Thursday, 12 June 2008

Abortion and logic

One hot summer while I was still at university in the UK I had a job as a hospital porter. Not exactly intellectually stimulating but it kept me fit. Most of the time just running from one part of the hospital to another to deliver something like a bag of blood or a set of X rays to a surgeon. It was the only job I’ve ever had in which someone else’s life depended on me. Sometimes I’d stop for a cigarette on the way to the operating theatre. It gave me a massive thrill to know I held so much power. But I’d quickly chuck the cigarette away and run like hell to the theatre. A God-damn lifesaver aged 21.

One of the freakiest tasks at the hospital was in Ward 11. This is where the terminally ill OAPs (old age pensioners) were kept. I often had to help a nurse lift a bandaged-up corpse from the bed into a sort of metal coffin on wheels. This always freaked me out. It still sends shivers down my spine today to think of those cold lifeless dead bodies. Like huge slabs of meat. We had our fun though, and would race the encased corpses on wheels down the long corridors to the morgue that was located in its own building just outside the hospital.

Then there were Wednesdays. The operating theatre was always jammed full with 15, 16 year old girls. Piqued by curiosity I asked the surgeon why this was so. Abortion Day, he replied. How could you not know that? Anyway, as the door to the operating theatre had a small glass window in it, I would often use the opportunity – curious as I am - to peek in and watch an abortion taking place.

The legs spread-eagled and held in position by what looked like a huge piece of Nautilus exercise equipment from the gym. Then the surgeon would insert this tube that was attached to what looked like a vacuum cleaner, switch it on, and then suck out the embryonic life once and for all. Woosh!!!

Anyway, last week in a statement typical of fair-weather politicians, US Presidential wannabe Sen. John McCain was reported as saying that he “opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother”.

Fair enough you might argue. Well that might be true. But from the point of view of logic it is a bizarre position to take. Because you can’t have your cake and eat it. The religious types argue that abortion is wrong because it’s the same as taking a human life. And then, at the same time, they argue that well actually you can take a life! Isn’t that hypocrisy?

But there are plenty of other absurdities as well. Here are some of my other favorites:

1 The fact that praying does not work. Economists and statisticians have already proven that belief in an intervening Deity is a sham. It’s actually very easy to show that this is the case. How? By showing that praying doesn’t work. Take a data set for example of 1,000 people who have terminal cancer. Half of them religious, half not. Do the former live any longer? Of course not! So why are they bothering to pray? Cos it doesn’t work. Similarly, the data also shows that people who pray don’t have fewer traffic accidents, get better jobs, do better at examinations etc. Bottom line: God don’t listen.

2 Heaven and Hell. Hitler goes to hell cos he’s evil and Mother Theresa presumably does not because she’s a saint. But most people are somewhere in between. Quite close to the 50 percent mark. The guy who’s basically a hard working dude who loves his kids but once cheated on his wife because he was under stress. Or the young girl who had an abortion. The soldier who blew the brains out of a civilian because he was scared shitless. Has God got a report card or something that He keeps our scores on? Helped the old lady across the street +1 points. Used a condom - 2. Had a tattoo - 1. He must be very busy right now doing all that arithmetic is all that I can say. The cool thing to do, of course, is to be fairly bad, but just edge the Heaven exam with a score of 51 percent. And who decides what is right or wrong anyway? Are the cannibals of Papua New Guinea all in hell because they had a taste for human flesh? But that’s another question altogether.

3 The silly stories. There are actually people who believe in stuff like Noah’s Ark. Here we are led to believe that Noah enters into a covenant with God with the promise of deliverance from the threatened deluge provided that he would build a rather large boat to accommodate his family and every type of living creature on this planet. That’s right: every living creature! Well, considering that there are millions of species, that must have been some task. And if you’re curious to know where Noah got the penguins from, click here.

Even so, the religious are around in huge numbers as the chart below shows:



British intellectual Richard Dawkins asserts of course that such irrational thinking is a result of indoctrination, i.e. brain washing as a kid. Religion is basically a virus, he says, and the victim is helpless, lost in a fairytale world of make-believe.

But is Dawkins right? Well, have you ever seen fairies at the bottom of the garden?

Notes:

Posts in favor of abortion: 1,2,3

Post against abortion: 1,2,3,4

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