Ah, life. May involved my oldest daughter graduating from college and a trip to California for that. June saw a trip to Maryland, to bring my wife to her last summer session for her master's in liberal arts and the Great Books, followed by attending to the needs of my family in her absence, as well as work. The summer was rather busy, with August including my wife's graduation. Lots of good things happening!
I have often said that atheistic ethics, and bioethics in particular, leads to different conclusions that ethics in a culture formed by religion because of the different starting points.
And it is difficult to lump religion together, because their starting points and their concepts of God differ. In his remarks yesterday, President Obama said that ISIS does not represent any religion - because no concept of a just God would tolerate their behavior. Oh, but Mr President, they DO represent a religion and they are doing precisely what their sacred writings demand of them. Just because they have murdered many Shiites and Sunnis does not mean they do not represent that religion - it just means ISIS believes that those particular Shiites and Sunnis are infidels. So you see, "religion" is not a good umbrella term. Lots of bad religions, and good religions used by bad people for bad ends.
With that said, if one holds that there is a God, and that human beings by their superior capacity for intellectual and creative thought that all other critters on this planet lack resemble God in his highest attributes and powers (which are impeded but not totally lacking in people with Down's syndrome), then one would reason ethically and logically in one way.
If one holds that there is no God, and that human life is an accident of mindless processes of the material universe and its inexorable physical laws, then one would reason ethically and logically in another way.
The premises are what determine the conclusions.
Famous atheist Richard Dawkins has recently said it would be immoral to give birth to a baby with Down's syndrome if the woman could get an abortion instead. He has defended his position as "logical."
And he is 80% right - IF his premise that God does not exist is right. The child will have a short life that will be full of hardship, compared to someone "normal." And the parents and other loved ones will have financial, emotional, and other hardships and inconveniences as well. And society has to be reminded that there are those less fortunate that sap our resources and attention and make us remember that we are human beings and not animals after all, because we can't just kill them after they're born. Of course, I know several families with Down's syndrome children, who note that there are wonderful dimensions of this genetic condition, too. Those dimensions would be lost - but on the whole, it would be "better" for all concerned that the baby be aborted.
The 20% in which he is wrong comes from the fact that if God does not exist, then he has no authority whatsoever to tell anyone else in the world what is moral and immoral. About ANYTHING. The final decision of morality has to reside with the person making that decision. He can have his opinion, but pontificating about what is and isn't moral is just him trying to assume the position of a religious authority and impose his morality on everyone. You can agree with him and show me how he reasons well or whatever - but there are other sides to the story and particulars of individual circumstances that he and you do not know, and ultimately, you can offer your opinion and advice, but cannot determine the right and wrong of any individual's decisions. Period. It would be wrong to impose your morality on anyone else.
Ultimately, if there is no God, then the morality of giving birth to a Down's baby is determined by the person who makes the final decision about it.
So, the balance sheet is in Dawkins' favor in certain respects - but his moral authority is zero and everyone is free to disagree with him and declare with as much authority as he that the opposite choice is the more moral.
But what if Dawkins' premise is wrong? Then, all living human individuals, from the moment the exist as living human individuals, are morally indistinct from each other - that is, ALL others have the same moral standing before God and "I" do, and "my" ethical decisions have to reflect that fact. Loving one's neighbor "as oneself" is not "as much as one loves oneself" but "as if that other person was you" - as if your bond to the other was so profound any harm done to him would be harm done to yourself and any good done to him would be good done to yourself.
I knew a guy in high school who loved a particular rock band "as himself." His girlfriend said that the band was "alright" - which was not good enough, and he took it personally, and they broke up over it. So, when we see someone being treated unjustly, even a stranger, do we take it personally, as if we ourselves were treated unjustly?
I am sickened by Dawkins because I believe if he knew me he would have wanted me to be aborted, too. Not because I have Down's, because I don't, but because I have some other intellectual defect that is poisoning society, namely, the idiocy of religious faith. Religion has to be a much huger drain on society than Down's - because hundreds of millions of Americans have religion of some kind, but only one in 1000 children have Down's. And someone like me is part of the problem. But mostly it would be because I have the audacity to say he's wrong.
What's the difference between what Dawkins advocates and ISIS? Only the target of who they believe deserves to live and who doesn't.