Reports are coming in that Robert Lewis Dear, the man who shot and killed three people at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, muttered something along the lines of “No more baby parts” when he was being questioned by authorities. This, as expected, has led the pro-abortion lobby to blow up social media with the hashtag #StandWithPP.
Someone on my Facebook feed posted the following regarding the shooting:
Let’s forget the nearly one million abortions that take place each year in the United States, and focus solely on the approximately 11,000 abortions that are performed on infants over 20-weeks gestation. For reference, this is an infant born prematurely at 22 weeks:
Though I personally believe that life begins at conception, let’s narrow this argument down to those 11,000 or so infants over which there is no debate as to whether they’re human beings.
What gives one the right to say that these acts are “moral,” or “ethical,” as someone else put it?
If one subscribes to a religion–Christianity, Judaism–they have roots by which their understanding of morality is fed. This morality is generally dictated by a deity. They have an objective authority by which they can resolve their moral quandaries. The atheist, however, has no moral root but that of his own making.
The system of morality developed by an atheist is subjective. It is not objective. As a subjective system of morality, it is influenced by feelings and life experiences. It is an inward-out system, rather than outward-in. As such, each atheist has his or her own system, because no single person’s feelings or life experiences are the same.
The problem a society faces when its people subscribe to subjective moralities is that there is no foundational standard on top of which a common sense of ethics is built. There will be as many moralities as there are people. And because these systems are personalized, one cannot cast judgement on any other system without opening up one’s own system for judgement.
Given this, no one can say that abortion is moral, or ethical, then turn around and call the actions of Robert Lewis Dear immoral, or unethical. His personal ethical structure may permit him to do what he did. One can say it’s wrong for them; it’s wrong according to their standards of ethical behavior, but they cannot label it objectively wrong.
There’s a separate argument that suggests atheist morality isn’t created by self, but by society. A social contract, if you will. This is equally problematic, only in a different way. If morality is shaped by social development, it means that it’s ever changing, ever evolving. If one subscribes to this idea, then one must also accept that at one time, slavery was moral, because the majority of society sanctioned it. One must additionally accept that their current moral standard could one day be called bigoted because of a social evolution in which they don’t participate.
It used to be a widely-held belief that abortion was wrong. Does this mean that abortion used to be immoral, but now that society has evolved, it’s no longer immoral?
Going further, if ethics are shaped by society, then what is moral and immoral changes depending on where you are in the world, as different societies often have wildly different moral systems. If this is the case, which social morality system trumps the other? One cannot argue that it is the “most advanced” one, because who determines the definition of “most advanced?”
So, to the atheists and agnostics who are so disturbed by what Robert Lewis Dear did, I have a question: What gives you the right to say that what he did was objectively wrong? Explain it to me in detail without using phrases like “I believe,” or “Society and the law says.” Those are subjective, and therefore ever-adaptable, as has been demonstrated.