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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

"Life Begins At Conception" Is Not A Religious Claim

I think it may seem so, because the ethical system from which a person might claim this is fully consistent with a supernatural worldview, (and the Christian one) and many people who make the claim are Christians.

It's a funny thing about our public space today: people find it easier to assess and dismiss others, rather than engage their arguments. I'm the worst at this. If I don't like someone, it's really difficult to engage in a meaningful way. I'm still learning.

 The full claim as an argument would be something like, "Human life begins at conception. It is morally wrong to take innocent human life at any stage of development. Therefore, governments around the world should enact laws prohibiting the taking of innocent human life at any stage of development."

If someone makes a claim that abortion is morally acceptable in some circumstances--while conceding that abortion ends a human life--accompanied by the claim that the aborted fetus is a "clump of cells," no more entitled to protection than one of your fingernails, then it has become a utilitarian argument. Human life is valuable insofar as that life is useful to someone else, or perhaps to themselves. But that view, you'll notice, views people in terms of their capacities, not because of an inherent dignity they possess, irrespective of their capacities. The respective philosophical positions, and the ethics that flow from them, should be the matter up for discussion.

A specifically Christian claim along the same lines would be, "Human life begins at conception. It is morally wrong to take innocent human life at any stage of development. Therefore, governments around the world should enact laws prohibiting the taking of human life at any stage of development. Moreover, since Jesus Christ became man as a part of his good news of salvation and eternal life with God, He reaffirmed the inviolable dignity of the human person. Anyone who, without repentance, participates in the taking of innocent human life makes themselves liable to the judgment--in body and soul--of eternal fire, and permanent separation from God."

You see the specifically Christian elements there: eternal souls, eternal life, communion with God, the resurrection of the body, and/or hell. You don't see those supernaturally revealed elements changing the basic ethical argument all that much, or at all.

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