The Logic of Abortion

One of my favorite class discussions in our Public Speaking class at Appalachian State is on "Building Powerful Arguments." In it we talk about logos, pathos, and ethos, and deductive and inductive reasoning. In order to demonstrate how a logical appeal (logos) can be made with a deductive argument, we use the topic of abortion. I lead the class in an attempt to create a deductive argument for a pro-choice and a pro-life position. I emphasize how important it is to be able to accurately articulate the view of the opposing argument (that is, to the satisfaction of one who hold that view). If this simple step were taken in such discussions, much misunderstanding, straw-man arguments, and talking past each other would be eliminated. Deductive reasoning argues for a claim based primarily on the logical relationships of certain premises. First, the students must establish a major premise. This is an assumed principle that both sides should agree upon. Next is the minor premise. This is where the one logically connects the major premise to his or her claim. A simplified version of a deductive argument (a syllogism) for both sides of the abortion issue may look like this:


Major Premise:            Women have a right to control their bodies and # of children. Minor Premise:            Abortion is an exercise of that right. Claim:                         Protect abortion rights

Pro-Life Major Premise:             Taking the life of another human is wrong. Minor Premise:            Abortion is taking the life of a human. Claim:                         Stop abortion

There are other ways to argue both sides, but this is a start upon which both sides generally agree. Anyone have any suggestions on how to improve this beginning point for discussion? Next time I will explain how both sides usually criticize the logic of the other.

A True and Rational Gospel

When Paul was communication the gospel to Agrippa and Festus, he was accused of being out of his mind. Paul responded, “I am speaking true and rational words” (Acts 26:25). As I have been studying philosophy and critical thinking in my politics and religion class, I have concluded that if the Gospel is true, then it would be the conclusion of an honest, logical consideration of the evidence. I do not mean by this that one would or could believe based only on intellectual considerations. Belief is a matter of the heart and will. Nor do I mean that all the claims of Scripture are verifiable by physical evidence. But the gospel and the Christian worldview will not contradict evidence and logic. The Bible does not teach that the God’s truth is a mysterious, irrational reality or that the physical world is an illusion or inherently evil. Instead, the words of the gospel are true and rational. It is easy for people to claim that Christianity is illogical or contradicts scientific and historical evidence. These claims must be pressed and critiqued for it may reveal to the accuser that their resistance to the gospel is not at all rational, but a resistance to the truth itself.

After making the above observations, I read an article by Chuck Colson, "When Atheists Believe: The Confounding Attraction of the Christian Worldview" (Christianity Today, Oct 2009). Here are some snippets:

"People who insist we are 'simply anthropoid apes' cannot account for things as basic as language, love, and music. . . . I have longed believed that Christianity is the most rational explanation of reality. And that fact, winsomely explained, can powerfully influence thinking people to consider Christ's claims. A strong empirical case can be made to show that Christianity is the only rational explanation of life. . . . The Bible speaks most accurately to the human condition--the very definition of a rational choice."