Abortion: An Atheist’s Take (Part II)
Part Two, The Value of a Human Life:
Pretend for a moment that you are sitting at some diner and a stranger randomly sits down at your table. He’s one of those muscle-bound guys that’s about 6’4”, 280 pounds, with tons of tattoos. For no reason you can determine, he starts talking to you about the fact that he just got parole after doing 15 years in jail for raping a small child.
“Why are you telling me all this?” You reasonably ask.
He laughs, and explains that he spent all day trying to find you because he wanted to see the look on your face when he tells you that he’s done it again, only this time it’s your four-year-old daughter. Being a psycho, he’d decided to find you so he could laugh as he told you the story.
He’s far more powerful than you are, and you have no chance of restraining him. You will call the cops, but by the time they get there he’s going to be long gone. He’s laughing at you now, entertained by the shock and pure rage on your face.
“Hey… You had two kids didn’t you?” He asks “You know where the other one is? Cuz I do…”
With that, he gets up and jaunts toward the door, a belly-laugh echoing through the diner. Just as his hand reaches for the handle you remember the pistol that the cook keeps under the till. You run for it, push the waitress aside, and are elated to find that it is loaded and the safety is off.
Now, explain to me again how all life is sacred and must be protected.
Like all supposedly black-and-white statements, the idea that ‘all life is sacred’ is crap and should never be used in discussing abortion. The truth is, there are thousands of reasons that would drive any good, Pro-Life Christian to commit murder with a clear conscience. What they really mean to say is “We consider innocent life to be sacred”, and that’s a whole different kettle of fish.
As an atheist, the idea of an inherent value to life (or anything) has to be determined by rational thought and cause-and-effect, not by Holy dictates. There’s no fantasy of a God who judges you or a Jesus that wants to protect the ‘innocent, unborn child’. But that’s not to say that all atheists discount the idea that a gestating embryo has worth. In fact, many who are atheist do side with the Pro-Life side. It all depends on how you interpret the cause-and-effect, and therefore how you view the worth of a fetus. Here are the rational arguments that an atheist must weigh:
- Whether or not a fetus is a human life does not matter. What’s really being debated is: “Is it OK to stop a process that will otherwise result in a new, independent human life?” It’s like putting all the ingredients into a bread-maker and trying to decide if you should turn it off before it’s done. You’re not trying to decide what the dough is, you’re trying to decide whether or not you want bread. Same with a pregnancy: You have to set aside all the arguments about personal freedoms or moral values and face the question for what it really is: Do I want a child? Any other argument is, IMHO, dishonest.
- “Yes” and “No” are both perfectly good answers. People make decisions based on their circumstance. A teenage mom who opts for an abortion can readily become a crusading Pro-Lifer in her mid-30’s, just as a Christian outreach minister can change their view when faced with the desperation, sadness, and misery that the streets offer. For the most part, though, I find that society celebrates the “yes” and demonizes the “no”. Those that want to be parents are considered loving and giving, while those who don’t are thought of a selfish and narrow. It’s this social stigma that I think causes most of our problems with abortion. Those that don’t want kids are looking for any excuse not to be the villain, while those opposed to abortion have to pretend that they care deeply for a child that, were it born, they’d want nothing to do with. Rationally, though, the answer to procreation has to be personal and situational. Which brings me to thought #3:
- Despite the Christian imperative, neither answer is permanent. While that specific child with those specific genes will never come to fruition, the parent will always have the chance to come back later and have a kid if they choose to (and often do). That may not be the strongest argument for those what feel the unborn child is divinely graced, but it is a rational argument.
Ok, I’m going to stop there for now. I know that I never read really long blog posts, so I always assume that no one else will either. Part III of the abortion stuff will be up in plenty of time for my October 31 deadline.
And please… feel free to comment. I would never post about abortion and not expect to be lambasted, so scathing responses are expected and encouraged. As long as they’re pertinent, they will be up on the site. [Note that Spell-Checker doesn’t catch most of the things Christian commenters are going to call me. Please do a manual check before posting. It just doesn’t sound as good if you’re calling me a ‘lucking whit head’.]
Written by Wm. Hopper,
author of “The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions”
Not for Sheep
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