Richard Dawkins inspired, yet again, a firestorm of controversy with his twitter account. Responding to a women asking for ethical guidance after discovering her unborn child has Down Syndrome (DS), Dawkins offered the following advice, “Abort it and try again, it would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”
Admittedly, while Dawkins' line of reasoning could be shot-thru by my second grade son, here are some reflections worth noting on the low-hanging fruit:
1 1. Dawkins is a refreshingly honest atheist. In contrast to the number of other atheists I have spent time with who refuse, against all odds, to head down this line of thinking, Dawkins is, to say nothing else, (fairly) consistent in his beliefs. If life has emerged from seeds planted on our planets by aliens (as Dawkins actually explained at the close of the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed: skip to the 1:30:45 mark), than why would he, or anyone else, feel the slightest tinge of doubt about taking a life.
2 2. I said “fairly consistent” because his belief system makes it absolutely ludicrous for Dawkins to also suggest something is “immoral.” For Dawkins to use this very term there needs to be a standard by which he measures the action he is evaluating. Keeping the child is “immoral” on what grounds? Morality, by definition, is a code of conduct, a set of expected behaviors, or law(s) that call humanity to certain actions or demand that they refrain from others. Hence, as the argument goes, if there is a law, there needs to be a lawgiver. When Dawkins suggests something is “immoral” it begs the question, whose law would I be breaking? Certainly not any law of nature. If there is no measuring rod, Dawkins cannot suggest that any action (or inaction) is ever immoral.
3 3. Dawkins responded later in the day to the backlash by suggesting that since abortion is what happens to the “great majority” of DS fetuses, his tweet cannot be construed to be either illogical or heartless. The majority argument is a particularly embarrassing one if you are an atheists and your view of the world is in stark disagreement with over 90% of the rest of us who are religious. Apparently, the fact that the overwhelming majority of the human race throughout history have held to some form of religious belief is not enough evidence for Dawkins to change his worldview. Nor can it let him off the hook for bad behavior.
4 4. Finally, Dawkins apologized this morning in his personal blog. The act of saying "I am sorry," experiencing remorse, grappling with one’s own conscious, and concern for human relationships opens a Pandora’s box full of questions and comments related to the metaphysical world of the inner life, as well as the exploration of the origins and existence of guilt. Added to this is the above-mentioned analysis of how an atheist might determine what is moral or immoral in the first place, and Dawkins’ simple 140 tweet looks more and more like a window in the morally bankrupt world of atheism.
But far more important than these philosophical arguments is the fact that there are many parents around the world today who are finding out this week that the tiny fetus growing in their womb also has DS. While I think Dawkins would like us all to pretend that we are brains disconnected from hearts, choosing logic over emotion, I prefer to live more holistically. Our emotions are not an aspect of our humanity that simply "gets in the way" of making wise choices, they are always the means. Every decision we make is emotional. In regards to abortion, those effected by our decision are voiceless, we are left to make the decision for them.
No life is a mistake, every person is unique gift to the world. Dawkins is emphatically wrong to suggest that there is ever an opportunity to simply "try again."No human being is merely replaceable, especially the child you have created. Let them live, let them show you.