Friday, September 11, 2009

You Cannot Reason with a Pro-Choice Atheist

I recently had an email "dialog" (for lack of a better term) with Marie Castle, Communications Director for Atheists for Human Rights. It all started when I ran across a blog post of hers in which she denounces as "absolutely despicable" the fact that we pro-lifers "get so misty eyed over the abortion loss of an unfeeling, unthinking, partially formed fetus, yet dismiss the fully sentient woman as a self-centered airhead acting only out of 'convenience.'" She rambles on about how we're "tunnel visioned sadists" who care nothing about the poor, distraught women who only have perfectly sane and rational reasons for murdering their children.

One commenter noted the fact that women do have a choice, but that choice is made before impregnation. Put bluntly, women can decide whether or not sex is worth the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.

Not surprisingly, a respondent brought up the issue of rape, a favorite topic of the pro-aborts. He pointed out that in those situations women don't have a choice, so, "Who are you to decide what is right for everyone else?"

This is where I entered the conversation:
    Who is anyone to decide what is right for the life of the unborn baby? To skirt the issue Marie and other atheists prefer to use terms like "unfeeling, unthinking, partially formed fetus." I'm interested in knowing how someone with a purely naturalistic worldview accounts for things like "right" and "wrong." If we're all just a collection of atoms, who cares?
Shortly afterward I received the following email from Marie:
    Interfering with a woman's right to control her bodily processes is nothing more than extended rape. A rapist essentially is forcing a woman to bear a child against her will. Laws restricting or prohibiting abortion do the same thing. You may get all misty-eyed over the fate of a fetus, but it's none of your business. Absolutely none! Especially since you cannot, and would not take over the pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing for her. You're not better than the rapist who impregnates her and runs off.
There you have it. I'm a rapist because I want to see innocent life protected.

My response:
    My wife and I just adopted a child, and we are in the process of adopting two more. Please don't tell me that we don't care. Just because you wouldn't take on that responsibility doesn't mean someone else wouldn't. There is no such thing as an unwanted child. Our belief as Christians is that every human is created in the image of God, therefore we cannot justify destroying an innocent life because of another person's sin. What's interesting is that pro-aborts always fall back on the rape issue. However, you believe that a woman should be able to abort her child at any point during her pregnancy for any reason, so don't pretend that you're taking the moral high ground here. Which brings me back to my original comment: How do you account for morality? What is your basis for making any kind of moral judgment? If the fate of the fetus isn't my business, then I could argue that the mother's fate is of no concern of yours. You don't believe in a moral Law-Giver, so how can one collection of atoms be deemed any more important than another?
The "moral" atheist responded:
    The only valid consideration of what is moral or immoral is harm-based. Does an action unnecessarily harm someone? If it does we consider it immoral. We learn not to harm others because we don't want to be harmed. Consequences matter. However, most people behave fairly well toward one another because they have human feelings. Most people just don't WANT to hurt others, and that includes atheists and theists. It doesn't take a god belief to understand this. If a woman aborts a fetus, what harm factors are involved? The fetus never knows whether it is or is not being harmed, while the harm to the woman in continuing the pregnancy can be severe. It is real, measurable, observable harm, while the harm to the fetus exists only in the minds of people who think a woman has a moral obligation to continue a pregnancy no matter the cost to her. Why does every pregnancy have to be carried through? If a woman has, say, two children during her lifetime, does it matter which of her 100,000 eggs make it to birth? Nature aborts fetuses by the thousands. Almost all abortions are done during the first trimester, when there is really nothing there you could call a person. (And no, despite what the pope thinks, there is no such thing as a single-celled person.) So-called "late-term" abortions are done at the boundary of the second and third trimesters, and ALWAYS and ONLY for very serious medical reasons. I used to describe to people like you the serious emotional and physical stresses a woman goes through in a pregnancy, especially one more difficult than normal, but gave it up when it was obvious people like you don't give a damn. To people like you, no matter how much a woman may suffer or even die, it matters not, she is there to do it. Women are treated as though they are mere childbearing vessels, and a disposable one at that. A former anti-abortion (read: misogynist) legislator here had a sign over his desk: "Women weren't meant to be free; they were meant to have babies." He, like you, seemed to think women in their reproductive capacity are a public utility needing government regulation. Here's someone who agrees with you: Adolph Hitler, in "Mein Kampf," wrote, "When I come to power I will put to rest the ridiculous notion that women have a right to control their own bodies." You misogynists are all alike. You get all blubbery about fetuses, but don't give a damn about real, live, totally sentient women. I suspect the truth is not at all your concern for fetuses, but your outrage that women should have any power over reproductive matters. You whine about "abortion on demand," yet throughout history what we have had is childbirth on demand -- MALE demand! Women had no say in the matter until recently, and even now only in more advanced societies. You've lost that and want that total control back. It won't happen. And yes, I am sure you do care about the children you adopted, but you don't give a rat's patoot for the women who bore them. You may thank them (perhaps as you would a loyal slave) but you are willing to legally force all women with unwanted pregnancies to suffer the trauma of giving up a child for adoption that nature has bonded them to over nine months. How very moral of you!
Really, how does one respond to that? I gave it a shot:
    Insults, coarse language, ad hominems, and straw men are what I have come to expect in these kinds of conversations, so excuse me if I don't waste my time refuting your ridiculous Hitler argument. (Besides, you probably think that since I'm not Jewish, I have no right to condemn Hitler's killing of Jews.) Let me deal with a couple of points. First of all, my wife and I have been through two failed pregnancies. We are well aware of the emotional and physical stresses. Secondly, being pro-life has nothing to do with a desire to tell women what to do. You don't callously disregard the opinions of men who agree with your position on killing unborn women, so why write off those who disagree with you as misogynists? Pro-life women have traditionally outnumbered pro-life men, especially those who actively work within pro-life organizations. What does that tell you? Finally, you have still failed to account for your ability to make a moral judgment. Your "harm-based" morality is just a reinterpretation of Luke 6:31: "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." You say that consequences matter, but on this side of the grave not all actions deemed "harmful" (a term you fail to define) result in negative consequences. Suppose there are two families living in a remote forest, and one family decides to kill the other. Based on the pragmatic "morality" of atheism, one could argue that without the extra mouths to feed, food in the forest would be more plentiful for the one family remaining. By your reasoning, what's "moral" depends upon the consequences being negative or positive. In the Christian worldview, murder is wrong because the ultimate Law-Giver says it is wrong, regardless of the consequences. But I doubt you even hold to your own definition of morality. You justify abortion because "the fetus never knows whether it is or is not being harmed" (even though the abortionist DOES know). Let me get this straight: Harm is only considered harm when the one being harmed doesn't know he or she is being harmed. Would you apply that same twisted logic to people in comas? The mentally disabled? What about those who are merely asleep? You can begin to see the kind of slippery slope upon which you are perched. Since you have thus far made no distinction between the different developmental stages during gestation, I can only assume that you consider an unborn baby to be a non-sentient blob even in the final months of pregnancy. So, when does a fetus become a viable, sentient human being? Certainly not at birth. No newborn is able to survive on its own outside the womb. It is unable to reason, and it requires constant care and feeding or it will die. Not to be facetious, but some parents might argue that their babies aren't able to survive on their own until about age 21 or so. Here's a question for you: Can a moral argument (however you want to define "moral") be made for the abortion of a "fetus" in its post-natal stage? If you have anything further to add, feel free to comment on my blog where our little conversation is posted.
Will she or won't she? We'll see.

UPDATE: You Cannot Reason with a Pro-Choice Atheist (Continued)

9 comments:

Makarios said...

Two of our seven adopted children came about as a result of rape. They are all awesome kids who I hope will be used by God to bring about positive change in the world.

I've read that on average only 1 in 17,000 rapes results in conception, yet it's been used as an excuse for promoting tens of millions of pre born children being murdered - Which, I wonder is the greater crime?

The Blainemonster said...

Makarios is right about the stats concerning rape and subsequent conceptions. Truly a straw man argument for abortionists.

Lee, I'm looking forward to more of this dialogue . . . I'd like to see Ms. Castle answer your questions.

The Pharisee said...

It would seem Jim Pouillion and Mike Fouss couldn't reason with one either.

Both are dead.

Mr Paroxysm said...

If I put a child up for adoption it may get raised Christian. I couldn't risk that.

The Pharisee said...

You realize that's all about YOU not all about the child?

If you're proposing the child will be subjected to the environmental influence of Christianity, and be raised Christian, who bent you to be what you are?

Isn't it better to twist the child that lives, than to kill the child that might be twisted?

There might be hope of recovery in the latter case.

It sounds like you're simply trying to stack the polls in a plebiscite.

Mr Paroxysm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr Paroxysm said...

Or I'm trolling. Welcome to the internet.

The abortion issue isn't reconcilable. We've all had our say and there isn't a middle ground. Each camp draws where life begins at different points and there isn't anything change that so we end up arguing about totally different things. And unless you're totally anti all forms of contraception(then you fall into a whole other area of debate) you are as arbitrary in your definition as you claim those you argue against to be.

Anonymous said...

It's a chicken hoot on an afternoon garage! Get thee to the wombat, mister, time's a-flappin'!

Samuel Skinner said...

"I'm interested in knowing how someone with a purely naturalistic worldview accounts for things like "right" and "wrong." If we're all just a collection of atoms, who cares?"

Raises hand. I care. Under naturalism, right and wrong are decided by people to try to achieve the best results for people.

I'm curious how believing in the supernatural makes things different. Things are good... because they are good? That isn't really helpful for figuring out what the right thing to do is.

"Our belief as Christians is that every human is created in the image of God, therefore we cannot justify destroying an innocent life because of another person's sin."

The second part of your argument does not follow from the first. Humans are created in the image of God... but that has nothing to do with the value of human life.

"Secondly, being pro-life has nothing to do with a desire to tell women what to do. "

Actually (in the US at least) it does. Pro-choice individuals are assocatied with the same individuals against providing benefits to mothers that would increase the health of the fetus.

"Based on the pragmatic "morality" of atheism, one could argue that without the extra mouths to feed, food in the forest would be more plentiful for the one family remaining. "

Er, the consequence is that people are dead. Consequences include that.

"In the Christian worldview, murder is wrong because the ultimate Law-Giver says it is wrong, regardless of the consequences."

Murder is defined as unlawful killing with malice aforthought. Which means the state, and not God, is deciding what is moral as they decide what killings are lawful. Care to give a definition not set by lawmakers?

" Would you apply that same twisted logic to people in comas? The mentally disabled? What about those who are merely asleep? You can begin to see the kind of slippery slope upon which you are perched."

Yes (if permanent), no, no. The lack of ability to suffer is innate to a fetus because it doesn't have a developed brain. By contrast the sleeping and mentally disabled do. Coma patients depend. Some of them no longer have a functioning brain and some do.

"Each camp draws where life begins at different points "

Sperm and eggs are alive. Life is irrelevant to this debate.

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