Did You Know Humans Lay Eggs?

It’s amazing what you’ll learn on the Internet these days, especially on Facebook.  As I was scrolling through the newsfeed the other night, I saw someone had just posted that women lay eggs waiting to be hatched.  If you are like me, you’re probably upset that your Anatomy and Biology teachers from high school and college left out this incredible fact about women’s bodies.  So being bored, I decided to see what the individual believe hatched from these eggs.
A tape worm? An infant Alien from Ridley Scott’s imagination? A dog? A rock monster?
No, a human being.  In another infamous Facebook debate, this person declared human beings at the moment of conception were organisms hatching in the wombs of women.  Yes, the subject of the debate was abortion.  And yes, the person was defending the pro-choice side.  Now at this point, many of you are already taking the defense for your side of the debate.  But let’s consider first, what is being said before switching to the offense and flooding my blog with irate and shrill comments of “women’s rights” and “chauvinist pig.”
Imagine if someone had called another person a retard on any form of social media.  YouTube, Twitter, whatever.  The Internet would come alive with social activists and self-proclaimed heroes of the week.  (No, that’s not a typo).  And they would rightfully denounce the act as cruel and dehumanizing.  The same could be expected if a guy called his girl a whore or when racist language is used by police.  The idea that someone would deny or insult another person’s human identity is considered heinous and outrageous.  To not be able to accept this apparently simple moral concept is believed to be impossible.
That is until you apply it to the unborn.  For some reason in our society we cannot bring ourselves to acknowledge that what is growing inside the womb is indeed human.  We say “fetus”, “embryo”, and other scientific terms to avoid acknowledging a very ugly truth: abortion kills human beings.
Of course the objections to this outrageous act are numerous.  And they often revolve around women’s rights and freedoms.  But to say that this is a “woman’s right” is laughable. Yes, a woman should not be forced to become a mother if that is not her life goal or if she is not at this time ready to be a parent.  That is her right.  But what about the newly conceived females? By being female do they not also have rights?  If the mother has the right to shrug off her duty of motherhood to live a life free of children, does not the little girl in her womb deserve the right to live to make that same decision?
Also this isn’t just a “women’s issue” since  many victims of abortion are also male.  Is it because they have a Y chromosome and penis that they lack rights?  Or is it because they have those things that their rights are inferior to the mother’s?  And what about human rights?  We live in an era where desire to help others is at its highest.  See an African mother holding her child dying from starvation?  What an injustice!  Let’s start an NGO to feed those people.  Hear that a close friend has been diagnosed with HIV?  Volunteer time and resources to find a cure.  See someone acting out of prejudice toward someone with a mental disability, different race, or sexual orientation?  Better launch a public and social media protest.  In all these things, our culture wants to help other human beings.  Any form of violence or oppression is looked down upon with disgust and revulsion.  Except when it comes to those who are unborn.  There is no question that abortions kill humans, yet we as a society seem perfectly fine of developing ideologies to dismiss any guilt we should have.
Indeed, we create “freedoms” to mask our true motive: convenience.  It is convenient for loser boyfriends and fathers if the woman involved simply aborts the product of their supposed “love-making.”  It is convenient for “strong, independent” women to sacrifice the life of another for a social life with a great career.  It is convenient for us if we didn’t have to fund research to make pregnancy complications the thing of the past.  It is convenient to let a child perish for the sins of the father.  It is convenient if we as a society let this dirty secret occur in a women’s health clinic, and do absolutely nothing about it.
So what can we do?  What should we be doing?
First, we need to show love to the mothers who did have abortions.  Pope Francis recently requested that Roman Catholic bishops and priests grant them absolution.  I don’t know if this is a conspiracy to overturn conservative values within the Catholic Church, but I do know that none are without sin.  And none are beyond the power of God to heal.  We cannot reverse the current course of death in our culture by antagonizing these women.  Yes, they did cooperate in a horrible act.  But for the sake of restoring our humanity, I am willing to let them simply live with their actions and be loved as human beings of value than ostracized with no hope of a second chance.
Second, we need to put an end to what causes these unwanted pregnancies.  If it is rape or incest, we need to make the father responsible.  If it is because the mother lacks the money to support her child, then we her neighbors ought to provide her with the resources she needs.  If she feels that society will turn their backs on her, whether it is her fault or not, we her family and friends must stand by her.  If it is because she leads a loose and promiscuous lifestyle, we who love her must hold her accountable for her actions.
Now I hold no delusions that this will be solved in a night or even a year.  I don’t even believe we can put an end rape without drastically changing human nature.  But I do believe that abortion can and should become a part of our past.  But only if we stop believing that humans lay eggs instead of giving birth to humans.

Kim Davis, Beliefs of Conscience, and Pluralism

Can you be a practicing Christian as well as a public servant? That seems to be the question of the day now that Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, has been jailed for contempt of court. For those not familiar with the situation, Mrs. Davis and a handful of other Kentucky county clerks refused to provide couples seeking marriage licenses. This was in response to the Supreme Court’s summer decision to strike down all state bans of same sex marriages. The majority opinion in effect recognized marriage as a constitutional right that could not be denied to same sex couples. Many Americans were ecstatic by the decision. Others, such as Mrs. Davis, believed the ruling would have negative consequences for those who wish to practice their faith in public.

Which brings us back to the above question and it’s follow-up: Can you be a practicing Christian as well as a public servant? Why or why not?

One popular response is yes, but you must separate the two. Practice your faith in private, and withdraw those views and actions while executing a public office. This policy is a common one is often applied to employees of non-partisan organizations such as the League of Cities and the Council of State Governments. During their employment at these agencies, the political views of the workers are to be left outside the workplace and public areas (e.g. Facebook, campaign rallies, and blogs). This is to create credibility among clients that the services produced do not carry a secret agenda that may be viewed negatively by constituents or office holders.

As a political scientist, I find this argument very persuasive. We live in a pluralist society where many different views co-exist. In order for all these ideas to experience the same legal protection and freedom, none can be granted special favors. But is this an acceptable response for the current situation with Kim Davis? Consider that this approach requires that you divorce yourself from your own views. Thus you are no longer a political conservative or Reformed Jew working in a public position. Instead you are expected to be a blank slate that ultimately cannot rely on personal experience and thought to make judgment calls. You only can do what you are told and nothing less. To do otherwise would create bias and thus a conflict of interest.

Therein lies this response’s fatal flaw. As human beings, we cannot fully divorce ourselves from what we think or believe. It is in part what makes us human and not computers waiting for operational software.  Wherever we are and whatever we do, we bring our beliefs and our actions are based them.  By asking Mrs. Davis to ignore her conscience and beliefs, we are demanding that she make herself inhuman.

Yet how do we avoid the potential predicament of people acting on their personally held beliefs instead of the law?  How would I respond if JFK or Mitt Romney had imposed their religious views on the nation?  If a town with a high Muslim population wanted to enact Sharia law, why should we deny them the right to do so?

These are not straightforward questions.  As I pointed out, our beliefs are a part of who we are.  Being asked to refrain from exercising those beliefs would mean that we cease to be human.  Yet we do live in a country with multiple beliefs and views that must somehow coexist.  That has been one of the great assets to American and the narrative of Western Civilization as a whole: the relatively successful experiment with pluralism.  It is why we have political parties and interest groups of varying backgrounds.  This freedom of diversity is necessary for there to be a free exchange of ideas.

And that may also be, sadly, the problem.  A pluralist society presupposes that individuals and groups of individuals of different backgrounds and beliefs can peacefully coexist without anyone having to sacrifice their identities or be subordinate to others.  But to make this possible, someone has to impose his, her, or their view of how such a society would work.  In the end, something has to fill this authoritative vacuum or else ideological anarchy takes place.  Then the beliefs with the most adherents, strongest adherents, or even influential adherents win and all others are pushed to the margins of society.

I suppose we could try making compromises and exceptions.  In Mrs. Davis’ case another public official, who doesn’t share her convictions, designated specifically for issuing marriage licenses would have easily solved the problem.  However that would mean creating an entirely new field of public offices that bar people from serving based on their convictions.  They would by definition be in opposition to the purpose of a pluralist society.

This brings us to one final and depressing thought: pluralist societies cannot exist.  Historically speaking, no other political state has successfully maintained equity of opposing and differing thoughts.  The Romans might have been the closest as they did allow conquered territories and client-states to observe their own customs and governments.  Yet they were often quick, if not forced, to replace local practices with Roman ideas.  Indeed, what helped make the Western Empire to decline was the lack of support for what it meant to be a part of the Roman Empire.  The barbarians were not entirely willing to adopt Roman ways, despite some of their leaders’ policies.  And citizens of the far territories were happy to revert to their pre-Roman ways of life.  Without a foundational belief system, the Western Empire ceased to exist.

This leaves us to ask one final question: Will we cease to exist too, or will we fall into ideological anarchy?