A dialog between materialists

One more point I’d like to mention about the abortion debate is that it’s a dialog between materialists. Most pro-lifers are generally religious, and quite a few are conservative evangelical Christians, but when it comes to making pro-life arguments, they’re even more materialistic than the pro-choice side. All this stuff about souls and spirits is fine for sounding holy in church, but for real-life issues even believers turn to materialism.

Think about it. What is it that allegedly makes a fertilized egg qualify as a person? It’s not that the fertilized egg is “made in the image of God,” unless God is also a single cell with no thoughts, no feelings, no will, no knowledge, and no perceptions. But no, according to pro-lifers, it’s the DNA—the presence of a particular physical molecule within the physical structure of the physical cell. And it’s not just the DNA, because virtually all species have DNA of one sort or another. It’s the physical arrangement of physical nucleotides in the physical DNA molecule that form the basis for the pro-life claim that this is a real, live human being. They’ve reduced humanity down to a chemical formula, and called a mere molecule the essence of what being human means.

So pro-lifers become materialists whenever they try to prove that a fertilized egg is a fully human person. But that’s not the only thing that moves them out of the spiritual realm and into the materialistic. The other big reason why the abortion debate is a dialog between materialists is that, from a spiritual perspective, the Big Guy Himself doesn’t actually support or promote the pro-life position. A pro-life God would have intervened back in the Garden of Eden and prevented Eve from making a free choice that would result in the death(s) of her offspring. Not Jehovah, though. He values freedom of choice above saving His own children.

And remember, we’re not just talking physical death here, although that was the immediate consequence of God’s decision not to intervene. According to the Bible, freedom of choice is going to result in most of God’s children going to Hell. A pro-life God would save His children by limiting their freedom of choice, but God is not pro-life. The whole reason evil and sin and suffering and death exist in the world, according to Christian teachings, is because freedom of choice is too important for God to tolerate the kind of restrictions that would be needed to keep people from suffering and dying damned. Pro-lifers may give God credit for their anti-choice activities, but such efforts are actually contrary to His manifest will, which is why pro-lifers turn to materialistic arguments instead of to Genesis.

So the abortion debate, as far as it concerns the personhood of the fertilized egg, is fundamentally a materialistic debate. That’s a good thing because it gives us an objective basis for evaluating the arguments on both sides. And objectively, the pro-choice side is pretty clearly the better materialistic argument. The pro-choice side does not reduce humanity to a mere chemical formula, but recognizes that there’s so much more to being a person than just being a single cell with DNA. As real people, we do have thoughts and feelings and memories and self-awareness and desires. We can talk and interact and work together precisely because we are more than just a string of nucleic acids in a particular order. Human DNA is a necessary prerequisite to being human, but it’s not sufficient. It takes time and growth to turn a mere chemical formula into a real life person. And all materialists need to recognize that.

Especially if they’re pro-life.



  1. says

    The problem is they aren’t really materialists. That is simply their attempt at justifying their views. It’s like using the cosmological argument for explaining why they are a Christian when no one has ever become a Christian for that reason.

  2. says

    And objectively, the pro-choice side is pretty clearly the better materialistic argument.

    Not only that, but when religious people have to argue on materialistic issues, they are not playing on their “home turf,” so to speak; thus their arguments end up having flaws in them, such as the argument of “life begins at conception.”

  3. rork says

    Adult diploid organisms are more interesting. I care more about them. I treat them with some respect in the hopes they’ll return the favor. It’s still chemistry all the way down though.

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