A Sucker Is Born Every Minute.

P T Barnum denied ever saying that, but he remains the master of illusion.  The new version of Barnum is Ken Hamm of the Creationist Muesum.

In a previous era, Ken Hamm would be a circus side show act.  He would be standing outside a tent hawking, “Come and see kids riding on dinosaurs, proof the world is only 6,000 years old and how the Bible crushes evolution.”

One of the things he shouts today is, “As proof of creationism, we have 1,000 academic papers published a week.  No, it’s 10,000 academic papers a day.  But wait, there’s more. There are ten million academic papers proving God created everything.”

Barnum and Hamm prove there is always an audience for illusion.  No matter the unlikeliness of a story, a theatrical illusion of the story with mock ups of characters, actors and recorded narratives, will bring in dollars.

The religious right seems to have attended the P T Barnum school of illusion.  We see the results at work everywhere.

Anti abortion billboards are an example.  There are pictures of children one to maybe three years old.  The billboards don’t say abortions involve fetuses rather than children one to three years old.  It would be helpful if anti abortion politics would include pictures of young mothers who died in child birth.

In an earlier period, anti gay political operatives aways provided pictures of transvestites when referring to gays.

Only better education can offset the power and success of illusion.


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64 Responses

  1. Brad

    The Republican party is the master of all illusion in the political and religious arena. The ability to conduct an ongoing war on working class whites and still get them to vote their way is nothing short of pure genius (and incredible ignorance on the part of their voters). It’s not going to be enough to keep them in power nationally, but it’s still an incredible accomplishment.

    1. Dan

      You tell um Brad! Those mean spirited Republicans are out to get just about everyone especially the humble working class whites. We should just go to a one party system since the dims seem to be right on just about everything. We could have Obama be king. Joe Bidden could be the court’s jester. Nancy Pelosi could play the harp. If all the dims worked together, I’m positive that they can fix what Bush screwed up. The working class whites will prosper once more. It’ll be like the roaring 20s.

        1. dan

          Realist…Thanks for the feedback. I’ll try to refrain from using the term dim when I’m referring to a Dimocrat. I was just abbreviating. My bad.

          1. entech

            Is it common practice in America to deliberately misspell the names of people and organisations that you are opposed to? Dimocrat for example, Henry is very good at this demoncrat and obamba are a couple, I know I sometimes say cretinist for creationist but only to Henry and in response, although he has forgotten endwreck for entech.

            Is it intended to demonstrate a cleverness with words or a lack of education?

          2. You almost got it, Entech. It’s intended to demonstrate a cleverness with words by people with a lack of education. A small segment of people just don’t get that saying something over and over that wasn’t funny the first time is just so tiresome.

      1. Michael Ross

        “We should just go to a one party system”

        We already have a one party system. It consists of two wings, welfare and warfare. Both wings are dim.

      2. Brad

        Well, Dan, when you compile a list of who the Republicans are against, it includes just about everyone except themselves and the corporate money interests that fund their campaigns.

  2. Hamm is a charlatan. Also, he has absolutely no idea of what a published “paper” really is. The junk he is churning out in what can only be described as a vanity press type publication has no credibility with any scientist. Real scientists don’t publish their own stuff. The rigor of the peer review process is missing from what he produces. I don’t think that most religious people, even if they are on the far right in their beliefs, really believe this aspect of creationism; that the earth is only 6000 years old. Has anyone done a survey showing the percentage of creationism believers who have no leeway in their definition of the length of the days involved in the creation of the earth compared with those will accept some flexibility in the 6000 number? I could google it I suppose….too tired.

  3. Michael Ross

    “In a previous era, Ken Hamm would be a circus side show act. He would be standing outside a tent hawking, “Come and see kids riding on dinosaurs, proof the world is only 6,000 years old and how the Bible crushes evolution.”

    The world created itself out of nothing. Nothing plus chance plus a few billion years equals everything. Anybody that questions this belongs in a circus. Here are a few more clowns for you to laugh at:


    1. Michael 4:41 “Here are a few more clowns for you to laugh at.”

      You’ve posted this list before. The last time there were several dead “scientists”.

      A good percentage of these names would not be called scientists by those who make their living in research and teaching science. Of those who might qualify, I’d like to see papers accepted in journals that deal with fields related to evolution and are referreed. A journal in engineering or economics, for example, would have nothing to do with the topic of evolution. On the list are more engineers, doctors and such far removed from the topic at hand.

      1. Michael Ross

        I’ve posted a list before but I don’t believe it was this one. This is specific to Young Earth Creationism. As I look over this list I see mostly fields represented that do relate directly to the creation/evolution debate, some more so than others. What fields would you consider relevant to the debate? Evolutionary biology? Paleontology? Big Bang Astrophysics?

        As far as peer reviewed papers published in journals related to evolution, I don’t know. My point here is that many highly educated scientists, many of whom once were evolutionists themselves, now believe in creation or ID. These are serious thinkers and not “circus clowns”.

        Why would a scientist’s name be removed from such a list just because he has passed?

        1. Michael 1:30 “some more than others.”

          First, I agree there are some legitimate scientists who believe in creationism. I agree there are probably some added each year. There are probably some that leave the faith.

          I don’t agree there are many who make their living teaching or doing research in fields directly related are believers. In fact, the highest per centage of atheists is among those in these fields.

          As to the list, I have no idea what these people actually do for a living. Those listed as physians, do they do anything but see patients? The majority of medical doctors do not do research and publish papers–they see patients. The percentage of doctors who are believers is about as high as the national average.

          My point is a list like this does not demonstrate evolution is becoming either more or less acceptable in the field of science.

      1. entech

        I remember looking that up a while ago, if I recall correctly it was a bigger list than the total of all creationists that call themselves scientists.

  4. entech

    Ken Ham is a secret agent for atheism, his aim is to make Christianity look silly by making the words of Augustine live.

        1. Michael Ross

          I’m just a lowly working stiff, not a great intellectual as you, but I will try to up my reputability.

        2. David

          Realist, your comment was not very pithy. Mr. Ross’s comment was. He was not making an intellectual argument. Your counter argument is really an ad hominem attack and is unpersuasive.

          1. I’m not making a statement about him; it’s his 4th grade “you are; no, you are” argument that I’m commenting on. If I made an ad hominem attack on someone it would be pretty persuasive as well as pithy. 🙂

          2. dan

            Here we go. The liberals get upset when you call them elites however; they always try and belittle anyone who challenges their ideas by throwing in how educated they are. Really??? It is a tactic that is used to change the subject. Other tactics include:
            Calling someone with an opposing view a…
            1. Racist
            2. Bigot
            3. Uneducated
            4. 4th Grader

            Think about how boring a blog would be without opposing opinions.

          3. What are you talking about, Dan? I never said anything about anybody’s education, not mine, not yours. It is difficult to debate and discuss with someone who makes stuff up. And for the second time, I am calling the argument 4th grade, not him. Get it?

          1. entech

            He didn’t forget, he just couldn’t spell it 😆

            Dan, Realist tried to explain but you weren’t interested, made your point a lot better (in your own mind).
            Never mind, mine was intended to be deliberate, just a reflection on how you can’t spell Democrat.

      1. entech

        A bit derivative Michael, but I don’t make categorical statements about the existence or otherwise of your creator. I find no need for one even though I can’t deny it, I can present no definitive alternative, even though I think modern cosmology is getting closer all the time.

        I cannot see that thousands of years after the event the musing of a tribal people, moving from hunter/gather to crops and flocks should be somehow given some kind of exalted position, absolute and total truth. With time on hand while watching the flocks and watching the grass grow (wheat evolved from grass, with a little selective help from our ancestors) and probably a few bits of funny fungus in the diet a story developed. A few of the population found an easy life for themselves, developed these ideas and adapted them to convince the people that the multitude of gods was actually one and that they had a direct line of communication. So in the name of the creator everyone had to support the self appointed representatives of this creator. Not all bad and self centered, some of the imposed rules and regulation did good work in keeping a degree of stability in the evolving social systems – bit like modern preacher/priests some good things among the hypocracy. Now just because it was written all those years ago does not necessarily make it wrong, that it is inconsistent and very hard to believe as absolute and inerrant fact does point towards at least ‘some’ of it being wrong, and as personal view that ‘some’ is actually ‘most’. As always part of the question that is never answered, why this instead of any one of the other creation stories, and if it is to be the God of Abraham, why the trinity instead of the unity of about half the believers.

  5. Wolfy32

    A couple things here.. And maybe it’s something you couldn’t help, but, you started off focusing on how silly Creationism is and then moved on to how silly Christians have been over Gays and how silly Christians have been over Abortion… However, the article title is over creationism. My critique here is that you kinda lost focus Jon. You started small with a fairly big debate in and of itself and then expanded the scope to two other huge debates….
    It would have been more meaningful to focus on one single subject. However, that said, comments?
    So, focusing on creationism? I find the information highly entertaining. I believe Evolution, intelligent design, and even creationism can work together….
    Maybe God modified the genetic code on the planet to allow humans to come to be, and maybe he took the gene for number of ribs from the female gender and modified it for the man. Does it have to be literal as in molded from clay? And just maybe, God allowed science to happen. Kinda like baking a cake. Put the right ingredients together, bake for a few billion years and ding! Humanity. Is it so hard to believe that maybe science was used to create the existence of human life by an intelligent being?

    1. entech

      Wolfy, as usual you have something interesting to say although I think you are exaggerating when you speak of losing focus.
      Title of Topic:
      A sucker born every minute. It’s a Barnum and Bailey world.

      Main subject:
      That Ken Ham is comparable to a sideshow phony, he even tries to deny the business about humans riding on pet dinosaurs even though it is in books written by him. Even the title of the referenced article is an example of phony.
      “At Answers in Genesis, we understand the importance of backing up what we write and lecture about with high-quality scientific and theological research,” Answers in Genesis is what they claim, they already have the answers in their own minds. The so called research is an attempt to justify the conclusion, not research at all.

      examples to extend the theme:
      Gay men were so often depicted as transvestite, interestingly many transvestites are not homosexual. Still a failing, though, is that homosexuality is so often equated with paedophilia.
      The message that abortion is murder is completely is deceptive when you say would you kill this happy smiling 4 year old. Even worse is that any time contraception is spoken about, some one will always swing it around so that contraception is actually abortion.

      I don’t think Jon was wrong grouping so many phony things together, where he was wrong is doing it in such a way, perhaps even in the same topic, and thus opening the door for a change of direction from the theme that Ken Ham and his ‘Creation Museum’ has no validity and should be called the “Creation Circus”.

      1. Wolfy32

        Good point, I just think for an opinion blog the scope is too large.. Regardless if the material flowed or not. I agree the material loosely fits together, at the same time, it’s too much to chew on a Wednesday.

        And thanks you usually have interesting things to say too!

        1. entech

          In my youth much of the CofE doctrine was optional, I simply took the disbelief option and departure option. An amazing number take the disbelief but stay option.

  6. David

    I do not believe that one can equate creationism, which is almost entirely a religious notion, with opposition to abortion. Opposition to abortion is more akin to opposition to murder. I’m not saying they are identical albeit that argument can be made. What I would refer to is that one does not need a religious affiliation in order to be against abortion. Most atheists are against murder just as most religious individuals. I can see no reason to argue that one needs to be religious in order to be against abortion. One simply needs to value the life of a fetus over the obligation of the mother to carry that fetus.

    There is no reason to accept the notion that a fetus does not have the unalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have several among us today that do not have the power or the capacity to protect themselves, and yet we accord them basic human rights. Arguing that it is moral to protect a fetus is not outlandish or disingenuous. Equating a child to a fetus is simply a way of making that point. It is not an illusion. Everyone understands the point trying to be made: a fetus if just like a child.

    What you believe would be genuine is disingenuous. Showing a dead mother has very little to do with abortion. Mother’s that die in child birth are rare – thankfully. Much rarer than abortions. Furthermore, few pro-life people take the position that a mother’s life should be periled by refusing to allow abortions. The Texas law in Roe v. Wade allowed for abortion exceptions where the mother’s life was in jeopardy.

    The real issues in abortion, which democratically elected bodies are forbidden to debate, I believe is does the inconvenience, as difficult and painful as it may be, of the mother carrying a child outweigh the rights of a fetus to live. Few argue this point, but rather throw out specious points and cast ridiculous aspersions on the other side.

    1. Please realize that a woman has the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that takes precedence over a grouping of cells with the potential, given enough time, to grow into a human being. You can’t make your argument using that requirement for fetuses, but ignoring it for women. Also, it is not a given that a women will survive the birth experience. The United States is 50th in the world in maternal death. There are 49 countries that do a better job than we do with protecting pregnant women. The idea that we would force a women to bear a child against her will is barbaric. Giving a zygote in a petrie dish a guarantee to life when you don’t do the same for a living breathing woman is just wrong.

      1. David

        I agree that you can’t argue that women have no rights to do with their body what they will. That said it is a balance of rights. Most would recognize that a child at birth has the same rights as an adult. If you go back along the continuum – how about 3 seconds before birth, 5 days, 4 weeks etc. You make the argument against a group of cells. When do those cells resemble enough of a person to give them rights? You cannot use the argument that a woman’s right trumps the rights of a fetus that is a child. If the fetus is a human life, a human being, then should it not have rights – regardless of where it is located? If not when do those rights attach? This is a moral question of balancing of rights. I think it is rather barbaric to abort a unborn child because of the inconvenience of the mother.

        With regard to the case for constitutionality . . . it is ridiculous to suggest the constitution contains any right for an abortion. The Roe v. Wade decision lists about 3-4 amendments that could contain a right of privacy but could not list any privacy right. The court simply stated that it emanates from these amendments – reiterating the embarrassment of the earlier Griswald case where Douglas finds a right to contraception in the emanations of penumbras. I am not in favor of judicial fiat. Blackmon’s opinion was a legislative act – plain and simple. The question of the balancing of these rights should reside with legislatures so they can debate the issue of an unborn child’s rights versus the rights of its mother.

        1. “inconvenience of the mother”

          This has been widely quoted as the main reason that women have abortions but it is utter nonsense. Simply not true.

          Regarding the constitution not having a right to abortion, you are the one that brought up the right to liberty and freedom to pursue happiness as it relates to the fetus. I am saying that for women being able to make decisions about when and with whom to have a baby is fundamental to liberty and pursuit of happiness as well. Many aspects of pursuing happiness are not enumerated in the constitution. I did not bring up privacy at all.

          Decisions about when a clump of cells becomes human are well above my pay grade. I am content with the courts ruling on this; that’s what courts are for: deciding things that people disagree on and that have advocates on both sides.

          1. David

            I do think inconvenience is the primary reason for abortion. Inconvenience would include costs, not being ready to have a child etc. etc. Getting an abortion to save one’s life is a rare event.

            The inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness endowed by our Creator is in the declaration. They are essentially embodied in the fifth amendment right to due process. Deciding of whether to bring a baby to term is different than deciding whether to have a baby. All women should have the right to decide whether they want to have children. However, once they have a child in their uterus it is not that simple. Furthermore, the right to have an abortion is premised on the right to privacy, which, of course, is not found in the constitution, but only in the mind of Justice Douglas.

            I disagree 100% on the purpose of courts and judges. They are only to interpret the law. Not to decide moral issues based upon their own personal views. A legislature decides the law. You elect a legislator of your choosing. I can live with decisions of abortion passed by legislatures because that is as close to the rule of the people as reasonably possible as long as they do not infringe upon the rights embodied in the constitution. A judge ignoring the law or overturning the law and imposing a “new” right made of whole cloth does not resemble a republic or a democracy.

          2. You do realize that a majority of people believe abortion should be legal. By your own standard the court was acting according to the will of the people when they ruled as they did. So there shouldn’t be any argument at all about this. A majority of people think abortion is OK and the court said the same thing. End of story. You lost on this one. It doesn’t matter that you hate that.

  7. Jinx

    Creationism does not stand up under the rigors of the Scientific Method. Evolution, like Gravity, is an important and major theory that has considerably advanced the sciences and it scares me that our future scientists may not have a deep understanding of Evolution due to injecting such foolishness as Creationism and Intelligent Design into science curriculims!

    BTW, the first 6 weeks after conception is the embryonic period. Human embryo’s resemble salamanders, chick, fish etc. embryo’s during most of this time. Check it out in a comparative biology class if you wish.

    1. Henry

      Jinx:“Creationism does not stand up under the rigors of the Scientific Method.”

      Neither does evolution. Evolution quite nicely is the null hypothesis.

      1. entech

        The biggest argument against evolution is the continuation of thought patterns and belief systems that started in the bronze age and continue to the time of the Martian exploration.
        Once again, my favourite David Hume quote,”the only miracle is that people still take this stuff seriously”.

      2. Josiah

        In your opinion, what part of evolution doesn’t stand up to the rigors of the scientific method?

        You do realize that scientists (including Creationist scientists) have been trying and failing to disprove the the theory of evolution by means of natural selection ever since it was put forward a century and a half ago?

        1. Henry

          Yes, I am glad you brought up natural selection, a testable process. The test results for natural selection are extrapolated to give validity to the other supposed mechanisms of evolution. All you have to do is believe.

          1. entech

            Tell us about the Red Deer again Henry. Demonstrate to us that you don’t know anything about evolootion, except the misrepresentations in the creationist literature.

    2. David

      So the appearance of a fetus should determine whether it has any rights? When a fetus sufficiently resembles a person should it have rights? This is a weak argument. At conception an embryo has DNA that is distinctly human. If it had salamander DNA, chick DNA, fish DNA perhaps you could make an argument that is something other than human. If the appearance argument fails how do we determine whether something has rights? Viability? Birth? There are reasonable arguments for these factors, but I think what a fetus looks like is silly. It’s not like there’s a question whether a woman is going to give birth to a salamander or a human. We know the fetus is human.

      1. Josiah

        People aren’t given rights because they have human DNA. They have rights because they are thinking, feeling, intelligent beings. A pregnant woman is a thinking feeling intelligent being who has the right to bodily autonomy. A human fetus is a collection of cells that has the potential (barring natural or medically-induced abortion) to develop into a thinking, feeling, intelligent being. Critically, neural development doesn’t really start taking off until the human fetus’s third trimester. However, even if a fetus were a fully conscious human being from the moment of conception, I would still argue that a woman’s right to control of her own body takes precendence over a fetus’s right to parasitize her body against her will.

        1. Henry

          J:“People aren’t given rights because they have human DNA. They have rights because they are thinking, feeling, intelligent beings.”

          By that definition, a passed-out drunk in the alley is not a human. I don’t buy that. That line of thinking can become abusive and eventually genocidal.

          1. Josiah

            I didn’t give a definition of humanity, Henry. Nevertheless, as thinking, feeling, intelligent beings, I think we can agree that a person who has temporarily lost consciousness is still a person.

          2. Henry

            J:“I think we can agree that a person who has temporarily lost consciousness is still a person.”

            Your definition has now been loosened a little. Good.

            The human embryo and fetus are temporary stages where an obviously viable human comes from. Obviously as a society, we would err on the side granting the mass of cells as a human being. Some matters are unclear such as at what stage of development the fetus feels pain. Obviously, if issues like these that define the cell mass as human are unclear, that termination of the human form, barring medical emergency, would need to wait until clear evidence demonstrating lifelessness is measureable. Otherwise, human life is not respected and is being terminated based on assumption.

            The right for a human to live or the right to privacy? Where does one end and the other begin? Society has generally placed higher value on human life. There are many circumstances in life where privacy of the individual is superseded for the sake of other rights that are well inferior to the right to life. For example, consider the right of the government to tax. With this right, the individual right to privacy doesn’t mean much, and most generally accept this.

          3. Josiah

            I merely asserted that a person is still a person even when they are unconscious. My definition hasn’t been loosened at all (though surely you must have realized that thinking, feeling, and intelligent are themselves very loose and ill-defined terms).

            A human fetus has the potential to become a person, but at that stage of development it is not a person any more than a sperm and an egg are a person (cue music: Every Sperm is Sacred). Humanity and viability have no bearing on the question of rights. People have rights because they are people not because they are human.

            The right to bodily integrity overrules the right to live. Even when a human can’t live without a blood transfusion or an organ transplant, no one is required to donate their own blood or organs to keep them alive.

          4. David

            Josiah, you can’t be serious when you say “People have rights because they are people not because they are human.” Think about that for a second? What make someone a “people” if it is not their humanity. That might be a circular argument inside a circular argument.

            The right to bodily integrity? Where is this right of which you speak? I know of a right to life, liberty and property, but no right to bodily integrity – not at least in our constitution. I agree one cannot be compelled to donate their organs for another, but I fail to see how this relates in any way to an unborn child. It is clearly in a different category.

            We in this country have heretofore generally viewed mothers and fathers as having a moral obligation for their children. One need not raise their children but they still have an obligation to put that child in a situation where he or she is given fundamental support. These children – or parasites – as you may call them surely can be an inconvenience to the parents due to the parental obligation.

            So it necessarily comes back to a woman’s right to kill a human (apparently not a person according to your neural development theory) for the convenience of the mother versus a human’s right to live.

            Your argument that a child parasite in the womb is different than a passed out drunk is similarly without merit. You argue that the drunk will eventually come to. So will a fetus. Once again I think the neural development argument is far too slippery a slope. I think Henry has the better argument.

          5. Josiah

            What makes people ‘people’ is their ability to think and feel. Other than their exceptional capacity to think and feel, there is nothing special about humans that makes them ‘people’.

            I suppose the right to bodily integrity would fall under the right to liberty (and the right to property if a person’s body is considered their property). A woman should not be forced donate the use of her uterus to a fetus against her will, anymore than a parent should be forced donate their organs if their child is in need of a transplant.

            The parental obligation does not exist until the child is born.

            It comes down to a woman’s right to ownership of her own body. Even if the fetus were a person, it has no right to use a woman’s body against her will.

            The difference between a fetus and you’re “passed out drunk” is that the fetus is not and never was a person. It is only a potential person. The fetus is a set of cells that, if given the opportunity, will assemble itself into a person. If we granted the “right to life” to every potential person, then every unfertilized menstruation cycle would be a murder and every ejaculation would be a holocaust.

          6. Henry

            J:“If we granted the “right to life” to every potential person, then every unfertilized menstruation cycle would be a murder and every ejaculation would be a holocaust.”

            I do not think anyone has argued that in this thread concerning the egg and sperm. I suspect a strawman.

            J:“Even if the fetus were a person, it has no right to use a woman’s body against her will.”

            Children use parent’s bodies against their will. The parents don’t have a choice. They are legally bound to provide for the children. That means the parents are forced to do work to support the children. There is no other choice. Most parents embrace this responsibility with a giving heart.

          7. Josiah

            H:“I do not think anyone has argued that in this thread concerning the egg and sperm.”

            Like the fetus, eggs and sperm are not people, but they have the potential to become people if given the opportunity. I was making a point about granting rights to things that have to potential to become people, but that have not yet realized that potential.

            H:“The parents don’t have a choice. They are legally bound to provide for the children.”

            Two points:
            1. Parents who are unwilling to care for a child can place them in foster care.
            2. Fetuses are not considered children until they have been born.

          8. Henry

            J:“1. Parents who are unwilling to care for a child can place them in foster care.”

            Nice and tidy proposal. However, the parents are still working to support the children through child support. The net effect is the children are still “parasites” to the parents, as it should be.

          9. Josiah

            H: “However, the parents are still working to support the children through child support. The net effect is the children are still “parasites” to the parents, as it should be.”

            When parents are unwilling to care for a child, the child is deemed to be dependent and is placed under the care of the child protection agency; who in turn places them in foster care. Technically, through state taxes, the net effect is that everyone contributes to pay the cost of child support. Which, in a society that values children, is as it should be.

          10. Henry

            You only state half the equation. Yes, they become a ward of the state. However, the state goes after the parents for child support. The parents support the child whether they have custody or not. Just check with your local family law attorney. He will tell you.

        2. David

          People are not given rights because they are thinking, feeling, intelligent beings. Rights are a social construct. The same argument was used to argue for slavery. Slaves were not quite human thus, they had lesser rights. Perhaps you don’t truly believe this since you quickly abandon this distinction due to the possibility of someone having an abortion of a child in the third semester.

          More to the point does a child with less neural development have less rights? Do more intelligent people have more rights than the unintelligent? One’s ability to reason has no bearing on whether one should have rights. I would be frightened to live in such a society as should us all.

          So the distinction you would make beyond neural development is whether the child is “parasitic.” While I think that characterization is a bit crude, I wonder what is parasitic? Is a child requiring food and nourishment parasitic? Without someone caring for him or her, the baby will die. Is that okay? We have laws severely punishing mothers and fathers that fail to take care of their children. I think this argument is similarly very weak. I don’t think this is a distinction upon which one can rely.

          1. Josiah

            Rights are a social construct. Societies grant them to their members: thinking, feeling, intelligent beings. One of the reasons that I defined people as “thinking, feeling, intelligent beings” is because “humanity” is not a requirement. As such, it doesn’t matter if a “thinking, feeling, intelligent being” is considered human, “not quite” human, or something completely unrelated to humanity. If it’s a thinking, feeling, intelligent being, then it is a person.

            The only I got into the “person argument” because it was being used as an argument against abortion and I wanted point out that such an argument wouldn’t be valid prior to the third trimester. To me, the right of people to have control over their own bodies has always been the primary argument in favor of allowing abortion.

            The ability to think and feel is not unique to humans. I would even go so far as to say that many of the more intelligent non-human animals should be considered people. As such, worries about whether the developmentally challenged would be considered people seems a little silly.

            I didn’t make any distinctions regard fetal parasitization. All fetuses (human or not) parasitize their mothers. It’s what they do. The argument I made was that if the parasitization of the mother was against her will, then she should not be forced to allow it to continue. We have laws to enforce some minimal standards of child care, but fetuses aren’t children and pregnancy is not child care.

          2. David

            There are two aspects to consider. The first is the legal argument in favor of abortion in this country as it currently stands. The second is an argument based upon philosophy. The two are obviously intertwined as the constitution is a political document based upon philosophical and religious grounds. We granted liberty to humans not because they were thinking and feeling, but rather anything else would be absurd – certainly in the late 18th century. The idea that all people are created equally is a philosophical idea – religious or not. I do not believe the constitution speaks to the issue of abortion. It is simply silent on the matter. Therefore we need to start at the same place the founders did and that would be on a philosophical basis for the arguments for and against abortion.

            Should a fetus be granted rights? It’s so much a question of if but when. The foremost and most important right of all is, of course, the right to live. We view murder as the worst crime. So when we talk about rights of an unborn we are talking about the most fundamental of all rights. Really it is the first right. When should it attach? I don’t mean to suggest this is a slam dunk. I believe strongly that the weight in balancing this right against the mother’s right of bodily integrity, weighs heavily in favor of the right of the unborn.

            Let’s look at the right of the mother to bodily integrity. The right to do with one’s body what they will. Generally this is not a right infringed upon lightly. If someone chooses to smoke or do drugs we may grant that right in a liberal/libertarian society. However, a pregnancy is in a different class. We all can recognize that a fetus is not a part of a woman’s body. It is a second body within a woman. It is completely unique and separate, albeit dependent upon the woman. The separate body is in a special class. We clearly value children and babies as a society. The nurturing of children and their rearing is of great importance. The bringing into society of more children is also critical for sustaining humanity. The fetus has no choice in coming into being. It is rather the choice of the mother to engage in sex. This diminishes her right to bodily integrity because she has invited the fetus or more precisely has demanded the appearance of the fetus. When you invite someone into your home you waive your rights to excluding that person. You cannot claim a trespass to your home. In a similar way the invitation into a woman’s body is a diminution of the right of bodily integrity.

            One cannot ignore the choice of sexual intercourse. A responsible society looks at this choice and says that if you pick up one end of the stick you get the other end. An unborn child, a fetus, is a separate human and the first right, the right to live must outweigh the right of the woman’s bodily integrity especially where she has created the very situation which she now wishes to avoid.

            If we couple this argument with the responsibility of a parents to care for their children as well as the importance of sustaining humanity I think it behooves us to weight the scales of rights in favor of the unborn.

          3. Josiah

            D:“Should a fetus be granted rights? It’s [not?] so much a question of if but when.”

            I sort of agree. Fetuses definitely should have rights by the time they are born, but whether they should have rights prior to birth (and if so, how far prior) aren’t questions that are easily answered.

            D:“Let’s look at the right of the mother to bodily integrity…”

            Pregnancy does not diminish the right to bodily integrity. Consent to sex (we’re not assuming that all sex is consensual are we?) is not consent to become (or remain) pregnant. Also, when you invite someone into your home, you do not relinquish your right to eject them from the premises.

            D:” An unborn child, a fetus, is a separate human and the first right, the right to live must outweigh the right of the woman’s bodily integrity especially where she has created the very situation which she now wishes to avoid.”

            The right to live protects a person from being unjustly killed. It does not obligate a person to allow their organs and tissues to be used by another person to maintain their life.

            D:“If we couple this argument with the responsibility of a parents to care for their children as well as the importance of sustaining humanity I think it behooves us to weight the scales of rights in favor of the unborn.”

            There is no shortage of people who willing choose to become parents. The legal availability of elective abortion services would in no way place humanity in danger of extinction.

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