The more controversial an issue, the more likely that common sense, rationality, and sound analysis will go right out the window. Instead, knee-jerk reactions, emotionalism, logical fallacies, and nasty attacks on the other person will become the order of the day.
There are many such hot-potato social and ethical issues where the generation of heat takes over from that of light. As one heavily involved in all these issues, I know full well how those who dislike a position operate. Some of the worst offenders arise when things like homosexuality or gun control are discussed.
And I refer not just to the obvious candidates here: secularists, atheists, and militants of various stripes. I also refer to fellow Christians who seem to feel they must check their brains in at the door when some of these topics come up. I have had Christians demonstrating everything which is wrong in such debates, equalling if not excelling their non-Christian counterparts.
Another obvious issue where emotion trumps reason and faith trumps fact is the abortion debate. If you want to see hordes of mindless and reactive antagonists come out in droves, simply start talking about abortion. And yes, you will also get Christians who qualify as well in this regard.
Here I wish to highlight two recent examples of this. Let me first begin with the utter nonsense, before turning to some sound sense. I have already written about one lunar lefty who is about as perfect a candidate for the gold medal in moonbattery as anyone I know of. I refer to MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry.
You know the gal: the one who thought it would be a classy and intelligent commentary on abortion to wear tampon earrings while hosting her show. I speak to her moral and mental meltdown here: billmuehlenberg.com/2013/07/22/abortion-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/
Well our pro-death host is at it again it seems. Discussing the then soon arrival of the royal baby, she came out with a real gem on her show last Sunday: “When does life begin? I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents. A powerful feeling – but not science.”
Wow, there you have it folks. When human life begins is not a matter of science, but of feelings. And pro-aborts accuse pro-lifers of saying stupid things! As one commentator elsewhere remarked, perhaps she should get those tampons out of her ears and stick them in her mouth.
If she comes out with any more howlers like this, she will set the pro-death cause back by decades. But their side really does not specialise in fact, logic, reason or common sense. It seems the more moonbeamish they can get, the better. I really like what Ed Feser had to say about this in general:
“We are well past the time when slippery-slope arguments might be used to try to shock a liberal or a secularist out of his folly. You can no longer attempt the reductio ad absurdum with him, for he will now simply embrace with enthusiasm any absurdity that follows from his premises and thank you for suggesting it to him. He is well through the looking glass, his mind and his moral sensibility so thoroughly corrupted that to him it is obvious that black is white, up is down, sodomy is marriage, and scraping a fetus from its mother’s womb is compassion.”
But let’s look for a moment at what Harris-Perry refuses to countenance: the science about human life. And the science here is actually very clear indeed: human life begins at conception – end of story. Biology and science are on the pro-life side in this debate.
At conception a wholly unique individual is formed, complete with its own genetic makeup. It is not just one more cell of the mother, but a distinct and different life. As philosopher Peter Kreeft explains, the zygote “is completely individual, it’s completely different. It’s got its own genetic code. If you cloned any cell in the mother’s body, you’d get a replica of Mommy. But if you cloned the zygote, you’d get a totally different person.”
Francis Beckwith comments: “Given the facts of embryology and fetal development, at conception, a whole human being, with its own genome, comes into existence, needing only food, water, shelter, and oxygen, and a congenial environment in which to interact, to grow and develop itself to maturity in accordance with her own intrinsically ordered nature.”
That human life begins at conception (or fertilisation) is not opinion but scientific fact. Indeed, as an article in Nature recently put it, “Your world was shaped in the first 24 hours after conception”. Any basic textbook in embryology will confirm this.
So forget the feelings and start depending on some hard science here Melissa. Indeed, take a lesson from another Western woman who does have some common sense. I refer to a Finnish politician who has also caused some controversy – but for all the right reasons.
She recently said that abortion is barbaric, and we treat animals better than unborn babies. Here is how one write-up on this story begins: “Finnish Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen has caused a small uproar with comments comparing abortion to ‘butchery’ and saying that animals are better protected under the law than unborn human beings.
“Räsänen is now being blamed in the press for a sudden increase in resignations from the Evangelical Lutheran state church. ‘Animals may not be slaughtered in a painful manner, but it’s not permitted to even discuss the painfulness of abortion,’ said Räsänen, a physician who also serves as leader of the Christian Democratic Party, at a Lutheran Church event in Kankaanpää.
“She described abortion as a ‘silenced taboo and a Pandora’s box,’ adding that ‘the consequences of opening this up are feared.’ She said there is no stage of pregnancy where abortion should be allowed. ‘An abortion-age child is not a numb piece of tissue, rather an individual that can feel pain,’ she said. Räsänen also lamented that Finland and Sweden are the only countries in Europe in which physicians are not allowed to refuse to participate in abortion.”
For stating scientific fact, she is getting all sorts of ugly flak. But as I recently wrote, foetal pain is a reality which we cannot hide away from: billmuehlenberg.com/2013/07/13/does-the-unborn-child-feel-pain-in-an-abortion/
So, another week, and more sense and nonsense in the abortion debate. But just as in the slavery debate where right reason, fact, evidence and basic human morality eventually prevailed, so too hopefully one day here. In the meantime let us all keep promoting right sense and sensibility on this most pressing of human rights’ issues.