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Thread: Christianity Today Op Ed

  1. #1491
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    I have decidedly not dismissed arguments made on biology or science. I have, in fact, used biological science in arguments concerning when and how organisms can become defined as persons capable of obtaining the rights associated with personhood.
    You have given reason after reason why a fetus ISN'T valuable as a human life until it reaches some designated stage of development. I am talking about ANY abortion, from day 1 onward. How do you convince some secular person not to have an abortion at all. Or do you think it is morally OK to have an abortion up till a certain stage?

    Most secular people are knowing moral agents and act as such. You believe morals are subjective, as does everyone here: there are often conflicts about which morals are subjective and how subjective those morals are but Christians are not operating on a completely different ethical or moral plane from others. We're every bit as much "in the soup".
    OK that just makes the problem harder.

    If somebody wanted to have an abortion and wanted my opinion, I would seek to understand their reasons and circumstances. Where I believed that their motivation was immoral or unethical, I'd argue that position from the framework I've outlined here. Same as I would for someone who wanted to divorce his wife or cheat on her with a friend. I'd appeal to universal values, the wonder and sanctity of Creation and life. I would relate personal experiences and stories and seek to revive a sense of that moral standard.
    Abortion isn't a divorce. It is killing a human life.

    Would you treat infanticide the same way if it were legal?


    We do have laws against on-demand abortion but:

    1) What makes abortion unethical or immoral, in some situations, is not its being "on demand". It's the motivation for terminating a pregnancy.
    agreed. That is what I was talking about. Abortion not based on need, but on want. And I don't accept financial reasons as a "need" where a human life is concerned. After all, a poor mother can't kill her infants if she finds she can't afford them.
    2) Such bans can only be supported where they do not supersede the legal right to access an abortion. Just as we cannot ban alcohol or adultery (and should steer clear of theocracy in general), we cannot ban abortion much far beyond what Roe and Casey already allow for. 20 weeks would be the extent I could possibly justify on legal and philosophical grounds, at least for the foreseeable future.

    --Sam
    Sam, abortion isn't like drinking or adultery. We are talking about a human life. To you and me, someone created by God. I believe if it came to say, infanticide, you would probably want to do everything you could to make it illegal, not simply say we need to keep it legal but convince people it is wrong. Correct?

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  3. #1492
    God, family, chicken! Bill the Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxmixmudd View Post
    No - it isn't BTC.
    Yes it is. I've soundly proven it.

    I just didn't get the terminology correct for the point I was trying to make, primarily because to make my point I've got to be sure there is no possibility for you to twist what is being said.
    No, you need to figure out a more mealy mouthed term that isn't scientifically accurate.

    The bottom line: You are conflating issues and ignoring realities and trying to pretend a complex problem can be summed up in some sort of simple all encompassing statement, and it can't.
    Yes it can. A human being starts at conception. Embryology and biology declare that.

    Gestation is the process of making a new human being. During gestation the developing cells, blastocyst, fetus etc transitions from stage to stage. Each stage has different properties. Eventually, it reaches the point where it has what we call human consciousness. But it does not have that capacity or property when the process begins. And that is not a trivial distinction, it is a significant distinction.
    Not when the matter of life and death is attributed. Have you EVER heard a pregnant woman say "I have a potential human being inside me". My own daughter is 7 weeks pregnant, and just now sent the ultrasound, and I'd punch you in the face for calling my grandchild "not a human being" just because it hasn't reached some arbitrary stage of growth that you are comfortable with. It's just disgusting, Jim.


    And even the Scriptures recognize and codify that distinction.
    I'm not dealing with scripture right now. I am dealing with science.


    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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  5. #1493
    God, family, chicken! Bill the Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxmixmudd View Post
    One element that clearly indicates you are not thinking clearly. You can not reflect back the arguments of the opinion you oppose without distorting it.

    I did not say fully functional brain. Neither sam or myself is talking about the brain in terms of whether or not one can refer to the gestational phase as having a human body. These continued mistakes in understanding on your part, and your incapacity to recognize them even when they are pointed out to you, is a huge part of why these discussion can't stay rational or on track.
    And I adjusted my argument for that distinction you made. So, answer the question with a yes or no. Is my grandchild a human being right now, considering consciousness isn't developed until later in their development?


    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 ---

  6. #1494
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    You have given reason after reason why a fetus ISN'T valuable as a human life until it reaches some designated stage of development. I am talking about ANY abortion, from day 1 onward. How do you convince some secular person not to have an abortion at all. Or do you think it is morally OK to have an abortion up till a certain stage?

    OK that just makes the problem harder.

    Abortion isn't a divorce. It is killing a human life.

    Would you treat infanticide the same way if it were legal?


    agreed. That is what I was talking about. Abortion not based on need, but on want. And I don't accept financial reasons as a "need" where a human life is concerned. After all, a poor mother can't kill her infants if she finds she can't afford them.


    Sam, abortion isn't like drinking or adultery. We are talking about a human life. To you and me, someone created by God. I believe if it came to say, infanticide, you would probably want to do everything you could to make it illegal, not simply say we need to keep it legal but convince people it is wrong. Correct?
    All of these arguments and questions are completely ignoring categorical points I've made throughout the discussion. It's fine if you don't agree with those points but to have a meaningful discussion, you have to be able to understand and assimilate those points into your argument so you're able to avoid mischaracterizing again and again and again!

    If you have to go back and re-read, that's fine. But I can't keep repeating how what you're alleging "isn't even wrong" -- you have to be able to accurately restate my argument before you can critique it.

    --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"


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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    And presuming physicalism/materialism, which has just as little scientific evidence in its favor, is preferable for what reason?
    We don't presume materialism when we ground our legal framework but, regardless, what you're calling physicalism/materialism is actually empiricism -- what we can empirically show to be true. This ability to demonstrate truth is an important foundation; even though more limited in what it can say, it provides a universal (or near-universal) structure for agreement.

    If the argument is "I believe in an immaterial soul and you don't", then there is no rational common ground on which society can build on.

    --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"


  8. #1496
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    No it's not, at least not entirely. It's just as much a matter of philosophy/metaphysics. Discussing the philosophical aspect of the question of the soul and whether it should play a part in the legal debate seems to me to circumvent the whole issue with the establishment clause.
    I think you might be able to get away with a touch of philosophy in this debate WRT abortion law if you can tie the philosophical conclusions you derive your arguments from to the philosophical assumptions already built into the constitution. But the reality is, that has a lot to do with where we are. The pro-choice advocates have framed there arguments in exactly that way. And if those fighting against abortion continue to only frame their arguments in Christian terms (remembering Judeo doesn't help here), then we are doomed to failure.


    Most neuroscientists are physicalists and presuppose a reductive view of the mind. What you call a "scientific point of view" is not a pure scientific view at all, but the view of the scientists who bring their preconceived notions about how the data/information they study should be interpreted. They do not begin from an unbiased starting point and let the evidence guide them to the most likely conclusion, they bring their physicalist viewpoint with them when they practice their science and interpret all the data they study through that physicalist lense.



    As I mentioned above, what you call a scientific point of view is in fact not "scientific" at all. It's a philosophical viewpoint (namely physicalism and reductionism) trying to disguise itself as "pure" science.
    I don't see this as a serious issue, because there is nothing in what we can observe scientifically that directs us to the idea of an immortal soul. That is a belief. One I hold mind you, but I am objective enough to understand that isn't something that can be supported scientifically.
    While the field of neuroscience may be predisposed to look only in the natural for explanations for consciousness and mind, that is, after all, what science is. Science does not presuppose the supernatural as an explanation for anything. That is what has given it the power to explain so much. It puts those of us that believe in an odd position in that regard. But the reality is, seeking to understand this universe has been most effective approaching its study with the assumption that to understand it, we must assume that its workings are not magical, but rather the result of fundamental principles built into it that unfold naturally 'on their own' as it were. And I am confident approaching the study of the mind in the same way will yield similarly productive results.


    The problem here is that your supposition that "Exodus . . . clearly does not assign the same person-hood to the fetus as to the mother" is not clear at all, and despite your assertions to the contrary, (and your previous attempt to poison the well when it comes to the supposed ideological reasons for the NET translators to translate the passage the way they did) the idea that the punishment of lex talionis is meted out both in cases of harm to the woman and her child is not far-fetched at all. In fact, the passage itself names some injuries located at specific parts of the body (eye for eye, tooth for tooth) that would have been more likely to be inflicted on the fetus than on the mother. Most kinds of violence that would induce labor (or miscarriage) in a pregnant woman is more likely to have caused damage to the above mentioned body parts of the fetus than they would have caused them to those body parts of the woman. A hit to the womans eyes or teeth are not likely to induce labor, but if a blow hits her belly and induces labor (or miscarriage) it's not farfetched at all to think that the blow could also have damaged the fetus in some way.
    I've been writing this from the bottom up. I'll refer you to what I've written below on this. As for my comment about the NET translators, it is what it is. The idea that Exodus does not refer to the death of the fetus is relatively recent, as I spell out below. And I do not believe it is driven by research but rather by ideology. The research, the cultural reality of how Judaism views the unborn child, the translation by the Hellanistic Jews into Greek, the simply reality that a premature birth due to a harsh blow would almost always involve the death of the child, leaves little foundation for this rather recent adaptation of this text.

    With regards to the connection between breathing and the soul I think the issue is actually between breathing and being a living being, not between breathing and having a soul. Breathing is the way we aquire oxygen which allows our cells to break down the food we eat in order to aquire the necessary energy to function and is also the way the body gets rid of the waste product (carbon dioxide) of that cellular process. So it's not the process of breathing itself that's vital for determining if an organism is a living being or not, it's the function of that process. So if there is an equivalent process that fills the same function for the fetus while it's still incapable of breathing (and there is, namely the transportation of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood via the umbilical cord between the mother and her fetus) there is no reason to regard the fetus as less of a living being simply because the way it's process of taking in the oxygen necessary for cellular function is different from someone who has already been born.
    We must be careful not to apply modern sensibilities and knowledge when reasoning about ancient cultural understandings and beliefs. A lot has been written on this, it would be best to defer to that research in this case, which - I'm afraid - is not where you are headed above.


    I think dismissing "what if"-speculations on matters such as this are far more likely to cause serious wrongdoings in matters such as this as opposed to taking them seriously, even if they end up being factually incorrect in the end.
    It is reasonable to ask questions, I would agree. But when all you have is speculation to drive an opinion like this, when there isn't any solid scriptural basis for such an opinion and when there is a long history in both Christendom and Judaism of a very different point of view (quickening RCC/not a person till born Jewish) then one is walking on thin ice - especially if one is speaking of it as the only possible legitimate scriptural view - as many here are doing.


    As I mentioned previously, just because it's the view of Judaism it's not likely to make me uncritically accept that view as incontrovertible fact. In view of what we know now of the function and reason for the process of breathing in human beings (and animals) the passages that are speaking of breathing as connected to being alive are not likely to have much of anything to do with the concept of a rational soul, but more with being biologically alive just as the passage in Genesis 9:4ff about the life of humans being their blood, which we now know is because of the important function it serves in transporting the oxygen to the cells of the body in order to facilitate vital cell activity. In short, the concept of breathing being an indication of a living being is intrinsically connected with the blood being the life of a living being. But if what makes blood the "source of life" for a living being can be gotten through other means than breathing, then breathing itself is not a necessary aspect of a living being, as long as the function of breathing is fulfilled by another, equivalent process.
    When it comes to the ANE culture from which Judaism arose, you can't really disconnect the concept of the breath and the soul. They are very closely tied together. In fact, this close tie of life, breath, and soul likely ties directly into why the Jewish tradition does not regard the fetus as having the nefesh or life as a human being that would grant it equal standing with the mother in a debate over abortion. Contrary to that of course is Saul seeking to speak to the soul of Samuel. And then there were the Sadducees, for who there was only this life, and the Pharisees that believed in life after the body dies.

    All in all, the fact that Exodus 21 allows for only a fine on the death of the unborn child (fruit of her womb) comports very well with the idea this is what they also believed when the law was written. And attempts to retranslate it otherwise are ignoring this history of belief which drove the translation into the Septuagint hundreds of years before Christ was born, and from which we have quotes like that of Josephus, who clearly understood the verse to mean the death of the child, or just the entire rendering in the Septuagint which focuses on whether or not the dead fetus has matured to the point it has taken on recognizable human form.

    http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/02-exod-nets.pdf

    Source: septuagint

    Now if two men fight and strike a women and her child come forth not fully formed, he shall be punished with a fine. According as the husband of the woman might impose, he shall pay with judicial assessment. But if it is fully formed, he shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foo, burn for burn, wound for wound, strip for stripe.

    © Copyright Original Source



    We know that the language structure and use of Hebrew words in this passage is odd. What we have in the Septuagint is how ancient and well educated readers and interpreters of the Hebrew scripture translated this verse into Greek. And this is what Josephus was reading when he wrote:

    Source: Josephus Antiquities

    He that kicks a woman with child, so that the woman miscarry, let him pay a fine in money... as having diminished the multitude by the destruction of what was in her womb...but if she die of the stroke, let him also be put to death.

    © Copyright Original Source




    Science itself doesn't say squat about the issue of when the soul is formed. It can give us an indication of when the soul can start interacting with the external world, but it tells us nothing about when it is actually formed. And the idea that the Bible teaches that the soul emerges after conception is an interesting idea, but not one that I have found much support for, being that I find that the people who hold to this notion usually interpret the passages that supposedly supports this idea in a manner which I find lacking.
    Let's get a little closer to reality. Science doesn't offer us any objective reason to even believe there is a soul. There is no objective, observable evidence we exist beyond the time frame of this body, and more importantly the brain that is part of it.

    And let's also be careful about what I am actually saying. I am not saying the Bible teaches when a soul comes to inhabit the forming child. It doesn't say anything direct about it that I am aware of - one way or another.

    What I am saying is that what it does say that has implications in that direction is more consistent with the idea it happens after conception than at conception. Otherwise how could Jewish tradition have arrived at the conclusion the entire pregnancy the forming child does not yet have the nefesh? If anything in the old testament taught clearly otherwise, I doubt seriously that could have been the resulting conclusion. This sort of thing is not something the law driven Jewish culture where the great rabbi's memorized the entire text of the scripture and where human life has such a high value could have been easily 'overlooked'.


    Well, that's the issue isn't it? Assuming for a moment that the laws of the US are based on a view point that concerns itself only with the physical/material (and I'm not really convinced of that) I don't really think that physicalism/materialism holding the legal debate in a stranglehold and that dismissing every view that has it's basis in a philosophical standpoint that conflicts with the viewpoint of aforementioned philosophies is a good thing at all.
    It may not be a good thing, but in this debate, the argument needs to be structured in a way that the majority of the people in this country can grasp its significance, and most importantly, its rightness. Part of doing that is to appeal to common values shared across a broad spectrum. Understanding that regardless of religious POV, the fetus has attained consciousness by a common standard of measure is a big part of doing that - I believe. Right now the argument is framed in terms of a women's right to have control over her life, her body. Considering the history of the abuse of women in our culture and so many other cultures for so long, where men can mostly do what they want and the women are left holding the baby as it were, that really, really resonates with women, regardless of their religious persuasion. And it resonates with a lot of men as well. So some sort of authoritarian 'you're evil for killing your baby' coming from a majority male voices, or what is perceived as the male voice of a patriarchal culture, half of whom have abused these women over time, just isn't going to cut it.

    There needs to be a logical, well reasoned argument that can be seen as objective and not driven by male interests calloused to the needs and abuse of women. And an argument not framed solely in relatively recent religious sensibilities.
    Last edited by oxmixmudd; 01-24-2020 at 08:09 PM.
    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"

  9. #1497
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill the Cat View Post
    And I adjusted my argument for that distinction you made. So, answer the question with a yes or no. Is my grandchild a human being right now, considering consciousness isn't developed until later in their development?
    Again, you are not understanding the points I'm making. Your granddaughter is what she is at this stage of her life. She's precious and a gift. But at 7 weeks she is just beginning to enter a phase where any sort of brain exists or any sort of brain activity can be detected. Are you going to claim that at 7 weeks she has a mind? That she can think and reason?

    Of course not.

    Does the absence of a mind make her of less value to you? Or your daughter? Obviously not.

    I am not advocating that aborting such a wonderful gift is good or acceptable.

    I'm not arguing that it doesn't make sense for you to consider her your granddaughter. Even though she is yet to be born.

    I'm almost positive that my Jewish rabbi friend that would not consider your granddaughter to have a soul prior to birth would advocate abortion either, or that she would think it did not make sense to consider her your granddaughter or for you to be excited about her and protective of her.

    This discussion is not about any of that. It's about when a developing fetus can be legally considered to have legally become a human person with legal rights equal to its mother's.

    And right now, my advocacy and argumentation is to CHANGE the current perception from what it is now to a lot EARLIER than currently exists based on consistency and symmetry in the definition of mind, life, and legal rights.
    Last edited by oxmixmudd; 01-24-2020 at 10:50 PM.
    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"

  10. #1498
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    All of these arguments and questions are completely ignoring categorical points I've made throughout the discussion. It's fine if you don't agree with those points but to have a meaningful discussion, you have to be able to understand and assimilate those points into your argument so you're able to avoid mischaracterizing again and again and again!

    If you have to go back and re-read, that's fine. But I can't keep repeating how what you're alleging "isn't even wrong" -- you have to be able to accurately restate my argument before you can critique it.

    --Sam
    I get it. I am just trying to get you to admit simply what the conclusion of your argument actually is. Or to correct my misunderstanding.

    So again,

    Sam, abortion isn't like drinking or adultery. We are talking about a human life. To you and me, someone created by God. I believe if it came to say, infanticide, you would probably want to do everything you could to make it illegal, not simply say we need to keep it legal but convince people it is wrong. Correct?

    Or would you treat infanticide the same way as you do abortion?

  11. #1499
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    I get it. I am just trying to get you to admit simply what the conclusion of your argument actually is. Or to correct my misunderstanding.

    So again,

    Sam, abortion isn't like drinking or adultery. We are talking about a human life. To you and me, someone created by God. I believe if it came to say, infanticide, you would probably want to do everything you could to make it illegal, not simply say we need to keep it legal but convince people it is wrong. Correct?

    Or would you treat infanticide the same way as you do abortion?
    I'm not sure why you'd ask Sam that question Sparko. At the core of the abortion debate are two primary factors.

    (1) When during the gestation period does the forming child take on individual rights.
    (2) The right of the woman to control what is going on in her own body.

    Neither of these is in play once the baby is born. There is no question this is now a separate human being with all the rights thereof (with the unquestioned legal consequence that to kill it is to commit murder), and the baby is no longer in the mothers body, so care of the child is no longer potentially in conflict with her right to control what is happening to or in her own body.
    Last edited by oxmixmudd; 01-25-2020 at 11:04 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"

  12. #1500
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    I get it. I am just trying to get you to admit simply what the conclusion of your argument actually is. Or to correct my misunderstanding.

    So again,

    Sam, abortion isn't like drinking or adultery. We are talking about a human life. To you and me, someone created by God. I believe if it came to say, infanticide, you would probably want to do everything you could to make it illegal, not simply say we need to keep it legal but convince people it is wrong. Correct?

    Or would you treat infanticide the same way as you do abortion?
    This question is answered in my posts; that you don't see the answer implies that you're not following the argument.

    To help yourself understand, try to restate my argument about philosophical personhood and the legal consequences, with a heavy focus (hint) on what the minimum requirements for personhood are and when such requirements are typically met.

    --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"


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