Thursday, October 15, 2009

Felt like ripping abortion today

Left a comment today on the local university student rag, where a friend of mine wrote a column about a recently-passed law on abortion.
I was responding to a comment by a user called "ab167", which was bookended by "You note the supposedly unproblematic part..." and "...back-alley procedures, heaven forbid". Here's my response:
--this is the first such law in the US and that there is no evidence that such abortions are occurring at all
Then presumedly you'll have no problem with its being preempted. We humans do like to find new ways to hurt and kill each other, you know.

--since it would be a glaringly difficult task to determine the motivation of the mother beyond reasonable doubt, creating a huge legal gray area.
That is a good point, one that should be very carefully thought thru. One can only wish for such thinking in other areas such as hate crime legislation. If you're for that, don't whine about this.


--I am sure you would approve of such underhanded measures to reduce abortions
And why not? I'm also in favor of sting operations to catch abusive pimps, drug dealers, and pædophiles. Or spies sent to infiltrate murderous gangs to bring them to justice.
Murdering babies is horrifying and horrible. Short of matching abortion's violence, I'm in favor of just about anythg to stop the murder of babies.


--isn't NOT LYING one of those laws you people have that goes hand in hand with not killin' babies?
Sorry, I tend to tune out when someone lectures me on morality who is trying to justify the legality of dismembering helpless children in their mothers' wombs. Let me know when you're done.


--nobody LIKES abortions
The pro-abort crowd does not act like they dislike them. You need to spend some more time among the more radical of your own kind. Hit a NOW meeting from time to time.


--not restricting access to medical care, but reducing unwanted pregnancies through education and access to contraceptives.
No one's arguing for restricting access to medical care, you morally blind fool. Medical care? Is that what you call jamming a scalpel into a baby's brain and then dismembering him with a pair of forceps after flooding his habitat with poison? What the frak kind of sick doctor do you go to? I suppose he treats broken bones by breaking others.
Further, yes, let's do the latter ALSO. And ALSO make murdering babies illegal. You know, like we've done with all sorts of other crimes, like murder and grand theft auto.


--access to legal abortions has little correlation to the number of abortions performed.
Except that now there are quite a lot more than before it was legal.
And don't try to spook me with the "back alley" bogeyman.
1) Murdering babies SHOULD be a dangerous thing to try.
2) You are so out of touch that you think modern abortuaries are even close to sanitary and professional?
3) According to the info I've seen, not even 100 women died in the entire history of "back alley" abortions in the US.

If you read this, then you weren't aborted.

69 comments:

NAL said...

Sorry, I tend to tune out when someone lectures me on morality who thinks a one-cell zygote should have the same rights as living, breathing baby.

Rhology said...

Really? Saying "let's go ahead and not murder said zygote for no reason" is unconscionable? Really?

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Even though I am unequivocally pro-choice--indeed, I have difficulty conceiving of any restriction on voluntary abortion that I would support--I certainly recognize the legitimacy of your viewpoint and respect your legal privilege to protest and work against abortion.

The only thing that, to me, crosses the line is actually obstructing a woman’s access to an abortion clinic. In my view, there is very little difference between you, as an anti-abortion activist, obstructing a woman’s access to a clinic and a hypothetical individual, who holds fervent anti-Christian views, attempting to obstruct your bringing a child into church, on the belief that inculcating Christian doctrine into tiny children constitutes child abuse. This person could picket your church, as you might do to abortion clinics, but, to me, obstruction is when the line is crossed.

Rhology said...

But why would anyone care about what you think about any moral issue?

PChem said...

NAL,

Seems like you need to define what it means to be living. Functional definitions, like what you seem to hold, become really hard to contain. Someone may come along and redefine what is "killable" and you may not fare so well under the new definition. It has certainly happened numerous times in the past.

NAL said...

It is unconscionable to force a woman to risk her life or health because you believe that a single cell has the same rights as a living breathing baby.

Rhology said...

1) Prove it's unconscionable.
2) Why is the fact that the baby is smaller and younger and therefore less developed relevant?

PChem said...

NAL,

Again, you need to define what is living. You apparently don't think that a single cell is living, so clarify it. I find it strange that you think an agglomeration of cells (baby) has rights whereas a single cell (baby in womb) does not. Now that makes no sense.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Again, you need to define what is living. You apparently don't think that a single cell is living, so clarify it. I find it strange that you think an agglomeration of cells (baby) has rights whereas a single cell (baby in womb) does not. Now that makes no sense.

this works both ways though - until the anti abortion folk can give us an objective definition of when life begins and why that's not just an arbitrary cut off point it comes down to not much more than personal preference as to what constitutes living and what doesn't

as regards the OP, aren't you pro capital punishment as well as supportive of things like waterboarding etc? if I've remembered all that correctly, it tends to reduce comments like this

Murdering babies is horrifying and horrible. Short of matching abortion's violence, I'm in favor of just about anythg to stop the murder of babies.

to just arbitrary emoting seeing as it clearly isn't all human life/welfare you've bothered about as opposed to just the ones you happen to feel empathy towards for whatever reason

But why would anyone care about what you think about any moral issue?

Straight back at you - it's fairly easy to poke holes in Christianity's fairly flimsy bases for morality so why would anyone who isn't a Christian be bothered about Christian pronouncements on these matters?

ultimately your position is just an exact mirror of the one you're critiquing, pretty much exactly the same criticisms apply to your own position

Dr Funkenstein said...

edit:

I could probably throw in a fair number of OT passages where Yahweh endorses genocide and the like - if 'murdering babies' gets you wound up, surely that has to be far worse in your eyes?

or is it just a case of 'if god wants it, it must be OK?'

Rhology said...

Dr F,

Conception.
And I take it that you, when in doubt, kill. You shoot first and don't ask questions later. Brilliant.

How is the treatment of convicted capital criminals and terrorist suspects comparable to the question of whether it's OK to jab scalpels into baby's brains?
Of course I don't have the same empathy for a convicted murderer as I do for an innocent baby. There's nothing "happen to" about it. Is your head on straight today?

You *say* it's easy to poke holes in Christian morality, but you never succeed.
Further, you apparently don't grasp, even after all this time spent on this blog, the diffs between the BASIS for morality on Christianity and that on atheism. Amazing.
But let's just say you succeeded. The question remains - why would anyone care about what you think about any moral issue?

Finally, as you should know b/c I've explained it numerous times here, God can't murder a human being, by definition. B/c God's putting any person to death is justified, not UNjustified, which is murder.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Conception.

but we went over this before:

a. there were problems such as the fact fertilisation occurs over a period of ~24 hrs - which point in the process exactly does life begin? after 1 hr? 2hrs? 10 hrs?
b. lots of other groups view/have viewed it differently (including sects of your own religion), there's no indication yet that your cut off is any better supported than any of theirs
c. most ofthe sources you linked to for support seemed to just be going on their own personal biases rather than any set of objective facts

You *say* it's easy to poke holes in Christian morality, but you never succeed.

I repeatedly point out contradictions in Christian theology and the words of presupp big shots - your answer is invariably 'I can't explain it, but I know it isn't a contradiction' even though the examples could be used as textbook examples of contradictions (eg the idea that Jesus can be mortal and immortal at the same time as an all God/all man entity). Forgive me if I don't consider the punt to mystery or stalling tactics as a rebuttal of my objections against your position in the continued absence of any explanation as to why they aren't contradictions being forthcoming from you.

And I take it that you, when in doubt, kill. You shoot first and don't ask questions later. Brilliant.

nice straw man - seeing as I've never needed to ask anyone to have an abortion, I've never carried one out, nor am I in a position to make any laws on the matter then your objection is totally irrelevant to me. if you want to take issue with other people who do do those things feel free to do so - I don't make their decisions for them.

Further, you apparently don't grasp, even after all this time spent on this blog, the diffs between the BASIS for morality on Christianity and that on atheism. Amazing.

I understand it just fine - it's the supposedly unchanging character/nature of the Christian god. However, according to your own rules (internal coherence) I've shown that Christianity fails that test on several fronts, with no rebuttal of any substance from you. So i think my objection remains without any problems

furthermore, I think arguments like euthyphro and PoE are major problems for your viewpoint (your changing the emphasis from god's commands to God's nature doesn't provde any solution to Euthyphro since God's commands just reflect his nature anyway). I also didn't mention anything about any bases (or lack of) for morality on atheism, i was pointing out the problems with christian claims - atheism may be consistent with objective morality or it may not, but this doesn't somehow follow that the Christian position is therefore sound.

Dr Funkenstein said...

How is the treatment of convicted capital criminals and terrorist suspects comparable to the question of whether it's OK to jab scalpels into baby's brains?

because not everyone who gets convicted of a crime or suspected of terrorism is guilty of it for starters (although some are of course). but of course we could just go with "when in doubt, kill. You shoot first and don't ask questions later. Brilliant". unless you could 100% prove the guilt of every one of these people, then you've supported at least some murders or unjustified mistreatment by the state, which means you don't hold a consistent position.

second, your point was

"Murdering babies is horrifying and horrible. Short of matching abortion's violence, I'm in favor of just about anythg to stop the murder of babies."


Why is executing people or suffocating them not "horrifying and horrible" given some of the methods used (eg the electric chair was pretty horrific by all accounts)?


Finally, as you should know b/c I've explained it numerous times here, God can't murder a human being, by definition. B/c God's putting any person to death is justified, not UNjustified, which is murder.

In what way is it justified - 'might makes right' isn't an argument for anything. It also goes against the idea that god is an unchanging source of moral absolutes - if conducting genocide was fine several 1000 years ago and now on Christianity it is not, there can't really be said to be an unchanging set of standards of conduct on Christianity seeing as it has at different times endorsed both positions

it also presumably still doesn't make genocide less horrific, which was my point - if the act of abortion is horrific (or modern day genocide for that matter), please explain why OT genocide sanctioned by yahweh is not. It presumably involved the slaughter of children. newborns, the unborn etc so if you object to abortion on the basis of it being 'horrifying and horrible' then there's no obvious reason you shouldn't object to the OT genocide for the same reasons.

PChem said...

DF,

Wow, you really side stepped the question didn't you? I believe life begins at conception, specifically the moment a single sperm has penetrated the cell membrane and the cell becomes depolarized. Further, I believe that all human life is sacred, being made in the image of God. My question to NAL, and now I guess to you, is what makes a whole pile of cells worthy of legal protection as opposed to a single cell? NAL seemed to feel that a "living breathing baby" has more rights to live than a single cell zygote. Please explain to me why. I suggest that you start by defining what constitutes life and why the arbitrary cut off point of birth is chosen.

but we went over this before:

a. Are you serious? As if a 24 hour difference is really that much out of a 40 week pregnancy (0.36% to be precise). Anyway, I submit that life begins the moment the cell depolarizes.

b and c. These statements seem to vague to even begin to address. What sects said what? When and who said it? What links do you mean? I didn't see any links anywhere in this combox. You must be refering to past discussions with rho on these two.

Dr Funkenstein said...

I believe life begins at conception, specifically the moment a single sperm has penetrated the cell membrane and the cell becomes depolarized.

I know - that's generally what anti abortionists say. But it's not some obvious objective fact, no matter that they'd like us to believe it is. believing it does not make it so

the article I link to at the bottom of this post lists a number of opposing scientific/philosophical views on the biological starting point of life


Further, I believe that all human life is sacred, being made in the image of God.

but again, believing something doesn't make it so.

My question to NAL, and now I guess to you, is what makes a whole pile of cells worthy of legal protection as opposed to a single cell?

Probably nothing - arbitrary social constructs and group preferences that happen to have worked out well for me and you and not so well for some single unborn cells or handfuls of cells would be my answer.


NAL seemed to feel that a "living breathing baby" has more rights to live than a single cell zygote. Please explain to me why.

I don't think I'm under obligation to defend that since I wasn't the one that made the argument, it's also a non-sequitur to assume that because NAL holds a particular position I therefore also believe it. If you want an explanation, I'd ask NAL seeing as it's his claim.


I suggest that you start by defining what constitutes life and why the arbitrary cut off point of birth is chosen.

My opinion is that there is no discrete boundary line where life starts and stops as i think the process runs to a spectrum. I consider that this view is the one most consistent with the process of development (this is termed the Metabolic View in the link)

Are you serious? As if a 24 hour difference is really that much out of a 40 week pregnancy (0.36% to be precise).

Yes - if a process is running along a spectrum as opposed to a series of discontinuous points, why (other than for usefulness in medical studies and communication etc) does one point constitute a cut off point rather than any point fractionally either side of it, or fractionally either side of those points, or fractionally either side of those points etc etc?


Anyway, I submit that life begins the moment the cell depolarizes.

and c. These statements seem to vague to even begin to address. What sects said what? When and who said it? What links do you mean? I didn't see any links anywhere in this combox. You must be refering to past discussions with rho on these two.

I was alluding to the vast variety of opinion both religious and non-religious as to when life begins that have existed through history. There's no obvious sign any of them are 'more right' than any of the others, and various sects using the bible or Torah as part of their thinking have reached very different conclusions on when life begins..

The article I was referring to was this chapter of Developmental Biology, which gives a history of the thought on the matter:

http://8e.devbio.com/article.php?id=162

Anonymous said...

Rho,

"According to the info I've seen, not even 100 women died in the entire history of "back alley" abortions in the US."

What is your source of data. I think you are wrong as usual. Not surprising coming from you.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Rhology,

You might be interested in my newest blog post, here: http://mycaseagainstgod.blogspot.com/2009/10/brief-digression-on-morality.html

It's one of the few times you will ever hear me say this: Rhology, you are right.

Anonymous said...

JN

Have you lost your mind ????

The Jolly Nihilist said...

I do not think so. ;)

But, for years now, I have rejected the concept of objective morality.

I just never actually articulated why.

NAL said...

PChem:

NAL seemed to feel that a "living breathing baby" has more rights to live than a single cell zygote. Please explain to me why.

Because a living breathing baby is a human being and a single cell is not.

Rhology said...

Wow, Dr F, you're a little riled up today. :-)
My favorite part is all your indignance. "Christianity is crap, irrational, and offensive to me and should be offensive to you too! You should be an atheist so your consistent answer to everything is...meh!"
Yeah, that's the ticket. You're not the most consistent atheist I've ever met, Dr F, and part of the proof is that you post things like this on these moral questions. You just can't keep yourself from it, and that's the image of God poking out from between your fingers.


which point in the process exactly does life begin? after 1 hr?

Let's say I don't know that. What relevance to abortion does this have? I don't shoot first and ask questions later, like you apparently prefer people do. When in doubt, let's protect life.
You claim you have no effect on the reality, so "shooting first" isn't relevant to you. True, not to an actual baby, but to a potential baby. And you're a voter, aren't you? And you're in favor of shooting first, so don't act all self-righteous like you're above it all. Man up and say you think it's better to kill when you don't know the nature of the target.


most ofthe sources you linked to for support seemed to just be going on their own personal biases rather than any set of objective facts

I link to sources only incidentally for this. I simply ask a series of reducing questions. Interested in arguments.


your answer is invariably 'I can't explain it, but I know it isn't a contradiction'

Mmm, no, I don't think that's my answer. Got a link?


because not everyone who gets convicted of a crime or suspected of terrorism is guilty of it for starters (although some are of course). but of course we could just go with "when in doubt, kill.

1) Two wrongs make a right fallacy.
2) Aborted babies get a trial and due process of law or sthg that approaches a legal process?
3) Apparently you were in all those courtrooms and know that there was indeed doubt about the guilt of the accused, huh? Cool trick, how'd you do that?


Why is executing people or suffocating them not "horrifying and horrible" given some of the methods used (eg the electric chair was pretty horrific by all accounts)?

B/c they were guilty of capital crimes. Babies aren't.


In what way is it justified - 'might makes right' isn't an argument for anything.

Um, how could you possibly know that? Prove it.


if conducting genocide was fine several 1000 years ago and now on Christianity it is not

Don't be so dense, please. Covenants. OT Israel vs the NT concept of the covenant community of God.
I've explained this to you multiple times, and I tire of doing so. Either give me some biblical reason to think my explanation is insufficient or go bother some n00b with this lame argument.


it also presumably still doesn't make genocide less horrific, which was my poin

For the 1000th time, on atheism, NOTHING is horrific.



JN,
Whoa. Local media have been alerted. ;-)


NAL,
So what?
Coming from someone whose worldview can ground or justify no concept of human rights, your personal assurance that X has human rights and Y doesn't is pretty hollow. Get a better worldview.

NAL said...

Rho:

Coming from someone whose worldview can ground or justify no concept of human rights, your personal assurance that X has human rights and Y doesn't is pretty hollow. Get a better worldview.

Rho, is this a new agrument? It seems somehow familar ...

It's used whenever Rho doesn't want to argue the substance of a topic.

PChem said...

Dr. F,

Thank you for the link. I've seen most of this stuff at various times before. I still maintain that the moment of cell depolarization is the point a new life begins. At this point, the cell has a complete set of genetic information.

SO you think life is a continuum without clear starting and stopping points. Then what do you describe a baby at 24 weeks? How much life does it have? You said that these decisions are made on group consensus and social constructs. Why do you oppose changing them as I would like to do? After all, on atheism these are just cells. Why should it matter if we protect them earlier than later or even at all? Seems to me like you're world view really doesn't have anything meaningful to contribute to this.

I do not think disgreement about when a human life begins undermines the view that human life is sacred. The vast majority of Christians throughout history have always held to this. In contrast, your view does not view life as sacred. On your atheistic beliefs, I find it hard one can criticize anyone for categorically defining a group of sect of people as not human (like NAL did) and then exterminate them.

but again, believing something doesn't make it so.

Right back at you. As if you don't have beliefs about when life begins and when humans should obtain legal rights.

For the record, the discussion began with a question directed to NAL. You then jumped in and challenged it. Now you are backing off because you claimed it wasn't directed to you? Nice. Why did you comment to begin with? If you want to keep this going, then answer the question.

NAL,
Why? You've stated this three times now. Are you ready to start backing it up, or is this your way of saying that it is your personal preference and is not normative for anybody else on the planet.

//not proofread

Dr Funkenstein said...

Wow, Dr F, you're a little riled up today. :-)

Lol, not really - I just sometimes come across that way with my writing style. I'm fairly mellow for the most part in 'real life'.


My favorite part is all your indignance. "Christianity is crap, irrational, and offensive to me and should be offensive to you too! You should be an atheist so your consistent answer to everything is...meh!"

I'm not saying anything about what you should or shouldn't do - if you don't want to be an atheist, it's your life, it's not up to me to tell you what to think. All I'm doing is presenting arguments for or against various positions. I happen to think the arguments for atheism are better than the ones for any sort of theism, whether you want to accept that even if I'm correct is obviously your call.

Yeah, that's the ticket. You're not the most consistent atheist I've ever met, Dr F, and part of the proof is that you post things like this on these moral questions. You just can't keep yourself from it, and that's the image of God poking out from between your fingers.

This would be a valid criticism if I was doing anything more here than pointing out flaws in your arguments. Plus, you accuse me of making moral pronouncements when on this very thread I stated in response to PChem:

My question to NAL, and now I guess to you, is what makes a whole pile of cells worthy of legal protection as opposed to a single cell?

"Probably nothing - arbitrary social constructs and group preferences that happen to have worked out well for me and you and not so well for some single unborn cells or handfuls of cells would be my answer."

Surely you'd agree that response would be a view you'd consider to be consistent with the variant of atheism you usually argue against?

Let's say I don't know that. What relevance to abortion does this have?

Wow - you've spent numerous posts promoting the view that abortion is murder. However, given that murder would require killing a living human being, it's fairly essential that you tell us the exact boundary between life and non-life and how you arrived at that conclusion to support your view. If you can't do this, there's no obvious reason your choice of the point on the spectrum of where life begins is any better than a different one I decided to pick.

I don't shoot first and ask questions later, like you apparently prefer people do. When in doubt, let's protect life.

I'm wanting you to support your view of when life begins and why that should be preferred to an alternative. Thus far I've not seen any reason to suspect you are right.

You claim you have no effect on the reality, so "shooting first" isn't relevant to you. True, not to an actual baby, but to a potential baby.

In what way? I have no responsibility for any abortions carried out anywhere in the world seeing as I don't make other people's choices for them or pass laws.

And you're a voter, aren't you?

Not when I lived in the US as I wasn't legally able to as a Brit. However, abortion laws don't really play any part in my choice of vote (it's never especially a prominent issue in UK elections), and to be honest i feel a lot of the the time you may as well pick a name out of a hat because most politicians will never come good on the fantastic promises they make during the campaigns. If I were able to vote in the US, the GOP picking a candidate like Palin to run as VP wouldn't exactly have me rushing out to vote for them, and that's nothing to do with her anti-abortion stance, believe me.

I also rarely bother to vote in the UK, especially at the moment as the options are really poor - the current Labour government has just got worse and worse in its stint in charge, and none of the other parties look like better options.

I'll respond to the rest later as it's 5pm over here and thus time to go to the pub!

NAL said...

PChem:

Why? You've stated this three times now. Are you ready to start backing it up, or is this your way of saying that it is your personal preference and is not normative for anybody else on the planet.

Are you kidding? A human being has a brain, consciousness, personality, awareness, ...

A single cell has none of these characteristics. Maybe you need to explain why you think a single cell is equivalent to a human being.

Rhology said...

PChem, apparently NAL is not going to answer the question. He's just gonna keep expressing his own biases, with no reason for them.

PChem said...

Rhology,

No this is coming along now. NAL has started to give us a list. So far, a human being must have

1. a brain
2. consciousness
3. personality
4. awareness

NAL, no I am not kidding. You proclaim that there is a difference between a single-cell human being and a multi-cellular human being. My question to you is what is the distinction. Frankly, I view this as an incredibly important question. Is your list complete? I want the whole thing. Also, does a human being have to possess all of the attributes simultaneously or only some of them some of the time? If so, which traits must be kept? Which traits do not have to be kept all of the time? Is there a percentage? If it helps, I only want the minimum criteria that you think defines a human being.

Rhology said...

I only want the minimum criteria that you think defines a human being.

And I'd like to know the justification for the list. Sthg more substantive than "I think this makes sense".

PChem said...

Maybe you need to explain why you think a single cell is equivalent to a human being.

1. A single-cell human has its complete set of genetic information and will develop into a human.
2. A person's state of development does not impact on the degree of his/her human-ness. I.e., a toddler is just as much a human being as a 50 year old.
3. The uniqueness of man does not lie in a set of traits or attributes. Man is unique because God created him in His image. Further, God commanded that we are not to murder other human beings based on their being created in His image.

Awaiting your response to my questions in the previous post.

NAL said...

PChem:

1. A single-cell human has its complete set of genetic information and will develop into a human.

"... will develop into a human." Therefore, it was not a human prior to development. I agree.

2. A person's state of development does not impact on the degree of his/her human-ness. I.e., a toddler is just as much a human being as a 50 year old.

Are you saying that the state of development between a toddler and a 50-year-old is the same as between a single cell and a toddler?

What human characteristic of a toddler does a single cell possess? Human DNA is all that I can think of.

Every cell in our bodies has a "complete set of genetic information." Does this make every cell in our bodies a human? With present day cloning technology, every cell in our bodies could potentially became a human.

What about a soul? Does a fertilized egg possess a soul? Isn't that the reason you want to treat a single cell as a human?

NAL said...

PChem:

If it helps, I only want the minimum criteria that you think defines a human being.

One criteria, other that DNA, is all I need to prove that a single cell is not a human being.

Perhaps you could give one uniquely human characteristic, other than DNA, that is possessed by both humans and a single cell. I can't think of any. If you can come up with one, I will be forced to reexamine my position.

Actually, this is a toss-up to everyone.

PChem said...

NAL,

I actually just came to edit my previous post. I meant to say "adult human." Sorry for my sloppy writing, but I still stick to my statement.

I'm not the one that has to have a list of functional qualifiers to distinguish what is a human being and what isn't. You do. My position rests on humans being created in the image of God. That is something that all humans possess from the moment of conception.

Yes, the single cell is a less developed human than a toddler but that does not change the fact that it is still a human.

Look, you can criticize my position all you want, and I will be happy to defend it. However, you have repeatedly claimed that a single cell is NOT a human being. So at some point something that is NOT a human being must become a human being. This means the baby in womb must acquire something that it lacks. I want to know what you think it lacks. Give me your list of qualities a human has. If you aren't prepared to do me this, then I can pretty much say that you have nothing.

Cheers!

NAL said...

PChem:

So at some point something that is NOT a human being must become a human being. This means the baby in womb must acquire something that it lacks. I want to know what you think it lacks.

It, the single cell, lacks everything, except DNA.

I have listed several. I do not have to provide a complete list because I am not arguing the point at which the development becomes human. I am arguing the single cell phase only.

I can come up with no rational argument to convince myself that a single cell contains a single human characteristics.

Your "image of God" argument is your principal argument, although you've tried to justify your belief without reference to God. But the "image of God" argument is not rational.

Dr Funkenstein said...

A single-cell human has its complete set of genetic information and will develop into a human.

not necessarily - around 1/4-1/3 of fertilised eggs spontaneously abort, so a substantial percentage can be expected never to become human

Furthermore, at certain stages of oocyte development the oocyte is diploid rather than haploid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oocyte#Formation

- this means that the oocyte has a full complement of genetic info to all extents and purposes. therefore, under this definition oocytes should perhaps be considered living human organisms?


this also would mean that technically the menstrual cycle acts as an abortive mechanism (as it converts diploid oocytes to haploid ones then expels them from the body) - if humans were made in the image of god and abortion is always wrong, why would the human female body have an endogenous abortive mechanism?


development is also not solely based on a full complement of DNA - it also depends on cytoplasmic factors (eg for nourishment) and interaction with cues in the external environment. A full complement of DNA is a necessary but not sufficient factor for development

Also, as NAL has pointed out, the majority of cells in the body contain a full complement of genetic info but are not considered human.

PChem said...

NAL,

Your the one who is saying it isn't human. You try to blanket it with some catch all everything phrase. I'm sorry that isn't going to cut it. Unless you can be specific you haven't told me anything about what makes a human being a human being. Either you can clearly say what makes a human being different from a rock, a dog, or a fern or you can't. I guessing you can't.

Your the one that brought up a distinction between single cells and a more developed human. At some point you have to make a statement about what makes the more developed human different.

Let's make it easier for you. At which of these points do the cells become a human being?

single cell
blastula
after implantation
10 wks
20 wks
30 wks
full term not born
newborn
2 mo.
6 mo.
1 year old
2 year old
5 year old
13 years
18 years
anytime between 18 and death

Then please tell me what it is that makes it unique from the stage before. What has it acquired? Is it brain waves, fingerprints, heart beat, implantation, the ability to respond to pain, a conscience, the ability to communicate in a language? What is it?

For the record, I can think of many things that a toddler lacks compared to an adult. Why does lacking adult qualities make a single cell less human?

Gotta run.

//not edited

NAL said...

PChem,

I've asked for just one, real, uniquely human characteristic, excluding DNA, that is possessed by a single cell. Since you haven't provided one, I guessing you can't.

Since you cannot provide me with that one characteristic, I can see no reason to attribute human rights to something that has not a single characteristic of being human.

PChem said...

NAL,

Let's be honest. Your the one that brought up the distinction and you aren't prepared to defend it. Further, you are the one who is saying that what is NOT a human BECOMES a human. When does it? I am totally serious here. I don't care if you want to move from single cell to a blastula to a 20 week baby to a full-term, ready-to-be delivered baby. What is it about a 20 week old that makes or does not make it a human being?

I did provide a characteristic: the image of God. I have no problems justifying my belief WITH reference to God.

Without a list, I think we are done here. I seriously and prayerfully hope you give some thought to this. You are supporting abortion without even knowing what constitutes a human being. This is incredibly reckless and frankly scary.

I sincerely hope you repent and choose to follow Jesus.

NAL said...

PChem:

I did provide a characteristic: the image of God.

I specifically asked for a real characteristic, not an imaginary one.

You are supporting abortion without even knowing what constitutes a human being.

But I do know when something doesn't constitute a human being.

I sincerely hope you repent and choose to follow Jesus.

Apparently that would require me to give up my rational mind. That's too high of a price, for me.

PChem said...

this means that the oocyte has a full complement of genetic info to all extents and purposes. therefore, under this definition oocytes should perhaps be considered living human organisms?

No, the oocyte cannot develop into an adult human being on its own accord. Besides, as I have already stated earlier, a new life begins when a sperm has penetrated the oocyte.


this also would mean that technically the menstrual cycle acts as an abortive mechanism (as it converts diploid oocytes to haploid ones then expels them from the body) - if humans were made in the image of god and abortion is always wrong, why would the human female body have an endogenous abortive mechanism?

An unfertilized oocyte is a sex cell that will develop into a human being once fertilized. The menstrual cycle is not abortive because the oocyte is not a genetically unique individual with its own life trajectory.


development is also not solely based on a full complement of DNA - it also depends on cytoplasmic factors (eg for nourishment) and interaction with cues in the external environment. A full complement of DNA is a necessary but not sufficient factor for development

This argument can easily be extended to justify killing infants, the senile, or any other class of dependent individuals. Infants require nourishment and environmental cues to develop. Explain how needing these things disqualifies one from being a human being and then explain how it does not apply to infanticide. Maybe you support infanticide, I don't know. I assume you don't.

Also, as NAL has pointed out, the majority of cells in the body contain a full complement of genetic info but are not considered human.

I thought we all knew that we were talking about sex cells here. The union of two sex cells produces an individual with a unique set of genetic information and a unique life trajectory.

You are balking at the idea that life begins at conception. Abortions are usually performed on multi-cellular individuals who have implanted in the uterine lining. What traits do those individuals possess (or not possess) that you thinks justifies them NOT being a human being. Certainly you must think what is NOT a human being becomes a human being by acquiring some set of traits or attributes, such as conscienceness. If you believe that it is a human being, how do you justify NOT killing other human beings outside the womb?

PChem said...

I specifically asked for a real characteristic, not an imaginary one.

Cute. It is real.

But I do know when something doesn't constitute a human being.

Sweet, then tell me what it is. How do you know? What are you using as criteria? I've only asked you like 6 times now and you NEVER have done it without me mining out a few from various comments here and there. I'll tell you what, just give me your top 3-5. All you have done is declare, its not a human and then attempt to criticize me. At some point your going to have to man up and present your case.

NAL said...

PChem:

How do you know?

Because the single cell contains nothing that can be found in a human except for DNA. It contains no human brain cells, no human heart cells, no human nervous system cells, no human skin cells, no human liver cells, ... nothing. What is it about nothing that is unclear?

You seem to agree since you've argued that all the single cell has is DNA and the "image of God". I, of course, reject the latter.

I understand that you want to change the topic from single cell to multi cell. You want me to give a bright line in the multi cell case. I will not oblige you. My lack of a bright line in the multi cell case does not make your single cell argument rational.

Contraception and Plan B are practical and effective methods to prevent fertilization an hence, abortion. I doubt that you argue for these practical and effective methods of reducing abortions. You find abortions so morally repugnant yet you ignore practical and effective means that would reduce them. It's enough to make one think that there's another motivation involved. It's difficult for one to take your position on abortion seriously when practical and effective means of reducing abortions are condemned.

And that is why I tune out when you and Rho start moralizing about abortion.

Dr Funkenstein said...

No, the oocyte cannot develop into an adult human being on its own accord.

But then a fertilised egg can't develop into an adult human of its own accord either. After all, fertilised eggs sitting in collection fluid in IVF clinics or science labs don't spontaneously develop into humans. Also needed are the proper external environmental cues and factors:

eg a host (its mother), the right environment within the mother (the correct location in the uterus - eg a lot of ectopic pregnancies don't resolve themselves), a steady supply of nutrition to be ingested by the mother, no harsh disturbances to that environment that cause the disruption of pregnancy eg physical or chemical disturbances whether accidental or deliberate, signalling factors/ligands and so on that interact with receptors in the cell membrane etc etc

I can't see a difference between a fertilised egg requiring external input such as an energy source from food for pregnancy to proceed and an oocyte requiring external input (ie the male parental contribution) to become fertilised and allow pregnancy to proceed.



Besides, as I have already stated earlier, a new life begins when a sperm has penetrated the oocyte.

Which you followed by saying that it is because it then has a full complement of DNA. yet clearly earlier in the reproductive cycle one of the gametes also had a full complement of DNA, yet you argue this is not human/living (which might well be true). therefore there must be other requirements other than just having a full complement of DNA - as I said, it's a necessary but not sufficient condition for development.

You are balking at the idea that life begins at conception.

not at all - I just don't think there's a good argument that it does to the exclusion that it could be the case for any other point of development.

As said earlier, since I agree with the Metabolic View, I consider it a question that doesn't have an answer - think of it as analagous to a ring species; the 'ends' are clearly different species since they can't interbreed, but at the same time there's no barrier to gene flow through the ring.

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

Dr Funkenstein said...

part 2

Abortions are usually performed on multi-cellular individuals who have implanted in the uterine lining.

It depends, some people also consider certain contraceptive pills to be abortifactants that act far earlier than this stage of development.


What traits do those individuals possess (or not possess) that you thinks justifies them NOT being a human being.

It's not that they couldn't be human, it's just that there's no obvious way to show that they are whilst excluding earlier steps in development as being human. An organism such as you or me is a human being. A collection of chemicals equivalent to the ones that you and I are composed of is not. However, during development we obviously go from a soup of non-human chemicals ingested in our respective parents' diets to eventually becoming a human being.

But just like the analogy of a ring species, the species at the 'ends' are distinct species under the biological species concept since they can't breed with each other, but on the other hand there is no distinct point on the ring where you can definitively say one species starts and the the other stops since they run along a spectrum.

My position rests on humans being created in the image of God.

But then if this position is false, or at least likely to be false, then your whole argument falls apart. So what evidence is there to suggest humans reflect God's image, given that in every regard I can think of humans are the complete opposite of God (eg humans are physical, finite, non-omniscient, non-omnipotent, mortal, imperfect - yet God is omniscient, immortal, omniscient, omnipotent, non-physical, perfect etc etc). Surely all this makes the conclusion that humans weren't created in the image of God more likely?

That is something that all humans possess from the moment of conception

But it's still not clear that human life begins at the point of fertilisation, and its even less clear that even if the former point is true that they also acquire any characteristics reflective of the Christian god, or even if that is also true that it also occurs at fertilisation rather than some other stage. I'm also not sure how anyone not in a position to know about fertilisation (for example, the biblical authors), given that knowledge of these processes was only acquired relatively recently, would have been able to make a claim that this is the case when laying out the rules for what constituted abortion and what didn't.

PChem said...

NAL,

Fine, we can stay with single cells. It makes no difference to me. I think you are missing my question. You clearly do not believe that a single cell is a human being and thus deserving of a right to life. I suspect that you do hold this for adult humans. My question is, when is the crossover and what is distinguishing marks. Even if you were to convince me, this would be MY FIRST QUESTION to you. Do you seriously not have an answer?

The criteria you DID give is the presence of various other cells in the form of organs (skin, heart, lungs, etc.). However, I really don't think you really believe these are the criteria. The heart and circulatory system along with the neural tube begin to form within the first four weeks (all before implantation. The heart is beating by week five. Babies can survive outside the womb as early as 23-24 weeks. You say that the presence of these organs is evidence of a human being. I don't know if you support abortion after the threshold of viability (23-24 weeks), but I bet you do before this moment. Certainly to be consistent you need to oppose abortion after the 23rd week because everything is there and the baby can survive with medical assistance. If you want to support abortions before this point, then what is it about the baby at early gestational ages that preclude it being a human being? And, I would like to note that the threshold limit moves earlier and earlier as medical practices advance.

Remember you are the one who believes a human's right to life rests on some set of traits (although you are extremely reluctant to share what those are). Are you seriously not prepared to deal with this?

I doubt that you argue for these practical and effective methods of reducing abortions.

You kinda jumped the gun here. Of course, support contraceptive practices so long as they do not terminate a human being, which begins at conception. This moment occurs when the genetic information of the spermatocyte is injected into the oocyte, triggering the slow block to polyspermy. Some forms of contraception (condoms and spermacide) fit in line with this fine, whereas others like an IUD does not. Of course, abortions could be greatly reduced if individuals who are not prepared to deal with the responsibilities of parenthood abstained from sex.

And that is why I tune out when you and Rho start moralizing about abortion.

This is tuning someone out? Seriously, you have been going back and forth with me for like four days. What are you like when you aren't tuning someone out? =)

//not edited

PChem said...

Dr. F,

The oocyte is not a unique individual, with its own unique genetic code. I thought I said this up front earlier, but maybe it never made it through my fingers and to you. To me, this makes the rest of the point on the genetic sequence of the oocyte prior to separating into the haploid cells moot.

On environmental factors...of course environmental factors are required for development. Who doesn't believe this? An infant placed outside and left unattended will not develop into an adult human because it lacks the appropriate environmental factors. Likewise, a 13 year old needs appropriate nourishment and the proper environment to develop. This is the same for a single cell to develop. The difference from an oocyte is the oocyte by itself is not a unique individual with its own life trajectory. It will BECOME one after it is joined with a single sperm.

I clearly see that you view conception as a process. We disagree about this. However, at some point this entity will gain certain rights to life. (I am assuming that you believe in a right to life, that is murder is morally reprehensible and should not be done). What do you think those rights are and when does a person acquire them? If it is not at conception, when is it? What set of criteria do YOU look for in determining whether or not those rights are given. You clearly support a pro-abortion stance. Do you also support infanticide? What about killing a 30 year old woman. This is the core of what I am trying to get at.

I think it is interesting that you brought up speciation. I think that is a really good analogy, because what you consider a species rests entirely on how you define it. Furthermore, how to define "species" is widely debated in the biological community.

given that in every regard I can think of humans are the complete opposite of God... Surely all this makes the conclusion that humans weren't created in the image of God more likely?

Not at all. For one, you are making a very common mistake. The image of God does not mean we are made in an exact image of him. To do so would reduce God to the status of a creature. I emphatically deny this. This point is made very clear in AW Tozer's The Attributes of God. You did, however, leave one attribute off the list: God is a personal being. In this way, we are created in His image. We are personal beings, able to engage in personal relationship with each other and, more importantly, with God. F Schaeffer lays this out very nicely in his book, Pollution and the Death of Man. Man is like the rest of creation in that he is created and in this way, he is nothing like God (the attributes you listed). However, he is distinct from the rest of creation in that he is a personal being. I don't necessarily think personality totally sums all of what is meant by being created in image of God or in the likeness of God. But, it is a good starting point. I would like to point out that man being created in the image of God is the reason man is not to murder (Gen. 9:6).

Concerning the intent of the Biblical authors...they were writing under the inspiration of God, and He is one who is in the position to know, regardless of the authors state of scientific understanding. Also, God certainly is in a position to relate personally to a single-cell human. I think the Biblical support for life beginning at conception is very strong, especially in view of the Incarnation of Christ, which began at conception. That is, Christ is viewed as a distinct person from the moment of conception.

Off topic, I noticed you said you were in the States one time. What part? Did you enjoy it? Was it an extended visit (like school) or just a short trip? You don't have to answer this stuff (just the previous question about when a human gains a right to life and why ;)

PChem said...

Edit:

AW Tozer's book is The Knowledge of the Holy. I knew I should've looked that up.

Gamelot said...

--isn't NOT LYING one of those laws you people have that goes hand in hand with not killin' babies?

Sorry, I tend to tune out when someone lectures me on morality who is trying to justify the legality of dismembering helpless children in their mothers' wombs. Let me know when you're done.


Nice evasion there. I'd personally still like to see how you actually justify any sin, not only regardless of, but particularly when, it's done to stop another sin. Are there categories of sin? Is one worse than another? Is it ok to commit a lesser one to stop a greater one?

No one's arguing for restricting access to medical care, you morally blind fool.

Matthew 5:22 ‑ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Rhology said...

Gamelot,

A guy comes to my door covered in blood and wielding a chainsaw. He threatens to break down my door. I don't have a gun and my cell phone is not nearby, but my children are asleep so I tell him I have a gun and I'm calling the police. The bluff works and he leaves.
You apparently would prefer to make it easier for ppl to murder babies. I wouldn't.

And where did you get the idea that ab167 is a brother? Also, when's the last time you read Proverbs, in which the word "fool" is used abundantly? Maybe Jesus meant sthg diff than you think He meant.

Dr Funkenstein said...

The oocyte is not a unique individual, with its own unique genetic code.

Technically many oocytes will also contain a unique genetic code relative to the other cells in the body due to copying errors that occur in DNA replication (it will of course be largely identical to the other cells' DNA complement, but not entirely). But then the same could be said that many of the sequences inherited from either parent will also not be unique either.

An interesting point to consider here then might be that of monozygotic twins/triplets etc since they are probably not any more genetically unique (MZ twins were previously thought to be genetically identical, but apparently there are very slight genetic differences) from each other than one oocyte is from another oocyte - would this lessen the rights of humans born with 'identical' siblings if genetic uniqueness is a key factor?

On environmental factors...of course environmental factors are required for development. Who doesn't believe this?

But if you agree external factors are necessary, then uniqueness of DNA isn't the sole important factor - after all, without the external factors, we could have all the unique DNA sequences in the world, but they'd never become human without other inputs.

The difference from an oocyte is the oocyte by itself is not a unique individual with its own life trajectory.

But each individual oocyte probably is unique under that definition. They don't all enjoy the same developmental fate depending on what external factors are available, just like each fertilised egg's fate will depend on external factors.

However, at some point this entity will gain certain rights to life.

Legally yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean those rights are objective facts as opposed to social constructs. Obviously those rights will also vary depending on the society, era and so on that the individual is born into.

Certain rights even within one locality in the current era also vary substantially with age after birth (eg driving a car, drinking alcohol, voting, level of legal responsibility) - so if there are differences in rights between humans of different age after birth, why not between born and unborn, or between various stages of unborn humans as well?

What do you think those rights are and when does a person acquire them? If it is not at conception, when is it? What set of criteria do YOU look for in determining whether or not those rights are given.

Assuming you mean when do I think we acquire them in reality as opposed to when does the law give us them, I'd say never since I think they are entirely artificial - thankfully from my point of view most of the ones conferred on me by the powers that be are to my liking, but that's nothing more than the luck of being born in the right place at the right time.

Dr Funkenstein said...

I think it is interesting that you brought up speciation. I think that is a really good analogy, because what you consider a species rests entirely on how you define it. Furthermore, how to define "species" is widely debated in the biological community.

Indeed, it's pretty much an exact mirror of the question we have discussed in this blogpost since it's a clear example that things that go on in nature don't necessarily always fall into strict, easily categorised groups. The problem is almost a paradox in that while it's problematic for anyone who wants to state that species fit into a neat bracket, it's also problematic for someone who states speciation doesn't occur (since if the intermediates died then there would be two clearly distinct species, just as if you ignore most of the intermediate steps in development a human is distinct from a soup of chemicals).

The image of God does not mean we are made in an exact image of him. To do so would reduce God to the status of a creature. I emphatically deny this.

Sure, I wouldn't expect us to be exact replicons of God were we made in his image, but at the same time it's not just the case that we're slightly dissimilar - it's the fact that we're completely opposite in just about every regard possible to think of. Even accepting that God/humans are persons as you say, that's still just one characteristic that we share versus hundreds that we don't.

However, he [man] is distinct from the rest of creation in that he is a personal being.

I'm not so sure about that - this is another topic that has loads of debate around it

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

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person#Who_is_a_person.3F

Some animals, corporations, potential artificially engineered life forms (real and hypothetical) are considered by many to be persons under legal definitions depending on which part of the world you look at or via way of philosophical argument

Off topic, I noticed you said you were in the States one time. What part? Did you enjoy it? Was it an extended visit (like school) or just a short trip?

I used to work in a lab out there doing research, I was in the South East for about 2 years but came back to the UK when my contract finished about a year ago - I'd have liked to have stayed longer but I didn't manage to get a grant funded that I applied for. It's a great country in my view, very different in many respects from the UK!

PChem said...

would this lessen the rights of humans born with 'identical' siblings if genetic uniqueness is a key factor?
I was wondering when twins would be brought up. No, rights rest on the fact that they are made in the image of God not their gene sequence. I thought this was clear with the Gen 9:6 quote I mentioned.

environmental factors
I think you are missing the point. There is no individual prior to a sperm uniting with an oocyte. Specifically, the moment the slow block to polyspermy kicks in. Do you not agree that a single oocyte and a single spermatocyte by themselves will never form anything else? The only way they WILL develop is after the single cell individual is formed.

Certain rights even within one locality in the current era also vary substantially with age after birth (eg driving a car, drinking alcohol, voting, level of legal responsibility) - so if there are differences in rights between humans of different age after birth, why not between born and unborn, or between various stages of unborn humans as well?
Do you really intend to relegate potential murder with driving a car and drinking beer? Seriously.

Assuming you mean when do I think we acquire them in reality as opposed to when does the law give us them, I'd say never since I think they are entirely artificial - thankfully from my point of view most of the ones conferred on me by the powers that be are to my liking, but that's nothing more than the luck of being born in the right place at the right time.
So you wouldn’t mind if someone were to steer your society such that you were out of favor. Maybe someone will come to power and declare that you are no longer human and can thus be bought and sold or killed at will. What about historically? Do you really think the Cambodian killing camps are just a social construct? See, I know this is how you think, but I don’t believe that is how you will live. I bet you view those acts with disdain. But, based on the views you are expressing here, those folks just got the raw end of the stick. Nothing more…
A worldview is only good if you can live it consistently. This is what you believe; do you honestly follow through with it?

it's the fact that we're completely opposite in just about every regard possible to think of. Even accepting that God/humans are persons as you say, that's still just one characteristic that we share versus hundreds that we don't.
I think this is what I said. Glad to see you agree.
I mentioned that others have been proposed, such as rational thinking, the ability to construct and reflect upon art, and so on. There is no other species known that has these traits because there are no other species that carry the image of God. I am choosing to restrict this to one facet: personhood. Not because it is the only one, but because I only have so much time to write on this.

didn't manage to get a grant funded that I applied for.
Sounds like a post doc. What field of science are you in? I am obviously in physical chemistry. Those grants are a pain in the rear. Is the UK system as cut-throat as the US system? NSF usually hovers around 10-20% funding rate.

Dr Funkenstein said...

No, rights rest on the fact that they are made in the image of God not their gene sequence.

But you argued earlier that acquisition of a unique genetic sequence was what made them distinct as human from non-human.

Do you really intend to relegate potential murder with driving a car and drinking beer? Seriously.

I'm not being facetious at all - even if you ignore something such as being allowed to drink beer, what about something more serious like the age of responsibility? That also has what are ultimately arbitrary cut off points based on age whereby people are considered responsible/not responsible even for serious crimes.

Surely you'd have to agree with the basic principle that not everyone has been assigned the exact same set of rights despite the fact we are all human?

So you wouldn’t mind if someone were to steer your society such that you were out of favor.

I would indeed, but it wouldn't turn my objections into moral facts. I'm also a pragmatist about that kind of thing - if someone was threatening my life/welfare, the last thing on my mind would be worrying about what they should be doing versus what they were actually doing - just because moral rules may exist doesn't necessarily mean anyone will actually obey them.

That said, there are many people who hold to versions of atheism that consider that there are moral facts, but I haven't been convinced by their arguments.

One of the main problems with the 'absolute moral facts' view I have is this:

If X and Y are two absolutely proscribed immoral acts, what happens in a situation whereby you can only prevent X from happening by doing Y?

I do however think the conditional problem of evil is a good argument for showing that the existence of moral facts and traditional theism are not compatible.

What about historically? Do you really think the Cambodian killing camps are just a social construct?

Yes, and I say this as someone who has been to Cambodia and seen the remnants of those events - I think one group of people eventually assumed enough power to force their particular ideology on other people, but unlike ideologies like democracy, humanism etc etc it was unfortunately (in my opinion) a brutal ideology.

Dr Funkenstein said...

See, I know this is how you think, but I don’t believe that is how you will live. I bet you view those acts with disdain. But, based on the views you are expressing here, those folks just got the raw end of the stick. Nothing more…

But this is really just an argument from consequences fallacy - how much I like or don't like the consequences, or whether I act as if things were otherwise from how they actually are doesn't have any effect on whether something is true or not.

A worldview is only good if you can live it consistently. This is what you believe; do you honestly follow through with it?

Not really, facts are still facts whether people accept them or not. On a day to day basis we all have irrational beliefs about various things - however, if we sit down and reason through these beliefs we often come to conclusions we'd prefer not to be true but that actually are.

you could say the same thing about Christianity as well - how many Christians give up their worldly possessions or carry a cross like Jesus asked? Not many I bet, but it doesn't make Christianity false in my opinion.

There is no other species known that has these traits because there are no other species that carry the image of God.

Again, that's also debatable in the light of discoveries about extinct hominids and the way they lived. It also doesn't explain why we should accept only those criteria that do fit with the image of God as proof of the hypothesis, and ignore all those that don't as proof of its falsity.

it also doesn't follow that because we have some traits that fit with a traditional Christian theistic concept of God that therefore God exists.

Sounds like a post doc. What field of science are you in? I am obviously in physical chemistry. Those grants are a pain in the rear. Is the UK system as cut-throat as the US system? NSF usually hovers around 10-20% funding rate.

yup, it was a post doc - I'm a biologist. UK science funding is pretty poor compared the US, but as you say even out in the States the number that gets successfully funded is very low - the one I went for had apparently dropped its funding rates from about 40% to just above 10% in the space of a few years.

I think one of Obama's campaign promises was to double science funding, so things might improve - although this requires him to make good on an election promise and politicians aren't noted for sticking to the plan once they get into office!

PChem said...

Dr. F,

Pretty busy here. So this will be short.

I've been doing two things here.
1. defining and defending when biological life begins for humans (i.e., unique genetic code with a unique life trajectory)
2. justifying why human life has intrinsic rights, such as the right to life (i.e., created in the image of God).

Maybe your confusing these two or forgetting that I am doing two different things? I'll get back to the rest, but it will have to be later.

BTW, bummer about the funding the UK. One can only hope there will be more money coming down the pipeline here, but politicians tend to make lots of vacuous promises. I doubt anything will change much. However, I am marginally optimistic because my field is in energy storage and production (batteries, fuel cells, etc.).

Without opening a new can of worms, I think you are the same person I previously talked with about the natural limits of science. If I remember right and you are, then I am VERY surprised that you argued that naturalism is not inherent in scientific interpretation given that you are a biologist. BUT, going into that again is probably best suited for a different blogpost since it would seriously derail this one. Besides, I am too lazy to look back through Rho's old posts and figure out who I was talking to.

I'll be back later.

Gamelot said...

A guy comes to my door covered in blood and wielding a chainsaw. He threatens to break down my door. I don't have a gun and my cell phone is not nearby, but my children are asleep so I tell him I have a gun and I'm calling the police. The bluff works and he leaves.

What in the world is that supposed to be about?

You apparently would prefer to make it easier for ppl to murder babies. I wouldn't.

"Easier" is a relative term... no, I would prefer to make it harder to murder their mothers.

And where did you get the idea that ab167 is a brother?

Every human is your brother. If you haven't learned that, then you have *really* lost your way.

Also, when's the last time you read Proverbs, in which the word "fool" is used abundantly? Maybe Jesus meant sthg diff than you think He meant.

Wow, you're arguing for multiple interpretations of the Bible? Does that mean you're an evolutionist now?

Rhology said...

Gamelot,

The chainsaw thing is a situation where I lied to someone to prevent an obviously-foreseeable Very Bad Situation. The application to your first challenge should be evident. (I consider murdering babies to be a Very Bad Situation. Maybe you think murdering babies is good, in which case you're fairly messed up.)


I would prefer to make it harder to murder their mothers.

Hmm, now it's my turn to ask what in the world that is supposed to be about? Who's questioning that?


Every human is your brother. If you haven't learned that, then you have *really* lost your way.

Not in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.
To whom is Jesus talking there? Let's test your exegetical sense here.


you're arguing for multiple interpretations of the Bible? Does that mean you're an evolutionist now?

I don't even know what to say to this. For a given psg, there are typically manifold elements that can be drawn out, sure. But what I'm asking you to consider is the way that Jesus used the word "fool", given that He had a pretty serious background in the OT. Once again, a little exegesis goes a long way, much longer than blind prooftexting.

PChem said...

Surely you'd have to agree with the basic principle that not everyone has been assigned the exact same set of rights despite the fact we are all human?

1. You are trying to lump all rights that people can possibly have into one camp, and I don’t buy it. Yes, of course some rights are assigned by social conventions. However, there are other rights that flow from who we are in God’s creation.
2. On Christianity, I can at least distinguish the inherent worth of a human being compared to a piece of plastic.

I'm also a pragmatist about that kind of thing - if someone was threatening my life/welfare, the last thing on my mind would be worrying about what they should be doing versus what they were actually doing

I recommend you give this more thought. Actions flow out of people’s thoughts. What is being contemplated theoretically today very well may make its way into practice tomorrow. That is, you should worry about what people should be doing because they may be doing it to you later.

just because moral rules may exist doesn't necessarily mean anyone will actually obey them.

Right we are all sinful, disobedient people. We agree here.

If X and Y are two absolutely proscribed immoral acts, what happens in a situation whereby you can only prevent X from happening by doing Y?

I think you are setting up a false scenario. The first thing that came to my mind is murder and lying. It doesn’t make sense that someone would need to engage in murder to not lie. Nor, would someone need to lie to keep from murdering someone. Maybe you need to be less abstract here.

Cambodia

Three things: (1) I hardly think the humanism has produced stellar results compared to the Cambodian genocide. One only need to look at the French Revolution or Communist Russia for examples. (2) The Cambodian genocide is an exact parallel to abortion. In both cases, one group of humans is labeled as sub-human in some way and then extirpated with the government’s approval. You view the Cambodian genocide as “brutal” but brush off the abortion genocide. Now my question is what makes killing adult humans in Cambodia brutal but killing unborn babies not? This is exactly what I asked NAL and he never gave a straight answer. (3) You say that it is merely a social construct, but then immediately shift into very sharp language rebuking it when you state your opinion. Why do you hold this opinion? Seems to me that a more consistent response would be “I think one group of people eventually assumed enough power to force their particular ideology on other people, but who am I to say if this is wrong. In fact, for Cambodia at that time, it was exactly the right thing to do because they wanted to.”

PChem said...

But this is really just an argument from consequences fallacy - how much I like or don't like the consequences, or whether I act as if things were otherwise from how they actually are doesn't have any effect on whether something is true or not.

It does show that you can’t live consistently with the ramifications of your world view. You are missing this. If you can’t live out a world view consistently it shows that the world view is inadequate in some way. It is evidence that it is incomplete or incorrect. In this case, you are borrowing from the notion that human lives are unique and worth protecting. Otherwise, you wouldn’t describe the acts as brutal. This idea does not flow from atheism, but it is certainly consistent with Christianity.

Would you care to back up your interpretation of the verses you cited?

It also doesn't explain why we should accept only those criteria that do fit with the image of God as proof of the hypothesis, and ignore all those that don't as proof of its falsity. It also doesn't follow that because we have some traits that fit with a traditional Christian theistic concept of God that therefore God exists.

I pretty clearly said that no one is exactly like God. Why do you keep insisting on a Xerox copy? It is impossible to have two totally unlimited beings occurring simultaneously. Let’s take omnipotence. Two all powerful beings will certainly collide at some point and one will have to become limited. However, two personal beings can coexist without God the created becoming a limited creature. Furthermore, two rational beings can coexist, and so on. Seems to me that you are the one who is hung up on the crazy idea of what YOU think the image of God should look like.

PChem said...

Edit,

"God the created becoming a limited creature" was supposed to be "God the creator becoming a limited creature." I should have tacked on my //not edited line because it wasnt' edited.

Dr Funkenstein said...

What is being contemplated theoretically today very well may make its way into practice tomorrow. That is, you should worry about what people should be doing because they may be doing it to you later.

It might well do, but then I'd have to deal with that in the event it happened. Currently it isn't so I don't have to worry about it, the same as I might win the lottery but currently haven't so don't have to plan on what I'll be doing with the millions of pounds from the jackpot.

Furthemore, as you agree later, having a list of moral facts doesn't really make a massive difference to a lot of people's behaviour, so even if it turned out Christianity was true, it still didn't stop any of the various atrocities you've described from happening - i.e. it has little if any practical application, so what real value other than intellectual comfort does it have?

On Christianity, I can at least distinguish the inherent worth of a human being compared to a piece of plastic.

But then I think things like Euthyphro and the problem of evil refute this fact - as I said, although I am not yet convinced there are moral facts, I think if turns out there are then certain forms of theism including Christianity have to be false for this to be the case.

Now my question is what makes killing adult humans in Cambodia brutal but killing unborn babies not?

I didn't say abortion wasn't brutal - it probably is in some respects. Lots of things could be brutal without being wrong or illegal (eg animals feeding on other animals in the wild). In fact, a Christian might argue that cerain things could be brutal and morally right eg the carrying out of God's commands to exterminate the Canaanites, Hittites etc in the OT (also worth noting that this includes the unborn).

but who am I to say if this is wrong. In fact, for Cambodia at that time, it was exactly the right thing to do because they wanted to

Wait a minute though - how can it be the right thing for them to have done it if there's no right as well as no wrong? this is a common mistake people making these arguments make:

"if there are no rights/wrong then whatever person X or group Y did is right, or that's what they should have done because there's no moral imperative" - but how can this be the case if there's no moral imperative? That's surely a contradiction.

If not, why is it any less right for me to dislike what the Cambodian regime did?

If you can’t live out a world view consistently it shows that the world view is inadequate in some way.

But then I've pointed out that most Christians don't live consistently with theirs either since they don't give up their worldly possessions and so on

I've also pointed out that facts don't change because someone wishes they do (whether it's me or anyone else) or because they may not suit a personal preference - if there are no moral facts, it makes no difference whether I believe this or not, it cannot change the truth of this even if I spent every second of the rest of my life wishing it to be otherwise. Unless you feel my wishing can alter facts? If so, you'd have to explain how that would be.

So the fact I might occasionally think inconsistently doesn't have any bearing at all on what's actually true (does gravity change because you might sometimes have thoughts about what it'd be like to be able to fly by flapping your arms?).

Dr Funkenstein said...

Otherwise, you wouldn’t describe the acts as brutal.

1. As before something could be brutal without it being wrong (eg animals eating each other is a necessity for them to survive and is often brutal)

2. Someone can still have personal preferences on anything they please - you say above that it was the right thing for Cambodians to do what they did, but if this is the case how can it be any less right for me to hold my opinions on the Cambodian regime if all 'rights and wrongs' are relative?

3. Would you describe the various slaughters commanded by the Christian God as non-brutal? If not, then I can't see brutal has any meaning.

It is impossible to have two totally unlimited beings occurring simultaneously. Let’s take omnipotence. Two all powerful beings will certainly collide at some point and one will have to become limited.

It's also impossible to have an entity that is 3 distinct persons and remain one being at the same time, or an entity that is both mortal and immortal at the same time (the doctrine that Jesus was all man (mortal) and all God (mortal) in the same sense at the same time), but several hundreds of millions of Christians apparently consider it quite plausible!

However, it's quite possible to have eg two immortal beings without incurring a contradiction - so why ignore that kind of characteristic? If my preferred characteristic is immortality, then clearly man is not immortal and God is.

Why not prefer one state that it is feasible for both God and man to occupy but is not actually true and thus refuting of the idea humans are made in God's image versus a state it is feasible for man and God to both occupy that apparently is actually the case? It seems a rather arbitrary choice.

However, two personal beings can coexist without God the created becoming a limited creature.

But I've briefly pointed out that a person doesn't necessarily have to be defined as a human or even a living organism.

Additionally god is limited in many ways - he can't do anything that's logically impossible, therefore because of that I can do things God can't (ie I can make something so heavy that I can't lift it).

We're told he can't change his mind - I can do that as well. You can probably think of other examples.


Seems to me that you are the one who is hung up on the crazy idea of what YOU think the image of God should look like.

Not at all, it's just that:

a. Given there are far more characteristics in which man is nothing like God than there are ones in which he is like God (or at least one conception of God). For what reason do I have to accept your criteria as valid, yet you can ignore mine as valid?

b. There are characteristics (eg immortality) that man could conceivably share with God but does not

c. It's very debatable whether the characteristics that you cite as proof that man is made in God's image are exclusive to man alone.

d. Christians get quite worked up when people use flying spaghetti monster arguments, but then surely the FSMer could argue that "you are the one who is hung up on the crazy idea of what YOU think the image of God should look like." when you dismiss his/her ideas as ridiculous (bear in mind that I have no reason to think the image of the FSM is any less of a contrivance than that of the 3 in 1 God of the bible, it's merely the case that a lot of people happen to take the latter seriously - but argumentum ad populum doesn't make a contrivance any less contrived).

PChem said...

But then I think things like Euthyphro and the problem of evil refute this fact

Euthyphro’s dilemma is a false dilemma. It posits that either morality is arbitrarily determined by God or that God is subservient to some higher moral law and is, thus not God at all. Instead, moral law is rooted in the nature of God. God is all-good and unchanging. The dilemma evaporates.
Likewise, I think the problem of evil is resolved by man being created as a free moral agent. It is man who chose to do evil, God did not force his hand.

brutal

I think you are missing what I am driving at. Your worldview ultimately sucks the meaning out these words. Take another example, suppose your child tells you that she loves you. On your worldview, this is really an empty word. There is no love, there is no beautiful, there is no brutal. All there is on your world view is a collection of molecules operating under the laws of physics. Molecules do not love or observe things as brutal. Why should you expect a large collection group of molecules to be able to love. The fact that you try to attribute real meaning in these words tells me that you are not living consistently within your worldview. Rather you are borrowing from a different worldview where attributing meaningful content to those words makes sense.

Certainly a person can be inconsistent with their world view. I don’t deny this at all. What I am saying is that it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to remain fully consistent with your materialistic worldview. You’re the one who described the Cambodian genocide as brutal, but I don’t see any way that you can put meaning in that word on your world view. Simply, it is what it is.

1.

Again, what does brutal mean? These are all just molecules in motion void of any notions of love, brutality, etc. You could have just as well described it as beautiful, loving, or so on.

2. Someone can still have personal preferences on anything they please - you say above that it was the right thing for Cambodians to do what they did, but if this is the case how can it be any less right for me to hold my opinions on the Cambodian regime if all 'rights and wrongs' are relative?

Hold on, I never said it was right. But, on my world view I have a foundation for saying that it is wrong and can hold my opinion without being inconsistent. You don’t.

3.

Yes, death is an ugly thing. It is a heinous consequence of the fall and our sin.

PChem said...

It's also impossible to have an entity that is 3 distinct persons and remain one being at the same time, or an entity that is both mortal and immortal at the same time (the doctrine that Jesus was all man (mortal) and all God (mortal) in the same sense at the same time), but several hundreds of millions of Christians apparently consider it quite plausible!

I think that if a person could provide a logical example of how this can be done then it would totally deflate these two objections. WL Craig and JP Moreland have provided such plausible explanations in their book Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Now that such examples are available are you prepared to read them and engage them? If you see plausible suggestions to explain this very difficult to understand topic in Christian theology would you be prepared to accept the existence of the Christian God and submit to His Lordship? If not, then what is the point of throwing these objections around? You bring them up quite a bit.


However, it's quite possible to have eg two immortal beings without incurring a contradiction - so why ignore that kind of characteristic? If my preferred characteristic is immortality, then clearly man is not immortal and God is.

To be sure, man would have lived forever if he had not fallen. Furthermore, man will live on in eternity, either resurrected with Christ or perishing the Lake of Fire. So, your example is great and is satisfied. I think you probably meant eternal, but that would reduce God from being God.


But I've briefly pointed out that a person doesn't necessarily have to be defined as a human or even a living organism.

And you can engage in a personal conversation with an animal or a corporation. How do you hold a conversation with Wal-Mart apart from talking to individual people that constitute the entity?


Additionally god is limited in many ways - he can't do anything that's logically impossible

Totally with you here.

, therefore because of that I can do things God can't (ie I can make something so heavy that I can't lift it).

Preach it brother.

You mentioned several things that you view as major problems for Christian theism. To be fair, I thought I would share a few of my problems with atheism. (a)Atheism relies on the potentiality latent in the universe to actualize itself to produce what we have today. That is, that the potential gave rise to the actual. Potentialities don’t actualize themselves, but are actualized by some external actualizer. Seems far more reasonable that God actualized the universe than it doing so by itself. (b)On atheism, why is there something rather than nothing at all?

We will probably have to wind this thing done pretty soon. I've been spending a good amount of time on this in the evenings, and I would rather shift it more towards my wife. Perhaps we could move to a weekly schedule? I like the topic, just not the time investment.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Instead, moral law is rooted in the nature of God. God is all-good and unchanging.

But this only shifts the dilemma back a step - what is it about God's nature that is good? Is it simply defined that way? In which case, why can other things not simply be defined as good by fiat? What if God was actually evil or morally neutral (there's an argument on the philosopher Stephen law's blog relevant to this you may be interested in reading)?

Likewise, I think the problem of evil is resolved by man being created as a free moral agent.

Would you describe God as a free moral agent? If so, then it is clearly possible to be a free moral agent and never do evil/not have an evil nature. If not, then I can't reasonably see that God can be called omnipotent (given the ever increasing list of limitations on him in order to maintain the three omni- charcateristics). On the other hand, if God is not a free moral agent, then what makes free will so great a thing to have if God is all good?

Alternatively, why would it not be possible to create free moral agents that choose never to do evil?

It is man who chose to do evil, God did not force his hand.

Man would have been unable to choose to do evil to cause the fall because choice requires knowledge of 2 or more options and the ability to decide the good and bad aspects of them. Yet, on the Christian theistic view, man had no knowledge of good/evil prior to disobeying god in Eden. Obedience to God was a meaningless request since man had no way to evaluate that doing this was a good choice and the alternative a bad choice - how could he have if he had no knowledge of good or evil? Ultimately either choice had as much meaning for him as flipping a coin and choosing one on that basis and the blame cannot reasonably be put at his door.

Also, the Westminster confession teaches that

"God from all eternity did by the most and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

Clearly, God essentially decides everything that will ever happen (although the attempt to exclude sin (simply on their say so that this is the case) whilst still using the phrase "whatsoever comes to pass" is a textbook example of doublethink that George Orwell would have been proud of).

Or you could take passages like John 1:3

"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."

Again, sin would fall under "all things".

All there is on your world view is a collection of molecules operating under the laws of physics.

This is the sort of charicature that guys like Greg Bahnsen liked to set up because it's easy to argue against and make it look like he's got a watertight argument against all non-theistic views. Of course, unfortunately for him, not that many atheist philosophers are out and out materialists, and atheism may well only be one part of their respective worldviews that they share in common. The closest thing I can think of to this kind of view is maybe logical positivism, which I don't think has been a popular view for a long time (mainly because it's self-refuting).

On the other hand, molecules and matter do still play an important part - without a brain or a set of lungs, we wouldn't be here having this discussion after all!

Dr Funkenstein said...

Molecules do not love or observe things as brutal. Why should you expect a large collection group of molecules to be able to love.

I'm surprised a chemist would use this sort of objection. This is a commonly used objection by Rhology as well and isn't very convincing - take an example like Phenol and glucose/sucrose. They share exactly the same component parts (Hydrogen, Carbon and Oxygen), yet if you ingest the former you'll probably end up dead fairly quickly. The same couldn't be said of the latter. Or you could use graphite and diamond as an example - both are entirely made of carbon, but one is soft and the other hard, one can conduct electricity but the other can't etc etc. Clearly the arrangement of these molecules can cause quite substantial differences to emerge from the exact same molecules/elements.


Hold on, I never said it was right.

Your exact words were:

"but who am I to say if this is wrong. In fact, for Cambodia at that time, it was exactly the right thing to do because they wanted to"

Obviously I realise you're not speaking from the POV of your own worldview when you saying this, you're critiquing mine - but it seems inconsistent to criticise me for referring to things I consider unpalatable, then in your critique referring to the choices of others as somehow right/wrong.

I think that if a person could provide a logical example of how this can be done then it would totally deflate these two objections.

Obviously, yes.

Furthermore, man will live on in eternity, either resurrected with Christ or perishing the Lake of Fire.

So in that case, can we legitmiately say that Jesus died for our sins if man is ultimately immortal on Christianity?


WL Craig and JP Moreland have provided such plausible explanations in their book Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Now that such examples are available are you prepared to read them and engage them?

I will do if I can get hold of a copy of their work, or you could provide a brief outline of their arguments and we can examine them.

However, I have browsed the writings of some other apologists on the matter (John Frame and Cornelius van Til) - the former basically admits he can't explain it to any degree of satisfaction and plays the mysery card, which is no explanation at all, and the latter simply states the doctrine as an outright contradiction saying that it can be described as '1 person = 3 persons'. Suffice it to say, I don't consider any of these to be satisfactory explanations (indeed, van Til only seems to confirm rather than refute the contradiction).

If you see plausible suggestions to explain this very difficult to understand topic in Christian theology would you be prepared to accept the existence of the Christian God and submit to His Lordship?

No, because that's not the only standard I evaluate the Christian worldview by, it's just two particular objections I have (eg historical/scientific analyses are also important, as well as the internal consistency of other ideas that Christianity endorses - eg if nature is uniform, can anyone claim to know this/can that be consistent with any view that endorses departures from uniformity such as miracles that may occur without forewarning? I also ask things like 'does the assumption of God as a starting point actually make sense'?)

There are other arguments such as Ted Drange's Argument from Confusion that I consider to have some merit as well.

Dr Funkenstein said...

And you can engage in a personal conversation with an animal or a corporation.

Can you engage in a conversation with a fertilised egg? How about an embryo or even a newborn baby (parents are often frustrated by the fact they sometimes can't work out why their child is crying or what it wants)? None of these entitites can engage in language or art and so on, so should we therefore consider them to be non-personal beings? In fact, going on your criteria provided so far, it seems that we would be hard pressed to consider that the 'image of God' is present in a fertilised egg since it has none of the capabilities yet that you say are required for personhood.

As for animals, actually yes, people have communicated with certain higher order primates - I think the Koko project taught a gorrila 2000 words in sign language, and she was able to converse with researchers. Furthermore, on an evoutionary view, there are now extinct non-human animals that it may have been even more feasible to communicate with, although this is obviously fairly speculative.

In a legal sense people often bring proceedings against a corporation, which is treated as a person. If having communication is the important factor, would someone who has been deprived of their sensory modalities and ability to communicate be considered a person or not ie people in a permanent vegetative state?

Your objection also doesn't deal with hypothetical entities (at least some of which may become actual entities in the future) such as artificial intelligence or intelligent alien life (I'm far more convinced the former will happen than the latter though!). I think these reasonably have to be dealt with, after all thought experiments like Cartesian demons and Brain in a Vat are both valid tools in philosophy.

We will probably have to wind this thing done pretty soon.

Not a problem, I was thinking the same - we've written a fair amount so here seems as good a time to stop as any. As you say, there are other things to do in life apart from writing on blogs!

Perhaps we could move to a weekly schedule?

Lol, it's fine - if you want to have the last word, I'll be happy to finish there if you are.

Anyway, it was enjoyable debating this with you, I think you gave some interesting responses, and good luck with your science research.

PChem said...

Lol, it's fine - if you want to have the last word, I'll be happy to finish there if you are.

Anyway, it was enjoyable debating this with you, I think you gave some interesting responses, and good luck with your science research.


This isn't what I meant, but I can see why you drew that conclusion. I was thinking more like limiting this to two more posts or we can drop it all together. I don't care if I am last.

I'll get back to the rest of your post. Actually, I may just pick a few threads that are most interesting to me and drop the rest to cut this back to a more bearable level of writing.

PChem said...

I promised to get back to this, so here is a VERY brief response.

I'm surprised a chemist would use this sort of objection.
Comparing the chemical and physical properties of different compounds and attempting to argue that abstract concepts such as love, greed, hate, etc. is quite a stretch. In no way have you demonstrated how these things can arise from mere matter.

So in that case, can we legitmiately say that Jesus died for our sins if man is ultimately immortal on Christianity?
Yes.


I will do if I can get hold of a copy of their work, or you could provide a brief outline of their arguments and we can examine them.
Too complex for me to do it justice here. I recommend getting it from a library. I left a word off the title. It is Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview.

Can you engage in a conversation with a fertilised egg? How about an embryo or even a newborn baby (parents are often frustrated by the fact they sometimes can't work out why their child is crying or what it wants)? None of these entitites can engage in language or art and so on, so should we therefore consider them to be non-personal beings?
No, but my ability to communicate with it is not what makes it a person. It is God’s relationship with those individuals that makes them personal beings.

In fact, going on your criteria provided so far, it seems that we would be hard pressed to consider that the 'image of God' is present in a fertilised egg since it has none of the capabilities yet that you say are required for personhood.
And how do you know that God does not have any type of personal relationship with it? You are focusing in on what I deem peripheral issues. It is the relationship between God and man that makes man unique. This has practical implications in explaining the quite clear divide between man and other living organisms, some examples being rational thought, the ability to communicate, the ability to create and aesthetically evaluate art, etc. Remember that I have also stated that we not a 100% duplication of God. There are attributes that man does share with the rest of the living organisms as well as the basic machinery of the universe. Such items here might include man’s finiteness, the basic biology of man, etc. The fact that there may be some instances where certain apes exhibit some rudimentary forms of what may be deemed a language comes nowhere near man’s ability to engage in rational conversation. Sorry, it’s just not impressive to me. (And, this is coming from someone who has a book about KoKo on my bookshelf).

In my view, talking to a corporate entity is the same as talking to people. If you bring suit against Wal-mart, what is going to show up to defend the company? People.

Rhology said...

Can you engage in a conversation with a fertilised egg?

This is the fundamental error of the pro-baby-murder position - personhood is conferable based on ability rather than nature.