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Thread: Christianity Today Op Ed

  1. #1451
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    As explained before, we're not talking about a "functioning brain". You're saying "fully-functioning", which is not an argument being made by Jim or anyone else. What we're discussing here is the capacity for higher-level functionality. Or "sufficiently-functional".

    You're simply mischaracterizing what Jim and others are saying.
    We've trod this path before. I know what Jim means. He's made the distinction many times before.

    You're arguing that a human body, artificially animated, is a person?
    Why not? You're arguing that a brain by itself that is artificially animated is a person.

    You're arguing that you could do a "Face-Off" head swap with someone and your possession of their body makes you their person?
    No. It makes their body mine, and therefore, I've stolen nothing. If the rest of the body besides the cerebrum is just window dressing, I can take whatever I please as long as I integrate it into "my" brain's housing. It's patently absurd to say the brain makes the person.

    That's self-evidently absurd.
    I can't help your lack of understanding.

    You understand, like everyone else, that personhood is exhibited through consciousness, which resides in the brain.
    That's utterly false. Personhood is exhibited through us being a self-contained and self-directed organism.

    Animating a decapitated corpse doesn't confer the rights of personhood on that corpse and a "head in a jar", fully able to process sensation, execute higher-level brain function, and communicate to others could not be said to be less than a person. You're advocating situations that would lead to absurdities in practice.
    You've posed the absurdity. Comparing an entire organism to an organ is self-evidently fallacious. Proposing some science fiction level nonsense as an argument is just a sad way to excuse the murder of the unborn.


    Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals --- Manya the Holy Szin --- The Quintara Marathon ---

    I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common --- Stephen R. Donaldson ---

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    And I'll add that a blastocyst is "self contained" in the same way that a stem cell is "self contained".
    No it isn't. That's simple biological ignorance.

    One is being argued as being a "person" while the other is not.
    Because one is and one isn't.

    Therefore, the operative factor in determining personhood cannot be it's self-containment.
    That's why I included "self-directed". Why did you leave that out?

    And, yes, if the "power goes out", the blastocyst does indeed die.

    --Sam
    No it doesn't. The mother is just in the dark.


    Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals --- Manya the Holy Szin --- The Quintara Marathon ---

    I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common --- Stephen R. Donaldson ---

  3. Amen Cow Poke amen'd this post.
  4. #1453
    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxmixmudd View Post
    I'm speaking in terms of what can be determined legally and scientifically within our legal system. You cant legislate religious belief.
    If that's really all you're doing you need to be more careful with how you phrase your sentences, because to me they read like someone arguing well beyond what is legally and scientifically warranted, especially your insistence on how we "know" that consciousness doesn't appear/emerge in the fetus before the development of the brain. Which of course we don't "know" at all, in fact.

    And belief in a soul wouldn't be a strictly religious issue, but one of philosophy. It's possible to believe in the existence of the soul and the non-material realm without being a theist. A person who argue that embryos/fetuses who haven't developed a brain yet should not be granted personhood are arguing from a position of presumed materialism/physicalism just as much as the person who argues that the existence of the soul confers personhood well before the brain starts developing is presuming dualism and the existence of the non-material. I see no reason what so ever why physicalism/materialism should be the default assumption in legal/political debate about the personhood of the fetus and the issue of abortion.

  5. Amen Cow Poke, Cerebrum123 amen'd this post.
  6. #1454
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    If it looks like a duck.
    Well, you can sit uncomfortably in your false allegation until the time comes to stand before the Throne, then.

    This is, of course, why it's often futile to even join these discussions: any effort to even clarify the relevant terms and work through the relevant logic is anathema, as it might introduce a crack of doubt in the minds of people who clearly have not and will not put their argument to rigorous analytical test. There's no discussion, only defensive argument.

    It's dogma, in other words, and you can't reason a man out of a position he was never reasoned into to begin with.

    --Sam
    "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"


  7. Amen oxmixmudd amen'd this post.
  8. #1455
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    If that's really all you're doing you need to be more careful with how you phrase your sentences, because to me they read like someone arguing well beyond what is legally and scientifically warranted, especially your insistence on how we "know" that consciousness doesn't appear/emerge in the fetus before the development of the brain. Which of course we don't "know" at all, in fact.
    Yeah, we do chrawnus. Consciousness as any sort of manifestation of mind in this universe for a human being doesnt appear in a fetus until after the brain forms. I dont have any problem with that as an absolute truth, nor do I see any necessary conflict with scripture in saying that.
    He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

    "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets"

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    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxmixmudd View Post
    Yeah, we do chrawnus. Consciousness as any sort of manifestation of mind in this universe for a human being doesnt appear in a fetus until after the brain forms.
    No we don't. We don't have any visible indication of consciousness until after the brain forms, which is a completely different matter altogether. Whether or not there's any consciousness prior to that is something we cannot accurately assess scientifically, because the issue of whether the soul exists before the formation of the brain (or at all) and can be said to be conscious in any sort of fashion is a metaphysical issue that science is not even in principle equipped to handle.

    Quote Originally Posted by oxmixmudd View Post
    I dont have any problem with that as an absolute truth, nor do I see any necessary conflict with scripture in saying that.
    Unless you presuppose materialism/physicalism, and I know you don't, I don't see how you arrive at the conclusion that it's an absolute truth at all. It cannot be through science, because science is incapable of giving us the answer.

  10. Amen Cow Poke, Cerebrum123 amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    No we don't. We don't have any visible indication of consciousness until after the brain forms, which is a completely different matter altogether. Whether or not there's any consciousness prior to that is something we cannot accurately assess scientifically, because the issue of whether the soul exists before the formation of the brain (or at all) and can be said to be conscious in any sort of fashion is a metaphysical issue that science is not even in principle equipped to handle.



    Unless you presuppose materialism/physicalism, and I know you don't, I don't see how you arrive at the conclusion that it's an absolute truth at all. It cannot be through science, because science is incapable of giving us the answer.
    Would be good here to separate the term "consciousness" pretty far from "soul", since consciousness is a scientific concept that can be (and has been) heavily impacted directly through physical manipulation. What we know about consciousness is that it's a mental condition emergent from brain function.

    Whether there's some sort of consciousness beyond that is, as you say, metaphysically unknown but also irrelevant for discussion here -- one could, using the framework, argue that contraception and sterilization are likewise wrong/should be illegal because they prevent a soul from attaching to its destined physical body.

    --Sam
    "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"


  12. #1458
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    ...
    any effort to even clarify the relevant terms and work through the relevant logic is anathema, as it might introduce a crack of doubt in the minds of people who clearly have not and will not put their argument to rigorous analytical test. There's no discussion, only defensive argument.

    --Sam
    Is the Crack of doubt you referred doubt about the topic, (abortion is wrong), or is the worry that the crack of doubt is about the infallibility of the argument, and the infallibility of the one making the argument.

  13. #1459
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    No we don't. We don't have any visible indication of consciousness until after the brain forms, which is a completely different matter altogether. Whether or not there's any consciousness prior to that is something we cannot accurately assess scientifically, because the issue of whether the soul exists before the formation of the brain (or at all) and can be said to be conscious in any sort of fashion is a metaphysical issue that science is not even in principle equipped to handle.
    There are two fronts here Chrawnus. On the spiritual front, we cannot 'know' what the spirit is or when it appears. But unless we accept reincarnation as a reality, we have to accept that the soul of a person emerges or is created for the person sometime at or after conception. Whatever that soul or spirit is, and whenever it happens to be created, is a matter of religious belief. It does not enter into the law about what a fetus is in terms of whether or not aborting it should or should not be legal because codifying religious belief into law violates the establishment clause.

    From a scientific point of view consciousness is related to brain activity but there is no clear way to fully isolate it. (There is an interesting announcement on that here)

    But if consciousness resides solely in the brain, it can't legally be deemed to exist without it. So from a legal point of view, which can't be based on religious suppositions, there can't be a human being with any sort of consciousness in there till there is a brain. And so - from a secular, legal point of view - there is no reason to ascribe personhood or rights separate from the mother of any real sort to the fetus prior to that - unless we delve into the realm of potential. The potential to gain a consciousness exists, even though the consciousness (from a legal/scientific point of view) doesn't/can't exist yet.

    Scripturally, we have Exodus which clearly does not assign the same person-hood to the fetus as to the mother. If the fetus dies from the blow, there is no life for a life. But if the mother does, there is. If we accept this law as being from God, then that is a clear indication that a fetus does not yet have the status of person. Now if we take the view this was a purely cultural manifestation based on the Jewish culture's connection of the breath with the soul, believing that since the baby had not yet breathed it did not have a soul, then you could argue the Bible is neutral on the issue. But such a view then must turn to science to define when the fetus becomes that which would be a person, and that leads us where I have been arguing. (One could use John leaping in Elizabeth's womb at Mary's presence to indicate the soul was present by 6 months, but that would be consistent with the idea of quickening for ensoulment and would not be contrary to the idea the soul comes after conception or anything I've been arguing). Ideas that focus on that God knows a person at birth or before birth are irrelevant since God knows us before we were born, even from the beginning of time, which means that is not talking about when our soul appears but God's infinite knowledge of all that was, is a and will be.

    Beyond the above mentioned classes of discussion in scripture, is there anything else in scripture you believe implies the soul is present at conception?

    The summary below reflects my current understanding. I am open to any scriptural or scientific argument you can make contrary to it (but not 'what if' speculation):

    In the end, in terms of defining whether abortion is the moral equivalent of murder, AFAIK, all the religious and scientific evidence we have* points to 'not at first'. That there is some time after conception that the fetus takes on its newfound personhood, and at that point it becomes en entity worthy of lex talonis, a life for a life. And at that point, abortion is murder.

    *Extra-biblical speculation about maybe the soul is ... - is just that - extra-biblical. Unless you know of something I don't, what we have in the Bible doesn't really support the idea the soul is attached at conception. The entire Jewish culture in fact tends towards the idea that the soul doesn't exist till birth itself. The idea the soul comes at conception is more an opinion that originated (quite long ago in fact) with the Greeks and became part of Catholic teaching about 150 years ago - per my link in the previous post.

    Unless you presuppose materialism/physicalism, and I know you don't, I don't see how you arrive at the conclusion that it's an absolute truth at all. It cannot be through science, because science is incapable of giving us the answer.
    As I said - AFAIK, Biblical texts (what little there is) point to the idea the soul comes or emerges after conception. As does science. So spiritually, I don't see any reason to presume anything else. And I tend to think rank speculation about spiritual things is dangerous. Go with what the Bible teaches, incorporate scientific understanding where appropriate. And on this the Bible teaches very little.

    My absolutism in this conversation is based on the fact we are talking about legally treating abortion as murder, and there is nothing that can or likely will ever support in a physical/material sense (on which our laws are based) the idea of any sort of mind in the fetus prior to the formation of the brain. And without some sort of mind, legally (and for all practical purposes in any other sense) there is no person there.
    Last edited by oxmixmudd; 01-24-2020 at 07:10 AM.
    He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

    "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets"

  14. #1460
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxmixmudd View Post
    There are two fronts here Chrawnus. On the spiritual front, we cannot 'know' what the spirit is or when it appears. But unless we accept reincarnation as a reality, we have to accept that the soul of a person emerges or is created for the person sometime at or after conception. Whatever that soul or spirit is, and whenever it happens to be created, is a matter of religious belief. It does not enter into the law about what a fetus is in terms of whether or not aborting it should or should not be legal because codifying religious belief into law violates the establishment clause.

    From a scientific point of view consciousness is related to brain activity but there is no clear way to fully isolate it. (There is an interesting announcement on that here)

    But if consciousness resides solely in the brain, it can't legally be deemed to exist without it. So from a legal point of view, which can't be based on religious suppositions, there can't be a human being with any sort of consciousness in there till there is a brain. And so - from a secular, legal point of view - there is no reason to ascribe personhood or rights separate from the mother of any real sort to the fetus prior to that - unless we delve into the realm of potential. The potential to gain a consciousness exists, even though the consciousness (from a legal/scientific point of view) doesn't/can't exist yet.

    Scripturally, we have Exodus which clearly does not assign the same person-hood to the fetus as to the mother. If the fetus dies from the blow, there is no life for a life. But if the mother does, there is. If we accept this law as being from God, then that is a clear indication that a fetus does not yet have the status of person. Now if we take the view this was a purely cultural manifestation based on the Jewish culture's connection of the breath with the soul, believing that since the baby had not yet breathed it did not have a soul, then you could argue the Bible is neutral on the issue. But such a view then must turn to science to define when the fetus becomes that which would be a person, and that leads us where I have been arguing. (One could use John leaping in Elizabeth's womb at Mary's presence to indicate the soul was present by 6 months, but that would be consistent with the idea of quickening for ensoulment and would not be contrary to the idea the soul comes after conception or anything I've been arguing). Ideas that focus on that God knows a person at birth or before birth are irrelevant since God knows us before we were born, even from the beginning of time, which means that is not talking about when our soul appears but God's infinite knowledge of all that was, is a and will be.

    Beyond the above mentioned classes of discussion in scripture, is there anything else in scripture you believe implies the soul is present at conception?

    The summary below reflects my current understanding. I am open to any scriptural or scientific argument you can make contrary to it (but not 'what if' speculation):

    In the end, in terms of defining whether abortion is the moral equivalent of murder, AFAIK, all the religious and scientific evidence we have* points to 'not at first'. That there is some time after conception that the fetus takes on its newfound personhood, and at that point it becomes en entity worthy of lex talonis, a life for a life. And at that point, abortion is murder.

    *Extra-biblical speculation about maybe the soul is ... - is just that - extra-biblical. Unless you know of something I don't, what we have in the Bible doesn't really support the idea the soul is attached at conception. The entire Jewish culture in fact tends towards the idea that the soul doesn't exist till birth itself. The idea the soul comes at conception is more an opinion that originated (quite long ago in fact) with the Greeks and became part of Catholic teaching about 150 years ago - per my link in the previous post.



    As I said - AFAIK, Biblical texts (what little there is) point to the idea the soul comes or emerges after conception. As does science. So spiritually, I don't see any reason to presume anything else. And I tend to think rank speculation about spiritual things is dangerous. Go with what the Bible teaches, incorporate scientific understanding where appropriate. And on this the Bible teaches very little.

    My absolutism in this conversation is based on the fact we are talking about legally treating abortion as murder, and there is nothing that can or likely will ever support in a physical/material sense (on which our laws are based) the idea of any sort of mind in the fetus prior to the formation of the brain. And without some sort of mind, legally (and for all practical purposes in any other sense) there is no person there.
    So, if I invent a microwave device that solely eradicates a fetus from its mother's womb, as long as it is under 2 months or so, I can walk around town zapping every woman I see, and should get in no trouble because I didn't kill a person?


    Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals --- Manya the Holy Szin --- The Quintara Marathon ---

    I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common --- Stephen R. Donaldson ---

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