Given my recent preoccupation with "life" issues generally and with the pro-life / pro-choice debate generally, I thought it might be advisable to reprint this column from several years ago for the sake of the statistics it contains about the incidence of spontaneous abortions / miscarriages worldwide, and the theological implications of these numbers. Debates about abortion tend to get lost in the intricacies of theologies and ideologies at the expense of appeal to actual hard data. My intent in reprinting this "Skeptic's Collection" column is not to ridicule pro-life people or their religious convictions. Rather, my intent is simply to make possible an appeal to empirical evidence vis a vis various theological reflections on abortion. Facts matter.
Back in February of 2014, I publishe...
I have been closely following the history of the hyper-restrictive – grossly over-restrictive, in my estimation – abortion laws and bills, including the so-called “heartbeat” laws / bills. As a result, I have become convinced that the biggest problem with the abortion debate – both pro-choice and pro-life -- is that both parties assume they know one helluva lot more than they actually do, in fact, one helluva lot more than anybody knows about what a fetus in a womb actually is, “ontologically”. In fact, both parties assume that they know one helluva lot more than anyone can know, even in principle.
First, we need to define some terminology. Consider the word “phenotype”. “Phenotype” refers to those characteristics of a biological organism that are naked-eye, empirically,
I have been reading for at least the second time, maybe the third, Richard Dawkins’ magisterial book about evolution, The Greatest Show on Earth (hereafter Show). Like the other one or two times I have read Dawkins’ book, it was an exhilarating ride. Until I read the appendix, which pertains to how the theory of evolution is, to this day, received in the US and non-Scandinavian Europe. That appendix to Show is a real downer. (I reacted similarly when I first read the book.) It turns out that, even in the supposedly enlightened First World – again, the Scandinavian countries are the blessed exception -- around 80% of respondents accept a theory of evolution that accommodates some kind of supernatural explanation, e.g., God did it all according to a literal reading of Genesis, chapter 1; o