Monday, June 18, 2012

The religious life

Every so often you hear about one of these "right to life" bills or "personhood amendments" being proposed in some state or other.  Every so often I write about it.  They are something that really annoys me.  Basically, these folks believe for some twisted reason that a human is a human from the moment that the sperm penetrates the egg.  You know conception.  It is a silly notion for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that many eggs never implant.  They believe this because they think that this moment is when the soul is ever so gently inserted by god.  Anyhow, I would like to look today at another reason why I think that these bills based on the teachings of a certain religion are a bad idea.

Let's imagine I have decided to form a new religion.  There are many mysteries that we could delve into.  We could talk about how it has been know to make grown men weep and yada yada yada.  But the core of the religion, I shall call it Identificationalism or IDism for short, is that your soul comes from your name.  In fact, you don't just have one soul.  You have many souls.  For instance, if you are a computer programmer, the title "head computer programmer" would be one of your souls.  If you are a gamer, your gamer tags and what not would be other souls.  All the titles and names and nicknames that you receive become souls, and all of these souls add up to one bigger soul that is your given name.  But there is more!  Your family also shares one, let's say, oversoul that is your family name.  This is the soul that is immortal.  There is an even bigger soul/name as well that belongs to and is shared by the church as a whole.  That soul is god.  You can imagine that apostasy would not be very smiled upon, as removing a name from the church rolls would have a direct negative effect on god (assuming there is only one in IDism).

In IDism, let's imagine that there is a strict rule about naming children before they are born.  They believe that if a child is named before it is born and for some reason it does not make it to term, then that soul will be damned forever.  The tradition is that the child is named exactly one month after it is born.  They see this as a way to make sure that the body fully enters the world before the soul is implanted, just to avoid any accidental damnation (incidentally, Google spell check has just informed me that damnation is uncountable.  The things you learn!).  Thus, on the day of the child's, we'll say, monthday there is a big ceremony with the family and the priests and the church members.  It is considered a very happy occasion.

You can probably see where I am going with this.  Basically, the believers of IDism would believe that life begins at monthday.  They are taught from early childhood that until babies are given a name, they are only hollow shells made to look like people.  In short, they are not human until given a name.  If IDists were in the majority and laws were based on their religion, not only would all abortions be legal, but infanticide as well.

This is a pretty extreme example, but I see no reason that, if IDists existed, we should not give any less consideration to their idea that souls are implanted when children are named, than we do to Christians who believe that souls are implanted at conception.  This is trouble with souls.  They are are 100% undetectable.  The truth is, even if souls existed, and I would be very surprised to learn that they did, we would have no idea when they enter a body.  The Christians could be right, the IDists could be right, or some other religion that believes souls enter a person before conception could be right.  This is yet another reason why I think that this subject should be determined outside the authority of any religion.

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