Tag Archives: Atheism

Abortion Wars

13 Jun

Let me start out by saying that I believe that Abortion should (with some carefully delineated exceptions) be legal. I do not believe that a fetus is human. For that matter, I am unconvinced that a newborn is human. However, I don’t think that I can prove either of these positions. Further, I am not persuaded that anyone else can either. Whenever the subject of abortion comes up on any of the several Blogs I read regularly, someone is bound to assert that Religion should not have anything to do with determining the limits or legality of abortion. Frankly, I find such assertions ridiculous on their face. What science actually knows about how the brain works is far from comprehensive, and what science knows about what makes each personality distinct can be inscribed on the head of a pin with a jackhammer. Since the core issue of abortion is when is a fetus a human being, and therefore when is it murder to terminate a pregnancy, any position is necessarily a matter of faith.

As matters stand, abortion is legal in all parts of the United States. But it is also under siege in almost all States, and its defenders appear to be unwilling to examine the motives and positions of their opponents with anything approaching honesty. Pro-abortion (or “Choice”) believers are far too prone to spin conspiracy theories about Religious Conservatives and their theoretical desire to “control women’s bodies”; they seem incapable to coming to grips with the simple proposition that anti-abortion (or “Pro-Life”) believers sincerely believe that all abortions are infanticide. One can, if one wants to make the effort, corner Pro-Abortion advocates into admitting that IF a fetus is human, and abortion is infanticide, then just about any action taken by Anti-Abortion advocates would be justified…but it makes no long-term impression. They either cannot or will not absorb the idea that their opponents might legitimately believe a different set of assumptions.

And this is why we are going to lose legal abortion in my lifetime.

Put bluntly: if the Anti-Abortion forces are right in their basic assumption about Abortion (that a fetus is human) then abortion is evil. At the same time, if the Pro-Abortion people are right in their basic assumption (that a fetus is not human), that has nothing to do with whether opposition to abortion is evil as opposed to simply mistaken. For opposition to abortion to be evil (which, frankly, is a position that the Pro-Abortion forces have taken) one has to assume that the Anti-Abortion forces are knowingly wrong about the humanity of a fetus and that they lie about their motives. There isn’t really a whole lot of evidence to support this view, and adopting it badly distorts Pro-Abortion strategy.

Because they (mostly) believe their own propaganda about Religious fanatics who want to control women, the Pro-Abortion faction is fighting bitterly to keep late-term abortions legal, and to stop the passage of parental notification laws. Both these positions are political poison.

No matter how well justified, late-term abortion looks like infanticide, will always look like infanticide, and tends to slide into infanticide, as the trial of Kermit Gosnell illustrates. By opposing legal limits of late-term abortions, Pro-Abortion advocates undermine their positions elsewhere.

Parental Notification is popular. Outside of the conspiracy fantasies of the Pro-Abortion extremists, the idea that a minor child should be able to undergo a significant medical procedure without parental approval or even knowledge is simply a non-starter. No amount of political ranting is going to convince any parent that a school nurse who isn’t authorized to give out aspirin without parental approval should have the authority to arrange an abortion for their daughter without telling them. I can, just barely, imagine a situation where getting a girl an abortion without telling her parents would be a good thing to do, but in each case I have managed to come up with a much better solution would be to get the girl made a ward of the court. In any case, situations that would actually justify not notifying parents to the satisfaction of the general public are very rare, and do not justify opposing parental notification laws because such laws are going to be passed and the cost of opposing them is the alienation of too many voters.

If it was simply the self-injury that the Pro-Abortion side does in public popularity by these positions, I might be able to shrug; most movements include a small but vociferous faction apparently bent on persuading the world that their cause is championed by a bunch of nuts. But the Pro-Abortion advocates are allowing their positions on these issues to drive them to take stances that are simply indefensible.

Kermit Gosnell is almost a caricature of the classic image of a back-alley illegal abortionist. Defending him may be simply a knee-jerk reaction based on never letting the Anti-Abortion position have a win, but jot makes the Pro-Abortion advocates look like they are far more interested in making sure minority babies die than in protecting the lives of minority women. Planned Parenthood has always been tainted by its founders dabbling eugenics, and this just smells like more of the same. If tolerating the existence of a pesthole like Gosnell’s clinic, and a butcher like Gosnell himself, is what is required to ‘allow minority women access to abortion’ then a major part of the point of legalizing abortion evaporates.

Similarly; attempts to evade existing parental notification laws are political disasters waiting to happen. Abortion is not a risk-free procedure. Sooner or later Pro-Abortion activists who try to help teens evade such laws are going to end up with the dead body of somebody else’s child on their hands. A child who – at least in the public mind – would not be dead if not for the interference of Pro-Abortion busybodies.

It is far too easy to forget that in any representative form of government, being right is not, politically speaking, enough. It is possible, even fairly common, to be right and still need to compromise. And if your actions show that a compromise with you cannot be trusted – by, say, you and yours cheerfully breaking laws that were legally arrived at – then your opponents have no reason to compromise with you.

The Pro-Abortion movement must learn to police its own, and to accept that its opponents have legal and moral rights. Or. It. Will. Fail.

Religions and Societies

30 Apr

Part of the ongoing Culture Wars (and there is always an ongoing Culture War, unless a society is stagnant) is the battle between Intellectual Atheism and Christianity. Naturally both sides are playing the victim card for all they are worth, and just as naturally a lot of the arguments on both sides are so much eyewash.

I was raised as a Protestant Christian, though I have agnostic tendencies. I have never really considered Atheism; I see too much Art in the world to be convinced that there is no Artist. I cannot, therefore, be an impartial judge. But I can make some observations.

Societies founded upon Protestant Christianity are, at least to me, clearly preferable to any of the present alternatives. Catholicism has a historical tendency to produce cultures where the vast majority of people are peasants, and conditions are such that they will stay peasants. Buddhism sounds very nice in theory, but Buddhist societies are also full of peasants, and the peasants in Buddhist societies tend to be treated like farm animals. Islam, at least at the moment, is dominated by violent mobs. Hindus, for reasons that I can’t get my mind around, tolerate the Caste system (*spit*).

Protestants created the first western societies where the spread of literacy was a social priority. They formed the first anti-slavery movement that was not, at base, a slave’s revolt. Theirs are the first societies to even pay lip service to the rights of women and minorities. I don’t know why this should be so, but it is plainly in evidence.

By contrast, Atheists, in the wake of the 20th Century, have a great deal of explaining to do. The U.S.S.R. was an Atheistical society, and so was Mao’s China. Both slaughtered people with an enthusiasm that would have at least startled the most bloodthirsty Spanish Inquisitor. It seems to me that by asserting the nonexistence of Gods, Atheistical societies remove a major check on the rapaciousness of the State, which promptly acts with the kind of calm restraint associated with a column of army ants. Communist (and therefore Atheist) societies murdered between 85 million and 100 million people in the Twentieth Century, according to THE BLACK BOOK OF COMMUNISM (Harvard Press). That is at least an order of magnitude worse than anything any other Religion had managed.

There are plenty of swine who call themselves Christians, the Westboro Baptist Church being a prime example. And Christian societies have a great deal to be ashamed of. But Protestant Christianity is still head and shoulders (and a good deal of the abdomen) above anything else available. Maybe Atheism can produce a nation sized society that doesn’t end up using mass slaughter as a tool of Statecraft, but I want to see it before I believe in it. The 20th Century, with its litany of (Communist) Stalin, (Communist) Mao, and other little tin-pot Communists too numerous and depressing to mention, has worn out any benefit of the doubt to which Atheism might once have been entitled.


5 Apr

Many of my opinions are affected by my beliefs about Atheists and Atheism, so I though I’d lay some groundwork;

1) Atheism is a religion, to the extent that the word can be usefully defined. It is based on a belief about God or Gods that is not subject to rational argument and which cannot be proven through logic.

2) Pretending that Atheism is not a religion does two things for Atheists. It allows them to impose on other religions restrictions which they escape, and it makes them feel morally superior to the rest of us slobs. The latter may safely be tolerated; it is, after all, an effect of nearly all religious belief, at least for some of the adherents. The former, however, should be opposed at all turns. “Separation of Church and State” (a phrase, BTW, that does not appear anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights) should not be made an excuse for forcing communities to pretend that they are communities of Atheists.

3) Atheists like to puff and blow about the viciousness of religions; the various “Holy” wars, the pogroms, persecutions, and inquisitions. The 20th Century saw several Atheistical States rise.  Most of them practiced mass murder as a tool of statecraft, and those mass deaths absolutely swamp anything done by any other religion in any comparable length of time, throughout human history.

As for myself? I was raised as a Protestant Christian, though I have agnostic leanings. What is an Agnostic? Somebody who isn’t sure of what he believes, and who declines to take the insecurity that engenders out on other people by proselytizing.