Not Just For Theists

In case anyone thought that only those having faith are pro-life, I offer you the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League. For links to other niche pro-life groups, such as Anarchists for Life, Leftout (which may have been subsumed by Consistent Life), and Libertarians for Life, check out their links page.

Comments 25

  1. Jerry Nora wrote:

    “Instead, I am a bottom-up atheist who started with his own life, perceptions, intellect, and abilities and after years of trying valiantly to make religion work for him discovered that, try as he might, he could not see the supernatural things that others claim to see.”

    Well, Christian metaphysics often derived from personal experience as well, to say nothing of Revelation. Metaphysics is moreover not necessarily a “guiding philosophy” as you mentioned above, but the foundation or substrate for guiding principles. You are reluctant to find some sort of purely power-driven, primal reason behind Christian councils, yet you seem convinced that there will always be such a reason lurking in the corner. That smells of a philosophical worldview, even if you don’t consider it one. Purging oneself of philosophies would require a metaphilosophy that dictates that philosophies are bad. If one is anencephalic or disastrously, then one may live without a philosophy.

    Philosophy’s etymology means love of wisdom–your frequenting of this site and your own blog seem to point towards a concern for the bigger issues, so subjectively you seem to have a love of wisdom, and thus a sort of philosophy by default. Moreover, I could say that a philosophy’s function is as a guide or even just a set of heuristics for organizing and explaining the world around you, and guiding further action. You explain the world through a particular lens (e.g., Nicea etc.) Yours may be a spare, minimalistic philosophy, but a denial of philosophy seems bizarre.

    If you are just trying to “be”, why are you so passionate about religion (in the negative sense)? Does it help you find food or meet some other bodily necessity that you may “be”?

    Posted 17 Sep 2004 at 12:46 am
  2. theomorph wrote:

    …below the level of systems.

    Posted 16 Sep 2004 at 12:11 am
  3. theomorph wrote:

    …er, I mean “when the circumstances present themselves”

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 12:06 am
  4. Funky Dung wrote:

    “Regarding Theomorph’s critique of the Biblical case against abortion, perhaps Funkydung could open up another entry on that. It looks like we could get into some good discussion on Gods atemporal nature (i.e., how He can knows us before we are knit in the womb) and predestination. I don’t have time to start my own entry on that. New PhD program ‘n’at.

    I just got back from the Catholic Engaged Encounter retreat, so I’m way behind on email, news, and blogging. Once I catch up, I’ll be sure to start the new entry you requested, Jer.

    The conversation is interesting and enlightening. Many thanks to all participants. :) Good conversation and mutual edification is all a small-time blogger can really hope for.

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 3:15 am
  5. theomorph wrote:

    Also– this has been a very enjoyable thread, even though I have been busy and tired and slightly ill for most of the weekend. :-)

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 4:46 am
  6. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Constantine was not necessary for Nicea–the Church has often hesitated to define things until the debates get particularly rancorous or the issues must be addressed to maintain general Church integrity. Which Emporer declared Trent, for instance? Or the dozens of other major and minor councils of Church history? One datum does not a trend make.

    BTW, how has materialism shaped our culture? It too, is a metaphysical system.

    Posted 15 Sep 2004 at 4:02 am
  7. theomorph wrote:

    Council of Trent? What, so they just got together for the hell of it to standardize the mass? The Protestants had nothing to do with it? And what were those Protestants riled up over, anyway? Theology? Or oppression? The theology was just a handy way to break the bonds of their oppression. Wonder why Martin Luther didn’t come up with his doctrines until they were able to serve that function. Funny the way that worked.

    But I’m not gonna go through every theological shift in church history and explain how it was driven by real-world administrative, economic, or political problems. One, because I’m just dead tired with a headache; two, because it would take a book and until somebody pays me a decent advance to get that going the chances of it happening are minute.

    Second, sorry, but that whole “materialism is metaphysics, too” thing just plain annoys me. Sure, materialism as an a priori assumption is just as faulty as any other a priori assumption, but materialism does not have to be such a thing. In my case, materialism was the result of experience and study, not the starting point. That is, I am not a top-down atheist who just “decided” one day that God did not exist, and then applied materialism to everything he saw. Instead, I am a bottom-up atheist who started with his own life, perceptions, intellect, and abilities and after years of trying valiantly to make religion work for him discovered that, try as he might, he could not see the supernatural things that others claim to see. Hence, you might say I am a materialist by nature, not by philosophy. I don’t discount the possibility of nonmaterial causes (as at least one of my dearest friends will attest); I have just never seen any.

    Like I said, materialism is not my guiding philosophy. In fact, I do my best to purge myself of guiding philosophies. I have said it many times, and I will say it again, but the fact that I am an “atheist” is only an accident of linguistics. I am not protesting anything. I am just trying to Be, and trying to figure out why theists like you insist that I am not what I am, i.e., that I practice a metaphysical perspective precisely because I say I don’t.

    I don’t think “materialism” has shaped much of anything. In fact, I think -isms in general have very little do with the movement of history. I am not a fan of -isms or structures or paradigms or ideologies or religions or anything. History moves by human agents acting individually (and occasionally but rarely collectively). If those individual agents are affected by -isms or ideologies, they are rarely affected by such things alone. For instance, radical Islamic terrorists can justify their goals with their theology, but I don’t think their theology is the source of those goals.

    My view of history is difficult because eschews the common historiographical myths and asks that we look for more complex and diverse causes, things that exist belo

    Posted 16 Sep 2004 at 12:11 am
  8. theomorph wrote:

    Howdy-howdy.

    I still don’t think it’s tenable to say that modern Americans are more squeamish about abortion than ancient Romans simply because of Christianity. My inclination on this question is to look toward technology and the industrial separation between life and violence. Some people use the word “alienation.”

    I know I previously mentioned the White Male Power Structure as the biggest force in making abortion a moral issue in the United States, but now I’ll take a different tack. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the American anti-abortion coincides with the rise of American urbanism. This is the era when people started eating meat without seeing it slaughtered, thinking of guns more as weapons than as tools, and generally finding themselves shielded from blood and gore as they had never been before. Our medical system has become more sanitized and impersonal, too. When a person dies, we call professionals too haul off the corpse with a minimum of contact. Stuff like that. I think that “alienation” from violence and death has made us more squeamish when we do encounter it, and I think that probably has some bearing on our squeamishness about abortion, too.

    At any rate, I think there are a lot more historical factors that have effected the rise of abortion as a moral issue than simply Christianity. Metaphysics and ideology will almost always get trumped by tangible circumstances and economic factors. Look at the way Christianity has evolved theologically and the big changes have always coincided with non-theological factors.

    For example, Christians didn’t really hammer out an orthodoxy until the council at Nicea, which Constantine called because as a leader he was fed up with bickering and arguing over theology. Hence it was the problem of central authority and administration that led to the consolidation of Christian beliefs into a singular creed. That kind of thing is significant, I think.

    Or look at the way Christianity has changed as Western Christians have become more wealthy and bourgeois. The theological differences between Christianity in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere are quite pronounced. Southern hemisphere Christians are way more spiritualist, supernaturalist, superstitious, and demonstrative. They’re growing in numbers, too, and current demographic trends show the authority center of Christianity shifting to the southern hemisphere in the coming century. That will be interesting if it plays out.

    Anyway…it’s not that ideology and metaphysics aren’t important, but that they are always responses to tangibles. That’s what I see, at least.

    Posted 14 Sep 2004 at 5:25 pm
  9. steve wrote:

    No time to write a weighty tome here, which is what this subject really deserves. But I’ve always thought the “religious” argument again abortion was rather hollow, viz. “human life begins at conception.” This is a demonstrable medical/scientific fact that neither needs nor gains any support from the Quran, Bible, Book of Mormon, etc.

    The question is and has always been whether that human life deserves protection and in what circumstances–and this always struck me as rather non-sectarian. For example, surely anyone, regardless of theological ilk, would be appalled that someone terminate a pregnancy only for sex selection.

    This is all to say that I am pro-life not because my “religion” mandates it, but because it seems only fair to protect the life of a pre-born human against the convenience of its mother/parents or the society at large–a viewpoint, I am pleased to note, is shared by at least a few folks who don’t share my “religious” views.

    BTW, Mr. Dung, to what does…

    Next year it will be about half the size of the pet food market and is fast approaching the total worldwide sales of panty hose. – James Finke, President, Commodore International Ltd. (1982)

    … refer? The PC?

    Thx for the links….
    Cheers!

    BTW, check out my URL to for another presidential alternative.

    Posted 10 Sep 2004 at 2:45 pm
  10. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Okay, let’s back up.

    One: Haloscan is limited, and in lieu of emailing you a thesis, for which I do not have the time anyway, referring you to a common source seems prudent. I was not unprepared, I just thought referring you to my source was a good idea, rather than just throwing Roman history at you, rather like how you told me that 50% of 18th century pregnancies ended in abortion. (I doubt it, but tell me your source!)

    Two: I was not busting on you re. your lack of attachment to the fetus. It was poorly worded, but the fact of the matter is that you seem neutral to or (at least in some cases) approving of abortion. Ergo, the fetus as person does not bother you.

    I find that Roman history has interesting parallels to modern America, and makes for a provocative mirror. I do think that we are often unaware of how Christianity has changed our society, and I thought and still think that you are underestimating its importance. I got this idea from the fact that you were using the spectra of ideological positions amongst theists and atheists to show that metaphysics is not terribly important. On the contrary, it is important, and the Christian metaphysic (broadly speaking) has had a huge impact on how people think.

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 2:19 am
  11. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Regarding abortion in history: while it has always been present, modern technology has made abortions more efficacious. Abortions had previously existed often through folk remedies and generally on the low-down. I have no idea how one could demonstrate that they were half as prevalent as you claimed.

    The Catholic Church and (at least until the 20th Century) most Protestant denominations were against abortion (could Funky Dung back me up on that part about the Protestants?). The suffragists like Susan B. Anthony were outspoken against abortion on the grounds that it was wrong for a woman to destroy her child, and it was wrong for society to put her in a position where she would feel desperate enough to do so (they were not merely opposed to it on the grounds they were unsafe).

    Yes, the “right to abortion” did not become a big deal till later, and some states were more liberal with abortion laws than others. However, even after Roe v. Wade, I would be very skeptical that our acceptance of abortion is anywhere near where it was in Rome. I offer my previous citations again so you can check my reasoning. I am not trying to have someone else do my thinking. I think an atheist would respect my desire to keep as hard a standard on evidence as possible! 😉 Ergo I cite history books.

    So I repeat my thesis that a Christian metaphysic, though implicit, is highly important in shaping people’s view of abortion, even in non-religious Americans. I say this with all due respect to Theomorph’s very intelligent and challenging arguments, but I do think that his critiques overlook some important facts. I did not intend it as an accusation of ignorance, and hope that he does not consider it so, just as I will not consider mention of Christian theology “dropping off into an abyss of lunacy” to be an accusation either. 😉

    Roman history provides a useful study in that we may look at pre-Christian and Christian Western History. While Theomorph may not be a Roman (especially in the light of his Hellenic screenname), comparing his vision of abortion with that of the Classical Age and that of mainstream America may show how Christianity has change popular conceptions of abortion. (Get it, conception? ;))

    Regarding Theomorph’s critique of the Biblical case against abortion, perhaps Funkydung could open up another entry on that. It looks like we could get into some good discussion on Gods atemporal nature (i.e., how He can knows us before we are knit in the womb) and predestination. I don’t have time to start my own entry on that. :) New PhD program ‘n’at.

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 2:42 am
  12. theomorph wrote:

    Regarding stats, I was writing from memory so I can’t vouch for that blanket figure of 50% (though I did recently hear a relative mention the same number from a class she had taken, so perhaps there is a source for this somewhere). However, here are some bits and pieces from a book I do have at hand (The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War by Thomas P. Lowry):

    In 1860 Edwin Hale wrote On the Homeopathic Treatment of Abortion and estimated that 10% of married women had had an abortion and that 20% of all pregnancies ended in abortion. In 1866 he revised that figure upward to 25%.

    In 1868 Horatio Spencer wrote Criminal Abortion and concluded that in New York City 20% of all pregnancies ended in abortion. This was based only on reported abortions so is probably lower than the actual number.

    Just after the Civil War J.C. Stone conducted a study and concluded that 20% of all pregnancies end in abortion.

    Various state medical societies reported in the 1870s the following rates for abortion: Maine, 16%; Illinois, 20%, Wisconsin, 30%, and Michigan 34%.

    (The current rate in the U.S. is something like 25-30%, I think, though I’m not sure.)

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 4:20 am
  13. theomorph wrote:

    Since I have not made it clear, my personal take on abortion goes like this:

    As a medical procedure, I think it is gruesome.

    As a moral or ethical issue, I think there are no definitive arguments either way. I.e., abortion is amoral rather than immoral, in my opinion.

    As a means of birth control and population control in a world where most people are irresponsible about sex and it is foolish to hope they will ever be otherwise, I think abortion is regretfully necessary.

    As a legal matter, I think we would do our society a great disservice to criminalize a procedure that, while regretful, is far safer when regulated.

    As a matter of women’s rights, I must admit to sympathy for women on this one. Men have it easy when it comes to reproduction; they can cut and run while women cannot. Conceivably, a man could impregnate a woman under the false impression that he is going to stick around, and then decide to leave after conception. If men can shirk the burden of reproduction, I think that in a sexually egalitarian society women ought to have the same ability. I know that’s a controversial way to look at it, but it’s how I feel. It makes me uncomfortable, too, because it means admitting that people are irresponsible about reproduction, and to be honest, in my own life this is a pretty darned weighty issue, and I don’t plan on messing it up.

    To sum up: I agree with former president Bill Clinton, who said abortion ought to be “safe, legal, and rare.” I do not, however, believe in abortion as a replacement for contraception. If people want to have sex without making babies, there are much better ways to achieve that goal.

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 4:44 am
  14. theomorph wrote:

    The moral/political “issue” of abortion only showed up when the practice became common enough among white middle class married women (instead of just poor, non-white, or non-married women) that their white middle class husbands (who held the reins of politics) began to fear their decreasing control over reproduction (still no fetus).

    Still, “the fetus” itself did not show up in the discourse until the viability of a particular offspring could be pushed back that far by medical advances. Before medicine could ensure the survival of almost every child from the earliest weeks of pregnancy, many people deliberately avoided “attachment” until much later. This is still the case in parts of the developing world where children are more likely to die in infancy and early childhood. Some cultures do not even name their children until they are at an age when survival is mostly assured.

    My point is that this idea of “attachment to the fetus” is not universal. You might argue that if not universal it is Christian, but then you would have to explain why so many Christians throughout Western history, prior to the 20th century, made little political or moral ruckus over the issue, even though abortion was quite common. (Or were those just Christians who didn’t understand their own beliefs?)

    Furthermore, it’s tough to find a biblical basis for opposing abortion, except for the one Psalm that talks about God knitting you together before you were born. But what’s so surprising about that from a God who knows the future? The biblical God could have intentions for your life before you were conceived, too, and could meddle in events to ensure the sexual act that resulted in your conception. Would it then be equally wrong to not have sex when the circumstances prevent themselves? This kind of thing is where Christian theology drops off into an abyss of lunacy.

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 12:05 am
  15. theomorph wrote:

    The point is not that mortality impinges on personhood but that there is no natural precedent for protecting a fetus simply because it is there. (That is, nature destroys them, too, so we cannot derive an ethic of protection from nature.)

    Your point human society protects its vulnerable is a far better argument against abortion than anything allegedly derived from nature. However, we still choose what to protect and when to protect it. That choice is the result of rationalization that is unfortunately subjective. (E.g., one community may find it more beneficial to tend a disabled person while another one may find it more beneficial to abandon or kill a disabled person.)

    In other words, as I said before, there is no definitive argument for or against abortion. Hence, we ought to take the existence of the practice as a given from the beginning and tend toward regulation rather than eradication.

    Posted 11 Sep 2004 at 6:53 pm
  16. theomorph wrote:

    The Roman-American parallel is interesting and popular. Though I said previously that I have not read much Roman history, I have been reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall recently, and there are passages were the similarities seem tantalizing.

    However, when caught in the excitement of finding a historical society that seems to parallel our own, I think it becomes to easy for people to overstate the thesis. Mainly, the Roman Empire was built on very different economics and industries than the U.S. Also, Roman military conquest had a different character than American involvement in numerous overseas theaters (and different even from the spread of Europeans across North America).

    Nor did the Roman empire have the same relationship with Christianity. The early Americans were nearly all Christians (while the founders of the late 18th century were largely an aberration–there was a similar period in the late 19th century where skepticism grew in popularity); the Romans officially resisted Christianity for three centuries, and by the time they accepted it, the Empire was headed downhill. In their heyday, Romans were entertained by watching people kill each other for sport; Americans can barely stand to see images of death in war. These are only broad strokes, but I am only trying to show that intriguing comparisons can easily go too far.

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 4:33 am
  17. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Theomorph, all men die. If mortality impinges on personhood, who is a person?
    Why does a miscarriage rate impinge on a embryo or fetus’ personhood? We all could die at any moment. It doesn’t follow.

    From your statistic, it would follow that embryos and fetuses are vulnerable, but the nice thing about society is that we protect our vulnerable members. Ergo, kids can go to school or play in a park rather than try to compete for limited food on a savannah or some Ice-Age Europe. Maybe there is little we can do to protect the embryo in utero, but not actively trying to kill it sounds like a good start!

    Posted 11 Sep 2004 at 3:51 pm
  18. steve wrote:

    Theomorph, to emphasize my awareness of nature aborting, I’ll note that we’ve suffered two miscarriages interspersed among 5 live births. But as Jerry points out: the point is? Nature deals out cancer, AIDS, hurricanes, forest fires… doesn’t mean we ought to go around doing the same. (Obviously, to the extent that we can avoid such natural calamities, we ought to. But this, by analogy, would refer to making natural miscarriage less likely, not more so.)

    Okay… I’ll bite….

    [That abortion can be rational from any ideological standpoint] is just more proof that the causal relationship between our metaphysical beliefs and our political and social beliefs is imaginary at best.

    Huh!?! What political or social belief could one possibly hold that is not rooted in metaphysics? Whether one is purely pragmatic or ideological or existential in one’s political/social views, then one can only have done so having already made the metaphysical leap… whether they know it or not. If my avail myself of a Chesterton quotation:

    “There are only two kinds of people, those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept dogmas and don’t know it.”

    I think the joke is on the latter sort of dogma-acceptors…

    Okay… I’ll bite… again…

    The point is not that mortality impinges on personhood but that there is no natural precedent for protecting a fetus simply because it is there.

    Huh!?!? But this is exactly the “natural precedent” that a theist or non-theist would accept for, say, our support of a law proscribing murder, viz., propagation of the species. I suppose some far-removed biological impulse may have once prompted us to kill all children except our own, but apparently that impulse is so far suppressed that every society of every conceivable metaphysical ilk has come up with the novel idea that to kill is bad. The only difference between the various social views on the “badness” of killing is: who gets protected?

    In one society, maybe it would be okay to kill other tribesfolk, but not people of your tribe (Rwanda). In another society, it may be okay to kill folks of a different color or language, but not folks of “our” color or language (3rd Reich, Sudan). In another perhaps it is considered wrong to kill anyone irrespective of tribe, color, or language (Civilized world).

    It seems to me that this last society, i.e., the one that has expanded the rule about who gets protected, should be the one judged to be the most highly civilized–the most liberal. And this is exactly what I support, viz., the expansion of protection to include yet even more vulnerable.

    That this can be argued strictly from natural law, irrespective or theological outlook, is granted and is, in fact, the subject of Funky’s original post.

    Cheers!

    Posted 11 Sep 2004 at 7:29 pm
  19. theomorph wrote:

    This is getting way too long for Haloscan. See my response here. :-)

    Posted 18 Sep 2004 at 9:20 pm
  20. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Well, Theomorph, there is spectrum to both religious and political beliefs, but if you take a look at people who go to church more than once a week, Kerry’s support drops precipitously. There is also the well-known truism that Republicans do better on election days with bad weather (I recall praying for some solidly lousy Pittsburgh weather in November, 2000; won’t be so zealous this year, but that’s another story!).

    Another example: your lack of attachment to the fetus is notably similar to the state of affars in pre-Christian Rome. Abortions and infanticide were both quite common. Moreover, if there was a plague, the victims would likely as not be left to die on the roadside.

    Even after the Roe decision here in the USA, much is still different from back then! And you can thank a new set of metaphysical beliefs for that. Check out Rodney Stark’s “The Rise of Christianity”. The Greco-Roman volume from the series “A History of the Private Life” might also help, though I haven’t had the time to get into that very promising series.

    Granted, Christians or whatever may not live up to the fullness of their professed beliefs. In part, that is also quite likely due to not understanding what they believe. However, Christianity has revolutioned Western culture, and it is so much the part of even atheists’ lives here that it is often taken for granted. (Three cheers for studying the classics! :))

    Posted 12 Sep 2004 at 9:55 pm
  21. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Well, to take your first entry re. Rome-America, I think we’re in some agreement–more than I would have thought from previous post.

    My thesis was that in comparing the US and Rome, we could see some very interesting contrasts. Some are due to military-economic-technological differences, but I submit (and have submitted above) that our cultural views on abortion (among other things) have changed dramatically due to Christianity. Of course Rome and America are different–I said so from the start, and I asserted that some of those differences were due to a Christian metaphysic! Yes, there are many subvariants, but as a cultural patrimony, it has often helped shape opinions on abortion. While there are plenty of differences in opinion, I have found a level of discomfort with abortion even in many liberal, pro-choice activists. Rome, however, was not nearly so squeamish. I submit that much of that difference is due to the very fact that Rome began pagan, whereas the USA was founded by Christians.

    So, to get back to the original point of a long and interesting exchange, metaphysics can have a powerful influence on how we view problems. It is hardly window dressing. Metaphysics can be influenced by both science and religion, and it has a powerful effect in that it can unite different those and other academic disciplines into a coherent worldview. Well, Theomorph may not find a union of religion and science to be coherent, but that could be another blog entry! Valid or not, though, metaphysics is how we at least attempt to unify them. Perhaps nobody has succeeded. Remember, though, we haven’t unified all of physics yet into one Grand Unified Theory, but we still believe in physics. 😉

    We see both in abortion, in that human embryology (which has gone far since ideas of the “quickening”), ethics, and moral theology all get thrown in, and this mix of ideas has had a huge influence on the general discourse on abortino. To steal a phrase from Richard Weaver, “ideas have consequences”.

    Here is what I see: even if someone does not think the fetus is a person, or claims that the fetus is a just a part of the woman’s body (biologically laughable, but hey, it’s politically correct…), they must address, directly or indirectly, issues of personhood and issues of embryonic rights, which the traditional Christian outlook champions. Therefore, even those who disagree with Catholicism on abortion may find themselves arguing according to criteria established by the Church. E.g.: time and again, I’ve seen Peter Singer cite Thomas Aquinas regarding the Christian view of abortion and sexuality.

    Now I really have to do some other work today, so I shall address Mr. Theomorph’s other posts at another time!

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 5:47 pm
  22. theomorph wrote:

    What does it matter whether my “lack of attachment to the fetus is notably similar to the state of affars in pre-Christian Rome”? Your point is vague, but I get the feeling you are trying to play what I see as a kind of reverse-appeal-to-authority in that you are trying to align my views with those of others in an attempt to better understand me as another instance of perspective you think you already understand. But since I have not read much (if any, that I recall) Roman literature, philosophy, or social history (it’s on the waiting list…), it would be difficult to pin a Roman worldview on me. The influence of history certainly reaches into all of our lives and into the literature that we read, but since I deliberately read both sides of most issues, it would be inaccurate to say that my views are derived from one or the other. If my views independently fall into line with someone else’s, a better question to ask is not whether you are seeing a causal relationship, but whether the range of views is limited and people will independently work themselves into a limited number of philosophical positions.

    Furthermore, your general view of people and how they attain their beliefs seems to be a little dim, which bothers me. You imply that I am ignorant of Christian contributions to history and that Christians are diverse because they do not understand their own religion well enough. This sounds suspiciously like “Anyone who doesn’t agree with me is clearly ignorant.” But I’ll stick with “sounds suspiciously like” instead of making an out-and-out accusation, because I’m just talking about shades and implications in your comments there.

    Anyway, my own opinion is that any time a discussion falls back on regurgitation or bibliography, the participants are not prepared enough. (Don’t worry, I’ve done the same thing too many times myself, so I’m not trying to pound you or anything. 😉

    As for my “lack of attachment to the fetus,” I find it odd that anyone could be attached to “the fetus,” as “the fetus” is a noun representing an abstract class of things and not a tangible thing itself. Hence, “attachment to the fetus” would itself be borderline metaphysical (if not fully). In that sense, it is “the fetus” that is the belief or dogma, not the “attachment.” Most people are instead, I think, attached to particular fetuses–but even then, they are more attached to the imagined potential of those fetuses than they are to the flesh itself.

    Interestingly, abortion as a problem rose to prominence in the United States only relatively recently (about a hundred years ago). Before that, abortions were quite common and culturally accepted under some intriguingly oblique terminology like removing a “blockage” to menstruation–notice that “the fetus” is not present. By the mid- to late-19th century in the United States, something like 50% of pregnancies ended in abortion and there was little ruckus. The m

    Posted 13 Sep 2004 at 12:04 am
  23. Funky Dung wrote:

    Yes, it refers to the PC. I guess you never owned a Commodore Vic20 or 64. 😉

    Posted 10 Sep 2004 at 3:24 pm
  24. theomorph wrote:

    You can find theists all across the political spectrum. You can find atheists all across the political spectrum. Hence, political ideology is not derived from metaphysical ideology. Just look at what exists in the world and this popular notion that beliefs drive politics doesn’t play out. Instead I think people derive their political views from their personal circumstances and experiences, not from their metaphysics. Otherwise, people with the same theology should vote the same, but they don’t. Darn. So much for simple answers.
    . . . .
    I don’t accept any “natural precedent” for proscribing murder, except that I personally do not want to be killed, nor do I want the society in which I live and from which I benefit to be destabilized by people going around killing each other. I don’t think there is any kind of principle of “right” or “wrong” regarding murder that is clearly evident in “nature.” I.e., there is nothing intrinsically bad about the act of murder, but there are social ramifications; murder can only be “right” or “wrong” in a human social context.

    Furthermore, to say that every society with a metaphysical ilk has decided that murder is bad doesn’t say much. You are dealing in correlations and not causalities. One could just as easily say that humans living together are equally likely to develop metaphysics as they are to develop prohibitions of murder.

    Posted 12 Sep 2004 at 2:24 am
  25. theomorph wrote:

    You can rationalize the pro-life position from anywhere along the spectrum of religious ideology. That is just more proof that the causal relationship between our metaphysical beliefs and our political and social beliefs is imaginary at best.

    But if life begins at conception there is still the problem of nature aborting a whole lot of conceptions via miscarriage, often very early in the process. (A widely accepted rate of miscarriage is 15-20% of clinically detected pregnancies. See here for more statistics.) Life may begin, but when does humanity begin? Nature itself (or God himself, if you are a theist) does not seem to regard mere conception too highly.

    Personally, I think abortions, particularly late-term ones, are pretty darned gruesome. But they have historical precedent as far back as it goes and they’re here to stay. Furthermore, there is no definitive argument on their morality either way. (Don’t forget that if some atheists are pro-life, there are plenty of theists who are also pro-choice.) We might as well regulate them, instead of making abortion a criminal act.

    Posted 10 Sep 2004 at 8:49 pm

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  1. From Ales Rarus - A Rare Bird, A Strange Duck, One Funky Blog » Et Tu? on 14 Feb 2006 at 11:28 am

    […] I thought this relevant due to a lengthy thread about just this topic in the comments to another post of mine. […]

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