Let's not dive back into the whole Hobby Lobby contretemps, but consider for a moment that some folks over at Talking Points Memo (TPM) are horrified to discover that religious beliefs are "irrational." Really? Readers are treated to this deep insight from the article, "Science Was Irrelevant in Hobby Lobby and That's Congress's Fault":
"I think RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] was a very unfortunate law because it enshrined a legal shield for [religious] people even if they had irrational beliefs," said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health policy at George Washington University who co-authored an amicus brief in favor of the birth control mandate. "So if the court feels it's dealing with someone who's sincere, I don't think anybody's going to subject that person's belief to a scientific test."…
"The whole purpose of RFRA is to honor people's religious beliefs and so science steps out of the doorstep in RFRA," Rosenbaum said. "The wonderful thing about being religious is you can believe all sorts of irrational things."
Who would have thought it? And Professor Rosenbaum teaches at a university run by a church that thinks that using regular contraception (pills and condoms) is sinful. GWU does not believe, as far as I know, that contraception is sinful. My apologies for the hasty error.
The TPM article cites a chart from The New Republic showing that emergency contraceptive pills are not abortifacients as the owners of Hobby Lobby believe. As it happens, the New England Journal of Medicine in a 2012 editorial excoriating the Obama Administration for not allowing emergency contraceptive pills to be sold over the counter in pharmacies noted:
The best available evidence indicates that it prevents pregnancy largely by delaying or preventing ovulation, but prevention of implantation cannot be ruled out. Levonorgestrel does not cause abortion; it does not terminate an established pregnancy (an implanted conceptus) and should not be confused with the abortifacient mifepristone (RU-486).
As it happens, for some religiously irrational folks prevention of the implantation of a fertilized egg would count as an abortion.
Possibly the greatest achievement of the Enlightenment was the principle of tolerance: I may or may not have access to transcendent truth, but I am damned sure that you don't. So let's leave each other alone in our irrational beliefs about the transcendent.
Since between 60 and 80 percent of embryos are never born due to natural causes, let's reprise my column, "Is Heaven Chiefly Populated with the Souls of Embryos?"
Disclosure: For what it's worth I have been an out-atheist since my teens.