On Atheism

Another post hidden in the bowels of the draft folder. I’m not sure why WordPress makes it so difficult to find these; it didn’t use to…

I have been following some bloggers who profess to atheism, and commenting on their blogs.  It is interesting how they sometimes respond to me.

As a Christian, I am definitely a “theist”; that is, someone who believes there is a God.  I find that there are two types of people who are not theists; those that believe there is no God, and those who have no beliefs about God.  I was brought up to consider that the first group were “atheists” and the second group were “Agnostics” (don’t know whether or not there is a God).  What is a bit disconcerting to me is that both people with belief there is no God and some of those who do not have any belief about God both claim to be atheist.  And when you ask them for clarification, they insist that it is a binary condition.  Either you believe in God, or you don’t.  Why is this?  I don’t know.  Perhaps they prefer the “bigger group” resulting from the combination of everybody who does not believe in God.  Perhaps the term “agnostic”, with its implication from translation of “lack of knowledge”, is disturbing to them.  Perhaps they are just so tired of some of the theists that they want to draw as far from them as is possible.  I’ve experienced some of the more obnoxious theists, so I could understand that, except I’ve also met a few believing atheists who were also obnoxious.

If you check out the current definition of “atheist”, it has indeed been broadened to cover both believers in no God and those who don’t hold any God belief.  Then the definitions note that there are qualifiers such as “strong” or “explicit” to cover those who believe there is no God and “weak” or “implicit” to cover those who have no beliefs about God.  And I would be fine with that, if the people used the qualifiers.  They seem not to.  There is also the concept of adding “Gnostic” and “Agnostic” to the terms “atheist” and “theist”, indicating where you “know” (believe) it or not.  Again, that would be satisfactory, but seldom happens.  So, I’m afraid I fall back on the original concept of the term, and assume anyone who claims to be “atheist” believes that God does not exist until I get some indication otherwise.  Note that some atheists jump on this assumption or even this definition of the term, and claim it is a “ploy” of “the Christians” to “marginalize” atheists by “turning them into just another religion”.  I’m going to inch out on a thin branch here and claim that ANY belief about God is qualification for being considered “religious”.

Another area of discussion is the relationship between “belief” and “knowledge”.  I’m often told, “belief is not the same as knowledge” and that is a true statement.  However, I claim that belief is a SUBSET of knowledge.  When you come right down to it, many of the things we “know” are actually beliefs.  If you got a “fact” from a book or a teacher or other expert, you certainly think you “know” it.  But unless that “fact” can be proven to anyone else, it remains a belief.  In order to be a “fact”, it must be undeniable.  Since “everyone” agrees that many beliefs are knowledge, I claim that beliefs about God are also knowledge.  Just not as reliable as many other beliefs.

Anyone who gives a belief, particularly one as nebulous as anything about God, the status of “fact” is at risk of being obnoxious.  In my opinion, a person is welcome to believe anything they want which cannot be disproved.  However, they must understand that if they cannot prove it, they should not be presenting it as “truth”, and especially not expending great energy trying to get others to join in the belief.  Discussing with those who have any interest, or presenting it as theory or belief, fine.  But browbeating people would seem to be a losing proposition.

How theists browbeat nontheists is fairly obvious.  There is the ever popular “I know the truth and you don’t, so quit being so stupid and listen to me”.  And of course, faulty logic, either starting with untrue or at least unprovable assumptions, or using invalid logical arguments.  Then there are the threats and insults.  “If you don’t believe ‘x’, God’ll whack you”.  “Since God doesn’t like ‘x’, we’ll pass a law so Man will whack you.”  “If you don’t know God, you can’t be moral”.  “You do something God does not like, so you are a bad person”.  Interesting approach from those who claim they are directed to “love their neighbor”.  Doesn’t love have an implicit assumption of overlooking “faults”?

How can atheists browbeat people?  Or more accurately, theists?  Aha, another possible reason that nontheists may prefer being known as atheists, to only get grief from one direction.  There is the “Christianism” mindset; lumping all Christians or even all believers in God into one group, with all the negative aspects of some imputed to all.  Sorry, this is just as invalid as racism or sexism.  Plus, the same people may also claim that “all Christians disagree with each other”, which seems contradictory.  The “I know the truth and you don’t…”  and invalid logic methodologies are used by some atheists as well.  Then there is the “science can’t measure it, so it does not exist”, and “any God must follow the same need structure as does Man” outlooks.  These views have proven to be wrong in the past, so it is not impossible they could be proven wrong in the future.

Techniques include:  questioning any evidence presented while holding their own evidence inviolate, attacking the words rather than the ideas, taking things out of context, misreading what was said (which we all do) and holding onto that misinterpretation even after being assured that meaning was not intended, and even descending into insults and name calling.  Come to think of it, theists have been known to use similar techniques.  I guess what it boils down to is ANY belief tends to make us defensive if it is attacked. It is just that beliefs about God do not have any proof, and so are bigger targets than beliefs with more support.

What is interesting is that some atheists attempt to convince theists that they are wrong with an intensity which is, well, as intense as that of some theists.  Even if it were not the case that the very (or at least original) definition of the word “atheist” implied a religious outlook, the behavior of some atheists sure do seem like the behavior of some theists.

 

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Don’t hate Trump

There are a lot of people out there who say they “hate” Trump or act in a way which seems to indicate they “hate” Trump. Why?

Sure, he is obnoxious and has an elevated opinion of himself. He opens his mouth and although he hopefully intends to express himself accurately, the careless words come out as absurdities or statements, which IF MEANT, would show serious character flaws. He may be hard to like, but that hardly seems enough justification for “hate”.

It is claimed he holds women in disdain, and if true, that would certainly be a turn-off for women (and many men). But is it true? It is a fact that at least once he said some horribly disrespectful things about women. We know this because it was recorded on camera, wielded by professionals. And oddly enough, it was not presented to us until years later, at a key point in the election cycle. This indicates to me that it was realized at the time to be an unimportant, not uncommon, scenario between male friends, which, sadly, has been duplicated to at least some degree by at least 75% of the men out there. And, to be brutally honest, many women as well. It was strictly presented in a time and manner which indicated it was a weapon, not “truth”. All event is worth, if a rare instance, is a “tsk tsk”, not hate.

Then there were the women who claimed he molested them. Not a word in all the years he was a famous person, and then several all come out right at a critical point in the election? And at least some of the early ones had undeniable ties to the Clinton campaign? You’ll pardon me if I give them no credence. Find me someone who has no ax to grind and a believable reason to keep it secret for so long, and then I’ll consider the possibility that this is a valid charge.

Since much of his alleged disdain for women appears to be unreliable and strictly intended as “weapons” against him in the election cycle, what say we look at the positions he has hired and promoted women into? If you think he “hates” women, you might want to find some actual, verifiable proof of it before “hating” him back.

Ok, he is often accused of being “racist”. Apparently based on statements he has made which are so absurd, they must have been poorly thought out rather then intended. If he really thinks “all Mexicans are rapists”, then yes, he is not only a racist, but insane. If he meant to say “SOME Mexicans are rapists” then he is not necessarily a racist, or even wrong; that statement would have been absolute, provable fact. Again, for the most reliable take on this, look at the people he has interacted with throughout his long public history, and the people he has hired and promoted, before accepting and propagating the charge that he is a “racist”.

Ok, how about his “shady” business practices? How about “avoiding paying any taxes”? As to the latter, I say that if the IRS is satisfied with the taxes he has or has not paid, then it is the height of folly for us to whine about that. I suspect that he has paid every cent he was legally required to, and if you don’t like that amount, whine about the convoluted tax system YOU allowed to be set up, not someone who has the skill to play it to the limit. As to the business practices, I don’t know. My suspicion is that if anyone had a valid beef, they would have prosecuted it through the courts. If he actually did a person wrong (and not just played the game better), than that person and that person only has some justification in “hating” him. Everybody uninvolved? Hearsay is not allowed in a court of law; what say we don’t give it any credence in the court of public opinion.

So what we have so far is a person who can be crass and unpleasant and even greedy, but is unproven to be “evil”. He has some opinions which do not agree with other people’s opinions. So freaking what? If you want to attack one (or more) of his opinions or ACTIONS, proposed or implemented, go for it. Provide some justification that your opinion is better, other than just it is your opinion. And concentrate on the opinion/action and leave personalities out of it. Attacking the person screams that your position so weak, that any sane, intelligent person will dismiss your whole case out of hand.

To be clear, here are the people who I see come out as “hating” Trump:

– People who have been paid or bribed (directly or through their leaders) to display “hate” of Trump

– People who have accepted information about Trump without evaluating the source for bias or verifying the information against other (reliable) sources

– People who unquestionably accept the instructions to “hate” Trump from those people they “worship” (such as Hollywood or sports celebrities or politicians)

– People who put all their eggs in the Clinton basket and thirst for revenge that she lost

– People who have been stealing from the country for years and fear Trump will cut off their loot or power, or even prosecute them

– People who detest Christians and/or the behavioral limitations which Christianity prescribes.

– People who think the country was moving in the right direction and are concerned that progress would be halted or even reversed, but can’t support their opinion with facts and reason (or don’t dare, because if their true agenda were revealed, they would be reviled)

– People who have actually be damaged by Trump (and I list this only as a possibility, because I haven’t seen one yet who isn’t questionable)

Which group do you belong to? Why not belong to the group of people who don’t like one or more things that Trump actually seems to be doing, and present your case against each issue with facts and reason, leaving the personal attacks on the playground?

Or even the group who put up with the personal quirks of the man because he appears to not be another lying politician out to screw us over, and will give him a chance until he actually attempts something intolerable?

An open letter to the gay community

I was looking back through my posts to see if I have any new input on things, and found this draft from a year ago.  I don’t recall why I did not post it back then, but it still seems to have value today, so here it is.

 

Congratulations, you have made great progress in social standing.  It appears that you have even achieved your “holy grail” of legal marriage.  You seem to enjoy a fairly wide based acceptance; not universal, of course, but likely by the majority.

Why endanger your progress?  There are a few in the community who seem bent on taking you from an acceptable subset of society to a danger.  If you want to avoid becoming tarred with the brush of extremism, much like Muslims have to deal with the onus of the radical Muslims, it might be in your long term best interests to weed out your own extremists while you are still on the upswing.

Whatever am I talking about, you ask?  I heard someone relate a troubling story today; I cannot verify if it is true or accurate.  If it is true, it shows how a few of your community could make yourselves appear to be a danger to society at large.

The fellow claimed to be a DJ at a club, and happened to make a comment that the Supreme Court was not doing its job correctly.  A U.S. marine came up to him and said that someone in his party was offended  and asked the DJ what he had against gay marriage.  The DJ explained that he did not say anything about gay marriage; that he personally was for it, but did not think that the Supreme Court should have quashed States Rights.  That is, that gay marriage should be decided at the state level, not at the federal level.  The marine threatened that if the DJ did not apologize, the marine would beat him up.  The DJ then broadcast an apology.

Problem number one, a person made a statement of opinion without any indication it had to do with gay marriage, yet someone assumed it was an attack on gay marriage and was “offended”.  Perhaps they would have been wiser and more social to not assume it was any kind of attack on them.  And even if it was, keep it in perspective.  After all, I’ll bet the person couldn’t care less if anyone was “offended” by THEIR position on gay marriage.

Problem number two, they sicced a U.S. Marine onto the “offender” in an effort to either extort an apology or “punish” him.  This is unconscionable and illegal.  In this case, both the marine and the offended person lucked out; the DJ would have been within his rights to have called the police.  A threat of violence is legally an assault, and to ask the marine to do it would seem to be conspiracy. But ignoring that, to use violence or even the threat of it to punish an opposing viewpoint is unacceptable behavior.

Despite the DJ’s apology and explanation, the party of the offended person went to the manager and raised a fuss, getting a refund of their cover charge (10 people at $6 each) and then the group left.  At the end of the night, the manager was hostile until the DJ was able to explain what happened.  Even so, the manager only paid him half his fee, cancelled his next nights gig, and indicated that his continued presence was in doubt.

Problem three, even though the DJ explained what he meant and apologized, the offended person still continued after him, costing him money and putting his livelihood in jeopardy.  Punishing him for even the appearance of having a dissenting opinion.

It seems highly likely that the offended person is a member of the gay community.  Who else could possibly act so viciously at so tenuous a dig at gay marriage?  And what was the result?  One person, who did not even disagree with gay marriage, was punished.

If you attack someone who does not see you have valid reason to do so, you make an enemy of them.  You make enough enemies, and your favored status may become reversed.  Right now, you are winning most of your encounters, because a majority of people are for you or at least not against you.  But what happens if 80% of the population fears you, because you attack anyone who even looks like they might disagree with you?  Don’t you think that you will start losing encounters?

Don’t you think it would be better to treat the people who disagree with you with at least the same amount of courtesy they treat you with?

 

Was this story a complete fabrication or an exaggeration?  Perhaps; perhaps not.  Is it likely?  I don’t know; I can believe possibility of the alleged behavior by every character except the Marine.  The behavior ascribed to him would seem to be un-Marinely at best and incredibly stupid and a bit criminal at worst.  But even if this story is complete balderdash, it does show how a group could arrange to eventually be hoist on their own petard.

 

Is Islam A Religion of Peace?

This is a claim which is commonly made.  Let us consider its correctness.

Now I know some Muslims, and they are among the nicest people I know.  Based on the Muslims I know, the claim has potential.  But wait.  Every time the news comes out, it seems like it has some people claiming (or claimed) to be Muslims killing innocent non-Muslims and even other Muslims, for reasons which seem to be religiously motivated.  This throws doubt on the claim, to the point where it becomes questionable to state that Islam is a religion of peace.  Yet there are all those Muslims who seem to be peaceful.  What is the disconnect?

One option is that there are actually two separate religions: Muslims (peaceful) and Radical Muslims (not peaceful).  In order to be separate religions, wouldn’t they pretty much need to have differing scriptures?  No, they both claim to be based on the Qur’an.  OK, another option is perhaps one group is misinterpreting or outright disobeying the scriptures.

From  http://quranexplorer.com/

“Prophet Muhammad (saw) was the final Messenger of Allah to humanity, and therefore the Qur’an is the last Message which Allah (swt) has sent to us. Its predecessors such as the Torah, Psalms, and Gospels have all been superseded. It is an obligation – and blessing – for all who hear of the Qur’an and Islam to investigate it and evaluate it for themselves. Allah (swt) has guaranteed that He will protect the Qur’an from human tampering, and today’s readers can find exact copies of it all over the world. The Qur’an of today is the same as the Qur’an revealed to Muhammad (saw) 1400 years ago.”

Thus, there is only one valid Qur’an source, and it appears that if we pick up a Qur’an, we can trust that it is complete and accurate.  So, let us do that.  Certainly, Allah is not fond of “infidels”, claiming He will punish them, but does He say it is ok for Muslims to kill infidels or otherwise commit violence against them?

From Surah 2 Al-Baqara, verses 190-191;  “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors. (190) Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, as Fitnah (to create disorder) is more severe than killing. However, do not fight them near Al-Masjid-ul-Haram (the Sacred Mosque in Makkah) unless they fight you there. However, if they fight you (there) you may kill them. Such is the reward of the disbelievers. (191) ”  

Fighting and killing does not sound peaceful except in the case of self defense.  This is not looking good for Islam, peace-wise.

From Surah 4 An-Nisa, verse 140:  “And it hath been revealed to you in the Book that when ye hear Allahs revelations being disbelieved in and mocked at, sit not down with them until they plunge in a discourse other than that; for, then, ye would surely become like unto them. Verily Allah is about to gather hypocrites and infidels in Hell together. (140)”

On the other hand, this sounds pretty peaceful.  If someone mocks Allah’s revelations, don’t hang out with them until the subject is changed.  Allah will take care of them.  This does not seem to say anything about going into their building and killing a bunch of people (as just happened in France).  This could be a case of the “Radical Muslim” misinterpreting or ignoring that which they call scripture.

There are many other instances in the scripture which seem to be violent and many which seem to be peaceful, at least as far as how the followers should be.  It seems, like most every religion, it is subject to selective adherence.  Basically, Radical Muslims may or may not be religious, but are provably not at all peaceful.  This form of Islam is NOT peaceful, and anyone who says it is, really is kind of a moron.   What about the rest of the Muslims?  Is their version of Islam one of peace?

Let us consider what “defines” a Radical Muslim, at least when compared with a peaceful Muslim.  Obviously, if one searches out and kills innocent children, women and men, that is the most obvious facet of the Radical.  Even a person who would not kill an innocent person themselves, but agree that killing such an innocent is acceptable would be a Radical.  The Radical believes that the entire world should be governed by “Sharia law”, which means the only law considered is that which it is claimed Allah specified.

So, what percentage of Muslims are willing and able to go out and kill innocent people?  Probably not many, less than 10%.  If that was the end of it, then perhaps we could pretty much conclude that the statement under investigation was pretty much accurate.  However, this minority could not operate without support, and if a person supports Radicals, that person must be considered a Radical as well.  Unfortunately, the number of Muslims who can legitimately be considered Radical is much larger than just the obvious killers.  Surveys taken in 2009 in countries with a significant Muslim population indicate that the number of Muslims who approve of killing non-Muslims, and even Muslims in some cases, or believe that the leadership of their country should be under Sharia Law, is often over 50%.  In some countries, this number is over 75%; in the best case, the United States, about a third of Muslims indicated views which identify them as Radicals.  Based on the surveys, it is extrapolated that of the 1.6 billion Muslims on the Earth, slightly over half of them are Radicals.  Not a minority, then.

The “minority” Muslims don’t seem to be able to, or in some cases, willing to, point out how they are following the scriptures and the Radicals are not.   Some do decry the extreme acts.  But none of this makes them “the religion of peace”.

At the current point of time, it appears that Islam is NOT a religion of peace.  Even though many Muslims are themselves peaceful, the religion itself does not preach peace and there are those who use it, seemingly validly, to encourage violence.

Finding God, Part 4

Actually, I’m forgetting a step.

Where did you come from?  You might say “my parents”, or if you are a smartass, something like “Pittsburgh”.  And where did your parents come from?  “Their parents” and so on.  If this goes on long enough, eventually “their parents” will NOT be a valid answer.  There are two major theories and some minor ones which attempt to answer this.

One set of theories is that there was nothing and then suddenly something (the Big Bang Theory) and then this something eventually followed the laws of physics and became the physical universe.  Because this particular planet just happened to be “perfect” for our form of life, life eventually happened and evolved until eventually our immediate precursors happened to exist and generated the first set of parents (the Theory of Evolution).

The other major theory is that there was nothing and then God created everything (Creation Theory).  A sub-theory of this is that God “guided” physics and evolution to create the universe and us.  Basically, either “we” happened accidentally or as the result of some intelligence (Intelligent Design).

Note that any theory which postulates that we are the result of a non-God intelligence is not useful, since it just moves the question back a level.  “We were seeded here by aliens”.  “Really, well then, where did the aliens come from”?  And so on.  Oh, and don’t ask me where God came from, since most concepts of God requires that He has always existed (a difficult to grasp theoretical aspect of the Supernatural world).

If you believe that no God exists, then you are stuck with the Theory of Evolution, which is not contradicted by currently known facts, but is also not proven by them.  However, if there is the possibility that God does exist, then He could have made the original set of parents, and maybe even exerted some amount of control over your existence.

In the next part, we will consider the possibility that you have a Supernatural aspect.  Really.

If you are against abortion, what can you do?

The simplest and most obvious is, don’t have one.  This means, sadly, not having sex with anyone with whom you do not want to have children or at least would not be willing to have them, and in every sexual encounter, proceed in the manner most likely to result in your intention on having a child or not having a child being realized.  And if unintended pregnancy does occur, suck it up and do either of the only two options available (keeping the child or putting the child up for adoption).  It would be hard to imagine anything worse than a person who believed abortion is wrong, having an abortion.

OK, that takes care of you, but how about everyone else?  In the previous article, I came to the reluctant conclusion that laws were not appropriate.  ‘Forcing’ people not to have abortions seems to be a losing proposition for everybody, including even God.  Encouraging people not to abort seems to have more potential; treating the problem rather than the symptom.

For every attempt to educate people about the risks of casual sex, there are hundreds on the joys, social acceptability and even desirability of casual sex.  Thanks, Hollywood.  I doubt we’ll ever see any laws to discourage unintended pregnancies.  Education about the potential risks and the questionable morality of abortion may have benefit, and pursuing laws to that end may be worthwhile.

Other than working to pass laws and supporting candidates for office who claim to share your views, what can you  do?

There are some who feel so strongly about abortion doctors killing babies, that they think killing the doctor is justified.  These people are mentally incompetent and should be treated like the dangerous psychopaths they are.

Then there are those who think standing outside an abortion clinic and yelling insults at the people going in is doing God’s work.  Sorry, they are doing the Devil’s work.  First of all, they are not at all representing God’s love, they are demonstrating Satan’s hate.  This tends to drive the people yelled at further from God, not draw them closer.  Second of all, the insults are usually perceived or desired to be perceived as lies, which may tend to make the person less likely to listen to reason.

But let us say that you actually drive away a potential abortion customer; you go home for supper feeling really good about yourself.  That is the only result you pay attention to.  No thought whatsoever for the person you ‘convinced’ or the child you ‘saved’.  The person you yelled at is probably not feeling good.  They were in a bad situation and now they are likely feeling worse, with your condemnation weighing on them and having to start from scratch in resolving their ‘problem’.  They probably use your behavior as God’s representative to drive them further from God, in which case you helped the Devil steal their salvation.  There was a reason the person was considering abortion; the child may now grow up unwanted or in inappropriate circumstances, in which case you may have helped the Devil create further destruction of Society and enhanced Chaos.  And even those who are not directly involved see your representation of God and apply that negative impression towards Him.

There is one class of anti-abortion activists which do seem to unequivocally be doing God’s work.  These people are supportive and caring of the woman during the decision whether to abort, showing her all the pitfalls of that path.  And they are supportive during pregnancy, including helping her working towards a better future for herself.  And after the birth, they handle all the work of adoption.  Doesn’t this seem like a more Godly methodology?

 

Should there be laws against abortion?

This is a very controversial subject.  Some people feel very strongly about their viewpoint, occasionally to the point of violence.

On the one side, you have those who believe that a child is not a child until it is born.  That is, ‘life’ begins at birth.  Before then, it is a ‘wart’ which the woman has the right to have removed if she so chooses.  These people tend to not believe in, or at least to not have much of a relationship with, God, and their vision is directed inwards, that is, worrying about what seems ‘best’ for them.

What really is confusing is many of these same people also seem to believe that if someone attacks a pregnant woman and as a result, the unborn child dies, that is not an unsolicited abortion but  is instead, murder.    This seems an odd contradiction and implies that a child is only a child if you want it to be a child, which has disturbing connotations.

On the other side, you have those who believe that a child is a child the instant it is conceived, and that the woman has no right to kill it.  These people tend to have a close relationship with God and their vision is directed upwards; that is, attempting to figure out what God wants.  And what they think God wants is for the child to be born.

I have been on both sides of the question.  Before I found God, I believed that pregnancy was a biological happenstance, and that it would be ‘good engineering’ to prevent a child from being born to parents which did not want the child.  Fortunately, I was never in a position where I had to participate in that decision.  Once I found God, I became convinced that killing a child was a sin, and now intend to never commit that sin, no matter what the temptation.  Notice the concept of ‘choice’.  At one time, I would have chosen to participate in an abortion, and now, I choose not to participate.  Because of  being able to see both sides of the question, I’m uncertain about LAWS preventing abortion.

Abortion is the term used to describe a procedure which results in a pregnancy being terminated and the child prevented from being born (alive).  It is a nice, technical term, which is currently legal and has a fair amount (as much as 50% during the first trimester, perhaps less than 20% during the third trimester) of societal acceptance.  And is misused to make a vicious crime seem ‘ok’.  I refer to ‘partial birth abortion’.  I suggest that any person who thinks that a child in the process of being born is not a child, is either incredibly stupid, insane, or just plain evil.  Can anyone explain to me how this is not the case?  Isn’t birth only used as a delineation because it is ‘easy’ to apply in allowing the child to be killed or attempt to prevent it from being killed?

This then means that ‘partial birth abortion’ is really ‘partial birth murder’ and the first term should not be allowed, as it cloaks the crime in a shroud of legality.  It should be obvious that I am firmly against it, but I don’t see a ‘law’ being the optimal solution.  There should really be no need for a law against this; we just need to stop referring to it by the camouflaging term.  The people who perform this procedure should be charged with first degree murder, and the people who request the procedure should be charged with conspiracy to commit murder.  And they would be, if we had not allowed the use of the word ‘abortion’ as part of the term.  Since common sense is very uncommon, I would tend to support a ‘law’ which prohibits that which should be intuitively not done.

Note that there is a (fortunately tiny) movement to get ‘post birth abortion’ accepted.  This is currently not a problem, but could be some day.  In my opinion, anyone in favor of allowing ‘post birth abortion’ is a prime candidate themselves for the procedure…

There is a problem though.  Birth can be (and currently is from a legal standpoint) a binary event.  Pregnancy proceeds until an instant of time, and then birth has occurred.  This makes it easy to delineate between the conditions.  It is a bit more difficult to separate the process into three conditions, pregnancy, birth in process, birth completed.  Worse, we’ve just moved the problem back a bit.  Can we really say that one second before birth begins, the child is not a child yet one second later it is?  Now we have to divide the process into four sections,  conception, viable child, birth in progress, birth completed.  And who can tell when that first ‘break point’ is?

The latest time frame of this break point between non-viable and viable would be when the child could survive outside the mother’s body with ‘minimal’ assistance.  But what would be the definition of ‘minimal’?  Wouldn’t two different children have different times when they meet this qualification, and how could that be determined?  Do we really want to be involved with removing the child from the mother’s body and than watching to see if it lives or dies?  Trying to apply this on a case by case basis would be an invitation to chaos.  The other option is to use historical medical records to come up with an ‘average’ time before which it is not a child and after which it is.  But do we really want to assign life and death based on average history, ignoring individuality?  This would be a flawed determination, but it could be better than the current methodology.

Conversely, the earliest time frame for this break point is conception, and a follower of God will usually insist that God intends the child to be a child at conception (or even earlier).  However, if a person does not believe in God, then that premise will not be accepted.  And without being able to prove that God exists (which nobody has yet done), much less what His desire is, that premise cannot and should not be forced on the unbeliever.  Or even the believer.

After separating ‘partial birth abortion’ from ‘regular’ abortion, we can now analyze whether laws against ‘regular’ abortion seem appropriate.  Here are some of the reasons why people claim we DO need such laws.

The first is that ‘God wants it’.  This is not a valid reason for having a law of man.  Man’s laws are intended to (or at least should) be for the benefit of society and its members.   To attempt to enforce God’s laws is pretty arrogant of us.  And it would seem, useless.  After all, God does not appear to want us to do the right thing because we are forced to do it by a law of man.  He wants us to do the right thing because we know it is the right thing and we WANT to do the right thing.  For that matter, He considers the DESIRE to do a thing the same as actually doing it.  He reserves the rights to punish the breaking of His law to Himself.

Then there is the “we are depriving ourselves of a person’s potential” argument.  And yes, we are with every abortion.  Who knows which one would be another Einstein another Salk, another Churchill, another Jordon?  Or another Hitler, another Hussein, another Dahmer?  There is the potential for greatness and the potential for disaster in every birth; let me suggest that the potential for neutral or worse is considerably greater in a baby who is not planned for and worse, not wanted, than in one who is at least wanted.  Oh, and let us not forget, God knows what children are going to end up being aborted, and it is my theory that he does not waste a ‘person’ on them. For that matter, potential greats die in childbirth (the mother OR the child) or accident or violence or disease or suicide, etc.  So this reasoning may be a pretty argument, but it is by no means justification for laws.

Then there is the horrifying number of abortions performed.  Shocking, but not a reason for a law.  The act is either OK or not OK; the number of cases does not change the justification.

Here is a heartbreaking one: the rights of the unborn child.  The Constitution says our ‘right to life’ is inalienable; that is ‘cannot be taken away’.  Balderdash.  If a person commits offenses bad enough, the State is allowed to execute them.  If a person attacks someone else with intent to kill, that victim can defend himself with the potential result of the attacker dieing.  People can kill themselves deliberately or through extreme stupidity.  Natural disasters and accidents kill even those who have done ‘everything right’.  No, life is not a ‘right’, it is a privilege with responsibilities.

Here we are, depriving a person of life, and there is nothing they can do about it.  Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?  However, we routinely deprive things of life; animals to eat or because there are too many of them, plants to eat or because they annoy us, insects, bacteria.  Obviously, ‘life’ in general is not sacred.  So how about ‘sentient’ life?  That, we (well most of us) do tend to hold in high regard.  If a baby is sentient prior to being born, that would indeed be reason for a law.  But at what time does a baby become self aware?  ‘Rights’ are, after all, usually misrepresented.  There really are no ‘rights’; they are more ‘privileges’, since with each comes responsibility.  Prior to birth (and for that matter, for a while after birth), a child is incapable of satisfying any responsibility, and thus is limited in their ‘rights’.  If they are not even self aware, then are their rights being violated?  Or is it merely their potential or future rights which are being violated?  A tough one, but unless it can be proven the child is self aware prior to birth, I must reluctantly conclude that this is not in itself justification either.

There is some evidence that an abortion has negative impact on the woman’s mental and physical health.  This includes a significant increase in risk of breast cancer and other diseases, and difficulty in having a desired child.  Plus there seems to be, in some women, various degrees of regret or depression.   Are these risks significant?  Some say yes, some say no.  But in either case it seems likely that they are not justification for laws.  We allow alcohol and cigarettes, which are known to be harmful.  What we can and should have in law is a requirement for anyone wishing to undergo an abortion be exposed to education about all the potential problems which could result.  And an age limit below which parental approval is required.

Finally, there are the effects on society.  It seems that as we devalue the life in the womb, the value of life afterward takes a hit.  This may be a factor in the increase in random violence.  Or it may be a result in the relentless suppression of God by those who are ‘offended’ that something greater than themselves exists.  Unless a direct correlation between abortion and any significant negative impact on society can be proven, laws are not going to be of benefit.

As far as I can see, laws prohibiting all abortions are not appropriate.  Severe restriction in the third trimester would be acceptable to me as a ‘compromise’ between the positions.   Laws requiring education before the procedure and parental approval seem absolutely necessary.  Abortion should never be paid for directly, or indirectly, by public money, as the people who don’t believe in it should  not be forced or tricked into paying for it.  It should not be paid for by any insurance policy unless that policy has an extra cost rider completely paid for by the set of policy holders who chose to add this rider; again, those who don’t believe in abortion should not be forced or tricked into paying for it.  Logically, the best place for laws would be in the prevention of undesired pregnancies, but of course that will never fly.

What are the alternatives to abortions?  After not getting pregnant involuntarily, there are only two:

Have the child and keep it.  If the woman was going to abort the child, one hopes she had valid reasons, and if so, those reasons likely still exist.  Any negative impact on the woman may or may not be appropriate ‘punishment’ for the ‘crime’ of getting pregnant inappropriately.  And why should the father escape ‘punishment’?  Most importantly, why should the child be punished for the actions of the mother?  What if the child ever learns that their parent(s) considered aborting them?  This option CAN end well, but often does not.

Have the child and give it up for adoption.  It would seem that if there are people who want a child and a woman who has one she does not want, that a mutually beneficial solution is obvious.  And it does work on occasion.  The downside is that there is a powerful bond between a woman and a child just delivered and many who originally intended to give up the child for adoption change their mind.  Thus they, and their child, are subject to the conditions which lead to thoughts of abortion in the first place.

Let us say an adoption does take place.  The ‘birth’ bond is not present, but in most cases parental love for the child and love of the child for the parent are the same.  Downsides include not knowing about the child’s genetic history or access to relatives if a transplant is necessary, and the ‘trauma’ of learning that you have been adopted or having ‘your’ child desire to meet their ‘real’ parents.  Still, this is often less trauma than the other option.