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Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser: Guest Post on Abortion

Since I was on the topic, Bruce graciously allowed me a platform to talk in-depth about the subject of abortion and women's rights on his blog. 

If you'd like to check out my guest article "Is Abortion Murder?" please go to The Life and Times of Bruce Grencser and read it by clicking HERE.

Thank you!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Abortion is Evil and Equates to Murder! Period!

"Abortion is Evil and equates to murder. Period."

If you are the type of person who believes this, I'm sorry to be the barer of bad news, but in all likelihood you've been brainwashed.

I don't say that to be divisive. Really. I don't.

It's just an observation.

See, the thing is, you can't exactly talk about the meta-ethics regarding something as complex as abortion in absolute, black and white, terms and still expect to be taken seriously. It's just not gonna happen.

Saying "all abortion is evil" and "abortion is murder" is a very binary way of thinking, it's either right or wrong, good or bad, and leaves no room for discussion.

It is a lot like a doomsday preacher giving the date of the end of the world. You might believe it, sure. You might scream it at the top of your lungs. But the fact remains, it's simply not true because you want to believe it's true. One's mere opinion is not an adequate substitute for a proper argument and in noway displaces the bulk of knowledge already accumulated on the subject, philosophically, ethically, and otherwise.

Saying that "abortion is evil" or that women who have had abortions are "murderers" is just a defense mechanism you've developed to prematurely end a debate you don't want to have.

I know. Because I used to be in your exact shoes. I was a conservative, pro-life, advocate who berated abortion. But now I'm on the other side of the fence. Fancy a guess as to why?

No, it's not that I think I'm better or smarter than anyone else. You'd be surprised by how many people use that deflection to take the burden off them to have to answer the question of why they feel that way. Often you don't get well thought out reasons. You get emotionally charged justifications. That's how you know that you've been brainwashed.

Zealously only cares about being right for the sake of being right. It does not care about truth -- even when, or I should say *especially when, the truth proves the zealot wrong.

Don't worry. I get it. I do. Chances are you were taught to think this way. You didn't examine all the facts, you never sat down with a distraught mother who just had a miscarriage to talk with her about it, you didn't take time to interview other women who've had abortions for all kinds of reasons (most of them probably medically valid reasons at that), and you probably never chose to talk to an entire fleet of doctors on fetal development thereby educating yourself on the relevant material before jumping to the conclusion you liked best.

You just assumed that you knew better because some authority in your life told you that life, all life, was sacred and, well, it stems to reason that if life is sacred abortion is evil because it expunges life.

Again. That's not how morality works.

We don't get our morals from on high, from some supreme source. Of course, there's philosophical reasons why Divine Command theory, just to name one example, is problematic. But that's a discussion for another time. Let's just be satisfied with knowing it has never been demonstrated -- and maybe, just maybe, we should learn to accept that moral considerations aren't so simplistic.

The Good VS Evil binary thinking doesn't have a place in the intricate realm of ethics where subtleties and nuances play a big role in determining the rightness or wrongness of an act.

Bio-ethics, and the gray area where medicine and human life enter the equation, the fact of the matter is that solutions to tricky ethical problems aren't always crystal clear. This certainly applies to abortion. If you don't think so, then chances are you've never heard of anencephaly -- i.e., literally being born without a brain.

And if you say life begins at conception, which it very well may, but you haven't considered the Ship of Theseus paradox, odds are you probably shouldn't be saying life begins at conception. You still haven't defined "life" -- and although you are entitled to your own opinions, you aren't entitled to your own facts. 

Furthermore, even if you had a clear idea of what precise point life technically begins, and how to define this life, you still must ask yourself: does my conclusion comport with science?

This is important. Because, if not, then your conclusion runs against the scientific consensus and probably has more in common with a lot of hocus-pocus than actual science.

If you say *all abortion is evil, but neglect the fact that 20 out of 100 women (in America alone) experience spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) before they turn 40, then you have no right to speak on abortion. If you don't think miscarriages are *technically the same thing as other forms of abortions, you have no right to speak on abortion. Your opinion is not a valid argument. And in this particular case, saying *all abortion is evil makes you anti-woman. Don't be that person.

If you say all life is sacred, but just so happen to eat meat, support enlistment into the armed services, and are for capital punishment, yet are against things such as stem-cell research, you are contradicting yourself in the extreme and don't understand the first thing about ethics. In this case, you'd best go and educate yourself before spreading your thin veil of wisdom over everything. Because as flimsy as your opinion is, it's just going to come back riddled with a myriad of holes. Swiss-cheese logic has no place in serious ethical debates, I think you'll agree.

If you think that being pro-choice means you're anti-pro-life, you're mistaken. Pro-choice advocates do not call for the death of babies. We merely support the rights of the mother as an autonomous individual. And the fact is, whether you like it or not, unborn fetuses aren't autonomous individuals. Their rights aren't the same as an adults in the same way a child's rights aren't the same as an adults.

If you think being anti-abortion equates to being pro-life, you're equally mistaken. Anti-abortion is unscientific and almost always predicated on anti-woman platforms. It's a perversion of the pro-life stance. Pro-birth is the re-branding of anti-abortion to try and dupe people into agreeing with anti-women policies. Don't be fooled.

Oh, and if you think that pro-life and pro-choice are opposite sides of the same coin, you're still wrong and chances are you need to do some major research before weighing in on the matter.

Just to be accurate, the pro-choice stance is a contra-argument to the legal, ethical, and philosophical problems that are raised by the pro-life stance. But in order to know this you need to know what both stances entail. You have to look at both sides arguments as objectively as possible. Leave the hyperbolic, alarmist, over emotional baggage at the door.

Assuredly, pro-life positions are almost always inherently flawed, logically, morally, and otherwise. This is due to the simple fact that pro-life advocates fail to logically defend their premise or find scientific support for their claims. Instead they just want to spout of moral pleas and platitudes. But this sabotages any attempt to form a rational argument, because everything devolves into a mess about feelings -- not facts.

I still have yet to see a fully developed, fully rational pro-life argument be made. It always comes down to crocodile tears for all the unborn children who never got to be born, and some questionable links to some alarmist, yet obviously doctored, abortion videos meant to give you a bit of the shock and awe treatment pro-lifers so blithely imagine themselves to be feeling whenever they think about the horrors of abortion. Horrors, which in reality, are extremely rare occurrences that happen less than 1.3% of the time. Which is about the same as saying almost not at all.

Pro-choice has its own flaws, sure, although in my experience they are easier to find adequate solutions for. It's not as cut and dry with the pro-life side of things, I think you'll find.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gun Logic Fail

If the meme means to say a pencil is meant for writing so that the end result is a bunch of written words... and... that a gun is meant for shooting things so that the end result is that those things will be dead. Then yes, it's correct logic.

If not, then not.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Thoughts on Conservatism

I often tell my ultra conservative friends that it would do them good to take some time off, learn a foreign language, and move to a foreign country and live there for 3 years.

Of course, in my recommendation of this I am proposing they broaden their worldview. Not in a condescending you don't know anything way, but in a way that has a proved track record of results for opening a person's mind and really helping them see the world, and themselves, in a new light.

This suggestion of course brings with it the obvious side effects of growing more liberal. This automatically happens when you take yourself out of the center of your world and have to learn to communicate with others, learn patience in listening to them, and learn to accept that the way you do things and have done things is likely 99% inadequate if not completely wrong.

The inability to express yourself clearly forces you to think long in hard about what you say before you say it. What's more, it teaches you to really evaluate what you devote time and energy for.

Second, the unavoidable daily miscommunications you will experience will teach you patience in listening to others, and teach you patience in having to explain to them in ways that are counter-intuitive to how you go about your regular daily life just to get by. 

As a side effect, it teaches you how to come up with new solutions to simple problems you wouldn't regularly have had before.

Third of all, it gives you a vital new perspective in how other cultures think and behave and lets you gain a new perspective on how you used to think and behave. It allows you self reflection and criticism as you overcome your weaknesses by adapting and evolving to work within a new cultural framework.

At the same time, absorbing a new culture and learning a new language give you invaluable knowledge to work with, and these new tools will aid to help you get by in your everyday life.

As a side effect, you grow more empathetic toward others, you learn to accept a different way of life and a different point of view and then learn how to incorporate this into your own personal identity, and this gives you the ability to not only sympathize with others more readily but it strips away you conservatism and any ill-side effects that come with it, such as trading exclusivity for inclusivity and learning, thereby getting rid of xenophobic or racial hangups you may have had in the past. It teaches you to cope with frustration while letting you gain new problem solving skills. It teaches you how to accept the fact that you are probably wrong and that compromise isn't always bad.

People often worry that you can become too liberalized. But this isn't necessarily a worry for people who've undergone it, because of the borders and artificial boundaries we draw for ourselves, it is often the case that normative conditions will regulate one's liberalism within a culture so that it finds a nice equilibrium. 

I for one haven't seen a parallel in conservatism. Your culture can either be a little or a lot conservative, but usually you cannot grow more conservative than your outlying culture without becoming radical. The same is true of becoming more liberal. You only can become liberal to the extent that your culture accepts as an acceptable level of liberalness. More than that and you risk becoming radical. 

That said, there is very little danger of flying off the rails as you open yourself up to new ways of thinking and doing things, and a healthy liberalization often brings with it many other benefits. Whereas, it seems to me, an ardent conservatism seems to stifle these same benefits or render them thorns to be avoided because growing more understanding, rather than less, has always been the bane to ultras conservative values.

My Thoughts on Critical Thinking

Changing your mind about something you believe deeply and truly isn't easy. In fact, it's downright hard to do.

Changing your views on something you hold to be an absolute truth, something you feel in your deepest self to be self-evident, something so undeniably and incontrovertibly true there's no contesting it... but then having the fortitude to examine it closely and re-think what you think you know, and consider all the objections as fairly as possible, realizing you do hold biases, and then strive for the best possible objectivity and finally, upon finding ample evidence / reasons to doubt yourself, consider other options / possibilities is not easy. Not by a long shot. 

What it is, is downright hard.

Critical thinking, learning to be skeptical and doubt within reason, setting bias aside, striving for objectivity, all in the pursuit of the truth are skills one must develop them over time. And not everybody posses these skills. Just like not everyone can play the piano. 

Of course, you know why many cannot play the piano, right? Because playing the piano is downright hard. It's a skill that one has to develop over time. And even then, after years of practice and diligence, there is no promise you'll be great at it.

The same is true of critical thinking skills. They are downright hard to develop and even harder to hone. Not everyone has taken the time to develop them. In fact, most haven't. And those who have, well, like the analogy of playing the piano, there's no guarantee they'll be any good at it. It's something you have to continually work at.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

"I'm Praying for you." Please, don't.

If an atheist says "Fuck God" or "God is a douche" then the Christian becomes offended and annoyed by these words.

I know many Christians who accuse atheists of being angry. And maybe some are. 

But what I find funny, not to mention rather telling, is that Christians think it's perfectly alright to say "I'll be praying for you..." in condescending fashion when they find out one of their friends or family members is an atheist not realizing it's about as annoying as a rude atheist saying "Fuck God, that asshole."

Sure, a Christian might say, but hey, I'm genuinely concerned for you. For your soul. And that this comes from a good place, rather than just being a rude person calling someone's sacred idol or preferred deity names.

And although their heart is in the right place, it's no less rude or condescending to assume someone is in some way not good enough to reach whatever made up standard you're holding them to, religious or otherwise. 

Whereas calling a non-existent entity a nasty name really doesn't harm that entity any -- because it doesn't exist.

The moral of the story is... it's not about you. It's about how you treat others.

Me calling Superman a "Big pussy" doesn't hurt you any. You judging me as less than and thinking I need fixing makes it about me and in a way that's designed to make me feel less of a person... so yeah, you're praying for me? Don't.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Vick Fam Japan Earthquake Relief

Please help my family piece our lives back together after the back-to-back devastating Japan quakes and chip in if you can. Any amount helps.

You can click HERE to go to the GoFundMe campaign page if you want to donate.

You can also share this link:

Every little act of kindness helps.

Thank you.

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist