Internet Memes and Logic

May 31, 2019

Internet memes are ideas and concepts that pass from one person to another on the Internet virally. Think Facebook. The meme is frequently a picture with wording. Memes are also used to address social issues. Memes are designed to bring about an emotional response. I think that is one of the problems as we deal with issues, we are often not meeting one another and dealing with reason and evidence.

Here’s a meme I’ve seen recently. It is a picture of two fried eggs, and the caption reads “According to Alabama, I had chicken for breakfast.” The meme encourages us to chuckle at the “stupid” lawmakers in Alabama. But let’s think and reason about this meme. Two initial problems present themselves. Most of us are not eating fertilized chicken eggs. Hens can lay eggs without a rooster. So, let’s specify that we are dealing with two fertilized chicken eggs. Such eggs are edible, and the embryo stops developing once the egg is refrigerated.

The second issue is the word chicken. This word is used of young birds that can be eaten or used for laying eggs. (Farmers don’t have old chickens by the way, although if they did, we would still call them chickens.) It is unlike the word human being which isn’t tied to a particular age. So, let me suggest the scientific name Gallus gallus domesticus for this discussion.

Does Gallus gallus domesticus come from non-Gallus gallus domesticus? Or do chickens come from non-chickens? I see no magical period in which it is non-chicken (if we can use that word more broadly). The fertilized egg is a natural part of the life cycle of Gallus gallus domesticus. Certainly, I wouldn’t claim to serve you chicken when the plate has two fried eggs, but for the comparison to the abortion issue to really work, the fertilized egg has to not be part of the natural life cycle of Gallus gallus domesticus.

The pro-life argument is that from conception to death we are dealing with human life. There may be changes in form and abilities, but it is all part of the human life cycle. Humans do not come from something non-human, but human. The biblical phrase is that all living things including humans produce “after their kind.” Try this thought experiment. A villainous time traveler says that he will travel back in time and force your mother to have an abortion after she has conceived you, so that you would not have existed in this time line. But he consoles you by saying, “Since I know the gestation period and your birthday, I will force your mother to have an abortion when there is just a fertilized egg or zygote. You won’t even be human yet.” Wouldn’t you beg for your life and maybe even cry out, “But that’s me!”