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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Carl Sagan on abortion

OMF Serge has written a wonderfully astute analysis of Carl Sagan’s thoughts on abortion at Imago Dei.

His analysis is valuable because it demonstrates the philosophy behind Sagan’s science, at least as it applies to this issue. It’s actually rather surprising, to me, that Sagan was so “simple” about his philosophy; he made no attempt to obfuscate his actual opinions by making them sound, well, noble. Or maybe he thought they did sound noble. Anyway, this is the basis of Sagan's rationale:
...if there is to be a law on this matter [abortion], and it is to effect some useful compromise between the two absolutist positions,...

Apparently Sagan thought that any resolution of law, or of right and wrong for that matter, is to be determined "somewhere in the middle," and the value of finding the mean between men's opinions is greater than the value of human life!

As Serge points out, this shows the limitation of science as demonstrated by Sagan himself: his "science" serves a mean of opinion. It also demonstrates how one can be blinded by holding to the wrong ideology...why else would a really smart person have such trouble understanding something so basic and obvious as the point at which human life begins?

Has anyone ever wondered when a chimp becomes a chimp? Or a fish a fish? Or a worm a worm? In science books, isn't the entire life cycle of an organism presented as being of that organism? Doesn’t the life of any organism begin at conception? Have folks forgotten Pasteur's law of biogenesis? (thanks, Serge, I'd forgotten about that law myself, though not the principle, obviously; it's been awhile since I took a biology class :-) )

And isn’t it incredible that the issue of when a life begins wouldn’t even be relevant unless someone had thoughts to end that life??

As someone who’s conceived a few humans myself, I can think of a couple more questions for Sagan (too late, I know): if the zygote/blastocyst/etc. is not human, why are women who aren’t even pregnant yet but desire to become pregnant advised to up their intake of folic acid, specifically, and to keep their bodies in good shape, generally? Why the need to insure the health of a potential human being if it’s not going to be human for a least a few weeks? Or is the “conceptus’” value as a potential human worth taking care of, at least until the mother decides to kill it? Or, worth taking care of only as long as the mother values it, as a person would value and care for a pet?

Just thinking these things makes me shudder...oh, the rocks do cry out!


  • I linked to you on my little blog! Good stuff here.

    By Blogger The Hedgehog, at 11:32 AM  

  • Additional insight into the embryo's claim to personhood can be found in the Afterword of Robert George's book, The Clash of the Orthodoxies.

    By Blogger Rusty, at 5:12 PM  

  • Thank you, Mr. Hedgehog, I am honored!

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 10:33 PM  

  • So by your logic a loaf of bread is a loaf bread regardless of whether you've baked it yet, but because you keep the flour in a cool dry place?

    By Anonymous Julie, at 10:53 AM  

  • Nice try Julie but no cigar. Apples and Oranges comes to mind. You are trying to compare an operation where an intelligent individual must mix and process inanimate componds to create an inanimate object. You can't compare that to an organic process with a definate starting point, conception. which when left to itself will result in the creation of a biological entitym in our case another human being.

    By Blogger Saturn, at 12:05 AM  

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