Richard Dawkins on Abortion

I’m quite glad that Richard Dawkins is refreshingly honest in issues of abortion, pedophilia, and rape. I find this sort of honestly admirable for one simple reason: it doesn’t cloak itself in nobility. Instead, it is cold, calculated logic for him to simply express one extremely common reason why women abort (among many others). While I disagree completely with that logic, I appreciate it simply because it displays the logical outcome of a man who views morality in a completely twisted manner.

In reading replies to his initial Tweets, you see only three different outcomes:

  1. His logic is sound. Aborting Down syndrome fetuses is kind, charitable, and morally correct. The person with Down syndrome simply suffers, having little quality of life, and will be a burden to those whom have to continuously cater to a perpetual child.
  2. Richard Dawkins is correct in his logic, however, he should have used a more neutral term than “immoral” in regard to those whom decide to raise a child with Down syndrome. The reason being, it is inherently their choice to raise a child – yet it would also be perfectly acceptable to terminate the pregnancy based on the fetus’ poor mental and physical health.
  3. Richard Dawkins is completely incorrect in his logic and is trying to play God. A fetus is life, life is precious, and thus, whatever quality of life one is given is not contingent upon the value of that life.

When looking at these things, we must understand the framework Dawkins operates under. I am not specifically speaking of the framework of his atheism, though that is inseparable from how he formulates his worldview. I am speaking of identifying his terminology and his definitions of those terms.

  • Fetus/it: Dawkins will use the term fetus over and again. It will not be referred to “life,” though it is living. The more impersonal you can make it (even abandoning impersonal pronouns, such as he/she – and using “it” instead) the better.
  • Non-essentialist: A non-essentialist believes that the substance (the properties that make something what it is, without which, it would not be that thing) does not imply virtue. Thus, it is then easy to say, biologically, a fetus is not human because humanity goes beyond a simple bundle of cells that will one day develop into the substance of a human being (i.e. logic, emotion, etc.).
  • Suffer: In the terms of an adult, low quality of life (specifically, what qualitatively substantiates a normal life style that is not inhibited by intellectual malady). In the terms of an unborn infant, will they be capable of reasoning in the womb that they are being destroyed? Though the infant may feel such pain, it is not cognitively responding to that pain except on the basis of bodily reaction. There is no emotional response, mental recognition, nor is there fear (beyond naturalistic primal fear).
  • Moral/immoral: subjective to the person’s desires (i.e. – not necessarily pertaining to social norms, but inherently built in societal structure and benefit of said society and individual).
  • Logic: devoid of emotional reasoning in any sense. What this specifically means is that it represents factual basis without an appeal to rational emotion. This is used in his integration of the sciences within what he would deem a philosophical question, such as abortion rights.

This is obviously not a treatment on the fullness of Dawkins’ vocabulary and his presupposed definitions – but it is helpful to understand nonetheless. On the basis of using these terms, he neatly defines his parameters and contains the argument where he desires it would go. Thus, any person in disagreement is disqualified as a rational thinker, as they substantiate their claims with emotive responses rather than based off of what is factually represented and naturally observed or tested.

He further claims that only in “intellectual dishonesty” can one substantiate claims against him. The sciences and philosophy of applied sciences will undoubtedly back him up. Essentially, what proponents of this worldview are saying is that you are stupid for believing otherwise due to an appeal to sources, which cannot be empirically tested or validated. This causes problematic reasoning in that we cannot ascertain what is morally acceptable beyond what develops consensus in subjection to each individual. Thus, each man does what is right in his own eyes – but as a collective sect.

Though there are societal constraints in defining moral evil (we see this in respect to laws governing the states) – we cannot possibly define moral evil in the basis where there is no law. Thus, it is problematic for a man like Dawkins to say that cannibalism in a third world tribe is truly evil, though it would be considered morally evil within his own society. This can be qualified by saying, “if you think that this is an endorsement of cannibalism, go away and learn how to think.”

This appeals to autonomous, societal rule, yet simultaneously, self-rule for the individual; freedom to make whatever choices they desire, be it through sexual expression, the governed right to abort, euthanasia, tribal practices, etc. All of these imply a personal, subjective value so long as they do not become matters of legality – yet the issue at hand is in regard to disagreeing with Dawkins. Though he “would never dream of imposing his views on anyone,” it is illogical and immoral to make the choice of keeping an unborn child who was screened positively for Downs. His apology is not one of sincerity in offending a position, but of one where he is seen as totalitarian.

So why do I find anything to appreciate out of all of this? I find Dawkins to be much more candid than most others who hold the same conviction. I find these convictions to be horribly atrocious – but he doesn’t cloak it with feigned dignity. He is ignoble, a downright fool, contradicts his own rules of logic, and a hater of God and His people – yet he is completely open in expression, even if he has to qualify his statements.

He is willing to go where his argument takes him. Most others simply will not because they either don’t have the fortitude or the foresight to see where it fully leads. For these likes, they simply bow down to the intellectual giants of their field and feign nobility, walking around in blissful ignorance to the true conclusion of their belief system.

Everyone is a worshiper; the difference simply comes in what they worship.


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