Pharyngula

The fertilized egg is not a human life

A while back, I got a letter from a student at the University of Texas named Mark, who had been confronted by a group of those typically hysterical anti-choice people on campus. They made an assertion I’ve heard many times, and he asked me to counter it.

So there I was, walking along the University of Texas campus, enjoying an absolutely gorgeous day (it was 75 and sunny!) when all of a sudden I’m accosted by a huge structure covered with gigantic (10+ ft) pictures of 5-20 week old fetuses. Surprise! I’d forgotten all about our annual day of political theatre hosted by some pro-life group on campus. I started having a very cordial conversation with a couple of (very cute!) pro-lifers when one of them makes the astounding claim that “Every biologist would agree absolutely that life begins at conception”. I let it pass and then I call her on it after she says it a couple more times. Eventually she explains that she’s very confident in this statement because their ‘executive director” always says it, and claims that if someone proves him wrong he’ll eat the paper it’s written on.

Easy. I sent back a quick reply…I daresay that no competent biologist would take the position that these anti-choicers claim is universal among us.

Life does not begin at conception.

It’s an utterly nonsensical position to take. There is never a “dead” phase — life is continuous. Sperm are alive, eggs are alive; you could even make the argument that since two cells (gametes) enter, but only one cell (a zygote) leaves, fertilization ends a life. Not that I would make that particular claim myself, but it’s definitely true that life is more complicated than the simplistic ideologues of the anti-choice movement would make it.

I recently received more email from someone in this organization; the mail is from a David Lee, but is signed “R.”, so I’m not sure who I’m talking to. Whoever it is, they don’t quite get it, but are trying desperately to weasel out of the bargain now.

Dr. Meyers,

I’m in possession of correspondence between yourself and a University of Texas at Austin student by the name of Mark. Mark handed me a copy of his email addressed to you, and your email response addressed to him dated February 25, 2009, as citing evidence that would require me to eat the page upon which your response was printed.

Mark presented me your remarks as said evidence to be eaten because during the Justice For ALL Exhibit (www.jfaweb.org) presentation at UT-Austin several weeks ago I was heard to offer to eat the page of the biology textbook in use on the UT-Austin campus that asserts that “someone having human parents can be something other than biologically fully human, at any point in their existence.”

I proffered my eating-the-page challenge that day in response to numerous students’ claim that the offspring of two human parents was not biologically human until birth (in their defense most of them were not science majors).

I did not eat the page that Mark handed me that day because it did not contain the evidence I requested. Which is why I now write to you. You claim to have knowledge of such documentation.

In fact you make the bold assertion in your correspondence with Mark that “[Human] life does not begin at conception” followed by “…There is never a ‘dead’ phase — life is continuous. Sperm are alive, eggs are alive; you could even make the argument that since two cells (gametes) enter, but only one cell (a zygote) leaves, fertilization ends a life. Not that I would make that particular claim myself… .” (my bold and italics)

I’m encouraged that you don’t make the claim that human fertilization ends a human life; however in postulating the argument you seem to grant nebulous scientific credibility to those who might make such a claim? For what purpose? Surely not to discredit my position.

Unless you believe in the possibility of an extra-physical or metaphysical existence, I seriously doubt that you believe your own assertion that “…There is never a ‘dead’ phase — life is continuous.”

On what evidence do you base your assertion that “life is continuous?” Do you believe in life after death in some physical or metaphysical sense? If you mean by your assertion that at least one human self-directing organism must contribute living genetic material in order for a new member of the human species to come into existence I quite agree.

But you have labeled my assertion “simplistic” and “nonsensical” that sexually reproduced human life — I’ll go further than that — all new mammalian species members, have a beginning, and that that beginning is the conception of the species member.

So professor, you’re on the record; from a biology or human embryology textbook in use on an accredited university campus (your own University of Minnesota-Morris campus would be fine), please cite chapter and page that unequivocally states that “human life does not begin at conception.”

I look forward to your reply. Respectfully,

R.

Talk about complete, blind incomprehension…no, I’m not talking about life after death, since I don’t believe in that, either. I’m saying that it is absurd to talk about a life beginning at conception because it didn’t begin then: the precursors to the zygote were also alive. The only “beginning” of life that we could talk about occurred a few billion years ago, and even that wasn’t discrete, but the product of a gradual progression from chemical replicator to functioning cell, a cline upon which there was no point where one could say that everything before was dead, and everything after was alive. Life is a very fuzzy concept.

One thing you’ll notice is the frantic attempt to qualify everything by inserting the qualifier “human” before every mention of the word “life”, to the point where they are even adding it when quoting me! Alas, it doesn’t help them at all. I’m also confident that the freshly fertilized zygote is not human, either. There’s more to being human than bearing a cell with the right collection of genes.

Now this person wants a specific quote from a biology text that has the words “human life does not begin at conception” in it. That would be tough, because it’s a sentence that rather boggles the brain of any developmental biologist — we also tend not to write sentences like, “human beings are not flies”. We kind of expect that anyone intelligent enough to read the textbook doesn’t need their hand held in superfluous explications of the bleedin’ obvious. But you will find us saying simple things like that in email and conversations and even popular lectures to lay people…such as this talk by Lewis Wolpert.

Wolpert is, of course, one of the best known developmental biologists on the planet. He is also the author of a very good introductory text in developmental biology (Principles of Development(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll)
), one that I use in my classes at UMM, and in this lecture (which you really should watch and listen to in its entirety, it’s very good), he does come right out and say the bleedin’ obvious.

What I’m concerned with is how you develop. I know that you all think about it perpetually that you come from one single cell of a fertilized egg. I don’t want to get involved in religion but that is not a human being. I’ve spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear … they are not a human being.

There, that should help. When you go reaching for an authority in development, a professor at a small liberal arts college isn’t the sine qua non of the field (well, unless maybe you’re talking about Scott Gilbert…), but you really can’t pull rank higher than Lewis Wolpert.

Comments

  1. #1 Kobra
    March 17, 2009

    Why do these people ask for evidence that caters to their interpretations of others’ claims? Argh!

    Good response, PZ.

  2. #2 Captain Mike
    March 17, 2009

    This “R” person clearly didn’t understand the explanation at all. And spelled your name incorrectly.

  3. #3 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    They got their response. Idiotic twit R.

  4. #4 Africangenesis
    March 17, 2009

    Are sperm really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA? Is there any transcribing of the DNA and production of new proteins and RNA? There is consumption of fuel, fructose I believe. There is some sensing and homing in on the egg, but is there enough of the metabolism characteristic of life, to be called life? I really haven’t studied sperm much, so I don’t know. I thought the DNA was just tightly packaged for delivery and not very actively involved in the activities of the sperm.

  5. #5 DaveL
    March 17, 2009

    I have an identical twin brother. I like to use this fact to point out just how insulting it is to suggest a fertilized ovum is a person. Is only one of us a person now? Are we each half of a person?

    Then there are chimeric individuals. Are they two people, or was each contributing embryo half of a person?

    Just how many people does this fertilized egg represent? Should we take a weighted average? If so, we should certainly include the 2/3 or so that naturally fail to develop into a living newborn.

    I have never received a reasonable response to this problem.

  6. #6 Joe
    March 17, 2009

    I’ve always thought it was interesting that the people who claim that life occurs at conception never stopped to think about how other organisms reproduce. Granted, they most likely are referring to the “soul” entering the human body, or some nonsense of the sort. But if we just take “life at conception” and apply it to other organisms, it simply doesn’t work. Parthenogenesis is a wonderful example of an argument against life at conception. Are the male bees or wasps that reproduce using the haplodiploid sex-determination system never truly “alive” because they have only one set of chromosomes?

  7. #7 Taliesan
    March 17, 2009

    See if this works:

  8. #8 Dutchdoc
    March 17, 2009

    He is also the author of a very good introductory text in developmental biology, one that I use in my classes at UMM

    Can we have the title of this book?

  9. #9 The Science Pundit
    March 17, 2009

    PZ,

    I’ve noticed that these cranks quite often add an extra e to your surname. Considering the frequency with which they do this, I find it hard to believe that it’s just a common error rather than an infantile taunt like when Rush Limbaugh refers to “the Democrat party”. But then I don’t know how often you get that misspelling in non-kook correspondence. Do you get that often or is it indeed a wingnut taunt?

  10. #10 Valhar2000
    March 17, 2009

    I am not sure I have ever seen such an egregious example of someone making an effort to misunderstand something. I really do get the feeling that she understood what you wrote, or came close, but by an enormous effort of will cut and pruned her thoughts into what she wrote in reply, like a Bonsai delicately nurtured to acheive the shape of a turd.

    It boggles my mind that anyone would do something like this.

  11. #11 taliesan
    March 17, 2009

    Okay, it looks like it didn’t.

    Here is the link instead

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0kJHQpvgB8

  12. #12 Ploon
    March 17, 2009

    I would say that some spermatozoa are alive, if only to contrast with those that are dead or dying.

    R. didn’t get the expected answer “life starts at week X of gestation” or “a foetus becomes a human being at week X of gestation (or birth)”. This made his brain go SPLOING.

  13. #13 Martin Grondin
    March 17, 2009

    I love how he jumps around in his “rebuttal” of your letter. I’m not sure how he ever got the conclusion you meant “there is no death.” I used to fall asleep in biology class (sorry, the teacher spoke in monotone) and I got what you meant.

    It must be willful ignorance. They clamor for the “Gotcha!” moment in their correspondence, but really, your initial letter and response was pretty well sealed.

  14. #14 Dutchdoc
    March 17, 2009

    But but but … *posing as a confused creationist* if life is continuous, then when and where does creation take place? OH MY GAWD!! *puts fingers in ears and starts humming loudly*

  15. #15 Irene Delse
    March 17, 2009

    If one needs tips to counter the anti-choice propaganda, especially of the nasty and dishonest gory placards variety, I found some highly interesting stuff in Theodor Roszak’s novel The Devil and Daniel Silvermann. Also, it’s a very good read in its own right!

  16. #16 Tilia
    March 17, 2009

    africangenesis asked:
    “Are sperm really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA?”

    Are humans really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA?

  17. #17 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    It’s not surprising that these people have so much trouble with a statement such as “life begins at conception” – they would push the process even earlier if they could – as an Irish friend of mine used to remark : “It was back in the days before you were even a dirty thought!”
    Remember that these “compassion”-filled hatemongers believe that in a literal sense life doesn’t end with your death.

  18. #18 George
    March 17, 2009

    This is a clear religious trick. A single cell is not a human being that is obvious. A fertilized egg has no more independent human attributes than say a liver cell – actually less. No claims a liver cell is an independent human being with full rights and social status.

    For these people the difference is that god placed the soul in the fertilized egg. (BTW – which cells have the soul in a full grown human – it kinda gets blurred a bit there) The problem is they cannot argue for the assignment of full independent human status for the fertilized egg based on religious rationale and then force that on others.

    So they have to argue from science. They cannot, so they turn the tables and set the bar at “prove its not.” The goal posts move with every proof. This is just like Behe.

  19. #19 IST
    March 17, 2009

    Why would he want you to cite a textbook rather than a scientific paper, if he really assumed that’s what you meant? What an asshat…

    AG>
    Sperm are alive in the same sense that any other human cell is alive.

  20. #20 Jim
    March 17, 2009

    It’s astounding to me that a professional biologist would deny that the life of a unique human being begins at conception, when the genetic makeup of that unique human being is formed. Certainly “life” existed prior to that moment, but it wasn’t the life of a unique human being. As Dr. Jermone LeJeune (the “Father of Modern Genetics”) once put it: “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence.”

    PZ Myers: “I’m saying that it is absurd to talk about a life beginning at conception…”

    The absurdity lies in saying that the life of an individual human being begins before the genetic contributions of both the mother and the father are joined together at the moment of conception. That union of genetic information brings into being a unique human life that did not exist prior to that union. This is a plain biological fact, not an opinion open to debate.

  21. #21 Africangenesis
    March 17, 2009

    IST,

    “Sperm are alive in the same sense that any other human cell is alive.”

    I think there are gradiations and distinctions to be made, e.g., red blood cells.

  22. #22 co
    March 17, 2009

    That union of genetic information brings into being a unique human life that did not exist prior to that union. This is a plain biological fact, not an opinion open to debate.

    Ah. So it’s all nature and no nurture? Environment (mother’s womb) means nothing?

  23. #23 simon
    March 17, 2009

    I’ve spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear … they are not a human being.

    didn’t you ever say we were animal ?
    what’s human being ? something different from animal ?

    Embryos are smaller than fetuses who are smaller (usually) than newborns. But what does size have to do with rights of personhood? Smaller people are no more or less human than those who are bigger. Embryos and fetuses are smaller than newborns, just as newborns are smaller than infants, just as infants are smaller than toddlers, just as toddlers are smaller than adolescents, just as adolescents are smaller than teenagers, and teenagers are smaller than adults. Size doesn’t matter. It is lawful to kill a fly and unlawful to kill a person, not because the person is bigger, but because the person is human. Trees are generally bigger than people, but while it is lawful to cut branches off of trees, it is unlawful to cut arms off of people. Why? Because humanity, not size, is what determines rights of personhood. This might seem laughably obvious but there are people across the globe who try and justify abortion on the claim that the diminutive size of the embryo or fetus makes them ethically insignificant. Since size does not determine personhood after birth, it shouldn’t be used to determine personhood before birth.

  24. #24 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    This is a plain biological fact, not an opinion open to debate.

    Oh? Something leads me to suppose, Jim, that you will find this to be untrue….
    Incidentally, isn’t it interesting that the smallest human cells are sperms, while the largest are eggs?
    Cosmic symmetry, or a practical reason?

  25. #25 raven
    March 17, 2009

    Cue the Death Cult fundie xians showing up. “You atheistic baby killers are all going to hell.”

    Countdown, 10, 9, 8….

  26. #26 PZ Myers
    March 17, 2009

    Lejeune was a pro-life Catholic crank who made some valuable contributions to the study of human genetics (he discovered that Down syndrome was a trisomy, for instance), but “father of modern genetics” is ludicrous hyperbole. He’s also the kook who struggled to find a “cure” for Down syndrome, something that cannot happen without destroying the individual with the trait — he was another anti-choicer insensitive to the life that really counts.

    The “uniqueness” argument is also dead stupid. Each sperm and egg has its own unique combination of alleles, as well. It relies on defining human beings by the collection of genes they bear rather than the behavior of the emergent individual.

  27. #27 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Simple Simon the Gay Lieman, your superficial analysis forgets one hard fact. There is one point where a huge change occurs. That change is called birth, where the fetus goes from being a parasite feeding off the woman, to being a separate person in its own right by taking a breath of air. It goes from total dependency to a level of independence. These are facts you seem to think are trivial, but they are most profound, and cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand.
    By the way, your god is an abortionist. He is very good at it. He missed with you though. Bad god.

  28. #28 D
    March 17, 2009

    simon certainly is talented at building strawmen to bludgeon. Amusing that he thinks people are arguing elephants are more human than humans due to their size.

  29. #29 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    what’s human being ? something different from animal ?

    No, nothing at all different, just the same.
    Learn to write, you moron. Orwill you just start going on about coprophiliac sexual fantasies again?

  30. #30 DaveL
    March 17, 2009

    That union of genetic information brings into being a unique human life that did not exist prior to that union.

    I see you missed (or else ignored) my comment. By the standard of genetic material, I myself am not a unique human life. Am I half of a person? Are genetic chimeras two people? The mutant cell I just shed from the inside of my cheek – a new person?

  31. #31 Lorax
    March 17, 2009

    That union of genetic information brings into being a unique human life that did not exist prior to that union. This is a plain biological fact, not an opinion open to debate.

    Identical twins…consider yourself pwned

  32. #32 Ray Ingles
    March 17, 2009

    Jim@20 – There’s a real definitional problem here. As many people have noted, a single cell is not a human being. A human being is a collection of many, many cells working together. And there isn’t a sharp dividing line between “a clump of cells” and “a human being”. (What’s the exact nanosecond “day” becomes “night”?)

    So far as I’ve been able to see, being human requires a brain. Take the brain out of a body, and the body that’s left isn’t a human. Keep a brain alive inside a robot, and that’s a human. Before ~33 days or so, there isn’t a brain. Even after that, I strongly suspect that it’s a while before there’s a brain capable of supporting consciousness, but that’s much harder to pin down given the limitations of what we currently know.

    Given that kind of definition, can you see why people could think that a zygote isn’t a human being? Now, you can argue with that definition, but it’ll help everyone if you understand that it’s a definition that’s being argued over. (Before you argue, though, read this.)

  33. #33 DianeG
    March 17, 2009

    Obviously, using scientific terminology and the idea of evolution to an ideologue is pointless. You could possible keep him bust for a while with the old “who came first the chicken or the egg” thingy, or better yet, “If God is all powerful can he make a rock too big for him to lift?” and watch his wee head spin like a top.

    Maybe we should make a visual model. An endless row of dominoes, that once started no middle defining point can be called “a beginning”, however, when one set of rows branch off into another of its own rows, by ITSELF cna be identified as an individual.

    Nah, that’s too complex yet.

    Look out Christianazis! Jacking off is MURDER! Sperm are ALIVE! They SWIM!

    Great post PZ, but it may need a little garlic powder, ideologues are picky eaters.

  34. #34 Michelle
    March 17, 2009

    “I’ve spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear … they are not a human being.”

    …You did WHAT? How good was the acid, buddy?

  35. #35 ERV
    March 17, 2009

    PZ– I think you missed a real opportunity with Mark and his pet Creationist.

    We could pass around the blagosphere a petition of sorts to biologists who dont believe ‘life begins at conception’. If Marks pet has his mouth full of a few thousand pieces of paper, he cant spout anti-science BS.

    YAY!

    So Mark– Im another biologist that doesnt believe life begins at conception. Print out this comment and ask him to eat it too.

  36. #36 amphiox
    March 17, 2009

    Jim,

    Meiosis creates a single cell genetically distinct from all others in the same body (even other products of meiosis, thanks to recombination). Genetically, though, this cell is fully human.

    Fertilization destroys two of these unique human entities and creates a third.

  37. #37 alexandre van de sande
    March 17, 2009

    Of course he is right, and wrong at the same time and so are you.

    The trouble is defining life and defining human. Is a fertilized egg human? yes, it’s called a fertilized human egg. And it’s alive also. Then it evolves to a human fetuses, to a human baby, to a human child and then to a human adult. The point where it becomes a fully autonomous human is something around five to twenty years later.

    My problem is I do not agree with dr. Myers assertion that there is something scientific about the abortion debate. There is not, is something about culture and morals and that is an issue more akin to philosophy and religion.

    I happen to be a pro-choice until the 12th week but not because there is something special happening at the number 12.

    As Gregory house puts it: “Abortion is murder” “yes, and I still think you should do it.”

  38. #38 Benjamin Geiger
    March 17, 2009

    The important question is not whether the fetus is human. It’s whether the fetus is a parasite, and by any reasonable definition it is. If the parasite is in an unwilling host, that host should be allowed to remove it. If it can’t survive outside the host, then what happens will happen.

    Personally, I find abortion sad and something to avoid if at all possible, but I find these bozos even worse. Whether I like the idea has nothing to do with whether it should be legal.

  39. #39 Ray S.
    March 17, 2009

    The reason so many of these people look for such simplistic answers is that they have to have everything simplified for them to understand it at all. Many of them do want to think about the icky sex part and never come to grips with how many sperm (potential half humans, right) die even in sex that is only procreative. Because they cannot see shades of gray, they must have precise and absolute categories for each thing they consider. Thus neither egg nor sperm are human; once they fuse to form a fertilized egg, then it must be fully human. If not, the next discrete point in development for them is birth. That won’t do as it renders the vast majority of their argument moot.

    I’ve never met an anti-choicer IRL that had ever considered the many different situations that may call for a termination. Almost all of them seem to think it’s just retroactive birth control, and most of them are against that even before the fact, unless it’s abstinence. Some then resort to claims that the aborted fetus may have been the person God was going to use to cure cancer. Who knew that you can thwart the will of an omniscient, omnipotent, omni benevolent god through simple surgery?

    Admittedly I’m no biologist, but from what I see and have learned, biology is complex and much is interconnected in manifold ways that defy simplification. Though we may simplify it to convey the basic concepts, at each succeeding level we have to introduce the nuances that invalidate the simplifications.

  40. #40 IST
    March 17, 2009

    AG> If your definition of alive involves being able to reproduce yourself, then I see your point. Since you can still “kill” both RBCs and sperm, that point is moot.

  41. #41 MikeMa
    March 17, 2009

    Simon,
    WTF? Are you insane? No one spoke of size at all. It is viability that matters. A fertilized cell is not viable.

    I posit that in intelligent human society, you are not very viable. Please stop breathing.

  42. #42 Mu
    March 17, 2009

    DaveL @#5, maybe you should ask your local priest if you can have a 50% rebate on your tithe as “half person”?

  43. #43 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    Simon says:
    but there are people across the globe who try and justify abortion on the claim that the diminutive size of the embryo or fetus makes them ethically insignificant. Since size does not determine personhood after birth, it shouldn’t be used to determine personhood before birth.

    The determination of personhood has little to do with abortion.

    Tell me. If someone attacks your wife, does she have a right to kill him? In most places, it would even be justifiable for you to kill him.

    Abortion is justifiable because a woman and her doctor have decided that her health and/or well-being are put in danger if she continues the pregnancy. It’s called self-defense.

    The fact that a fetus is not legally a person in many places is immaterial.

    But, what PZ is trying to express (I think), is this:
    Skin cells are human cells. They possess human DNA. They are alive; they are living. They are not a human being.

    Liver cells are human cells. They possess human DNA. They are alive; they are living. They are not a human being.

    Stem cells are human cells. They possess human DNA. They are alive; they are living. They are not a human being.

    Spermatozoa are human cells. They possess human DNA. They are alive; they are living. They are not a human being.

    Zygotes are human cells. They possess human DNA. They are alive; they are living. They are not a human being.

    Human beings, like jellyfish and green-blue algae, are colonies. No single cell of ours is a human being or ever could be. Why? Because human beings are colonies with specific expected finished characteristics.

    An embryo is made of human cells. It posesses human DNA. It is alive; it is living. It is even a colony. But it is not a fully differentiated colony. It is still developing. It is not a human being, but it may develop into one. Because it is developing, and because it is wholly dependent on the woman who must carry it, and because it has the capacity to do great and irreparable harm to that woman, she has the right to choose not to carry it. She may choose, at any point in her carrying, to revoke the embryo’s permit to inhabit her body.

    Why? Because a woman has human cells. A woman possesses human DNA. She is alive; she is living. She is a full colony. A woman is a human being. She is recognized under the law as owning her own body. And that woman is more important than any potential children she may have. Once those children have been born, they become equally important; but they are never, NEVER more important than she is.

  44. #44 raven
    March 17, 2009

    Jim the Death Cult fundie:

    It’s astounding to me that a professional biologist would deny that the life of a unique human being begins at conception, when the genetic makeup of that unique human being is formed.

    They are here. Never takes long. That wasn’t the question. When did life begin? As PZ says, somewhere before 3.8 billion years ago. It has been an unbroken chain since then. One break in the chain and it is broken forever.

    The christofascists are playing word games. Using life and human to try and label anyone pro choice as baby killers. The usual tricks of convuluted tortured logic. It is boring, they’ve been doing it for centuries and we have all seen it thousands of times.

    Defining “human being” and “person” as a zygote.

    So Jim, how to feel about forced child bearing? How about enslaving the majority of the population as walking wombs?

    The majority of the US population has rejected your fascist ideology. Tough times for creeps like you.

    PS. Jim seems to be male by the name. Oddly enough, the toads who seek to enslave women as forced child bearers are usually male. If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacred right. “Don’t believe in abortion? No problem, don’t have one.”

  45. #45 Kelvin
    March 17, 2009

    This is an interesting question for me, because my partner and I have just undergone IVF to preserve embryos ahead of a very nasty course of chemo she’s about to undergo. To try and anticipate my parents’ questions, I looked up the Catholic position on IVF and surprise surprise, it’s very nasty. First of all it blames the woman if she’s not fertile, then it says you’re going to hell if you do it. None of this was a real surprise, as you would expect to artifically terminate surplus embryos which is, by their definition, abortion.

    The thing is, I’ve never heard of IVF clinics being picketed or firebombed (and I don’t recall Bush trying to outlaw IVF, despite the wanton destruction of embryos). I wonder if this is anything to do with abortion clinics’ clientele generally being younger and less empowered than the generally more mature, richer clients of IVF clinics?

  46. #46 essentialsaltes
    March 17, 2009

    There is some confusion on both sides, here. Mark told PZ that the goalposts were here, when in fact R’s goalposts were there. Even once that is cleared up, R’s actual goalposts involve “being human” rather than “being a human”, and PZ is not respecting this difference. On the other side, it seems clear that R doesn’t understand PZ’s very obvious point about the continuity of life.

    Speaking more generally, the real crux of the abortion debate is when the whatsit becomes a legal person, not when it becomes human or even a human. This is not primarily a scientific issue, though of course scientific evidence may well be relevant.

  47. #47 Praetorianstalker
    March 17, 2009

    Would it not be better for the Pro-Lifers to spend their time and effort by researching a way to abort a womans pregnancy and save the fetus at the same time? I am sure many women would opt for that if able to – that way the fetus could go to a woman who wants it and will care for it… I’ll bet all that money, time and effort they have wasted on protests would have made this possible…

  48. #48 Personal Failure
    March 17, 2009

    my personal belief is “No uterus, no opinion”. (when it comes to abortion, obviously. nonuterused beings are welcome to all other kinds of opinions.) being a legal secretary, I no freakin’ idea when life began/begins, but i’ve certainly don’t consider a zygote a human being.

  49. #49 Mu
    March 17, 2009

    One other thought on the “beginning of life” issue: What happens when we start cloning humans? No conception, no life, maybe even no soul? My theology isn’t solid enough to answer the latter.

  50. #50 Kelvin
    March 17, 2009

    @Mu – Fortunately the Catholic Church has already done the thinking on behalf of its members. As usual.

  51. #51 Brian
    March 17, 2009

    It seems like a semantic trick. Life may begin at conception but it’s not human yet.

  52. #52 www.10ch.org
    March 17, 2009

    “The important question is not whether the fetus is human. It’s whether the fetus is a parasite, and by any reasonable definition it is. If the parasite is in an unwilling host, that host should be allowed to remove it. If it can’t survive outside the host, then what happens will happen.”
    Yes, the fetus is human. A skin cell is also human.

  53. #53 Foggg
    March 17, 2009

    The NY Times just gave traditionalist/authoritarian Catholic Ross Douthat a slot on their opinion page, replacing Bill “Noble Lie” Kristol. This has brought a flood of reaction pointing out Douthat’s history, e.g. his hypocrisy and bizarre rational in opposing funding for contraception which would prevent 12000 abortions, etc.
    Last night I was reading one Douthat critic, Michael Kinsley, whose stemcell-oriented article’s comments were quickly filled with the Catholic reaction(ary) brigade, including philosopher/apologist Peter Kreeft.
    It was stunning to observe how they played the word game on never using “human person”, but instead insisting on “human life”, then sliding into “human being”, despite being corrected multiple times. Of course, as professionals they would know the distinction, but their dishonesty in manipulating language is ingrained.

  54. #54 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    56% Yes after I voted.

  55. #55 GregQzag
    March 17, 2009

    Let?s put together Christian Creationist claims and follow them to their absurd conclusion. 1) Human life begins at conception. 2) If you die, without accepting Jesus as your savior, you go to hell. This leads to the really sick view that any fetus that gets aborted (naturally, accidentally or on purpose) is condemned to spend eternity in hell.

  56. #56 Mu
    March 17, 2009

    Kelvin, I know they are against it, but what would happen if you walk in and ask for your clone to be baptized? Is a clone a human by their definition? And, presuming it’s a clone of a baptized person, does it even need a baptism? I remember being taught that one drop of blesses water blesses a whole bucket, so does one cloned baptized cell take care of the whole body?

  57. #57 ndt
    March 17, 2009

    So does R hold funeral services for the 40% of fertilized eggs that don’t implant and get passed with menstrual flow?

  58. #58 DaveL
    March 17, 2009

    DaveL @#5, maybe you should ask your local priest if you can have a 50% rebate on your tithe as “half person”?

    Oh, I already have the 100% discount, and I didn’t even have to ask!

    No, the real question is how to convince those hot triplets that it wouldn’t really be a foursome. ;)

  59. #59 nate
    March 17, 2009

    I just want to make a quick observation, and it’s related to George’s comment at 18: the forced pregnancy lobby likes to switch between various concepts, but will uses the same word to refer to the different concepts without indicating they’re switching, i.e., human or life or person. These are all distinct concepts relevant to particular debates, but not necessarily all debates. Under constitutional law, the concern is with the “person” because the 14th and 5th amendments talk about a person; being a “life” is a much broader concept than “person” or “human”; and again, “human” is a broader concept than “person” but a narrower concept than “life.” They interchange these concepts when arguing, utilizing the term that best suits the conclusions they wish to reach. I would advise–if you choose to argue with these dishonest, ignorant fucks–that you pin them down to the definitions they are using for the various terms they are throwing out. Something may be a “human” “life” and not be a person; something may be “human” but not “life” and not a “person.” A “person” has to be both “human” and “life.” And “life” can be “human” and a “person,” but can be a lot of other things.

    Pleasd, don’t let these assholes destroy the language by debating them without pinning them down to a position based upon agreed upon definitions. And you will save yourselves a lot of frustrating debates if you recognize the three-card monty game they are playing with vocabulary.

  60. #60 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    I think you all fail to understand power of the circular kettle defense.

    0.zygote is human, development is smooth linear blend between 100% zygote 0% newborn and 100% newborn and 0% zygote without any feature providing natural border, so if newborn is human, zygote has to be too.
    1. when pointed that that is bald man fallacy, then zygote is human, because it could be human in the future if we provide the right conditions.
    2. when pointed out that unfertilized oocyte is future potential human too, make diploid genome to be the distinction between humans and non human cells.
    3. when pointed out, diploid genome does not map 1:1 to person (twins, braindead, chimeras, etc), then declare that they dont count because development is smooth linear blend between 100% zygote 0% newborn and 100% newborn and 0% zygote without any feature providing natural border, so if newborn is human, zygote has to be too. and GOTO 1

    < /parody >

  61. #61 Badger3k
    March 17, 2009

    #48 – most of these anti-choice idiots would not give a rat’s posterior for any child born. It’s only important while it is in the womb. After that, it’s on it’s own, and they have no obligation towards it. The issue isn’t life, it’s the control of a woman’s reproductive capacity.

  62. #62 The Science Pundit
    March 17, 2009

    @Phyllis (#43)

    While I mostly agree with your post, you seem to be implying that red blood cells aren’t human cells because they lack human nuclear DNA. Is that the case? I know some people do feel that way, but I don’t. We wouldn’t live for very long without our RBC’s, and while they do lack a nucleus, they’re the spawn of nucleated stem cells. Just my 2˘

  63. #63 Jim
    March 17, 2009

    PZ Myers: “Lejeune was a pro-life Catholic crank…”

    As usual, you resort to adolescent name-calling, combined with your ever-present presumption of intellectual superiority over anyone who doesn’t share your views. Your unceasing efforts (and the efforts of your choir) to make this blog risible are a resounding success. Those who don’t share your views can find satisfaction in your successful efforts to marginalize yourself. No one pays any heed to the views of someone who writes as you write, except – of course – those who already share your views. You will always be preaching to the choir, persuading only those who are already persuaded. If that’s your purpose, you’ve succeeded. But if your purpose is to win people over to the points of view you express here, you will always fail. Your rhetorical style guarantees it.

    I made the point I wanted to make, so I’m out of here, with a parting prediction: Most of the responses to this will be smug, condescending, insulting, vulgar comments of the kind that have won this blog its well-deserved reputation as a blight on the marketplace of ideas. You and your choir are having so much fun wallowing in self-congratulation that the lot of you never realize just how much your adolescent rhetorical antics inspire people with different views not to take you seriously.

  64. #64 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    my personal belief is “No uterus, no opinion”.

    aka sexism – female supremacism

  65. #65 Bob L
    March 17, 2009

    The Christians still haven’t faced the terrible music of their logic; the question for them isn’t when life comes it is when the soul comes in the body. After all life is just petty inconvenience on the way to eternity. The implication from The Bible is soul comes from the father (as appropriate for sky daddy religion) so that means sperm are human beings, in a theological sense.

    Face it you Right Life clowns, if you really honest to your beliefs you would screaming about male masturbation, not zygotes. But honesty isn’t what this is really about, is Pro-Lifers? It is really about being a holier-than-thou asshole and giving yourself excuses to attack other people.

  66. #66 Kimpatsu
    March 17, 2009

    @Mu:
    The world is already full of clones.
    They’re called identical twins.

  67. #67 Helfrick
    March 17, 2009

    @Jim

    Good job of ignoring the responses to the content of your post and focusing on the tone. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

  68. #68 simon
    March 17, 2009

    #43
    An embryo is made of human cells. ……. Because it is developing, and because it is wholly dependent on the woman who must carry it, and because it has the capacity to do great and irreparable harm to that woman, she has the right to choose not to carry it. She may choose, at any point in her carrying, to revoke the embryo’s permit to inhabit her body.

    The issue of dependency may well be the one abortion supporters turn to most in their attempt to justify abortion. “Since a fetus can’t survive on its own,” they argue, “it has no inherent right to life”. What’s the problem with this argument? In the broadest sense, it could be applied to all of us. There isn’t a person alive who is radically independent from the universe we live in. We all need food, water, rest, and oxygen. We’re all vulnerable to a million different bodily breakdowns. Are those who must rely on kidney machines, pace-makers or insulin shots for their survival less deserving of basic human rights than anyone else? Some of us may be less dependent than others, but if it is dependence that strips away a person’s right to protection under the law, then we would all be in trouble. Embryos and fetuses who must rely on an umbilical cord in the womb are just as human as those who must rely on a feeding tube outside the womb.

    What is the reason of a healthy mother to have an abortion ?

  69. #69 Ploon
    March 17, 2009

    “… this blog [has a] well-deserved reputation as a blight on the marketplace of ideas. … inspire[s] people with different views not to take you seriously.”

    Did I miss something? What reputation and what marketplace is he talking about? Surely not the one where Pharyngula is the #1 science blog (as I’ve heard it described – in scientific podcasts)?

  70. #70 Foggg
    March 17, 2009

    Jim: I made the point I wanted to make, so I’m out of here

    The point you made was that either:
    1) you’re a neophyte to the discussion and don’t understand the conceptual distinction between “unique living human cell”/”human life” vs. “person” — a neophyte status difficult to accept for someone citing some fairly little-known Catholic biologist — or
    2) you’re willfully and dishonestly masking the distinction.
    Flounce off.

  71. #71 rnb
    March 17, 2009

    About 20 years ago, I was bothered by the claim about life (or rather a new individual) begins at conception. Then I studied micrtobiology at the U of Minnnesota and earned a bachelors in 1992. I came to the conclusion fertilization looked an awful lot like a case of predation, with the ova achieving survival by capturing and killing a sperm cell. So it looks to me like my life (and everyone elses’) started as an ovum. Therefore abstinence also takes human life.

  72. #72 Don Kane
    March 17, 2009

    Guess what I say is a egg is not a person; trouble with using the word human is that in all the genome sites, human and mouse are the monikers. And of course, the egg does have a human genome.

    Developing personhood is something that takes years; remember that in many cultures, from the Greeks to the Eskimos, names were often not assigned until a baby was 2 years old, and the babies life could be forfeit anytime before that.

    But I’ll beleive an egg is a person when someone convinces me that I had fried chicken in the morning when I know that I had eggs.

    Ultimately, we need to agree on protections for sentient life that is independent of genetics and species. Something that might apply to aliens and monkeys and maybe AI. But that would never cover fertilized eggs.

  73. #73 raven
    March 17, 2009

    #48 – most of these anti-choice idiots would not give a rat’s posterior for any child born. It’s only important while it is in the womb. After that, it’s on it’s own, and they have no obligation towards it. The issue isn’t life, it’s the control of a woman’s reproductive capacity.

    That is absolutely true. The greatest preventer of abortions in the USA is…Planed Parenthood.

    If we were serious about eliminating abortion the obvious course of action would be to:

    1. Spend lots of money on more effective contraception research. As much as it takes. A lot probably. But it would pay off. The highest correlation between poverty is teen age pregnancy and this is causal. 26% of babies born in the USA are born to single parents, an astounding percentage but not as high as in Europe.

    2. Drill it into the kids that responsible adults plan their families. Virtually everyone figures this out but many after the fact. Teach them how. A baby is not a pet or a punishment device.

    3. Make cheap, safe, effective contraception widely available wherever it is needed.

    The anti-abortion christofascists would never do anything that is obvious or common sensical or pro-life. They would rather scream and yell and run around like idiots while trying to tell everyone else what to do with their bodies and lives.

  74. #74 AJ Milne
    March 17, 2009

    Therefore abstinence also takes human life.

    /Heads off to try new pickup line…

  75. #75 Jessica
    March 17, 2009

    I’d like to hear a discussion within this group about when we ought to be calling an embryo or fetus or newborn a human being with rights. This is something I struggle with, and it’s not a religious thing – I’m an atheist. It’s a rights of the child thing. When does “clump of cells” become “person with rights”? How can we make that determination using logic and science, not emotion? How can we, at whatever point we determine that “cells” becomes “child” balance the rights of that child with the host who may have valid practical reasons for rejecting that child?

    Maybe this is beyond the scope of this blog, I don’t know. I just know when I talk about this in atheist circles the response is derision and when I talk about it in religious circles the response is “God made a baby”.

    I think we can do better than that.

  76. #76 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 17, 2009

    Simon, you gigantic idiot.

    If you cut and paste from someone, please link to the source, you plagiarizing half-witted toad.

  77. #77 ConcernedJoe
    March 17, 2009

    Actions to me speak louder than words.

    I claim most if not all all sane modern educated people are really atheists because they act like an atheist when the chips are down (e.g. when their beloved child is deathly sick – would they take a million Popes praying or the best medical treatments available – we all know the answer — and BTW if they purposely eschewed proper care and the child died – well who wouldn’t be saying the parents are insane or criminal?)

    To the point here: you gotta answer this believers in point in time life… you can save 1000 embryos OR (mutually exclusive or) one 85 year old frail woman from the raging fire. What do you save? Oh the 1000 embryos you say — huum — doubt most would agree with you .. but some would I guess… well let me help clarify your drift … it ain’t an 85 year old frail woman but an angelic 5 year little girl. Now go for the 1000! If you do I’d not walk unarmed in public.

    My point: we all know a few cells is not a human being … potential maybe but in the broadest sense — and really a cell from my butt may someday prove to have more immediate potential. Get real — PZ made such a valid point you have to be brain dead not to see it as valid.

  78. #78 Chris Davis
    March 17, 2009

    I find that the moral arguments on abortion become a lot clearer if you stop focussing on ‘life’ and consider ‘pain’ instead.

    Seems to me that ending a life painlessly is inherently morally neutral to the entity whose life is ended. It may cause all manner of agony to those left behind, and it’s that, more than anything else, that would make the murder of an adult an evil act.

    In the case of a desired abortion, the mother has presumably made her mind up on that score. The fetus, if it lacks the neural apparatus to detect or perceive the damage done to it, can ipso facto not be damaged in any real sense.

    This approach, I think, provides the spectrum of morality involved in early- and late-term abortions: does the fetus truly feel what happens to it – as would an adult undergoing the same procedure? I don’t think it does.

  79. #79 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    What is the reason of a healthy mother to have an abortion ?

    Yes, because idiots like you will not pay out of your own funds half the cost of raising the baby through college. That should be the price for you having a say in the decision. Until then, you are not taking responsibility for making the decision for others. That makes you a bad Xian.

  80. #80 DaveL
    March 17, 2009

    There isn’t a person alive who is radically independent from the universe we live in

    The universe is not a person and does not have rights.

    Are those who must rely on kidney machines, pace-makers or insulin shots for their survival less deserving of basic human rights than anyone else?

    Dialysis machines, pacemakers, and insulin shots are not people and do not have rights.

    Embryos and fetuses who must rely on an umbilical cord in the womb are just as human as those who must rely on a feeding tube outside the womb.

    A feeding tube is not a person and does not have rights.

    likewise, a newborn may be dependent on others, but “others” is not a person and has no right to bodily autonomy. Individuals within the “others” collective have those rights, but not the collective itself; the concept itself is incoherent.

    Here we see the true motivation of the pro-life movement laid bare: They do not consider women full persons, with the right to bodily autonomy.

  81. #81 Africangenesis
    March 17, 2009

    Benjamin Geiger,

    “The important question is not whether the fetus is human. It’s whether the fetus is a parasite, and by any reasonable definition it is.”

    Birth becomes the mere transition from biological parasite to economic parasite, no better than any politician or person on welfare. I don’t see what the distinction buys you.

    If we can agree on definitions of “alive” and “human” then hopefully we can agree on the application of that definition to specific fact patterns. If we have multiple possible definitions, then we can can apply them. Even if we agree on the definitions, we may not agree on the implications.

    Even if we agree that the fertilized ovum is a live human being doesn’t mean that we also agree that there is a compelling state interest in protecting it, or that we shouldn’t compromise on the recognition that a state that a state with the power to right every wrong is far more dangerous than the problems we are attempting solve. I’m willing to concede that the ovum is a human, but not agree that it shouldn’t be a woman’s choice, and not agree that someone else taking that life against the woman’s will is commiting murder and not agree that Roe v. Wade was proper application of the law. Ovum’s fail to implant and spontaneious abortions occur every day. A christian should be able to live in a pluralistic society, think that abortion is murder, yet agree that there is no compelling state interest in protecting it, and no obligation to administer “justice” him or herself, and leave ultimate judgement up to God. What if the chistian lived in a society where he did not have a democratic vote? If that society allowed abortion, would he/she be compelled to become a terrorist? I doubt it. I doubt that there is good theology that even requires a Christian in a democratic society to vote to make abortion illegal. Would a Christians obligation to protect human life, end at a democratic border? The role of the state seems to be an independent yet intersecting point of disagreement. How important should the state be in a Christian’s thinking.

    On the issue of life, spores and viruses have genetic material, but don’t metabolize for long periods of time, red blood cells metabolize but don’t have genetic material, sperm metabolize, have genetic material but don’t utilize it, just transport it much like the red blood cells transport oxygen. Phages???

    Does human life begin at conception? viability? when it stops being a biological parasite, i.e. at birth? Do biological and economic parasites have rights to life or are their lives at the discretion of those to whom the resources belong? Do we even want to go there? The whole question of how masses of this new social animal are to live together has been no more resolved by Christianity that it was by evolution. Even “kings” were a new phenomena in old testament times and openly questioned and doubted in the bible.

  82. #82 raven
    March 17, 2009

    Jim the christofascist troll:

    “… this blog [has a] well-deserved reputation as a blight on the marketplace of ideas. … inspire[s] people with different views not to take you seriously.”

    and

    Jim the christofascist troll:

    As usual, you resort to adolescent name-calling, combined with your ever-present presumption of intellectual superiority over anyone who doesn’t share your views.

    Gee Jim, you accuse PZ of “adolescent name-calling” while simultaneously calling him names. Not very smart are you?

    Cut to the bottom line. Just post, “All you atheistic pseudo-intellectual baby killers are going to hell.” You know you want to. You know you it will make you feel better. Almost as much as burning down a family planning clinic or yelling at some miserable, terrified 16 year old pregnant kid.

  83. #83 Siamang
    March 17, 2009

    I think the proper rebuttal is to argue actual vs potential.

    Potential is not actual, otherwise it would be called actual and not be potential.

    I am a potential murderer, in that I do actually own a knife.

    Then hand the guy a pinecone and tell him to take this forest and chop down two of the trees and make a see-saw.

    Then say this:

    “The only way in the world you can get a baby is egg + sperm + healthy mother with healthy uterus + time + some good luck.

    No human being walking around today was born with fewer than all those ingredients. If there is such a person, that would be a medical miracle that would win the Nobel prize. Those things in the petri dish have got only some of those ingredients that every doctor on the face of the earth recognizes as vital to making a newborn healthy baby.”

    It’ll never actually change their minds, but it’s a good rebuttal and it has some “plain folks” reasoning in it that might eventually make a dent.

  84. #84 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Seems to me that ending a life painlessly is inherently morally neutral to the entity whose life is ended. It may cause all manner of agony to those left behind, and it’s that, more than anything else, that would make the murder of an adult an evil act.

    WOW. So one can wipe out entire family as long as no one will miss them and he kills them painlessly. Man. That is Zettaton of TNT equivalent stupidity

  85. #85 Michelle
    March 17, 2009

    “What is the reason of a healthy mother to have an abortion ? ”

    Freedom. It’s our body, we do as we please with it. The child within is pretty much a parasite. If the child growing in our tummies is an individual, we females choose if we allow it to grow or not. Not the other way around. And the man doesn’t have a word to say either. Neither does the religious wackos.

    Females have the right to have the baby or not. If the child is unwanted, it’s incredible how pro-life wacks prefer to torture the woman into 9 months of mental guilt trip and physical pain rather than just let her choose.

    It’s like they want to punish the girl… Have this child! It’s your fault! You did a filthy thing! Look, you are pregnant now! Don’t be a murderer, give birth! No, it’s not how it should go.

    The constructive way to go is:”Listen girl, do you want the child? Do you feel secure to have the child? Are you supported and do you feel you can give this child the love it needs? Then give birth and keep it. But if you’re unhappy, if you don’t want to carry it to term, if you feel you’ll be miserable and in pain for 9 long months, then have an abortion. But please remember in the future to use protection and contraception. It’s OK to have sex, but only when you feel ready and protected.”

  86. #86 MrMarkAZ
    March 17, 2009

    Human, yes. Person, no.

  87. #87 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 17, 2009

    Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp | March 17, 2009

    Simon, you gigantic idiot.

    If you cut and paste from someone, please link to the source, you plagiarizing half-witted toad.

    Chimpy, what tipped you off. Was it the fact that most of Simon’s posts do not even qualify as sentences?

  88. #88 rnb
    March 17, 2009

    “What is the reason of a healthy mother to have an abortion ? ”

    Is someone who is carrying a parasite really healthy?

    You may want the parasite, and be willing to put up with it for nine months, but it is still a parasite. I am proud to say I was a parasite.

  89. #89 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 17, 2009

    Chimpy, what tipped you off. Was it the fact that most of Simon’s posts do not even qualify as sentences?

    That may have had something to do with it.

  90. #90 ice9
    March 17, 2009

    ‘risible.’ That’s funny.

    Most of the anti-abortion crowd are acting out a reductio from the simple position that they hate/fear (love) sex. The tangled hypocrisy and enforced stupidity are symptoms. The bright, smiling certainty of young anti-abortion fanatics takes a serious hit the first time they come fact to face with a real baby, or, better yet, witness the act of birth. In simple practical politics, they must be fanatical because virtually every personal experience connected with their vaunted “humanity” argues that they aren’t special among the animals after all. The big one, of course, is death; so far no logic can persuade them that a happy, privileged extension beyond death is theirs to grasp. So it’s a twisted sort of logical that they can extend that humanness before birth, right back up to the moment of shangri-la. They haven’t yet figured out a way to get beyond the moment of conception since Aristotle’s biological theories went out of fashion.
    I think we should give them a worm. Delegate a few scientists to go undercover and plant the meme that life begins before conception. Way before.

    ice

  91. #91 Bernard Bumner
    March 17, 2009

    Chimpy, what tipped you off. Was it the fact that most of Simon’s posts do not even qualify as sentences?

    I’m guessing it was the lack of barely coherent, scatelogical torture imagery…

  92. #92 simon
    March 17, 2009

    #79

    “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

    How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love – that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

    By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. ”

    “Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child, and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortions. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents, and have grown up so full of love and joy!”

    February 1997 – National Prayer Breakfast in Washington attended by the President and the First Lady. “What is taking place in America,” she said, “is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another.”

    “Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.”

    “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

    Mother Theresa ? “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)

    oh poor America, apparently poorer than India

  93. #93 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    Because there’s more to life than pacemakers.

    Maybe if you and those like you stopped pissing about your PRECIOUS TAXDOLLARS@!!! being wasted on LOSERS@!!! and other Randian horseshit, then you would understand what actual life is about, and why women feel trapped by their own bodies. And then, maybe women would feel less trapped by their own bodies.

  94. #94 Mu
    March 17, 2009

    @66, nice try, but clone is more than genetic identity in this context ;)

  95. #95 Chris Davis
    March 17, 2009

    Thank you, T_U_T, for that carefully reasoned argument.

    So, who suffers?

    I’d say that society would suffer in your wildly hyperbolic scenario. And that would make it a despicable act, which should not be carried out – and certainly not repeated.

    But the victims do not, and the injury done to them is in the eye of the beholder, not theirs. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, who is injured?

  96. #96 Patricia, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Let’s be careful what we say about parasites here. You might hurt the Cootie’s Chimp’s feelings.

  97. #97 Clemens
    March 17, 2009

    If a new life begins at contraception, then what about this scenario:

    I read about a recent experiment where adult stem cells where reprogrammed to become either eggs or sperms so you could theoretically make a baby with just yourself. Exactly where does the new human being come into existence?

    See, they HAVE to insist on this life@contraception concept because they believe in a soul. Now an inquisitive mind might ask: When does the soul enter the body? The least mind-boggling answer is, of course, at contraception, because that’s where the magic happens…

  98. #98 ConcernedJoe
    March 17, 2009

    Sorry gang – I am just fired up.

    I have yet heard a anti-choicer answer my question in #77 with obvious painful contortions.

    And also choicers are as pro-life as anyone — most of us if there was a way to quickly, painlessly and effortlessly extract an embryo or fetus from a host woman and relieve that woman/family of all further responsibility would opt for laws that dictated that procedure over destructive ones.

    Death is not our game — it is choice and sometimes greater good utility (as in stem cell research).

    Answer my question… it really is life -=- so full of choices we have to make — so really NOT black and white always.

  99. #99 Discombobulated
    March 17, 2009

    Jessica@75:

    I’d like to hear a discussion within this group about when we ought to be calling an embryo or fetus or newborn a human being with rights. This is something I struggle with, and it’s not a religious thing – I’m an atheist. It’s a rights of the child thing. When does “clump of cells” become “person with rights”? How can we make that determination using logic and science, not emotion

    Before full thermonuclear war was declared in another thread the other day, I posited that since for legal purposes in many places, death was treated as the cessation of brain activity, perhaps it might be reasonable and consistent that life might mirror that for the other end.

    I originally had misread that as occurring at 10 weeks, but it was corrected to 17 weeks before cortical innervation, then 3 months after birth for full myelinization, etc. etc.

    Then the missiles started blazing…

    Good luck!

  100. #100 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    You may want the parasite, and be willing to put up with it for nine months, but it is still a parasite. I am proud to say I was a parasite.

    can you provide biological definition of parasitism ? ( hint, just taking some resources from you is not parasitism )

  101. #101 Patricia, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Simon proves America is at least one abortion short.

  102. #102 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    March 17, 2009

    Simon, you get nowhere by quoting that merchant of suffering.

    I am in pain.

    That is just Jesus kissing you.

    Well, tell Jesus to stop kissing me.

  103. #103 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    T_U_T, if there is a more defining moment than birth, give it and defend it. Until then, birth it is.

  104. #104 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    Simon, how many children have you adopted?

  105. #105 Sven DiMilo
    March 17, 2009

    A parasite reduces the host’s evolutionary fitness. If carrying a fetus to term reduces the mother’s chances of future reproduction, the fetus is a parasite.

  106. #106 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    I originally had misread that as occurring at 10 weeks, but it was corrected to 17 weeks before cortical innervation, then 3 months after birth for full myelinization, etc. etc.

    myelinization is not strictly required for cognition, just quick links before the propertist-parasitists-singerians axis of evil starts MIRVing me with F-bombs again. :-)

    http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/hepper1/
    http://www.infantcognitiongroup.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_pain

  107. #107 fiisi
    March 17, 2009

    @93: “And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

    And if we say a fetus has the right to use its mother’s reproductive organs despite her objections, then how can we tell you that you can’t whore your mother out when you’re hungry? Or rape her when you want to find fertile ground for your sperm?

  108. #108 Paper Hand
    March 17, 2009

    Jessica @ 75:

    It may be a bit radical, but I feel that even a newborn isn’t truly human. However, I would oppose infanticide for several reasons
    A) A postnatal baby can be raised by another person; the mother can give the child up without causing its death – this is not something that currently applies to embryos (maybe one day we’ll find a way to produce an artificial womb, but that’s not something that’s likely to come up in the near future; indeed, I suspect the issue will be moot long before then due to use of contraceptives)
    B) There is no clear point where the newborn becomes fully human, and thus, for practical reasons, using birth as the defining point is useful.

    (Incidentally, I’ve often wondered how the abortion debate would look if we’d evolved from egg-laying animals instead of livebearing animals …)

  109. #109 DJ
    March 17, 2009

    Thoroughly enjoyed the talk by Lewis Wolpert. I definitely feel more informed regarding development. Thanks PZ.

  110. #110 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    Most of the responses to this will be smug, condescending, insulting, vulgar comments of the kind that have won this blog its well-deserved reputation as a blight on the marketplace of ideas.
    I can’t see that an intellectual fart like you, with an erectile dysfunction not diminished by the blood apparently rushding to your other head, has any reason to criticize the devastating intellect of the posters on this blog. As for the marketplace of ideas, I would suggest that next time you are there you pass by the Pound shop, and go for a more specialist vendor – in which context, churches do not count.
    There, was that sufficiently modest, crudity-free and humble for you? I like to think it was.

  111. #111 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    T_U_T, if there is a more defining moment than birth, give it and defend it. Until then, birth it is.

    innervation of cortex at week 17 full formation of 6 layer cortical column structure around week 22.

  112. #112 Sven DiMilo
    March 17, 2009

    Incidentally, I’ve often wondered how the abortion debate would look if we’d evolved from egg-laying animals instead of livebearing animals

    Of course we did evolve from egg-laying animals (even egg-laying mammals!), but your point is interesting: what if we were egg-laying mammals? Birds abandon incubation of their eggs all the time, at every stage of development, for a variety of reasons. It’s all about trading off current vs. potential future reproduction. Not that I’m suggesting that human ethics and morals should be informed by evolutionary theory (I’m not! that’s the naturalistic fallacy or something like that). But if human reproduciton did involve the incubation of eggs, things would certainly be veryu different!

  113. #113 Pierce R. Butler
    March 17, 2009

    … the mail is from a David Lee, but is signed “R.”, so I’m not sure who I’m talking to.

    ohzmigawd! PeeZeeee’s swapping letters with David Lee Roth!!1!

    * swoons !!1!1! *

  114. #114 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    Discombobulated:

    17 weeks before cortical innervation, then 3 months after birth for full myelinization, etc. etc.

    I really think that development, and not birth, is a better determination of what actually is “human-ness.” But, people develop differently, and my dedication to human rights–even in the case that one fails to develop completely–demands that birth, which can be pinpointed easily, must be our sole factor in determining legal personhood. … You know, until such time as humans are no longer grown in women. But I don’t have an answer for that.

  115. #115 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    innervation of cortex at week 17 full formation of 6 layer cortical column structure around week 22.

    If you think that is more defined moment than birth you are very deluded. I’m talking an instant. Put up or shut up.

  116. #116 Donnie B.
    March 17, 2009

    Regarding the “dividing line” question, there’s one very old-fashioned answer that may have some merit. That line is quickening, the time when the fetus begins to move within the womb.

    This has two advantages over some other dividing lines. First, its timing will vary somewhat depending on the fetus’ development schedule; in other words, it’s tied to the actual stage of development rather than an arbitrary timeline (which may have an uncertain starting point). Furthermore, the fetus must be at least reasonably healthy to make it to this stage.

    The second advantage is that only the mother can make the determination of the moment of quickening. Thus the call is entirely between the woman and her own conscience.

    I’m not sure whether this approach could be legally viable. Still, its traditional heritage could make it attractive to some who seek a compromise between the extremes of conception/birth.

  117. #117 stogoe
    March 17, 2009

    I see the insane nutbag T_U_T is back, and he’s brought the crazy. If he were on Survivor: Troll edition, I think I’d have to vote for him, because sweet tapdancing fuck is he tedious.

  118. #118 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    You and your choir are having so much fun wallowing in self-congratulation

    Well, it is something we’re good at, eh gang?

  119. #119 IST
    March 17, 2009

    Does human life begin at conception? viability? when it stops being a biological parasite, i.e. at birth?

    I’ve always considered viability to be the threshold, but haven’t critically examined why I agree with that. I suppose the argument, for me, comes down to whether or not the embryo/fetus/child can survive without technological intervention. If it can, it’s viable and you’re deliberately killing something (which in some cases is still necessary and moral). Since I lack the ability to ever bear a child, it’s not like I’ve the right to anything more than an opinion on what someone who can should do with it. Like all opinions, it certainly shouldn’t be binding.
    You need to re-examine the idea of parasitism… commensalism would be more appropriate, unless there’s active harm being caused to the mother by the embryo.

  120. #120 simon
    March 17, 2009

    #104
    Simon, how many children have you adopted?

    do you want to give your child ? don’t kill your child, i want to adopt them. I can raise them up to university.

  121. #121 Asemodeus
    March 17, 2009

    We aren’t going to win any arguments against the ideological theistic masses over the rights of women to control their own bodies, so I suggest a different approach.

    What we need is a shift in labeling that places these nuts in the proper light as history and demographics marginalizes them into the footnotes.

    It’s the same thing for what happened to those same people who were against inter-racial marriages. You can’t win any arguments against such dogmatic racist people, so instead steal the show away by relabeling them as they are, which is christian bigots. After a few decades nobody can seriously make that claim again without appearing as massive racists.

    We can easily do the same here with these so called pro-lifers. We all know that these people aren’t truly pro life, since they are statistically more in favor for the death penalty and wars. So we should force the correct label on them, anti-woman. Which is as worse or even more so then being labeled a bigot these days.

  122. #122 sharky
    March 17, 2009

    I already know that of everyone in here who’s argued that an implanted egg is human, they don’t actually believe it.

    Otherwise they’d be in mourning after every time they tried for a baby, because there’s about a 50% chance that a fertilized ovum will never implant.

    In fact, if anyone truly believed it, they’d never try to procreate, because the odds were a coin toss they’d kill a brand new life and never even know it.

    It’s an extremely impractical ideological standpoint. Which is why usually it’s only put into practice when it’s someone else’s baby.

  123. #123 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    I’d say that society would suffer in your wildly hyperbolic scenario. And that would make it a despicable act, which should not be carried out – and certainly not repeated.

    They are new in the town, nobody knows them and nobody would notice that they are missing.

    Is it evil then ?

    Or, even better scenario. The entire reality. Would the destruction of everything be evil ? If not, congratulations, you have just reached infinite madness

  124. #124 Peter Ashby
    March 17, 2009

    I have argued this point with anti abortionists many times. To those who insist that fertilisation marks a definite point I point out that fertilisation is a process, not an event. I have a nice list of sub processes that I give them and ask them to draw a line. They usually put it either after the injection of the male pronucleus or some wishy washy phrase about chromosome replication (another process). I then point out all the things that can and do go wrong in and after that point as well as points mentioned above like twinning and chimerism. Anyway the list for you delight and free use:

    Acrosome reaction in the sperm
    Sperm penetration of the zona pellucida
    sperm binding to egg membrane
    Beginning of the cortical reaction
    Injection of the male pronucleus
    Completion of the cortical reaction
    Breakdown of the pronuclear envelope (recognisable to those who have made transgenics as time to finish injecting)
    Beginning of chromosome replication
    Completion of chromosome replication
    Separation of chromatids
    Beginning of cleavage furrow
    etc, etc. Noting that there is some simultaneity in there un-noted.

  125. #125 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    do you want to give your child ? don’t kill your child, i want to adopt them. I can raise them up to university.

    Given your posts, I doubt you even know what a univeristy is. So quit lying Simple Simon the Gay Lieman.

  126. #126 Ericb
    March 17, 2009

    “Ultimately, we need to agree on protections for sentient life that is independent of genetics and species. Something that might apply to aliens and monkeys and maybe AI. But that would never cover fertilized eggs.”

    Maybe a compromise would be to grant a fetus the “rights” available to the lifeform it most resembles at a particular time in its developement. So at conception it would have the same “rights” as a protozoa (e.g. none) while a few weeks later it would graduate to tadpole status and onward and upward until it actually resembled a human animal
    where it would finally get its human rights (though in cases where the health of the mother would be in danger she would have the right of self defence).

  127. #127 abeja
    March 17, 2009

    ConcernedJoe @77:

    To the point here: you gotta answer this believers in point in time life… you can save 1000 embryos OR (mutually exclusive or) one 85 year old frail woman from the raging fire. What do you save? Oh the 1000 embryos you say — huum — doubt most would agree with you .. but some would I guess… well let me help clarify your drift … it ain’t an 85 year old frail woman but an angelic 5 year little girl. Now go for the 1000! If you do I’d not walk unarmed in public.

    I’ve seen that question several different times worded in several different ways, but I’ve never seen a pro-lifer answer it.

    Simon, would you answer the question please?

  128. #128 fiisi
    March 17, 2009

    “Please don’t kill the child. I want the child.”

    But will they gestate “the child”? How many of the pro-life terrorists are lining up to gestate unused embryos from IVF clinics?

  129. #129 Sharon C
    March 17, 2009

    There’s more to being human than bearing a cell with the right collection of genes.

    I like that. I shall quote it often.

  130. #130 Patricia, OM
    March 17, 2009

    What’s the guy got against wallowing?

  131. #131 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    Simon:

    do you want to give your child ? don’t kill your child, i want to adopt them. I can raise them up to university.

    Why is it that every woman talking about abortion must be pregnant?

    I asked you a question. Answer it. How many children have you adopted?

  132. #132 Ericb
    March 17, 2009

    “Ultimately, we need to agree on protections for sentient life that is independent of genetics and species. Something that might apply to aliens and monkeys and maybe AI. But that would never cover fertilized eggs.”

    Maybe a compromise would be to grant a fetus the “rights” available to the lifeform it most resembles at a particular time in its developement. So at conception it would have the same “rights” as a protozoa (e.g. none) while a few weeks later it would graduate to tadpole status and onward and upward until it actually resembled a human animal
    where it would finally get its human rights (though in cases where the health of the mother would be in danger she would have the right of self defence).

  133. #133 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    I see the insane nutbag T_U_T is back, and he’s brought the crazy. If he were on Survivor: Troll edition, I think I’d have to vote for him, because sweet tapdancing fuck is he tedious.

    And there goes another round of rethorical nukes.
    Just to be sure, what sort of sane folks are you ? Parasitist, Propertist, or singerian ?

  134. #134 dkew
    March 17, 2009

    I think essentialaltes @ 46 had the clearest description of the situation: PZ answered the question he was asked by Mark, and R took pains to misunderstand it; and there is a distinction between being human and being a person.
    Many of the posts use sloppy terminology. For example, human is an adjective, not (properly) a noun. Red blood cells, fingernail clippings and I are human. Schools, books, cars, wars, microscopes, this Mac and even churches are human. Only I (from this list) am a human being, a legal and biological person. Personhood is a legal/social construct, not a scientific one! Corporations are persons, too, legally.
    I agree that the anti-abortionist leaders’ agenda is control of women, though I think their followers really do believe “abortion = murder.” Fortunately, most don’t act on those beliefs. And they ignore that their god aborts about half of all pregnancies. And they tend to be the same people who have no problem with our military policy of Mutually Assured Destruction, the capability of wiping out most macroscopic life on the planet.

  135. #135 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    Peter Ashby, thanks for elaborating on the “it’s not a ‘moment’ of conception”. That part drives me bonkers. These people are simply willfully ignorant.

  136. #136 Lorax
    March 17, 2009

    #75 I’d like to hear a discussion within this group about when we ought to be calling an embryo or fetus or newborn a human being with rights.

    This is the problem dealing with most people. We are forced to think and “debate” in black and whites. You’re either all or none, no in betweens, no grays, no subtleties.

    Adult humans have rights that children dont, children have rights that newborns don’t, newborns have rights that 20 week old fetuses don’t, 20 week old fetuses have rights that sperm don’t. And sperm have no rights at all. All of these lines are human creations and not couched in a definitive scientific rationale (although there is science impacting all these decisions).

    Further, even these lines are vague. You are a voting able-to-die for country if called upon adult at 18, but no beer until 21. Why 18? Why 21? There’s no firm scientific reason for 18 versus 16, no religious reason either. These are decisions made as a society for purposes of (hopefully) maintaining said society. However, saying you can vote at 18 because the voting population believes that in general 18 is an age for some amount of reasonableness and wisdom and when the individual is a full fledged member of the society, is a far cry from LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION no if ands or buts and by-the-way suck it.

  137. #137 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    I object to Simon posting here at all. The reasons can be found on this post:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/survivor_pharyngula_day_one.php#comment-1475371
    Thankyou, feymaniac, for trawling those. I’m sure you had to wash your hands afterwards.

  138. #138 uqbar
    March 17, 2009

    I believe “George” (and perhaps a one or two others) have put their finger on the crux of the matter here: PZ and “R” are using the same words, but with very different meanings. For PZ, “life” means “something that is alive” – and he is quite correct that life on earth arose once and then evolved from that time.

    For “R” on the other hand, I think what he is really saying is that “life begins” = “has a soul,” and I think this is what the anti-abortion movement generally means, although they never say it that way. Whether this is dishonesty, or just a simple failure to comprehend the distinction, I don’t know. It is certainly intellectually dishonest, because they are attempting to use scientific words in a non-science way.

    The result of all of this is a muddled “who’s on first” discussion with people using the same words to represent very different concepts. In spite of this, PZ is correct to continue to “speak science” – not because he will ever convince “R,” but rather because there is some hope that the people “R” is trying to recruit (and misinform) can be reached and educated.

    Keep up the good work PZ. “R” is beyond hope, but at least the damage might be contained.

  139. #139 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead:
    Simple Simon the Gay Lieman.

    I’d really prefer you keep any homophobic language from insulting people unnecessarily by grouping Simon in with them.

  140. #140 Menyambal
    March 17, 2009

    Thanks for getting me to the realization that life exists all the way through the reproductive process. Huh. Good point.

    I remember a cow-orker who insisted that God implanted the soul when the fertilized egg attached to the uterine wall. How he knew that, he never said, but he only cared about the soul, not the physical container. He, like every other abortion opponent, never addressed spontaneous abortions.

    As far as abortions go, I say to leave it up to each individual woman to make her own choice. If the fetus is in her, it’s hers to decide about–she can feed it well, drown it in alcohol, or drive it around in a fast car. If she favors abortion, the Christians really don’t want her reproducing, do they?

    I tend to agree with the allegedly-Jewish, allegedly-humorous definition: “A fetus becomes fully human when it graduates from medical school.”

    Speaking of humor: I sometimes wonder what happened to those child actors from the Monty Python “Every Sperm Is Sacred” song. Did they grow up at all normal?

  141. #141 WRMartin
    March 17, 2009

    Simon @68:

    What is the reason of a healthy mother to have an abortion ?

    First, I love how you have already declared the female in question as a mother. But here are a few possible answers to your loaded question:
    1. She doesn’t want to have your baby.
    2. She feels like it.
    3. It’s Tuesday and she doesn’t want to be pregnant any more.

    How many reasons do you want?
    And why is it any of your business?

  142. #142 MarkW
    March 17, 2009

    Africangenesis:
    “Birth becomes the mere transition from biological parasite to economic parasite, no better than any politician or person on welfare. I don’t see what the distinction buys you.”

    I think that the distinction is that it is possible (given willing adoptive parent(s)) to transfer the economic parasite to another “host”. This is not the case with the biological parasite.

  143. #143 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    I think that the distinction is that it is possible (given willing adoptive parent(s)) to transfer the economic parasite to another “host”. This is not the case with the biological parasite.

    So I again. By the power of tedious trollhood. Ask you to provide definitions of both parasitism anf biological fitness. And then describe how your offspring can be your parasite even in principle

  144. #144 Falyne
    March 17, 2009

    Isn’t that email the same screed that idiot Rokesmith left here a few posts back?

  145. #145 MikeMa
    March 17, 2009

    Can you imagine simon raising a child? Abortion is a clearly better choice for the child.

  146. #146 Jessica
    March 17, 2009

    @ 108 – I look forward to a time when this isn’t a moral question I feel the need to wrestle with because contraception has gotten that good. This is very personal for me, because I prefer to err on the side of sperm meets egg and I’m not 100% sure that the only birth control I’m able to safely use is stopping ovulation. It may also stop implantation. :(

    @ 122 – I think you must not hang out with people who are trying to conceive very much. Miscarriages are incredibly devastating for those who are are aware of their pregnancies very early and aware of how often they don’t take.

  147. #147 Stu
    March 17, 2009

    This is very personal for me, because I prefer to err on the side of sperm meets egg and I’m not 100% sure that the only birth control I’m able to safely use is stopping ovulation. It may also stop implantation. :(

    I swear you’re not using real words.

  148. #148 Falyne
    March 17, 2009

    Indeed it was!

    Linky linky!

  149. #149 PlaydoPlato
    March 17, 2009

    Jim says:

    You will always be preaching to the choir, persuading only those who are already persuaded. If that’s your purpose, you’ve succeeded. But if your purpose is to win people over to the points of view you express here, you will always fail. Your rhetorical style guarantees it.

    Actually Jim, I was still on the fence even after “coming out of the choir” a few years ago. It’s not easy deprogramming yourself after a lifetime of religious brainwashing.

    It was reading the works of Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchins, Harris, and yes, PZ, that I was able to jump off the fence onto the side of reason. Since then, I’ve been spreading the good news to others. And you won’t believe how many other fence-sitters have come to the light of reason because of people like PZ.

    I hate to confirm your worst fears, but the truth is… the times, they are a’changin’.

  150. #150 Discombobulated
    March 17, 2009

    Phyllis@114:

    I really think that development, and not birth, is a better determination of what actually is “human-ness.” But, people develop differently, and my dedication to human rights–even in the case that one fails to develop completely–demands that birth, which can be pinpointed easily, must be our sole factor in determining legal personhood. … You know, until such time as humans are no longer grown in women. But I don’t have an answer for that.

    That’s a really well-reasoned answer. Thanks for that. Positing consistency for a matter of debate, while simultaneously holding a different opinion for practical purposes is difficult. Because of all of the extenuating circumstances, different rates of development, manners by which the pregnancy took place, etc., it’s of course a convoluted issue.

    Maybe with the inroads made by neuroscience on defining consciousness later this century, some sort of case-by-case (regarding development stage) yet-still-consistent (re: criteria) method could be realized.

    But I doubt that will ever stop this debate :-)

  151. #151 rnb
    March 17, 2009

    Actually, I think the antiabortionists are trying to pick a moment in human development that allows them to keep their abstinence good-abortion bad outlook.

  152. #152 aratina
    March 17, 2009

    As far as I know, it is the Asian religious traditions that start counting human age from around the time of fertilization. I think it’s time for Christians to put up or shut up (knowing full well they won’t because their arguments are puerile).

  153. #153 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    Just to be sure, what sort of sane folks are you ? Parasitist, Propertist, or singerian ?

    Errr…humans?
    This whole debate seems to me to revolve around the question “at what moment does human life begin?”. The problem is that this is really a theological question, not a scientific one. I mean, when a hydra buds, it might be appropriate to say that a new life begins st the moment of separation, but in that case the question, and the answer, seem trivial.
    Life, as we know, is a continuum, not a discrete series of significant, momentary events.
    The original concept of the moment st which life starts seems to be entirely tied up with the ensoulment of a blob of cells. Originally of course this was taken to be at the instant of birth, not before – hence the need for baptism of the newborn. As we discovered the story of conception this instant became pushed further and further back into the pregnancy, until it appeared that it had hit a brick wall when we found out about eggs and sperm.
    However, it is clear that for the religious, the actual moment at which it is a sin to kill this proto-person is in reality before conception. The sin is to refuse to take the opportunity to conceive, even if a mother refuses her husband’s attempt to impregnate her (no matter how bad her headache!).
    An unwanted pregnancy is thus a punishment for inappropriate sexual relations, even if, as is clear from the recent Catholic scandal, many people regard the original sex act as unqualified rape.
    In so many ways, religious types regard pregnancy as the result of willing, but sinful, sexual congress, and a resulting pregnancy as god’s punishment -
    one women are not entitled to evade.

  154. #154 Menyambal
    March 17, 2009

    T_U_T says:

    And then describe how your offspring can be your parasite even in principle

    If a woman who has a genetic disease wants to avoid becoming pregnant as any offspring would be defective, is raped, and become pregnant by the rapist, the defective, unwanted mass growing within her is a parasite.

    Happy now, T_U_T? There is no sharp dividing line between that scenario and anything more acceptable.

    Anti-abortion activity which forces a woman to bear an unwanted baby is *causing* her to regard it as a parasite. Congratulations, T_U_T!

  155. #155 Duke York
    March 17, 2009

    DaveL:

    Thanks for your post in #80! That’s one of the clearest, most cogent responses I’ve heard for that point.

    I realize that may sound like sarcasm, but it isn’t.

    Duke

  156. #156 SteveM
    March 17, 2009

    To me the question of whether and when a fetus is “human” or has rights is immaterial. Let it be human from the moment of conception, let it be fully vested with rights at the same time. I am not aware of any commonly accepted right of one person to feed of the body of another. If for some reason a fully adult person needed to be connected to woman through a placenta/umbilical cord in order to stay alive, does he have the right to just grab the nearest available woman and force her to submit to this procedure?

    No, the real question is at what time does the woman effectively agree to the arrangement. That is, once the woman decides to “keep the baby”, only then does she become legally bound to not abort and to care for it (or arrange for it to be cared for) after birth.

    In any case, the right of the woman is not the right to kill, but the right to sever the connection. If the “baby” is not viable, then it dies. If it is viable, then that is what needs to be debated. It could be argued that “viability” could be the “deadline” for the decision of whether to keep it or not, that at that point the woman has effectively agreed to “keep” it.

    I am not saying there is no moral dilemma, but I think that there would be a more productive debate if the focus is not on the issue of whether it is human. Just being human does not give one the right to another’s life. Even if at the moment of conception it had a fully functional brain and organs and cell phone to talk to the outside world, it does not have the right to latch onto the bloodstream of another person to sustain its life. That can only be done with permission. The question then becomes when does the woman give that permission?

  157. #157 Chuck
    March 17, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    Sperm are certainly alive. Genetic material packaged in protein complexes for efficient delivery usually looks like a virus. Sperm really are eukaryotic cells, and from my own subjective point of view they look far more alive under a microscope than the rather vegetable-like patches of cancer cells I normally work with. That said, all cells are alive (of course). And PZ is right: the only time life “begins” is when a new biosphere begins somewhere in the universe, independently of other biospheres. Every cell in your body is directly descended from the cell that is the common ancestor of all living things on the planet.

  158. #158 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    This whole debate seems to me to revolve around the question “at what moment does human life begin?”.

    Wrong. The question is personhood/legal protection. Human life began with the first homo erectus and is a continuous line since then.

    Life, as we know, is a continuum, not a discrete series of significant, momentary events.

    Wrong. Phase transitions and developmental stages.

    The rest of your post is utterly irrelevant to me because I am pro choice.

  159. #159 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    In any case, the right of the woman is not the right to kill, but the right to sever the connection

    Yes. Excelent idea. And airlines should have the right to throw undesirable passengers out in mid flight too.
    ( man I am really a nutjob Am I ?

  160. #160 JamesR
    March 17, 2009

    When a life becomes human is nearly irrelevent so long as any gov’t or institution of any kind claims a right to send that person to war. But I digress

    My favorite Stem cell news center is on Googls here
    http://news.google.com/news?q=stem+cells+news+&hl=en&um=1&sa=X&oi=news_result&resnum=4&ct=title

    And my take is best exemplified by the article
    “Death to My Embryos, Long Live Stem-Cells”
    Written by a woman who has a very good reason for embryonic stem cell research

  161. #161 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 17, 2009

    Hey look.

    The pope is a gigantic fucking asshole.

    Zero way to excuse this.

  162. #162 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Are sperm really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA? Is there any transcribing of the DNA and production of new proteins and RNA? There is consumption of fuel, fructose I believe. There is some sensing and homing in on the egg, but is there enough of the metabolism characteristic of life, to be called life?

    That’s what the “consumption of fuel” part is. The cilium doesn’t move without any external source of energy like Barb‘s heart.

    DNA transcription is not done; but then, placental (or therian, or mammal, I don’t know) embryos are pretty unique in doing any DNA transcription during the first few cell divisions! That’s one of the reason our early development is so very slow.

    It’s astounding to me that a professional biologist would deny that the life of a unique human being begins at conception, when the genetic makeup of that unique human being is formed.

    1. That wasn’t the question. The question was when life begins, no qualifiers added.
    2. “Unique human”? Why did you comment on this thread before you had read comment 5?

    didn’t you ever say we were animal ?
    what’s human being ? something different from animal ?

    Yes, we are animals. No, Homo sapiens is one species of animal, just like how Tyrannosaurus rex was one species of animal.

    Incidentally, isn’t it interesting that the smallest human cells are sperms, while the largest are eggs? Cosmic symmetry, or a practical reason?

    Over 10 years ago there was a paper in the journal Evolutionary Theory that explained why it’s cheapest to have “only one seeking sex” (that’s the part of the paper’s title that I remember). And that which is cheapest tends to be selected for. That’s why sperm cells are 1) small and 2) smaller than egg cells.

    Egg cells are big to give the embryo an early start. That’s called K-strategy.

    This leads to the really sick view that any fetus that gets aborted (naturally, accidentally or on purpose) is condemned to spend eternity in hell.

    See? That (among other things) is where limbo comes from.

    What is the reason of a healthy mother to have an abortion ?

    We’re talking about the USA here, where you don’t even have health insurance automatically.

  163. #163 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    If a woman who has a genetic disease wants to avoid becoming pregnant as any offspring would be defective, is raped, and become pregnant by the rapist, the defective, unwanted mass growing within her is a parasite.

    So I again. By the power of tedious trollhood. Ask you to provide biological definition of parasitism first, definition of biological fitness then, and then, using those definitions show that your offspring can be your parasite even in principle.

  164. #164 SteveM
    March 17, 2009

    Yes. Excelent idea. And airlines should have the right to throw undesirable passengers out in mid flight too.
    ( man I am really a nutjob Am I ?

    *facepalm*

  165. #165 gburnett
    March 17, 2009

    Let’s stop labeling these goobers “anti-choice” and call them what they are – “forced-birth”. They want to force everyone to give birth to everything ever conceived, with no exceptions ever. It’s ridiculous.

  166. #166 Discombobulated
    March 17, 2009

    RevBDC:

    Hey look. The pope is a gigantic fucking asshole.

    Taking a trip to admire his handiwork, to be sure.

    Pete Rooke: If you’re around, please stop tithing.

  167. #167 Chuck
    March 17, 2009

    Talk of when the soul enters the body is a vestage of beliefs discredited not only when modern biology and even organic chemistry made the concept of the life force totally unnecessary for explaining how living things operate, but on a more general philosophical level when the scientific revolution ushered by Newton and colleagues relied on scientific materialism rather than Descartes’ dualism to explain the universe.

    That said, the question of when a genuinely human mind can be said to be functional is an important one, in my opinon, for a sane and scientific abortion debate. Arguably, this process isn’t finished until years after birth, so it may be a moot point. However, clearly the lump of differentiating cells we see after a couple weeks is orders of magnitude “less human” than a fetus about to be born in the third trimester. Neural development could have moral implications if we’re to take the view that what makes one human is the human mind. I don’t think many people would still support exposing newborn infants to the elements because their mind isn’t fully developed. I tend to think that we have a new human being when birth takes place. I don’t, after all, celebrate my “conception day”.

  168. #168 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    Human life began with the first homo erectus

    *snigger snigger*

    What’s the matter, raised by gay parents?

    I doubt it, actually – you don’t seem well-balanced enough.

  169. #169 Bhetti
    March 17, 2009

    Where life begins is a subjective debate. Science can give us the facts of what happens on a molecular, physical, cognitive and functional level but not what level does or does not constitute life or human consciousness, and which should be saved. That will invariably be a matter of opinion. (Summary: Don’t make me talk about the parasite argument of killing everyone who’s on welfare)

    The challenge should be ‘Give me the chapter and page number where a scientist says human life begins at conception, give me a survey that says every biologist agrees on this assertion and what you imply from it’. Even if I personally agree with conception as a starting point and think that for the most part fetuses qualify as human life, I disagree with using LIES and untruths to advance “the cause”. It is easy to counter that every biologist thinks life begins at conception, just find enough biologists who will write on paper and sign their opinion that ‘Life does not begin at conception.’ Which there invariably will be.

    The assertion that those who go through abortion think of their pregnancy as a parasitic clump of cells is a fallacy. I do not know to what extent it is, but I’m going to guess the common scenario is a teenage mother. I have a friend who was just about to leave her teens, who had an abortion. She went through guilt, especially on the supposed time the delivery date should have been. There was no indication this was religiously motivated. There was no effective psychological counseling, or determining if this is what she really wanted. This abortion was either a symptom or a factor in the worsening of her mental health problems, which lead eventually to a failed suicide attempt.

    By all means, institute abortion for those who would have it at as their choice. It shouldn’t however be an unmonitored, unsupported, “easy” decision to make. Respect for life and the ability to cause pain — even if it is only a possibility or potential — should always be maintained throughout; simply for the sake of instituting a proper attitude to life in society.

  170. #170 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    What’s the matter, raised by gay parents?

    that is truly reasonable and balanced answer. Yet I admit I am wrong. First human life was of course homo habilis not homo erectus.

  171. #171 blueelm
    March 17, 2009

    “And airlines should have the right to throw undesirable passengers out in mid flight too.”

    Analogy fail. Airlines decided to accept the passenger.

  172. #172 Tom
    March 17, 2009

    It’s the same damn ambiguous definition trick, both in the original statement and in the delightfully squirming response to being called on it – they’re using “human life” as in “living tissue that is genetically human”, which applies to anything from a single skin cell upwards, interchangably with “human life” as in “human being” or, as I think any sane person would define it, the consciousness present in a fully functional human being. Needless to say, taking the two as equivalent would mean that even early term abortion or simple prevention of implantation would be equivalent to the murder of a fully sentient person – but so would the excision of a mole. Such a position is simply ludicrous.

    Recognising the difference between the definitions leads, as far as I can see, to the total collapse of any argument for a blanket ban of abortion at any and all stages of gestation after conception, regardless of the level of development or the presence of sufficient sentience to qualify not merely as living human tissue, but an actual person.

    Needless to say, I take a rather mechanistic view of life – if you’re credulous enough to believe in such unsubstantiated crap as souls without a shred of repeatable evidence then the argument doesn’t work but, if you’ve that sort of mind, I think it’s safe to say that pretty much any argument about anything you didn’t already believe wouldn’t work.

    As has already been mentioned here, actually specifying any point when human-level sentience can be said to be present in a developing embryo is damn difficult. Since it’s most likely a gradual change across a continuum, and also likely to be somewhat variable between cases, demanding a specific point of attainment of humanity be defined is almost meaningless. One could perhaps, with sufficient proper research, define a cutoff point before which the statistical likelihood of anything human, or an acceptably close fraction of it (how would you feel about killing an animal with a level of mind extremely close to, but still undeniably less than, human?), but getting such accurate information will never be a possibility if the answer is baldly asserted to simply be at birth, and further proclaimed to be an end of the matter.

  173. #173 Bhetti
    March 17, 2009

    Where life begins is a subjective debate. Science can give us the facts of what happens on a molecular, physical, cognitive and functional level but not what level does or does not constitute life or human consciousness, and which should be saved. That will invariably be a matter of opinion. (Summary: Don’t make me talk about the parasite argument of killing everyone who’s on welfare)

    The challenge should be ‘Give me the chapter and page number where a scientist says human life begins at conception, give me a survey that says every biologist agrees on this assertion and what you imply from it’. Even if I personally agree with conception as a starting point and think that for the most part fetuses qualify as human life, I disagree with using LIES and untruths to advance “the cause”. It is easy to counter that every biologist thinks life begins at conception, just find enough biologists who will write on paper and sign their opinion that ‘Life does not begin at conception.’ Which there invariably will be.

    The assertion that those who go through abortion think of their pregnancy as a parasitic clump of cells is a fallacy. I do not know to what extent it is, but I’m going to guess the common scenario is a teenage mother. I have a friend who was just about to leave her teens, who had an abortion. She went through guilt, especially on the supposed time the delivery date should have been. There was no indication this was religiously motivated. There was no effective psychological counseling, or determining if this is what she really wanted. This abortion was either a symptom or a factor in the worsening of her mental health problems, which lead eventually to a failed suicide attempt.

    By all means, institute abortion for those who would have it at as their choice. It shouldn’t however be an unmonitored, unsupported, “easy” decision to make. Respect for life and the ability to cause pain — even if it is only a possibility or potential — should always be maintained throughout; simply for the sake of instituting a proper attitude to life in society.

  174. #174 TExas Reader
    March 17, 2009

    Adam was a man when “god breathed the breath of life into him.” case closed!

    (just joking, but if i believed in a sky-god that would be my position)

  175. #175 aratina
    March 17, 2009

    T_U_T wrote:

    Yes. Excelent idea. And airlines should have the right to throw undesirable passengers out in mid flight too.

    If you only read up a few lines in what SteveM was saying, you would see that he wrote:

    The real question is at what time does the woman effectively agree to the arrangement.

    I think SteveM’s idea is noteworthy, but the problem with it is that any human under a certain age has no ability to consent to any type of legal agreement, and humans generally (save for the Taliban and similar types) don’t consider parental rights to grant power over life and death except when the child is incapable of becoming conscious in a medical situation. Anti-abortionists fail to understand that the majority of late-term abortions are done of fetuses that have just that quality or are at a point where letting them become conscious would be cruel and inhumane. But this pushback to fertilization is just a ludicrous attempt at moving the Overton window.

  176. #176 Leigh Williams
    March 17, 2009

    We beat this to death already on another thread (check the last half)
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/hypocritical_gomers_of_oklahom.php#comments

    SteveM, we did explore your point: We don’t grant born people the right to appropriate other people’s bodies for their own use, so why would we grant an embryo that right?

    That thread culminated in T_U_T’s declaration that we SHOULD let people coerce say, a kidney donation, from an unwilling donor. He then spent much of the rest of the thread trying to backtrack.

    You can’t reason with these people. What they really want is to punish women who take control of their sexuality into their own hands, leaving the men of the patriarchy out of the control loop and demanding retribution against those whores (in the form of an unwanted pregnancy).

    It’s not really about the itsy-bitsy babies at all. As another poster upthread noted, the whole thing isn’t pro-baby, it’s anti-woman.

    T_U_T may be an exception, since he’s in favor of abortions up to the 17th week, but his views on coercive use of other people’s bodies are so extreme that I don’t quite know what to make of him.

  177. #177 chanson
    March 17, 2009

    One of the guys on my blogroll is a student there, and he posted photos of that exhibit, in case any of you are wondering how enormous the gruesome photos are.

  178. #178 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Analogy fail. Airlines decided to accept the passenger.

    If he boarded the plane without paying ?
    If the sex was consensual ?

  179. #179 Kite
    March 17, 2009

    PZ’s response as well as those of many of the others here to the canard that life begins at fertilization are perfect and intelligent rejoinders to another strawman erected by the forced-birth cadres of the religious right. So satisfying- However, it is important to remember that this is JUST ANOTHER STRAWMAN. They don’t care about intelligent answers to their assertions. Hence the constantly moving definitions and goal-posts. The intent in the erection of this particular strawman is just as accurate and honest as their self-definition themselves as “pro-life”. The only real intent is to find effective propaganda to continue the patriachal control of the Church over the rights of women as individuals.

  180. #180 Fatpie42
    March 17, 2009

    An example my dad told me when I was younger is kinda handy here. He asked me to imagine that I’ve got a heart with a tube going into it and I’m pumping blood into it. In such a situation this thing has a heartbeat, but is it alive? Well, in a way, it IS alive. It’s living tissue with a blood circulation. However, normally we say that someone who is completely brain dead is ‘dead’ and this thing does not even have a brain!

    Now let’s compare with the zygote. The zygote, unlike our ‘heart with manual heartbeat and blood circulation’, has no organs yet. It may not yet have a circulation (since it may not yet have implanted) and it has no heartbeat (not least since it has no heart).

    Y’see why this might be a handy means of explaining this to them? If that isn’t enough I’m afraid I’m out of ideas… :)

  181. #181 Kite
    March 17, 2009

    Man this thread moves fast, and I type so slowly. Thank you Leigh and others above for saying (more eloquently) what I said @179

  182. #182 Don Kane
    March 17, 2009

    I know:
    To quality as a sentient being worthy of full personhood rights, you haf to be able to say “dude” as a greeting.

    Oh, and I very much like the idea above that an developing egg should only get get the rights of equivalent creatures the the same developmental complexity. We could call it “ontegenic rights” or something.

  183. #183 Hockey Bob
    March 17, 2009

    @#73

    “2. Drill it into the kids…”

    Isn’t that what got them into this mess in the first place?

    /window seat, please, but not to hell, since we all know there isn’t one

  184. #184 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    That thread culminated in T_U_T’s declaration that we SHOULD let people coerce say, a kidney donation, from an unwilling donor. He then spent much of the rest of the thread trying to backtrack.

    There was no trackback.
    I still claim the same. Namely
    sci-fi like circumstances produce sci-fi like decisions.

    I agree that there are sci-fi like circumstances under which I would coerce people to donate organs.

    But I disagree that there are real circumstances that would cause me to.
    And I also disagree that the sole fact that under completely contrived circumstances I would do things I normally would not, is something bad.
    There is simply no way around it. As long as I consider human ( that is full persons, not just a few cells ) life to be something intrinsically valuable, there will exist circumstances in which I would decide to save life at the expense of other things, Things I would consider being undeniable in all other circumstances.

    And, also, I would ask you how do you support the 22 week limitation you say you have. If it were true that the sole fact the fetus is in your womb does give you right over his life and death whether she is a person or not, then abortion right “till the head sticks out” is the only conclusion.

  185. #185 catgirl
    March 17, 2009

    If “life” begins at conception, then that means throwing away apple seeds is the same as cutting down apple trees.

    As many people mentioned previously, the question of “life” or “personhood” is not the issue anyway. No person has an obligation to donate their organs for another person to survive. Pregnancy is not some trivial inconvenience even for healthy women. Once a baby is born, other people or society in general can take on the burden for caring for it. It is impossible to do that while it is still attached to a woman. No person should be legally required to rent out their uterus to save someone’s life, just as no person is required to donate their spare kidney or even to donate blood, which is a lot less risky for most people than carrying a pregnancy to term. Why make the distinction that people have the obligation to donate this one specific organ to save a life? It’s mostly likely because the real problem anti-choice people have is not with “killing a baby” but with women doing something that is considered immoral – having sex. Once we make kidney and blood donation mandatory for all healthy adults, then maybe we can make uterus donation mandatory. Until then, all of those things should be voluntary.

  186. #186 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    March 17, 2009

    Why are these people so concerned about abortion being murder, anyway? Don’t they believe in souls? Abortion won’t hurt a soul, so where’s the harm? God can take the soul to Heaven or put it in some other fertilized egg.

  187. #187 blueelm
    March 17, 2009

    T_U_T

    No amount of if can make your analogy non-idiotic. Since you want it taken seriously I’ll do my best before I laugh hard enough to alert co-workers:

    So… women are like airlines. They exist with the sole intention of giving birth.

    Consensual sex = paying for a boarding pass? Are you saying any woman who engages in consensual sex deserves to get pregnant? You don’t have a very optimitic view of child rearing do you? Pregnancy being seen as a punishment is one of the sickest parts of our culture. It’s a thought disease that ruins the lives of women and children. Why the schadenfreude? Not enough sadness in your own life?
    Continuing with the idiocy:

    I tell you what, any fetus that can book a seat in my womb and pay on its own for first class can fly for 9 months before I dump it on the hospital staff. Sorry, no intentions of motherhood here on my husband or my part. First class only man, there ain’t no “business class” on this ride.

    Next, airlines do have the right to force an person who didn’t pay to get off at the first landing. They don’t book them a room at the nearest hotel either, and they may press charges in addition to the fines. These days the passenger would probably end up a terrorist suspect. Throwing the passenger off in mid-flight would put all of the other passengers at risk. You’ve forgotten that the great big womb in the sky is full of people who did pay to be taken to their destination.

    A better analogy for you would be: does some one who hi-jacks a plane and tries to force it to another destination deserve to be thrown off the plane. It’s still crap, and analogies are lame… but it’s slightly less full of stupid.

    Now good day to you! :)

  188. #188 catgirl
    March 17, 2009

    I’m more “pro-life” than any of the people who think abortion is murder. By using hormonal birth control, I prevent an egg from being released that would otherwise die within a month. And I have plenty of sex just in case an egg gets through, to make sure it gets fertilized and gets to continue its life. Now if only the extreme anti-choice people wanted to heavily promote hormonal contraception and pre-marital sex…

  189. #189 Leigh Williams
    March 17, 2009

    @T_U_T:

    And, also, I would ask you how do you support the 22 week limitation you say you have. If it were true that the sole fact the fetus is in your womb does give you right over his life and death whether she is a person or not, then abortion right “till the head sticks out” is the only conclusion.

    Misrepresenting my position there. I said I support the view from neuroscience that a functioning human brain is the criterion, not “the sole fact the fetus is in your womb”. 22 weeks means: 1) functioning human brain, and 2) viability.

    Just to clarify, I also said that defense of the woman’s life and health are still the first priority, followed by major fetal defect. Some later-term abortions are medically necessary.

  190. #190 SteveM
    March 17, 2009

    There was no trackback.
    I still claim the same. Namely
    sci-fi like circumstances produce sci-fi like decisions.
    I agree that there are sci-fi like circumstances under which I would coerce people to donate organs.

    It is backtracking because these are not sci-fi scenarios. Organ donation is real; it is not fiction, science or otherwise, that a persons life would depend on receiving an organ donation. So does that person have the right to extract an organ from a donor against that donor’s will?

  191. #191 Calladus
    March 17, 2009

    The abortion argument isn’t about what is or is not “human”, it is about what is, or is not a “person”, and the rights that a person has.

    Personhood should be defined. What is a person? In my opinion, being human should NOT be a requirement of being a person.

    It is quite possible that someday we will have invented artificial intelligence. And although I think it unlikely that we will ever be visited by aliens, if it were to happen they could be offended if we insist that they are NOT persons.

    Without a good definition of “person” we are in danger of enslaving any non-humans that we find or create.

  192. #192 Phyllis
    March 17, 2009

    Discombobulated:
    That’s a really well-reasoned answer. Thanks for that. Positing consistency for a matter of debate, while simultaneously holding a different opinion for practical purposes is difficult.

    Thanks. *blushes*

    Actually, maintaining different standards is something I’ve gotten rather practiced at. But, yes, it’s a complicated issue that, while people are sometimes willing to admit the complication, they often don’t quite understand why it is complicated. And it is complicated because the rights of more than one theoretical entity are involved and because our understanding is indeed limited.

    While I cling strongly to my right to terminate and do not fear the day I might use it, I am not confident in my own reaction to it or in the ethical goalposts I have created for myself regarding selective abortions or even termination in toto. We get lost in this debate because it is friendly and easy and safe when compared to the realities of the potentially fearful situation it replaces.

  193. #193 Lotharloo
    March 17, 2009

    DaveL:

    I loved the comment about your twin brother. IMO, it nails home the point that the abortion is a difficult moral problem and there are no simplistic ways to bail out.

  194. #194 Tulse
    March 17, 2009

    As long as I consider human ( that is full persons, not just a few cells ) life to be something intrinsically valuable, there will exist circumstances in which I would decide to save life at the expense of other things

    Such as banning skydiving? Outlawing all impairing substances, such as alcohol, or damaging substances, such as tobacco? Prohibiting all vehicle usage except for absolute necessity (given that auto collisions are the single largest cause of death for many age brackets)?

    For those women with a history of miscarriage, would you force them to be sterilized in order to prevent them murdering future fetuses? For that matter, given how pressing this matter is, and that about 1/3 of pregnancies end in miscarriage, would you demand that all women take contraceptive unless they have applied to the State for permission to get pregnant, and which time their conception and pregnancy would be medically monitored?

  195. #195 humorix
    March 17, 2009

    Apart from eggs of Easter…
    Question is: Before being born they were alive or died? Bêh, THEY WERE ALIVE! Living for centuries, transmitted of generations in generation.
    They have all something of Lucy.

  196. #196 Ray
    March 17, 2009

    Intriguing fact!

    Thomas Aquinas argued that human life doesn’t begin until it has a human form (arms, legs, anatomy, etc.).

    Note: A cluster of cells doesn’t count.

    Ever since the Council of Vienne, I find it interesting the Church has not withdrawn this view yet despite its current views of life beginning at conception.

  197. #197 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    I said I support the view from neuroscience that a functioning human brain is the criterion, not “the sole fact the fetus is in your womb”. 22 weeks means: 1) functioning human brain, and 2) viability.

    If we go into the neurosciense stuff we are basically on the same page, We may quibble whether it is 17 weeks or 22 or 19 or what. but there is no disagreement beyond that.

    Just to clarify, I also said that defense of the woman’s life and health are still the first priority, followed by major fetal defect. Some later-term abortions are medically necessary.

    Just to clarify, I never disagreed with you on that.

    And generally, I think I’ve just admitted that I was right from the beginning : you’ve agreed with me that personhood ( and neurological criteria for personhood ) is the basis to decide whether abortion is permissible or not, and “she is in my womb so I can kill her at whim” is not a valid justification for abortion.

  198. #198 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Tulse, your posts are generally reasonable, why this particular one is composed of nothing more than strawmen ?

  199. #199 Stu
    March 17, 2009

    I think I’ve just admitted that I was right from the beginning

    My, how big (and Freudian) of you!

  200. #200 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    errata: I think YOU’ve just admitted that I was right from the beginning

    Yes. I made a mistake ( and flood of other typos, actually). Laugh at me as hard as you can. I am too tired to be upset about that anyway.

  201. #201 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Yawn, T_U_T is a bore. Heard it all before. Birth period. No other easily determined single event.

  202. #202 Alan Kellogg
    March 17, 2009

    My Thinking on the Matter

    A woman who is determined to end her pregnancy will find a way to end her pregnancy. The legality of the action has nothing to do with it, she will end the pregnancy. It is better to let her obtain that termination safely so that she can have a normal, healthy life and possibly go on to have a child later. She is the one dealing with the matter, she is the one facing the possibility of complications, infections, entropic implantation, and the myriad difficulties that can arise during pregnancy, birth, and post natal.

    Aborting a pregnancy is in no way like murder, for an abortion does not have the social impact murder does. Both end a life, but it is murder that affects the victim’s family and circle of friends. Murder can even have an impact on the wider world, depending on the victim’s position and role in society. Aborting an embryo or fetus, even one just about to be born, does not have that affect. Indeed, cannot have that affect. Terminating a pregnancy only means that somebody will not be born to have an effect on society and the world. That termination may affect the parents and their immediate family, but that’s as far as it goes unless one or another party uses the abortion as an excuse to act in a manner that affects society.

    On a personal note, having gone through a few lives prior to this (sorry, I haven’t the tools to empirically support that, you may have to wait a millennium or two), I’m fairly confident that the death of a fetus is not the end of any soul (personality if you prefer) residing therein. Whether God or a really advanced MMORPG, you go on. (I’m also convinced that super-strings aren’t the basic building blocks of the universe, because objects that aren’t divisible don’t vibrate. And if vibrating isn’t really what super-strings do, why call it vibrating? So keep that in mind.)

    In short, it’s the woman’s decision to have a child, and comparing abortion to homicide corrupts the meaning of homicide.

    And what if my mother had decided to abort me? Then I’d be somebody else. Probably have a family, children, maybe even grandchildren by now. Be approaching the end of a fruitful career. May even be famous in one field or another with a legacy that will last for generations. You know, when I die -and if Mom hasn’t been reincarnated yet- we’re going to have to have an intense heart to heart about this.

  203. #203 Tulse
    March 17, 2009

    Tulse, your posts are generally reasonable, why this particular one is composed of nothing more than strawmen ?

    Those weren’t strawmen, they was an attempt to see how committed you actually are to the principle of extreme State intervention to save lives. That is the principle you seem to be using to justify your position, or am I wrong?

  204. #204 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Stupid argument :

    Birth period. No other easily determined single event.

    equal, and equally stupid argument :
    copulation period. As easily determined single event as birth, but much shorter, so we get better precision.

  205. #205 Alan Kellogg
    March 17, 2009

    And Now For Something Rather Off-Topic

    The accepted wisdom is that one sperm gets to penetrate the egg, thus fertilizing it. Yet we find uterine cancers with jumbled up bones and organs and what not, which are found to have extra chromosomes. As in an entire set. It aint supposed to happen, but could we be talking about the simultaneous or near simultaneous penetration of the egg wall by two, possibly more, sperm?

    For a bit of speculation, what sort of mechanism would an egg need to straighten out such an event and prouce a zygote with the optimal 23 chromosome pairs?

  206. #206 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Murder can even have an impact on the wider world, depending on the victim’s position and role in society.

    so killing a lonely homeless bum is not murder. Wow. Monsters galore.

  207. #207 Paul
    March 17, 2009

    In all fairness, T_U_T’s previous argument is being misrepresented.

    He previously stated that he would advocate forcible removal of kidneys to save lives if the procedure was as safe as childbirth. I don’t have the time to read the remainder of that thread, but I figured I’d find out how “sci-fi” said idea is. Warning bells always start ringing when anti-abortion apologists talk about how safe childbirth is.

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/507126

    Live [kidney] donors, by most studies, have long-term mortality rates equal to or better than those who do not donate. The largest follow-up study, maintained in Sweden, has tracked over 400 donors through a lifetime and concluded that overall mortality was less than expected in the general population.[2] From United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) data, the overall mortality rate for live donors between October 1999 and October 2004 (n = 30,716) was approximately .04% at 3 days and .18% at 5 years. Deaths were reported in 21 cases.

    As for Maternal death, Wikipedia (I know, I know) gives values (per 100,000) of 11 for the US, average of 20 for developing nations, and 400 for a world average. Also,

    “Lifetime risk of maternal death” accounts for number of pregnancies and risk. In sub-Saharan Africa the lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 16, for developed nations only 1 in 2,800.

    It’s hard to directly compare because I am not currently So in developed nations, the lifetime risk of maternal death is about .035%. It’s not that high, granted, but it’s close enough that you could find live kidney donation studies with lower mortality rates. Keep in mind that the donor values cited above are overall mortality rates, not only counting deaths related to giving up a kidney. In fact, there has been at least one study showing longer life expectancy in kidney donors.

    That’s not a very in-depth look at data, but to a first approximation it would seem that the mortality rates of live kidney donation and pregnancy are not significantly different. Not so much “Sci-fi” to posit such, then.

    I guess it is accurate to say that based on past statements, T_U_T believes we should allow forced kidney donation.

  208. #208 catgirl
    March 17, 2009

    “she is in my womb so I can kill her at whim” is not a valid justification for abortion.

    Women rarely have abortions on a whim. It’s not like many women are thinking, “Today I’ll get a haircut, have an abortion, and make tacos for dinner.” Pregnancy is not just a trivial inconvenience. On the other hand, you can pass up the opportunity to donate your blood to save a life on a whim, and that’s much easier to do than carrying out a full pregnancy.

  209. #209 E.V.
    March 17, 2009

    so killing a lonely homeless bum is not murder. Wow. Monsters galore.

    Straw man/non sequitur. And needless assholism. Keep it up T-U-T

  210. #210 jdhuey
    March 17, 2009

    It is part and parcel of our western mode of thinking to treat concepts as categories and dichotomies. We think in terms of: day/night, alive/dead, right/left, human/non-human, etc. We have constructed many of our social structures with the assumption that these categories are valid (think royalty vs. common; Caucasian vs. Negro; men vs. women.) Within the legal system drawing categorical lines makes establishing a verdict of Guilty vs. Not Guilty much easier. There is always a desire to make laws crystal clear, definite and unambiguous. This leads to the ‘letter of the law’ approach vs. the spirit of the law approach.

    Putting things in categories does make thinking convenient, sometimes; however, nature doesn’t really care about our sense of category all that much. Nature is just as happy to deal with continuums. The ‘Right to Life’ question is just such a category vs. continuum question. In our society human adults are considered to certainly have it (but can lose it under several different circumstances) and eggs/sperm (when they are still within the owners body) certainly don’t. But if the ‘Right to Life’ is yes/no proposition then at some point along that continuum a line has to be drawn.

    Another aspect is the question of the nature of this ‘Right’: Is the Right to Life an inherent property of a person or is it a something that is conferred by society onto a person? It is easy to see how if you think that a right is an inherent property then there might be an observable physical marker to show when this property comes into existence.

    So, if we are a person that thinks that the ‘Right to Life’ is an inherent property and we think that that right is a yes/no proposition then it is critical to find an unambiguous line of demarcation. Fuzzy categories on a continuum just won’t do. It is better to be clear and definite than it is to be reasonable.

    Now even if we take the position that the ‘Right to Life’ is a property that we (as a society) confer, more or less, on a person, there can still be desire to have a clear cut,non-arbitrary yes/no dichotomy. The point of conception, at least superficially, provides such a line.

    So the controversy is as much about HOW we think about rights, society, law and the world as it is about WHAT we think.

  211. #211 Stu
    March 17, 2009

    TUT, you’ve already said you’re tired. Go to sleep, you’re not helping yourself by being jerky and barely coherent.

  212. #212 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Paul, you would have to add the fact that we have dialysis but no artificial womb, so in case of kidney it is more like trading off dialysis for immunosuppresion, not almost sure life versus instant death. Maybe it is not that much difference but it surely does count.

    So, to be really precise, I would advocate forced organ donation iff it were comparably safe to childbirth and the result would be really saving a person from otherwise inevitable death. Neither of them is really the case.

  213. #213 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    T_U_T, master of stupid arguments. Period.

  214. #214 WTFinterrobang
    March 17, 2009

    Having been a nurse in a former life, I look at abortion from the zygote’s perspective (Yes, I know, I’ve given it abilities which it does not yet have). Would I rather be aborted or “live” the alternatives? What is the alternative you ask? Let me introduce you to the unwanted child, who is often the recipient of much abuse from parent who didn’t want said child. Taking care of a child with shaken baby syndrome is not pretty! Even worse, seeing that child suffer through multiple episodes of child abuse and then end up dead.

    Fundy xtian: “Well, there’s always adoption.” Let me direct you to (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/trends.htm) some statistics that show that there’s a whole lot of adopting to do before this problem is solved! 51K kids were adopted in FY2007. 214K were either waiting for adoption or would need it soon because their parental rights had been terminated. This totally ignores the flux of the rest of the kids through foster care.

    I’d rather be aborted before I know my ass from a hole in the ground than to suffer physical or mental abuse after I’m “rescued” by a pro-lifer!

  215. #215 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Nerd, you started ;)

  216. #216 catgirl
    March 17, 2009

    Donating blood is much, much less risky than lending a uterus for 40 weeks, but it is still not mandatory.

  217. #217 Jon
    March 17, 2009

    To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. The human nature of the human being from conception to old age is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence. French geneticist Jerome L. Lejeune, The Human Life Bill: Hearings on S. 158 Before the Subcommittee on Separation of Powers of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 97th Congress, 1st Session (1981)

    I think we can now also say that the question of the beginning of life-when life begins-is no longer a question for theologians of philosophical dispute. It is an established scientific fact. Theologians and philosophers may go on to debate the meaning of life or purpose of life, but it is an established fact that all life, including human life, begins at the moment of conception.

    I have never ever seen in my own scientific reading, long before I became concerned with issues of life of this nature, that anyone has ever argued that life did not begin at the moment of conception and from the fertilization of the human egg by a human sperm. As far as I know, these have never been argued against.

    Dr. Hymie Gordon, professor of medical genetics and physician at the Mayo Clinic, same Senate Subcommittee.

    [A]ll organisms, however large and complex they may be when fullgrown, begin life as but a single cell.

    This is true of the human being, for instance, who begins life as a fertilized ovum.

    Dr. M. Krieger, The Human reproductive System 88 [1969]

    The formation, maturation and meeting of a male and female sex cell are all preliminary to their actual union into a combined cell, or zygote, which definitely marks the beginning of a new individual

    it is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.

    Dr. B. Patten, Human Embryology 43 [3d ed., 1968]

    So, therefore, it is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception, and this developing human always is a member of our species in all stages of its life.

    Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth, a principle research associate in the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School at Senate Subcommittee.

    From a pro-choice editorial in California Medicine:

    Since the old ethic has not been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death.

    “A New Ethic for Medicine and Society,” editorial, California Medicine (September 1970), 68.

    A living being’s designation to a species is determined not by the stage of development, but by the sum total of its biological characteristics-actual and potential-which are genetically determined… If we say that [the fetus] is not human, e.g. a member of Homo sapiens, we must say it is a member of another species. But this cannot be.

    Richard M. Nardone, “The Nexus of Biology and the Abortion Issue,” Jurist, Spring 1973, 154.

    I have learned from my ealirest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception… I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life…

    I am no more prepared to say that these early stages [of development in the womb] represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty…is not a human being. This is human life at every stage.

    Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, U.S. Senate Subcommittee

    Dr. Keith L. Moore’s text on embryology, referring to the single-cell zygote, says, “The cell results from fertilization of an oocyte by a sperm and is the beginning of a human being.” He also states, “Each of us started life as a cell called a zygote.”

    Doctors J. P Greenhill and E. I Friedman, in their work on biology and obstetrics, state, “The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.”

    Dr. Louis Fridhandler, in the medical textbook Biology of Gestation, refers to fertilization as “that wondrous moment that marks the beginning of life for a new unique individual.”

    Doctors E. L. Potter and J. M. Craig write in Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, “Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.”

    Time and Rand McNally’s Atlas of the Body states, “In fusing together, the male and female gametes produce a fertilized single cell, the zygote, which is the start of a new individual.”

    In an article on pregnancy, the Encyclopedia Britannica says, “A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg.”

  218. #218 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Jon, it ain’t born yet, not a person. End of story.

  219. #219 Lowell
    March 17, 2009

    Nice cut-and-paste, Jon. Did you have a point?

  220. #220 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    weapon grade bullshit:

    “Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.”

    so twins should be considered one person by this line of reasoning.

  221. #221 Stu
    March 17, 2009

    The point of conception, at least superficially, provides such a line.

    So does the point of orgasm. Don’t confuse clarity with sanity.

  222. #222 CJO
    March 17, 2009

    The tyranny of the discontinuous mind on parade here today.

  223. #223 J.D. Herron
    March 17, 2009

    If the point of conception is considered the start of a new human life, then the inescapable fact for believers is that God is by far the biggest murderous abortionist of all. There are far more conceptions terminated by natural causes “his will” than via abortion. I await the Papal condemnation of God…

  224. #224 Stu
    March 17, 2009

    Jon: TL; DR. Your point?

  225. #225 raven
    March 17, 2009

    jon lying by cut n paste:

    To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion.

    OOOOHHHHH!!!! A fundie xian Death Cultist is here. I can tell because it is lying. Much more infallible than even the Pope.

    We’ve already got a thread above of 200+ posts discussing exactly that.

    In point of fact, the large majority of our society has decided decades ago that “human beings” or “persons” do not start at conception. Roughly 50% of all zygotes don’t even make it to implantation.

    FWIW, the bible thinks human beings start 1 month after birth, numbers and leviticus.

    So Jon how do you feel about forced childbearing? How about enslaving the large majority of the population who happen to be female? I can tell you, women don’t much like being slaves.

    Typical. As I mentioned before, most of the forced birth and antiwomen brigade are, not surprisingly, male. If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacred, holy right.

  226. #226 Mover
    March 17, 2009

    To Mr. PZ,

    I find your position a little curious.

    One thing you’ll notice is the frantic attempt to qualify everything by inserting the qualifier “human” before every mention of the word “life”, to the point where they are even adding it when quoting me! Alas, it doesn’t help them at all

    FYI: Whenever anyone talks to “pro-lifers” and the subject of ‘when life begins’ comes up, they are talking about human life. I find it hard to believe that anyone would interpret that to mean anything other than a human life. That being said, you blow your argument by trying to imply that you are referring to life in general or the necessity of going back billions of years.

    Moreover, the topic is usually discussed in terms of one’s position on abortion or embryonic stem cell research (effectively turning embryos into a new commodity to be donated, bought and sold). Otherwise there would be no pressing need for such a discussion.

    As for when human life begins, i.e., prior to conception, at conception, shortly after conception, when a fetus is “viable”, or at birth, no one knows for sure. You don’t know, your teachers, students and followers do not know. And, to be honest, I do not know.

    When I consider the general lack of knowledge among human beings and professors concerning when “human life” begins, I would prefer to be less wrong if I can. So I will fault on the side of life and push the perceived beginning of human life back as close to the beginning as logically possible. The alternative, abortion or turning embryos into a commodity, is irreversible. No do overs. I’d hate to think that I chose to kill a innocent living human being.

    Viable human sperm by itself is not a human being, and a viable human egg is not a human being (as far as we know).

    When does human life begin?

    Then the only answer can be at conception.

    That is the moment when the 2 elements come together to become one human life. Since he/she is in fact alive, and he/she can be no other living thing other than a human being, it follows that he/she is a human being. This would be due to having “the right collection of genes”.

    Human life begins at conception.

    Follow up question: If you believe that a fertilized human egg has the possibility of not being a human, what do you believe it might be?

  227. #227 Dianne
    March 17, 2009

    so twins should be considered one person by this line of reasoning.

    Yep. Twins are one person, chimeras are two. Teratomas are one as well. And then there’s the question of when death occurs. Brain death is obviously out–if an entity with no brain is alive then clearly the brain’s existence isn’t the critical element. Maybe death of last cell? Degredation of the DNA? Going to get pretty smelly keeping all those people “alive” until that occurs…

  228. #228 WTFinterrobang
    March 17, 2009

    @Dianne #227

    Isn’t the half life of DNA something like 90K years? If so, the fundies should be able to provide us with a “live” Adam and St/Eve.

    Moreover, if brain death was the criteria there would be no fundies left!

  229. #229 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Follow up question: If you believe that a fertilized human egg has the possibility of not being a human, what do you believe it might be?

    dead clot of cells that spontaneously failed to implant, anembryonic pregnancy, acephalic fetus, anencephalus, fetus in fetu, parasitic twin, etc.

  230. #230 Dianne
    March 17, 2009

    If you believe that a fertilized human egg has the possibility of not being a human, what do you believe it might be?

    A fertilized human egg. What else should it be? Once it divides a few times and inserts into the uterine lining, it is a parasite.

    I’ll be convinced of the “prolife” position when a prolifer can give a logically consistent definition of “human life” that is not based on simple prejudice which
    1. defines all concepti as “human”
    2. defines twins as two people and chimeras as one person
    3. either defines brain death as death or gives an alternate definition of death
    4. does not define cancers, including molar pregnancies, as human
    5. can cope with theoretical questions such as cloning, extraterrestrial intelligence, and AI (i.e. to me a baby conceived by cloning is simply a baby, though possibly one with some potential health problems, whereas, as far as I can tell, the average pro-lifer would define him/her as a non-person).

    Feel up to trying it?

  231. #231 raven
    March 17, 2009

    mover lying:

    That is the moment when the 2 elements come together to become one human life. Since he/she is in fact alive, and he/she can be no other living thing other than a human being, it follows that he/she is a human being. This would be due to having “the right collection of genes”.

    Even for a fundie that is stupid. There are huge numbers of petri dishes of diploid cells in floating around. They have the exact same diploid genes as any human being. They are also capable with modern technology of being turned into a human being. They aren’t human beings or persons. We autoclave them when we are done with them and toss them in the trash.

    Ever been to a funeral for a zygote?

    Is anything with diploid chromosomes and living a person in any jurisdiction?

    Done with this thread, the christofascist trolls are here. They don’t actually give a rat’s ass about abortion or zygotes or babies, or when life begins. This is just the xian death cult version of politics and tribal identity rituals. The tipoff. They lose interest and become decidely malevolent about people after they are born. Fundies are always evil.

  232. #232 Dianne
    March 17, 2009

    Moreover, if brain death was the criteria there would be no fundies left!

    Tsk. I must now chastise you for being snide. In fact, I am so shocked by your comment that I won’t even make a similar comment about that explaining why fundies seem so obsessed with keeping the permanently brain damaged alive, i.e. Terry Schiavo (unless, of course, that life is inconvenient for them–as in Tom Delay’s father.

  233. #233 Piltdown Man
    March 17, 2009

    Mark:

    So there I was, walking along the University of Texas campus, enjoying an absolutely gorgeous day (it was 75 and sunny!) when all of a sudden I’m accosted by a huge structure covered with gigantic (10+ ft) pictures of 5-20 week old fetuses. Surprise! I’d forgotten all about our annual day of political theatre hosted by some pro-life group on campus.

    “… a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”

    PZ Myers:

    Life does not begin at conception.
    It’s an utterly nonsensical position to take. There is never a “dead” phase — life is continuous. Sperm are alive, eggs are alive; you could even make the argument that since two cells (gametes) enter, but only one cell (a zygote) leaves, fertilization ends a life. Not that I would make that particular claim myself, but it’s definitely true that life is more complicated than the simplistic ideologues of the anti-choice movement would make it.

    The title of this post is not “Life does not begin at conception” but “The fertilized egg is not a human life”. Human life begins at conception.

    Oh wait …

    I’m also confident that the freshly fertilized zygote is not human, either. There’s more to being human than bearing a cell with the right collection of genes.

    Professor Dawkins says “we are survival machines – robot vehicles programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes”.

    So this “more to being human” amounts to being a gene-carrying robot vehicle rather than a gene-carrying cell? That must be what they mean by progress.

    Tilia @ 16:

    africangenesis asked:
    “Are sperm really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA?”
    Are humans really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA?

    And you call us death-cultists.

    See, this is the reason scientific atheism will never supplant religion – who’s going to look at their parents or children and see machines for delivering DNA rather than real live human beings?

    This may not be an intellectually coherent reason, but it’s an invincible one.

    Whenever someone asks a question like “Are humans really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA?”, the response of any sane person will be to either burst out laughing or recoil in disgust.

    It’s like when Prof Dawkins said he was disappointed that the makers of Jurassic Park included human protaginists.

    +++

    Lewis Wolpert:

    I’ve spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear … they are not a human being.

    This is the way, I suppose, that the world will be destroyed – amid the universal hilarity of wits and wags who think it is all a joke. – Kierkegaard

    +++

    George @ 18:

    A fertilized egg has no more independent human attributes than say a liver cell – actually less. No claims a liver cell is an independent human being with full rights and social status.

    No one claims a liver cell can grow into a baby. (Ditto for Phyllis @ 43.)

    +++

    Nerd of Redhead @ 27:

    There is one point where a huge change occurs. That change is called birth, where the fetus goes from being a parasite feeding off the woman, to being a separate person in its own right by taking a breath of air. It goes from total dependency to a level of independence.

    Remind me again how Stephen Hawking escapes being defined as a parasite …?

    After all, Benjamin Geiger @ 38 seems to think one can be a human parasite.

    MikeMa @ 41:

    It is viability that matters. A fertilized cell is not viable.

    Neither is Stephen Hawking without his life support.

    +++

    raven @ 44:

    The majority of the US population has rejected your fascist ideology. Tough times for creeps like you.

    Not nearly as tough as it’s going to be for the majority of the US population when the Almighty decides enough is enough & gets medieval on their collective ass. : )

    +++

    Personal Failure @47:

    my personal belief is “No uterus, no opinion”.

    A rapist’s personal belief might be “no penis, no opinion”.

    +++

    Mu @ 49:

    One other thought on the “beginning of life” issue: What happens when we start cloning humans?

    “When”??

  234. #234 amphiox
    March 17, 2009

    Mover, saying something solemnly over and over again does not make it so.

    Before you can define a moment in which “human” life begins, you have to first define what you mean by “human.”

    Problem is, humanness is a continuum. The full suite of cognitive, empathic, physical and emotional abilities that we generally recognized as human is not completely achieved by most of us until we hit our mid-twenties. And some of us never actually get all the way there.

    Call a blastocyst human if it makes you feel better, but that whole argument is actually irrelevant to the abortion debate. Because in the case of abortion, we are not talking about the rights/recognition of a single entity, but the balancing of the rights/recognition of two entities, because a fetus cannot exist independent of a woman.

    No matter what we choose to call the fetus, there is almost no conceivable situation, no matter what your criteria for “humanness” is, whereby the fetus can be considered to be more human than the woman carrying it, by any decent ethical calculus. About the only one I can think of is when a late term pregnant woman is rendered brain dead by a tragic accident.

    The pro-choice positive boils down to the simple recognition that no matter what recognition or rights we grant to a fetus, in a situation of irreconcilable conflict, the recognition and rights of the woman take precedence, always.

    The pro-life position is the one that holds that the rights of the woman cannot take precedence. It isn’t necessarily wrong, of course, since there are many situation where we choose to limit the rights of some individuals for the sake of others, which we consider to be ethically acceptable.

    But call a spade a spade, to be pro-life means believing that it is acceptable to curtail the human rights of women.

    And, if you’re going to use the diploid set of human DNA as your sole criteria for humanness, then I have news for you: happily growing in various laboratories around the world are several thousand different strains of human cell lines. All of them have 100% certifiable human DNA sequences. All of them are alive – they grow, metabolize, replicate. And if we’re going to talk about potentialities here, now that we have cloning technology, all of them even have the potential to be reprogrammed into a pluripotent embryonic stem cell, implanted into a uterus, and carried to term. The potential is pretty low, of course, but it isn’t zero.

    Are they all (each and every individual cell) human?

    (BTW, for comparison, the potential for any given fertilized human zygote to make it to birth as a human baby is something less than 2%. That’s how many natural conceptions spontaneously abort.)

  235. #235 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    The title of this post is not “Life does not begin at conception” but “The fertilized egg is not a human life”. Human life begins at conception.

    human sperm is unequivocally human. Human sperm is alive. Si I Quess it is really the case “Every sperm is sacred”

  236. #236 rnb
    March 17, 2009

    How far back does the idea that sperm and ovum “join” go?
    We’ve learned quite a bit since I was a kid learning about biology, and
    idea like bacteria being plants, or protozoa being animals, are no longer considered valid.

  237. #237 raven
    March 17, 2009

    piltdown the kook:

    raven @ 44:

    The majority of the US population has rejected your fascist ideology. Tough times for creeps like you.

    Not nearly as tough as it’s going to be for the majority of the US population when the Almighty decides enough is enough & gets medieval on their collective ass. : )

    You mean like Allah, Buddha, Zeus, or Odin. They’ve been busy somewhere else, I gather.

    A threat. Gee, the Liars, Haters, and Killers always seem to get down to death threats and the occasional murder.

    If judgement is the lords, what in the hell are you doing here? Trying to get your ass kicked by your sky buddy? If there is a hell, one can be sure the fundie morons are in the lower depths.

  238. #238 Smidgy
    March 17, 2009

    Just going down this thread, so excuse me if I repeat points someone has already made. This has made this post kind of epic in length, so apologies.

    Africangenesis #4:

    Are sperm really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA?

    If you define ‘life’ in a way that makes sperm merely machines delivering DNA, you’re defining ‘life’ in a way that makes some of what are commonly regarded as living creatures non-living machines (for example, an adult mayfly would be merely a non-living machine for the sole purpose of reproducing).

    Jim #20:

    It’s astounding to me that a professional biologist would deny that the life of a unique human being begins at conception, when the genetic makeup of that unique human being is formed.

    You find that astounding because you really have no idea what qualifies as a living organism. By applying your standards, if I were to donate a kidney to someone, as soon as that kidney is cut out of me, that kidney becomes an independant human life, and is, in fact, a genetic clone of me. Either that, or your answer to DaveL’s point is that he and his identical twin are, in fact, one person, and he, on his own, is only half a person.

    The absurdity lies in saying that the life of an individual human being begins before the genetic contributions of both the mother and the father are joined together at the moment of conception. That union of genetic information brings into being a unique human life that did not exist prior to that union. This is a plain biological fact, not an opinion open to debate.

    No, sorry, that is not a fact. The only thing that is fact from that situation is that two living, single-celled biological organisms fused together to form a third living, single-celled biological organism that has a mixture of the two sets of DNA from each organism. Is that organism biologically human? Yes, in much the same way as my kidney is biologically human. Is it a human being? No, in much the same way as a kidney, or even a single kidney cell, isn’t a human being.

    Simon #23:

    Embryos are smaller than fetuses who are smaller (usually) than newborns. But what does size have to do with rights of personhood?

    Nothing at all. However, no-one ever said it did (apart from you).

    Essentialsaltes #46:

    There is some confusion on both sides, here. Mark told PZ that the goalposts were here, when in fact R’s goalposts were there. Even once that is cleared up, R’s actual goalposts involve “being human” rather than “being a human”, and PZ is not respecting this difference.

    Actually, ‘R’ randomly put a response in another comment thread here (assuming ‘R’ and ‘Rokesmith’ are the same person, of course):

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/hypocritical_gomers_of_oklahom.php#comment-1469106

    In there, he claimed he was using ‘the more objective biological meaning of “human,” not the subjective connotations of personhood’ (comment #100). When people began pointing out things like the freshly severed tip of a finger was a human life by this simplistic definition, he started adding other criteria, such as that it would need to be a ‘separate self-directing human organism’ (comment #123), which a human zygote or gestating fetus isn’t. So, it’s not really clear what ‘R’ wants, as he keeps shifting the goalposts as to what he means when he says ‘human life begins at conception’.

    Personal Failure #47:

    my personal belief is “No uterus, no opinion”. (when it comes to abortion, obviously.

    Well, I am pro-choice in the most literal sense – in other words, it is entirely up to each and every pregnant woman as to whether they want to have an abortion or not.

    Jim #63:

    I made the point I wanted to make

    …badly…

    so I’m out of here, with a parting prediction: Most of the responses to this will be smug, condescending, insulting, vulgar comments of the kind that have won this blog its well-deserved reputation as a blight on the marketplace of ideas.

    As opposed to your ranting rhetoric. Lejeune WAS a pro-life Catholic crank. Whilst he did make some important discoveries in certain areas of genetics, calling him ‘the father of modern genetics’, as you did, is extreme hyperbole. The only people that I have ever heard refer to him as such are other pro-lifers.

    Simon #68:

    The issue of dependency may well be the one abortion supporters turn to most in their attempt to justify abortion. “Since a fetus can’t survive on its own,” they argue, “it has no inherent right to life”. What’s the problem with this argument? In the broadest sense, it could be applied to all of us. There isn’t a person alive who is radically independent from the universe we live in. We all need food, water, rest, and oxygen. We’re all vulnerable to a million different bodily breakdowns. Are those who must rely on kidney machines, pace-makers or insulin shots for their survival less deserving of basic human rights than anyone else? Some of us may be less dependent than others, but if it is dependence that strips away a person’s right to protection under the law, then we would all be in trouble. Embryos and fetuses who must rely on an umbilical cord in the womb are just as human as those who must rely on a feeding tube outside the womb.

    Nice job on focusing on one detail and ignoring the others. The details that you missed were that the fetus is still developing and it has the capacity to do great and irreparable harm to the mother. To answer the one point you did address, the difference is that, as adults, we have the capacity to pro-actively provide the necessary sustenance for ourselves, or do so for those we feel we have a responsibility for (such as our children). For those who have an illness, and need a kidney machine, to take one of your examples, they need the services of a hospital – but, not only do they fail to do harm to the hospital, the hospital gets paid for doing this service, and, indeed, services like this are the entire purpose of the hospital’s existance. So, unless you turn around and say the one and only purpose of a woman is to have a child, the analogy does not hold up to scrutiny.

    Simon #93:

    “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself.

    ———-SNIP———–

    Firstly, prove that a zygote, or gestating fetus qualifies as a ‘child’ before quoting things like that. Secondly, try thinking for yourself, instead of quoting other people.

    Mover #226:

    FYI: Whenever anyone talks to “pro-lifers” and the subject of ‘when life begins’ comes up, they are talking about human life. I find it hard to believe that anyone would interpret that to mean anything other than a human life. That being said, you blow your argument by trying to imply that you are referring to life in general or the necessity of going back billions of years.

    The question actually asked was ‘when does life begin?’ That is the question answered. PZ ‘implied’ nothing. He stated it explicitly.

    Moreover, the topic is usually discussed in terms of one’s position on abortion or embryonic stem cell research (effectively turning embryos into a new commodity to be donated, bought and sold). Otherwise there would be no pressing need for such a discussion.

    …except, maybe by pregnant mothers, or people who want to impose their own view of abortion on those pregnant mothers.

    As for when human life begins, i.e., prior to conception, at conception, shortly after conception, when a fetus is “viable”, or at birth, no one knows for sure. You don’t know, your teachers, students and followers do not know. And, to be honest, I do not know.

    When I consider the general lack of knowledge among human beings and professors concerning when “human life” begins, I would prefer to be less wrong if I can. So I will fault on the side of life and push the perceived beginning of human life back as close to the beginning as logically possible.

    Firstly, glad you said ‘as logically possible’. You see, there are certain things we can rule out as definitely not being a human life. A zygote, for example, is a single-celled organism that definitely does not have the capacity to be a human being. Likewise a small cluster of cells. Likewise an organism without certain features of a human brain. This means we have pushed the threshold of this ‘beginning of life’ to at least 17 weeks, possibly further on in the pregnancy.

    Secondly, you’re forgetting there’s two organisms biologically involved with any pregancy. This means that if you determine the threshold purely on the requirements of the fetus, you are effectively saying the other organism, the mother, is utterly unimportant in every way – biological, moral and legal. Sorry, I don’t agree.

    The alternative, abortion or turning embryos into a commodity, is irreversible. No do overs. I’d hate to think that I chose to kill a innocent living human being.

    Unless you’re ever going to get pregnant, that’s a choice you’ll never have to face.

    Viable human sperm by itself is not a human being, and a viable human egg is not a human being (as far as we know).

    When does human life begin?

    Then the only answer can be at conception.

    Sorry, but your own statements so far utterly contradict that.

    That is the moment when the 2 elements come together to become one human life.

    No, that’s when two biological organisms fused together to form a third biological organism.

    Since he/she is in fact alive, and he/she can be no other living thing other than a human being, it follows that he/she is a human being. This would be due to having “the right collection of genes”.

    Obviously you’ve not been following the discussion – just because something is alive, and biologically human, doesn’t mean it’s a human being.

    Follow up question: If you believe that a fertilized human egg has the possibility of not being a human, what do you believe it might be?

    Funnily enough, a fertilized human egg is a fertilized human egg, not a human being – no ‘belief of a possibility’ required.

  239. #239 raven
    March 17, 2009

    The “life begins at conception” kooks really have two goals. They are also extremists on the far side of the Death Cults and mostly male, as usual. They couldn’t give a rat’s ass about when a person becomes a person or anything else.

    One is to outlaw birth control, some of which are suspected or known to prevent implantation.

    This would of course, result in huge numbers of single mothers, pregnant teens, unwanted children, and high welfare costs. Our society rejected this a century ago and would never stand for it.

    Which is OK, because the second is to annoy and persecute as many people as possible. It all has to do with tribal identity politics and being malevolently antihuman. Polls show they have succeeded. The majority of the US population is sick and tired of the fundies including most xians.

    FWIW, their leaders don’t walk their talk. A healthy woman can easily have 10-20 children. Robertson has 3, Dobson 2, Bush 2, Cheney 1 and so on. Obviously they have better things to do with their time and money than deal with a horde of kids. Mindless childbearing is for the trailer park crowd of moronic followers who are too stupid to know they are being conned.

  240. #240 Felix
    March 17, 2009

    Remind me again how Stephen Hawking escapes being defined as a parasite …?

    He’s not feeding off a person. It’s his choice to turn off his life support or not. Are you just trying to say anything to avoid realizing that your little reflexive eruption is pointless?

  241. #241 WTFinterrobang
    March 17, 2009

    @Raven 239
    Just a subtle correction: Cheney got two baby…point still taken

  242. #242 raven
    March 17, 2009

    @Raven 239

    Just a subtle correction: Cheney got two baby…point still taken.

    Thanks. I tried looking it up once and couldn’t find the number. I did remember he has one lesbian daughter.

  243. #243 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Ooh, we forget to add Pilty to our list of potential bannees. As his earlier post shows, he listens not and expounds his irrelevant theology at us adnauseum. Guess we’ll have to get him next time around. Anyway Pilty, the bible waits a month of birth to consider a baby a person. So, you are out of touch with your bible. Maybe you really need to read it cover to cover. It might be an eye-opener for you.

  244. #244 ConcernedJoe
    March 17, 2009

    All you “a few cells are a human (implied person)” cheerleaders answer my question (see #77 or 98) !!!

    You’ll prove to yourselves whether you really believe what you think you believe. And to us whether you are nuts or not.

    Challenged offered – no waffling – no bobbing and weaving – no changing the scenarios. Just answer simply and directly.

    Ciao

  245. #245 Dianne
    March 17, 2009

    No one claims a liver cell can grow into a baby

    Really, the only reason a liver cell can’t grow into a baby is because we have chosen not to pursue technology that would allow that to occur. There’s no real reason in principle that the nucleus from a G0 liver cell couldn’t be transplanted into an enucleated egg, producing a viable blastulocyst. For a variety of reasons, some better than others, our society has chosen not to do so.

    But if the ability of a cell to produce a baby is relevant, doesn’t that suggest that a single cell, however full of or lacking in potential to become a baby is not itself yet a baby or in any meaningful way human?

  246. #246 Ichthyic
    March 17, 2009

    way back Jim complimented us:

    Your unceasing efforts (and the efforts of your choir) to make this blog risible are a resounding success.

    woot!

  247. #247 Lowell
    March 17, 2009

    Piltdown Man #233:

    This may not be an intellectually coherent reason, but it’s an invincible one.
    Whenever someone asks a question like “Are humans really alive or are they just machines delivering DNA?”, the response of any sane person will be to either burst out laughing or recoil in disgust.

    (Italics mine)

    Let me get this straight. The sane person is the one who accepts the intellectually incoherent rationale? That makes a lot of sense.

    I guess we really have always been at war with Eastasia.

  248. #248 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    He’s not feeding off a person. It’s his choice to turn off his life support or not.

    this is not a valid objection. Many disabled people don’t earn money and thus are feeding off another person.

    If you want to fight the benighted hordes, please, use correct arguments to do so. otherwise you will fail.

  249. #249 Cath the Canberra Cook
    March 17, 2009

    Mover says:

    When does human life begin?

    Then the only answer can be at conception. That is the moment when the 2 elements come together to become one human life. Since he/she is in fact alive, and he/she can be no other living thing other than a human being, it follows that he/she is a human being.

    A truly Socratic moment.

    Is this dog yours? Yes, she is.
    And is she a mother? Certainly she is: I saw her give birth to the puppies.
    Then since she is a mother, and he is yours, it follows that the dog is your mother. And furthermore, it follows that you are a son of a bitch.

  250. #250 Lowell
    March 17, 2009

    And T_U_T with a masterful equivocation on the meaning of the phrase “feeding off a person.”

    Well done, sir. No one saw through that one.

  251. #251 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    Cath the canberra cook wins the thread.

  252. #252 T_U_T
    March 17, 2009

    And T_U_T with a masterful equivocation on the meaning of the phrase “feeding off a person.”

    As if the detailed mechanism you provide nutrients to the person were of importance.
    umbilical cord vs/ feeding tube. Pure implementation details.

  253. #253 Cath the Canberra Cook
    March 17, 2009

    Ack, blockquote fail. I notice on preview that the 2-line break force-ends the blockquote. Even if you have a proper /blockquote tag later.

    Correction, I hope…

    Mover says:

    When does human life begin?
    Then the only answer can be at conception. That is the moment when the 2 elements come together to become one human life. Since he/she is in fact alive, and he/she can be no other living thing other than a human being, it follows that he/she is a human being.

    I say:
    A truly Socratic moment. (as above)

  254. #254 abeja
    March 17, 2009

    Wow, 253 comments as I type this, and still no pro-lifer has answered the question posed way back at #77:

    “you can save 1000 embryos OR (mutually exclusive or) one 85 year old frail woman from the raging fire. What do you save? Oh the 1000 embryos you say — huum — doubt most would agree with you .. but some would I guess… well let me help clarify your drift … it ain’t an 85 year old frail woman but an angelic 5 year little girl”

    So, pro-lifers, what’s your answer?

  255. #255 dwarf zebu
    March 17, 2009

    What is the reason of a healthy woman who may or may not already be a mother to have an abortion? There, fixed that for ya.

    1.I have zero interest in raising a baby.
    2.I have zero interest in being pregnant or giving birth.
    3.I have somewhere between zero and one hundred percent interest in having sex (depending on my mood at the time and whether it’s feasible i.e. my husband is around and awake; his interest is pretty much a given.)

    And also choicers are as pro-life as anyone — most of us if there was a way to quickly, painlessly and effortlessly extract an embryo or fetus from a host woman and relieve that woman/family of all further responsibility would opt for laws that dictated that procedure over destructive ones.

    That’s a big maybe for me. Who controls the fate of the extracted embryo? I’d have a problem with it going to a childless fundy couple. Maybe a bit ‘dog in the manger’ of me, but there it is…

  256. #256 Piltdown Man
    March 17, 2009

    T_U_T @ 235:

    human sperm is unequivocally human. Human sperm is alive.

    Even if one grants that a human sperm is alive and therefore qualifies as a form of “human life”, it cannot be considered a human life. A sperm would not develop into a baby by itself.

    Dianne @ 245:

    Really, the only reason a liver cell can’t grow into a baby is because we have chosen not to pursue technology that would allow that to occur. There’s no real reason in principle that the nucleus from a G0 liver cell couldn’t be transplanted into an enucleated egg, producing a viable blastulocyst. For a variety of reasons, some better than others, our society has chosen not to do so.

    You are equating natural processes with human manipulation.

    But if the ability of a cell to produce a baby is relevant, doesn’t that suggest that a single cell, however full of or lacking in potential to become a baby is not itself yet a baby or in any meaningful way human?

    Well what if we took “having the potential to develop into a human baby through purely natural processes” as a working definition of ‘human’ …?

    +++

    raven @ 237:

    You mean like Allah, Buddha, Zeus, or Odin.

    I believe “Allah” is just Arabic for “God” and is used as such by Arab Christians as well as Muslims.

    Buddha never claimed to be a god.

    Zeus and Odin aren’t real, you dummy.

    A threat.

    Nothing of the sort. A foreboding.

    +++

    Nerd of Redhead @ 243:

    Ooh, we forget to add Pilty to our list of potential bannees.

    Yes I did wonder about that. I didn’t know whether to feel flattered or insulted.

    Anyway Pilty, the bible waits a month of birth to consider a baby a person. So, you are out of touch with your bible.

    No, I just see it as dependent on the Church rather than vice versa.

    +++

    Lowell @ 247:

    Let me get this straight. The sane person is the one who accepts the intellectually incoherent rationale? That makes a lot of sense.

    “If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.” – GK Chesterton

  257. #257 skepsci
    March 17, 2009

    It’s all semantics anyway. The real question is whether it is morally wrong to destroy a collection of cells that has the potential to grow into an adult human. As this is an ethical rather than a scientific question, it is unreasonable to expect that at some point we will all agree on some position, which we can then assert with some confidence is THE TRUTH. The best we can hope for is that the debate will be informed by all the pertinent information that IS scientifically verifiable, such as at what stage in development a fetus is capable of certain experiences (such as pain), or is capable of experience at all.

  258. #258 Dances with MILFs
    March 17, 2009

    simon “wrote”:

    The issue of dependency may well be the one abortion supporters turn to most in their attempt to justify abortion. “Since a fetus can’t survive on its own,” they argue, “it has no inherent right to life”. What’s the problem with this argument? In the broadest sense, it could be applied to all of us. There isn’t a person alive who is radically independent from the universe we live in. We all need food, water, rest, and oxygen. We’re all vulnerable to a million different bodily breakdowns. Are those who must rely on kidney machines, pace-makers or insulin shots for their survival less deserving of basic human rights than anyone else? Some of us may be less dependent than others, but if it is dependence that strips away a person’s right to protection under the law, then we would all be in trouble. Embryos and fetuses who must rely on an umbilical cord in the womb are just as human as those who must rely on a feeding tube outside the womb.

    You sad, utter fucking twit. Someone may have mentioned this already, but things like kidney machines and oxygen don’t make decisions about whether their support of us is potentially harmful.

    Easily the worst analogy made in earnest that I’ve ever seen. While there are intelligent people of faith, religion really is a draw for fucktards–these fundies are almost universally incoherent.

  259. #259 Tony
    March 17, 2009

    R. should eat the paper because he said that “every biologist would agree that life starts at conception” and at least one doesn’t.

  260. #260 Josh
    March 17, 2009

    Zeus and Odin aren’t real, you dummy.

    And you can back that statement up with exactly what evidence?

  261. #261 Kel
    March 17, 2009

    Zeus and Odin aren’t real, you dummy.

    They were as real to the ancient Greeks / Norse, as Yahweh is to you. What makes your belief right and the beliefs of the ancient Greeks or Norse wrong? Show all working.

  262. #262 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Pilty, since Zeus and Odin aren’t real, why should we think your god is real? Do you have any physical evidence for us? Any just spiritual god isn’t worth squat, as it can’t interact with the physical world. Nothing but mental masturbation. Seems like a dilemma to me.

  263. #263 Jenny T
    March 17, 2009

    Piltdown Man @ 256

    Zeus and Odin aren’t real, you dummy.

    And your god isn’t real either, just a fictional construct of your messed up mind sharing similar attributes with many other peoples’ delusions.

  264. #264 Kagato
    March 17, 2009

    I read through this whole morass to see if a specific question got answered, and I am shocked to discover that not once has the issue been addressed in 250+ posts.
    (Yeah, not actually shocked. I wouldn’t have expected otherwise.)

    The question was asked several times above, but I’ll restate it here one more time, in nice bold text to make it easy to read.

    For anyone who follows the hard-line “human life begins at the moment of conception” stance:

    * Do identical twins qualify as more than one human life?
    (To be clear: Identical twins develop when a zygote divides to form two embryos; this happens after conception.)

    * Does a chimera qualify as a single human life?
    (To be clear: Chimerae develop when two zygotes, with different genetic material, fuse to form one embryo; this happens after conception.)

    If you answer “no”, then I guess I’ll just stare slack-jawed and back away slowly. (But at least your position is consistent.)

    If you answer “yes”, then you’re going to have to explain yourself.

  265. #265 Knockgoats
    March 17, 2009

    A sperm would not develop into a baby by itself. – Piltdown Man

    Nor would a zygote or a 20-week fetus.

    Well what if we took “having the potential to develop into a human baby through purely natural processes” as a working definition of ‘human’ …?

    Do you have that ability? I don’t think so. You’re making even more of an idiot of yourself than you usually do, Pilty old boy.

    Zeus and Odin aren’t real, you dummy.

    Well, probably not. But at least they are not logical absurdities and hence necessarily nonexistent, like your own deity of choice!

    The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.” – GK Chesterton

    All this quote shows is that Chesterton was capable of producing the most ludicrously stupid nonsense – hardly unexpected of course, given he was a Catholic.

  266. #266 Josh
    March 17, 2009

    For fuck’s sake. I’m on a plane for just a couple short hours and you guys let Pilty start blithering about the meaning of life?

  267. #267 Smidgy
    March 17, 2009

    Piltdown Man #256:

    Even if one grants that a human sperm is alive and therefore qualifies as a form of “human life”, it cannot be considered a human life. A sperm would not develop into a baby by itself.

    Neither would a fertilized human egg develop into a baby by itself – it needs the right conditions and a nutrient supply.

    You are equating natural processes with human manipulation.

    Not really – she is calling you on your absurd reasoning.

    Well what if we took “having the potential to develop into a human baby through purely natural processes” as a working definition of ‘human’ …?

    Well, first of all, once you’re done transplanting the nucleus, that actually forms an egg which DOES develop into a baby through purely natural processes. This is how full clones are made (such as Dolly the sheep). Secondly, this also means anything other than an egg, or a gestating fetus, however it was formed, is NOT human. Which, presumably, means you aren’t, and neither am I. Thirdly, as has already been pointed out, this also means things like fertilised eggs that fail to implant in the uterine wall are ‘human beings’. Fourthly there is the point that conception is, indeed, a ‘natural process’, so even unfertilized eggs and sperm could be considered ‘human beings’ under your definition.

    I believe “Allah” is just Arabic for “God” and is used as such by Arab Christians as well as Muslims.

    But the Allah of Islam is different from the Christian God. So, answer Raven’s question, instead of trying to dodge it.

    Buddha never claimed to be a god.

    And Raven never said he did. However, Raven did make a mistake here, as the teachings of the Buddha make it very unlikely he would ever advocate ‘kicking ass’ or threaten to do so. Obviously unlike the supposedly just, merciful and peace-loving Christian God.

    Zeus and Odin aren’t real, you dummy.

    Well, let’s put it this way – there’s just as much evidence for the existence of Zeus and Odin as for the Christian God (and, indeed, every other god that has ever been claimed to exist). Therefore if Zeus and Odin don’t exist…

    Nothing of the sort. A foreboding.

    No, that was definitely a threat.

    No, I just see it as dependent on the Church rather than vice versa.

    So, according to your faith, fallible, fallen Man can contradict the Holy written Word of God, who is supposedly infallible, perfect, omniscient and omnipotent, and it’s Man that is correct. And you presumably see no contradiction in that.

    “If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment.”

    Yep, such as sense and logic. Like yourself, from what I have seen so far.

  268. #268 cyan
    March 17, 2009

    New technology is created when its perceived as being a priority want of consumers.

    Currently there is no successful method by which human males can be implanted with an embryo and bring it to term (via C-section, of course), but if pro-lifers were truly about trying to insure that every embryo were given a chance to develop, they would be driving the demand for this tech.

    It wouldn’t take more than a few years of intense research by many labs working on the problem to do this.

    But, there is no big demand, for this tech, despite the fact that all healthy pro-lifers, whether XX or XY, could then continually do their part to work towards this goal via this tech.

    Obviously, then, to insure that every 46′er embryo is carried to term is not the real goal of pro-lifers.

    (Oh, if the rationale against demanding this tech is that it isn’t “natural” to achieve the goal in this way, then of course the person is against C-sections, against giving birth in hospital, against treating new-borns and older & older-borns with meds & surgeries, etc. Because none of those are “natural”. )

    If a person who uses medical tech to their and their valued ones’ benefit is a prolifer and yet does not demand the tech so that a male can carry an implanted embryo to term, then what is their real goal?

    If it were that the pro-lifer goal is that anyone who has consensual sex should be required carry to term the resulting embryo, then again, there would be a demand for the tech that would make it possible for the 46XY-er to do so, as well as the female.

    It would seem to be, then, from the lack of tech demand and the lack of vociferous support for laws to prevent embryos from being removed from a “natural” womb, that a majority of pro-lifers’ goal is that every 46XX-er be required to carry to term any embryo that is the result of her consent to sex.

    By pro-lifers’ actions:

    - Real concern for an embryo as evidenced for personally being willing to continue its development: zilch.

    - Concern for making the parent male physically responsible for providing his own bodily resources for an embryo conceived from consensual sex: zilch.

    - Concern for making the parent female remain physically responsible for providing her own bodily resources for an embryo conceived from consensual sex: beaucoup.

    Not even considering the results of rape, from which a person who truly believed in the “sanctity of human life” would happily be implanted with that resulting embryo so that the rape victim would not have to endure more physical trauma.

    Pro-lifers: put your body where your currently-evidenced desire to control others’ actions is.

  269. #269 Cath the Canberra Cook
    March 17, 2009

    T_T_T:

    umbilical cord vs/ feeding tube. Pure implementation details.

    Yes, yes, OK, I give in. It’s entirely true. Women are not in fact human beings. Women are inanimate objects with exactly equal human rights to a section of plastic feeding tube. You have finally cottoned on to our plan. We are but machines run by your cephalopod overlords.

    I think, err, I mean compute that I’ll recommend the Austen Powers style laser-bra when I go in for my next upgrade.

  270. #270 Dianne
    March 17, 2009

    You are equating natural processes with human manipulation.

    So? Are children born through “human manipulation” then not human? All those little in vitro fertilization robots…

  271. #271 Knockgoats
    March 17, 2009

    Good grief,
    I see that simon@93 has resorted to quoting that evil, corrupt, sadistic arselicker of tyrants “Mother Teresa”. Are there no depths he will not plumb?

  272. #272 Kel
    March 17, 2009

    Jesus gave even his life to love us.

    I thought that Jesus was immortal…

  273. #273 Abie
    March 17, 2009

    someone having human parents can be something other than biologically fully human, at any point in their existence.
    What about an hydatiform mole? It’s the result of the fertilization of a human ovum by a human sperm, and it is nothing but a tumor.
    A human tumor alright, but “fully human”?

  274. #274 Dianne
    March 17, 2009

    Well what if we took “having the potential to develop into a human baby through purely natural processes” as a working definition of ‘human’ …?

    1. It would exclude most people, including both of us since adults have no potential for developing into a human baby, by natural means or otherwise.

    2. Even if you ignore that problem, you’re excluding a number of clearly human type people, from every “test tube baby” in existence to those born through c-section (NOT a natural way for a fetus to become a baby.)

    3. The definition is rank prejudice. Why should a person who is born through human manipulation be any less human than one born through “natural” means. (I’ll pass on the opportunity to make snide comments about manipulation and sex for now.)

  275. #275 Peter
    March 17, 2009

    Once fertilization is complete, I don’t see how the product is *not* a human being. However, it is not a person so I see no problem in destroying it if that is the choice of the pregnant woman.

    I understand the folly in pinning down a “beginning” but also see folly in rejecting the concept entirely.

  276. #276 Dianne
    March 17, 2009

    Once fertilization is complete, I don’t see how the product is *not* a human being.

    The point that fertilization is not a unitary event is a good one. Is an egg in which the sperm has fused with the ovum, meiosis has been completed, and the sperm pronucleus inserted but the pronuclei not yet fused a human being? Most pro-lifers ignore such subtleties altogether.

    However, in answer to the second part of your question, how can it not be a human being, the answer is quite simple: no brain activity. A brain dead person is considered dead. How can an entity with no brain, muchless no working brain, be considered a living human being?

  277. #277 Knockgoats
    March 17, 2009

    See, this is the reason scientific atheism will never supplant religion – who’s going to look at their parents or children and see machines for delivering DNA rather than real live human beings? – Piltdown Man

    What an utter idiot you are. Dawkins, whom you quoted, is quite clear and explicit in saying that his “selfish gene” interpretation of evolution in no way implies that we are nothing but machines for delivering DNA. I quote the concluding sentence of The Selfish Gene (1976 edition):
    We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.
    Clear enough for you, fuckwit?

  278. #278 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    I understand the folly in pinning down a “beginning”

    I guess a possible point is that pinning down a beginning is not really useful, scientifically speaking. Religious people want a sharp onset of humanity – and thus a soul – so as to claim it for god. Once the soul is there, then it is god’s responsibility to protect his little worshipper or, of course, not.
    As has been pointed out upthread by the rationalists here, there are insuperable problems with identifying a biological ensoulment, partly for reasons connected with the non-existence of an actual soul, but also because one does not become human at the onset of any particular chemical reaction, just as human beings themselves did not arise as the issue of any single act of coitus, or indeed from any unique man and woman (lots of interesting speculation here, though!)
    Christians and other religious people desperately want there to be a neat answer to the “when are we human” question so as to determine when killing something is murder, and therefore forbidden, worse, a sin. The manipulation of the foetus is a shocking consequence of this, and the indifference to its future – and let’s not forget the aspect in which a baby is punishment for another terrible sin – once god has it in his clutches, makes me want to vomit.
    Drag that unwanted child out alive, then let life kill him slowly and painfully!
    Or have I missed some of the subtleties of the argument?

  279. #279 Wowbagger, OM
    March 17, 2009

    Piltdown, quoting GK Chesterton:

    He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience.

    Piltdown’s criticising others for being humourless, uncharitable and refusing to learn from experience? Well, I can tell you the irony meter creaked, buzzed and smoked at that one – but it didn’t explode. Just to be on the safe side, though, I’d probably better switch it off before he posts again.

  280. #280 John Morales
    March 17, 2009

    AnthonyK @278, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  281. #281 Peter
    March 17, 2009

    Dianne, I don’t see the brain as a prerequisite for the existence of a human. I do however, see a working brain as a prerequisite to a human person. That is why I support abortion rights – a zygote is a human being but is clearly not a person so destroying it is not a problem.

  282. #282 Peter
    March 17, 2009

    AnthonyK,

    Human life begins during (i.e. not at some instant) fertilization. I think PZ rejecting that is absurd. If he wants to support abortion rights, he should stick to the sensible and consistent personhood argument.

    A zygote is a human being. To say it is not is silly.

  283. #283 John Morales
    March 17, 2009

    A zygote is a human being. To say it is not is silly.

    No, it’s beyond silly. It’s stupid.

  284. #284 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    Peter, to say that it begins at any particular instant is abusrd – religiously absurd. See my post above. A zygote is only a human being if you think god exists.
    Answer the questions above about twins and chimaerae – there just aren’t any such meaningful moments.
    Unless you’re religious. But in that case you’re not thinking for yourself anyway.
    Much, perhaps, like human cells just before conception.

  285. #285 Peter
    March 17, 2009

    But what is even sillier (or stupider) is to argue that a zygote deserves the right to live.

  286. #286 Tom Foss
    March 17, 2009

    Simple Simon (#93):

    “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

    Really? Because I’m pretty sure it’s a poverty to decide that whole nations of people must die horrible painful deaths from preventable diseases while you suck off the teat of one of the world’s wealthiest organizations (and plenty of private charities) so you can have the best medical care available when you get the sniffles, all so you (and your victims) can be closer to your preferred deity.

    Mother Teresa’s a saint, but abortion’s a sin. FSM, Catholicism is fucked up.

    Discombobulated (#99):

    Before full thermonuclear war was declared in another thread the other day, I posited that since for legal purposes in many places, death was treated as the cessation of brain activity, perhaps it might be reasonable and consistent that life might mirror that for the other end.

    I’ve argued for something similar, drawing a distinction between “medically alive” and “biologically alive.” Biological life is continuous; sperm, egg, and zygote are equally alive biologically, as are cancer cells and liver cells and all other cells. This is an impractical metric to use for any legislation or anything, since it means we’ve been burying living people for…ever. Medical death (inasmuch as it’s applied to people) tends to consider the cessation of heart and brain activity the end of life. This, I think, implies that one is not alive until one has both brain and heart activity. Considering someone not-alive until they have met those basic conditions tends to match up nicely with when the vast majority of abortions are performed (I don’t think it’s wrong to have an abortion after that point, mind you).

    It’s not a perfect system, but it’s more reasonable than the anti-abortionists’, and it avoids the sticky issue of personhood.

    TExas Reader (#174):

    Adam was a man when “god breathed the breath of life into him.” case closed!

    That settles it. Life officially begins at resuscitation. You’re officially not-yet-alive until someone performs CPR on you.

    catgirl (#185):

    If “life” begins at conception, then that means throwing away apple seeds is the same as cutting down apple trees.

    This is basically the same analogy I use when talking about the “potentiality principle,” that if something is “potentially” a person, then it is just as bad to kill it as to kill a person. Except that “potential” cuts both ways, as a fertilized egg is as (or more) likely to be a smear on a maxi pad as a person. The likelihood of non-personhood drops as development continues, but never really gets to be as insignificant as the argument would require.

  287. #287 Peter
    March 17, 2009

    AnthonyK,

    Yes, at any instant is absurd. Such change is gradual.

    A zygote is only a human being if you think god exists.

    To me it is a human being at its earliest stage – and no, I hold no belief in god.

  288. #288 John Morales
    March 17, 2009

    Sigh.

    If a zygote* is a human being, then a chicken egg* is a chicken, and therefore a fried egg is a fried chicken.


    * Ok, a human zygote and a fertilised chicken egg, for pedants such as I.

  289. #289 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    But again, how useful is to think of it as a human being? If you call it a human, what then? It could be, often is, not in fact a viable baby at any stage, and will be stillborn, miscarried, or (I think) often unjustifiably born solely by modern medical techniques, to live a pitiful, dependent, and often painfully short life.
    And no, that doesn’t mean I’m actually necessarily in favour of aborting even “handicapped” foetuses, just that a child’s quality of life, or lack of it, is sometimes more important than that “life” itself.

  290. #290 amphiox
    March 17, 2009

    Over 98% of human zygotes do not and will never have the potential to become a human being. They contain genetic mutations/chromosomal abnormalities that will result in a spontaneous abortion or failure to implant, most often without anyone ever even knowing of their existence.

    It is impossible, at the current time, to know, at the moment of fertilization, which zygotes will belong in that 98% group.

    To call every zygote a human being from the moment fertilization is complete is patently absurd.

    As for those that do successfully implant, we won’t know that they have done so for some time, and even then we won’t know if they will spontaneously abort until the moment they are born.

    The moment when potential becomes certainty is the moment of birth.

    Human life begins at birth. End of discussion.

  291. #291 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    Human life begins at birth

    As, of course, does human death.

    End of discussion.

    I also sometimes wish that debate would end as a result of personal fiat. I wish you luck with this one!

  292. #292 amphiox
    March 17, 2009

    Does this mean that an embryo/fetus has no value, that it’s potential for humanity has no worth, and deserves no protection?

    Of course not.

    But no matter what value we decide to, or believe we should, grant, there is no conceivable morally decent argument that would make the fetus of greater or equal value to the woman carrying it, who, after all, is 100%, absolutely, certainly, with no need to discuss potential at all, a human being.

    So unless you find some argument that a fetus’ potential humanity somehow also renders a pregnant woman less than 100% human, the status of the fetus as human or not human or potentially human or slightly potentially human or very potentially human, is completely irrelevant to the abortion question.

  293. #293 amphiox
    March 17, 2009

    I was speaking facetiously about ending the discussion, AnthonyK.

    But, you see, life and death are processes, not events, and it just so happens that we don’t actually need to worry about when death begins. We only need to care about when death ends.

  294. #294 amphiox
    March 17, 2009

    I should point out that, by Christian tradition, Jesus could never have been a zygote, as he was produced parthogenetically. (Unless you think of the holy spirit as God’s sperm).

    So if human life begins with the fertilized zygote, Jesus could not ever have been human. Now, granted, he is supposed to be a god. But I thought the whole lynchpin of Christian theology was the fact that Jesus was BOTH human and god.

  295. #295 Cath the Canberra Cook
    March 17, 2009

    We can all faff around with terminology as much as we like – human life, human being, human rights, human kind. It’s human! It’s alive! It’s a human life! My left lung is a human life! And so is my arse!

    But in the end there really is no clear dividing line. Fertilisation, implantation, neural tube formation, brain activity, quickening, humidicrib viability, birth, baptism, one month post-birth (biblical precedent!), 2 year post-birth survival (some historical cultures). It’s a continuous process, and any line-drawing is necessarily a political decision.

    Personally, while I’m for 100% choice in trimester 1, I am not so terribly opposed to requiring some sort of medical certificate for late term abortions. The forced birthers like to pretend that late abortions are some terrible scourge of baby killing frenzy, rather than the personal tragedies that they usually are. I’d be happy to throw them a bone of a medical certificate, since it would change pretty much nothing.

  296. #296 amphiox
    March 17, 2009

    Some jurisdictions do not grant the complete set of human rights until an individual hits age 21, after which they are no longer restricted from imbibing certain mind altering beverages.

    And empathy, generally considered one of the most “human” of human traits, doesn’t fully develop in most of us until the mid-twenties. (And in some of us, never at all.)

    I personally think aborting an unintended pregnancy from consensual sex for reasons of personal convenience alone is ethically very dubious – a selfish and irresponsible act. But society has no business regulating personal ethics.

  297. #297 Anri
    March 17, 2009

    Greetings!

    In tossing around the ideas behind the abortion debate, a little thought has occurred to me, based on two premises:

    1) By virtue of being considered less than fully competent, young humans have their rights reduced to a greater or lesser extent, even to the extent of invasion of their personal space being acceptable. (For example, slapping the face of your minor child might be appropriate or not, but it is not assault – as it might very well be with an adult you are related to.)

    2) The parent of a given child has increased control over them, including control of their physical state. The extent of this control tends to increase the younger the child is.

    Given these two concepts, might it not be reasonable to assume that the reduction of a person’s rights (due to age) might overlap with the increased level of parental control over them (also due to age) to allow that parent to literally have command over that person’s life? This seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    Of course, exact timing of this is still an serious and contentious issue, but this idea does avoid the obviously troublesome concept of ‘personhood’ entirely.

    Am I utterly misguided here?

    Thanks!

  298. #298 Peter
    March 17, 2009

    John Morales,

    I’m fine with removing the word “being” but contrary to PZ, I say a human zygote is a human life. How can it be otherwise?

    A zygote is alive and it is human. What fact am I missing?

  299. #299 AnthonyK
    March 17, 2009

    I suppose that for those I like to call “rationalists” the debate comes down to an intensely personal one, and one most of us won’t be called upon to make.
    What interests me would be a personal conundrum. Let’s say my partner and we found out that the child would be born with, say, Downs Syndrome. Abort or not? I would certainly consider the question carefully, and indeed would give my partner the ultimate say, but I would think long and hard about it, and possibly, depending on circumstances, would chose to have the baby. Equally, for obvious reasons, we might decide not to.
    That’s just a personal consideration, which I hope no one would find offensive; but arguments like this are what really interests me about the whole subject. (Oh, and if it were to be born severely handicapped – no discussion necessary)

  300. #300 AMP
    March 17, 2009

    lol owned. He should know better than to make bets in a system that is inherently falsifiable.

  301. #301 Stu
    March 17, 2009

    Dianne, I don’t see the brain as a prerequisite for the existence of a human.

    You have convinced me. You are living proof.

  302. #302 Bhetti
    March 17, 2009

    Kagato: I’m going to answer that, based on my own arbitrary point as conception being the point of new human life. My perspective is that it is at this point that millions of possibilities become this new, unique, real possibility of life. How many new, unique lives is irrelevant; just that there is a real potential here.

    Therefore: one, unique genetic possibility of viable new human life is created upon conception for twins. Environment then subsequently begins to shape them into two different functional units of humans. With chimeras, you have two new unique genetic possibilities which have fused into one human life once the cells functioned together as one unit. The number of souls chimeras or twins have can be left up to each individual person’s religion to decide. I don’t particularly find these points relevant to my thinking.

    I don’t really have some sort of pro-life agenda to shove down anyone’s throat. I firmly believe in having my own opinion about it, and letting whoever decides to take abortion as a choice deal with the consequences themselves. Maybe the real debate is whether the moral choice should be a social or individual one.

    Trying to use science and logic on what essentially is a social and emotional debate doesn’t particularly work. The crux of the morality matter is probably trying to understand the psychology of women who don’t automatically get that babyfever when they find out about being pregnant, imagining its room and its name and will it look like its pretty daddy? Some traditional views label this as pretty much signs of an iced over heart for a female.

  303. #303 Lowell
    March 17, 2009

    AnthonyK:

    Let’s say my partner and we found out that the child would be born with, say, Downs Syndrome. Abort or not? I would certainly consider the question carefully . . . .

    I wonder if people here think Sarah Palin “consider[ed] the question carefully” before having a Downs child. I’d like to think so, but damn am I cynical. (I think it was at least in part political, which is nothing if not “human,” I guess.)

  304. #304 Stu
    March 18, 2009

    My perspective is that it is at this point that millions of possibilities become this new, unique, real possibility of life.

    With IVF and splicing, by your philosophy every male masturbatory episode is equivalent to Stalin’s excesses in World War II.

    The line is arbitrary no matter what. The only difference is in who is more important: the living, breathing mother and her family, and the arbitrary potential of life in the blob inside of her. Choosing that blob over the living is inhuman in any meaningful sense of the word.

  305. #305 Lowell
    March 18, 2009

    Bhetti #392:

    The crux of the morality matter is probably trying to understand the psychology of women who don’t automatically get that babyfever when they find out about being pregnant, imagining its room and its name and will it look like its pretty daddy? Some traditional views label this as pretty much signs of an iced over heart for a female

    You’ve convinced me. It’s just like that nine-year-old with the “iced over heart” from Brazil that PZ wrote about last week who’d been impregnated by her stepfather. She really should have risked her life to carry her twins to term. /barf

  306. #306 Bhetti
    March 18, 2009

    Well, yes, Stu. My point, exactly, it’s a matter of vastly differing and emotional opinion which should be based on the facts but otherwise have no bearing to them. I don’t think you can even determine it logically; you have to remake that decision with every new ‘is this life?’ scenario you come across.

    What you’re saying about determining whether the mother or the pregnancy is more important seems to me an argument for individual choice: she should be equally allowed to choose whether she could die even if it only has a 0.1% surviving as a healthy non-disabled child or to terminate even if it would be a relatively uneventful pregnancy with a happy baby who could go on to be the next Bill Gates.

  307. #307 John Morales
    March 18, 2009

    Peter @298,

    A zygote is alive and it is human. What fact am I missing?

    Gestation.

    An acorn is not an oak, even if it’s oak-kind. When it becomes a seedling, then it becomes an oak (analogous to birth). A baby oak.

  308. #308 Bhetti
    March 18, 2009

    Lowell: not supporting that view, just saying ‘know thine enemy’ if you do indeed view them as your enemies. Arguments for abortion only for rape is different from abortion for all; rape cases aren’t the typical presentation in the Western world in terms of abortion.

  309. #309 Lowell
    March 18, 2009

    Arguments for abortion only for rape is different from abortion for all . . . .

    My argument was not an argument for “abortion only for rape.” I never understood that distinction anyway. If the zygote is a person, the termination of whose life is murder, then what the fuck difference does it make whether it was formed consensually or not?

  310. #310 clinteas
    March 18, 2009

    I say a human zygote is a human life. How can it be otherwise?
    A zygote is alive and it is human. What fact am I missing?

    Pretty silly to have a fight over the word “human”,but since its connotations in context here are very important,lets take a look.

    So what makes one human? Morality?Self-awareness?Thumb opposition?
    None of that is there in a zygote.So the religious definition of “life” or “human” in this context turns out to be a means to an end,nothing more.

    In other news,Pope Palpatine said that giving out condoms in Africa might worsen the AIDS crisis.(Yep,he did)

  311. #311 Janis Chambers
    March 18, 2009

    I think some people’s emotional attachment to potential blinds them to the ultimate truth behind this argument. A three day old egg is not a human *yet*. This could grow into a human, but for now it’s just the scaffolding and plans.. that’s it. I do get somewhat emotional thinking about the ‘death’ of it, but ultimately I have to realize that the now existing and suffering people are far more important than a not-yet existing being. So every sperm and egg that is either flushed down the toilet or staining the shorts of a fundamentalist in the middle of a wet dream could be potential life, you don’t see the world crying over that.

  312. #312 Stu
    March 18, 2009

    What you’re saying about determining whether the mother or the pregnancy is more important seems to me an argument for individual choice

    Well, yes. Between two “individuals”: one that can actually fucking choose, and one that is petri-dish fodder. Riddle me this: are you or are you not equating the two?

  313. #313 Peter
    March 18, 2009

    @John Morales:

    I see what you mean. However, the anti-abortionists will use “human” in the “kind” sense and when they do, they are technically correct – a zygote is a kind of human. It is a human at its earliest stage. This is why I think arguing for abortion rights from this point of view is weak compared to the personhood argument.

    One cannot be a person without a working brain. An embryo doesn’t have a working brain and therefore isn’t a person. So, I see no issue with a woman choosing to destroy it.

    My point is, sticking with personhood is a much better way to deal with the abortion issue than making claims that a zygote isn’t a human life.

  314. #314 Twin-Skies
    March 18, 2009

    she should be equally allowed to choose whether she could die even if it only has a 0.1% surviving as a healthy non-disabled child or to terminate even if it would be a relatively uneventful pregnancy with a happy baby who could go on to be the next Bill Gates.

    Or the next Eric Rudolph, or Idi Amin, or Pat Robertson, or *drumrolls* Adolph Hitler. The “human potential” argument works both ways.

    That argument also oversimplifies the overwhelming number of factors that will eventually shape a person into what they will become, outside the womb.

  315. #315 Alan Kellogg
    March 18, 2009

    Proving that human life begins at conception makes no damn difference, what matters is the woman’s decision to carry full term or not. She decides to end the pregnancy, then that is the end of that human life. With no impact on the greater world.

    Unlike the situation with a lonely alcoholic bum; who likely has people he knows, interacts with people in at least a limited way, and who’s death will impact people.

    Killing a zygote is no sign one is ready and willing to progress to actual homicide. Killing a drunk is a sign the killer can and will progress to killing more people. For homicide involves a much different mindset than an abortion. To equate abortion and murder is to degrade the meaning of murder, and to reduce people to the status of a blob of cells.

  316. #316 sImon
    March 18, 2009

    so PZM,

    How many zygote have you sacrificed to the altar of your Sex-God within 25 years marriage ?

    He insists more bloods !!

  317. #317 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 18, 2009

    Yeah! Simpering Simon is back to using his own inadequate english as opposed to his cut and paste jobs.

  318. #318 clinteas
    March 18, 2009

    To equate abortion and murder is to degrade the meaning of murder

    A rather unfortunately worded sentence.

  319. #319 sImon
    March 18, 2009

    #317
    Yeah! Simpering Simon is back to using his own inadequate english as opposed to his cut and paste jobs.

    how about you ? did you sacrifice anything to your Sex-God ?
    your science is his tool, he is waiting for bloods from you.
    go and shed the bloods for him and you can enjoy your free-sex life again. He is waiting for bloods.

  320. #320 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    March 18, 2009

    Simpering Simon, the next time your statements bares any relationship to reality will be the first time.

  321. #321 clinteas
    March 18, 2009

    Is this mabus or the real Simon nominated on Survivor? I would have to change my vote…..

  322. #322 Leigh Williams
    March 18, 2009

    Folks, it would be oh-so-helpful if we could at least TRY to use the same terminology.

    Peter, for example, is using “human being” the way most of us use “human”; e.g., genetically Homo sapiens.

    He’s using “person” the way most of you are using “human being”; e.g., an individual member of the species with a brain, volition, etc. What we religious types call a soul.

    Only a chump argues that a blastocyst isn’t human. The big question is, at what point in its development does that blastocyst become a human person?

    The Religious Right claims that it’s at the moment of conception. This is terribly ironic because they’re using science to support their real agenda, which is ensuring that women don’t stray from their religion’s boundaries on sexual expression . . . and also ensuring that punishment in the form of a pregnancy is meted out to all who defy them. Here on this very thread is Simple Simon, the perfect example of that point of view.

    “Oh look,” they say, “Science demonstrates that a precious individual human life, a unique union of sperm and egg, begins even before the fertilized egg nestles into the welcoming womb of its mother.” Never mind that, for religious people, ensoulment traditionally occurred at quickening. “SCIENCE has expanded our knowledge, and we now know so much more!”

    But here’s what’s shocking to rational people: Never mind that science also tells us at least 50% of these “precious individual human lives” get smeared on a maxipad, because they don’t implant! ZOMG! GOD IS AN ABORTIONIST!

    Well, obviously they’re not following through on their reasoning. Quelle big friggin’ surprise, BECAUSE IT’S NOT ABOUT THE ITSY-BITSY BABIES. IT’S ABOUT PUNISHING THE SLUTS.

    Now here is something that is really gonna shock you. Several people on this thread have said that it’s only MEN who are pro-life.

    IT’S NOT. There are more WOMEN in the pro-life movement than men.

    How can that be, you ask? To answer that you’ve got to take a look at the people we’re talking about.

    First characteristic: They’re authoritarian personalities. They look to authority figures to find out what they’re supposed to think. Who are their authority figures? Their preachers. James Dobson. Jerry Falwell. Pat Robertson. D. James Kennedy. Rick Warren. And what?s the very greatest authority on everything in the world? The Bible, the inerrant Word of God.

    Second characteristic: They buy into the “culture war” meme. Evangelicals and fundamentalists have, as a group, been expertly manipulated over the past forty years by the Republican Party in collusion with power-hungry evangelical leaders like Dobson, Falwell, and Robertson. Abortion has been a critical ?wedge issue? for this group, tailor-made for rallying this new Republican base. Throw in a few cherry-picked Bible verses, and voila, a whole Army for God ready to take over the political system to ensure that the country remains a virtuous Christian Nation– and that Republican fat cats who don?t give a damn about theology stay rich and powerful.

    Third characteristic: They are profoundly anti-feminist. Their theology demands it. Eve ate the damn apple, don?t you know. Paul says that women should be quiet, that men lead the church, that wives must submit to husbands, that a woman must not have authority over a man. Who?s in charge? Not women, that?s for sure. And the men? They want to keep women in line, of course . . . women who freely express their sexuality upset the God-Given Order of the Universe, which ordains that men control women’s bodies and lives.

    Fourth characteristic: They?re judgmental. The tenets of their religion urge them towards ?separating the sheep from the goats?. They look for sin in the world obsessively so that they can do the Lord?s work by mitigating it or eliminating it. And how do they know what sin is? The Bible tells them so. And if they don?t really READ the Bible, which many of them don?t, their preacher will tell them. Or they?ll hear it on the radio from James Dobson. Or somebody will send them an email so they?ll be alerted to the newest ungodly caper from the liberals. “Live and let live” is not a precept that’s valued in their faith communities — and their faith communities define their thinking.

    Fifth characteristic: Most of them are genuinely good people. Fundamentalist and evangelical women are very fine people in many ways, if you can momentarily overlook their self-hatred and bigotry against homosexuals. They love their children, they love their husbands, they do good work in the community, they are benevolent and charitable. They are almost always delighted to be pregnant and are positively reinforced for it by a large cheering section from their blood and church families. They love their tiny zygotes with passionate maternal affection from the moment they realize they have conceived. An argument that?s based on ?We must protect the weakest and most innocent among us? really resonates with this group.

    Add to that the fact that they are indoctrinated to believe that men are in charge of the world, that sex outside marriage is sinful (especially the GAY sex), and that children are a blessing from God, and you can easily see how these women HONESTLY BELIEVE that abortion is a huge moral issue.

    They?re being manipulated, of course. They?re being urged to emphasize their very worst characteristics — their inability to think outside the flock, their self-hatred, and their conviction that they, as the Godly remnant, have the right to tell everyone else how to live — and to assert those convictions as loudly and self-righteously as possible.

  323. #323 simOn
    March 18, 2009

    #322
    They?re being manipulated, of course. They?re being urged to emphasize their very worst characteristics — their inability to think outside the flock, their self-hatred, and their conviction that they, as the Godly remnant, have the right to tell everyone else how to live — and to assert those convictions as loudly and self-righteously as possible.

    what are you ? an abortion doctor ? how much did they pay you to kill the child ? You should be very rich with that bloody money.

  324. #324 Leigh Williams
    March 18, 2009

    Ah, Simple Simon, the barely human toad who can’t even type his own name.

    No, Simon, I’m not a doctor. I’m a simple computer guru and a devout Christian humanist who is sick to death of the Religious Right defaming the Name of Christ and dragging the Gospel through the mud in their sordid search for political power through bigotry and hatred.

    Surely PZ will ban you for dragging the collective IQ of this blog down 50 points every time you post. You’re disgusting.

  325. #325 John Morales
    March 18, 2009

    Simon troll, wrong thread.
    Don’t you want to be a survivor?

  326. #326 simOn
    March 18, 2009

    No, Simon, I’m not a doctor. I’m a simple computer guru and a devout Christian humanist

    No, you are not a Christian nor a humanist if you agree with abortion.

    Test your humanity, see THIS and THIS

  327. #327 Ichthyic
    March 18, 2009

    How many zygote have you sacrificed to the altar of your Sex-God

    Wait, we have a Sex-God now?

    I never get the fucking memos.

    fortunately, it’s one area in which my dues are well paid.

    *smile*

  328. #328 Leigh Williams
    March 18, 2009

    Not too familiar with Christian doctrine, are you, simOn? Jesus decides who’s a Christian, not you.

    He said it Himself: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

    And I don’t think you have a clue about what humanism is.

    I looked at your pictures. Tragic, I agree. So what are you doing to reduce the number of abortions? Are you working to ensure that contraception is freely available? Are you donating money to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s best source for health care and contraception for women?

    No? Then shut the fuck up.

  329. #329 John Morales
    March 18, 2009

    Simon, those are images of fetuses, not of zygotes.
    Quite late-term, too.

    As always, prevention is better than cure.
    If you’re against abortion, then you should be for contraception. Are you?

  330. #330 clinteas
    March 18, 2009

    Wait, we have a Sex-God now?

    Isnt that this guy?

    http://images.celeb9.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/hugh_jackman.jpg

  331. #331 simOn
    March 18, 2009

    #328
    So what are you doing to reduce the number of abortions? Are you working to ensure that contraception is freely available?

    No. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
    No free-sex, get married and have the children, take family planning and don’t be a slave of your sex desire. Control yourself.

    #329
    Simon, those are images of fetuses, not of zygotes.

    what’s the difference ? for you, a zygotes or a fetuses are not human, only a parasite.

    If you’re against abortion, then you should be for contraception. Are you?

    No, no contraception, we use natural family planning, Billing Ovulation Method. It works.

    Sex-God asks you to adore sex , he asks you to use contraception and if you get pregnant he asks you to have abortion. You are his slave.

    read this : TESTIMONY

  332. #332 ConcernedJoe
    March 18, 2009

    Wow – how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? And then prove your number is right! LOL.

    1. Having an abortion or not is a very gut wrenching decision for most people. Whether you are atheist or not. It is human to want to protect the pregnant woman and create and nurture a new born. We’ve got that instinct and instruction. It has physical and social evolutionary value.

    2. We are not pro-abortion — many of us would not even entertain a convenience abortion; many of us would only even entertain an abortion if the consequences of a birth were extremely dire and horrific — and most of us wish the whole system of contraceptive education and encouragement, and also after birth support, made having to make such decisions less necessary.

    We are PRO-CHOICE. What is under assault by the fetus are a woman’s body and mind always, and for the most part HER future primarily. She has lots of rights and say here.

    It is not something to be taken lightly – but it is a woman’s right to protect herself from assault. And at least until the point that the assaulting fetus can live viably divorced from her as a birthed person then she has total say as to the course of a legal termination.

    3. The topic of this thread was are a few cells equivalent to a person – really that what the question is. Religious people claim a soul infusion and thus person-hood early in the game; some secular people here are also saying why not call the right combo of DNA human (aka person because that is really the side you are arguing).

    I say PZ answered that question directly and implicitly spot on scientifically.

    But that will never satisfy our emotion. So I posed a defining question. I believe in such issues ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Settle the question in your mind and be honest – and follow the rules. Answer my scenario without wiggling (see #77, 98, 244, and abeja’s 129, 254). The answer to this question gives a practical answer (the only answer worthy of consideration) to what you really think a few cells are. Be honest — be upright — answer the question straight up. Learn what life and decisions are.

    Else it is how many angels on that head of a pin…. geez.

  333. #333 raven
    March 18, 2009

    #48 – most of these anti-choice idiots would not give a rat’s posterior for any child born. It’s only important while it is in the womb. After that, it’s on it’s own, and they have no obligation towards it. The issue isn’t life, it’s the control of a woman’s reproductive capacity.

    That is absolutely true. The greatest preventer of abortions in the USA is…Planed Parenthood.

    If we were serious about eliminating abortion the obvious course of action would be to:

    1. Spend lots of money on more effective contraception research. As much as it takes. A lot probably. But it would pay off. The highest correlation between poverty is teen age pregnancy and this is causal. 26% of babies born in the USA are born to single parents, an astounding percentage but not as high as in Europe.

    2. Drill it into the kids heads that responsible adults plan their families. Virtually everyone figures this out but many after the fact. Teach them how. A baby is not a pet or a punishment device.

    3. Make cheap, safe, effective contraception widely available wherever it is needed.

    The anti-abortion christofascists would never do anything that is obvious or common sensical or pro-life. They would rather scream and yell and run around like idiots while trying to tell everyone else what to do with their bodies and lives.

    Just going to repost what the solution to the whole single issue baby killer versus female slavers is.

    No one is pro abortion. Most are pro women, pro choice, pro human.

    As to Leigh W., not totally disagreeing with what you said about fundies. But that is just a subset. One of the few fundies I’ve known on the west coast is just as typical. Pregnant at 15, married at 16, pregnant at 17, husband disappeared at 18. The rates of teen age pregnancy in fundie areas is much higher than the national average, routine in some areas. Ask Sarah Palin about that.

    And a lot of those women protesting outside abortion clinics or their daughters have or will be patients in said clinic at some point. There is a huge amount of hypocrisy in these communities. This phenomena even has a name. “The only moral abortion is my abortion.” And do you think the leaders of the various far right political groups really want to see huge welfare costs for poorly socialized kids, mostly nonwhite minorities soon to be the majority, if abortion was illegal. Not in this lifetime.

  334. #334 Mover
    March 18, 2009

    raven@231

    “There are huge numbers of petri dishes of diploid cells in floating around. They have the exact same diploid genes as any human being. They are also capable with modern technology of being turned into a human being. They aren’t human beings or persons. We autoclave them when we are done with them and toss them in the trash.

    In that case the fact of the matter is the “diploid cells” came from a human being or you are lying.

    Is anything with diploid chromosomes and living a person in any jurisdiction?

    I don’t know what you are saying. But I assume you mean ‘are any diploid chromosomes considered human in any jurisdiction?’

    I would say “no” twice. No number one is because diploid chromosomes come from more species than humans. And number two is no because some people will impose their own neurotic anti-logic to any topic that would otherwise require them to understand that they support killing defenseless people.

    the christofascist trolls are here.

    I’m not so much a Christian, hate boy. But I do respect human life.

    They don’t actually give a rat’s ass about abortion or zygotes or babies, or when life begins.

    Dang, caught me. NOT. I didn’t know you were a mind reader. I believe there are many mind readers around here.

    Fundies are always evil.

    I wouldn’t say that about anyone, even you.

    amphiox@234

    Mover, saying something solemnly over and over again does not make it so.

    Learn from your own post.

    Before you can define a moment in which “human” life begins, you have to first define what you mean by “human.”

    I reject your poetic definition. Let’s stick to basics. The human species, or homo sapiens, is defined by our DNA. DNA that is completely human in every embryo. Ergo, the embryo growing within his/her mother is a human being and nothing else. Again, if you believe it is something other than human, I’m listening (although sometimes it seems that some grow into baboons).

    Because in the case of abortion, we are not talking about the rights/recognition of a single entity, but the balancing of the rights/recognition of two entities, because a fetus cannot exist independent of a woman.

    That’s correct. We, as in the “me” people, you and your like minded deathers, do not believe that an unborn human should have any rights, especially the right to live. And you will use any clinical term to de-humanize unborn babies so that you don’t have to feel guilty when you kill him/her for your convenience. The ‘can’t live independent of a woman’ argument is another sad commentary on the state of human compassion and empathy that is lacking in self absorbed knowitalls.

    whereby the fetus can be considered to be more human than the woman carrying it

    Idiotic. The baby is the same as his/her mother, not more.

    But call a spade a spade, to be pro-life means believing that it is acceptable to curtail the human rights of women.

    While that is the popular propaganda, it is completely false. In a pregnancy, no one’s rights are curtailed. And no one’s “choice” is stopped. This is where that archaic notion of “personal responsibility” comes in. If you choose not to have children, avoid engaging in those activities that cause parenthood. It’s all your choice. But just because you screwed up (no pun intended) it doesn’t give you the right to kill anyone.

    Are they (pluripotent embryonic stem cells) all (each and every individual cell) human?

    Are stem cells ripped from embryos human? As I’ve said, I don’t know. And neither do you. Fault on the side of the fixable, not the irreversible.

    Can they grow into a human being? I have serious doubts that any pluripotent embryonic stem cell that’s being artificially kept alive (for convenience once again) could be implanted and survive to birth.

    fertilized human zygote to make it to birth as a human baby is something less than 2%.

    Especially with you and your friends in the room. It appears that no one is safe.

  335. #335 John Morales
    March 18, 2009

    Simon:

    Simon, those are images of fetuses, not of zygotes.
    what’s the difference ? for you, a zygotes or a fetuses are not human, only a parasite.

    What’s the difference between a fertilised ovum and a fetus? A few trillion cells.

    More seriously, I know you refer to their moral ontological status rather than the physical difference; I consider them potential human beings, not actualised human beings, and therefore in a separate category.

    I don’t consider them only parasites, though they’re functionally so, but as part of a woman’s body for her to do with as she chooses, until birth (whether natural or artificial).

  336. #336 Lycosid
    March 18, 2009

    Mover,
    We eat animals with more capacity for suffering than human fetuses in early stages of development. Human cells aren’t special. The only thing that’s special about humans is our capacity for reasoning, and when that’s not present, our cells just aren’t that important.

  337. #337 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    Simon:

    Test your humanity, see THIS and THIS

    John Morales:

    Simon, those are images of fetuses, not of zygotes.

    Simon:

    what’s the difference ? for you, a zygotes or a fetuses are not human, only a parasite.

    T_U_T. This is a par excellence example of why the ‘it is only a parasite’ argument( besides being completely wrong) is almost the perfect rhetorical weapon you hand over to your enemy

  338. #338 Leigh Williams
    March 18, 2009

    Raven said:

    As to Leigh W., not totally disagreeing with what you said about fundies. But that is just a subset. One of the few fundies I’ve known on the west coast is just as typical. Pregnant at 15, married at 16, pregnant at 17, husband disappeared at 18. The rates of teen age pregnancy in fundie areas is much higher than the national average, routine in some areas. Ask Sarah Palin about that.

    Oh, absolutely. All they’re getting is abstinence education, no information about contraception, and they’re young and full of hormones. As my daddy used to say, “You just can’t get away from the call of the wild.” The so-called “Red State, Blue State” graph illustrates your point: http://www.topalli.com/blue/

    I have personal knowledge of this situation through my extended family.

    And a lot of those women protesting outside abortion clinics or their daughters have or will be patients in said clinic at some point. There is a huge amount of hypocrisy in these communities. This phenomena even has a name. “The only moral abortion is my abortion.” And do you think the leaders of the various far right political groups really want to see huge welfare costs for poorly socialized kids, mostly nonwhite minorities soon to be the majority, if abortion was illegal. Not in this lifetime.

    Eye-opening research; can be found at: http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html
    I wanted to mention these two points, but my magnum opus was already running on too long!

    And once again, I have personal information from my extended family.

    Thanks for pointing out this additional important information.

  339. #339 dr.luba
    March 18, 2009

    I will confess to not having read the peceding 338 comments. But one thing to consider when approached with such a claim (i.e. life begins at conception): Molar Pregnancy.

    It is the result of a fertilization, but is a mass of tissue that is often cancerous. Is removing it ending a life, and is it therefore wrong? Is treating a woman with methotrexate (anti-cancer drug) murder?

  340. #340 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 18, 2009

    Mover, still with the oxymorons, like unborn human. To be human, it must be born. Yawn, the anti-choice people love to mangle the language.

  341. #341 Don't Panic
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T@337,
    Shut up, you twit. Anyone who can write (#252):

    As if the detailed mechanism you provide nutrients to the person were of importance.
    umbilical cord vs/ feeding tube. Pure implementation details.

    and not recognize that they’ve causually dismissed all pregnant women as mere unimportant "details" should not be lecturing people about rhetorical style.

    Thanks for stating outright that women are nothing more than baby incubating chattel, a trifle of little note other than the nutrient bag at the other end of a feeding tube to the precious zygote/fetus that is your ultimate concern.

    Did I miss your response to the upthread poster who detailed that being a kidney transplate source (donor) was likely safer than being pregnant? I tried to use the word "donor" advisedly here since you’ve stated that if this were to be true then you would be in favor of actively requiring people to, ah, "donate". There are thousands of people in need of kidneys, people dying from not getting them, so you can’t claim this as one of your hypothetical “SciFi” GIGO cases. All the element you agreed to are there: an unmet need (to contrast it to the milder "donate blood during a shortage" case which you dismiss because it’s generally satisfied by loud call to arms), safety at the level you specified. What’s stopping the powers-that-be from grabbing people off the street? The same thing that (should) make abortion legal: a right to personal bodily integrity. Hell, if you were self consistent you’d have already donated one of your kidneys by now, wouldn’t you? Ah, but there lies the rub: it would inconvenience (time, pain, money, potential long term impact on the body (remembering it’s only statistically safer, all medical procedure, inc. pregnancy, involve some element of risk)) YOU.

    Oh, yes, and speaking of impact to you. How many born children have you adopted, again? There are women out there who’ve done what you asked and forgone the abortion, so how about you stepping up to the plate and doing your part? None? One? Not ten or twelve? I’m shocked, shocked I say.

    Sheesh, T_U_T, you’re part concern troll, part misogynist, hypocrite, slacker, all around idiot. Go away, please — you make me sick.

  342. #342 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    To be human, it must be born.

    prolifer emulator : can you support your assertion ?

  343. #343 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    Sheesh, T_U_T, you’re part concern troll, part misogynist, hypocrite, slacker, all around idiot. Go away, please — you make me sick.

    what a brilliant line of reasoning …eh… insults… what ? Insults are not valid arguments ? Oh, wait….

  344. #344 Dianne
    March 18, 2009

    He insists more bloods !!

    Zygotes don’t have blood. Blood first appears in the embryonic stage of development.

  345. #345 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 18, 2009

    Born, born, born. I don’t argue with fools.

  346. #346 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    All the element you agreed to are there.

    ll the element you agreed to are there.

    No. Dialysis exists, and the study does not try to measure mortality increase because of losing 1/2 of your kidney capacity.

  347. #347 Dianne
    March 18, 2009

    I’m curious about how the “life begins at conception” crowd would handle the following scenarios:

    1. Monozygotic twins: one life or two.
    2. Chimeras: two lives or one. And does the dominant DNA need to be prosecuted for destroying (you couldn’t really call it killing) the less dominant DNA? Does the mother need to be prosecuted for providing an unsafe environment?
    3. The hamster egg assay. In this assay, human sperm are put in a dish with a hamster egg. If the test is positive, they fertilize the egg. Is the product a human life or not? Does it matter that they usually don’t divide further but sometimes do? As far as I know, no one has allowed one to continue to grow to see what would happen, so in principle we don’t know that they wouldn’t eventually form a (human? hamster?) baby.

  348. #348 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    Born, born, born. I don’t argue with fools.

    prolifer emulator : see ? all abortionists are stupid evil idiots who can’t put a coherent line together. so all they do is to try to outshout other reasonable folks

  349. #349 Peter McKellar
    March 18, 2009

    Simple Simon Says:

    Billing Ovulation Method. It works

    hahahahahahahahha. Reminds me of that old joke (20 years ago when that crap was being peddled by theist fools):

    Q: What do you call a couple that uses the rhythm method (eg Billings)?
    A: Parents

    No simon. The billings method has been so discredited in the modern world I can only assume you are a catholic in some poverty stricken country. Oh, that’s right, you are. Your church is lying to you.

    A friend of mine (also called Simon actually) and his wife were using the billings method to get pregnant. It doesn’t work for that purpose either. The wife also thought that bras caused breast cancer (lol).

    Why do you let an old, nominally celibate man in a frock tell you all about sex? You really are a slave to that sex-god dogma, missionary position endorsed nonsense.

    (See this Testimony below)
    I personally declare that Simon is a demented, sex obsessed fool.

  350. #350 clinteas
    March 18, 2009

    @341,

    This new line of posters we are seeing here lately who will assert they are right in any given discussion by claiming personal involvement/argument from personal experience which they think renders every rational argument moot,is very un-pharyngula-like.
    And I wish that would be pointed out to them more often.

  351. #351 AnthonyK
    March 18, 2009

    The attack on “abortion” is a huge attack on sexual freedom, not on the “rights” of a potential baby. Simon – five simple letters spelling perverted fuckwittery – expresses this most clearly, although I see he does not carry his idea of only moral sex within a moral loving relationship as far as eschewing masturbation himself. I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping, based on his posts here, that he confines himself to this activity permanently – but that he no longer be allowed to do it on Pharyngula.

    On the wider idea, when I look at those who are firmly in the “abortion is murder” camp – though with most people this is rarely directly said – what strikes me is how un-nuanced their position is, almost as if admitting that frankly there are some circumstances under which it is surely the best outcome, even once, will fatally weaken their position.

    Arguing over the point at which a bunch of cells becomes a baby is pure semantics. A careful admission that, in fact, there are circumstances under which you think an abortion, even one in your own life, might be necessary, is a start to escaping the absolutist thinking so characteristic of those with a strong religious bent.

    Once again, it’s as if you won’t let yourselves think for yourself. Hint – the first step is actually trying.

  352. #352 Don't Panic
    March 18, 2009

    Clinteas@350,
    I’m not quite seeing your point in reference to my post (341) — have the reference numbers changed?. Am I not parsing what you say correctly? As someone probably “on the spectrum” (Asperger’s) it wouldn’t be the first time.

    I notice the excremental T_U_T avoids the main point of my post: that he considers women to be mere unimportant details at the end of a placentafeeding tube to the fetus. Rather he gets the vapors about mean things I say about him. Here’s a clue T_U_T: the insults aren’t the argument, in your case I throw those in for free. Reading comprehension probably isn’t your problem either; I’d guess that it’s willful, intellectual dishonesty. Others have (repeatedly) made the case that even if one were to accept the proposition that there are actually two individual persons involved it’s quite clear who’s rights (the woman’s) should prevail. I’m just pointing out that he wishes to completely write her out of the picture, something trivial and not worthy of discussion, a piffling source of nutrients.

    And can you backpedal from the kidney scenario any faster?
    "But, but, but…" I think the post did cite
    a case for not seeing a "mortality increase because of losing 1/2 of your kidney capacity". Besides, why should that matter. Sure even if there were a systemic affect on your physiology so does pregnancy/child birth. Why do you draw the line there? It’s curious that you draw a line in the sand that puts you on the side of no risk but shoves others towards increased risk.

    The point of the adoption and kidney paragraphs was to show that T_U_T is willing to impose heavy burdens on others as long as it doesn’t impact himself. It’s not the argument for allowing choice, it’s simply pointing out what a sad excuse for a person T_U_T is.

  353. #353 ryogam
    March 18, 2009

    I post then in every abortion comment, and if PZ wants me to quit I will/

    But, to the pro-lifers, here’s the thing. You hate abortion. Got it. You consider it “baby murder.” Really bad stuff. Got it. But it’s not that simple.

    Because here’s the thing, what you are actually advocating here is not only “outlawing murder” but ALSO “forcing pregnancy and birth.” You can’t do the one without doing the other, not when we are discussing abortion.

    Now, at this point you say, “Well, the women CHOOSE to become pregnant, by having sex, protected or not, THEREFORE, it is okay to FORCE them to remain pregnant and give birth. They have, by their actions of having sex, forfeited the use of their body to another for 9 months and their birth canal for a matter of hours.

    So, here’s the thought experiment: A madman kidnaps a child and threatens to kill it in nine months. In order to stop the madman from killing the child, the man says, “In nine months, I will, at random, take a woman off the street, and, if she has had sex at any time in the last nine months, I will force a grapefruit into her vagina, a sort of forced birth in reverse. If she refuses, I will kill the child. Remember, I’m only going to grab a woman who choose to have sex in the last nine months, she was warned what would happen if she had sex, and the life of a child is at stake. So, let me force a grapefruit into the vagina of the women or I’ll kill the child.”

    Now, the questions is, should the STATE, in the interest of saving the life of THE CHILD, FORCE the WOMAN to take the grapefruit in the vagina, because she had sex, sometime in the last nine months?

    Because, that is, basically, what the anti-abortion/forced birth position is. Because a women choose to have sex nine months ago, the state can now force her to push a grapefruit sized head out her vagina, whether she wants to or not. We usually call the unwilling use of a woman’s vagina rape. But, the term “rape” does not do the actual reality of this situation justice.

    Now, some pro-birther asked me if that means that I support a woman’s right to choose even in the last trimester only because of the pain of childbirth?

    And the answer is, “yes.”

    FORCING someone to undergo pain of the type associated with childbearing and birth is the very definition of ‘torture.’ I’ve tried to think of another situation when the State can use its power to cause pain to someone for the benefit of another, and, other than arguably a military draft or terrorist scenarios, I’ve come up blank.

    Forced Birth is Torture. No ifs, ands or buts. It’s that simple.

  354. #354 ConcernedJoe
    March 18, 2009

    Thank you ryogam. You are spot on.

    I was trying to say that in my posts (especially #332) – you hit the nail better.

    As to the few cells are human (aka a person – that is what those who claim humanness mean) silly debate – no anti-choicers have addressed my question …

    <

    You'll prove to yourselves whether you really believe what you think you believe. And to us whether you are nuts or not.

    Challenged offered - no waffling - no bobbing and weaving - no changing the scenarios. Just answer simply and directly.>>

  355. #355 ConcernedJoe
    March 18, 2009

    Questions in #77 or 98 – sorry for formatting of last post.

  356. #356 Anon
    March 18, 2009

    I usually post under a nom-de-web, but because this post contains personal information, I will post Anon.

    To TUT and all the others trying to compare Steven Hawkings and his Mechanical Support system and his support staff to the parasitic unborn, you are being deliberately obtuse.

    Let’s get personal. My wife just had our second child. This child CAUSED my wife to get Gestational Diabetes. The baby’s HORMONES, excreted in the womb, interfered with my wife’s body as to make it less susceptible to the uptakeof insulin, causing her to get the diabetes. After the baby was born, her diabetes went away.

    BUT, because of this, my wife has an increased chance of getting diabetes later in life. In fact, her sister, who had the same problem, now has insulin-controlled diabetes after the birth of her second baby.

    If we have a third child, she is almost guaranteed (95%) that this child will also cause her to get gestational diabetes at an earlier stage in the pregnancy and will also increase her risk of developing diabetes later in life.

    NOW, please point to any of the so-called parasites, Hawkings, the brain-dead, welfare recipients, any one, you pick, who has CAUSED, through the excretions of their HORMONES, someone taking care of them to get DIABETES.

    Fucktards.

  357. #357 AnthonyK
    March 18, 2009

    Anon – without wishing to criticize your story in any way – what will be your attitude to a third preganancy? I mean would you definitely use contraception (and let’s nor forget that most of the fucktard pro-lifers are against that too) and if that failed, possibly a termination, or would you have the usual misgivings but still consider carrying the child?
    It always seems to me that the pro-lifers allow no room for personal considerations – and then accuse us of being the monsters.

  358. #358 Peter Ashby
    March 18, 2009

    @Mover
    Try reading various posts making the incontrovertible point that you cannot draw definite lines on a continuum, much as we humans like to try. So there may be no answer to the question ‘when does (human) life begin?’. It is akin to the question ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ Simpletons think that one is a paradox, but it isn’t. It just demonstrates a misconception (if you will excuse the pun).

    Just because our psychology requires us to see discrete divisions in the world does not mean those divisions must exist in reality. Eg. science is busily deciding that the old idea of species is no longer viable, especially when you consider ring species and as Dawkins points out in The Ancestor’s Tale everything alive is a member of a giant ring species. Taking time into account there is and/or has been a continuous line of interbreeding living things between you and a fly or a banana plant.

    Reproduction is the same, it’s continuous, there are living things at all stages and as others have said if you choose conception (see my earlier post and tell me where the line is please) then what about monozygotic twins? or chimeras? Are the former just one person? (if so if I kill one, is the other half dead?) are the latter two people? (if so shouldn’t they have two passports etc?). I repeat, Nature does not have many of the joints we try and carve her by.

  359. #359 Africangenesis
    March 18, 2009

    Smidgy#238,

    “If you define ‘life’ in a way that makes sperm merely machines delivering DNA, you’re defining ‘life’ in a way that makes some of what are commonly regarded as living creatures non-living machines (for example, an adult mayfly would be merely a non-living machine for the sole purpose of reproducing).”

    You are making a generalization, where I was making a distinction. Sperm are like a torpedo running on a store of fuel, their metabolism is never going to do anything with the DNA information of life other than deliver it. I can see your point that the adult mayfly would be another intermediate distinction, and also perhaps the pacific salmon, when they reach the stage where they stop feeding. Sperm don’t have nervous systems and are not producing new proteins like these others, and also unlike single cells that reproduce. I was arguing that they are more properly in the category of red blood cells, just delivery mechanisms and shouldn’t be considered more alive that RBCs just because what they are delivering is DNA. Unlike RBCs, they are mobile and are doing some sensing and information processing, following a chemical gradient, so they may be another intermediate between RBCs and the terminal reproducers. Hmmm, maybe the male black widow is in that terminal reproducer category as well.

  360. #360 Mover
    March 18, 2009

    #238

    Either that, or your answer to DaveL’s point is that he and his identical twin are, in fact, one person, and he, on his own, is only half a person.

    I would interject that the plain fact indicates that twins are not one person, or (ridiculously) a half human. Both have a complete set of human DNA. But that does not dismiss the ‘unique human at conception’ theory, just because it split again and made 2 whole human beings. Once they split they are then independent of each other an are unique.

    Is that organism biologically human? Yes, in much the same way as my kidney is biologically human. Is it a human being? No, in much the same way as a kidney, or even a single kidney cell, isn’t a human being.

    FYI: A kidney is a part of a human being. It is not itself a human being. That dispels the “much the same way” argument.

    When people began pointing out things like the freshly severed tip of a finger was a human life by this simplistic definition

    FYI: The people who were pointing out that a severed finger tip is a human being are wrong. Trying to make such a connection is ludicrous.

    Of course I could be mistaken. Please let me know when you discover a human being that was born, or just grew out from, from a severed finger tip (or a kidney for that matter).

    Simon #23:

    “Embryos are smaller than fetuses who are smaller (usually) than newborns. But what does size have to do with rights of personhood?

    Nothing at all. However, no-one ever said it did (apart from you).

    I believe there are quite a few people who insist that embryos should have at least one “right”. The right to life. The work comes in when we try to get it codified into law.

    BTW: How does one have “rights”? Do we bestow them on each other? Do they come from a benevolent government? Does science give them to us? Do we have any real rights?

  361. #361 AnthonyK
    March 18, 2009

    BTW: How does one have “rights”? Do we bestow them on each other? Do they come from a benevolent government? Does science give them to us? Do we have any real rights?

    In a word…errr..many many thinkers have spent their whole lives considering these questions, not least Thomas Paine!

  362. #362 Ray Ingles
    March 18, 2009

    Mover, for an example of what Peter Ashby is talking about, see my own comment #32 above.

  363. #363 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    I repeat myself again. care for a seriously ill patient/relative can be far more burdensome and health damaging than regular pregnancy ( almost all hospital nurses can witness ),
    so, if you are ill/disabled, you are dependent on someone, you take some of her resources, so you are a parasite, and she can dispose of you at will if you are burden to her.

    Oh wait, it is something completely different.

    Fetus :
    Takes up your resources ? Check.
    Is completely dependent on you ? Check.
    It is a burden to you ? Check.
    Is the burden damaging to your health ? Check.

    Seriously ill child:
    Takes up your resources ? Check.
    Is completely dependent on you ? Check.
    It is a burden to you ? Check.
    Is the burden damaging to your health ? Check.

    What is different ? Oh, wait ! I know ! It is THE WOMB !
    The same thing that causes womb-lacking males and females to lack the full freedom of speech, that wombed females enjoy.
    It also causes the owner to be The Lord of Life and Death, of person that happens to be inside. That has to be it.

  364. #364 ConcernedJoe
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T

    your analogies don’t compute

    There is no comparison between something growing INSIDE a woman to any other social contract.

    If the child was essentially a primitive organism no more sapient than an earthworm and crawled up her orifice and somehow could not be removed without being destroyed would you deny the woman the right to remove that so-called child??? Would it not be her choice!!!

    Maybe you would deny her the choice — but I wouldn’t ..

    Again your analogies don’t compute.. I don’t want to waste my time on the obvious

    But do me a favor — without wiggling out of it by changing my straight forward unambiguous scenario .. directly and unequivocally and unambiguously answer my scenario question first posed in #77. that is where rubber meets the road. Just be honest.

  365. #365 Menyambal
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T says:

    prolifer emulator : see ? all abortionists are stupid evil idiots who can’t put a coherent line together. so all they do is to try to outshout other reasonable folks

    And the irony meter goes ZzzzPOINGgGgGggg

  366. #366 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    There is no comparison between something growing INSIDE a woman to any other social contract.

    there is course a comparison. You are NOT allowed to kill another person just because she is a burden to you. No matter where she happens to be.

    If the child was essentially a primitive organism no more sapient than an earthworm

    If pigs could fly, you would be now cruising earth at mach 3.

    I am talking about a 17+ week old fetus that has the same number of neurons in her brain as you have. One that hears, remembers, feels, dreams , etc. one that is as sapient as it will be just after birth.

    so your scenario does not apply to me.

  367. #367 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T, you have had your say. I don’t agree with you, and your continued ravings is bullying. Bullying just makes us more stubborn.

  368. #368 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    I don’t agree with you, and your continued ravings is bullying. Bullying just makes us more stubborn.

    Then you are just as pig-ignorant blockhead as pro-lifers are.

  369. #369 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 18, 2009

    No T_U_T, you are pigheaded in thinking that everybody must agree with you. Learn to live without everybody agreeing with you. You don’t have to agree with me, just stop trying to convince me, when you don’t have the correct information I require to change my mind. If you can’t shut up until everybody agrees with you, you are bullying.

  370. #370 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    No T_U_T, you are pigheaded in thinking that everybody must agree with you.

    In matters of life and death there can be only consensus or total war. Pick your choice.

  371. #371 Menyambal
    March 18, 2009

    Those pictures of aborted fetuses reminded me of some other pictures I’ve seen. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, there were hundreds of thousands of bodies, just as battered and torn, of humans of all ages. Those are truly horrifying pictures–pictures of people wiped out in the middle of their lives by an act of God.

    And yes, the tsunami was an act of God, according to the Christians who claimed that the tsunami was God’s punishment for Muslims discriminating against Christians. Many Christians happily believe that God caused the tsunami, and that the Christians survived it by worshipping on a hill outside Meulaboh. There is no hill outside Meulaboh, there was no discrimination, there were only hundreds of thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of injured, and distant Christians making religious points off the deaths of human beings, believing falsehoods for their own smugness.

    Abortion is sad, but not evil. What is evil is the fundamentalists. Their argument boils down to “interfering with God’s plan”, and they are the ones who know God’s plan and God’s mind. And God help anyone who doesn’t grovel to them. They will kill, and God will kill, and they will hate and hate and hate until their minds are gone, and all they can do is spew incoherent venom, and call themselves Simon and T_U_T.

    Go away, you sick, sick monsters, and pray Jesus to come into your hearts and into your minds, bringing truth and light and love. Turn loose of your evil, let go of the hate, forget the fear, drive off the demons that possess you. You are not as gods, you are followers of falsehoods. Leave this place, go to a quiet place, and place yourself in the loving arms of the Prince of Peace.

  372. #372 Foggg
    March 18, 2009

    Actually, because of apotosis, a 17+ week old fetus likely has more neurons than T_U_T herself.
    But since functioning cortical synapses between axons and dendrites don’t appear until the 23rd week, I have no idea how a 17 week old fetus “hears, remembers, feels, dreams , etc.”, much less practices “sapience as it will after birth”.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4705508

  373. #373 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    Thank you, foggg, you are the first one on this thread that says something of substance.

    I know, that full 6 layer cortical neural network is completed only after week 22, but I also know that the subplate structure that starst ist job at around week 17 does some processing. So while I agree that the 22+ week is the more likely onset of human brain function, I can not rule out the week 17 yet.

    But, let’s be generous, and talk about say 30 week old fetus ( REM sleep is observed at this age, fetal memory can be observe, etc. ). It is just as sapient as an earthworm ? definitely not.

  374. #374 ConcernedJoe
    March 18, 2009

    I don’t remember calling you name T_U_T

    Your “If pigs could fly, you would be now cruising earth at mach 3″ I take as reference to me and as indication of your lack of class. So be it… you are what you are.

    Your “I am talking about a 17+ week old fetus that has the same number of neurons in her brain as you have. One that hears, remembers, feels, dreams , etc. one that is as sapient as it will be just after birth.” is full of it far as I know but I’ll stand to be corrected by someone like PZ who I trust as an honest scientist to stand me corrected.

    However this is not the point. If a extreme midget adult crawled up a woman does not that woman have a right to remove it? And if that could not be done with destructing such midget would she still have the right of choice?

    I don’t expect you to get the point. Not because you are stupid but because you cannot see any point but your own.

    Read my stuff above. I am personally very pro-life — I just respect women and freedom enough to have priorities that favor choice within one’s own personal space. Not articulately said maybe – but most here get the point.

  375. #375 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    Menyambal : makes shit up, puts it into other people’s mouths, and punches them for having their mouths full of shit.

  376. #376 Leigh Williams
    March 18, 2009

    Okay, I pick total war, you flaming asshole.

    I’m sick to death of your hypocrisy. You’ve been all over the map with your ravings, but the one thing that stands out it this: you have no intellectual integrity.

    You’ve made it plain that the notion of bodily integrity means absolutely nothing to you. You’ve explicitly stated that coercion . . . in the form of forced organ donation or forced pregnancy . . . is, to your mind, a positive good that society should condone.

    EXCEPT, of course, when it might apply to YOU.

    You’re all for forced organ donation in one post. Then in subsequent posts you backtrack: “only if it’s safer than childbirth”. We demonstrate to you that it IS, in fact, safer than childbirth.

    You backtrack again: “but losing 1/2 of your kidney function will impair your health for the rest of you life”.

    We demonstrate that studies show that, in fact, kidney donors enjoy BETTER health and longer life.

    You ignore the data and reassert your position that you shouldn’t be forced to compromise your own health for someone else’s benefit.

    We demonstrate that pregnancy does, in fact, compromise a woman’s health for the benefit of someone else.

    Oh, but that’s different. Why? Honest answer: because you don’t have to worry about that; you’re male. Let those stupid women take the risk, who cares?

    Because, after all, women are analogous to feeding tubes. Their bodies are of the same worth as dialysis machines. The risks they assume in pregnancy are exactly like the social contract a caregiver enters into with an ailing patient.

    I think this thread has finished the job we started elsewhere: you are firmly established as a contemptible misogynistic TROLL.

    And you’re a troll I refuse to feed any more. Goodbye, scum.

  377. #377 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 18, 2009

    Yawn, T_U_T, you are still trying to bully everyone. TSK, TSK.

  378. #378 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    I don’t remember calling you name T_U_T

    If you didn’t yet I sincerely apologize. most of the people did, and I lost track about who did and who did not yet.

    If a extreme midget adult crawled up a woman does not that woman have a right to remove it? And if that could not be done with destructing such midget would she still have the right of choice?

    if the midget without any malicious intention ( in fact without any intention whatsoever ) happened to end up inside of a woman and had to stick there for another three months or be killed, then I would still consider it killing him to be be first degree murder.

    Call me a monster, but I think we have no right to murder other people whatsoever.

  379. #379 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    We demonstrate that studies show that, in fact, kidney donors enjoy BETTER health and longer life.

    None of them said that. Why do you lie ?

  380. #380 abeja
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T @378:

    “Call me a monster, but I think we have no right to murder other people whatsoever”

    So you’re against the death penalty and all wars?

  381. #381 Tulse
    March 18, 2009

    I think we have no right to murder other people whatsoever.

    So you don’t believe in war, or the right of police to shoot people shooting at them, or the whole notion of self-defense?

  382. #382 ConcernedJoe
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T cannot argue with your pacifist intent.. if you thinking killing any person is wrong then I respect that.

    Notice I said respect (not agree I’d have same stance) and notice I said person (I think fetuses are not persons until lat best late in the game and legally at birth – where midgets well are people). So I may still say ultimately the woman has the final say but certainly your scenario is one that would force me to try to make her be comfortable and wait it out if at all possible.

    My point is we have some common ground maybe. I certainly favor choice.. but late term stuff if health fetuses makes the method of termination important in my mind…. extraction not destruction if at all possible — and encourage and support to wait it out. And there has to be a balance in my mind. We have different view of time line points I suspect. This is a biggy. And also a woman’s right to control of her body. But in some substantial sense we have common misgivings.

  383. #383 ConcernedJoe
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T cannot argue with your pacifist intent.. if you thinking killing any person is wrong then I respect that.

    Notice I said respect (not agree I’d have same stance) and notice I said person (I think fetuses are not persons until lat best late in the game and legally at birth – where midgets well are people). So I may still say ultimately the woman has the final say but certainly your scenario is one that would force me to try to make her be comfortable and wait it out if at all possible.

    My point is we have some common ground maybe. I certainly favor choice.. but late term stuff if health fetuses makes the method of termination important in my mind…. extraction not destruction if at all possible — and encourage and support to wait it out. And there has to be a balance in my mind. We have different view of time line points I suspect. This is a biggy. And also a woman’s right to control of her body. But in some substantial sense we have common misgivings.

  384. #384 Dawn
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T’s comments make me so angry.

    He obviously has never counseled a woman who was pregnant about her options (birth, adoption, abortion).
    He has never discussed the results of fetal testing that show a woman’s baby, if it doesn’t die in utero, will die shortly thereafter due to a chromosomal issue.

    He has never talked to a women, 18 weeks pregnant, with a fetal demise of twins, who can’t get an abortion done because no doctor will do it until she starts bleeding.

    He has never wept with a woman who got pregnant from rape by an ex-husband, who KNOWS that carrying the pregnancy to term will kill her (and probably the baby) due to her health problems.

    He has never talked to a woman who has undergone several attempts at IVF, with a success at the last attempt, about what she might do with the remaining frozen embryos.

    Abortion is NOT a walk in the park, for any woman. They (usually) don’t do it happily. It is a heart-wrenching decision. But sometimes, abortion is the choice to save a life (the woman’s) over a potential life (the embryo’s).

    When you have actually talked to some real women (and not the brainwashed sheep), and counseled them fairly and openly regarding ALL their reproductive options, T_U_T, come back. Until then, as far as I am concerned, as a man, you have nothing to say regarding MY reproductive system. You can make as many decisions about your own as you wish, and, you and your partner can make them jointly about your relationship. But keep your hands, and laws, out of my life.

  385. #385 Anon
    March 18, 2009

    AnthonyK, sorry, had to go do life stuff.

    As for a third pregnancy, it’s completely and totally up to my wife. She has to take the risks, so, if she’s game, it’s up to her.

    We have our birth control down pat, so that’s not a concern. If the unexpected did happen, again, her choice as what to do.

    The point for me is, both pregnancies were completely wanted and planned. And even under the best circumstances, they kludge of life is so haphazard that abortion must remain an option.

  386. #386 Mover
    March 18, 2009

    @231

    The question actually asked was ‘when does life begin?’ That is the question answered. PZ ‘implied’ nothing. He stated it explicitly.

    True, but it was in the context of the human abortion debate. The title of this thread is “The fertilized egg is not a human life”. That could be a clue that human reproduction is being discussed. Then there is the part where living sperm and eggs becoming one entity would lead any reasonable person to believe that the discussion is about when a new life begins. On top of that, the whole thread was based on someone trying to pick up chicks a pro-life rally.

    The difference between ‘when life begins’ and ‘when a life begins as a result of sexual procreation in humans’ changes the entire scope of the conversation.

    This train of thought you offer reminds me of good old Professor Irwin Cory, a character that appeared on the Tonight Show many years ago. Johnny Carson asked him “Why do you wear tennis shoes?” To which the kind professor answered, “You are really asking 2 questions. The first question is “Why?”. Man has been asking this question down through the millennia ..blah, blah, blah…. As for your second question, yes, I wear tennis shoes.”

    You and PZ are doing the same thing. Interpreting the question in the way you want so that you don’t have to confront the real question. (i.e. are we supporting the killing of innocent human beings or are we just minding our own business, live and let live, to each his/her own, etc..)

    A zygote, for example, is a single-celled organism that definitely does not have the capacity to be a human being.

    I would agree if the zygote were traveling in the fallopian tube of a goat or a dog. But if you’re talking about one in a human woman, well, it can be nothing but a human being.

    Secondly, you’re forgetting there’s two organisms biologically involved with any pregancy. This means that if you determine the threshold purely on the requirements of the fetus, you are effectively saying the other organism, the mother, is utterly unimportant in every way – biological, moral and legal. Sorry, I don’t agree.

    Sorry, your straw man, er woman, does not work. You cannot set up the mother as being secondary, then rejecting that idea, when no one but you is saying it. I certainly do not believe any woman is secondary.

    Unless you’re ever going to get pregnant, that’s a choice you’ll never have to face.

    Irrelevant.

    Sorry, but your own statements so far utterly contradict that.

    Explain.

    No, that’s when two biological organisms fused together to form a third biological organism.

    Same thing, only we’re talking about human offspring here, so it is indeed human. If you believe he/she is not a human being, I’d like to know what you believe he/she is.

    Obviously you’ve not been following the discussion – just because something is alive, and biologically human, doesn’t mean it’s a human being.

    Not necessarily. Just because you and anyone else who preaches they aren’t human, doesn’t make it so. And the fact is clear. When you do not intentionally kill them they are born as humans and nothing else.

    Funnily enough, a fertilized human egg is a fertilized human egg, not a human being – no ‘belief of a possibility’ required.

    Another avoidance answer. Thanks

  387. #387 Steve_C
    March 18, 2009

    Fuck mover…. it isn’t a PERSON. No brain. No spinal cord. Nothing that could be construed as anything human other than the DNA.

    A person is not killed when a zygote is aborted.

  388. #388 Mover
    March 18, 2009

    Steve_C@387

    I understand that you hope it’s not a person, but if you do not kill him/her, he/she will be a person.

    The mushbrains must feel powerful to be able to kill defenseless babies at will.

    DNA is what separates us from other animals, my friend.

    What species is a zygote?

  389. #389 Anon
    March 18, 2009

    TUT missed me, so I’m reposting.

    I usually post under a nom-de-web, but because this post contains personal information, I will post Anon.

    To TUT and all the others trying to compare Steven Hawkings and his Mechanical Support system and his support staff to the parasitic unborn, you are being deliberately obtuse.

    Let’s get personal. My wife just had our second child. This child caused my wife to get Gestational Diabetes. The baby’s hormones, excreted in the womb, interfered with my wife’s body as to make it less susceptible to the uptake of insulin, causing her to get the diabetes. After the baby was born, her diabetes went away.

    But, because of this, my wife has an increased chance of getting diabetes later in life. In fact, her sister, who had the same problem, now has insulin-controlled diabetes after the birth of her second baby.

    If we have a third child, she is almost guaranteed (95%) that this child will also cause her to get gestational diabetes at an earlier stage in the pregnancy and will also increase her risk of developing diabetes later in life.

    Now, please point to any of the so-called parasites, Hawkings, the brain-dead, welfare recipients, any one, you pick, who has caused, through the excretions of their hormones, someone taking care of them to get diabetes.

    And let’s look at your post:

    “Fetus :
    Takes up your resources ? Check.
    Is completely dependent on you ? Check.
    It is a burden to you ? Check.
    Is the burden damaging to your health ? Check.

    Seriously ill child:
    Takes up your resources ? Check.
    Is completely dependent on you ? Check.
    It is a burden to you ? Check.
    Is the burden damaging to your health ? Check.

    What is different ? Oh, wait ! I know ! It is THE WOMB !”

    Yes, it’s THE WOMB!

    At any time, a person can walk away from an ill child, give it up to the state and protect their health from adverse effects. That is completely different than carrying a parasite in a womb whose hormones cause the woman to become physically ill.

    Pretend otherwise all you like. I know it’s true.

    Over.

    Fucktards.

  390. #390 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    March 18, 2009

    Why are people letting T_U_T get them so riled up? He’s a mendacious hypocrite, I know, and wanting to verbally slap such an atrocious waste of oxygen is understandable. But a few people seem to be letting their blood pressure get a bit high, and that concerns me. That sort of unmoderated rage leads to burnout, and I’d rather not lose any of the smart people to exhaustion.

    Keep in mind that your primary purpose here is to entertain me, and you can’t do that if you leave.

    (The preceding post was totally tongue-in-cheek, or at least tongue-in-somewhere.)

  391. #391 Mover
    March 18, 2009

    Praetorianstalker@48

    Would it not be better for the Pro-Lifers to spend their time and effort by researching a way to abort a womans pregnancy and save the fetus at the same time?

    What would be the purpose of that plan?

    FYI: I believe pro-lifers should spend their time showing pro-abortionists the error of their ways.

    Badger3k @61

    #48 – most of these anti-choice idiots would not give a rat’s posterior for any child born.

    More mind reading. I never realized that leftists had so many “abilities”.

    It’s only important while it is in the womb. After that, it’s on it’s own, and they have no obligation towards it.

    The parents have obligations. What obligations do non-parents have for children in your mind?

    The issue isn’t life, it’s the control of a woman’s reproductive capacity.

    It seems that is one of the leftist, pro-abortion talking points. I don’t blame you for repeating this falsehood.

  392. #392 Steve_C
    March 18, 2009

    Mover. We all know it’s a POTENTIAL person. So is sperm. So is an ovum.
    It’s not a baby. It’s not a person. It’s human cells.

    That you choose to be completely and pathetically simple about it is annoying.

  393. #393 Ichthyic
    March 18, 2009

    What would be the purpose of that plan?
    FYI: I believe pro-lifers should spend their time showing pro-abortionists the error of their ways.

    just so:

    the so called “pro-lifers” only care about ideology, and imposing their own on others, long before they actually care about anything actually resembling life.

    More mind reading. I never realized that leftists had so many “abilities”.

    hadly takes ESP to see that xian zealots give little thought to the issue (actually taking care of all the children they would see others forced to have) raised in reality.

    What obligations do non-parents have for children in your mind?

    you keep missing the point:

    What obligations DO YOU feel towards children that would exist because you would make abortion illegal?

    If you feel no obligations towards the children YOU would force into the world, then you haven’t really the right to say fuck all about it, do you?

    so, STFU.

  394. #394 T_U_T
    March 18, 2009

    Anon. First I was never talking about situations where continued pregnancy is life threatening to the mother.
    Second.

    At any time, a person can walk away from an ill child, give it up to the state and protect their health from adverse effects.

    and if he for some reason can not, does it give him a license to kill ?

    Third. I ask you. By the power of tedious trollhood. To provide a biological definition of parasitism. Definition of biological fitness, and then show, how, according to those definitions, can your offspring be your parasite even in principle.

  395. #395 Mover
    March 18, 2009

    239

    One is to outlaw birth control, some of which are suspected or known to prevent implantation.

    This would of course, result in huge numbers of single mothers, pregnant teens, unwanted children, and high welfare costs. Our society rejected this a century ago and would never stand for it.

    We did? What law or ordinance was that?

    Which is OK, because the second is to annoy and persecute as many people as possible.

    When something annoys me I turn the channel. I don’t recall annoying any women about birth control. Even my wife.

    It all has to do with tribal identity politics and being malevolently antihuman. Polls show they have succeeded. The majority of the US population is sick and tired of the fundies including most xians.

    Anti-Human? that’s an odd perpective. It makes more sense to believe that tribes that want unfettered access to abortions for their convenience would be the death cult. They devalue unborn babies and the elderly, for which they have no use. In fact, I’ve come to believe that the US Democrat Party is the party of death and devaluation of human life.

    However, I would to have a look at these polls you hint at. Where can I read the polls?

    Obviously they have better things to do with their time and money than deal with a horde of kids.

    Or, they are too busy to have more children. Or even medical problems interfere.

    Mindless childbearing is for the trailer park crowd of moronic followers who are too stupid to know they are being conned.

    You omit the inner city, where it is official Democratic Party policy to treat them like helpless morons and con them every day.

  396. #396 Menyambal
    March 18, 2009

    T_U_T, you lying religious maniac, I answered your parasite nonsense way back up there. I’ll repeat it for you since you never addressed it.

    Case: A woman has a genetic disease, and wants to avoid becoming pregnant, as any offspring would be defective. Sadly, she is raped. She becomes pregnant by the rapist. The defective, unwanted mass growing within her is a parasite, by any definition.

    Happy now, T_U_T? There is no sharp dividing line between that scenario and anything more acceptable.

    Anti-abortion activity which forces a woman to bear an unwanted baby is *causing* her to regard it as a parasite. Congratulations, T_U_T!

    T_U_T, All you’ve said to me is:

    Menyambal : makes shit up, puts it into other people’s mouths, and punches them for having their mouths full of shit.

    Which is hysterical coming from a follower of a God who invents sins, creates people who want to commit those sins, then fries them in Hell for committing those sins.

    What did I make up, T_U_T? Did I make up the tsunami that killed thousands upon thousands of adult human beings? Did I make up the Christians who were happy about those people dying?

    You are the person who follows the false prophets who profit from anti-abortion fundraising, you are the person who believes that a blastocyst is a human being, the person who decides that abortionists are psychotic child-killers, you are the one who has no sense or logic or honor, you are the one without tolerance, you are the one who invades this blog, you are the hateful, spiteful sanctimonious person who will not listen.

    You advocate war, you threaten death. You, T_U_T, are the person who says pro-choice people capable of the callous murder of the elderly. You hate everyone that you do not understand. You rejoice in the thought of hell. You, your leaders, and the rest of their followers are sad, sick people, projecting your evil into the world. Take your sickness and your filth back into the blood-soaked temples of your loathsome god.

  397. #397 Smidgy
    March 18, 2009

    Mover #386:

    True, but it was in the context of the human abortion debate. The title of this thread is “The fertilized egg is not a human life”. That could be a clue that human reproduction is being discussed. Then there is the part where living sperm and eggs becoming one entity would lead any reasonable person to believe that the discussion is about when a new life begins.

    The specific claim made was that ‘all biologists would agree that life begins at conception’. Which it doesn’t. PZ said as much. You are apparantly annoyed because he didn’t address a different claim in his reply to Mark, but instead addressed it in this blog post. What you seem to have missed is part of the point he was trying to make is that ‘life is more complicated than the simplistic ideologues of the anti-choice movement would make it’, to quote him exactly.

    I would agree if the zygote were traveling in the fallopian tube of a goat or a dog. But if you’re talking about one in a human woman, well, it can be nothing but a human being.

    No, funnily enough, it’s a human zygote. Human beings have certain characteristics and features that a zygote, human or otherwise, does not have – such as a brain and the ability to think and feel, for example.

    Sorry, your straw man, er woman, does not work. You cannot set up the mother as being secondary, then rejecting that idea, when no one but you is saying it. I certainly do not believe any woman is secondary.

    You know, if you’re going to quote part of my post, it’s a good idea to read it. As I said in the very part you quoted, which this is apparantly in answer to, if you determine the threshold purely on the requirements of the fetus, you are effectively saying the mother is utterly unimportant in every way. This is precisely what you were doing – determining the threshold for abortion based purely on the claim that the fetus was possibly a human being at conception, and ignoring the mother.

    Irrelevant.

    Sorry, it’s not. You specifically said, and I quote, ‘I’d hate to think that I chose to kill a innocent living human being.’ If YOU are not pregnant, or ever likely to be, YOU will never have to make that choice.

    Explain.

    I already did. In the post you’re quoting.

    Same thing, only we’re talking about human offspring here, so it is indeed human.

    Erm, what? This response makes no sense. You were claiming it was an objective fact that, when human conception takes place, the resultant fertilized human egg was a human being. The only objective facts are that two organisms fused together to form a third organism. Anything over and above that is you putting your own subjective views on this process.

    If you believe he/she is not a human being, I’d like to know what you believe he/she is.

    This has already been asked, and answered.

    Not necessarily. Just because you and anyone else who preaches they aren’t human, doesn’t make it so.

    Well, you REALLY haven’t been following the discussion. As has been pointed out, numerous times, by the simplistic definition of ‘if it’s biologically human, and alive, it’s a human being’, things like organs removed for transplants would be ‘human beings’, accidentally severed limbs and digits would be ‘human beings’, and even individual sperm would be arguably covered by that.

    And the fact is clear. When you do not intentionally kill them they are born as humans and nothing else.

    The ignorance required to make that statement is staggering. I suggest you read over this thread for a couple of reasons as to why you’re wrong there.

    Another avoidance answer.

    No, it’s an ACCURATE answer. A fertilized egg is a fertilized egg, nothing more, nothing less.

  398. #398 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 18, 2009

    YAWN, nothing new. Still birth.

  399. #399 windy
    March 18, 2009

    But, let’s be generous, and talk about say 30 week old fetus ( REM sleep is observed at this age, fetal memory can be observe, etc. ). It is just as sapient as an earthworm ? definitely not.

    “Sapient”=acts with wisdom and judgment. You are probably looking for something like “sentient”.

    A dog or a cow is also capable of REM sleep and memory. Do you think a fetus is more sentient than an adult mammal?

  400. #400 Kseniya
    March 19, 2009

    Simon advised: “Control yourself.”

    That is laughable, coming from you.

    Leigh @ #322: Excellent comment.

    There are more WOMEN in the pro-life movement than men.

    Yes. I believe this. There are many of the anti-feminists you described. I once had a woman from Texas tell me that “Planned Parenthood is the arm of Satan, and the U.N. is the head.”

    Whoa.

  401. #401 Leigh Williams
    March 19, 2009

    Earlier in the thread I posted about why fundamentalist and evangelical women are active in the prolife movement.

    Now, I present for your inspection Mover, who is an excellent example of the evangelical man. Notice that the category “evangelical” comprises both Protestants and Evangelicals. I don’t know Mover’s denomination, and it’s really not critical to this argument. But I think that when he says: “I’m not so much a Christian, hate boy. But I do respect human life,” he’s lying like a damn rug.

    See what you think:

    —————————————————–
    Leigh:

    They are profoundly anti-feminist.

    Mover:

    In a pregnancy, no one’s rights are curtailed. And no one’s “choice” is stopped.

    —————————————————–
    Leigh:

    [T]hey’re using science to support their real agenda, which is ensuring that women don’t stray from their religion’s boundaries on sexual expression . . . and also ensuring that punishment in the form of a pregnancy is meted out to all who defy them.

    Mover:

    This is where that archaic notion of “personal responsibility” comes in. If you choose not to have children, avoid engaging in those activities that cause parenthood. It’s all your choice. But just because you screwed up (no pun intended) it doesn’t give you the right to kill anyone.

    ————————————————–
    Leigh:

    They buy into the “culture war” meme.

    Mover:

    The mushbrains must feel powerful to be able to kill defenseless babies at will.

    —————————————————
    Leigh:

    Throw in a few cherry-picked Bible verses, and voila, a whole [Republican] Army for God ready to take over the political system to ensure that the country remains a virtuous Christian Nation– and that Republican fat cats who don?t give a damn about theology stay rich and powerful.

    Mover:

    It makes more sense to believe that tribes that want unfettered access to abortions for their convenience would be the death cult. They devalue unborn babies and the elderly, for which they have no use. In fact, I’ve come to believe that the US Democrat Party [anybody else catch the Limbaughism?] is the party of death and devaluation of human life.

    —————————————————
    Leigh:

    . . . their conviction that they, as the Godly remnant, have the right to tell everyone else how to live — and to assert those convictions as loudly and self-righteously as possible.

    Mover:

    FYI: I believe pro-lifers should spend their time showing pro-abortionists the error of their ways.

    ————————————————–

    Leigh: And here’s a bonus question. The following is a standard Christianist argument for “America is a Christian Nation.” As far as I can tell, this meme was popularized by the notorious liar and dominionist David Barton on his site Wallbuilders. It can be seen on Creationism.Org, the apologetics site Got Questions?, and, of course, at Freerepublic. Google “endowed by their creator rights god” for literally thousands more examples.

    http://www.wallbuilders.com
    http://www.creationism.org/csshs/v06n1p10.htm
    http://www.gotquestions.org/human-rights.html
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2205178/posts?page=1

    Oh, and by the way, not only are rights from God, but women don’t have them. Check out this insane post, “Women are not equal to men”, from the blog “Under the Curse of 1920″ (the year of the 19th amendment giving women the vote): http://blog.thecurseof1920.com/?p=5

    Mover:

    BTW: How does one have “rights”? Do we bestow them on each other? Do they come from a benevolent government? Does science give them to us? Do we have any real rights?

    _____________________________________________________

    So, folks, what do you think? Is Mover a Christianist, or not?

    Mover, thanks for providing such a convincing demonstration of my thesis. But I must ask you: which is the greater sin, having an abortion . . . or denying Christ?

  402. #402 Leigh Williams
    March 19, 2009

    Kseniya:

    I once had a woman from Texas tell me that “Planned Parenthood is the arm of Satan, and the U.N. is the head.”

    Whoa indeed. Authoritarian personalities are the most credulous people in the world. They will believe the craziest things as long as they more-or-less fit their worldview, come from an authority figure . . . or come in an email.

    They’ll believe any damned thing they get in an email.

    And they can’t Google for beans.

  403. #403 Kseniya
    March 19, 2009

    Oh yes. Alarmist wingnut emails.

    The email panic leading up to the release of The Golden Compass movie was classic.

    “Atheist author… anti-religion… every child has its own demon… the main character is a pathological liar…”

    Obviously this all came from people who had not read the book – which is, for you unbelievers out there, primarily anti-authoritarian, and a thing of beauty.

    It is darkly amusing that the most heavily demonized books for young readers that have been published in the past several decades promote, among other themes, some or all of the following:

    - Family and the great power of maternal love
    - Friendship and loyalty
    - The willingness to take grave risks to help the people you love.
    - The importance of making a stand, regardless of the odds, against evil and injustice.

    Pretty nasty stuff, yes? Maybe you’ve guessed that I’m talking about the Harry Potter books, Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and A Wrinkle in Time.

    Never mind that the Potter books are delightfully witty and, though not great literature by any stretch, ultimately deeply human. The Pullman books are at worst thought-provoking, and beautifully written. We can’t be exposing our children to Black Magic, dontcha know.

    Funny how the religionists have no beef with Snow White, Pinocchio, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Peter Pan, etc.

    Oh, by the way, Leigh – are you aware that Barack Obama is the Antichrist? Isn’t that exciting? I learned that from an email I received two years ago.

  404. #404 Leigh Williams
    March 19, 2009

    “Oh, by the way, Leigh – are you aware that Barack Obama is the Antichrist?”

    Oh yes indeedy. He’s also a simultaneously a Muslim. These idiots can’t even get their ridiculous End Times crap straight.

    Oh, and he is, at one and the same time, a fascist, a socialist, and a communist.

    These people just string buzz words together. They don’t know the defintion of anything. But by God, they know how to forward emails. THAT piece of of modern life, they’ve totally mastered.

  405. #405 T_U_T
    March 19, 2009

    manyambal.
    Your post does not contain any definition of parasitism of fitness. Neither you show, how under those definitions a fetus can be a parasite.
    And, also, I completely fail to understand why you write like I was defending the ridiculous pro-life position and did it for religious reasons.

  406. #406 swangeese
    March 19, 2009

    #322 is spot on. In another life, I was an anti-choice activist and those were my observations as well.

    The presence of an embryo in my body doesn’t negate my bodily autonomy. I’m the final arbiter of what happens or doesn’t happen to my body.

    Basically the issue boils down to control. They don’t give a damn about life. It’s all about forcing the woman to do what they want her to do. When you think about it, their view of women isn’t much different from the Taliban.

    Once that kid pops out of the womb, forced birthers abandon both mother and child. If the new mother happens to be single, then they will blame her for the ills of society. And especially if the woman needs governmental assistance to raise her child.

    And while promoting abstinence sounds great in theory, it doesn’t work in practice. I’d like to see these bozos tell a married couple, for example, that they cannot have sex if they choose to be childfree.

    Anyway, I found a great article about how shitty it is for a woman it is to live in an anti-abortion country.:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/09/magazine/09abortion.html?ex=1302235200&en=d855d80018cd6c56&ei=5088

  407. #407 Leigh Williams
    March 19, 2009

    I said: “Notice that the category ‘evangelical’ comprises both Protestants and Evangelicals.”

    but of course I meant: “Notice that the category ‘evangelical’ comprises both Protestants and CATHOLICS.”

    Mea culpa.

    So, Mover, which are you?

  408. #408 Leigh Williams
    March 19, 2009

    @Swangeese: Thank you.

    I would be interested to know, if it’s something you are comfortable sharing, what thought processes and/or events led you away from anti-choice activism? In my experience, it’s quite rare that someone who is in that mindset ever attains freedom.

  409. #409 ConcernedJoe
    March 19, 2009

    Since no zygote is a person member of this happy blog group has answered my questions first posed on #77 I’ll be more direct

    Simon and/or Mover if you are listening answer this:

    what would you do in both cases (and NO waffling or changing conditions – just answer simply and directly): “… you can save 1000 embryos OR (mutually exclusive or) one 85 year old frail woman from the raging fire. What do you save? Oh the 1000 embryos you say — huum — doubt most would agree with you .. but .. [to] help clarify your drift … it ain’t an 85 year old frail woman but an angelic 5 year little girl. ”

    This question defines what you really are and what you really believe …

  410. #410 Watchman
    March 19, 2009

    Once that kid pops out of the womb, forced birthers abandon both mother and child. If the new mother happens to be single, then they will blame her for the ills of society. And especially if the woman needs governmental assistance to raise her child.

    Bingo.

    Leigh: Outstanding comments on this thread. I couldn’t agree more.

    Kseniya: I’m with you all the way on the book stuff. I have encountered similar complaints about the Pullman trilogy from Christians who hadn’t read them. They fail to see, let alone understand, the critical difference between the demons of the medieval xtian mythology, and the cautioning companion-voice of the Platonic daimonion or the guiding and motivating voice of the Hellenistic daemon which are clearly the source and inspiration for Pullman’s daemons. Far from being a malignant spiritual being from the dark realms, a daemon of Pullman’s world is the external manifestation of the soul of the person to whom the daemon is bonded; as a pair, they comprise a whole human being and cannot – or should not – be separated.

  411. #411 Kelson
    March 19, 2009

    Man, that display was ridiculous.

    Nothing like walking to class with a 30 foot aborted fetus greeting you. Fortunately, my second home is on the other side of campus from where that display was.

  412. #412 Anon
    March 19, 2009

    Sorry, this is going to be a looooong post. Please skip ahead if you have no interest in pregnancy related diabetes.

    “Posted by: T_U_T | March 18, 2009 8:09 PM

    Anon. First I was never talking about situations where continued pregnancy is life threatening to the mother.
    Second.

    At any time, a person can walk away from an ill child, give it up to the state and protect their health from adverse effects.

    and if he for some reason can not, does it give him a license to kill ?

    Third. I ask you. By the power of tedious trollhood. To provide a biological definition of parasitism. Definition of biological fitness, and then show, how, according to those definitions, can your offspring be your parasite even in principle.”

    So, if my wife becomes pregnant again, further raising her risk of developing diabetes later in life, should she be allowed to abort or be forced to stay pregnant and give birth? Do you also advocate that the state pick up the tab for my wife’s diabetes if it does develop later in life? Children born under these circumstances also have a higher risk of developing diabetes later in life. Do you also advocate that the state pick up the tab for their diabetes if it develops? Remember, diabetes is not always a fatal disease. In or out? Abortion or not?

    Further, every women has a chance of getting pregnancy related diabetes every time they get pregnant. Every woman, every time. And they will not know until the third trimester. Then, they will have to decide whether to take the risk on the next child. It seems you are saying that if a women gets pregnant after they already know that they may get PRD, tuff shit, they stay pregnant. Well, fuck that. I’ll let your wife risk getting diabetes, going blind, losing her limbs or dying, but not mine, (if she doesn’t want to.)

    But lets get to your questions about parasites.

    My definition of parasite: an organism that is biologically dependent on another for direct food and shelter to the detriment of the other. Biological fitness: the increase in an organisms offspring in an environment. Your harping on biological fitness suggests that, because a child is biologically related to the mother, it cannot be a parasite, after all, it’s passing on the gene’s of the mother, improving her biological fitness.

    Sorry, but in our case, that’s not true. Because, you see, a women can take some steps to avoid PRD. If a women loses weight before she gets pregnant, strictly observes her diet as soon as she knows she is pregnant, and increases her exercise, she may avoid PRD.

    So, let’s get to biological fitness. We want to increase the number of children my wife has and increase the likelihood that her children will survive to adulthood and have kids. How does a PRD related child harm this?

    First, propose that after her first PDR child, she gets pregnant again. But, when she gets pregnant, she is over-weight and too busy to exercise or strictly watch her diet. She stays pregnant, gets PRD, has the child. She then develops type 2 diabetes, goes blind and dies and can’t take care of her children, of them, the two PRD babies get juvenile diabetes and they die before having children of their own and the one non-PRD child remains healthy to have children. Biological fitness level? One.

    Or try this: Wife gets pregnant again. She’s over-weight, can’t exercise or watch her weight. She aborts. A little later, gets pregnant again, same circumstance, aborts again. Later, she loses weight, has time for diet and exercise, gets pregnant again. This time she does not abort or get PRD. Gets pregnant again. Again, no PRD. She now has 4 children, one develops juvenile diabetes, dies before having children, the others all grow up healthy and have children. Her biological fitness level? Three.

    And, as stated above, since all pregnant women have the potential to develop PRD, all women have the potential to be carrying a parasite. They will never find out until the pregnancy is almost over, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

    Now, let’s get to your other question: I said: At any time, a person can walk away from an ill child, give it up to the state and protect their health from adverse effects.

    You said: and if he for some reason can not, does it give him a license to kill ?

    So, let’s flesh-out your hypothetical. A parent has a sick child in the hospital. The child must be fed, clothed, cleaned, ect. If the parent leaves, the child will die from neglect. The child begins to give off a hormone that the parent realizes will increase their chances of going blind by 95% and possible even dying of cancer. The parent says, “I got five other kids at home to care for, if I go blind or die, it may be impossible to care for them.” The parent then calls every single person in the entire world to help him care for the child so that he won’t go blind or die. Everyone in the entire world says no. The parent leaves, and the child dies of neglect. Parent keeps his sight and takes care of other children. Was the parent wrong to leave the child to die?

    Um, no. I mean, it sucks that the ill child exuded a hormone that can cause people to go blind or die, and that everyone in the entire world said they would not help, but it’s not like the parent knew that going in. And, even if he did know, so what? People should not be required by the state to put their health and life on the line for someone else. It might happen, but it shouldn’t.

    And, surprise, that’s just like pregnancy. No one knows going into it all the risks they are going to be taking. No one. And abortion is kinda of like that person walking away from the ill child, if the ill child was the size of a nickel and was not conscience.

    Now, lucky for you, you can prove me wrong. Find one court case, just one little court case, where a parent was convicted of murder for leaving an ill child to die of neglect because they feared for their health after calling everyone in the entire world, okay, that’s not fair, after calling the police, fire department, and the child protection agency in their state, and them saying, “fuck off, take care of your own damn sick kid.” You find one case like that and I will say you won your argument.

    Good luck.

  413. #413 Piltdown Man
    March 19, 2009

    Knockgoats @ 265:

    A sperm would not develop into a baby by itself. – Piltdown Man
    Nor would a zygote or a 20-week fetus.

    Hair-splitting. A zygote/fetus will develop into an infant given the necessary “life-support” environment.

    Well what if we took “having the potential to develop into a human baby through purely natural processes” as a working definition of ‘human’ …?

    Do you have that ability? I don’t think so.

    Touché. I walked into that one, didn’t I? It’s still pedantry — I was obviously talking about humans in the early stages of their developmental process.

    Zeus and Odin aren’t real, you dummy.

    Well, probably not. But at least they are not logical absurdities and hence necessarily nonexistent, like your own deity of choice!

    If you’re referring to the Incarnation, remember that Christ had two natures – human and divine – hence there is no logically impossible conflation of human and divine.

    The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.” – GK Chesterton
    All this quote shows is that Chesterton was capable of producing the most ludicrously stupid nonsense – hardly unexpected of course, given he was a Catholic.

    By “reason” Chesterton means the intellect. One could put it another way by saying he is drawing a distinction between the purely rational intellect and authentic reason, which is an integration of intellect, passions and faith, ie arguing that humans should not aspire to be Vulcans.

    Smidgy @ 267:

    Well what if we took “having the potential to develop into a human baby through purely natural processes” as a working definition of ‘human’ …?

    Well, first of all, once you’re done transplanting the nucleus, that actually forms an egg which DOES develop into a baby through purely natural processes. This is how full clones are made (such as Dolly the sheep).

    But the transplantation process in cloning is unnatural.

    Secondly, this also means anything other than an egg, or a gestating fetus, however it was formed, is NOT human. Which, presumably, means you aren’t, and neither am I.

    See reply to Dr Goats above.

    Thirdly, as has already been pointed out, this also means things like fertilised eggs that fail to implant in the uterine wall are ‘human beings’.

    Who says they aren’t?

    Fourthly there is the point that conception is, indeed, a ‘natural process’, so even unfertilized eggs and sperm could be considered ‘human beings’ under your definition.

    This is where Chestertonian common sense comes in. An evolutionist wouldn’t say humans evolved from humans.

    Nothing of the sort. A foreboding.

    No, that was definitely a threat.

    I’m in no position to make threats. It was an expectation, a prediction and, if you will, a warning.

    No, I just see it as dependent on the Church rather than vice versa.

    So, according to your faith, fallible, fallen Man can contradict the Holy written Word of God, who is supposedly infallible, perfect, omniscient and omnipotent, and it’s Man that is correct

    No. According to my faith, the infallible Holy Ghost inspires Holy Church when it comes to interpreting and applying the Word of God.

    Dianne @ 274

    1. It would exclude most people, including both of us since adults have no potential for developing into a human baby, by natural means or otherwise.

    See reply to Goaty above.

    2. Even if you ignore that problem, you’re excluding a number of clearly human type people, from every “test tube baby” in existence to those born through c-section (NOT a natural way for a fetus to become a baby.)

    Well, IVF is morally unacceptable, but both are manifestly of a different order of manipulation to cloning from a liver cell.

    3. The definition is rank prejudice. Why should a person who is born through human manipulation be any less human than one born through “natural” means.

    Because the Church has ruled that certain forms of manipulation transgress the moral law.

    Knockgoats @ 277:

    See, this is the reason scientific atheism will never supplant religion – who’s going to look at their parents or children and see machines for delivering DNA rather than real live human beings? – Piltdown Man
    What an utter idiot you are. Dawkins, whom you quoted, is quite clear and explicit in saying that his “selfish gene” interpretation of evolution in no way implies that we are nothing but machines for delivering DNA. I quote the concluding sentence of The Selfish Gene (1976 edition):
    We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.
    Clear enough for you, fuckwit?

    Yes — we’re not just robots, we’re righteous robots who have (somehow) rebelled against their unfeeling masters. The good news just keeps on coming!

    Sorry, but as a selling proposition it doesn’t cut it against earthly joy followed by the Beatific Vision.

    +++

    Leigh Williams the devout Christian humanist @ 401:

    Oh, and by the way, not only are rights from God, but women don’t have them. Check out this insane post, “Women are not equal to men”, from the blog “Under the Curse of 1920″ (the year of the 19th amendment giving women the vote)

    The “Christianists” you quote are your own spiritual ancestors – they just haven’t gone as far as you. To make anyone of either sex sovereign via a democratic process is a monstrous infringement of the sovereignty of God.

  414. #414 Leigh Williams
    March 19, 2009

    Piltdown Man, lovely apologetics; by which I mean to say, a load of old bollocks. With a dash of End Times nuttery thrown in.

    But I must take exception to this:

    “[T]his also means things like fertilised eggs that fail to implant in the uterine wall are ‘human beings’.”

    Who says they aren’t?

    Are you really saying you believe God, in His infinite wisdom, set up our biology so that more than 50% of human beings created are flushed down the toilet or put in the landfill?

    That’s a really extraordinary devotion to the “life begins at conception” mantra you’ve got there, PD. It’s at least as great as Mover’s.

    Notice this, folks: “Life begins at conception” is a necessary condition for what these guys are really after, which is “women don’t control their own bodies”. If they recognize, even for an instant, that only human blastocysts start at conception (and become human beings later, when they have brains), then they open the door to, at least, first-few-weeks abortion.

    Their need to control women’s sexuality is so profound that it leads them to solemnly swear that their own God is the greatest abortionist in all of history, a position that seems more than a little blasphemous to me.

    But I suppose the fig leaf they’ll hide behind is, “Well, everything is under God’s control, so if He chooses to to kill those billions of concepti, that’s His right and no doubt according to His plan.” Which, as far as I can see, is an even more insane and blasphemous position to take, not to mention absolutely repulsive to every non-fundie Christian and all other people in the world.

    They’d have done better to stick with “life begins at implantation”. But they couldn’t do that, because then they couldn’t also take a swipe at multiple methods of birth control. Like the Pill, which they claim sometimes works by preventing implantation and causing a “silent abortion”. Didn’t you wonder why all those Christianist pharmacists are suddenly “conscience-stricken” about dispensing the Pill? This is the rationale.

    Look here, everybody. Take away abortion, take away birth control, and what do you get?

    A female population that is chaste . . . or pregnant. In either case, under the control of men. Patriarchy for teh win!

  415. #415 Watchman
    March 19, 2009

    Sorry, but as a selling proposition it doesn’t cut it against earthly joy followed by the Beatific Vision.

    Do you realize what you’re admitting, here?

  416. #416 ConcernedJoe
    March 19, 2009

    Leigh — and to boot they still won’t answer my question!!

    Geez — hate it when people are all words — especially when it comes to what other people can do with their own body!!! Don’t you?

  417. #417 windy
    March 19, 2009
    2. Even if you ignore that problem, you’re excluding a number of clearly human type people, from every “test tube baby” in existence to those born through c-section (NOT a natural way for a fetus to become a baby.)

    Well, IVF is morally unacceptable, but both are manifestly of a different order of manipulation to cloning from a liver cell.

    Are you seriously sticking to the “IVF babies are not fully human” argument? How much less human are c-section babies, IVF babies and babies cloned from liver cells, respectively? Can we get percentages?

    3. The definition is rank prejudice. Why should a person who is born through human manipulation be any less human than one born through “natural” means.

    Because the Church has ruled that certain forms of manipulation transgress the moral law.

    How does that follow?

    -Does rape transgress the moral law according to the Church?
    -If so, are children born as a result of rape less human?

  418. #418 Piltdown Man
    March 19, 2009

    Leigh Williams @ 414:

    With a dash of End Times nuttery thrown in.

    Never mentioned the End Times.

    (But I will just add that liberal Christians’ embarrassment at all things apocalyptic, along with their disdain for the notion of the devil in general, is one reason why liberal Christianity is such a turn-off. It’s decaffeinated Christianity. No enemy ? no conflict ? no drama ? no interest.)

    ((In fairness, one acknowledges such embarrassment is perhaps understandable given evangelicals’ fevered & distorted speculations about the apocalypse.))

    Are you really saying you believe God, in His infinite wisdom, set up our biology so that more than 50% of human beings created are flushed down the toilet or put in the landfill? … [They] solemnly swear that their own God is the greatest abortionist in all of history, a position that seems more than a little blasphemous to me. … But I suppose the fig leaf they’ll hide behind is, “Well, everything is under God’s control, so if He chooses to to kill those billions of concepti, that’s His right and no doubt according to His plan.” Which, as far as I can see, is an even more insane and blasphemous position to take …

    Why? If you believe in God, you must concede that He has already condemned the entire human race – every man, woman and child who ever lived, is living or will live* – to death. We all die sooner or later.

    Puts the Old Testament smiting into perspective.

    (*With two or three exceptions)

    what these guys are really after, which is “women don’t control their own bodies”.

    Nobody really controls their own bodies or anything else for that matter. Autonomy is a satanic illusion.

    Look here, everybody. Take away abortion, take away birth control, and what do you get?
    A female population that is chaste . . . or pregnant. In either case, under the control of men. Patriarchy for teh win!

    Ridiculous.

    In the first place, traditional sexual morality is as much about protecting women from men’s unchained passions as it is about “controlling” women.

    In the second place, the freedom from the constraints of “patriarchy” that modern sexual mores supposedly grants women is illusory because it is entirely dependent on men’s acquiescence. Men went along with the sexual revolution because they thought it meant they could get their end away more often, with fewer consequences & less commitment. But if enough men ever decided the elaborate game of feminism, equal rights etc were more trouble than they’re worth – if they ever decided to revert to the well-known prehistoric tactic of clobbering their womenfolk over the head with a big club and dragging them off by the hair – what’s going to stop them?

    In the third place, women have a great deal of power in societies governed by traditional sexual morality. It just tends to be exercised in different ways and in different arenas to men.

    +++

    Watchman @ 415:

    Sorry, but as a selling proposition it doesn’t cut it against earthly joy followed by the Beatific Vision.

    Do you realize what you’re admitting, here?

    No but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.

    +++

    ConcernedJoe @ 416:

    Leigh — and to boot they still won’t answer my question!!

    What was the question again?

  419. #419 Piltdown Man
    March 19, 2009

    windy @ 417:

    Are you seriously sticking to the “IVF babies are not fully human” argument?

    I said IVF was immoral – I never said IVF babies were not fully human. In the same way, rape is immoral, but children conceived as a result of rape are human.

    3. The definition is rank prejudice. Why should a person who is born through human manipulation be any less human than one born through “natural” means.

    Because the Church has ruled that certain forms of manipulation transgress the moral law.

    How does that follow?
    -Does rape transgress the moral law according to the Church?
    -If so, are children born as a result of rape less human?

    On reflection, I couldn’t confidently assert that a cloned child – Dianne’s original hypothetical example – was less than human. I could only say its creation was an immoral act. (Although it’s worth bearing in mind that in the case of a child born of rape, it is not the biological process of conception per se that transgresses the moral law – the conception of a child is not what makes an act of rape immoral.)

  420. #420 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 19, 2009

    Pilty, what makes you think we are interested in your thoughts, and the dogma of your morally bankrupt reliqion? We aren’t.

  421. #421 Stephen Wells
    March 19, 2009

    Pilty, some old-testament sexual morality for you, very protective:

    Numbers: 31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

    31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    You can’t quote a genocide instruction manual as a moral code and expect any rational person to take you seriously.

  422. #422 windy
    March 19, 2009

    if they ever decided to revert to the well-known prehistoric tactic of clobbering their womenfolk over the head with a big club and dragging them off by the hair

    After that, would they load the women into getaway cars made out of logs and stone wheels, and speed away propelled by their feet?

    (As long as we are using cartoons as evidence…)

  423. #423 Foggg
    March 19, 2009

    PiltdownMan playing Ricco
    raven and Smidgey as themselves
    “The Almighty” as Fat Tony

    Ricco @233: Not nearly as tough as it’s going to be for the majority when Fat Tony decides enough is enough & gets medieval on their collective ass.

    raven @237: A threat. Gee, you people always seem to get down to death threats and the occasional murder.

    Ricco @256: Nothing of the sort. A foreboding.

    Smidgy @267: No, that was definitely a threat.

    Ricco @413: I’m in no position to make threats. It was an expectation, a prediction and, if you will, a warning.

    Youse guys take it as a warning from Fat Tony. He has his ways, ya’know. He gives da word to somma his peeps, ya neva know what might happen. But hey I just work for da guy, I’m just passin’ it along.

  424. #424 Foggg
    March 19, 2009

    Ricco:
    But if enough men ever decided the elaborate game of feminism, equal rights etc were more trouble than they’re worth – if they ever decided to revert to the well-known prehistoric tactic of clobbering their womenfolk over the head with a big club and dragging them off by the hair – what’s going to stop them?

    Nuttin’ would! If wasn’t for me and Fat Tony and his peeps! Some say there are 4 billion people around who aren’t afraid of Fat Tony yet, but just wait til their men go prehistoric and get to clobberin’!

  425. #425 Mover
    March 19, 2009

    Smidgy@397

    The specific claim made was that ‘all biologists would agree that life begins at conception’.

    OK. But the conversation has evolved. Try and keep up.

    You are apparantly annoyed…

    There’s that mind reader thingy again. With such an ability, I would think most of the world’s problems could be fixed. But they haven’t, so I’ll assume that you cannot read minds or you don’t care about the world.

    No, funnily enough, it’s a human zygote. Human beings have certain characteristics and features that a zygote, human or otherwise, does not have – such as a brain and the ability to think and feel, for example.

    Amazing. I have to wonder at the way some people think. While you continually try to convince me that the product of a man and woman having sex, and as a result the woman becomes pregnant, is not a human being until you say so.

    And you, and others (I wouldn’t want to just single you out) cling to this blatant falsehood for the specific purpose of feeling at ease when you kill the unborn child for your own convenience or for science.

    We’re up to 49,551,703 abortions since 1973 (according to Right to Life). You feel very proud.

    This is precisely what you were doing – determining the threshold for abortion based purely on the claim that the fetus was possibly a human being at conception, and ignoring the mother.

    Wrong again. You are reading what you want to see into the problem here. I do not want to set a threshold for the stage of life when abortions would be OK. I’m saying that abortions are killing human beings, mostly for the convenience of parents, and no amount of redefining the different stages of human development change that fact.

    Conception = baby. In Humans, it equals human baby.

    If YOU are not pregnant, or ever likely to be, YOU will never have to make that choice.

    The doctor that is performing the abortion is not working on his/her own pregnancy. he/she made a choice. And, there are families who have unplanned pregnancies and the woman (I know this may be hard for you to grasp) will actually consult her husband on the option of abortion. SO he actually gets a choice too. Sounds weird I know, but it happens. So it boils down to is a non-carrying person can be a co-conspirator in the abortion. I hope this clears it up for you.

    This has already been asked, and answered.

    As to what the species the fertilized egg belongs to, you did not say. FYI “zygote” is not a species.

    Look, you really don’t have to answer the question. I understand that answering it honestly would put a crack in the defensive wall built by pro-abortionists. Abortionists, ‘It’s OK to remove the parasite, it isn’t a human being.’

    Well, you REALLY haven’t been following the discussion. As has been pointed out, numerous times, by the simplistic definition of ‘if it’s biologically human, and alive, it’s a human being’, things like organs removed for transplants would be ‘human beings’, accidentally severed limbs and digits would be ‘human beings’, and even individual sperm would be arguably covered by that.

    I have, and it’s only been repeated over and over again like some cult’s mantra. ‘It’s not a human, it’s not a human, it’s not a human….’

    Get real pal. A fertilized egg growing in a human woman is what some call her “offspring”. Her children. His children. And at no point in the child’s development is he/she a giraffe, or a goat, kitty cat, turtle, a crawdad or polar bear. Simply a human child, from beginning to end.

    As I have already stated as fact: No one knows when human life begins each time an egg gets fertilized. Not you, your fellow abortionists, abortion doctors, PZ or anyone else. Since you can’t figure out how to be smart about this, I’ll help you out with one simple rule: Don’t do things that may be wrong when you can fault on the side of life. The only caring and humane way to treat a human pregnancy is to safeguard the new life growing within. Just like you, me, the doctors, PZ and everyone else, started out he same way.

    I guess we are all the lucky ones. Our mothers and fathers didn’t say “screw this noise, yer outta here, silly arsed zygote! We didn’t ask fer ya.” So we get to live. Shouldn’t we as educated, rational, compassionate and caring adults, afford the same chance to any unborn child? It’s only fair, right?

    A final thought: After aborting the above mentioned 49 million American working men and women, do you think one or more of them could have grown up to cure cancer, to be biologists, to earn a living so you can retire, become a politician that understands and has the balls to properly manage an economy? Which discarded baby could it have been?

  426. #426 Smidgy
    March 19, 2009

    Piltdown Man #413:

    Hair-splitting. A zygote/fetus will develop into an infant given the necessary “life-support” environment.

    As will the liver cell. And note – ‘will develop into an infant’. In other words, it’s not yet an infant.

    If you’re referring to the Incarnation, remember that Christ had two natures – human and divine – hence there is no logically impossible conflation of human and divine.

    Well, if I understand him correctly, he’s actually referring to the huge number of ways that God is a logical absurdity. And also, you should know your faith – Christ is not the deity in question, per se – he is part of the deity made separate and given human form, supposedly. However, the deity is, depending on your precise denomination, either God the Father or the Holy Trinity, not Christ alone.

    By “reason” Chesterton means the intellect. One could put it another way by saying he is drawing a distinction between the purely rational intellect and authentic reason, which is an integration of intellect, passions and faith, ie arguing that humans should not aspire to be Vulcans.

    Erm, no. You saying that shows me you have not read the book this is from. At all. That is lifted from a passage that explains that madmen often have very logical and ‘sane’ reasons for believing what they do. And this is true. For example, suppose someone has a delusion that there was a vast conspiracy of some kind against them. If everyone denied it, well, he would reason, quite properly, that’s what would happen if there really WAS such a conspiracy. Similarly, if someone had a delusion that there was a magical Sky-Daddy that psychically inspired people to write down a lot of things in a big book and spread it around as instructions for the whole of humanity, then Christianity would make perfect sense to them. It’s the underlying assumptions and delusions that are false and insane.

    But the transplantation process in cloning is unnatural.

    Sorry, your definition was ‘having the potential to develop into a human baby through purely natural processes’. With sufficient mucking around, you can create an egg from a liver cell. This means your definition is inadequate, or that such an altered liver cell is a is a human being. Which is it?

    Touché. I walked into that one, didn’t I? It’s still pedantry — I was obviously talking about humans in the early stages of their developmental process.

    (Reply to Knockgoats that you referred me to)

    So your definition is valid, except when it’s not. So your definition is inadequate. No need to answer my above question, then – this makes it clear which it is.

    Who says they aren’t?

    Logically, this means we should never kill an ectopic preganancy, even if failing to do so would threaten the life of a mother, as we would be committing murder. This also means we should hold funerals for the thousands, if not millions, of fertilized eggs that are washed out in menstrual fluid from failed pregnancies. Considering that, fairly often, the only symptom of such failed pregnancies is a slightly late period, there is actually a major problem to overcome, though – a method of letting the woman know she was, in fact, pregnant, and not simply late due to, say, a slight, temporary hormone imbalance, plus, of course, locating the egg to bury it.

    This is where Chestertonian common sense comes in. An evolutionist wouldn’t say humans evolved from humans.

    Another point where your definition is valid, except when it’s not.

    I’m in no position to make threats.

    Well, don’t make them, then.

    No. According to my faith, the infallible Holy Ghost inspires Holy Church when it comes to interpreting and applying the Word of God.

    So, how come different churches have different interpretations, then? Or are you claiming that your denomination is the One True Faith??

    Well, IVF is morally unacceptable

    …according to you, not to me…

    but both are manifestly of a different order of manipulation to cloning from a liver cell.

    Well, sorry, but your definition doesn’t make such distinctions, and it would, in fact, INCLUDE the liver cell (once the nucleus transplant was complete), but EXCLUDE ‘test tube babies’ or people conceived entirely naturally but delivered via c-section.

    Because the Church has ruled that certain forms of manipulation transgress the moral law.

    Could you give me details of the exact name of this ‘moral law’ so I can look up the legislation and examine it in detail? I’m not sure if you’re a legal expert, so maybe you can’t answer this, but can you also explain how any church ruling on the application of this ‘law’ conforms to the First Amendment? And can you also tell me when this was passed, and how they got around the danger of any kind of ‘moral law’ basically tearing up the Bill of Rights?

    Or are you trying to impose your own religious views as ‘laws’?

  427. #427 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 19, 2009

    Mover, YAWN, still the right wing bore. Nothing of interest to say.

  428. #428 ConcernedJoe
    March 19, 2009

    LOL – what question?? Here I’ll repeat once again for Piltdown and all others of the ilk:

    ++++++++++

    All you “a few cells are a human (implied person)” cheerleaders answer my question (see #77 or 98) !!!

    You’ll prove to yourselves whether you really believe what you think you believe. And to us whether you are nuts or not.

    Challenged offered – no waffling – no bobbing and weaving – no changing the scenarios. Just answer simply and directly.

    Ciao

    ++++++++++++ Answer it!!!

  429. #429 Smidgy
    March 19, 2009

    Mover #425 (note, I’ve truncated sections of this to remove irrelevant ranting)

    OK. But the conversation has evolved. Try and keep up.

    You were specifically referring to the claim made and PZ’s response to that, so what has evolved in the discussion since then is absolutely irrelevant to that.

    There’s that mind reader thingy again. With such an ability, I would think most of the world’s problems could be fixed. But they haven’t, so I’ll assume that you cannot read minds or you don’t care about the world.

    Nice attempt to dodge the point. Or it would be if it wasn’t so transparent.

    Amazing. I have to wonder at the way some people think. While you continually try to convince me that the product of a man and woman having sex, and as a result the woman becomes pregnant, is not a human being until you say so.

    No, I’m asking for a logical, rational explanation as to how a single-celled organism, or one constituting a small cluster of cells, or one without certain key features of a human brain, can constitute a ‘human being’. So far, I haven’t seen one.

    Wrong again. You are reading what you want to see into the problem here. I do not want to set a threshold for the stage of life when abortions would be OK. I’m saying that abortions are killing human beings, mostly for the convenience of parents, and no amount of redefining the different stages of human development change that fact.

    You were making the argument that the threshold for abortions should be as far back into the pregnancy that a fetus could logically be a ‘human life’, then asserted this was at conception. That is absolutely plain from these direct quotes from post #226:

    So I will fault on the side of life and push the perceived beginning of human life back as close to the beginning as logically possible.

    Viable human sperm by itself is not a human being, and a viable human egg is not a human being (as far as we know).

    When does human life begin?

    Then the only answer can be at conception.

    You utterly failed to even consider the mother, in any way. Denying you did this is denying something that can easily be verified.

    Conception = baby.

    No, conception = fertilized egg. Baby comes later, if at all. Learn some biology.

    The doctor that is performing the abortion is not working on his/her own pregnancy.

    Yes, that’s correct, sorry, I was forgetting about the doctors that carry out the abortions. I take it you are one of these doctors, then? Even if you are, unless you are carrying out an abortion because of medical reasons, you would be operating on the instructions of the mother – so, again, it is the MOTHER who faces that decision, not YOU.

    And, there are families who have unplanned pregnancies and the woman (I know this may be hard for you to grasp) will actually consult her husband on the option of abortion. SO he actually gets a choice too.

    No, he gets some input into her decision making process. She still makes the final choice. And again, are you in the position of being such a father?

    As to what the species the fertilized egg belongs to, you did not say. FYI “zygote” is not a species.

    The egg is human. And so’s my kidney. Does this mean my kidney is a ‘human being’?

    Look, you really don’t have to answer the question. I understand that answering it honestly would put a crack in the defensive wall built by pro-abortionists. Abortionists, ‘It’s OK to remove the parasite, it isn’t a human being.’

    I’m really struggling to comprehend why you’re having so much difficulty understanding such a simple, straightforward concept. A fertilized egg is a fertilized egg. That’s why we call it ‘a fertilized egg’. It’s not a ‘human being’ for much the same reason that it’s not an umbrella.

    I have, and it’s only been repeated over and over again like some cult’s mantra. ‘It’s not a human, it’s not a human, it’s not a human….

    If that’s all you saw, then you REALLY have missed the vast majority of the discussion. No, strike that, ALL of the discussion.

    A final thought: After aborting the above mentioned 49 million American working men and women, do you think one or more of them could have grown up to cure cancer, to be biologists, to earn a living so you can retire, become a politician that understands and has the balls to properly manage an economy? Which discarded baby could it have been?

    Firstly, you’re assuming they would be ‘American working men and women’. They weren’t, and there’s no guarantee they ever would be, even if they weren’t aborted. Secondly, how many could have been the next Hitler? Quite possibly none of them, both as an answer to your questions and mine, so it’s utterly irrelevant questions. Thirdly, unless you are prepared to examine, in detail, each and every one of those cases, I cannot see how you can possibly say that the woman in question in each case made the wrong decision. I also cannot see, in any case, why they should have to pay any attention to you, or indeed, why they should have to pay any attention to anyone else, except for taking some account of the father’s wishes (and, even then, there’s a case to be made from the simple fact that he’s not the one that has to be pregnant).

  430. #430 windy
    March 19, 2009
    Hair-splitting. A zygote/fetus will develop into an infant given the necessary “life-support” environment.

    As will the liver cell. And note – ‘will develop into an infant’. In other words, it’s not yet an infant.

    Not to mention that most human zygotes fail to develop into fetuses, as already mentioned in this thread.

  431. #431 Leigh Williams
    March 19, 2009

    Mover:

    Since you can’t figure out how to be smart about this, I’ll help you out with one simple rule: Don’t do things that may be wrong when you can fault on the side of life.

    How about this instead, asshole?

    Since YOU can’t figure out any way to argue the point other to moronically insist, over and over, that human cells are HUMAN, like we don’t all already agree that’s true — why don’t you go mind your own business?

    Because you’re the one who can’t be smart about this. All you can be is self-righteous.

    You can’t even figure out how to hide your complete resemblance to Evangelical Man, in spite of lying about it upthread. I guess you’re not smart enough to create an argument that might fly with somebody outside your church. Good luck on enacting any laws if you can’t persuade other citizens that a societal purpose other than conformance with your religious beliefs is at stake.

    And as for you, Pilty . . . eewwww. All I can do is to highlight your entire post #418 and repeat, “[It's] an even more insane and blasphemous position to take, not to mention absolutely repulsive to every non-fundie Christian and all other people in the world.”

    I’ll also mention that if you or any other testosterone-poisoned individual tries to club me over the head, you will have an unfortunate encounter with my 9mm Beretta. True equality through superior hardware, my dear — my automatic trumps your club. And you’re not giving me my rights. I’m taking them.

  432. #432 Piltdown Man
    March 20, 2009

    Leigh Williams @ 431:

    And as for you, Pilty . . . eewwww. All I can do is to highlight your entire post #418 and repeat, “[It's] an even more insane and blasphemous position to take, not to mention absolutely repulsive to every non-fundie Christian and all other people in the world.”

    I know liberals like to claim reality has a liberal bias, but this is ridiculous. Why should God tailor his policies to what a majority of people find palatable? Last I heard, it was the Kingdom of Heaven, not the Republic of Heaven — and wishful thinking on the part of Philip Pullman & his ilk isn’t going to change that.

    I’ll also mention that if you or any other testosterone-poisoned individual tries to club me over the head, …

    I would never dream of committing such an act against a member of the fair sex. You see, I’m restrained by old-fashioned patriarchal Christian concepts of chivalry and care for the weak and reverence for motherhood.

    I do wonder. though, how long the residual influence of such values can survive the dechristianization of society, as our culture continues its remorseless slide into neo-paganism. Some women seem to have a rather romantic notion of paganism’s attitude toward their sex – they might be in for a rude awakening.

    (Unless, of course, Islam comes out on top, which would be really good news for women.)

    you will have an unfortunate encounter with my 9mm Beretta. True equality through superior hardware, my dear — my automatic trumps your club.

    Possession of a firearm might even the odds in a few individual cases, but it wouldn’t affect the overall outcome of a literal battle of the sexes. (I wonder how many women are actually involved in the production of firearms, from design stage to final assembly.)

    And you’re not giving me my rights. I’m taking them.

    I say, steady on, old thing!

  433. #433 Feynmaniac
    March 20, 2009

    Pilty,

    PZ will probably issue the newest immunity challenge today. Be prepared to answer the call! I’m sure your chivalry will move the crowd.

  434. #434 ConcernedJoe
    March 20, 2009

    Notice — no answer to #77 and the many attempts I tried for an answer. Why not? Because a direct no wiggle answer makes it even clear to these “(The Right DNA) = Person” people that that claim is intellectually dishonest and simply a dogmatic reflex.. and for all practical purposes INSANE. And unless they are INSANE or DISHONEST they’d not expose themselves. It is to me a defining question — that is if answered honestly it tells what one really believes in recesses of the mind.

    I failed at an answer so far — it must be my shitty personality or horrible writing style? Could be… or that the question scares the soul infusion people to death because it really does test their faith.

  435. #435 Mover
    March 20, 2009

    Lycosid@336

    We eat animals with more capacity for suffering than human fetuses in early stages of development. Human cells aren’t special.

    Oh, so it’s not whether we’re human, it’s the ability to suffer that makes a difference. I did not realize that it’s OK to kill someone if they can’t feel it. How about if your kid is asleep? Would it be OK for you to kill him/her as well?

    The only thing that’s special about humans is our capacity for reasoning, and when that’s not present, our cells just aren’t that important.

    Capacity or reasoning? I’m not seeing it.

  436. #436 Ragutis
    March 20, 2009

    Piltdown Slime oozed:

    Last I heard, it was the Kingdom of Heaven, not the Republic of Heaven

    And that’s just one problem with your precious faith. And why would anyone want to worship anything that you’re representative of?

    I hope someday you realize just how sick you are to value a possible, potential human being over an actual one, you sad fuck. Until then, why don’t you and Mover move your barbarism elsewhere?

  437. #437 Leigh Williams
    March 20, 2009

    I’m really starting to suspect that Piltdown Man is a Poe — and a brilliant one, at that. Post 418 is so exactly what a Catholic (or VERY high-church) godbot would come up with, but at the same time, even on first read there was something subtly “off” about it. Surely all that parroting of Islam’s justification for anti-feminism is just too good to be true.

    And his nym is “Piltdown Man”, after all! Perhaps our poster here is just as much a fraud as the fossil find for which he’s named himself!

    So what are you, Pilty? Fish, fowl, or good red meat?

  438. #438 ConcernedJoe
    March 20, 2009

    Mover et al .. answer my scenario question (#77 and other places)

    Ragutis – spot on even if a little unsubtle :-)

  439. #439 Ragutis
    March 20, 2009

    Subtle? What’s that?
    ;)

  440. #440 Mover
    March 20, 2009

    ConcernedJoe@77, 98, 244, etc, ….

    To the point here: you gotta answer this believers in point in time life… you can save 1000 embryos OR (mutually exclusive or) one 85 year old frail woman from the raging fire. What do you save?

    Ok, OK, calm down. I have been busy, but every child deserves an answer.

    First, it’s a ridiculous question. You should try to frame your ‘save Mary Jane v. save the busload of people’ situation in a more realistic manner.

    My one daughter was like that when she was 8 years old, asking questions that cannot be answered. On the freeway: “Dad. Where is that car going?” “Shut up!” (she got her answer)

    To your question…

    85 years old? I’d call that a good run. I hope my wife and I make it that far.

    1000 human embryos would most likely be in frozen storage, inside a large heavy insulated container. I what situation do you believe they could become endangered? I suppose “saving”them would involve moving the container. Well, friend, there is no Spiderman.

    You may have to ask Stan Lee to get an answer.

  441. #441 ConcernedJoe
    March 20, 2009

    LOL –

    Mover — not even a nice try — ground rules were no BS wiggle. Follow them.

    People that are rational and honest can answer the question as directed. You cannot because of some reason.. fear perhaps? You know what the questions challenges. Be at least honest with yourself!

    And your personal insults show no class. I posed a serious thought provoking question to extract what is really believed. And I am a serious professional older person, war veteran, respected father, who has contributed to society I suspect for more years than you graced the Earth. I avoid calling your ilk what I really think you are – you make that hard though for lot of us here.

  442. #442 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    March 20, 2009

    Well, friend, there is no Spiderman.

    I always enjoy seeing people who believe in fictional characters say this about other fictional characters. Their utter lack of self-awareness gives me a little shiver.

  443. #443 John Morales
    March 20, 2009

    Mover:

    1000 human embryos would most likely be in frozen storage, inside a large heavy insulated container. I what situation do you believe they could become endangered?

    In a hypothetical one.

    What a weak evasion.

  444. #444 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 20, 2009

    Mover is proven liar and bullshitter who first appeared prior to election to sway everyone to the repugithug party. Failed miserably. He hasn’t figured out we don’t give a shit about his arguments, except to use them as the “well meaning fool”, where we invert is arguments to see what we should believe. Slimy idiot.

  445. #445 Kseniya
    March 20, 2009

    A final thought: After aborting the above mentioned 49 million American working men and women, do you think one or more of them could have grown up to cure cancer, to be biologists, to earn a living so you can retire, become a politician that understands and has the balls to properly manage an economy? Which discarded baby could it have been?

    OFGS. This old argument from hypothetical consequences? Alright, then. What about the discarded baby who would have grown up to serially murder a dozen nursing students? Or to serially kidnap, rape and murder two dozen young children? Or detonate a suitcase nuke in Grand Central Station or in front of the White House? Or release a biological weapons that would wipe out 99.9% of the human population?

    Well?

    I am pro-choice, and by no means pro-abortion (who is, really?) and certainly respect your right argue against it, but at least try to avoid the brutally stupid arguments, mmmkay?

  446. #446 clinteas
    March 20, 2009

    Kseniya of the kyrillian language base,

    nice to see youre back…:-)

    I have been looking after the human race by aborting all these possible Hitlers into a rubber sac all these years,and no honorable mention from gawd/jeebus at all !!

  447. #447 Kseniya
    March 20, 2009

    ??????, ????????! Good job on the Hitler thing. Speaking as someone whose Ukrainian grandfather fought against the Nazis in WWII, I thank you.

    I should apologize to Mover, who really didn’t deserve my last-sentence snark. Sorry. But really. Those “What if?” arguments fail. One cannot ignore the flip side of the coin.

  448. #448 Kseniya
    March 20, 2009

    <pedant>
    BTW: Slavic language, Cyrillic alphabet. :-)
    </pedant>

  449. #449 SC, OM
    March 20, 2009

    I have been looking after the human race by aborting all these possible Hitlers into a rubber sac all these years,and no honorable mention from gawd/jeebus at all !!

    If someone looking like Gregory Peck shows up at your door, send him packing!

  450. #450 Mover
    March 20, 2009

    What about the discarded baby who would have grown up to serially murder a dozen nursing students? Or to serially kidnap, rape and murder two dozen young children?

    Yes life is full of surprises. But I tend to be a optimist when it comes to people. The bad people being born cannot be helped, unless some scientist comes along and discovers a way to determine if an unborn child will grow up to be a particularly horrendous criminal and creates a new market for abortion clinics. Makes me think of “Majority Report” in some ways. Of course when you can add a price tag to anything, collecting the fee becomes the first consideration.

    So the best answer is still to allow life to occur, whether it is inconvenient or dangerous for you are not.

  451. #451 Mover
    March 20, 2009

    smidgy@429

    The egg is human. And so’s my kidney. Does this mean my kidney is a ‘human being’?

    Let me know when implant your kidney into a woman’s womb and it develops and is born as a human baby.

    I won’t be holding my breath, but I would like pictures if it’s not too much trouble.

  452. #452 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 20, 2009

    Mover, still with the idiocy. Somethings never change.

  453. #453 Mover
    March 20, 2009

    ConcernedJoe@441

    Mover — not even a nice try — ground rules were no BS wiggle. Follow them.

    People that are rational and honest can answer the question as directed. You cannot because of some reason.. fear perhaps? You know what the questions challenges. Be at least honest with yourself!

    No BS. You asked an idiotic question, a false dichotomy, and I gave a funny reply. BTW: My kids would badger me and their mother with the same question (not your question) until they got their way (not often) or were disciplined.

    Instead of mocking your childish attempts at fact finding, I should offer some form of discipline? You are not my kid so it’s not my place.

    From Wikipedia:

    The informal fallacy of false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy) involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are other options. Closely related are failing to consider a range of options and the tendency to think in extremes, called black-and-white thinking.

    Black-and-white thinking is not good, Joe.

  454. #454 ryogam
    March 20, 2009

    Oh for feck’s sake, answer the fecking question! Embryos or old lady?

    God lord, I’ve asked the same question to forced-birthers half a dozen times and they’ve always given an answer.

    Can we get a better class of forced-birthers up in here?

  455. #455 ConcernedJoe
    March 20, 2009

    Mover — answer the question — real life is full of such choices…

    And the question is not idiotic … nor is it a false dichotomy .. it is my scenario designed with the purpose to extract clarity and sincerity. It is a defining question.

    You avoidance is obvious — such questions force cognitive dissonance — and that test faith.

    You avoid the question for a reason that speak volumes to your faith … your attempts at avoidance by sophistry are noted.

    You answered the question by your non-answer. And the truth of your faith-based statements suffer for your answer.

    Don’t bother to give me any more of your sad crap .. as I said your non-answer was all the answer any of us here that can honestly think need.

  456. #456 ryogam
    March 20, 2009

    “Don’t bother to give me any more of your sad crap .. as I said your non-answer was all the answer any of us here that can honestly think need.”

    Yep

  457. #457 Watchman
    March 20, 2009

    Mover:

    Yes life is full of surprises. But I tend to be a optimist when it comes to people.

    Same here. So what?

    Of course when you can add a price tag to anything, collecting the fee becomes the first consideration.

    That is dog-whistle bullshit, for which you expect… what? Respect? Cut it out.

    So the best answer is still to allow life to occur, whether it is inconvenient or dangerous for you are not.

    Is it? The best answer to what? To the question of “The baby might be a good person, or it might be a bad person! We just don’t know! Whatever shall we do?” If the question is irrelevant, which I believe was Kseniya’s point (and I agree), then the answer is irrelevant.

    A woman should not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if she does not wish to. There is a point of no return, yes, but it’s not in the first few weeks.

  458. #458 Smidgy
    March 20, 2009

    Mover #451:

    Let me know when implant your kidney into a woman’s womb and it develops and is born as a human baby.

    Firstly, I guess you missed the whole thing where it was pointed out that, theoretically, a liver cell could be suitably altered to do precisely that. Theoretically, this is also true of a kidney cell, so, by your reasoning, my kidney is not actually a human being – it’s several million human beings, if not more. But, then again, you appear to have missed pretty much all the other discussion that’s gone on in this thread, so that’s no real surprise.

    Secondly, your point was seemingly that, because this individual cell was a human one, that made it a ‘human being’. So, instead of trying to dodge the question, answer it – by the same standards, if my kidney is human, and alive, which it is, does this make my kidney a ‘human being’?

    Thirdly, just like Piltdown Man, you have missed the point you inadvertantly made in your own comment – ‘Let me know when implant your kidney into a woman’s womb and it develops and is born as a human baby.’ In other words, this single cell is NOT a human baby.

  459. #459 Leigh Williams
    March 20, 2009

    Well, I think we’ve about beaten this one to death. I’m moving on.

    I’m looking forward to collecting more data for my “Piltdown Man is a Poe” hypothesis.

    And Mover, a word of advice: you’re going to have to at least simulate some empathy for women before you can sway anyone to your point of view. This all blastocyst, all the time bullshit may play well with your religious demographic, which is anti-feminist anyway, but it is received poorly by civilized people of both sexes.

  460. #460 Piltdown Man
    March 21, 2009

    Ragutis @ 436:

    Last I heard, it was the Kingdom of Heaven, not the Republic of Heaven

    And that’s just one problem with your precious faith.

    You’ve got a problem with kings? Lots of people do. “We will not have this man to reign over us!”

    It’s a free cosmos.

    +++

    Leigh Williams @ 437:

    So what are you, Pilty? Fish, fowl, or good red meat?

    Fish. (On Fridays.)

    +++

    Foggg @ 423:

    PiltdownMan playing Ricco … Youse guys take it as a warning from Fat Tony. He has his ways, ya’know. He gives da word to somma his peeps, ya neva know what might happen. But hey I just work for da guy, I’m just passin’ it along.

    Your analogy is amusing but misplaced because mobsters have no legitimate authority. A better comparison would be with, say, Eliot Ness warning Al Capone that his lawless days are numbered.

    Again, @ 424, the implication is that male violence is a threat hanging over women who don’t meekly submit to the rule of the gangsters. I would suggest the reality more like a compassionate & concerned cop warning ladies of the night that their chosen profession would leave them vulnerable to exploitation by gangsters.

    +++

    Smidgy @ 426:

    By “reason” Chesterton means the intellect. One could put it another way by saying he is drawing a distinction between the purely rational intellect and authentic reason, which is an integration of intellect, passions and faith, ie arguing that humans should not aspire to be Vulcans.

    Erm, no. You saying that shows me you have not read the book this is from. At all.

    Actually I have.

    That is lifted from a passage that explains that madmen often have very logical and ‘sane’ reasons for believing what they do. … It’s the underlying assumptions and delusions that are false and insane.

    Indeed, but it’s clear that the reason the madman is unable to perceive the falseness of his premises is that he is relying on cold logic alone.

    Could you give me details of the exact name of this ‘moral law’ so I can look up the legislation and examine it in detail? I’m not sure if you’re a legal expert, so maybe you can’t answer this, but can you also explain how any church ruling on the application of this ‘law’ conforms to the First Amendment? And can you also tell me when this was passed, and how they got around the danger of any kind of ‘moral law’ basically tearing up the Bill of Rights?

    You seem to have some weird idea that an ephemeral human document like the Constitution of the United States of America trumps Almighty God.

  461. #461 Leigh Williams
    March 21, 2009

    “You seem to have some weird idea that an ephemeral human document like the Constitution of the United States of America trumps Almighty God.”

    Ah, but Pilty, you don’t speak for Almighty God. Neither do I. And neither, by the way, does the Pope, whatever you may believe. Of course, you’re entirely welcome to go on thinking that, along with the maybe 10% of American Catholics who agree with you.

    And yes, I know, “The Church thinks in centuries.” Well, the Church was well-nigh omnipotent throughout the majority of the centuries since Christ. Do you see any evidence of a form of just and benevolent temporal governance during all that time, or even evidence of peace and moral behavior within the Body?

    You’re not a cop or Elliot Ness, Pilty. You have no legitimate authority over us. One thing I have noticed, as a woman, is that I’m in no danger from atheist men, who are as keen for feminism as I am myself. It’s religious men, the fundamentalist Christians and Muslims like you, who brandish threats of violence to coerce women into their “proper roles”. In Western democracies, it’s only secular law that prevents such men from carrying out their threats. In countries with Sharia law, we daily hear of rapes, murders, and mutilations inflicted on women by men.

    So in the absence of clear and convincing evidence from the Diety Himself that He wants folks like you in charge, the rest of us are going to continue supporting the Constitution. Empheral or not, it’s done a far better job of advancing the Kingdom of God than your Church, or any church, ever did.

  462. #462 Smidgy
    March 21, 2009

    Piltdown Man #460:

    Actually I have.

    No, you obviously haven’t.

    Indeed, but it’s clear that the reason the madman is unable to perceive the falseness of his premises is that he is relying on cold logic alone.

    No, the passage, when read in context with the rest of the book, is simply that it’s a curious thing that the insane man can use perfectly sane reasoning to reinforce his insanity – and be very good at defending his insanity using such sane reasoning.

    You seem to have some weird idea that an ephemeral human document like the Constitution of the United States of America trumps Almighty God.

    Firstly, yes, I do believe that one of the cornerstones of the entire legal system of the USA (and, indeed, one of the cornerstones of the very existence of the USA) trumps the contradictory ravings of ‘prophets’ supposedly inspired by an imaginary, mythical Sky-Daddy, which are then translated, retranslated, rewritten and reinterpreted several times.

    Secondly, you didn’t answer my real question – the one I made in the part you cropped off the quote. Are you trying to impose your personal religious views as ‘laws’?

  463. #463 Knockgoats
    March 21, 2009

    After aborting the above mentioned 49 million American working men and women, do you think one or more of them could have grown up to cure cancer, to be biologists, to earn a living so you can retire, become a politician that understands and has the balls to properly manage an economy? Which discarded baby could it have been? – Mover

    Good grief, what a moron. Exactly the same can be said of any occasion on which any fertile woman and man let pass any opportunity to conceive a child. You can tell the forced-birthers have no real arguments – or for that matter, brains – when they resort to bilge like this.

  464. #464 'Tis Himself
    March 21, 2009

    Are you trying to impose your personal religious views as ‘laws’?

    Of course he is. All fundamentalists want to turn the world into a theocracy guided by their particular brand of goddism. Just as many fundamentalist Christians suffer from fatwah envy, they also suffer from sharia law envy. “Those damn Mohammedans have all the fun.”

  465. #465 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 21, 2009

    Poor Pilty, still hasn’t realized his religion is a pox upon civilization, which must throw off the yoke of papal imperialism to progress to a perfect state. Sorry, I appear to be channeling the radicals from my undergraduate days. The thought still holds.)

  466. #466 Knockgoats
    March 21, 2009

    Why should God tailor his policies to what a majority of people find palatable? Last I heard, it was the Kingdom of Heaven, not the Republic of Heaven — and wishful thinking on the part of Philip Pullman & his ilk isn’t going to change that. – Piltdown

    Come on Pilty, how long are you going to keep up the pretence that you believe in this absurd fictional character “God”?

  467. #467 Leigh Williams
    March 22, 2009

    Good Lord, proofreading FAIL in #461. I apologize for the spelling errors. I’m covered in shame, particularly for misspelling “Deity”, as no devout Christian should ever do.

  468. #468 Piltdown Man
    March 22, 2009

    Leigh Williams @ 461:

    Pilty, you don’t speak for Almighty God. Neither do I. And neither, by the way, does the Pope, whatever you may believe.

    Does anyone speak for God? If not, how can we know His will? How, specifically, are you able to confidently assert that the US Constitution has “done a far better job of advancing the Kingdom of God than your Church, or any church, ever did”?

    Of course, you’re entirely welcome to go on thinking that, along with the maybe 10% of American Catholics who agree with you.

    Thank you. Needless to say, it doesn’t matter what any number of misguided American Catholics believe or don’t believe — they do not define the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, which predates the United States of America and will outlast it.

    Of course it’s hardly surprising that the majority of US Catholics support the revolutionary democratic ideology – they have imbibed it with their mother’s milk. And, sad to say, in this they have the support of the recent popes. It was Joseph Ratzinger who once said that the Second Vatican Council represented “an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789″. I happen to believe history will judge this attempted reconciliation to have been a catastrophic error — but even the Vatican II popes would never say that the will of God can be abrogated by democratic fiat!

    Well, the Church was well-nigh omnipotent throughout the majority of the centuries since Christ. Do you see any evidence of a form of just and benevolent temporal governance during all that time, or even evidence of peace and moral behavior within the Body?

    I believe the great ages of Christian civilization did more to promote the dignity of mankind than any of the secular regimes of modernity.

    You’re not a cop or Elliot Ness, Pilty. You have no legitimate authority over us.

    I claim no authority over anybody. That legitimate authority belongs to the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the name of Christ the King, “the prince of the kings of the earth” before whom “every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth”.

    One thing I have noticed, as a woman, is that I’m in no danger from atheist men, who are as keen for feminism as I am myself. It’s religious men, the fundamentalist Christians and Muslims like you, who brandish threats of violence to coerce women into their “proper roles”. In Western democracies, it’s only secular law that prevents such men from carrying out their threats. In countries with Sharia law, we daily hear of rapes, murders, and mutilations inflicted on women by men.

    I hold no brief for Islam and would be interested to hear which traditional Catholics – or even “fundamentalist Christians” – habitually threaten women with violence.

    As for secular law, beware of equating atheism or secularism with liberalism. One can already discern the natural process whereby liberal democracy devolves into anarchy and thence to tyranny.

    Yes, secular liberalism flatters women with promises of autonomy but it remains to be seen whether it can foster a truly safe cultural environment for women. Of course secularism does not advocate an official policy of violence towards women — the question is whether it is capable in the long term of restraining the violent passions of men that so often lead them to abuse and exploit women?

    Ask yourself which civilization honoured women more — the one which produced this or the one which produced this.

  469. #469 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 22, 2009

    Yawn, Pilty the cat-o-lick idiot. You have nothing new to offer, but your offer your opinion anyway. Guess what, your church is the model of an amoral organization, but yet you follow its tenets. That says nothing good about you or your morals. Yawn, that has been the case for a long time now.

  470. #470 Wowbagger, OM
    March 22, 2009

    Piltdown wrote:

    I believe the great ages of Christian civilization did more to promote the dignity of mankind than any of the secular regimes of modernity.

    I would, too – if my dictionary defined ‘dignity’ as ‘exploitative state of slave-like obedience to the church and its ideals on pain of torture, mistreatment and death’.

  471. #471 MAJeff, OM
    March 22, 2009

    blah blah blah blah blah

  472. #472 Ichthyic
    March 22, 2009

    ahhh, we missed ya, Jeffy.
    :)

    …and congrats!

    DR. MAJeff, OM

  473. #473 MAJeff, OM
    March 22, 2009

    DR. MAJeff, OM

    Not yet!

    Defense isn’t for three days, and graduation for two months. Something could still go wrong!

  474. #474 Ichthyic
    March 22, 2009

    how can we know His will?

    well, there lies the rub, eh?

    don’t the voices in your head tell you “His” will, Spilty?

  475. #475 Ichthyic
    March 22, 2009

    Defense isn’t for three days

    phht. mere formality.

    If your thesis was accepted, even a poor defense wouldn’t hinder you getting your degree.

    You’ve done the hard part, won the race, now it’s just a graceful acceptance speech that’s needed.

    RU ready?

  476. #476 Wowbagger, OM
    March 22, 2009

    Welcome back, MA Jeff. Hope everything’s been going well for you. Business as usual here – as you can probably see…

  477. #477 MAJeff, OM
    March 22, 2009

    RU ready?

    Absolutely. I already know it’s a passing diss. My committee is happy and I know it surpassed the “good enough” standard I was setting. I just want it over with so I can start with the celebratory dinners.

  478. #478 thalarctos
    March 22, 2009

    phht. mere formality.

    If your thesis was accepted, even a poor defense wouldn’t hinder you getting your degree.

    This. Your supervisor’s job was to make sure you were ready for the next stage, and not to hang you out to dry unprepared.

    If your dissertation has been accepted, in their estimation you’re ready to be Dr. MAJeff in the eyes of the world. Short of your showing up to the defense mean-drunk and naked, they’re not going to take you that far, just to cut you off at the knees solely for a little stage fright at the defense.

  479. #479 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 22, 2009

    Defense isn’t for three days, and graduation for two months. Something could still go wrong!

    We got the three day grog going, so we are celebrating one way or the other. You have the Pharyngula horde/ilk behind you. Get a good nights sleep the night before, and go in there ready to slay ignorance. (Spoken as one who has been there–you will do just fine.) Put us about fourth on your list for informing when you are done with the defense (significant others, family, immediate colleagues, and then us). I’m working on my toast.

  480. #480 Piltdown Man
    March 22, 2009

    Smidgy @ 462:

    Actually I have.

    No, you obviously haven’t.

    Yes, I really have.

    Indeed, but it’s clear that the reason the madman is unable to perceive the falseness of his premises is that he is relying on cold logic alone.

    No, the passage, when read in context with the rest of the book, is simply that it’s a curious thing that the insane man can use perfectly sane reasoning to reinforce his insanity – and be very good at defending his insanity using such sane reasoning.

    But does that not imply that “sane reasoning” (and Chesterton makes it clear he means logical reasoning here) is insufficient even if it is necessary? He goes on to define “the chief mark and element of insanity”:

    “we may say in summary that it is reason used without root, reason in the void. The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad

    Are you trying to impose your personal religious views as ‘laws’?

    No, I’m saying that the principles that underlay traditional Western Christian civilization are superior to those that underlie the ongoing Enlightenment project.

    +++

    Nerd of Redhead @ 465:

    Poor Pilty, still hasn’t realized his religion is a pox upon civilization, which must throw off the yoke of papal imperialism to progress to a perfect state.

    Alas, progress ain’t what it used to be.

    Sorry, I appear to be channeling the radicals from my undergraduate days. The thought still holds.)

    “Channeling”? I thought this was Pharyngula, not the United Nations!

  481. #481 SC, OM
    March 22, 2009

    I just want it over with so I can start with the celebratory dinners.

    Already choosing my appetizer…:)

    [Disclaimer: SC, Ltd. bears no responsibility for any urban adult drinker who, following shared consumption of alcoholic beverages, in any state of semi- or unconsciousness, awakes on a train in Montauk, JP, or any other end of the line. She, similarly, shall not be held accountable for any party's condition the following day. SC recommends, but is under no obligation to encourage or practice, the responsible consumption of alcohol. (She reserves the right to feel guilty and pained.)]

  482. #482 MAJeff, OM
    March 22, 2009

    Put us about fourth on your list for informing when you are done with the defense (significant others, family, immediate colleagues, and then us).

    I’ll make sure to Twitter it :-)

    Re: SC’s Disclaimer.
    No vodka shall be imbibed. No sleep shall be taken on the train.

    —-

    orthodox catholics are so tedious in their hatred of life.

  483. #483 Ichthyic
    March 22, 2009

    Alas, progress ain’t what it used to be.

    in your case, it never was.

    seek medical help.

  484. #484 thalarctos
    March 22, 2009

    Already choosing my appetizer…:)

    SC, may I ask a favor of you?

    Since I’ll be inconveniently on the other side of the country, may I ask you to raise a toast from me to Dr. MAJeff, PhD :) at the appropriate time?

  485. #485 SC, OM
    March 22, 2009

    SC, may I ask a favor of you?

    Since I’ll be inconveniently on the other side of the country, may I ask you to raise a toast from me to Dr. MAJeff, PhD :) at the appropriate time?

    An excellent idea. Coolly, Emmet will, with any luck, be joining us at some point in the evening. We will drink a Pharyngutoast!

    *claps like a giddy schoolgirl at the thought*

    So awesome.I love when good people do well and hard work pays off.

  486. #486 'Tis Himself
    March 22, 2009

    Piltdown Man #468

    It was Joseph Ratzinger who once said that the Second Vatican Council represented “an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789″. I happen to believe history will judge this attempted reconciliation to have been a catastrophic error

    I’m sure you miss Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X. He condemned the French Revolution and called for reinstitution of the French monarchy. (Lefebvre was a Legitimist, not an Orleanist. Apparently he recognized that the Comte de Paris was an idiot.) Lefebvre was a strong supporter of the Vichy regime for its rejection of the former Third Republic’s secular and liberal traditions and promotion of an authoritarian and paternalist Catholic society.

    Even Catholic conservatives recognize that Archbishop Lefebvre was a reactionary. He repeatedly said that Vatican II was “not Catholic.” Because of his consecration of four bishops without papal approval, Lefebvre was excommunicated. He died in 1991 without reconciling with the Vatican. The Holocaust denying Richard Williamson was one of the four bishops consecrated by Lefebvre. Williamson was recently ex-excommunicated by Pope Benny Ratzi.

  487. #487 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 22, 2009

    So awesome.I love when good people do well and hard work pays off.

    Amen Sister. We trust you to make the toast all inclusive. I’m already practicing my toast hic for the blog. And if Emmet joins the celebration, all the better. Give him a big “hi” (or more) from all of us.

  488. #488 SC, OM
    March 22, 2009

    Re: SC’s Disclaimer.
    No vodka shall be imbibed. No sleep shall be taken on the train.

    Why do I have an evil we’ll-see-about-that grin on my face? Of course, following a repast of babies and kittens (they skin and chop them expertly at the table at Athehana!), one never knows what debauchery will ensue…

  489. #489 AnthonyK
    March 22, 2009

    What a pile of sanctimonious bullshit. Still I suppose if you’re going to hell you might as well try to lower the pleasure of those around you.
    Does religion somehow bypass one’s thinking circuits?
    OK then, you silly religious apologist, tell me why so many tens of thousands of people were tortured and executed in the 500 or so years of the inquisition, often over the important theological question of whether the host in the Eucharist was the literal body of Christ or a mere symbol?
    That was Catholic doctrine and practice for hundreds of years.
    Like to apologise for that then, or even urge that the Pope do so?

  490. #490 thalarctos
    March 22, 2009

    We trust you to make the toast all inclusive.

    Yes, in light of SC’s disclaimer, that’s probably a much wiser plan than:

    1) a toast from me, followed by

    2) a toast from Emmett, followed by

    3) a toast from Nerd, followed by …

    4) …

    through the list of all of MAJeff’s Pharyngula well-wishers!

  491. #491 MAJeff, OM
    March 22, 2009

    Why do I have an evil we’ll-see-about-that grin on my face?

    I shall not be drinking vodka with you again until I learn to not drink it like beer.

  492. #492 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 22, 2009

    I shall not be drinking vodka with you again until I learn to not drink it like beer.

    Wise man, totally deserving of PhD. ;-)

  493. #493 Wowbagger, OM
    March 22, 2009

    AnthonyK wrote:

    OK then, you silly religious apologist, tell me why so many tens of thousands of people were tortured and executed in the 500 or so years of the inquisition, often over the important theological question of whether the host in the Eucharist was the literal body of Christ or a mere symbol?

    Problem with this, AnthonyK, is that, according to Piltdown, none of this ever happened. It’s just lies and exaggerations spread by atheists (and Lutherans, no doubt) to besmirch the good name of the Church.

    And besides, if it did happen it was God’s will, which makes it okay.

  494. #494 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 22, 2009

    I doubt if Pilty is “gods will”, more likely “gods delusion”. But then, what does one expect from not just a fundamentalist, but a true reactionary?

  495. #495 AnthonyK
    March 22, 2009

    none of this ever happened.

    Oh, I see. I stand corrected then. All those people were probably fantasizing that they were tortured. Catholics are prone to that, I hear.

  496. #496 Smidgy
    March 22, 2009

    Piltdown Man #480:

    But does that not imply that “sane reasoning” (and Chesterton makes it clear he means logical reasoning here) is insufficient even if it is necessary?

    Of course it’s insufficient – you need to base that reasoning on good evidence. That’s basic science.

    He goes on to define “the chief mark and element of insanity”:

    “we may say in summary that it is reason used without root, reason in the void. The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad

    Erm, try finishing that sentence. The full sentence is ‘The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad; he begins to think at the wrong end.’ In other words, if you start at a conclusion (‘there’s a conspiracy against me’) and work backwards from the conclusion, you get some very insane results (‘this must be true because everyone denies it’). For some real world examples, try the numerous times creationists do this.

    No, I’m saying that the principles that underlay traditional Western Christian civilization are superior to those that underlie the ongoing Enlightenment project.

    Translation: Yes, because my religious views are old.

  497. #497 Leigh Williams
    March 23, 2009

    SC, please give Dr. MAJeff a big ole’ hug from me on Wed night. We are all very proud of him — and very glad he can rejoin us!

    Piltdown, you are so perfectly the Catholic avatar that I still fear you must be a fraud.

    You and you fellow zealots down the ages are the reason the Catholic church is held in universal contempt by people with any knowledge of history.

    And if you can’t see the similarity between you and your Islamic woman-hating brethren, rest assured that we see it all too clearly.

    I spit in your general direction.

  498. #498 Piltdown Man
    March 23, 2009

    Leigh Williams @ 497:

    I spit in your general direction.

    This disappointing response leads me to suspect your self-advertisement as a “devout Chrisitian” is a fraud.
    In case I’m wrong, are you up to answering the following questions … ?

    - What do you understand by the expression “Kingdom of God” and how has the US Constitution in particular, or secular liberalism in general, helped to advance it?

    - Which is a greater affront to women – socially defined gender roles involving sexual taboos or violent, sadistic pornography?

    - Can you give any examples of orthodox Catholics or other “fundamentalist Christians” calling for violence to be directed against women?

    You and you fellow zealots down the ages are the reason the Catholic church is held in universal contempt by people with any knowledge of history.

    On the contrary, people with any knowledge of history invariably regard the Catholic Church with considerable respect. Sadly, most people prefer cartoonish fantasies which pander to preconceived notions rather than historical knowledge.

  499. #499 Foggg
    March 23, 2009

    PildownMan as Ricco:
    Your analogy is amusing

    Because so little needs to be changed, and thank you.

    but misplaced because mobsters have no legitimate authority.

    Ricco, unsurprisingly, thinks Fat Tony has legitimate authority. “Fat Tony made youse, punks. He can break you. Brooklyn is his territory. Youse owe ‘im. Hey, I’m just warnin’…”

    A better comparison would be with, say, Eliot Ness warning Al Capone that his lawless days are numbered.

    A revealing comparison. Ness didn’t merely pass on a ‘warning’. Ness with his men & weapons eventually seized & sent his target to the Big House.

    But Ricco claims he, Ricco, is not threatening anyone. Is he lying?
    Or is this “better comparison” instead Ness:Fat Tony — with Ricco doing all the talking? Unlike Ness and his goal&methods, many believe Fat Tony isn’t interested in extortion while others think Fat Tony is a fiction — since all they see is Ricco and consigliaro Lefevbre’s other made-men.

  500. #500 Don't Panic
    March 23, 2009

    MAJeff,
    Congrats. Helpful hint: If a friendly member of your committee tosses you a softball question and you completely blank, unable to pull up any info beyond your name, take my ‘nym to heart and Don’t Panic. Don’t freak out, they’re going to pass you — they just like the smell of fear.

  501. #501 Leigh Williams
    March 23, 2009

    Piltdown: “What do you understand by the expression “Kingdom of God” and how has the US Constitution in particular, or secular liberalism in general, helped to advance it?”

    God loves social justice and freedom. That’s a Biblical truth. Read Amos. Understand what “righteousness” meant to the Prophets. Read Galatians. Consider what “freedom from the law” means in terms of individual conscience. Look at what Jesus talked about most (justice for the poor and oppressed), and then realize that He was the Kingdom of God drawn near.

    And then consider what form of government does the most to achieve the goals dearest to God’s heart. Hint: it isn’t theocracy.

    Then turn to the example of radical freedom set by Jesus and Paul . . . their inclusion of women among the disciples and heads of churches, their inclusion of slaves and gentiles. What does that example tell you about their rejection of the rigid social mores of their time?

    Jesus rejected the Religious Right of His time in no uncertain terms. He taught a pared-down religion with only two basic precepts: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Then factor in Paul’s insistence on religion localized within an individual and expressed through the fruits of the spirit.

    Which political philosophy comes closest to exemplifying the inward value of individual freedom of conscience and outward value of care for others?

    Piltdown: “Which is a greater affront to women – socially defined gender roles involving sexual taboos or violent, sadistic pornography?”

    False dichotomy. Socially-defined gender roles were explicitly rejected by Jesus, so they’re a non-starter for His followers.

    Violent, sadistic pornography has always existed, and probably will always exist as long as human beings remain human. But it flourishes where women have no power; Victorian England, for example, was an exemplar of both rigid gender roles AND of sexual sadism.

    Your belief that women are “safe” when they stay in their Kinder, Küche, Kirche box is belied by history. Not only are they just as vulnerable to random male violence, but they’re far more likely to get beaten up, raped, and murdered by their own husbands and relatives.

    Good Lord, man, don’t you ever read news stories or look at crime statistics? Don’t you know about honor killings, rape as a weapon of war, the history of domestic violence? Can you possibly not be aware that 80% of rapes are committed by male family members against women?

    Are you truly ignorant of the incest statistics? Don’t you know that the single greatest predictor of incest is adherence to a fundamentalist religion?

    And don’t tell me that “good Catholic men” are any damn better, because there’s absolutely no evidence to support your claim.

    And finally, it strains credulity that any defender of the Catholic church can claim moral authority over anything at all, given its position as the single largest institutional promoter of sexual opportunism in the WHOLE DAMN WORLD.

    My God, the frigging nerve of some people!

  502. #502 Smidgy
    March 23, 2009

    Piltdown Man #498:

    This disappointing response leads me to suspect your self-advertisement as a “devout Chrisitian” is a fraud.

    Speaking as an ex-Christian, I think that Leigh’s contempt for such views as yours is actually much closer to the things that Christ supposedly taught in the Bible than your views are.

    In case I’m wrong, are you up to answering the following questions … ?

    Well, Leigh has answered as a Christian, I’ll answer as an ex-Christian.

    - What do you understand by the expression “Kingdom of God” and how has the US Constitution in particular, or secular liberalism in general, helped to advance it?

    The ‘Kingdom of God’, depending on your denominations exact interpretation of the Bible, is either a mythical time, after Judgement Day, where all creatures and Man will exist in one kingdom, under the rule of a descendant of David, worshipping God, or, alternatively, it is a very amorphous ‘kingdom’ that consists, basically, of everyone who worships God, whether they are man, angel or anyone else. It is sometimes also used, by some denominations, to refer to the simple idea that God reigns supreme over everything.

    As to how the Constitution advances the ‘Kingdom of God’, it doesn’t. It, in fact, quite specifically gives people the freedom to follow any religion they want, or none at all, and thus reject the whole idea of a ‘Kingdom of God’, if they so choose.

    - Which is a greater affront to women – socially defined gender roles involving sexual taboos or violent, sadistic pornography?

    Not being a woman, I can’t answer this for certain, but I’d imagine both are offensive – and also aren’t mutually exclusive. What I’d imagine women want is the freedom to choose whether they engage in such ‘socially defined gender roles’ or not, as well as the freedom to not be subjected to volent and sadistic pornography.

    As for your example of ‘violent, sadistic pornography’, which I assume that link to a 1978 Hustler cover you provided in post #468 is supposed to be an example of, I guess you saw the picture but didn’t read the writing. It says, ‘We will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat.’ This was supposedly a quote from Larry Flynt. In other words, the cover was not intended as ‘pornography’, but as an illustration of what Hustler had been doing up until that point, where they pledged they wouldn’t do it any more. As to whether they actually lived up to that pledge, I do not know, as it is not exactly the kind of magazine I usually read.

    - Can you give any examples of orthodox Catholics or other “fundamentalist Christians” calling for violence to be directed against women?

    You could try the witch hunts that took place between the 13th and 19th centuries, just to take one example off the top of my head. There, violence was not just advocated, but actually done on the authorization of the Pope. There’s a whole heap of other Christians, throughout history, that advocated violence against women, just because they were women, not because they were ‘witches’ (for example, look up the ‘Rules of Marriage’ written by Friar Cherubino in the 15th century).

    If you want more modern examples, try things like the website christiandomesticdiscipline.com

    On the contrary, people with any knowledge of history invariably regard the Catholic Church with considerable respect. Sadly, most people prefer cartoonish fantasies which pander to preconceived notions rather than historical knowledge.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    You are joking, surely? The Catholic Church is at the root of some of the most violent and sadistic things to happen in history, from the witch hunts I mentioned above, to the Inquisition, to the Crusades, not to mention other things that are not directly violent, like placing Galileo under house arrest for a large chunk of his life, as he had the temerity to say that it was possible the Earth went around the sun, not the other way round, as that’s what the evidence and observations he was making were suggesting.

  503. #503 Kseniya
    March 24, 2009

    Congratulations, Jeff. :-)

  504. #504 Piltdown Man
    March 24, 2009

    Leigh Williams @ 501.

    Leigh, your remarks are impassioned and obviously sincere but I would respectfully suggest that they suffer from a lack of charity. You seem to assume that anyone who doesn’t share your political views – the “Religious Right” as you crudely characterize them – are motivated by a desire to impede social justice and and exercise authoritarian control because they enjoy oppressing the weak. You are profoundly wrong in this.

    God loves social justice and freedom. That’s a Biblical truth. … Look at what Jesus talked about most (justice for the poor and oppressed), and then realize that He was the Kingdom of God drawn near.

    Who would deny any of that? But if you’re going to claim that the best way to achieve these desirable ends is through an egalitarian secular order, you need to do more than just blandly assert it – because not only is there no necessary connection between egalitarianism and justice, there is arguably an active antagonism.

    As for the Catholic Church, she has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to social justice. At the very time when the popes were pointing out the destructive errors of revolutionary socialism and communism, they were defending the rights of workers and attacking the excesses of monopoly capitalism ((Leo XIII, Rerum novarum, Pius XI, Quadragesimo anno).

    Read Amos. Understand what “righteousness” meant to the Prophets. Read Galatians. Consider what “freedom from the law” means in terms of individual conscience.

    And read the Pentateuch to understand God’s predilection for a hieratic society that refuses to tolerate religious error.

    Then turn to the example of radical freedom set by Jesus and Paul . . . their inclusion of women among the disciples and heads of churches, their inclusion of slaves and gentiles. What does that example tell you about their rejection of the rigid social mores of their time?

    As you well know, St Paul also had some decidedly un-PC things to say about women rendering due obedience to their husbands and sodomy being an abomination.

    Jesus rejected the Religious Right of His time in no uncertain terms.

    On the contrary, just as Jesus never attempted to foment an uprising against the Roman secular authorities, so he never denied the God-given authority of the Jewish religious leaders. He condemned them not for their theocracy but for their hypocrisy:

    The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.

    He taught a pared-down religion with only two basic precepts: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.

    And how is it an act of love for God or neighbour to allow His name to be blasphemed and His words ignored?

    In the space of just two centuries, secular modernity has gone from this to this.

    After Nietzsche had announced the “death of God”, his 20th-century disciple Foucault foresaw the inevitable death of man:

    “Man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end. If those arrangements were to disappear, if some event of which we can at the moment do no more than sense the possibility … were to cause them to crumble .. then one can certainly wager that man would be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea.”

    So much for the imago Dei. This dismal trajectory had already been traced by far-sighted popes whose warnings were dismissed.

    Is it an infringement of Christ’s law of love to accept this degradation without protest?

    Which political philosophy comes closest to exemplifying the inward value of individual freedom of conscience and outward value of care for others?

    Christian feudal monarchy.

    Socially-defined gender roles were explicitly rejected by Jesus, so they’re a non-starter for His followers.

    Did Jesus entrust Mary with the Keys?

    Violent, sadistic pornography has always existed, and probably will always exist as long as human beings remain human. But it flourishes where women have no power; Victorian England, for example, was an exemplar of both rigid gender roles AND of sexual sadism.

    And it flourishes considerably more today. Far be it from me to hold up the decadent Victorian era as a model of a well-ordered society, but are you seriously suggesting a Victorian child could wander into a newsagent and see magazines depicting women being fed into meat grinders on open display and freely available? Would such a thing have been conceivable in Salazar’s Portugal or De Valera’s Ireland or even 1950s America?

    Of course such poisonous garbage existed then and could be surreptitiously acquired by those with sufficient money and influence. The fact remains that it was suppressed, not freely available.

    Are you telling me that violent pornography does not exercise a corrupting effect? That those who produce it should be free to ply their trade undisturbed?

    Your belief that women are “safe” when they stay in their Kinder, Küche, Kirche box is belied by history. Not only are they just as vulnerable to random male violence, but they’re far more likely to get beaten up, raped, and murdered by their own husbands and relatives. … And don’t tell me that “good Catholic men” are any damn better, because there’s absolutely no evidence to support your claim.

    Produce your evidence to support your implied claim that wives of traditional Christians are “far more likely to get beaten up, raped, and murdered by their own husbands and relatives”.

    Good Lord, man, don’t you ever read news stories or look at crime statistics?

    Odd that – since we all threw off our cruel theocratic shackles long ago, shouldn’t everything be sweetness and light by now?

    Don’t you know about honor killings

    Shocking, all those Christian honour killings.

    rape as a weapon of war, the history of domestic violence? Can you possibly not be aware that 80% of rapes are committed by male family members against women?

    What does any of that have to do with religion?

    Are you truly ignorant of the incest statistics? Don’t you know that the single greatest predictor of incest is adherence to a fundamentalist religion?

    As a matter of fact, I don’t know this. How exactly do these statistics define “fundamentalist religion”? For all I know it could include “fundamentalist” practitioners of voodoo or “fundamentalist” satanists. It’s a term so loose and vague as to be virtually meaningless, even when referring to “fundamentalist Christians”.

    My God, the frigging nerve of some people!

    Your strident self-righteousness suggests a guilty conscience. And why not? “Liberal Christians” are basically Uncle Toms who have learned to love the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Good li’l Christians happy to burn incense to Caesar in return for a tolerant pat on the head.

    If it had not been for the Catholic Church who sent missionaries to the ends of the earth, often to meet the most excruciating martyrdoms, you would never have even heard of the God of Israel or His only Son. And that’s a fact.

  505. #505 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 24, 2009

    Pilty, your feeble pleas for us atheists to heed the idiotic dogma of your church is tiresome. You have no moral standing except in your feeble mind. You have had your say. We reject your dogma. Go away.

  506. #506 Piltdown Man
    March 24, 2009

    Pilty, your feeble pleas for us atheists to heed the idiotic dogma of your church is tiresome. … You have had your say. We reject your dogma.

    Yeah … but I survived Survivor!

  507. #507 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 24, 2009

    Pilty, nobody seriously tried to remove you. But you need to understand that we have absolutely no use for your church’s dogma. You have presented it already, which means you have had your say. We aren’t going to agree with you, even with you posting the same illogic time and time again. So, if you want to stick around, don’t become obnoxious like the people who got banned. Have your say, then go away for a bit.

  508. #508 Wowbagger, OM
    March 24, 2009

    If it had not been for the Catholic Church who sent missionaries to the ends of the earth, often to meet the most excruciating martyrdoms, you would never have even heard of the God of Israel or His only Son. And that’s a fact.

    A pity, then, that its inevitable place for it in society is as something people only pay lip-service to when living otherwise entirely godless lives, and as the punchline for jokes about paedophile priests, anachronistic superstitions, and ‘three people walked into a bar’ jokes.

    I love progress, don’t you?

  509. #509 John Morales
    March 24, 2009

    Piltdown, yeah, you survived.

    Proud, much? Vindicated?

    You’re only on the edge of toleration, not beyond it.
    :)

  510. #510 Stanton
    March 24, 2009

    If it had not been for the Catholic Church who sent missionaries to the ends of the earth, often to meet the most excruciating martyrdoms, you would never have even heard of the God of Israel or His only Son. And that’s a fact.

    You mean the same missionaries who labored hard to destroy the cultures of every indigenous people they encountered? Are you saying that Vatican-approved vandalism, ethnocide and genocide (such as with the Southern Californian Indians) is a good thing?

  511. #511 Owlmirror
    March 24, 2009

    You seem to assume that anyone who doesn’t share your political views – the “Religious Right” as you crudely characterize them – are motivated by a desire to impede social justice and and exercise authoritarian control because they enjoy oppressing the weak. You are profoundly wrong in this.

    Quite right. Torturing and/or killing people who commit thoughtcrimes, and/or stealing from them, is a sacred duty, and the fact that those doing the stealing and/or torturing and/or killing derive monetary benefit and/or pleasure from the screams of the dying is utterly incidental.

    And how is it an act of love for God or neighbour to allow His name to be blasphemed and His words ignored?

    As I have argued many times before (and I have never ever seen a single effective counter-argument), if God is a real entity outside of your own bloodthirsty head, then “blasphemy” is utterly meaningless because no word nor action can possibly harm God. And it certainly cannot harm one’s neighbor.

    All you do by suggesting that blasphemy is something terrible is imply that God does not exist outside of your own head; that the only reason that it is so terrible… is because it offends you.

    So much for the imago Dei.

    The same imago Dei that Christians so enthusiastically tortured and killed in the name of that Dei, of course.

    Which political philosophy comes closest to exemplifying the inward value of individual freedom of conscience and outward value of care for others?

    Not Christian feudal monarchy.

    Fixed that for you. Because the question was not “Which political philosophy comes closest to exemplifying the Orwellian restriction and punishment of thoughtcrimes with torture, death, and property confiscation?”

    Socially-defined gender roles were explicitly rejected by Jesus, so they’re a non-starter for His followers.

    Did Jesus entrust Mary with the Keys?

    Why is that even relevant?

    And if he had, would you agree that the Church should therefore properly only permit women to become priests, bishops, cardinals and popes?

    Odd that – since we all threw off our cruel theocratic shackles long ago, shouldn’t everything be sweetness and light by now?

    Odd, that – since Jesus, (allegedly) the son of God who (allegedly) died for our “sins” and (allegedly) resurrected, also (allegedly) brought a message of love for all, shouldn’t all Christianity have been all sweetness and light 2000 years ago?

  512. #512 Mover
    March 27, 2009

    @462

    Are you trying to impose your personal religious views as ‘laws’?

    The fact of the matter is that someone will always be imposing their views on others where the law is concerned. If the religious guy doesn’t try to impose his ideas, by default the opposition will impose theirs.

    I personally do not have a problem with imposing anyone’s views as law as long as it serves everyone equally.

    I hope you know that many of our laws that are meant to keep you safe and prevent people from defrauding you are derived from religious sources.

    The one that comes to mind first and foremost is slavery. It wasn’t until Moses said to Pharaoh, “let my people go”, that any serious consideration of the mass freeing of slaves was ever considered. The Christians preached freedom and were often killed for it. In this country, we weren’t the first to abolish slavery, but we were right in there with them. Even then, we had to fight a war to get the job done.

    So I wouldn’t be so harsh on religious folks imposong their values of life and liberty on you.

  513. #513 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 27, 2009

    So I wouldn’t be so harsh on religious folks imposong their values of life and liberty on you.

    If your god doesn’t exist, and your religiously inspired policies are hurtful to existing people, then why shouldn’t your agenda be opposed by others. Nobody should have to bow in any way to your inferior religion, certainly not by law.
    Again Mover, you have nothing of interest to offer to the discussion.

  514. #514 Pol Llaunas
    March 30, 2009

    I recommend this atheist pro-life girl: she defends the life of every human being (before or fter birth) with atheist arguments and science…

    http://ravingatheist.com

  515. #515 Mover
    March 30, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead, OM@513

    Whether or not an actual God exists or not is immaterial. The fact that of the 3 religions most Americans hear the most about, 2 of them profess individual freedom and liberty. We are currently at war with the more radical elements of the third.

    It is that belief in a higher authority that forces most people to think twice before doing something really bad. You may argue that survival instincts have a major role in this equation and you’d be right. But without a common beliefs on a massive scale, such as 300M or so in this country, none of the advances in science that we avail ourselves and our families of, would exist.

    Without Christianity there would be no Bill of Rights in the US Constitution and no federal level protections for individuals.

    Of course, Mr. Obama and friends are trying to destroy all that. But it will be difficult.

  516. #516 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 30, 2009

    Mover, godbots like you try to inhibit the freedom of existing peoples by trying to legislate their religious beliefs. That is not acceptable in a polytheistic country. Keep your religion to your church. Allow other peoples to make their decisions, even if it goes against your religious beliefs. After all, you can always say no to something other people find acceptable. Abortion is about the existing woman versus the fetus. In any sane society, the woman wins that battle every time.

  517. #517 Anonymous
    April 21, 2009

    If a person thinks that a human begins some time after conception, then when? – Mike

  518. #518 AHargrave
    April 23, 2009

    #18 I think and I believe you know that you put your foot directly in your mouth with your comment….
    ” For these people the difference is that god placed the soul in the fertilized egg. (BTW – which cells have the soul in a full grown human – it kinda gets blurred a bit there)”

    BTW is that a question you are asking or a statement you are giving?
    Which cells have the soul in a full grown human ?
    Which cells have the soul in a full grown human.

    either way you make the point for the opposition.

    How do you suppose we determine if we are delivering part of the soul in sperm or egg ?
    or
    At what point is the soul introduced and to which cell.

    By the way I am just a lay person who was searching for a way to have an intellegent conversation about the morning after pill when I stumbled upon this post.

    As for you Evolutionists…..
    Can you tell me why if we Evolved from a single cell somewhere; why has that stopped?
    why can’t we fly yet or live under water?
    Are you telling me that an proccess so advanced that could produce something as complex as the human body would just be happy with what it has and not try to improve on itself ?

    Feel free to email me anyone

  519. #519 AHargrave
    April 23, 2009
  520. #520 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 23, 2009

    Can you tell me why if we Evolved from a single cell somewhere; why has that stopped?

    An inane question, but evolution is still going on, and will go on until all life on earth dies off. That is the nature of evolution. The rest of your questions are equally inane, and have nothing to do with anything. Poor deluded guy.

  521. #521 A Hargrave
    April 23, 2009

    First of all NOR my question was not inane. It was very valid.
    But maybe you can tell me how Humans are evolving. In what way are we any different than we were 1000 years ago. I know you will say that “evolution takes more time than that”
    and i understand that point. However, how do you explain the fact that none of the major species have changed physically. Why can’t chickens fly yet. They are slaughtered on a massive scale. Wouldn’t nature try to protect them ?
    I am not a science major, I am a soldier and am seriously looking for an answer from you guys.
    If you want to call names and diminish my search then don’t reply.
    Just remember that while you are debating whether there is a God or some random happening created us. I will be putting my ass on the line for that very freedom you so enjoy.

    AH

  522. #522 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 23, 2009

    AH, your questions are inane and you know it. Your attempts to rationalize otherwise show your desperation. Evolution can happen in twenty years for bacteria, which have 24-48 hour generations, but take 100,000 years or more for hominids, where the generation time is 20-30 years. You aren’t that smart if you can’t do the math, and most creobots can’t do math beyond 2+2=5.

  523. #523 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 23, 2009

    Now AH, I will put the shoe on the other foot. Cite the peer reviewed primary scientific literature showing that any other theory than evolution (not Darwinism) is present in contemporary biology that has the explanatory power of evolution, and that there is scientific evidence for it. Until you can do so, with at least 20 citations for the last 10 years, you have nothing. Don’t come back until you have the citations. Bye.

  524. #524 Jadehawk
    April 23, 2009

    However, how do you explain the fact that none of the major species have changed physically.

    what’s a “major species”? and how does the appearance of nylonase, DDT resistant mosquitoes, and citrate-eating e-coli bacteria not count? (and those are only the ones I could think of on the spot, there’s many more)

    Why can’t chickens fly yet. They are slaughtered on a massive scale. Wouldn’t nature try to protect them ?

    that’s backwards. chickens once could fly, now they can’t. and nature doesn’t “protect” or “want”, it just does. and chickens as a species are actually less likely to go extinct as long as they’re fat, tasty, and lay many eggs. and so, chickens grow to be fat, tasty, and to lay many eggs. :-p though actually, it’s humans that drive chicken “evolution” right now. it’s called domestication.

  525. #525 Brownian
    April 23, 2009

    Just remember that while you are debating whether there is a God or some random happening created us. I will be putting my ass on the line for that very freedom you so enjoy.

    Boy, what a way to diminish your own sacrifice.

  526. #526 Sven DiMilo
    April 23, 2009

    Can you tell me why if we Evolved from a single cell somewhere; why has that stopped?

    Yes. Yes, We evolved from a single cell somewhere. Some when. That somewhen is likely to be 700 million years ago or more. Where? A place that no longer exists.
    Why has what stopped? The evolution of multicellular life-forms from single-celled forms? That happened numerous times in the past (brown algae, red algae, green algae+plants, fungi, animals). There is no reason to suspect that it has stopped. Several forms of life extant today (redundant, I know) are likely intermediates: e.g., Volvox, slime molds, Trichoplax

  527. #527 Jadehawk
    April 23, 2009

    I will be putting my ass on the line for that very freedom you so enjoy.

    the last time a soldier was putting his ass on the line for my freedom was in WW II.

  528. #528 Wowbagger, OM
    April 23, 2009

    Just remember that while you are debating whether there is a God or some random happening created us. I will be putting my ass on the line for that very freedom you so enjoy.

    Isn’t that the line Col. Nathan Jessup gives in A Few Good Men? Basically that, because he’s in the military, he can do what he wants?

  529. #529 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 23, 2009

    AH, there are probably a million, give or take, papers in the peer reviewed primary scientific literature that directly and indirectly support evolution. Only a couple of papers that support another theory. You need to refute all the papers in the scientific literature, by publishing a rebuttal for each and every paper in the peer reviewed primary scientific literature. Getting blanket sweeps of “I don’t believe it” will be impossible, since each paper must be rebutted on its scientific merits.

    I am not a science major, I am a soldier and am seriously looking for an answer from you guys.

    As if you being a soldier means anything. We have many regulars who have been in service. Learn the science like they did. Start with this book if you are really interested, and not just jerking us around.

  530. #530 Kseniya
    April 23, 2009

    AH:

    why can’t we fly yet or live under water?

    Educate yourself, A. hargrave. If you knew the first thing about evolution, you’d know right away that those questions are inane.

    By the way, nobody can email you unless you provide an email address. The one you entered when you posted your comment is for the blog-owner’s eyes only. :-)

    You wrote: “But maybe you can tell me how Humans are evolving. In what way are we any different than we were 1000 years ago. I know you will say that “evolution takes more time than that.”

    I hate to disappoint you, but… How are we different? In these ways, to name a few.

    Here, browse through this archive. It will keep you busy for a while (in a good way) and may help you get up to speed. If not, then perhaps you weren’t as interested in learning as you thought. *shrug*

    Either way, best wishes, and be careful out there.

  531. #531 Brownian, OM
    April 23, 2009

    Isn’t that the line Col. Nathan Jessup gives in A Few Good Men? Basically that, because he’s in the military, he can do what he wants?

    Yep. Him or Cartman: “You must respect my authoritah!”

    I hope that when A Hargrave survives his service, he stops to think about all those God-debatin’ scientists he loathes so much whose research made his survival that much more likely. I mean, priests have been around for millennia, and yet it’s only since the advent of modern science that battlefield mortality rates really started to drop, through better weapons, better armour, better technology, and better medicine.

    Here AH: why don’t you read a little bit about the modern military medicine that’s likely to save your ass (though I sincerely hope you never have to make use of it). Please note that NOVA is a science program.

    By the way, if you ever get around to thinking about how amazing it is that you lived long enough to be able to serve those freedoms you so begrudgingly protect (hint: look up ‘infant mortality’), science says “You’re welcome.”

  532. #532 Stanton
    April 23, 2009

    But maybe you can tell me how Humans are evolving. In what way are we any different than we were 1000 years ago. I know you will say that “evolution takes more time than that”

    Among other things, humans are, on average, taller and longer lived than they were 1000 years ago due to the advent of superior hygiene, better diets, access to clean water and the development of vaccines and superior medicines.

    That, and tolerance of lactose in adults has evolved at least twice in human history due to cultures with dairy-enriched diets.

    Also, humans have evolved the ability to secrete the enzyme chitinase, enabling us to prevent dust mites and fungi from getting too chummy inside of our bodies.

    and i understand that point.

    Your questions suggest otherwise, actually.

    However, how do you explain the fact that none of the major species have changed physically.

    That you use the terms “major species” and “changed physically” do not suggest that you “understand the point.” Furthermore, if “none of the major species have changed physically,” then please explain how people have been able to domesticate plants and animals, creating extremely showy creatures that are radically different from the ancestral breeds, such as comparing and contrasting domestic watermelon with wild watermelon, comparing wild tomatoes with beefsteaks, comparing telescope goldfish with wild carp, comparing orchid hybrids with their parent species, or comparing Pomeranians with grey wolves.

    Also, new species have appeared, such as the London Underground Mosquito, which is descended from a population of European Gnats that became trapped in the sewers and tunnels of London over 100 years ago, or the Honeysuckle Maggot Fly that is descended from hybrids of the Blueberry Maggot Fly and the Snowberry Maggot Fly 200 years ago.

    Why can’t chickens fly yet.

    Chickens can and do fly. However, because chickens are pheasants, they are ground-dwelling birds that fly very poorly because they fly only when absolutely necessary, such as when they have to escape a mammalian predator, or when they want to survey their surroundings from a high vantage point.

    They are slaughtered on a massive scale. Wouldn’t nature try to protect them ?
    I am not a science major, I am a soldier and am seriously looking for an answer from you guys.

    Chickens are in no danger of extinction because humans breed chickens at a mindboggling rate specifically in order to both replenish the numbers of chickens used for food, as well as to create new breeds of chickens, both for consumption and aesthetic reasons. That you have to pose us questions like that is why we have grave doubts about your motives and your sincerity.

    If you want to call names and diminish my search then don’t reply.

    If you have to tell us this after posing such inane questions (“why can’t chickens fly?”), then dinars to donuts suggest that you were never searching for anything to begin with.

    Just remember that while you are debating whether there is a God or some random happening created us. I will be putting my ass on the line for that very freedom you so enjoy.

    Tell us again why we should trust our lives and our freedoms with someone, like you, who is probably relishing the thought of us burning in Hell for all eternity while you and God laugh at our agony simply because we accept the evidence of reality, and don’t accept a literal interpretation of the Bible?

  533. #533 Kseniya
    April 23, 2009

    Oops, I missed the follow-up post with the email. My bad.

  534. #534 Stanton
    April 23, 2009

    I hope that when A Hargrave survives his service, he stops to think about all those God-debatin’ scientists he loathes so much whose research made his survival that much more likely. I mean, priests have been around for millennia, and yet it’s only since the advent of modern science that battlefield mortality rates really started to drop, through better weapons, better armour, better technology, and better medicine.

    Most likely, Private Hargrave is probably going to pray that he comes home to a theocratic dictatorship where people are publicly executed for daring to contradict what the government says about the Bible on a daily basis.

  535. #535 Rorschach
    April 24, 2009

    why can’t we fly yet or live under water?

    Because evolution doesnt care about your Superman and Captain Nemo fantasies?
    But,as jadehawk has pointed out to you,you have it backwards,our ancestors used to live under water,and used to fly around.

  536. #536 AHargrave
    April 24, 2009

    O.K
    There were so many responses to deal with i’m not quite sure where to start.
    First I should say to you all ” Calm Down ”
    If I didn’t want a debate I wouldn’t keep comming back.

    Now

    As for many of you that are referring to my questions as inane; i find that offensive. ( maybe that is your goal…If so mission accomplished ) My questions may be juvenile to you but you are all obviously science majors of some sort and have had years to study your specific areas. I said that i wasn’t a science student but that i was a soldier ( which many of you have translated into me having some kind of superiority complex or ” Right to ” attitude. You couldn’t be more wrong. I was just giving some background. ( I know I may have put a few of you on edge with my comment about “Putting my ass on the line for …….” )I Admit, Uncalled for.

    I am a lover of and have a great deal of respect for Science itself. I think that the fact that we can launch a missile from Arazona and hit a doorknob in Bagdad or that we can track the movement of a single microchip anywhere in the universe is mind boggeling. You better believe I am grateful for Kevelar,Jet fuel, band aids and deodorant for that matter. Someone mentioned NOVA. I enjoy that show and watch it often.

    However the science of evolution is to me not as exact and defined as the physical sciences. 2+2=4 all day but evolution to me has to many holes in it. like my questions about the halt of human evolution.
    O.K, here’s a question. Why is evolution select ?
    some of you have called my questions inane but how did you get into the field that you are in. Didn’t you start asking the same questions ? I would’t think that you asking me how to load a 120mm round into a M1A1 tank was inane ( although elementary to me ) I would just realize that you didn’t know and that’s why you were asking.

    NOR you asked me to refute all the documents pertaining to evolution. I can do that no easier than you can refute one book of the bible.

    Kseniya
    I appriciate your email and I checked out a couple of the links you sent.
    However you started by saying ” Educate yourself, A. hargrave. If you knew the first thing about evolution, you’d know right away that those questions are inane.”

    Let me say this again….I DON”T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT EVOLUTION.
    I am a lay / Christian ( surprise )
    Honestly i can’t explain it either. It’s just Faith.
    Most of the time it’s easier to take what the bible says about creation than it is to believe that we just perfectly “happened” and not just us. If evolution is true than wouldn’t all species have originated from one single cell ?

    Someone mentioned kicking me off of here… Why would you ?
    What’s the use of having all your knowledge if you can’t argue your points and teach.

    AH

  537. #537 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Honestly i can’t explain it either. It’s just Faith.

    Well there’s your problem right there.

  538. #538 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Rorschach

    It’s not about fantisies. It’s about the human nature to explore. We always want to go farter faster and are so curious. It would seem that nature would have allowed us to do the things that we can’t without technology.

  539. #539 AHargrave
    April 24, 2009

    Believe it or not I forgot to make a point.
    Some of you were giving examples of things that were invented or researched by humans to improve, sustain or prolong life. I’m asking about nature making the changes or lack of. Nature didn’t pasturize milk Humans did.
    I’m not attacking scientists just evolution.

    AH

  540. #540 AHargrave
    April 24, 2009

    Are you serious REV.BDC ?
    Can you track evolution to a single cell? or is it just faith that the numbers will eventually lead you there ?

  541. #541 AHargrave
    April 24, 2009

    Rorschach

    If what you say is true wouldn’t that be De Evolution ?
    Why would nature evolve us into something less than we were.
    If our ancestors could fly and live underwater. wouldn’t that make the entire Earth and atmosphere around it our natural habitat ?
    If that is so than why would nature push us out of our home?

  542. #542 CJO
    April 24, 2009

    If that is so than why would nature push us out of our home?

    There is no direction built in to the evolution of a given lineage. Natural selection is a local near-optimizer. No points for past success, and no bias against what might look like ‘de-evolution’; if a loss of function produces a more nearly locally optimized phenotype, that phenotype will prosper. “Nature” has no goals, and there’s no better way to misunderstand its workings than to treat it as an agent.

  543. #543 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    AH, you still aren’t getting it. Evolution is the best science that describes the whole of biology. In fact, there is not another scientific theory that competes with evolution. This is a statement of fact. Science is only refuted by science. The burden of proof is upon you to show that you are right, not us, since you are making a claim against evolution. A million or so papers say we are right until you can show otherwise.

    If you have another scientific (as opposed to religious ideas like creationism or ID) theory to propose, the way to do so is to write up a scientific paper, citing or providing the scientific evidence for it, and submit it to a peer reviewed scientific journal, like say Science or Nature. Until it is in the scientific literature, it won’t be discussed by scientists.

    If you can’t see how evolution works, then read the Coyne book I referenced above. It may be available at your local library. Your questions are still inane, showing a deep ignorance of how science and evolution works.

  544. #544 AHargrave
    April 24, 2009

    NOR
    It almost sounded like you were trying to help until the last sentence.
    I have begun doing some reasearch from The TalkOrigins Archive. ( thanks for the lead Kseniya )
    I would have enjoyed dialoging with you all but you seem to enjoy putting others down instead of trying to bring them to your level of understanding.

    NOR as yo have just said: I don’t get it. I’m not a scientist so how could i possibly refute anything with anything other than what I know which is religion and creationism. That would be like me telling you to prove evolution but you can’t use science.

    I’m learning from the archives that science does not accept creationism because it has no concrete evidence to back it up.
    and believe it or not I understand the problem with the mutations that would have had to occur with Noahs family to produce the amount of diversities we have between humans.
    I’m gonna continue with this because it has sparked my interest.
    You all feel free to respond to this as i will come back to see what you have said. I’m just gonna keep quiet for a while until i have less INANE ( insert sarcasm here ) questions to ask if thats possible.

    But i leave you all with this.

    You say to Creationists ” show me proof of your God and we will listen ”
    I say to you ” Show me the path to the single cell ”
    ( not just the human cell but THE SINGLE CELL )

    I don’t believe that creationists are arguing that evolution occurs, but science wants to remove the one who said “Let It…”
    I think if you would not ignore a creator we would not argue so much.

    E-mails welcome
    anthony.hargrave@yahoo.com

    AH

  545. #545 Anonymous
    April 24, 2009

    Ahmanson supports Christian Reconstructionism, which seeks to replace American democracy with a fundamentalist theocracy. In the society he favors, the death penalty would be required for “offenders” such as witches, homosexuals, incorrigible children, and people who disagree with the state religion (Benen 2000; Forrest and Gross 2004, 22-23,265-267).

    Sound Familiar STANTON ?????
    You should be ashamed that you couldnt come up with anything original

  546. #546 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 24, 2009

    Are you serious REV.BDC ?
    Can you track evolution to a single cell? or is it just faith that the numbers will eventually lead you there ?

    huh?

  547. #547 Owlmirror
    April 24, 2009

    If our ancestors could fly and live underwater.

    Um. The above is partially incorrect: the only flying organisms are insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats. None of them are ancestral to the human lineage.

    wouldn’t that make the entire Earth and atmosphere around it our natural habitat ?

    Heh. Technically speaking, the entire Earth and atmosphere is indeed the natural habitat of the descendants of the original organisms that lived underwater, a few hundred million years ago.

    It’s just that not all of those descendants are humans. Most are not.

    If that is so than why would nature push us out of our home?

    Nature does not “push”, with any sort of intent. But some biological solutions to problems posed by specific environments are mutually exclusive with other biological solutions to other problems posed by other specific environments.

    You said you were in the military, right? Warfare in desert environments is very different from arctic or winter conditions, or from naval conditions, or from mountain environments, or from plains environments. Each environment demands its own solutions.

    Flexibility would of course be best — but flexibility can have costs as well, and isn’t always easy to achieve.

  548. #548 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2009

    AH, there is no such thing as the SINGLE CELL, so lose that idea. It is not part of evolutionary theory. That sounds like a creationist idea, designed to make science seem absurd. We see a lot of those types of things here. These are usually what we call drive-by postings, where someone comes in with the inane question of the day (or hour), and leaves without waiting for an answer. Or if they wait around they disappear when we ask for evidence.

    Also, science cannot use god as an explanation or a conclusion, so essentially science ignores god. If you must use god for an explanation, it isn’t science. Some theists have trouble with this. Scientists who are theists keep the science separated from the religion, and privately believe god supervised the science.

    I have twice suggested Coyne’s book (now three times) as a place to start to learning about evolution. Or any or Richard Dawkins books. TalkOrigins is good, as it debunks AIG, the creationist site. Any good college level introductory text should have a chapter or two on evolution. I am not a biologist (I’m a chemist), so I can’t answer details about the biology.

    This is an old thread, and your questions are off topic. If you are interested in learning further, look on the front page or two and there is a thread about Coyne. Ask your questions there.

  549. #549 Owlmirror
    April 24, 2009

    You say to Creationists ” show me proof of your God and we will listen ”
    I say to you ” Show me the path to the single cell ”

    There are a couple of ways of responding to this.

    The first way is to point out that science already has an enormous amount of information about cells from a biological perspective. We know that they exist, that they come in many different forms and shapes and sizes. We know that the cells of multicellular life are highly specialized and highly cooperative, and are the result of two different types of cells coming together in a symbiotic union, probably more than a billion years ago. We also know that cells are highly complicated chemical systems that perform various types of chemical reactions, including the chemical reaction that enables them to grow (metabolism) and the chemical reaction that enables them to reproduce. So if you open up a book on cellular biology and microbiology and biochemistry, you’ll see a lot of what has been discovered about cells laid out.

    Given all that we know about what cells are, the most parsimonious inference is that they arose from some set of chemical reactions that are not yet fully understood, but which can be investigated and tested. The origins of cells is a set of questions that can be asked by biochemists and organic chemists, and it is possible for them to arrive at answers — even if the answer is “it wasn’t this way” or “it might have been this way”.

    You’ll note that this says nothing about God, one way or the other. This is the theologically noncommittal response.

    And if we get into the response that addresses God, well… Do you think that God is something that can be tested scientifically? Do you think that God can be conclusively disproved as not having done something? Do you think that it can be conclusively shown that God does not exist?

    If not, why not?

  550. #550 amphiox
    April 24, 2009

    #547: And one of the obvious drawbacks of flexibility is that, to remain flexible, you can’t be optimized for any one activity, which means that, although you can do many different things, no matter which one you try to do at any given time, you will likely have to compete with specialists in that area who can do it better than you.

    Since evolution is about the change in the characteristics in populations and requires heritable variation to get going, it technically can’t have begun with the first “single” cell (might not even have been a “cell”, of course). It would have begun with the second cell (or, more accurately, the first cell that was different in some way from all the previous cells, since it’s possible that the first few rounds of replication produced exact duplicates of the original without any mutations)

    More likely than not, though, there was more than one spontaneous generation of life, and several different self-replicators appeared in various environments around the early earth more or less synchronously. But only one lineage ultimately survived to become LUCA for all subsequent life.

  551. #551 Kseniya
    April 25, 2009

    Ok Anthony, I apologize for characterizing your questions as “inane”. You have to realize that we get a lot of drive-bys here, a lot of people who cite all sorts of misinformation, claim to want to learn, but really have no intention of listening to anyone here, nor of reading the materials quoted or linked to, people who hold science in disdain while reaping its benefits every day of their lives.

    science wants to remove the one who said “Let It…”

    No. That’s your fear talking. Science doesn’t “want” anything. It’s simply the best method we have for building some understanding of the universe we live in. If the discoveries made and conclusions reached happen to disprove the existence of a thunder god or a creation myth, well – that’s the way it goes. Deal with it like the adult that you are. Reality is what it is, and has no motives.

    Nature didn’t pasteurize milk Humans did.

    True, but people were drinking cow milk and goat milk long before Pasteur. Nature “provided” lactose tolerance, which proved to be a competitive advantage in agricultural societies. Lactose intolerance is normal in many populations. Tolerance is the beneficial mutation.

    Here’s a good place to start:

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

    The section titled “History of genetic prevalence” may be of particular interest.

  552. #552 Jadehawk
    April 25, 2009

    but you are all obviously science majors of some sort and have had years to study your specific areas.

    nope. some of us are high-school drop-out artists. we just prefer to get the basics for ourselves before asking questions, because real people have limited capacity to answer the same inane questions, and you’ve been provided with more than enough basics to do your own homework. do read coyne’s book.

  553. #553 Kseniya
    April 25, 2009

    By the way, Anthony, nobody mentioned Pasteurization until you did. So… why did you? Lactose tolerance has nothing to do with Pasteurization. Did I miss something?

  554. #554 AHargarve
    April 28, 2009

    Kseniya

    I was just making the point that some of the things that were being said were more human research and development than natural occurances.

    I said I would be quiet for a while until I had more info / ammo. But I didnt want to leave you hangin so…
    No need to reply….I’m Doing my homework on this.

    BTW
    Thank you …AA

    Anthony

  555. #555 Owlmirror
    April 28, 2009

    I was just making the point that some of the things that were being said were more human research and development than natural occurances.

    Then you didn’t understand what was being said, and your point was wrong.

    Pasteurization is not lactose tolerance. Heating milk so as to kill microbes is not the same as the (adult) body producing enzymes that can digest milk sugar. Thinking that one has anything to do with the other, just because they both involve milk, is terribly confused.

    Are you able to acknowledge that you were wrong? Are you capable of admitting that you misunderstood the original argument being made in the first place? This is an important point in itself.

  556. #556 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 28, 2009

    MsA, Birth. Nothing else makes sense.