Confessions of a Pro-Life Atheist: What Gives me the Passion to Actively Oppose Abortion
[Today’s post was written by SPL member Patrick Ptomey for Bryan Kemper’s blog. It’s since been picked up by LifeSiteNews, of all places. We’re reprinting it too. Enjoy!]
“As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did used to argue) a growth on or in the female body. There used to be feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even-this was seriously maintained-a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped. Of the considerations that have stopped it, one is the fascinating and moving view provided by the sonogram, and another is the survival of ‘premature’ babies of feather-like weight, who have achieved ‘viability’ outside the womb. … The words ‘unborn child,’ even when used in a politicized manner, describe a material reality.”
-Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great (pp. 220-21)
This is a nice way of saying I'm tired of being socially isolated by my christian neighbors and I want to be treated fairly by my own community without having to lie about my belief in god. Deal with it Patrick. Religious people are dumb enough to believe everything they're told by a poorly worded english translation of tangentially related middle-eastern religious traditions, they'll believe you when you say that you believe in god even if you don't. It's not worth the hassle.
No need to take up a ridiculous cause that assumes the intrinsic value of a zygote just so that people will start talking to you again.
Stay strong, Patrick. Keep speaking up for the weak and vulnerable. The unborn who are in danger of abortion deserve the same opportunity to continue their lives outside of the womb as the rest of us were given. Keep up the good work!
Speaking as a Catholic, I for one am quite happy to that there are atheists who share this cause as well. Sure, I don't see how the two are consistent, but hey, there's a lot about our belief systems that don't make sense to each other. Fight on, good sir. Don't let some of your more conceited fellow atheists get to you.
Sorry, you've been fooled. It's not a "embryonic development" issue. It's a issue of basic human rights. NO LIFE has the right to exist at the expense of another, the right to cause unwanted suffering of another life. PERIOD.
It is logically impossible to support a prohibition of abortion without admitting that women are not human, but are nothing more then state-mandated incubation machines that must give up their basic rights under threat of imprisonment or worse.
"NO LIFE has the right to exist at the expense of another, the right to cause unwanted suffering of another life. PERIOD."
So if your existence causes me suffering (unwanted, of course, I am no masochist), you lose your right to life? Sweet, that was easy.
lol, yeah. None of the Christians will even talk to us. This article was only picked up by LifeSite News. XD
There's intrinsic value to every living human being. I wonder how much someone's parents had to hate them to teach the that human life is worthless. 🙁
I appreciate your intellectual honesty, Patrick. You have taken the issue and separated it from a lot of the emotionalism that so many religious pro-lifers and pro-choicers infuse into the argument. As a follower of Jesus, I do have a different ideology than you do in how I view life, but I am thrilled to see that there are non-believers out there who have the courage to honestly approach this issue from a scientific view. Good work, Patrick. Thank you.
As SPL clearly proves by using SCIENCE and "pro life atheists", The policies of the VA Republicans in the general assembly are in support of the "universal values of life" and not "christian morality".
Now you know why women should be legislated into state-controlled vessels of reproduction.
(any woman who pretends to support women while also supporting VA republican anti-choice policy is a liar)
You are not a feminist if you are anti-choice. Period.
Uh oh. The infamous "Period." Now the statement is irrefutable.
Thanks for this good piece.
I too am pro-life. Im also Catholic but I strongly discourage the notion that Christians simply take over the belief of their Churches. Authentic Christianity teaches us that we are created in the image and likeness of God, that we are rational and have absolute human dignity from conception until death and that Christ died for each human being that has ever walked this planet. I have always been pro-life, even before I became Catholic, but I was still in some kind of coma. It was like the Holy Spirit opened my eyes one day and showed me that there is a real genocide going on.. In prayer I realised things that I had never even asked God about. My faith connected the structures of reality, what was already-always there. Im part of pro-life movement in Europe. Most of us are Catholics, but the people we seek to influence are of all faiths including atheism. We seek to touch the hearts and conscience. All people have a conscience. I would say that the ethical thinking, and long philosophic history of Christian thinkers on this topic is worth studying. because lets face it.. the issue is not only about abortion but also about all the behaviours that lead up to the tragedy of abortion. Anyway, we don't use the faith to convince secular people not to have abotions, we appeal to explaining images of babies in the womb etc. I myself have read a great deal about post-abortion syndrom. I really just wanna thank you for this site! Its great. We are on the same team:) May you have great success. – Ina, Denmark
Atheism and prolife are not incompatible, as abortion is first a human rights violation. I consider the secular POV invaluable to the debate.
The question an atheist actually needs to answer–that a Christian does not–is, “What makes it wrong to kill someone or something?” The Christians have their Bible to tell them what right and wrong is. The atheist does not.
As an atheist, I’m not moved by the “If it’s a living organism with human DNA, we can’t kill it, because human DNA is special” argument. Human DNA is no more special than any other living creature’s DNA. What actually makes people worth protecting is a complicated answer. My philosophy professor proposed it to us like this: If or when we encounter alien life, how will we know if it’s okay to kill–as we kill mosquitoes, as we kill and eat corn–or not okay to kill?
The important characteristics of life that make it worth protecting, in my opinion, are the ability to feel pain (sentience), the ability to feel emotions, the ability to think, and self-awareness. Of course, these are present in non-humans, too, to some extent: cows feel pain, pigs feel emotion, dolphins show self-awareness, and so on. Grass does not. Fungus does not. Trees do not. Fetuses do not.
So I don’t support the (torturous) killing of animals with my money. I’m vegetarian. But I see no reason to protect a fetus or elevate its rights over that of the woman who is forced to carry it. We did away with forced labor when we did away with slavery. The fact that the fetus forces the woman while it is unaware does not diminish the woman’s right to defend herself against it.
For an atheist, death is not hell. Death is painless nonexistence. Of course, for a being that can fear its death, the threat of death is still torture. But for a being that cannot imagine or fear its death–for a fetus–death is little different from the undeveloped existence it currently has.
Thus it is: a fetus cannot think or feel. So how is it wrong to kill one?
(Latest science on fetal pain, by the way: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/fetus-feels-pain-37-weeks-study/story?id=14472566)
Honestly, I see no problem with an atheist being a prolifer. As a Christian, a Medicine student and a prolife activist, I deal quite often with lots of different people. I work side by side with people of different religious beliefs – or with no religious belief at all -, and I speak with pro-abortion people who also have different beliefs or have none.
I prefer a rather secular approachment than a religious approachment, but that is just a matter of personal taste. It does not mean that religion has no say on abortion (far from that, many awesome prolife groups are of religious inspiration), but since my goal is to reach as many people as possible, and given that those many people may not share my beliefs, I try to speak in a language that we all can share regardless our personal beliefs: Science.
Even if I had been a atheist, I would have ended being a prolife activist all the same, just because the same reason as you, Patrick: Science has long ago made its point. The very moment of conception marks the beginning of a unique human individual, whose life deserves just as much protection and care as our own lives.
Congratulations for your wonderful post, and always keep on with the awesome job.
Patrick you are not the only Pro-Life Atheist I live in Rocky River, Ohio a westside suburb of Cleveland and I am very Pro-Life so don't be discouraged especially by Fanatical Atheists who pray to the God of Political Correctness!
I am always glad to find other pro-life atheists out there. I knew there had to be more of them than just Christopher Hitchens. He was the first one I discovered but there are many to be found on the internet.