William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

The Banality of Evil Redux: Do Planned Parenthood Officials Sin? Guest Post by Bob Kurland

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Reposted from Bob Kurland’s site.

The net effect of this language system was not to keep these people ignorant of what they were doing, but to prevent them from equating it with their old, “normal” knowledge of murder and lies. Eichmann’s great susceptibility to catch words and stock phrases, combined with his incapacity for ordinary speech, made him, of course, an ideal subject for “language rules.” —Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

When I first came across the Planned Parenthood videos, in which the PP representatives talked in the most commonplace terms about methods for killing babies to enhance the harvestability of organs for resale, my thoughts turned back some 54 years to the trial of Adolf Eichmann, an SS officer who supervised the transport of Jews to death camps. He had fled to Argentina, was captured by Israeli agents, stood on trail in Jerusalem, was sentenced to death, and executed.

In that trial Eichmann testified about the Wannsee Conference which was held in 1942 to frame the “Final Solution of the Jewish Problem”. Eichmann, an aide of SS General Reinhard Heydrich who headed the conference, portrayed himself as a non-participant, only a recording secretary, and claimed to be horrified by the proposed methods. An earlier interview in Argentina with the Dutch Nazi collaborator Willem Sassen shows him, however, to be a dedicated anti-semite.

Both the Nazi elimination of Jews and Planned Parenthood’s commercial traffic in baby parts proceed from similar principles: for the Nazis, Jews were not human, and could be eliminated in order that they not contaminate the “Master Race”; for Planned Parenthood, a fetus is not a human being (even if it emerges partially from the birth canal), because it has not been “born” . These principles were not stated explicitly, but they were fundamental in all the propaganda from the Nazis and from the advocates of partial-birth abortion. Those involved in these decisions, as the transcripts show (one, two, three), have no qualms about their projects; there is no hint of conscience being over-ridden.

At the 90 minute buffet luncheon where the annihilation of 11 million people was discussed, the following guidelines were setup:

Heydrich…observes, ‘Approximately eleven million Jews will be involved…’ He further states in the Protocol, ‘In large, single-sex labor columns, Jews fit to work will work their way eastward constructing roads. Doubtless the large majority will be eliminated by natural causes. Any final remnant that survives will doubtless consist of the most resistant elements. They will have to be dealt with appropriately because otherwise, by natural selection, they would form the germ cell of a new Jewish revival.’ In other words, none would be allowed to survive. Beginning with Germany proper and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Europe was to be cleared of Jews from west to east.

As Eichmann observed in his trial testimony, the atmosphere was not grave but, shall we guess, convivial?

…then in the second part, everyone spoke out of turn and people would go around, butlers, adjutants, and would give out liquor. Well, I don’t want to say that there was an atmosphere of drunkenness there. It was an official atmosphere, but nevertheless it was not one of these stiff, formal, official affairs.

The atmosphere at the lunches where Planned Parenthood (PP) doctors met with representatives of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) was also convivial. The best wines (white or rose) to go with fish, good routes through northern LA, etc. were highlights.

There’s almost too much to quote from the transcripts. Costs for fetal body organ and efficient ways to procure them were discussed as if an auto supply dealer was discussing replacement parts. The killed babies were viewed as objects, not as potential human beings whose lives had been terminated for the convenience of the female carrying the child.

Here are just two illustrations (“Buyer” refers to the CMP representative ostensibly lining up sources for fetal organs; PP to the doctor, Deborah Nucatola, MD, Senior Director of Medical Services, Planned Parenthood of America) from the transcript (emphasis added).

Buyer: There’s times depending on the specific project that people want pancreas at 9 weeks, 10 weeks. From my perspective, I think it’s not going to be reasonable to be collecting at a site that does not have the capability to go farther up in to the 2nd trimester. It doesn’t mean that the facility needs to go all the way up to 24 weeks every time but, to be able to at least say we can go up to 12 and 16, 12 and 18 would probably be better, for the age protocols that require later gestational tissue, 18 weeks is kind of the lowest range, 18 to 20, 24 for certain things. So, if we could get up to 18, that would make it worth it to be operating at that site.

PP: Ok, and we have some affiliates that use digoxin or some other feticide and that would basically limit. So, in general, you’re probably going to be able to get to twenty weeks, it’s going to be very unusual to get a patient that’s above twenty weeks. At the Planned Parenthoods in California. New York, doesn-t use digoxin at all—

Buyer: Not at all.

PP: Not at all. There’s like a culture war on feticide. People on the west coast seem to prefer feticide, people on the east coast seem to not believe in feticide. Everyone has their own styles.

And there’s more (emphasis added):

Buyer: We need liver and we prefer, you know, an actual liver, not a bunch of shredded up—

PP: Piece of liver.

Buyer: Yeah. Or especially brain is where it’s actually a big issue, hemispheres need to be intact, it’s a big deal with neural tissue and the progenitors, because those are particularly fragile. If you’ve got that in the back of your mind, if you’re aware of that, technically, how much of a difference can that actually make if you know kind of what’s expected or what we need, versus—

PP: It makes a huge difference. I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps. The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is the calvarium, the head is basically the biggest part. Most of the other stuff can come out intact. It’s very rare to have a patient that doesn’t have enough dilation to evacuate all the other parts intact.

Buyer: To bring the body cavity out intact and all that?

PP: Exactly. So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.

Ipse dixit.

Note that the “crushings” are discussed as if one were finding the best way of crushing a walnut to extract the meat. And as the Nazis discussed ways of killing Jews that would be most economical and least disturbing to the local populace—they finally settled on the gas chamber.

Both the Nazi officials at Wannsee and the Planned Parenthood doctors have committed acts that we as Catholics take to be mortal sin, killing or planning to kill innocent humans. The Nazis did not and the PP doctors evidently do not regard what they are doing as sinful. The Nazis did not regard Jews as humans, nor, evidently, do Planned Parenthood doctors regard unborn babies as human.

Does this evident ignorance of doing evil exempt the Nazis and Planned Parenthood doctors from guilt? If we turn to the Catechism we find (CC, 1857, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas), “For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

Further (CC. 1859, 1860; emphasis added), “Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin…Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.”

The last statement clinches it. Assuming as a principle that humans can be selectively classified as unworthy of life—as elderly, as disabled, as unborn, as ethnically “impure”, as mentally challenged–violates that which is, or should be, written in the conscience of every man. Therefore, the Nazis and the Planned Parenthood doctors are guilty of mortal sin.

Those perpetrating these sins attempt, as in the opening quote, to justify their actions by euphemisms,
by changing “the language rules”, as Hannah Arendt so aptly puts it: those advocating killing the unborn are called “pro-choice”; using chemicals to kill an unborn is called “feticide”, and so forth.

What is the solution? To pray for the conversion of those who do not recognize that each human is a life given by God. There have been instances of such conversions: witness that of Dr. Bernard Nathenson. so we should not be without hope.

96 Comments

  1. It is fascinating that society prefers to test cosmetics and medications on people because testing on animals is “cruel”, but tearing apart a fetus is just part of a lunch conversation.

  2. Nothing surprising here. The German doctors were early and enthusiastic supporters of the Nazi racial policies. That’s why so many ended up in the dock at Nuremburg accused of war crimes.
    http://www.holocaust-history.org/lifton/contents.shtml

  3. Most of those Germans are dead. What is our excuse?

  4. “When I first came across the Planned Parenthood videos, in which the PP representatives talked in the most commonplace terms about methods for killing babies to enhance the harvestability of organs for resale,”

    1) I guess that starting a blog by lying is not a sin. If what you said was true then the official would be arrested since selling fetal tissue is illegal. What is not illegal is to ask for the cost incured to for conservation and transpor.

    2) This is not something new since the law was ammended in 1993:

    http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/policy/publiclaw103-43.htm.html

    It received only 4 Nays in the senate and senate majority leader voted in favor of the law: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=103&session=1&vote=00015

    Do they sin or not I would say it is between god and them. There sin is of no concern to you.

  5. Sylvain I read the transcripts and I did not lie…you do not know what you’re talking about and that’s all I have to say to one with prejudice for taking the life of the unborn.

  6. Far too many elements are completely unrelated to each other in opinions about fetuses and Jews in the context of the Holocast and the harvesting of baby organs. I don’t think the comparison holds.

  7. And Sylvain dives in over his head again. There is no proof of how much money and what is was used for found in the tapes, nor has Planned Parenthood produced the recipients of the “donations” to confirm this was indeed all donated. An audit of the books might help, assuming you find all sets.

    Funny, for a guy who says “their sin is of no concern to you”, you really, really want to impose all of your values or lack thereof on everyone. This Planned Parenthood stuff should, by your twisted logic, be of no concern whatsoever to you–you’re not female and have no stake in any of this. Yet, there’s that nose stuck into the discussion calling people liars and claiming you know what is right. Really, how are you more qualified than anyone else to determine what sins are important to society and which are not?

  8. Gary in Erko, the comparison is about the banality of evil, of using “language rules”, as Hannah Arendt has so aptly put it, to remove the stain of evil from one’s actions.

  9. It’s a comparison of “The final solution to the Jewish Problem” to “pro-choice” and “feticide”.

  10. Bob, a couple of points but I don’t want to distract from the main message of the evilness of PP. No need for more from me after this.

    “Both the Nazi officials at Wannsee and the Planned Parenthood doctors have committed acts that we as Catholics take to be mortal sin, killing or planning to kill innocent humans.”
    Considerations of innocence is not an equivalent factor for the two. Nazis definitely didn’t consider Jews to be innocent. PP doesn’t think any crime has been committed so innocence and guilt don’t take part in their thinking. An outsider’s view of the result of their actions (eg. Catholic view) is not a measure of their motive.

    “The Nazis did not regard Jews as humans, nor, evidently, do Planned Parenthood doctors regard unborn babies as human.”
    Nazis employed threats, brutality, etc to force Jews to comply. They spoke of vermin but all their treatment of Jews was as though Jews were humans deserving malice. To PP pre-birth people are just a minor appendage of unwanted flesh. Removal is as minor as sticking a bandaid on a cut. Considerations of human-ness isn’t part of their thinking.

  11. Bob,

    If you were not a liar it would have been a long time ago that people would have been arrested regarding a practice that has been happening since at least the 1960s.

    Meanwhile another hypocrite republican Ben Carson speaking against plan parenthood but admitted using fetal tissue for research.

    But please extreme regressive American (because you are in no way conservative on this site) make this issue the leading issue for the next election. This would guarantee a filibuster proof majority in senate, majority in the house and the president to democrat.

    So please act like the stupid people that you are.

  12. Gary in erko

    Pp doesn’t regard fetuses as persons. The tissue is human but it is not a person.

    Nazi consider Jews as human but with an inferior genetic that for Nazi put the German at risk of losing its “superior” evolution. Of course, that was a bunch of crap but this is besides the point.

  13. Three topics that should be discussed:

    1) The reasonable-man legal-standard/ argument in regards to whether or not a late-term (limited in order to strip away most of the counter-‘arguments’) ‘foetus’ is, in fact, a baby.

    2) Legal culpability: i.e. should a reasonable-man consider such abortions to, in fact, be serial murder – should those culpable be prosecuted, given that it is ‘legal’?

    If this argument can not be made, then everyone may as well pack up and give up, on everything. (Or if ‘the law’ has become, in irreversible practice, the ultimate arbiter of what is right and wrong.)

    3) Clearly ‘the law’ (via the American governmental system) has ‘legalized’ the mass murder of babies. However, can any legal system actually do such a thing? Or rather, should the error be recognized as such, can ‘the law’ keep protecting e.g. the abortion doctors from being prosecuted for serial-murder?

    If it is not a valid argument for a soldier to do evil using the excuse of ‘orders’, then how can ‘it wasn’t illegal at the time’ be an excuse?

  14. A great number of people don’t believe in God, at least God as a sentient supervisor of human affairs and judge of human morals. Even fewer take the position that there is a select group of individuals who understand’s God mind, because they are able to interpret an ancient religious text, based on their own self proclaimed authority, which has problematical content anyway, to put it mildly. This select group believes that babies come into existence at the moment of conception, a claim that reasonable people can disagree on. The reasonable people being those not inclined to ignore all scientific understanding to date, for the sake of religious dogma. On the other hand, selling fetal body parts for financial gain certainly goes against humanist principles as well as religious ones, and should be deplored. I would prefer some middle road between the religious dogmatist and the fascist apologist (i.e., the despicable Sylvain).

  15. Will,

    “On the other hand, selling fetal body parts for financial gain certainly goes against humanist principles as well as religious ones, and should be deplored. I would prefer some middle road between the religious dogmatist and the fascist apologist.”

    Read the text of the law. What you describe is already illegal. There is no for profit sells done, there is no sells at all.

  16. Cb,

    The problem with a fetus is that you can hardly ever be sure that it is viable until it is able to breath on its on. The best example is the fetus with a water head a cousin of mine gave birth to. Until birth it kicked and there was a heartbeat, yet it could never breath on its own because the brains never formed and the head filled with liquid.

    Even if it reached birth that fetus was never alive.

    I’m always amazes to see pro-lifers ready to send women to jail for having a miscarriage, which is an abortive event that might be intentional or not and which is quite frequent.

    Pro-life also hide or refused to mention the fact that the doctor who made late term abortions was sentence to life in prison for murder of babies that were born alive, or would have been born alive.

  17. It should also be considered that about 1% of all abortions are done after 20 weeks.

  18. Sylvain.

    1. “…the fetus with a water head…”
    A play at symantics. Lets agree that a water-head foetus is, indeed, not a baby.

    2. “…I’m always amazes to see pro-lifers ready to send women to jail for having a miscarriage…”
    Um… wot?
    Natural events such as miscarriages have no equivalency with an abortion doctor sticking an active vacuum-tube into the skull of a near-term baby.
    However if the ‘miscarriage’ was chemically induced…

    3. “…Pro-life also hide or refused to mention the fact that the doctor who made late term abortions was sentence to life in prison for murder of babies that were born alive, or would have been born alive…”
    Um… wot?
    There are =very many= doctors who have performed late-term abortions…?
    That a few of them killed born babies has nothing to do with the practice of abortion, neither does it if they were sentenced or not.

    Babies-aren’t-legally-babies-cause-we-say-so-we-can-tear-them-apart activists are several orders of magnitude more dishonest than their opponents. They are also, imo, culpable of incitement to =mass= murder, at the very least.

  19. Cb,

    “A play at symantics. Lets agree that a water-head foetus is, indeed, not a baby.”

    It had all the tissue that everyone here is talking about.

    “Natural events such as miscarriages have no equivalency with an abortion doctor sticking an active vacuum-tube into the skull of a near-term baby.”

    Miscarriage at least before 20 weeks cannot be differentiated from chemically induced abortion. And in most personhood bill presented they would/could be criminalized.

    Doctors receive death threats from supposedly pro-lifers that have killed many.

    There is very little honesty from the regressive movement as seen on this blog. The main idea of this blog post is based on a big fat lie of selling tissue for profit. 1) they can not be sold by law and 2) they can even less profit from it, 3,) pp is a non lucrative organization.

  20. Will N, people with scientific understanding, when they consider all possible circumstances, have not been able to define a single criteria to determine when life begins, nor similarly when life ends. That doesn’t negate the certain knowledge that before conception a few separate floating cells was not a living creature, and the certainty of the complete absence of biological activity after death. Against that, up to what exact date does it become ok for someone else to stop a life. And after defining that, next question is – why don’t all rational non-religious people agree?

  21. What is moral is not always legal, and what is legal is not always moral.

    Bob Kurland makes his point: The people in that video sinned. And they used language to reveal their sin. Just as some of the people who took part in the dialogue of this post did theirs.

    Dr. Scott Bonn, a professor of sociology and criminology at Drew University, wrote How to Tell a Sociopath from a Psychopath: Understanding important distinctions between criminal sociopaths and psychopaths (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wicked-deeds/201401/how-tell-sociopath-psychopath). If you read that essay and think about the videos you watched, it becomes obvious there are some really sick people in the world.

    Dostoevsky once wrote, “Man gets used to everything.” God, I hope not.

    And while language is always interesting and in this case revealing, actions have always spoken louder, haven’t they? The stunning actions (such as lack of emotion around the topics of conversation) in the videos really need no language to defend, condemn or describe what we are looking at and hearing: sick people talking about doing things that will place them in hell, I’d say probably the 7th circle. Or maybe 4th. Or maybe the 9th. Or…

    Well put, Bob.

  22. swordfishtrombone

    August 16, 2015 at 8:42 am

    I agreed with your post up until the last paragraph. What has belief in God got to do with this issue? I’m an atheist but I don’t agree with abortion, except where medically necessary and I know I’m not alone in my view.

  23. Gary in Elko: You make a good point. PP does not consider a fetus a human being in any way. Nazis considered Jews human but not worthy of life–something to be cleansed from the planet (like environmentalists calling human beings parasites on the planet). These are very different ways of looking at a human being.

    cb: I have wondered the same thing–if there are war crimes, when the objective of war is to kill and destroy until someone surrenders, and one can be prosecuted for them, then just because an act was legal at the time should not preclude persecution. In some matters, this is worked around by simply vilifying the person and stripping away their livelihoods, as is done in the cases of racial comments and slavery. If your relative 200 years ago had slaves, you’re guilty. Guilt doesn’t really seem to based on anything other than who is “king of the hill” at the time, does it? Prosecution is based on the king’s wishes.

    Will: So scientifically, when does a creature with unique human DNA (except identicals, okay?) become a human? What is the magical transition between non-human and human? There are middle of the road reasons for not allowing abortion based on human behaviour and psychology. Swordfishtrombone commented in that direction.

    Sylvain: Honesty? You dare even use that word? Half of what you post is a “big fat lie” and yet you get angry if called out on it. No one knows if profit was made. That aside, describing crushing a baby to get the most parts should be inhumane enough with or without profit. Yet, for you, it isn’t? How humane and kind of you.

    Swordfishtrombone: Thank you. I have repeatedly stated that abortion is not a religious issue. Since Bob is writing from a Catholic perspective, however, he will lean (or jump) in that direction. If an atheist were writing it, there would be different reasoning. It’s good to note that religion is not the only reason abortion may be unwise.

  24. Jim N–thank you for your kind words; I’m glad some people got the point I was trying to make;
    Gary in Erko–You make a valid point: the Nazis did not regard Jews as innocent, but if you look at their propaganda, it seems evident that they regarded them as sub-human (and not to be guarded by a PETA type organization). I don’t think “innocent” would apply to the views of PP on unborn humans, any more than one might think of a pile of recyclable electronics as “innocent”. “Innocent human beings” was my term.
    Sheri: thank you for backing up my forward line.
    To some others: I’ve written a post “It doesn’t pay to argue on the Internet” (no shameless self-promotion at this time–no link). The point is, that if the poster’s comment shows the him/her to be the victim of invincible ignorance (look it up) and lacking a well-formed conscience, then there’s no way I can change his/her mind. The only point in replying to such comments would be to aid other readers in forming an opinion. However, if the poster of stupid comments shows faulty logic and prejudices that can be discerned by the intelligent reader, there’s no need for me to reply.

  25. Sylvain has to lie and accuse others of the same, as there is no defense for the practice shown on the videos.

    A contemptible little man with contemptible views. Best ignored.

  26. Andy,

    Please point out my lie.

    I pointed Bob’s lie and provided link to the actual law under which they would be prosecuted if they were selling the the tissue. The fact there are never been any arrest or lawsuits filed for the pratice even under zealous republican attorney or under republican president.

    I really plead that you push this issue. Nothing can help more the democratic party to win a massive victory than the anti-abortionist zealot.

  27. Sheri,

    Please point out my lie. It shouldn’t be that hard.

  28. Sylvain: “If what you said was true then the official would be arrested since selling fetal tissue is illegal. What is not illegal is to ask for the cost incured to for conservation and transpire.” There is nothing to indicate what the money was for. It is also a lie that PP that the officials would be arrested. You have no idea if a case is being built and warrents issued. This is what you want to be true, so you pretend it is. To make a statement of fact out of what is currently a she said/they said situation is to lie. Your insistance that an arrest would have occurred can be attributed to bullheaded belief that you know everything.

  29. Sheri,

    Bob made a statement of fact that pp sold fetal tissue yet he has no proof that can substantiate is claim.

    On the other hand I can substantiate that there has never been anyone associated to pp that has been convicted of selling fetal tissue.

    The practice describe in the video is not new and has been going on for at least 50 years and pp approval ratings have barely budge about -2% since the video came out. A feeble minority which you are part of are even interested by the video or even outraged by it.

  30. @Gary in Erko
    ” people with scientific understanding, when they consider all possible circumstances, have not been able to define a single criteria to determine when life begins, nor similarly when life ends.”

    This is a logical fallacy known as a false dichotomy. If you can’t *exactly* know X, you therefore cannot know anything at all. Rational people will err on the side of caution, religious dogmatists believe in magic, hence there is usually no possibility of rational discussion .

    @Sheri

    You play the same fallacious card. Then again, you have no other card you can play, because your position is not a rational one.

    As a more general comment, why anyone engages the morally despicable Sylvan I have no idea. He would be vigorously defending whatever Pol Pot did, if he thought they were on the same “team”.

  31. Will,
    “If you can’t *exactly* know X, you therefore cannot know anything at all. ”
    I didn’t draw that conclusion. I actually stated the cases at both ends of life when it’s cetain that life hasn’t yet occurred, and when it is certain it’s terminated. Don’t put words in my mouth. If you think you know something more sure then please explain it.

    “Rational people will err on the side of caution, religious dogmatists believe in magic, ” For abortion it’s the exact opposite. Religious people err on the side of caution to an extreme length. Rational athiests think they have magically discovered when terminating a bunch of cells in a womb isn’t killing a person. I asked you, as a rational non-religious person, how do we tell exactly when that stage has been reached. No answer except a standard bland put-down of whatever you imagine religion is, “hence there is usually no possibility of rational discussion .”

  32. Sylvain, I will pray for your repentance and conversion; it can happen–witness Dr. Bernard Nathenson.

  33. Remarks addressed to the general readership:
    What is legal may not be moral;
    Haggling about price is equivalent to selling;
    Public opinion is not the criterion for morality–in Germany in the 30’s most Germans approved of what the Nazis were doing. In our culture, people have been desensitized to evil by the media and by liberal doctrine.

  34. Briggs

    August 17, 2015 at 9:06 am

    All,

    A commenter said, “A feeble minority which you are part of are even interested by the video or even outraged by it.”

    There we have it: truth by vote. It would be difficult to think of an idea more idiotic or evil than that. But the Left, since The Terror, worships at the Will of the People. What a strange god!

  35. I’m no friend of the people who run Planned Parenthood, nor do I think that abortion is a trivial matter. But I want to broaden the subject a little bit just to ask people to think about what it is they speak of, and why they hold such rigid opinions on this matter.

    Let’s get one thing straight. The foetus – the early foetus at least – is NOT a human being. To point to its parentage, or its potential to BECOME a human being, doesn’t alter the fact that it ISN’T. Once again, doctrinaire misunderstandings get in the way of reality. Of course, I have sympathy with those who think otherwise, and I’m happy to admit I share their emotional response. But science it ain’t. To claim the same status for the early foetus as for a living human is to misunderstand what a human being is. A human being is a whole lot more than a jumble of cells. It is a jumble of cells, yes, but then so are all the creatures of the earth, and, importantly for your moral consideration, all the animals we abuse and kill for food.

    I feel we should be much more concerned morally for the condition and treatment of an adult pig or cow than we do about an early human foetus. Argue, if you like, about 24 weeks or 26 weeks, or 16 weeks, or 6 weeks, but don’t present some false sanctity about the foetus on principle.

  36. Please Bob don’t pray for me I do not need the salvation of false prophet.

  37. Will,

    Luckily for you and the readers of this blog I have a lot to learn from the masters that you guys are. There is a reason I call you the regressive right. You would like to bring us back to to the time of the inquisition and the mass murder of people under false pretences.

  38. Briggs,

    How come you always complain about the rule of majority when it doesn’t fit your views. You had no problems with the majority rejecting gay marriage, or the majority discriminating against gay.

    You have no problem with 5 judges saying that a company has religious beliefs (how does a company get baptized or participate in religious ritual) even though a vast majority of people says it doesn’t makes sense.

    Morals and religion are in the private domain while laws regulate the public the domain. What needs protection is the individual person, not the group. In the abortion cases the person actually alive takes precedence on the thing that might become a person. It is very fortunate that for you, you will never have to face such a decision.

  39. Sylvain: Someone praying for you is the one thing you have NO control whatsoever over. You can that the person should not be doing it, you can say there is no God, but you cannot in any way influence or stop a person from doing so. It may be infuriating but it’s just how it is.

    Bob: Excellent point–haggling about the price certainly is equivalent to selling.

    Will: What fallacious card? Why do you not answer simple questions? You evade just like a warmist caught at a Heartland conference. If you cannot define when life begins, you cannot definitively say whether abortion is murder. Yet you refuse to answer. My answer is completely rational and scientific, though you seem to think I oppose abortion because of religion. I do not. So please stop attributing to me your beliefs about what you think I believe and why. It’s extremely irritating, especially since it lets you pretend you somehow have the high ground here and I’m just an emotional little girl who can’t really think. It’s condescending and rude. (Why engage Sylvain? Too much free time mostly.)

    Sylvain: I did not comment on Bob. Stop acting like a two-year old with the “He did it too, he did it too, he did it too”. I never accepted that from a two year old and I certainly will not accept it from someone who is at least by age an adult.
    As Bob said, haggling about price only occurs in sales. You do not haggle about price if it’s a donation.
    What is it with you that you are incapable of understanding that wrong is not by conviction? You say no one associated with PP has been convicted of selling fetal tissue. So a group of internet pedophile porn dealers are not guilty until caught? Even if we are looking at a video of them discussing the selling of materials over the internet? Trafficking in sex slaves is verifiable only by an actual conviction, even if we find a dozen half-starved women in a trailer that is being driven by one of the traffickers? You know, pedophiles would truly adore you. They go for years and years with no convictions and you would say they are NOT guilty. Will is probably right. Engaging you is a waste of time.

  40. Excellent and needed comparison of Nazis and PPFA. Recently a Catholic bishop exhorted Catholics to stop playing the Nazi Card when opposing assisted suicide, which is really euthanasia. Glad to see there are informed Catholics who are willing to make the comparison. Thanks.

  41. Nina,

    Bob is Jewish. I am catholic though I have thrown these hypocrite out the door long ago. Please don’t forget to send your money to your church.

  42. Sheri,

    I find very interesting that for you guilt start with the arrest and not convinction. Well must be much simpler and you save the fee for the trial.
    Ask yourself why you are always on the losing end of legal matters.

  43. Sylvain, you really have to pay more attention. Bob is not jewish–His blog title is “Reflections of a Catholic Scientist”. I have no idea what you are babbling about with my comments. Nowhere did I say anything about not needing a conviction and did not use the word arrest anywhere. You’re the one that believes that finding a video tape of a guy shooting someone in cold blood should not be taken as evidence of guilt until an official US government agency says he’s guilty. OJ Simpson loves you. I am on the “losing end” of legal decisions because evil, self-righteous jerks are running my country.

  44. Sheri concerning Bob I refer you to our previous conversation we had where he was proudly defending is Jewish Seraphim ancestry.

  45. It seems that readers of this blog would be really happy in Putin Russia.

  46. And for you catching a pedophile porn dealer is not an arrest.

  47. Sylvain: Right on schedule. You said “Bob is Jewish”. IS. Present tense. Not ancestry. He IS Catholic or else he’s writing a really creepy blog.

    This commuter believes you would be happy in Putin’s Russia. After all, you believe the government is the source of all good. Everything in Russia comes from the government. Paradise according to you.

    Again, your idea that everyone, even those caught on tape red-handed, are somehow innocent until the law convicts them–true only in a legal sense, NOT a moral sense and not in reality. Guilt is guilt and taped evidence is quite sufficient to prove guilt, except in your lala land. It’s interesting that you apparently do not apply this belief to ALL governments, like Russia or North Korea and not to all laws. Slavery was LEGAL, homosex marriage was NOT. Yet you did not support those laws. Only the laws YOU want to be out there count—very, very selfish and horribly hippocritical. You’re not altruistic at all.

  48. Sheri,

    In Russia being gay is illegal, and Putin is pushing for ever more strict anti-abortion laws. Since the fall of communism the Russian government offers very little services to the population. Putin arrest anyone who protest his agenda which mean you would be safe since his agenda is the same as this blog. There are very few laws regarding corporations. The minimum wages is equal to 95$/month. There are no limit to exploitation of gas, no epa, air or water quality agency. No taxe for the rich. These are all things that you support. You are even free to discriminate against people. An nothing that I support.

  49. for all readers: “Seraphim” are the angels who sit at the right-hand of God–I sadly disclaim any ancestral claims to seraphim. (It was too good to pass up.)
    Besides, the seraphim are immaterial, and I’m not sure how then they could procreate.

  50. Blame the damn Apple autocorrect Sepharad instead of seraphim

  51. Sylvain: Ran out of free time. No more responses to anything you post.

  52. I have notice that you usually get busy when you realize that you lost an argument.

  53. Bob, if your ancestors can be called seraphim then I can call myself an ash-can.

  54. Sylvain: You’re lucky I answer you at all. You have virtually no social skills and are rude and arrogant. Much of the time I side with Will and Bob and wonder why I bother any responses ever. So go puff up and pretend you won the argument. I don’t care in the least. I’m tired of dealing with your irrational non-arguments.

  55. My social skills are quite fine thank you. The fact that I’m rudes and arrogant is the exact tone people who wish to impose their views onto others deserves. Your views are antequated and that makes most of the people on this blog retarded and very similar minded as countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia or even China.

    For me it is a compliment when commenters say that I’m despicable, rude or arrogant. It means I’m doing something right.

  56. Gary, in Erko… It took me two hours to get it! Ash-can, indeed!

  57. @Gary in Erko,

    “Rational athiests think they have magically discovered when terminating a bunch of cells in a womb isn’t killing a person.”

    Isn’t it idiotic to declare that a bunch of cells is a person? Is your finger nail a person? Why assert something so utterly stupid off the bat? What is the point of making yourself look like a fool in your opening sentence? If a cell could be a person, why not a sperm? Why not a egg? Is masturbation therefore a crime? As a religious conservative how can you be so confident and sure that a sperm is a person? Surely you cannot see how moronic such a position is?

    ” I asked you, as a rational non-religious person, how do we tell exactly when that stage has been reached. No answer except a standard bland put-down…”

    I don’t recall you asking the question. But let’s determine when a person becomes a person by deciding a person, in order to be a person, must be conscious and self aware. A baby at birth is self aware. What about 20 weeks? Probably not. But let’s err on the side of caution. Let’s go back around half that period again. Limit it to 12 weeks. This is also a good period of time to assess the fetus for Down syndrome and other diseases and genetic disorders.

  58. “I don’t recall you asking the question.” Will, this was my original question. “… before conception a few separate floating cells was not a living creature … Against that, up to what exact date does it become ok for someone else to stop a life. ”
    Thank you for finally getting around to answering it. So your criteria are the elusive thing called self-awareness and a more tangible criteria of whether a few potential inconvenient medical factors can be detected. Based on these 12 weeks is a safe termination time when heart beat, brain synapses, digestion and muscular reflexes are beginning to be detected.

  59. Will N, , your description of babiel being self-award at birth is, I believe, not justified scientifically. See Philippe Rochat’s article, “Five Levels of Self-Awarenes as they unfold in early life”http://www.psychology.emory.edu/cognition/rochat/lab/fivelevels.pdf
    So, according to that article we might dispose of the infant after birth (as the ancient Greeks) if it is inconvenient for the mother–It would save much in the cost and bother of surgical procedures and the whole baby carcass would be available for research purposes.
    My point is, once you decide (I mean the personal you in this case) who is worthy of life, then you pre-empt what should be the decision of God, even though you don’t believe in God.

  60. Bob and Gary,

    I appreciate some people of a particular ideological perspective may wish to argue that self awareness and consciousness are elusive concepts, although we have tests for such things. But let’s make the criteria even less ambiguous. Present company excepted, do you honestly believe it’s possible to be human without possessing a brain? Note, I’m not even going to argue for a neo cortex. Again, I’m all for erring on the side of caution. A rudimentary spinal column with a few attached neurons doesn’t pass any conceivable test, unless you are a fool, of course,

  61. Bob,

    A little remark relating to your sanctimonious… Have you ever killed a mosquito? I’ll guess yes. So it’s not life that is all that precious to you, only human life? And since you are paralysed and unable to decide what might be human and what might not be, surely you must concede that you may have committed mass murder through masturbation? If you think that statement absurd, then contemplate I find your assertion that you do not know that human tissue absent a developed nervous system, much less self awareness might still be human. Of course this is what you do believe because you believe that when a human cell is fertilised a soul is created. If you came out and said this honestly, you would have to admit you have no justification for this notion, other than faith. Or in other words it’s what you wish to believe or desire to be true. But you font wish to come out and say this honestly. Hence your present hypocrisy.

  62. Will N, your last comment does not meet the standards of gracious discourse, so it does not merit a considered reply.

  63. Will, I start from a completely different angle, one not mentioned anywhere here. When a natural process has been initiated by a couple of cellular thingumys bumping together I genuinely don’t know if anyone has a right to terminate the process. We do it at times, and we find rationalisations for it within contexts that don’t take absolutely everything possible into consideration. Fortunately we can lean on our intellectual minds that lets us to sleep soundly afterwards, even when there’s something unresolved nagging quietly in the background. If a caterpilla can wrap itself in a silken shroud, turn itself into a sludge, and the sludge emerges as a coloured flying creature, then I really don’t know where to begin an attempt to explain or describe what life is. Self-awareness – I really dunno if that’s it.

  64. Will: Does that mean that people in comas are no longer human since they are not self-aware? Or is it that if the fetus was ever self-aware, it continues to be human even if at some point it loses that self-awareness?

    Are you saying DNA does not determine that something is human? Because the fetus is 100% human DNA. Wouldn’t that then make it true that DNA does not determine other things like sex? The gender choice people are right?

    Also, legally, the idea that when the cells become human is extremely murky:
    Fetal Homicide Laws (Alabama in this case, but most are very similar—some do not include when life begins)
    “defines “person,” for the purpose of criminal homicide or assaults, to include an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability and specifies that nothing in the act shall make it a crime to perform or obtain an abortion that is otherwise legal.”
    So the legally the fetus is actually Schroedinger’s cat—only does it become human when the circumstances of its death fit a set of rules.

  65. Peter Christofferson

    August 18, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    All of these arguments about mosquitoes and masturbation are mere sophistry.

    We use terms like “zygote” and “fetus” — and for that matter “adolescent” and “adult” — to describe human beings at different stages of development. A fertilized human egg is simply a human being at its first stage. This is not a particularly difficult concept. But certain individuals like to use these terms as though they describe entirely different creatures, not stages of the same creature. They do this to disguise what they actually believe, which may also be stated quite simply: that some human lives are worth less than others.

    This is a wicked notion, and it doesn’t take much imagination to understand why, though Mr. Kurland’s excellent post makes the case elegantly. Stop and reflect on some of the comments in this thread in light of what Mr. Kurland wrote. It’s quite startling how well he captured precisely the error in thinking — illuminated by the errors in language — that characterizes one side of this debate.

  66. Gary in Erko,

    “When a natural process has been initiated by a couple of cellular thingumys bumping together I genuinely don’t know if anyone has a right to terminate the process”

    What an utterly absurd and bizarre notion. I presume then that you don’t believe in modern medicine and if you were unfortunate enough to acquire a cancer you would not take any steps to treat it, as you don’t feel you have the “right” to attempt intervention with nature?

    Sheri,

    ” Does that mean that people in comas are no longer human since they are not self-aware? Or is it that if the fetus was ever self-aware, it continues to be human even if at some point it loses that self-awareness?”

    How do you know that a person in a coma is not self aware? Perhaps they are conscious or at least partly conscious, but unable to communicate with the external world because their brain/mind body connection has been damaged. If we knew this for certain, then yes. But since we do not, we must always err on the side of caution to the point where there is no more ambiguity. If you want to crouch this dilemma in religious speak, then how does one know if the soul has fled its container? We do not.

    Of course it is murky when human cells create a human. That’s why we should always err on the side of caution, as I’ve already pointed out.

    Peter Christofferson,

    Ah, finally, some honesty. You believe all stages of the development of human cells constitute humanness. That is to say, a fertilized human egg is a full fledged human being and to think otherwise is wickedness. We all know that this is what everyone here really thinks, but alternative arguments are grasped at, because of the self evident absurdity of such a position. You cannot be human without conscious human awareness. You cannot be human without feelings. Now, you might be partly human, but not fully human. We should always respect human life and err on the side of caution in every way we can. Even someone brain damaged that shows partial humanness should always be respected and treated like a full human being wherever possible. Always. But nobody except those who believe in magic or religious dogmatism, believe that you can still be human, minus a brain, much less a mind.

  67. Will: I give up. Since abortion is NOT about babies anyway, there’s not point to discussing this further. I will point out that embryology books say life begins at conception. Beyond that, it’s all philosophy and religion, nothing more, and I know I can never say anything that you will even consider because you are as blind and stubborn as those you accuse of being overly-religious. It’s something you have made up your mind on and further discussion is futile.

  68. Peter Christofferson

    August 18, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    @Will: “You cannot be human without conscious human awareness. You cannot be human without feelings. Now, you might be partly human, but not fully human.”

    And you know this… how, precisely?

  69. Sheri, of course you give up. Because you hold a indefensible position. Faith is like that. You believe what you believe because you believe. That’s fine. I will only be critical when you pretend your hold your position for some other reason.

    Peter Christofferson,

    “And you know this… how, precisely?”

    Because like most of us here, I am not a fool, so don’t need to ask idiotic questions. Perhaps you feel that if you found a human who could not love, experience pain, pleasure, happiness or sadness, they would still be a full normal human. Of course, you don’t. You ask the question merely because you have no intelligent rebuttal to make, hence you become argumentative.

  70. Peter Christofferson

    August 18, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    And by the way, asserting that something is self-evidently absurd when it isn’t may be a clever rhetorical tactic, but it’s not a substitute for reasoned argument. Nice try, though.

  71. Well excuse me, Sylvain—er I mean Will.

  72. Peter Christofferson

    August 18, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    No, I ask the question to determine whether you have a reasoned answer to give, or if instead you rely on the “dogma” you otherwise deplore. As I suspected, it’s the latter. As someone put it, “You believe what you believe because you believe.” QED.

  73. Peter Christofferson

    August 18, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    I asked a perfectly reasonable question: how do you _know_ that a human being without awareness and/or feelings isn’t fully human? Your reply? That you’re not a fool and don’t need to ask idiotic questions. And you accuse _me_ of not having an intelligent rebuttal? Of being argumentative?

    Look, I’m all for having a spirited back-and-forth. But absorbing insults from a blowhard is worse than unrewarding; it’s not even interesting. Examine your assertions and defend them, please, or count me out also.

  74. Will, I followed on with “We do it at times, and we find rationalisations for it within contexts that don’t take absolutely everything possible into consideration.”
    Looks like you only want to pick bits here and there to generate an argument. Goodbye.

  75. davideisenstadt

    August 19, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Gary:
    regarding your comment
    ” If a caterpilla can wrap itself in a silken shroud, turn itself into a sludge, and the sludge emerges as a coloured flying creature, then I really don’t know where to begin an attempt to explain or describe what life is. Self-awareness – I really dunno if that’s it.”
    it has been shown that butterflies retain memories of their time spent as caterpillars…strange, but apparently true.
    go figure.

  76. If your position is irrational, accept is as irrational. Don’t pretend you hold a rational point of view when you know you don’t. That is to say, say one thing in public, but secretly think something else. Not everyone believes in souls. It’s not unreasonable to not believe in souls. For those who believe in souls, those who do not, are therefore not evil or wicked. They simply do not see the demons you imagine you see.

  77. Peter Christofferson

    August 19, 2015 at 8:20 am

    “Don’t pretend you hold a rational point of view when you know you don’t.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m still waiting for a rational explanation — not a bald assertion — of how one can _know_ that a human without awareness is not fully human.

    I’ll save you some trouble: you don’t know any such thing. You believe it. And based on that belief, you wish to further assert that human beings may be sorted into two categories: Fully Human Therefore Fit to Live, and Less Than Human Therefore Unfit.

    I refer you back to Mr. Kurland’s article to see where that belief inevitably leads.

  78. Will: Who died and left you sole arbitrator of rational versus irrational?
    Not everyone thinks a person who does not believe in souls is evil or wicked–unless you are including the idea that being wrong is evil or wicked. That would be irrational.
    You keep responding to things people did NOT say. Who are you answering–us or your own head?

  79. Sheri,

    What is irrational versus what’s rational is decided by rational argument. You demonstrate rationality by presenting rational argument. You demonstrate irrationality by responding with rhetoric.

    I didn’t say that everyone thinks people who don’t believe in Souls are evil and wicked. Merely that this is what Christofferson believes. Essentially his argument is that because humans have souls even absent consciousness or the ability to be aware, the Soul might still be capable of such things. He doesn’t come out and say it explicitly. (Perhaps he is too embarrassed to do so.) But that’s the unstated premise of his position. The reason why this is obvious is that he believes that you can be human absent a brain.

    I would normally be skeptical of such a claim, although Christofferson is doing a good job of convincing me otherwise. 😉

  80. Peter,

    The vast majority of fertilized egg don’t implant to provoke pregnancies. Would you want us to rationalize that these egg consciously committed suicide.

    If a fetus or embryo had any consciousness of being alive we would remember of being alive. A human being requires three part/substance to be complete: body (material, imperfect), mind (immaterial, perfect), and the soul (the conduit). The religious is ever going farther of God by reducing life to its materiality. The fetus is only the material part of the human being.

    This is not different than a computer which requires hardware software and electricity. Without any one of these part a computer is nothing.

  81. Peter Christofferson

    August 20, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Will: It’s probably best to stick to what people actually write in these threads. “Reading between the lines” can lead to all sorts of erroneous assumptions, as I’m afraid you’ve demonstrated yet again. I never said explicitly that “people who don’t believe in Souls are evil and wicked” not because I’m embarrassed, but because I don’t actually believe it, and anyway it’s beside the point. What I did say, and what Mr. Kurland makes clear in his article, is that people who attempt to sort humans into categories of “Fully Human” and “Less Than Human” sooner or later end up committing, or at least tolerating, wicked acts against their fellow men. My direct query to you remains unanswered, but I’m encouraged that you’ve begun to contemplate it. That’s real progress! 😉

    Sylvain: I hesitate to respond to anything you’ve written because, pardon my bluntness, you express yourself so poorly. Please read through your posts a few times before uploading, or, better still, ask a friend to help with proofreading and editing. I guess you’re asking if I think human eggs that fail to implant in the womb should be prosecuted for committing suicide. I cheerfully reply, No. For now I’ll refrain from responding further, for fear of mischaracterizing what you’re trying to say, the meaning of which entirely escapes me.

  82. Will: Again, you are behaving as the sole arbitrator of what is defined as “rational”. Yet you just jump right in psychoanalyzing why Christofferson MIGHT believe something. That’s not rational, that’s rhetoric. Rather than actually address a request or address a question, you jump to calling things “rhetoric”. Again, that’s not rational, that’s rhetoric.

    If you’re not human absent a brain, what are you? Your definition of human is not based on DNA, but rather “self-aware”? Again, I ask if then does it not follow that gender is flexible and so are all other so-called genetic traits of human beings? Humans are not human because they have human DNA, but rather because they think and know they are human? How is that logical? A tiger doesn’t know he’s a tiger. So is a tiger or not? Or are humans “special”? These are questions of biology, so please answer them.

  83. to all; some commentators and other pro-abortion proponents have said that a time demarcation point can be prescribed for a fetus to be human or non-human, e.g. 24 weeks. Question: would then a fetus (baby?) at 23 weeks, 6 days, 23 hours and 59 seconds after conception be non-human? It’s easy to argue that a blastocyst at one week in development is not human, but going further in time, it’s not so easy. A more rational approach is to not introduce an arbitrary demarcation point other than the moment of conception.
    By the way, Will N. I will not read nor answer any of your comments. You do not meet the standards of gracious discourse, nor are your arguments coherent.

  84. Bob: Agreed. This becomes very evident when you look at the “reasoning” for the demarcation. Before abortion was legalized, embryology books said life begins at conception. This was a problem, killing a human was murder, so it became whether or not the fetus is “human” versus “alive”. As I pointed out on another thread, a fetus is very much like Schrodinger’s cat. Whether or not it is human depends on the outcome. Abortion–not human. Pregnant woman killed–human (in 38 states, anyway). Makes it through the birth canal–human. It’s completely irrational.

  85. Christofferson,

    Unfortunately what you’re doing, is ignoring my point completely and pretending I’m talking about something else entirely. Obviously, because you’re unable to defend your own position. Or perhaps lack the moral courage to be honest about it. I’m not talking about deciding who is fully human versus who is partly human. In fact, my entire position is the exact opposite. We can only make such decisions when we are certain that we are dealing with human versus non human. If someone might be partly human, then always err on the side of assuming full humanness where feasible. As I’ve repeated multiple times, and this something you keep dancing around because you have no rebuttal, nobody of normal intelligence or better will consider a human *as* human if their body does not have a brain. Your only response to this is to continue with your false dichotomy argument. The reason why your argument is an invalid form of reasoning is that nobody can be 100% certain of anything. You can be 99.9999999% certain but nobody, except God, can be 100% certain. If you insist on 100% certainty you cannot make any decision on moral matter whatsoever. Your position is ludicrous. Your arguments works for everything and robs everyone of moral agency. That’s why it’s a stupid argument.

  86. Sheri,

    “If you’re not human absent a brain, what are you?”

    You’re not a person, certainly. There is no consciousness, awareness, moral agency, etc.

    If you hand separated from your body, is your hand a human? Is a dead body a human who should be treated with the same rights and privileges as humans that are still alive? Surely you must recognise your position is absurd. Is a tiger aware that it is a tiger? I’m unsure with regard to tigers. It can certainly feel pain and experience pleasure. There are things humans and tigers share in common. If a tiger recognised itself in the mirror, and some animals can do this, it would be self aware. Although its sense of self awareness would not be as well developed as ours, for reasons I can go into but would make this comment too long. An ant can be an ant without being aware of it being an ant. Self awareness is not part of what makes an ant an ant. Self awareness is part of what makes a human, human. We should always err on the side of caution. A severely brain damaged person who was not self aware should still be treated as a full human as that individual retains other aspects of humanness. However, you cannot carry such a measure to the point of logical absurdity. A dead body is not a person any more. A person whose brain is removed as part of a traumatic accident is no longer a person. You can no longer argue that such body parts are still in any sense persons. If you’re stubbornly holding to that position, your dogmatism is turning your brain off.

  87. Bob,

    “By the way, Will N. I will not read nor answer any of your comments. You do not meet the standards of gracious discourse, nor are your arguments coherent.”

    You sum up perfectly the fanatic dogmatist. You will not read any of my comments for fear that you will be forced to question your beliefs, yet you are simultaneously convinced that my arguments – which you haven’t read nor wish to understand – are incoherent. Well done.

    The point of this exercise, of course, is not to change anyone’s mind. My objective is the far less ambitious one of making you understand the counter arguments. That way, there is less chance you make a complete arse of yourself if you do discuss such matters outside of your inner circle. Of course, it seems, at least in the case of Bob, that he senses his position is so fragile, that even being exposed to a critique might risk psychological distress. Although I don’t view that as a personality weakness.

  88. Peter Christofferson

    August 20, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Will: I will ignore your insulting tone and attempt to address what I take to be the main point of your post: “As I’ve repeated multiple times…nobody of normal intelligence or better will consider a human *as* human if their body does not have a brain.”

    This may disappoint you, but I do in fact have a rebuttal. Of course a human without a brain may still be a human — for example, if that human is unborn, and the brain has yet to develop. That’s more or less the whole point of what I’ve been saying here; I just didn’t realize I had to spell it out in words of one syllable.

    To make it plain once again, since apparently you haven’t been following me very closely: I assert that an unborn baby — yes, even before the brain develops — is a human. You apparently believe that it is not human. This is exactly what I meant when I wrote above, “certain individuals like to use [terms like “zygote” and “fetus”] as though they describe entirely different creatures, not stages of the same creature.”

    Yes, you’ve repeated the same thing multiple times; I’ve even quoted it above for you. What you have utterly, repeatedly failed to do is to answer the question: How do you KNOW that an unborn baby before its brain develops is not human? I have already shared my reasons for believing that it is. You seem utterly confident that it isn’t. But you have not once explained why. Because it just sounds right to you? Because most people think so? Just because?

    Think you can answer without using words like “stupid” and “ludicrous”? Do please try.

  89. Will
    For someone claiming science and rationality i’ve yet to see any in your comments. Mostly just bald assertions lacking any substance and a seeming ignorance of the science.
    “Partly human”? This was hilarious. Even a pro-choice, atheist biologist will tell you the fetus is completely human and alive. You mention masturbation but I could give a nice long list of quotes from modern, secular biology textbooks, embryology books, biologists, and doctors that state that human development begins at conception (and you technically don’t stop developing until the day you die) so bringing up anything before that is an unscientific red herring.
    You mention consciousness. Did you know that when you’re dreaming your dreams are actually broken up into segments with long gaps in between? You don’t notice the gaps because you’re completely unconscious. Is it okay to kill you then? If you try to weasel some kind of consciousness in it will be of a kind that even single-cell organisms could lay claim to which won’t help against a developing fetus.
    You mention the brain. The brain distinguishably develops 3 weeks after conception, before most women even find out they’re pregnant, and doesn’t stop developing until around 25 years of age. Are you for killing 21 year olds, too?
    Even the atheist Christopher Hitchens, after talking to doctor and biologist friends acknowledged that the fetus is an autonomous, living, human individual.
    In fact, you can go to prolifehumanist.org for logically consistent, rational, secular arguments which is something you’ve sorely been lacking in this thread.

    To All: It bewilders me how blind most pro-abortionists are that their arguments closely align to arguments by slave owners. They didn’t think blacks were people, that this “fact” was obvious, and anti-slavers were being irrational.
    Every argument on personhood can be picked apart so that the only logically consistent positions are that all living human beings, regardless of accidental properties such as race, gender or stage of development (including fetus), are persons deserving rights or no one is. If the latter then psychopaths are the only true realists but this opens a very scary can of worms.

  90. Christofferson,

    I’m perfectly happy with your response. You’re being up front and honest. You believe a human being exists from the moment of conception… because… well you just want to believe this. Probably someone in authority told you to believe this so you believe this. You have no logical reasons for believing this and you’re up front and admit it. Fine. I can hardly ask for more. You can also go around and call people evil and wicked if they don’t believe what you believe. Hopefully you can see, though, why some people are going to disagree with you, and think rather you’re wrong and a dogmatist. That’s because you expect others to believe what you believe although you can’t rationalise your belief. Most people are like this in one way or another, so it’s not like I’m going to be especially surprised.

  91. Seth,

    I would suggest that if you really wanted to debate on the scientific facts alone you’re going to look like an arse. So I would suggest you avoid that tactic. You’re not nearly clever enough to pull that off. The best you can do here is either go down Christofferson’s route and declare you believe what you believe because this is what you believe, or be as vague as possible on the specifics and maintain a superior sense of moral outrage. Blathering nonsense as you just did even embarrasses your own side. Far better to adopt Bob Kurland’s tactic of feigning intellectual and moral superiority, and declare you will not stoop so low as to engage a non believer with your worthy discourse. It’s far easier to pretend to be clever than demonstrate it.

  92. Will,
    I’m afraid you’re projecting here. You keep talking big but I’ve yet to see you back a darn thing up! Science and philosophy (because personhood itself is a philosophical, not scientific, concept) are not on your side. Honestly, you didn’t even bother to address anything I said; you just keep asserting your own awesomeness and everyone here can look back and see that that is ALL you’ve done. No matter how many times you say you win and everyone else is being irrational it doesn’t make it true. Can you actually prove it or is all we’re going to get are your hollow proclamations of victory?

  93. Peter Christofferson

    August 21, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Will: “Probably someone in authority told you to believe this so you believe this. You have no logical reasons for believing this and you’re up front and admit it.”

    Nope, not even close. My reasoning is as follows: a fertilized human egg, assuming normal development, will grow into an adult human being. That is beyond dispute. I can’t identify, and neither can anyone else, the point at which this organism suddenly switches over from unconscious, unfeeling mass of cells to thinking, feeling, “ensouled” human being. But that is beside the point, since the potential is there from the first moment. By what right does another human being halt that development, at any stage, for his own purposes? That strikes me as a singularly wicked act.

    (Brief interlude to point out that I have never called anyone evil or wicked for not believing as I do. You keep accusing me of this. Knock it off.)

    I maintain that a human is a human from first stage to last. I have given above my rational argument for thinking so.

    You have still — after being invited to do so multiple times — given no rational basis whatsoever for thinking that a human doesn’t become a human until some identifiable stage in his development. I assert once again that this is because you don’t have a rational basis for this: it’s a belief you hold that no argument or evidence will cause you to abandon. Now THAT is dogma.

  94. Peter Christofferson

    August 21, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Will: Nowhere in this thread have I declared, as you repeat ad nauseam, that “I believe what I believe because this is what I believe”. You, on the other hand, have provided nothing but assertion, accusation, and insult, apparently believing them to be a fit substitute for reasoned argument.

    It becomes increasingly tiresome debating someone who doesn’t understand what words mean and who obviously can’t follow a line of argument, no matter how simply stated. Time for you to put away the stock answers and snarky comebacks, read and grapple with what others have actually written, and try to think a new thought.

  95. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 23, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    My goodness, I should come around more often.

    because they are able to interpret an ancient religious text

    Where in some ancient religious text do you find this? The only such thing I know of is the admonition that it is wrong to willfully kill an innocent human being. Everything else is a logical working out of that. Further observations follow.

    Even if it reached birth that fetus was never alive.

    Of course it was. A stone is never alive, but a petunia or a puppy or a person are alive. See further notes below. A living thing possesses at a minimum the powers of digestion (the most primitive form of cognition), growth and development, homeostasis, and (in its mature form) reproduction.

    people with scientific understanding, when they consider all possible circumstances, have not been able to define a single criteria to determine when life begins

    Perhaps because it is not a scientific question. But once you realize that a thing is living if it is the principle and term of its own acts (or, in modern terms, a “self-organizing system”) it is clear that the fertilized ovum is alive. It self-organizes based on its own information content (or “genome”). A fertilized acorn will do this; a fertilized bald-eagle egg will do this. A stone will not.

    Is your finger nail a person?

    Of course not. In the common course of nature, a fingernail will not self-organize into a mature human being. It’s not enough to be a “clump of cells.” It must be the principle and term of its own acts.

    how can you be so confident and sure that a sperm is a person?

    But a sperm is not a person. It’s genetic information is incomplete and in the common course of nature it has not the potency to actualize as a human being.

    The foetus – the early foetus at least – is NOT a human being.

    This dogmatic statement raises a curious question. First, since it is obviously possesses an act of being (“to be”), if it is not human, what is it? A canine being? An equine being?

    a fertilized human egg is a full fledged human being and to think otherwise is wickedness.

    It can certainly lead to wickedness, just as any belief not in congruence with the truth. (Though that may be complicated by the introduction of the additional qualification “full-fledged”. The proposition is only that the being is human, not that she has all her feathers.) But certainly to think otherwise is incoherent. It cannot be brought into compatibility with other facts known for certain. Consider for example the impossibility of drawing a discrete boundary in a continuum without some sort of discontinuity. I have never seen anyone draw such a distinction in fetal development that did not unwittingly also exclude other human beings.

    self awareness and consciousness are elusive concepts

    Not entirely so. The capacity to fuse disparate sensory inputs into a single phantasm — e.g., red+smooth+round+sweet+etc. fused into “this apple” — is what enables an organism to distinguish objects external to itself from the self, and this distinction just is what consciousness/self-awareness is. Dogs are conscious (in fact, all higher animals) and it may be argued that even cockroaches, as they scurry in terror from the threatening light, are conscious. (And ditto for “feelings,” which I take to mean “emotions” rather than tactile sensations.)

    You cannot be human without conscious human awareness.

    But, unless you are willing to play word games, this leaves out people who are unconscious or perhaps blissfully unaware.

    you might be partly human, but not fully human.

    Is this your definition of “Untermenschen”?

    [I know this because] I am not a fool, so don’t need to ask idiotic questions.

    If you don’t need to, why do it?

    Perhaps you feel [sic] that if you found a human who could not love, experience pain, pleasure, happiness or sadness, they would still be a full normal human.

    Perhaps they would not be a “full” “normal” human; but then neither is someone born blind. We don’t say a sociopath is not human, even if we observe that his humanity is impared.

    Not everyone believes in souls.

    Well, yes. There was a recent opinion piece in Scientific American that denied the very concept of life. But aside from that Non omnis qui credit in animabus aliud doesn’t even make sense. Perhaps you are thinking of the wacky version of “soul” taught by Descartes and other Scientific Revolutionaries?

    Beyond that, it’s all philosophy and religion, nothing more,

    Or is that “nothing less”?

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