Thursday, May 16, 2019

Keyword: Abortion [Do the New Anti-Abortion and Heartbeat laws make women into State regulated Chattel?]

Keyword: Abortion

[*Disclaimer:* this gets long and philosophically complex. If you're just going to harp ad nauseum that abortion equates to murder, then don't bother responding. The moral reasoning and scientific knowledge that follows is too advanced for you.]

[*Disclaimer 2:* Serious responses only, please. That doesn't mean I don't want disagreement, but simply sharing twice-regurgitated anti-abortion rhetoric does not an educated opinion make.]

I'm wondering if certain anti-abortion bills trespass on anti-slavery laws.

If, for example, the legal claim is that the woman has NO autonomous right over her reproductive organs/choices, and the state -- by way of law and legislation -- forces her to be an incubator, effectively making her State-owned chattel, then does this not constitute a type of slavery?

I'd argue that it does. Owning another human being for forced labor, or owning any part of them, including their reproductive organs -- and by extension, their reproductive choices -- is a form of slavery.

Pro-life advocates may argue that abortion equates to murder even as they have NEVER adequately defined fetal personhood nor have they ever attempted to move beyond the anti-abortion rhetoric that doesn't seek to guilt people into thinking pro-choice/pro-abortion is the choice to murder babies (hint: it's NOT).

In my estimation, pro-life isn't a valid position because they've offered no valid argument. Their claim is merely that "life begins at conception."

Defining a starting point for a stage of biological development is fine. Attempting to define what fetal personhood would look like would be the next logical step. But they don't do this.

Instead, they move on to stripping the mother of her autonomous rights over her own body. That opens an ethical can of worms. Least of all because it's immoral and two wrongs do not make a right (by their own reasoning this would be obvious -- strangely it's not).

But "life at conception" isn't what they are attempting to define. The wording is actually a diversionary tactic because it sounds in-line with the scientific consensus which acknowledges biological stages and degrees of development of the fetus. The pro-life side, however, explicitly does not recognize such.

What they explicitly mean to say "personhood begins at conception" but, as we all know, this concept of 'fetal personhood' has nowhere been defined or even articulated to any degree of coherence.

Therefore, upon logical inspection, I argue that these new laws are not about defining fetal personhood or life but, in point of fact, enslaving women by legal means to become producers of children.

To me, this is just as bad as murder. So, I don't see how any pro-life advocate can square away this line of reasoning with any law that seeks to swap out one perceived evil for another equal or greater evil.

It seems that the emotional appeals and admonishments regarding "baby murder" and "killing infants" is just a smoke screen for a most sinister and draconian ploy to gain control and ownership of women's reproductive organs and place her child-rearing capacity under the control of the state.

Additionally, the new anti-abortion and heartbeat laws seem to want to act as a potential wedge to challenge Roe vs. Wade and other abortion legislation in an effort to maybe subvert it.

But without clearly defining their terminology first, all this does is lead to further ambiguity and confusion regarding any and all future legislation. This would, at best, make it impossible to later clarify their terms thereby causing endless litigation on every single case by case basis. It's a badly thought out strategy that relies more on gut emotion rather than clear, rational minded consideration.

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the heartbeat bills don't make any logical sense to anyone who understands that biological stages are real and that the heart develops prior to the brain and other organs so that the simple pump can supply blood and oxygen to the organism for cellular growth -- that it may mature to a fully grown fetus at a later point in the growth cycle.

It's an extremely early stage of development (est. 5 weeks) and the heartbeat comes along at around week 8 to help start to grow the brain which begins development at week 8 (it's nowhere near grown since we know gyrification or cortical folding doesn't occur until week 24 of development -- and this is why nearly all medical professionals say that 20 weeks is the limit for safe abortion practices -- because before this stage of development the human brain cannot perceive in the manner that is sufficient for claiming awareness, consciousness, or personhood).

This is why viability becomes an important issue at these early stages. Remember, week 20 is when the fetus is approximately halfway through its growth into a fully formed fetus. But you don't call a car that's halfway built a fully ready to drive off the lot vehicle.

The raw batter of pancake mix isn't a blueberry muffin before you add blueberries or bake it. So, why would such an early stage of a fetus be considered what it's clearly not?

The pro-life claim that a fetus is a fetus is a fetus ignores biological stages of development entirely. It's like arguing that eggs and milk is a cake is a cake is a cake. I'm afraid a few important steps are missing before such a claim can be made.

The reason they say this is because they want a blastocyst, zygote, fetus, baby, and child along with all the stages of development in-between to effectively mean the exact same thing.

But they are not the same thing. The science is clear on the matter of biological stages and the gestation period for fetal growth and development.

Calling a half grown fetus a full fetus with personhood even though its nervous system and brain have just started to develop seems premature. The definition doesn't describe the stage of development accurately nor is an adequate gauge to determine whether, as in the case of pro-life argumentation, such a kind of fetus deserves to be defined as something autonomous from the mother in terms of personhood, legal rights, or even identity.

If anybody was truly savvy on the philosophy of law, they might realize that identity minus an external reality, or even a limited external reality (e.g. a womb) would be hard to articulate what autonomy it could have or what autonomy we could recognize.

I've mentioned in the past that placing the identity and autonomy of the mother in direct opposition to the fetus is problematic at best because the law already recognizes there are limited forms of autonomy, for example, minors, felons, and legal aliens all have limited rights as compared to natural born citizens.

Minors have fewer rights than adults. And so to claim a fetus has rights that usurp an adult mother's creates a confused legal president where minor's rights are concerned. Either a new category of human rights needs to be created or we have to make laws that already fit in-line with the current legal understanding of the separation of minor and adult rights.

I believe that this needs to be cleared up before the fetus can be given rights that usurp the mother's will and autonomy.

These are just some of the issues of a few hundred that I've identified as weaknesses in the pro-life legislation that is currently being passed. All of the legislation, it seems, is being passed based on knee-jerk emotional reactions to hypothetical scenarios (not real ones) and an extremely poor understanding of women's health. Moreover, the moral reasoning behind the anti-abortion bills and legislation seems to be confused if not entirely lacking.

Despite these damming revelations which make much of the current pro-life legislation a barely laughable joke, the bills are still being passed into law.

This is truly frightening. Because we've skipped several necessary steps based on bad rhetoric and bad rhetoric alone to place women's reproductive rights under the control of the state, thereby placing ownership of her reproductive capabilities and organs under the state via legislation that denies her any choice in the matter.

If it sounds awfully a lot like ownership over a human being -- or more accurately over a part of them -- it's because it is. And that's not a legal president I think we should be setting in the year 2019.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Happy Easter! The Truth About the Resurrection of Jesus

With Easter Sunday approaching, I would like to look at the resurrection account of Jesus Christ from the historical perspective.
In other words, beyond the stories contained in the Christian Bible what does history really have to say about the event itself.
It’s commonly known that Christians in the 2nd and 3rd centuries didn’t read the New Testament because the New Testament didn’t exist yet. The New Testament scholar and historian Bart D. Ehrman teaches us that

The books themselves, of course, had been written, but they had not yet been collected into a sacred and authoritative canon of Scripture. The term canon refers to a collection of authoritative books. … our canon did not yet exist as an officially recognized collection during the second and third centuries.
He goes on to inform us that this was just the least of early Christians worries. Because there were so many books that were written and published together – all of them claiming to be authoritative – that it was difficult for early Christians to know what was a true story written by a real apostle of Jesus or which was just a rival Christian group trying to promote their brand of Christianity by making it sound more authentic by creating its own “authoritative works” while saying it was written by a real apostle of Jesus.
Other books were written at the same time, however, also claiming to be by Jesus’ followers. Each of the early Christian groups that maintained its own distinctive beliefs and practices had books that were believed to be written by Jesus’ own apostles—gospels, for example, allegedly written by his disciples Thomas and Philip, and Mary Magdalene… The existence of these “other” Scriptures leads to other questions.
So, in summary, Christians had a lot of stories. A lot! Approximately 325 years after the death of Jesus, however, they still were in the dark as to which were the true stories. This didn't sit well with the rapidly growing Church, because too many discordant beliefs breed discord, so it was decided by the Church fathers that a canonical version of Christian doctrines and stories needed to be decided upon.

They decided upon 27 books and rejected all the rest.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Chick-fil-A Hates Gay People: But It's okay because they sometimes give you free chicken sandwiches!


Where do I even begin?

Although I've taken early retirement from blogging here on the Advocatus Atheist and I'm doing my best to avoid talking about religion and politics, every once in a while I see something pop up in my social media feed that boggles my mind.

There are times when it's impossible to bite my tongue and I may, from time to time, open my big mouth. This, in turn, sometimes drags me into a larger debate than I initially cared to get into.

Except, sometimes the apathetic stance of not caring is the more damaging stance to take.

Sometimes, you have to speak out and say something against the bigotry and prejudice that people fling about with reckless abandon. 

Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and get your intellectual hands dirty with the dialectic.

Chick-fil-A Hates Gay People: My Internet Debate (Part 1)

So, there I was, minding my own business.

Then an article about Chick-fil-A pops up in my feed. Then another. And another.

Several of my Christian friends and acquaintances got up in arms about it. A couple of them even went into full-on persecution complex mode.

I tried to ignore it.

I really did.

But alas, sometimes something so trivial ends up being a bigger deal then it ought to.

This is one of those times.

Let me explain at the outset that I'm not trying to personally attack anyone. But sometimes a stupid belief must be challenged because that belief is also damaging.

And also this discussion happened in private on Facebook, the person doesn't use their real name so the screen-caps are no way in danger of exposing their true identity.

But before we get into it, please understand that the criticism I'll be giving isn't meant as a personal attack against this person. It's meant as an honest critique of a pernicious ideology they hold that promotes a bigoted and prejudiced worldview.

So, an online acquaintance shared this news about Chick-fil-A being denied a commercial permit to open a restaurant in the San Antonio Airport. The San Antonio city council voted on banning Chick-fil-A.

Her initial post looked something like this:

At first, I was confused as to why she'd argue that San Antonio is discriminating against Christian beliefs. They're clearly not. They're discriminating against discriminatory anti-LGBTQ beliefs.

That's a big distinction.

Because not all Christians hate gays. So, clearly, San Antonio isn't discriminating against all Christians. Only the hateful gay-bashing ones.

I see nothing wrong with wanting to ban that type of prejudice from your city or airport, or wherever.

But she was adamant about it being an attack against Christians and therefore was an attack on her Christian faith.

That's a pretty big leap right there.

The only reason for a person to make this kind of leap is because they want to defend their sexist and homophobic ideology by placing it under the banner of their faith. If it's part of their sacred faith, then how dare you criticize it!

Otherwise, she wouldn't have likely said anything.

The San Antonio city council's reasoning makes sense.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Abortion Debate: What the Pro-Life side gets Wrong

I don't often get political on my page. But I will talk about abortion because I think it's a bioethics debate that's important to human rights and the quality of life.

A friend of mine shared a political cartoon (but actually anti-abortion propaganda) on his page. 

Like me, he was shocked by the lack of understanding about the recent New York bill that safeguards the right for hospitals and doctors to perform emergency abortions when either the fetus will die in the birthing process or the mother will die. 

Really, that's all the bill protects. The right to save life via a necessary emergency medical abortion.

But cartoons like this pop up and play to the emotions of an uneducated public whose reaction is...oh, they're killing babies! Caterwauling about all the baby killin' goin' on in the U.S.

But this just goes to expose the irrationality of the pro-life side and reveals they prefer hyperbole and scare tactics to science and truth.

I've stated quite emphatically before that the pro-life position isn't a rationally devised argument.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Proud Father

My daughter asked me why the majority of my heroines are lesbian and/or bisexual. I explained to her that I write heroines that embody the essence of the Goddess archetype, and that any ole ordinary mortal man isn't worthy of being with the Goddess. 

As such, it compels me to write strong women who avoid the need or even desire for men. If they need companionship, they turn to other women. Unless, of course, the man is exceptionally worthy. But, I added, in my stories the women don't *need* men to get by.

She nodded quietly, taking it all in. She's only 8 and hasn't read any of my books but has often asked what story I'm writing so I break down summaries of them for her. 

She's fascinated by the fact that women can like women and men can like men. She knows that homosexuality is a thing. And she recognizes that it's becoming acceptable in society and was curious as to why I incorporate such things in my stories.

I found it to be a rather sophisticated question for an 8-year-old.

Bill Cosby Behind Bars: Seperating the Man from the Art (Some Thoughts)

Well, Bill Cosby is in cuffs and heading off to jail for 3-10 years.

It's weird. I despise what he did. I find him a grotesque human being. But the art he put out into the world I admire greatly. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The End of a Journey and the Beginning of a New One

Where one journey ends a new one begins.

I have decided to call it the end of my Advocatus Atheist journey.

This blog was monumental in helping me grapple with my loss of faith and working out my thoughts and feelings as I approached new belief systems and looked toward an uncertain future.

Now, after years of writing and years of speaking on religion, I've decided to call it quits.

Many of my atheist friends have also moved on. Once prominent bloggers are now focusing their energy and activism into things closer to them, taking on more personal challenges, and living their lives.

As you can tell by the lack of posts over the past couple of years, I too have shifted focus.

No longer do I feel the religious debate has anything worth discussing. That doesn't mean it's not a discussion worth having if you're engaging it for the first time. I'll continue to answer any questions directed my way, but as for new content, don't expect anything other than once in a blue moon.

Nowadays I have shifted all my focus and energy on my fiction writing, which has become rather lucrative for me.

What isn't lucrative is this blog. No matter how hard I tried, this simple expression of my ideas and thoughts, no matter how well researched, never generated a dime for me. And that wasn't such a concern when I was single and fresh out of college.

But, now, with three children, two dogs, and two rabbits I have many more mouths to feed and many more lives I am responsible for. Which also means I need to spend more time working for them and less time with online activism that seems to do little in the way of convincing anyone -- no matter how disciplined the rhetoric or how factually backed the arguments.

As such, it's time to close shop.

Naturally, all good things must come to an end. However, I realize that this blog has helped many others navigate their own loss of faith and perhaps helped, in some small way, give them direction in a turbulent, frightening, and uncertain time in their lives.

As they move forward in their own personal journeys and dare to look out beyond an absence of their faith for something to anchor them in a godless and vastly indifferent universe, if anything here can provide a small modicum of comfort during that terrifying existential crisis, then I'm certainly happy to leave up all of my past posts and discussions.

Over the years I've received numerous correspondence from people thanking me for this blog. I forged numerous friendships because of it and am proud that after a decade I still am friends with all my secular skeptics who I first met when I launched The Advocatus Atheist.

Because this blog has always been a valuable source for not only myself but others, I will leave it up. It won't be as active as it once was, but don't be surprised if the occasional political or religious reflection shows up.

That said, I will pour all my energy and artistic creativity into my books such as my science-fiction fantasy series Jegra: Gladiatrix of the Galaxy and the spinoff series Skywend: The Last Peacekeeper and the Knights of Caelum.

I also have a couple of new series planned for next year (2019) called The Wayfarer, a Tomb Raider styled adventure series, and Blood Alchemist: The Untold Tales of Dracula, a Vampire series -- obviously.

These, along with my current projects, will take me well into 2023 with non-stop writing. At the same time, I continue to teach English in Japan and will divert more time to my own English school as I continue to add students and build clientele.

Anyway, I wish you all well. And as always, live well and be wise. Finally, in this day and age of instant outrage and seemingly endless online profiling, doxing, and hypersensitivity, I will share this bit of wisdom I learned from my grandmother.

If there's anything in this world you could choose to be, it is my hope that you'd choose kindness. Be kind to one another.

Love one another.

Let go of the hate.

And live your lives to their fullest.

Do it in that order, and be content. Life if too short for senseless bickering, petty grudges, and no room for forgiveness.

Be kind.

Choose love.

That is all.

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist