Anti-Choicers’ Misfire on the Fertility Clinic Hypothetical: a Response (2 of 2)

Ice!

The fertility clinic problem is this: if a fertility clinic were on fire and you could save either a five-year-old child or a canister with a thousand human embryos, which would you save?

In part 1, I looked at the anti-choice responses by Matt Walsh, Ben Shapiro, and Greg Koukl. They largely accepted the point of the argument, that we’d all save the child over the embryos, but then rambled on down many tangents, oblivious to the fact that the case was closed. “An embryo is a child” is the foundational moral claim for many in the anti-choice community, and by admitting that one child is more important than many embryos, they showed that claim to be false.

Let’s wrap up our look at the points made in these anti-choice arguments.

Unfair! It’s an emotional argument.

One objection was to reject this as an emotional argument. Koukl complained, “The dilemma simply forces us to make a choice in a no-win situation. It doesn’t draw out buried intuitions that show our real values; it draws out our emotions in a forced choice.”

Koukl calls this a “dilemma” and a “no-win situation,” but there’s no dilemma here. The choice is obvious.

He’s also wrong about emotional arguments being unfair. This is basically the Portman Effect, named after Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who turned against his party in 2013 to support same-sex marriage. What caused the turnaround was his son coming out as gay. You’d think that people would be good at hypotheticals like, “Gee—what if my son were gay? Would I still oppose same-sex marriage?” But for some reason, having it happen for real puts things in a new focus.

And so it is with abortion. It’s one thing to stroke one’s chin thoughtfully and harrumph that an embryo is a child, but it’s another to be told, “Child or embryos—choose now!”

(And don’t get me started about men weighing in on a matter that can never affect them personally.)

It’s absurd hearing a Christian complain about the unfairness of emotional arguments in support of abortion when anti-choice advocates torment women needing an abortion with posters showing an aborted fetus, the height of emotional manipulation.

More hypotheticals

Shapiro complains that a dangerous fire needing a quick choice has no parallel with the question of whether to have an abortion. “No such hard choice exists in 99.99 percent of abortion cases.” That’s true, but that’s the nature of hypotheticals like this. They’re designed to flush out one’s real attitudes, which are often a surprise to the opinion holders themselves.

Anyway, the complaint is misguided since the hypothetical has done its work by exposing “embryo = child” as false.

Each author is eager to provide his own hypotheticals to replace the original series of tweets from Tomlinson. Shapiro’s contribution: Imagine now that those thousand embryos are required to save humanity. “Do you save the five-year-old and doom the human species to extinction, or do you save the embryos? . . . .  Does that mean the five-year-old is no longer a human being?”

And another: “You can save the box of embryos or you can save the life of a woman who will die of cancer tomorrow. Which one do you save? If you choose the embryos, is the cancer-ridden woman therefore of no moral value?”

Where did “no moral value” enter the discussion? Ditto for the five-year-old no longer being a human being. The point is that Shapiro has agreed that the child is more significant than an embryo, which destroys the capstone of his moral high ground. This admission has exposed an enormous hole in the anti-choice argument. Even if the boys never personally argued “embryo = child,” they must know that it’s central to the anti-choice position. I’m amazed that they don’t confront this directly. Maybe because they can’t.

 


See also: The Limits of Open Mindedness in Debates on Same-Sex Marriage and Abortion


 

Cluelessness

I can’t leave without highlighting some unrepentant, world class cluelessness. Walsh pounds the virtual table, proclaiming that silly hypotheticals are the tools of a coward. He says, “You don’t seem willing to put all of your fantasy scenarios aside and just deal with what abortion is 99% of the time: the willful choice by a healthy woman to kill a healthy unborn child because the child is inconvenient.”

Inconvenient? Is that your final answer? Have you ever used this argument with a real woman seeking an abortion? Have you told her that her pregnancy is merely an inconvenience? Share with us how she replied.

Consider this example. Suppose a 15-year-old girl got pregnant in large part because the sex ed in her public school focused on abstinence, so she didn’t really know how to prevent pregnancy, and because no contraception was available. She had dreamed of college and a career as a teacher or maybe a doctor, but that’s all in jeopardy now because to take the fetus to term means a life as a mother. And don’t say that there’s always adoption since less than one percent of never-married women relinquish their newborns for adoption.

Convenience isn’t the issue when the girl’s entire life is in the balance. What an idiot.

Spectrum argument

Much of these anti-choice rebuttals were shadow boxing against nonexistent arguments, outraged that the fertility clinic hypothetical didn’t do a better job making arguments it never intended to make.

Let me summarize how this fits into an effective pro-choice argument. Personhood is a spectrum, and the newborn is a person while the single cell isn’t. During the development process, the fetus increasingly becomes a person.

The anti-choice response had been to say that the embryo is 100% a person. In response, you can point at the enormous gulf separating the single cell from the newborn, far more than what separates a newborn from an adult, but evidence and reason can’t move a person away from an argument that they didn’t use evidence and reason to reach. I know—I’ve tried.

But the conclusion of the fertility clinic hypothetical changes that. With it, they admit that the embryo isn’t a person.

The spectrum argument doesn’t conclude that abortion should always (or ever) be moral. You could still conclude that the single cell, though not a person, still must be protected, but you’ve got to make that argument. No longer can they fall back on, “Well, you wouldn’t kill a newborn, would you? The single cell is the moral equivalent.”

The increasing personhood of the fetus during gestation is the foundation of any argument for abortion, and this hypothetical clears the way.

Ever notice that in fantasy roleplaying games
the admittedly fictional gods answer prayers
much better than the so-called real gods?
Bob Jase

Image credit: Wilhelm Joys Andersen, flickr, CC

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    The dilemma simply forces us to make a choice in a no-win situation

    No, it forces YOU into a no-win situation. Only because you don’t have the courage of your convictions.

    I have absolutely no ambiguity on the situation at all. I grab the kid and get out, and I’d call that a win.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    You’d think that people would be good at hypotheticals like, “Gee—what if my
    son were gay? Would I still oppose same-sex marriage?” But for some
    reason, having it happen for real puts things in a new focus.

    Especially for a politician, whose job is literally to represent other people. Empathy ought to be part of the job requirement.

  • Sonyaj

    Another hypothetical I came up with is, if these fetus-fetishists could be transported back in time, with the knowledge of current events as they’ve happened, what would they choose in this situation:
    Going with the last available statistics on elective abortion (2013, total of 664,465), that gives us an average of 1,866 procedures performed per day.

    Let’s take them back to Saturday, September 30, 2017. They have a choice: they can either stop Stephen Paddock from going on his shooting spree and killing 58 people the next day, OR they can prevent all abortions from happening for the rest of the year. That would mean they could prevent 171,672 abortions for the remaining 92 days of 2017.

    Which will it be, forced-birthers? I mean, 171,672 is a LOT more “lives saved” than 58, or 1 kid vs. 1000 embryos, even. If you pick the 58 Las Vegas concert goers – which should be a no-brainer – you’ve admitted that existing human beings have more value than a potential life in the form of any embryo, and you lose your argument. If you chose the former, you are indeed living your principles, and you also don’t deserve to be in any type of civilized society – you are a monster. And, you would get to explain to all the family, friends and everyone else why you felt those embryos had more value than the victims of the shooting. What about saving these 58 people, vs. stopping all abortions for the next 10 years?

    Of course, if god is so powerful and omnipotent, why doesn’t it stop all the unwanted pregnancies AND the shootings? More questions that just never get answered by this crowd of ignorant hypocrites.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      That’s a good variant on the problem.

      • Sonyaj

        It’s a way to use real numbers and actual events for the thought experiment, which is why I like it.

        Of course, the entire abortion issue doesn’t even touch on the fact that there ceases to be an interest in the fetus once it enters the world as a newborn and has obtained personhood. These same people just aren’t interested in it after that. Or the moral issue of trying to feed/house/educate millions of those forced-birth children that weren’t wanted in a world that is already over-populated by humans to begin with.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I keep thinking that pointed arguments will have an effect. And I keep being disappointed.

          If they want to hold a position for no defensible reason, I’d appreciate the consideration of their just saying so. Never seems to work that way, though.

        • Sonyaj

          Same here. What’s even more shocking to me is those “my abortion is the only moral one” type of women that protest outside of PP clinics, find themselves knocked up, and have the audacity to go into the same PP clinic to terminate it…and then go right back to protesting with their signs.

          I mean, if these hypocrites don’t seem to get it, there’s almost no hope of it happening with the half of the population that can’t get pregnant!

          The best we can all do is vote to make sure the bible-thumpers don’t ever get to put (white christian men and some women) into office where they could impact abortion laws. We are getting frighteningly close to that now, and I hope it shakes some people out of their complacency.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Pointed arguments are useless against pointed heads.

    • lady_black

      I would save the people in Las Vegas. Why? Because they have a mind, sentience. Embryos have neither.

  • MadScientist1023

    “(And don’t get me started about men weighing in on a matter that can never affect them personally.)”

    Did anyone else roll their eyes at this one, considering it was written by a man? If men aren’t allowed an opinion on this, Bob, why are you even making this post?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      My opinion is: let women decide.

      See the difference?

    • lady_black

      Men are allowed opinions. What they aren’t allowed is their opinions to be forced upon anyone else. When a man is pregnant, he gets 100% of the say over what becomes of it. Until then, he gets the say she allows him to have.

  • Ctharrot

    The spectrum argument (although not called that) has been around for centuries in Christendom. Back in the day, depending on where and when you were, you might hear that “ensoulment” occurred at conception, or at 40 days, or 80 days, or at birth, or anywhere in between.

    At the time of the Founding, in the late 1700s, it was no crime at all under the Anglo-American common law to terminate a pregnancy anytime prior to “quickening”–the point at which the mother could feel movement (typically in the 15-20 week range).

    • frishy

      Never had a good answer to the question “why and how did the soul evolve?”

      • Joe

        Or at the very least “at what stage in our development did it decide to hitch a ride on this particular species of ape”?

  • frishy

    “as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage” (‘abortion’ is natural would be my conclusion!).

  • guadalupelavaca

    The problem with your premise is using a baby.
    We are instinctually programmed to save living babies. Try this…save 1000 embryos or one old man.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      That’s an interesting question, but what’s your point? What does that change? Pro-lifers have (largely) still agreed, with this hypothetical example, that embryos aren’t children.

      • guadalupelavaca

        My point is that in these hypos we are forced to choose one human being over another. If I choose a baby over an old man…or over 1000 old men…it doesn’t mean the old men are not human. If I choose a young child over embryos that alone doesn’t say the embryos are not human.

        • eric

          Okay, let’s get rid of the forced choice of “one human being over another” as you put it. Let’s say the clinic is burning and your choice is between preventing the canister from burning or preventing a trapped Labrador retriever (say, one of the clinician’s pet that – in a terribly unfortunate choice – they happened to bring to work that day) from burning. I’d save the dog over the canister. How about you?

        • guadalupelavaca

          Canister.

        • lady_black

          OK. NOW WHAT? You have rescued them. They are STILL not rescued. Are you going to carry them to term yourself? Can you compel other women to carry them? No, you cannot. So, let’s review. You have allowed a sentient creature with a mind die in a fire. And you have “rescued” 1000 blastocysts that have no future anyway.

        • BlackMamba44

          Wow.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Are you making this hard on purpose? When most pro-life Christians pick the child over 1000 embryos, they’re admitting that “an embryo is a child” is false. That’s it. End of story.

        • guadalupelavaca

          Disagree. They are choosing one human being over another.

        • lady_black

          No. They are choosing one human being over 1000 blastocysts. Let’s be clear about that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          They are choosing one living thing over another. I guess that means that “living” isn’t the criteria they’re using to decide.

          Ditto “human being” (however you want to define that).

          Here’s another challenge for you. Like the fertility clinic challenge, pro-lifers often tap dance away from it. Let’s see how you do. I say that a newborn is a person and the single cell that it started at 9 months prior is not. I imagine you disagree–you’ll say that they’re both persons. OK. Parsing definitions is one of the most boring things for me (though pro-lifers seem to love it for some reason), so I won’t argue with you. But clarify for me what word you would use. That is, fill in the blank: “A newborn is a ___ [noun], while the single cell isn’t.”

          English has loads of words expressing subtle distinctions after birth: newborn, baby, child, one-year-old, toddler, and so on. Surely you can find a word that expresses the far vaster difference between single cell and trillion-cell newborn.

        • guadalupelavaca

          I am Catholic and of course pro life. A new born is a human baby. A single cell is a single cell human being. But I recognise the difference. Aborting a single cell is not as offensive as aborting a fetus that has the features of a developed human.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Are you just pro-life for yourself, or do you want to impose that view on the rest of society by law?

          So we agree that there’s a spectrum here? That a first-trimester abortion is better than a third-trimester one?

          I’m still looking for the word to fill in the blank. This is a trivial exercise for me: “person” fits nicely. Surely you can find a word. The difference is enormous.

        • guadalupelavaca

          Yes. The fill in the blank is a person. Once a baby is born it is legally a child.

          My views on abortion is this: it is morally wrong. However I don’t want it to be a criminal offense. I want legalized abortion. If a girl has an abortion that is between her and God. I don’t want to return to back ally abortions.

        • Otto

          I can respect that view. I also think most pro-choice people like myself would like to lessen the amount of abortions through non-coercive means. If we could get more people on board with your sensible view and mine we would have a decent chance of working together to try and solve this issue. Kudos

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s an important point. It’s baffling that pro-lifers (with the possible exception of those like guada) focus on stopping abortion when they’d have much better success if they focused on reducing unwanted pregnancies. By doing so, they could reduce abortions by 90%.

          https://valerietarico.com/2015/09/11/if-the-anti-abortion-frenzy-were-actually-about-abortion-what-a-serious-anti-abortion-movement-would-actually-look-like/

        • Otto

          Well speaking from the Catholic teaching they can’t promote contraception because they believe that sex outside of marriage leads to the breakdown of the family. They won’t really admit it publicly but part of the issue is unapproved sex. They know saying that out loud will lose them allies so they frame all of this in vagaries and bullshit…like the idea that contraceptive use leads to more abortions.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Hmm. I’m starting to think that religion may be part of the problem.

        • Otto

          You know…I think you might be right…

        • eric

          Yet Catholics promote the concepts of confession, forgiveness, and penance, right?

          I don’t really see a big distinction between “don’t sin…but if you do, use confession and penance to make the situation better” and “don’t sin…but if you do, wear a condom to make the situation better.” In both cases, the church would be taking a pragmatic and realistic approach to sin. Yet in the case of sex (of all sins, possibly one of the ones they know people are least likely to forego!), they throw out the pragmatism altogether. It makes no sense to me.

        • Otto

          They couldn’t do that because if they say …’don’t sin but if you do…’ it would be like giving at least some prior ok to sinning. Penance and confession are things you do after the fact. Buying and using a condom is something you do before you ‘sin’, that would put the intent to sin before the act. The Catholic church cares nothing for pragmatism…they are idealists.

        • Kodie

          Their practical approach to sin is to expect it and funnel all the outcomes to their adoption agencies. They know everyone’s gonna do it, they say it’s naughty, don’t tell the teenagers in school about sex, they’ll never figure it out if you don’t tell them, they say they’re not paying for women to screw, they say that’s her punishment if she can’t afford to raise a child, she should have gone back in time and made a different decision but keep those baby hands off my tax dollars.

          They don’t want to prevent any pregnancies, and the don’t want women to be able to afford to keep their offspring. Abortion makes the most sense, but of course that’s “murder”, so you have to give them all your babies.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s a refreshingly honest response.

          If you want to be personally against abortion and argue this in the public square, that’s fine. I’m so used to pro-lifers demanding to impose their views on others by law that I’m not used to your position.

          I don’t want to return to back ally abortions.

          Remember the Kermit Gosnell case? Pro-lifers jumped on this as evidence that abortion was terrible, not realizing (as you apparently do) that Kermit Gosnell abortions was the future that they were pushing for.

        • guadalupelavaca

          Abortion and religion is not debated here in southern California much. In fact abortion was legal in California before for roe v wade. Signed into law by then gov. Ronald Reagan. I feel sorry for many on this site who live in places where religion has become a problem. Maybe that’s why southern California is so over crowded.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s interesting. I think of LA as being an important area for Christian fundamentalism–Greg Koukl, J. Warner Wallace, Biola University, Wm. Lane Craig, and so on. I realize that you’re Catholic, so maybe that fundamentalist stuff doesn’t matter much to you.

        • guadalupelavaca

          We have evangelists here. It’s just that they don’t dominate. More Catholics and main line protestants.

        • Chuck Johnson

          My views on abortion is this: it is morally wrong.-Guadalupe

          But you don’t mention the situations where not doing an abortion is morally wrong.

        • guadalupelavaca

          I would say that if the fetus posed a threat to the life of the mother it would be permitted.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Not just permitted, but morally imperative, especially if we don’t even have a fetus yet.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_development

    • Joe

      We are instinctually programmed to save living babies.

      You say this like it isn’t significant in coming to an answer. There’s often (but not always) a good reason for our instinctive behavior. We have the instinct (“programming”) to save people from the fire, after all?

      Try this…save 1000 embryos or one old man.

      The old man.

      • guadalupelavaca

        Logical. The old man is a fully developed human being. But it doesn’t mean the embryos are not human beings.

        A ship is sinking. Not enough life boats. Who goes first? Children first. Are you saying the adults are not human?

        • Joe

          But it doesn’t mean the embryos are not human beings.

          It does, if you think about it. A thousand of them doesn’t equate to one elderly man. A million wouldn’t. So they are obviously lacking some worth compared to this actual human being.

          A ship is sinking. Not enough life boats. Who goes first? Children first. Are you saying the adults are not human?

          Children first. You’re correct in this sense. The original argument does beg the question that people are on board with the philosophy and science behind personhood. However, this doesn’t explain why people have difficulty even giving an answer.

          What’s your answer?

        • guadalupelavaca

          Look…we have a hypo where we have to choose one human life over another. A younger life is above an older life. A fully developed human being is above a 90% human being. The point is that doesn’t prove the embryos are not human beings.

        • Joe

          90%?

          You never gave your answer.

        • guadalupelavaca

          My personal answer is irrelevant. The point is that whichever I choose doesn’t make the other one a non human…which is what you are arguing.

        • Joe

          My personal answer is irrelevant.

          It’s the entire point of the article.

          If you won’t be honest when I’ve been kind enough to answer your hypotheticals, then there’s no point continuing this conversation.

        • lady_black

          There IS no “90%.” Either it’s a human being, or it isn’t. Blastocysts fail every test for human being, except for having H. sapiens DNA. They are not PERSONS. And I would save the person, every time.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You have to choose between saving a dog and saving a slug.

          You picked the dog? What are you saying–that the slug isn’t alive??

          You’ll (correctly) say that “alive” isn’t the criterion for deciding who gets saved in the dog vs. slug case. Similarly, “human” isn’t the criterion in the child vs. embryo case. Sure, they both have Homo sapiens DNA. Big deal–cancer has Homo sapiens DNA. Clearly, people see something else than just the kind of DNA when they choose the child over the embryos.

        • guadalupelavaca

          I would of course pick the dog over the slug.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, me too. But you haven’t responded to the majority of that comment. You have nothing else to say in response?

        • guadalupelavaca

          I will reply but what is the question?

        • lady_black

          They are NOT human beings. They are human tissue.

    • lady_black

      I would save the old man.

      • guadalupelavaca

        And i have no doubt that you would.

    • BlackMamba44

      I’d save the old man. He is sentient.

  • Joe

    Each author is eager to provide his own hypotheticals to replace the original series of tweets from Tomlinson.

    Which I’m happy to answer. Throw any hypothetical at me and I’ll honestly give it my best shot (as long as it’s logically coherent). I just ask them to return the damn favour and answer the original question!

    I tried this in the original thread but only a handful would reciprocate. They just used the excuses Bob outlines above.

  • Anthrotheist

    I will take the notion of ‘personhood at conception’ more seriously as soon as the notion’s proponents take it seriously. Obviously abortion is an issue raised by defining personhood at conception, but it is very far from the only issue, and I have yet to see any pushes for legislation or judicial consideration of anything on this (incomplete) list:

    Conception certificates (helpful in applying for a social security number for your zygote)
    Age determined from first personhood: birthdays may be fun, but legally a person’s age would be from conception, meaning that every living citizen would need their age retroactively refigured; also, Hallmark needs to get busy with their line of “Happy Conception Day” cards
    Amending the 14th amendment: to ensure the purpose of the 14th amendment, the constitution would have to include all persons conceived in the U.S.
    Natural miscarriage: Probably the biggest unaddressed issue, ranging from improper disposal of human remains, to wrongful death investigation. Most of all, though, where is their push to research a cure for miscarriages? By their understanding it kills more people than literally any other single cause of death.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      What, you mean everybody doesn’t celebrate their Conception Day? ;

      • Anthrotheist

        I don’t know for sure, of course. But I am pretty confident that if there are things that ‘everybody does not do’, celebrating the day your parents coitus-ed you into the world is on the list. :-)

    • lady_black

      There is usually no “cure” for miscarriages. And you wouldn’t want there to be. If a problem related to the woman’s response to pregnancy can be identified (such as low progesterone production, common in PCOS), then it can sometimes be hormonally mediated. I suspected that was why my sister was miscarrying, and it turned out that I was correct. She was prescribed progesterone vaginal suppositories and managed to carry a pregnancy to term after a threatened abortion.
      If the reason the pregnancy fails is for embryonic deficiencies, that cannot be fixed, and it shouldn’t even be attempted. The embryo ceases to develop, and dies because something incompatible with life is going on.
      There is also something called an incompetent cervix, where the cervix fails to remain closed. That usually causes later failures of pregnancy, and there is little that can be done for that. They used to stitch it closed, but the stitches would tear. Once the cervix has opened, infection is a risk to the mother’s life and the uterus should be evacuated in a timely manner. This condition should lead to permanent sterilization, IMHO, to avoid future risk. It doesn’t get better with time. Time to look for a surrogate or adopt.

      • Anthrotheist

        Personally, I certainly wouldn’t advocate for trying to “cure” something like miscarriage, for all the reasons that you provide (many of which I wasn’t aware of; thank you for enlightening me). I’m mostly trying to point out how 1) nobody who is advocating the notion that personhood starts at conception actually acts like they believe that outside of arguing against abortion, and 2) how the notion of personhood at conception is so utterly nonsensical for so many reasons — traditional, conceptual, and practical.

    • Joe

      I’d go further and allow child support the moment a positive pregnancy test is provided. Right Wingers would have a fit.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Obviously abortion is an issue raised by defining personhood at conception, but it is very far from the only issue, and I have yet to see any pushes for legislation or judicial consideration of anything on this (incomplete) list:

      Conception certificates (helpful in applying for a social security number for your zygote)

      Video. We need video of the conception.

      • TheNuszAbides

        immaculate until proven carnal!

  • sandy

    Not sure how these pro lifers think or how it works. Aren’t they against abortions (killings fetuses) but most of them all for capital punishment? Doesn’t make much sense.

    • PhiloKGB

      I’m not convinced this is a great argument. It’s possible that a person can have a logically consistent reason to deny life — for example, that a person has the right to live unless they commit an act sufficiently heinous that they forfeit their right to continue to live. They could then, without contradiction, state that a fetus has not committed such an act.

      • lady_black

        Neither a fetus, nor a criminal is entitled to any organ or tissue belonging to another.

        • PhiloKGB

          Indeed. I happen to think this is the most defensible pro-choice argument. It doesn’t depend on a difficult philosophical definition, for one. I happen to consider birth the most reasonable beginning to personhood, but I don’t think I can make a case for objectivity.

        • lady_black

          I can. Live birth is a pretty objective point. Either you have breathed, or you haven’t. If you will notice, what are commonly called “birth certificates” are titled “Certificate of Live Birth” by the state. Meaning, a stillborn doesn’t get one. They do, however, get a death certificate (in case the parents want a funeral director’s services, they will need that).
          Some hospitals will give them a “hospital birth certificate” with a name they pick, and footprints, etc. Some will take photos if they want, and donate a baby hat and baby gown for burial. And I think that’s a compassionate thing to so. But those aren’t of any legal value. They are simply kind mementos given out of sympathy.

        • PhiloKGB

          While birth is indeed an objectively identifiable point, whether it is objectively the point at which personhood begins is uncertain and perhaps even fundamentally indeterminable. People certainly behave in conflicting ways, but those behaviors are not necessarily indicative of underlying universal truths.

        • lady_black

          Since personhood is a legal concept, I’ll bow to the legal definition. There needs to be an identity, separate and apart from that of anyone else. “Mrs. Jones’s pregnancy” doesn’t make the cut.

        • PhiloKGB

          I hope the legal definition continues to correspond to your own. My observations of things like fetal heartbeat bills suggest it won’t always.

        • lady_black

          Those never go anyplace.

        • RichardSRussell

          Live birth is a pretty objective point. Either you have breathed, or you haven’t.

          Indeed! And even theologians of old recognized that fact, since “spirit” is derived from the Latin word spirare (to breathe).

        • Herald Newman

          I thought that was derived from the idea that God supposedly “breathed” life into humans? Don’t remember where I heard that…

        • RichardSRussell

          You may be right. I’ll defer to anyone who’s got a more solid grip on the etymology than I do.

      • sandy

        I thought the whole reason to be against abortion was that ONLY god can take life, but those believing in capital punishment override god.

        • PhiloKGB

          I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that argument. It would certainly be inconsistent, should someone accept both that doctrine and that capital punishment is acceptable.

      • Joe

        It is a great argument, but the people who hold such a position can’t/won’t see the contradiction.

        The foetus is not on trial in any court, so any talk of guilt or innocence is irrelevant.

        The argument most make is that the foetus is a human, and humans have an ” inalienable right to life”. You can’t then turn round and say that “inalienable” doesn’t mean “inalienable.”

        • PhiloKGB

          I’ve rarely encountered the anti-choicer who parrots the “inalienable right” line from the Declaration of Independence, so I can’t really explain how that argument might go. In any case, it seems plausible that people are simply using the term wrong; some very obviously believe that rights can be forfeited under certain circumstances no matter their terminology.

        • Joe

          Go read the original post on the Friendly Atheist blog. That line is parroted all the time.

          I believe rights are contingent, but religious people, particularly anti abortion, won’t agree.

          I speak from experience, I’m not making this up.

        • Herald Newman

          I believe rights are contingent

          I’d like to hear more about this. Can you elaborate on your views on rights? I’ve argued that rights are an extension of our morality, and our subjective desires. Wondering if your arguments are different.

        • Joe

          Simply, rights are bestowed upon us, and enforced by, the society we find ourselves in.

          I guess it’s similar to morality, there’s a lot of overlap for sure.

    • RichardSRussell

      Just as it’s an overbroad generalization to claim that all atheists hold firmly that God does not exist (admittedly many do), so too it’s unrealistic to think that people who oppose abortion are also in favor of the death penalty (altho many are). There are enuf counter-examples to both positions that you can’t really draw very many reliable conclusions.

  • skl

    In part one yesterday, I stated the following:

    “The hypothetical flaming fertility clinic scenario could be
    likened to something such as an inflamed ICU where a healthy five year old
    child is next to a patient on life support with a grim prognosis.
    Both are people worth caring for, but the immediate situation dictates that only one can
    be saved from the fire. Choosing to save the five year old person doesn’t mean
    that the one on life support isn’t also a person. That choice is just made
    easier by the fact that the one on life support, like the embryo in the canister,
    has a much less rosy prognosis for what could be called a normal life.

    I’ll add now that while the five year old child is healthy, i.e. has a 100% chance of living what would be called a normal life right now, the frozen
    human embryos are far less so, i.e. apparently have about a 40% to 60% chance
    of successful IVF transfer and healthy birth. https://www.advancedfertility.com/ivf-success-rates.htm

    Even if one argued that this might mean 400 to 600 of the 1,000 embryos might be successfully birthed, there are no guarantees in this.
    Whereas, the healthy five year old child has a 100% guarantee.

    Bottom-line, I think all people would choose to save the
    five year old, no matter where they are on the spectrum of beliefs about personhood.
    And the hypothetical scenario fails to make the point the author thinks it does.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      the hypothetical scenario fails to make the point the author thinks it does.

      You’ve lost me. Lots of words here, but I don’t see this point.

      • skl

        Bottom-line, I think all people would choose to save the
        five year old, no matter where they are on the spectrum of beliefs about personhood.

        • Herald Newman

          Bottom-line, I think all people would choose to save the five year old, no matter where they are on the spectrum of beliefs about personhood.

          Bottom line, apparently your intuition is wrong. From Bob’s first post on the subject:
          Walsh and Shapiro admit up front that they would save the child, while Koukl won’t.

          Most rational people would save the child. We recognize that children have the capacity to feel pain, and dying in a fire is a tragically, and painful, way to die. Most of us would prefer to be spared from burning to death. Apparently Greg Koukl doesn’t mind the idea of a human, that can feel pain, burning to death. It probably has something to do with his belief that lots of people are going to burn in hell forever when they die anyways.

        • Greg G.

          Most rational people would save the child.

          I would question the rationality of a person who would not.

        • skl

          “Bottom line, apparently your intuition is wrong. From Bob’s first post on the subject:
          “Walsh and Shapiro admit up front that they would save the child, while Koukl won’t.””

          I don’t see where Koukl says or makes clear that he would not save the child.

        • Herald Newman

          I may have actually misinterpreted what Bob was saying about this. It’s not that Greg wouldn’t save the child, it’s that he wouldn’t admit that he would. Not quite the same thing.

        • lady_black

          Correct. WHY do you think that is?

        • skl

          I already explained why.

        • lady_black

          Because, a five year old is a person, and a vial full of 1000 embryos is NOT a person, not a child. That’s why.

    • Anthrotheist

      How about some completely different hypotheticals, ones that are more realistic? (and more salient to reality if personhood was set to conception)

      If a pregnant woman slips and falls down a set of stairs, resulting in the termination of her pregnancy, should she be charged with involuntary manslaughter?
      If a woman confirms that she has conceived, can she immediately claim child support from the father? (thanks to Joe for that one)
      If a woman has conceived, can she file for a social security number for the embryo?
      If a woman miscarries, should she be investigated for wrongful death?
      If a woman miscarries and doesn’t save the discharge for medical examination, is she guilty of improper disposal of human remains?
      If somebody believes that personhood begins at conception, do they still consider their age to have started on the day of their birth?

      These kinds of questions are also meant (like the author’s scenario) to illustrate how even when people claim to believe that personhood begins at conception, they never argue or even appear to consider any of the other important issues surrounding personhood.

      • skl

        “If a pregnant woman slips and falls down a set of stairs, resulting in the
        termination of her pregnancy, should she be charged with involuntary
        manslaughter?”

        I can’t see why she would be.

        “If a woman confirms that she has conceived, can she immediately claim child support from the father?”

        That would depend on what the child support law says.

        “If a woman has conceived, can she file for a social security number for the
        embryo?”

        That would depend on what the social security law says.

        “If a woman miscarries, should she be investigated for wrongful death?”

        I can’t see why she would be, given the definition of miscarriage.

        “If a woman miscarries and doesn’t save the discharge for medical examination, is she guilty of improper disposal of human remains?”

        See immediately above.

        “If somebody believes that personhood begins at conception, do they still
        consider their age to have started on the day of their birth?”

        I think everybody considers their age to have started on the day of their
        birth, for legal reasons and custom.

        • Anthrotheist

          First point: “I can’t see why she would be.” My grandparents were tried for involuntary vehicular manslaughter because they hit a man who was drunkenly crossing a dark country road to get from one bar to the bar on the other side of the road (chicken jokes applied). Any act that is normally lawful that results in the death of a person is liable for involuntary manslaughter.

          Second point: “That would depend on what the child support law says.” The basic concept appear to be: “Child support is the financial obligation you have to support your child as he or she matures.” If one considers a conceived embryo as a ‘child’ then child support is sensible from the point of conception.

          Third point: “That would depend on what the social security law says.” The basic requirement for applying for a new person’s social security number is a legal document proving that they became a person within the United States of America. Right now, that means a birth certificate, but if personhood is changed to include conception then that would include the possibility of a conception certificate.

          Fourth point: “I can’t see why she would be, given the definition of miscarriage.” According to Marriam-Webster’s English definition: “spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus before it is viable and especially between the 12th and 28th weeks of gestation.” If personhood is established before that time, then the ‘expulsion’ of the human fetus is the immediate death of a legal person. The death of a legal person must entail the identification and examination of a coroner to determine if the cause of death was natural, accidental, homicide, suicide, or undetermined.

          Fifth point: “See immediate above.” Agreed.

          Sixth point: “I think everybody considers their age to have started on the day of their birth, for legal reasons and custom.” This is the essential issue:
          Anybody who advocates personhood at conception is advocating the overturning of both legal and customary reasons. If you don’t believe that your age begins at conception, instead of at birth, how can you possibly believe that your personhood began at conception and not at birth?

        • Otto

          I have argued with pro-birthers that if personhood starts at conception women should have to be required to report all pregnancies because we would need to be able to identify and protect those persons. We would need to investigate all miscarriages and would need to have consequences for women that drink or smoke during their pregnancies because they would be providing alcohol and drugs to minors. Of course my concerns were mostly hand waved away as being a bit ridiculous, which is a bit amusing since I seemed to be taking the idea far more seriously than they were willing to go. I guess some persons deserve more protection than others.

        • skl

          The laws are and will be whatever the peoples’ representatives make them to be. If laws relating to personhood have been forever settled, then pro-choicers and anti-pro-choicers and undecideds have nothing to discuss regarding personhood and the law. And there is no point to OPs such as Bob’s.

          “If you don’t believe that your age begins at conception, instead of at birth, how can you possibly believe that your personhood began at conception and not at birth?”

          Again, for reasons of existing law and custom. Related to this, it’s much easier to pinpoint accurately the day of birth than it is the day of conception.

          Analogously, people celebrate wedding days and the related anniversaries of same. Not as easy for others (and maybe even for the couple) to pinpoint the date they met or the date they knew they would be a married couple.

        • Anthrotheist

          “Analogously, people celebrate wedding days and the related anniversaries of same.”
          I’m not sure that you realize how perfectly you illustrate the position that you are arguing against.

          “Not as easy for others (and maybe even for the couple) to pinpoint the date they met or the date they knew they would be a married couple.”
          But it is often quite easy to mark the occasion of the couple getting engaged. The engagement itself culminates in the wedding event, which is the day that is celebrated in anniversaries. People don’t celebrate the anniversary of their engagement for exactly the same reason that they do not consider a couple that is engaged to be fully married. The engagement is a promise of marriage, a potential of marriage, and that is drastically different from an actual state of being married. At the same time, the relationship between the two people very closely resembles that of a married couple: love, closeness, usually intimacy, often cohabitation, and (hopefully) a commitment to each other. All of these traits, though resembling marriage, are still distinctly different.

          If your example is truly analogous to the issue of personhood, I argue that your example is better suited for my side of the conversation.

        • skl

          “… drastically different from an actual state of being married. At the same time, the relationship between the two people very closely resembles that of a married couple: love,
          closeness, usually intimacy, often cohabitation, and (hopefully) a commitment
          to each other. All of these traits, though resembling marriage, are still distinctly different.”

          Drastically and distinctly different for legal purposes only.

        • Anthrotheist

          I find it unsettling that you conclude the term “legal purposes” with the word only. You aren’t arguing that the law is wrong, or why should be changed; you are implying that the law is somehow insufficient.

        • skl

          I merely making what I believe to be a statement of fact.

    • lady_black

      I would choose the living person whether there were guarantees or not. There never ARE guarantees, by the way. A frozen blastocyst falls a lot short of a person, no matter how you look at it. It falls much shorter than the difference between a five year old and a 15 year old.
      Here’s why. A frozen blastocyst, or unfrozen blastocyst requires GESTATION. You cannot just hand-wave that away and say they are both people, when one is obviously a person, and the other one is going to require the help of someone else to BECOME a person.
      You may as well just admit that and be done with it.

  • guadalupelavaca

    I know everyone here says a fetus is not a human being but in California if you kill a fetus other than by abortion it is the murder of a human being.

    • Chuck Johnson

      How about the killing of a fertilized embryo in a test tube ?
      Is that murder in California ?

      • guadalupelavaca

        No. The fetus must be viable.

        • Chuck Johnson

          What “viable” is that ?
          Can survive outside of the mother’s womb ?

        • guadalupelavaca

          Yes.

        • lady_black

          And it must ALSO be MURDER. Which isn’t defined as “any killing of a fetus, other than by abortion.”

    • lady_black

      Really? What if it’s an accident? What if you kill a woman who happens to be pregnant, in self defense? You have a habit of putting forth assertions that are neither true, nor well-thought out.

      • guadalupelavaca

        Accident and self defense are affirmative defense. Therefore no criminal liability. Look up California penal code 187. It says fetus.

        • lady_black

          That is not my issue, sweetie. My issue is that you incorrectly defined murder.

        • guadalupelavaca

          How did I do that sweetheart? I gave you the California law. Are you a lawyer? Are you even competent to discuss the law. Read penal code 187.

        • lady_black

          Yes, I am competent. And “murder” isn’t defined as any killing of a fetus, other than abortion.

        • guadalupelavaca

          Here it is honeybun…(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought. PC187

          All you had to do was read the law. Which obviously you didn’t do.

        • lady_black

          That isn’t “any killing other than by abortion.”

        • guadalupelavaca

          Here is the entire statute cuz for some reason you refuse to look it up…
          (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

          (b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:

          (1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code .

          (2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not.

          (3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.

          (c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed

        • lady_black

          That does not mean that when a fetus is killed during an accident, or as an act of self defense, it is murder! There are not just two kinds of deaths, natural or murder. Even for fetuses.

        • guadalupelavaca

          You know what girlfriend…I’m done with you. I already told you that accident and self defense are affirmative defenses. Did you not read that? You are out of your league in debating law with me.

        • lady_black

          Affirmative defenses against WHAT?? First, there needs to be a trial. Someone needs to be facing charges. They will not be facing charges.

        • guadalupelavaca

          There was a trial. It was called People of the State of California vs Scott Peterson. He was convicted of killing his wife AND unborn (fetus) son. It was in all the papers. I guess you missed it.

        • lady_black

          Scott Peterson MURDERED his wife. In my opinion, that’s the only person he murdered. There was no such person as “Connor Peterson.”
          If California wants to play crazy with people who do not exist, I have nothing to say about it, except it should involve a person who actually DOES exist. With or without fetus, Scott Peterson is a murderer. That’s the difference!

        • guadalupelavaca

          Let me give you some advise sister…next time you debate law with a lawyer, and she actually points you to the specific statute, just take a few minutes to read that statute.

        • lady_black

          I did read it. It doesn’t say what you think it says.

    • Joe

      And in other states that don’t have that law in place, what then?

      • Kodie

        http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/fetal-homicide-state-laws.aspx

        Among the 50 states and D.C., I count 12 that don’t seem to have any law regarding the death of a fetus. The first state on the list, Alabama, considers any stage of development in utero to be a “person” for the purposes of homicide convictions, with apparently some careful wording that allows legal abortions. Most states that do have some law against willful harm to a fetus uses “quick” as a deciding line between murder and not murder. On links that I clicked on to read the specific words of the laws, I found several that did not work because the destination had been updated, but I only tried to click on about 3.

        • Joe

          The point I was trying to prod this poster into realizing was:

          It’s only a law in California because people made it so.

      • guadalupelavaca

        Then you can kill a fetus in those states.

    • Kodie

      Penal Code – PEN

      PART 1. OF CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS [25 – 680] ( Part 1 enacted 1872. )

      TITLE 8. OF CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON [187 – 248] ( Title 8 enacted 1872. )

      CHAPTER 1. Homicide [187 – 199] ( Chapter 1 enacted 1872. )

      187.

      (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

      (b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:

      (1) The
      act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing
      with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the
      Health and Safety Code.

      (2) The act
      was committed by a holder of a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, as
      defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a
      medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother
      of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not.

      (3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.

      (c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the prosecution of any person under any other provision of law.(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 1023, Sec. 385. Effective September 29, 1996.)

      http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=187.&highlight=true&keyword=fetus

  • Chuck Johnson

    Back to the foundation of these arguments.
    Christian doctrine teaches that the afterlife, an eternity in paradise is more important than our lives here on Earth are.
    Then the Christian fundamentalists tried to define the beginning of human life and the beginning of a human soul as the union of a sperm and egg.
    Then they created the anti-abortion movement and called it pro-life. – – – This was to validate the beginning of a human soul.

    So their dishonesty and political manipulation, stage by stage, created a logical and moral absurdity.
    But they were obliged to believe and promote the absurdity. These folks are blindly obedient to authority.

    Then they are presented with the fertility clinic hypothetical, and their whole Rube Goldberg contraption of dishonest doctrine looks pretty stupid.
    It’s like a game of “telephone” where small errors add up to having the message become completely garbled.

  • Herald Newman

    Thankfully, many of us don’t live in Brazil, where the Evangelical congressional committee has just moved to ban abortions in all cases. Fortunately, it’s not law, and has some significant hurdles to become law, but it shows just what the Christian forced birthers want.

    It should also be noted that banning abortions hasn’t stopped abortions either, and women are ending up in hospital from botched procedures.

  • RichardSRussell

    And don’t get me started about men weighing in on a matter that can never affect them personally.

    This argument has of late made me uncomfortable, even tho I used to use it myself. It seems to me to be logically equivalent to saying that “Only people who have cancer are qualified to be opposed to cancer.”

    Anyone want to try to set me straight?

    • Herald Newman

      Don’t you think it’s just a bit too convenient for somebody, who cannot be personally affected by their own moral judgements, to say that something is immoral?

      • RichardSRussell

        So you’re saying it’s OK to steal as long as they aren’t stealing from you?

        The essence of moral judgments is that you’re looking at what other people do and evaluating whether those actions are OK in your book. Or not. And we all do it all the time, no qualifications or entrance exam required. Should there be?

        • Herald Newman

          So you’re saying it’s OK to steal as long as they aren’t stealing from you?

          No, because I’m fully capable of stealing. As a man, I’m not ever capable of becoming pregnant.

          What I am saying is that I would be suspicious of a moral judgement coming from somebody who cannot perform the action they’re judging. I would be suspicious that they may not be using empathy to evaluate all sides.

        • RichardSRussell

          OK, then, different scenario. Bob Dole (who doesn’t have the use of his right arm after he was wounded in WW2) isn’t qualified to judge whether Colin Kaepernick is a competent quarterback, since Bob himself is incapable of throwing a football at all, let alone well.

        • lady_black

          That’s an opinion.

        • RichardSRussell

          Opinions, practically by definition, are judgments.

        • lady_black

          No. They are opinions. They don’t need to be good or knowledgeable opinions. Nobody cares about your opinion of Colin Kaepernick as a QB. It likely means less than nothing to Mr. Kaepernick himself.

        • RichardSRussell

          o·pin·ion (noun) a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

        • lady_black

          That doesn’t help you.

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, it does show that the commonly understood meaning of the word “opinion” is that it is in fact a judgment, contrary to what you were saying.

        • lady_black

          What it SHOWS is exactly what I said. Nobody is meant to take opinions seriously. You are conflating different definitions of the word judgment.

        • RichardSRussell

          Quick reprise of exactly what you said:

          Me: “Opinions, practically by definition, are judgments.”

          You: “No. [sic] They are opinions. They don’t need to be good or knowledgeable opinions.”

          So you directly contradicted my assertion that opinions are judgments. The dictionary disagrees.

          I herewith avail myself of the opportunity to amend my original post by (upon having gone and looked for myself) retracting the word “practically”.

        • lady_black

          To me, there is a big difference between an opinion and a judgment. An opinion may or may not be informed, or come from a rational place. Therefore it’s pretty meaningless.

        • RichardSRussell

          Judgments likewise may or may not be informed, or come from a rational place. Therefore your attempt to distinguish between judgments and opinions, however appealing it may be to you personally, is also pretty meaningless. And not recognized by common usage of the English language.

          However, since you wrote of different definitions of “judgment”, please point out the one you prefer to use. These are the options offered up by the dictionary:

          judg·ment (noun)

          1. the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.

          2. an opinion or conclusion.

          3. a decision of a court or judge.

        • Herald Newman

          What I would say is that I would be suspicious of Bob Dole if he said that anybody using their right arm, to throw a football, was acting immorally, and needs to be thrown into jail. I’m not claiming he’s wrong, but since he can never face a situation where he has to make that choice (it’s already made for him), he never has to worry about the consequences of his moral judgement coming back to bite him personally. Some people have a lot of trouble looking at the world outside of themselves, and trying to understand the terrible dilemmas that other people face.

        • RichardSRussell

          But suppose Bob’s judgment was that Colin Kaepernick was a really good quarterback and deserved to be playing in the NFL. He’s still not in a position to BE Colin Kaepernick, but would you still contend that he’s incapable of imagining what it MIGHT be like?

        • Herald Newman

          Sure, he’s fully capable of imagining it. Perhaps we’re talking past each other. I’m not advocating that men CANNOT make moral judgements about women and abortions. What I’m saying is that many of the men who do so are doing so for purely irrational religious reasons, and aren’t considering what it would be like to even be put in the situation.

          I’m skeptical of men who say that abortion is always wrong. I don’t think they’ve done much more than take a cursory look at what the woman has to deal with.

        • RichardSRussell

          And I agree. It’s just that I don’t buy into the idea that one has to be personally susceptible to a particular condition or state of affairs to be entitled to an opinion about it.

        • lady_black

          It’s just that his opinion should be given the weight it deserves. Very little!

        • Herald Newman

          Agree. Everyone is entitled to offer their opinion, But that doesn’t mean that we have to consider all opinions as equally worthy of our attention. I don’t give much stock to the opinions of white supremacist on non-whites.

        • lady_black

          Bob Dole, at one time, had a fully functioning arm. He can perfectly well know how that feels. YOU, on the other hand, have never been pregnant, nor given birth. And there is no hope that you ever will.
          NO, I do NOT think that you can imagine how that feels, any more than I can imagine how it would feel to have testicular cancer. What I imagine about it is irrelevant. It will never happen to me. I must take the word of the person it’s happening to.

        • RichardSRussell

          And you will never imagine how John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, or Ted Kaczynski felt, so you should take their word for it that they were perfectly justified, right? That’s literally the argument you’re making — that you have no moral standing whatsoever to judge anyone else unless you can somehow or other put yourself in their position, even in your imagination.

        • lady_black

          Criminals? Nope. They are by definition NOT justified.

        • RichardSRussell

          Ah, so YOU’RE the person who would’ve turned in the criminal fugitive Anne Frank for her violation of the laws of the land. Good to know where one’s interlocutors are coming from in any discussion of morality.

        • lady_black

          Look troll… Why are you trying to conflate a pregnant woman and how she feels about it with mass murderers and Nazi sympathizers?
          In other words, what do they have in common? There is something WRONG with you. I repeat… NO you DO NOT know what it means to be pregnant or give birth.
          You want to do that, use your own body. Mine you do not get. Now get lost, Psycho. We’re done here.

        • Susan

          Look troll…

          Hi lady_black.

          Richard is not a troll.

          Why are you trying to conflate a pregnant woman and how she feels about it with mass murderers and Nazi sympathizers?

          He’s not. He’s trying to highlight the problems of excluding people from having moral opinions.

          I have never been a solider in armed combat. I am capable of having an opinion about the conduct of a soldier in armed combat.

          However, in doing so, I’d better acknowledge what a soldier in armed combat has to deal with. To dismiss it as incidental and to say “murder is murder” without factoring in the reality of being a soldier in armed combat dsqualifies my opinion.

          That I’ve never been a soldier in armed combat should not disqualify my opinion if I take those things into account.

          You want to do that to your own body?

          I doubt it. And he’s shown no indication that he wants to force you to do it to yours.

          He was pointing out the problem with saying that criminals are “by definition NOT justified:.”

          Anne Frank was “by definition” a “criminal”.

        • lady_black

          I don’t like the idea of someone making a claim that they deserve a say on something they will never personally experience (that involves their own body, and none of his) and comparing that to mass murderers and Nazis is trollish. Not to mention, totally creepy.
          When Richard is pregnant, he deserves 100% of the say. Until then, he deserves none of it.
          There are no one-size-fits-all opinions on pregnancy because pregnancy isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. And that is the main problem I have with anyone who isn’t pregnant thinking they have any right to an opinion about someone else’s pregnancy.
          I have been through a pregnancy that was life-threatening, and that’s hard enough without anyone else sticking in their two cents. I apologize if that isn’t Richard’s intention. He STILL has no right to voice his opinion on any pregnancy he’s not carrying. He can “think” whatever he wants.

        • Susan

          I don’t like the idea of someone making a claim that they deserve a say on something they will never personally experience

          I have no problem with that idea. Which is why I think I can justify a moral opinion on the actions of soldiers in armed combat IF I take into consideration what they personally experience.

          comparing that to mass murderers and Nazis is trollish.

          No. It’s not trollism when he legitimately probed your statement that “criminals are by definition NOT justified”. He was trying to highlight the problem with that statement. He was NOT trying to compare reproductive rights with mass murder and Nazism.

          There are no one-size-fits-all opinions on pregnancy because pregnancy isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation

          Agreed. I doubt Richard disagrees. I will let him speak for himself. He’s very good at it. I will only say that he never suggested that it IS a one-size-fits-all situation.

          that is the main problem I have with anyone who isn’t pregnant thinking they have any right to an opinion about someone else’s pregnancy.

          I would say the main problem with weighing in is with people who disregard what you (and so many women) have to contend with. Richard does not seem to be someone who’ disregards that.

          If I”m not a parent, but someone is abusing and depriving their child, am I unqualified to have a moral opinion? How about if someone drags a dog down a highway on their bumper? If I’m not a dog or a dog owner.

          No one uses these examples to compare pregnancy with any of these acts. The point is that a person with a moral opinion that factors in everything they possibly can in assessing the situation, has a right to a moral opinion.

          You have had to deal with too many assholes who dismiss the reality of pregnancy, childbirth, labour, bonding etc…

          Richard has never done that. He’s simply a thoughtful person who’s making the point that excluding people from participating in moral discussion doesn’t seem to be reasonable. (See my examples above.)

          He STILL has no right to voice his opinion on any pregnancy he’s not carrying.

          I disagree and I’ve provided many examples.

          My guess is that Richard would factor in everything you’re talking about when he assesses an opinion about morality.

          Being a man doesn’t disqualify him. Being a person who ignores the reality of pregnancy, labour, etc. would. But he hasn’t.

        • lady_black

          I don’t give two shits about your “guesses” or Richard’s. He, and you, need to keep your unsolicited advice to yourself.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re STILL conflating social interaction with a personal medical decision.

          Why?

        • Susan

          You’re STILL conflating social interaction with a personal medical decision.

          How am I doing that?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. Unjust laws can’t define a criminal, and protecting one’s own life when one has done nothing wrong and is the victim of discrimination CAN NOT be a crime, barring a Typhoid Mary situation.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Social interaction vs. personal medical decision.

          What’s so hard to understand here?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re still conflating social acts with a personal medical decision.

          So your attempted point is STILL irrelevant.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Football is not innate biology.

          So, irrelevant.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Bob Dole could train himself to use his left arm to throw a football.

          Also, football is NOT a personal medical decision involving a sentient patient and a doctor, about an undesired medical state.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Giving less weight to the man’s opinion on a particular abortion makes sense.
          Completely ignoring the man’s opinion would be the wrong thing to do.
          Emotions and politics can hide this simple truth.

        • Susan

          What I am saying is that I would be suspicious of a moral judgement coming from somebody who cannot perform the action they’re judging

          If their judgement is that bodily autonomy is a right to which every established person is entitled (which covers reproductive rights), would you still be suspicious?

          Many men agree. Should I be suspicious of their position?

        • Herald Newman

          But bodily autonomy does affect me. Simply replace “must give birth” with “must give my liver”, and you have something that is analogous.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          On the basis that it doesn’t restrict your freedom (of bodily autonomy, in this case), I’d say it’s MUCH less likely to be suspicious.

        • lady_black

          I disagree wholeheartedly. I think morality is about thinking over an action, and deciding whether YOU should do it or not. You don’t get to sit in judgement of other people who are neither picking your pocket, nor breaking your leg. Of course, that extends to picking anyone’s pocket, or breaking anyone’s leg. Those are crimes.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Don’t just look at a person’s own moral judgements as a definition of morality.
          That person is also obliged to recognize the moral judgements of others and consider those judgements, too.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. ALL morals are situational.

          And if you can’t be in the situation, it’s immoral of you to condemn a medical procedure in the name of a bronze-age superstition.

      • Chuck Johnson

        But they (in the case of abortion) are personally affected by their own moral judgements.
        You just don’t see it.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          They can be affected by their own moral judgements.

          They CAN’T affect the physical biological health decisions of women based on their moral judgements.

        • Chuck Johnson

          What do you mean CAN’T ?

          Not Possible ?
          Or should not be allowed to have a say ?

    • lady_black

      We don’t base laws on “morals.” Those are up to you. We base laws on rights. Since nobody has a right to use someone’s body without consent, I’m OK with abortion. You cannot steal, NOT because it’s immoral (personally, I don’t believe that to always be true), but because it’s wrong to deprive someone of their property without compensation. You cannot murder because you are depriving a person of his right to live. Killing isn’t always wrong, but murder is always wrong. For example, you can kill in self-defense, or in war, or as a part of law enforcement to protect yourself and others.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Yes, anyone can and should speak out about moral questions.
      But in fundamentalist Christianity, men have greater moral authority than women, and women are more directly impacted by abortion decisions.

      The real problem here is the ancient misogynistic pyramid of authority.

    • eric

      I don’t see it as an absolute negative so much as a big warning sign. We should seek to empathize with a person, see the situation from their perspective, before opining on how they ought to act. If for some reason it’s really hard to fully ‘get’ their perspective, we should tread very cautiously.

      So I would say the case with men and abortion is: yes of course we can have an opinion (it would be pretty hard to stop that from happening!). Yes we can voice it. But we should try to do a lot more listening than talking. This is a ‘tread cautiously’ situation for us, where we probably don’t and can’t grok the full psychological ramifications of the ‘unwanted pregnancy’ experience. (And a bone to the pro-lifers: we should also tread cautiously before opining on the women who choose to continue their pregnancies even in cases where it appears, to our perspective, a really bad or socially irresponsible idea. They are equally deserving of our ears over our mouths.)

    • Rudy R

      I wouldn’t frame it that way. I look at it as “Only people who don’t have cancer decide how people with cancer get treated.” And to add insult to injury, we’ve all heard about those Republican, Christian politicians who vehemently appose abortion for everyone else, but themselves. Rep Tim Murphy is a case in point.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I replied to Greg Koukl making a similar objection: it doesn’t matter man or woman because either can comment on immorality. My reply is here (search “Vietnam”):

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/01/why-is-it-always-men-advancing-the-pro-life-position-2/

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Maybe it’d be more convenient if I just copied the relevant section:

      I remember a podcast by a popular Christian apologist during which a woman caller asked this question. The apologist (a man) seemed annoyed. He said that murder was murder. (I argue that abortion isn’t murder.)

      More to the point, he said that his moral opinion was relevant regardless of his gender. I’ll agree with that, as far as it goes. But I think that the woman had an important point that is rarely acknowledged, since only a woman can have an abortion.

      Let me try to create a symmetric male-only example. This apologist is of the age where he might have been in the draft pool during the Vietnam War. So let’s suppose it’s 1970, and this guy comes back from a tour fighting in Vietnam. Readjusting to life in America is tough, and he has nightmares and other symptoms of what we now call PTSD. His wife is sympathetic and, after some prodding, he shares the problem with her.

      “Oh, you should go see Dr. Jones about that,” she says. “I’m part of a community of veterans’ wives, and I’ve heard all about that. He does wonders with returning soldiers, and he’ll fix you up in no time.”

      Our hero hesitates, not comfortable discussing his demons with a stranger. “I don’t think so.”

      “No, really. I’ve heard a lot about this, and that treatment should work for you.”

      Tension increases as they go back and forth. Finally, he says, “Honey, I really appreciate your sympathy. I know you want to help. But you must understand that you will never, ever understand what I’ve been through. Put in 18 months in Vietnam and then we’ll have something to talk about. Until then, you really don’t get it.”

      Similarly, our 60-something male apologist will never, ever completely understand what it’s like to be 15 and pregnant, faced with disapproving parents and ridicule from classmates and pro-lifers shouting “murder!” at the suggestion of an abortion, wondering how she’s ever going to get her life back on track.

      If the male apologist wants to comment on the topic, that’s fine, but humility (and sympathy) would make his position easier to take.

  • Rudy R

    The increasing personhood of the fetus during gestation is the foundation of any argument for abortion, and this hypothetical clears the way.

    It could be argued that increasing personhood of the fetus is also the foundation of an argument against abortion. I disagree with the pro-lifer position that the fetus is a person at conception, however, the fetus is likely to become a person.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      But how is what it’s likely to become relevant to our discussion of what it is right now?

      When the fetus becomes a person, then we can apply person-rules. Until that point, it’s not a person (though it may be fractionally a person).

      • Chuck Johnson

        You say that a fetus may be fractionally a person.
        Fractionally is how I would describe it.
        But then, I say that we should fractionally apply person-rules.

        Going from egg plus sperm to a human being is an evolutionary process.
        Our perception of personhood should evolve right along with the biological evolution which we observe.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sure. Go ahead and apply fractional person-rules.

          A 100% person would have her life screwed over because of a 5% person. Can she kill the 5% person?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Bob, you have already applied fractional person-rules.
          That is the theme of this blog post.

          You are telling us that a canister of embryos has value, but less value than a 5 year old child. That is certainly true.

          The fractional person rules consist of understanding that personhood develops over time. You have shown that you believe this.

          Then applying the fractional person rules consists of taking the evolutionary process of going from egg and sperm to 5 year old child as a real, important developmental process.

          Applying the fractional person rules also means not declaring a particular event (such as fertilization or birth) to be the beginning of humanity or personhood. It’s a process involving many events.

          Here in the USA, legislation and case law recognize this kind of fractional person thinking. Medical practice and medical advice to expectant parents recognizes this kind of fractional-person thinking.

          Fractional person thinking is already here, and it has been here for many years. It does get applied to decision making.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Can she kill the 5% person?-Bob

          Sometimes yes, sometimes, no.
          Decisions like this are not made in an information vacuum.
          You have not provided that information in your theoretical 5% person question.

          Rules of thumb and theoretical questions can only be answered to a slight degree. When real people are involved, real information with extensive details are needed to guide decisions as important as the ones being discussed here.

          And that’s how (generally) people actually make these important decisions.

      • Rudy R

        Ameribear, in our ongoing abortion debate, has brought up a good point concerning the issue of sentience and personhood. As there is a physical spectrum between a fetus and baby, there is also a sentience spectrum between the two. His position is that a fetus is a person at conception, because it’s at the very beginning of the sentience spectrum and as such, makes abortion immoral. My position is that a human becomes a person when it is capable of living outside the mother’s womb and is sentient. And although I don’t agree with the starting point of sentience starting at conception, because the brain is not capable of cognition at that point, given time, the brain will become sentient.

        Does the sentience starting point matter, in terms of abortion, given that eventually, the end point of the sentience spectrum will be met.

        For example, sentience could be suspended, then restarted, in the case of a comatose human becoming conscious. The human in the comatose state was likely not sentient, then became sentient again after returning to consciousness. Given that the human is not brain dead, the comatose person has the potential for becoming sentient once again, and is afforded the opportunity to realize sentience after a given time. Since it has been proven comatose humans have awaken, and regained sentience, after many months and years, shouldn’t fetuses also be afforded the opportunity to realize sentience after a given time? In terms of who lives or dies, is there a difference between humans who initially become sentient and humans having sentience, losing it, and then regaining it?

        I don’t think there should be a difference, if we believe humans have intrinsic value. If we believe only persons have intrinsic value, are the fetus and comatose human different? Maybe. The fetus was never a person, while even though the comatose human is not sentient, they are considered still a person, akin to a dead human being considered a dead person.

        It’s the human becoming sentient, becoming a person that has provisionally made me rethink my position on abortion as it pertains to person-rules.

        • Joe

          Does the sentience starting point matter, in terms of abortion, given that eventually, the end point of the sentience spectrum will be met.

          Yes, because the decision on the future of the foetus has to be made before that point. You can’t put the cork back in the bottle.

          Since it has been proven comatose humans have awaken, and regained sentience, after many months and years, shouldn’t fetuses also be afforded the opportunity to realize sentience after a given time?

          Should we never switch off life support, for any reason?

          I don’t think there should be a difference, if we believe humans have intrinsic value.

          I don’t believe that.

        • Rudy R

          You don’t believe all humans have intrinsic value?

        • Joe

          Unless you can show me where this intrinsic value lies, and what properties it has, no.

        • TheNuszAbides

          especially the more crowded a planet gets. “life is precious” is a tenuously-derived ‘ought’. life is just about as cheap as talk, wherever it is plentiful.

    • Chuck Johnson

      You have not defined what a “person” is.
      We are all persons to some degree.
      The human being and the word “person” are not identical things.
      No one is a paragon of personhood or a paragon of humanity.
      Any person who gets injured and becomes brain dead becomes less of a person. The ability to think is an important part of being human and being a person.

      A developing fetus is somewhat a person. Bob states this as “fractionally a person”.

      • Rudy R

        No matter how you define “person”, should justification for abortion be based on actualized personhood? Or put another way, should abortion be justified based on the fetus not being a person? Should it matter that the fetus is a human and not a person, considering the fetus will eventually become a person?

        • Chuck Johnson

          No matter how you define “person”, should justification for abortion be based on actualized personhood?-Rudy

          The words person, personhood, human, fetus and abortion are useful to begin such conversations and to inform such decisions.

          These words are indispensable in writing legislation and in courts of law. But the words that you are asking me about are not well-defined enough defined to rely on to make a yes or no abortion decision.

          Along with those words, stories must be presented and understood.
          The woman and the man involved will have their stories.
          The medical professionals will have their stories.

          The legal professionals will have their stories.
          And all this applies to contentious cases where a court of law is needed.

          Many abortion decisions are not legally very contentious, and with a little advice from a medical professional, the yes or no decision for abortion is made.

        • Lark62

          The justification for abortion is the fully actualized personhood of the mother. She is not obligated to risk her life or health for any person, much less for a parasite that is not yet a person.

        • Rudy R

          I agree that the mother’s health and welfare comes first. But the mother’s health notwithstanding, what would be the reason for not allowing a zygote/fetus/baby to actualize their personhood?

        • Lark62

          The woman’s health comes first. First means first. That means if the living, breathing woman decides it is not in her best interest to remain pregnant, she can choose to not remain pregnant. End of discussion.

        • Kodie

          Why does she have to donate her body for 9 months if she doesn’t want to, or the outcome after 9 months?

        • Rudy R

          Just so we are clear, I’m pro-choice and believe abortions should be safe, legal and rare and the choice should be decided between the woman, her family, and her physician. The choice should not be decided by theistic, political zealots on the basis of their religious dogmas. I’m just re-examining the secular justification for abortion.

          What I’m essentially asking is, do all humans have intrinsic value? And if they do, why is a zygote’s intrinsic value less then a viable fetus, and a viable fetus less than the mother’s intrinsic value? If all humans don’t have intrinsic value, why?

          Here’s a thought experiment. If the medical technology was capable of extracting a zygote from a pregnant mother and the community nursed the zygote into a flourishing, fully formed and conscious human being, at no cost to the woman and the community, would it be morally right to do so?

        • TheNuszAbides

          in a system that efficient, we would presumably have fully ironed out questions regarding a) whether/how parents/guardians may profit off their genetic/intellectual [minor-age] property, b) whether fertile individuals may decline to fertilize/breed on the basis of hereditary risk of hostile-to-quality-of-life defects/disorders.
          also, how does a community carry a zygote to term at “no cost”? that needs just a little more detail than “but it’s a thought-experiment’, i think.

        • Rudy R

          You’re missing the point of the thought experiment. Would it be morally right to save the zygote, if we had the capability to do so?

        • TheNuszAbides

          it would be morally right to primarily honor the concerns of the immediate* source of the genetic material, who should have ultimate say over whether said material is propagated for any purpose. the technology and infrastructure to remove the zygote entirely from the equation of initially-impregnated-female would presumably mean [skipping the question of under what circumstances it is permitted to extract the zygote, chance of complications etc.] each biological-parent had equal say – or may even require agreement, unless an instilled societal value includes the state’s prerogative to ‘break a tie’ in its own favor.

          at this point we would probably develop cheap standardized contracts regarding all sexual activity that may result in pregnancy, assuming the ‘community’ hasn’t instituted ‘no-cost’ family law on a rigorous scale …

          *i.e. the potential grand[etc.]parents have no say, unless of course one or both potential parents aren’t independent citizens …

          and still, the “no cost” handwave is an over-reach in simplifying the question and thus renders it rather silly, IMO. it’s not unlike asking “if we figured out a way we’d never have to eat again – never mind the details – would it be morally right to keep eating?” to posit “all else being equal”, no unforeseen consequences, etc., makes the answers even more trivial.

          or maybe it’s merely that i prefer ‘hard’ sci-fi to ‘soft’.

        • Rudy R

          You continue to miss the point of the thought experiment. Your responses are like those of the theists responding to the Fertility Clinic Hypothetical by adding additionally hypotheticals to cloud the original hypothetical.

          “if we figured out a way we’d never have to eat again – never mind the details – would it be morally right to keep eating?”

          This hypothetical is a category error. Eating is not an action that would be categorized as being moral or immoral.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Eating is not an action that would be categorized as being moral or immoral.

          Tell that to a vegan while eating meat and see what response you get. Be wearing leather, wool, and down at the time.

        • TheNuszAbides

          nice try at making it my problem that you don’t see the thought-experimental-logical-extension of arguments that have already been made against eating meat.

        • Rudy R

          Not so good a try in refuting my reply. And how again is your moral eating example not flawed? And how again are you not mimicking theists in their response to the Fertility Clinic hypothetical?

        • TheNuszAbides

          if your thought-experiment, by design, renders the wishes of the initial zygote-carrier irrelevant, then it sounds like a society that would consider the extraction perfectly legitimate, and presumably moral assuming the majority of citizens were in fact responsible for putting such an infrastructure in place. but personally i don’t think it’s moral to pose the question as though said wishes are functionally irrelevant (hand-waved by “no cost”). and i still say it’s absurd to posit a moral question about obligation to nurturing hypothetical life considering so few factors. which is a cock-eyed way to characterize ‘mimicking theists’, who [apart from a handful of dubiously-intellectual outliers] are perfectly content with the most oversimplified garbage excuses available to ‘support’ their moral and/or political opinions.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Only if the woman didn’t have to host it, and the woman could deny any responsibility for the resultant baby.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and if this depends on skipping over the “do all born humans + all zygotes have equal intrinsic value” question then all of my other objections are wasted whether or not you imply that i’m “mimicking theists”.
          overpopulation is clearly not an already-solved problem, unless you’re posing it is in this “no cost” hypothetical. pretending that humans can go on blanketing the only planet where they are known to thrive is merely irresponsible. for a not-just-a-thought-experiment example, i don’t think China’s One Child policy was immoral (though I do think any cultural preference for male children is twisted, and it was certainly immoral to allow exceptions for the wealthy).

        • Kodie

          No. I am pro-choice, and I believe abortions should be safe, legal, and as common as they need to be. They are inconvenient and invasive, but there is nothing more unethical going on than going to get a haircut, so it is in a woman’s best interest to use something to prevent pregnancy, but not to feel ashamed or stigmatized for getting one of those rare abortions, as though there’s anything wrong with having one.

          There is no intrinsic value in a zygote. This is called a grace period, and nobody’s business what a woman chooses. There are and would be costs of raising humans, so acting like there could possibly be a situation where valuing every zygote such that every pregnant woman would be subject to its removal to the protection of some kind of community gives me chills. I’m imagining some Hand Maid’s Tale and shit.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Embryos / zygotes / morulas / etc have only as much ‘intrinsic value’ as hair, flaked off skin, menstruation, etc.

          It may have human cells, but it has NO personhood not granted by the host.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          That ‘actualization’ requires SLAVERY of an actualized human being, the pregnant woman.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          No more than it should matter that a cancer cell or tumor is human.

        • al kimeea

          May, not will, be born. The ever lovin deity has many ways of showing it before that happens.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      So? A cancer cell could become a tumor which kills the host.

      ‘WhatIfs’ are irrelevant when the host woman HAS DECIDED to not carry to term.

  • Aram

    No one who’s ever had a miscarriage – let me rephrase – no thinking person who’s had a miscarriage, no matter how saddened they were by it, would dare consider compare it as equal to losing a child. Because it isn’t.

  • Sulie

    People are irrational. Feelings demand it, and control us when they’re inflamed. Is that always “bad?” No and it requires nothing more than imagination and empathy to prove.

    The unlike I hood of junior year highschool thought experiments actually being common enough to deduce some behavior one should always strive for makes morality more of an absurdity than the common atheist position, a necessity of its logic, that life, especially human life is an utterly purposeless existence aside from pleasure and pain.
    Unless you’re going to eliminate pain, why lead people to support atheism? It has no humanist cause outside of battling abuse outside it’s realm of believers.

    • Sulie

      Oh…I’m Pro-choice up to when pain is an issue for the unborn btw. Seems like the only decently caring and reasonable position available to me.

    • eric

      the common atheist position, a necessity of its logic, that life, especially human life is an utterly purposeless existence aside from pleasure and pain

      I don’t think that’s the common atheist position. Do you know any atheists who hold it? I think most atheists hold the opinion that humans have purposes (aside from pleasure and pain) defined by them, the humans.

      What you’re talking about is existential nihilism. What Satre wrote about. I’m sure there are atheists out there who are existential nihilists, but the two categories are not identical either philosophically or in membership.

      • Sulie

        I take it for granted that you don’t all think that way. Guess that’s not obvious, though, sorry. To answer your question, yes. I thought about it and all but 2 are completely nihilistic, and not happy about it. Ever.

        I only know three atheists well, who are fanatically anti-religious. They seem to enjoy it more.

        I don’t go to church, but I’m a religious theist. I wouldn’t argue cosmology with a physisist, but I think it’s fair to tell HER it’s depressing and I shouldn’t be humiliating into agreeing to believe this truth, since she just proved truth is a monster. Same as a lot of atheists see the god of the bible. They shouldn’t feel forced to believe because of popularity, status, logic, or hell (now mostly tough as nothingness, to line up with westernized nirvana and materialism’s death) for all but the chosen few. Atheists with power can go ahead and materialise their chosen few status based on their group’s principles without the burden of causing scandal, judging by the men I know who believe there’s no god. These guys are anti-humanists and border on praying to aliens. They have trouble with relationships, and especially with women, drug and alcohol problems, not mere use, and wind up blaming weird things for problems, personal or in the world.
        I worry about them, and the crap they’re being fed. I picked apart the christian probkems, that fights over and I won in the 90’s, but atheists seem stuck there, on two current political issues, or in the 1970’s…or else atheism to them means shaming others they don’t understand…not just “the bad ones.” Most atheist creators of media never distinguish between good and bad belief, they just call un-scientific bad. Irrational, bad. Religious, bad.
        Challenging logic isn’t the same as challeging ethics, right? Atheist writers spend a lot of time challenging the logic of beliefs, and trying to prove that a failure to believe the logic is unethical. Just wretched behavior, believing something most certainly unrealistic. Never have I read a piece written by a Popular atheist, that conceded that religion has brought any good into “our” lives, collectively or as individuals. Not even historically.
        I don’t think it’s winning them many brownie points an longer. It’s certainly not winning votes for one particular party, and that makes me wonder who pays the community members to keep fighting a war between science and religion…and Badly, like it’s meant to gaslight people to vote against whoever hates religion more.

        • eric

          I wouldn’t argue cosmology with a physisist, but I think it’s fair to tell HER it’s depressing and I shouldn’t be humiliating into agreeing to believe this truth, since she just proved truth is a monster.

          I understand that materialism may be depressing and monstrous to you, but my point is many if not most atheist don’t feel that way about it.As you say, they may have those feelings about biblical theology.

          Never have I read a piece written by a Popular atheist, that conceded that religion has brought any good into “our” lives, collectively or as individuals. Not even historically

          Well here is Hitchens saying the biblical story of casting the first stone is lovely. That took me about 20 seconds to find. I think a lot of atheists are of the opinion that in net, religions do more harm than good. But I doubt many of them would say a donation to hurricane relief can’t be a morally good thing simply because it comes from a theist.

          I don’t think it’s winning them many brownie points an longer. It’s certainly not winning votes for one particular party

          Nones continue to increase in numbers, while believers decrease. So how is it not winning any longer?

      • Sulie

        Oh my, sorry that’s so long. Short answer, yes, most of my atheist friends and relatives are nihilists.
        I’m glad it isn’t common where you are. My family, social group, and my media, are primarily agnostic to anti-theistic. I don’t agree with or aprove of (sort of a fine line for me, maybe for religious people in general) most religious people about religion, either.