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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More on Abortion

The challenge with discussing abortion, in my opinion, is that it confounds the sharp lines that we need for making laws. Laws settle who has the right to go on a piece of property and who gets to make copies of a document and who is responsible for a defective product. Whether someone should terminate a pregnancy involves a number of impossible shades of grey. The absurd claim that life begins at conception is an effort to project certainty where it does not exist. Note what the anti-abortion groups are pushing for--criminalizing abortion. If their real effort was to reduce the number of abortions they would focus on making contraception more available and attacking poverty. Criminalizing abortion only makes sense if the question is easy. The life begins at conception claim is the tool to do this.

People do not believe life begins at conception. Matt sent me a link to this post from Slacktivist that makes the case in one regard: most anti-abortion activist suggest stop short of bombing abortion clinics. Indeed, as I've pointed out, none of the anti-abortion Republican candidates advocated life in prison or the death penalty for doctors or mothers who participated in abortions in a theoretical world without Roe v. Wade and subsequent anti-abortion laws. How is that possible? If abortion is murder, why would you not advocate life in prison? Answer, you don't think abortion is murder.

The other argument, that I know I've made before, is a comparison between a miscarriage and losing a child. Thankfully, Pat & I have never had to suffer through either of these tragedies, but we have been close to those that have. Losing a pregnancy is a heart wrenching tragedy. It does not compare to losing a child. At the risk of being out of line, I will tell you that I would find it offensive if someone made the comparison. It makes me angry.

Likewise, the suggestion that women who chose to terminate their pregnancies are committing murder is sickening. It is the kind of evil crap that has to end.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Religulous

I went to see Religulous with my brother this weekend. It is clearly a Fahrenheit 911 for a discussion of the role of religion in our lives. By that, I mean it kind of touches on some real issues, but is mostly a fun movie for those who think religion is evil. As someone who links many aspects of the religious establishment are evil, it was a a mixed bag.

A better source of real examination is Sam Harris's End of Faith.

I think both of these works have a couple of faults. First, they reject the notion that religion can be used as a justification for violence that would happen without religion, and seem to ignore secular violence all together. Second, they focus on violent, close-minded adherents and consider more thoughtful adherents to be less Muslim, or less Christian or less Jewish. (FYI, Harris addresses these complaints, particularly the first, I just wasn't convinced.) Bill Maher also trivializes the role religion plays in people's lives. Harris, on the other hand, recognizes that humans do have spiritual needs. However, both suggest the cost of religion is not worth the benefit.

This is a real question for me. Those with a simple message often seem more excited about their faith than those of us with a more subtle view. Also, no matter what fraction of Christians believe in the Rapture, Creationism, or other non-Biblical constructs of recent years, is there any question about whether those Christians have had the loudest voice in the political discussion?