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Thread: Christianity Today Op Ed

  1. #1401
    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    For the sake of argument, suppose you can definitively say, "At this point, no consciousness; at this point, consciousness," but what about the massive vague area in between? If a fetus doesn't have consciousness at moment X, what about X+1 millisecond? X+5 milliseconds? X+24 hours? X+one week? If a fetus develops consciousness at moment Y then what about Y-1 millisecond? Minus 10-minutes? Minus 2-weeks? What's the cutoff? And how do know for certain you're correct?...
    And, on top of that, not all babies develop on exactly the same time table.
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

  2. #1402
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    It's not at all clear that the passage is speaking of miscarriage. NET Bible translates the passage in this fashion:

    Scripture Verse: Exodus 21:22-25 NET


    22 “If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, the one who hit her will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides. 23 But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

    © Copyright Original Source



    And gives the following translation note for the phrase "born prematurely":

    Source: NET Notes


    tn This line has occasioned a good deal of discussion. It may indicate that the child was killed, as in a miscarriage; or it may mean that there was a premature birth. The latter view is taken here because of the way the whole section is written: (1) “her children come out” reflects a birth and not the loss of children, (2) there is no serious damage, and (3) payment is to be set for any remuneration. The word אָסוֹן (ʾason) is translated “serious damage.” The word was taken in Mekilta to mean “death.” U. Cassuto says the point of the phrase is that neither the woman or the children that are born die (Exodus, 275). But see among the literature on this: M. G. Kline, “Lex Talionis and the Human Fetus,” JETS 20 (1977): 193-201; W. House, “Miscarriage or Premature Birth: Additional Thoughts on Exodus 21:22-25, ” WTJ 41 (1978): 108-23; S. E. Loewenstamm, “Exodus XXI 22-25, ” VT 27 (1977): 352-60.

    © Copyright Original Source



    https://netbible.org/bible/Exodus+21 (note 51)




    Some parts of Jewish Tradition has influenced Christian faith. Something being part of "Jewish Tradition" is no reason for a Christian to uncritically accept it, especially seeing as "Jewish Tradition" would have you condemn Jesus as a messianic pretender and practiticioner of sorcery.



    Did any of them argue that the brain was essential to this process of ensoulment, or did they believe God would have been capable of ensouling the human embryo/fetus at any stage of the development process? Did God have to infuse the soul at a specific stage of development, or could He have chosen to do so at any point what so ever?



    Did Pope Gregory XIV base his judgement on when ensoulment took place on whether the fetus had developed a brain or not?



    Done. Nothing changed.



    What you wrote above in post #1385 was not an instance of science informing our understanding of scripture. It was a just-so story about the necessity of the brain in the development of human consciousness, completely ignoring the spiritual aspect of existence, written in such a way that even the most hard-line materialist and proponent of scientism could have enthusiastically agreed with pretty much 100% of it.
    I will have to get back to you Chrawnus, good post, but it will take time to reply with sufficient depth. But part of what you are running into with the NET is the infusion of modern conservative thinking on abortion into the translation. The NET in particular tends to interpret rather than translate in some cases from a strong neo-calvinist perspective. Exodus is one of those places.

    As a preface, look over the many translations of the pertinent verse referenced here

    As you can see there is a good deal of variation, with many modern translations opting for a rendering that can be read to imply the baby has not died. There are significant issues with that, which I'll try to address in my longer reply.
    Last edited by oxmixmudd; 01-23-2020 at 10:01 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"

  3. #1403
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplicio View Post
    I haven't followed this discussion closely, only skimmed it periodically. But value, in the context of this topic, usually is used in the sense of human dignity.

    Whether value is used synonymously for dignity, or the value is based in inherent dignity, the merit of the fetus is predicated on the assumption of worth, value, or dignity.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    If human life has no inherent value, then killing it becomes a morally neutral act.

    Both of these posts suffer from imprecision -- understandable, given the philosophical complexity of the topic.

    It's one category of thing to say a fetus has value and another to say it has dignity. The first is an assessment of worth and is not a declaration of inalienable/inherent rights. The second (dignity) is a far more complex category that emerges from being. To say a fetus has dignity, in other words, is to assert the conclusion that a fetus is a being. Maybe that's true but it is a conclusion requiring justification, not one that can be simply asserted.

    "Human life" here is similarly being used as equivalent with "human being" ... which is, again, asserting the conclusion. Unhooking a brain-dead patient from life support is a "morally neutral act", despite it being a "human life". The relevant question is whether that patient still obtains the property of personhood that makes them a "human being" or whether it lacks that property and the associated inalienable rights.

    --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"


  4. #1404
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    For the sake of argument, suppose you can definitively say, "At this point, no consciousness; at this point, consciousness," but what about the massive vague area in between? If a fetus doesn't have consciousness at moment X, what about X+1 millisecond? X+5 milliseconds? X+24 hours? X+one week? If a fetus develops consciousness at moment Y then what about Y-1 millisecond? Minus 10-minutes? Minus 2-weeks? What's the cutoff? And how do know for certain you're correct?

    And for that matter, what if early consciousness exists in a way that is not detectable with current technology? It's only relatively recently that we've been able to detect and monitor brain activity, and our ability to do so is still relatively crude. 100-years ago, you would have been arguing that a fetus was less "valuable" at a much later point in the human life cycle simply because of the limited knowledge at the time. What will your argument look like 100-years from now?
    The first paragraph is an argument that Achilles will never catch up with the tortoise, while the second is just a misunderstanding of what we know about gestation. We understand the parts of the brain required to process sensation -- the underlying substrate for consciousness -- and we know that those areas do not begin to develop until ~24 weeks. It will be several more weeks, into the third trimester, before those areas have developed to the point of allowing for complex processing. True consciousness will not come until later still.

    We'll learn more as time goes on but there will never be a scientific point where we determine consciousness emerges in the first or even early second trimester.

    --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"


  5. #1405
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    For the sake of argument, suppose you can definitively say, "At this point, no consciousness; at this point, consciousness," but what about the massive vague area in between? If a fetus doesn't have consciousness at moment X, what about X+1 millisecond? X+5 milliseconds? X+24 hours? X+one week? If a fetus develops consciousness at moment Y then what about Y-1 millisecond? Minus 10-minutes? Minus 2-weeks? What's the cutoff? And how do know for certain you're correct?

    And for that matter, what if early consciousness exists in a way that is not detectable with current technology? It's only relatively recently that we've been able to detect and monitor brain activity, and our ability to do so is still relatively crude. 100-years ago, you would have been arguing that a fetus was less "valuable" at a much later point in the human life cycle simply because of the limited knowledge at the time. What will your argument look like 100-years from now?
    The vague area in-between is not important unless we want to extend the period that we can define with certainty there is no consciousness present in the fetus. For example, before a brain develops, there is no consciousness. Consciousness in our physical form is dependent upon the brain. No brain, no consciousness. We know when the brain begins to form. We can measure the emergence of electrical activity in that brain. And a functioning brain generates electrical activity. And we even know a pretty good deal about how to assess the meaning of different kinds of electrical activity in a brain.

    I disagree, again,with you use of the term 'valuable'. Not that the fetus does not have value. Indeed, the fetus has great value from conception because it is a new human life that can become a new human being. The distinction we are looking at here is when does an abortion constitute the crime of murder. To be murder, the fetus must have a consciousness, it must be a person. We know consciousness appears over time in the fetus, and we know that early on there is not consciousness present.

    What your last question is asking, in more fundamental terms, is 'does consciousness exist apart from the brain.' We Christians typically believe it does, but not in a physical sense. Watching my mom change (she has alzheimers) brings home how much who we are is tied to that brain. And in a way, also how much who we are is not necessarily tied to the brain. There is no simple way to assess that element. But in the scientific (and legal) sense, when the brain stops functioning, the old person is gone from this physical world. Likewise, symmetrically, scientifically when the brain starts to function, the new person has arrived in this physical world.
    Last edited by oxmixmudd; 01-23-2020 at 10:00 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"

  6. #1406
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    And, on top of that, not all babies develop on exactly the same time table.
    Not important unless you are trying to pin the emergence of consciousness to some precise instant in time, which I honestly believe can ever have real meaning, any more that defining the boundary between green and yellow on a continuous spectrum has real meaning. We can know what is yellow, and we can know what is green, but we can't know in precise terms when yellow becomes green.

    So in terms of gestation, we can know when consciousness is not there. simplistically, it simply can't be there before there is a brain. You can do a sonogram or measure brainwave activity if you need to know if that period has passed if you like. But before then, consciousness doesn't exist because the brain doesn't exist. IOW, there is a period of certainty for which we can know no human fetus has a brain, no matter how abnormal the development of that specific fetus. And there are ways to test as well. And so there are ways to define this, or measure this, so that one can know if the period of certainty about the absence of a consciousness has passed.
    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"

  7. #1407
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill the Cat View Post

    Actually, yes. If anyone is kept artificially alive in ANY state, they lose the right to self-determination and are at the discretion of the doctor and next-of-kin. A brain can not communicate its desires or decisions.
    That's not true. If a person is on life support and not brain dead, he still has rights. Heck I was on life support just a couple of months ago, once while on the operating table on a vent and heart bypass, and later on a vent and kept in a medically induced coma, until they put a tracheotomy in me a week later. Nobody not even my next of kin had the right to unplug me.

  8. #1408
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Both have the potential to develop into a "human being" and neither are actual "human beings". Your distinction is not one that has a meaningful difference when it comes to potentiality.

    Yes, law is a subset of philosophy -- law depends entirely on philosophical foundations. What we call "human rights" are legal protection that by definition rely on philosophical understanding of what constitutes "human" and what we mean when we use the word.

    --Sam
    again wrong. A zygote IS a human being. I was one once, and so were you. A zygote is a distinct stage of a human being's life cycle. Just like "infant," "teenager," and "adult"

    A zygote has a full distinct DNA, different from the mother or father. It is a separate organism. It is alive and growing. A gamete isn't. It might be a "potential" human being (very bad odds of that) but a zygote is an actual human being.

  9. #1409
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    again wrong. A zygote IS a human being. I was one once, and so were you. A zygote is a distinct stage of a human being's life cycle. Just like "infant," "teenager," and "adult"

    A zygote has a full distinct DNA, different from the mother or father. It is a separate organism. It is alive and growing. A gamete isn't. It might be a "potential" human being (very bad odds of that) but a zygote is an actual human being.
    I dont think that is a viable definition Sparko. Remember twins? The zygote can be the first step in creating more than on person, and so it is not correct to say it is a human being. There are many subsequent factors that will determine which human being(s) the zygote becomes. The zygote is the recipe for at least one human being. But it is not yet a human being or beings.
    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. #1410
    tWebber Mountain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxmixmudd View Post
    But in the scientific (and legal) sense, when the brain stops functioning, the old person is gone from this physical world. Likewise, symmetrically, scientifically when the brain starts to function, the new person has arrived in this physical world.
    Again, likening a brain dead person to a developing fetus is absurd because there are significantly more dissimilarities than similarities between the two. You're basically promoting the classic "It's just a lump of tissue" pro-abortion argument. But you say you're not in favor of abortion, so what would you say to someone who defends abortion by quoting your own argument back to you?
    Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
    But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
    Than a fool in the eyes of God


    From "Fools Gold" by Petra

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