Monday, March 28, 2011

Conversation with a member of the Church of Christ, chapter 4

Jeremy replied:
Did you actually just say that I am buying too heavily into Peter's metaphor?  Are you listening to yourself?  This is all YOUR OPINION.  You have yet to PROVE anything.  Do you see a point in us continuing this?

I replied:

If it is all just my opinion, where is your biblical response?  Did the apostles of the Lord or the Lord Himself respond that way, or did they respond with "It is written..."?  

Jeremy, later:
I understand.  It is kind of what I believe, and I didn't take that wrong.  I appreciate you qualifying not to take it wrong.  Thank you.  I don't want you to take anything that I say wrong either.  I think we are coming from two very different beliefs my friend.  I believe that a man has to hear the word as it says in Romans 10:17 before they can believe and John 6:44-45 says this is how God calls us.  I don't believe that God zaps us with it (though I do believe He is all powerful and can do as He wishes).  I don't believe that he teaches us that he will zap us when he chooses.  But I do believe that through His providence that if one is seeking God he will find Him.  I don't know that we are going to come to a resolution on this.  I stand firm in what I believe.  I have reasons and I have eplained them.  I do feel that you are far more versed on mens theologies than I am and I will admit that.  I should have asked what you believe before I asserted it.  Thank you for discussing this with me.  I still hold firm that the Bible speaks of different works and that the works it speaks of in Ephesians 2 is meritorious works, or works of the old law.  I just don't see how we come into contact with the blood of Christ other than water baptism.  When they pierced His side blood and water came out, do you not see a coorelation in that?

And finally:

I must add, you need to read Hebrews chapter 6, it is PLAINLY possible for people to fall away.... The Bible plainly teaches time after time, that there is something required of man.  God has done his part by offering the perfect sacrifice.  You're teaching that we have no free will....
"1Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to (C)maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
 3And this we will do, if God permits.
 4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
 7For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God;
 8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned."

How do you get around that?

Friday, March 25, 2011

False certainty

The tweeter/blogger @KushielsMoon, the "Christian" pro-choicer, and I have been engaging via tweets on the topic of whether very young babies can think or feel. I confess - it's difficult to deal with these kinds of things via Twitter. The 140 character limit is constraining, to be sure.

Anyway, I'd like to flesh out why I've been pursuing this line of argumentation. First, some of the tweets.


@ that they can't think or feel. Prove they can't think or feel. Sheesh. Stupid  =
 Christian Prochoicer 

@ You need a brain and specified cells to think or feel. A blastocyst does not have a brain or the specified cells.

@ Prove that u need a brain & specified cells 2 think/feel. U don't know, and u don't care that u don't know. MUST KILL BABIES!
 Christian Prochoicer 

@ SCIENCE. Individual cells don't think. Cells that aren't differentiated as brain cells don't let you think.

@ LOL reasoning fail. Science can't tell u whether or not. That's why I asked. So, show me the scientific study proving it. Go.
 Christian Prochoicer 

@ Science can't tell us that cells don't think? Please, please, please tell me you're joking. 

@ Still waiting for the study that PROVES very young babies don't think/feel. Duh, I know u ASSUME it.
 Christian Prochoicer 

@ I don't assume it. It's a scientific fact that cells don't think.  

Let's take a look at the first of those articles.  Kudos to @KM for coming up with the goods, at least through the first round, but if the first article can't keep up the goods and I conclude after reading the others that they're similar in (lack of) quality and relevance, I'm not going to bother with the others.

As we read through them, let's keep our eyes peeled for unargued-for assumptions.  @KM is telling us that brain functionality = mind.  This is physicalism, and it's hardly commendable for a so-called Christian to hold to such kind of things.
Does this "Christian" pro-choicer think that people have souls? If so, when do they get them and how does she know?  Will she appeal to scientific studies again to prove when people get souls?  What does it look like or smell like when a soul is received?  Does it increase, even a little bit, the mass of the person at that moment of ensoulment?  Does an imaging scan display different colors when the soul is in residence?
What about a mind capable of feeling?  How does @KM know for sure that brainwaves = thinking and feeling?
If she replies: We scan brains of adults and even children while they're thinking and feeling stuff, note how the scans look, and extrapolate backward.
...then how does she know for sure that such data is relevant for the very young?
And how does she know for sure that such is the only means by which thinking/feeling occurs and even can be detected? Does she remember back when she was a blastocyst?  Can she perform a mindmeld with blastocysts to see if there's any mind to access?

Answer: She doesn't know for sure.  She is perfectly willing, however, to kill that which she doesn't know isn't human.  Sadly, she doesn't seem to care.

Before we dive into the 1st article, the third one begins with this amazing sentence, which destroys @KM's argument.  The very first sentence!
--The evaluation of pain in the human fetus and neonate is difficult because pain is generally defined as a subjective phenomenon.
Not sure what else needs to be said here. Moving on.

When I quote excerpts, assume the emphasis is mine unless indicated otherwise.
The first one:
--Thus fetal-cognitive motor activity, including auditory discrimination, orienting, the wake-sleep cycle, FHRs, and defensive reactions, appear to be under the reflexive control of the brainstem which also appears capable of learning-related activity.
--the behavior of the fetus and newborn is likely a reflection of reflexive brainstem activities which are produced in the absence of forebrain-mediated affective or cognitive processing, i.e. thinking, reasoning, understanding, or true emotionality
How do they know the absence is there?  How can one prove a negative?  If they say that they haven't found any evidence of it, how do we know they're looking in the right place with the right tools and methods?

--It is rather obvious that the neonate is able to scream and cry and can even slightly lift the corners of the mouth as if smiling. However, these do not appear to be true emotions 
You know, I think I'll just apply the same reasoning to 19th-century Negro slaves.  They appear to experience pain when I lash them and hunger, fatigue, and nascent despair when I work them 24 hours without a break, but these do not appear to be true emotions. I know that b/c science says that they're not really human. How do the scientists know?  Just ask them!  Besides, you can ask one of my Negros.  See if you can understand the nonsense bababababaa that comes out of their mouths.  Pfff, Negros human.  Please.

--In fact, smiling, as well as screaming and crying can be produced from brainstem stimulation even with complete forebrain transection or destruction 
The irony is delicious.  Why didn't they come to the conclusion that there might be more going on there than meets the eye or the imaging tool, that resides in the cells of the brain?  Because of their physicalist presuppositions, that's why.

--Given its exceedingly long and ancient evolutionary history, not surprisingly, many brainstem functions are present before birth and occur without the aid of thinking, reasoning, or even forebrain/neocortical participation 
See?  It's not argued for. It's just assumed, and you better believe them because they're scientists.

Now, let me explain the other side of this.  I'm not saying that I'm 100% confident that very young babies in the blastocyst phase can indeed think/feel.  In fact, I think it's sort of doubtful.  But I don't base my argument on "scientific evidence" fundamentally, even though I am convinced that properly understood scientific reasoning is on my side.
But @KM is basing her position strongly on the assumption that the very young baby is not human, and one reason for that is that she thinks the baby can't think/feel.  She doesn't know that, and so she assumes what she needs to prove.  Thus most of her argument rests on something she simply assumes.
If you don't know for sure whether something deserves to live or die, whether you have the right to take that life, if you don't know whether you're aiming at a person or a tree or something, do you pull the trigger?  Not me - I stop to wait and see what it is I'm aiming at. @KM fills it full of lead.

The problem is presuppositions, not facts.

Abolish human abortion.  This "Christian" pro-choicer is a lead member of the culture of death.