Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Religion Allows No Gray Areas of Uncertainty (as in Abortion)

Nearly everything on Earth (and probably every place else in the universe) has areas of uncertainty between opposites. For example, there are plants, and there are animals, but there are some protists that could be considered neither one nor the other.

But religion is in the business of creating absolute distinctions. You are either going to Heaven, or to Hell; something is either sinful, or it is not; there are the sheep, and the goats.

One recent example of the difference between science and fundamentalist religion involves abortion. I have written very little about abortion, since I know little about it, and my opinions have little validity. I will let other people get angry on one side or the other. I am more interested in the light band of grayness between the two sides. Here are two relevant stories.

A Texas couple looked forward to having a child and were overjoyed with preparation for its arrival. Then, mid-pregnancy, an unthinkable tragedy occurred. The woman’s water broke, and all the amniotic fluid was lost. The fetus was thus doomed to death. But Texas has a heartbeat law. Abortion is murder if a heartbeat is detectable. In this case, the fetus still has a heartbeat, and under Texas law a doctor cannot abort the fetus. The woman has to carry the fetus, which has no hope of survival (unless God performs a miracle), perhaps risking her own health, until the heartbeat stops, something that could take a long time. What kind of law would insist that a woman carry a fetus until it inevitably dies? Only a law that attempts an absolute definition of pregnancy and allows of no exceptions, that’s what.

In Ohio, a nine-year-old girl was raped, and became pregnant. But Ohio law forbids abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. She had an abortion in Indiana. What kind of law would force a now ten-year-old girl to carry through a pregnancy from a rape? This assumes that her body would even be capable of handling this. Only a law that attempts an absolute definition of pregnancy and allows of no exceptions, that’s what.

I am not saying whether or not a state should or should not have an anti-abortion law. But it is clear to me that individual exceptions must be allowed. But individual exceptions are something that fundamentalist religions will not allow.

The only thing I am absolutely sure about is that we can trust the women. A mother’s love is a force of nature. Mothers are not looking for a chance to kill their fetuses unless an old white man points a gun and tells them not to. Abortion is an act of desperation, as the above examples and thousands of other news items illustrate.

Among other things, life is about gray areas of uncertainty. An absolute light/dark distinction is a characteristic of death. Science fiction writer Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis made this distinction in his Perelandra novels. In these novels, the forces of evil wanted to make everything black and white, as on the Moon; but on Earth, there is a lot of penumbra. Many religious fundamentalists today would side with Lewis’s forces of evil. But Lewis was a Christian and used to be, at least when I was younger, a very popular Christian writer. Times, apparently, have changed, or at least Christianity has.

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