Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) Your position on abortion falls right into place with the rest of your humanistic views. (Pardon the name-calling, but I'm going to rant and rave like an irrational Bible-thumper now.)
(MB) Is there some specific problem with humanistic views? Have you read "The Affirmations of Humanism"? If not, use the provided link to check it out and let me know what you think about it. By the way, I don't consider myself to be a humanist, but the philosophy detailed in that document makes a great deal of sense to me.

(R) By the way, why is it that anyone who disagrees with your position is irrational?
(MB) They're not. Opinions are irrational, not those who hold them. I have problems with individuals only when they fixate on any particular opinion despite any and all facts, evidence, and logic to the contrary. If one disagrees with me and can support their opinions, their opinions are not irrational and I have no major problem with them.

(R) Like I tell my kids, it doesn't build you up to tear others down.
(MB) That's correct. All ideas stand or fall on their own merits and not on the failings of contrary ideas. Unfortunately, belief in all-powerful deities or any other aspect of the supernatural only prosper because people feel they have to have *something* to believe in and either don't know or can't (or won't) understand reality.

(R) If you think your positions are so meritorious on their own, why do you need to slander those who hold other positions?
(MB) I don't. To slander a person is to say false things about them. I may disagree with somebody's opinions, but I always have clear reasons for doing so. I also have clear reasons for believing what I believe. I take nothing on blind faith alone.

(R) I really like Rush Limbaugh, but I lose a little more respect for him every time he does that, too.
(MB) I agree with you there. One must consider, however, that Rush is a mass-market entertainer whose job is to stir things up. He is not engaging in formal debate.

(R) Now, back to abortion...since you point out that the law does not pinpoint when life begins, wouldn't it be better to err on the side of caution?
(MB) That depends on what you think is "caution". If it involves some aspect of religious belief, that belief itself will have to be justified before its consequences could be considered to be meaningful. BTW, the law *does* pinpoint when life begins -- at birth. The medical question that has not yet been precisely determined is when a human fetus becomes "viable".

(R) I have not always been pro-life. I used to think it was a travesty for children to be abused. But since abortion has been legal, child abuse has risen, not fallen.
(MB) Does that indicate that abortion causes child abuse? Absolutely not. In fact, it is more likely that child abuse levels would be even higher if there were no abortions due to the obvious fact that there would be a great many more unwanted children. Child abuse and abortion are different issues that are not directly correllated.

(R) Birth defects are a sad occurrence, but do we throw out a life just because it's not perfect in someone's estimation?
(MB) The real question here concerns who makes that decision. I don't feel that anybody else has any right to impose their morality upon the parents. Most parents can always conceive another child if they want one and modern medicine can assist most of the rest towards that goal. So, what is really lost if one child is aborted for whatever reason?

(R) A friend of ours had an ultrasound during her pregnancy. It showed that the child had anencephaly. Two more ultrasounds were done during the progressing months and they showed the same results.
(MB) I don't know that ultrasound alone is sufficient to accurately diagnose anencephaly (being born without a brain). Other tests, including an EKG, should have been performed to confirm the diagnosis due to the fatal nature of that birth defect.

(R) She and her husband were prolife and decided that they would continue the pregnancy. When she went into labor the doctors and nurses were very subdued. They told them that the baby would probably not cry and they didn't know how long it would live. Well, the baby was born and gave out a healthy cry. Today, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the child!
(MB) If the child actually had no brain, it would have been stillborn. I'm happy for the parents, but it sounds to me like there was some inadequate pre-natal care being given in this instance that caused them a lot of unnecessary pain.

(R) In another case scenario, the parents probably would have ended the pregnancy and a perfectly healthy baby would have been killed.
(MB) Perhaps, but if the diagnosis was in error, the fault would not have been that of the parents. In fact, a decision to abort in that case would have entirely justifiable. Since I'm sure that the parents wanted a child, they could certainly have conceived another one, couldn't they? Wouldn't that child give them the same amount of joy? Actually, it would probably give them more joy because of the anguish over the results of the previous attempt.

(R) (Yes, KILLED, let's call it what it really is!)
(MB) In that case, let's call it an abortion. To "kill" is a legal definition that does not apply to abortion. No amount of emotion can change that.

(R) Everyone is allowed to be pro-choice, but once that baby is created, the choice has been made.
(MB) What choice is this? Seems to me that the "choice" begins with the initial act of impregnation and is a continuous process that concludes with the successful live birth of the child. No "baby" is created when a sperm fertilizes an egg. In fact, medical science estimates that some 80% of fertilized eggs never implant in the woman's uterus and are flushed out during her period.

(R) I know you'll bring up rape and incest cases. Yes, I feel bad for women who didn't bring this on themselves, but you could do a lot worse things than put a baby up for adoption.
(MB) That's too simplistic. Must we also force the rape/incest victim to carry the child through to term or do we allow her to correct the damage that was done to her against her will? What is so "special" about a fetus that it must be preserved at all costs? What places its welfare above that of the mother? Should we turn to the Bible for guidance? In Deuteronomy 22:28-29, we read that a woman is required by God to marry her rapist and can never divorce! Oops...

(R) Besides, I don't think the thousands of abortions done in the US are all rape and incest cases!
(MB) Of course not, but we're talking about specific cases here that have no bearing upon any others and must be considered independently. Must we just say "I sure hate it for you" to these women? Once again, whose decision is it?

(R) You're right, it's not a perfect world, but we can behave in a way that makes it not quite so bad. How do you feel about partial-birth abortion? I hope it sickens you to think that a baby would have its skull punctured with a scissors and have its brains sucked out just because a woman couldn't make her "choice" before the baby was too big to abort in a more "humane" way like burning all its skin off or cutting it to pieces. It makes me sick to even have to talk about it.
(MB) If the decision has been made to abort the fetus (for whatever reason), I don't see where the method makes much difference. Abortion opponents appeal to negative emotions by emphasizing how "horrible" the methods are in much the same way that some capital punishment opponents base their case upon the methods used to execute the criminal. Do you think that part of the rationale for partial-birth abortions includes deliberately using a method that some people find particularly revolting? Do you think that doctors get some sort of perverse pleasure out of performing those procedures?

(R) What kind of barbarians have we become!!!!
(MB) The same kind who worship a God whose "divinely inspired Word", the Bible, depicts as "acceptable" all make and manner of things that would land any of us in jail for life today. Do you believe in human sacrifice? The Bible does. As examples, read Exodus 22:29, Ezekiel 20:26, and Judges 11:30-39. In fact, as the story goes, God sacrificed his own Son, Jesus! What's a good way to treat pregnant women? Check out 2 Kings 15:16. How about children? Try Psalm 137:9. The list of Biblically-sanctioned atrocities is very extensive. I'd say we are much better off today!

(R) One question before I go to do you feel about Pascal, the mathematician?
(MB) I assume you're referring to what is known as "Pascal's Wager". In short, it's the reasoning that states that it is better to believe in God than not to believe because if one believes and is wrong, he will never know while if one does not believe and is wrong, he will suffer for eternity. There is a lot of philosophy which has been devoted to dissecting Pascal's Wager -- mainly to prove its failings. The one main point that most believers fail to grasp upon a superficial reading is this: Would God approve of the hypocrisy demonstrated by somebody who chooses to believe only because he thinks he might be better off for doing so?

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