Bill Nye (the science guy) released a video on abortion. I enjoyed his show as a kid and I’ve always thought he seems like a nice guy. However I think he is off base in this video and I find the arguments he’s using to be fallacious. I also find the video to be extremely vain as he chuckles at people who have the audacity to be pro life. If you’re pro choice, be pro choice, but these arguments are weak.
For a point by point critique:
“Eggs get fertilized, and by that I mean sperm get accepted by ova a lot. But that’s not all you need. You have to attach to the uterine wall, the inside of a womb, a woman’s womb. But if you’re going to hold that as a standard, that is to say if you’re going to say when an egg is fertilized it’s therefore has the same rights as an individual, then whom are you going to sue? Whom are you going to imprison? Every woman who’s had a fertilized egg pass through her? Every guy who’s sperm has fertilized an egg and then it didn’t become a human? Have all these people failed you?”
Ova are fertilized but the result isn’t always a child. What a revelation! But what does that have to do with the ones that do attach?
That’s his opening argument.
1. Eggs are fertilized.
2. Not all fertilized eggs attach to the uterine wall.
3. Therefore, not all fertilized eggs result in a baby.
This is true.
But there’s a big difference between a fertilized egg not attaching, which is beyond the parent’s control, and taking steps to terminate the life once it has attached to the wall.
No one is saying that every time an egg is fertilized, a baby must be born or someone should be sued or prosecuted.
“I know it was written or your interpretation of a book written 5,000 years ago, 50 centuries ago, makes you think that when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby. That’s wrong and so to pass laws based on that belief is inconsistent with nature.”
Straw man argument. He’s arguing that Christians believe something that no one believes but he’s arguing an absurd position that’s easy to defeat (despite the fact that no one believes what he’s arguing). The Bible clearly doesn’t teach that “when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby.” First, that’s contrary to human experience. There are numerous people in the Bible who have fertility issues so it is not a Christian teaching that anytime a couple has sexual intercourse, therefore, a baby will be conceived.
“Nobody likes abortion, okay. But you can’t tell somebody what to do. I mean she has rights over this, especially if she doesn’t like the guy that got her pregnant.”
You can’t tell somebody what to do? Isn’t he telling pro lifers what to do? You can murder an unborn baby, that’s a right. But how dare you think that someone shouldn’t do that. That’s not a right. No, Mr. Nye, that’s your opinion.
I’d love to hear him give a philosophical, Lockean type explanation of what our rights are.
“We have so many more important things to be dealing with. We have so many more problems to squander resources on this argument based on bad science, on just lack of understanding.”
Lack of understanding? Nye doesn’t even understand the arguments against abortion. Or if he does, he’s not communicating them with any sort of competency in this video. Science can’t explain rights. Science can’t explain morality.
And morally, there’s a difference between eggs being fertilized and not attaching vs taking an egg that is attached, or a fetus, that would become a person, save for willing actions taken to terminate the pregnancy.
“It’s very frustrating. You wouldn’t know how big a human egg was if it weren’t for microscopes, if it weren’t for scientists, medical researchers looking diligently. You wouldn’t know the process. You wouldn’t have that shot, the famous shot or shots where the sperm are bumping up against the egg. You wouldn’t have that without science.”
Why is it that you must be anti-science if you’re pro life? The more we have come to know scientifically, the clearer it becomes that life begins at conception. Some people appreciate the value of science, and in that, they also see how science confirms what scripture has taught about human life. With the things Nye is saying that science shows about conception, what is he saying science does to actually contradict the Bible?
Nye’s commentary fails to explain why abortion is justified. He’s so arrogantly talking about the scientific illiteracy of the pro life movement while failing to realize that science can’t make his case in an ethical argument.
Nye might be a great science guy, but philosopher and ethicist, he is not. Just because Nye is an intelligent man doesn’t make him right on this topic.
“At some point we have to respect the facts. Recommending or insisting on abstinence has been completely ineffective. Just being objective here.”
This is a red herring (an argument that’s completely irrelevant and takes you away from the point that’s being argued.) What relevance does this have to how one ought to view abortion?
“Closing abortion clinics. Closing, not giving women access to birth control has not been an effective way to lead to healthier societies.”
Again, he’s getting off topic as he begins to talk about birth control. With all of his bashing of pro lifers, he brings up access to birth control which has nothing to do with his arguments. If women had unlimited access to birth control, would you be pro life? No. Because the basis for the argument you’ve given is that all fertilized eggs don’t attach. So what does birth control have to do with your argument?
“So I just really encourage you to not tell women what to do and not pursue these laws that really are in nobody’s best interest.”
Nobody’s? NOBODY’S? They’re in the baby’s best interest!
Nye comes off mocking those who are pro life. Just because someone is a scientist doesn’t mean that whatever they say is true or right. I have encountered people who are pro choice who have thoughtful reasons for what they believe. I believe that those people are completely wrong, but I don’t think one has to be foolish to disagree with me. I feel like if you listen to this video with a critical ear, you’ll realize in terms of: law, logic, theology, philosophy, and ethics, Nye doesn’t come across as being particularly well versed in any of these areas.
If you want to argue that it’s a woman’s right and that people shouldn’t interfere, you don’t need to even use science to make that point.
But Mr. Nye, you can be a Christian (or of another religion, or no religion) and be pro life, and still have an appreciation for science. As I’ve said, through science, as we’ve come to know MORE about the process of conception, we see how miraculous it really is from the beginning.
On the whole, this entire argument is an appeal to authority. He’s not building a logical argument to justify abortion. He’s saying that because of his knowledge of science, you should listen to him here. And if you don’t, well, you’re an idiot.
I would like to ask Nye: if the grounds for the legitimacy of abortion is that not all fertilized eggs implant, then why isn’t murder legal sense not all people live to be 90? And how does science show the former is justified and the latter is not?
If Nye would concede that science can’t do that, I would then ask how it can be used to justify abortion.