On the issue of abortion, I don’t look at what religion says. The Bible, at best, is sketchy on that issue. It says things like God has knitted us together in the womb and known us before we were even concieved, but that does not say when life begins. The Anglican Church and the Catholic Church and the Methodist Church and every other church can establish their own dogma on what they all think the Bible means by those and other versus, but I look at them as more poetic, part of a love song from the Creator to His creation rather than a yard-stick for us to judge when life begins.
For me it comes down to two simple questions:
- When does science say is life? and
- Is that life human?
Looking at the second first, what constitutes our humanity is a philosophical question. While those I would call pseudo-scientists try to calculate what cannot necessarily be calculated, “what it is that makes us human?” It is really the philosopher whose realm that question best exists in. While I have watched a professor at Emory work to turn Descartes’s statement, “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore, I am) into a something that can be proven by the scientific method, I can’t help but marvel at the fact that he does not seem to even consider the notion that with today’s tools, that is something that likely can’t even be measured. It would be like a scientist in Darwin’s time passing scientific judgment on Stephen Hawking’s physical condition.
Perverted philosophy and religion, together, have both been used over the centuries to define those who we don’t wish to consider human, to not be human. The South justified slavery through the Bible just as the North declared it outside the will of God. Perverted philosophy joined perverted science to declare millions in the 1930’s and 1940’s to be less than human justify their elimination from the Earth.
Maybe it’s a simple solution to a complex question, but, in the end, we are human because our DNA says we are. That is something that applies to all of humanity and cannot be contradicted. We are all human because our DNA says we are. If all held that definition, we would never have to worry about another Holocaust.
So there it is, at conception, we have a human. We not only have a human, but if you take its DNA, you can clone it, but not the father and not the mother. It is separate. It is distinct. Now is it alive?
I admit freely and openly that I’m a Star Trek fan. Like many, my favorite of the old films is the “Wrath of Kahn.” The beginning starts with the search for a suitable world, devoid of any and all of even the smallest microbes to test the Genesis device. We learn in school that even single-celled organisms are alive. We learn what makes something alive…it reproduces and uses energy.
There is no doubt that within moments of conception the cells divide, and divide again, and again. It uses energy as the cells replicate. It is the very definition of life, as science sees it. It is life and it is human.
I accept on faith, without having personal knowledge or evidence, that we have souls. If I am wrong, I’ve lost nothing but, in my faith, have gained tranquilly, joy and peace that is more than I deserve in this life because of it. My faith also gives me possibly a greater view in the importance of every life believing no life is a random, accident of the universe. But, because I am a rational being who understands history, philosophy and religion, I can state with resolve that a human life should not be terminated for fleeting or inconsequential reasons such as personal comfort or economy. If the argument is poverty, then why not eliminate through the sword all of the poor (we won’t be the first to declare people un-human because of their socio-economic state). If the argument is quality of life, then what right does Stephen Hawking have to continue to live? The Nazis also had that idea as well.
As humans, on judging the right to life that other humans share, we have failed, woefully.
Ours is a history of slaughter and massacre again, and again, and again. I hope if I had lived in 1859, I would not be on the wrong side of humanity regarding slavery. If I lived in Germany in 1938, I hope I would be one of those risking my life to help those the Nazis did not consider human escape. I think I would because in 1862 my great, great, great-grandfather left home to fight to end slavery. In 1939 or 1940 or 1941 or 1942, my Jewish cousins who had stayed in Europe and not immigrated to America were eliminated. I don’t know when and I don’t know how. All I know is they are no longer there. We that came here are all that remain.
When I know, scientifically…factually, using standard definitions that everyone agrees on that what we are talking about is both human and alive, the right to choose becomes couched in the same justifications of the southern slave owner and the concentration camp commandant. It’s the Bible. It’s my property. It’s not human. It’s an issue far too important to say it’s not mine to worry about. God forbid we find out society was wrong on this one and future generations wonder what kind of monsters we were to slaughter millions of the innocent like we are currently doing in the name of “choice.” God help us as a species if we turn out to have been wrong on this one too, because we will deserve any judgment due.