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Delores Stariana

Human Life

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What is the value of human life?

 

How can we tell people it's wrong to kill when we teach them that we are descended from "apes" and life ends at death?

 

How can we honestly get outraged at a shooting when we are comfortable with killing the human baby inside of us?

 

How can we actually teach that murder is wrong when we embrace it in abortion by killing the human baby inside?

 

What is wrong with our culture that we are so comfortable with letting abortion happen and then get so angry at mass shootings?

 

I'm not trying to offend anyone, I honestly want to know the difference...

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You can value human life without being theistic and Christians do not have a monopoly on respect for human dignity. There are secular pro-life organizations. Atheists who fight for the unborn. Likewise, there are Christians who believe in evolution, such as myself, who see it as something that brings glory to God's creation. That God has written something into the law of the universe to care for the sparrows and least of thee through the evolutionary process is just cool to me and I see man as the pinnacle of that creation. 

 

Most people don't like abortion, but they don't want to have people regulating what women can and can't do with their body. I agree that it's a problem, but the tendency to priorities the life of someone born is just built into us. Morality aside, if you could save your sibling or a random child from getting hit by a car (only one, you can't say both) most of the time you would want to save your kin. It's just how we're built that we tend to prioritize those closest to us over strangers, as well as the visible over the less visible. The death of parent, after all, will affect us more than a distant relative we've never met. And this inclination isn't wrong, it just is.

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This has been a bit of an interest of mine. I know that some atheists do not support abortion, and most atheists do not support genocide, but why?

 

Like Delores said, why is killing a person any worst than killing an animal, if we are basically just an animal? I know, there are those crazy people who think killing a mouse is worthy of a death penalty, but those are few and far between. There seems to be few moral standards nowadays, and those that do exist seem to have nothing backing them up.

 

  Your post, Marley, while insightful, didn't get to the root of the question. Why do they take a moral position when they do not have a system encouraging those?  

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 Your post, Marley, while insightful, didn't get to the root of the question. Why do they take a moral position when they do not have a system encouraging those?  

 

Maybe because no one wants to live in a society where there is the threat of murder, war, and suffering at every turn? 

 

So pretty much every religion and ethical has some form of the golden rule right? I'd argue, and I think a non-theist could argue, that part of the reason it comes up again and again is because on some level it is innate to the human experience regardless of religious background. As an {theistic} evolutionist, I believe that every creature has a will to survive and (generally) to pass on their genetic information. Now, in animals you see this a lot in the protecting of the family group. Motherly instinct is an evolutionary trait and, in more complex animals, the tendency of a family group to protect each other (think wolf packs and lion prides) is also present. Why will animals sacrifice thereselves for their young, after all? Is it alturism or is it a hard-wired tendency to protect the passing on of genetic material? 

 

Pre-historic man also traveled in small family groups. However, the purely instinctual drive to protect a group only extends so far. I *think* about 50 individuals (this is a little different in herd animals but the evolutionary mechanics are different). In apes, you'll often see that a group that gets above a certain size splits up into different factions and, at one point, I imagine man was much the same. Eventually, however, we developed other systems to ensure that a group protected individuals that were "members" regardless of if they were genetically related. This was the beginning of societies, governing systems, and some would even argue religion. The genetic disposition "evolved" into a greater idea, and as time has gone on other ideas about personal rights and liberty have also developed into the cultural fabric and human psyche. At its base, this is the development of the law of reciprocity or "Golden Rule" type framework. 

 

Of course, we're still tribal creatures. We gravitate to those like us. Similar backgoruns. Similar experiences. Similar religious or political beliefs. Its very hard for people to break out of that thinking and while I don't think its bad to be small-group oriented I do think its evidence of how we came to be. Remnants of a past where sticking with those "like me" meant survival. 

 

And again, no one wants to get murdered.

 

The abortion thing is a more complex issue, of course. Personally, I feel like the fact that motherly instinct IS instinctual is part of the reason why wide-spread abortion is a signal to ill in our society. Like I said, most people don't like abortion. On a basic level it feels "icky". They just don't want to restrict other peoples rights to access it. 

 

Hope that helps, I'm kinda just rambling.... 

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How can we tell people it's wrong to kill when we teach them that we are descended from "apes" and life ends at death?

 

 

The same way Christians can say it's wrong to torture puppies even though they're not made in God's image and don't live past death--at the same time that we feel just fine exterminating spiders and bats and cockroaches. We attribute different values to different organisms and carve out ethical categories according to those values.

 

How can we honestly get outraged at a shooting when we are comfortable with killing the human baby inside of us?

 

How can we actually teach that murder is wrong when we embrace it in abortion by killing the human baby inside?

 

What is wrong with our culture that we are so comfortable with letting abortion happen and then get so angry at mass shootings?

 

 

Because they don't put fetuses into the same ethical category as grown autonomous people.

 

 There seems to be few moral standards nowadays, and those that do exist seem to have nothing backing them up.

 

Actually, there are a lot of contemporary ethical standards for non-Christians. Off the top of my head, the big ones are Kantianism, Utilitarianism, relativism, virtue ethics, particularism, and Strawsonian reactive attitudes (functionalism). Do you have a good argument as to why each of these "have nothing backing them up," or do you just assume that because they come to the wrong conclusions?

 

-=-

 

My question is why does God make it any different? So God says it's anathema to take innocent human life--how do I know God's not just evil? At some point I have to rely on my own ethical judgment that God is holy and right, and that ethical judgment is the same basic faculty that well-meaning atheists use to find goodness in the world. If I can determine that God is holy by the light of my reason, then an atheist can determine that murder is repellent.

Edited by Chris-M

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