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May 27, 2008

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Proud of what your group is doing. We'll be praying for you!

ferventservant.blogspot.com

Some people are to egocentric, and Christaphobic to see past their own noses. The most eloquent and logical arguments in the world will not sway them in the slightest. God is not calling them, if it were not for the audience listening in I would say at this point Scott should just move on and let her continue to eat grass. But who knows how many heads in the crowd looked up to the truth while listening to Scott? Keep up the good work Scott, Nadine might not be listening, but someone surely is.

It is understandable why Nadine Strossen would support abortion. What has me puzzled is the support that it gets from some Christians. The bible is very clear what determines the humanity and indeed personhood of the unborn. Genesis 1:27 states "male and female he created them." It seems to me that is, for a believer, a good enough measuring stick to determine when the unborn human deserves the dignity and rights of any other human being. As soon as the right chromosomes are in place to establish gender, that is a full fledged human being.

Any thoughts on this?

The arguments for abortion are not based on logic, scientific evidence or even basic human rights. The arguments for abortion are based on this simple, sinful idea: No one should interfere when people play God with human life.
You will notice that abortion advocates always pose their arguments in terms of "rights" and "freedom." To deny someone the right to take a baby's life is to deny their "free choice."
But what makes anyone think there is such a thing as absolute freedome without consequence?
Further, where are Nadine Strossen, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other abortion advocates when devastated post-abortion mothers finally realize what they have done to their own babies? Such women, living with guilt, are supposed to shut up and continue supporting the idea that it's OK for us to play God.

Good question, Wanda. I too, have noticed that many Christians support abortion. But I think it's more about power than logic. I know she's not a Christian, but notice the way Nadine avoided the issue by playing on the religious influence. For her, it's how some people want to take away rights, dismissing the personhood issue altogether. Moral relativism has so permeated our culture that some people sitting in the pews think this way too. Being so focused on the desired goal, they stare right past fallacies of their position. They want the power to say, "Yes, abortion is my right" so badly, they look past the faces of unborn victims. The moral issue becomes a "want" issue. What they like is good and what they dislike is bad. The only way to defend abortion logically is to take a view like Peter Sanger, but this too has it's problems and goes too far, even for most abortion supporters. Defending abortion as a "right" is much easier than addressing personhood or battling ideas on the logical front. On a separate note, we may think that scripture is clear about this, but I urge you to look again at the "pro-life" verses and try to see how a pro-choice Christian would respond. They may only seem clear to you because of your presuppositions (though I agree with you). While I believe the Bible supports early personhood, we need to be careful not to read anything into the original context. Fortunately, we have the goods on our side. But we need to be honest in our approach so that when the right answers are given to our brothers and sisters, it's harder for them to deny.

As I read the post and the comments, I am struck by how perennial are the ways of evil. In order to justify evil, lying is indispensable. So just as slaveholders and their allies once denied that Negroes were human beings, so do abortionists and their allies today. And just as slavery apologists refused to admit that they were wrong, even after the carnage of the Civil War, doubtless proaborts will never admit that they were wrong. Their primary goal is to enshrine in national policy that abortion is not wrong. It is difficult, except in extreme cases, for any sane or moral person to maintain that abortion is good, so they resort to the pro-choice argument. And speaking of hardy perennials, that was the argument of northern Democrats before the Civil War, only their term of choice was "popular sovereignty" (let the people decide), which completely avoided the moral issue. What the proslavery and proabort arguments have in common, whatever their specific formulation (right or not wrong), is that might makes right. Slaveholders had the power to hold Negroes down, and it was up to them to decide whether or not to continue holding them down, and so they did. Proaborts now have the law and the Constitution on their side, so they will continue to decide in favor of their interest. Abraham Lincoln once gave the hypothetical example of Mr. Dooley, a slaveholder sitting under a shade tree, drinking a mint julep, looking on Sambo, his slave, who worked in the hot sun for 14 hours a day. When he considered whether slavery was right, Dr. Dooley decided that it was. Likewise for those making big sums of money from the abortion of unborn children, not to mention celebrity, influence and power. As long as human beings have an interest in oppression, they will not abandon it voluntarily and will never concede the most devastating critiques of their opponents. Lincoln also said that it was difficult to see the word "equal" in the Declaration of Independence as long as a gold eagle was covering it up! Only those whose consciences still have room for moral principles, such as Dr. Bernard Nathanson, are capable of seeing the errors of their ways. Of course, we don't know who those people are. But every time someone like Scott makes the argument for the right to life, even if his opponent is not moved, there is always the possibility that someone in the audience will understand and draw the appropriate conclusions. As long as human beings cling to what Lincoln called "our ancient faith," there is always hope.

Amy amy amy,

>> “The scientific testimony from embryology textbooks explains that a fetus is a living human…”

Why can’t I say:

The scientific testimony from astronomy textbooks explains that Pluto is a planet (not just any ol rock).

Is there a platonic definition for “planet”?

Is there a platonic definition for “life”?

If so, how who among us holds said definition, and how might we verify its accuracy?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet

Tony, Tony, Tony,

Is there a platonic definition for a platonic definition, and if so who among us holds it and how might we verify its accuracy?

possibly.

But im only talking about material taxonomies.

It seems fairly obvious to me why the fetal-personhood argument wasn't addressed by Strossen: because she knows it's irrelevant.

Here's the illustration.
My neighbor is a full person. Yet that doesn't give him the right to use anyone else's body to save his own life. He simply has no right to the bodily property of other people -- not even if their blood or organs will save his life.

So EVEN IF you grant a fetus full personhood, the fetus won't get greater rights than my neighbor. And since my neighbor can't force anyone to donate the use of their body for his benefit, neither can a fetus.

Tony, what took you so long?

Maybeck,

The problem is that, unlike your neighbor, the baby didn't come along and force its mother to be pregnant with it, most of the time whoever is pregnant is so because of their own actions. Besides, the baby often isn't killing its mother, simply receiving sustinance from food that would otherwise go to its mother. If a fetus is a person, then to say it is within one's rights to deny an unborn child its mother's blood is the same as denying a born infant its mother's milk.

Maybeck, the two situations are not exactly analogous. For example, let's say you attached yourself to your neighbor (he had nothing whatsoever to say about it) such that if you then detached yourself he would die. Would you still not have an obligation to him even though you put him in this position?

Here's another example: The baby is not on the way to death, asking you to save him. He's living a normal life, asking you not to actively kill him. There's a difference between allowing your neighbor's disease to kill him and actively killing something that's living normally as it's meant to live.

Here's a response on Wikipedia to your argument:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violinist_(Thought_Experiment)

I'm sure there are probably better ones out there, but I'm pressed for time at the moment.

Tony
Maybe you've answered this before, so forgive me, but would you please explain what you mean by 'material taxonomies?'

Maybeck,
If your mother gave birth to you and left you to fend for yourself and you died, has your mother done anything wrong? If the fetus is a human being, then just as a mother of a "born" child is obligated to take care of the child, so is a pregnant woman.

Put another way: Do you have any right to stop the oxygen supply or food supply to your neighbor? That would be a better analogy than what you present.

Amy,

no one even tries no more??

cest la vie

I shall assume victory!

Daniel,

A material taxonomy is a taxonomy for matter in the universe - like zygotes, breadbaskets, volcanoes, and ipods.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linnaean_taxonomy

Maybeck,

Under your illustration, there would be no such thing as "child neglect" laws.

Tony
So, is there a platonic definition for material taxonomies?

"taxonomy" is a concept - not a cluster of atoms.

My argument refers to clusters of atoms - i.e. matter.

Words like these:
taxonomy
consciousness
E=mc2
courage

do not stand as tokens for matter or natural phenomenon. Like these words:

ipod
zygote
totipotent cell
nuclear fusion
brick
human
bird
atom
planet
plant
volcano
water cycle

">> “The scientific testimony from embryology textbooks explains that a fetus is a living human…”

Why can’t I say:

The scientific testimony from astronomy textbooks explains that Pluto is a planet (not just any ol rock)."

Reasoned logic has been provided for both positions on the question of Pluto. Should not the same be done for the question of what is and is not a human being? Then, should not both be weighed and measured to determine the truth?

Louis,

>> Reasoned logic has been provided for both positions on the question of Pluto.

There's no "logical" law that is violated or cited if I do (or do not) call pluto a planet. It's just a convention either way. -- like the word "human".

ToNy

Materialism is an inadequate tool for use in defining what life is and more so in what a human life is. However, it is not inadequate in identifying it and that is all that is required in defense of a human life.

ok

then whose criteria does Louis use to 'identify' it?

can we use mine, or do I have to use yours?

> There's no "logical" law that is
> violated or cited if I do (or do not)
> call pluto a planet. It's just a
> convention either way. -- like the word
> "human".

It's the essential nature of the thing that matters, not what you call it.

Do biologist disagree about whether the human fetus is a unique, living, human organizm?

COMMON SENSE SPOTS AGENDA DRIVEN JUDITH JARVIS THOMSON

Maybeck,

Amy may be pressed for time, but I’m not. Her cite to the violinist theory on wikipedia is great but here is some additional feedback, which, I’ve mostly paraphrased from articles written by the eloquent Greg Koukl. I could put it no better way:

First, the neighbor would need to be artificially attached to another human for survival. A mother’s unborn baby is not artificially attached, it is actually attached, not by surgical means but is developing in its natural environment by the natural process of reproduction. The baby is not USING the mother’s body, the baby was created by the mother and is in his rightful place.

Secondly, the human the neighbor would be attaching himself to is morally justified in withholding life-giving treatment. Abortion is not withholding treatment; it is actively terminating the life of a human being by inserting the tip of scissors at the base of the skull, enlarging the opening, and using a catheter to suction and evacuate skull contents (in the case of partial birth abortion anyways).

Third, the human is a stranger to the neighbor and this is not analogous in any way to a parent child relationship; you are treading on dangerous ground because if your analogy is similar to that of a parent/child relationship then no parent has any moral obligation toward their own child. Any parent would be justified in leaving their toddler at home and moving across country and becoming “unattached” from their dependent child simply because the child is viewed as a stranger, an intruder who is not wanted.

Surely you can see there are flaws with your analogy, Maybeck

Mike,

>> Do biologist disagree about whether the human fetus is a unique, living, human organizm?

This is just like asking: "Do Apple enthusiasts disagree on which Apple products should receive the name ipod"?

Or

"Do astronomers disagree on which clumps of matter should receive the name planet?"

Tony, again I may have missed it, but you are offering "can't I say..." alternatives, but no reasons why your alternatives are more reasonable than the the arguments we are presenting here. You seem to simply assume your view is correct and all the burden is on us. That may be your criteria for us persuading you (assuming you are even willing to follow the evidence where it leads) but it is not a valid argument. Anyone cans say "Not that but this" and when you don't get an answer that satisfies you, declare "victory."

>>There's no "logical" law that is violated or cited if I do (or do not) call pluto a planet. It's just a convention either way.

Tony, deciding whether or not Pluto can be called a planet is more analogous to saying there's no "logical" law that is violated if you call a human an adult or a child. That's a definition that could change over time because it's describing a type of human and putting humans into different, somewhat arbitrary categories. Deciding if a big rock circling the sun can be described as a planet (a category of rock we decided to divide rocks into) is one thing, but the fact that Pluto is a big rock circling the sun never changes; it's only the type of rock categories that are arbitrarily decided by us. But regardless of our categories of rocks, Pluto, as a rock, is forever in a different category from light or daisies, and not just because we call it something different. It is fundamentally different from those other things.

In the same way, the type of human a person is (and we could divide people into any number of categories within the larger category of the distinct, whole human organism) doesn't change the fact that he is, in fact, a human. And I'd have to question the sanity of anyone who couldn't tell the difference between a rock and a daisy, or a human and a chimpanzee, or an iPod and a keyboard.

Amy,

>> Pluto, as a rock, is forever in a different category from light or daisies,

Pluto, rocks, light, daises are all just energy in different forms.

When it becomes useful for us to circle a region of universe, we do so. This is not to say, however, that we appeal to any sort of platonic realm when we do so - as we do in, say, mathematics, physics, and philosophical argument.

we MERELY and ONLY circle clusters of atoms we find interesting, beautiful, useful, rare, precious, funny, intriguing, novel, etc. That's it.

When christians and biologists continue to make the statement, "embryology textbooks explains that a fetus is a living human" they illustrate a lack of understanding about the nature of the various sciences.

In biology, one cannot produce a scientific proof that any particular cluster has the property of "lifeness" or “humanness” or “ipodness” for that matter. This cannot be proved at all. It’s merely an appeal to convention.

Juxtapose your sentence with other disciplines which DO prove expressions based on the manipulation of axioms, i.e.:

"math textbooks explains Pi represents the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter "

Pi is a part of the platonic realm. We have access to knowledge of its form because it is a property of a formal system (Euclidian geometry). Assuming one accepts the tenants of the system, then there is simply no argument to be had on HOW Pi should be named.

Or as Shakespeare might say: “A Pi by any other name, would smell just as sweet.”

But as for babys, planets, and breadbaskets, well, those are just named via convention. And we simply do not have a way to ascertain whose criteria we shall use.

>>When christians and biologists continue to make the statement, "embryology textbooks explains that a fetus is a living human" they illustrate a lack of understanding about the nature of the various sciences.

Tony, even if I agreed to your position that every category is arbitrary, if you take the word "human" as the science of biology has defined human organisms, the embryo is one of these.

Here's a quote from Human Embryology:

"It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and resultant mingling of the nuclear material that each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual."

In your view, are the writers of that textbook illustrating a lack of understanding about the nature of their science? I think you're actually confusing philosophy with biology. Biologists have no problem defining what is alive and what isn't. They have much more common sense than philosophers because they have to constantly match their science to reality. But since you can't tell the difference between a baby and a breadbasket, you can be sure I won't be having dinner with you anytime soon.

Amy,

>> if you take the word "human" as the science of biology has defined human organisms, the embryo is one of these.

Yeah, it’s just a majority rule thing. That’s it.

>> In your view, are the writers of that textbook illustrating a lack of understanding about the nature of their science?

They do when they , for example, are called up by prolifers to testify in front of various congressional committees about when a human starts and ends.

What they say is something like:

I am Bob the biologists and in my work, I have shown that the starting life for ‘human-ness’ is at fertilization.

What he should say is:

I am Bob the biologists and, my colleagues and I have talked about it, and WE decided that the starting life for ‘human-ness’ is at fertilization. We ask that everyone listen to us. Not because the scientific method can reveal said ‘human-ness’ property in this construct, but because we say so.

>> Biologists have no problem defining what is alive and what isn't.

Woa! I know some biologists who would disagree with that one.

I guess you can start at Wikipedia:

“There is no universal definition of life; there are a variety of definitions proposed by different scientists. To define life in unequivocal terms is still a challenge for scientists.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life

>> I won't be having dinner with you anytime soon.

Damn I was gonna ask you out! I actually met some Biola guys while clubbing at Shark Club last weekend. The only thing more fun than debating a biola christian is debating a drunk biola christian – hah – but he was cool. come on we’ll find you a husband yet I tell thee!

ToNy is demonstrates why philosophers shouldn't rule the world.

In their quest to maintain philosophical rigor, they've abdicated common sense.

>They do when they , for example, are called up by prolifers to testify in front of various congressional committees about when a human starts and ends.

What they say is something like:

I am Bob the biologists and in my work, I have shown that the starting life for ‘human-ness’ is at fertilization.

What he should say is:

I am Bob the biologists and, my colleagues and I have talked about it, and WE decided that the starting life for ‘human-ness’ is at fertilization. We ask that everyone listen to us. Not because the scientific method can reveal said ‘human-ness’ property in this construct, but because we say so.


Now who is confused about the nature of the science? How often can you show that a sperm or an ovum ever came from a human being that was anything other than human? Human-ness does not start at conception, but the individual human being does, as a result of the fertilization of a HUMAN ovum by a HUMAN sperm. You may gainsay this by claiming that this is a naming convention, but so is E=MC^2. "energy" is a naming convention as much as "human" is.

Let's address these comments one by one:

"The problem is that, unlike your neighbor, the baby didn't come along and force its mother to be pregnant with it, most of the time whoever is pregnant is so because of their own actions."

I didn't force my neighbor to need a blood transfusion. Does his medical need trump my right to bodily sovereignty? Can he force me to donate blood to save his life? Nope.

Let's continue to address the comments:

"Besides, the baby often isn't killing its mother, simply receiving sustinance from food that would otherwise go to its mother."

My neighbor (the one who needs a blood transfusion) isn't killing anybody, he just needs someone to donate blood. Can he FORCE anyone to? Nope.
By the way, the fetus is much more of a threat to the woman than a person needing a blood transfusion. Pregnancy ALWAYS carries an increased risk to the health and life of a woman.

I'm sorry for being so foolish. It really is unclear if the unborn are human, after all. I'm no biologist, and poor Scott is just an English major. How can we claim to identify human characteristics on an atomic level? Wow, life is confusing!

Sorry for the hate speech everyone.

[From the blog moderator: Sorry folks, this comment was not left by the real Amy Hall--see my comment below.]

Mike Westfall,

>> "In their quest to maintain philosophical rigor, they've abdicated common sense."

If my arguments were truly philosophically rigorous, then they would indeed trump 'common sense' of course.

This is a philosophy discussion. Not a town hall meeting.

>> How often can you show that a sperm or an ovum ever came from a human being that was anything other than human? Human-ness does not start at conception, but the individual human being does, as a result of the fertilization of a HUMAN ovum by a HUMAN sperm.

Oh good cuz based on your definition, we've got carte blanche to proceed with the new UK legislation for mixing humans with cow eggs.

http://tinyurl.com/5pxc9h

Amy,

>> How can we claim to identify human characteristics on an atomic level?

I know!

The only way you could would be to have a divine communique from God himself. It would be nice if, say, in the back of the bible, god provided you the definition.

But save this method, you are all merely campaigning for your own material labeling schema, as is everyone else in the debate.

* * *

As Robert Morison said:

"What we observe are some unusual sets of objects separated from the rest of the world by certain peculiar ways of handling energy. These objects we elect to call 'living things'."

As Richard Dawkins said:

"Words are only tools for our use, and the mere presence in the dictionary of a word like 'living' does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world"

As Ernst Mayr said:

“Attempts have been made again and again to define "life." These endeavors are rather futile since it is now quite clear that there is no special substance, object, or force that can be identified with life.”

Maybeck,

>> "I didn't force my neighbor to need a blood transfusion. Does his medical need trump my right to bodily sovereignty? Can he force me to donate blood to save his life? Nope."

You can use this same argument for any child neglect case. Just have the defendant say:

"I didn't force my baby to need milk. Does his medical need trump my right to bodily sovereignty? Can he force me to donate milk to save his life? Nope."

Tony, just be glad that your parents made the pro-life decision in your case so that you now the opportunity to come here and post vapid comments.
If your parents had made a pro-choice decision, this would all be moot, wouldn't it?

>Oh good cuz based on your definition, we've got carte blanche to proceed with the new UK legislation for mixing humans with cow eggs.

How does this follow? When I said humanness does not begin at conception, it was because the ovum and sperm were already human in kind (I know you don't like that word, but you haven't offered any good reasons to reject it.)

>"Words are only tools for our use, and the mere presence in the dictionary of a word like 'living' does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world"

Neither do words like "Richard Dawkins" on that line of reasoning, or "ToNy" for that matter.

daniel,

The egg is from a cow in the above example.

>> "Neither do words like "Richard Dawkins" on that line of reasoning, or "ToNy" for that matter."

Yes this is absolutely true. The systems only have conventional bounds.

Heath,

If you dont like philosophy, get out of the kitchen.

So, the meaning of "human" is a matter of consensus. As are the meanings of all words. OK.

We aren't really worried whether the unborn baby is "human." What we're concerned with is the essential nature of the baby, regardless of what word we have come to a consensus to describe that nature.

So, biologists tell us that an unborn baby (at whatever stage of development) has that essential nature that we, by consensus, call "human," which is the very same nature that born babies and full-grown adults have.

It matters not whether we call it "human," what matters is the nature of the thing referred to by whatever word we use.

Debaters' trick #13: If you can't offer a substantive argument for your position, try to obfuscate the issue by arguing about the meanings of words.


Mike,

It's got nothing to do with the token "human".

Its the bounds we use to classify atoms.

Start here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem

"
"
ok

then whose criteria does Louis use to 'identify' it?"

Given my previous response, I would have to go with someone who holds that a material and non-material criteria are both to be taken into consideration when determining what constitutes a human life or a human being or a person. In some scientific circles such things are not an option.


"can we use mine, or do I have to use yours?""

Well, ToNy, I have no objection to using either if the one being used corresponds to physical and non-physical evidence presented. There is no reason to think, at this point, that there may be some criteria that you hold as essential that correspond to a careful and reasoned evaluation of what constitutes a human life.

I think that there are some criteria that are simply self evident. If something is a self contained organism that is capable of going through every stage of development of that type of organism, given the right type of environment, then it is fair to say that the organism is living and belongs to a category of being that have gone through the same stage of development currently under observation and have had the same capability of going through the very stages of development under consideration.
Now, this seems to me to be a reasonable set of criteria that corresponds to observable evidence.
Do you think me unreasonable to hold to these as a general yardstick to identify a life in general and human life in particular? If so, why?

>>I'm sorry for being so foolish. It really is unclear if the unborn are human, after all. I'm no biologist, and poor Scott is just an English major.

I don't know who you are who left that comment under my name, but I'm afraid your computer is now banned from this blog. We welcome disagreement, we want dialogue, we'll even let you rant, but posing as someone else is something we're not going to tolerate.

That was random.

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