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!”

“You Should Have Been Aborted!”

October 7, 2016

Life Chain is a protest against abortion. On the first Sunday of October, participants stand on the sidewalk of a major street holding signs with messages against abortion but also for forgiveness. Participants are to be silent. It is to be a time of reflection and prayer. Life Chain began in 1987 and went national in 1991. I’ve participated many times through the years.
In our community, we have many people driving by honking their horns in support. This year we also had a few obscenities thrown our way, but the most intriguing negative response was this. Someone shouted at us, “You should have been aborted!”

It certainly felt like a curse – a situationally appropriate “pox on you.” It certainly didn’t sound like it came from this person’s happy place. But isn’t the remark a bit of a two-edged sword. If saying this to pro-life demonstrators is a kind of curse, isn’t performing or having an abortion an actual curse on the unborn?

Did this remark make me want to throw down my sign and run away? Absolutely not! I wasn’t standing there holding a sign because I thought everyone agreed with me. And in this there is a lesson for us about all of Christian faith. There will always be opposition. Paul wrote:

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. (Philippians 1:27–30, NASB)

Paul is describing conduct that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. That conduct consists of (1) standing firm in one spirit, (2) striving together for the faith with one mind, and (3) not being alarmed by your opponents. Not being alarmed doesn’t mean that the opponents can’t hurt you. Paul is in prison when he writes this, and he even ponders whether he will die or not (see Philippians 1:19-26).

So what does it mean to not be alarmed or frightened? It may be helpful to define another word. To intimidate is to use fear to make someone do what you want them to do. The person who is not intimidated may feel the fear directed at them, but he or she will not change what is believed, what is said, or what is done. There will always be opposition to truth. The lesson we must all learn is to not be intimidated by the oppositions words or deeds.