Merriam-Webster defines morality as “beliefs about what is good behavior and what is bad behavior” or “the degree to which something is right and good; the moral goodness or badness of something.” I’m not one to argue with Merriam-Webster, but I view the world through a black and white lense. There isn’t usually a lot of gray area where morality is concerned. I don’t see things in shades of “right.” Some things just are.
My view isn’t shared by Richard Dawkins, famed scientist and atheist. Today he dazzled the twitterverse, responding to a woman that stated the “moral dilemma” she’d have carrying a child with Down syndrome. “@InYourFaceNYer Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” It no longer mattered that the exchange was born of a scathing article regarding the Catholic Church’s influence on abortion laws in Ireland.
Bringing a child with Down syndrome into the world is immoral? I wondered, did Dawkins feel that way about all children with disabilities? I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Dawkins was asked, “It’s an interesting dilemma. What about people on the autism spectrum (which I am)? Where would u draw the line?” His response wasn’t surprising. “People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.”
There it was; massive iniquity masked as moral superiority. What started as a twisted rationale soon gave way to the truth. It wasn’t that people with Down syndrome suffered here on earth, it’s that Dawkins might. His opinion is really no different than that of the couple willing to shop for the perfect genes to make a little mini-ubermenschen, a true super baby. The star quarterback or the beauty queen; a flawless specimen down to the last chromosome. For Dawkins it appears to be about what’s in his wheel house: a high IQ.
Dawkins hedges when it comes to those with Down syndrome that dared to leave the womb intact. “There’s a profound moral difference between ‘This fetus should now be aborted’ and ‘This person should have been aborted years ago.’”
Is there a difference? I didn’t bother to ask.
I realize a debate with people like this would be pointless. They will never view abortion as murder. They see the world through the prism of atheism. Christianity, and particularly the Catholic Church, is seen as morally inferior. Jerry Coyne, author of the article that lit the first flame of the Dawkins firestorm, summed up the atheist position:
Official Catholicism has long been left in the dust by society’s opinions about women’s rights. This case has made palpably clear the Church’s barbarity and lack of concern for the well-being of pregnant women at the expense of Church doctrine. The people of Ireland want a liberalization of Ireland’s abortion laws, as does the United Nations, which claims that Irish law treats women like “vessels.” Only the Church, clinging to its antiquated view of “unborn human life,” objects.
Bristling at the notion that women ARE vessels; Coyne questions how civilized countries like Ireland are and Dawkins, by extension, how civilized society can be if it allows the less “enhanced” to draw their first breath.
Mr. Dawkins, your idea is nothing new. As you sit in your lofty tower of atheism, smug in your beliefs, others look up at you with pity. Or anger. Or with the dismissive wave of the hand your completely unoriginal thought deserves. Josef Mengele’s ideas are not something you should want to embrace. You see, Mr. Dawkins, morality isn’t subject to the whims of a scientist/writer.
Some things just are.