“If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down’s baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”
Let us dissect this statement…shall we?
Dawkins states his morality is based on a desire to increase in happiness and reduce suffering.
First a definition:
the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.
I actually 1000% agree with the statement that as people on the planet earth, we should ALL be working to reduce the suffering of our fellow humans.
A little more defining:
the state of being happy.
And in case we aren’t quite sure what happy means….
feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
I might agree with increasing happiness…maybe…
But the happiness of whom?
The problem with this statement is that happiness, very often, is entirely subjective.
Just for a very simple example. I love chocolate cake. A lot. Too much, even. Chocolate cake thrills me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. It makes smile. I am pleased and wonderfully content to sit and eat a pile of chocolate cake. (reference definition above) Chocolate cake makes me HAPPY.
Chocolate cake to my two youngest boys and my youngest daughter?
It is gross.
They hate it.
It makes them very NOT happy.
In fact, it makes them dry heave.
It makes the boys scream and cry.
The very opposite of happy…
So who is right here?
Me because I am happy with chocolate cake?
Or those silly persons in my household that don’t like chocolate cake?
And should my chocolate-induced-happiness trump their hatred of chocolate?
Should I tell them to choke it down anyway because it makes ME happy?
I want to eat chocolate every day.
For every meal.
Forever and ever.
My increased happiness of only having chocolate cake every meal, every day would result in the decreased happiness of Mia, Adam, and Asher.
So my happiness increases at the expense of another.
I choose what makes others unhappy simply because it makes me happy.
That is just called selfish.
(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
Suffering does not increase and happiness decrease with an extra chromosome.
For our children: Their worth, their reason for being, their validity, their value, does not now, nor has it ever, rested on their genetic makeup or their ability to increase the “sum of happiness.”
If we follow Mr. Dawkins’ logic I think most teenagers would not have survived to adulthood.
I know I wouldn’t have.
Continuing on, Dawkins says: “the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down’s baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”
More defining here…
the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group.
We talk about “child welfare” all the time.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that my children’s welfare (health, happiness etc.) at this point in time, is not best served dead.
Extinguishing entire populations of people because they are different is called genocide.
And that is really what is being suggested here, right?
Isn’t this line of thinking just a perilously slippery slope?
If we start with Down syndrome, what is next?
Cerebral Palsy? Spina Bifida? Hydrocephalus?
How about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Learning disabilities?
What about physical characteristics?
How about gray hair? Freckles?
Where does it end…and who does the choosing?
Here are a few of our “immoral” decisions…
Maybe if we could all just define morality as a desire to decrease suffering.
And omit the subjective happiness.
Decreasing suffering will not always make us happy…although many of us are, have been, and will be again.
If you live in the United States, we are privileged people. Generally non-suffering. With full bellies, homes, clean water, medical care, and free education.
If I seem offended by Mr. Dawkins, it is because I am.
Not only for my children, but also for people who are REALLY suffering.
The underrepresented children in foster care. And orphans around the world.
The people dying from preventable disease.
The starving. The oppressed.
May I never take for granted the blessings that are so unfairly and inappropriately (in my favor) rationed out.
May I never make blanket judgments about entire populations of people for any reason.
May I never erroneously decide that happiness is a defining factor in morality.
Because it never has nor will be.
Perhaps the logical Mr. Dawkins got this one wrong.
In more ways than one.