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Author Topic:   When does human life begin?
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 256 of 327 (650726)
02-02-2012 1:23 PM
Reply to: Message 254 by New Cat's Eye
02-02-2012 1:02 PM


Re: "Human Life"
Straggler writes:

They don’t actually care about these things or think of them as real people any more than I do.

CS writes:

I dunno about that... they might.

Those that do should be ardently campaigning for research into the 60% of human lives that are tragically lost as a result of natural abortions shouldn't they?

CS writes:

So you can see why they're not championing for the reduction of natural abortions.

I can see three reasons why that might be the case

1) Ignorance.
2) They don't really care about lost lives or souls at all.These are just used as an excuse to get retributional.
3) They don't actually really believe that zygotes are people at all. These are just used as an excuse to get retributional.

The first should be solvable by explaining the fact of the 60%. The other two deserve the tag of dishonesty.


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Kairyu
Member
Posts: 162
From: netherlands
Joined: 06-23-2010


Message 257 of 327 (650727)
02-02-2012 1:27 PM
Reply to: Message 252 by Perdition
02-02-2012 12:35 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
There isn't found one yet, and at this point it's unlikely such a part exists. I've seen no argument that proves we absolutely NEED a soul, aside from making the soul's role and influence very vague and pulling the ''you can't disprove..'' card.

Believe me, I've read some things on the subject, I know that all things the soul is attributed to do already has a part of the brain dedicated to it. I also know things can go terribly wrong if parts of the brain malfunction, including morality,emotional decision-making,memory(not gaining any new memories for a few DECADES),etc. I could go on for a while. I'm pretty skeptical of dualism, which especially the latter part of my previous post should highlight.

''So why do you act so ambiguous about it?'' you're going to ask now? The first reason is being friendly in debate, I've been raised Christian, so I understand Shadow's confusion on the matter. I just wrote my post neutrally, while working to a somewhat skeptical conclusion, because that's where my logic lead me.

Second reason, well, I'm not going to repeat my personal story here, but I'm still very young(19), and I'm was raised Christian, deconverted, and due to circumstances(see my recent topic on this subforum), I moved back to agnostic. I'm a bit skeptical, but still easily swayed in my views, so I'm on this forum mostly to learn. To cut back to your question, I'm been raised to believe in a soul, so it's kind of hard to mentally disregard it, even with the problems with the dualism standpoint, so I'm using this topic partially for my own ends to explore the issue and gather evidence and logic.

This might be to long of a answer, you asked for honesty, so you got it. Since I answered partially off topic, let's keep it at this, but at least this should explain my viewpoints on the issue.


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Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2381
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 258 of 327 (650728)
02-02-2012 1:34 PM
Reply to: Message 228 by shadow71
02-01-2012 12:07 PM


Re: So what was the point of this thread?
Hi shadow,

Godwin's Law is kind of an internet joke; it states that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." It is intended as a way of discouraging the use of Reductio Ad Hitlerum arguments, such as the one that you used.

I don't think it a good idea to forget or never mention Hilter.

I agree, but I think that any comparison to the Nazi regime must be a valid one. By comparing abortion to the Nazis, you trivialise the holocaust and demean the suffering of its victims. The two are not comparable. The termination of foetuses, however many, does not compare with the extermination of millions of actual human beings.

In actual fact, the comparison does much to argue against regarding foetuses as human beings. If grown humans were being murdered in comparable numbers to abortions, everyone would be up in arms. Liberals, conservatives, theists, atheists... everyone would be against it. The fact that no such consensus exists is a clear demonstration of the reality that the issue is more complicated than you're portraying it to be.

The real world rarely supports the kind of black-and-white morality that you are promoting.

Mutate and Survive


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1576 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 259 of 327 (650758)
02-02-2012 3:54 PM
Reply to: Message 257 by Kairyu
02-02-2012 1:27 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
First, thanks for your answer.

To cut back to your question, I'm been raised to believe in a soul, so it's kind of hard to mentally disregard it, even with the problems with the dualism standpoint, so I'm using this topic partially for my own ends to explore the issue and gather evidence and logic.

This is sort of what I was alluding to. Even if you assume a soul, it would seem the soul is connected to the brain some how because affecting the brain, and only affecting the brain, affects that which we attribute to a soul.

I'm just trying to show that even if we assume a soul, a brain still seems to be a necessary component. You could even make the case that, if there is a soul, it "embodies" a fetus at the point where consciousness arises. Now, we can't pinpoint that exact point, and as others have pointed out, that point may even be sometime after birth, but to be as safe as possible, we can at least conclude that before a brain, no soul (probably), and no personhood.

This sort of gets you out of the concern about zygote and conceptus souls floating around in Heaven somewhere. There is no soul until the spark of consciousness is lit, and for that spark, you need the right flint and tinder...the brain.

Obviously, this isn't why I believe the brain is the point at which a person exists and not a collection of cells, but it seems ot be a logical conclusion assuming a soul as well.


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jar
Member
Posts: 31764
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 260 of 327 (650759)
02-02-2012 4:05 PM
Reply to: Message 259 by Perdition
02-02-2012 3:54 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
The brain might be essential to someones awareness or perception of "soul" but still not dependent on the brain for its existence.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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Replies to this message:
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Kairyu
Member
Posts: 162
From: netherlands
Joined: 06-23-2010


(1)
Message 261 of 327 (650767)
02-02-2012 4:48 PM
Reply to: Message 259 by Perdition
02-02-2012 3:54 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
But if one ties the existence of the soul to the brain... First of all, many intrinsic qualities and mechanisms of the brain are not exactly..Christian. Examples abound. Why do we instinctively trust attractive people with charisma more? Some basic science and brain knowledge explains this, but it doesn't always make sense with the soul. And this is only a mild example, if one starts digging there's lots more. It get worse if we take natural mutations of the brain, of damage done to it.

Sadly, the sky is the limit for this, and it can lead to extremely inhuman results. The soul is helpless to stop this. It's problematic to synchronize the status of the soul and the brain because of this. The way to maintain believing in it is make the role of the soul more abstract. A sort of life force intrinsic to living things. I seem to be the most comfortable with a all-or-nothing stance regarding the soul. Either all forms of life have it, or it becomes even more illogical to me.

I mean, if the soul is only created when the brain it created, and it's helpless to stop mutations and damage to the brain making somebody inhuman, it's role of ''holding the strings'' becomes difficult to maintain. But like I just said, the only alternative is some of vague life force.. which makes no sense to be created later.

To summarize, the soul has has never been detected, and trying to make sense out what it does, or it's apparent failure to do so, results in a mess. And the orgin of the soul is vague, and a mess logically, and because of the zygote death rate, a difficult issue theologically. I pretty much only hold on to considering the existence of the soul myself as a relic of my upbringing, and because of certain things I haven't really figured out yet,, instead of finding it logical..

So, I pretty much am to the end my currently ''built'' road of logic now. Going to stay neutral on abortion as long I haven't settled on the dualism vs monism issue, which is vital for defining life and personhood, and that's in turn a vital question for the morality of abortion.

(Although, a other reason why I somewhat dislike abortion regardless of the preceding is that the removal of the fetus in later stages is... not pretty, and I rather avoid such a action if I could, although as a male I don't get to make the ultimate decision anyways. This is a invalid sentimental argument ,I'm aware of that, and it's not intended for debating. I just like to be honest about it.)


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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 262 of 327 (650768)
02-02-2012 4:50 PM
Reply to: Message 259 by Perdition
02-02-2012 3:54 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
Even if you assume a soul, it would seem the soul is connected to the brain some how because affecting the brain, and only affecting the brain, affects that which we attribute to a soul.

I'm just trying to show that even if we assume a soul, a brain still seems to be a necessary component.

The soul requiring the brain wouldn't be consistent with the soul going off to heaven after you and your brain die. Just sayin'


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1576 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 263 of 327 (650770)
02-02-2012 5:16 PM
Reply to: Message 260 by jar
02-02-2012 4:05 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
The brain might be essential to someones awareness or perception of "soul" but still not dependent on the brain for its existence.

But then it's not dependent on the zygote or blastocyst either, right?

If the soul exists, and is completely independent of the physical body...as seems to be the case considering you can lose large chunks of your body without losing your soul, and it only interacts through the brain, as it obviously seems to, then either it requires the brain, or it doesn't require a body at all. So either there is no soul to worry about until there's a brain, or the soul does just fine, regardless of what we do to the body, in which case the point is moot.


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1576 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 264 of 327 (650771)
02-02-2012 5:22 PM
Reply to: Message 261 by Kairyu
02-02-2012 4:48 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
But if one ties the existence of the soul to the brain... First of all, many intrinsic qualities and mechanisms of the brain are not exactly..Christian. Examples abound. Why do we instinctively trust attractive people with charisma more? Some basic science and brain knowledge explains this, but it doesn't always make sense with the soul. And this is only a mild example, if one starts digging there's lots more. It get worse if we take natural mutations of the brain, of damage done to it.

I'm not saying that everything a brain does is what the soul does. I'm saying that a soul only interacts with the physical world through the brain. It's like the "soul tuner."

Damaging the brain might hinder the expression of the soul, but doesn't necessarily hurt the soul itself.

I mean, if the soul is only created when the brain it created, and it's helpless to stop mutations and damage to the brain making somebody inhuman, it's role of ''holding the strings'' becomes difficult to maintain. But like I just said, the only alternative is some of vague life force.. which makes no sense to be created later.

But souls don't seem to stop damage or mutation to the body. I don't understand what you're saying here. I'm saying, a soul poofs into existence once there is consciousness, and consciousness requires a brain. The only interaction there is between the soul and physical body is through the brain because that's where our thoughts, our personality, our aspirations and our decisions are. If these things aren't the soul, then I'm left wondering what exactly it would be.

Everyone seems to say that the soul makes you who you are. Well, who I am is my personality, my choices, my thoughts, right? These things don't change unless something in my brain changes, so either the soul changes when my brain does OR the expression of my soul, through my brain, is hindered. Either way, the brain seems to be integral to the soul.


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Replies to this message:
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jar
Member
Posts: 31764
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 265 of 327 (650773)
02-02-2012 5:33 PM
Reply to: Message 263 by Perdition
02-02-2012 5:16 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
that depends on what "the point" is, and so far the only point from shadow or JBR seems to be that they get to decide and be allowed to impose their religious beliefs on you.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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Kairyu
Member
Posts: 162
From: netherlands
Joined: 06-23-2010


Message 266 of 327 (650774)
02-02-2012 5:39 PM
Reply to: Message 264 by Perdition
02-02-2012 5:22 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
You misread the second quote, I'll clarify. It doesn't stop the brain being damaged, I agree. However, after the damage is done, sometimes a personality changes, and a person may get a worse temper, inability to create memories, or he may become devoid of empathy. I meant that the soul doesn't do anything to stop that. Which raises the question what the soul exactly is needed for. Or does a person, with a birth defect that makes him a sociopath,actually posses a nice personality with his soul? And what does God think of his sinful actions when he, lacking empathy, is not above murder and deceit? It doesn't make sense right? You don't seem to believe in a soul, you know exactly what I mean with these illogical things I point out. I cling to it for other reasons, and my beliefs are subject to change from this contradictory limbo I currently uphold, whatever side that may be, although I'm curious how the soul would ever work if it turns out to exist.

Edited by WSW24, : spelling error


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1576 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 267 of 327 (650778)
02-02-2012 5:53 PM
Reply to: Message 266 by Kairyu
02-02-2012 5:39 PM


Re: Previous thread/s
However, after the damage is done, sometimes a personality changes, and a person may get a worse temper, inability to create memories, or he may become devoid of empathy. I meant that the soul doesn't do anything to stop that. Which raises the question what the soul exactly is needed for.

I don't know what the soul is needed for. You (and the religious) are the ones who posit its existence. Maybe it only exists as the part fo you that is eternal. In which case, the fact that the brain is damaged, thus preventing the "true" personality to shine through does nothing to affect the soul.

Or does a person, with a birth defect that makes him a sociopath,actually posses a nice personality with his soul?

Perhaps. Or maybe it's his soul that is defective. I assume most religions would deny the second possibility.

But this doesn't really matter, as this is a problem regardless of where or when a soul exists, right?

And what does God think of his sinful actions when he, lacking empathy, is not above murder and deceit? It doesn't make sense right?

Again, this is an issue regardless of when or where a soul exists, so tying the soul to the brain doesn't "create" this problem. Tying the soul to the brain merely tries to logically deduce where a soul interacts with the physical.

You don't seem to believe in a soul, you know exactly what I mean with these illogical things I point out. I cling to it to other reasons, and my beliefs are subject to change from this contradictory limbo I currently uphold, whatever side that may be, although I'm curious how the soul would ever work if it turns out to exist.

You're right, I don't. But I'm assuming that one does exist and trying to figure out what I can assuming that. If a soul exists and a soul is what makes us who we are, then it has to interact with the brain, right?

So, we have established that the soul interacts with the brain. Does it interact with any other part? We can show that it doesn't interact with the legs, the arms, the hands, the appendix, and on and on.

This leaves us with things that are necessary for life, like the heart. But we can transplant a heart, and the person still doesn't change. This seems to narrow down the only interface between the pysical and the soul as the brain. I don't see what other conclusion we can come to.


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Kairyu
Member
Posts: 162
From: netherlands
Joined: 06-23-2010


Message 268 of 327 (650779)
02-02-2012 6:14 PM


Regarding me bring up brain defects, and lack of morality, it's because we hold on the now rather improbable soon only because it's needed in our supernatural worldview. You can't 100% disprove it, because it's unseen, it can only be extremely improbable and proven to be unnessecary. The result is that Christians will never concede, no matter what neurology has proved. The only way to sway most Christians to prove the soul is ineffectual, and does nothing to change morality, until they can no longer manage to logically hold it in the Christian context. I'm a strange case that I attempt to do it against myself. I've seen your post in my faith healing topic, so you have read it, and know my motivation for doing so.

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20326
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 269 of 327 (650787)
02-02-2012 7:44 PM
Reply to: Message 227 by shadow71
02-01-2012 12:02 PM


A couple points to add
Hi shadow71, I just have a couple of questions to add.

Once again I stress that I believe the soul comes into being at the beginning of life, but of course, I can't prove that.

Aside from the issue of not being able to show that "soul" exists, I have a couple questions:

(1) does this apply to empty embryonic sacs? These are fairly common products of zygotes, but not one of them has ever become a fetus.

(2) if empty embryonic sacs have souls, then does any living organism with similar or more complex structure have a soul? Such as a sponge (a group of cells forming a sac)?

(3) If an empty embryonic sac has a soul then it would seem to be a property of living cells rather than specifically human cells, yes?

I also have a difficult time accepting the loss of zygotes per the articles, but I believe there are some phenomen that the human beings will never know and that in my opinion is God's will. My prayer is that those zygots are in a better place.

(4) Why would the zygotes from induced abortions be any different from those that spontaneously abort?

(5) If we discuss the "morning after pill" for instance, the effect of the pill is to ensure that a spontaneous abortion occurs, is it not? Would we not be safe in saying that 60% of the time this is just assisting the natural process, yes?

(6) So if 60% of the time it is okay to assist nature, then what is wrong with the remainder?

Message 231: I have read the paper and I cannot dispute it.
I hope science is working on a remedy, if in fact there can be a remedy, but I don't see how that justifies an intentional abortion.

(7) Science has done extensive work on assisting people to become pregnant so it is easy to create a viable fetus and baby so why should science work on something that is easily resolved by the people involved: if they want a baby they can try again, can't they?

It only becomes a problem when you use an untenable definition of human life.

My personal opinion is that a human life begins when a baby takes it's first independent breath, pumps blood through it's heart without medical assistance, and shows brain activity. Reaching this point may be assisted by the use of medical procedures to provide intensive care for premature babies or by the natural "intensive care" provided in a womb environment, but the line is simple: breath+heartbeat+brain activity.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
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This message is a reply to:
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Meddle
Member
Posts: 174
From: Scotland
Joined: 05-08-2006


(1)
Message 270 of 327 (650792)
02-02-2012 9:07 PM
Reply to: Message 225 by bluegenes
02-01-2012 9:36 AM


Re: So what was the point of this thread?
Did you notice that the article asks the question "when does human life begin"? Human life, human organism, and human being end up being treated as one and the same, and (from memory) at one point she says "human organism i.e. human being" before she's even made her argument. Although any organism can certainly be a "being" in some senses of the word, so can anything that exists (including human eggs and sperm). But when the phrase "human being" is used, it's usually understood to mean a person.

Yes I did notice the terms being used as if they were synonymous and as you say she did state "human organism i.e. human being" in her summary, which she placed at the beginning before any arguments. As I said I would describe a human being as an organism based on the definition she chose to use, I just had a problem with her trying to draw parallels between the tissues and organs of a developed human, and the chemical reactions of those initial precursor cells.
Of course I say this, but I do work in a microbiology lab where I regularly refer to bacteria as organisms. However these single-celled organisms have reached the highest level of complexity they are going to attain, whereas a zygote is still on the first step of a long journey to the level of complexity we would refer to as a human being.

Religious "pro-life" groups are remarkably fond of phrasing the question "when does an individual human person begin" as "when does human life begin"? Why?

I'm really not sure, but I suppose it's easy to point to that first diploid cell with human DNA and say there is something that fills the basic criteria for life and it's human. It also lends well to this tendency to describe every point in development as a 'baby' which is certainly emotive language.
It makes me think of that old 17th century idea of the homunculus i.e. the zygote, or even before, is a fully formed human, gestation just allows it to grow bigger. Some of this rhetoric can be seen in the article with the idea of the zygote working towards developing a complete human body. Also the analogy of the car manufacturing with the embryo differing because it constructs itself without outside help, which is wrong since it is working to the 'instruction set' obtained from the sperm and egg of it's parents.


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