Aug 252014 1 Response

Beliefs Have Consequences (or Why You Shouldn’t Abort a Child with Down Syndrome)

World renown atheist, Richard Dawkins created a social media firestorm last week when he encouraged couples who received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome to abort the child. He went as far as to say it is “immoral” to bring a child with Down syndrome into the world since the child cannot contribute as much to society. “Abort and try again,” was his response.

The Down syndrome community strongly and emphatically rebuked Dawkins for such a stance. Two great articles can be found here and here. Nearly every response was outraged by Dawkins claim and attempted to shame him for such a response.

But why? (See: How I Told My Son His Sister Has Down Syndrome)

Why was anyone surprised and why should Dawkins back down from his belief?

Richard Dawkins did not jump the shark when he tweeted that a child diagnosed with Down syndrome should be aborted. He simply carried out his belief to its logical end. People shouldn’t reject his tweet; they should reject his premise.

Dawkins is an atheist. Without a higher power, humanity is left to determine what is right and wrong. It makes logical sense for Dawkins to conclude not all humanity is equal. It’s a natural progression to start with his premise and to eventually reason that humanity only gets its value based on what one can contribute to society. One who contributes more is of more value than one who contributes less.

There is nothing wrong with Dawkins promoting his worldview. (See: Down Syndrome Is Not My Problem)

Instead of shaming him for his belief, we should consider his ideas and make up our own minds.

  • Do the ideas Dawkins has presented match with your experience and understanding of the world?
  • Do people with Down syndrome add no value to society?
  • Is the worth of a human based solely on what they contribute to the whole?
  • Is it immoral to knowingly give birth to a child with Down syndrome?

Or, is Dawkins wrong? (See: Mr. President, Let’s Protect This Child Too)

There are competing statements of truth which attempt to explain the world in which we live which differ from Dawkins’ understanding:

  • Do you believe all human beings are equal?
  • Do you believe the value of a person is found not in their ability but in the human nature?
  • Do you believe persons with Down syndrome can make valuable contributions to society?

If this better explains the world which you know and have experienced, you have rejected the premise of Richard Dawkins. You haven’t shamed him or called him evil. He is neither. He is simply wrong. He looks at the evidence of the world and explains it in a way that does not match the world which we know. Taken to its logical conclusion, his beliefs are wrong.

This is the problem with atheism. While it sounds appealing on the surface, when its truths are applied to real life, the conclusions do not match what we know to be true. (See: How Many Chromosomes Will We Have In Heaven)

I have two children. According to Dawkins, the second child has the potential to make a great contribution to society. It was moral for my wife and I to bring him into the world. But the first child has an extra chromosome. Dawkins sees no value in her. But everyone who has met Ella knows Dawkins is wrong. Both my children have made a valuable contributions not only to me, but also to those around them. One has not done more than the other. One is not more valuable than the other.

Beliefs have consequences. It’s easy for us to forget this fact. We think we can believe whatever we want and it doesn’t really matter. But our beliefs do matter. I appreciate Richard Dawkins because he knows this as much as anyone.

One way we can discover which beliefs are true and which are not is by applying those beliefs to real life situations. Do the conclusions match with what we know to be true? When it doesn’t, either our understanding of truth is wrong or the belief is incorrect.

As an American, I’m proud that our forefathers understood that some truths are “self-evident.” But it is no accident that those same men saw self-evident truth in correlation with a Creator. It is the Creator which creates all of us equal and allows us to be “endowed” with certain inalienable rights. (See: Children, Disability, and Abortion)

Remove the Creator, and truth becomes less self-evident. Deny what is obvious to most (the equality of humanity based on our nature more than our ability) and the rights of some begin to be taken away.

Beliefs have consequences. Last week Richard Dawkins revealed a consequence of his belief. Sadly, too many people shamed him and demonized him, instead of simply rejecting the premise on which he has built his life.

One Response to Beliefs Have Consequences (or Why You Shouldn’t Abort a Child with Down Syndrome)
  1. Tracy Jordan Reply

    The irony is that Dawkins, an atheist, considers bringing a Down syndrome into the word “immoral.” Upon what does he base that? He would’ve made more sense to say “impractical.” If there is no God, there is no morality, no right or wrong, for it is based on belief in accountability to someone or something higher than ourselves. Human nature is of itself, self centered and amoral. After all, we teach young children “to be good;” we never have to teach them to be bad. One might say it is a non sequitur that one with an intellect so great cannot recognize a basic truth in the existence of God. But then, we can understand if we realize that it is again that self-centered human ego which is not willing to accept there are things we cannot see or understand that are nevertheless real and true. The real truth is that Dawkins does have the intelligence to understand this but his ego will never allow him to admit it is so.

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