Scott Klusendorf responds to atheist P.Z. Myers on the Issues, Etc. show

Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute
Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute

About Scott:

Scott Klusendorf travels throughout the United States and Canada training pro-life advocates to persuasively defend their views in the public square. He contends that the pro-life message can compete in the marketplace of ideas if properly understood and properly articulated.

[…]Scott has participated in numerous debates at the collegiate level. His debate opponents have included Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU (1991-2008) – Kathyrn Kolbert, an attorney that has argued for abortion rights in a United States Supreme Court case – and Kathy Kneer, President of Planned Parenthood of California.

Scott has debated or lectured to student groups at over 70 colleges and universities, including Stanford, USC, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Loyola Marymount Law School, West Virginia Medical School, MIT, U.S. Air Force Academy, Cal-Tech, and University of North Carolina.

Each year thousands of students at Protestant and Catholic high schools are trained by Scott to make a persuasive case for life as part of their worldview training prior to college. He’s provided that same training to students at Summit Ministries and Focus on the Family Institute.

Scott is the author of The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture, released in March 2009 by Crossway Books. Scott has also published articles on pro-life apologetics in The Christian Research Journal, Clear Thinking, Focus on the FamilyCitizen, and The Conservative Theological Journal.

Chuck Colson, founder and Chairman of the Board of Prison Fellowship, says: “Scott first grabbed my attention when Focus on the Family featured one of his presentations on its national broadcast. I was struck by his ability to communicate truth so clearly and insightfully. I’ve heard many speakers who deliver excellent content, but few who can actually equip people to communicate their pro-life convictions to a secular culture. In fact, I was so impressed with Scott’s talk that I phoned him directly to learn more about his work. After that, I scheduled him as a keynote speaker for our own Breakpoint conference.”

Scott is a graduate of UCLA with honors and holds a Masters Degree in Christian Apologetics from Biola University.

The MP3 file is here.


  • Myers: I could imagine a culture where a child doesn’t have the right to life until they are 5-years old
  • Moderator: Myers is an atheist. He believes that standards of conduct are variable depending on what is dominant in a culture. Since cultures  vary by time and place, and none is objectively right or wrong, then a 5-year limit for personhood is as valid as any other standard that might evolve. There is no way to judge between cultures against some objective standard
  • Moderator (to Klusendorf): Myers says that the unborn is a “piece of meat”. It’s not a person until well after birth. Do only atheists believe this?
  • Klusendorf: No others hold them. But what is more interesting is that he just asserts his views, he never argues for them. He says that pro-lifers lie when debating this issue
  • Moderator: (to Myers) What is the unborn?
  • Myers: It’s a piece of tissue that will develop into a human being over time
  • Moderator: (to Myers) What is it 5 minutes before it’s born?
  • Myers: It’s fetus, it’s not a baby
  • Klusendorf: The development stages of a human are all stages of development of the same entity, as even Peter Singer and David Boonin admit
  • Moderator: He made a distinction between before birth and after birth
  • Klusendorf: Yes, and that contradicts what he says later when he says there are no sharp boundaries
  • Klusendorf: Myers is confusing parts with wholes. The skin cells on my hand are part of a larger human being. The embryo is not part of a larger human being, they are a whole human being, directing its own development
  • Klusendorf: Myers also makes the claim that embryos are constructed piece by piece from the outside. But the science of embryology is clear – the embryo develops itself.
  • Moderator (to Myers): Is the unborn a person?
  • Myers: Personhood develops gradually. A newborn baby is not a person. A baby’s brain is still forming so it’s not a person. There is no specific moment when a baby becomes a person. It is culturally determined. Our society says it’s birth. Some people say viability. Either of those are acceptable to me
  • Moderator: (to Myers): So drawing the line between unborn and born is arbitrary?
  • Myers: Yes it is
  • Klusendorf: He is separating human beings into classes: persons and non-persons. This has resulted in injustices, historically speaking. E.g. – with American Indians

(Break until 15:00)

  • Klusendorf: He says that a human being becomes a person when their brain is fully developed, but even teens don’t have fully developed brains
  • Klusendorf: Look at this scientific evidence from PBS about NIH research which shows that brains still developing in teens and it causes them to make poor decisions
  • Klusendorf: If development gives us value, then those with more of it have more of a right to life than those with less
  • Klusendorf: This point was made by Lincoln in his debates about slavery, when he warned his opponent that someone with lighter skin could enslave him
  • Moderator (to Myers): How do you decide these life issues?
  • Myers: We use the notion of “greater good”
  • Moderator (to Myers): that’s a culturally determined notion?
  • Myers: Yes. The greater good here is that we maximize the security and happiness of most people in the society. Women are persons, so we favor their rights.
  • Klusendorf: His response begs the question. He is assuming that the unborn are not human persons. He talks about the need for women’s rights. Are unborn women included in those who have rights?
  • Klusendorf: If cultures decide who is and who is not a person, then he cannot oppose cultures that say that Jews are not persons, or that women are not persons
  • Klusendorf: He admits that he cannot oppose cultures that think that children of age 5 are not persons, and can be killed
  • Moderator (to Myers): You call that kind of society “brutal”, why do you say that?
  • Myers: It’s my personal preference because I like my own kids
  • Moderator (to Klusendorf): Respond to that
  • Klusendorf: He has no argument, just his own opinion. He cannot oppose any society that things that it is OK to traffic, kill, etc. 5-year-olds
  • Klusendorf: He says that he has a personal preference. That is an interesting fact about his psychology, but he has no argument
  • Klusendorf: In an atheistic worldview, human beings at any stage are cosmic accidents
  • Klusendorf: How do we get any kind of intrinsic value and human rights out of an atheist worldview? I don’t see how you can
  • Klusendorf: Even a woman’s absolute right to an abortion is not grounded by atheism
  • Moderator (to Myers): What do you think of the pro-life movement?
  • Myers: I’m a developmental biologist. The pro-life movement is lying to people. An embryo is not a person. “Personhood implies much more than being a piece of meat with the right number of chromosomes in it”. The primary issue in abortion is women’s autonomy. It is entirely the woman’s decision
  • Klusendorf: You have to present arguments to prove that pro-lifers are lying. There are pro-abortion scholars who have arguments, he isn’t one. He only has assertions, opinions and preferences.
  • Klusendorf: What if a woman gets pregnant solely in order to take a drug during pregnancy in order to have a deformed child. Myers has no argument against that

Myers also has no argument against sex-selection abortions. So much for “women’s rights”.

I just want to mention that the Life Training Institute is one of the ministries I recommend to people. They are the only pro-life group I support, because they are apologists all the way. If they’re not debating, they’re training others to debate. If you like Christians who have battlefield experience on the pro-life issue, this is your organization.

You can get Scott’s book on pro-life apologetics here on It’s the best introductory book on pro-life apologetics out there. And he has another book about making a pro-life case on campus.

UPDATE: P.Z. Myers responds to this post here. Reader discretion is advised.

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