Beyond Good and Evil

Dr. Ronnie J. Hastings

Archive for the tag “abortion”

Why Some White Evangelical Christians Voted for and/or Still Support Donald Trump

White evangelical Christians who apparently were “one issue” voters willing to sell their morality and soul by supporting Trump over an issue like abortion, prayer in schools, secularization of society, too liberal SCOTUS, demonization of liberals like the Clintons and Obama, etc. are in my experience not as dense as their stance might portend; there had to be some “sacred” reason(s) they would knowingly be supportive and culpable of the bigotry, immorality, and intellectual bankruptcy of Don of the present White House. Finally, I have discovered at least one such reason.

 
Up until recently all the clues I had from evangelical Christian friends and family, always reluctant to talk politics and/or religion with me, were comments like “God moves in mysterious ways!” (from the hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” by William Cowper (1774), based upon Romans 11:33) or “Hillary is evil!” Then my friend and former student Dr. John Andrews sent me a link entitled “The Political Theology of Trump” by Adam Kotsko, which begins with the question “Why do evangelical Christians support Trump?” Kotsko, who is apparently white and an evangelical Christian, pointed out something concerning the Old Testament that “clicked” with my life-long experience with white evangelical Christians. Turns out, for some white evangelicals, to support Trump is to support God’s will; to not support Trump is to work against God’s plan!

 
First, let’s be clear about whom I’m writing. I am not talking about all Christians; I am not talking about all evangelicals; I am not talking about all white Christians. I am talking about a minority within a minority within a minority…, like the innermost figure in a Russian matryoshka doll, or nesting doll, or stacking doll. This minority group is mightily qualified and nuanced. White, Protestant, evangelical, biblical literalist, apocalyptic, and often holier-than-anyone-else describes this group well. I need an acronym to cover efficiently all these qualifications — White, Evangelical, Protestant, Christian, biblical LiteralistS, or WEPCLS, pronounced “wep-cils.” (I’ve not included the nuance of politically conservative, which I assume is obvious.) WEPCLS vote for and support Trump with hypocrisy so “huge” and blatant they seem unaware of it, like not seeing the forest for the trees.

 
Here in the “Bible belt” part of Texas, it may not be apparent that the WEPCLS constitute a minority. After all, the large First Baptist Church of Dallas with Dr. Robert Jeffress, well-known Trump supporter, as pastor, is seen as a beacon of WEPCLS values. But even this congregation is not 100% WEPCLS. When all Christians nationwide and worldwide are taken into consideration, then even we Protestant Texans can see WEPCLS as a minority.

 
Second, the reason something “clicked” about the Old Testament with me is that, for those of you who don’t already know, I’ve lived my whole life among WEPCLS; many of my friends and family are WEPCLS and, therefore, voted for Trump. (Personally, I “got” the “W” in the acronym down pat! 23 and me showed me to be Scots-Irish, English, French, German, and Scandinavian; I’m so white I squeak!) The denomination in which I grew up, Southern Baptist, was and is replete with WEPCLS; not all Southern Baptists are WEPCLS, but every congregation in which I have been a member contained and contains not a few WEPCLS. Why did I not over the years join the WEPCLS? Because, briefly, I early on asked questions answers to which were NOT “Because the Bible said so,” “Because the Church, Sunday School teacher, pastor, your parents, etc. say so,” “Just because,” “Because God made it that way,” “You shouldn’t ask such things,” etc. These woefully inadequate and empty answers made me take a closer look at the Bible, and by the time I went to college I had read both testaments and began to see why so much of Scripture was not the subject of sermons or Sunday School lessons. (See Sorting Out the Apostle Paul [April, 2012] on my website www.ronniejhastings.com) In short, I did not become a member of WEPCLS in large part because I did not become a Biblical literalist, and over time the idea of evangelizing others based upon faith that had few if any answers added to the social divisiveness around me — added to the “us vs. them” syndrome, the bane of all religions.

 
In addition to WEPCLS’s Biblical literalism, which is the clue to their support of Trump, it is my opinion the WEPCLS have sold their birthright from the Reformation with their emphasis on conversion and conformity. The Reformation gave birth, it seems to me, to a Protestantism wherein congregations are not groups of sheep (pew warmers) led by shepherds (the clergy), but, rather, are groups of meritocratic believers, each one of which has his/her own pathway and relationship to God. Moreover, WEPCLS have turned their backs on the great gift of the Enlightenment to everyone, including all believers — that everything is open to question, including this statement; there are no intellectual taboos. The human mind is free to question any- and everything, in the fine traditions of Job and doubting Thomas. It has not been that long ago a WEPCLS friend of mine referenced Martin Luther negatively because the Reformer was not godly enough and blamed the Enlightenment for the blatant secularism of today. To ignore both the Reformation and the Enlightenment categorizes the WEPCLS as woefully anachronistic — downright medieval even.

 
Incidentally, the mixing of politics and religion by so many WEPCLS (an attack on separation of church and state) is very unsettling because it is so un-American. As Jon Meacham, renowned American historian, said in his book American Gospel (2006, Random House pbk., ISBN 978-0-8129-7666-3) regarding the Founders’ view of the relationship between the new nation and Christianity, “The preponderance of historical evidence….suggests that the nation was not ‘Christian’ but rather a place of people whose experience with religious violence and the burdens of established churches led them to view religious liberty as one of humankind’s natural rights — a right as natural and as significant as those of thought and expression.” (p. 84) (See also my The United States of America — A Christian Nation? [June 2012] at www.ronniejhastings.com.)

 
Back to the clue of why WEPCLS support Trump. If one is a Biblical literalist, chances are you have to hold the Bible as your sole source of truth — the source of true science (creationism and intelligent design) and of true history (Moses wrote the Pentateuch, Adam and Eve were actual historical beings, Joshua actually commanded the sun to stop in the sky, Mary of Nazareth was impregnated through some form of parthenogenesis, Jesus was resurrected back to life after crucifixion, etc., etc.). As time went on it was to me like adult Biblical literalists actually believe Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, Satan, the Easter bunny, ghosts, Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, and Uncle Sam all exist just like the live friends and family that surround them instead of as concepts in their heads. As I studied epistemology in college, it became obvious one could justify and believe in literally anything through faith. Evidence-based truth is non-applicable to a Biblical literalist, and therefore is not applicable to WEPCLS.
Eventually, I became a physicist who likes to teach, instead of a WEPCLS. This post represents how the teacher in me compels me to pass on knowledge as best we know it at the present; to not be skeptical as all good scientists should be, and to not pass on what evidence-based skepticism cannot “shoot down” as all good teachers should do, is for me to fail my family, my friends, and all my fellow homo sapiens.

 
Recalling my days as a Sunday School teacher who relished the rare lessons from the “histories” of the Old Testament (like I & II Kings and I & II Chronicles), let me give you in brief outline the Biblical history that animates the WEPCLS (especially if Old Testament history is not your cup of tea):

 
1.) After the reigns of kings David and Solomon, the Israelite kingdom (consisting of the 12 tribes associated with the 12 sons of Jacob) split in twain, 10 tribes in the north known as Israel and 2 tribes in the south (close to Jerusalem) known as Judah. Each new kingdom had its own line of kings. The split occurred around 930 BCE (Before Common Era) or B.C. (Before Christ).

 
2.) Beginning about 740 BCE, the Assyrian Empire, which replaced the “Old” Babylonian Empire, invaded and overran the northern kingdom of 10-tribe Israel over some 20 years under the Assyrian kings Tiglath-Pileser III (Pul), Shalmaneser V, Sargon II, and Sennacherib. The 10 tribes were scattered in an Israelite diaspora and became known as the “lost tribes” of Israel. Assyria replaced the displaced Israelites with other peoples from the wider Mesopotamian region who became known by New Testament times as Samaritans. Sennacherib tried unsuccessfully to conquer 2-tribe Judah in the south, being killed by his sons. These events are covered in II Kings, Chaps. 15, 17, & 18, in I Chronicles Chap. 5, and in II Chronicles Chaps. 15, 30, & 31. The prophet known as “early Isaiah” from the 1st of three sections of the book of Isaiah is the major “prophet of record.”

 
3.) The Assyrian Empire was replaced by the “New” Babylonian Empire under King Nebuchadnezzar II and by 605 BCE the kingdom of Judah was succumbing to Babylon in the form of three deportations of Jews to Babylon in the years 605-598 BCE, 598-597 BCE, and 588-587 BCE, the third resulting in the Babylonian Captivity from 586-538 BCE following the siege and fall of Jerusalem in July and August of 587 BCE, during which Solomon’s Temple was destroyed. The end of II Kings and II Chronicles record the fall of Judah, and the Book of Jeremiah, Chaps. 39-43 offers the prophetic perspective (along with the book of Ezekiel), with the addition of the books of Ezra and the first six chapters of the book of Daniel.

 
4.) After Cyrus the Great of Persia captured Babylon, ending the Babylonian Empire and beginning the Persian Empire in 539 BCE, the Jews in exile in Babylon were allowed by Cyrus to return to Jerusalem in 538 BCE and eventually rebuild the Temple (II Chronicles 36:22-23 and “later” Isaiah). The book of Daniel records Cyrus’ (and, later, Darius I’s) role in the return and the book of Ezra reports the construction of the second Temple in Jerusalem begun around 537 BCE. Construction, toward which contributions by Nehemiah were incorporated with Ezra, lasted at least until 516 BCE.

 
The Biblical histories and books of the prophets concerning the historical events described in 2.) through 4.) above show a “divine pattern” which WEPCLS have seized upon. The great cataclysms brought upon the ancient Hebrews after Solomon were orchestrated by God as punishment for the sins (turning from God) of His Chosen People, and, moreover, God used pagan, heathen kings like Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar to punish His people and a pagan heathen king like Cyrus for the restoration of His people. For instance, Nebuchadnezzar is called God’s servant in Jeremiah 25:9 and is promised that the Babylonian’s land will be wasted only two verses later (Jeremiah 25:11). Later Isaiah calls Cyrus God’s “anointed” (Isaiah 45:1) and promises Cyrus God’s divine favor (Isaiah 44:28 & 45:13), while nonetheless declaring that Cyrus “does not know” God (Isaiah 45:4).
In other words, the WEPCLS have been swept up in the “divine revelation” or “special knowledge” that whatever happened to the ancient Hebrews (all the death, destruction, and utter humiliation), God was always in control of both punishment and reward, using unGodly evil empires as his tools to chastise His wayward “children.” Being Biblical literal-ists, the WEPCLS “naturally” transfer these Old Testament revelations to the present day, seeing “evil” Trump as God’s tool to punish the secular world for resisting God’s plan according to the interpretations of the WEPCLS. Trump as God’s tool is WEPCLS’s “special knowledge” through which all their issues like abortion will be “taken care of” without regard to the pagan, heathen, and evil attributes of that tool — just like the pagan, heathen, and evil actions of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian rulers were disregarded by the prophets.

 
Trump is a tool all right, but not God’s tool.

 
Before applying “higher” Biblical criticism (or just biblical criticism) to WEPCLS’s interpretation of scripture, look at the conundrum the WEPCLS have created for themselves. Trump is so unGodly the absurdity that evil can be a tool of good is somehow proof that this must be, in the end, of God; Trump must be God’s President. And the more unGodly the tool, the greater proof that the tool must be of God! It reminds me of the Christian existentialist Soren Kierkegaard’s assertion that the absurdity of accepting Jesus as God on nothing but pure, blind faith is all the more reason for taking the leap of faith and accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Savior. Or, on a more mundane level, it reminds me of the creationist scientist on the banks of the Paluxy River announcing that the absence of human prints in the Cretaceous limestone alongside those of dinosaurs must INCREASE the probability that human prints ARE to be found; in other words, absence of evidence means presence of evidence! One can’t help but think of an Orwellian “double-speak” mantra “Bad is good!” and “Good is bad!”

 
Faith, like falling in love, is irrational, but falling in love is not bat-shit crazy!

 
The epistemological problem with faith-based religion is that any one religious belief cannot be shown to be better or worse than any other. By faith the WEPCLS believe the Bible is the Word of God established as everlasting truth about 1600 years ago (when the biblical canon was finally hammered out by acceptance of some books and rejection of others). For them truth is “set in concrete,” never to be altered by facts thereafter. despite the uncomfortable truth that God’s “concrete” of Jesus being God in the Trinity was not established as truth until about 400 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. What became amazing to me is that such canonization into unmoving, unchanging truth can only be defended by ignoring hundreds of years of new facts. If I were living in Europe around 1500, the fact that the Bible does not record the existence of a whole New World of two huge continents would make me revisit the rigidity of my faith and my beliefs. Nor does scripture mention all the scientific facts that evolve with ever-increasing evidence year after year, because the Bible is pre-scientific and written way before widespread literacy.

 
Because Christianity is “set” in history for biblical literalists, and because history has become a forensic science, Christians such as the WEPCLS do not have history on their side, just as all other believers who believe solely on faith. The forensic science of biblical criticism shows that literalists such as the WEPCLS do not have to become atheists or agnostics if they seek the most reasonable and probable view of what must have happened in the past for the Bible as we know it today to be in our hands. They must accept more historical facts than they presently do — facts that are compatible with as objective a view of the past as possible, facts that conjure the broadest agreement across Christendom, facts that place Christians in a majority armed with modern techniques of forensic history and forensic science, like archaeology and the history of Judaeo-Christian scripture (See the Dec. 2018 issue of National Geographic).

 
What then does biblical criticism have to say about WEPCLS’s interpretation of the Old Testament stories involving Assyria, Babylon, and Persia? Note the span of years covered by the events 1.) through 4.) above — essentially 930 BCE to 516 BCE. If you look at faith-based, conservative listings of the books of the Bible covering this span (I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah) and when they were written, you would be told the books were written contemporaneously with or soon after the events with which they deal. But biblical criticism, which we have had since the 19th century or earlier, is, through archaeology and study of the origin of scripture (Dec. 2018 National Geographic), finding that they were all written well after the events as rationalizations or apologetics for the tribulations of what are supposed to be God’s Chosen People who He loves. (To say God employed “tough love” dealing with the ancient Israelites is a gross understatement indeed!) For a fairly well-established example, the book of Daniel was not written during or soon after the Babylonian Captivity or exile (586-538 BCE), but rather was written in the 2nd century BCE, circa 165 BCE. Further, it appears the author of the book of Daniel was writing about the 2nd century persecution of the Jews under the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes using the prior persecution of the exile as a cover. The same dating fraud is committed concerning the books of the New Testament, especially the Gospels. Faith-based conservatives such as the WEPCLS want the Gospels written well before the Jewish Revolt against the Romans in 62-70 CE (Common Era or A.D. , anno Domini), as close to the life of Jesus as say, Paul’s letters. But biblical criticism based upon historical research shows the Gospels to be written during or after the Revolt (See Sorting Out the Apostle Paul [April, 2012]).

 
As we enter the 21st century, we know much, much more about the origins of the Bible than ever. What is needed in Christian scholarship of the scriptures is more polemics, not more apologetics. For WEPCLS to ignore this new wealth of historical findings for the sake of their medieval-like literalism is intellectually anachronistic and irresponsible. Consequently, the WEPCLS give non-Christians a bad name, as many non-Christians erroneously think WEPCLS represents all Christians.

 
Epistemologically, the WEPCLS commit the intellectual fraud of decontextualization, the practice of plucking a source out of its context so that its plucked state of being ripped from historical references makes it applicable to any time whatsoever, even a time bearing no relationship to its original intended applicability. The WEPCLS have decontextualized much of the histories and major prophets of the Old Testament so that they can be used for their conservative, Trinitarian, evangelistic purposes. Higher Biblical criticism has exposed their attempts to relate Old Testament references to Old Testament historical individuals as being references to the coming of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. To relate God’s use of Godless leaders in the Old Testament to today’s situation is not the WEPCLS’s first “fraudulent rodeo.”

 
I urge everyone in Christendom to apply biblical criticism to expose WEPCLS as a corrosive influence to Christian evangelism. I urge believers of all religions to use the same techniques of biblical criticism to their own faith-based creeds and/or practices. I urge non-believers to apply these same techniques to combat the politicization of theologies of organized religions.

 
My own experience in biblical criticism suggests it does not necessarily mean the WEPCLS retreat further from intellectual inquiry nor mean that it drives one away from Biblical consideration forever. The Bible itself often is all that is needed for its foibles to be exposed; often the Bible is its own best critic. For instance, I found that by comparing pre-exile-written II Samuel 24:1 with post-exile-written I Chronicles 21:1, one discovers how the concept of Satan, a parallel to the Zoroastrian (Persian) evil co-god Ahriman (counterpart to the good god Ahura Mazda), was introduced into Judaism by the exile (and later into Christianity). Calling upon other sources from archaeology, the Christian scrolls found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt show that there were at least 21 possible Gospels, not 4. These scrolls also show how the early Church bishops strove mightily to suppress and destroy these “lost” Gospels and also perpetuated the besmirching of Mary Magdalene’s character. To my surprise, when I placed Genesis 1 in its literary context, I saw it was not a history of the beginning of the world at all, but, rather, a comparison of the “superior” Hebrew Creator god with the “inferior” gods of neighboring peoples; my respect for Genesis 1 has risen considerably. Biblical criticism opens your mind to broader horizons not suggested by the Church, and helps to understand the archaeological findings relating to ancient religions.

 
Biblical criticism and its related readings applied to consensus world history has led me to work through a “most probable” scenario of how to me Christianity came into human history (Read in order on my website www.ronniejhastings.com Sorting Out the Apostle Paul [April, 2012], Sorting Out Constantine I The Great and His Momma Feb., 2015], Sorting Out Jesus [July, 2015],  At Last, A Probable Jesus [August, 2015], and Jesus — A Keeper [Sept., 2015]). Any person so “armed” and inclined can come up with their own scenario as well or better than I.

 

 

Regarding this matter of Biblical or biblical proportions and votes for Trump, I hope I have not failed my family, my friends, or my entire species in passing on what I see as the best of a growing majority consensus.

 

RJH

 

Good Bye to Pro-Life and Pro-Choice

Kavanaugh’s views on Roe vs. Wade, pro-lifers shouting the mantra “abortion is murder!”, and pro-choicers defending Planned Parenthood are but three indicators of how powerful in the great social and political divide brought on by American conservatism are the issues over a woman’s reproductive rights and the alleged rights of her fetus. Yet in this melee of charge and counter-charge, little biological, medical, and pre-natal information seems to be used. It is as if people would rather demonize the other side than to find out information that possibly can make this whole divide over abortion in our country both silly and moot.

 
In the posts The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk [April, 2013] and The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs [July, 2013] — both written in 2013 and published on my website www.ronniejhastings.com — I suggested a solution to the controversy that so far does not seem to satisfy either the pro-lifers or the pro-choicers. However, in these posts I present my reasons I think the pro-choicers have a much preferred position than that of the pro-lifers. The history of modern prenatal care has put the pro-life position on the road to extinction, in my opinion. There appears to be a general public ignorance of this care, brought on by the failure of virtually all religious institutions and public or private schools to provide our children a respectful and comprehensive sex education program. This post plans to eliminate as much of that ignorance as I can and talk about the apparent future of having children in our species.

 
From this point I will assume the reader has read the two posts cited above on my website or read them on my FB notes.

 
Here is what can happen NOW for any woman who through a home pregnancy test knows she is pregnant: A sample of her amniotic fluid can be taken in her pediatrician’s hospital and attendant lab and the genome of the fertilized egg (or even of the blastula) can be displayed to look for any genetic defects. The discovery of any defects places upon the mother-to-be and her pediatrician (and the father, if involved) the decision to either abort (a very safe and routine procedure at this stage) or not abort and see if the defects can be eliminated by generic engineering, using techniques like CRISPR, which technically turns the baby-to-be, or baby-in-the-making, or proto-baby, into a genetically modified organism, or GMO. The cycle of amniotic fluid analysis and applied engineering can be repeated if the first attempt did not produce a “normal” genome. Repeated failures to reach a “normal” healthy genome increases the likelihood the mother would choose to abort. Of course, she has from the very beginning and each cycle the choice of NOT aborting, but this choice says she is bearing the financial and emotional responsibility of birthing and rearing a child afflicted with a congenital problem (Downs syndrome, etc.).

 
Of course, even if the proto-baby genome is normal, the “normal” risks of any pregnancy — miscarriage, still-birth, or forced abortion due to endangerment of the mother’s life anywhere during gestation — apply.

 
In other words, today any woman who can reach a delivery room with modern medical technology and attendant laboratories can be assured that the establishment of a normal proto-baby genome assures the birth of a healthy baby, outside unforeseen miscarriage or undetected trauma at birth . This is already a reality in the larger cities all over the planet, and with increased communication and transportation abilities in areas outside larger cities, an increasing number of women worldwide can choose the benefits of large-city births. As the number of hospital prenatal and natal programs equipped with genetic engineering technology increases and as the rights to medical care (medical insurance) expands to even third-world countries, this assurance spreads and grows, hopefully, exponentially. The greatest social effects would center about temporary “9-month” housing needed to house women living great distances from the large-city birth centers and who need multi-month monitoring.

 
Why then, would any woman want to take the risk of bringing upon their children-to-be a life afflicted with congenital defects? She never, ever has to risk that, technically speaking. This certainty of a healthy baby (not 100%, but very close for any woman who conceives) renders, in my opinion, the pro-life position almost absurd. Pro-lifers would suggest that a mother-too-be must “suffer the judgment of God” or something like that if her proto-baby has a congenital defect. No she doesn’t! If she cannot offer even a healthy child a good life and if the pro-lifers try to talk her into taking the proto-baby to term as they usually do (without willing to “foot the bill” until the child is 18 for a poverty-stricken mother who, say, is an addict and can’t afford to feed a child probably afflicted with the congenital defect of being born an addict), she should have the right to an abortion, right up to the time of birth and the umbilical cord is cut. (See The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk [April, 2013] and The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs [July, 2013]) No unwanted proto-baby, genetically defective or not, has be born. The pro-life position is rendered moot and useless, except for making mothers-to-be’s lives miserable with unnecessary doubt and guilt. Pro-life is becoming extinct, like the flat-earth movement, the creationist movement, and the intelligent design movement.

 
Of course, the mother-to-be can listen to sacred arguments that can doom her and her future child to unnecessary misery. That is part of her right to choose. She can have all the counseling from different sources besides her pediatrician she wants. But as information like the above becomes more widespread over the years and mother after mother has healthy children, taking advantage of miscarriages and abortions, the number of such women dooming them and their future child will get exponentially smaller — hopefully one day to practically zero worldwide. And also decreasing will be the number of mothers who want to be “surprised” and learn little about their proto-baby, not even the gender; for, what loving, responsible mother would risk something tragic for her child, all because she wants some serendipity in her life? How loving is it not to know all you can about your proto-baby?

 
So it is good-bye to pro-life. “Pro-choice,” by default, becomes a redundant and unnecessary wording, as child-bearing women species-wide choose the singular healthy, ever improving way to become mothers. So it is good-bye to pro-choice also.

 

 

 

Already available to couples who can afford it, is the opportunity to plan and control all the children with which they want to bless their marriage. Imagine a universal medical insurance covering all couples in future, to go along with generous features like maternal leave compensation from both the insurance and the employer. Knowing I am neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, the following is a possible option to all couples, instead of to the elite few today who have the finances and the facilities nearby; this is not fantasy or science fiction:

 
Mr. and Mrs. X, soon after their honeymoon, set up a multi-year plan with her pediatrician that collects all the fertilized eggs (actually “eggs” up to the blastula stage, perhaps) they produce over a chosen period of years before they practice some form of contraception. The couple may choose to intersperse this period with bringing a child or two to full term under the conditions described above, or they may not. The eggs are kept frozen, but before being put in “deep freeze,” each is mapped genetically for congenital defects and for the characteristics the proto-baby will have when it becomes a baby. The couple agrees that any eggs having verified defects can be disposed of or donated to the hospital for medical research. When a number, say N of the frozen, healthy eggs is collected to the satisfaction of the couple, Mr. and Mrs. X can then start ongoing contraception.

 
The time comes when Mr. and Mrs. X want another child. If Mrs. X is on any type of female contraceptives, she ceases them. They then go to their N-long “egg list” and, with the pediatrician, select exactly the kind of child they want — the gender, the hair and eye color, etc. Each selection from the “frozen egg basket” is assured to be free from defects and “designed” by the loving parents. The selected egg is “thawed” out and inserted into Mrs. X’s uterus at the “perfect time” of a natural or induced menstrual cycle. Or, in the far future, the couple can opt to have the proto-baby grown “in vitro” to full term. This is not to mention the techniques that will be developed that will allow a mother-to-be to avoid a Cesarean if she carries the fetus inside her body (e.g. Removing the proto-baby with attached placenta prematurely through the birth canal and placing it in an artificial uterus that will bring the proto-baby to term with computer-controlled feeding of optimum nutrients). After one birth, there will be N – 1 eggs in the X’s “basket.” The cycle is repeated as often as the couple wants and only at the precise times for which the couple has prepared. If for any birth the couple wants to be “surprised,” they can give permission to the pediatrician to “randomly” select any one from the remaining eggs on the list.

 
Say Mr. and Mrs. X want in their marriage C children and they at the beginning opted to have children only from the “basket” of N frozen eggs. When the “basket” contains N – C eggs, then the couple can opt to donate the basket of eggs to childless couples, donate the basket of eggs to medical research, or request the N – C eggs be disposed of. The nuclear X family with C children exists throughout its span with the assurance of optimized health for life. The concept of “pro-life” is like a Jurassic dinosaur among concepts.

 
(Here is an interesting thought: What if Mr. and Mrs. X, before they have the C planned children, get a divorce? What is the legal and moral status of the eggs still in the frozen basket? Not only am I not a prophet, I’m not a lawyer.)

 
Two closing thoughts: 1) The above scenario has NOTHING to do with those living today with any kind of congenital defect. This is NOT some ghastly resurrection of euthanasia. Any human being who survives birth, whose umbilical cord is cut, regardless of medical condition, is fully human, with full rights and privileges. My point is restricted to saying that lack of knowledge and information has obscured the opportunity we NOW have to eliminate tragic congenital defects in all children yet to be born.

 
2) If you are an adult, and reading and considering the above makes you embarrassed, squeamish, or uncomfortable (presumably due to lack of comprehensive sex education in your home, your school, your place of worship, and/or your many social circles), let me suggest you inform yourself about the basics of mammalian sexuality and reproduction, especially that of Home sapiens. It is NOT pornography, you know. The enlightenment I suggest can began as simply as Googling.

 

RJH

 

American Conservatism Belies History

[Waxing philosophically right now, so……CONSERVATIVE DISCRETION ADVISED!]
Seen as a parade of good and bad (and in-between) ideas instead of a parade of good and bad (and in-between) people’s lives, history reveals definite directions of advancement over, say, the centuries since the “discovery” of the American continents. These directions are easy to detect following the rise and fall of ideas along time’s arrow using a broad time scale (The Big Picture, [Sept., 2011]). Also easily detected are peoples’ ideas discarded along the way, ideas that didn’t “make it,” that didn’t “stand the test of time,” that history “left behind in its wake.”

For instance, the two world wars of the 20th century left in their wake discarded ideas such as monarchism and fascism (and certain forms of government they imply, like theocracy and oligarchy). Another resulting discarded idea was that of empires like the Roman, the Mogul, the Mongol, the Ottoman, the Spanish, and the British. The final “victory” of WWII was the end of the Cold War in 1989 when the idea of Soviet communism collapsed. These wars sent history toward liberal democracies (or democratic liberalism) in the form of republics (Reference former Republican Steve Schmidt for this terminology.). The economy of the victors was capitalism (witness how China today is employing a form of capitalism). But non-liberals (especially American conservatives) strive against the liberal capitalism that emerged victorious by practicing a perverted capitalism (They should read their Adam Smith.), wherein not enough profits are plowed back into business as capital and too much of the profit is selfishly stagnated as personal wealth — all of which opens the doors for oligarchy (striven for by Donald Trump) and its ancillary kleptocracy (striven for and practiced by Vladimir Putin). Autocracies of many forms, including “banana republics,” however, have yet to disappear.

(If you think democratic republics are “safe,” having been given the “nod” of 20th-century history, think again. Who was the only democratically elected President of Russia after the Soviet Union? Boris Yeltsin and Russian democracy are now gone. And just in the second decade of the 21st century, Turkey has collapsed into a form of fascism Mussolini, Hitler, and Hirohito would easily recognize.)

Also left behind by history are the ideas of the Luddites and those of American Tories at the end of the American Revolution (also called loyalists). Yet these are the same ideas animating the Republican Party led by Trump. (21st Century Luddites?, [March, 2017], and 21st Century Tories?, [March, 2017]) Despite history’s harsh lessons, “Trumpies” today fail to grasp workers adapting to new ongoing technology and even to what it means to be a citizen (“citizen” being well-defined by the blood spilled in the American and French Revolutions (Egalite: A Qualified Virtue, [Feb., 2018])).

Generally speaking, American conservatism has clung to antiquated, outdated, and anachronistic ideas history has “shaken off” like water off a dog’s back, such as isolationism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, nationalism, sacred political states, tariffs, elitism, class hierarchy, nepotism, non-universal health coverage, and non-universal suffrage. (Citizens (I) Call For the Destruction of the Political Professional Class, [Nov., 2012], Citizens (II) The Redistribution of Wealth, [Jan., 2013], Citizens (III) Call for Election Reform, [Jan., 2013], An Expose of American Conservatism — Part 1, [Dec., 2012], An Expose of American Conservatism — Part 2, [Dec., 2012], An Expose of American Conservatism — Part 3, [Dec., 2012], Some Thoughts on Trump’s Election, [Nov., 2016], and Dealing with Donald, or, A Citizen’s Survival Guide for Trump’s Apparent Presidency, [Dec., 2016])

The xenophobic “circling-the-wagons” mentality of so many American conservatives is based upon the human tendency to take on the “us-versus-them syndrome,” which served us well when we were all hunter-gatherers (about 70,000 to 12,000 years ago). That is, “They over there don’t look like us, so there must be something wrong and possibly dangerous about them.” The “sacred” “us-versus-them syndrome” serves all religions, ancient and modern, including Christianity, well: “They don’t believe the same things we do, so we must convince them to believe as we do or rid ourselves of them.” Here in the 21st century, I think there is no longer any need of the “us-versus-them syndrome,” nor of its attendant bad ideas of nationalism and evangelism; history has passed them by. (Going Global, [March, 2018], At Last, a Probable Jesus, [August, 2015], and Towards an Imagined Order of Everything, Using AVAPS, [June, 2018])

Speaking more specifically, it even seems Trump’s administration, in the name of historically despicable and bigoted immigration laws, is now using our tax money for systematic child abuse. (I have visions of him going down to the detention centers and throwing scraps of food and rolls of paper napkins over the edge of the cages and into the flaps of the tents — similar to his condescending actions in Puerto Rico.) The June 30, 2018 protests across the nation speak loud and clear: the crying two-year old trumps Trump and all his zero tolerance.

Some of the Trump supporters who have not repudiated him and would vote for him still, despite his despicable words, actions, and inaction, such as “evangelical ‘single issue’ Christians” who turn a blind eye to his plethora of “sins” so they can have their conservative SCOTUS in the name of anti-abortion or pro-life (or immigration, or campaign finance, or some such). Pro-life is such a historically unsustainable position, much like creationism and intelligent design. These positions place their proponents at loggerheads with nature, and just like “history bats last,” “nature bats last.” As opposition to evolution is without evidence and completely useless, so is risking future babies to the horrors of genetic defects, when such risk is so unnecessary. I’m angry that sex education courses in schools and sex education at home and in places of worship do not inform future parents that already we have the medical skills in place to assure every pregnant mother she has the right to have a genetically healthy baby. Yet the pro-lifers, by denying mothers the basic right to control their reproductive cycles, force the possibility of tragedy upon families — tragedy that can with certainty be avoided. (It is like inequality of wealth forcing poverty upon countless people of minimal means, which also can be avoided.) The modern technology of human birth and “natural abortions” — miscarriages — compel history to give pro-choice the “nod.” If expectant mothers want to go ahead and take to term a baby with genetic defects, detected early in gestation, that is their choice; there is a chance in future such defects can be rectified either in womb or just after birth. But such a choice is risky, especially based upon a religious belief. (The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk, [April, 2013], and The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs, [July, 2013]) To cling to pro-life is like clinging to slide rules and horse collars; it is out-of-date.

And moreover, such Christians as described above risk, by clinging to pro-life, walking into the theological quicksand of redefining Christianity (“You can’t be a Christian and be pro-choice.”), just as the creationists and intelligent designers have done (“You can’t be a Christian and ‘believe’ in evolution.”). (Creationism and Intelligent Design — On the Road to Extinction, [July, 2012]) You do not have to be anachronistic to be a Christian (Jesus — A Keeper, [Sept., 2015]) Nor do you have to be historically clueless to be a Christian. (The United States of America — A Christian Nation?, [June, 2012])

Historically, American conservatives has lost their way. History is not on their side. And it is their own fault. They let their own credulity get the best of them, and then somehow become too lazy and/or too busy to vet any and all political statements. And today with the sources we have at our fingertips, thanks to the social network, it often takes only seconds to vet almost anything. Liars like Trump thrive because not enough people, regardless of political leanings, vet what he says. What do you think history will do with the “birthers?” Like the flat-earthers, history, I think, will fling them into the dustbin of bad ideas, worth only a laugh or chuckle if ever remembered.

American conservatives, unless they start reading some history instead listening to Fox News exclusively, risk, in the long run, going the path of the Luddites, the American Tories, the flat-earthers, the creationists, the intelligent designers, the pro-lifers, and the birthers. Unless they start reading some history they risk becoming pawns of revivalist fascism, organized crime, communism, nationalism, isolationism, imperialism, and/or colonialism; they risk “warping” in their heads back into 1950’s America.

RJH

The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs

In The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk [April 2013] I summarized my position on abortion, emphasizing the comparison of the pro-life position with the pro-choice position. I tried to develop the rational view that choosing between these two positions is a “no-brainer.” There basically are no moral, religious, cultural, or political grounds upon which to be pro-life, because the pro-choice position is no threat to the pro-life position; if a person chooses not to have an abortion, the pro-choice position does nothing to interfere with that decision. In other words, the pro-choice position respects individual rights and freedoms.

That the pro-life position blatantly does NOT respect individual rights and freedoms, showing how much choosing pro-choice over pro-life is a “no-brainer,” has recently been embarrassingly exposed in several of our States lately, nowhere better covered by the media than in the State of Texas. With Gov. Rick Perry (R) as the leader and mouthpiece, the pro-life movement in Texas has taken advantage of the gerrymandering performed on Texas by the Republican Party, and has tried to “broom closet” strict anti-abortion laws (absolutely NO abortions after 20 weeks) through special sessions of the State Legislature in the wake of recent right-wing Supreme Court decisions from Washington D.C.

Mimicking attempts in other States like North Carolina, Texas pro-life Republicans are trying to push through in special sessions of the State Legislature laws designed to close down most of the sites in Texas where abortions can be safely performed — completely ignoring that so many, many Texas women depend upon each and every one of those sites for health services OTHER than abortion! The “rationale” for closing down these sites, clinics where a full range of women’s heath services is available, is the imposition of irrational and unwarranted credentials upon personnel rendering health services to women (scare tactics), credentials shown by the history of these clinics to be entirely unnecessary; women attending these clinics have been healthy and safe for decades. As State Senator Wendy R. Davis (D) of Ft. Worth, the leader of the opposition of this “pro-life political railroading” has stated, Gov. Rick Perry represents a radical right movement that is putting women’s health all across the State “at risk.”

Without their consultation and without their consent, women in Texas are in danger of becoming second-class citizens, without the same rights to health care that men have. They are in danger of losing part of their basic rights, and, thereby, have become less free. They are in a sense becoming enslaved by a position taken by most pro-lifers (a minority in Texas) that foist their restrictive ideas on abortion rights upon the rest of the populace (a large majority in Texas). A lot of this majority has been represented by college-age women in the Texas Senate gallery in support of Senator Davis; in addition to the support’s orange shirts, I saw gallery shirts from the University of Texas at Austin and from Texas A&M University at College Station, the State’s two largest universities.

Imagine a small religious sect imposing their interpretation of the Bible on the rest of the church-goers in Texas without consent and consultation, restricting thereby the action of all believers not of their minority sect. (Wait, isn’t that what the State Board of Education in Texas in doing in our children’s textbooks by catering to pseudoscientific views of creationists and Intelligent Designers and to revisionist, right-wing expunging of our history?! But that is another story!) I hardly think Texans would stand for such an attack on their religious freedoms. Likewise, I think, would be Texan views on an attack upon the freedom of individual choice, upon the freedom of a woman to make the intimate decisions concerning her body.

Not only does the pro-life position seek to rob us of one gender’s freedoms, it does so hypocritically. Texas Republicans are so BIG on freedom, but, apparently, only the freedom of the male gender. Texas Republicans seek to purposely take away from women in Texas the freedom to choose, as if someone else besides the mother-to-be is better qualified to determine issues concerning her pregnancy than she! How sexist can you be?!?

Perhaps an analogy to the issue of slavery is appropriate. Just like African-Americans needed emancipation in order to have freedom of choice, women need emancipation, need manumission, in order to enjoy the full freedoms guaranteed to them by our Constitution. Pro-lifers too often behave as if they “own” a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion; pro-lifers are traffickers in that ownership.

As a segway into discussing Gov. Rick Perry’s role in all this, I remember as a young pre-schooler spending lots of time at both my grandparents’ places in the country. My maternal grandmother, my “Memo” McKinney, would allow me to assist her in tending to the hens in the henhouse, both day and night, in order to insure consistent household egg production and the hatching of new members of the henhouse. I learned that at night was a good time to inspect the eggs beneath the sleepy hens to cull the next day’s egg collection and to obtain eggs from hens who in the daytime wanted to hatch their clutch against the plans of Memo. I learned how to distinguish among fresh eggs for the house, eggs “too far along for the house” with a developing chick embryo, and, most importantly, rotten eggs, or “bad eggs.” It was important to identify a bad egg without breaking it and exposing its contents, for such an exposure “stank to high heaven.” (Borrowing from Asleep At The Wheel’s lyrics in “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.”)

One of the biggest opponents to full freedom for women is Gov. Perry. When it comes to the present Texas governor, something is “stinking to high heaven.” Listen to his speeches in gubernatorial and Presidential campaigns. It makes you wonder….is he smart enough to see what a hypocrite he is when it comes to freedom? Does he know how hollow his scare tactics ring?

Rick Perry is a fellow Texas Aggie, but, to me, embarrassingly so. He received a BS degree from Texas A&M in animal science in 1972, the year I received my Ph.D. in physics from Texas A&M. He was in the Corps of Cadets, as was I for a year, and he was a Head Yell Leader while on campus. Despite these features in his biography, like so many Republicans without these features, he just does not seem very bright, or, else, he would see that the pro-life position is inhumane, unpatriotic, and downright non-Christian. (See The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk [April 2013]) Maybe being a Head Yell Leader kept him away from class too much?

During the 2012 Aggie football season, when Perry was running for President, my wife and I, as season ticket holders, expected to go down to College Station on home game days and see waves of Perry support as a sign of “Aggie solidarity.” We could count on two hands the number of Perry-supporting signs and shirts we saw ALL SEASON! Even his fellow Aggies know he is a “bad egg from the henhouse.” The contents of his politics have been exposed and they “stink to high heaven!” Personally, I do not know which Aggie over the years is more politically embarrassing in Texas, Rick Perry or Clayton Williams!

(Prejudiced though I am, I find bad eggs among Texas Aggies to be the exception rather than the rule. I can count on one hand throughout my life after college graduation the fellow “bad egg” Aggies to whom I’ve been compelled to say, “There are Aggies, and then, there are Aggies like you.”)

I’ll give him (Perry) credit for supporting universal vaccinations for cervical cancer for females in Texas. I only wish he was even a little bit more supportive of women in our State than that. And, I suppose, he deserves credit as providing the scapegoat vehicle by which to expand on the topic of abortion in this, my second post on the subject.

But, most of all, I am glad Rick Perry is not going to run again for governor of Texas.  Let us hope this portends a growing recognition of him as a rotten egg.

 

All of this is but my opinion, nothing more and nothing less, as well argued as I hope it is. But transcendent of my opinion is what makes its expression possible — my individual freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of choice — the rights with which we all should be blessed, including expectant mothers, no matter in what State we live.

Look at what the pro-lifers in Texas want to achieve. I hope you are, like so many others I know and myself, appalled and disgusted at this cowardly, calloused, and crushing attempt to destroy in a Nazi-like fashion human freedom, dignity, and health in our great State. The pro-life stance is unilateral, unthinking, and uncaring. The pro-choice stance is universal, respectful, and humane. The obvious “no-brainer” difference in the two stances is as blatant as the difference between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, between a stinky bad egg and a good egg for use in the house.

RJH

The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk

Lots of issues draw emotional reactions whenever brought up in communication, but perhaps none more heated than the issue of abortion. Despite my experiences of angry lashings-back, of accusations or religious and/or moral consequences, and of frustrated resignation that there are no solutions to the impasse the issue creates to all forms of communication, I would like to propose we can have control over our emotional outbursts, we can conjure enough decorum and polite maturity to have civil discourse, and, consequently, we can actually carry on a calm, intelligent conversation about abortion.

To say I am trying to change the reader’s mind about the issue of abortion, or to say I am touting a view I dogmatically declare is the only rational way to reach a consensus on the issue of abortion is to assume wrongly before reading. I am merely saying we can without mindless anger calmly discuss abortion.

In my opinion, if we do not have deep, serious discourse about abortion, it has the potential to fester in our society as a divisive cancer of our own making. Ignoring it is futile, just as back in the 1960’s the issues of the Vietnam war, civil rights, and the women’s movement, all divisive in their own ways, brought questions for our nation that cried out for resolution. Without the resolution of these three issues, as gut-wrenching as they may have been, or still are to many individuals, our nation would have been torn asunder, perhaps irreparably.

An indicator of the need for dealing with the issue of abortion is clear when observing radical, pro-life, Christian opposition to abortion rights. The indicator is multi-faceted, from the overt murder of abortion clinic staff members to the covert redefinition of Christianity (similar to the redefinition of Christianity conjured by Christian anti-evolutionists — see “Creationism and Intelligent Design — On the Road to Extinction” [July, 2012]) based upon opposition to abortion. Communication on Facebook from a friend with whom I grew up was recently cut off (his “unfriendment” of me), in no small part because he could not discuss without irrational emotion his pro-life version of Christianity (see “What Did I Say or Write? WTF?!! (For Adults Only)” [Jan, 2013]). There are more such indicators than this, but just one is more than enough reason to have this discourse about the “A” word.

In addition, modern medicine has made possible for couples wanting children in the future options heretofore unanticipated. Many of these options directly or indirectly involve abortion. Ignorance of abortion or failure to enter upon rational discourse on abortion could limit the options for these couples, causing them avoidable and unnecessary pain and heartbreak.

I take the word “abortion” to mean any termination of the pregnancy of a mammalian female. (The exception among mammals is the egg-laying duck-billed platypus, so the definition does not apply to female platypuses; those mothers have no uterus in the traditional mammalian sense.) [There are, of course, other definitions, so, just to be clear, I am not talking about military missions called off due to unforeseen circumstances nor about some situation that was completely botched relative to the plans for that situation.] The evolution of mammalian motherhood has been ongoing for over 65 million years, so the emotional trauma of a terminated pregnancy for a female mammal is unavoidable; to want to bear a child, to want to be a mother, is deep within the human XX genes; mammalian mothers, whether of our species or not, that have consensually mated, willingly subject their bodies to a potentially threatening situation caused by a parasitic relationship (all fetuses “feed” off the mother’s body), with no guarantee of a successful termination and delivery birth — all in response to the genes whose origins go back to the earliest mammals.

Like all uterus-bearing female mammals, human females risk, during pregnancy, “natural” abortions; we call them miscarriages. The existence of a biochemically-based mechanism allowing the pregnant body to expel the fetus is part of mammalian existence for good reason — not all pregnancies, not all developments of a human-in-the-making are going to produce good results, are going to produce “normal” results. For the good of the species, miscarriages are necessary. The ability to miscarry is like “evolutionary life insurance” for the particular species; in addition to weeding out fetuses that have no chance of becoming a healthy, “normal” pregnancy brought to term, many mammals, especially “prey” animals to predators such as lions, have the ability to “panic abort” or “instantaneously miscarry,” in order that the mother can escape a lion attack by sacrificing the unborn fetus “on the run,” so that she can live another day to have another baby. Miscarriages are far more common, I suspect, than most of us realize — common across all mammalian pregnancies. Most of us humans as adults know by personal experience or by close association the emotional trauma and bitter loss of miscarriages; most of us are intimately acquainted with natural abortion. Though the sad blow of a miscarriage may not be softened by taking a broad biological view, it might be somewhat helpful if every couple or single mother suffering a miscarriage remembers that a miscarriage is the termination of a pregnancy for which something was biologically “wrong,” a pregnancy detrimental to the species, possibly dangerous to the life of the mother, and wasteful of the bio-energy being pumped into it by the mother’s body. A miscarriage, if alive at birth, almost certainly, would not be one the mother, if she could suspend her optimistic, hopeful XX emotions about giving birth, would not want under any circumstances; bluntly put, it would be a physical or a mental “monster,” or both.

(Incidentally, I like to point out that if all natural phenomena are seen as some kind of theistic manifestation — that is, if miscarriages are seen as part of the “will of God,” part of His Creation — then it seems logical that God is a divine abortionist; in fact, God must the be “Ultimate Abortionist.” I haven’t had much luck getting pro-life ministers and pew warmers to warm up to that “if-then” statement.)

Clearly, the biological outcome of both miscarriage and abortion is the same. Equally clearly, the issue of abortion we face today is not talking about natural abortions, miscarriages, but, rather, about non-natural, synthetic, man-made, deliberate abortions — intentional terminations of what otherwise might very well be healthy pregnancies on their way to term. And, the biological outcome of murder is almost the same as that of natural and un-natural abortions; murder is the termination of a human that is no longer biologically dependent upon the mammalian physiology of the mother in order to exist; miscarriages and abortions are terminations of humans-in-the-making, or potential humans, still dependent upon that physiology in order to exist.

Because killing others, murder, is detrimental to the species, we pass laws against it, citing consequences; “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” But, even murder is qualified, despite its disadvantages, such as in instances of war. We actually reward those who murder the “right” victims, the enemy; we honor soldiers who kill and risk their lives for their companions, especially in cases of close combat. I contend abortion is not detrimental to the species; we have overpopulation problems, not underpopulation problems. Therefore, abortion cannot socially and legally be compared to killing, to murder; there is no need for anti-abortion laws, for punishing those who perform or have abortions. This very stark legal difference arises from the very subtle biological difference between abortion and murder; terminate the physiologically dependent, it is abortion; terminate the physiologically independent, it is murder.

Deep motherly affinity, similar to the feelings we have when we see any baby mammal, like puppies or kittens, tends to make us call fetuses “babies,” as if they are already brought to term. All of us have no problem seeing the sonogram of a family member-on-the-way as a welcome new arrival, even if the arrival is several months away. If we were honest with ourselves, we would realize fetuses are not babies until they can live without the nourishment of the mother’s body, until they are delivered, premature or not, and are breathing on their own. “Fetus” seems too cold and detatched to many, especially to pro-lifers, and “baby” seems too emotionally charged and inaccurate, especially to pro-choicers, so I suggest instead of either fetus or baby a good scientific term, “proto-baby,” or baby-in-the-making, or baby-to-be. In the cosmological theory of the origins of solar systems, a glob of material growing in size via gravity pulling together countless chunks of rocky material is a “proto-planet,” and a growing glob under gravity pulling together an enormous sphere of interstellar gas, mostly hydrogen, not yet glowing by nuclear fusion, is called a “proto-sun,” or “proto-star.”

There is a moment in the evolution of a solar system when a proto-planet becomes just a planet, and when a proto-star becomes a sun or star — when the accumulated gas begins to generate light and heat energy through nuclear fusion (the “ignition” of the star), the same process as the basis of the H-bomb. I think there is a moment when a proto-baby becomes a baby, when the umbilical cord is cut, when the baby must live “on its own.” One moment the proto-baby lives because of the bio-chemical lifeline of the cord; the next, the baby lives because he/she is breathing air into his/her lungs. OK, maybe not as dramatic as the ignition of fusion in an unbelievably big sphere of the primal “stuff” of the universe, but to we humans, the successful cutting of the cord is as important to each of us as the energy we receive from the sun; we could not exist as we do without either.

The argument and conflict over abortion hinges on the question of when a human being ceases being a proto-baby to become a baby, to use the terms introduced above, which, hopefully, are devoid of vitriolic emotions. So hinges the rational discussion of abortion. It is possible for the moment of transformation to be as early as conception and as late as one or two years after birth, and the history of mankind has witnessed moral, social, legal, political, and philosophical definitions of the moment placed all along that time line. Catholics and radical pro-lifers have chosen the earliest possible definition, choosing words like “Life begins at conception.”, and primitive and/or warrior societies throughout history have chosen the latest possible definition with the practice of infanticide, especially the exposure of female infants to the elements and/or predators. In my opinion, reason and the biology of human birth suggest a moment somewhere in between; I think biology answers the question for us.

Already I have hinted above at the moment that distinguishes proto-babies from babies, a moment suggested by biology — the cutting of the umbilical cord. Note this definition of a baby does not put a necessary gestation period on the definition of a baby, given the survival nowadays of more and more premature babies. Among my many discussion buddies, with whom I talk about science, history, philosophy, and religion, are Dr. Jim Burns and Dr. Stephen Weldon, who recently thought biology does not suggest a defining moment. Their point was well taken; given premature babies and the human desire not to harm anything that looks human, even very young proto-babies, the time to define a baby seems arbitrary. But I still maintain the cutting of the cord is like a biological watershed, a point of no return, or a turning point — a climactic moment like no other in the span from conception to infanticide. A resolution to the “abortion problem” requires a defining moment, and the appointment of that moment has to be up to us; my friends are right to point out its arbitrariness, but I think biology comes closest to suggesting its own definition by requiring the severing of the cord in order for a symbiotic organism (the pregnant mother) to transform into two separate organisms (the mother and child). In my opinion, it is the most reasonable compromise definition of the beginning of a baby upon which moral and legal definitions logically follow.

With a baby defined by the cutting of the cord, then to terminate a proto-baby, to stop a pregnancy still “on the cord” is legal abortion; to terminate a baby, to kill a newborn whose cord has been successfully cut is illegal murder. The choice to bring a proto-baby to term or to abort the proto-baby has no legal consequences, but is, rather, an affirmation of one of the most important decisions made during our lifetimes. Whatever the choice, we as a species benefit; the joy of bringing a wanted and loved baby into the world will not change; the abortion of a proto-baby can, with the consent of the mother-no-longer-to-be, result in tissue donation for medical research — tissue with stem cells, for example — much like the donation of organs from deceased children and adults or like what is done with certain miscarriages.

I strongly feel the decision whether or not to abort is solely that of the mother and her physician(s); if she is married, the father is a third party in the decision; if she is a single mother, the father is not a third party, unless she wants him to be. It is not a matter that can be decided by her parents, by her family, by her friends, by her hospital, by her religion, by her State, or by her nation; nonetheless, she can ask for and accept or reject the counsel of any or all of these, if she chooses. If her physician finds the pregnancy endangers her life, or medical tests on the proto-baby reveal that if brought to term the child will have some congenital physical or mental disorder assuring the need for expensive medical and/or psychological care, she should be encouraged to abort, should a miscarriage not occur. In such cases, without a miscarriage, she has the right to ignore such encouragement, as long as she understands she will bear the full responsibility of bringing such special needs and burdens into the world.

Lest this sounds calloused toward the unborn proto-babies, advances in human reproductive science are well on their way to forcing greater consideration of abortion as a viable option for couples and single mothers — toward an option free of all guilt and moral stigmata. Sooner than we think pregnant couples or single mothers will all receive genetic counseling wherein genetic mapping of the proto-baby will give the prospective parent(s) so many choices, including: 1) bringing the existing package of genes to term, 2) repairing any existing genes that are defective and bringing the healed package of genes to term, 3) altering the existing genes closer to the idealistic tastes of the couple or single mother for purposes of bringing to term, 4) aborting because of detected defective genes whose repair seems improbable, or 5) aborting because the couple or single mother declare(s) the pregnancy an unplanned mistake that would produce an unwanted child.

My concern is that our education and moral counseling of today do not include the information for students in sex education classes, clerical consultation, or homemaking skills courses necessary to prepare future parents to reasonably make an informed choice among those like 1) through 5) above. If you believe that what I think is coming sounds too much like science fiction, reconsider. Already we have correlated certain defects and syndromes to specific gene sites on proto-baby chromosomes. Surgeries are becoming both healing and preventative, along with less intrusion, at an exponential rate. In less than a decade one major surgical procedure performed upon me was so updated and improved, that the recovery time now is about one tenth the time I had to go through. You can see these options coming for future parents, most of whom I fear are not going to be prepared to deal with them.

The continuation of the pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy seems hard sometimes to understand. Pro-choice seems the “no-brainer” of the two, as that stance makes no attempt to foist its position on the “other side,” as the pro-lifers seem to do. Any pro-choice advocate who “twists the arm” of someone to agree with him/her betrays the strength of the pro-choice position. Pro-choice calls for the right of everyone to deal with abortion in their own way; pro-choice advises a pro-life pregnant mother NOT to have an abortion, if that is her choice. Pro-choice respects the right of the individual to decide, asking that that right be protected and extended through time. Politically, pro-choice, therefore, must fight for abortion rights for all women, fight for the right TO have an abortion AND for the right NOT TO have an abortion.

For pro-lifers to claim God is pro-life is, to me, ludicrous. Pro-lifers push the definition of Christianity (or whatever is their religion) to a “must” inclusion of being anti-abortion, which smells of heresy. (See “An Expose of American Conservatism — Part 2” [Dec, 2012]) If they are theists, which they surely almost all are, then God, instead of being anti-abortion, logically is the “Ultimate Abortionist” because of miscarriages; that is an oxymoronic description of God. And all major religions, certainly including Christianity, were defined in a time when the issue of abortion was moot. Infant mortality was so high, with poor sanitation and poor nutrition added to miscarriages, unwanted children usually died from neglect of some form, with hardly anyone noticing; in addition, a potion-induced abortion could always be labeled as a miscarriage, again, with hardly anyone questioning that explanation. Only in recent times has modern medicine allowed fundamentalist-minded believers, like Christian pro-lifers, the ability to place an artificial moral judgement on synthetic abortions of proto-babies — a judgement named “God.”

Speaking of “moot” (perhaps it should also be “mute”), the verbal tact of a lot of pro-lifers will sooner or later include something like “What if you were aborted?” They ask as if that question is some profound point in their favor! If I was aborted? Clearly I was not! It is like asking “What if I was born female?” or “What if I was not born in the USA?” or “What if your children or grandchildren had been aborted?” or “What if the sky was not blue?” etc., etc. The only answer is “Then, things would be different, wouldn’t they?” And, in the end, no point has been made; nothing of substance has been said. Silly, if you ask me.

Finally, there seems to me to be great hypocrisy in the pro-life position. With grand religious zeal they will council a woman (say, a pregnant crack whore) to bring the proto-baby (probably destined to be already addicted to crack) to term (into a life of misery, pain, and destitution) unconditionally. That counseling only makes sense conditionally — if the pro-lifer(s) is/are willing to “foot the bill” in the raising of that potential child to, say, age 18, either through adoption or through a binding contract of meeting the child’s financial costs. Do they ever offer to do that? I don’t think so; after the birth they were responsible for bringing about, it is “out of their hands and into God’s;” suddenly the mother is responsible, as if she wanted to bring the proto-baby to term in the first place! Until the pro-lifers are willing to do something like this when they counsel and succeed, they should get out of the business of counseling mothers-to-be; they cannot afford it!

I hope I have presented a position respectful of all views, without forcing anyone to or preventing anyone from thinking or acting contrary to their conscience, and without “ruffling too many feathers.” If I have “ruffled” anyone beyond the “calm, intelligent conversaton” mentioned at the beginning, my bad — such was not my intention. At the very least, I hope I have demonstrated that meaningful and substantial content can accompany discourse on abortion. We must continue such discourse.

RJH

You Go, Girl! (II)

This is (II), which goes with (I here‎). Hopefully, this will ingratiate me back in good graces with the women I outraged as they read (I).

I’ve told Judy Roach that I am a reformed male chauvinist pig, not a cured one. (I) is probably a case in this point, but I like to think that it is more accurate to call me a feminist, a champion of women’s rights who happens to sport a pair of testicles.

Of the three prongs of the social revolution of the 60’s that helped shape Bill Clinton, so many of our generation, and me, the most successful prong, in my opinion, is the women’s movement. Congratulations, ladies! You’ve come a long way, baby! We still don’t have the ERA women deserve, so there is much left to be done, so, you go, girl!

My good friend Dr. Jim Burns recently reminded us that Obama is doing his part to further and protect the rights of women. It is a major reason to vote for him which I stupidly left off my list of reasons.

Nowhere does sexual discrimination show its ugly head than in the issue of control of reproductive rights. To this day, as we saw a Washington Republican/sexist organized panel consisting of all men testifying on women’s reproduction and contraceptives, it is amazing how the church, the government, and sexist men everywhere want still to control what goes on in the bedroom between men and women, and, moreover, want to make the bedroom a playing field tilted in favor of those of XY chromosome persuasion.

Let me ask, was there any social outrage when male enhancement drugs like Viagra and Cialis came out? Oh, let’s allow the men to expand their sexuality and live more fulfilling lives! But the women? Let’s fight contraception, abortion, and all manners of ways women can have to control their sexuality similarly as do men. After all, they are JUST women! The idiot Limbaugh, as my grandfather used to say “split his britches” when he tried to attack that young female law student testifying for the right to have women’s contraceptives covered by insurance, calling her promiscuous. Such hypocracy! Do you think men have trouble getting their Viagra or Cialis covered by insurance? Hell, no! The same could be said of the idiot Perry here in Texas, as he leads the fight to cut support for women. When I think of what should be done to the likes of Limbaugh and Perry, I think of what my granddad and uncles used to do to young boars with a pocket knife. But, admittedly, that is too barbaric, even for them, so, more realistically, I hope that young law student gets her degree(s) and goes after the discriminating words and discriminating laws against her sex.

Personally, I am proud to say I had in Cisco within my own extended family examples of strong, pioneering women who were “ahead of their time,” even before the revolution — a great aunt, an older female first cousin, and my mother. Since then one of the coolest social experiences of my life is meeting and getting to know strong women who remind me of these three. Many of these strong women, I’m proud to say, are former students of mine.

American Catholic women are showing the way for all females everywhere. According to one survey I heard, 98% of American Catholic women use contraceptives, despite the official positions of the Church and the Pope. Even if that number is exaggerated, this speaks volumes. To wit: American women of all religious and non-religious persuasions are acting upon a high moral principle: just like the men, women should have complete control of their sexuality. Contraception, abortion, and reproductive and sexual good health are not the concern of the church, the state, or the neighbors.

The bottom line of this moral principle is biology. Of all the anthropoid apes (gorillas, chimps, orangatans, gibbons, and humans) the human female is the only one not to show external signs of ovulation during the monthly cycle, except for one — the menstrual flow itself. This has evolved, the consensus goes, to fool the male into observing the woman as inviting and receptive for sexual intercourse for almost all cycle long. And, as a rule, the straight male buys into this charade with gusto! Why would women evolve this way? It is the essence of our pair bonding, the life’s blood of our species. In our deep evolutionary past, when some human females had swollen genitalia at ovulation, they got less protection from the males (remember, these were tough times, when it was not clear our species would survive the nights full of predators like leopards, and women biologically live and lived more in periods of vulnerability than do men, because of the effects of pregnancy) than did those women not so swollen. This is because the “mood” of women showing external sign was like that of other animal females — the swelling denotes limited receptivity. In other words, a woman not swollen is seen by the men as more receptive if she does not tell him to go to hell (Often, a swollen woman would tell a man to go to hell, if she was being selective in her mate.). The women who survived the night were the ones with a man alongside her with some kind of weapon to ward off the leopards, because he had deposited enough sperm in her for him to believe the child she will bear will be his. If she doesn’t display swollen genitalia, he gets month-long sex and she gets month-long protection; she is more likely not to conceive with each mating, and if she does conceive she has the ability to keep the father around and away from other women. Later, when clothes came along the fascade became easier for the girls.

This is the biological basis of what we call “falling in love,” or pair bonding. In time the “keeping of one man to herself” and “wow, she will do it all the time” combined into a couple loving each other for much more than for sexual activity. It became the basis of all romantic culture to this day. We say things like “I am incomplete without you” to the one with whom we bond.

Have you noticed something here, ladies and gentlemen? We are who we are primarily because of the women. Certainly, in the sexual sense, women run the show! And they always have. One of the ironies of human history is that societies are primarily patriarchal, not matriarchal. I would guess that is because pregnancy is incapacitating. It became more practical for women to let the men think they run the show. The outcome of that has, throughout history, been a long line of abuse and mutilation of women, unfortunately. Women do not deserve, nor have they ever deserved, the sexist discrimination and abuse they suffer to this day.

Here’s a goody: The “default” sex in nature is female. This was proven in humans when a mutation was discovered going back to the 18th century on an island in the Carribean, were a few little “girls” turned into boys at puberty! And I mean “turned” in every sense of the word: their female genitals morphed in a few weeks into male ones. Turns out, if we are born males, or XY, and in the womb we do not get our first shot of testosterone (the second comes at puberty), as the Carribean mutuation was apparently causing, we are born girls, complete with all the female equipment, as if we were XX! (Cases were documented in certain villages along certain family lines, when a little “Roberta” turned into a lilttle “Robert,” over a short period of time. Equally fascinating was that in most cases the village treatment of the changed child morphed along with the child. “Robert” was accepted, for the most part, as had been “Roberta,” who had disappeared.) I think the ramifications of this tidbit is worth another discussion sometime, but, for now, I can’t see how it favors the “male cause.”

As an aside, any biologist, MD, or pediatrician will tell you that the same tissue in the fetus will form either into male genitalia or female genitalia, depending upon which hormone surge occurs. That is, XX triggers a surge of estrogen to form a girl, and XY triggers a surge of testosterone to form a boy.

We are seeing sexual freedom in every sense of the word come to women as well as men. What social conservatives cannot stomach is: that means women are free from having to marry, having to have children, etc. etc. Finally, finally, we are seeing women achieve the status of true citizens. Conservatives tend to be a century or so behind; perpetuation of the species is a matter of pair bonding, not marriage, which is a mere social construct. In the long scheme of things marriage will wax and wane, with no negative consequences to us as a species; what is alive and well, and in no danger whatsoever of diminishing is pair bonding. Pair bonding is in our genes, not marriage.

I am an opitimist, and I look forward to women worldwide controlling not only their sexuality, but more and more power and money. I think that will be a world much better than the one today.

By the way, ladies, if you are looking for a religion that treats you better than the others, I recommend Christianity. Its historical record is better than the other major religions, even though it is still patriarchal, for the most part. As we learn more about the origins of Christianity and its teachings, it is exciting to see how women are “shaking off” the sexist reprisals the early Church hurled at the “weaker” sex. The essence of the Christian belief in love is the relationship of a son to His mother; Jesus was shaped, like any other boy who grew up with his mother, by a strong woman. Too bad the Catholics elevated her beyond her strength, her motherly humanity. But lo! Now we see the comeback of Mary Magdalene; she is called a “whore” in fewer circles, nowadays; the sham of the Church running a smear campaign against her is being revealed. She was as close to or closer to Jesus as any of his other apostles. See the March 2012 National Geographic? She is now listed (I think correctly) as an apostle along with the others; she was the first at the empty tomb; she was one of the first evangelists; she showed the “boys” how to witness. Now, I’m not talking The Da Vinci Code here — that is a novel. (Is there any part of the word “fiction” we don’t understand?). Everyone should look her up in the lost gospels.

And should any of you ladies not be looking for a religion at all, more power to you! You, go, girl!

In case any of you doubt I can get more controversial, how about this? Think about this, ladies. I think the depiction of the apostle John (the one who Jesus loved) to Jesus’ left in Da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper” is too feminine — it’s a woman! It’s Mary Magdalene! Don’t argue with me — take a close look at it. If that is not a woman, but a true rendering of John, then John must have been a “pretty boy,” if you get my drift. Way to go, Leonardo! You brush-stroked a blow for women everywhere for all time!

I leave you with something that has really helped me in recent years — evolutionary psychology. I am like most men, I think; we can’t figure out women! I have lived with the same woman now for over forty years, and she still baffles me! The thing is, I still baffle her. Evolutionary psychology says that we sexes are not supposed to understand each other, for, if we could, we would not get so crazy and irrational about each other when we fall in love. Or, in turn, our ancestors might not have made it as a species in those leopard-filled nights. If you have ever fallen in love, you know you cannot see the flaws all of a sudden in the object of your desire. Sylvia and I are so fortunate — we went “ga-ga” for each other at roughly the same time. Whatever might seem to each something undesirable if we were completely rational about the situation was ignored and brushed aside. That is the modus operandi of falling in love, of pair bonding. That we are married is, in a wierd sense, incidental, done so society doesn’t bug us about our relationship, as if our relationship was any of their business!

Thank God for women! I love every part of them; I wish I could fathom them a little more than I do, but, I think I just argued that that is wishful thinking. Thanks to all of you of the XX for making us all possible.

How’s that, ladies?

RJH

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