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prisonchaplain

Proof of moral superiority of theism: Atheist says reason-based morality means aborting disabled fetuses

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Richard Dawkins, the same man who says moderate--or "nice"--religionists simply give conver for the radicals--is now saying that morality that is based in reason, seeks the happiness of the majority, and thus, would encourage aborting fetuses that were known to be disabled.  The example he was presented with was for an unborn child diagnosed with Down's Syndrom.

 

http://nypost.com/2014/08/31/why-the-atheist-call-to-abort-the-disabled-is-doomed/

 

If this is where atheism takes us then there must be a God.  Thoughts?

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I have a handful of atheist friends on facebook, as well as on a homeschooling message board, and all of them have denounced what he said. Much like how Christians don't want to all be lumped together with the likes of Fred Phelps (the Westboro Baptist Church guy), they don't want to be lumped in with Dawkins and the many outrageous things he's said.

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I have a handful of atheist friends on facebook, as well as on a homeschooling message board, and all of them have denounced what he said. Much like how Christians don't want to all be lumped together with the likes of Fred Phelps (the Westboro Baptist Church guy), they don't want to be lumped in with Dawkins and the many outrageous things he's said.

Very true, everyone I know is an athiest and wouldn't support such thinking.

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Richard Dawkins, the same man who says moderate--or "nice"--religionists simply give conver for the radicals--is now saying that morality that is based in reason, seeks the happiness of the majority, and thus, would encourage aborting fetuses that were known to be disabled. The example he was presented with was for an unborn child diagnosed with Down's Syndrom.

http://nypost.com/2014/08/31/why-the-atheist-call-to-abort-the-disabled-is-doomed/

If this is where atheism takes us then there must be a God. Thoughts?

My granddaughter Remy was thought to have downs due to tests, but they thought she would have some problem. When they asked if my daughter wanted an abortion...she got mad! Then Remy was born with cancer, a very rare skin cancer. At 6 months she had it removed and is now 5 and cancer free, and one of the greatest joys of Pa Pa's life as well as everyone else. It makes me wonder how many have died because parents did not have the faith and values to see them through to life.

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I have a handful of atheist friends on facebook, as well as on a homeschooling message board, and all of them have denounced what he said. Much like how Christians don't want to all be lumped together with the likes of Fred Phelps (the Westboro Baptist Church guy), they don't want to be lumped in with Dawkins and the many outrageous things he's said.

 

I get what you are saying.  However, Dawkins is not.Fred Phelps.  Phelps was an outlier from day one.  Even most atheists/agnostics would privately admit that they knew he represented only himself and his compliant family.  Dawkins is a renowned scientist, and one of the most famous atheist voices in the world today.  He may not represent most, or even many atheists.  However, in evaluating his words, I look not to how well his ideas would poll, but rather to whether they are a logical extension of atheist thought.  Social Darwinism is not a new idea, and what Dawkins said lined up with it pretty well.

 

Let me ask it this way:  Just what % of atheists/agnostics are pro-life, and what are their reasons for being so?

 

Answer:  19%.  68% are pro-choice.  Of the groups in this list, the non-believers are the strongest pro-choice advocates.  My guess is that the % would be even higher if the question were, "In cases where a fetus is known to be signficantly disabled, would it be wise for expectant mothers to consider abortion?"

 

http://www.gallup.com/poll/154946/Non-Christians-Postgrads-Highly-Pro-Choice.aspx

Edited by prisonchaplain

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The idea that there's some kind of moral imperative to aborting a pregnancy when the child is known to have a severe disability is ludicrous.  And it will be rare that you find a physician that agrees with that kind of imperative.  What you will find is a lot of physicians who believe in allowing parents to make the choice for themselves.

 

I've sat in on some heart breaking meetings at work with the high risk pregnancy group.  These physicians are charged with caring for women who have serious health conditions themselves, or are carrying children with serious deformations and illnesses.  With the conditions we are looking at, Down syndrome is one of the least of our concerns. A certain number of our deliveries go straight from the delivery room to surgery.

 

One of the most depressing cases I've come across here was a rare event where the fetus, instead of attaching to the uterine wall, grows into the uterine wall.  The probability of survival to birth: 0.  It's never happened.  The really heart breaking thing was the, because the mother felt morally obligated not to terminate the pregnancy, she was knowingly carrying a growing fetus that would soon die--and that the larger the fetus grew, the more damage would be done to the uterus, and the harder it would be to conceive again.  

 

Over the past year as I've interacted with this group, my view of abortion has shifted significantly.  I now consider it a matter of individual health care, and a decision that should be left between the patient and her physician.  The concept of morality with regards to abortion for pregnancies gone wrong is a farce.  There is no morality in these situations.  Only heart ache and disappointment.  And each person will need to cope with those challenges in the own unique way.

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The problem with Atheism is, aside from the fact that it's factually incorrect, it essentially has no basis for morality. To state that Atheism requires the reduction of disabled people is untrue.

 

Atheism is simply the rejection of Theism. There is no commentary on morality one way or the other.

 

Dawkins was simply starting a conversation on what the 'new morality' would be. As he rejects God as a source of good, there has to be some other way to have a basis for good. His morality simply seems to be "What is most comfortable for the majority."

 

I think he's wrong. But he simply drew his moral imperative to the logical conclusion. That we know it's abhorrent doesn't change that these sorts of 'ideas' will become more and more commonplace as rejection of deity as a basis of morality becomes more commonplace.

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MOE--it's always hard to respond to a post like yours.  it's heart felt, experience based, and contains an intimate knowledge I do not have.  Nevertheless, it's my understanding that pregnancies that threaten serious health to the mothers are a very insignificant portion of the one million plus that take place each year.  Additionally, most pro-life advocates would make exceptions for rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life or health.  So, does what you've seen with difficult pregnancies mean that you would want to see all decisions left up to the mother--with no restrictions?  I'm not assuming so--I am asking where you have ended up, since you spoke of a signficant change in view.

 

Funky Town--you are correct.  Atheism does not have to lead to any kind of moral evil.  Nevertheless, can we really ignore Dawkin's progression in thought?  He's hardly the outlier that Phelps is.  There is a history of those espousing atheism being willing to sacrifice human life "for the greater good."

 

Alas, you can find that in Christianity too.  And Islam.  And most religions, I suppose. 

 

A mentor of mine once said that religion is neutral.  Great men have used it to inspire greatness in others.  Evil men have used it to generate evil in others.  Perhaps atheism is the same?

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MOE--it's always hard to respond to a post like yours.  it's heart felt, experience based, and contains an intimate knowledge I do not have.  Nevertheless, it's my understanding that pregnancies that threaten serious health to the mothers are a very insignificant portion of the one million plus that take place each year.  Additionally, most pro-life advocates would make exceptions for rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life or health.  So, does what you've seen with difficult pregnancies mean that you would want to see all decisions left up to the mother--with no restrictions?  I'm not assuming so--I am asking where you have ended up, since you spoke of a signficant change in view.

 

It's true, that the number of pregnancies that "seriously threaten the health of the mother" is small.  It's more common for there to be a problem with the fetus.  The most common issues we deal with here are heart defects.  Most of those go on to birth and surgery.  The problems that are most likely to bring up termination are the genetic and chromosomal disorders that can't be reversed or repaired with surgery.  There are probably 3-4 of these cases that bring up termination as a possibility than there are where the mother's life is jeopardized.

 

That being said, you're still right that the vast majority of abortions are performed without any medical indication.  It's sad and tragic, but what I've realized in working with these physicians is that each and every road block that goes up to prevent "convenience abortions" creates more roadblocks and headaches for women who have medical indications for a termination.  Based on my experience, that's a trade I'm not willing to make.

 

So to sum up my views, I believe that abortion is a valid medical procedure that needs to have a place within the care of pregnant women*.  And I believe it should be covered as a part of standard maternity care in health insurance policies.  Elective (non-medically indicated) abortions should then be treated like we would other elective procedures--namely, if you want it, pay for it yourself.  

 

I will grant some reasonable restrictions, such as disallowing elective abortions after a reasonable expectation of independent viability has been reached.  Aside from that, however, I feel it is my duty to persuade people away from abortion, not to legislate them out of it.

 

 

* abortion really doesn't have the status of a valid part of medical care, even in extreme circumstances.  Terminations are coded into the medical record in the vaguest of terms still, and I can't release any confirmation that we even perform terminations let alone the number for fear that the crazies will show up on our doorstep and harass our patients.  

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MOE's posts are valuable insights.  I do not agree with the conclusions.  Life, barring proof otherwise, begins at conception.  Protection is warranted.

 

On the other hand, it's easier for me to understand why people disagree from reading these posts.  The mother is visible, usually in crisis, and compassion is normal--human.  The baby is hidden, cannot usually survive without hurting the one who gives him/her life.

 

Understanding isn't agreeing, but it makes the dialogue more meaningful.

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Penn Jillette, my favorite atheist, has said on more than one occasion that you don't need religion to be moral, and I agree with that. To say, "I'd be a serial rapist if there wasn't that threat of hell" doesn't make you more moral or superior than an atheist who believes rape is wrong and would not do it. Maybe it makes it worse.

That being said, Dr. Dawkins makes me question that hypothesis a bit. Is that where atheism leads? Or is that where nihilism leads for a biologist?

I'm inclined to believe the problem is with nihilism and not atheism. Though then you have to wonder about the relationship between the two philosophies.

my ultimate question is why do we, or anyone, listen to an evolutionary biologist when it comes to religion or morality. Now, if Dawkins wanted to make the point from an evolutionary standpoint abortion would be better for the species, fine. But to bring in morality and the question of the morality of abortion in this circumstance is outside of his field. I should mention I would disagree on both questions, though he has more standing seeing it biologically than morally.

That's my main problem with these famous atheist scientists. I'll listen to Dr. Dawkins, or Dr. deGrasse Tyson, if they stay within their fields of evolutionary biology and astrophysics, respectively.

The minute deGrasse Tyson opens his moth on biology or philosophy I shut off because that is not his area. The same with Dr. Dawkins on morality and theology.

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Penn Jillette, my favorite atheist, has said on more than one occasion that you don't need religion to be moral,

 

I flatly disagree with this. Morality is not relative. Without religion, it must be relative, because there is no all-knowing being to strictly define it. It goes to man's point-of-view as to what constitutes morality, which is no morality at all. Without God telling us what is and is not right and wrong, we are lost. Sure. we may get some basics moderately right when they're popular. But...nope... Penn Jillette is full of it.

 

Sorry...thread jack over.

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I flatly disagree with this. Morality is not relative. Without religion, it must be relative, because there is no all-knowing being to strictly define it. It goes to man's point-of-view as to what constitutes morality, which is no morality at all. Without God telling us what is and is not right and wrong, we are lost. Sure. we may get some basics moderately right when they're popular. But...nope... Penn Jillette is full of it.

 

Sorry...thread jack over.

 

It's actually really interesting, but the people I know the closest to me who are the most moral (I don't know any LDS well enough to have these heavy conversations with on a regular basis) tend to be deists who believe that there is a god, that he made up natural law but other than that no punishment no reward and no interaction in our daily lives. Just from personal experience, the deists I know are the least moral relativists and actually have morals most similarly to what we believe.

 

Just an interesting observation. I do think a belief in natural law is the bare minimum for morality (though that kind of leads to there being a god, just not very specific on the kind of god there is).

 

I think Penn was mostly talking about harm to self and others and being respectful. Kind of like you can be an atheist and know it is wrong to kill an innocent person. So I think he was going more into being a good person and respectful than what we are discussing here, which kind of goes beyond that.

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I think Penn was mostly talking about harm to self and others and being respectful.

 

Which is Penn's definition of morality. What if another disagrees?

 

 

Kind of like you can be an atheist and know it is wrong to kill an innocent person.

 

How can one know this if one is an atheist?

 

 

So I think he was going more into being a good person and respectful

 

Who says being respectful qualifies as good?

 

 

Get my point? It's relative. And not all agree. Without a higher power, Penn and his kind are just spouting off politically correct, popular ideas. To make the point extreme... Did Hitler believe himself immoral? What about Stalin? What about slave owners in the pre-emancipated South? Etc., etc... Without a higher power, morality is relative. And morality, is not relative. Without a higher power there can be no true morality. Just a bunch of people's opinions.

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Funky Town--you are correct.  Atheism does not have to lead to any kind of moral evil.  Nevertheless, can we really ignore Dawkin's progression in thought?  He's hardly the outlier that Phelps is.  There is a history of those espousing atheism being willing to sacrifice human life "for the greater good."

 

Alas, you can find that in Christianity too.  And Islam.  And most religions, I suppose. 

 

A mentor of mine once said that religion is neutral.  Great men have used it to inspire greatness in others.  Evil men have used it to generate evil in others.  Perhaps atheism is the same?

 

This is exactly right. Religion is no more immune to moral corruption than atheism. Human history is filled with unspeakable atrocities committed in the name of some god or another. The atheist moral code is dictated by man. Like god, man constructs his moral code in his own best interest. FWIW, I believe that there are flaws in both systems. But given the choice between the two, I would rather serve man's best interests than god's.

 

Penn Jillette, my favorite atheist, has said on more than one occasion that you don't need religion to be moral, and I agree with that. To say, "I'd be a serial rapist if there wasn't that threat of hell" doesn't make you more moral or superior than an atheist who believes rape is wrong and would not do it. Maybe it makes it worse.

 

I've debated people who truly believe that they would become horrible criminals if they didn't have their faith in god. People like that terrify me. If religion is the only thing making you a good person, then you're not really a good person at all.

 

I flatly disagree with this. Morality is not relative. Without religion, it must be relative, because there is no all-knowing being to strictly define it. It goes to man's point-of-view as to what constitutes morality, which is no morality at all. Without God telling us what is and is not right and wrong, we are lost. Sure. we may get some basics moderately right when they're popular. But...nope... Penn Jillette is full of it.

 

Sorry...thread jack over.

 

The morality of man most often reflects what is best for our survival as a species. The logical conclusion of this is a moral system fairly similar to the theist system. Without such a code, humanity would descend into chaos and eventual extinction. Basically, it's in our best interest to be good people, and the laws of man tend to reflect that. We can't survive otherwise, and we don't necessarily need religion to tell us that.

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This is exactly right. Religion is no more immune to moral corruption than atheism. Human history is filled with unspeakable atrocities committed in the name of some god or another. The atheist moral code is dictated by man. Like god, man constructs his moral code in his own best interest. FWIW, I believe that there are flaws in both systems. But given the choice between the two, I would rather serve man's best interests than god's.

 

 

This is where we get to the meat of the issue! "Man constructs his moral code in his own best interest."

 

What does that mean? Man the individual? The generic "man", which implies all of mankind? A single, powerful man who can enforce his own will on others?

 

 

For instance:

 

There is a war going on. A war against a group that, if left unchecked, will destroy the world several generations hence. Is this moral? If so, why?

 

And on the flip side: There is a group of 4 people. 3 of them ambush the 4th and take everything he has, despite him working hard and honestly for his gain. They split it among themselves and improve their lot. Is this moral? If not, why?

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Richard Dawkins, the same man who says moderate--or "nice"--religionists simply give conver for the radicals--is now saying that morality that is based in reason, seeks the happiness of the majority, and thus, would encourage aborting fetuses that were known to be disabled.  The example he was presented with was for an unborn child diagnosed with Down's Syndrom.

 

http://nypost.com/2014/08/31/why-the-atheist-call-to-abort-the-disabled-is-doomed/

 

If this is where atheism takes us then there must be a God.  Thoughts?

Except until man knows all that there is to know in the universe his reasoning will not be complete.

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Theism fails when leaders convince us that their interests are God's interests.  Humanism fails when leaders convince us that their interests are humanity's interests.  Perhaps the best "morailty" we can get in a pluralistic society is that espoused in my signature--well, it's corallary:  Separation of Powers protects us, and absolute separation of powers protects us [almost] absolutely."  B)

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This is where we get to the meat of the issue! "Man constructs his moral code in his own best interest."

What does that mean? Man the individual? The generic "man", which implies all of mankind? A single, powerful man who can enforce his own will on others?

For instance:

There is a war going on. A war against a group that, if left unchecked, will destroy the world several generations hence. Is this moral? If so, why?

And on the flip side: There is a group of 4 people. 3 of them ambush the 4th and take everything he has, despite him working hard and honestly for his gain. They split it among themselves and improve their lot. Is this moral? If not, why?

Man's moral code is derived from our social need for structure and stability. Any behavior that is harmful to social order is considered taboo. I would argue that the scenario you presented illustrates such behavior. The individuals may benefit, but the mentality that drives their actions is inconsistent with the principles of a stable society.

It's my personal opinion that, even among theists, the need for social structure is a stronger moral motivator than religious dogma.

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Man's moral code is derived from our social need for structure and stability. Any behavior that is harmful to social order is considered taboo. I would argue that the scenario you presented illustrates such behavior. The individuals may benefit, but the mentality that drives their actions is inconsistent with the principles of a stable society.

It's my personal opinion that, even among theists, the need for social structure is a stronger moral motivator than religious dogma.

 

And yet, in the second example, the benefits were clearly for the majority. You could draw out that to be 6 billion people taking from the remainder of the world rather than 3 taking from 1. Either way, the benefits are to the majority rather than the few.

 

And when you get to the 'Mentality that drives their actions is inconsistent with the principles of a stable society', I would ask:

 

"Why is a stable society the desired end?"

 

After all, if everyone were dead or(Alternately) denied free will, that would be the ultimate stable society.

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And yet, in the second example, the benefits were clearly for the majority. You could draw out that to be 6 billion people taking from the remainder of the world rather than 3 taking from 1. Either way, the benefits are to the majority rather than the few.

 

And when you get to the 'Mentality that drives their actions is inconsistent with the principles of a stable society', I would ask:

 

"Why is a stable society the desired end?"

 

After all, if everyone were dead or(Alternately) denied free will, that would be the ultimate stable society.

 

Because uncertainty is scary and uncomfortable, and recent generations have this mindset that the world should be easy and comfortable.

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And yet, in the second example, the benefits were clearly for the majority. You could draw out that to be 6 billion people taking from the remainder of the world rather than 3 taking from 1. Either way, the benefits are to the majority rather than the few.

 

 

What happens when the majority wants more and the minority has nothing left to take?

 

 

And when you get to the 'Mentality that drives their actions is inconsistent with the principles of a stable society', I would ask:

 

"Why is a stable society the desired end?"

 

After all, if everyone were dead or(Alternately) denied free will, that would be the ultimate stable society.

 

 

We are social creatures. If we can't coexist to some degree, then our species is doomed. This simple truth predates biblical dogma, and adherence to it is the reason why human civilization has been able to survive for over 10,000 years.

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What happens when the majority wants more and the minority has nothing left to take?

 

 

 

 

We are social creatures. If we can't coexist to some degree, then our species is doomed. This simple truth predates biblical dogma, and adherence to it is the reason why human civilization has been able to survive for over 10,000 years.

 

 

Why is it important for our species to continue? What difference does it make if the minority has nothing left to take? 

 

Are you going to argue that it's important for our species to continue because it's a biological imperative? If so, you know that I am going to ask if you think that what is 'Moral' are biological imperatives. You know where that will end, I would assume. And if the majority keeps taking what belongs to the minority, whether or not they have nothing left to give is irrelevant. They can decide what is moral at that point.

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