As an atheist, I’d hate to live in a world where religion dictates how we view science about as much as I’d hate to live in a world where science is mistaken for morality. Now, I realize the debate isn’t new and, generally speaking, it’s a false choice – there are plenty of religious men and women in science and plenty of atheists who are near saints. But not always.
Take noted biologist/atheist/author Richard Dawkins, who, like your run-of-the-mill creationist, confuses the role of science and moral doctrine.
Dawkins recently tweeted out a link to a New Republic piece by biologist Jerry A. Coyne, where the latter bemoans horrific instances of the Irish government trying to save babies from late-term abortions on demand. Obviously, some of the stories in Coyne’s piece are complicated. In some, the mothers lives may have been in danger, and in others, they clearly were not. But the very idea that any abortion restriction exists prompts Coyne to offer readers some preposterous imagery. For example: “This whole scenario conjures up images of the Catholic Inquisition: women tied to boards and tortured.”
Dawkins approves, of course. In a “civilised” world – a world where biologists determine not only when human life begins but when it’s worth caring about – we can make mincemeat out of 20-week-old fetuses without much compunction. And in Dawkins’ estimation, discarding life that makes some of us uncomfortable is not only civil but moral.
The conversation went like this:
Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area: http://t.co/i2PqFf6fYL You’d think the Roman Church would have lost all influence.
@RichardDawkins 994 human beings with Down’s Syndrome deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012. Is that civilised?
— Aidan McCourt (@AidanMcCourt) August 20, 2014
.@AidanMcCourt Yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings.
@InYourFaceNYer Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.
Because Dawkins has penned a couple pop bestsellers about the delusions of the faithful, he’s now confused as to why Catholicism is still influential among the Irish. I mean, the religion only landed on those shores in the 5th century, and only 72 percent of the population of Ireland self-identifies as Catholic – nearly 85 percent when you look at the Republic of Ireland alone. What’s going on, right?
A few years back Newsweek reported that 90 percent of women whose fetuses tested positive for Down syndrome choose an abortion. Only a small percentage of mothers even used the test back then. More do today. Soon many more will. It’s not outlandish to believe parents will continue to terminate fetuses in large numbers. Once we have widespread eugenics, where will towering minds like Dawkins place limits? To those who can experience “human feelings”? Does this mean those in comas, critically injured or those mentally unable to “feel” in the way Dawkins defines significant life, are also superfluous? If not, why not? And why only Down Syndrome? I assume he would be ok with deposing of any diseases we can find in the womb? We’d be doing them a favor, no? And what happens when we have advances in genetic testing that allow us to measure intelligence or appearance of a future adult? Surely not all of them are cut out for life. Maybe we’d be doing them a favor, as well. Would it be immoral to get rid of those who are too ugly? Too short? Dawkins offers no scientific formula for when life is worth protecting that I can discern. Only that it’s “immoral” to bring “it” into the world if “it” doesn’t confirm to his specifications.