The Fool Says … Bill Nye and Abortion

In the February 8th edition of the Big Think Newsletter, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” is featured with an article entitled, “A Message from Bill Nye to those trying to Defund Planned Parenthood,” in which Bill Nye seeks to defend the premise that those seeking to remove Federal funding from Planned Parenthood are well-intentioned but confused about science. And in doing so, Nye once again demonstrates his complete ignorance as to the question at hand, the role of law in society, and the use of logic. His argument is poorly constructed, largely attacking straw-men and making arguments of equivocation rather than addressing the question at hand. And as a result, does little more than puppet the rhetoric of his liberal affiliates while seeking to cloak it in the lab-coat of science.

Nye begins his argument by stating that not every fertilized egg becomes a human. Obviously, some definition needs to be added here when defining “human.” What Nye is speaking about is the actualization of the potential that the fertilized egg happens to have. Every fertilized egg is a human (has full sets of DNA, for example), though not every fertilized egg will be born full-term and grow into an adult human. There are other things that must additionally take place, is Nye’s argument — namely that the fertilized egg must attach to the uterine wall.

While Nye is exactly correct, if the fertilized egg is to does not attach to the uterine wall, it will not develop and will be passed through the woman and the potential will never become actualized. The same, though, can be said of a child that is mis-carried or sadly that dies in the womb due to trauma from an accident. Yet, we do not dismiss these children who die in the womb as non-humans or without rights. For example, when a pregnant woman is murdered, the murderer may be charged with a double-homicide thus extending the rights of a human to the developing embryo.

More importantly is the failure in Nye to accurately establish his analogy. He seems to want to say that because many fertilized eggs do not bond to the uterine wall that abortion is not as heinous an action as many Christians would suggest. Yet, the whole point of an abortion is to destroy the fertilized egg that has attached to the uterine wall and begun forming the embryo and developing — potential becoming actualized. Further, fertilized eggs that are never implanted in the uterine wall are not being actively “murdered” or harmed (and thus Nye’s statement about whose fault it is and who you sue is irrelevant). Their passing through the woman’s body is an act of God and we would treat it no differently than we would treat a person struck and killed by lightning or from a falling branch in a storm. They are things out of our control and no one is at fault. No, we need not imprison anyone, Mr. Nye.

Further, this is not due to a “deep scientific lack of understanding” as you assert, Mr. Nye, nor is it a result of “men of European descent passing these extraordinary laws based on ignorance.” You seem to like to equate anyone who does not agree with your position with someone who does not understand science. Sorry, things don’t work that way in the real world. In logic, you have made a form of an ad hominem argument that is sometimes known as the “No True Scotsman Fallacy.” The bottom line is that you assume that anyone who is a true scientist will hold to certain ideas — namely your view on abortion. By extension, you are presuming that if someone disagrees with you then they must be scientifically ignorant (a form of post hoc ergo propter hoc argument).

Your failure in logical argumentation not only shows your unwillingness to address the real question, but it is also insulting. What of the many people who are not of European descent who also believe that abortion is immoral? In fact, there are many who are laboring very diligently in the pro-life movement who are of African, Asian, or South/Central American descent. In fact, some of those who have been most vocal in the “Defund Planned Parenthood” movement are not of direct European descent. In addition, their labors to pass such laws that honor the life of the fetus are not based on ignorance; they are based on informed moral conviction; do not conflate the two.

Mr. Nye, you are correct that the moral standard upon which those of us base our pro-life position is the Bible, but you may want to do your homework on that area as well. You falsely state that the Bible is 5,000 years old; clearly you are not a student of history. The earliest portions of the Bible were written approximately 3500 years ago, not 50 centuries as you falsely suppose. Further, much of the Bible was written as recently as 1900 years ago. Further, the Bible does not teach that: “when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby.” In fact, the Bible constantly teaches that it is the Lord God who opens and closes the womb (Genesis 20:18; 29:31; 1 Samuel 1:5).

Yet, Mr. Nye, I believe that the most preposterous statement you make comes in the following sentence:

“To pass laws based on that belief is inconsistent with nature.”

Surely you do not believe that the laws of the land should be consistent with nature? In fact, virtually every law to which we hold is inconsistent with nature. Our laws that prohibit murder, rape, theft, abuse of women, and even bullying are inconsistent with nature. The Law of Nature — the “Law of the Jungle” — is ruthless where only the strong survive, yet we have built a society that protects the weak and cares for those who cannot care for themselves. The principle of nature is not that of compassion toward the weak, but that the strong survive. Are you advocating that we abandon this compassion, Mr. Nye?

In the statement that follows, you assert, “you can’t tell somebody what to do.” Really? Isn’t that what you are telling those of us who are pro-life? More importantly, every law we have is a law that tells someone what to do or what not to do. Even speed limit signs tell us what we are not allowed to do — and if you doubt that, try driving at 70 mph down a road where there is a 40 mph speed limit. You will discover very quickly that the purpose of law is to constrain our actions — to indeed tell us what to do and what not to do with the intention of providing a safe environment wherein we all can live.

As many before you have chosen to do, you raise the question of a woman who is raped and should she not have the right to not have the rapists genes affecting her. Let me suggest three things. First is the moral argument: we do not punish the child for the sins of a parent. To do so would be immoral. The second is the humanitarian argument: often there is a great deal of healing that comes to the raped woman by carrying the child full-term because she sees something beautiful developing even as a result of a very evil event. The third is an argument of extent: how far do you take your argument? You state:

“She has rights over this, especially if she doesn’t like the guy who got her pregnant.”

First of all, Mr. Nye, that is a horrible way of describing what we are talking about because it opens up the door to things well beyond rape. So, for example, a young pregnant lady gets in a fight with and breaks up with the man who is the father to her child. By your own admission, it seems, you are giving her the right to kill the child in the womb because she no longer wants to be connected to him. Really? Are we going there? So, what happens when a husband and wife get a divorce over an affair, should the wife be permitted to execute her toddler and make a fresh start of things? Really, Mr. Nye, do you see the implications of your logic?

Of course, you will say that the rules for children outside of the womb are different than the rules for children inside of the womb. But why? Location? Abortion is never a question of a fertilized egg that simply passes through the woman, not implanting itself in the uterine wall — I am not letting you fall back on that argument because it isn’t one. How far, Mr. Nye, will you take your logic? You suggest that we have more important things to deal with than this question — but what could be more important than preserving human life?

You even insist that we are “squandering resources” as we fight this fight. First of all, they are our resources to squander, if indeed we are squandering anything — which we are not. Second of all, the debate about defunding Planned Parenthood is about squandering our resources. There is not one non-abortive community service that Planned Parenthood provides that cannot be acquired through privately funded agencies that do not abort babies. As Planned Parenthood is supported through our tax dollars, then we have a right to hold them accountable as to not squander our money — in this case, on immoral practices. Knowing that you, Mr. Nye, place a great deal of importance on education and learning, how would you feel if our government were using our tax dollars to fund marijuana for teens. I expect that you and I would be on the same side of that argument (though I am still hoping that your use of logic might improve a bit…)

Your insistence on logical fallacies continues as you continue your views. You again assume that if you are pro-life you reject science and technology. Sir, this is nothing more than a straw-man argument and you ought to know better. We love science. And one of the things we love about science is that it has helped us to discover the near-infinite complexity of this world we live in and, in the case of the pro-life position, using science to demonstrate that a baby…even that smallest fertilized egg, is a human, though its potential has not yet been fully actualized.

You state:

“Closing abortion clinics. Closing, not giving women access to birth control has not been an effective way to lead to healthier societies.”

So, are you suggesting that the society in which we live today, where abortion is readily accessible to those who want it, is a “healthier” society? As I look to the violence of the last several years, I question whether that view is based in reality. If we simply look at the classroom, can we honestly say that education and the classroom environment is better today than it was before Roe v. Wade? As a former educator, I do not think that is the case overall in our nation, and that grieves me. It also grieves me that as an educator yourself, you would not also be lamenting the state of our education as a society. As the culture has become more secular, education and inventiveness have declined. Have you ever considered the connection between the two, Mr. Nye?

You close by going back to a former argument that we ought not tell women what to do. Yet, again, the law tells all of us that there are things we are not allowed to do. You cannot do illegal drugs, you cannot drive too fast on the highway, you cannot take your own life or that of another, you cannot steal, etc… In America, we describe ourselves as one nation “under law.” And in that context, if there is a practice that our nation is enduring, the proper way to address it is by changing the law. That is what those trying to defund Planned Parenthood are doing. It is our civil right to do so and for those of us who are Christians, I believe it is our spiritual and moral obligation to do so.

In the end, this discourse should be a matter of sharing ideas fairly in an open forum and then reasoning through them in a civil but critical way. Your statement has some of the first but very little of the second. You are putting forth propaganda and not engaging the facts. You are also speaking in a forum where you feel safe as most people will agree with you. Why not engage in a more open forum and actually address the issues at hand with those who hold a view different than your own. You put on airs as if you were an expert in this and then do little more than parrot the propaganda of the left. Let us look at this critically and let the facts speak for themselves…not just the facts as you see them, but all of the facts…and let us address the questions at hand without setting up a series of straw-men to knock down.

If you want to view the entire Bill Nye video, click here.

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