Intelligent Design

Merle Hoffman is a Particularly Candid Butcher of Babies.

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Hoffman has been in the abortion industry since 1971 and is the cofounder of the National Abortion Federation.  She has a new book out, Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Boardroom.  In it she writes, “the anti-choice movement claimed that if women knew what abortion really was, if only the providers had told them the truth, they would never have killed their babies. . . . But women did know the truth, just as I knew it, deep down, when I allowed myself to recognize it.  Mothers saw the sonogram pictures, knew that sound bites assuring them that abortion was no different from any other benign outpatient surgery were false—knew that, as the antis say, ‘abortion stops a beating heart.’”  But, according to Hoffman, these women were making a “decision so vital it was worth stopping that heart.”

Hoffman says, “I wasn’t immune to the physicality of abortion . . . but I quickly came to realize that those who deliver abortion services have not only the power to give women control over their bodies and lives but also the power—and the responsibility—of taking life in order to do that . . . acknowledgment of that truth is the foundation for all the political and personal work necessary to maintain women’s reproductive freedom.”

Dostoevsky wrote:  “‘But,’ I asked, ‘how will man be after that? Without God and the future life?  It means everything is permitted now, one can do anything?’ ‘Didn’t you know?’ he said. And he laughed. ‘Everything is permitted to the intelligent man,’ he said.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (1880), English translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990), 589.

Hoffman is Dostoevskey’s observation personified.  When a person ceases to believe in a transcendent lawgiver and the law He has given, she is free to replace it with anything.  Hoffman replaces “thou shalt not murder” with “it’s OK to murder innocent babies as long as your politics are right.”  And in her godless world who is to say she is wrong or that such a thing as “wrong” even exists as a concept that means anything more than “I personally disagree”?

35 Replies to “Merle Hoffman is a Particularly Candid Butcher of Babies.

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    I’m unclear as to what Hoffman means when she states that abortion providers have the “power to give women control over their bodies.”

    Didn’t they have control over their bodies when they had the unprotected sex that resulted in the subsequent pregnancy that they now want to terminate?

  2. 2
    tjguy says:

    Wow! Scary stuff! No shame at all. Excellent point about her being a personification of what Dostoevsky was saying.

    I take great issue with this statement:

    “I quickly came to realize that those who deliver abortion services have not only the power to give women control over their bodies and lives but also the power—and the responsibility—of taking life in order to do that . . . acknowledgment of that truth is the foundation for all the political and personal work necessary to maintain women’s reproductive freedom.”

    It is true that they have this power, but the only person who truly has the power to give and take life is the Creator and He has made it clear to us that taking life is not a right of humans. So, they have to usurp this authority from the Creator to do this and there are all kinds of consequences to society, not the least of which is free sex that harms both sexes and destroys many families. Sex is meant to be pleasurable, but that is not the first and primary reason for sex. It is for procreation, for unity and intimacy. To divorce sex from a loving committed relationship and pursue it for pleasure alone will not bring true happiness in the end. Just the opposite. Sex is more meaningful within the bonds of marriage where a couple is committed to each other, knows each other well, and trusts each other. Divorcing sex from responsibility and relationship will bring only trouble to a society. Reproductive freedom is a myth for both sexes. Sex is meant to come with responsibility!

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Important thread but this Hoffman is just plain wrong.
    Abortion exists and is supported because of a disbelief in the fetus being a human being.
    The women having abortions are not convinced the fetus is a kid and thats why they are mostly done in the first few months.
    They are not consenting to murder.
    in fact in the pro-life cause conversion from pro-choice to pro-life is always a change of mind about the fetus and never a change of morals.
    This Hoffman is no more right or honest saying everybody or lots of people understand abortion kills a kid then anything else she says about abortion.
    Why get credibility now?
    Bad and dumb is she.

    If the fetus being a human being was understood then there would be no constitutional law denying the fetus is or can be established as a human being !
    No and naw.
    Gibberish.
    Abortion is not a conflict of moral values but a contention of intellectual opinions on whether a fetus is a human being like a new born baby who is considered so to be.

  4. 4
    Bruce David says:

    Thank you Robert Byers for that clarification. The last time Barry Arrington started a thread on this topic, I made the same point, and stated my position on the subject, which in summary is that 1) a human being is a human body occupied by a soul, 2) in my worldview it is not possible for a soul to join with a body until there is a sufficiently developed brain, and 3) this happens some time during the third trimester. Therefore, an abortion before the third trimester cannot be murder, since there is no human being present in the womb.

    It took several comments back and forth, but Barry’s response was basically to call me a baby killer, disgusting, and “pure evil”. He then closed comments, ensuring that he would have the last word and that I would have no chance to respond.

    If I had been able to respond, I would have said the following:
    To call a fertilized egg (a zygote) a “baby” is preposterous on its face. A zygote has no sense organs; it cannot hear, see, smell, touch, or taste. It has no arms or legs; it cannot move on its own. It has no mouth or vocal chords; it cannot talk. And most importantly, it has no brain; it can neither think nor feel. There is no way that a zygote, which is a single cell, can legitimately be called a “baby” or a human being. And since murder is by definition killing a human being, aborting a zygote (with a morning after pill, for example) cannot be murder.

    Nine months later, when the baby is born, it has become a human being, granted. So somewhere during the process of gestation, a human being comes into existence. But at what point? That is the crucial question, and I submit, one that is up to the conscience and beliefs of each human being faced with the choice of having or performing an abortion to answer.

    To decide arbitrarily that it is at the moment of conception because this is the easiest and most convenient point at which to posit the event (a human being coming into existence) even though a zygote has none of the attributes of a human being other than a full complement of human DNA is one possible solution. However, to then codify this quite arbitrary choice, so that women are forced to undergo the physical pain and inconvenience, major disruption to their lives, economic hardship, emotional distress, and risk of death that carrying a pregnancy to term entails is plain and simple tyranny.

    I am neither for nor against abortion, but I am for freedom and against tyranny. This is why I am pro-choice.

  5. 5
    Eugene S says:

    Next somebody comes and says that the Ten Commandments are a form of tyranny. Isn’t that strange that something that is designed to help our happiness can be viewed as tyranny? It is like someone who thinks that a warning sign placed by an electrical mains outlet puts a limitation to their freedom.

    Whatever we say, the human body is against abortion. In a majority of cases both medical and psychological consequences of abortion are devastating. Abortion leads to deep unhappiness in the lives of those women who have decided to do it for whatever reason (even if giving birth would have endangered their own lives), because women are designed to be mothers.

  6. 6
    Jon Garvey says:

    Bruce @4

    Some would say your position depends on accepting a Cartesian dualist definition of “soul”. Other views would deny that one can define humanity on the basis of its current attributes.

    Hylemorphic dualism, for example, would say that “soul” means the form of an individual human expressed in a physical body – the two are not separable.

    Biblically, of course, “nepes” refers to a living totality – a life. We don’t have a soul – we are a soul. Under that view we became a soul when? When we started to live, since we only have one life.

    So bearing in mind that none of us confidently understands the spiritual make-up of man, it would seem no less arbitrary to choose one type of anthropology over another than to choose one time of “ensoulment” over another.

    On which side should one err? In favour of human life, or human choice?

    Conflict of interest: 32 years in medicine, in which some hundreds of my patients opted for terminations, and a good many expressed huge regret either soon or much later. It never seemed to be reassuring to say their guilt was founded on their erroneous view of ensoulment.

  7. 7
    Bruce David says:

    Eugene S:

    Whatever we say, the human body is against abortion. In a majority of cases both medical and psychological consequences of abortion are devastating. Abortion leads to deep unhappiness in the lives of those women who have decided to do it for whatever reason (even if giving birth would have endangered their own lives), because women are designed to be mothers.

    Once you decide that it is ok to make laws that force people to do or not do anything that you (or who?) decide is best for them, for their own good, etc., you have left the realm of a free society and entered that of Big Brother.

    I have no objection to you or anyone else doing your best to convince women contemplating abortion of the truth of what you say. My objection is to forcing them through law to take the action that you deem best for them. It is a core aspect of a free society that people be free to choose what action to take in a given circumstance, even if they happen to choose those that that may not be in their own best interest. Legislating a choice for them, even if you believe the choice is in their best interest, is tyranny. It also raises all kinds of questions regarding who is it that decides what is in someone’s best interest, and on what basis (scientific, Catholic, fundamentalist protestant, liberal protestant, Muslim, humanist, etc., etc.?).

  8. 8
    Bruce David says:

    Jon,

    Well, my worldview, based on a lot of reading from sources I accept as valid and the results a lifetime of contemplating these matters, is that we don’t live just one life. Yes, we are souls, but the souls that we are incarnate literally hundreds of times into an earthly existence. But this is just my view, and I would never seek to impose it on another through any kind of force.

    Again, you may be right that many women who have abortions subsequently come to regret that decision, and I have no objection to your making your experience known to women contemplating abortion to inform their decision in the matter. In fact, if you can do so in an honest manner, I would encourage you to. If what you say is true, then women should be made aware that that is a possible consequence of a choice to terminate a pregnancy.

    What I object to is forcing them through law or by any other means to make the choice you think would be best for them.

  9. 9
    Bruce David says:

    Jon Garvey (to continue):

    On which side should one err? In favour of human life, or human choice?

    You haven’t fully stated the two options. It isn’t just a human choice, like chocolate or vanilla. To force a woman to make the choice to carry a pregnancy to term will involve multiple hardships for her and a non zero probability of death during childbirth. To me, this cannot be justified on the basis that you—not her—believe that a zygote or an embryo may be a human being. It is her choice to make, not yours.

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    –Bruce: “To call a fertilized egg (a zygote) a “baby” is preposterous on its face.”

    On the contrary. You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not, as they say, entitled to your own facts.

    “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence” (Dr. Jerome Lejeune, “Father of Modern Genetics.”)

    Or—–

    “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception” (Dr. Hymie Gordon, former Chairman, Department of Genetics at Mayo Clinic).

    Or—-

    “The intricate processes by which a baby develops from a single cell are miraculous…. This cell [the zygote] results from the union of an oocyte [egg] and sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being….” “Human development begins at fertilization” (The Developing Human, Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Edition, Moore, Persaud, Saunders (1998).

    Typically, the cold-blooded baby killers who make a living destroying lives are aware of these scientific facts, but they must rely on deception in order to maintain the cultural holocaust. Thus, they mislead young women in trouble by persuading them that the baby they carry is nothing more than a blob of tissue. Usually (94% of the time) these would-have-been mothers regret their decision when they learn the truth and often attempt suicide. Alas, they are too young to be wise about the ways of the world. Abortionists, who are murderers, are also liars. To militate against life, one must always militate against truth, because life and truth cannot be separated.

  11. 11
    Bruce David says:

    StephenB:

    “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence” (Dr. Jerome Lejeune, “Father of Modern Genetics.”)

    This is clearly opinion masquerading as science. What is or is not a human being is not in the realm of scientific fact any more than scientific fact can determine moral truth. It is a matter of definition, period.

    “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception” (Dr. Hymie Gordon, former Chairman, Department of Genetics at Mayo Clinic).

    Life is present from well before the moment of conception. The sperm and egg are both alive from the moment they are created in their respective host bodies.

    “The intricate processes by which a baby develops from a single cell are miraculous…. This cell [the zygote] results from the union of an oocyte [egg] and sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being….” “Human development begins at fertilization” (The Developing Human, Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Edition, Moore, Persaud, Saunders (1998).

    It is a beginning, and it is miraculous, but whether or not a new human being begins at that point is, again, a matter of opinion, an opinion which a scientist is no more qualified to give than you or I.

    None of this answers the points I made in the third paragraph of #4.

  12. 12
    StephenB says:

    –“It is a beginning, and it is miraculous, but whether or not a new human being begins at that point is, again, a matter of opinion, an opinion which a scientist is no more qualified to give than you or I.

    You missed the point. What these scientists are telling you, and no well-informed embryologist, biologist, or fetologist disputes it, is that, according to the evidence, the fetus develops AS a human being and not INTO a human being. The zygote is the first stage of that OBSERVED development. The only logical way to deny the point is to say that the finished product is not a human being.

    –“None of this answers the points I made in the third paragraph of #4.”

    You unsubstantiated claim, based on philosophical speculation, is that the fetus develops into a human being at some point in the process. While that argument might have had some currency in the middle ages, it has been refuted by those who study the process and weigh the evidence. They explain that a baby cannot become a mature human being without first being an immature human being, in the same way that a giraffe cannot become a mature giraffe without first being an immature giraffe. According to their report, a non-human cannot evolve into a human.

  13. 13
    Bruce David says:

    StephenB:

    You missed the point. What these scientists are telling you, and no well-informed embryologist, biologist, or fetologist disputes it, is that, according to the evidence, the fetus develops AS a human being and not INTO a human being. The zygote is the first stage of that OBSERVED development. The only logical way to deny the point is to say that the finished product is not a human being.

    Yeah, well, the majority of scientists will tell you that science proves that the universe is entirely material and that God does not exist, too. That doesn’t make it so. Look, the point is that what science can and does tell us that the single cell that is a zygote will eventually become a large multicellular creature that we call a human being. That it develops as and not into a human being is simply not a scientific statement. It is true if and only if you a priori define a zygote to be a human being, and a priori definitions and observed scientific facts are two entirely different types of intellectual objects.

    You unsubstantiated claim, based on philosophical speculation, is that the fetus develops into a human being at some point in the process. While that argument might have had some currency in the middle ages, it has been refuted by those who study the process and weigh the evidence. They explain that a baby cannot become a mature human being without first being an immature human being, in the same way that a giraffe cannot become a mature giraffe without first being an immature giraffe. According to their report, a non-human cannot evolve into a human.

    Your reasoning is faulty. It assumes that a human being is only a human body, for one thing. Even Christian dogma does not hold this to be true. A human being is a soul joined to a human body. The soul is a separate entity from the body, else how could it continue to exist after the death and dissolution of the body? The zygote is what will become the body, but when does the soul make its appearance? Science has no answer to this question. Whatever answer you give will be a philosophical or religious answer, not a scientific one.

    Also, plenty of things evolve out of something they are not. A star develops out of a cloud of interstellar dust. That doesn’t make the dust cloud a star. A lump of coal under sufficient pressure will become a diamond. Even so, a lump of coal is not a diamond. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly. This doesn’t imply that a caterpillar is a butterfly.

  14. 14
    Bruce David says:

    StephenB (to continue):

    So, Stephen, you still haven’t answered my argument from the third paragraph of #4 that it is preposterous to call a zygote a baby or a human being.

  15. 15
    Robert Byers says:

    Bruce David

    Conception is when the soul is put in a human being.
    It is about when the fetus becomes a human being.
    Therefore this is a important fact.
    A issue of right and wrong.

    Its not up to individual choice as its about facts.
    You say its a fact and wish to persuade others that before a certain amount of weeks there is no kid in there.
    Therefore the facts of when there is a kid is open to the nations to decide.

    We can and must come to conclusions.
    Otherwise we are consenting to the murder of kids since for many they are sure at this or that point there is a kid.
    you are saying that you consent to abortion for stages when you think there is a kid or you are unsure .
    In these cases you would be consenting to murder because you say let the mother decide.
    I’m sure you don’t mean this but logically you are saying this.

    We are talking about real people. If they are being killed by abortion then we must stop this.
    It can not be a position to leave up to everyone when a kid has come into this world.
    Its saying the childs right to life is less important then personal opinions of others.
    We must and do make the decision on when kids come into human existence.
    Roe is founded on the fact they don’t come at all into existence until birth.
    Roe is not about individual choice on the fetus humanity.

  16. 16
    Bruce David says:

    Robert:
    The problem for me is that you anti-abortionists only consider one side of the picture, and decide that we cannot kill any zygote, embryo, or fetus because either we don’t know for sure when it becomes a human being or because you are certain you know when that happens.

    I have never seen any of you give any indication that you have an ounce of compassion or understanding for the plight of the women who will be forced to undergo carrying a pregnancy to term by a law that makes abortion illegal. Nor do any of you consider the fact that in practical terms such a law would effectively doom thousands of other women to the horror of back alley illegal abortions. The issue is not simply whether the embryo should be allowed to live or die. This decision must be weighed against the suffering that will be imposed on women who are forced by law to endure a pregnancy that they don’t want.

    I am absolutely certain, based on years of study and contemplation regarding the nature of who and what we are as human beings, that an abortion before the third trimester does not end the life of a human being, and I will continue to vigorously oppose any law that forces a woman to endure a pregnancy against her will.

  17. 17
    StephenB says:

    –Bruce David: “A human being is a soul joined to a human body. The soul is a separate entity from the body, else how could it continue to exist after the death and dissolution of the body?”

    You are not following the argument. Scientists do not dispute or have any problem with the notion that a human is a composite of a body and soul. Any philosophically astute researcher would agree. What the embryologists and fetologists are saying is that, however you want define it, human life is a CONTINUUM, which rules out the possibility of metamorphic change, which refutes your assertion that a fetus develops INTO a human being. It is an observable fact that a human being develops AS a human.

    –“Yeah, well, the majority of scientists will tell you that science proves that the universe is entirely material and that God does not exist, too.”

    If you understood the science, you would know the difference between metaphysical speculations and established scientific fact. Scientists have observed embryonic development and they know that no morphing takes place. Even the baby killers admit the point, which is why they have changed their argument from “the zygote is not human” to “the zygote may be human but it has no value.” No scientifically literate person denies the point that the development of a human life is a continuous process.

    –“Also, plenty of things evolve out of something they are not. A star develops out of a cloud of interstellar dust. That doesn’t make the dust cloud a star. A lump of coal under sufficient pressure will become a diamond. Even so, a lump of coal is not a diamond. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly. This doesn’t imply that a caterpillar is a butterfly.”

    What an irony. If scientists tell you, or if you observe the fact, that a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly, you acknowledge the obvious truth of the matter without hesitation; if scientists tell you that an embryo does not morph into a human, or illustrate the developoment process, you run away from the obvious truth and create your own alternative reality. We know that humans begin as humans, develop as humans, and mature as humans. There is no such thing as a pre-human in the womb.

    It is time you asked yourself a few hard and honest questions: Why do you support and enable the baby killers? What is your true motivation? Why have you created an alternative reality inside your own mind in order to avoid the true reality?

  18. 18
    StephenB says:

    –Bruce David: “So, Stephen, you still haven’t answered my argument from the third paragraph of #4 that it is preposterous to call a zygote a baby or a human being.”

    That isn’t true. I provided a very clear answer, but you seem to have difficulty grasping it. Science has provided evidence that life is a continuum and, therefore, there is no such thing as a pre-human entity inside the womb. The zygote is the first stage of that continuous process, which means that the zygote is human.

    ALL human embryologists, whatever their philosophical orientation, or whatever their position on abortion, universally acknowledge the biological truth that at fertilization, a new human being is first formed. There is no such thing as a “pre-embryo.”

    What is it about the word “ALL” that you do not understand?

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    –Bruce: “I am absolutely certain, based on years of study and contemplation regarding the nature of who and what we are as human beings, that an abortion before the third trimester does not end the life of a human being….”

    “It’s not the things we don’t know that will hurt us, it’s the things we know for sure that ain’t so.”–Mark Twain

    If you have studied the matter for years, how is it that you knew nothing about the testimony of embryologists and fetologists? Indeed, why, after being informed about the OBSERVABLE scientific fact that there can be no such thing as a “potential human being,” do you continue to argue against the point?

  20. 20
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen,

    What the embryologists and fetologists are saying is that, however you want define it, human life is a CONTINUUM, which rules out the possibility of metamorphic change, which refutes your assertion that a fetus develops INTO a human being. It is an observable fact that a human being develops AS a human.

    It is not a continuum. The zygote is a single cell. It divides into two. This is a discrete event. In two more discrete events, the two divide into four, etc.. At some point the first muscle cell comes into being. Another discrete event. And at some point, the brain has developed sufficiently for a soul to assume residence in the body. This (the soul taking up residence) is also a discrete event. Then, and only then, has a new human being come into existence.

    It is not an observable fact that “a human being develops AS a human.” This is a conclusion you have drawn from the observable facts. And as my counterexample in the above paragraph demonstrates, there is nothing logically necessary in that inference.

    You continue to identify a human body with a human being. The two are not identical, even in Christian orthodoxy, which has it that the soul lives on after the body dies, and therefore that some essential part of the human being is not of the body at all. Given that the soul is an essential part of the human being, no explanation of the coming into existence of a human being can be complete without consideration of when the soul either comes into being or takes up residence in the body.

    But even if there were no soul, and even if the process by which a zygote develops into a human body were continuous, your argument is still not valid. I gave you three counterexamples, two of which you ignored and the third you misunderstood (a caterpillar is not a butterfly, just as a zygote is not a human being). Here is another: using image processing software, it is possible to produce a video sequence in which, say, an image of a chimpanzee morphs continuously into an image of a human being. Does this imply that the image of the chimpanzee is developing as an image of a human being? Of course not. It is developing into an image of a human being.

    You remind me of the medieval scholastics arguing heatedly about how many angels can dance on the point of a pin. You think you have used reason to arrive at ironclad conclusions, but all you have done is to invent clever justifications for what you already hold to be true. Your arguments are of the type that are convincing to those who already believe as you do, and utterly empty to those who do not.

  21. 21
    StephenB says:

    –Bruce: “It (human life) is not a continuum. The zygote is a single cell. It divides into two. This is a discrete event.”

    It has been observed to be a continuum by embryologists and fetologists. They are qualified to make that judgment. You are not. No one who is acquainted with the facts agrees with you. Even the baby killers who write textbooks on the subject agree with me and disagree with you. To kill a fetus AT ANY STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT is to kill a human being.

    Clearly, you do not understand the meaning of “continuity” and its relationship to the zygote. You can read something like this in most any textbook:

    “At the fusion of the gametes, a “new human cell”, equipped with a new information structure, begins operating like an individual unit tending towards the complete expression of its genome, which manifests itself in a totality, which constantly and autonomously organizes itself until it forms a complete human organism. This “new human cell” is therefore a “new human individual” which initiates “its own vital cycle” and given the sufficient and necessary internal and external conditions, gradually develops and achieves its immense potential according to an intrinsic ontogenetic law and unifying plan.”

    –“This is a conclusion that you have drawn from the facts.”

    Incorrect. It is a conclusion (and an observation) arrived by all embryologists and fetologists without exception.

    –“You continue to identify a human body with a human being.”

    Incorrect. I said that a human being is a composite of body and soul. Clearly, you do not understand the argument, which I will summarize for you once again in different words: IF and adult is a human being and IF a child is a human being, then a fetus (including an embryo) must also a human being since science has proven that all of human life (the process by which an embryo matures into a child, which, in turn matures into an adult) is a continuum. There is no assumption here that a human being is merely a body. I have explained this to you more than once.

  22. 22
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen,

    You seem to have a double standard, here. You’re quite willing to make an argument from scientific authority when it agrees with what you already believe, but reject such arguments, like the argument that “evolution is true” because the vast majority of biologists say so, when you disagree. Tsk, tsk.

    You say,

    IF and adult is a human being and IF a child is a human being, then a fetus (including an embryo) must also a human being since science has proven that all of human life (the process by which an embryo matures into a child, which, in turn matures into an adult) is a continuum.

    This is just sophistry. It doesn’t follow. Your premise is that if the final stage in a continuous process can be characterized by a given attribute or quality (eg., being a human being), then the initial stage in that process must also be able to be so characterized. This is simply false as a general principle. All four of the examples I gave you violate this “principle”. The dust cloud that condenses into a large, hot sphere that is a star does not possess the attribute of being a star. The lump of coal that gradually becomes a diamond is not therefore a diamond. The caterpillar that becomes a butterfly via a continuous process (by your characterization) is not therefore a butterfly. And the image of a chimp that morphs into an image of a human is certainly not an image of a human being.

    You say,

    I said that a human being is a composite of body and soul.

    However, when you argue that “science has proven that all of human life (the process by which an embryo matures into a child, which, in turn matures into an adult) is a continuum,” you in effect ignore the soul altogether, since science has nothing to say about the soul. If a human being is a “composite of body and soul”, then since science draws conclusions exclusively about the development of the body, any such conclusion is ipso facto incomplete as a conclusion about the development of the human being. Any assertion about when a human being comes into existence must include a statement of when and how the soul becomes part of the “composite”. Your reliance on a scientific position (as you see it) regarding that question is therefore of necessity incomplete and therefore not a valid argument.

    Put another way, even if the development of the body is a continuous process, we don’t know whether the development of the human being is a continuous process without knowing the process by which the soul comes into being and becomes part of the “composite”.

    I have explained this to you more than once.

    The reason you appear to have to keep explaining things to me is that your reasoning is for the most part invalid, as I have explained to you many times.

  23. 23
    StephenB says:

    Bruce:

    “You seem to have a double standard, here. You’re quite willing to make an argument from scientific authority when it agrees with what you already believe, but reject such arguments, like the argument that “evolution is true” because the vast majority of biologists say so, when you disagree. Tsk, tsk.”

    I didn’t say that we should always agree with the “majority” of scientists. I said that we should pay respectful attention when scientists from varied disciplines and from opposite partisan perspectives all come together and agree UNANIMOUSLY. Did you misrepresent my point on purpose, or was it just an oversight?

    “Your premise is that if the final stage in a continuous process can be characterized by a given attribute or quality (eg.,being a human being), then the initial stage in that process must also be able to be so characterized.”

    Not surprisingly, your strawmanish description radically misrepresents the argument, which raises an interesting question. Should I try to explain yet a fourth time and hope your mind will eventually become illuminated? Here it is again (using your own terms to help you along): If the final and intermediates stages of a process (adulthood or childhood) can be characterized by a decisive attribute or quality, such as the way it is programmed or the number of chromosomes it contains, and if the initial stage (zygote) contains that same attribute or quality, then the process is continuous. I have to ask you again: Did you misrepresent the argument on purpose, or was it just another one of those many unfortunate oversights?

    “This is simply false as a general principle. All four of the examples I gave you violate this “principle”.

    No, the principle is obviously true. Unfortunately, you do not understand it, which may or may not explain why you botched it. All your examples (dust clouds, butterflies etc.) are irrelevant since they don’t reflect the principle.

    “However, when you argue that “science has proven that all of human life (the process by which an embryo matures into a child, which, in turn matures into an adult) is a continuum,” you in effect ignore the soul altogether, since science has nothing to say about the soul.”

    On the basis of physical features alone, science can ascertain whether or not the process of embryonic development is continuous or not. Do you really think scientists need to know anything about souls to know that the process of a giraffe’s development is continuous.

    “If a human being is a “composite of body and soul”, then since science draws conclusions exclusively about the development of the body, any such conclusion is ipso facto incomplete as a conclusion about the development of the human being.”

    Science can comment on the continuous behavior of human embryos without knowing that they have souls. When 23 chromosomes from our father join with 23 chromosomes from our mother to form a new individual that has gender, and is uniquely programmed and equipped to grow, develop, and change until death, the maturation process is demonstrably continuous from conception to death. That is simply a fact. Meanwhile, the baby killers march on, knowing that so many, like you, remain woefully and willfully ignorant about the basic facts of embryology.

  24. 24
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen:

    I said that we should pay respectful attention when scientists from varied disciplines and from opposite partisan perspectives all come together and agree UNANIMOUSLY.

    You have given no evidence that there is unanimity among all scientists on any point you have stated. To so assert without evidence stretches credibility, to say the least.

    Not surprisingly, your strawmanish description radically misrepresents the argument, which raises an interesting question. Should I try to explain yet a fourth time and hope your mind will eventually become illuminated? Here it is again (using your own terms to help you along): If the final and intermediates stages of a process (adulthood or childhood) can be characterized by a decisive attribute or quality, such as the way it is programmed or the number of chromosomes it contains, and if the initial stage (zygote) contains that same attribute or quality, then the process is continuous.

    I think you’re losing it, Stephen. This characterization of your argument can only be used to demonstrate that a process is continuous. That doesn’t prove what you want to prove, namely that the zygote is a human being. For that you need a principle like the one I stated which you characterized as “strawmanish”. Unfortunately, that principle is demonstrably false, as shown by my counterexamples.

    For the rest, Stephen, you either cannot or will not understand my arguments. I see no point in discussing it with you any further.

  25. 25
    Robert Byers says:

    Bruce David.
    I talked about the humanity of the fetus.
    No i don’t care very much about the pregnant women because its trivial to me relative to the killing of a human being.
    I wish them well but they got pregnabt and mostly out of wedded bliss.
    Its their fault for their plight.

    The priority and really only important problem is the killing of the kid.
    They can survive a pregnancy.
    The kid can’t survive the abortion.

    You seem to say the fetus is a person in the last stages.
    Then if so you should agree with the natural right to life being given back to these kids at this stage which roe took away.!

    As long as you deny in your heart its kids before the third trimester then you will only see the plight of the women who are pregnant.
    its logical from the presumption.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    BD:

    Passed by.

    The fact that from conception on you have a new individual human organism that develops in a continuous manner is a commonplace of embryology textbooks. Half the time, it is not even of the same sex as its mother, and may vary by blood type etc, skin and other features and more.

    The issue is therefore settled: from conception — not implantation BTW (that’s a loaded redefinition) — we have an individual organism that is living and human. If we are unwilling to respect that life in the womb, we have opened the door to undermining human life in general, as we have swallowed the notorious concept, life unworthy of being lived. And, you will see that I have spoken in terms of life, not soul. Biology and implications for ethics and policy, not theology.

    For those who respect the Bible, the in the womb John the Baptist at 6 or so months responding to the spiritual presence of the in the womb Jesus, probably within the first several weeks, should be decisive on that side.

    KF

  27. 27
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen, Robert, and Kairosfocus,

    We’re not going to settle this, obviously.

    It turns on what you said way back in post #3, Robert: one’s view on the matter depends on whether or not one views a zygote, an embryo, or a fetus in a given stage of development as a human being (or a “kid” or a “baby”).

    Now I agree with the Christian perspective that a human being is, in Stephen’s words, “a composite of body and soul”. It follows logically from this that an organism that does not harbor a soul cannot be a human being, whatever its DNA may be. And I am quite certain that a soul does not join a body until there is a brain that can accommodate it. Therefore, in my worldview, a zygote or an embryo or a fetus before the third trimester is simply not a human being.

    Now I know that you three all passionately disagree with me. But here’s the thing. There is nothing logically contradictory in my position. Therefore, much as you would like to, you simply cannot prove I am wrong. And you cannot prove that the more than a hundred million Americans who disagree with you are wrong either. You would be better served to acknowledge that your position, while obviously deeply and passionately held, is one of many possible on the subject.

    Attempting to prove that your position is the only correct one, as you, Stephen, and you, Kairosfocus, attempt to do will never work, which should be obvious from your conversations with me and others who hold differing views. And calling us baby killers, or “pure evil” (as I have been called in one of these threads) will also get you nowhere; it will only serve to harden the positions that you oppose.

    What has a chance of working is to have conversations grounded in love and respect without judgment, conversations in which you really listen to what the other person has to say, their needs, their beliefs, their hopes and fears, acknowledging that their worldview is equally as valid as your own. Any other approach will only serve to further solidify the massive polarization that already exists around this issue.

  28. 28
    StephenB says:

    –Bruce David: “You have given no evidence that there is unanimity among all scientists on any point you have stated. To so assert without evidence stretches credibility, to say the least.”

    So now, after having been corrected, you understand the difference between “majority opinion” and “unanimous agreement.” That is all for the good. I notice, though, that you didn’t apologize for mis-characterizing my argument as an appeal to “majority” agreement. Is that your idea of honest dialogue?–Misrepresent, hit, and run?

    In any case, you surely don’t expect me to cite every embryologist and fetologist that ever lived in order to prove that there are no dissenters. In fact, there are none. Embryologists KNOW (they are not guessing) that the zygote is the beginning stage of a unified continuous process because they can identify the components that define the continuity.

    Naturally, I would take the reverse position and challenge you (or anyone) to find any embryologist capable of writing a textbook on the subject that disagrees with the point. Am I to be penalized because I am familiar with the subject matter and you are not?

    –“This characterization of your argument can only be used to demonstrate that a process is continuous.”

    Finally, after resisting the entire thread, you acknowledge the point, for which I thank you. Perhaps now you are now in a position to understand its significance: [A] If we assume that the final stage of the process, the adult, is a human being, and [B] if we know the process in continuous, then [C] we can conclude that the first stage of the process (zygote) is a human being.

    Please don’t say that I don’t understand your non-arguments or why they don’t work. In fact, I do. Either face that fact that a zygote is a human being or else reduce yourself to claiming that we adults are not human beings. Those are your only two logical choices.

    I hope I have been civil, but I don’t like the fact that cold-blooded elites get away with murdering millions of babies every year because so many are ignorant about the basic facts of embryology.

  29. 29
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen:

    Embryologists KNOW (they are not guessing) that the zygote is the beginning stage of a unified continuous process because they can identify the components that define the continuity.

    No they don’t. In a quantum universe, no process is continuous. We label some processes as continuous as an approximation for certain purposes, but in reality no process is. Everything that occurs occurs in discrete steps. And I would be very surprised if no embryologist were aware of this. So yeah, if you are going to claim that they all are certain that the process is continuous, period, then I would like to see some evidence. And by the way, you’re the one making the claim. The burden of proof is on your shoulders, not mine.

    [A] If we assume that the final stage of the process, the adult, is a human being, and [B] if we know the process in continuous, then [C] we can conclude that the first stage of the process (zygote) is a human being.

    You can conclude it if you wish, but it doesn’t follow, as my four counterexamples demonstrate. This is specious logic. It won’t convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with you. And it doubly fails as an argument, because, as I pointed out in the previous paragraph, the process happens in discrete steps in any case.

    There is another flaw in your logic as well. You only argue that the development of the body is continuous. Since we both agree that a human being is a composite of soul and body, your description of development omits a crucial part of the development of the human being, namely when and how the soul joins the body. If, as I believe, this is a discrete event occurring at a particular point in time, the process of development into a human being is therefore not continuous. So your argument from continuity fails on that score as well.

    You so remind me of the medieval scholastics, so convinced that your reason can discover truth, and so wrong…

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    –Bruce David: “You so remind me of the medieval scholastics, so convinced that your reason can discover truth.”

    I realize that I am wasting my time trying to argue with someone who doesn’t believe in reasoned arguments, but there are many who scan these pages that do. Ultimately, my comments are really aimed at those readers who are capable of rational thought. Unfortunately, you do not fall into that camp, as is evident from your whacked out responses.

  31. 31
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen,

    Well, I guess reason, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

    We’ll both have to leave it to the beholders to judge which one of us is reasonable and which is not. Too bad we don’t have an impartial jury to decide the question.

  32. 32
    StephenB says:

    [A] THE ARGUMENT BASED ON FACTS:

    Embryonic development is continuous and the first stage (zygote) is the beginning of a human being. All embryologists and fetologists agree. There are no dissenters. To kill an embryo, even a zygote, is to kill a human being.

    “Development of the embryo begins at Stage 1 when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte and together they form a zygote.”
    [England, Marjorie A. Life Before Birth. 2nd ed. England: Mosby-Wolfe, 1996, p.31]

    ________________________________________

    “Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception).
    “Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.”
    [Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]

    ________________________________________

    “Embryo: the developing organism from the time of fertilization until significant differentiation has occurred, when the organism becomes known as a fetus.”
    [Cloning Human Beings. Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. Rockville, MD: GPO, 1997, Appendix-2.]

    ________________________________________

    “Embryo: An organism in the earliest stage of development; in a man, from the time of conception to the end of the second month in the uterus.”
    [Dox, Ida G. et al. The Harper Collins Illustrated Medical Dictionary. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993, p. 146]

    ________________________________________

    “The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, thezygote.”
    [Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]

    ________________________________________

    “Embryo: The developing individual between the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs which characterize its body when it becomes a separate organism…. At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun…. The term embryo covers the several stages of early development from conception to the ninth or tenth week of life.”
    [Considine, Douglas (ed.). Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 5th edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976, p. 943]

    ________________________________________

    “The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”
    [Sadler, T.W. Langman’s Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3]

    ________________________________________

    “The question came up of what is an embryo, when does an embryo exist, when does it occur. I think, as you know, that in development, life is a continuum…. But I think one of the useful definitions that has come out, especially from Germany, has been the stage at which these two nuclei [from sperm and egg] come together and the membranes between the two break down.”
    [Jonathan Van Blerkom of University of Colorado, expert witness on human embryology before the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel — Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 63]

    ________________________________________

    “Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression ‘fertilized ovum’ refers to the zygote.”
    [Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1]

    ________________________________________

    “The chromosomes of the oocyte and sperm are…respectively enclosed within female and male pronuclei. These pronuclei fuse with each other to produce the single, diploid, 2N nucleus of the fertilized zygote. This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development.”
    [Larsen, William J. Human Embryology. 2nd edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997, p. 17]

    ________________________________________

    “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed…. The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity.”
    [O’Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, pp. 8, 29. This textbook lists “pre-embryo” among “discarded and replaced terms” in modern embryology, describing it as “ill-defined and inaccurate” (p. 12}]

    ________________________________________

    “Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.”
    [Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3]

    ________________________________________

    embryo.
    “The term pre-embryo is useful in the political arena — where decisions are made about whether to allow early embryo (now called pre-embryo) experimentation — as well as in the confines of a doctor’s office, where it can be used to allay moral concerns that might be expressed by IVF patients. ‘Don’t worry,’ a doctor might say, ‘it’s only pre-embryos that we’re manipulating or freezing. They won’t turn into real human embryos until after we’ve put them back into your body.'”
    [Silver, Lee M. Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New

    [B] THE ARGUMENT BASED ON WISHFUL THINKING:

    A fetus becomes human when I want it to become human. It is perfectly OK to kill a baby at any point in the process up until the time it is born.

    …”So somewhere during the process of gestation, a human being comes into existence. But at what point? That is the crucial question, and I submit, one that is up to the conscience and beliefs of each human being faced with the choice of having or performing an abortion to answer.”–“Bruce David.

  33. 33
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen,

    1. In all of your quotes, I counted one “continuum” and one “continuous”. That doesn’t even count as a majority, much less unanimity. Furthermore, the quote that included the word “continuous” talked of life being continuous from before the union of the sperm and egg (which was characterized as a “landmark” but not a “beginning”), which would imply by your logic that the sperm and egg constitute a human life even before they join. And the implications of that for a justification of unbridled sex…are you sure you want to go there, Stephen?

    2. Several of them said that the union of sperm and ovum constituted the beginning of a human being, or words to that effect. It does not follow from that that the zygote is a human being, however. For example, it can be said that when a certain amount of interstellar dust collects within a certain spherical radius, the cloud will begin to condense and that this constitutes the beginning of a new star. No scientist would therefore call such a dust cloud a star, however.

    3. Most scientists are materialists. They regard a human body as a human being. You and I know, however, that a human being also includes a soul, which implies that without a soul present, the body is not a human being. None of those quotes address the issue of when and how the soul joins the body, which means that none of them can be a complete description of the development of a human being. You also continue to ignore this crucial point, I suspect because you know that consideration of it will undermine your already shaky case completely.

    4. “A fetus becomes human when I want it to become human.” That quote applies more to you than to me. I believe what I believe because it is the consequence of what I have come to understand is the truth of human development, not because it is what I “want”. You, on the other hand, want the zygote to be a human being so you can justify your opinion that abortion is murder, so you make up reasons based on ill conceived and faulty logic to support that opinion.

  34. 34
    StephenB says:

    Bruce, you really do have a serious problem. Intellectually, you cannot reason in the abstract, and emotionally, you cannot face reality as it is. I feel very sorry for you.

  35. 35
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen,

    Don’t. Feel sorry for me, that is. I have a master’s degree in mathematics and I got A’s in my philosophy and math courses at Carleton College, one of the best small liberal arts colleges in the country. I have also taught math at the college level. All that is quite frankly impossible without a very strong ability to reason in the abstract. So if your assessment of me is that I have no ability to reason in the abstract, the evidence would suggest that it is your ability to make that assessment that is the problem.

    As for the ability to face reality as it is, well reality is also in the eye of the beholder. It is probably no surprise that I view your ability to even apprehend reality as seriously deficient.

    Although what the Hell, if it makes you feel better to feel sorry for me, go for it. No skin off my nose.

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