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November 12, 2009

Comments

Denis,

Just curious. What dictionary did you use?

...And any possibility that the dictionary definition might be inadequate for the task at hand?

Denis,

"I used the dictionary definition"

My dictionary says human is

"A member of the genus Homo"

does that mean you think Neanderthals are human too?

This would mean that Adam and Eve must have looked a lot different than the pictures hanging up in my catholic school walls.

whoo hoo

first page of google in 5 days

lol

http://joshbrahm.com/

Joe,

I referred to a few sources, here are a couple:

  • a bipedal primate mammal (Homo sapiens) [Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary]

  • A member of the species Homo sapiens; a human being. [American Heritage Science Dictionary]

As you see, these differ little in substance to Brahm's definition you quoted earlier, with the exception that he added the qualifier "living."

...And don't forget H. habilis, H. erectus, H. ergaster, H. heidelbergensis...

And what does "member" mean?

Denis,

Is an embryo "bipedal"?

ToNy,

I have no issue with including Neanderthals fall within the definition of human.

Joe,

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." ~ Bill Clinton

Quite frankly, at this point I might as well be arguing that aDSjlk si dsakl jfdsaf f.

Denis,

Hey, it's your definition. It's not my fault that it's flawed and/or inadequate to the task of determining if a single cell is a "human life".

According to your arguementation though, the definitions (I prefer the American Heritage Science Dictionary one) are inadequate to determine what is human peroid ... without even going back to the embryonic stage of development.

In that case, we have absolutely nothing to work with.

Joe,

Obedient ghost? Where do you get this stuff? If I am an obedient ghost what are you exactly? A disobedient solid?

‘Why did you complain’ I pointed out that you were making very large unsupported claims, my intention was to point it out to you so you would limit yourself to using less broad claims. In retrospect I should have worded it differently so that it sounded less like an invitation. That was my fault, sorry.
‘Given the facts that I've provided, I can see why you would like to drop this subject.’ Actually your facts have nothing to do with it, though I would thank you for listing your reasons. My reason for dropping this aspect of our conversation is that it was never really my intention to take it up. If we take up every possible tangent on this subject it would take several lifetimes to get anywhere.

Now I have asked you, very specifically, if you would please summarize your position so that I could better understand where you are coming from. How does what we have been discussing fit into the issue of abortion? You seem to be putting forward the position that we should allow abortion because God might have commanded the mother to do so. Is that a fair summery of your position?

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

It is established Christian doctrine well supported in the Bible and by history and scholarship that there is one God in three persons. The attributes of God are also well established.

If you are familiar with these doctrines you can't reasonably maintain that there are two gods involved.

Joe said: "And JB is not going to rule against himself."

Is this a judgement of his character? If so, how would you know?

Denis,

You didn't answer the questions. What does "member" mean? Is an embryo "bipedal"? All I'm trying to do is work with the definition that you gave me. Unfortunately, the definition isn't very helpful when we begin to consider things like fertilized eggs and embryos.

The problem is that you and others are taking a definition that was created for one use and/or for one reason, and you're trying to use it in manner for which it was not intended (i.e., determine the "humanity" of a cell). A definition is a tool designed to perform a particular task. If you use the tool for a task for which it was not designed, it doesn't work.

"We have absolutely nothing to work with".

Ok, then develop your own definition. Dictionaries are not filled with sacred Truths. You're free to try to craft your own definition of "human life".

"Obedient ghost? Where do you get this stuff?"

Bronowski. See my earlier comments.

"You seem to be putting forward the position that we should allow abortion because God might have commanded the mother to do so."

Nope. If I recall correctly, I started down this line because "John FB" pointed out some time ago that God rountinely orders humans to murder. Therefore, in any given case of murder, it's possible that it's the result of an order from God. And any given abortion could be the result of an order from God. This is the point.

Whether or not we should allow something is a different question. For example, if God orders me to kill my kid, I'm going to tell him to stuff it.

To clarify, the last comment should have been addressed to "Brian".

William,

“It is established…”

…by people who want it to be established. I can read. Not the same character in the two parts of the Bible. The NT does say that God is love, yes?

And the one God in three persons shuck and jive is just tri-theism with good lawyer.

“Is this a judgement of JB’s character? If so, how would you know?”

Let’s just call it a prediction, rather than a judgment.

Joe,

Some definitions ...

member: one of the individuals composing a group

group: a number of individuals or things considered together because of similarities

individual: a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item

species: the major subdivision of a genus or subgenus, regarded as the basic category of biological classification, composed of related individuals that resemble one another, are able to breed among themselves, but are not able to breed with members of another species.

Homo sapiens: the species of bipedal primates to which modern humans belong, characterized by a brain capacity averaging 1400 cc (85 cubic in.) and by dependence upon language and the creation and utilization of complex tools.

human: A member of the species Homo sapiens; a human being; an individual as distinguished from other animals or as representing the human species

life: The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism

Now, before going further ... can you, using the above definitions, say with certainty that you are a human and that the men, women and children you come in contact with are human?

Before moving on to any of the pre-birth stages of development, I want to be sure that you can confidently identify which walking, living, breathing individuals around you are human, not dogs, not cats, not some unclassifiable organic entity, but human.

Can I identify a "bipedal primate characterized by a brain capacity averaging 1400 cc (85 cubic in.) and by dependence upon language and the creation and utilization of complex tools" when I see one?

Yes.

Okay, next definition ...

embryo: the young of a viviparous animal, esp. of a mammal, in the early stages of development within the womb, in humans up to the end of the second month; In humans, the prefetal product of conception from implantation through the eighth week of development; the developing human individual from the time of implantation to the end of the eighth week after conception

I think that I can save you some time and copying of definitions, although I admit that I encouraged this.

You can define "human" in a narrow way ("bipedal primate with a brain of 1400 CC capable of tool use"). But that's going to exclude things like fertilized eggs, embryos, etc. Embryos are not bipedal.

Or you can define "human" broadly to include any step in the process of the development that ultimately produces a bipedal primate, that is, anything with the potential to produce a bipedal primate with a brain of 1400 CC. Then you can define an embryo as human. But then you'll also have to include many things that you don't want to include, such as sperm cells and Cell Number One of an early embryo. This was the point of most of my original comments.

So, which do you prefer?


By the way, since the definition of Homo sapiens that you've given above includes "dependence upon language and the creation and utilization of complex tools", one has to ask if someone who is severely brain damaged is human.

Or what if the developing fetus fails to develop the characteristics of Homo sapiens, including a brain of about 1400 CC and the capacity for language and tool use? By your definition of "human", I would have to conclude that such an individual is not human.

Joe,

you'll also have to include many things that you don't want to include, such as sperm cells

Stating a non sequitur does not make it true.

one has to ask if someone who is severely brain damaged is human.

You missed the "species ... characterized by" part of the definition.

Denis,

Stating that something is a non sequitur doesn't make it a non sequitur.

Not sure why "characterized by" matters.

Your "sperm" assertion fails because it neither fits the definition of "living" or "organism", granted the 2 are tightly related.

Sorry, I see that along with genus (the classification of organisms) and a few other terms I forgot to give the definition of organism ... would you like me to look it up for you too?

You think that sperm cells are dead? And why is a fertilized egg an "organism"?

>>you also make a fine obedient ghost

That's interesting because I thought I was taking people's views seriously, engaging in reasonable argumentation, and responding to people's objections with answers I've been seriously thinking through for many years. I have to admit, I feel a little betrayed right now.

>>You must be reading a different Bible from the one that I’m reading.

That could be. In my Bible, the story of Jephthah is part of a collection of stories in Judges meant to show how morally bad things were in Israel ("everyone did what was right in his own eyes"), but in your Bible his act is a commandment from God. So it's possible we are reading different Bibles. Does yours say "Holy Bible" on the front or "Ten Reasons Why I'm an Atheist (Now with Bible Quotes!)"?

Amy,

I'm not sure I understand your point about Jephthah. Are you saying that God didn't require him to kill his daughter, but he did it anyway? The daughter's death is not attributable to a belief that God required the death?

I'm genuinely sorry that you feel "betrayed". I've read your arguments and I understand your arguments. But in the end, these argument rationalize and excuse acts of extreme cruelty, horror, stupidity and insanity on the grounds that the holy book says it's ok. When that happens, those excusing the actions are, indeed, examples of Bronowski's "obedient ghosts".

Denis,

Are brain cells "alive"?

I'm not sure what you mean by "brain cells" ... can you define that?

I mean a cell in the brain that can be described by the term "interneuron".

Still can't figure out why a sperm cell isn't alive.

Still can't figure out why a sperm cell isn't alive.

That's okay ... I can't figure out why I'm still pretending like I'm engaged in a meaningful exchange of ideas.

You're choice.

>>Are you saying that God didn't require him to kill his daughter, but he did it anyway?

Can you find anywhere where God asked him to do this?

>>The daughter's death is not attributable to a belief that God required the death?

The daughter's death is attributable to "everyone doing what was right in his own eyes" and not paying attention to what God had told them. That's the point of the book of Judges.

>>But in the end, these argument rationalize and excuse acts of extreme cruelty, horror, stupidity and insanity on the grounds that the holy book says it's ok.

Except that never once have I used the argument "the holy book says it's ok, therefore it is." It's just that that's what you convert all the arguments into in your mind. I can't make you follow my arguments. The problem is that you don't know the Bible or God well enough to know if these things are justified or merely "acts of extreme cruelty, etc." You don't know what position we're in, you don't understand the seriousness of our sin or the horror (and deserving of the utmost penalty) of our rebellion against the highest authority in the universe, you don't recognize God's right to judge, you don't understand why the judge gets to order punishments that citizens can't order (as judges do in any society). This is why none of this makes sense to you.

But just because you can't make sense of a few isolated pieces on their own (who could?), that doesn't mean that there isn't a coherent answer that comes out of the whole. However, since you're not willing to consider the whole--that is, to look at the Bible as a story (even a fictional one, if you want) and evaluate it on it's own terms, not on your assumptions from another worldview--since you're not able to hypothetically place yourself in a position to hear what it's actually saying, you're doomed. And it's really sad, too. You can't see God--you see something foreign and twisted that you've cobbled together. I can't think of a worse fate.

Do you really think I would be idiotic enough to worship the kind of God that you think the Bible is talking about? Doesn't that seem even a little odd to you that I'm seeing something completely different? So, either I--who have read the OT over 10 times and the NT over 15, who got a graduate degree studying apologetics, and spent countless hours thinking about how what I find in the Bible fits into theology--either I am completely oblivious to how the Bible really describes God, or maybe, just maybe, you're missing something big here. I might be wrong about the Bible being true, but that has no bearing on what it actually says anymore than whether a novel is true or false has any bearing on what it actually says. I'm telling you, you have no idea what it says.

Ooops. That would be "your choice".

Amy,

I appreciate your clarifications. You are surely more familiar with Greg's arguments, and his presentation of those arguments, than I am. I remember hearing him discuss it on the program, but was hazy on the details. I had searched at the website and found this page, which doesn't address the nuances of the argument. If Greg routinely includes the relevant caveats when presenting this argument, then some of my criticisms dissolve.

Was there something in my formulation of the argument that was a mischaracterization of the argument as you understand it? Here it is again, so you don't have to go searching back through the thread to find it:

1. One human is not justified in taking the life of another[, innocent,] human
2. An unborn child is a human
3. Abortion involves one human taking the life of an unborn child
therefore,
3. Abortion is not justified

I think we're still stuck at premise 1. Neither you, nor I, nor Greg, accept this. This is without quibbling about the definition of "human" or "innocent". To be clear, this doesn't mean your position isn't correct. It just means you can't legitimately use this argument to support it.

I'm a bit reluctant to go into the issue of "God's judgement" here. It's not that I don't think it's important, but I don't think it's the main point and this thread is already getting pretty long. I'm interested in the discussion, but maybe we can have that another time.

"The daughter's death is attributable to "everyone doing what was right in his own eyes" and not paying attention to what God had told them."

I don't know about this. I just re-read Judges 11, and it looks to me that Jephthah and the Lord are pretty tight here. I don't see Jephthah doing his own thing at all, but instead, he's being rewarded by the Lord for his faithfulness. Doesn't really fit the "doing his own thing" thing. And I don't see the Lord stepping in to say "stop, you idiot", despite the fact that the "Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah" and the Lord delivered the Ammonites into J's hands. These two are on a first name basis, and the Lord doesn't raise a cosmic finger to prevent an insane act.

"You don't know the Bible or God well enough to know if these things are justified or merely "acts of extreme cruelty, etc."

Ah, there's that word. "Justified". It's all justified. Just read more, and it will all be alright, it will all be justifiable. It was all done in the name of Heaven, justified in the end.

It's true that I don't have a sophisticated theology at my disposal. It's true that I haven't spent decades reviewing every single world of the Bible. It's true that I don't have a "grounding" in some "absolute truth". It's true that I haven't tried to twist my mind in such a way as to see what you see.

But to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, I know cruelty, horror, stupidity and insanity when I see it. And I know when dogma has blinded, I know when the ends have been used to justify the means, and I know when a "deliberate deafness to suffering" has replaced empathy and reason and the ability to simply say "you don't get to kill every man, woman and child in the village". And I don't want to be an obedient ghost.

As I've said before, I understand that all of this works for you, and even understand how you can work your way to the conclusions that you've reached. I even understand that it gives you a comfort that I'm not likely to find myself.

But when I look at the Bible, all I see is is human saying that if you don't think like me, then you'll be tortured for all eternity. All I see is horror and cruelty and the threat of much more to come. All I see is humans killing humans and saying "God says it's ok". Well, it's not ok. It just isn't. And I can't make my mind say that it is.

"Still can't figure out why a sperm cell isn't alive.

That's okay ... I can't figure out why I'm still pretending like I'm engaged in a meaningful exchange of ideas."

Excellent! That cracked me up. Sometimes Denis you just have to walk away. I know it's frustrating, but what can you do?

Take it easy,
Todd

Joe,

Bronowski- I missed reading that before. It doesn’t really change anything though, name calling is name calling even if you have to quote someone else to do it. I reject your attempt at labeling me; just because I believe something to be true does not mean that I am mindlessly repeating what I have been taught. I have considered the things you have said rather than merely attempting to win a debate, but I am left questioning if you can truly say the same.

I find it sadly ironic that you feel you have to express rebellion against God in order to protect your son. On the abortion issue it is the desire to protect, not take, human life that is often getting Christians criticized since they are not ‘pro-choice’. Had your wife had an abortion, for any legal reason, you would not now have your son to protect.

You all defend genocide. Game over.

Joe,

Sorry for my, well, less than respectful last couple of responses.

That said, in all honestly I don't think our discussion has been either productive or informative so I'll call it quits now.

Take care.

Amy,

I am puzzled why a sin against the ultimate authority should have an infinite consequence when a good work viewed by that same authority is no better than filthy rags?

Joe,
I had been responding primarily to your posts that were addressed to me, so I failed to notice your last real post.

Don’t know what to say about it except that, while there is judgment in the Bible there is also an even stronger message of mercy. Jesus (God himself) died to save people. He knows pain and hardship, even torture (death on a cross) personally. He knows what it means to be despised, hated, mocked, even betrayed. He did these things to be able to save us after we chose to rebel against Him. We opened Pandora’s box, so to speak. The results are terrible and long lasting. Does this give neat tidy answers to all your objections? No; but if all you can see is the killing in the Bible then you truly are missing the heart.

"If all you can see is the killing in the Bible then you truly are missing the heart."

Yes, I'm sure that the ends justify the means.

>>”All I see is humans killing humans and saying "God says it's ok". Well, it's not ok. It just isn't. And I can't make my mind say that it is.”

Except dismembering a baby in the womb - That’s ok.

"Except dismembering a baby in the womb - That’s ok."

As I said, we don't know if God says this is ok or not.

Hi Joe,

I didn’t say anything about God. I just noted that you think dismembering a baby in the womb is okay. I just wanted to tack that on to your moral creed above. That’s all. Figured you would have done it yourself. No Biggie.

Joe said: "I can read. Not the same character in the two parts of the Bible."

It appears you are taking a similar approach as the scribes and Pharisees. Christ tought otherwise as you should have read but unfortuately didn't understand.

Concerning the Trinity you make the same mistake as Islam.

If you choose to spend the time to study these issues I think you will find that Christian doctine coheres quite well throughout the Bible. It does take effort and willingness.

One thing is clear, I don't have as much free time as some on this blog!

Joe said: "Well, it's not ok. It just isn't. And I can't make my mind say that it is."

This is hopeful. If there is something more than just your opinion working here, there is a source of absolute morality! I believe that the source is God revealed in the Bible. If you seek the source there is hope.

It seems you do not yet agree but perhaps you may someday.

"I just noted that you think dismembering a baby in the womb is okay."

Hmm, I don't remember saying that.

>>”Hmm, I don't remember saying that.”

Oh, you didn't say it. You believe it. Right?

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