I’ve been thinking lately about how to measure how committed and capable a person is on issues of interest to conservatives. For example, on abortion, most conservatives will say, “I vote pro-life”. But I think a higher level of conviction and commitment is shown when a person can show WHY they are pro-life. And I’m not looking for feelings, here. I’m looking for handling scientific evidence.
So, when it comes to the abortion issue, the first step is to answer the question “what is the unborn?” And again, I’m not looking for an opinion here. I’m not looking for feelings. I’m not looking for what your parents, or your pastor, or your church choir says. I’m interested in whether a person can cite some scientific evidence.
Fortunately, we have first class scientists who have collected the relevant information for us, like Dr. Maureen Condic, She’s an Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Adjunct Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and recently served on the National Science Board. She earned her Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, and has published papers in peer-reviewed journals.
One of her publications (PDF) explains what science tells us about the unborn. The title is “When Does Human Life Begin? The Scientific Evidence and Terminology Revisited”. A good paper to have available, especially if your opponent has nothing but purple hair, tattoos and nose piercings. But if you want something easy, you can just use quotations from a variety of embryology textbooks (PDF).
Like this one:
“Human development begins at fertilization, when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, the zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell (capable of giving rise to any cell type) marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”
Source: Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 10th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2016. p. 11
Don’t just use one quotation, use lots.
Also useful to know is what the unborn baby can do during the process of developing.
Here’s an article from the famous Cleveland Clinic that explains:
At the moment of fertilization, your baby’s genetic make-up is complete, including its sex. The gender of your baby depends on what sperm fertilizes the egg at the moment of conception.
And a bit further along:
Month 1 (weeks 1 through 4)
In these first few weeks, a primitive face will take form with large dark circles for eyes. The mouth, lower jaw and throat are developing. Blood cells are taking shape, and circulation will begin. The tiny “heart” tube will beat 65 times a minute by the end of the fourth week.
And a bit further along:
Month 2 (weeks 5 through 8)
Facial features continue to develop. Each ear begins as a little fold of skin at the side of the head. Tiny buds that eventually grow into arms and legs are forming. Fingers, toes and eyes are also forming.
The neural tube (brain, spinal cord and other neural tissue of the central nervous system) is well formed now. The digestive tract and sensory organs begin to develop too. Bone starts to replace cartilage.
The head is large in proportion to the rest of the body at this point. At about 6 weeks, a heartbeat can usually be detected.
Most abortions happen in the first trimester, and that’s why pro-lifers say “abortion stops a beating heart”. It’s definitely human, and it’s definitely killed in an abortion.
So, what’s the point of this post? I’m saying that if you are a conservative, then you have to be familiar with enough evidence to be persuasive to others who do not share your views. Not just on the issue you like, but on EVERY issue – social issues, foreign policy issues, fiscal issues.
It’s not enough for you to be happy that you have the right opinion about one issue. It’s not enough that the people around you like you because they agree with your “right answer”. You have to be able to make a case that crushes your opponent with evidence. Being a conservative isn’t about you or your feelings. It’s about the world out there – can you make a difference by being convincing to other people?
Of course if doesn’t feel good to have to learn how to talk about issues using scientific evidence. It’s work. And of course it doesn’t feel good to disagree with people about controversial issues. But you have to get used to not being ignorant and not being liked. I know a lot of feelings-based Christians who know a lot about sports, fiction, music, essential oils, and other nonsense. They want me to be satisfied that they have the right answer to questions like “Does God exist?”, “does military preparedness deter aggression?” and “does the free market system make people more prosperous than socialism?” But if I am out on a date with you, and I ask you these questions, I’m looking for more than the right answer. I want you to show your work. I want to see you demonstrate your ability to persuade people on the other side, either in your writings or in your discussions.
Don’t cry to me about how you can’t find a husband when you can’t do anything that a husband needs you to do. There is no path to impressing a conservative man that allows you to be lazy, ignorant and cowardly. I expect performance. If you are smart enough to get a college education and a job in the competitive private sector providing value to paying customers, (not a public school teacher or anything disconnected from reality, like that), then you are smart enough to be able to explain your views on moral issues and public policy.