abortion crisis. Innocent blood has polluted the land and profaned the name of the Lord. But there is a greater blood shed at Mount Calvary that can transform the heart of a mother so she will choose life for her child; that can cleanse the guilty, forgive, heal and restore those involved in abortion. What America needs to hear is God’s truth about abortion wrapped in the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ."
For those who have been involved in an abortion in anyway and for those of us who or are guilty of failing to do anything to end abortion, let me share this as we close. In 1 John 2:1b-2 (ESV) we read, "But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Jesus is our defense attorney, pleading our case before the Father. That's what an advocate is. He can be our advocate because He was "the propitiation for our sins." Through His death on the cross, He shed his blood and paid the penalty for our sin. When we come to Him in faith, confessing our sin, our sin is put to His account and His righteousness is put to our account. A propitiation is a blood sacrifice that covers sin so that God’s wrath and judgment will be averted! Jesus died in our place. He paid the penalty for our sins so we can be forgiven and justified -- declared righteous in God's sight, our sin no longer being held against us."
© James P McGarvey All Rights Reserved