Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A History of Abortion and Profound Stupidity

Recently, the State Legislators in South Dakota showed that they were Neanderthal imbeciles by passing a bill which banned abortions under almost any circumstances, including rape and incest. Naturally, the world was appalled at such profound stupidity. However, it seems that Louisiana State Senator Ben Nevers, of Bogalusa wants to join the crew of morons. He has filed a similar Bill in Louisiana. Fortunately, the activities of these idiots have motivated people like Molly to publish helpful information, before any of these silly bills have a chance to effect a women's right to choose. The whole proposition though is profoundly stupid. The chance of these State rules influencing Roe v. Wade are about as likely as a hat stand getting elected President of the U.S. (although a hat stand might admittedly be less moronic than George W.).

Now, I am sure that all these political light weights are trying to curry favor with religious voters. This is despite the fact that many of these fine, upstanding religious types oppose abortion by day, but have their Preachers take their wayward daughters for 'procedures' in Texas should they happen to get themselves 'up the duff' with the wrong kind of partner (this is no joke, I know of multiple cases). The problem with the whole abortion debate is that the people involved appear to have absolutely no clue about where the purported Christian prohibition on abortion comes from. Wearing my 'Historian of Ideas' hat, I will now explain the facts.

The famous theologian St. Thomas Aquinas undertook the ambitious project of reconciling Aristotle with The Bible. One rather thorny problem that St. Thomas had to deal with concerned Souls. In Aristotle's view, humans actually had a variety of types of soul (in this, he followed his teacher Plato). The soul that really mattered though was the so-called 'rational soul'. Indeed, according to Aristotle, the defining feature of human beings is that we are rational animals. Possessing a rational soul was thus a rather crucial issue! Unfortunately, Aristotle had rather exclusive views about the kinds of beings that could posses a rational soul. In order to be rational, in Aristotle's view, it was necessary to be,

  1. Adult,
  2. Male, and
  3. Greek
These restrictions were a little bit too limiting for a theological position that was supposed to offer universal salvation. After all, it would be a bit embarrassing if only Greeks could be saved! So, St. Thomas could not use the Aristotelian criteria. This left him at a bit of a loss. When should a human be said to gain their soul? It turns out that there were a variety of other theories available on this issue. One theory held that the soul was assigned at birth. Another, suggested that some degree of maturity (albeit less than full adulthood), was necessary before an individual could be said to have a soul. A third theory suggests that souls were somehow assigned at conception.

As history tells us, St. Thomas went with this third option. In doing this, he rejected the options outlined above, along with numerous others (cyclical rebirth, a la Plato, for instance). However, this raises the question of why St. Thomas chose this option, rather than one of the others. On this matter, unfortunately, history has left us in the dark. The point here though is that the whole hysteria associated with Christianity and abortion is an artifact of a decision that could well have been fundamentally arbitarily made. There is no principle here, just historical happenstance.

These facts should be kept in mind next time some religious maniac insists that a women who has been subject to incestuous rape should be forced to drop out of school so that she can give birth to the product of such an involuntary union.

The CP


Blogger Professor Zero said...

Glad to see you roused from your dogmatic slumbers, to return once again to sophistry and illusion (yet to be consigned to the flames)!

Seriously now, excellent and useful post.

9:20 PM  
Blogger guerrilla blogger said...

Great bit of information. I never heard that before but thought it intriguing. As a regular visitor to Molly's blog, I guess I will have to add yours to my list.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Bint Alshamsa said...

Hello there,

I came to your blog after reading your comments in one of Molly's post. I thought you might find this article on Biblical views of abortion that are outside of what many "bible-thumpers" would like to believe. Feel free to come on over to my blog and let me know what you thought of it. I plan on writing about Molly's courageous stance tonight. Here's the link:


1:16 AM  
Blogger Winston Crux said...

Can I see your sources, please? (Currently writing a paper on women's lack of access to abortion in central america, and how that is linked to the spanish conquest of central america.)

1:44 PM  

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