Friday, June 8, 2012

Wherein I clear up some misunderstandings about human taxonomy

I pointed out yesterday that it is a scientific fact that a zygote/embryo/fetus is a human being. There is no debate about the science. There is a debate about ethics-- at what point do human beings acquire the right to life ?-- but there is no scientific debate about the fact that a zygote is a human being.

Some of our commentors said things that suggest that they misunderstand the science. I can help educate them:

Commentor WR:

No. A fertilized human ovum is human, but it's not a human being, it's not a person. It has to develop to a minimum stage before it can be called a person. I personally would put that at no earlier than 24 weeks gestation, the earliest date that the fetal nervous system has developed anywhere near enough to be able to feel pain. Even then, it's still not viable enough to survive outside the uterus.

WR mentions three predicates-- human, human being, and person.

Human means relating to a member of our species. A skin cell from Cher is human. A human skin cell. But the skin cell is not a human being. Cher is a human being.

Human being means a living Homo sapiens. A zygote is a living Homo sapiens. It is what a living human being looks like at one minute of gestation. Terri Schiavo was a human being (before they starved her). She was a human being at conception, at birth, during childhood and adulthood, and after her brain damage. In classical terms, she was substantially a human being at every point from conception to death. Her accidents changed-- her size, intelligence, appearance, abilities, etc.

Persons are entities with rights under law. Most persons are human beings, although some laws endow corporations with personhood, and some animal rights advocates suggest that some animals be legally called persons.

The debate about abortion centers on the concept of persons. Are all human beings persons? Do all persons have a right to life? These are the questions that matter. Obviously abortion fans are uncomfortable with these real issues, and prefer to skew simple biology in order to confuse the debate. We must not let them.

Comentor anonymous:

So a zygote is a unicellular human being? And sometimes, after a few rounds of cell divisions, it becomes two human beings (monozygotic twins)? Does Jesus insert a second soul at that point or does the original soul divide into two? Is it a double murder to abort a zygote that is about to split?

A zygote is a human being. Sometimes it is more than one human being. It is never less than one human being.

I have no insight into the theological mechanics of twinning.

Commentor Anonymous:

So a zygote is a unicellular human being? Does it have a soul? And if it splits into two, a few rounds of cell divisions later, which of the twins gets the original soul?

A soul is the substantial form of a living thing. A soul isn't a spooky apparition. It's just the intelligible principle of a living thing. A zygote has a soul. When it twins, each twin has a soul (a substantial form). The zygote has undergone substantial change, so neither soul is identical to the original.


Commentor KW:

Early in their existence both the rat and human embryos undergo incredibly similar developmental processes. The development of features in both embryos at early stages is controlled by the same Hox genes expressed in virtually the same ways. These early embryos are indistinguishable without special equipment and training. The gene expressions that result in virtually all the differences between rats and humans come latter in gestation.

The embryos are quite distinguishable, even by rank amateurs. Here's how: rat embryos grow into rats, and human embryos grow into humans.

That's the salient fact. Morphological similarities are irrelevant to what embryos actually are. Rat embryos develop into rat adults. Human embryos develop into human adults. Always. They never switch. Just like mom's uterine tissue clump never magically switches into a new human being at 20 weeks of gestation.

Each embryo is what it is from the moment of conception. Rat embryos are very young rats. Human embryos are very young humans.

Biology 101, KW. You should have stayed awake in high school.

KW:
I find it creepy and morbid that Christians would invest so much energy and passion fighting for the “rights” of an embryo that developmentally, morphologically, and functionally is virtually no different than any other mammal embryo.
We are fighting to protect human life.

I acknowledge that the fetus develops more human fetures all the time, and I would be happy to embrace a grand compromise that bans abortion after an agreed-upon stage of development (18 -20 weeks?), if anti abortion forces would cease there assault on early abortions and stop opposing birth control. Of course Christians and their Muslin allies will never go for that.
We are fighting to protect human life. We will never accept an "achievement test" to define human beings. Human beings have rights based on who we are, not on what we can do. We are all human at conception, and remain so until death. All human beings have a right to life.

Anonymous:

Its interesting that you take Myers' to task over his comments, but you don't actually bother to respond to his question. Specifically: "[W]hat are these “scientific qualifications”? List them, please." 
I suspect that you didn't because you cannot. And knowing that, you choose to obscure the issue by throwing up a pile of meaningless word salad instead.

The scientific qualifications by which a human zygote is a human being elude Myers, who is the only scientist in human history to be confused on this count.

Let me help. The qualification by which a human zygote is a human being is because nothing in biology makes sense if it is not.


Biological science depends on a coherent understanding of taxonomy, reproductive biology, genetics, evolutionary science, etc.

If human zygotes are not human beings, then a piece of tissue (what is it?) miraculously transmogrifies into a human being at 20 weeks or whatever for no apparent reason. Did it change species? Do human beings bud spontaneously from the uterine lining of females? Did the DNA suddenly mutate from 'blob DNA' to 'baby DNA'? What is the biochemical basis for the sudden speciation at 20 weeks? What is the physiological basis for the transition from abortionist cash-cow to mama's little prince/princess?

Do explain the science. Please. 

KW:

Dr, seriously, humor me here. What if instead of Terri Schiavo having a liquefied brain, her entire head was lost in an accident and her body from the neck down was being kept alive with advanced medical technology, would that body be a human being? Would there be any point in keeping it alive? I don’t think so. What do you think? Might the soul still be in there? 
Schiavo didn't have a "liquified brain". She was a handicapped person with brain damage. Much of her brain worked reasonably well. She needed care, of the sort a young child needs. She was handicapped. She lacked substantial intellectual capacity and motor control. She was not brain dead, or even close.

If she were decapitated and her body below the neck maintained artificially, it would be similar to a kidney that has been removed for transplant that is kept mechanically perfused until it is transplanted. The decapitated body and the kidney are human, in the sense that they are parts of human beings, but they are not human beings.

Keep the comments coming. This is fun!

35 comments:

  1. Mregnor,

    You're an idiot. Taxonomy is the branch of biology that deals with taxa; species, genera, families etc. it has nothing to do with embryology or what you'd call the various stages of development.

    I stated that a fertilized human ovum is human. So too is any nucleated cell from any human.

    It is not an undisputed fact that a fertilized human ovum is a human being. That consensus exists only in your head and fellow religious conservatives who want to prevent everyone from having an abortion.

    I'd be very happy if abortion was unnecessary (it does have slight risks), but occasionally contraception fails (and you disapprove of that too), and incest and rape also unfortunately happens, so it's necessary to have a backup.

    Not even the conservative state of Mississippi swallowed your argument, rejecting 'personhood' from conception with a 58% majority in the recent referendum.

    I'm pleased you find the debate fun. Small things amuse small minds.

    WR

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  2. Bach/WR,

    A fertilized human ovum is the first stage of human life.
    It exists (has come into being), and he or she is therefore a 'human being'. That is all that combination of DNA can be. It cannot be a kidney, a dog, a tree or an ipad. It is a human being.
    What you want is to strip certain inconvenient human beings at certain stages of their development of their person-hood.
    A rubber broke? Kill the baby.
    A woman was raped? Kill her child to punish the man.
    None of these arguments make sense, and are morally bankrupt.

    As I noted on the previous post, this effort of dehumanizing is to make the killing of these little human beings more palatable. It seeks to find a moral support for the killing, but there is none - so you redefine the realities of life to fit the circumstance.
    A human being cannot be killed morally. There is no 'out' because it is a foetus, baby, infant, or geriatric.
    Trust me, I have seen enough of it for 10 lifetimes.
    Hell, trust YOURSELF on this one.

    Forget the charts and graphs for a moment, and use your heart. Drop the Mr Spock routine for five minutes, and FEEL what killing an unborn human being means.
    You're an evolutionist? Did you not evolve these feelings for a REASON?
    Killing people is wrong.
    Killing innocents doubly so.
    Killing of the unborn? The only word I think fits properly: Satanic.

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  3. WR,
    BTW Dr Egnor is using the term taxonomy because the position of the pro abortion folks is that a human embryo is something OTHER than a human being. At least that is what I take away from it. Correct me if I am wrong, Doc.

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  4. CrusadeRex,

    You're wrong. Egnor is wrong. He uses big words to impress the more simpleminded of his readers. If he wants to use big words, then he should use the correct terminology.

    If he wants to insist that he's using the correct definition of 'human being' accepted by science, then he should cite references from the scientific literature proving his usage. Asserting and reasserting the same unsupported statement that a fertilized human ovum is a human being is just nonsense.

    As an aside, if a Christian believes that nothing in the Universe happens without the approval of God, and since at least 30% of all conceptions end in a spontaneous abortion, if a fertilized human ovum is a human being, would that mean that Christians would regard God to be the greatest mass murderer of human beings?

    That's only a rhetorical question. God doesn't exist. A fertilized ovum isn't a human being. Shit happens for no apparent reason or purpose.

    WR

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    1. ...if a Christian believes that nothing in the Universe happens without the approval of God, and since at least 30% of all conceptions end in a spontaneous abortion, if a fertilized human ovum is a human being, would that mean that Christians would regard God to be the greatest mass murderer of human beings?

      No, Christians would not regard God to be the greatest mass murderer of human beings. Christians would regard God to be the higly prolific and sole creator of human beings ("creator" in the sense of ultimate cause). Why a purportedly benevolent creator-God would permit the evil of spontaneous abortion, or elective abortion, or indeed any evil at all, is a question with which believers within the Jewish-Christian tradition have seriously grappled for millennia. Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with the relevant literature.

      On the other hand, the God-doesn't-exist tradition, pondering the problem of evil, gives us its verdict -- a verdict at once wonderfully shallow and wonderfully satisfying to the feeble mind: "Shit happens for no apparent reason or purpose." Ignoring the logical contradiction implicit in that verdict, suffice it to say that evil is inexplicable -- even indefinable -- in the confines of a materialistic world view. So why lose sleep over meaningless events like spontaneous abortion, or unintended pregnancies, or mass murder, or so-called idiots espousing objectionable scientific definitions of "human being"?

      Delete
    2. If he wants to insist that he's using the correct definition of 'human being' accepted by science, then he should cite references from the scientific literature proving his usage.

      Following are a couple of citations. Obviously they do not imply universal assent from the scientific community. But they do imply that some scientists, speaking as scientists, regard a human being to exist from conception.

      =====

      ...in vitro fertilization entails the begetting of a new human being right from its start as a zygote...

      Paul R. McHugh, M.D.
      "Zygote and 'Clonote' — The Ethical Use of Embryonic Stem Cells"
      New England Journal of Medicine 2004; 351:209-211
      online here

      =====

      From a scientific perspective, there is no meaningful moment when one can definitively designate the biological origins of a human characteristic such as consciousness. Even designations such as “the nervous system” are conceptual tools, reifications of the parts of what is actually an indivisible organismal unity. Zygote, morula, embryo, fetus, child, and adult: these are conceptual constructions for convenience of description, not distinct ontological categories. With respect to fundamental moral status, therefore, as distinguished from developing relational obligations, the human being is an embodied being whose intrinsic dignity is inseparable from its full procession of life and always present in its varied stages of emergence.

      William B. Hurlbut, M.D.
      "Altered Nuclear Transfer as a Morally Acceptable Means for the Procurement of Human Embryonic Stem Cells"
      Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, volume 48, number 2 (spring 2005):211–28
      online here

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    3. Yes Kent,

      But Egnor asserts that it's a scientific fact, undoubted undisputed, that a fertilized human ovum is a human being. Human definitely, but definitely debated.

      I also asked for references from science. People with MDs aren't scientists and quite often have completely loopy ideas, as Egnor demonstrates almost very time he puts forefinger to keyboard, and puts his keyboard if not his foot in his mouth.

      WR

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    4. Pretty funny, WR. Care to explain the science behind the miraculous transformation of a 19 week clump of cells into a 20 week human being?

      The science is settled. Human life is a continuum that begins at conception and ends at death.

      Abortion is an ethical question, not a scientific question. I don't blame you for evading the ethics of your position.

      Delete
  5. Dr. Egnor,

    Your arguments and responses make perfect logical and scientific sense. Too bad Dr. Myers and others with negative responses do not seem to understand the importance about the dignity and sanctity of human life. Even many atheists seem to understand that! A good course in classical philosophy would maybe help many of these human life doubters understand the import of your arguments.

    Keep up the good fight. Know that I am out there each morning reading your sagely comments and articles.

    Sincerely,

    Miles V. Schmidt, CPA, MBA, BS in Medical Technology, BA in Philosophy and Classical Languages

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    Replies
    1. Miles:

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Mike

      Delete
  6. "You're wrong. Egnor is wrong. "
    Do you mean incorrect? About what?
    It is you who is 'wrong' on these matters - morally, that is.

    'He uses big words to impress the more simpleminded of his readers."
    Were as you use them to express yourself.
    Ah, well as long as you understand all of the man's personal motives. I guess his diction would have nothing to do with his education, or the fact that he is writing in polemic style?
    BTW, I have yet to meet a simple minded person on here. There are some very deluded and angry people, but they all seem quite complex to me. Maybe it is just that I am one of the simple minded ones?


    "As an aside, if a Christian believes that nothing in the Universe happens without the approval of God, and since at least 30% of all conceptions end in a spontaneous abortion, if a fertilized human ovum is a human being, would that mean that Christians would regard God to be the greatest mass murderer of human beings?"

    Wow. Theology is just not your strong suite, is it?
    God created the universe, and God gives life to all. God simply IS.
    If that unborn life is lost, or taken away - it is not 'murder' by God. Is the mother a murderer for having a day out, or an ice cream etc that may trigger the loss that is a miscarriage? Is the dairy that produced the ice cream? The city that provided the park? Perhaps we could blame a pathogen? No, it is just thriving in it's own way, and it has not killed it's own kind.
    No. God, the mother, the dairy, and the municipality are not murderers. Not even the pathogen. God and mum (and dad!) gave life, and the other people simply provided a service that enhances life. The pathogen is just another form of life trying to push through, inadvertently causing the death of another. You may as well ask why God does not stop people from dying in car accidents or falling from cliffs. Such questions reveal a very shallow understanding of Christian theology.
    The truth is that the abortionist that scrapes the living offspring from the womb of the mother in defiance of every oath he/she ever took is the only person INTENTIONALLY ending human life and PROFITING from that killing in this conversation.
    They are the only ones killing the unborn.

    "That's only a rhetorical question."
    Too bad, I answered it.

    "God doesn't exist. A fertilized ovum isn't a human being. Shit happens for no apparent reason or purpose."
    Reads like a high school kid's t-shirt.

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    Replies
    1. CrusadeRex,

      Your ignorance, and your willingness to pontificate on your ignorance, are breathtaking.

      'Pathogen' causing abortion? Do you mean Listeria monocytogenes? I'd be more worried about cheese made from non-pasteurized milk than ice cream.

      I keep making comments for the organ grinder and keep getting replies from his monkey...

      WR

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    2. Sorry my comment took your breath, Bach.
      I hope it was fresh.
      I guess it was silly of me... to think you'd have some responses to my comments, that is.
      But it seems you loss of breath has left you - once again - with nothing but invective and insult with which to respond.

      "I keep making comments for the organ grinder and keep getting replies from his monkey."
      Eat my banana, clown.

      Delete
  7. Michael Egnor,
    It’s spooky how insane you are. You’re just like the Taliban, or the freaks in Pakistan, all cut from the same fundamentalist cloth.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. "You're just like the Taliban".

      Right. The Taliban are soooo pro-life.

      You really need to think of a new slur.

      Delete
    3. Oh Michel, sorry about that, but it’s not a slur, it’s a fact. You see, we, in this depraved and unholy continent of Europe, see ourselves caught in the middle between fanatics.

      If you had your way, your first step would be to prohibit abortions, then contraceptives, followed by bible indoctrinations, and, hey, while where at it, the inquisition didn’t look so bad after all.

      The freedom we enjoy in the west is due to depraved folks like us, because if you had your way, there wouldn’t be any choice.

      Yes, there are some differences, they have beards and you don’t. They have their warrior heroes, and you have Ann Barnhardt. I really enjoyed the passages she wrote about gunning down people with her pink M16, even giving instructions on how to reach her home. You love that, don’t you Michael, gunning down folks that disagree with you. They’re patriots, heroes.

      I wrote a film about the attack against the US Embassy in Beirut. I went all the way down to Balbec, and chatted with the Hezbollah folks.

      I remember sitting there, hearing them, and my stomach turning. They’re crazy, real nuts, just like you Michael. Birds of a feather, no wonder you engage in war, you’re ideologically too close for comfort.

      Delete
    4. Iko,
      Having literally seen action against the Taliban, I can assure you that they are NOTHING like Americans (as you infer). If you folks in Europe have been taught that, it does not reflect in the opinions of your fighting forces who I have had the pleasure of dealing with for two weeks (yet again) in June for the NATO conference. They all seem to think the US and Canada are great places. They marvel at our freedoms and the general happiness of the peoples. They also loved our beer and food.

      "If you had your way, your first step would be to prohibit abortions, then contraceptives,..."
      I would prohibit abortion in all but the cases where the pregnancy threaten the life of the mother - then I would give her a choice.
      As for contraceptives, nobody here wants them banned - just not promoted as a 'safe' alternative to chastity. Promiscuity is the problem, and contraception can be an enabling factor if it is PUSHED as a means to turn sexual union into a leisure activity for women or competitive sport for men.

      Delete
    5. CNTD

      "[...]followed by bible indoctrinations,"
      Eh? Do you mean bible lessons for Christian kids? We already have them all over North America. It's called 'Sunday School'. Children can go (voluntarily) to a special after service class where they can learn, ask questions, etc. Not an indoctrination course, but a literacy course. So bible literacy, sure. Indoctrination? We'll leave that to the Ubermensch at the EU.

      "and, hey, while where at it, the inquisition didn’t look so bad after all. "
      Which inquisition? Do you mean 'the Spanish inquisition'? If so, that is a term for brutal interrogation in English. What we do need to do is open people's eyes to the HORRORS that the thinkers behind the Enlightenment engaged in while in your country (France) during 'The Terror'. That is recent, and we still have their icons and statues about all lover the place.

      "The freedom we enjoy in the west is due to depraved folks like us, because if you had your way, there wouldn’t be any choice."
      Ah yes. Who could ever forget the French troops storming the beaches at New Jersey to liberate North America from the Japanese.

      'Yes, there are some differences, they have beards and you don’t. They have their warrior heroes, and you have Ann Barnhardt."
      Hang on! I have a beard (so do all my NCOs!) and am a decorated veteran. Did I get on the wrong transport?

      "You love that, don’t you Michael, gunning down folks that disagree with you."
      Dr Engnor is a surgeon and a professor. I am the soldier. Nobody in their right mind likes 'gunning' anyone down.

      "They’re patriots, heroes."
      Who?

      "I wrote a film about the attack against the US Embassy in Beirut. I went all the way down to Balbec, and chatted with the Hezbollah folks. "
      I have a friend who wears a glass eye becuase of that attack. He lost a brother and all his mates when that explosion took place.
      Did you ask your Iranian backed occupation pals about their ideas on abortion? Gay marriage? On the strength of the EU compared to the US?
      I hope so.

      "I remember sitting there, hearing them, and my stomach turning. They’re crazy, real nuts, just like you Michael."
      You sure you weren't interviewing a neurosurgeon? I have met several men who were captured at the line in Israel. None of them sound like a New Yorker brain surgeon.

      "Birds of a feather, no wonder you engage in war, you’re ideologically too close for comfort."
      Your position is one of a relativist. You see their ideas as 'the same' because the basic foundations of BOTH civilizations seem alien to you.
      You're blinded by false reasoning.
      They are not the same, and I think your entire continent is becoming alert to that fact.
      Any Rabbis slaughtered in France recently? Remember all the 'Neo Nazi' garbage your media put out?
      But WHO actually did the killing of those little girls and that man? We both know it was not an American or a Christian, or a 'right winger' was it?

      Delete
    6. [Oh Michel, sorry about that, but it’s not a slur, it’s a fact. You see, we, in this depraved and unholy continent of Europe, see ourselves caught in the middle between fanatics.]

      Pretty funny coming from a guy living in a European culture that recently gave the world Nazism and Communism.

      [If you had your way, your first step would be to prohibit abortions, then contraceptives, followed by bible indoctrinations, and, hey, while where at it, the inquisition didn’t look so bad after all.]

      I would prohibit abortion because it is killing innocent human beings. I would not outlaw contraceptives, nor would I enforce "bible indoctrinations" or the Inquisition. Freedom trumps wisdom. People have the right to decide for themselves. But they don't have the right to kill.

      [The freedom we enjoy in the west is due to depraved folks like us, because if you had your way, there wouldn’t be any choice.]

      Western freedom is entirely a Christian artifact. State Atheism leads always to totalitarianism.

      [Yes, there are some differences, they have beards and you don’t. They have their warrior heroes, and you have Ann Barnhardt. I really enjoyed the passages she wrote about gunning down people with her pink M16, even giving instructions on how to reach her home.]

      The difference between Christians and atheists regarding radical Islam is that Christians have fought radical Islam for 1400 years. Atheists kneel to radical Islam (ie in Europe). And atheism in power is much more repressive and deadly than Islam.

      [You love that, don’t you Michael, gunning down folks that disagree with you. They’re patriots, heroes.]

      I save lives. Even when I was in the army, I was a medic. I'm pro-life, unlike you.

      I wrote a film about the attack against the US Embassy in Beirut. I went all the way down to Balbec, and chatted with the Hezbollah folks.

      [I remember sitting there, hearing them, and my stomach turning. They’re crazy, real nuts, just like you Michael. Birds of a feather, no wonder you engage in war, you’re ideologically too close for comfort.]

      A European lecturing an American about starting wars. Pretty funny. Be careful. Next time we might not come over and bail your ass out when you start your next war.

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    8. Iko,

      ".. one of the victims of this attack was the daughter of my best friend. I knew the girl since she was born. I still feel the pain."

      You have my deepest condolences. I have seen what violence like this does to a family, and it is a true horror.

      Perhaps you would be so good to let her know that people all over the world have prayed for them and wished them well?
      I have seen people weep for those children, and I myself have felt such rage and pain.... while not even knowing the victims.
      I would thank you for that, Iko.
      May God bless these people and keep them in their time of loss and pain.
      You too, Iko.
      Take care of yourself, and your friend.

      Delete
  8. I would be happy to embrace a grand compromise that bans abortion after an agreed-upon stage of development (18 -20 weeks?)

    What about abortions before 18 weeks or just so?

    If you can stomach this video you are really EVIL!

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  9. Well, Dr. Egnor now admits that a human body without a brain is not a human being. Now all he has to do is admit the fact that the tiny lump of nerve cells in an embryo that will develop into a brain is not in fact a brain, and thus an embryo with an undeveloped brain is not a human being.

    Checkmate. This is fun, but a bit too easy.

    -KW

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    1. A human being is not defined by a checklist of organs.

      A human being is an existing thing. He/she begins at conception and ends at death.

      Artificial life support applied to a fragment of a human body (a kidney or a decapitated corpse) does not make that fragment a human being.

      You still haven't explained the biology of your magical system. How is it that a 19 week tissue clump becomes a 20 child?

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    2. mregnor,

      You still haven't justified your belief that a fertilized human ovum is a human BEING by universal consensus in science. Human, definitely, but not a human being or person.

      A 19 week fetus doesn't become human suddenly at 20 weeks. Nor does it become viable too.

      It's a legal question, not a question regarding DNA composition. When does the law have to take an interest in the fate of a fetus. In most jurisdictions, coroners won't take an interest in fetal deaths under 20 weeks.

      And a 20 week gestation fetus isn't a child, not by any rational definition, although rational isn't a word I'd use in reference to you.

      WR

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    3. The Law is an ass.
      The Law once allowed for the ownership of other human beings... is that 'rational'? Sure. Evil, but rational.
      Killing human beings from moment one forward, is morally wrong regardless of what the law says. Ditto for slavery.
      We are talking about a point of OBJECTIVE morality here, not some bullishit legalism.

      Delete
  10. Egnor kindly answers my question thusly:

    "A zygote is a human being. Sometimes it is more than one human being."

    Aha. According to Egnor, sometimes a zygote is multiple human beings.

    It's pretty safe to conclude at this point that Egnor is a nutcase.

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  11. The debate seems to be all one-sided. Is the assertion by the skeptics that there is no soul? Is chemistry and physics all there is? If so, where do we get free will?

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    1. KT,

      Well, there's no free will, no conscious free will, so there's no need to invent the soul to explain a nonexistent phenomenon.

      Free will wasn't the 'proof' of the soul originally. It was the world of dreams, in which the dreamer seemed to exist outside of the body, meeting departed deceased family members, that gave rise to the idea that there was something, non-corporeal, which persists after death.

      But we understand dreams now, and no one would use them as proof of the soul. Even dogs dream. Do they have souls?

      Delete
    2. Anon,

      'Well, there's no free will, no conscious free will.."
      Speak for yourself, drone.

      "...so there's no need to invent the soul to explain a nonexistent phenomenon."
      Another indicator of functional autism? Note the manner in which the reality is approached. I am beginning to wonder if the folks at UBC are correct.

      "It was the world of dreams, in which the dreamer seemed to exist outside of the body, meeting departed deceased family members, that gave rise to the idea that there was something, non-corporeal, which persists after death."
      Pure conjecture. A fanciful means to justify your position and nothing more. Desperate, really. To pass of a con like that, you need to exude more authority and confidence.

      "Free will wasn't the 'proof' of the soul originally."
      It is a single evidence of something your tool kit cannot handle. It is evidence of the immaterial.

      "But we understand dreams now,"
      Bullshit.

      " ...and no one would use them as proof of the soul."
      Except some arrogant, self deluded atheist building a straw man argument.

      ""Even dogs dream. Do they have souls?"
      OF COURSE they do, you bloody idiot. They are ALIVE.

      Delete
    3. @Crus,

      OK, what's your evidence that the soul exists.

      I've provided a plausible mechanism for how something ephemeral immaterial non corporeal can be thought to exist, and you offer abuse.

      And there's no free conscious will. Your decisions are made by your unconscious brain which then presents it to your conscious brain, which can then veto it if necessary. You have conscious free won't but not conscious free will. On fMRI scans, scientists can see subjects' brains making decisions seconds before the subjects being aware of the decision, and actually predict them.

      Your brain is unique though. Produced by your genetics and your experiences over decades, what you learned from your friends and family, etc etc, so your brain's decisions are your decisions. The consequences from each decision changes your brain, so it's possible that the next time, your brain will make a different decision.

      It's always better to go for the simpler explanation first; Occam's razor. Your brain decides is a simpler solution that your soul decides, when there's no evidence that the soul exists.

      And what is with your insult of autism? You reckon dogs have souls because they're alive? Do plants? Theologians and philosophers have been arguing over the centuries denying that no humans have souls. I agree with them. They don't. Nor do humans.

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  12. KT Cat,

    Well, there's no free will, so there's no need to postulate that there's a soul. You don't need to postulate a nonexistent entity to explain the existence of a nonexistent phenomenon. Simple logic.

    No free will means no free conscious will. The conscious part is important. fNMR scans demonstrate that the brain makes decisions seconds before the subject is consciously aware of them, and is even able to predict them.

    The brain decides, presents the decision to the consciousness, and then caries out the action. To the conscious part of the brain, it appears that it made the decision and carried out the action, but it's an illusion. The conscious part of the brain has the power of veto, but that's about all.

    Your brain, however, has developed as a result of your genetics and your experiences over decades, so your brain is unique to you. Your unconscious brain's decision is as much your decision as if you'd had free conscious will.

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  13. The qualification by which a human zygote is a human being is because nothing in biology makes sense if it is not.

    So your response is to resort to raw assertion. As I predicted, you didn't answer Myers' question because you can't. All you have in your arsenal is meaningless word salad.

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