Environmental activist Greta Thunberg had strong words for the abstract stance the Unites States Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett took during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. In answer to the question: What about climate change? Barrett responded: “I have read things about climate change,” then warily emphasizing that she is not a scientist: “I would not say I have firm views on it.”
On Thursday Greta Thunberg wrote on Twitter “To be fair, I don’t have any ‘views’ on climate change either, just like I don’t have any ‘views’ on gravity, the fact that the earth is round, on photosynthesis nor evolution. But understanding and knowing their existence really makes life in the 21st century so much easier.”
The words of Amy Coney Barrett raise a serious question. Why was she so nebulous? Was it her Roman Catholic religious belief as it relates to family size, conception and abortion? (she is the mother of seven with two adopted) What will this mean for the rights of American women when she is on the Supreme Court?
Here is a scientific fact: World-wide population growth is now exceeding the carrying capacity of the Planet. At the current rate of increase it will lead to ecological collapse.
And this reluctance to address the issue is not just a United States problem. In most countries politically advanced and non-advanced there is limited open conversation on matters such as this; a tendency to side-step the population growth issue.
There are many reasons – as we saw at the US Senate hearing. One goes far back in time. From the beginning of the hominid emergence out of the savannas of Africa, women’s bodies were viewed by men as an engine of fulfillment to be used and abused according to male wishes. More recent history shows this still to be the case throughout much the world.
This attitude was built into our male/female Axial Age religious thought pattern. Among the Abrahamic religions it was encoded into religious law. Today we see it in Muslim Sharia Law. We see it in Orthodox Judaism and in Barrett’s Roman Catholicism. We also see it in Evangelical Christianity. Even in the more progressive parts of these belief systems we find a male bias.
Throughout the planet this is calling for criticism of all orthodoxy in all religious belief that is leading to unrestrained population expansion. (including the belief of Judge Amy Coney Barrett) It must be a part of our human survival discussion.
America provides an example of an advanced country where there is near total obfuscation of the seriousness of this issue. Mention of planetary problems associated with unrestrained world population growth is absent from the political dialogue.
Any discussion on the future of our planet must acknowledge that the human population multiplier effect is essential to an understanding of all planetary resource related problems and these problems cannot be addressed until humans change the way they think about population growth. Each and every person on this planet is a resource consumer. Measured in terms of input/output, each human life impacts the ecology of the planet. As it is with any species, ours can only continue to exist as a unified interdependent whole living in consonance with the resource regeneration of the planet.
To the extent that limiting population growth by way of abortion becomes a way to achieve this, deep set feelings on when life begins based on ancient religious scripts and interpretations need to be brought into the open. For example; with regard to the beginning of life, early Judaism taught that it begins only after a certain period of time in the womb. The Roman Catholic Church later extended it even to before conception by forbidding the prevention of it through contraception.
Religious leaders cannot avoid this discussion. And it must center not just on human life biologically, but on what human life is. Modern science has determined that biological consciousness begins very soon after fertilization. External events while in the womb and then during the birth passage—as well as during the first moments of exposure to a non-liquid oxygenated world, are all of long lasting importance in the formation of the consciousness of the infant. It can therefore be logically concluded that biologically after a relatively short period of time beyond fertilization of the egg, an abortion of a fetus is the same as destroying what is accepted by modern biological science as a biological human life.
Yet, this opens up a number of questions: Is a biological human life the same as the life of what can be defined as a “person”? Leaving the biological arguments aside; what is human personhood? When does human life at some stage along the way leave the biological and become a person?
Throughout religious history all kinds of definition as to this God/personhood connection have been put forth, ranging from realization of oneness with the “other dimension” through Gnostic (inner) search to Christian that personhood begins with the belief that Jesus is my personal savior. (Judaism leaves the question unanswered)
Much of the teaching in the Jewish and Christian tradition (The Koran also speaks tangentially in the same way.) has indicated that approaching one’s oneness with God begins with knowing God through communion with God. This bestows personhood on the person after birth at the moment of knowing. Some Christian interpretation even says that at death those without this personhood become as if they never were, or at worse suffer eternal damnation. We can therefore logically—at least from an Abrahamic point of view, define personhood not as beginning with the moment of fertilization, but conditional on a process of coming into “oneness” with God after conception by way of “personhood”.
As a parenthetical note; it seems strange that those evangelical fundamentalist Christians in America today most vocally condemning abortion are the ones who would at the same time agree to a denial of eternal life and even descending into Hell for those persons who have not subscribed to their own view of the life and death of Jesus as their personal savior.
It all becomes far more complex. Was Hitler a person in a relationship with God? Was Al Capone? Was Bernie Madoff? Or were they not simply undeveloped and distorted forms of human life? And here we get into dangerous waters. We must not limit this discussion to these famous deviant individuals: What about the American cigarette executive who designed ads telling the public that Lucky Strikes are not harmful to our health, or the American Savings and Loan executive or Financial Planner like Bernie Madoff who cheated thousands out of their savings, or the American oil executive who launched a campaign to discredit CO2 as a global warming danger or the American politician who would turn his or her back on those who have no medical insurance? Are these individuals not any more than undeveloped and cranially distorted biological forms of human life under the control of primitive urges and false gods to which they have given the power to rule their thoughts?
Placing all of this aside for the moment and returning to the reality of the abortion issue, there is only one sensible answer and it is not sex abstention. That is contrary to the normal biological urges of human beings. It leads to both failure and psychosomatic disorder. On any scale it does not work. (conclusively proven by the celibacy rules of Amy Coney Barrett’s Roman Catholic Church) Therefore, given the natural biological sexual proclivity of the human being, the prevention of pregnancy either by preventing fertilization before intercourse or by disrupting it very shortly after intercourse takes on enormous importance.
And we humans must understand that abortion is not the final solution. The final solution for the survival of our species is to prevent the need for abortion.
Until world society is able to recognize that the prevention of unwanted and/or unplanned birth cannot be attained without medical drug distribution and invasive procedures available to both the male and female, those now resisting the reality of exponential population growth must take full responsibility for a future of global human suffering and the pain of billions. And that includes the members of the United States Supreme Court.
That responsibility also includes all those religionists who are now stonewalling this and other human survival issues. By their intransigence they themselves are the killers of future generations who will be struggling to survive on an overpopulated and overheated planet.
Those like Amy Coney Barrett should now be labeled by society for what they really are; dispassionate self-centered humans whose influence will be bringing extreme suffering throughout the world.
I will end with these words being voiced today by many scientists:
- Unrestrained growth is impossible in any finite domain.
- The Earth is a finite domain. It has a limited stock of renewable fuels, minerals and biological resources.
- Any species that increases exploitation of the finite ecosystem supporting it will eventually collapse.
- The Earth is a finite sink for processing wastes.
- Continual waste is impossible in any finite sink.
- On a global scale human beings are exceeding the sustainable land and resource availability and waste limits of the Earth.
- Extinction is what awaits humans if they do not begin to live as responsible members of the Earth’s ecosystem.
David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics. He has written four books. The fourth (Below) is about a necessary geopolitical, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival.
OVERCOMING the THREAT to Our FUTURE