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« A Response to the Reformation Project | Main | Your Theological Preferences Don’t Prove Anything...Even if You’re an Atheist »

September 18, 2015


I just asked a person what possible issue they could have with a law protecting born alive infants. Their response : My body, my choice.
Followed by a diatribe about how *I* don't take care of every infant born to women in poverty therefore I shouldn't shoot my mouth off.
My response : So if the infants born alive are poor you should be allowed to kill them?
It degraded into a ridiculous argument about "choice", which, by the way, has nothing to do with people born alive. I asked her where her line was drawn, no answer. Apparently newborns that are poor are also expendable. I guess that is good news for organ procurement companies!

Yes, the moving fetus in the video was aborted. The website for the Grantham Collection says their images were “lawfully obtained in working abortion clinics.” ... CBR has confirmed this, saying, “The video clip we provided to CMP depicted an intact delivery abortion. It was filmed at an abortion clinic. It was not a miscarriage.”

Well, if the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and its Grantham Collection say the footage is genuine, then it must be so. The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform is 100 percent trustworthy. We know that it is 100 percent trustworthy because, when anyone suggests it is not 100 percent trustworthy, the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform promptly files a defamation lawsuit. Here are some things the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform definitely does not do:

  • Bribe clinic workers to obtain shock footage
  • Steal photos of stillborns from grieving would-be-parents, to further the anti-abortion cause
  • Label the state of legal abortion in the US as a "genocide" and make gratuitous and shameless comparisons to the Jewish Holocaust, American slavery, the Trail of Tears, etc.

These are all damnable lies, concocted by Planned Parenthood and others to destroy the righteous, 100% trustworthy Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. Anyone repeating these lies is committing a legally actionable tort, and will face the legal consequences of their irresponsible rhetoric.

Yes, let's change the subject and focus on the CBR because bribing someone for photos to stop an atrocity is far more despicable than dismembering human beings alive.

Yes, let's change the subject and focus on the CBR because bribing someone for photos to stop an atrocity is far more despicable than dismembering human beings alive.

And that, dear friends and comrades, is what makes the anti-abortion movement so scary. If you sincerely believe that there is a "genocide" in progress, and that the state of legal abortion in the US is comparable to Auschwitz, then your ethics are reasoned from a perpetual state of emergency. As John Piper once said, if you would trespass on private property to save a child from drowning, why would you not block the doors of an abortion clinic to save unborn children from being aborted? If you would make fake IDs for Jews being hunted by the Nazis, what's the problem with making fake IDs to infiltrate Planned Parenthood? If you would lie about hiding fugitive slaves in your home, shouldn't you tell a white lie or two to move the pro-life cause along?

Generally, the hard-core faction of the anti-abortion movement believes than, to stop abortion and make it illegal, all means short of violence are permissible. And there is a small but significant minority who do not even draw the line at violence.

"Well, if the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and its Grantham Collection say the footage is genuine, then it must be so. The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform is 100 percent trustworthy."

@Phillip A, that's funny. That's the exact same line I hear from the media and the Pro-aborts in Washington in regards to PP. "Well, Planned Parenthood SAYS they're not harvesting baby parts for profit, so they must not be. Issue solved, there's nothing to see here, nothing to investigate here."

And that, dear friends and comrades, is what makes the anti-abortion movement so scary.

And that, dear friends and comrades, is what makes the pro-abortion movement so scary. If you deny that a genocide is in progress then you're just like the Nazis who turned a blind eye to suffering Jews.

Philip, serious question, is calling something scary supposed to be an argument? Do you think you can change minds simply by labeling your opponent as scary?

Lately I've been operating with a minimal effort apologetic--just throwing out the first thing that comes to mind and then walking away. But as I walked away from this comment I felt a little convicted: maybe I should make more of an effort to communicate my point and where I think you're going off base. After all, Coca-Cola doesn't put minimal effort into their delicious soft-drinks. Their blood, sweat, and tears goes into every bottle. So why am I over here acting like Pepsi? So today I'm going to try and live up to my great namesake.

So my point in my last comment, Philip, is that your comment about how pro-lifers are scary appears to be nothing more than fear mongering. And we could observe that when people are afraid of another group there is a significant minority that will resort to violence against that group. So does this not make your own position just as scary as the pro-lifers?

The fact is that the nature of this debate is extremely important, because if the pro-life position is correct (and, thus, the unborn are fully human with all the rights that naturally accompany that) then the comparison with Nazi Germany is correct and we are in fact guilty of another genocide. Instead of telling us that you think that's scary, why not tell us why you think that's wrong?

And while some minority might think this justifies violence, there are actually good arguments for why we should not resort to violence even in the face of this genocide (e.g., it would be counter-productive towards the over-all goal of saving lives).

But on atheism there are no objective moral norms and if we fear some group (like pro-lifers) then there is no objective basis upon which to say that we should not stomp them out of existence.

Stay straight drinking coke.

So helpful! Thank you.

So where is the supposed “problem”?

After all this is about what's right and what's moral and it isn't about all those outdated Theistic "hang-ups".

Organs are financially valued – and, since money is involved, if it’s the black market doing it over there behind buildings, well that won't do, that's im-moral, that's part of what's wrong. Better to regulate and contain said accounting that way it's part of the good, part of the lovely, part of what's right, part of the moral.

So too with the womb. The human being therein can be sacrificed – but if it's done on the black market behind buildings, well that won't do, that's im-moral, that's part of what's wrong. Better to regulate and contain said accounting. That way it's part of the good, part of the lovely, part of what's right, part of the moral.

So too with suicide. The Adult there can be sacrificed – that’s not the issue – but if it's done behind buildings, well that won't do, that's im-moral, that's part of what's wrong. Better to follow Belgium's lead and the lead of a few others of late and regulate and contain said accounting. That way it's part of the good, part of the lovely, part of what's right, part of the moral.

There is nothing good or lovely or moral or valuable about the life itself, about the organ itself, about the life itself there in the womb, about the adult himself, about a person himself – at any stage of development. Harvesting all such sacrifices is fine. That is not the issue and, in fact, that is part of what's right, part of the good, part of what’s moral just so long as we do it in a few neatly circumscribed locations with the proper licenses nicely displayed at the reception desk and hence properly regulate and contain said accounting.

There is no such thing as, what was it again? “Billy-Joe’s gumption” or “Keedwin’s statute” or “Goodwinner’s law”? Whatever. Not to worry – it’s irrelevant – it must have been some bygone relic from some other time – back there in the dark ages when barbarians roamed the earth. We’ve come a long, long, long way since then.

Honest Philosophical Naturalism / Materialism at its Zenith.

To preclude the unsophisticated who misses the actual point from muddying the waters: organ donation saves lives and as such serves a great good. To misread that point is to completely miss the essence of this whole thread thus far.

The fundamental problem is that we find that, on Non-Theism, Reason herself is not, given Non-Theism’s constitutional composition of reality, un-reasonable should she shift this or that arbitrary line off of today’s transient’s norm’s own location – to, say, it’s okay at 1 month post-birth – or a decade, or what have you.

Hume was right and today’s “actualizing” suicide clinics reasonably cohere with his and the Naturalist’s premises.

The Naturalist asserts, “Actual consciousness is the main part to define personhood”?

His use of the word “actual” is, obviously, housed entirely within a materialistic epistemology, and that is fine. But that’s the whole point – the use of the word “actual”. There is an “actual” person – and the metaphysical chain of continuity fails, on Theism, to eliminate such – at any step – as the very unscientific idea of “emerging properties” isn’t part of the Christian’s metaphysics.

Unfortunately Materialists are stuck with that fiction, which explains their common misuse of the word “actual”. Fortunately the new breed of up and coming new Atheists are more honest – thorough-going eliminativists – and hence are less muddied in their analysis. The future will be refreshing in that regard with these conversations.

The Non-Theists haven't shown, by argument, a coherent metaphysical chain of continuity by which Reason – given Non-Theism's elementary properties of reality – cannot reasonably disagree with him and simply shift his transitory norm’s slice to some other foci, perhaps a few months later, a few years later, or whatever, just as the Non-Theists have not shown that, should Reason do so, she would factually be (given Non-Theism's constitutional structure of reality) un-reasonable. Indeed, Reason herself in Naturalism hears only the sound of her own voice such that there is no paradigmatic contour of love’s categorical full stop by which Reason may be found, should she contradict said contours, to factually contradict the elementary properties of The- Real and thereby be, factually, un-reasonable.

A little further with conceptual frameworks:

Regarding twinning and chimerism, just search for those words at that link, which is “The Overwhelming, Mysterious, Multi-dimensional Glory of God’s Goodness” at that blog.

From a thread here at STR discussing the question of how do you get your soul a few details arose which may be relevant to the topic here. The often used “neurons are the better candidate for personhood” nuance was obviously present, and so Genome (fully present) vs. Neurons (fully absent but hitting some “threshold” number which equates to personhood) arose in dealing with three terms: 1) Embryo, and 2) Human Being, and 3) Person. Two quotes of that much longer thread:

A Christian replied to the notion that the Christian is, or seems to be, defining both Person and Human Being by Genes/Genome:

“When Tim observes that "all the genetic information is present at conception" this is his evidence that a human being begins at conception. It's not that a high number of genes leads us to think that an organism is a human being. We don't count the number of genes and say "Wow, that's a lot of genes... I think it's enough to qualify as a human being." *Furthermore* Tim believes a human being is a person (even though Tim didn't say that). And the reason I mentioned that is because I assume you think neural connection is a better candidate for being a person... since it seems pretty obvious that having a certain number of neurons is not what makes someone a human being.”

So to go a bit further:

I see why you might confuse Tim’s two prongs, or two statements, as contradictory.

You have to avoid the mistake of thinking that the Theist’s epistemology is the immediate reflection of a materialistic ontology. “Human Being” is the only descriptor the physical sciences can offer us here and that is simply because of the fact that causes cannot gift their effects with properties which they (the causes) themselves do not already implicitly house. Whereas, “Personhood” is something which a pure scient-ism cannot ontologically locate and hence the Theist overlays those two terms onto a singularity – the embryo.

Tim is simply stating the obvious with two different "directional" statements:

1) The scientifically obvious (embryo = human being).

2) The Theistically obvious vis-à-vis natural theology (embryo = person).

How you should react is simply to ask two questions:

1) "Are those two statements compatible?"

2) “Can physicalism (etc.) go farther, fit better?”

Well, let's see:

Starting with the basics, brain development (neuronal) and additions (again neuronal structures, sheaths, and so on) do not peak until the late teens, and, combined with that, “properties” in materialism do not, in fact cannot, “emerge” if by “property” we mean any nuance whatsoever in the effect which is that which we do not find implicitly within the cause. If there is something the neurons are “doing” which you want to tell us the embryo “can’t do” then you are guilty of contradicting the most basic of scientific facts:

A true physicalism makes no allowance for emergent properties in nature that are not already implicit in their causes. Unless, then, one is positing the existence of proto-conscious material elements, particles of intentionality and awareness that are in some inconceivable way already rational and subjective, and that can add up to the unified perspective of a single conscious subject (which seems a quite fantastic notion), one is really just talking about some marvelously inexplicable transition from the undirected, mindless causality of mechanistic matter to the intentional unity of consciousness. Talk of emergence in purely physical terms, then, really does not seem conspicuously better than talk of magic. (David Bentley Hart)

If we back up a few steps and just grant the often used “Neurons equals Personhood” nuance (of course neurons, scientifically, do not mean or define human being) then we are measurably, factually in a state of affairs wherein the 10 year old is less valuable, less human, less of a person, than is the 17 year old.

But moving on:

There is no difference in property between the embryo and the adult where properties are concerned as far as the physical sciences can tell us. Why? Again, it is a simple fact that a chemical reaction is a chemical reaction. Therefore (again) if one means to claim that something, anything, within the effect’s property (person, awareness, suffering, joy) emerges downstream which was not already implicit in the cause – then one is dead in the water from the start, both scientifically and metaphysically. The Neurons do not (on science) “have something” and they do not “do something” there in themselves (the downstream effects) which the embryo itself (on science) does not “have” and is not “doing”.

That principle reinforces just why it is, of late, more and more Non-Theistic Biologists are affirming that, on their view’s premises, there is no such thing as “life vs. non-life”.

So far nothing that we’ve seen in the materialist’s tool box gives us any ability to tell us there is a downstream property which is not already implicit in the embryo. This does not help the Theist directly – but rather – it merely gets rid of the Non-Theist’s fray of fallacious “definitions”. Indirectly it may help the Theist’s two claims (human being vs. personhood overlaid one atop the other) as follows:

Tim merely states the Christian's claim: At conception there is a person.

Tim then simply agrees with the science: As far as science can go, science claims that, on species, on organism, and so on, the embryo is what we call a human being.

Science cannot say any more.

The arbitrary slicing point in the materialist’s chain of chemical reactions at “neurons” suffers from the fact that it cannot scientifically demonstrate personhood. That leaves one arguing against the Theist’s metaphysical claim with premises which cannot scientifically contradict the Theist’s claim given that future properties downstream (the effects) of the embryo (the cause) cannot magically appear if the causes themselves do not implicitly house said effects.

Whereas, that we observe properties (awareness, personhood, etc.) in the effect downstream makes sense vis-à-vis the Christian’s claim given that the cause and the effect do not have to suffer the pains of circularity, the pains of question begging, which the materialist’s toolbox must suffer in trying to define and account for those downstream properties. The Non-Theist has to “pretend” that there is something in the effect (awareness, personhood, etc.) which is not in the cause (embryo, etc.) and create a fiction by which to claim that sets of chemical reactions over “here” have constitutional properties which sets of chemical reactions over “there” do not, or did not, have.

Now, useful fictions are fine, but, we find then that it is always reasonable to draw that line anywhere for Reason herself hears only the sound of her own voice – and thus cannot be mistaken – for there is no fundamental contour of reality which she shall contradict should she move said line this way or that way by, say, a few months, or years, or decades. It’s all the same and the indifference of “Whatever” ends all sentences.

Whereas, our brutally repeatable experience of the Self affirms the Theist’s chain of continuity wherein we find – downstream – in ourselves all the stuff of person, of “I”, of reason-ing, of awareness, of logic, of the Self, of the Other, of love’s Self-Giving. The Theist is *not* saying that said properties are “happening” in the embryo’s biochemistry (the cause/effect issue) – but the Theist *is* saying that said properties are – vis-à-vis *essence* – fully present.

And that matches both the physical sciences and our undeniable and brutally repeatable experience of – wait for it – reality.

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