Skip to content

Richard Dawkins Is A Dangerous Man: Update

I’ll tell you how. He makes people feel smarter than they are. And in our world of self-esteem substituting for accomplishment and ability, his villainous power is especially poisonous.

For instance, he recently retweeted with approval these words: “Most abortions are performed on women, so men should not be involved in making laws about it.” Now I confess this made me giggle, and I replied, “Most murders are committed by men, so women shouldn’t be involved making laws about it.”

See what I mean? It is an objective truth that such a simple, sub-Freshman-level fallacy can be refuted by a business major with an SAT of 400 (total) who has spent the week on a bender pledging fraternities at the wrong campus. But I still felt pride in refuting it myself. I know that responding to his tweets is the equivalent of completing the TV Guide crossword clue “___________ in the Family”, sitcom (3), yet still I did it.

Worse, after answering, I felt I had done something, that I gave my intellect a workout, that I was ready to publish a Grand Unified Theory. All false.

But I had not yet reached bottom. Just like the poor student who can only study what he already knows, I couldn’t stop playing with Dawkins. Take this one (which I learnt from Wesley Smith):

I think I actually rubbed my hands together, so happy was I to see this. Where to begin? Pointing out pigs aren’t human but fetuses are? Stating that makin’ bacon and killing a life inside a woman are not equivalent nor comparable? So many possibilities! All trivial.

I was not the only sinner. Many responded to this tweet, which so disconcerted Dawkins that he answered several times.

  • “Human” features relevant to the morality of abortion include ability to feel pain, fear etc & to be mourned by others (link)
  • Yes, anything can be mourned. If you are going to mourn your fetus, you are free to not have an abortion (link)
  • Of course potential to be human is among fetus’ qualities. But my pig comparison was careful to specify “relevant to morality of abortion.” (link)
  • My hair and fingernails are human but don’t feel pain when I cut them. Embryo before brain develops doesn’t feel pain. Late fetus? Pig? (link)
  • Woman’s right to own body is good but not BEST pro-choice argument. Better argument would be abortus doesn’t feel pain. I’m pro choice. (link)

May the Lord forgive me, but I cackled and told myself how clever I was after thinking such “weighty” thoughts as these: A biologist who says his hair and fingernails are human? What’s next? Marches against the wholesale slaughter at nail salons and barbershops? A biologist who says a fetus only has the “potential” to be human? If it isn’t human, but will be, what is it now? What divine act makes it human? Stop me!

Dawkins (who isn’t alone; Sam Harris and others join him) supposes pain the universal moral standard in a universe without moral standards—a contradiction! Should I tell him? Those without pain can be killed. So it follows patients undergoing general surgery, and therefore in no pain, can be whacked wily nily? That the younger or drunker your victim, or the less likely you are to mourn him, the less culpable you are? Too easy! Too easy!

I became like the alcoholic who thinks one small drink won’t hurt him. I’ll have a sip and stop, I’ll respond to just one more tweet. But Dawkins is like an unlocked liquor store after the zombie apocalypse. He never stops providing opportunities for his opponents to gloat, and therefore darken their souls with pride.

Oh dear. A restrained man would let this pass. Instead my thoughts were uncharitable and simple, though I thought them wise. Through my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault, I kept reading.

A biologist who intimates identical twins are the same human being? Enough! If I continue, I’ll start watching The View or listening to NPR so that I can poke holes in their “profundities.” All that will be left to me is a recurring role as a talking head on MSNBC.

For a brief moment I comforted myself with the idea that if I found myself more intelligent than I truly was, Dawkins’s supporters, those poor souls convinced by his arguments, suffered far worse than I. But the comfort turned to grief when I realized the consequences.

Update I am incorrigible, an inveterate backslider. I ask for your prayers.

Update I’m going to have to cancel my Twitter account. “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

52 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins Is A Dangerous Man: Update Leave a comment

  1. Why does Richard Dawkins get so much attention? I really don’t understand it. And there you go, giving him even more!

  2. You made my day! After having attempted to explain to a true-believer liberal why I considered him more of a threat to children’s futures than evil rich corporations, your blog gave me a good laugh!

    I, too, noted this whole liberal (and all associated with it) would be fascinating to watch, if it wasn’t so terrifying.

  3. Not just to nitpick–because it is a very human tendency is to find a single flaw in a person’s argument and then, based on that single flaw, reject everything said by that person. Commonly known as “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

    The point being, one should always be very careful to avoid making falsifiable statements. Overgeneralization is a very common mechanism.

    That said, consider:

    “A biologist who says a fetus only has the “potential” to be human? If it isn’t human, but will be, what is it now? What divine act makes it human? Stop me!”

    OK–STOPPING YOU: A fetus is just that, a ‘potential human’ — there is no assurance it will survive and a surprising proportion do not survive to birth. Some statistics put the figure for miscarriage’s & natural termination (without miscarriage) as high as 50 percent! (e.g. http://miscarriages.org/miscarriage-statistics.html).

    Chances are, everyone reading this blog knows two or more women who have had such an experience but never said a word about it beyond their physician — the loss is painful (and many women may feel embarrased, “what did I do wrong/could have done different???” even when they took exemplary pre-natal care). Howard Stern, crass radio announcer, did a typcially crass monologue about his wife’s experience…so this is understood in the mainstream, though crass radio announcers aside, still something polite mainstream society generally doesn’t openly talk about — but that doesn’t mean polite society pretends this Darwinian aspect of human survival doesn’ exist.

    It is a painful reality that a fetus is in fact only a ‘potential human’ as evidenced by the surprisingly frequency that “potential” fails; the “divine act” that makes a fetus human is survival, and the ugly reality is that that same “divine act” that lets most fetuses live also kills off a surprisingly high proportion in their formative stages of development.

    Come to think of it, there’s plenty of data on just this for someone with the analytical skills to present a cogent, objective, and quantifiable analysis of just how correct Dawkins is on this point. Is there a statistician in the house!?

  4. Ken–Biologists use DNA to identify species. A fetus is 100% human DNA. He/she is human. The question is not if he/she is human, it’s do we want to extend to this human the full rights accorded humans that outside the womb? (As for miscarriages, how are they different from humans dying outside the womb?) Biologically, a fetus is human.

    Briggs–Yes, you are helping give Richard Dawkins a larger audience, but more importantly, you are giving people who read Dawkins a larger view of the world than Richard does. You will probably never impact Richard, but you may awaken seeds of thought in some of his readers (small chance on Twitter, but it could happen). The only way people can change their beliefs is if someone gives them a new idea to consider. That’s what you are doing.

  5. Why this urge to use twitter? Sooner or later it will show that you have feet of clay. It seems to me that it has only the potential to destroy reputations and not build them, as reputations are built through carefully thought out essays and are destroyed through off the cuff comments uttered in anger. It is suited to the demagogue and not the intellectual or statesman.

  6. Really, you have not refuted a single point he has made. It looks like you have not understood.

    Can you rewrite to get some clarity on what you think he is saying and what your refutations are?

  7. “A unique human life begins at the moment of conception. Next time you meet identical twins, ask which one is the zombie, which got the soul”

    Utter nonsense. Each twin gets half a soul, even an idiot knows that. 🙂

  8. Ken, I don’t see that you gain anything with the “potential human” formulation. “Potential” does imply “can be but isn’t yet” so we’re still looking for a moment of transition – from potential personhood to actual personhood. But survival doesn’t cut it. It’s not a moment, it’s something going on continuously. A foetus at 7 months has survived for seven months. Has it qualified? Who’s to say? And a whole lot of old arguments then get re-hashed. So not really helpful.

    My take would be that humans take many forms, from overweight old men (hello!) to pin-head sized clusters of cells. Both have parents who are unmistakeably human.

  9. It is quite possible to disagree with Dawkins and his policy on converting the theistic heathens, and also to disagree with his opponents and their attempts to convert the atheistic heathens.

    Dawkins says that there are different ethics for fully grown humans and tiny clumps of cells. What a surprise. There are lots of different ethics for fully grown humans, just-born humans, almost fully grown humans too.

    There are criteria based on skin color, gender, intelligence (remember Plato?), number of people killed in combat, number of people killed while establishing a kingdom, empire or nation, and whatnot.

    Here the argument is when does the clump of cells become a human. Dawkins would probably say (I do not know his exact argument) that when there is a brain capable of supporting a human mind. As long as there is no brain, there is no possibility of there being a human mind, which makes it OK in this particular ethic. This is a logically consistent position.

    Other people have different criteria, which also result logically consistent positions.

  10. Sander van der Wal: I think I would agree with you mostly. Biologically, a human is a human based on DNA. When archeologists dig up a tiny skeleton and run DNA, no one argues about whether or not this is a human skeleton and whether or not it was or was not a potential human skeleton.
    Abortion is not about biology or DNA. It’s about when the DNA identified entity is entitled to legal rights. You seem to agree with this. Some say conception, some say when the fetus is viable, some say when the fetus breathes. These are theological and legal concepts, not biology. The point is the tweeter, apparently a biologist, is arguing from theology and legal status and denying the simple fact of biology. I think that was the point being made.

    William: As for tweeting in anger–I did learned from another blog experience (you guys are tame in comparison!) that sometimes the only response possible is an angry diatribe.
    One wishes reasoned debate were always possible, but sometime it just isn’t. Civility when possible, yes. Always? No. People who are bright will recognize why the lack of civility and people who are used to the carnage will just read into tweets whatever they want. Even angry tweets can sometimes grab someone’s attention and result in a new idea coming into their heads.

  11. Well if Mr Dawkins is arguing from the point of view of scientific precision we’d have to quibble with this..:

    “Most abortions are performed on women”

    I’m fairly convinced that all of them were…..

  12. @DaveG
    What Dawkins was saying is that some folks aren’t human, so we can kill them. Especially if we don’t know if “those people” can feel pain the way we do.

    In addition to not knowing logic, he also does not know the difference between a noun (“human”) and an adjective (“human”, as in fingernails). In the latter case, were he using Latin as is proper, he would realize that human must be in the genitive case: “fingernails belonging to a human”. Hope this helps.

  13. “A unique human life begins at the moment of conception. Next time you meet identical twins, ask which one is the zombie, which got the soul”

    Draw a triangle. Now erect a straight line from one side to the opposite vertex, creating two triangles. Which of the two got the three-sidedness of the original?

    (Three-sidedness is the form of a triangle, and soul (anima) is the substantial form of a living being. If triangles were alive, three-sidedness would be their souls.)
    + + +

    when the DNA identified entity is entitled to legal rights

    Whenever the Reichstag and the Chancellor bestow them, nicht wahr?

    Now human [natural] rights are possessed by people precisely because they are human [have a human nature], and that is not or should not be a subject for legal hair-splitting.

  14. To me, the caliber of Dawkins dorkiness is best gauged by that article he wrote in The Guardian in 2003 to promote the “Brights Movement”. Here is an excerpt:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/jun/21/society.richarddawkins

    […]
    Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell, of Sacramento, California, have set out to coin a new word, a new “gay”. Like gay, it should be a noun hijacked from an adjective, with its original meaning changed but not too much. Like gay, it should be catchy: a potentially prolific meme. Like gay, it should be positive, warm, cheerful, bright.

    Bright? Yes, bright. Bright is the word, the new noun. I am a bright. You are a bright. She is a bright. We are the brights. Isn’t it about time you came out as a bright? Is he a bright? I can’t imagine falling for a woman who was not a bright. The website http://www.celeb-atheists.com/ suggests numerous intellectuals and other famous people are brights.
    […]

  15. “A fetus is just that, a ‘potential human’ — there is no assurance it will survive and a surprising proportion do not survive to birth. Some statistics put the figure for miscarriage’s & natural termination (without miscarriage) as high as 50 percent!”

    So, possibility of death is being used as a support for causing death?

    So, if the possibility of a miscarriage can be promoted as a justification justification for legalizing the killing of a human being, can the justification of the poster possibly dying from a heart attack in 30+ years be a justification for emptying a cylinder of .357 into him to hasten the process? I’m curious.

  16. “Most abortions are performed on women, so men should not be involved in making laws about it.” Now I confess this made me giggle, and I replied, “Most murders are committed by men, so women shouldn’t be involved making laws about it.”

    It is not because abortion are done to women that men should not be involved in making laws about it but because it is the women that has to go through the pregnancy (and get stuck with the baby when it not desired).

    It is quite easy for men to tell women that they should not get aborted when they don’t have to suffer any consequences from it.

    Anyone as the right to believe that life begin at conception. It is what one do with that beliefs that becomes a problem.

    It is a religious concept to believe that life begins at conception and that conception happens at the moment of fertilization, this is not a scientific concept. Not everyone shares the same religious beliefs and no one can force their religious belief onto others.

  17. “It is not because abortion are done to women that men should not be involved in making laws about it but because it is the women that has to go through the pregnancy (and get stuck with the baby when it not desired).”
    – OK, assuming a non-rape scenario, I’m sorry, the fault of being pregnant is still 50% hers and 50% the man’s. If she didn’t want to get pregnant, perhaps keeping the legs together would have been a better plan?

    “It is quite easy for men to tell women that they should not get aborted when they don’t have to suffer any consequences from it.”
    – This is a twist on the cop-out, BS line of ‘thinking’ that states if I don’t suffer personal loss then my statement on morality is not to be considered. News Flash, dear: We aren’t talking about dividing up a pizza, where if I didn’t pay some those with it are right to refuse me access if they like. Whether a given act is objectively wrong or not does not depend on if I suffer personal loss from it. If someone rushes up and stabs to death the lady in front of me in line at the ATM, my statement that said act is hideously evil is not wrong or irrelevant because I wasn’t the one who was stabbed or did the stabbing.

    “Anyone as the right to believe that life begin at conception. It is what one do with that beliefs that becomes a problem.”
    – What air-headed thinking. No, what matters is if that is TRUE or not. the TRUTH of that statement is independent from any belief about it. If while deer hunting I hear a sound in the bushes and cut loose with 5 rounds of .308 into that bush, whether those Interlocks I fired struck a deer, a human being, or nothing doesn’t change based on my belief. They hit what they hit regardless of what I want to believe.

    There is one point to consider: does human life begin at conception? That is the only point to consider in the argument.

  18. Mike: If you let loose 5 rounds of .308 and hit a human and not a deer, odds are that will be called an accident. It does not affect whether someone dies or not, but it certainly affects whether you spend the rest of your life behind bars.

    While the woman has to carry the baby, as noted with the exception of rape, the woman did make a choice she knew could lead to pregnancy. Which leads us back to why women want abortion legalized–so they can have without consequences just like men do. The question is “Is a woman’s right to have sex without consequences greater than the rights of a potential human being?” That is the question in the abortion debate.

  19. It is a religious concept to believe that life begins at conception and that conception happens at the moment of fertilization, this is not a scientific concept.

    On the contrary, it is very much a scientific question. Once a parcel of matter becomes a self-organizing, inner-directed system it is alive. And it is precisely at the moment of fertilization that the cells begin to act on their own inner “programming” encoded in their own DNA rather than as an object subject only to external forces like gravity. The whole process of morphogenesis is something the embryo does, not something done to the embryo. What is “religious” about this? The only religious aspect is whether we can go ahead and kill it for being inconvenient.

    “Most abortions are performed on women, so men should not be involved in making laws about it.” Now I confess this made me giggle, and I replied, “Most murders are committed by men, so women shouldn’t be involved making laws about it.”

    It is not because abortion are done to women that men should not be involved in making laws about it but because it is the women that has to go through the pregnancy (and get stuck with the baby when it not desired).

    So you’d say a better analogy would be that only those who actually pay taxes should have a say in how the government spends the money?

  20. Its not about one group vs another, it is purely about the individual woman’s right to control what happens to her body. Get your rosary off her ovary, as the saying goes.

  21. Have you only just worked that Dawkins is stupid?

    We eat pigs, so we should be happy to eat a foetus. After you Richard, after you.

  22. I wonder if a female foetus has the right to control what happens to her body and not be aborted?
    Now we all start out as female……so do all foetuses have a right not to be aborted, slowly eroded as 50% become male?

    Ahhh but the sisterhood at work supporting females so they can abort over half of those female foetuses………with friends like that……..oh.

  23. If a woman has a ‘right’ to dispose of a foetus or unborn child because it is in her body how did she get the child into her body?. Did a man impregnate her (or perhaps willingly fertilise the egg in a laboratory dish )?
    BUT could it be that she is a mutant who spawns duplicates of her own cells?
    Is this a new sex(sorry, gender) we are dealing with. Is she human ?- the big question then arises -if she is not human does our human morality apply?
    If a man didn’t fertilise her it is not his offspring which is being eliminated so she can go on spawning or not as the mood takes her.But if it is his offspring he it would seem he has a right to decide on it’s future.

  24. @Ye Olde Statistician,

    1- It is not because an egg is fertilized that it becomes a fetus. A lot more has to happen before the conception is achieve. The egg has to trave from the felopian tube to the utérus and attached itself to the uterin wall to be able to grow. There are many fertilized eggs that don’t make it that far.

    Searching on the net I found this funny page:

    http://www.prolifephysicians.org/lifebegins.htm

    They say:

    “1. Living things are highly organized.

    2. All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy.

    3. All living things have an ability to respond to their environment.

    4. All living things have an ability to reproduce.

    5. All living things have an ability to adapt.”

    1- a fertilized egg has no organization what so ever. It just read the code and do what the code says. it cannot change how it grows, evolve, it can’t correct or fix itself.

    2- Yes, it can acquire energy.

    3- A fetus has no ability to respond to its environment. To grow a fetus requires a very specific environment, if it doesn’t have it will stop reproducing and miscarry.

    4- Fetus are growing cells but they don’t have the ability to reproduce.

    5- Fetus have no ability to adapt to any change, any change from the ideal condition will terminate the growth or pregnancy.

    It is very sad that physician, if they trully are who they claim to be, would mislead people like that.

    Four wheels don’t make a car, like a few cells don’t make a person. There is no way to know when a fetus is ensouled. It might just as well be from the first breath.

    2- The taxe analogy:

    Other than small infant, everyone is paying taxes. Anytime you buy gas, or almost anything, you pay some taxes on it. The lower your revenu the higher your taxes are. Even if they pay no income tax, people will still pay payroll taxes, sales taxes, social security and Medicare.

  25. An adult human has to travel a lot farther to get on with things. The fact remains that the human being is already a self-organizing dynamic system at each point along the four-dimensional space-time manifold that is the true size and shape of the being. The being at time t=0 is the same as that at time t=70, just as the same being is at h=0 or h=6.

    The fact that many or even most people don’t make it to birth is irrelevant to the fact that they are people. Most people don’t make it to 70 years old, either. They get run over by a truck or by a virus.

    1- a fertilized egg has no organization what so ever. It just read the code and do what the code says. it cannot change how it grows, evolve, it can’t correct or fix itself.

    An adult’s body just reads the code and does what it says. It cannot change how it grows or correct or fix itself.

    2- Yes, it can acquire energy.

    3- A fetus has no ability to respond to its environment. To grow a fetus requires a very specific environment, if it doesn’t have it will stop reproducing and miscarry.

    An adult human requires a very specific environment, with free oxygen at a specific range of partial pressures, a temperature range, and so on. Mars or Venus would be contraindicated.

    4- Fetus are growing cells but they don’t have the ability to reproduce.

    ? What are the cells doing? Many adults do not have the ability to reproduce. They are sterile of barren, for example.

    5- Fetus have no ability to adapt to any change, any change from the ideal condition will terminate the growth or pregnancy.

    Adult humans will likewise terminate if the conditions change too much.

  26. “An adult’s body just reads the code and does what it says. It cannot change how it grows or correct or fix itself.”

    A human being think, act, breath and it can repair/heal itself, not from everything but from many thing.

    “An adult human requires a very specific environment, with free oxygen at a specific range of partial pressures, a temperature range, and so on. Mars or Venus would be contraindicated.”

    Yet man walked on the moon. There are human on every diferrent and most extreme evironment on earth. We change and adapt the environment to us.

    A fetus doesn’t adapt to its environment and doesn’t adapt it to him/it.

    “? What are the cells doing? Many adults do not have the ability to reproduce. They are sterile of barren, for example.”

    Cells grow they don’t reproduce. They don’t create a individuated life. Every cell a fetus produce is linked to the other one. A bacteria on the other hand create a new life, indentical but the death of the original organism doesn’t cause the death of the second one. I take reproduction as creation of new life not of a cell with the same organism.

    “Adult humans will likewise terminate if the conditions change too much.”

    Were I live, Temps vary from 100F in summer to minus 30-40F in winters and we survive.

    A fetus require a very specific environment and cannot adapt to any changes to its environment.

    At the moment, médicine are able to save fetus that have reached 21 weeks. So before 21 weeks I see really no problem with abortion (90-95%) happens before the 12th weeks). We can discuss what happens after the 21st weeks, although life of the mother always comes first for me.

  27. What can one say about such a shallow and nasty man? American liberals believe in a living, evolving Constitution but not in a living, evolving child growing in a womb. SLED is a good argument base against the abortion rationalizers. Here is a good presentation explaining it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv-Tn36Q6X4

  28. I think it would help the discussion if everyone assumes people discussing the matter are looking for ways to choose the smallest evil from a number of evils.

  29. Rights always come with responsibilities, don’t they? So if one accepts that a fetus is a human life at the moment of fertilization, what responsibilities does that place on the two (or more, these days) people who created that life? Do these people have a duty to this life that goes beyond the non-aggression principle? Is the woman required to not drink alcohol as it may harm the baby? Is the man required to stick around so the baby has two parents to raise it until (socially-defined) adulthood?

    And if we determine that the creation of a human imposes these responsibilities on those that created it, what do we do when some parties to that creation did so unwillingly (rape is the clearest example)? Are the responsibilies placed on the woman anyway? Does society have a responsibility to take care of the child if the mother is unable (emotionally or financially)?

    If we discover that, in some future, that certain items in a woman’s diet increases/decreases the chance of miscarriage, does it then follow that a woman can be prosecuted by the legal system for ingesting these, even if she was unaware of the possible consequence? After all, ignorance of the law is no excuse in our (USA) legal system.

    I’m just wondering, where does one draw the line as to the responsibilies that one has to the unborn baby?

  30. A human being think, act, breath and it can repair/heal itself, not from everything but from many thing.

    Think? You’ve never met a teenager?
    What of a newborn? Anyone on a respirator? Can a person asleep or comatose “think and act”? Can a paralyzed person act? And if the criteria is “many things” even if not “everything,” then you declare the difference between embryo, fetus, newborn, infant, baby, toddler, child, teenager, young adult, mature adult, and elderly – not to mention the sick and injured and your other untermenshen – is not one of kind, but of degree. They are simply lesser lives.

    “An adult human requires a very specific environment…”

    Yet man walked on the moon.

    Then Cro-magnons were not human? The Romans? The Greeks? The Jews? The Chinese? Can you even tell the difference between what is natural and what is artificial? Is someone’s humanity now dependent on external technological achievements rather than on his or her own nature?

    Cells grow they don’t reproduce. They don’t create a individuated life. Every cell a fetus produce is linked to the other one. … I take reproduction as creation of new life not of a cell with the same organism.

    Is it too much to ask for consistency? You now admit that reproduction creates a new life. Congratulations.
    Cells not only reproduce, they differentiate. And of course they are “linked” across space and time. That is precisely the nature of a self-organizing system: it is a whole organism, not simply a congeries of parts.

  31. Dawkins is a symptom. If everyone were halfway precise and logical in their thinking, he would have no audience. None.

  32. @Nate,

    The big question should we condemn to death or life in prison a woman that miscarried?

    @Ye Old Statistician

    “Think? You’ve never met a teenager?
    What of a newborn? Anyone on a respirator? Can a person asleep or comatose “think and act”?,…”

    Human can be place on respirator and often when there no hope for them getting better we let them die. Other time the respirator is used until the respiratory function is restored. Many people are alive today because of the technology.

    “Then Cro-magnons were not human? The Romans? The Greeks? The Jews? The Chinese? Can you even tell the difference between what is natural and what is artificial? Is someone’s humanity now dependent on external technological achievements rather than on his or her own nature?”

    Technological advances is what permitted human to thrives. We adapt both the environment to us and us to the environment. Before technological advances, children death was common.

    http://sparkaction.org/node/526

    It is estimated that 1.3 percent of children born in 2000 will die before they reach the age of 20, compared to 10.9 percent of children in the early 1930s.”

    “Is it too much to ask for consistency? You now admit that reproduction creates a new life. Congratulations.”

    When is new life created? for a bacteria is at the beginning of the division or at the end of the last phase when there is no link to the original cell.

    My answer is when their is no more link to the original cell.

    When is a human cereated? At the moment it is differentiated from the mother, i.e.: when it is born and alive. Before that it is just a potential human, it is not human yet because we don’t know, can’t know if it will ever be alive before it is born.

  33. Human can be place on respirator and often when there no hope for them getting better we let them die.

    I forgot. You’d as soon kill them at one end of the manifold as at the other.

    Is someone’s humanity now dependent on external technological achievements rather than on his or her own nature?”

    Technological advances is what permitted human to thrives.

    But one must be human before technology can cause her to thrive. It is not human because technology can help her thrive. If the technology is part of the definition, then all who preceded that technology are ipso facto no longer human.

    It is estimated that 1.3 percent of children born in 2000 will die before they reach the age of 20, compared to 10.9 percent of children in the early 1930s.

    And this is relevant how? What about children born in 32 BC? Were they, by dint of the lower survival rate obtaining at the time, less human? How can the nature of an individual depend upon the statistical summary of a group?

    When is a human cereated? At the moment it is differentiated from the mother, i.e.: when it is born and alive. Before that it is just a potential human, it is not human yet because we don’t know, can’t know if it will ever be alive before it is born.

    This is such an appalling viewpoint that I can only be glad we won in 1945. Potential human, sub-human, it certainly won’t continue to live if we decide to kill it. Biologically, it is alive from the get-go. But I guess you can discard science when it becomes inconvenient to political ends.

  34. Ye Old Statistician,

    “I forgot. You’d as soon kill them at one end of the manifold as at the other.”

    You forget that it is the direct familly that decide what happens to a person who is under respirator. Many things are taken under consideration and the decision is taken following consultation with doctors and psychologues, and may include a living will or the person desire to survive.

    Do you think the state should take the decision for the familly?

    This is the kind of government the nazi promoted and executed. There are even some state in the USA that castrated handicaped and mental patient in the early 1910-20s.

    Government has no business violating a woman body and right to choose? Government has no business in decision like abortion or life termination in case of brain dead patient. It cannot dictate the family that they should or shouldn’t terminate a life.

    “But one must be human before technology can cause her to thrive. It is not human because technology can help her thrive. If the technology is part of the definition, then all who preceded that technology are ipso facto no longer human.”

    Not sure why earlier human wouldn’t have been human because they preceded technologie. Technologie (transport and farming) permitted to grow more food to sustain more human. Medicin saves people that would have died much earlier. It doesn’t make anyone more or less human, but it shows that human adapt to the environment and vice versa.

    “And this is relevant how? What about children born in 32 BC? Were they, by dint of the lower survival rate obtaining at the time, less human? How can the nature of an individual depend upon the statistical summary of a group?”

    You realize that before the 1900s abortion meant killing the baby at birth, where women hided the fact that they were pregnant and hid themselves for the birth of the baby which they killed and disposed after there birth.

    “This is such an appalling viewpoint that I can only be glad we won in 1945. Potential human, sub-human, it certainly won’t continue to live if we decide to kill it. Biologically, it is alive from the get-go. But I guess you can discard science when it becomes inconvenient to political ends.”

    It is an appaling viewpoint to believe that each person are allowed their own choices when it concerns their body.

    I favor a healthcare system where everyone can access it not whenever they fill like they need it. No matter the amount of money the person is Worth or has.

    I never killed anyhting in my except for insect. If I had to kill my meat I would be a vegetarian. Even though I don’t like hunting or fishing, I respect that other people don’t have a problem shooting animals or catching fish.

  35. We were all an embryo at some point.

    In plain English: an embryo is a human being. Killing is killing. Lots of words and mental gymnastics will not change the truth. We only hope our obfuscations wrap us in a soft, fuzzy cacoon insulating us from the cold hard fact that abortion is the slaughter of a totally innocent human life.

    Women’s right this, sexual liberation that…HOGWASH! We need to at least be honest. We demand the right to rut & bang like mindless animals with zero consequences. Men are all for “women’s right to choose” because it gives license to our animal instincts free of ties that bind.

    License to act as we wish. Zero consequences. That shall be the whole of the law.

  36. @John,

    So what of the responsibilities then? Does eating food that may harm the baby, or smoking, or drinking, necessarily mean that the woman must be locked up because she is harming the baby? She’s harming a totally innocent human life. When the mother gives birth and cannot take care of it, is it the taxpayers responsibility to that innocent life to raise it, clothe it, and teach it? At what point do these responsibilities end? I’m not being sarcastic, I’d really like to know where the line is drawn. Basically something like “the baby has a right to be born, but has no expectations of care after age X”. Who are these responsibilies imposed upon in situations where the woman was raped and cannot care for herself, let alone an innocent child?

  37. Sylvain — humility (and some additional thought) would be in order. Given your command of the language in which you are making these ever expanding arguments, already places you at a disadvantage.
    So slow down man, you are spinning out of control.

  38. There are even some state in the USA that castrated handicaped and mental patient in the early 1910-20s.

    They put too much faith in Darwinism and science.

    Government … cannot dictate the family that they should or shouldn’t terminate a life.

    The Roman paterfamilias could kill any of his children at any time, and the State could not gainsay him. (The one exception was on the field of Mars when both father and son were in arms.) So you’re saying the clan/family has this power of life and death.

    Not sure why earlier human wouldn’t have been human because they preceded technologie.

    a) Sylvain stated embryo was not human because it needed particular conditions to survive.
    b) YOS noted that humans in general need particular conditions in order to survive, and therefore by a) humans were not human.
    c) Sylvain countered that humans use technology to survive outside the normal range.
    d) YOS noted that by a) this redefines humanity in terms of the technology used to sustain life is all possible environments. Thus, creatures lacking this technology and therefore unable to survive “on the moon” would be no more human than an embryo.
    e) Sylvain wondered what happened.

    before the 1900s abortion meant killing the baby at birth

    This is a non-sequitur to the comment; but you are correct. People have been murdering children, especially female children, for a very long time. In ancient Greece they were thrown out on the polis midden heap to wail out their last few hours among the trash and garbage. The Spartans threw their unwanted babies into the pit called Apothete. No annoying wailing that way. It is of course much quieter to kill the baby before birth. It doesn’t get on your nerves quite so much when you can’t hear them cry.

    It is an appaling viewpoint to believe that each person are allowed their own choices when it concerns their body.

    Perhaps you meant “not allowed”? I agree (although allowing exceptions, such as for compulsory immunizations to prevent the spread of contagious diseases). In an abortion, the baby is given no choice whatsoever, and is killed outright.

  39. Sheri:

    What I said is that my BELIEF about what my rounds hit doesn’t matter, and doesn’t change what the DID hit. If I intended to kill a person, didn’t intend it, killed a deer, etc is irrelevant. My BELIEF about it doesn’t change what IS. Your talk about if it was an accident of jail time is meaningless. Try to focus please.

    “Which leads us back to why women want abortion legalized–so they can have without consequences just like men do.”
    – This is what I think separates many pro aborts from antis: pro aborts see some live without consequences and think ‘everyone should live without consequences!’. Pro-lifers think ‘ALL PEOPLE should live with consequences.’

    “The question is “Is a woman’s right to have sex without consequences greater than the rights of a potential human being?”
    – As the internet meme goes, “I see what you did there.” No, that’s not the debate at all. I do not grant your assumed, false premise. It is not a potential anything. What we are talking about is another human being. What the debate actually is is over a question of ‘shall it be lawful to kill the innocent and weak among us’?

    This is why hardcore abortion proponents are often seen keeping company with those pushing euthanasia.

  40. Think of Dawkins as a meme: if not repeated it will pass away, inutile, forgotten, childless.

  41. “Dawkins (who isn’t alone; Sam Harris and others join him) supposes pain the universal moral standard in a universe without moral standards—a contradiction! Should I tell him?”

    I think the claim is that morality is a social construct with a (probable) genetic component. As opposed to it being an absolute or ‘God given’ property of conscious existence.

  42. I think the claim is that morality is a social construct with a (probable) genetic component.

    So under the social constructions of ancient Hellas, “the strong take what they can, while the weak suffer what they must” and some people are “naturally slaves,” and Dawkins and Harris would be OK with that? If not, what privileges the constructions of some societies over those of others?

  43. YOS,
    Granting rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples is different from regulating sex life. Though I agree with you that State has no business regulating our sexual life.

  44. @JH
    Marriage is not a right, but a set of obligations. There are restrictions on who one may marry, for example, and duties consequent to it. To the extent that these have been deconstructed during the collapse of Western Civilization others may play dress-up amidst the ruins. The benefits of course is that the man is not supposed to wander off and stick the woman with the kids, that the couple remain together “for better or worse, in sickness or in health,” and that they pay a higher rate of income tax on their joint income.

    The only reason I can think of for State licensing of gay co-habitation would be the question of public health.

  45. “So under the social constructions of ancient Hellas, “the strong take what they can, while the weak suffer what they must” and some people are “naturally slaves,” and Dawkins and Harris would be OK with that? If not, what privileges the constructions of some societies over those of others?”

    Dawkins and Harris would probably say no, because humans evolved in and out of cooperative communities. Hence there is a powerful egalitarian component to our moral thinking. On the other hand, if you’ve recently rose to the top of the pyramid in a slave based economy, as did many of the Hellenistic peoples, then one might attempt to devise an alternate morality to justify one’s place in such a society.

  46. But then your claim is that Dawkins et al. are not making principled arguments, but ad hoc justifications. Either morality is a social construction or it is not. You can’t call it “a social construction” when that let’s you justify what your appetites crave but then flip over to what Gould called “just-so stories” when the social construction is not pleasing. You are implicitly smuggling an external morality in through the back door — iow, some standard by which you judge these social constructions as either acceptable or not.

  47. Dawkins et al., are presumably arguing for a genetic component in combination with social construction. E.g., Most moral systems are similar in goals: social cohesion, fairness, etc. I’d say the first part of your claim introduces a false dichotomy. (No something doesn’t have to one thing *or* the other because you say so.) And the remainder of your argument seems to be a non sequitur…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *