Earlier this week, famed atheist activist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins took to Twitter to compare fetuses to adult pigs, subsequently igniting a firestorm. His initial comment and those that followed sparked a mixture of outrage and support from across the social media platform, with some finding his views horrific and other agreeing with him on the matter.
“With respect to those meanings of ‘human’ that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig,” he wrote on Wednesday.
The reactions to this message were swift, ranging from claims that Dawkins’ statement was “silly” to outright anger. Comedian Joe Rogan wrote, “That’s silly. The outrage of abortion is that a fetus has the potential for human life. That’s obviously not true of a pig.” And SkyNews’ Chris Kenny added, “I followed you for rational thought not that sort of zealotry.”
Some critics, though, were a little less friendly, as The Christian Post notes:
Wesley J. Smith, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism immediately tore into Dawkins’ posts that claimed fetuses are less human than adult pigs. The lawyer wrote that the argument is “utter nonsense” even from a biological perspective, which is the atheist’s field.
“Indeed, he’d fail high school biology,” Smith said on LifeNews.
“The ability to ‘feel pain’ has nothing to do with ‘being human,’ biologically or morally. All mammals feel pain. And, of course, fetuses can be – and are – mourned by others, which again isn’t an exclusively human trait,” the lawyer continued, insisting that regardless of their stage of development, fetuses are “fully human” and should not be classified differently on a morality scale.
But, despite these critics, Dawkins wasn’t planning to back down. He followed this tweet up with others, corroborating his stance. In subsequent messages, the atheist activist noted that he was speaking about morality and abortion and that a fetus cannot feel pain and, thus, an adult pig — which can — is more “human” in nature.
“‘Human’ features relevant to the morality of abortion include ability to feel pain, fear etc & to be mourned by others,” he continued.
Later, Dawkins said that the most important moral question in the contemporary abortion debate is whether a fetus can feel pain. While he conceded that “late abortuses may,” he noted that a creature doesn’t have to be human to feel pain.
Despite this controversial statements, Dawkins threw out an olive branch to pro-lifers.
“Unlike many pro-choice friends, I think fetal pain could outweigh woman’s right to control her own body. But pig pain matters too,” he wrote.
He seemed to dismiss both absolute ideas — that a woman’s right to choose and abortion being entirely wrong both have their limits, as he contended that “pain matters too.”
Later on, Dawkins seemed dismayed by the reaction he received. He sent several tweets expressing his surprise. But rather than tempering the storm, he probably created more problems when he labeled himself “pro-abortion” (a title many avoid to keep from making themselves look like they lack compassion).
“Bizarre responses to my tweets today. I clearly expressed my strong pro-abortion views & many people decided that I must be anti-abortion!,” he later wrote, going on to clarify that he meant “pro-choice.”
(H/T: Christian Post)
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