Wow, this is kind of funny, I was a smartass on a pro-parasite an anti-abortion website recently and even wrote a page devoted to it. Sadly, he did not quite get the point, and I’ll dissect his statements in response as I would any other claims I deal with.
No reason to be sarcastic really, I can discuss the issues calmly with you without sarcasm. Let’s try that OK?
But if I do not use sarcasm, you scream that I don’t get your point. I get your point, find it fallacious, and demonstrate why it is fallacious while adding levity. Sarcasm is the only way I can discuss this with you without offending you. Now, however, since you WANT me to stop being sarcastic, let’s try it, and see how it goes.
If you are looking for support for the claim that science largely confirms that human life begins at conception, this is an excellent resource, a “white paper” from the Westchester Institute entitled, “When does human life begin? A scientific perspective”:
Ahh, yes, the old “the definitions say it” defense! Woohoo! But I ask you, what IS human life? How can you define human life for the purposes of when an individual qualifies for rights? If you want to say “conception,” When, exactly is that? The moment of implantation? The moment of embryo fertilization?
Summary of the above paper (with my notes in bold) to save all of you time:
Resolving the question of when human life begins is critical for advancing a reasoned public policy debate over abortion and human embryo research. This article considers the current scientific evidence in human embryology and addresses two central questions concerning the beginning of life (3+ billion years ago): 1) in the course of sperm-egg interaction, when is a new cell formed that is distinct from either sperm or egg? (a single cell is human?) and 2) is this new cell a new human organism—i.e., a new human being? (…oh, look, arbitrary opinon) Based on universally accepted scientific criteria, a new cell, the human zygote, comes into existence at the moment of sperm-egg fusion (yes, it’s a developmental stage, but does that make it human?) , an event that occurs in less than a second. Upon formation, the zygote immediately initiates a complex sequence of events that establish the molecular conditions required for continued embryonic development (but is it HUMAN, remember, that’s what they’re trying to prove). The behavior of the zygote is radically unlike that of either sperm or egg separately and is characteristic of a human organism (of course, they’re still changing definitions to fit “human” beginning at conception). Thus, the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that a zygote is a human organism (how???) and that the life of a new human being commences at a scientifically well defined “moment of conception.” This conclusion is objective, (you’ve only shown that a zygote can subjectively be called a human and that it is different from the spermatocyte and oocyte which combined to form it) consistent with the factual evidence, (what factual evidence?) and independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos. (How’s that for objective?)
Wow, wasn’t that amazingly deceptive? Let’s now look into WHO published this:
The Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person is a research institute conducting interdisciplinary, natural law analysis of complex, contemporary moral issues yet unresolved among Judeo-Christian scholars.
Anchored in the classic perennial and Catholic view of the human person, our moral inquires are first and foremost of a scholarly nature. However, we pursue answers to these disputed questions with an eye toward enriching the quality of contemporary moral discourse, and fostering sound prudential judgment in cultural and political matters.
That explains a lot, doesn’t it? Let me elaborate: the authors of this paper stated they answered the questions when they did no such thing. They approached it with a preconceived notion and sought to support it. Let me throw a wrench into the works here: if an egg is fertilized and never implants, is it a human? In vivo, it has no chance, ZERO!!!!, (added for emphasis) of developing into a human. The potential argument is completely shattered by this frequent occurrance. The entire paper is an argument on tradition, i.e. how it HAS BEEN defined, not sound reasoning based upon WHY it is defined that way. It was defined as such for the purposes of enforcing beliefs, not based upon any specific evidence. Adding that it is “molecularly different” can be stated at ANY stage in development. I could just as easily argue that omnipotent stem cells are just as human as fully differentiated endothelial cells because they are chemically different.
Every last one of these arguments are vaccuous upon further examination, please, read the paper and examine it critically. Don’t just agree with it because it supports your pre-existing misconceptions of “what is human life.”
This article also makes several philosophical claims as well.
Yep, and they are mostly equally devoid of substance.
You’ve spent some time trying to convince me that we ought not worry about killing the beings inside wombs based on the fact that they can’t experience emotions or the same level of physical sensation that is experienced by other more developed humans.
They do not experience. It has nothing to do with experiencing things on the “same level.” They have no ability to EXPERIENCE at all. At least not in a cognitive capacity. They react cellularly to stimuli such as nutrients, trauma, and chemical signals, but nothing else. They are as human as glomeruli in a petri dish.
And you’ve added that these beings also have no memories. Would it then be ok for me to kill someone who is in a temporary state of coma if I could be assured that they were temporarily unable to remember things, experience emotions or even had a reduced ability to experience pain?
Reduced abilities are not the same as NO ability. And if said individual is incapable of experiencing emotions, memories, pain, thoughts, etc (i.e. without detectible awareness and severe brain damage); he or she is in what we call a persistent vegetative state, and yes, they should be euthenized respectfully.
Of course not, you would say that I should NOT end the life of a being who was temporarily unable to experience these emotions, sensation or memories, because this same being will someday return to his or her normal cognitive state.
This is a very old and tired argument. Let me illustrate how silly it is, you are equating an individual which has social connections which will suffer as a result of their death to an embryo wich has no role in society and no social connections. I will again repeat what I stated earlier: if an individual is in the exact same state as an embryo/fetus (i.e. no sensation, awareness, etc.) then we not only can euthanize that individual, but we should euthanize that individual to allow closure to the grief of the friends and family. I will not say we SHOULD terminate a fetus as, given proper environment, genetics, and rearing, can become a benefit to society; accidental children which are unwanted seldom receive what they need to become productive members of society. Note, I am not indicating education, socio-economic status, or religious ideologies in there as I have seen individuals from ALL realms become productive members of society, but each had in common parents which made an effort towards his or her education and social integration.
His or her temporary inability in these areas does not disqualify them from their human right to life. The unborn is no different. The unborn is a human being who temporarily does not have the same cognitive or emotional ability that he or she will have once they are simply allowed to get past the moment.
Actually, yes, it does disqualify them if it is not TEMPORARY, and as explained before, what gives them the right to life is the social contract, not just her DNA. The fetus, I’ll even concede may be defined as “human,” still DOES NOT HAVE rights as he or she is not a member the society in which the contract governs. In fact, the individual does not have any rights until social bonds are formed, this is what gives the social contract power over regulation of pets.
I just don’t think your argument is philosophically sound Jared. Skin cells don’t have the ‘potential’ you describe. Skin cells cannot become a human if they are simply left alone. The fetus WILL become a human if it is simply left alone. To compare one to the other is unreasonable and illogical.
So, left alone in a petri dish, an embryo will become a human? If left alone in a petri dish, an embryonic stem cell will become a human? The answer to both of these is no. If left alone, human embryos, stem cells, skin cells, and intestinal epithelium all have one thing in common, they will not grow into an adult. Given the proper circumstances, treatments, and conditions, they MAY form a fetus, infant, etc. None of these can form a human if left alone.
Finally, the Christian worldview does not describe or support a world in which everything must be perfect in order for God to reasonably exist. In fact, the Christian worldview both predicts and interprets the existence of evil, pain and suffering as you have tried to describe in your post. You can find more on the Atheism page where I have written three articles on the topic.
Yea, it predicts it, but still your god can’t do a damn thing about it…neat. See “Problem of Evil” by Epicurus.
Related to the Beethoven description that I have included it in the article on abortion, I have researched it further and I agree with you that I have the birth order mixed up in his immediate family; most of his siblings died as described, but He was the second born, not the last, so the point I was trying to make is completely invalid. I have removed the paragraph from the article and I’ll replace it with this story:
Argument from incomplete devastation. In other news, the report does not explain how this syndrome is diagnosed. It is called Dandy-Walker Syndrome, and it is diagnosed by a fairly inaccurate technique in an infant of that size as it would be done via ultrasound looking for a increased intracranial space, and tissue MAY be missing, that is not the primary diagnosing method. Also, doctors make mistakes. Had they looked for the genetic signatures to confirm a diagnosis, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Thanks for helping me make the site better…
Yea, I’m just calling you out on fallacious logic.