Human Exceptionalism

Dawkins Claims Pig More “Human” Than Fetus

The atheist proselytizer Richard Dawkins has decided to rattle the cages by claiming on Twitter that a pig is more human than a human fetus. From his Tweet:

With respect to those meanings of “human” that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig.

Dawkins just wants to upset pro lifers by using the “pig” as the example. He should grow up and get a life. And of course, biologically–which is Dawkins’ field, it is utter nonsense. Indeed, he’d fail high school biology with this Tweet:

“Human” features relevant to the morality of abortion include ability to feel pain, fear etc & to be mourned by others.

Idiotic. The ability to “feel pain” has nothing to do with “being human,” biologically or morally. All mammals feel pain. And, of course, fetuses can be–and are–mourned by others, which again isn’t an exclusively human trait. 

He applies junk biology to call a human fetus only “potentially” human:

Of course potential to be human is among fetus’ qualities. But my pig comparison was careful to specify “relevant to morality of abortion.”

Any embryology text book will tell Dawkins that is nonsense. A human fetus is fully “human.” So is a human embryo. So is a human zygote. As Human Embryology and Teratology (page 9) puts it:

[U]nder ordinary circumstances, a genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte. This remains true even though the embryonic genome is not actually activated until 2-8 cells are present, at about 2-3 days…

Despite the various embryonic milestones, however, development is a continuous rather than a saltatory process, and hence the selection of prenatal events would seem to be largely arbitrary [in determining whether a human organism is “a human person in the philosophical sense.”]

I would assume that also includes the time when a fetus can feel pain.

And typical of this line of sophistry, he claims his fingernails are “human.”

My hair and fingernails are human but don’t feel pain when I cut them. Embryo before brain develops doesn’t feel pain. Late fetus? Pig?

No, they are human cells that come from an organism that is a member of our species. A human being is an organism of our species. Dawkins is no more human today than when he was a one-celled organism in his mother’s Fallopian tube. Perhaps no more morally astute, either. 

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