General Question

ShauneP82's avatar

Do you think religion and a faith in God is bad?

Asked by ShauneP82 (790points) April 17th, 2009

Is it really that bad? Is it wrong? Can non-believers and believers get along? Do this have to be the way it is? Does it hurt both atheists and believers alike? Have you been hurt by something somebody of another belief said to you? Can you forgive them?

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88 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Why would you characterize having faith as bad? It is an integral part of many people’s lives.

As to getting along, that is more about believing that one way is the only way and having no tolerance for the views of others.

GAMBIT's avatar

Religion and faith in God is only bad when people try to force it on others. “Judge not so you will not be judged”.

Darwin's avatar

On your other question, the one where you were offering to pray for folks, did I say anything against religion? I am an atheist, you know. Yes, I attend a church for social reasons but I am not a believer. So, at least in my case, based on what I said on your other question, don’t you think at least one believer and one non-believer can get along?

It might be different if you forced yourself into my personal space and shouted at me that I would be condemned to hellfire forever more if I didn’t believe as you do. But you didn’t. You posted a question that we could choose to answer or not as we wished.

I don’t know why some folks have a need to force their personal beliefs (or non-beliefs) on others, but in a civilized society it doesn’t have to happen.

And yes, I have been hurt by things folks who believe have said, but of course I forgive them. They are misinterpreting their mandate, that’s all.

benseven's avatar

I don’t see a point to this question. The answer seems obvious enough and there’s already enough religion-oriented debate on Fluther, so why another thread?

wundayatta's avatar

Of course we can get along. Even though I’m an atheist, I do see faith as a helpful thing, at least, in the short run. Religion helps people think about the long term. It helps people think of the consequences of their actions years ahead. This is a good thing.

Unfortunately, religion hides what it is really doing, and I believe, eventually, this will be a problem. At some point, doing the right thing without knowing what we are doing will turn into mistaken actions, or unhelpful actions that might actually hurt us in the long term.

I think that if we are truly aware of what we are doing, we will make better decisions. We aren’t children any more. We have a much greater understanding of our world. We have better judgment now, without religion. I don’t think we need it any more, and I think there will come a time when it will actually diminish our survivability.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

to put it simply, some times yes, sometimes no.

Extremists on both sides of the fence are bad a vast majority of the time.

but great things have been done in the name of religion, as well as horrid things… as it is with all things that inspire passion.

loser's avatar

No… It’s just not a good thing for me.

Harp's avatar

This question is like asking whether chiropractic is good or bad: for addressing certain issues it can be very helpful, but its fans often make over-reaching claims for it and harm can result.

Religion can work well as a structured system for changing one’s personal behavior and outlook. But it fails as science, it fails as public policy, and it fails as history.

On a personal level, religion was a very divisive force in my family, acting as a barrier between my parents, and later as a barrier between my mother and me when I abandoned the religion in which I was raised

knitfroggy's avatar

I should say up front I am something of an agnostic person, I’m still unsure if I’m an athiest or agnostic. I grew up in a non denominational church and enjoyed it. As I’ve gotten older (I’m 33) and had more time to think about God and religion, I’ve decided I’m a non believer. I live in the Bible Belt, so you can imagine it doesn’t go over well. I don’t discuss it with a lot of people because I’ve discovered that their initial reaction is to think I’m a “bad person” or they want to “save” me. I don’t blame them, I appreciate their concern, even if it’s unwanted.

The close friends that I’ve discussed it with were scared for me-scared for my afterlife, I should say. They weren’t angry or hateful, but frightened. I just smile and tell them it will be ok. Believers and non-believers can get along, as long as both parties keep an open mind. There is no reason not to, because, as I believe everyone should love one another and just get along!

Qingu's avatar

It’s bad for a number of reasons.

Lots of people have “faith” that astrology works—that is, they believe it works without any evidence. Now, the tenets of astrology are arguably “harmless.” But it is fraudulent, and drains the faithful of their time and money. It also gives them useless or in some cases bad advice. Most importantly, “faith” astrology requires a suspension of rational thinking. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many astrology true-believers tend to also be new age conspiracy theorists—that is, their irrationality bleeds into other areas of their life. If something is simply not true—like astrology, geocentrism, or the notion that there are fairies and unicorns—I think it is “bad” for people to believe in it. I think truth has an inherent value and the logical thinking that weeds out falsehoods is good for society.

The same criticisms apply to religion, which is also based on things that aren’t true. But unlike astrology, I don’t think the major religions are harmless at all. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all based on books that condone and advocate slavery, misogyny, intolerance, and even genocide. All three of these religions present a simplistic carrot-stick scenario for belief. You take your kids to church where one of the first things they learn that they will be given candy in heaven if they believe, but that they’ll be tortured in hell if they don’t.

People who take their religious texts seriously tend to blindly vote for social conservatives like Bush, which has nearly ruined our society. Even so-called “moderate” religious people—the ones who simply ignore all the parts of the Bible and the Quran that conflict with modern, secular morality—present a buffer for the fundamentalists, making their beliefs seem less unreasonable by comparison. Even moderate Christians oppose abortion based on the false, dualist premises of their religion—that magical “souls” are imparted onto cells as soon as sperm hits egg. Some moderates support the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. Religious belief deeply affects public policy, and that affects everyone.

That leaves Unitarian-style religious believers (like our friend Fireside) who say they believe in “God” but actually mean something more like The Force from Star Wars. I don’t really have a problem with the belief that the Universe has some kind of built-in direction; I’m tempted to believe this myself. My beef with Unitarians can mostly be reduced to semantics and a difference of opinion about how much we ought to respect others’ beliefs.

mattbrowne's avatar

Non-dogmatic religious people and non-dogmatic atheists get along just fine. A tolerant attitude can lead to mutual respect. But fanaticism and hot-bloodedness are quite common on both sides. Motto: “I’m right, you’re wrong. There’s only one truth.”

It’s always a good idea to try to cool down a bit and challenge one’s assumptions. In any society a lack of general value systems and ethical principles and behavior can be very harmful. Non-dogmatic religion offers social guidance, while dogmatic religion requests social control. Humanism for example also offers social guidance.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, I think you’re confusing “tolerance” with “respect.” I’m perfectly tolerant of religious people, astrologers, 9/11 truthers, and Holocaust deniers. But I do not respect any of these beliefs, because they are based on nonsense.

I don’t see why people should tiptoe around pointing out nonsense. And I think religious people often feign a thin skin and hurt feelings when they know they cannot defend their beliefs from rational challenge.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Lack of respect can also create problems. Not everything in your list is nonsense from my point of view. I don’t have any hurt feelings. And I like rational challenges. We had our discussions and we don’t have to repeat them here. You’re a smart guy. You’ve got your view and your definition of Christianity and I got mine. Happens all the time. We don’t have to agree on everything. Peace.

dynamicduo's avatar

If you are interested in an academic’s position on this, I highly recommend reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. He goes into detail about why faith can be harmful at times.

I’m not sure if I would say that faith or a belief in a god is bad per se, but I do think that it is unnecessary and the relevance/importance of it has been inflated for a long time. I will also not deny that religion causes (and has caused) a lot of people to inflict harm on others (whether through outright physical harm or via denying of rights), and that is a bad thing.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I will relay my thought on religion here. I believe religion is a crutch to help one interpret/understand/guide their life. I do not discriminate against someone with a broken foot who would use a crutch, nor do I discriminate against someone who chooses to use a religion. But if that person starts using their crutch to attack me in any way, well that’s certainly not OK at all, and will elicit an appropriate response from me.

Regarding interactions between religions and non religious folk, or different religious denominations: In general I do not engage in discussions about religion, and I give everyone I meet one “free” interaction where this is made clear. If, after I’ve made it clear that I don’t care to discuss religion, that person keeps hounding me or trying to convince me of their views, I cease communication with that person completely, as I do not interact with people who don’t respect me and my wishes. I have no issues against discussing my beliefs in a rational, logic, cool-headed way with actual friends versus acquaintances, and if a religious friend wanted to talk about atheism I would have no problems doing so. It’s only when the person tries to force their views onto me that I call it all off. Similarly, I never force my views on other people – why would I, I have nothing to gain.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, I wouldn’t exactly call you a “religious” person. :) From our conversations you strike me much more like a Unitarian who calls himself a Christian. I had an ex like that. I think our disagreements tend to be semantic.

critter1982's avatar

No I don’t think religion and/or faith in God is bad. Religion and faith in general tend to generate a sense of peace, stability, and happiness. That’s not saying though that from a secular outlook you can’t obtain an inner peace, stability and happiness just as well as any religious view. Most secular believers have at least some sort of faith in that they believe and promote the view that nonbelievers should live ethically for the greater human good not a higher deity or not because a higher deity said so. There can be some downsides to religion though in that the same self-control that can help a believer beat an addiction can turn a zealot into a suicide bomber.

I don’t believe though, that the purpose for any particular religion is to create hatred, dissatisfaction, intolerance, or murderers out of people. I think the idea of most religions is to be able to connect to our spiritual world which I am confident does exist. The problem occurs when people get their own agenda’s and can somewhat convincingly back it up by some sort of scripture which is likely totally irrelevant.

I also don’t believe that it is only believers who blindly vote for our countries representatives. It is not inherent that only faithful people blindly vote. It is an epidemic though in this country, that people of all faiths and those without faith vote without the slightest bit of knowledge on what their candidate stands for. It’s not a religious thing!!

It is also not a religious thing to believe that abortion is murder. It’s dependant on your view of when life actually begins. Directly at conception you can determine the sex of a baby. At week 5 the heart begins to beat. At week 7 the umbilical cord appears. At week 8 the fingers and toes form. At week 9 they begin to move. At week 10 neurons multiply. This is all scientific not some idea of magical souls. Abortions stop beating hearts and in my opinion that is murder. Actually if the same person that was travelling to go get an abortion was accidentally hit by another car and during the accident the baby was killed, the other driver would be charged for murder, even though the lady was going to a hospital to obtain an abortion by a doctor. Talk about double standards? The idea that a childs life is based solely on whether the mother wants the child is foreign to me, yet for some reason so common place today.

Churches are also the number one source for generating money and time for things such as food pantries for the poor, meals-on-wheels, counseling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, outreaches to wounded veterans, mentoring, disaster relief, home-building, CPR and First-Aid training, foster care and adoption, prison ministries, etc, etc, etc. None of these I find to be bad things.

People who claim those who are faithful are bad for this country because they vote for one President over another seems somewhat ludicrous. Couldn’t I say the same thing of non-believers. Actually, Jewish people have historically voted democratic and Christians Republican so I don’t even think that could be considered an argument.

I also could careless what gets taught in school in that if intelligent design was part of a religion or spirtual class it wouldn’t bother me. But it also doesn’t bother me that it’s not currently taught. The school curriculum as it is today is irrelevant to what anybody uses outside of school anyways so intelligent design at least imo is the last thing the school needs to worry about. How about teaching our kids to balance and freaking budget.

Sorry for the tangent but I think it’s obvious that religions can be bad or good. You cannot make a generalization out of it. It’s almost like asking if having non-belief is bad. It is both.

crisw's avatar

Qingu and dynamicduo have already made many of the points that I would make very eloquently. To add a bit to the conversation-

As humans, one of the attributes that we possess is the ability to think rationally. In every area of our lives save one, rationality is viewed as the ideal position. Religion is the sole exception, where massive irrationality is viewed by many people as not only necessary, but desirable.

If we are to strive towards being rational beings; if we are to make the best of our highly-evolved minds, then religion (at least in the sense of any of the major organized religions) is an odd anachronism and an impediment. It is unnecessary at best, and downright disastrous at its worst. There is no good that religion provides that cannot be gained from other sources. Religion also has many bad effects, from time-wasting to terrorism.

In addition, “faith” can be incredibly harmful, especially when that faith is dogmatic Christianity. Such “faith” often leads to blind belief and people who trust their “leaders” more than their brains. There is nothing good in the dronelike masses who rally against evolution, gay marriage, abortion and the like not due to any well-thought-out ethical stance, but to mindless parroting of what someone else told them. Faith is all too often an impediment against thinking for oneself.

Qingu's avatar

@critter1982, your conception of “life” is full of contradictions. Are you a vegetarian? If not, you eat things that were killed with beating hearts, fingers and toes, sex, and consciousness. The existence of such things in fetuses is an irrational reason to oppose abortion. It’s also an argument I only ever hear from religious people trying to convince secular people that abortion is bad.

The fact that churches receive the most charity is not an argument that churches should exist. There are plenty of secular charities that do just as good worth, often without the accompanying indoctrination.

Jews do tend to vote democratic, but not religious Jews. And most Jews in America are highly secular, many of them are functionally atheists and treat their Judaism like ethnic flavoring.

The fact that you wouldn’t be bothered if intelligent design was taught in school is a problem. Would you be bothered if astrology or geocentrism were taught in school? Or paranoid revisionist histories?

Nobody is saying that every aspect of religion is bad. Religion served a purpose in human history. It helped us progress past tribal societies and increased the circle of empathy with other human beings. And religion today provides comfort and community to millions of people. But the good aspects of religion also exist in the secular world. And the bad aspects of religion outweigh the good. I see religion as a vestige of human history.

@crisw, thanks for pointing out gay marriage. Kind of ashamed I forgot about that.

crisw's avatar

Darn, you just keep taking words right out of my mouth! :>)

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: How do you define life?

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: My argument was that churches do plenty of good in society not that there aren’t secular charities that do well.

Qingu's avatar

Life is somewhere between viruses and cells.

The important thing to me isn’t whether it’s alive but whether it’s conscious and capable of suffering.

fireside's avatar

Like all knowledge or belief systems, Religion is only bad if it is used in a negative way.

It is easy to say that Religion is used to control people, but it can also be said that religion is used to uplift people. Just as Governmental policy can be used to control or uplift people. Or Psychology can be used to control or uplift people.

I don’t think that blind obedience to anything is a good thing, but there are plenty of people who question their beliefs on a regular basis as a means of reflection and deepening themselves in their faith. Yes, there are people who don’t as well, but based on all the personality tests I have seen there are many different types of people in the world with a range of emotion and intellectual capacity.

So, to assume that everyone in the world doesn’t need religion because we have progressed in our knowledge of the natural world seems like hubris and short-sightedness to me.

Assuming that something such as belief in God or the soul which cannot yet be proven or disproven is false is just like the condemnation of early thinkers who thought the world was round. Until there were boats which could circumnavigate the globe, there was no way of knowing and thus the condemnation and ridicule was unfounded.

Every person can investigate the truth for themselves based on their experiences and decide what they believe. As long as they don’t use their beliefs to control others, their faith (or lack thereof) is not a bad thing.

There are plenty of positive uplifting elements in Religion and faith in God has benefited huge numbers of people. Just because we don’t all agree on the definition of God is no reason to suggest that the belief is wrong or illogical. To say that, you would have to examine the conceptions of every believer and non-believer.

critter1982's avatar

So as long as somebody doesn’t suffer its okay to murder them?? A 54 caliber bullet to the head probably wouldn’t make anybody suffer, so are you advocating that, killing somebody without making them suffer is okay?

crisw's avatar

“So as long as somebody doesn’t suffer its okay to murder them?? A 54 caliber bullet to the head probably wouldn’t make anybody suffer, so are you advocating that, killing somebody without making them suffer is okay?”

No. For myself, I feel that causing innocent sentient beings harm is wrong. Death is most certainly a harm to a sentient being because such a being has preferences and desires and life experiences, and wants to go on having them.

“Sentience,” to me, means having the ability to feel pleasure and experience pain and to be able to choose experiences that will maximize pleasure and minimize pain. A dog or a cow can do these. A fetus before about 26 weeks gestation cannot. It is alive, but it is not sentient, nor has it ever been- it has no desires or preferences to thwart. Therefore, death to a fetus is less harmful than death to a sentient animal.

critter1982's avatar

@crisw: The new 3-D/4-D ultrasounds reveal limb movements at eight weeks, leaping, turning and jumping at 11 to 12 weeks, intricate finger movements at 15 weeks, and yawning at 20 weeks. Babies kick and move around in the womb because of the amount of room and their comfort level. IMO that is a sign of their feeling plessure or pain. Also, these babies have just as many life experiences and preferences as a brand spanking new baby, but everyone agrees that a newborn has the right to live.

dynamicduo's avatar

@critter1982 You seem to be speaking with knowledge regarding prenatal fetus development. Can you provide your qualifications for your knowledge? I’m curious because your claims are strong yet you have provided no actual proof of them, and this is required for me to evaluate what you have said.

critter1982's avatar

Well my mom is a nurse and I do get most of my information from her first hand, but I would imagine a quick google search could identify what the week by week fetal development is. I’ll do a quick search

crisw's avatar

“The new 3-D/4-D ultrasounds reveal limb movements at eight weeks, ...”

None of that is related to sentience. People in irreversible comas do all of the same things. There have been many studies done on this issue. The motor neurons are wired up long before the neurons required for sensation and memory are.

crisw's avatar

“Also, these babies have just as many life experiences and preferences as a brand spanking new baby, ”

No, they don’t. As their minds are not developed, they have zero experiences or preferences.

critter1982's avatar


Just a quick google search above

fundevogel's avatar

@crisw and @critter1982
I learned at a lecture last year that humans don’t actually start forming memories until around 2 years of age. Up until then the brain is in overdrive soaking up other information necessary to function as a human being—soaking up too much information to alot any space for memories. So from a cognitive sense humans don’t start retaining experiencial information until they hit the toddler years.

Qingu's avatar

@critter1982, painlessly murdering someone makes a great deal of people suffer—their friends and family. I also never said that consciousness/suffering was the only moral rubric, only the base.

For humans, morals also have to take into account the structure of rights and liberties that we’ve developed in our societies. I believe I am entitled to the right to continue living unless I choose not to—someone else doesn’t have the right to deprive me of that choice. (Note that fetuses without brains can make no such choice to begin with.)

critter1982's avatar

@crisw: So the right to live is based on whether or not you can feel pain?

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: Some mentally retarded human beings cannot make that choice either. Does that mean we leave it up to their mothers whether or not they live?

Qingu's avatar

What? Mentally retarded individuals make as much choice to live as chimpanzees do. They eat, drink, and will usually avoid things that cause them pain and threaten their lives. That signifies “choice.”

A comatose or braindead person would be a more proper analogy, and yes, I do believe their lives should be left up to their loved ones.

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: Leaving their lives up to their loved ones is as scientific as the idea of a soul. Isn’t your argument that we have no scientific data to prove there is a soul? Well do we have any scientific data to show that their loved ones are capable of deciding whether somebody should live? Can newborn babies make this choice? Should mothers be allowed to get rid of their newborn child because they don’t want them? The child can’t choose to live or die by itself. Actually without somebody taking care of him/her it wouldn’t be able to survive.

crisw's avatar


This doesn’t have anything to do with abortion. A fetus is not a “somebody.” It is not a sentient being. It is a different type of entity than a baby that has been born.

I gave you some data on fetal sentiency (or the lack thereof.) Do you have any data to support your position that fetuses are sentient?

Qingu's avatar

I’m confused as to why you think the ethical/legal stance of giving people the right to terminate their braindead loved ones would be derived from “science.” Are you claiming something about this stance contradicts known science?

Newborn babies choose to be alive. They have brains and will drink milk if offered. I would even argue that late-term fetuses choose to prolong their life, which is why I generally oppose late-term abortions.

critter1982's avatar

@crisw: Aborted fetuses respond to trigeminal stimulation by seven weeks’ gestation, and the relevant thalamic nucleus approaches maturity by 12 weeks’ gestation (from Medical Research done by Humphrey T. See article Some correlations between the appearance of human fetal reflexes and the development of the nervous system.)

The absence of reflex movement does not mean that pain has not been felt, any more than the presence of reflex movement proves conscious perception of a noxious stimulus. The relation between reported levels of pain and hormonal stress response, at least in adults, is highly variable.2 We do not even know whether consciousness of pain is a purely cortical sensation. Observations in anencephalic infants, patients with hydrocephalus, and some patients in a persistent vegetative state suggest that the thalamus may also play an important part. Who would dare make the parallel claim that patients with Alzheimer’s disease cannot feel pain, simply because they are incapable of remembering it later?

Pain is subjective, and conclusions based on reflex activity, hormone concentrations, the complexity of neuronal connections, or reportable memory can take us only so far. In the light of this uncertainty and our growing appreciation of the fetus as a patient in its own right, should we not be giving these most vulnerable members of our species the benefit of the doubt? The recently published report of the Commission of Inquiry into Fetal Sentience suggests that a fetus may feel pain as early as six weeks.

The perception of pain by fetuses is a fascinating issue but far less intriguing than the perception of guilt by doctors. We who once pledged to “maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception“4 have simply rewritten our ethics and shelved our scientific integrity in the process.

(from Medical Research done by the Commission of Inquiry into Fetal Sentience. Human sentience before birth. Rawlinson report. London: HMSO, 1996.)

Also the read the white paper McCullagh P. Fetal sentience. London: All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, 1996.

Qingu's avatar

Do starfish feel pain? They respond to stimulation. Not to mention insects, shellfish, fish, reptiles, birds, and all the mammals we eat for food.

@critter1982, are you a Jain monk?

critter1982's avatar

@Qingu: What’s your point? We are talking about human beings.

@Qingu: Are you heartless?

crisw's avatar


It would certainly help if you provided actual links to your sources.

As for the first article you mention, “Some correlations between the appearance of human fetal reflexes and the development of the nervous system”, reflexes are, by their very definition, reflexive. They do not indicate any feeling; in fact, many reflex arcs don’t even involve the brain at all; they are controlled by spinal neurons.

Your second cite is many years old and doesn’t match current research.

Your third one is explicitly from a pro-life group and thus unlikely to be unbiased.

PS- Several of the links I posted above deal directly with why the argument involving the thalamus is not a good one, using current research.

crisw's avatar


“What’s your point? We are talking about human beings.”

I don’t know about you, but I am talking about sentient beings. If a being is sentient, I believe that we owe it ethical consideration. That’s why I am a vegetarian. On the other hand, if a being is not sentient, I believe we have no duties directly to that being. That is why I do not oppose abortions before the age of 26 weeks.

Qingu's avatar

I’m not talking about just human beings. Why did you think I was?

If something has as much consciousness as a starfish, why do you think it should be treated any differently than a starfish?

Also what crisw said. S/he seems to be using “sentience” for my “consciousness,” but we have the same point.

crisw's avatar

I think you’re right about the definitions.

Qingu's avatar

I think you’re right as well.

Don’t cross the streams!

fireside's avatar

sigh, i always seem to be answering the wrong questions. I had no idea this thread was about animal rights and abortion.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

Well, since this thread has shifted to abortion… I’ll put in my two cents…

I, personally, would prefer any other option aside from abortion(if my girlfriend became pregnant, or if I was a pregnant woman), I’d rather take care of the child myself with no help from the mother, or put the child up for adoption, rather than proceed with an abortion. Having said that however, I am in full support of any woman having the rite to get an abortion, because honestly, you can’t play a guessing game, “but what if that child was destined to be the next Martin Luther King Jr or Albert Einstein?!?!” people cry. What if they were the next Hitler, or worse? I urge everyone to put that arguement out the window because it’s like a def man and a blind man arguing, goes no where. Also, as studies have shown, a fetus does not feel pain or become self aware until the later stages of pregnancy, and those are both very very pivitol aspects of the definition of life. Let us break it down.

Conventional definition: The consensus is that life is a characteristic of organisms that exhibit all or most of the following phenomena.

Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state; for example, electrolyte concentration or sweating to reduce temperature.

Organization: Being structurally composed of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.

Metabolism: Consumption of energy by converting chemicals and energy into cellular components (anabolism) and decomposing organic matter (catabolism). Living things require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce the other phenomena associated with life.

Growth: Maintenance of a higher rate of synthesis than catabolism. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter. The particular species begins to multiply and expand as the evolution continues to flourish.

Adaptation: The ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment. This ability is fundamental to the process of evolution and is determined by the organism’s heredity as well as the composition of metabolized substances, and external factors present.

Response to stimuli: A response can take many forms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism to external chemicals, to complex reactions involving all the senses of higher animals. A response is often expressed by motion, for example, the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun (phototropism) and chemotaxis.

Reproduction: The ability to produce new organisms. Reproduction can be the division of one cell to form two new cells. Usually the term is applied to the production of a new individual (either asexually, from a single parent organism, or sexually, from at least two differing parent organisms), although strictly speaking it also describes the production of new cells in the process of growth.

Of those, a fetus only maintains Orginization, Metabolism, and Growth. I know it’s a rather rigid application for a evermore complicated dilema, but there can be a very valid arguement that an unborn fetus, up until a certain point, is not actually a living organism.

fireside's avatar

I find it interesting to note that in all the talk of suffering and starfish and fetuses nobody has bothered to mention the potential suffering of the woman who is pregnant or has an abortion. Nobody mentions the possible suffering of the would-be father who never gets to know his child.

Is suffering only about physical pain?


To answer this question: Can non-believers and believers get along?

I don’t see how anybody who is entrenched in their point of view and unwilling to actually listen, rather than just shouting talking points based on keywords or concepts, is able to get along with someone who doesn’t think the way they do. And that goes to this quote:

“No two men can be found who may be said to be outwardly and inwardly aligned.”
Baha’u’llah, Gleanings

fundevogel's avatar

I think it’s assumed if a woman chooses to have an abortion she has accepted the whatever physical and mental pain accompanies it. It’s not like abortions are being forced on anyone.

I can’t prioritize a man’s desire for a child over a woman’s control of her body. That would literally turn her into a baby factory if the production of a baby supercedes her ability to govern her body.

fireside's avatar

@fundevogel – I agree it is a woman’s choice. But does that mean that she always knows what kind of physical and mental pain she may be experiencing in the future? I just wonder why none of that actually matters in this discussion or maybe I missed the assumption that everyone knows what they are getting into when they decide to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy.

Do you think that abortion should be as prevalent as birth control? Should a woman’s right to govern her body extend to the choice of having abortions as a means of correcting mistakes of unprotected sex?

I’m not saying this is the only reason for abortions, but it seems like without some kind of guidelines there is the potential for abuse of the chosen birth control method. Is that okay?

Knotmyday's avatar

Not bad, just a colossal waste of time. (for me, y’all go right ahead)

Qingu's avatar

@fireside, the mother’s and father’s suffering are certainly an issue for me. I was responding to someone who was arguing against abortion from a different starting point, though.

fundevogel's avatar

No one can completely know what the consequences of their actions will be, resisting choice for want of complete understanding is a surrender of choice. That said, of course every woman in this position should be as informed on it as possible. Will that happen? Probably not, but a lack of research doesn’t really stop people from doing anything if it is up to them. That’s not just an abortion issue.

No I don’t think abortion should be used as birth control. I think of abortion as the last fail safe in a world where birth control is not as accessible as it should be, whether it be for lack of education, cost or social reasons. I think when we resolve these issues abortion will pass almost completely out of use, except for medical emergencies.

There are some people that use abortion as birth control, which I think is irresponsible and unhealthy. Ultimately though I do believe that people have the right to make these decisions for themselves, even if they make poor decisions. I wouldn’t think serial-aborters would make up a significant proportion of abortions.

crisw's avatar

“I agree it is a woman’s choice. But does that mean that she always knows what kind of physical and mental pain she may be experiencing in the future?”
No, but she also doesn’t know with certainty what physical and mental pain bearing and raising a child will bring either. She can only make the best decision possible for herself with the information that she has. No one else should make the decision for her.

“Do you think that abortion should be as prevalent as birth control?”
No. But (getting back to the original question) it is entirely due to the meddling of religious factions in the political arena that the U,S, has such an abysmally poor sex education program, limited access to free contraceptives, etc. Get religion out of the reproductive process, and the need for abortion will decrease- witness the much lower abortion rates in more secular countries.

“Should a woman’s right to govern her body extend to the choice of having abortions as a means of correcting mistakes of unprotected sex?”
Yes. In the end, it is entirely her decision.

“it seems like without some kind of guidelines there is the potential for abuse of the chosen birth control method. Is that okay?”
What guidelines would you suggest, and what abuses are there to prevent? Personally, I think that there should be some restrictions on abortions after the fetus becomes sentient, but I also believe that the rights of the mother always outweigh the rights of the fetus when there is any type of life-or-death conflict.

fireside's avatar

Did you not know at a young age that sex meant the possibility of pregnancy? I knew that before I started having sex, so I’m not sure what is meant by “an abysmally poor sex education program”

Why should there be “access to free contraceptives”? If you can’t afford to buy condoms or are unable to get birth control, why not just avoid sex until you are able?

“What guidelines would you suggest” – this just goes to the development of a moral code. How did you build your moral code? Is the moral code the same for everyone?

“what abuses are there to prevent?” – According to these stats

Of women having abortions,

* 46% did not use contraception during the month they became pregnant
* 8% never used a method of birth control
* 47% have had at least one previous abortion

fundevogel's avatar

Health should never by compromised by moral controversy.

We as culture don’t need to be enforcing one moral code over one another, not through contraceptive or any other means. That’s your parents job when you’re a kid. Withholding, or making contraceptive difficult to get a hold of won’t further morality, it will simply compromise people’s ability to get birth control. You can be abstinent under any conditions if you really want to be. But in making birth control hard to get you don’t encourage abstinence, you encourage unsafe sex. With unsafe sex you get unwanted pregnancy and other stuff and with unwanted pregnancy you’re going to get some abortions.

Exactly like the ones in your statistics.

Being prolife and abstinence only is a sure way to be disappointed, the two don’t fit together well. Hell, the first teen I knew who got pregnant was my preacher’s daughter.

crisw's avatar

“Hell, the first teen I knew who got pregnant was my preacher’s daughter.”

Ever read this essay? It’s a pretty damning indictment of the Christian Right’s hypocrisy and ineffectiveness when it comes to birth control.

crisw's avatar


If abortion isn’t unethical, then the “abuses” you list aren’t abuses. They might be something that you think of as regrettable, but that doesn’t make them abuses.

fireside's avatar

@fundevogel – I never suggested that it was society’s role to enforce a moral code.
I simply suggested that a moral code was the way to establish guidelines.

@crisw – guess that is a matter of opinion. Alcohol isn’t illegal, does that mean there is no such thing as alcohol abuse? Sure, mistakes happen. But there is a big difference between a mistake and negligence.

crisw's avatar

“guess that is a matter of opinion.”
Either abortion is unethical, or it isn’t. If it isn’t unethical, then it may be unsavory, but it isn’t abusive. If you believe it to be unethical, then you have to make a logical case that it is unethical. You can’t just assume it is.

fundevogel's avatar

@crisw—good article
‘A Mississippi delegate claimed that “even though young children are making that decision to become pregnant, they’ve also decided to take responsibility for their actions and decided to follow up with that and get married and raise this child.”’

This has to be the most delusional thing I’ve heard this year.

@fireside—if you oppose the improving the means by which birth control is made available it is society attempting to enforce moral code, even if it is just against poor people, or embarrassed teenagers. Making birth control easier to get on the other hand promotes health. Like I said before, just because you can get birth control doesn’t mean you can’t be abstinent. But you can’t force anyone that doesn’t want to to abstain.

Too many people seem to think that unwanted pregnancies are justice for the crime of premarital sex. Seriously, a baby should never be raised by someone that doesn’t want it totally and completely, and it should certainly never be justice or punishment.

If you truly oppose abortion and unwanted births, support birth control.

fireside's avatar

Supporting birth control and supporting free access to birth control are two different things.
Should condoms be in candy bowls at school, just in case some kids want to have sex and don’t have a few dollars to buy them?

Should they be made to think about some of these larger issues or just have birth control handed to them without a word? If you just leave condoms in the school locker room, is that encouraging sex without consequences? All I’m trying to say is that it is a big issue and jusy blindly handing out free birth control (paid for by whom?) is ignoring the larger issues to let (underage?) kids have the right to do what they want with their bodies.

fireside's avatar

@fundevogel – Do you think that by saying society should provide greater access to birth control and abortion that you are trying to enforce your moral code?

@crisw – “Unethica” is a reflection of your moral code, isn’t it?

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@fireside having birth control at the nurses office of highschools seems perfectly reasonable… I’m not far removed from highschool, and trust me when I say, teenagers are going to have sex whether you want them to or not, and if contraceptives aren’t available for whatever reason, that probably won’t stop them either. Attempting to Force abstinence is foolish, do you really expect extremely hormonal teenagers to buy into that? And if you teach them about contraceptives and the practices of safe sex, but they are unable to obtain said methods, isn’t that like your chef describing what he’s going to cook you and then refusing to cook it? And I’m 100% for anyone over the age of 12 having FULL right to do whatever they please with their bodies.

fireside's avatar

Did I say that abstinence was a reasonable assumption?
I’m just questioning whose role it is to provide the birth control.

I guess now, I would also question the logic of the premise that anyone over 12 can do whatever they want with their bodies and we should be providing them with free birth control and no questions asked abortion, which is what you seem to be implying with your post.

Qingu's avatar

@fireside, humans are animals, and as much as our public policy needs to encourage free choice and responsibility, it also should recognize the reality of what is going to happen. Teenagers are going to have sex. Many of them are not going to have any idea about birth control or any means to get it.

Since overpopulation IS a problem and, ethically, abortion should be a choice, I fully support providing young kids with that option. Why don’t you?

fireside's avatar

Why don’t I what?
Think 12 years olds should have sex and abortions?

Qingu's avatar

No, IF 12 year olds have sex—which they will do no matter what you think—THEN do you think they should have easy access to bc/abortions?

fundevogel's avatar

“I’m just questioning whose role it is to provide the birth control.”

Considering that it’s the government’s role to provide welfare to unwed mothers it seems natural to me that they would introduce a program to reduce the number of teens who become unwed mothers.

“I would also question the logic of the premise that anyone over 12 can do whatever they want with their bodies and we should be providing them with free birth control and no questions asked abortion, which is what you seem to be implying with your post.”

Whether or not they should they definitely can and do. All I’m saying is that if we provide birth control they won’t need abortions.

“What about parental responsibility?”

What about it? If it’s a parents responsibility to teach their child a healthy perspective on sex parents have been getting worse at it over the last ten years. Clearly expecting someone to instill good information on sexual health and responsibility in a teen simply because they sired said teen isn’t working. It’s pretty easy to become a parent be being sexually irresponsible, how well can you expect someone that lacks these skills themselves to impart them to their offspring?

fundevogel's avatar

You seem to think that I’m advocating condoms be distributed with the cole slaw in the cafeteria. I’m not, just that birth control be available in a way that teens know about it’s availability and are able to access it discreetly. It’s like @ABoyNamedBoobs03 said, if teens have difficulty getting birth control it won’t stop them from having sex, it just means it will be unprotected.

The thing is whether or not you make it harder for teens to get birth control it will be harder for them to get than adults. They don’t always have cars to drive to the pharmacy and it’s tricky to get a doctors appointment and a birth control prescription without a parents help. And the thing is there is at least one way that getting birth control is intentionally made harder to get for teens than adults. Unlike women over 18, teens need a prescription to get emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraceptive doesn’t encourage sex. The sex has already happened. This just means girls have 72 hours to figure out how and where to get a prescription and actually get it. Now imagine trying to do that without a car, or while trying to keep your sex life discreet.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

We should fight to the death. All of us.

fundevogel's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater – it’s on, sharps or no sharps?

fireside's avatar

@Qingu – Not without their parents being involved and access to counseling. I think the combination of no parental consent, no mandatory waiting period and no mandatory counseling is a bad mix. And I don’t think it is a very proactive approach to the issue.

@fundevogel – Guess that’s why I don’t see religion as a bad thing if it helps to teach personal morals that will keep them from having convenient sex. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be controlled access to all available options.

But I guess your moral code is more important for the government to enforce than mine.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@fundevogel I’m thinking death by chocolate. Any other votes?

fundevogel's avatar

@fireside – You should read the article @crisw posted. It was specifically about the relationship between religion, morals, sex, sexual health and abstinance. Here, I’ll post it again

@NaturalMineralWater – I think frontier law limits us to death by more American vittles, like Molassas

fireside's avatar

@fundevogel – From that article: “But, according to Add Health data, evangelical teen-agers are more sexually active than Mormons, mainline Protestants, and Jews.”

Evangelical Christianity does not equal Religion.

“Some of these differences in sexual behavior come down to class and education. Regnerus and Carbone and Cahn all see a new and distinct “middle-class morality” taking shape among economically and socially advantaged families who are not social conservatives. In Regnerus’s survey, the teen-agers who espouse this new morality are tolerant of premarital sex (and of contraception and abortion) but are themselves cautious about pursuing it.”

So it really comes down to education and discussion?
Sounds good to me.

fundevogel's avatar

“Evangelical Christianity does not equal Religion.”

True, but it is a religion that is sabotaging education and discussion based on its moral agenda.

“So it really comes down to education and discussion?
Sounds good to me.”

me too.

fireside's avatar

“True, but it is a religion that is sabotaging education and discussion based on its moral agenda.”

I agree, there are a lot of problems with the social/political agenda of evangelical Christianity.
I also think there a lot of problems with our political system that allows such sabotage.

The answer to that probably comes down to education and discussion.

fundevogel's avatar

I can’t argue with that.

Qingu's avatar

@fireside, some kids have asshole parents. Just like the government should provide counseling in cases of abuse, it should also provide help in cases where young women are prevented by their parents to control their own reproduction.

Punishing your daughter because she chooses to have sex—or because she’s irresponsible enough to have unprotected sex—is certainly a parent’s right. But I don’t believe parents have the right to force their children to give birth to a baby that they don’t want to have. That is child abuse.

fireside's avatar

@Qingu – I agree with that. There are states that ask for one parent to be informed, not for their consent. I would also be okay with a teacher or counselor. I just think that if a 12 year old made the mistake of having sex and getting pregnant, then they need some type of adult guidance. Especially before having an abortion because of the emotional aspect of suffering I discussed before.

New York, for one, doesn’t ask for anything, so it’s an open revolving door for abortion.
That is wrong, in my opinion.

Qingu's avatar

I’d agree with a parent, teacher, counselor, or doctor/psychologist. I agree that a girl as young as 12 years old getting pregnant is going to need some help. But I worry that if you limit whom she must inform too narrowly, in some areas girls are basically going to be forced to inform some religious nut who will tell her abusive parents.

fireside's avatar

Yes, well in that case it would be best to get the girl out of that abusive environment anyways. Hence the need for a responsible adult to be involved in the process. Doctor or therapist is a good addition to the list.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

prob good for some people
no thanks, for me
and i hate when religion gets its tentacles into politics or medicine or science

tiffyandthewall's avatar

not if you realize that your belief system is yours and not everyone else’s, and recognize that respectfully.

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