August 04, 2005

Three Rules for Happy Living

Most of the time around here, I try to avoid the sensitive issues of the day (which usually bring me little joy) and focus on the things that make my life fun to live: my family, music, science fiction, space, and many trivial little things that I find here and there on the internet. Of course, underlying all these is a strong appreciation for liberty together with the culture and legal environment that fosters my ability to enjoy these things.

One reason I really enjoy reading Stephen Green is that he seems to have a similar outlook on life as a joy to live. And, even though he tackles more political issues than I do, he does tend to avoid the hottest-button political issues. But in a late-night ramble tonight, he stakes out his position on three topics that tend to lead to holy wars: abortion, gun control, and evolution. So, lest I be dismissed as a lightweight, or at least as one too cowardly to state his views on the same subject, here are my thoughts:

Abortion: People's opinions on this issue are driven by their definition of human life. A mother has a right to liberty, which in my mind includes almost total control over her being. However, at some point before birth, a fetus becomes a human being. I tend to think "viability" is a bit of a red herring in the argument until the fetus is actually human. I believe human life begins (and ends) with a functioning (or not) human brain.

At some point around the end of the first trimester, the fetus' brain begins to exhibit steady brain-wave activity --call it "brain life" if you will. At that point, I think the the fetus' viability is more of an issue. I.e., since both the mother and fetus are now human, their rights must be protected. But the fetus is essentially parasitic on the mother's life. As long as the fetus remains non-viable, I think the scales tip heavily in favor of the mother's choice. And I believe that the balance always should tilt in favor of the mother's life (even if just a little) right up to birth. Based on the above, I also think that an anencephalic or gravely ill fetus could be terminated at any point before birth without any major ethical qualms.

Gun Control. Read the Second Amendment. Read it again. See what Steve said.

Evolution. It's just a theory. Yeah, just like special relativity or quantum mechanics. A very powerful predictive theory that underlies tremendous advances in biology and medicine. But "just a theory." Intelligent design and creationism are not theories, but beliefs. Much less powerful than a scientific theory. To be fair, I am intrigued by the anthropic principle (soft creationism, perhaps), as well as the need for an "observer" to collapse certain quantum waves (in theory), but do not think you can "prove" the existence of a creator. You have to believe.

One question for Steve, though: what about Apple versus MacPC???

Update: I made some edits to the above, which was pretty poorly-drafted in its original form. Even the title is pretty godawful, but I'll leave it as a monument to my incompetence. Just imagine that the title reads "Three Subjects to Avoid..."

Posted by JohnL at August 4, 2005 12:32 AM | TrackBack

Don't you mean Mac vs PC? On the other hand, I do prefer granny smiths to macintoshes.

Posted by: owlish at August 4, 2005 11:17 AM

I like mackinaws rather than P.J.s

Going out on a limb with those three positions, eh? Good going!

I applaud you, and (at the risk of being accused of being a "yesman", I tend to agree, somewhat, with the first and second point, and totally agree with point number three.

Point one always makes me think of the pre-modern medicine and the way that life was looked at. Children were valuable only if they could work or produce. Only in this modern age are fetuses (fetii?) given rights in the womb. A mother's rights over her reproductive organs and progeny therein should be only between her, her deity of choice - if she has one- and her doctor. Just my 25 cents. It should not even be an election issue.

Nice blog! I enjoyed it.

Posted by: maybeso at August 4, 2005 11:15 PM

Maybeso, Thanks for commenting. I love getting feedback. I see you're a fellow member of the LLP community. A Zen Anarchist, eh? Very interesting.

Owlish, I prefer Fujis. And thanks for pointing that error out. I need to edit my late-night postings better. Should probably just save without publishing and then publish the next day.

Posted by: JohnL at August 4, 2005 11:25 PM

ID doesn't proclaim that there is a supernatural creator, yet ID opponents automatically do, why? Because it's easier to reject them out-of-hand.

If one believes, as I do, that the universe is chock full of life, and has been for millenia, is it too much of a strectch to believe that perhaps life was deposited here by an intelligent entity? But see, now I can be dismissed just as easily as a creationist because I dare mention 'aliens'.

One other point. Your definition of evolution is acceptable to many on the creationist and ID side. They all agree that species change over time. What they disagree with is the yet unproved aspects of evolution, namely speciation (the evolving of one species into an entirely different one, like a fish into a lizard) and the idea that life erupted spontaneously from some primordial soup.

Posted by: Mr_flood at August 5, 2005 09:57 AM
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