Sometimes it seems that the primary requirement for being a professional atheist is stupidity. How else can one explain why professional atheist (and evolutionary biologist) Richard Dawkins decided to announce on twitter that a human fetus is less “human” than a grown pig. Even if he believes this bit of foolishness, does he really think it will advance his crusade to destroy religion?
On Wednesday, Dawkins decided to insert himself into the abortion debate typically incendiary comment:
With respect to those meanings of ‘human’ that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig,
As was to be expected, his tweet drew praise from those who support abortion and condemnation from those who believe in the sanctity of human life.
Excited by the attention he was receiving, Dawkins hurried to put out another offensive tweet:
”Human” features relevant to the morality of abortion include ability to feel pain, fear etc & to be mourned by others.
Showing that, to him, physical pain is the only determinative factor in weighing life, Dawkins appeared to try next to placate pro-Choice people:
Unlike many pro-choice friends, I think fetal pain could outweigh woman’s right to control her own body. But pig pain matters too.
Proving that he’s not as smart as he thinks he is, Dawkins later admitted that he meant to write “pro-abortion friends.” Unaware that he had made this mistake in his tweet, he was mystified by the venomous responses he received from the pro-choice crowd:
Bizarre responses to my tweets today. I clearly expressed my strong pro-abortion views & many people decided that I must be anti-abortion!
By reducing the value of life to mere physical sensation, Dawkins revealed his fundamental misunderstanding of what makes humans special. To throw a fancy word in the debate (one that he may or may not understand) the issue is “existentialism.” Humans are more than just a collection of feelings and instincts. We are aware of our existence.
Even the smartest cow does not stand in the field while chewing its cud and ask itself “Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? What do I want to accomplish before I die?” And contrary to Charlotte’s Web, the pig, rolling and rooting in the mud, is not concerned with the quality of its life, the meaning of its friendships, and the imminence of its death. Each animal, instead, responds to the emotions a specific situation arouses in it (comfort, fear, anger, happiness), and to its driving instinctive behaviors.
So far as we know, only humans are capable of asking existential questions, questions that try to place the meaning of life, not in mere physical sensation, but within a larger, abstract context. While it’s true that the fetus is not thinking these deep thoughts, it already has all of the genetic equipment in place to be capable of thinking that way. Nothing in a pig’s development, whether it is a fetal pig or Dawkin’s robust adult pig, will ever bring it to that level of intellectual and philosophical development.
There are many credible arguments that can be made on the subject of abortion, both pro and con. When it comes to the question of intelligent debate about a thorny issue, though, professional atheist Richard Dawkins has proven that he’s not in that league.
(Written by Bookworm; first published at Mr. Conservative.)