Evidently Prof Richard Dawkins tweeted a remark this week about Down Syndrome babies that properly horrified thousands if not millions of people. I missed it, but today’s New York Times contains an informative article that refutes his rather casual and frankly nauseating position.
Dawkins has made a career out of stirring up outrage (I’m rather envious, actually), but this time he seems to have done so inadvertently, and issued something of a retraction and apology.
That noted, even in his follow-up, he refers to a Down Syndrome baby as “it” which is inexcusable:
“I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”
Whatever your views on such matters as abortion, ethics, parenthood, etc., this is no way to talk. It’s also evident that the Professor’s grasp of moral science is elementary at best: that’s as clear a statement of why raw utilitatrianism (“increase the sum of happiness,” etc.) fails miserably as code of conduct. Maybe he should take some time off and enroll in an ethics class — dp univerisities still have philosophy departments, or were they defunded to distribute resources to the athletic programs and coaches’ salaries?
Rather nasty stuff, Professor, although I’m certain most of the Down Syndrome persons I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with would shrug it off, tell me to chill, and give us both hugs. They’re by and large better people than the rest of us, when it comes to matters like this.
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“Increase the sum of happiness.” * sigh * One anticipates this sort of perspective from green undergrads and 18th century thinkers, but seeing it in this context, from this party, well, it’s a but much for this retired academic. Shame, Professor.
Richard Dawkins is an atheist whose contempt for The Lord and Christian values are well known. Here you have a clear statement of what happens when you forsake The Lord and His commandments to respect life. He advocates abortion of an innocent child on the basis of human happiness, ignoring any mention of God or right and wrong. Happy and unhappy are not the same as Right and Wrong; those who confuse the concepts are modern day residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. I will pray for Professor Dawkins, but he’s going to hell.
Neil: I have one disagreement with your position, but it’s significant: the fundamental premise on which it is based. While you make good points about the distinction between right/wrong and happy/unhappy, that distinction may be defined secularly as well as theologically, and in fact has been done many times in philosophy that have become the basis of law and justice systems. I would also remind you that atrocities committed in the name of the same god you praise here against living persons — including children and pregnant women — are a mainstay of human history. Whatever errors Dawkins may have made here, atheism has nothing to do with it.
I respectfully disagree. Without God, there is no basis for right and wrong, or for morality generally. Attempts to do so “secularly” have all failed, and in fact, suggesting that it’s even possible is blasphemous. I understand that people try to do this all the time, and it’s the reason there’s so much sin and crime in the world. I will pray for them, but they’re going to hell.
Is it too late to abort Richard Dawkins? After all, if his elimination would “increase the sum of happiness” by delighting millions of people, it would be the morally correct thing to do, right?
Post-natal abortion!? What an intriguing idea. Think of the possibilities. Let’s start in the US Congress.