Philosophy: September 2004 Archives

Contraception

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I've had very few discussions with anyone I know about contraception. I've had some in-depth discussions with some people, but most people I know don't seem to want to raise the issue, and I don't generally bring it up. I know that a number of people in our congregation don't think contraception is a good thing. I'm not sure if they believe it to be morally wrong, but I get the impression that they think it's not a good idea. There are others in the congregation who have little problem with it (for a married couple anyway). We do have a number of large families in the congregation (quite a few with more than six kids, one about to give birth to a ninth, and one who had twelve). I'm not sure the number of children tracks with views on contraception, since most of these families place a high priority on children anyway and see families that our culture sees as large as a good thing and worth pursuing. That's consistent with thinking it's ok to use contraceptives. I do have a feeling more of the larger families are more conservative on the contraception issue, and I've heard a few people making comments here and there that seem to suggest such a view. I've been wanting to record my comments on such matters for a long time, and I'm finally getting around to it now.

In one of the comments at the Panda's Thumb post Richard linked to on the Intelligent Design post below, the following statement appears:

The fact that an early foetus is less sentient than a carrot doesn't matter because its visible characteristics are accidents just as the communion wafer, which certainly looks like a cracker, is substantially the body of Christ.

In context, this is from the author's comparison of special creationists' views on species differentiation with Aquinas' views on substantial forms. Special creationists believe, at the very least, that it took an act of God to produce humanity as apart from any other species. Some special creationists believe evolutionary theory explains some species differentiation and just humans came separately, and some take it all the way to saying that no species can come about except by a miraculous act of God. The commenter is therefore a little unfair to those who believe special creation only occurred for humanity to come about, since the comment is directed toward those who believe in special creation at all, and the complaint is that it involves an inability to see how any species could come about through small change.

What was interesting to me about all this, though, even if you ignore the inability on this commenter's part to distinguish between versions of special creation, is the substantial forms issue in relation to humans. This is something that is unfair again on one level but helps explain at least one strain within pro-life thought about personhood and complexity of development.

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