Episode 005 Atheism and Freethought in Phoenix- "Every Sperm is Sacred" from Monty Python's 'The Meaning of Life'. Group Events. Phoenix, Billboards! Suckics hone in on Autism. Astromnology. Us vs Them? Phelps Hallucinations. Gay marriage, still an issue, still a tax money black-hole! Greydon Square, "Dream" from 'The Compton Effect' album.I didn't get my contribution in on time, but I'll have a science and skepticism segment in episode 006.
My comments on this episode:
While McCain opposes gay marriage and pays lip service to the idea of same-sex civil unions, Obama also opposes gay marriage (though says he'd like to repeal DOMA and institute a federal law supporting same-sex civil unions, even in front of audiences that oppose gay rights, so he is somewhat better than McCain on that issue). They also both support faith-based government programs--neither is a strict separationist on church and state. (But again, I think Obama is slightly better than McCain on that subject in terms of what he says--at least he opposes giving federal funding to groups that discriminate or proselytize, though it's unclear he'll take action to stop it.)
On abortion, there can certainly be secular moral arguments for restrictions on late-term abortion, just as there can be secular moral arguments against infanticide. Arguments that abortion involves killing a person, a being with a right to life, need to come to terms with Judith Jarvis-Thomson's violinist argument, which argues that even if a fetus has a right to life, it doesn't have the right to be supported by its mother's body if the mother did not consent. This has further implication that if the fetus could be transplanted or removed and survive on its own (e.g., it's already reached the point of viability, which is the standard applied by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade), then that's immoral and criminalizable. But it also implies, it seems to me, that there is a reasonable range of actions which could constitute consent to supporting a fetus--such as voluntarily engaging in sex without contraception, which any reasonable person should know has a reasonably high probability of producing a child.
My own view is that abortion is immoral to the point of justifying legal prohibition in any case where (a) there's such at least tacit consent to carry a child and (b) the fetus has reached a point of brain development where there's a reasonable case to be made for personhood. I'm not convinced that (b) ever happens in reality, since I think there's a strong argument that personhood requires a capacity for self-awareness, which doesn't seem to occur until about six months after birth, but I can certainly conceive of empirical evidence that would change my mind about when that point is reached. There may be other cases where abortion is immoral, e.g., intentionally waiting until late in the pregnancy, and then terminating for a trivial reason of convenience.
On the Biblical justification for opposition to medical treatment: Jehovah's Witnesses oppose blood transfusions on the grounds of Old Testament prohibitions on consuming blood (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:11-14, and Acts 15:20, 29), even though those all refer to consuming animal blood and have nothing to do with transfusions of human blood. Christian Scientists oppose medical treatment not on the basis of anything in the Bible, but based on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy. Their view is that everything good and holy is spiritual, while everything physical or material is evil, yet is also illusory or at least a distortion of the spiritual world. This has some resemblance to Buddhist views of "maya," and also to the early Christian heresy known as Docetism, which was the view that Jesus' humanity was an illusion, because the physical cannot be holy. Thus, under this view, engaging in physical repair (medicine) of what is an illusory distortion of the underlying spiritual reality is not only a waste of time, but sinful--the only real repair possible is spiritual, through prayer. (And further, illness itself is of the physical, and thus illusory.)
The ApostAZ website is here.