Thursday, February 17, 2011

Minority View of the Soul

Rachel Maddow is bringing the murder of Dr. Tiller back into the news. Wichita, KS is currently without any abortion providers, most likely because any potential providers are being terrorized and bullied. Maddow and myself are extremely progressive when it comes to reproductive rights but it seems to me that she’s asking the wrong question when she asks “Is this how we want to solve this issue?”

It’s certainly possible that those threatening and encouraging violence are somehow mistaken, that they could be made to realize that they are going about this the wrong way. I’m inclined to think otherwise. I don’t know how premeditated was the murder of Dr. Tiller but I’m confident the events surrounding it, such as “WANTED” posters, the release of his personal information, explicit calls for harassment, and on, were specifically designed with violence and the threat of it in mind. These acts in and of themselves involve deliberate planning which means that, for those who are threatening and bullying, the answer to Maddow’s big question–“Is this how we want to solve this issue?”–must be ‘yes’.

Then the next question to ask must be “Why?” I don’t think this is difficult to answer, either. Those who are threatening, bullying, and probably knowingly encouraging violence are doing so because they believe what they say they believe: that nothing less than a human being is created at conception, and that killing human beings who haven’t done anything to deserve death is equally wrong in all cases. These people believe they have run out of options for protecting innocent human beings from those who murder them.

This is the most extreme version of the Christian, Pro-Life stance. It is the one most often heard from inside Christianity (in my experience). I would bet, though, that most Christians don’t actually believe this. The arguments against the Christian view of Soul-at-Conception are as solid as they are boring (for a succinct, articulate survey, see Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation). Even if most Christian’s haven’t thought out what their view of a soul would mean for, say, identical twins, the majority of American Christians almost certainly support a woman’s right to an abortion if the pregnancy is a serious health risk or in the case of rape or incest. While I am not aware of any poll specifically targeting Christians, in every general poll less than %25 of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances while %76 of Americans call themselves Christians, supporting my wager.

Not only is the idea that a soul is created at conception obviously bogus but it's probably the minority viewpoint among Christians. What is it about Christianity, then, that allows obviously bogus, minority ideas to dominate the rhetoric?

No comments:

Post a Comment