Intelligent Design

Origins of Genomic ‘Dark Matter’ Discoverd–Once Again, ID Predictions are Spot On

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This just in from Phys.Org.

Pugh added that he and Venters were stunned to find 160,000 of these “initiation machines,” because humans only have about 30,000 genes. “This finding is even more remarkable, given that fewer than 10,000 of these machines actually were found right at the site of genes. Since most genes are turned off in cells, it is understandable why they are typically devoid of the initiation machinery.” . . .

The remaining 150,000 initiation machines—those Pugh and Venters did not find right at genes—remained somewhat mysterious.
These initiation machines that were not associated with genes were clearly active since they were making RNA and aligned with fragments of RNA discovered by other scientists,” Pugh said. “In the early days, these fragments of RNA were generally dismissed as irrelevant since they did not code for proteins.” [Yeah, that’s right—you called it “junk DNA” and said it was proof contradicting design.] . . . . .

Pugh and Venters further validated their surprising findings by determining that these non-coding initiation machines recognized the same DNA sequences as the ones at coding genes, indicating that they have a specific origin and that their production is regulated, just like it is at coding genes. . . . . . .

These non-coding RNAs have been called the ‘dark matter’ of the genome because, just like the dark matter of the universe, they are massive in terms of coverage—making up over 95 percent of the human genome. However, they are difficult to detect and no one knows exactly what they all are doing or why they are there,” Pugh said. “Now at least we know that they are real, and not just ‘noise’ or ‘junk.’ Of course, the next step is to answer the question, ‘what, in fact, do they do?'”[Really?!! “Dark Matter?” You called it “junk-DNA”; it’s only now, now that you’ve been proven wrong on a grand scale that you’ve decided to call it “dark matter.”][P.S. This is what liberals do: when wrong, change the words; e.g., “global warming” = “climate change”, or, “pro-abortion” = “pro-choice”. You see, it all depends on what the meaning of “is” is.]

So, let’s see: 150,000 “initiation machines” (Wow, are there “machines” in the cell?) in the Non-Coding, and 10,000 in the coding portion. I wonder which is more important???? And what has ID been predicting since the late 1990’s? That the Non-Coding portion of the genome is where the bau-plan (blueprint, more or less) of the animal is to be found, and that proteins are but the building blocks (kind of forming the “parts list” of life’s manufacture); i.e., that ‘genes-coding’ portions of the genome are of less importance to life than the ‘non-coding’ portions. Here, it is 15:1 in favor of the Non-Coding—and in full agreement with ID predictions.

And, guess what, finally we get to put to rest the ‘junk-DNA’ argument. How do I know? Because it’s now called “dark matter.”

140 Replies to “Origins of Genomic ‘Dark Matter’ Discoverd–Once Again, ID Predictions are Spot On

  1. 1
    PaV says:

    Arthur Hunt might want to comment on this.

  2. 2
    Moose Dr says:

    I would really appreciate a definition for “initiation machine”.

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    Hilarious stuff, PaV! Literally LOveryL! Especially the last sentence. You couldn’t make it up. But I know people who can…

  4. 4
    PaV says:

    Moose:

    This is from the abstract:

    Here we address whether this non-coding transcription arises at promoters, and detail the interactions of initiation factors TATA box binding protein (TBP), transcription factor IIB (TFIIB) and RNA polymerase (Pol) II. Using ChIP-exo (chromatin immunoprecipitation with lambda exonuclease digestion followed by high-throughput sequencing), we identify approximately 160,000 transcription initiation complexes across the human K562 genome, and more in other cancer genomes.

  5. 5
    Andre says:

    Well all bow down and worship chance and luck…. they sure made us wonderfully complicated.

  6. 6
    Bruce David says:

    PaV:

    As a liberal, I would like you to know that I am not pro-abortion. It is a matter of indifference to me whether a particular woman gets an abortion or not. What does matter a great deal to me is that she not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if she does not wish to do so because some religious fundamentalists have made the quite arbitrary determination that in their opinion a fertilized egg is a person.

    I am for freedom, which makes me pro-choice. I am neither for nor against abortion. The fact that this distinction is apparently lost on you calls into question your intellectual capacity to make important distinctions at all. I would be more careful how you characterize people with whom you disagree if I were you. You can easily end up looking foolish.

    In a larger sense, your smug condescension toward those with whom you disagree serves only to solidify their opposition. Your judgment of people who firmly and sincerely believe that they are in the moral right only serves to make them angry and more entrenched. Do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution? If you want to be part of the solution, the first thing you will have to do is stop demonizing your opposition and recognize that they are every bit as certain that they are right as you are, and to understand why this is so.

  7. 7
    lifepsy says:

    This is just sheds more light on evolution. Science is self-correcting, you know.

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    ‘..and recognize that they are every bit as certain that they are right as you are, and to understand why this is so.’

    Tell us why this is so, Bruce.

    As for your secular ‘fundie’ tosh about freedom, well that takes some beating. Do you really think that freedom is an absolute? That the option of a mother to have her child killed, even when fully formed as a person, is freedom? You are a sick man, Brucie. Even some pro-abortion women don’t view it as freedom, that there are any winners. They see it as a grim, painful choice they made. And for many, the pain never fully goes away.

    And there is an old Gospel axiom, which you will of course count as nonsense. It approximates to: ‘If you are not for the good, you are for the bad, so that ‘I am not pro-abortion’ is lame, to put it mildly.’ But then I’m an old ‘fundie’, aren’t I! Just not a secular one.

    Any freedom worth a cracker involves a degree of personal responsibility.

  9. 9
    vjtorley says:

    Bruce David:

    The view that a “fertilized egg” is a person can be defended on purely secular grounds, without appealing to the notion of God or of a soul. See here.

  10. 10
    Phinehas says:

    I am also for freedom and very much pro-choice. Neither is contradicted by my belief that parents have a responsibility to love and protect their progeny both before and after birth.

  11. 11
    Bruce David says:

    Axel,

    Tell us why this is so, Bruce.

    The fact that you have to be told speaks volumes. It means that you have no willingness to see the other’s point of view, nor give them credit for being every bit as much sincere as you in their beliefs.

    The reason is that they simply do not agree that a zygote or an embryo is a person, and they see your attempt to limit the freedom of women to control the choices they make as an unconscionable assault on their freedom based on a religious conviction that they do not share. They see it as repugnant, repulsive, and morally contemptible. They regard you and those like you as religious fanatics bent on imposing your beliefs on the rest of humankind, no better than any other tyrant.

    Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. Until you are willing to exercise some compassion—in its meaning of being able to imagine yourself into another’s experience—your moral indignation will only serve to harden the position of those whose minds you seek to change.

    vjtorley, re. #9:

    The view that a “fertilized egg” is a person can be defended on purely secular grounds, without appealing to the notion of God or of a soul.

    So? There are arguments which are compelling to anyone, and there are those which are compelling only to people who already accept the conclusion that the argument is trying to reach. The argument you so carefully provide in your link is of the latter variety.

    Here is my own reason for rejecting it (in a nutshell): to me a human being is a human body inhabited by a soul. Based on what I have read (primarily Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls, both by Michael Newton) the soul does not join the developing fetus until there is a sufficiently developed brain for it to connect to. This happens some time during the third trimester. Since there is no soul joined to the body before that time, there is no person present, by definition.

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    OT: I’m pro choice. No woman should be forced to have sex. If you don’t want to get pregnant, choose not to have sex.

  13. 13

    Mung, you are aware, are you, that pregnancy can result from rape?

  14. 14
    Ho-De-Ho says:

    Tally ho everyone.

    Just thought I’d say thank you for this marvelous post. What a find! And what sterling research, I mean to say, these fellows must have heads the size of dustbins to contain their evidently enormous brains. Golly.

    It does seem like one on the board for intelligent design predictions. Of course some may wag a finger and say “Poppycock! this is nothing more than a post hoc prediction.” or words of similar impetus.

    However, I can vouch for that not being the case, from an incident that took place in a bookstore sequestered in the middle of England in the mid 90’s.

    I had been thumbing through some science books which had images of the double helix printed in garish colours on their jackets, like only the 90’s knew how. Positively lurid they were. Anyway, I was engaged with the passages about junk DNA which were in no way reticent in their claims. Evolution had hoarded a lot of garbage in the genome they said. Only a trifling amount was being used I was informed.

    At this point, I spied an acquaintance of mine whom I knew to be a devout sort of chap. Naturally I wanted to get his take on all this science. I’ll never forget what the old beezer said to me after I had revealed my newly acquired knowledge.

    “Perhaps they are right and I am totally wrong” he said amiably “but do not stumble into the trap of thinking we have complete knowledge. If we were created then they will likely find a lot more function in the DNA.”

    I remember thinking “Whatho, he has a point. We shall see.” Lo and behold! 160,000 wossnames performing wonders in the junk heap. He was no scientist but his premises made a prediction which is being borne out.

    May I say that I think our friend Bruce David has a very good point which we all sides should heed. He puts it thus:

    “In a larger sense, your smug condescension toward those with whom you disagree serves only to solidify their opposition…”

    Could one put any more succinctly? I know I couldn’t. Of course some may bristle at the term ‘smug condescension’ thinking that we are neither smug or condescending. The point of the matter – the crux if you will – is whether the person we are aiming our comments at feels that our tone is smug and condescending. If they do then our most powerful lines of reasoning (either for or against ID) on reaching our fellow debaters minds, find them boarded up for over-wintering.

    Take a lesson from the brave boys of the Great War. When they chose to make their point with mortars, nobody got anywhere. When they tentatively suggested a game of football since ‘we all love a good kick-about’, those two armies made more advances in 90 minutes than they did in the previous two years.

    We should take a leaf out of TSErikson’s and Elizabeth Liddle’s repartee on another thread and seek understand and accept the merits of the other persons position even if we cannot agree with the conclusion. Bridges do eventually get built this way.

    Let us be a sporting, not warring.

    Thank you for your observation Bruce David. I take your point.

  15. 15
    Phinehas says:

    Liz:

    I’m pretty sure Mung is aware of this. I certainly am keenly aware of it. I don’t know what Mung believes, but this is why I personally focus on the responsibilities of parents as opposed to the right to life when it comes to the legal issue. In my view, a choice to have sex is a choice to be a legally responsible parent, caring for the life that may be a consequence. If one does not choose to have sex, then I would not personally hold them legally responsible as parents for any resulting life, though I believe there are still moral considerations beyond the legal ones.

  16. 16
    Ho-De-Ho says:

    I beg your pardon, the exchange I was referring to was between TSErik (not Erikson) and Elizabeth B Liddle. The thread was
    Debating Darwin and Design: Science or Creationism? (7) – Joshua Gidney’s Third Response

    And the posts were numbers 53, 65, 67. Hats off to both of you.

    Awfully sorry TSErik for my clanger. I almost made you sound like a mobile phone. My apologies.

  17. 17
    Bruce David says:

    Ho-De-Ho. re. #14:

    Thank you. I think the attitude you bring to the conversation is right on.

  18. 18
    Box says:

    I’m with Bruce David #6 #11 on this one.

  19. 19

    Bruce David,

    “They regard you and those like you as religious fanatics bent on imposing your beliefs on the rest of humankind, no better than any other tyrant.”

    Having seen the tone that this is in response to, I can sympathize with your tone here. However, those who are pro-life have very good reasons for viewing the Zygot and any transitional human developmental form thereafter as a person – an individual, a human being. The zygot of any other animal is distinct. You couldn’t place a chimp zygot inside a human woman and have it come out as a human if such a procedure were even possible.

    So we know that it is uniquely human.

    Second, as far as being an individual – it has a DNA that is different than the mother’s. That would seem to suggest that it is an individual other than the mother.

    Third, as far as being a person – our laws protect unborn babies who may be killed as the result of the murder of the mother. There’s criminal prosecution for those who kill an unborn in that process, and it’s considered murder. Clearly, our laws recognize the unborn as a person provided that the mother considers him/her as a person.

    We get a little schizophrenic when it comes to abortion though. Why do we have laws that protect the unborn as a person in one circumstance, but not another? I would say that in that regard, when our legal enlightenment improves, we will need to change the law. Which way will it go? If constitutional law prevails, it will go towards legislation protecting all human life inside and outside the womb. While predominantly “tyranical religious fanatics” are the ones pushing for such a law, it clearly does not require that sort of commitment. If you simply value the future of humanity, it requires such a commitment. How others view us should be inconsequential. We have a human duty to protect human life. That’s the bottom line.

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    Phinehas:

    In my view, a choice to have sex is a choice to be a legally responsible parent, caring for the life that may be a consequence.

    Well said. I am all in favor of choice. But when you do choose, also choose to take responsibility for your choice.

    I am pro-choice and anti-abortion! Choose life.

  21. 21
    Bruce David says:

    Mung, re. #12:

    I’m pro choice. No woman should be forced to have sex. If you don’t want to get pregnant, choose not to have sex.

    Sex is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. At its best it is one of the most powerful, joyful, pleasurable, loving, and downright fun physical experiences we can have. And it turns out to be healthy as well! No one in this day and age should deny themselves this experience if they want it, be they male or female, married or unmarried, gay, straight, or bi. If a child is not wanted from the experience, then certainly it would behoove them to take the proper precautions, but if a pregnancy results, then an abortion can be chosen.

    If you think sex is only for procreation, Mung, then don’t have any unless you want a child. But please don’t lay your morality on the rest of us.

  22. 22
    Ho-De-Ho says:

    You are welcome Bruce David. And Thank you in return.

  23. 23
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    Sex is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. At its best it is one of the most powerful, joyful, pleasurable, loving, and downright fun physical experiences we can have. And it turns out to be healthy as well! No one in this day and age should deny themselves this experience if they want it, be they male or female, married or unmarried, gay, straight, or bi. If a child is not wanted from the experience, then certainly it would behoove them to take the proper precautions, but if a pregnancy results, then an abortion can be chosen.

    Just because sex, as created by God, is all of the wonderful things you’ve said about it and more, that does not mean it is or should be free of responsibility. The one does not follow from the other. A choice to have sex is a choice to accept the potential responsibility of parenthood. Trying to separate this consequence from the initial choice only ends in the victimization of progeny.

    If you think sex is only for procreation, Mung, then don’t have any unless you want a child. But please don’t lay your morality on the rest of us.

    I saw nothing to indicate Mung believes sex is only for procreation, nor has he made any sort of appeal to morality. This is a figment of your imagination arising from your non sequitur supposing that wonderful, pleasurable, and fun experiences must not have any responsibility attached.

  24. 24
    buffalo says:

    Elizabeth Liddle – Mung, you are aware, are you, that pregnancy can result from rape?
    ————–

    So how does a second crime, murdering a baby, mitigate the first. A good read –

    Why Can’t We Love Them Both?

  25. 25
  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    Of semi-related note:

    Time to Redefine the Concept of a Gene? – Sept. 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Based on these results, it seems clear that the RNA transcripts are the real carriers of genetic information. This is why some members of the ENCODE team are arguing that an RNA transcript, not a gene, should be considered the fundamental unit of inheritance.
    http://networkedblogs.com/BYdo8

    Landscape of transcription in human cells – Sept. 6, 2012
    Excerpt: Here we report evidence that three-quarters of the human genome is capable of being transcribed, as well as observations about the range and levels of expression, localization, processing fates, regulatory regions and modifications of almost all currently annotated and thousands of previously unannotated RNAs. These observations, taken together, prompt a redefinition of the concept of a gene.,,,
    Isoform expression by a gene does not follow a minimalistic expression strategy, resulting in a tendency for genes to express many isoforms simultaneously, with a plateau at about 10–12 expressed isoforms per gene per cell line.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....11233.html

    “Sixty years on, the very definition of ‘gene’ is hotly debated. We do not know what most of our DNA does, nor how, or to what extent it governs traits. In other words, we do not fully understand how evolution works at the molecular level.”
    (DNA at 60: Still Much to Learn April 28, 2013)
    http://www.scientificamerican......h-to-learn

    Further Thoughts on the ENCODE/Junk DNA Debates – James Shapiro – Sept. 18, 2012
    Excerpt: The ENCODE scientists have learned that it is wise to avoid interpreting the data from a fixed view of genome organization. That is why they speak of “DNA Elements” rather than genes or any other artificial categories. They tend to restrict themselves wisely to operationally defined features, such as transcription start sites (TSSs) and splice sites at exon-intron boundaries.
    Diogenes and like-minded people argue that we knew enough in the 1970s to understand the basic principles of genome organization. They do not accept that the flood of new information from genome sequencing and the kind of methodologies exemplified by the ENCODE project will fundamentally alter our genetic concepts. While they are certainly entitled to these opinions, I think we have to recognize that they are nothing more than that — simply opinions that fly in the face of scientific history.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....93984.html

    Of related note to the ID vs. Darwinism controversy, RNA’s are far more difficult to align into presupposed evolutionary trees than Genes are/were:

    micro-RNA and Non-Falsifiable Phylogenetic Trees – (Excellently Researched) video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv-i4pY6_MU

    Phylogeny: Rewriting evolution – Tiny molecules called microRNAs are tearing apart traditional ideas about the animal family tree. – Elie Dolgin – 27 June 2012
    Excerpt: “I’ve looked at thousands of microRNA genes, and I can’t find a single example that would support the traditional tree,” he says. “…they give a totally different tree from what everyone else wants.” (Phylogeny: Rewriting evolution, Nature 486,460–462, 28 June 2012) (molecular palaeobiologist – Kevin Peterson)
    Mark Springer, (a molecular phylogeneticist working in DNA states),,, “There have to be other explanations,” he says.
    Peterson and his team are now going back to mammalian genomes to investigate why DNA and microRNAs give such different evolutionary trajectories. “What we know at this stage is that we do have a very serious incongruence,” says Davide Pisani, a phylogeneticist at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, who is collaborating on the project. “It looks like either the mammal microRNAs evolved in a totally different way or the traditional topology is wrong.
    http://www.nature.com/news/phy.....on-1.10885

    —–

    Global project reveals just how active our ‘junk’ DNA is – Sept. 2012
    Excerpt: Around 95 per cent of the genome appears to be very close to a switch, suggesting that almost all of our DNA may be doing something important.
    http://www.newscientist.com/bl.....at-ou.html

    Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role – September 2012
    Excerpt: The system, though, is stunningly complex, with many redundancies. Just the idea of so many switches was almost incomprehensible, Dr. Bernstein said.
    There also is a sort of DNA wiring system that is almost inconceivably intricate.,,,
    ,,, Encode researchers discovered that small segments of dark-matter DNA are often quite close to genes they control. In the past, when they analyzed only the uncoiled length of DNA, those controlling regions appeared to be far from the genes they affect.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09.....wanted=all

    Verse and Music:

    Psalm 139:14
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    MercyMe – Beautiful
    Lyric: Days will come when you don’t have the strength
    And all you hear is you’re not worth anything
    Wondering if you ever could be loved,,,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vh7-RSPuAA

  27. 27
  28. 28

    buffalo: first of all, my comment was addressed to Mung whose post, possibly inadvertantly, seemed to imply that pregnancy could be avoided by the simple expedient of choosing not to have sex. Unfortunately this is not the case.

    Secondly, like Bruce, I do not think it is a given that a conceptus/embryo/foetus is “a baby”. I agree with Bruce that the idea of ensoulment at conception is a religious idea, and not even all religions agree as to when a foetus becomes a person.

    I don’t entirely share Bruce’s view, however, because I don’t think there is a clear moment after which the foetus is a baby and before which it isn’t. I think that becoming a person is a process, not an event. For that reason, I think that the later the termination, the weightier the counterbalancing reasons need to be to justify it. But that is why, in my view, the choice is one that should be ultimately up to the woman.

    I do think that attempts to stop women who have been raped from accessing emergency contraception on the grounds that what might have been an egg might now be fertised and thus in possession of a “soul” is, at the very least, to impose a purely religious belief on others, at the expense of their welfare. There is no science that can tell us when a fertilised egg becomes a person, and no good evidence that it is one from fertilisation. A fertilised egg has less neural activity than someone who is declared “brain dead”.

  29. 29
    buffalo says:

    Elizabeth – more the reason to err on the side of caution. The medical community does acknowledge life begins at conception. At the very least one must acknowledge this. Why deny the unborn, whose difference between you and I is time and where we live, the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. It is simply a power issue. We have seen much of this before in the last century.

    For most cases abortion is used as a contraceptive. The rape cases you claim are really very infrequent.

  30. 30
    Bruce David says:

    buffalo, re. #29:

    The medical community does acknowledge life begins at conception.

    The claim that “life begins at conception” is patently false. The sperm and ovum are clearly alive well before they join to produce a zygote. This is code for “a person begins at conception.” But the anti-abortion movement is not honest enough to say it straight, for fear that the real issue would be glaringly apparent: at what point does a person come into existence?

  31. 31
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas, re. #23:

    Just because sex, as created by God, is all of the wonderful things you’ve said about it and more, that does not mean it is or should be free of responsibility.

    I never said people should not be responsible for their actions. There are several things a woman can responsibly do if she finds that she is pregnant: she can have the child and raise it herself, she can have the child and put it up for adoption, or she can have an abortion. None of these options, in my view, is irresponsible.

  32. 32
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    I never said people should not be responsible for their actions. There are several things a woman can responsibly do if she finds that she is pregnant: she can have the child and raise it herself, she can have the child and put it up for adoption, or she can have an abortion. None of these options, in my view, is irresponsible.

    I think I understand your position. For me, however, this is like saying there are several things parents can responsibly do if they have a child: they can raise the child, they can put the child up for adoption, or they can kill the child. For me, one of these is not like the others. Parental responsibility generally means that parents cannot even neglect their children, let alone deliberately take action that will result in their death.

    For those interested in pro-life arguments that are not dependent upon religion, you might want to take a look at Libertarians for Life.

  33. 33
    cantor says:

    quite arbitrary determination that in their opinion a fertilized egg is a person

    In your considered opinion, Bruce David, at what point does that fertilized egg become a person, worthy of protection under the law?

  34. 34
    cantor says:

    In your considered opinion, Bruce David, at what point does that fertilized egg become a person, worthy of protection under the law…

    … and what non-religious-fundamentalist reasoning did you apply to arrive at that opinion?

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    buffalo: first of all, my comment was addressed to Mung whose post, possibly inadvertantly, seemed to imply that pregnancy could be avoided by the simple expedient of choosing not to have sex.

    In spite of the fact that in the exact same post I also stated the following:

    No woman should be forced to have sex.

    Maybe, in whatever strange and wonderful world that Elizabeth inhabits, rape is not encompassed in that statement.

    NEWS FLASH ELIZABETH! Rape is not consensual!

  36. 36
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas, re. #32:

    For me, however, this is like saying there are several things parents can responsibly do if they have a child: they can raise the child, they can put the child up for adoption, or they can kill the child.

    This is because you view the zygote/embryo/fetus as a person from the moment of conception. I do not, as I have said. Nor, I imagine, does anyone else who is pro-choice.

  37. 37
    EDTA says:

    Nice that a discussion of abortion came up in a post on DNA. And that after fertilization, the zygote (and so on) has DNA different from that of either parent. Perhaps we should compromise on a purely molecular means of deciding when a separate life has come into existence.

    (All I ask is give DNA a chance.)

  38. 38
    Bruce David says:

    cantor, re. #34:

    In your considered opinion, Bruce David, at what point does that fertilized egg become a person, worthy of protection under the law…

    … and what non-religious-fundamentalist reasoning did you apply to arrive at that opinion?

    The beginning of the third trimester. See #11, above.

    That said, I would want the law to be the result of consensus within the body politic, not a reflection of my personal beliefs. I suspect that that point would be viability of the fetus, but I don’t really know.

  39. 39

    Bruce:

    The claim that “life begins at conception” is patently false. The sperm and ovum are clearly alive well before they join to produce a zygote. This is code for “a person begins at conception.” But the anti-abortion movement is not honest enough to say it straight, for fear that the real issue would be glaringly apparent: at what point does a person come into existence?

    This is exactly right. Not only are the sperm and ovum alive, but they are human, and indeed, a potential person. But not a person. When they meet, some extraordinary things happen, but not necessarily more extraordinary than the process that happened when they gametes themselves were formed (which was the point, interestingly, at which the proportions of grandparental sequences were fixed). Once a a particular pair of gametes meet, the combination of grandparental proportions on both sides is fixed. But there’s still a long way to go before there’s a person – at that point it isn’t even determined how many people there are going to be. It is still a potential person (or people). A person is a lot more than a genetic sequence, or even a living human cell. If not, HeLa cells would be persons too.

  40. 40
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth, re. #39:

    For once, Lizzie, we are in total agreement! 🙂

  41. 41
    buffalo says:

    The egg or the sperm are alive but alone cannot create a new life. Once they meet a unique being is formed, on a journey to adulthood.

    “The process is astonishingly simple. In the embryo’s first moments, the Hox genes are dormant, packaged like a spool of wound yarn on the DNA. When the time is right, the strand begins to unwind. When the embryo begins to form the upper levels, the genes encoding the formation of cervical vertebrae come off the spool and become activated. Then it is the thoracic vertebrae’s turn, and so on down to the tailbone. The DNA strand acts a bit like an old-fashioned computer punchcard, delivering specific instructions as it progressively goes through the machine.”

    “A new gene comes out of the spool every ninety minutes, which corresponds to the time needed for a new layer of the embryo to be built,” explains Duboule. “It takes two days for the strand to completely unwind; this is the same time that’s needed for all the layers of the embryo to be completed.” This system is the first “mechanical” clock ever discovered in genetics. And it explains why the system is so remarkably precise.” Source

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    This is because you view the zygote/embryo/fetus as a person from the moment of conception. I do not, as I have said. Nor, I imagine, does anyone else who is pro-choice.

    Actually, that’s not quite correct. Rather, it is because the zygote/embryo/fetus is a human being from the moment of conception and I don’t believe the notion that some human beings have different or less important rights than others is supportable from pretty much any perspective.

    Whether the zygote/embryo/fetus is a person or not is an interesting metaphysical question, but it is one that I don’t think needs to be answered in order to see the logic in granting all human beings equal rights and in being especially resolute in protecting those rights for the most vulnerable.

  44. 44
    Andre says:

    Now how did the writer in Psalm know to use the analogy of being knitted inside the womb?

    “packaged like a spool of wound yarn”

  45. 45
    Johnnymack says:

    To Elizabeth,

    If someone were to ask me “when did you begin to exist?” I can only arrive – honestly – at one answer: the moment I was conceived. At one point in my life I was that little conceptus…that little zygote. That was me 9 months before I was born. Everything in the universe has a starting point and I started the moment the sperm and egg became one. That’s the old fashioned common sense answer and it is still good and valid. My being born was a necessary step in the “process” of my life….as was my entering puberty and then the later stages in life eventually. If one was to look at my baby pictures and then look at a recent picture one might see some similarities but they would have to look hard. But the baby pictures and the pictures of today are the same person. But I did not begin as a baby. “I” began at the moment of conception….that was “ME” at the very beginning of the “journey / process” of my life. Because if I didn’t start there at the beginning, then I would not have hoped to exist at all.

  46. 46
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas, re. #43:

    it is because the zygote/embryo/fetus is a human being from the moment of conception

    To me, “human being” and “person” are pretty much synonymous. How do you differentiate between the two? In particular, how do you define “human being”?

  47. 47
    goodusername says:

    #45

    If I were asked that question, I would answer that I began to exist when I had a brain developed sufficiently enough that I could “think”. It’s hard to say when that was, but probably early in the 3rd trimester. Before that time I would say that that there was no personhood, only a biological entity that would eventually become “me” the person.

  48. 48
    Johnnymack says:

    #47

    So if your mother chose to have an abortion lets say at the beginning of the second trimester – she would not have aborted “you?” But if she waited until end of the third trimester she would have aborted “you?” So the mere separation of three months and the ability to “think” is what constitutes personhood? In “order” for you to get to think….”you” had to go through the second trimester. A human being has to grow and develop – true….but it doesn’t all of a sudden pass a certain moment and “Poof” “you” exist. If “you” failed to go through the first two trimesters, “you” would never be able to “think” and you would never be born and you would never be writing on this blog. Thanks to your mother and father….on one certain “day” they helped to create the VERY BEGINNING of “YOUR” life.

  49. 49
    Steve says:

    Liddle,

    Not only do different religions not agree when a fetus becomes a person, even courts cannot decide. In fact, there is no way to decide that a fetus bcomes a person when the heart appears, or there is a fully formed brain or when such and such development threshold is reached.

    So the only logical position is the one VJ Torley supports; that the moment the sperm enters the eggs and the first division takes place, that’s when a person starts.

    Any other position is just shaving puzzle pieces in frustration.

    Hey, but whatever happened to the OP? Can we talk about GDM (genomic dark matter) or is this too much of a ‘dark’ subject???

    Liddle: “Secondly, like Bruce, I do not think it is a given that a conceptus/embryo/foetus is “a baby”. I agree with Bruce that the idea of ensoulment at conception is a religious idea, and not even all religions agree as to when a foetus becomes a person.”

  50. 50
    goodusername says:

    #48

    So if your mother chose to have an abortion lets say at the beginning of the second trimester – she would not have aborted “you?”

    If the entity that existed at that time had no thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc – in other words the qualities that define “me” – than I would say that “I” didn’t exist yet. Obviously, an abortion would prevent me from coming into being, but so would have the abortion of my great great grandfather.

    But if she waited until end of the third trimester she would have aborted “you?” So the mere separation of three months and the ability to “think” is what constitutes personhood? In “order” for you to get to think….”you” had to go through the second trimester. A human being has to grow and develop – true….but it doesn’t all of a sudden pass a certain moment and “Poof” “you” exist.

    Without a brain capable of thoughts, in what sense does a “person” exist? But as I said, when that occurs is very difficult to say, and it isn’t a suddent event.

    If “you” failed to go through the first two trimesters, “you” would never be able to “think” and you would never be born and you would never be writing on this blog. Thanks to your mother and father….on one certain “day” they helped to create the VERY BEGINNING of “YOUR” life.

    Yes, the first two trimesters were necessary for my existence, and so was my great great grandfather meeting my great great grandmother.

  51. 51
    Andre says:

    For me its simple, at conception the information and blueprint is all present. When that cell splits your construction has begun, you are not a potential human being, you are already a human being, and you are in the assembly process.

  52. 52
    Querius says:

    “They regard you and those like you as religious fanatics bent on imposing your beliefs on the rest of humankind, no better than any other tyrant.”

    I’ve always thought attitudes like this quaint. People are always forcing their beliefs on others. It’s just which ones that’s at issue.

    For example,

    – Why is rape rarely and lightly punished in the United States?

    – Should a potential rape victim, whose life is not in danger, be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for using deadly force?

    – In addition to HIV, why shouldn’t knowingly transmitting other STDs be subject to criminal charges?

    – Why are past criminal records allowed to be taken into consideration in hiring an employee?

    – Why should certain mood-altering drugs be illegal and others (nicotine and alcohol) not? How many deaths are caused by drunk drivers every year compared with deaths resulting from marijuana consumption?

    – Why should terminal cancer patients in severe pain be denied access to stronger drugs such as heroin?

    – Why shouldn’t polygamy and polyandry between consenting adults be legalized?

    – Shouldn’t being overweight be considered a social burden and result in fines and incarceration to facilitate behavior modification and weight loss?

    – Why shouldn’t post partum abortion be allowed?

    – Why isn’t medical experimentation on other primates be illegal? Shouldn’t killing an individual of another primate species be considered murder?

    – Why is prostitution between consenting adults illegal in most places?

    – What right does the United States have in trying to impose its loose moral values on Islamic states?

    So you can see that it’s not just “religious fanatics” that are trying to impose their beliefs “on the rest of us.” In fact, it seems just the reverse!

  53. 53
    Bruce David says:

    Querius, re. #52

    So you can see that it’s not just “religious fanatics” that are trying to impose their beliefs “on the rest of us.” In fact, it seems just the reverse!

    No, actually, I can’t see it. Who is imposing their beliefs on whom in the examples you gave?

    Also, my passage that you quoted was part of a larger point I was making about understanding the perceptions of those you oppose as a way to avoid creating even more intransigence on their part. I didn’t claim that it was true, only that it was the perception of people who are pro-choice.

    Finally, in a democracy, laws have to be made, and most laws will have those who support them and those who oppose them. Thus, almost any law can be perceived through the lens of someone imposing their will on someone else if one chooses to see it that way.

  54. 54
    Jul3s says:

    “We want to get as close as possible to committing murder without actually committing murder because we want to be able to avoid consequences that will impact our lifestyle.”

  55. 55

    Who are you pretending to quote there, Jul3s?

    Because it bears no resemblance to any view I’ve ever heard from anyone.

    Some US statistics:

    Half of all abortions are performed at or below 7 weeks of pregnancy (5 weeks gestation). 90% are performed in the first trimester. 1.3% are performed after 20 weeks.

    In fact, there is a strong inverse relationship between stage of pregnancy and date of termination. 30% of abortions take place at or before 6 weeks – as soon as, or before, the woman knows she is pregnant.

    For abortions at or after 20 weeks, a major reason given in a 1988 study was confusion about dates; a second major reason is difficulty in obtaining an abortion; a third was fear of telling partner or parents.

    If people care about reducing late abortions, then improving access to good reproductive healthcare is clearly the way to go.

    If anything, equating early abortion to murder just gets in the way of reducing the already small proportion of late abortions.

  56. 56
    Jul3s says:

    It isn’t hard to read between the lines. The desire to avoid complications in one’s life are a major driving force, not logic. Even if it isn’t murder, it is deeply twisted to try to figure out where exactly the line lies so that it can be dodged for the sake of convenience or the avoidance of discomfort.

  57. 57
    tjguy says:

    Bruce, you seem to believe in some sort of God. But it certainly doesn’t seem to be the trinitarian Creator God of the Bible.

    What God do you believe in?

    What evidence do you have for his existence?

    Does he/she/it make any demands on you?

    Does your god promise an afterlife? If so, what is the requirement for entering it?

    Is there a right and wrong use of sex or any other of god’s good gifts? How do you know what they are?

    It sounds like you have your own ideas of who god is and what he is like. If you reject so much of the Bible, where do you get your ideas? Whether others agree or not, at least Christians have a reason for their faith – Gods Word. But if you reject that, or pick and choose from it only the things you happen to like or agree with, aren’t you basically making up your own religion and god as well?

    You claim to believe that sex is a gift from god, but then reject much of what he says about how it should be used. You accept the gift and then neglect the loving intentions of the Giver!

  58. 58

    I don’t see anything “deeply twisted” about trying to figure out when zygote becomes a human being with a claim that overrides that of its mother. Ethical decisions are often difficult, and sometimes the choice involves deciding which of two alternatives is the least bad.

    What I find somewhat “twisted” is your implication that lines are “dodged” for “convenience” or “the avoidance of discomfort”. The statistics I gave show that far from attempting to “dodge” any “line”, women who do not want to their pregnancy to continue try to end it as soon as possible. And to describe having a child as a “discomfort” or “inconvenience” is absurd. Having a child is a huge undertaking, and there can be extremely powerful reasons for not taking it on, including the welfare of other children, your ability to care for a child, your age, your health, whether the father is someone you even want in your life, whether the father is someone you even consented to have sex with.

    No woman wants an abortion. But many women become pregnant unwillingly, and because bringing up a child is a huge and onerous responsibility, not merely an “inconvenience” or a cause of “discomfort”, do not want that pregnancy to continue.

    Obviously if your view is that a zygote is a person, then that still doesn’t trump that person’s right to life. But many do not consider that a zygote is a person, for perfectly good biological reasons, and to characterise women who do not, and who seek termination of their pregnancies as doing so for “the sake of convenience or the avoidance of discomfort” is, well, in my view, twisted.

  59. 59

    tjguy: I suggest that you too have your own ideas about who god is and what he is like. You chose the god of a particular branch of a particular religious tradition, based on a particular collection of texts, said to be that god’s word.

    Why that one?

  60. 60
    Jul3s says:

    Life should be viewed as being so valuable that losing autonomy should be acceptable. The magnitude of the responsibility is no justification for wanting to make that decision and the “biological” arguments are actually faulty philosophical ones.

  61. 61

    Well, you are of course entitled to that view. It was your dismissal as trivial the concerns of those who do not share it that I was addressing. Many people not think there are good reasons for regarding a zygote as a person. To characterise people who do not as “dodging” the line for “the sake of convenience” or to “avoid discomfort” is to trivialise to the point of absurdity the reasons women have for not continue with a pregnancy to term.

    Raising a child is a huge responsibility, not an merely an “inconvenience” or a “discomfort”.

  62. 62
    Axel says:

    Ever heard of adoption agencies, Elizabeth? Not optimal, but perhaps better than a mother taking the life of her own progeny. An Irish saying I heard, ‘She’s scared of the calf, but she wasn’t scared of the bull.’

  63. 63
    Jul3s says:

    The words ‘inconvenience’ and ‘discomfort’ applied only to the pregnancy itself and I used the word responsibility in my last point. Once again, the size of the responsibility should have no bearing on what is determined to be moral or not.

  64. 64
    Axel says:

    ‘deeply twisted’!!!

    For goodness sake, man, say what you really mean!

  65. 65
    Jul3s says:

    What do you mean? Explain.

  66. 66
    Axel says:

    Ironical, jul3s. Ironical.

  67. 67
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    To me, “human being” and “person” are pretty much synonymous. How do you differentiate between the two? In particular, how do you define “human being”?

    As I said before, personhood may have extra metaphysical baggage for some, including whether or not a soul is required to qualify. Or, as goodusername has been kind enough to illustrate, one may place subjective limits on personhood based on self-awareness or the ability to think. Many among the religiously inclined will say that angels and God are persons, but certainly not human beings. If one accepts the possibility that sentient alien life forms exist, they may also qualify as persons, though not as human beings.

    While it can be difficult to say who is a person and who is not because of the subjective fuzziness built into the concept, what constitutes a human being is much more concrete and objective: A human being is a member of the Homo Sapiens species.

  68. 68
    Bruce David says:

    tjguy, re #57:

    That’s a lot of questions. I’ll take them in turn.

    What God do you believe in?

    The God I believe in is All That Is, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Every where you look, there is the face of God. Everything that exists, including you and me, is a part of God.

    What evidence do you have for his existence?

    The fact that consciousness, the fundamental fact of existence, cannot be explained in a materialist philosophy. NDE experiences. Past life recollections of young children. Innumerable instances of ESP experienced by all manner of people. My own inner knowing.

    Does he/she/it make any demands on you?

    No. My God loves me unconditionally. Unconditional love is just that, unconditional. Unconditional love grants freedom. True freedom, not the freedom to choose but “if you don’t do what I want you to, I will severely punish you.” The God I believe in clearly states in The New Revelations, one of the volumes of the Conversations with God series by Neale Donald Walsch, “There is no such thing as right and wrong, only what works and what doesn’t work depending on what you want to be, do, and have.” In the place of demands, my God issues a permanent invitation: return to Me by remembering who and what you truly are—created in my image and likeness. Part of this is in every moment to ask yourself, “What would Love do now?” and act according to the inner answer you receive.

    Does your god promise an afterlife?

    Yes, although it’s actually between lives.

    If so, what is the requirement for entering it?

    To be a human being.

    Is there a right and wrong use of sex or any other of god’s good gifts? How do you know what they are?

    As I said above, there is no right and wrong, period (in a moral sense, that is). If you want guidance in any given situation, ask yourself, “What would Love do now?”

    If you reject so much of the Bible, where do you get your ideas?

    From channeled entities such as Seth, Bartholomew, and Michael. From between life recollections under hypnosis recorded in Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls by Michael Newton. From the reports of NDEs by people such as Anita Moorjani and Eben Alexander. From the writings of the great Sufi masters such as Rumi, Hafiz, and Ibn al ‘Arabi (although I don’t accept the entirety of Sufism). And most importantly, from the Conversations with God series of books, by Neale Donald Walsch, which I regard as the revealed word of God. There are other sources of my belief as well.

    Whether others agree or not, at least Christians have a reason for their faith – Gods Word.

    I concur with Elizabeth Liddle’s response in #59. I would add the following: Nearly every major and minor religious tradition has holy texts claiming to be the revealed word of God. How do you decide that the Bible is God’s word and all the others are not? Furthermore, there are myriad interpretations of what the words written therein actually mean. How do you decide which interpretation is the correct one?

    I hate to break it to you, tjguy, but ultimately each of us is our own authority with regard to the nature and existence of God. Each of us has to choose from among all the myriad competing claims for truth. It is you who must decide what is true for you. There is no escape.

  69. 69

    Your God was my God, Bruce 🙂

    Still is, in many senses.

  70. 70
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas, re. #67:

    While it can be difficult to say who is a person and who is not because of the subjective fuzziness built into the concept, what constitutes a human being is much more concrete and objective: A human being is a member of the Homo Sapiens species.

    Ah, but that definition leaves open what the qualifications are for membership. Is a zygote a member? How about the sperm and the egg before they join? etc., etc.

    Now I know that you can come up with answers to those questions which will result in the inclusion of a zygote in membership but the exclusion of unjoined gametes. And I don’t doubt that your belief in the veracity of those answers is sincere. However, there is no way to prove that a zygote is a human being for the simple reason that what is or is not a human being is ultimately a matter of definition, and definitions are not subject to proof. Each of us must decide for him or her self.

  71. 71
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth,

    You know, Lizzie, it’s too bad we live on different continents (I live in California). I would love to have the opportunity to sit down with you over a cup of coffee (or whatever your drink of choice is) and have a real conversation.

    Regards,
    Bruce

  72. 72
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    Ah, but that definition leaves open what the qualifications are for membership.

    Not really.

    Is a zygote a member?

    Of course a human zygote is a member of Homo Sapiens. Why wouldn’t it be?

    How about the sperm and the egg before they join? etc., etc.

    I know of no one who would seriously say the unjoined sperm or egg is a human being or a member of Homo Sapiens.

    Now I know that you can come up with answers to those questions which will result in the inclusion of a zygote in membership but the exclusion of unjoined gametes. And I don’t doubt that your belief in the veracity of those answers is sincere.

    We are not talking about sincerity here. We’re talking about what is objectively true, such that rights can be granted equally and with as much certainty as possible.

    However, there is no way to prove that a zygote is a human being for the simple reason that what is or is not a human being is ultimately a matter of definition, and definitions are not subject to proof. Each of us must decide for him or her self.

    To see just how ridiculous this argument is, simply replace “zygote” above with “child.” To see how horrendously dangerous it is, replace “zygote” with “negro” or “Jew” or simply substitute your own name.

  73. 73

    If I’m ever in California, Bruce, I’ll be sure to get in touch 🙂

  74. 74
    TSErik says:

    Now I know that you can come up with answers to those questions which will result in the inclusion of a zygote in membership but the exclusion of unjoined gametes. And I don’t doubt that your belief in the veracity of those answers is sincere.

    Let’s be intellectually honest here. A gamete is a functionary haploid cell and not a unique life form in and of itself. A zygote/fetus is diploid, has unique DNA, and is alive in that it responds to stimuli, takes in nutrients, and develops, etc. Also, one must accept it is of our same species, as I don’t think anyone would honestly claim otherwise.

    I’m not staking a claim of which position is right, or wrong (I’ll keep that to myself), however one must accept the terms with their choice in the matter, and whether or not abortion is deemed appropriate.

  75. 75
    PaV says:

    First of all, let me apologize for going after ‘liberals.’ It’s completely sidetracked any discussion of genomic “dark matter.” I’ll have to remember this the next time.

    Having said that, however, there’s this:

    From the OP:

    [P.S. This is what liberals do: when wrong, change the words; e.g., “global warming” = “climate change”, or, “pro-abortion” = “pro-choice”. You see, it all depends on what the meaning of “is” is.]

    From Bruce David:

    However, there is no way to prove that a zygote is a human being for the simple reason that what is or is not a human being is ultimately a matter of definition, and definitions are not subject to proof. Each of us must decide for him or her self.

    You see, Bruce, this is exactly what liberals do: when they’re wrong, they change the words. Here you suggest ‘changing’ the ‘definition’ of what a human being is.

    You see, everyone: for liberals “nature” doesn’t exist.

    Now let me show you why.

    In this discussion—which I spent 3 minutes skimming—there’s the question of human zygotes and when a ‘person’ comes into existence.

    Everything is very simple: human embryos give rise to human beings. All living human beings are ‘persons.’ Therefore, the human embryo is a ‘person.’

    [As to its viability, that can be uncertain. As to whether more than one ‘soul’ is present is also uncertain. But, “By their fruits they shall be known.” Hence, if “twinning” happens, then two ‘souls’ were present; if not, then one. This is just straight forward logic.]

    Now, if we’re dealing with any animal other than a human being, we don’t have discussions about whether or not the “cat” embryo is a “cat” embryo, or a “bat” embryo is a “bat” embryo, or that a “shark” embryo is a “shark” embryo. Bats give rise to bats; cats to cats, and sharks to sharks. Hence, human beings give rise to human beings.

    But all human beings are persons. Therefore, ‘persons’ give rise to ‘persons.’

    Does anyone ask the question, when does a “cat” embryo become a “cat,” or, when does a “bat” embryo become a “bat,” or so forth.

    So, why do we ask these questions about human beings?

    So that we can justify destroying them in the womb.
    And how do we do this?

    By making ‘nature’ something that can be ‘defined.’

    [Of course, ‘natures’ can have definitions, but a ‘nature’ is not a ‘nature’ simply because of our definition. The ‘definition’ doesn’t bring the ‘nature’ into being. The ‘nature’ already exists independently of any ‘definition.’ Our ‘definition’ simply serves the purpose of describing and identifying the ‘nature’ of a thing.

    Unless, you’re a liberal. Then you’re a ‘subjectivist.’ And things ‘exist’ because the ‘subject’ says they ‘exist.’ And if the ‘subject’ says they don’t exist, then those things don’t exist. Aw, how simple is the life of a liberal.]

    So, just change the definition of a ‘nature.’ That’s it. Simple stuff. {You see, it’s all about what the meaning of ‘is’ is. Is it a ‘nature’ or isn’t it?]

    And this persistence on the left to be IN CHARGE of DEFINING what a ‘nature’ is or isn’t leads to bizarre hypocrisy.

    So for example, when a dolphin is beaten to death, this is horrible; but when it’s pregnant, this is unbelievably horrible. But, if what’s inside the dolphin is just a ‘fetus,’ why should it matter to those on the left who find it alright to take the life of a ‘fetus’?

    And then this proclivity to ‘subjectivism’ leads here:

    The latest monstrosity is this: now the left wants to define a “fourth trimester.” (There were persons on some university campus recently passing around petitions saying that this “fourth trimester” should be made legal, with university students signing the petitions)

    Yes, that’s right. Even after the birth of a child, you have three months to choose whether or not you want to keep your BABY alive.

    You see, Bruce, everything is easy. If you can kill a baby in the womb in the first trimester, then why not in the second? If you can kill a baby in the second trimester, then why not the third? And, of course, if you can kill a baby in the third trimester, then why not the fourth?

    Oh, you object that a “fourth trimester” is a contradiction in terms. No problem. You see, there’s no such thing as a ‘nature’, and there’s no such thing as logic. There’s just DEFINITIONS!!!! We’ll just “define” the “fourth trimester” through a legislative act, and, there you have it: a “fourth trimester–legally “defined” and binding!!

    You know: FIAT. The WILL of a tyrant. Or, per Nietzsche, the WILL of SUPERMAN.

    I’m being rather blunt, hoping that this will open a few eyes.

  76. 76
    Optimus says:

    Nice OP

  77. 77
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas, re. #72:

    We are not talking about sincerity here. We’re talking about what is objectively true,

    I disagree, vehemently as it happens. There is no objective truth regarding what constitutes a human being. My definition of a human being is a human body inhabited by a soul (which is what we truly are). Souls exist eternally and experience many lifetimes, each in a different body. Based on the best information available to me, I believe that a soul does not join with a body until the brain is sufficiently developed for the soul to merge with it. This happens sometime during the third trimester. Thus, a human being does not come into existence until that time.

    Is this objectively true? No. It depends upon my (subjective) definition of what a human being is, just as your belief that a fertilized ovum is a human being depends on your (subjective) definition of what a human being is.

  78. 78
    Bruce David says:

    PaV, re. #75:

    Everything is very simple: human embryos give rise to human beings. All living human beings are ‘persons.’ Therefore, the human embryo is a ‘person.’

    I have seen versions of this argument before, and it is fallacious. Here are some counterexamples that demonstrate that your conclusion does not follow:

    1. It is known from cosmological principles that when a certain amount of interstellar dust collects within a given volume of space, the dust will give rise to a star. Does this imply that the dust cloud is a star? Of course not.
    2. Thoughts give rise to actions which give rise to artifacts—art, literature, technology, etc. Does this imply that thoughts are the artifacts? Certainly not.
    3. Water vapor evaporating from the ocean gives rise to clouds. Does this imply that the water vapor is a cloud? Not until it condenses in the upper atmosphere.
    4. Organic matter that falls to the ground gives rise to soil. Does this mean that the organic matter (leaves, dead animals, bodily waste, etc.) is soil at the moment it touches the earth? Again, no.

    So you see, PaV, the “therefore” in your statements quoted above is false. You, like many conservatives, have confused your opinions with objective truth.

  79. 79
    Bruce David says:

    PaV, re. #75:

    The latest monstrosity is this: now the left wants to define a “fourth trimester.”

    Once again, PaV, your ability to make distinctions is sadly lacking. I know many people who consider themselves liberal. None of them would endorse such a thing. You find one objectionable idea endorsed by some group of people and then attribute it to this vague idea you have, called “the left”. If you want your thinking to be taken seriously, you’ll have to do better than that!

  80. 80
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth:

    If I’m ever in California, Bruce, I’ll be sure to get in touch

    I look forward to it.

  81. 81
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    We are not talking about sincerity here. We’re talking about what is objectively true,

    I disagree, vehemently as it happens. There is no objective truth regarding what constitutes a human being.

    Then there can be no equal rights in any sort of objective sense either. Nor are there any grounds for argument if others subjectively decide that you don’t constitute a human being. At that point, vehement disagreement, though entirely appropriate, comes too late.

  82. 82
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    BD: I believe that a soul does not join with a body until the brain is sufficiently developed for the soul to merge with it. This happens sometime during the third trimester. Thus, a human being does not come into existence until that time.

    Pav: The latest monstrosity is this: now the left wants to define a “fourth trimester.”

    BD: Once again, PaV, your ability to make distinctions is sadly lacking. I know many people who consider themselves liberal. None of them would endorse such a thing.

    Yet you’ve not put forth any non-arbitrary reason under which one could reject a “fourth trimester” abortion. You merely assert that the soul merges with the body during the third trimester. What evidence can you provide to demonstrate that this merge cannot happen after the fourth trimester? Or during the second trimester? Or that it happens at all?

  83. 83
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas, re. #81:

    Then there can be no equal rights in any sort of objective sense either.

    Agreed. As history has shown, when there is sufficient impulse for equal rights within a society, it will manifest. Otherwise people will be treated unequally. History has also shown, by the way, that strong Christian or other religious influence within a society is no guarantee of such an impulse.

    Nor are there any grounds for argument if others subjectively decide that you don’t constitute a human being.

    Also true. If they have the means to enforce their position, then I am probably in deep doo doo. Otherwise, I will say, “That’s interesting,” and thank them for sharing.

  84. 84
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas, re. #82:

    You merely assert that the soul merges with the body during the third trimester. What evidence can you provide to demonstrate that this merge cannot happen after the fourth trimester? Or during the second trimester? Or that it happens at all?

    This is what is reported by people describing their experiences between their death in their last incarnation and their birth into the present one. These reports come from Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls by Michael Newton. Also, it makes sense to me, given my belief in reincarnation (which is supported by a whole host of evidence), that a soul would not join a body until it can have some influence on it, which would seem to require a working brain.

    Let’s be clear here. I am not claiming that I can prove that my views in this matter are true, nor do I have any stake in your believing them. My point in bringing them up is merely to demonstrate that the definition of what constitutes a human being is not and cannot be objective.

  85. 85
    goodusername says:

    PaV #75

    Everything is very simple: human embryos give rise to human beings. All living human beings are ‘persons.’ Therefore, the human embryo is a ‘person.’

    If human embryos give rise to human beings, than human embryos are not yet human beings.

    But I would say that they are human beings (as a member of the species) although not yet persons (as there is yet no mind).

    Now, if we’re dealing with any animal other than a human being, we don’t have discussions about whether or not the “cat” embryo is a “cat” embryo, or a “bat” embryo is a “bat” embryo, or that a “shark” embryo is a “shark” embryo. Bats give rise to bats; cats to cats, and sharks to sharks. Hence, human beings give rise to human beings.

    If there aren’t such discussions it’s only because it’s not very pertinent to anything as to when an embryo becomes a cat. But I don’t know if there’s anyone that would call an invisible speck of cells a “cat”. We don’t call acorns trees.

  86. 86
    Smidlee says:

    I think it’s silly to try to determine when a baby gains a soul. It doesn’t matter. Just like it doesn’t matter the enemy were the ones who actually killed Uriah. David was still guilty of murdering Uriah because of the intent of his heart. He knew Uriah would die for his country and not retreat in the heat of battle.

    The fact is a baby is on it’s way and the parents know without any doubt the baby is coming and take action to keep it from being born they are guilty of murder just like David was. Sin comes from the heart.

  87. 87
    Bruce David says:

    PaV:

    A follow on to my #78:

    Your logic appears to be based on some rule such as this:

    If A gives rise to B, and B is C,
    Then A is also C.

    I know of no system of logic in which there is any such rule. In any case, my examples in #78 falsify it.

  88. 88
    Bruce David says:

    Smidlee, re. #86:

    The fact is a baby is on it’s way and the parents know without any doubt the baby is coming and take action to keep it from being born they are guilty of murder just like David was. Sin comes from the heart.

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, Smidlee. I would urge you not to confuse your opinions with objective truth, however.

  89. 89
    buffalo says:

    Andre – Now how did the writer in Psalm know to use the analogy of being knitted inside the womb?

    A very good question. There are some other curious verses that we could ask the same question. How did they know?

  90. 90
    buffalo says:

    What is Personhood?

    Personhood is the cultural and legal recognition of the equal and unalienable rights of human beings.

    “Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.”

    Thomas Jefferson
    – See more at: http://www.personhoodusa.com/a.....juUOn_QuSo

    When the term “person” is applied to a particular class of human beings, it is an affirmation of their individual rights. In other words, to be a person is to be protected by a series of God-given rights and constitutional guarantees such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    This terrifies the pro-abortion foes!

    They know that if we clearly define the preborn baby as a person, they will have the same right to life as all Americans do!

    This then also begs the question, is every human being a person?

    There is a very real sense in which the need to answer this second question is, in itself, an absurdity.

    If you look up the word “person” in your average dictionary (we’ll use Webster’s), you’ll find something like this: “Person n. A human being.”

    “After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. It is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”
    Dr. Jerome Lejeune, “Father of Modern Genetics”

    A person, simply put, is a human being. This fact should be enough. The intrinsic humanity of unborn children, by definition, makes them persons, and should, therefore, guarantee their protection under the law.

    Personhood holds the key to filling the “Blackmun Hole,” a startling admission in the Roe v. Wade majority opinion:
    – See more at: http://www.personhoodusa.com/a.....juUOn_QuSo

  91. 91
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    No woman wants an abortion.

    The facts are against you on this one.

  92. 92
    Bruce David says:

    Mung, re. 91:

    This quote, of which I unfortunately have forgotten the attribution, says it more powerfully:

    “A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or even a Mercedes Benz. She wants an abortion like a trapped animal will chew off its own foot to escape.”

  93. 93
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    Let’s be clear here. I am not claiming that I can prove that my views in this matter are true, nor do I have any stake in your believing them. My point in bringing them up is merely to demonstrate that the definition of what constitutes a human being is not and cannot be objective.

    Is your view that what constitutes a human being is not and cannot be objective itself objective? Or merely subjective? If it is subjective, why should someone else give any more weight to it than to a claim that chocolate ice cream tastes better than vanilla? Why would you use words like “is not and cannot” to express a subjective view? Do you often hear folks claim things like, “vanilla ice cream does not and cannot taste better than chocolate?”

  94. 94
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    “A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or even a Mercedes Benz. She wants an abortion like a trapped animal will chew off its own foot to escape.” –Unknown

    I wonder how Andrea Yates or Susan Smith would have characterized their desire.

  95. 95
    Bruce David says:

    Buffalo, re. #90:

    “After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. It is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”
    Dr. Jerome Lejeune, “Father of Modern Genetics”

    This is absurd on the face of it. The single cell called a zygote can hardly be called a human being. It can neither hear nor see nor feel nor taste nor smell. It cannot think or remember or imagine. It has no arms or legs or even muscles with which to move itself.

    The only way to claim that it is a human being is to invoke what it will become if left in the womb, as PaV has done in #75. You can’t even use the fact that it contains a full complement of human DNA. To use that to establish that it is a human being is to make everyone a murderer who has his or her hair cut or his appendix removed.

    However, to invoke its potentiality, or what it will become, to claim that it is a human being gets you into the kind of logical and definitional difficulties that we have been discussing in this thread. It’s no slam dunk. It’s certainly not objective truth.

  96. 96
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas, re. #93:

    Is your view that what constitutes a human being is not and cannot be objective itself objective?

    You left out an important word: “definition”. I said that the definition of what constitutes a human being is not and cannot be objective. This is true by virtue of the meaning of “definition”.

    My definition of a human being is a human body occupied by a soul. Your definition is a member of the species homo sapiens (which still leaves open the question of what exactly constitutes membership). Neither of these is subject to any kind of confirmation other than each of us confirming that yes, that is how we define the term. They just are what each of us means by the term “human being”. Hence they cannot be objective.

  97. 97
    tjguy says:

    Thanks Bruce for taking the time to answer all those questions! I want to interact with what you said a little bit. My purpose is not to diss your faith, but to try and understand it better and to hopefully give you a chance to clarify what you believe a little better as well.

    It seems that you place your faith in the book or the contents of the book called “Conversations with God.” Your evidence on which you place your faith seems to be a lot of subjective mystical experiences of people as well as problems with the materialist philosophy. And you seem to believe that Walsh’s book is inspired by your God.

    You claim that your God places no conditions on you because He loves you unconditionally. So for you, unconditional love means that God gives us the freedom to live however we want – is that right?

    From an outsiders perspective, honestly this sounds almost too good to be true. It is quite a convenient religion/belief system. No responsibility for anything we do. Everyone gets to go to “heaven” no matter how they live their life.

    Is this kind of unconditional love really desirable? I’m not sure. In fact, I’m not even sure that placing no requirements on humans is a loving thing.

    It is obvious that we need help to know what is right and wrong. We also need help to choose what is right. And we all know that laws help preserve order in society so if there are no laws, if there are no consequences for our actions, why bother to do the “loving thing” when we don’t want to?

    The other thing is that we have to define love. What would love do? That is very hard to say if we don’t know what love is. What would love do when we see others being picked on at school or at the office? What would love do when we see defenseless babies being killed by their parents before they are born? What would love do when our loved ones are dying and in pain or when a baby is born with Down’s Syndrome? (Some might advocate killing it. Others might advocate caring for it.) So for one person it is OK to kill it while it would be wrong for the other person to kill it? It’s really not so simple. And besides, who cares if you do what love would do or not?

    Everyone does what is right when they want to – even atheists. But the rub comes when doing what is right goes against what we want to do. I would think that your philosophy suffers at this point to.

    Is it loving for a parent to let his kid play in the street when they know it is dangerous for the child? I don’t think so.

    Is it loving for God not to give moral guidance to us? I don’t think so.

    You say: “There is no such thing as right and wrong, only what works and what doesn’t work depending on what you want to be, do, and have.” In the place of demands, my God issues a permanent invitation: return to Me by remembering who and what you truly are—created in my image and likeness. Part of this is in every moment to ask yourself, “What would Love do now?” and act according to the inner answer you receive.

    Is this statement true in an absolute sense or just something that you and your spiritual guides happen to believe?

    In other words, is this an absolute standard that we can use to determine whether a particular action is right or wrong? I doubt you are saying that because you make it clear that there is no right or wrong.
    So acting in an unloving way cannot be considered to be wrong in an absolute sense of the word, right?

    No right and wrong. Bruce, you do realize that this is quite a claim, right? Given the fact that almost everyone seems to feel(I would even say “know”) deep down in their heart that some things are right and others are wrong, it would seem to me to be a hard claim to back up.

    For example, what if some guy rapes your daughter and maybe kills her and is never caught – you wouldn’t say he did something wrong? Illegal yes, but wrong in the moral sense?

    But no, you clearly said there is no such thing as right and wrong.

    So you would have no means by which to condemn such a rapist, right? Is this really realistic Bruce?

    I find it hard to conceive of a God who thinks there is no such thing as right and wrong.

    You claim that this is your God’s invitation to us all: “Return to Me by remembering who and what you truly are—created in my image and likeness.”

    Is this something you believe to be absolutely true – an absolute truth?

    Sounds almost biblical – the created in my image and likeness thing anyway comes from the Bible. The return to Me part is biblical as well, but it is also very man centered. All we have to do is remember who and what we are!

    Doesn’t make sense to me though.

    How do we know that Walsh really heard from God here?

    The Bible speaks of a time that is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. I don’t know, but it sounds an awful lot like this to me.

    What do you base your faith on?

    From channeled entities such as Seth, Bartholomew, and Michael. From between life recollections under hypnosis recorded in Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls by Michael Newton. From the reports of NDEs by people such as Anita Moorjani and Eben Alexander. From the writings of the great Sufi masters such as Rumi, Hafiz, and Ibn al ‘Arabi (although I don’t accept the entirety of Sufism). And most importantly, from the Conversations with God series of books, by Neale Donald Walsch, which I regard as the revealed word of God. There are other sources of my belief as well.

    I see. I’m not sure how any of this can be verified. I would think that there are plenty of teachings that contradict each other in that bundle of ideas.

    I do believe that people have spiritual experiences, but my view is that if the experience differs from the revealed Word of God, then we know where that the source of that experience was not God.

    Like you said, there are lots of truth claims like this in the world so I wonder what makes you think that Walsh and these channelers are really hearing from God and have it right.

    And, why did God wait so long to reveal these important things to the world of humans?

    It sounds like your god is like the white-haired wimpy grandfather who just looks down on earth and smiles at all He sees. Anything goes. He never punishes evil or holds people responsible for their unloving acts. He won’t correct or punish anybody for anything because then His love would become conditional. Everybody is welcome no matter what.

    Is that accurate? Personally, I don’t think that is a rational idea. It makes a mockery of justice because it means that the many people who escape punishment in this life are never held responsible for their actions.

    There are also many unloving things that are not illegal so there is no punishment for them here and now, right?

    Bruce, I think you have the same problem that the Materialists have when it comes to morality. There is no such thing as absolute morality in your belief system so you really can’t condemn anything as being wrong, no matter how wrong it looks or feels.

    Sure, it means we have freedom, but is that really a good thing? Ask the Jews in Europe in Hitler’s time. Ask the N. Koreans today. Ask the commoners during Mao’s time.

    Absolute freedom brings with it the unwanted yet unavoidable companion of absolute meaninglessness. If we are free to live however we want, then it really doesn’t matter whether we choose to live a good or a bad life – which means our actions are meaningless in the ultimate sense.

    If people really believed there is no such thing as right and wrong, I would not want to live in that world! It would be like living in a world without laws and justice. Scary!

    Bruce says: “I hate to break it to you, tjguy, but ultimately each of us is our own authority with regard to the nature and existence of God. Each of us has to choose from among all the myriad competing claims for truth. It is you who must decide what is true for you. There is no escape.”

    True. We are all responsible for our own choices as to what we choose to believe and reject. However, our personal beliefs have nothing to do with what is really true or not.
    You might be very sure of your beliefs, but that is no guarantee they are true.

    You claim there is no such thing as absolute truth. If so, again, anything goes, including Hitler’s ideas, Stalin’s ideas, etc.

    And if there is no absolute truth, then why do you think that the books by Walsh are the “revealed word of God”? Just curious.

    Humans do not determine truth; we can only determine what we think/believe to be true.

    We might believe in two different things, but we cannot both be right. We might have different faiths, but there is only one truth and until we die, neither of us will know for sure.

    If finding the truth is important, we need to choose wisely. If it doesn’t matter like you seem to imply, then who cares what we believe.

    I guess Christians, even the mafia, even Hitler, have nothing to worry about if your philosophy is true.

    But like you said, in the end, we all have to choose what we think is true. God bless you on your journey!

  98. 98
    PaV says:

    Bruce:

    PaV:Everything is very simple: human embryos give rise to human beings. All living human beings are ‘persons.’ Therefore, the human embryo is a ‘person.’

    Bruce: I have seen versions of this argument before, and it is fallacious. Here are some counterexamples that demonstrate that your conclusion does not follow:

    1. It is known from cosmological principles that when a certain amount of interstellar dust collects within a given volume of space, the dust will give rise to a star. Does this imply that the dust cloud is a star? Of course not.

    Do ‘dust clouds’ have DNA? Think things through. This isn’t an apt analogy.

    2. Thoughts give rise to actions which give rise to artifacts—art, literature, technology, etc. Does this imply that thoughts are the artifacts? Certainly not.

    DNA is found in the cell. The DNA and the cell work cooperatively, or else nothing would happen. This interaction between DNA and cell gives rise to individual animals. It is much like the cooperation between human thought and human action. This is an argument in favor of ID, i.e., ‘design.’ Ask yourself this simple question: if there were never a thought, would there ever be an artifact? Then, likewise: if I find an artifact (an ‘arrowhead’) this implies a thought, right? The two cohere, just like the human person coheres in the human being.

    3. Water vapor evaporating from the ocean gives rise to clouds. Does this imply that the water vapor is a cloud? Not until it condenses in the upper atmosphere.

    Yes, it does. It implies that water vapor under different conditions of temperature and pressure appears differently—kind of like a butterfly and a worm=same DNA. Water is water, after all.

    4. Organic matter that falls to the ground gives rise to soil. Does this mean that the organic matter (leaves, dead animals, bodily waste, etc.) is soil at the moment it touches the earth? Again, no.

    If you look at the genome of an embryo, is it the same as that of the adult?

    So you see, PaV, the “therefore” in your statements quoted above is false. You, like many conservatives, have confused your opinions with objective truth.

    No, Bruce, you, like most liberals, wont’ admit that there is ‘objective truth.’ That’s the only problem.

    At the moment of conception the identity of an organism is formed. That identity continues on throughout all of its growth stages—much like your ‘water vapor’ and ‘cloud’ simile.

  99. 99
    PaV says:

    goodusername:

    But I would say that they are human beings (as a member of the species) although not yet persons (as there is yet no mind).

    Do cheetahs have conversations? Ever?

    Latent in each embryo is the ability to have conversations and to think, etc. We ‘develop’ into persons because that is what we are from the beginning. It is not some ‘layer’ that is added on. Socialization is another thing.

  100. 100
    PaV says:

    Bruce:

    The single cell called a zygote can hardly be called a human being.

    Bruce, the quote is about “after conception.” After conception, the zygote exists no longer since there is now a full complement of chromosomes.

  101. 101
    Bruce David says:

    tjguy, re. #97:

    Thank you for your very courteous response. I will attempt to answer in the same spirit.

    The first thing I would like to say is that it is impossible for me to convey the depth and breadth of the teachings in the Conversations with God series in this format. There are nine volumes in total. Each can be read over and over and new insights can be gained with each reading. If you are really interested, read Book 1, the first in the series. That will give you a very good start on understanding what these remarkable volumes have to say to us. I will attempt to summarize some of this in my response to your questions below, but I simply cannot do it justice in the space available.

    So for you, unconditional love means that God gives us the freedom to live however we want – is that right?

    Yes, that’s right.

    From an outsiders perspective, honestly this sounds almost too good to be true. It is quite a convenient religion/belief system. No responsibility for anything we do. Everyone gets to go to “heaven” no matter how they live their life.

    The fact that God will not punish us does not mean that there are not consequences for our actions. We are made in His image and likeness, which means among other things that our essential nature is also unconditionally loving. So when we violate that essential nature, we do damage to our souls, damage that we must spend time and effort to repair between lives. Also, there are rules built into the structure of creation such as “Like begets like,” which roughly translates to “What goes around comes around,” or “You reap what you sow.” If you live from love, love will come back to you. If you live from hatred or greed your experience will reflect that choice. I know this to be true from my own experience.

    But it is also important to realize that this earthly plane is not our true home and we are not our bodies. This is just a place we come to to grow spiritually. It is an illusion. We can do no real damage to one another here, so that what appears so important and significant really isn’t, in the larger scheme of things.

    The other thing is that we have to define love. What would love do? That is very hard to say if we don’t know what love is. What would love do when we see others being picked on at school or at the office? What would love do when we see defenseless babies being killed by their parents before they are born? What would love do when our loved ones are dying and in pain or when a baby is born with Down’s Syndrome? (Some might advocate killing it. Others might advocate caring for it.) So for one person it is OK to kill it while it would be wrong for the other person to kill it? It’s really not so simple. And besides, who cares if you do what love would do or not?

    “What would Love do now?” cannot be defined because every now is unique. We are made in God’s image and likeness. This means that we each have an infallible knowing within us of what Love is. The trick is to be able to access that knowingness. It is enough to make the sincere effort. Will we make mistakes? Sure. But that is how we learn. This earthly existence is not reality; it is a place to learn and grow. What happens here is not so serious as it often seems to be.

    No right and wrong. Bruce, you do realize that this is quite a claim, right? Given the fact that almost everyone seems to feel(I would even say “know”) deep down in their heart that some things are right and others are wrong, it would seem to me to be a hard claim to back up.

    Certainly most human beings, myself included, have a sense of right and wrong. My view about this is that this sense is a culturally created idea that overlays our true inner knowing, which is to know what is loving and what is not. God tells us that in His eyes there is no right and wrong, which tells me that our own sense of right and wrong is not inherent in us, but is implanted there by our conditioning.

    I see. I’m not sure how any of this can be verified. I would think that there are plenty of teachings that contradict each other in that bundle of ideas.

    I do believe that people have spiritual experiences, but my view is that if the experience differs from the revealed Word of God, then we know where that the source of that experience was not God.

    You seem to have a different standard for my sources of spiritual truth than you do for your own. The Bible is in fact a collection of many books written by many different authors over vast stretches of time. There are thousands of contradictions within and between those books. The New Testament alone is a collection of 27 different books by different authors chosen from over 300 that were written in the century after Jesus’ death. Who decided which books to include and which to reject? Human beings. Who wrote the ones that were included? No one knows in many cases, including the four gospels. How do you know that the Bible is the revealed word of God? You don’t. You believe it. You have faith that it is, I don’t doubt. But you don’t know.

    Like you said, there are lots of truth claims like this in the world so I wonder what makes you think that Walsh and these channelers are really hearing from God and have it right.

    I have to go by my own inner knowing. What else do I have? Some Christian’s word that the Bible is the revealed word of God? Some Muslim’s assertion that the Koran is revelation and thus infallible? No thanks.

    Absolute freedom brings with it the unwanted yet unavoidable companion of absolute meaninglessness. If we are free to live however we want, then it really doesn’t matter whether we choose to live a good or a bad life – which means our actions are meaningless in the ultimate sense.

    Each soul who chooses to incarnate on this planet has a purpose for each such life. We may fulfill the purpose only partially or even not at all, but then we try again the next time around. The meaning of any particular existence is the meaning that we give it. Personally, I find that a life lived to the best of my ability from love and acceptance is very meaningful and immensely satisfying.

    You might be very sure of your beliefs, but that is no guarantee they are true.

    The same applies you.

    You claim there is no such thing as absolute truth. If so, again, anything goes, including Hitler’s ideas, Stalin’s ideas, etc.

    And if there is no absolute truth, then why do you think that the books by Walsh are the “revealed word of God”? Just curious.

    I do not claim that “there is no such thing as absolute truth.” I do believe that there is absolute truth. My claim is that each of us cannot escape being his or her own authority for finding that truth. I believe that Conversations with God is revelation because of the quality of the material and how it resonates with my own inner knowing.

  102. 102

    Brent, I wrote a book for children called Pip and the Edge of Heaven. You might like it (you can peek inside at Amazon). I’d love to send you a copy if you contact me at TSZ (I’m afraid you’d have to reregister as the database had to be rebuilt after a hack a few months ago). You might like it. It was based on conversations with my actual son, between the ages of about 2 and 5. I don’t think it’s a million miles from what you are saying here, and although it was written for children, it is not a “childish” message.

  103. 103
    Bruce David says:

    PaV, re. #98:

    Do ‘dust clouds’ have DNA? Think things through. This isn’t an apt analogy.

    Your original “proof” went like this:

    “Everything is very simple: human embryos give rise to human beings. All living human beings are ‘persons.’ Therefore, the human embryo is a ‘person.’”

    I pointed out that the logical rule you were apparently using was the following or something similar:

    If A gives rise to B, and B is C,
    Then A is also C.

    Then I noted that this was not a rule in any logical system with which I am familiar and furthermore my four counter-examples in #78 falsify it.

    Now you add that somehow the presence of DNA modifies the logic. So now your rule is apparently,

    If A gives rise to B, and B is C, and A and B have the same DNA,
    Then A is also C.

    This is no more logically compelling than your original proof.

    You cannot prove that a zygote is a human being, PaV, you just can’t. It is a matter of definition, and definitions are not subject to proof. Anyone familiar with logic will confirm this.

  104. 104
    Bruce David says:

    PaV, re. #100:

    Bruce, the quote is about “after conception.” After conception, the zygote exists no longer since there is now a full complement of chromosomes.

    No, PaV, “zygote” is the biological term that is used to denote the fertilized egg before it begins to divide. It has the full complement of DNA.

    From Wikipedia: “A zygote. . .is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction.

  105. 105

    Sorry, not Brent, Bruce! Got my Brs muddled.

  106. 106
    Bruce David says:

    Thanks very much, Lizzie. I’ll take you up on that offer. Don’t forget to keep my address so you can look me up if you’re every in California. 🙂

    Bruce

  107. 107
    Bruce David says:

    Hi Lizzie,

    Well, I went to TSZ and registered, but I could not find a way to contact you except by posting a comment. I’m reluctant to post my address in a comment for all to see. How can I send you something “for your eyes only”?

    Bruce

  108. 108

    If you registered, I will have access to the email you registered with.

    Alternatively, if you google my name, you can probably figure out which hit I am 🙂

  109. 109
    vjtorley says:

    Bruce David,

    Thank you for your comment (#11). You write:

    Here is my own reason for rejecting it (in a nutshell): to me a human being is a human body inhabited by a soul. Based on what I have read (primarily Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls, both by Michael Newton) the soul does not join the developing fetus until there is a sufficiently developed brain for it to connect to. This happens some time during the third trimester. Since there is no soul joined to the body before that time, there is no person present, by definition.

    I find it amusing that someone should reject the view that a human person begins at fertilization, on what he admits to be religious grounds: a belief about when souls can enter bodies. In any case, the argument that brain waves mark the beginning of human personhood is refuted here in my online book, Embryo and Einstein: Why they’re equal. See also Professor Maureen Condic’s article, Life: Defining the Beginning by the End. In any case, there’s no reason why a soul should require an advanced brain: if the soul exists, then its role would obviously be to direct the embryo’s development from the get-go. Finally, there’s nothing in my argument which hinges on the question of souls. The essence of my argument is that a human embryo is a person, because it is a complete organism, embodying a developmental program by which it directs and controls its own development into a rational human adult, and in addition, because it has already started assembling itself into a rational human adult. What I’m arguing, in other words, is that an entity which is already making itself into a rational adult is just as valuable as that adult. Nothing which is added to it from outside in the course of its development – food, oxygen, lower-level information – confers any additional value on it. V + 0 = V. If an adult’s inherent value is V, so is that of an embryo.

  110. 110
    vjtorley says:

    Bruce David:

    The term “zygote” is often used in an imprecise fashion, by all sorts of people. Here’s an excerpt from an essay from Dr. Dianne Irving:

    For our purposes here, note that Stage One of the Carnegie Stages includes the following as different phases of the development of the early human embryo during the process of fertilization: the penetrated oocyte, the ootid, and the zygote. That is, Stage One of the Carnegie Stages does not consist merely of the zygote alone. Nor does the zygote form at the beginning of the process of fertilization (when the sperm penetrates the oocyte)…, but rather at the end of that process.

    Wikipedia is therefore technically mistaken in its claim that a zygote “is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction.” Fertilization begins when the sperm penetrates the oocyte. Hope that helps. Cheers.

  111. 111
    Bruce David says:

    Lizzie,

    Ok, well if you’re willing, send me an email and I will replay with my address here in California.

    Thanks,
    Bruce

  112. 112
    Bruce David says:

    PaV, re. #98:

    Here is a follow on to my #103:

    Some counter-examples in which DNA plays the same role:

    1. A human baby gives rise to a human adult. The human adult is sexually mature. This does not imply that the baby is also sexually mature.
    2. A newborn tiger cub gives rise to an adult tiger. The tiger is an efficient hunter. This does not imply that the cub is also an efficient hunter.
    3. A caterpillar gives rise to a butterfly. The butterfly is a flying insect. This does not imply that the caterpillar is also a flying insect.

  113. 113
    Bruce David says:

    vjtorley, re. #109:

    In any case, there’s no reason why a soul should require an advanced brain: if the soul exists, then its role would obviously be to direct the embryo’s development from the get-go.

    My point is that in my view it is a matter of fact the soul does not join the fetus until the brain is sufficiently developed to receive it. This is based on reports of the process from the two books I referenced. My view of the soul is not that its role is “to direct the embryo’s development”. That happens automatically by biological processes. The soul exists eternally and continues both before and after any of the many particular bodies it inhabits lives and dies.

    Finally, there’s nothing in my argument which hinges on the question of souls. The essence of my argument is that a human embryo is a person, because it is a complete organism, embodying a developmental program by which it directs and controls its own development into a rational human adult, and in addition, because it has already started assembling itself into a rational human adult. What I’m arguing, in other words, is that an entity which is already making itself into a rational adult is just as valuable as that adult. Nothing which is added to it from outside in the course of its development – food, oxygen, lower-level information – confers any additional value on it. V + 0 = V. If an adult’s inherent value is V, so is that of an embryo.

    Two points: First, since your argument concerns only the body, it assumes that a mature physical body by itself is a human being. This is what I reject. For me, a human being consists of two distinct elements. The first is the physical body and the second is the soul. Without both being present, there is no human being. And in fact, the value of the human being lies in its soul, not in its body.

    Secondly, your argument does not follow logically. As I said in my first response, it is the sort of argument that someone who already agrees with its conclusion might find very compelling, but which someone who does not so agree would most likely find underwhelming, as I do. One could just as easily assert, for example, that it is the ability to think that confers value to the organism. The value does not accrue until the capability manifests. Therefore neither the zygote nor the embryo have value since neither can think. Neither position is logically compelling. Either can be held consistently.

  114. 114
    Mung says:

    Bruce David:

    A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or even a Mercedes Benz. She wants an abortion like a trapped animal will chew off its own foot to escape.

    And you believe this do you? Why?

    This would almost (arguably) be believable if women were told prior to having an abortion that “it’s just like chewing off your own foot to escape a trap.”

    But that’s hardly the truth of the matter, and you know it, and I know it, and Elizabeth knows it, and our readers know it.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    No woman wants an abortion.

    Who, exactly, is forcing them to do what they do not want to do?

  115. 115
    Mung says:

    And BD, why do not all women who are pregnant chew off there feetuses?

  116. 116
    Bruce David says:

    Mung, re. #114:

    I think it is the height of arrogance for you as a man to presume to understand what a woman goes through when she learns that she is pregnant and why she would or would not have an abortion.

  117. 117
    Mung says:

    BD @ 116:

    So?

    You were the one who proclaimed that:

    A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or even a Mercedes Benz. She wants an abortion like a trapped animal will chew off its own foot to escape.

    Are you a woman? Or are you a hypocrite? Bruce?

  118. 118
    Mung says:

    The claim, Bruce, was that no woman would want an abortion.

    The facts, Bruce, contradict that claim.

    Simple probabilities, Bruce, contradict that claim.

    Surely, of all the women who have ever chosen to have an abortion, at least one wanted the abortion that she asked for.

    And this is why, Bruce, neither you nor Elizabeth is credible on this issue.

    Now, since we want to discus facts, how many women have abortions that they do not want?

  119. 119
    PaV says:

    Bruce:

    I stand corrected on zygote. At least we’re now on the same page.

    You wrote this to Buffalo:

    The only way to claim that it is a human being is to invoke what it will become if left in the womb, as PaV has done in #75. You can’t even use the fact that it contains a full complement of human DNA. To use that to establish that it is a human being is to make everyone a murderer who has his or her hair cut or his appendix removed.

    That a ‘zygote’ is more than just a ‘full complement’ of chromosomes should be rather clear. The fact is that once fertilization takes place, the ovum changes dramatically, locking out any other sperm, and beginning the processes that lead to life, and, in the case of human beings, one which leads to human persons.

    I saw elsewhere what you wrote about the ‘soul.’ Philosophically, the ‘soul’ is seen as the organizing principle of action for life. IOW, nothing is going to develop in the womb—in the case of human life—if there is no soul. In another post I tried to make clear that human beings have human souls, souls that are ordered to vivify and actuate the person.

    That it is now insisted that human life begins at conception is NOT a theological statement, per se, but a statement that flows from the conjunction of what theology teaches us and that which science informs us. I.e., it is science that informs us when ‘life’ begins. Theology simply tells us that that this ‘life’ is ‘human’, and, being ‘human’ is the same as a human person.

  120. 120
    PaV says:

    PaV:

    The latest monstrosity is this: now the left wants to define a “fourth trimester.”

    Bruce:

    Once again, PaV, your ability to make distinctions is sadly lacking. I know many people who consider themselves liberal. None of them would endorse such a thing. You find one objectionable idea endorsed by some group of people and then attribute it to this vague idea you have, called “the left”. If you want your thinking to be taken seriously, you’ll have to do better than that!

    Did you not notice that I said ‘the left’, and not ‘liberals’?

    Twenty years ago, abortion during the third trimester would have been rejected by liberals; but not now. Thirty years ago, pro-abortionists said that the fetus wasn’t human life, thus justifying abortion. Now they say that it is human life. They’re simply indifferent to that reality now.

    It’s a very slippery slope.

    Now, as to this “vague idea [I] have, called ‘the left’,” you say that if I want to be taken seriously I have to do better than that. How can you deny that ‘the left’ exists? If you deny ‘the left’ exists, why should I take you seriously.

    E.g., should we then believe that the “vague idea of ‘the right'” doesn’t exist either? There are liberals, and then there are ‘leftists.’ There are conservatives, and then there are ‘rightists’. Oh, that’s right, they’re ‘right-wingers’. The ‘left’ exists, it’s ‘left-wingers’ that don’t exist. And “those on the right” exists as well.

    Yet, how is it, Bruce, that you find it so easy to simply dismiss the reality of ‘the left’? This is exactly what I see liberals doing: denying reality whenever that reality becomes inconvenient for them.

    Whenever I’ve looked into anything ‘the left’—not necessarily identical with liberals—believes in, it invariably is a myth.

    Start with the French Revolution, and end with ‘global warming.’ Myth. How dangerous this all is!

    You know, Satan is the ‘father of lies.”

  121. 121
    Bruce David says:

    PaV, re. #119:

    That it is now insisted that human life begins at conception is NOT a theological statement, per se, but a statement that flows from the conjunction of what theology teaches us and that which science informs us. I.e., it is science that informs us when ‘life’ begins.

    Science tells us nothing of the sort. As I mentioned earlier, the sperm and the egg are alive well before they join to form a zygote. Human life began with the first human on the planet and has been continuous ever since. This is what can be concluded from the current state of scientific knowledge. What science reveals is the process by which sexual reproduction occurs in the species homo sapiens sapiens. The conclusion that “life begins at conception” is drawn from that scientific knowledge, but is false on its face. Life began well before any conception that occurred during the entirety of human history.

    Theology simply tells us that that this ‘life’ is ‘human’, and, being ‘human’ is the same as a human person.

    Theology is a branch of academic inquiry. It encompasses many theories and many conclusions. To say that “theology tells us” something is akin to saying, for example, that philosophy tells us that everything that occurs is the result of material causes. Theology tells us nothing specific. You can make an argument that a fertilized human ovum is a person from a theological perspective, but it won’t be theology telling us anything. The argument must stand or fall on its own merits. So far I have yet to encounter a valid argument for that position.

  122. 122
    Bruce David says:

    PaV, re. #120:

    In #75 you said,

    The latest monstrosity is this: now the left wants to define a “fourth trimester.”

    If you claim that your notion of “the left” is not vague, then give me a precise definition that would enable someone to determine whether a particular person belonged to that group or not. But be careful. Since you claim that “the left wants to define a ‘fourth trimester'”, your definition of “the left” had better exclude anyone who does not want to define a “fourth trimester”. A definition of “the left” that satisfies that criterion would certainly exclude the vast majority of people who consider themselves to be liberals or progressives.

    You know, PaV, it’s easy to make vague generalizations about some demonized group when you are preaching to the choir. But when your audience just might include someone who has just been demonized and who is articulate enough to call you on it, you could be in trouble. I’d be more careful if I were you.

    And you know what, I even think an apology might be in order.

  123. 123
    Bruce David says:

    Mung, re. 117:

    You were the one who proclaimed that:

    A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or even a Mercedes Benz. She wants an abortion like a trapped animal will chew off its own foot to escape.

    Are you a woman? Or are you a hypocrite? Bruce?

    Neither. I was quoting a woman, and as I said at the time, I couldn’t remember who it was.

    How interesting that you omitted the quote marks that were in my original comment, so that it appeared that the passage came from me, enabling you to accuse me of being a hypocrite.

    Are you lacking integrity or are you simply not very smart, Mung?

  124. 124
    goodusername says:

    PaV #98

    If you look at the genome of an embryo, is it the same as that of the adult?

    Yes, but so what? The genome is not what we value. A skin cell has the human genome but we don’t consider killing a skin cell murder.

    At the moment of conception the identity of an organism is formed. That identity continues on throughout all of its growth stages—much like your ‘water vapor’ and ‘cloud’ simile.

    No, our identity is not our genome. I am not my genome. What we cherish about people are their minds. That is their identity. When someone is brain dead we consider them, in fact, dead. It doesn’t matter that the rest of the body is alive and has a beating heart. It doesn’t matter that they still have their genome. We consider them dead because the mind is gone. What we cherish is gone.

  125. 125
    Mung says:

    Bruce David:

    How interesting that you omitted the quote marks that were in my original comment, so that it appeared that the passage came from me, enabling you to accuse me of being a hypocrite.

    Ack! I did it again! You caught me! You’re not the hypocrite!

    You never intended to quote the person you quoted as if you actually agreed with the quote. My bad.

    Perhaps, next time that you quote someone who you disagree with, you could provide an indication of such?

    I was quoting a woman

    This was never in doubt. What was in doubt was your alleged identification.

    Bruce David:

    I think it is the height of arrogance for you as a man to presume to understand what a woman goes through when she learns that she is pregnant and why she would or would not have an abortion.

    Hypocrite.

  126. 126
    Mung says:

    The claim, Bruce, was that no woman would want an abortion.

    The facts, Bruce, contradict that claim.

    Simple probabilities, Bruce, contradict that claim.

  127. 127
    Mung says:

    Please provide the statistics of women who did not want an abortion yet consented to having an abortion, if you can.

  128. 128
    Bruce David says:

    goodusername, re. #124:

    No, our identity is not our genome. I am not my genome. What we cherish about people are their minds. That is their identity. When someone is brain dead we consider them, in fact, dead. It doesn’t matter that the rest of the body is alive and has a beating heart. It doesn’t matter that they still have their genome. We consider them dead because the mind is gone. What we cherish is gone.

    Well said!

    I would add that in my view, the mind is an attribute of the soul, and the soul is that which leaves the body during NDEs and astral travel. It is the soul—which is made in the image and likeness of God and which is our true self—that we cherish. Bodies, including their DNA, are just vehicles that the soul uses from time to time.

  129. 129
    goodusername says:

    Bruce David,

    As best I can tell PaV is referring to this:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....65226.html

    The term “fourth trimester” was invented by Dan Joseph, who is hardly a left winger, to see how many would sign a petition advocating such a thing.

    In an hour he only managed 14 signatures in a pretty busy area of a college campus.

    I’d wager that none of the signers are actually for legalizing killing babies, and that the signers are a combination of 1) those that are pro-choice and didn’t pay close attention to what they were signing 2) those that believed (understandably) that the petition was a joke and signed to be part of the joke and 3) Pro-life students that understood what the petition was and signed to inflate the numbers.

    At one point in the video Dan looks at a kid and merely says “I’m not even going to tell you what’s on on it. Just sign it.” He then signs it. And while signing it Dan says “Don’t read it.”
    Several of the students could be seen laughing as they sign.

    At best, this is a lesson in paying attention to what a petition is before signing.

  130. 130
    Bruce David says:

    Mung, re. #125:

    You never intended to quote the person you quoted as if you actually agreed with the quote. My bad.

    Perhaps, next time that you quote someone who you disagree with, you could provide an indication of such?

    There is a very large difference between quoting a woman as an authority on what women feel about abortion and deciding as a man to contradict their statements on the subject.

    The fact that you fail to see this distinction settles the question: you really aren’t very smart. But then again it appears that you also don’t have a lot of integrity either.

    You want to keep calling me names, Mung? I can play that game as well as the next man.

  131. 131
    Bruce David says:

    goodusername, re. #129:

    Now that is interesting. Thanks for the update.

  132. 132
    Mung says:

    Bruce David,

    It’s very simple, really.

    The claim, Bruce, was that no woman would want an abortion.

    The facts, Bruce, contradict that claim.

    Simple probabilities, Bruce, contradict that claim.

    Please provide the statistics of women who did not want an abortion yet consented to having an abortion, if you can.

    Even Lizzie remains silent on this, even thought she originated the claim.

  133. 133
    Bruce David says:

    Mung, re. #132,

    Lizzie must speak for herself, of course, if she wishes, and I was simply reporting what another woman said on the subject. In my opinion, I don’t think that either of them meant their statements to be taken literally. I think they were both simply trying to convey the fact that for most women, the decision to have an abortion is an agonizing choice. Your taking the statements literally and then attempting to refute them as such misses the point.

    But of course, that’s just my opinion. Only they can tell you what they actually meant.

  134. 134

    I find communication with Mung impossible.

    He may be literally correct – there may exist some woman who for some psychopathological reason or other, deliberately becomes pregnant so that she can experience the pleasure of an abortion.

    I know of no such woman, but it is true that I cannot rule out the possibility that such a woman exists.

    But yes, my intended meaning was as you interpret it.

  135. 135

    Oh, I see his problem.

    Mung, I meant: no woman wants an abortion as in nobody wants a root canal.

    Do try reading for meaning.

  136. 136
    Bruce David says:

    Thanks, Lizzie. Did you also catch my #111, which by now is pretty buried?

    Bruce

  137. 137
    PaV says:

    Bruce:

    If you claim that your notion of “the left” is not vague, then give me a precise definition that would enable someone to determine whether a particular person belonged to that group or not.

    This is typical liberal/leftist posturing. You know full well what is meant by ‘the left.’

    But here’s a definition: ‘the left’ is composed of people with a radical political agenda, sharing a materialist, subjectivist, and socialist view of life and being, generally, irreligious.

    That I have to provided such a definition I consider silly.

    But be careful. Since you claim that “the left wants to define a ‘fourth trimester’”, your definition of “the left” had better exclude anyone who does not want to define a “fourth trimester”. A definition of “the left” that satisfies that criterion would certainly exclude the vast majority of people who consider themselves to be liberals or progressives.

    Did I succeed?

    You know, PaV, it’s easy to make vague generalizations about some demonized group when you are preaching to the choir. But when your audience just might include someone who has just been demonized and who is articulate enough to call you on it, you could be in trouble. I’d be more careful if I were you.

    First, you chose to feel ‘demonized.’ Why didn’t you respond by saying that you: (a) don’t consider yourself a part of ‘the left’;(b) that you consider the idea of a ‘fourth trimester’ is barbaric, and so denounce it; and (c) that liberals in general should denounce it vehemently?

    Second, did I ‘demonize’ the group? Try to be honest with yourself. I said that ‘the left’ were on campus seeking student signatures on a petition asking that women be allowed to terminate their pregnancy (? a non sequitor, of course) during a ‘fourth trimester.’

    Should I have said “liberals” were on campus asking for signatures . . . etc? Or, that “conservatives” were on campus? Or that “libertarians” were on campus? Or that “communists”?

    The simple fact is that you find the thought of a “fourth trimester” to be abhorrent, and then you chose to assume—without any foundation for it—that I included you in that group. For you that was insulting. But, if you were in agreement with a “fourth trimester” then you would have not found the idea abhorrent, and would not have felt that I had “demonized” the group.

    It’s your problem, not mine. I was stating the facts. Your demand that I “define” the “left” is simply a tactic that liberals use whenever it is convenient, usually when they find themselves in an indefensible position.

    Well, maybe you should change your way of thinking, so it can be defended instead of using childish tactics in order to run away from the truth.

    And you know what, I even think an apology might be in order.

    I do, too. When will you apologize for behavior?

  138. 138
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    I find communication with Mung impossible.

    Me too! All them feedback loops!

    Bruce David:

    I think they were both simply trying to convey the fact that for most women, the decision to have an abortion is an agonizing choice.

    But a choice, nonetheless. One made voluntarily.

    Not entirely consistent with the claim that no woman wants an abortion.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Mung, I meant: no woman wants an abortion as in nobody wants a root canal.

    Moral equivalency argument noted.

    What are the potential consequences of choosing to not having a root canal?

    The choice to have a root canal does not terminate a life, a human being.

  139. 139
    tjguy says:

    EL @ 59

    tjguy: I suggest that you too have your own ideas about who god is and what he is like. You chose the god of a particular branch of a particular religious tradition, based on a particular collection of texts, said to be that god’s word.

    Very true. I never denied that, but at least I have a more solid basis for my faith – in my opinion.

    Why that one?

    That’s easy. Because that is what the Bible teaches. I believe the Bible to be God’s Word. The Bible has stood the test of time, has had a great influence on the world, has changed the lives of many people, and remains the world’s best seller every year.

    There are eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ birth, His teaching, His miracles, His death, His resurrection, the birth of the early Church, etc.

  140. 140
    tjguy says:

    The fact that God will not punish us does not mean that there are not consequences for our actions.

    Agreed. Dt. 10:12-13 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

    God gives us commands and makes demands on us to protect us from harm that we would experience if we choose sin AND, for our own good. In other words He wants us to experience the blessings that come from choosing what is right. He knows better than anyone else what is beneficial to us and harmful to us and He loves us enough to tell us.

    Anyone can experience this type of protection and blessing just by keeping His commands, regardless of their beliefs. This is similar to the biblical “reap what you sow” principle that you mentioned. (Gal. 6)

    There are also consequences when we violate our conscience, but this can be overcome by violating it often enough.

    However, you want to stop the consequences at this point – meaning that you want the consequences to be limited to this world. You claim that God will not hold us accountable for our actions. This is counter to His Word and counter to common sense.

    Parents punish their children specifically because they love them and want them to learn from their mistakes. The government holds it’s citizens accountable for their actions as well. Why not God?

    Punishment with love is far more beneficial than total permissiveness. Children long for boundaries. They want to know that their parents care for them.

    You say that “our essential nature is also unconditionally loving.”

    Hmm. I don’t see that at all. Children do not need to be taught how to sin, how to lie, how to do wrong, how to live for themselves, etc. No, they need to be taught how to love, serve, care for, and think of others. It certainly does not seem like a natural thing for anyone to do – except maybe within the family or parent-child bond. And even then it is not always present.

    But it is also important to realize that this earthly plane is not our true home and we are not our bodies. This is just a place we come to to grow spiritually. It is an illusion. We can do no real damage to one another here, so that what appears so important and significant really isn’t, in the larger scheme of things.

    It is interesting that you mix a lot of biblical truth in with your views.
    Then there is other stuff that just comes out of no where like this:
    Referring to the earth you say “This is just a place we come to to grow spiritually. It is an illusion.” Well it sure is a good illusion. It is an illusion that you can see, feel, hear, touch and smell. Are you referring to a Matrix type of thing? If so, of course, no one can argue with you. The truth of that idea cannot be proven. I guess you just have to take the word of these seers you refer to.

    But the idea that you can do no real damage to one another here could be a very damaging idea in and of itself if it is not true. The idea that what happens here is not important too could deceive many people if not true.
    When children bully others and the bullied person commits suicide, I find it hard to understand how our actions can do no real damage to others.

    “What would Love do now?” cannot be defined because every now is unique. We are made in God’s image and likeness. This means that we each have an infallible knowing within us of what Love is. The trick is to be able to access that knowingness. It is enough to make the sincere effort.

    We have an infallible knowing within us of what Love is? Really?

    The Bible does tell us that God has written his laws on our hearts so I suppose our basic sense of morality that is given by God could be seen to be this, but most people do not respect God as God and live their lives their own way.

    Your idea of love is obviously very different from my idea of love. I believe it is loving to discipline my kids and hold them responsible for their actions rather than let them have total freedom. The same applies to God of course. God gives us commands BECAUSE He loves us and wants to protect us as the above verse points out.

    Will we make mistakes? Sure. But that is how we learn.

    What I want to know Bruce is, what does it matter if we make mistakes? If we are willing to accept whatever consequences we might experience for our actions, what does it matter if we “sin” or not?

    In other words, there is no responsibility to God for our actions. OK, just trying to understand.

    God tells us that in His eyes there is no right and wrong, which tells me that our own sense of right and wrong is not inherent in us, but is implanted there by our conditioning.

    So, Bruce, rape is not wrong in God’s eyes?

    Murder is not wrong in God’s eyes?

    That is what you really believe?

    And for you, our moral conscience and sense of right and wrong is nothing more than a cultural thing? OK, but again, it goes against our experience and what we all seemingly “know” deep down in our hearts so I think that will be a hard sell.

    You seem to have a different standard for my sources of spiritual truth than you do for your own. The Bible is in fact a collection of many books written by many different authors over vast stretches of time.

    Bruce, I think you have been reading too many atheist websites. Like I mentioned earlier, you have mixed up a lot of biblical truth in your own beliefs.

    However, if I believed like you do that the Bible was full of mistakes and written by men without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then I would not believe in it either. I understand why you reject God’s Word. You are also right that I cannot prove that the Bible is God’s Word. I think there is good evidence for it and I believe it is God’s Word based on that evidence. The Bible is the living and powerful Word of God. It still changes lives of people who believe today as it has done for thousands of years. It has stood the test of time and is still the best seller by far every year.

    I find it hard to believe that your god, if he exists, would have waited until Walter was born to share this with the world. You say that you believe in these seers, prophets, and visions that Walter had based on your own inner knowing. I guess we each have to make our own decision as to what we will believe.

    If you are right, then it really doesn’t matter what anyone believes or how they live their life. OK, but if you are wrong, many people could be seriously effected.

    Good luck with your beliefs.

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