Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Science Over Subjectivity in the Abortion Debate

America since its very founding as a nation was predicated on the belief that our rights came from a Divine Creator, and not granted by a King or governments comprised of men.  Further,  our founders believed that the primary purpose of our government was to secure, protect, and defend those rights for all Americans.  Indeed, Thomas Jefferson specifically penned in our founding document as a nation that paramount amongst  those inalienable rights were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I shudder when I see what a tumble down the cliff we have taken in no longer protecting one of our most elemental rights since 1973 with the Supreme Court’s finding of the “right” to abortion existing in our Constitution, via their landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The right to life is the sine qua non of all human rights; that is to say that without the existence of this right, there can be no others.

Now the pro-life versus pro-abortion divide is not over whether government should prevent the killing of innocent human life.  I think it is safe to say that nearly all Americans agree that innocent human life absolutely must be protected.  The divide exists over how to define human life; or more specifically, how government should define that human life which deserves the protection of the law against its intentional destruction.  In other words the debate regarding abortion typically comes down to when life begins.  The question at hand is at what point of development of the fetus does abortion actually constitute the killing of a human life? 

Many pro-abortion advocates argue that most pro-lifers are strongly guided or at least influenced by religious faith and subjective opinions instead of science with their unwavering stances against abortion.  They decry that pro-life advocates want to remove the choice of a woman to abort her unborn child, and thus remove her right to control over her own body.  The argument is that we don’t know at what point a life is truly its own, so rather than succumb to religion and superstition, we should not infringe upon a woman’s choice in what to do with her own body, accordingly.

I would argue that precisely the opposite is true.  It is the pro-abortion advocate that is ignoring science and using subjectivity and human opinion in their determination of when human life begins in the womb.

Most pro-life advocates support the concept that life absolutely begins at conception.  This position seems far more rooted in science and objectivity than does the pro-abortion stance.  Indeed, at the very moment of conception there is the creation of a life that is genetically complete and distinct that comes into existence.  The gender and most all physiological traits of that human are in place at that moment of conception.  Before conception, there was not a separate and distinct life; after conception, there is objectively and scientifically a unique human life that will continue to develop and change incrementally until his or her death. 

Indeed, after conception all further change will be incremental.  There will be a moment before the first fetal heart beat and the moment after it.  There will be the moment that a newborn will take its first breath of air and the moment immediately after it.  There will be the first moment a middle aged lady finds a gray hair and the first moment afterwards.    Each moment in development, maturation -- in life-- will be just one more incremental step before and after each subjective moment in a timeline. 

Trying to determine at which other point beyond conception in that incremental growth timeline of a person that human life actually begins is purely subjective, no matter what government, advocates, judges, pregnant women, or even doctors opine on the topic.  And indeed, they are all nothing but subjective opinions based on human determined criteria.  Conception is absolutely and unequivocally the most scientifically verifiable and defensible position for when life begins.  It is, therefore, at that moment of conception that life, HUMAN life, should and indeed must be afforded the protections that God has granted and our government was founded to defend.  After conception, the choosing of a point to allow the abortion of a human life is relegated to personal opinion and is simply an elevation of that subjective opinion above that of objective science.

When subjective opinion and ideology are the factors that comprise the rationale for government’s actions in their not exercising of a paramount responsibility, then all of rational government is jeopardized.

Now it may not seem intuitive or obvious to equate a newly conceived zygote with a twenty year old man, but from an objective scientific perspective, both are unique and individual creations of life.  If left to take their natural courses, both will continue to mature, learn, love, and have the opportunities to reach their potentials for good or ill that they so desire.  Aborting that unborn child, that zygote, is every bit the same as killing that twenty year old man in the fact that both lives are taken and prevented from ever further reaching that potential for which those lives were intended.  Making a decision to abort that child based on some nuanced idea of viability or other subjective factor is absolutely wrong.  I would far rather trust my stance on the abortion debate to be based on intellectually defensible science, accordingly.

56 comments:

The Heathen Republican said...

You lament the subjectivity and the "human-defined" approach, but what alternative is there? The God-defined approach? Fine for you, but not for unbelievers like me. How do you convince an atheist to accept your definitions?

You also keep referring to when "life" begins, but even the pro-abortion camp can agree that "life" begins at conception. What is less clear is when "humanity" begins.

"Now it may not seem intuitive or obvious to equate a newly conceived zygote with a twenty year old man, but from an objective scientific perspective, both are unique and individual creations of life."

Exactly the problem. No rational human being can agree that a zygote is the same as a twenty year old man. The man has a mind and self-awareness; the zygote has neither.

"If left to take their natural courses, both will continue to mature, learn, love, and have the opportunities to reach their potentials for good or ill that they so desire. Aborting that unborn child, that zygote, is every bit the same as killing that twenty year old man in the fact that both lives are taken and prevented from ever further reaching that potential for which those lives were intended."

We've discussed this before so you'll recognize the analogy, but the cake ingredients mixed in a bowl (the zygote) is not the same as a fully baked cake (the man). The ingredient that makes all the difference in the world is TIME. You can't call the mixture in a bowl "a cake" just as you can't call a zygote "a man."

I think taking the life of an innocent human being is murder, and that includes a human being in the womb. Unfortunately, not every "human life" in the womb is a "human being" in the womb. It takes development of key organs, the nervous system, and the mind to turn a life into a being.

T. Paine said...

HR, you are making my point by missing my point, sir. Or perhaps you are channeling your inner John Myste and intentionally ignoring my point. Just kidding! :)

In my argument presented in the post, I am not defining life based on my theological belief in God. I am stating that the only scientifically verifiable and objective measure of when life begins is at the time of conception. Anything after that point is subject to some arbitrary condition along a time-line as defined by whatever group of experts hold sway at that moment.

So then your propose we move to the even more dangerous proposition of determining when “humanity” begins. Who do you trust to make that decision? Doctors? The pregnant woman? Kathleen Sebelius or some other government functionary?

If we accept the position that whomever we give the power to determine when “humanity” exists, we open up a whole new can of worms. We are back to arguably even more arbitrary and subjective criteria in determining who deserves the right to live based on whether they possess humanity as it is then currently defined. Do you really want the government or anybody having that power to make such a determination?

Further, if we allow this to happen, what is to stop the logical progression and inevitable conclusion of this process? First we determine that a fetus at so many months is viable and thus worthy of being granted legal “humanity”. But then medical technology improves, as it already has, so that now viability of a fetus occurs even earlier in the pregnancy. Do we adjust on our sliding scale of when someone becomes human accordingly?

Continuing, what then is to prevent the removal of that “human” classification? If a person is injured and no longer has any brain activity are they still human? What if they are just in a deep coma? What if the state determines that an Alzheimer’s patient is no longer self-aware? Does that make that person no longer human?

I would be extremely loathe to grant that enormous power to ANYONE to determine when life or humanity begins, particularly when science clearly already answers that question as being at the time of conception.

Your cake analogy is good in some respects; however, it fails at one major point. The cake nor the ingredients are sentient or living. It requires outside intervention to bring a cake to fruition from its component ingredients. A zygote on the other hand will become a full grown human of its own accord. If you put flower, sugar, eggs, etc. into a bowl and then wait, you will never end up with a devil’s food cake. If a sperm and egg join, you will have a human being born nine months thence. Such is the difference between life and inanimate objects. The fact that we can unequivocally determine at what point that process of growth and maturation begins is the very point we should consider protecting that inalienable right to life. Any other point after conception is inarguably arbitrary, subjective, and prone to human fallibility.

The Heathen Republican said...

"I am stating that the only scientifically verifiable and objective measure of when life begins is at the time of conception."

I agree.

"So then your propose we move to the even more dangerous proposition of determining when “humanity” begins."

I think any honest conversation about the morality of abortion REQUIRES that we define when humanity begins. So yes, that's what I propose. I see that you deftly avoid the conversation entirely.

"We are back to arguably even more arbitrary and subjective criteria in determining who deserves the right to live based on whether they possess humanity as it is then currently defined."

Actually, no one determines who has the right to live. If we define what a "human being" is, we have defined the who. After all, we only refer to human beings as who/whom.

Then we can stipulate that anyone who is a "who" deserves to live. Any life that does not meet the "who" definition is not a human being and deserves nothing.

"First we determine that a fetus at so many months is viable and thus worthy of being granted legal “humanity”. But then medical technology improves, as it already has, so that now viability of a fetus occurs even earlier in the pregnancy."

Your introduction of "viability" is a distraction and I very intentionally did not bring it up in my first comment. As you say, viability forces us to define things based on our level of technology. We agree on the subject of not using viability as a measure.

"Continuing, what then is to prevent the removal of that “human” classification? If a person is injured and no longer has any brain activity are they still human? What if they are just in a deep coma? What if the state determines that an Alzheimer’s patient is no longer self-aware? Does that make that person no longer human?"

My Response: Let me introduce the element of time. A fully-functioning adult who gets into an accident and suffers severe brain damage was an individual human being… had achieved the state of “personhood” we’re discussing. Brain damage is not sufficient reason to murder him/her. But a fetus that has not yet achieved this state of personhood never gets the rights and protections that come with it. In other words, once you cross the threshold, you have your rights and protections, but you don’t have them until you cross the “personhood” threshold. (from my full post on the subject)

"Your cake analogy is good in some respects; however, it fails at one major point. The cake nor the ingredients are sentient or living."

You very cleverly mixed in "sentient" with "living," but the difference between those two is my entire point. A zygote is "living" but is not "sentient." Inadvertently, you've reinforced my point.

My guess is that you were on hiatus when I posted on abortion. If you haven't read it already, I think you would find it interesting even if you wouldn't agree.

T. Paine said...

Heathen: “Actually, no one determines who has the right to live. If we define what a "human being" is, we have defined the who. After all, we only refer to human beings as who/whom.
Then we can stipulate that anyone who is a "who" deserves to live. Any life that does not meet the "who" definition is not a human being and deserves nothing.”

T. Paine: HR, who are the “we” that defines what a “human being” is? The answer to that question is very important. Look at our history just in the twentieth century of doctors, scientists, and world leaders that perpetrated horrific evil on others because they had flawed definitions of what constitutes humanity. Therein lies the problem and the premise for my posting. We are not currently making the decision regarding abortion based on incontrovertible science, but on arbitrary subjective human-defined thresholds. You simply changed the determining factor from “life” to “humanity” as your defining characteristic. All of the same exact problems apply regardless, sir.

I read your post and it was very interesting. I find some of your logic to be sound, but then your final conclusion to not be fully supported by the facts. Even in your post, you are talking about some arbitrary point at when a fetus is developed to the point of being “human” so as to afford him/her legal protections as such. You even gave a window of 25 weeks plus/minus based on a “scientific consensus”. Really? Scientific consensus on this topic of such an emotionally charged issue would probably be akin to the “global warming” debate. Shouldn’t we at the very minimum be erring on the side of life on this topic? Again, I submit that the only objective way to do so is to protect life from the moment of conception, with no exceptions except for the life of the mother.

As a fellow conservative, I am mildly surprised as I would think you would be highly reluctant to grant such power to the government or their appointed proxies in making that determination of when a life becomes “human”. Surely you must see the potential for danger and evil accordingly, HR. I suspect this is simply one of the rare times when you and I are simply going to have to agree to disagree, my friend.

T. Paine said...

By the way, HR, I am curious if you read my immeidatly preceding posting on the argument for God. With your logical mind, I would be curious to hear what your thoughts are on the posting and any gaping flaws you see in the argument.

The Heathen Republican said...

"HR, who are the “we” that defines what a “human being” is?"

I mean you and me. We each get to make our own judgments in life. You're the one who made repeated references to "government," but I'm limiting myself to the philosophical decision we all make.

Based on my own judgment, I will then vote for people to represent me who most closely share my thinking.

"We are not currently making the decision regarding abortion based on incontrovertible science, but on arbitrary subjective human-defined thresholds."

I think you're wrong; you've just chosen a different standard than I have as to which science you'll listen to. You choose the science that defines the point when human life begins.

There is incontrovertible science that tells us when a fetal heartbeat starts (19 weeks), when a fetus can feel pain (20 weeks), when air sacs in the lungs form (22 weeks), and (most important of all) when the nervous system develops (26 weeks). I use that known science to make a personal judgment as to when a human life has become a human being.

I ask this: even though a fertilized egg is clearly the beginning of a human life, does this small mass of cells really warrant the exact same rights and protections as a living, breathing, thinking person?

Your answer is YES, but I haven't heard you explain WHY you answer YES. Surely you can acknowledge the differences between a zygote, an embryo, a fetus, an infant, a toddler, and a 20-year old adult. The first two have no capacity for thought and nothing about them that makes them a unique individual. Yet you insist on offering the exact same protections as a full grown adult.

This only makes sense to me if you are using the "soul" as your benchmark. You don't want to bring God into it, but I think that's the only explanation why you would attribute the same uniqueness to a zygote.

"Even in your post, you are talking about some arbitrary point at when a fetus is developed to the point of being “human” so as to afford him/her legal protections as such. You even gave a window of 25 weeks plus/minus based on a “scientific consensus”."

It's not arbitrary; it's based on what we currently know about fetal development. I gave a window because I'm not confident we've learned all there is to know. If, for example, we were to identify where the "soul" resides in the human brain, and it develops at 16 weeks, I would change my stance to 16 weeks.

"As a fellow conservative, I am mildly surprised as I would think you would be highly reluctant to grant such power to the government or their appointed proxies in making that determination of when a life becomes “human”."

You did not see me grant the power to government to define a human being. You saw me define it for my own philosophical understanding.

"I suspect this is simply one of the rare times when you and I are simply going to have to agree to disagree, my friend."

Without a doubt. Let the left say that all conservatives are mind-numbed robots. You and I know the truth.

The Heathen Republican said...

"By the way, HR, I am curious if you read my immeidatly preceding posting on the argument for God. With your logical mind, I would be curious to hear what your thoughts are on the posting and any gaping flaws you see in the argument."

I did read it, but don't confuse a logical mind with the scientific knowledge necessary to refute the claims you make.

My standard of proof for God is when a supernatural explanation is required to explain something. Nothing in your post on the existence of God cannot be reasonably explained through natural causes, therefore I have no need to attribute a supernatural creator.

T. Paine said...

HR: I ask this: even though a fertilized egg is clearly the beginning of a human life, does this small mass of cells really warrant the exact same rights and protections as a living, breathing, thinking person? Your answer is YES, but I haven't heard you explain WHY you answer YES. Surely you can acknowledge the differences between a zygote, an embryo, a fetus, an infant, a toddler, and a 20-year old adult. The first two have no capacity for thought and nothing about them that makes them a unique individual. Yet you insist on offering the exact same protections as a full grown adult. This only makes sense to me if you are using the "soul" as your benchmark. You don't want to bring God into it, but I think that's the only explanation why you would attribute the same uniqueness to a zygote.

T. Paine: Of course I think that zygote is human and deserves the same protection of his/her life as does a twenty year old because of the existence of a soul at the point of conception. That, while it is the most important reason in my opinion, is not the only reason. Further, I do acknowledge the differences between a zygote and a fully grown man and every step in between. I would submit to you that those are natural steps of maturation or change in one’s life cycle. They are each an example of a snapshot in the progression of one’s life.

As I stated in the post, at the point of conception all of the DNA is present to make that zygote a unique individual. It is not just some amoebic mass of indistinct cellular components. Even the gender is determined at that instant. I think it is best to protect that UNIQUE life, however un-developed it might be, once that impetus for life has been started at the point of conception. To terminate the life of one’s own species simply doesn’t seem logical to me.

Who knows what wonders might have already been created, diseases cured, scientific discoveries made but for the fact that the “zygote” form of life was aborted because it had not reached a 25 week window during the gestation process.

T. Paine said...

HR: It's not arbitrary; it's based on what we currently know about fetal development. I gave a window because I'm not confident we've learned all there is to know. If, for example, we were to identify where the "soul" resides in the human brain, and it develops at 16 weeks, I would change my stance to 16 weeks.
T. Paine: Aha! So then how does one reconcile all of the previously aborted life that was destroyed at 16 weeks prior to “science” then discovering that we were wrong to use 25 weeks as our threshold? How does one repair the evil already done, because our science was not advanced enough to make that determination that we were using that wrong threshold? That is THE point. We are using subjectivity in that determination currently. You argue convincingly that there are factors that make the current threshold reasonable. That is until we learn more and find out that it was not reasonable but was horribly mistaken. This is not a science project in a petri dish that we are discussing, as I am sure you know. It is human life with all of the potential for greatness that each one of us possess. Again, it doesn’t make sense to make such life and death decisions based on even a well-thought-out hypothesis.

HR: You did not see me grant the power to government to define a human being. You saw me define it for my own philosophical understanding.
T. Paine: But if we the people don’t reserve the right to protect life, then the government will be the ultimate arbiter on which life can be aborted, regardless of the opinions of those of us that would have it otherwise.

HR: Let the left say that all conservatives are mind-numbed robots. You and I know the truth.
T. Paine: Indeed we do, my friend!

T. Paine said...

HR: My standard of proof for God is when a supernatural explanation is required to explain something. Nothing in your post on the existence of God cannot be reasonably explained through natural causes, therefore I have no need to attribute a supernatural creator.

T. Paine: I fail to understand how such an ordered universe can come into being with all of its dependent and interacting parts through random chance. If one of these natural elements was not ordered just so in context with all of the laws of natural science from gravity to quantum mechanics, then our universe could not exist. The amount of factors that must be perfectly matched in every aspect for a simple amino acid to come into existence are astronomical, let alone a protein or complete life form. I do not see how one explains all of these factors as having natural causes. Could you please explain that statement, sir? What is the transcendent cause for all of these interdependent components to simultaneously come into existence? Logic would dictate that it is a supernatural creator that is indeed not dependent upon that which he has created for his own existence. Again, I suspect we will have to agree to disagree.

The Heathen Republican said...

"The amount of factors that must be perfectly matched in every aspect for a simple amino acid to come into existence are astronomical, let alone a protein or complete life form. I do not see how one explains all of these factors as having natural causes. Could you please explain that statement, sir?"

Here is the natural explanation that I accept, requiring no supernatural creator: The universe is very old and trillions of trillions of "experiments" have occurred over that period of time. We are seeing the end result of a single, successful "experiment."

Yes, everything looks perfectly placed and perfectly ordered. That is the result of physics working as we understand them to work.

I'm sure this scenario will not convince you of anything. What's important to me is that the logic is consistent and offers a reasonable natural explanation for the state of the universe.

If there were no natural explanation for the state of the universe, I would be forced to seek a supernatural explanation. I don't understand why you willingly accept supernatural explanations when it's possible that everything around you is natural. Including the perfectly ordered universe.

By the way, the universe is not as perfectly matched as you and your scientist mean to imply. The universe evolves just as life does, and it is those imperfections that allow for the diversity we see around us.

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John Myste said...

The right to life is the sine qua non of all human rights; that is to say that without the existence of this right, there can be no others.

I think pro-choice advocates would agree that there are no rights whatsoever for a one week old fetus, so it would seem everyone agrees without the right to life, there can be no others. I guess the same is true for a living head of lettuce.

Now the pro-life versus pro-abortion divide

There is no such divide. The controversy is pro-life vs. pro-choice.

I think it is safe to say that nearly all Americans agree that innocent human life absolutely must be protected.

Some Americans say that it absolutely must be protected until it infringes on the rights of other humans, which you forgot to mention.

The divide exists over how to define human life

That is not the only divide. I am pro-choice and I believe a one week old fetus is a human.

They decry that pro-life advocates want to remove the choice of a woman to abort her unborn child, and thus remove her right to control over her own body.

I concede that this absurd argument is made. It simply ignores the other side’s argument, which poses more important questions. There are good pro-choice arguments, but this specific argument pro-choice argument is both fallacious (as it ignores the main objection in the first place) and presumptive, as it presumes as its premise the disputed notion that the question is simply about “the woman’s body.”

Most pro-life advocates support the concept that life absolutely begins at conception.

Life begins prior to conception and condom is one form of abortion that blocks it. Human zygotes are not evolved from lifeless matter or from matter other than human life.

However, I find the question of when life begins to be irrelevant. The question of whether that life is human is also irrelevant from a secular perspective (in my opinion). This question is made under the aegis of the assumption that if something is human or not determines exactly what rights it has. That is an arbitrary assumption and is shown to be flawed when we consider that a zygote has the same rights as a ten year old child, though both are human.

[Continued ...]

John Myste said...

[Continuation ... ]

When either side claims that “science” agrees with them on abortion, they are making a false claim. Science makes no statements about the morality of abortion, which is a philosophical question.

It is true that science agrees that zygotes are little tiny underdeveloped and virtually useless people. Sometimes scientists use other terms, but taxonomically, they are an early stage of a human.

Trying to determine at which other point beyond conception in that incremental growth timeline of a person that human life actually begins is purely subjective, no matter what government, advocates, judges, pregnant women, or even doctors opine on the topic.

The classification is purely subjective either way. If a sperm and an egg are about to connect, and you stop it, you have done the same effective thing as if you stop it just after they connect (from a secular perspective). I know you have this idea that God is standing by with a little soul tenderly pinched between His giant thumb and forefinger and suspended just above the uterus, waiting for the sex juices to touch, so he can deposit human life in them. That is a religious notion only.

It is, therefore, at that moment of conception that life, HUMAN life, should and indeed must be afforded the protections that God has granted and our government was founded to defend.

This is a religious argument, not a scientific one. Your God does not get to choose when a little human’s rights are in effect. There are other gods with their own divine rights to rule.

Aborting that unborn child, that zygote, is every bit the same as killing that twenty year old man in the fact that both lives are taken and prevented from ever further reaching that potential for which those lives were intended.

Sounds like wearing a condom to me, only that is worse because if you consider the human egg and the human sperm to be individuals at that point, then two humans were executed.

That fact is, we don’t know what sentient life is. None of us do. We all disagree and make up what seems to us to be plausible answers. The idea that a sentient individual can emerge where that individual’s sentience did not previously exist, seems almost like creation ex nihilo. It is a miracle of science per our current understanding. We tie the processes we do see, and can control, to our philosophical views and we call those philosophies facts. The reality is, we don’t know what we are talking about. The whole issue is completely over our heads and is less easily explained than Moses turning his staff into a serpent.

We cannot make “educated” decisions, because the education we claim is specious. Instead, we can only make real-world logical decisions. If you are religious and your religious faith declares abortion to be wrong, the decision is clear. If you are wholly secular, then the decision is often clear for most secularists: there is nothing wrong with aborting the cell mass we call a human zygote.

For me, the decision is not so clear. I don’t know what life is. Every time I don a condom, I short-circuit a potential human life. So too, would I do this were I to involve myself in an abortion. It that wrong for me to do? Only if I include this action in my collection of arbitrary things I label as wrong. To be harmed, you must be capable of experiencing harm; otherwise, you are simply broken, as a delicate object thrown out a window. If there I no soul that exists before or after the human life, then I have not harmed the sperm or the zygote, but I did stop their development. That is the only scientific fact.

If there is a persistent sentient soul, then I am affecting it, in both cases, and perhaps negatively. Science cannot speculate about sentience, as it does not yet know what it is.

T. Paine said...

Post: Now the pro-life versus pro-abortion divide

Myste: There is no such divide. The controversy is pro-life vs. pro-choice.

T. Paine: Indeed. After all, we must stick with euphemisms to protect us from the unpleasantness of sometimes having to make that “choice”



Post: I think it is safe to say that nearly all Americans agree that innocent human life absolutely must be protected.

Myste: Some Americans say that it absolutely must be protected until it infringes on the rights of other humans, which you forgot to mention.

T. Paine: I did not forget to mention this. It was quite intentional. I would agree with the sentiment if you said that the innocent human life must be protected until it infringed on the protection of the LIFE of another human, but I don’t think other humans’ rights should trump protecting innocent life.



Post: The divide exists over how to define human life

Myste: That is not the only divide. I am pro-choice and I believe a one week old fetus is a human.

T. Paine: That is a potentially scary admission, John. Follow that statement to its logical conclusion, if you dare, sir.



Post: Most pro-life advocates support the concept that life absolutely begins at conception.

Myste: Life begins prior to conception and condom is one form of abortion that blocks it. Human zygotes are not evolved from lifeless matter or from matter other than human life.

However, I find the question of when life begins to be irrelevant. The question of whether that life is human is also irrelevant from a secular perspective (in my opinion). This question is made under the aegis of the assumption that if something is human or not determines exactly what rights it has. That is an arbitrary assumption and is shown to be flawed when we consider that a zygote has the same rights as a ten year old child, though both are human.

T. Paine: I think this comes down to one’s definition of “life”. Life from a scientific perspective and a pro-life perspective would not include an egg or a sperm cell. Yes, they are indeed human. Yes, they are indeed alive, but they are not life. Life would be that fertilized egg. It is at that point that it replicates it cells and grows into a full grown human being all on its own accord. It is self-sustaining until its death. A sperm cell or an egg cell, when left by themselves will remain a sperm cell or an egg cell. They will not grow and become something else. They are not “life”. As for your second assertion, I obviously disagree. I put human life above that of all other species. Otherwise the moral relativism of many secularists would dictate that many animals are deserving of the same rights (or more!) than are humans. That is bunkum and silly in my humble opinion.

T. Paine said...

Myste: When either side claims that “science” agrees with them on abortion, they are making a false claim. Science makes no statements about the morality of abortion, which is a philosophical question.

It is true that science agrees that zygotes are little tiny underdeveloped and virtually useless people. Sometimes scientists use other terms, but taxonomically, they are an early stage of a human.

T. Paine: I wouldn’t characterize my argument in quite such terms. I said that science unequivocally shows that human life begins at conception. Consequently, abortion would be the destruction of a human life, by definition. Now one can start to obfuscate what constitutes humanity etc., but the bottom line is as I just stated. As for underdeveloped and virtually useless people, I would submit that congress and the White House are full of such people, and yet I still would be against retroactively aborting them.



Post: Trying to determine at which other point beyond conception in that incremental growth timeline of a person that human life actually begins is purely subjective, no matter what government, advocates, judges, pregnant women, or even doctors opine on the topic.

Myste: The classification is purely subjective either way. If a sperm and an egg are about to connect, and you stop it, you have done the same effective thing as if you stop it just after they connect (from a secular perspective). I know you have this idea that God is standing by with a little soul tenderly pinched between His giant thumb and forefinger and suspended just above the uterus, waiting for the sex juices to touch, so he can deposit human life in them. That is a religious notion only.

T. Paine: From a secular perspective, I would agree with you. From my perspective of faith, as you rather irreverently pointed out, that is absolutely the case.



Post: It is, therefore, at that moment of conception that life, HUMAN life, should and indeed must be afforded the protections that God has granted and our government was founded to defend.

Myste: This is a religious argument, not a scientific one. Your God does not get to choose when a little human’s rights are in effect. There are other gods with their own divine rights to rule.

T. Paine: No, actually this is not merely a religious argument by itself. If we as a society were to accept the scientific definition of when human life begins at conception, then from a legal perspective that human would be entitled to the full faith and protection of the United States Constitution as stipulated under the 14th amendment’s due process clause. Its Due Process Clause prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness. Science has proven that at the point of conception, a human life exists. Depriving that person of his life would require due legal process accordingly, if we were to actually abide by the law of the land. (To say nothing of God’s law!)

T. Paine said...

Post: Aborting that unborn child, that zygote, is every bit the same as killing that twenty year old man in the fact that both lives are taken and prevented from ever further reaching that potential for which those lives were intended.

Myste: Sounds like wearing a condom to me, only that is worse because if you consider the human egg and the human sperm to be individuals at that point, then two humans were executed.

T. Paine: We have already cleared up your misperception on this matter. A human egg and a human sperm are NOT life. They may be alive, but they by themselves are incapable of creating life.

Myste: That fact is, we don’t know what sentient life is. None of us do. We all disagree and make up what seems to us to be plausible answers. The idea that a sentient individual can emerge where that individual’s sentience did not previously exist, seems almost like creation ex nihilo. It is a miracle of science per our current understanding. We tie the processes we do see, and can control, to our philosophical views and we call those philosophies facts. The reality is, we don’t know what we are talking about. The whole issue is completely over our heads and is less easily explained than Moses turning his staff into a serpent.

T. Paine: “A miracle of science”? Interesting contradiction in terms, my friend, as a miracle by definition is something that happens without a scientifically plausible explanation for it having done so. Creation ex nihilo indeed! I would submit to you that such creation, soul, and sentience, are indeed due to God. No, I cannot offer irrefutable proof of this, just as you cannot explain satisfactorily any explanation for that sentience (that soul) other than the existence of God.

T. Paine said...

Myste: We cannot make “educated” decisions, because the education we claim is specious. Instead, we can only make real-world logical decisions. If you are religious and your religious faith declares abortion to be wrong, the decision is clear. If you are wholly secular, then the decision is often clear for most secularists: there is nothing wrong with aborting the cell mass we call a human zygote.

For me, the decision is not so clear. I don’t know what life is. Every time I don a condom, I short-circuit a potential human life. So too, would I do this were I to involve myself in an abortion. It that wrong for me to do? Only if I include this action in my collection of arbitrary things I label as wrong. To be harmed, you must be capable of experiencing harm; otherwise, you are simply broken, as a delicate object thrown out a window. If there I no soul that exists before or after the human life, then I have not harmed the sperm or the zygote, but I did stop their development. That is the only scientific fact.

If there is a persistent sentient soul, then I am affecting it, in both cases, and perhaps negatively. Science cannot speculate about sentience, as it does not yet know what it is.

T. Paine: Interesting analysis, John. So what do you use as your basis, your threshold for determining which arbitrary things you would label as wrong then? I have given an unequivocal scientific explanation of when human life begins. What we choose to do with that life after the fact makes all the difference in the world, at least for that one affected life which did experience harm in the fact that its existence was extinguished.

Moving away from pure science for a moment, in the Torah, specifically in the book of Leviticus, there is a passage that tells of the ancient false god named Molech to which his worshippers used to sacrifice their children.

“Say to the people of Israel, Any man of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, who gives any of his children to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all hide their eyes from that man, when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his family, and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in playing the harlot after Molech. (Leviticus 20:1-4)”

I would submit to you that people in this enlightened day and age know Molech by his new nickname of “Choice”.

John Myste said...

Yes, they are indeed alive, but they are not life. Life would be that fertilized egg. It is at that point that it replicates it cells and grows into a full grown human being all on its own accord. It is self-sustaining until its death. A sperm cell or an egg cell, when left by themselves will remain a sperm cell or an egg cell. They will not grow and become something else.

You just described a fetus also. It requires the mother to grow into itself, just as the sperm requires the egg.

I put human life above that of all other species. Otherwise the moral relativism of many secularists would dictate that many animals are deserving of the same rights (or more!)

To say that rights are not contingent on how human something is does not then say that all life is equal or all life has identical rights. False conclusion for the assertion, my friend.

Post: The divide exists over how to define human life

Myste: That is not the only divide. I am pro-choice and I believe a one week old fetus is a human.

T. Paine: That is a potentially scary admission, John. Follow that statement to its logical conclusion, if you dare, sir.


If someone is infringing, either intentionally or unintentionally, on your rights, your guilt in doing what is necessary to stop them is ameliorated. Aborting a fetus kills it. Not aborting it can allow it to almost destroy you. Once the fetus is self-aware, I do not think abortion is very defensible. However, before it can feel pain or be aware of itself, aborting it is no different from wearing a condom from a secular perspective. Only a religious idea could dispute this. That is not to say that a religious idea is not a valid rebuttal.

I wouldn’t characterize my argument in quite such terms. I said that science unequivocally shows that human life begins at conception.

That is an arbitrary distinction; moreover, it assumes the moral imperative that rights are married to humanity, or more precisely, human life, an imperative I reject.

Consequently, abortion would be the destruction of a human life, by definition.

I freely accept that abortion is the destruction of a human life, so perhaps the scientific analysis is irrelevant for me. Though science cannot answer the philosophical question of “when human life begins,” I don’t see that it needs to, as I don’t consider the question germane to the topic.

As for underdeveloped and virtually useless people, I would submit that congress and the White House are full of such people, and yet I still would be against retroactively aborting them.

Aborting them would lead to civil war. It is impractical and unworkable, so of course you would not want to do it. Not stop mixing topics.

It is, therefore, at that moment of conception that life, HUMAN life, should and indeed must be afforded the protections that God has granted and our government was founded to defend.

Only full rights were actually honored for white men, as I recall. Zygotes were not in the Founders sites, blessed by They. For all you know, in the minds of the Great Ones, zygotes were relegated to the status of blacks.

No, actually this is not merely a religious argument by itself. If we as a society were to accept the scientific definition of when human life begins at conception, then from a legal perspective that human would be entitled to the full faith and protection of the United States Constitution as stipulated under the 14th amendment’s due process clause.

That is one good argument for rejecting it, since the 14th Amendment was not written to apply to zygotes.

[Continued ...]

John Myste said...

[Conclusion ...]


Depriving that person of his life would require due legal process accordingly, if we were to actually abide by the law of the land. (To say nothing of God’s law!)

Which God? I know the Christian God loved killing innocent babies.

…as a miracle by definition is something that happens without a scientifically plausible explanation for it having done so.

Like rain, before we understood it.

Creation ex nihilo indeed! I would submit to you that such creation, soul, and sentience, are indeed due to God.

You make your submission without reason for the belief. Therefore, I must reject it. I will accept that the typical secularist explanation is no less faith-based than your own, though. I also do not believe in sentient creation ex nihilo, but also don’t believe that a Super Human or God or whatever you want to call Him helps solve the riddle.

No, I cannot offer irrefutable proof of this, just as you cannot explain satisfactorily any explanation for that sentience (that soul) other than the existence of God.

Correction: I cannot explain a single satisfactory explanation. Thus, I must believe that I am missing data and it would be foolish to assume I know the answer.

Interesting analysis, John. So what do you use as your basis, your threshold for determining which arbitrary things you would label as wrong then?

I save a snippet that I originally posted I remember not where, just to answer such questions. It pertains more to good and less to “wrong,” as the various concepts of right and wrong that humanity has were all created by humanity, not discovered.

So, here is my “what is moral” snippet:

I had hoped to avoid answering the question of why one should be good, as it is a larger topic. Both religious people and non-religious people alike often have an intangible allegiance to “good,” whatever that is, the Moral Sense. Religious people define it as a commitment to God’s law. I define it as sense of equality and fairness, but I only do as out of compulsion [as to define good, immediately cheapens it]. I embraced Good long before I questioned what it is.

I believe that without exception an allegiance to the Moral Sense precedes any question about what it is we are actually worshiping, much as is the case for a Christian and his God. Our commitment to good is a process of discovery. It is the question that comes to us after the fact. “What happened?” Not: “What should happen?” Those of us who seek good often seek it before we have a concept of what it is we are seeking, and we often continue to seek it long after we have abandoned former ideas, such as the notion that God is the good we seek (or that nature is).

We embrace Good, then try to figure out what this thing is that we have wrapped our arms around so lovingly. Most people will not define it this way, as to do so indicates that we are less thinking, and more susceptible to the environment around us than we care to admit, and that’s just not Good!


John. So what do you use as your basis, your threshold for determining which arbitrary things you would label as wrong then? I have given an unequivocal scientific explanation of when human life begins.

You gave an unequivocal philosophical opinion about when something becomes human, a question I find to be irrelevant.

Moving away from pure science for a moment, in the Torah, specifically in the book of Leviticus, there is a passage that tells of the ancient false god named Molech to which his worshippers used to sacrifice their children.

The same God who purportedly inspired Leviticus also sanctioned the execution of innocent children on several occasions. Are you sure you want to take this battle to your temple, sir?

T. Paine said...

Myste: You just described a fetus also. It requires the mother to grow into itself, just as the sperm requires the egg.

T. Paine: Well, you could follow that logic to the next gruesome step too. A new-born baby requires its mother to survive too. Should we consider post-birth abortions, like some “ethicists” are now advocating in certain circumstance? After all, a newborn really isn’t self-aware by some secularists’ definition. I know you have issues with slippery slope fallacies, but this sure seems to justify that very case.



Myste: If someone is infringing, either intentionally or unintentionally, on your rights, your guilt in doing what is necessary to stop them is ameliorated. Aborting a fetus kills it. Not aborting it can allow it to almost destroy you. Once the fetus is self-aware, I do not think abortion is very defensible. However, before it can feel pain or be aware of itself, aborting it is no different from wearing a condom from a secular perspective. Only a religious idea could dispute this. That is not to say that a religious idea is not a valid rebuttal.

Paine: I, and even the Catholic Church, understands that when a pregnancy actually threatens the life of the mother, then whatever is medically necessary to save the life of the mother is permissible, no matter if the unwanted consequences of that medical treatment end up killing the unborn child. That, however, does not extend to allowing such procedures for the “health” or to prevent “inconvenience” to the mother.



T.Paine: I wouldn’t characterize my argument in quite such terms. I said that science unequivocally shows that human life begins at conception.

Myste: That is an arbitrary distinction; moreover, it assumes the moral imperative that rights are married to humanity, or more precisely, human life, an imperative I reject.

T.Paine: It most certainly is not an arbitrary distinction or even an assertion. It is a statement of scientific fact. Human life begins at conception. I do not see how one can logically argue against that fact from a scientific perspective. And, from natural law and my own religious background, I would concur with your stated implications of my statement that rights are married to humanity. God created man in His own image and gave him dominion over the earth. It is my belief, that of the founders, that of a huge majority of Americans, and that of most humans that our rights are indeed given to us by virtue of our humanity from God. I understand that you reject this, as do an increasing amount of people, unfortunately. This has potentially huge ramifications for humanity in the long term accordingly.



Myste: I freely accept that abortion is the destruction of a human life, so perhaps the scientific analysis is irrelevant for me. Though science cannot answer the philosophical question of “when human life begins,” I don’t see that it needs to, as I don’t consider the question germane to the topic.

T. Paine: I am confused and somewhat apprehensive by your statement. Perhaps I simply need clarification. What do you mean when you state that human life begins is not germane to the topic of abortion?



T. Paine: No, actually this is not merely a religious argument by itself. If we as a society were to accept the scientific definition of when human life begins at conception, then from a legal perspective that human would be entitled to the full faith and protection of the United States Constitution as stipulated under the 14th amendment’s due process clause.

Myste: That is one good argument for rejecting it, since the 14th Amendment was not written to apply to zygotes.

T. Paine: No, it was written to apply to humans. Zygotes are human, by definition.

T. Paine said...

Myste: I had hoped to avoid answering the question of why one should be good, as it is a larger topic. Both religious people and non-religious people alike often have an intangible allegiance to “good,” whatever that is, the Moral Sense. Religious people define it as a commitment to God’s law. I define it as sense of equality and fairness, but I only do as out of compulsion [as to define good, immediately cheapens it]. I embraced Good long before I questioned what it is.

I believe that without exception an allegiance to the Moral Sense precedes any question about what it is we are actually worshiping, much as is the case for a Christian and his God. Our commitment to good is a process of discovery. It is the question that comes to us after the fact. “What happened?” Not: “What should happen?” Those of us who seek good often seek it before we have a concept of what it is we are seeking, and we often continue to seek it long after we have abandoned former ideas, such as the notion that God is the good we seek (or that nature is).

T. Paine: So what would you say provides this seeming intrinsic search for fairness or equality… of good? From your secular perspective, how does such an innate instinct to seek out good occur when one believes that God and souls do not exist?

Ellen said...

This is why I started a brand new site called "What Catholics REALLY Believe". In fact its so new that you will have trouble finding it without using the URL - http://whatcatholicsreallybelieve.com

The site will not post personal opinions but is intended to be a resource for Catholics and non-Catholics. The intent is to stop heresies, schisms and mis-information.

Hope you like the site and will pass the URL on to others.

Anonymous said...

A very good non-religious teaching site is "ENDOWMENT for HUMAN DEVELOPMENT".
http://www.ehd.org/movies.php?mov_id=44
Purely scientific and accurate.
At 8 weeks the baby is already determing right and left handedness.

These are human beings not puppies or kittens.

T. Paine said...

Ellen, thank you for the link. If your site lives up to the stated premise, it will indeed be an excellent resource that I will be proud to champion! Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous, thank you for the link to this excellent website. I wholeheartedly agree with your factual statement. Indeed unborn humans are not puppies or kittens, and as such their humanity and inherrent God-given rights must be protected.

John Myste said...

Ellen, I agree that a human fetus is not a puppy or a kitten. Keen observation. It is also not a stove, a pelican, a stilt or a marshmallow, just to name a few things it is not.

John Myste said...

Well, you could follow that logic to the next gruesome step too. A new-born baby requires its mother to survive too. Should we consider post-birth abortions, like some “ethicists” are now advocating in certain circumstance?

Slippery Slope Fallacy, sir. The answer to the “next step” has nothing to do with this step, nor are the two answers contingent upon one another. I could commit a fallacy in the other direction and say not having sex with someone ten years ago may be murder, but I won’t do it, as that would be fallacious.

I, and even the Catholic Church, understands that when a pregnancy actually threatens the life of the mother, then whatever is medically necessary to save the life of the mother is permissible, no matter if the unwanted consequences of that medical treatment end up killing the unborn child.

For some, a zygote is a parasite that exists because humans are sexual beings. Getting rid of that parasite could not possibly be wrong unless the zygote has rights, which you define as an attribute of begin human; however, I say its level of humanity does not define its inherent rights, as we invented the concept of inherent rights; so I must look at who is harmed more and how when making the decision. I will say I would not want to abort a fetus.

It is a statement of scientific fact. Human life begins at conception. I do not see how one can logically argue against that fact from a scientific perspective.

A. To the degree that the question is philosophical, science cannot answer it.

B. When you define human life is an irrelevant question to me, as I have stated already.

Part I Complete.

John Myste said...

Religious Portion:

And, from natural law and my own religious background, I would concur with your stated implications of my statement that rights are married to humanity. God created man in His own image and gave him dominion over the earth.

Correction: the Gods created man in their image. Please consult Genesis for more details. As for the Christian God’s giving man dominion over the whole earth, I believe that in Genesis they made this claim at one place and in another they claimed that lesser gods were stationed in the skies to rule the night, while one of the deific Elders remained to rule the day. Again, read Genesis. However, if you don’t agree with Genesis, as it sounds like you don’t, then please do not cite it to explain your belief.

It is my belief, that of the founders, that of a huge majority of Americans, and that of most humans that our rights are indeed given to us by virtue of our humanity from God.

I understand your Appeal to the majority. Do you have any sound reason for thinking that?

What do you mean when you state that human life begins is not germane to the topic of abortion?

I mean that the question of when human life begins from one person’s philosophical perspective or another’s is the wrong target. It assumes a moral imperative that one’s humanity should be considered above other things. The question should be who are we harming more with our decisions and why is OK to harm the mother deeply, who can experience harm to save the zygote, which cannot?

Myste: That is one good argument for rejecting it, since the 14th Amendment was not written to apply to zygotes.

T. Paine: No, it was written to apply to humans. Zygotes are human, by definition.


It was not written with zygotes in mind. You are mistaken. If, however, you think the Founders, blessed be He, intended it to protect zygotes, then you must also say the Founders intended all persons to have rights, which we clearly know to be false. They did not intend for blacks to be treated as humans, and really, not women either. Additionally, the 15th and 19th amendments followed the 14th amendment, proving that the 14th amendment was not good enough to think of all humans as equal.

Now, hold onto your hat, because this is going to crush your spirit: the 14th Amendment starts out by telling us who it is talking about: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

All persons born or naturalized. Nowhere does it imply that the Founders, blessed be His name, was including zygotes or other germs in the mix.

From your secular perspective, how does such an innate instinct to seek out good occur when one believes that God and souls do not exist?

Firstly, I do not believe that God does not exist. I believe that the Christian God, the Jewish God, the Islamic God or any other named God that humans invented does not exist. This does not preclude the existence of something we could characterize as divine that would clearly be more powerful than humans. However, if such a Thing does exist, It is not omnipotent, omniscient, perfect or any other superlative we invented to represent an impossible concept.

Secondly, I do not deny the existence of “souls.” I have no idea what this thing that is sentient is. I do suspect it is something other than the body, though I know not what. I do not have any evidence to support any theory I can devise; nor do I claim to have the data in the absence of it, since that would be foolish.

John Myste said...

One more thing, Mr. Paine. It sounds like I am really pro-choice, meaning I favor choice. It is not so. I think most of the pro-choice arguments are weak and most abortions are selfish. Any abortion after 12 weeks or so is barbaric and really murder. Any abortion other than medications that abort almost immediately, are questionable.

Virtually all the main abortion arguments I hear are full of assumptions and ignore large parts of reality.

I am pro-choice from a legal perspective, but much of this nation is completely out of control. Abortion should not be used as a method of birth control.

T. Paine said...

Myste: Slippery Slope Fallacy, sir. The answer to the “next step” has nothing to do with this step, nor are the two answers contingent upon one another. I could commit a fallacy in the other direction and say not having sex with someone ten years ago may be murder, but I won’t do it, as that would be fallacious.

T. Paine: I would have bet lots of money that this would have been your response, Mr. Myste. I understand that the two steps are not necessarily contingent upon each other. Labeling this a slippery slope fallacy because of this does not eliminate the probability of the one step making the next step more likely in the long run though, regardless. Arguments against a break in logic with things like slippery slope fallacies are all well and good in a theoretical exercise; however, politicians and special interest groups like the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood faction don’t pride themselves on the level of their logical arguments. The fact is that the permissibility of abortion in the land now has de-stigmatized and desensitized many folks and made topics that were previously taboo, such as partial birth abortions and even “post birth abortions” to be topics that are on the table today. I read an article about two biological “ethicists” that were discussing the necessity of allowing for just such a thing as post-birth abortion in certain circumstances just the other day. Don’t tell me that the illogic of slippery slope doesn’t translate to real world evil being done.



Myste: For some, a zygote is a parasite that exists because humans are sexual beings. Getting rid of that parasite could not possibly be wrong unless the zygote has rights, which you define as an attribute of begin human; however, I say its level of humanity does not define its inherent rights, as we invented the concept of inherent rights; so I must look at who is harmed more and how when making the decision. I will say I would not want to abort a fetus.

T. Paine: I absolutely acknowledge that there are people that think a zygote is a parasite. This is the kind of justification one uses when one wants an abortion. Most people wouldn’t be able to cope with the fact if they stopped and realized that they were destroying a human life. It becomes far more sanitary and removes one from responsibility of one’s actions if they think of the life they are aborting as nothing more than a “parasite” or a mass of tissue etc.




T. Paine: It is a statement of scientific fact. Human life begins at conception. I do not see how one can logically argue against that fact from a scientific perspective.

Myste rebuttal: A. To the degree that the question is philosophical, science cannot answer it.

T. Paine rebuttal to the rebuttal: To the degree that the question is scientific, science has already answered it.

T. Paine said...

T. Paine: What do you mean when you state that human life begins is not germane to the topic of abortion?

Myste: I mean that the question of when human life begins from one person’s philosophical perspective or another’s is the wrong target. It assumes a moral imperative that one’s humanity should be considered above other things. The question should be who are we harming more with our decisions and why is OK to harm the mother deeply, who can experience harm to save the zygote, which cannot?

T. Paine rebuttal: I cringe when I read that one’s humanity is not THE moral imperative that should be considered above all things. No sane person wants to cause harm to a mother, but other than the necessity to save her life, why should the sacrifice of another innocent life be permitted? Abortion has to dehumanize a life in order to justify abortion’s existence as a viable “medical procedure”.




Myste: Firstly, I do not believe that God does not exist. I believe that the Christian God, the Jewish God, the Islamic God or any other named God that humans invented does not exist. This does not preclude the existence of something we could characterize as divine that would clearly be more powerful than humans. However, if such a Thing does exist, It is not omnipotent, omniscient, perfect or any other superlative we invented to represent an impossible concept.

T. Paine: Hmmm. So you reject a biblical God, but you entertain the possibility that some other bitchin’ smart being could exist, as long as we don’t attach superlatives to it. How do you know your hypothetical bitchin’ god isn’t omniscient and has the technology to work outside of our space-time continuum? For that matter how do you know he isn’t omnipotent or perfect in a bitchin’ god sort of way, at least as compared to us ant-like humans? I don’t get the seeming disconnect in your rejecting of a biblical God that has independent historical backing of scripture in many cases, and yet are willing to entertain the possibility of some other “god” existing as a potential explanation for all of the things we don’t have answers for, accordingly. This seems inconsistent to me.



Myste: Secondly, I do not deny the existence of “souls.” I have no idea what this thing that is sentient is. I do suspect it is something other than the body, though I know not what. I do not have any evidence to support any theory I can devise; nor do I claim to have the data in the absence of it, since that would be foolish.

T. Paine: Most atheists and many agnostics deny the existence of souls. The world to them is composed of matter and energy alone. A spiritual soul is not of the scientific world and cannot be explained or proven by scientific means accordingly, hence the existence of a soul is simply a contrivance made up by superstitious religious people. Does the fact that you do not deny a scientifically unsound concept such as a “soul” mean that you are becoming a silly religious person, John? If not how do you reconcile such a belief in the existence of souls?

T. Paine said...

Myste: One more thing, Mr. Paine. It sounds like I am really pro-choice, meaning I favor choice. It is not so. I think most of the pro-choice arguments are weak and most abortions are selfish. Any abortion after 12 weeks or so is barbaric and really murder. Any abortion other than medications that abort almost immediately, are questionable.

Virtually all the main abortion arguments I hear are full of assumptions and ignore large parts of reality.

I am pro-choice from a legal perspective, but much of this nation is completely out of control. Abortion should not be used as a method of birth control.

T.Paine: Mr. Myste, you are a good man, sir. There is much of what you have written here which is good, true, and gives me great hope. If only all “pro-choice” people shared your sentiments, we would be taking a HUGE step in a very good direction.

John Myste said...

Labeling this a slippery slope fallacy because of this does not eliminate the probability of the one step making the next step more likely in the long run though, regardless.

By this logic, since it is more likely that you will kill an innocent baby if you work in a nursery, we should not work in nurseries. It is more likely that you will run over someone if you drive a car. It is more likely that you will choke to death if you chew your food instead of opting for a safer IV solution.

“More likely” does not imply causation. Though it is more likely that I will blow up the earth if I light the pilot on my stove, it is not that likely. To suggest that it is a concern is a slippery slope fallacy, hence my label. When hearing an argument, I expect the argument to rest on its own merits and not on the merits of something that is not contingent upon it. If we don’t follow this principle, all arguments become absurd.

Arguments against a break in logic with things like slippery slope fallacies are all well and good in a theoretical exercise; however, politicians and special interest groups like the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood faction don’t pride themselves on the level of their logical arguments.

I am addressing the arguments we are discussing. Planned Parenthood has not posted a response to this post. If they do, I will certainly apply my gargantuan intellect to its analysis.

The fact is that the permissibility of abortion in the land now has de-stigmatized and desensitized many folks and made topics that were previously taboo, such as partial birth abortions and even “post birth abortions” to be topics that are on the table today.

I agree with this, much in the same way that many surgeries could desensitize someone to stabbing someone or that allowing people to legally own televisions desensitizes them to violence (which always happens; not just sometimes), or that allowing people to have sex with their wives desensitizes them to the taboo of rape (sex becomes a legitimate thing they know how to do). Again, it is the definition of a slippery slope fallacy. We are talking about if abortion should be legal. The discussion of whether partial birth abortions should be legal is a separate question. I do not think partial birth abortions should be legal for any reason. See, it must be a separate question because I think one should be illegal and one legal, which would short out my opinion, were it the same question.

I don’t think cutting people is OK, but I do condone surgery.

I read an article about two biological “ethicists” that were discussing the necessity of allowing for just such a thing as post-birth abortion in certain circumstances just the other day.

I read a similar article several months ago. I believe it stated that it is a cultural thing that makes us fear post-birth abortions. As an example, they pointed out that in Ancient Athens everyone decided whether or not “to keep” the child after it was born. If they didn’t want it, they threw it away. I too am horrified at the idea of killing a living, feeling, thinking baby. Come to think of it, after many people living their whole lives with legalized abortion, so is the just about all of the rest of America. Generally, people have not slid down this slope.

Don’t tell me that the illogic of slippery slope doesn’t translate to real world evil being done.

Appeal to emotion. They are separate questions and should not be mixed. Perhaps I chose the wrong fallacy. Would you settle for fallacy of complex question instead?

John Myste said...

I absolutely acknowledge that there are people that think a zygote is a parasite. This is the kind of justification one uses when one wants an abortion.

It is not justification. It is a scientific description. A parasitic relationship is one where an unwilling host body is harmed by a feeding organism living within it. An unwanted zygote is a parasite as surely as it is human, my friend. Let’s not only embrace scientific labels when it is convenient and call it justification the rest of the time. By definition, a zygote is a parasite. Using a label created to define a concept you need to communicate is not justification.

Most people wouldn’t be able to cope with the fact if they stopped and realized that they were destroying a human life.

I agree that most people try to justify away this emotional barrier. The parasitic argument does not speak to the humanity of the parasite, and is thus not a justification, but rather a fact we should consider. Therefore, it cannot be a justification for or against abortion on that basis.

However, pro-choice advocates do make arguments that are complete justification, as they ignore the rest of the story. For example: It is the woman’s body we are talking about. This implies that the whole of the story begins and ends with the woman’s body. The implication is a lie. The fetus has a body also; therefore, the declaration is a justification. Another example: it is better for the fetus to be aborted than for an unwanted baby to be born. That is a complete justification. No one asks: “What’s best for the baby?” and then says: “I think we should kill him, for his own good.” Either a fetus has human rights that should be considered or it does not. When a pro-choice advocate argues that the fetus is not human and besides, it is better to be aborted than to be born unwanted, that is hypocrisy. He is not arguing what he believes for the reason he believes it.

It becomes far more sanitary and removes one from responsibility of one’s actions if they think of the life they are aborting as nothing more than a “parasite” or a mass of tissue etc.

Human, parasite, mass of tissue. It is all of those things. Humans – Good; parasite – Bad; mass of tissue, irrelevant if benign – Oops. Since the zygote is all of these things, which of these attributes is most relevant when considering how to deal with the little fellow? If we deny any of these true attributes, we then make our decision based on false information.

T. Paine rebuttal to the rebuttal: To the degree that the question is scientific, science has already answered it.

Science takes no position on the morality of abortion. It is, however, science that comes up with better and more creative ways to do it.

T. Paine rebuttal: I cringe when I read that one’s humanity is not THE moral imperative that should be considered above all things.

Your emotions are running amuck, my friend. Stop cringing.

No sane person wants to cause harm to a mother, but other than the necessity to save her life, why should the sacrifice of another innocent life be permitted?

The value to the zygote of the damage of the mother carrying the zygote to term vs. the damage to the mother of aborting it is the question. Zygotes don’t seem to be concerned about very much. I don’t even think the li’l zygotes have a preference at all.

John Myste said...

Part III

So you reject a biblical God, but you entertain the possibility that some other bitchin’ smart being could exist, as long as we don’t attach superlatives to it. How do you know your hypothetical bitchin’ god isn’t omniscient and has the technology to work outside of our space-time continuum?

I do not think it would be omniscient because so far as I know that is an unscientific concept. I cannot conceive of any means by which a being could be omniscient. The idea is an absurdist idea with no logical support behind it. I reject it for the exact same reason you reject that idea that I may be omniscient.

I don’t know what our space-time continuum is exactly, so I make no claim that beings cannot operate beyond it. Who knows? Since I don’t know what the continuum is, and I also know nothing of these theoretical beings, it would be damn arrogant to start telling you all about the continuum and the beings beyond it.

For that matter how do you know he isn’t omnipotent or perfect…

Perfect is an inherently flawed concept. It is a subjective term we decided to call a real thing. Nothing subjective can be absolute. It is illogical, thus not a thing.

Omnipotent is an absurdist concept we invented. There is no reason to believe absurd fairy tales exist unless we see evidence of them (at which time they would be promoted to fairy reals). We could not see omniscience if it existed. There is no means by which a being could be omniscient that makes rational sense. The fact that a collection of scrolls full of contradictions suggested to someone that a mythical being was omniscient is not enough to change my mind.

For that matter how do you know he isn’t omnipotent or perfect in a bitchin’ god sort of way, at least as compared to us ant-like humans?

Omniscient is an absolute that has nothing to do with a comparison to something else. I think there is a good chance that beings with greater minds than humans exist.

I don’t get the seeming disconnect in your rejecting of a biblical God that has independent historical backing of scripture in many cases, and yet are willing to entertain the possibility of some other “god” existing as a potential explanation for all of the things we don’t have answers for, accordingly. This seems inconsistent to me.

I reject the Biblical Gods because they are absurdly and unrealistically defined. Also, there is no historical evidence of such Creatures. I do not merely reject the Biblical named Gods, but the concept of Them. The attributes Christians think defines their Gods, are absurd. I reject those attributes no matter the myth to which they are applied. This does not mean that humans are the most advanced things in the universe. In fact, I have no idea what the non-corporeal part of a human is.

Let me reiterate, just to be clear: I reject the four major Gods of which the Christian Bible speaks: (The Father (I Am, Elohim (the Hebrew reference, a plural construct of god, by the way), Adonai, Yawweh), The Son (Jesus, Yeshua), the Holy Spirit, Satan (the Bad God, goes by a different name in other religions), and I also reject any minor inherited Gods with implicit references in the Genesis creation story (The Moon, the Sun, the Stars, and all of those that participated in the creation and early management of earth, per Genesis). Additionally, I reject most of the concepts of any of these gods, meaning the attributes we believe define them.

[To Be Continued ... ]

John Myste said...

Conclusion:

Most atheists and many agnostics deny the existence of souls. The world to them is composed of matter and energy alone.

Actually, my guess is that that the UNIVERSE is composed of matter, space, energy and time and sentience or thinking or whatever you want to call it. I could easily be wrong. Thought is unique because it involves comprehension, which cannot be matter or energy, but is something else. Perhaps it is nothing more than a thought, and dies with the death of matter or in the absence of energy. However, perhaps it is something more than that. Since we don’t know what it is, I would not presume to say. As for most atheists and agnostics, their faiths concern me not at all (unless I am in communication with them at the time).

hence the existence of a soul is simply a contrivance made up by superstitious religious people.

The Soul is the term superstitious religious people give to the thing that perceives. I borrow the term because it has meaning and without the term they created, I find myself absent a needed label. I don’t think it’s fair to say that belief in the “soul,” whatever that is, is tied to a religion. I call the “soul” whatever it is that includes animal awareness.

Does the fact that you do not deny a scientifically unsound concept such as a “soul” mean that you are becoming a silly religious person, John?

Science knows about the soul. Some scientists believe that it is born with the birth of a body (or shortly after) and dies with the death of a body. That is a theory based on facts such as the ability to “shut it off,” by giving someone certain drugs or by killing the body, exists. However, they only prove that they stopped brain function. Since they never understood how hard-wiring in the brain can result in comprehension in the human mind, they only have philosophical opinions about what is happening that allows human awareness. There is no science yet to explain it. The fact that science does not currently have the answer to the question does not make the question unscientific. Science is researching and learning, not claiming to have answers absent required data.

If not how do you reconcile such a belief in the existence of souls?

No need to reconcile anything. If you are not religious there is no contradiction. Science does not have to claim to have answers in the absence of the required data. Science can understand some things, and not yet have the answers to others, and that is OK. That is one of the things that make it scientific.

If only all “pro-choice” people shared your sentiments, we would be taking a HUGE step in a very good direction.

This is true not just of pro-choice advocates, but of all things, regardless the topic: taxation, entitlements, choice of political candidate, whatever.

T. Paine said...

Myste: “More likely” does not imply causation. Though it is more likely that I will blow up the earth if I light the pilot on my stove, it is not that likely. To suggest that it is a concern is a slippery slope fallacy, hence my label. When hearing an argument, I expect the argument to rest on its own merits and not on the merits of something that is not contingent upon it. If we don’t follow this principle, all arguments become absurd.

T. Paine: While one step does not directly imply that it is the cause of the next necessarily, there is the absolute distinctiveness of incrementalism within most of the left’s political agenda. They know they cannot immediately go out and put forth their end game on most issues, so they put forth legislation (or executive orders with this president) to advance their agenda. In this manner they can incrementally move towards that ultimate goal. If one stops that agenda in its tracks at the top of that incline, then one doesn’t have to worry about retaining one’s footing lower down that slope. Now if that isn’t a slippery slope, then I am not sure how else to characterize it. Perhaps we could rename it a “precariously footed incline”.

John Myste said...

Mr. Paine, virtually no one's goal is have post-birth abortions and never will be. It does not support your position to rebut something the other side finds as appalling as you do.

You zeroed in on the weakest part of your argument and only answered my response to it.

While I thank you for your assistance in this debate, I really don't require any help winning it, sir.

T. Paine said...

T. Paine: I absolutely acknowledge that there are people that think a zygote is a parasite. This is the kind of justification one uses when one wants an abortion.

Myste: It is not justification. It is a scientific description. A parasitic relationship is one where an unwilling host body is harmed by a feeding organism living within it. An unwanted zygote is a parasite as surely as it is human, my friend. Let’s not only embrace scientific labels when it is convenient and call it justification the rest of the time. By definition, a zygote is a parasite. Using a label created to define a concept you need to communicate is not justification.

T. Paine: Wow. While technically the term may have some accuracy, the connotations of the word are abhorrent and typically not used other than to dehumanize a human life for one’s own selfish purposes. If one is not open to the possibility of creating human life, wouldn’t it then become prudent for the couple involved to decide not to engage in that specific act which has the primary purpose of producing life, even if it is in a “parasitic form”?



Myste: However, pro-choice advocates do make arguments that are complete justification, as they ignore the rest of the story. For example: It is the woman’s body we are talking about. This implies that the whole of the story begins and ends with the woman’s body. The implication is a lie. The fetus has a body also; therefore, the declaration is a justification. Another example: it is better for the fetus to be aborted than for an unwanted baby to be born. That is a complete justification. No one asks: “What’s best for the baby?” and then says: “I think we should kill him, for his own good.” Either a fetus has human rights that should be considered or it does not. When a pro-choice advocate argues that the fetus is not human and besides, it is better to be aborted than to be born unwanted, that is hypocrisy. He is not arguing what he believes for the reason he believes it.

T. Paine: This was very well said, and I am in complete agreement with you here. Just when I think you have imbibed too much Kool Aid, you always come back and restore my faith in some of your exceptionally well-stated analysis.



T. Paine: To the degree that the question is scientific, science has already answered it.

J. Myste: Science takes no position on the morality of abortion. It is, however, science that comes up with better and more creative ways to do it.

T. Paine: Humanity had BETTER take a position on the morality of abortion and science as a whole. Like a firearm, science is a useful tool; however, it can also do irreparable damage in the wrong hands if we don’t consider the morality of a particular science. Without the moral component we end up with Nazi experimentation for “science’s sake” or a Dr. Mengele.



T. Paine: No sane person wants to cause harm to a mother, but other than the necessity to save her life, why should the sacrifice of another innocent life be permitted?

Myste: The value to the zygote of the damage of the mother carrying the zygote to term vs. the damage to the mother of aborting it is the question. Zygotes don’t seem to be concerned about very much. I don’t even think the li’l zygotes have a preference at all.

T. Paine: You are getting a little too clever here, John. I think as much could be said about an eight month old unborn child or even a newborn not having much concern about very much. Again, where do we draw the line?

T. Paine said...

Myste: I do not think it would be omniscient because so far as I know that is an unscientific concept. I cannot conceive of any means by which a being could be omniscient. The idea is an absurdist idea with no logical support behind it. I reject it for the exact same reason you reject that idea that I may be omniscient.

T. Paine: How do you know that I reject the idea that you may be omniscient?




Myste: Omniscient is an absolute that has nothing to do with a comparison to something else. I think there is a good chance that beings with greater minds than humans exist.

T. Paine: I don’t discount the possibility that such being could very well exist too. This does nothing to shake my belief in God though.

John Myste said...

While technically the term may have some accuracy, the connotations of the word are abhorrent and typically not used other than to dehumanize a human life for one’s own selfish purposes.

Mr. Paine, it is used to explain why the abortion is needed.

If one is not open to the possibility of creating human life, wouldn’t it then become prudent for the couple involved to decide not to engage in that specific act which has the primary purpose of producing life, even if it is in a “parasitic form”?

Illogical. It is a basic inborn human need to have sex. Humans did not place this drive within them and should not be asked to suffer because it is there, lest they form an infection. Humans have sex and always will, and they do not do it primarily for the purpose of procreation and never will. It is their nature. Asking a human to be anything but a human is wrong; moreover, it is a fool’s errand. They should take adequate precautions in the form of “two forms of protection,” which I always used (except when wanting to procreate). However that “should” is a different question for the infection issue.

Humanity had BETTER take a position on the morality of abortion and science as a whole. Like a firearm, science is a useful tool; however, it can also do irreparable damage in the wrong hands if we don’t consider the morality of a particular science. Without the moral component we end up with Nazi experimentation for “science’s sake” or a Dr. Mengele.

Science creates science. The rest of us decide what to do with it. To use your gun analogy, gun-makers do not regulate the morality around the use of guns. Complex question that should never been intertwined, sir.

No sane person wants to cause harm to a mother, but other than the necessity to save her life, why should the sacrifice of another innocent life be permitted?

In the case of a zygote, I ask who we harming more with our laws. I don’t think a zygote has a strong preference, but the mother does.

Myste: The value to the zygote of the damage of the mother carrying the zygote to term vs. the damage to the mother of aborting it is the question. Zygotes don’t seem to be concerned about very much. I don’t even think the li’l zygotes have a preference at all.


T. Paine: You are getting a little too clever here, John. I think as much could be said about an eight month old unborn child or even a newborn not having much concern about very much. Again, where do we draw the line?


Not so. Eight month old babies, or even babies that are not born yet, have a strong desire not to be harmed. They falsely equate most of this harm with pain, but they try to self-preserve. If you press down on a mother’s stomach, the fetus will try to move away from the pressure, for example. Zygotes don’t care, fetuses do.

I think our abortion laws are too liberal. I don’t think the “right to privacy” has anything to do with abortion and I think it is false justification to support it. I think aborting zygotes should be allowed. Only religious notions about the soul, God and eternity cause you to puke at such a notion.


John Myste said...

Myste: Omniscient is an absolute that has nothing to do with a comparison to something else. I think there is a good chance that beings with greater minds than humans exist.

T. Paine: I don’t discount the possibility that such being could very well exist too. This does nothing to shake my belief in God though.


We were discussing how I reconcile my lack of faith in God with these other beliefs, which I explained.

While your faith in God is strong, its presence does nothing to increase my faith.

As for the reconciliation you requested, as you did not respond to it, I will assume that you accept the answer.

T. Paine said...

Myste: Mr. Paine, virtually no one's goal is have post-birth abortions and never will be. It does not support your position to rebut something the other side finds as appalling as you do. You zeroed in on the weakest part of your argument and only answered my response to it. While I thank you for your assistance in this debate, I really don't require any help winning it, sir.

T. Paine: Virtually no one currently has that goal today. Only a few generations ago, the thought of having an abortion as a means to get rid of an unwanted baby, errr… uh parasite, was completely unfathomable too. It is a brave new world into which we are sling into if we continue down this incline, my friend.

T. Paine said...

T. Paine: If one is not open to the possibility of creating human life, wouldn’t it then become prudent for the couple involved to decide not to engage in that specific act which has the primary purpose of producing life, even if it is in a “parasitic form”?

Myste: Illogical. It is a basic inborn human need to have sex. Humans did not place this drive within them and should not be asked to suffer because it is there, lest they form an infection. Humans have sex and always will, and they do not do it primarily for the purpose of procreation and never will. It is their nature. Asking a human to be anything but a human is wrong; moreover, it is a fool’s errand. They should take adequate precautions in the form of “two forms of protection,” which I always used (except when wanting to procreate). However that “should” is a different question for the infection issue.

T. Paine: “It is a basic inborn human need to have sex.” Nonsense. There are many people that live a happy celibate life without having to succumb to that “need”. A need would be better defined as food, water, sleep and such. Further, I am astounded to learn that sex in humans is not primarily for the purpose of procreation. While I understand that the human species has sex for pleasure or recreation or to chase away boredom these days, I don’t think our pleasure and recreation constitute a “need”.



Myste: Science creates science. The rest of us decide what to do with it. To use your gun analogy, gun-makers do not regulate the morality around the use of guns. Complex question that should never been intertwined, sir.

T. Paine: I understand your continuation of my analogy and agree. You are missing my point. It should be up to human society to dictate through law what boundaries of right and wrong science should not cross. It is up to humanity to determine what the tools of science should be used for from a moral perspective.



Myste: I think our abortion laws are too liberal. I don’t think the “right to privacy” has anything to do with abortion and I think it is false justification to support it. I think aborting zygotes should be allowed. Only religious notions about the soul, God and eternity cause you to puke at such a notion.

T. Paine: I am glad that you wrote this so now I can reject my false notion that you might have been omniscient. It is NOT only my religious notions that make me puke at the idea of even “zygote” abortions. Again, I refer you back to the original scientific premise of my post. Life (human life) begins at conception. To abort that life for any reason other than to save another life (the mother’s) is illogical and selfish.

T. Paine said...

Myste: As for the reconciliation you requested, as you did not respond to it, I will assume that you accept the answer.

T. Paine: It is not really for me to decide one way or the other how you reconcile your beliefs. I do, however, now understand how you reach your conclusions on the subject though. Evidently, I still need to keep you in my prayers. :)

John Myste said...

Myste: Mr. Paine, virtually no one's goal is have post-birth abortions and never will be. It does not support your position to rebut something the other side finds as appalling as you do. You zeroed in on the weakest part of your argument and only answered my response to it. While I thank you for your assistance in this debate, I really don't require any help winning it, sir.

T. Paine: Virtually no one currently has that goal today. Only a few generations ago, the thought of having an abortion as a means to get rid of an unwanted baby, errr… uh parasite, was completely unfathomable too. It is a brave new world into which we are sling into if we continue down this incline, my friend.


Slippery slope again. I could say that if you believe it is OK to put humans to death then eventually you will claim it is OK to put them to death for lesser and lesser crimes, until eventually, we will live in world where stealing a loaf of bread to feed your hungry child is a capital offense.

I would never make such a fallacious claim, though.

John Myste said...

“It is a basic inborn human need to have sex.” Nonsense. There are many people that live a happy celibate life without having to succumb to that “need”.

There are masochists also, but it is a basic human need to avoid pain. There are people who hate children, but it is a human need to have children. The exception does not prove the rule, as you know already. People will always have sex for reasons other than procreation because, if you are correct, your God put an enormous urge in us to do so.

Further, I am astounded to learn that sex in humans is not primarily for the purpose of procreation.

No you are not. How many times have you had sex with the desire to procreate, vs. other desires. You are not being genuine, sir. The primary function of sex is not now, nor has it ever been, to procreate. Procreation is a rarer use of sex. Humans have sex with the intention of procreation. This represents a very small percentage of human intention when they have sex. Most of the time, they are trying to do something entirely different. The desire to have sex, unfilled, is very unpleasant, like nausea, a headache, or any other malady. Sex treats it. People have the right to be well. Sex is needed for psychological health in many people. You know all this already.

While I understand that the human species has sex for pleasure or recreation or to chase away boredom these days, I don’t think our pleasure and recreation constitute a “need”.

Sexual desire, unfilled, can often make people crazy. For animals where this is not true, they become extinct.

It should be up to human society to dictate through law what boundaries of right and wrong science should not cross.

Agreed.

It is NOT only my religious notions that make me puke at the idea of even “zygote” abortions. Again, I refer you back to the original scientific premise of my post. Life (human life) begins at conception. To abort that life for any reason other than to save another life (the mother’s) is illogical and selfish.

Your faith that if a zygote is a human zygote it is entitled to the same rights as a 12 year old child is a religious notion (a faith-based notion), with no science behind it, and once you take religion out of the equation, you are left with little reason backing it up. That is why I must conclude that this faith is grounded in religion. Otherwise, I would have to assume you are repeating what you learned by rote, and I cannot believe that about you, sir.




T. Paine said...

T. Paine: “It is a basic inborn human need to have sex.” Nonsense. There are many people that live a happy celibate life without having to succumb to that “need”.

Myste: There are masochists also, but it is a basic human need to avoid pain. There are people who hate children, but it is a human need to have children. The exception does not prove the rule, as you know already. People will always have sex for reasons other than procreation because, if you are correct, your God put an enormous urge in us to do so.

T. Paine: I think the issue here is the definition of the word “need”. While “desire” and indeed even natural instincts make sex seem like a “need”, one does not have to have sex in order to live. As I have said, although in this hyper-sexed world we currently live in says otherwise, it is even possible to happily live a celibate life. Indeed millions of people do so for many reasons every day throughout the world. A “need” is something you cannot do without in order to live. Clearly sex does not constitute that sort of a need.



T. Paine: Further, I am astounded to learn that sex in humans is not primarily for the purpose of procreation.

Myste: No you are not. How many times have you had sex with the desire to procreate, vs. other desires. You are not being genuine, sir. The primary function of sex is not now, nor has it ever been, to procreate. Procreation is a rarer use of sex. Humans have sex with the intention of procreation. This represents a very small percentage of human intention when they have sex. Most of the time, they are trying to do something entirely different. The desire to have sex, unfilled, is very unpleasant, like nausea, a headache, or any other malady. Sex treats it. People have the right to be well. Sex is needed for psychological health in many people. You know all this already.

T. Paine: Whether one’s intentions while having sex are to attempt to procreate or not does not negate the fact that the primary function of sex is to propagate the species. That strong desire and instinctual urge in humans to have sex is there to ensure that the human species does continue. We may be oblivious to the fact in the thrill of the moment that the act in which one is partaking has the possibility of creating life, because our intentions at the time were only to “get some”. Making babies was the last thing on our minds, and yet that is the ultimate function of the sexual act, by definition. Yes, we complex human beings attach other psychological and societal aspects to sex, but at its PRIMARY core purpose, sex is meant for procreation.

T. Paine said...

Myste: Sexual desire, unfilled, can often make people crazy.

T. Paine: That is a load of bunkum, my friend. Not accounting for those with psychological issues already, that is nothing more than a Clintonian excuse for bad behavior. It seems that we humans are becoming quite adept at excusing our behaviors because we don’t have the self-control or discipline to master our own wants and desires these days.



Myste: Your faith that if a zygote is a human zygote it is entitled to the same rights as a 12 year old child is a religious notion (a faith-based notion), with no science behind it, and once you take religion out of the equation, you are left with little reason backing it up. That is why I must conclude that this faith is grounded in religion. Otherwise, I would have to assume you are repeating what you learned by rote, and I cannot believe that about you, sir.

T. Paine: I get the distinct impression that I am not going to be able to convince you, even when removing any faith-based component from the equation, that destroying even nascent human life as a zygote without having the compelling reason of saving other life is illogical as it negates the primary purpose of the sexual act: the propagation of our species. Destruction based on whim’s or desires not to be unnecessarily burdened are selfish in the worst connotations of the word. A clear understanding that a zygote is distinctly human, distinctly unique with its own DNA, and absolutely alive should dictate that it is worthy of our protection. Destroying that zygote for any reason other than the most compelling of reasons, to save the mother’s life, simply strikes me as nonsensical. Destruction of life because one doesn’t agree with the definition of what actually constitutes “life” seems like a failure of science to me, let alone morality.

John Myste said...

T. Paine: Whether one’s intentions while having sex are to attempt to procreate or not does not negate the fact that the primary function of sex is to propagate the species.

A primary function can be defined as something primarily achieved by an action. The term “primary” would describe the most common function. The most common function of sex is to relieve sexual frustration and to achieve sexual pleasure. Procreation is relatively rare. Most sex excludes the procreative aspect in favor of the primary function of sex.

Making babies was the last thing on our minds, and yet that is the ultimate function of the sexual act, by definition.

Making of a baby is not the definition of sex; therefore, it is not as you say “by definition.” Most sex does not make a baby. I am prepared to discuss the birds and the bees with you upon request.

but at its PRIMARY core purpose, sex is meant for procreation.

Until recently, the purpose of me having sex had nothing to do with babies. You are mistaken. I did not intend procreation at all.

Myste: Sexual desire, unfilled, can often make people crazy.

T. Paine: That is a load of bunkum, my friend. Not accounting for those with psychological issues already, that is nothing more than a Clintonian excuse for bad behavior. It seems that we humans are becoming quite adept at excusing our behaviors because we don’t have the self-control or discipline to master our own wants and desires these days.


Denying one’s self sexual pleasure in the name of “self-control” is aberrant psychological behavior and borders on a mental disorder.

T. Paine: I get the distinct impression that I am not going to be able to convince you, even when removing any faith-based component from the equation, that destroying even nascent human life as a zygote without having the compelling reason of saving other life is illogical as it negates the primary purpose of the sexual act: the propagation of our species.

Your chance is exactly equal to convincing me that wearing a condom is doing the exact same thing or that abstinence is doing the exact same thing.

Destruction based on whim’s or desires not to be unnecessarily burdened are selfish in the worst connotations of the word.

Eating lettuce destroys it, so your issue is not with “destruction,” but with destroying germs that carry human DNA. However, you draw the arbitrary line somewhere near “zygote.” It is pretty selfish of a zygote to place its own interest, of which it has none, ahead of real human interest. God, zygotes are selfish!

A clear understanding that a zygote is distinctly human, distinctly unique with its own DNA, and absolutely alive should dictate that it is worthy of our protection.

I agree with all of this, and yet consider it completely irrelevant.

Destruction of life because one doesn’t agree with the definition of what actually constitutes “life” seems like a failure of science to me, let alone morality.

Do you extend this arbitrary imperative to the life of a lobster or do you mean that it is only immoral to destroy the life of a zygote, which cannot suffer the destruction, but it is fine to destroy the lobster, which does suffer as a result? How does this work again? Let me review the sentence …

After careful review, I find that it does not work.

T. Paine said...

It would seem to me that we both are circling back on ground of which we have already made sure was well-trodden. Nevertheless, I have learned a great deal from you, Mr. Myste. You agree that a zygote is distinctly human, distinctly unique with its own DNA, and absolutely alive, and yet find these defining factors of human life to be irrelevant to the question of abortion. You equate lobsters and lettuce with zygotes, or parasites, or germs, or whatever other perhaps-technically-accurate-but-still-dehumanizing euphemisms. I have learned that while you are exceptionally bright, you are not omniscient, and have an uncanny ability to seemingly intentionally miss my main points and be purposefully obtuse (probably just to confound me) accordingly. The fact that I would even have to stop and consider whether I need to explain to someone as brilliant as you are what the difference between a crustacean and nascent human life is tells me that you are exceptionally adept at getting me to accept some of your bewildering premises, if only for the sake of argument. I have also learned that God, nature, instinct, Ba’al, Quetzalcoatl, or whomever came up with sex did not do so primarily for the purpose of propagating the species. I have learned that sex is a need, like air, and it is a mental disorder to suppress one’s sexual urges. I guess that makes Madonna, Lindsey Lohan, and Lady Gaga all completely normal, from a psychological perspective regarding their sexuality. I have further learned that you do agree that most pro-abortion arguments, particularly past the earliest terms, are selfish, illogical, and wrong. And yet, you still support early term abortions of selfish zygotes, because they don’t have a preference and cannot feel pain. Hmmm…what have I missed here? While I follow your train of thought on most of what you have textually articulated, I think you are still chugging down the wrong track. I am sure you consider the same to be true of me, even though truth is the locomotive of my train. What are we to do then? For the sake of ending this debate, I have devised a plan. I will flip a coin and whomever wins the toss is the person’s position on the topic with which we will both agree… unless I lose the coin toss, of course. :)

John Myste said...

have learned that while you are exceptionally bright, you are not omniscient, and have an uncanny ability to seemingly intentionally miss my main points and be purposefully obtuse (probably just to confound me) accordingly.

I did not miss your points. I find them objectionable. Your main point is that you believe that because zygotes are scientifically human, they are endowed with rights equal to that of all other humans. I reject this point as an illogical moral imperative, but I do not miss it.

have also learned that God, nature, instinct, Ba’al, Quetzalcoatl, or whomever came up with sex did not do so primarily for the purpose of propagating the species. I have learned that sex is a need, like air, and it is a mental disorder to suppress one’s sexual urges.

We are confusing the concept of purpose (or meant or intention). Two separate questions: 1. What does one intend to achieve by the sexual act? I addressed this. 2. What did the presumed Creator intend by inventing the sexual act? I did not address this religious question, but instead stated that I am not religious. Moreover, I find His intention, if it exists, to be irrelevant to my decision. I am not honor-bound to the intention of Another. This is true if the Creator of the sexual impulse is divine and it is also true if the creator of the impulse is inanimate.

Additionally, I see no reason to find intelligent design behind the sexual act. We don’t understand how humans got here. We don’t have the data to answer the question, and I will not assume we do, and invent an answer as an axiomatic starting point.

I guess that makes Madonna, Lindsey Lohan, and Lady Gaga all completely normal, from a psychological perspective regarding their sexuality.

You are trying to invent another slippery slope, but I will answer anyway. There are two kinds of normal in this context: 1. Is it normal, meaning not psychologically aberrant? Yes, it is normal if it is not an uncommon intrusion on one’s life. 2. It is normal, as is it the standard among humans? I suspect it is more normal than we think, but I don’t have the data to answer the question. These women have resources available to them that the rest of us don’t have. Additionally, I find the second question to be irrelevant.

I have further learned that you do agree that most pro-abortion arguments, particularly past the earliest terms, are selfish, illogical, and wrong.

I don’t think pro-abortion arguments are generally made by anyone. However, I do agree that a large number of the pro-choice arguments are bogus justifications. I actually wrote an article about this before I had a blog, so I posted it as a comment at Fair and Unbalanced. This was before the editor there posted long comments as posts (I think).

For the sake of ending this debate, I have devised a plan. I will flip a coin and whomever wins the toss is the person’s position on the topic with which we will both agree… unless I lose the coin toss, of course. :)

I agree to your proposal with one modification: I will be pro-life for most of the pregnancy term, and in return you must be pro-choice for the very early stages.

T. Paine said...

Myste: I don’t think pro-abortion arguments are generally made by anyone. However, I do agree that a large number of the pro-choice arguments are bogus justifications.

T. Paine: I actually meant to address this previously. You choose to use the euphemism of “pro-choice” for the more accurate term of “pro-abortion”. Let’s look at an example of a “pro-choice” organization such as Planned Parenthood. When a pregnant woman comes into one of their clinics, do you suppose they offer them all of the three following “choices”?

1. Ms. Smith, we can help you with your pre-natal care so that you have a healthy baby.
2. Ms. Smith, we can recommend some agencies and other counselors in order to help you adopt your baby after it is born.
3. Ms. Smith, we can schedule you for an abortion of your parasitic mass of tissue next Tuesday.

Now considering that Planned Parenthood makes a significant portion of their income by providing abortion services, which of the those three “choices” above are going to be advocated most often? (Assuming the others are even mentioned at all.)

The pro-abortion mindset seems to hold sway for the more outspoken “pro-choicers” with their disdain for those that decide to keep an unplanned or initially unwanted baby. It would seem that the only “choice” they find acceptable is to abort the baby, hence my usage of the more accurate term of pro-abortion.

John Myste said...

I actually meant to address this previously. You choose to use the euphemism of “pro-choice” for the more accurate term of “pro-abortion”.

The legal, ethical, and topical decision is a mother’s “right” to choose, vs. the “right” to life of the fetus. The decision is not, do we say the baby has “right” to life or that the mother “should abort the baby.” There is no such thing as a pro-abortion movement. The term is used to communicate a lie to make an argument stronger. If we start our question out with a lie contained within it, the side we are lying about will be immediately and justifiably repulsed. In general, when we create a strawman representation of our opponent’s positions, our opponent’s consider our analysis dishonest, irrational, or both.

Therefore, using the false term “pro-abortion” to frame the false question that nobody asks, only serves to heat the passions of pro-lifers. They are already on fire and burning up. No reason to do that. It is better, and far more persuasive, to honestly represent the other side. Additionally, if you honestly represent a philosophical opponent’s position, your argument will never sound as good to your allies, but it is the only change that your philosophical enemies will consider your argument credible.





T. Paine said...

John, while I understand and in most cases even agree with your well-stated argument, I think I am going to stand by my term on this particular issue. It is my opinion that great evil is being done every time an abortion is conducted. Couching the debate behind terms like “choice” seems to be a rather inaccurate and even mendacious use of the term. While I agree that the term “pro-abortion” can indeed be inflammatory, I believe in calling out what I see to be an evil act scientifically and religiously by the most accurate and descriptive term possible.

If one decided that human life should be protected, then the matter of a “choice” in aborting that life would never even be an option. A person can still accurately be described as pro-abortion even if they “choose” to not abort a life in some cases, just like the fact that I am pro-beef does not negate the fact that I sometimes eat chicken. While not always partaking of the abortion option, if one advocates that as a possibility for a given situation, then they are pro-abortion in the fact that they see the necessity of sometimes utilizing this procedure and thus are invested in ensuring that abortion is kept legal. They are for the procedure, when they deem it necessary, thus they are pro-abortion.

If this further ruins my credibility with those opposed to my position on abortion, then so be it. I am not going speak in politically correct euphemisms in order to save the feelings of those that are doing wrong in this case. Besides, the more militant among them assign no credibility to my stance to begin with. Those that aren’t so sure might just reconsider their thoughts on the issue when we call a spade, a spade.

John Myste said...

I believe in calling out what I see to be an evil act scientifically and religiously by the most accurate and descriptive term possible.

But I have never met or heard of anyone who was pro-abortion. How can that be the most accurate term possible?

If one decided that human life should be protected, then the matter of a “choice” in aborting that life would never even be an option.

I believe most people think that human life should not “always” be protected. For example, some people believe the state should decide when it is OK to take a human life. Others feel it is OK to invade a nation and take many human lives. Others feel it is OK to take a human life if that that human life is doing great harm to you and you can take the life early enough so that it never developed into anything that is nearly as important as the thing it is harming. You have a moral imperative that tells you the label “human” makes something more important than it is if the label is not applied. Your argument and in fact your faith in the righteousness of your position are all based upon these semantics and not on the harm done in the real world.

A person can still accurately be described as pro-abortion even if they “choose” to not abort a life in some cases, just like the fact that I am pro-beef does not negate the fact that I sometimes eat chicken.

Pro-beef is not a thing. I am pro-choice ant anti-abortion. My pro-choice ethic outweighs my anti-abortion ethic.

if one advocates that as a possibility for a given situation, then they are pro-abortion

I hate to quibble over terms, but you mean pro-choice here. Pro-abortion would mean “for abortion.” They are “for the right to choose” and they take no stance on whether that choice should be life or abortion.

They are for the procedure, when they deem it necessary, thus they are pro-abortion.

Oh, now I see where the confusion comes in. The word you are looking for is “pro-choice.”

I am not going speak in politically correct euphemisms in order to save the feelings of those that are doing wrong in this case.

Can we just use accurate terms, then? I think the pro-choice camp would settle for that. If we changed it to that, then would have two sides: 1. Pro-Choice. 2. Anti-Choice.

Those that aren’t so sure might just reconsider their thoughts on the issue when we call a spade, a spade.

I can assure you that if you call pro-choice pro-abortion, as I also have done for effect, you make moderates see you as an insincere nut and it will certainly not bring them into your camp.