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November 12, 2009

Comments

"Just because God could tell a woman to abort her child does not mean that He would."

"God could tell you to kill your adult neighbor, that does not mean He would."

And how do you know that he wouldn't? He did this repeatedly in the past. We've established that God uses human hands to do his killing. How do you know that God didn't use human hands to carry out some divine plan with respect to a given embryo or fetus or with respect to a given killing of a given neighbor? You know all the details of God's plans or God's mind?

"Your line of reasoning would result in no murderer ever going to prison."

Actually, I'm just taking Amy's reasoning to its logical conclusion. God creates. God can destroy his creation. God uses humans to destroy his created beings. How can you tell if a given killing is instigated by God or not? You can't.

"However God did command us not to commit murder. The question at hand is one of defining whether or not abortion is in fact murder, which we are commanded not to do."

Read the Bible. God has repeatedly command humans to commit murder. No reason why he can't do it again.


Amy,

" For example, dropping the atom bomb on Japan killed unborn children."..."Again, in the case of the bomb, it's the government (the authority) that has the role of protecting the nation."

I want to give you a chance to clarify here, because I suspect you don't really mean what this implies. Are you suggesting that the government has proper authority to kill an unborn child, even against the wishes of the mother, if it is deemed in the national interest, but the woman carrying that child does not have proper authority to do so?

Ok, but how many humans do we have at the eight cell stage?

In the US alone, I'd guess somewhere around a half million.

Why, do you believe is there some sort of group discount that should be applied to downgrade them from being human?

Denis,

Ooops, I don't think that I was clear. I'm asking how many humans do we have in a SINGLE eight cell embryo?

Denis,

>> but how many humans do we have at the eight cell stage

entirely depends on your definition of human.

any one of the first 8 cells are totipotent, and could indeed develop further -- primarily depending on how far they are from the primary developing mass. (hence, thats where identical twins come from)

some times they don't float far enough away.

that's where the hensel twins come from:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkKWApOAG2g

so, there is no answer to your question.

One would be equally correct in saying that there are 8 humans at that stage, or 1 human.

Is the internet made up of 1 big computer? or many computers?

entirely subjective and dependent on the taxonomy you use to define 'computer'.

oops, that last post was from

ToNy

of course

oh and head over to

http://joshbrahm.com

where i've taken up his challenge.

he said he'll get back to me soon

whoopeeee

Joe, sorry looking back at your questions I see that now.

Honestly, I'm not going to be bent out of shape if you would prefer to call it one human or 8. Though I could see how others would prefer to say there is one with the potential for forming more, which may be more precise.

The bottom like I was heading for, was that the embryo ... even at this very early stage of development ... is human.

"I'm not going to be bent out of shape if you would prefer to call it one human or 8."

It's at least eight. In fact, it's actually far more than eight, because if you separate the cells, each of the eight cells can, in turn, produce eight cell embryos...that can, in turn, be divided into eight seperate cells...that can, in turn, each produce eight cell embryos...that can, in turn, be separated into eight seperate cells that can...

But let's say it's eight.

So, what if you implant that embryo? How many human lives will you get? How many humans have been denied their right to life?

ToNy,

Good luck with Josh Brahm. I suspect that you know a little more biology than he does. I like the phrase "entirely subjective and dependent on the taxonomy you use". Exactly.

Joe,

I've been wondering where you were going with this "how many humans is it" line of thought. Then you said,

"But let's say it's eight.

So, what if you implant that embryo? How many human lives will you get? How many humans have been denied their right to life?"

That's a very interesting point. I'm going to have to give that some thought.

By wading into sci-fi and putting my Brave New World reproductive scientist hat on, you could get up to 96 humans from each budding human life (I don't think the book actually got into specifics of when in the development the split actually occurred).

I would then argue that every separate embryo resulting from that process is a human life.

Does that mean that by not performing this theoretic artificial embryonic splitting that we are, in effect, killing humans ... by no means. The difference is potential vs. actual and until the split actually occurs you don't have anything but the potential for additional lives.

So, given the argument you've presented, perhaps the better way to phrase it is that in an embryo is one human life which has the potential for being the source of multiple human lives.

Could the right to life be related to ensoulment? When do identical twins, triplets, etc. recieve their separate souls?

Denis,

"an embryo is one human life which has the potential for being the source of multiple human lives"

or one could also say:

an embryo is eight human lives which have the potential for being one human life.

or one could also say:

an embryo is eight human lives which have the potential to be a dead fetus.

Statistically speaking, the third option is the most probably - since most embryos don't survive 9 months.

the first option is the second most likely.

And the first option is the third most likely.

All a matter of degrees, probabilities, and conventions.

And NOT, as the prolife movement would try to convince you, a matter of OBJECTIVE definitions, natural kinds, or taxonomies with platonic referents.

Oops - edit:

the first option is the second most likely.

And the THIRD option is the third most likely.

ToNy,

I still don't even know if you think you are human ...

Johnnie,

"Could the right to life be related to ensoulment? "

the right to life is ENTIRELY related to ensoulment. But the prolife movement cant use that word because then they would lose the secular debate.

So they unknowingly hide behind a purported scientific discoveries about which atoms if the universe have the properties of

life-ness
organism-ness
and species-ness

when in reality, these are merely useful constructs we created to organize the universe to suit our goals. they are NOT discoverable properties that can be revealed by the scientific method.

Denis,

"I still don't even know if you think you are human ..."

the word human is subjective

read my thought experiment

http://joshbrahm.com

ToNy,

I read it the other day and came to the conclusion that based on those thoughts you could not claim to be human yourself.

By asking you, I was hoping to clarify this.

You seem to have gone beyond saying that the unborn is not human to saying that there is no such thing as a human.

This is also why I suggested you were needlessly obfuscating the definition of human which is accepted, without debate, by our society.

Johnnie,

The point of ensoulment doesn't come into the debate because there is no way to know when it occurs.

ToNy,

"the right to life is ENTIRELY related to ensoulment"
By "right to life" do you mean only as it pertains to the unborn, or do you think that if souls do not exist then no one has a right to life?

"Does that mean that by not performing this theoretic artificial embryonic splitting that we are, in effect, killing humans?"

Actually, I said "denying the right to life". Whether or not it's "killing" depends on whether or not you think it's "killing" if you allow death to occur when you could have prevented it.

"The difference is potential vs. actual and until the split actually occurs you don't have anything but the potential for additional lives."

So, the key word is "potential", right? Anything that we do to something that only has "potential" is ok.

Well, until you actually implant the embryo, all you have is the "potential" for one (or more lives). The embryo in the dish only has "potential" for one (or more) life (lives). As with the splitting of the embryo, a human must intervene or take an action if anything further is to happen.

So, the embryo in the dish is not a human life. All it has is the potential for human life.

So, the embryo in the dish is not a human life. All it has is the potential for human life.

Joe, I believe your logic is flawed. That would be like me chaining you underwater and saying you only have the potential for human life if transported to an environment with air.

Such a statement by me would ignore the fact that you are already a live human.

Likewise, a human embryo is a human life. To deny it the environment it requires to further develop does not mean that up until that point it was not a human life.

You're the one who introduced the idea of "potential". If it's all about potential, then each cell in the embryo is also human life, because each cell in that embryo has the same biological potential to develop into an adult human as a single fertilized egg in the same dish. In each case, unless a human takes some action, nothing further will happen. In each case, failure to act is denial of right to life.

It would appear to me that each cell in the embryo is a live human. But perhaps I should ask how you would define "human life". I found Josh Brahm's definition..."a living member of the species Homo sapiens"...rather vague and unsatisfying.

...In short, why is a fertilized egg in a petri dish a human life?

Joe,

While I did introduce the concept of potential, I never said that was all that an embryo is. This is why I summarized that particular response with the following statement:

So, given the argument you've presented, perhaps the better way to phrase it is that in an embryo is one human life which has the potential for being the source of multiple human lives.

I find this to be satisfying because it speaks both to the existing nature of the embryo as well as to the potential which exists within it.

Joe,

“With respect to the flood, I believe that you're the one with the fantastical Bronze Age myth. So, the burden is on you”

Actually no, it’s not. I have not made any claims about this yet, you did, so you’re still ‘it’. I would also say that you have stated that scientist agree with you, you have stated fields of research, but no actual facts. However this is probably the wrong section of the blog to get into this.

“And how do you know that he wouldn't (command a person to murder another)?”

this seems pretty close to being asked to prove a universal negative. What I would say is that when you read the whole Bible the focus is a lot more on saving people than it is on murdering them.

“We've established that God uses human hands to do his killing.”

Actually they are only one tool that He can use. The way you put it though would have one thinking that God is sort of like some Mafia boss up in heaven contemplating who to put the ‘hit’ on next.

“Read the Bible. God has repeatedly command humans to commit murder. No reason why he can't do it again.”
I did. The rule about murder is one of the Ten Commandment.
And I would differ with you that there is a difference between the words kill and murder. Murder is an unlawful death, so while you might kill someone in self-defense you would not murder someone in self-defense.
However this is all sliding off topic which, if I recall, is about abortion.

Denis,

I follow what you're saying, but I don't think that you're providing a definition for human life. You are simply declaring that something is human life without providing criteria or definitions.

Joe,

I have no issue with Josh Brahm's definition, so I'll go with that one.

However, as I stated in earlier responses to others, I do not believe our society has a tremendous issue with understanding what a human life is ... yet when the status of the pre-born comes up all of a sudden some will throw that understanding out the window and act like it doesn't exist.

That said, perhaps you would like to offer a definition since you find this one (Brahm's) unsatisfying.

Joe,
I really want to know what the evidence is that disproves the global flood took place. You said it was trivially easy. Please enlighten me.

>>We have the additional caveat, "except to defend her life". So the original argument needs modification.

Greg makes that clear in his presentation. The catchphrase is a way of summing up the argument succinctly in a way that's memorable and covers most instances. The details come in the rest of the explanation.

>>I also want to put aside, for now, the fact that God is deemed exempt from this moral calculation

My explanation was not that God was "exempt." A person with the authority to do so can kill someone in judgment--God or our government. Your comment is like saying after I say it's wrong for you to imprison me in your basement, "So the government is exempt from this moral calculation?" It's not that the government is "exempt," it's that it's a different case entirely with the government because of their role, and we can see that immediately. It's the same for God. It's not that they're exempt from the moral fact that it's wrong for us to trap each other in our basements, it's that their role and authority give them the right to imprison people as they carry out judgment.

>>Please correct me if I have misunderstood the argument in it's original formulation.

I believe Greg usually says an "innocent" human being--that is, it's not done as part of an act of judgment.

>>may be pithy and memorable, but it is not a sound argument.

As I said, it is meant to be a pithy and memorable way of summing up the argument, but it does not encompass the entire argument that follows.

>>are you suggesting that the government has proper authority to kill an unborn child, even against the wishes of the mother, if it is deemed in the national interest

No, I am not saying "if it is deemed in the national interest." I specifically said that this was an attempt to end the taking of life in war--meaning it's another case of life versus life. Also, it's in a war, which is quite a different case. Also, they didn't set out to kill the unborn children specifically. It was a blanket act of war that affected everybody. So I'm no more saying the government has the general right to kill an unborn child in the national interest than I'm saying they have a general right to kill an adult in the national interest--except in the case of judgment (which includes war).

Joe,
I looked back over your arguments and wanted to try to summarize them.

Is your arguement that abortion and any type of murder should be legal because God might have commanded the person to do so?

If this is not your position, could you please summarize what it is?

RonH,
It's difficult to engage with you because you seem to avoid answering questions, and instead use them as a launch pad to make other points, generally that terms are ill-defined, or that humans as a class of organisms do not truly exist. I had a research mentor who believed that reality and truth were illusion, and he believed his (successful) scientific career was pointless, but the illusion he must endure.

I fear you are in the same camp.

Can you answer the following trivially simple questions without resorting to further distraction:

1) "Do you consider yourself a human"?

2) "If you don't consider yourself human, what label so you ascribe to your general class of matter?"

Note, I'm not asking if "human" is well-defined, I'm asking for your perception.

errr, meant to address my last comment to ToNy, not RonH

It seems to me the focus in the comment stream has gone somewhat awry. The original point of discussion (in the comments) was whether or not there was justification for aborting a human (fetus,embryo, etc.).

I think we must address the elephant in the room. Most prolifers will try to equivicate that there is never any justification for taking an unborn child's life. That it is simply murder. I think they paint with too broad a brush. Are most cases justified? I think not. Are there some cases where a woman might be justified? Absolutely.

There are rare cases where a woman's life is truly at risk if she carries the pregnancy to term. And this is certainly not an easy decision. I think an episode of Grey's Anatomy really drove this point home in a way that was removed from the topic of abortion alltogether. There were two people impaled by the same pole. One patient had relatively little internal damage while the other patient had extremely harmful internal damage. They had to choose between the two lives and they chose the patient with the lesser damage and the greater chance of survival.

But I think this is the point; most abortions are simply not justifiable in this manner.

Denis,

“I have no issue with Josh Brahm's definition, so I'll go with that one.”

I’m sorry, but this just isn’t a very good definition.

First, why does one have to be living to be human? Isn’t a dead human body still human?

Second, what is the definition of the word “member”? What does it take to be considered a “member”? Why is one cell considered a member but another cell not considered a member? Why is a fertilized egg a “member”, but Cell Number One of an eight cell embryo not a “member”?

Third, the definition is circular. Putting aside the not insignificant problem of defining “species”, “Homo sapiens” is just Latin for the English word “human”. The definition given by JB actually reads “a human is a living member of the species human”. Not very informative, eh?

Until we have a definition of human that actually works and/or criteria for separating human from non-human, I’m not sure that it makes any sense to say that abortion is wrong because it kills “human beings”. The answer to the question "what is a human life" is actually not nearly as obvious as JB would have us believe. It not just a matter of acting like our understanding doesn't exist. It's actually a a difficult thing to define and understand.

"However God did command us not to commit murder."

True, but what He actually wills is another story, depending on whether you're talking about His "secretive" or "declared" will!
;-)

"Furthermore, the argument works just as well on anyone; God could tell you to kill your adult neighbor, that does not mean He would."

This is why I don't get the story of Abraham and Isaac. God told Abraham to brutally murder his own son. Abraham's response? Not "God would not command that because it's inconsistent with His nature" but "OK!".

For this, we commend his faith?

The Bible seems to side against you. God may command any sort of incomprehensible and even seemingly evil thing, and you'd best obey.

Brian,

“This seems pretty close to being asked to prove a universal negative.”

Not really, although to the extent that it might be, it’s basically God’s fault. If God had not used humans to kill humans, then we wouldn’t have to worry about the possibility that any given act of murder, abortion or genocide is really just God’s will. But God opened the door to the possibility, and so now we must consider the possibility that any given murderer is really just an instrument of God.

“What I would say is that when you read the whole Bible the focus is a lot more on saving people than it is on murdering them.”

Well, that’s nice, but irrelevant. We still have many, many examples of God ordering people to kill.

“Actually they are only one tool that He can use.”

No doubt, so why use humans at
all? The fact that God can kill in other ways makes the use of humans all the more baffling.

"The way you put it though would have one thinking that God is sort of like some Mafia boss up in heaven contemplating who to put the ‘hit’ on next."

YES!!! EXACTLY!!! God is a mafia boss! That’s the OT God! OT God, meet Brian. Brian, meet the OT God. And remember, the Don always, always has a solid justification for ordering the hit. The one who is whacked deserves to get whacked. So, it must be ok, right?

“I did. The rule about murder is one of the Ten Commandment.”

Those would be the commandments given not long before God orders the Israelites to murder.

”Murder is an unlawful death, so while you might kill someone in self-defense you would not murder someone in self-defense.”

Which of the following is killing in self-defense?

a) killing someone for cursing their parents.
b) killing someone for gathering sticks on the Sabbath.
c) killing your daughter because she was the first living thing that you saw upon returning from war.
d) killing babies in Canaan.
e) none of the above.

Brian and Kerri,

Apparently, referencing fields of study that can provide literally thousands of facts that contradict the flood isn’t enough, despite the fact that it would take the rest of our natural lives for me to go through all of these facts.

But if you want one fact, let’s try this one.

I’m current sitting on top of about ten thousand feet of sedimentary layers. And these thousands of feet of sediment extend out all around me for thousands of square miles. (Further, in some places on Earth, the sedimentary deposits are five to ten miles deep.) No single flood can create deposits of that depth. It’s simply impossible.

These deposits beneath my feet are composed of, oh, about 500 different layers of rock. These layers are many different types of limestone, many different types of sandstone, many different types of shale, of siltstone, of mudstone, etc.. Each of these rock types and each of these layers formed under different conditions. In some case, two different rock types were formed under radically different conditions from each other. Limestone, in particular, takes a very long time to accumulate to any significant thickness and it requires still water for its deposition. No single flood event can come remotely close to creating so many different conditions in a single location.

The layers beneath my feet are only a portion of what was once here. Thousands of feet of sedimentary layers have eroded away since they were formed, and that means that the mountains where I live were once many miles higher. There is no way to create or raise mountains that are miles above sea level in the time allotted for the flood without melting the surface of the earth. For that matter, you can’t drain the water off the land where I’m not sitting without dropping the bottom of the sea to a depth of a couple of miles, and doing that in a few month’s time will also melt the surface of the Earth.

The rocks beneath my feet contain huge numbers of fossils. But no one has ever found a single example of a modern species in any of these layers, and that’s not just directly below me, that’s no modern fossils found in these layers in the entire world. No one has ever found a single reptile, bird or mammal fossil of any type in these layers anywhere on Earth, not even a fossil of an extinct reptile, bird or mammal. There is not a single example of an angiosperm fossil of any angiosperm species, living or extinct, any of these layers, anywhere on Earth, despite the fact that angiosperms now account for 90 % of all plant species.

The flood didn’t happen. How many more facts do you want?

Amy,

You're a good egg, but you also make a fine obedient ghost.

RonH,

>> "Do you consider yourself a human"?

sure why not.

I also consider myself "cool".

now does this mean that, in me doing so, the property of "coolness" is instantiated in the platonic realm, and, in ascribing this property upon myself, I have invoked my ability to access this realm.

nope.

the word human is just a label we give to atoms - in a certain configuration.

same with the word cool, or even the word 'health'.

As Amy has written:

"Health only has real meaning if our functions actually have an ideal purpose they're intended to fulfill. If they just happened to come together accidentally, then who's to say whether or not they're working "correctly"? There is no "correctly," there's only what you like. "

Joe,

You said: I’m sorry, but this just isn’t a very good definition.

First, please, take me up on my previous offer to provide a definition of human (n). The problem I have with your statement is that you are basically saying the dictionary definition is not good enough for this discussion but are providing no alternative.

Second, I'd ask you the same question I asked another here: are you human?

While seemingly facetious, I am hoping your answer to this would at least start in helping nail down a mutually agreeable definition.

Also, to your question: why does one have to be living to be human? ... this is why I have consistently (or at least have tried to be consistent in) using the term human life ... i.e., as opposed to a dead human.

Joe said: "Those would be the commandments given not long before God orders the Israelites to murder."

What definition of murder are you using?

Joe also said: "God is a mafia boss! That’s the OT God!"

Christians believe in one God, the God of both old and new testaments. This God does not change depending on the testaments.

Joe said: "The one who is whacked deserves to get whacked. So, it must be ok, right?"

Have you read the book of Job?

Concerning Tony's taking up the challenge, I wonder what definition of science he will use to prove that the unborn is not human? Or did I miss this earlier in the thread? For that matter, I wonder what definition of human he will use. If he and Josh can't agree on definitions I guess the channel is safe.

Joe,

As I recall Isaac lived; it is a lesson in obedience and a foreshadowing of the fact that God would give up his own son to fulfill the covenant between them.

On the universal negative- the reason I brought up universal negative has nothing to do with the topic (God occasionally using people to carry out his acts of judgment) it has to do with the issue that people cann’t prove what someone else would not do. An example would be that I would have a hard time proving what you would not do. God will not violate His own nature, you on occasion might. I can attempt to learn more about those natures, but it is impossible to prove what they might do. The burden would be on you to prove that God had told the person to do it, innocent until proven guilty, which does seem to be what you are trying to prove.
“Well, that’s nice, but irrelevant. We still have many, many examples of God ordering people to kill.”
Since when is the reason for actions irrelevant? You seem to be envisioning some sort of chaotic system of rampant killing sprees which would hold society helpless. I just don’t see it. God setup a system of laws for his people where crimes would be punished. Some of those laws we still use today. But since you appear to dismiss God as a source of moral reasoning could you tell me what you believe to be superior?
God is a Mofia boss- well I’m glad I understood you. But can you show the ‘boss’ is wrong in those cases? If not then your point simple becomes, he is powerful and has reasons for the things he does.
On self-defense- you may be mistaking my position, the example of self defense was only meant to illustrate the point that there are different kinds of killings, that is to say that not all killings are murders; it was never meant to suggest it was the only legitimate case for killing someone.
A and B are strict rules, but then the people did not have to do those things now did they? Point being: these things are very important, don’t do them!
C is different, but many people think that the girl was not actually killed but devoted to the lord, basically like a nun. I have to admit that one did seem odd to me. I had previously figured it was a case of cross cultural contamination, where the Jews were picking up pagan habits, but you should keep in mind God never commanded that the father do this, and that there were very strict rules about what could be offered as a sacrifice to Him, people were not on the list.
D) the entire culture was being judged, God is very specific about this.

About the flood- Actually I think I said this was getting off topic, unless you can show how it relates to the abortion topic of this blog. I’m sure there must be some other blogs going on where this would be a more appropriate topic.

William,

>> I wonder what definition of science he will use to prove that the unborn is not human?

actually my point is the definition is subjective and can't be "proven" with science either way - hence it's a flawed challenge from the getgo

still would like to win something though

str people can donate beer money to me if you like

Tony,

How can there be any definition that is not subjective to you?

Do you say the definition of science is any different than the definition of human?

If the definition of science is as subjective as the definition of human isn't your statement: "actually my point is the definition is subjective and can't be "proven" with science either way" just as flawed?

William,

my argument doesnt have much to do with epistemology.

its just an observation about material taxonomies. e.g. systems we make to circle interesting blobs of atoms.

most people, however, have the idea that an "ideal morphology" exists. And that, scribed in the heavens next to Pi, exists the description for homo sapiens sapiens.

As Erwin Bunning wrote

"the concept of an "ideal morphology" was very popular. Morphological concepts were seen as a "thought" of nature. Speemann defined the concept of an ideal morphology (to which he did not subscribe) in this way: "The type was...an idea...a blueprint which in nature is used in the creation of organisms, and an image of a thought which makes the knowing spirit, retroactively, follow the way of nature." Furthermore, according to this philosophy of nature, everything was to be explained in set numerical proportions form the order in the planetary system to the order in the shape of plants. These kinds of disputes may sound strange to present-day scientists. A "romantic philsophy of nature" no longer exists.

- Ahead of his time: Wilhelm Pfeffer, early advances in plant biology By Erwin Bunning p12

But he's wrong about the last bit.

A "romantic philsophy of nature" exists hardcore in the prolife movement.

Denis,

I still don’t have a good definition for “human life” from either you or JB. Asking me for a definition is a diversion. I’m not the one claim that certain actions are justified or not justified based on the definition of “human life”.

William,

“Christians believe in one God, the God of both old and new testaments. This God does not change depending on the testaments.”

You must be reading a different Bible from the one that I’m reading. OT God and NT God are different characters.

By the way, the channel will be “safe”, because JB gets to be the judge. And JB is not going to rule against himself.

Brian,

If you didn't want to talk about the flood, then why did you complain that I hadn't given you any facts? Given the facts that I've provided, I can see why you would like to drop this subject.

As to the rest, like Amy, you make a fine obedient ghost.

Joe,

I used the dictionary definition, you just didn't like it. Perhaps you should take up your issue with the publishers of those works.

Your position leaves us nowhere to go.

Thanks for the discussion.

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