Basic Life Science and Catholicism

mildly edited and cross posted from Catholic Stand, because it seems to be timely

“Quit forcing your religion on me! Your Pope might think that a fertilized egg is alive, that it’s human, but that’s your opinion– I believe in science! It’s no more a person than a skin cell is, and you just think it has a soul. If abortion upsets you, you should get people to use birth control.”

If you’ve been in abortion discussions, you’re probably familiar with this kind of assertion. I’ll admit that I’ve taken some slight liberty with the paraphrase– I combined several variations into one claim. Other than that….

A ‘fertilized egg’ is a somewhat improper way to describe what happens when a sperm and egg (gamete) join; it’s a zygote, the first stage of development in all animals. It is a single celled organism of whatever species the parents were. In cloning the egg is emptied, the insides of a cell from whatever is being cloned are put in, and the result is induced to start growing as if fertilization had just occurred. (Nuclear transfer; I mentioned this in the Frankenstein installment.) Sometimes the phrase is used to mean “pre-embryo” or “pre-fetus,” although in non-abortion situations (such as IVF) a three-day-old organism is called an “embryo.”

While a skin cell can be said to be alive– because it is part of a living organism– a zygote is an individual constituted to carry on the activities of life by means of organs separate in function but mutually dependent : a living being. If uninterupted, a zygote will develop into a recognizable adult member of the species. A skin cell will remain an skin cell.

When a human egg is fertilized, the organism that results is a member of the human species, distinct from both parents. That is a scientific fact. The Catholic Church teaches that being a living human being means the individual has inherent dignity which we must respect. The question of ensoulment doesn’t arise. (You can find a much more in depth explanation of when human life begins in this PDF of the same name, from the Westchester Institute.)

All of this establishes that, scientifically speaking, the unborn ‘product of conception’ we’re looking at is both alive and of our species.

This is where things get confusing, because science does not speak on who is a “person.” The question of personhood is (in this context) a moral question. As Catholics, we are required to recognize all living humans as people– ironically enough, it is those claiming to be defenders of science who are making a moral judgment, and one that is sadly not that uncommon in the history of humanity. More recently the word “person” has come to be synonymous with “human being,” and is preferred by some to “man” to apply to an individual homo sapiens. It is then easily understandable that most people defending abortion would not want to recognize that their stance means that they are explicitly denying that all humans are “people.” Especially if someone is not carefully choosing their words it is understandable that they would try to claim that a member of our species below a set point of development is not a “human being.”

Pointing out that they are declaring a group of humans to be non-people can be effective, sometimes even on the person arguing for abortion. Please try to be as gentle as possible about it, the shock can be pretty nasty. The author John C. Wright wrote about his instinctive recognition of his son as a person, and laid out the logic rather bluntly. It is worth noting that at the time he was an atheist, though a very classically influenced one.

On a related note, some folks will say that If you don’to like abortions, you should support birth control.  This sounds like it should make sense– the logic of “women have abortions because they have an unwanted pregnancy; birth control reduces pregnancy; more birth control would result in less pregnancy.”

First a religious or philosophical response: for a Catholic, this is roughly on par with saying “if you don’t like murder, you need to support assault!”
Chemical “birth control” results in death for the small human, in some cases as a primary means, some physical methods (IUDs) also cause death, and even something as basic as a condom inherently deforms the essence of sex. This is religion, or at least philosophy, although obviously some (sometimes very) non-religious people will agree that risking your kid’s life so you can have lower risk of pregnancy is obviously wrong.

Now the practical side.

Birth control does not necessarily reduce the number of pregnancies, it lowers the chance of a pregnancy as a result of intercourse. Failure is usually measured in terms of the percent of female users who have an unintended pregnancy in the first year of typical use. Not listed, of course, is not having sex unless you recognize that the reproductive act may result in a new life.

That is what makes contraception– and the “contraceptive mentality”– a root cause of the heat in the abortion debate. Contraception promises that you will have sex without a chance of needing to be responsible for your resulting children. So, if pregnancy results anyways, it’s very tempting to believe that there’s not really your offspring involved.  People you can’t see are so much easier to dehumanize, and the unborn are both really small and not walking around.

77 Responses to Basic Life Science and Catholicism

  • As I watched the video of the girls of Nigeria who have been captured by Islamist terrorists, I had the strangest little picture form in my mind of Sandra Fluke.
    She was talking about women’s right to government provided birth control but the girls couldn’t hear what she was saying.

  • Our first world discussion about birth control seems vanity. Trying to convince people who don’t believe the most basic truths about life because their lives or so protected and so abundant. In the movie “God Is Not Dead” the left leaning reporter got her own wake up call when she was diagnosed with cancer… sad to wonder what it will take to really convince people. Great arguments suggested here and we can’t quit trying.

  • Thank you, and you’re right– we just can’t quit trying.

  • Science acknowledges Divinity in “Conception to Birth Visualized”.

  • Liberals for all their talk about revering science know the least about the subject, and that includes everything from nuclear energy to life sciences. What is worse: they do mot want to know science. What they know is but a caricature.

  • Those who claim to believe in “science” really don’t believe in anything but their own ideologies.

    Anyone who tells me that my wife’s miscarriage did not result in the death of our baby will get a fist in the mouth. Leave it to the Left to dehumanize those they find bothersome. The unborn, Jews, Catholics, Eastern and southern Europeans, Slavs, black Africans, Japanese-Americans in World War II…..

    I watched parts of the Cosmos miniseries with Neil Tyson. He did a nice job narrating and the CGI was well done, but what was nauseating was the references to greenhouse gases and global warming and climate change, blah, blah, blah. Don’t foister that crap on me. I know the entire thing is made up of lies. The leaked emails proved it.

  • Penguins fan-
    I’m sorry.

    My sister lost a baby, too. My aunt has lost at least one, and my grandmother lost at least three mom knew about.

    My folks never taught us theology, explicitly, but I grew up knowing about “pine needle abortion” in cows– it results in a second trimester calf being prematurely birthed. Fatal, of course, but some quick thinking rancher managed to pull something good out of that loss and pickle the calf.

    There was never any doubt in my mind that the unborn is a member of the parent species– from the first time I walked into the science class, it was right there in a big pickle jar.

    I think I was in my teens before I ever heard of abortion in any context but “horrible accident that kills a calf.” I think I even ignored it a couple of times in a human context, because–what kind of loon would do that?

  • I would have reservations about describing a zygote as a “person.” I should prefer to say that it was a “living individual whole whose life is—all going well—to be the life of one or lives of more than one human being.” Perhaps, “human organism” would be the best succinct description.

    I mean that if A and B are monozygotic twins, they cannot both be the same “person” as the zygote from whom they developed. Were A identical with Z and B identical with Z, then, by transivity of identity, A would be identical with B; which is absurd, as Euclid would say.

    There is a very good analysis of this problem in Miss Anscombe’s two papers, “Were You a Zygote?” and “Embryos and Final Causes.”

    It is thought that this may have influenced the CDF’s 1987 Instruction, Donum Vitae, “The Magisterium has not expressly committed itself to an affirmation of a philosophical nature, but it constantly reaffirms the moral condemnation of any kind of procured abortion. This teaching has not been changed and is unchangeable”

  • I would disagree. From a Thomistic framework (and thus an Aristotelian one), there are the four causes as intimated by your reference to the final cause. Those causes are material, formal, efficient and final cause. The formal cause is that which causes the matter to be the type of thing it is. The form of dog coming to matter causes that matter to be dog. The form of cat causes the matter receiving it to be cat. The form of man is the soul. The form coming to matter causes it to be man.
    Now, there is act and potency. An acorn is in Aristotelian natural philosophy a oak in potency. That is, while it has not achieved the fullness of the end (final cause) of the oak tree, it has that very nature of oak. The very nature of the acorn is not a potential oak but rather an oak in potential. Given the proper conditions, the formal cause of oak will direct the operations of the oak in potential (acorn) to its final end (cause) of oak tree. In the oak tree the nature of the oak is in act whereas in the acorn the nature was present though it was in potency to the final end.

    So too with a fertilized egg. Its form is a human soul which is that of a rational animal – a person. This form is never anything else but the form of a nature of a person. Given the proper conditions, this form will direct the operations of the fertilized egg through the varied stages of development (blastocyst, zygote, fetus, infant, toddler, child, adolescent) to the final stage of a full adult person. This is the realization of the fullness of personhood – potency realized in act. But this personhood was always present from the moment of conception in potency if not in act.

    Will respond to the twinning question later.

  • “Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights” Fransisco Suarez from Thomas Aquinas. First let me say to Foxfier that this is a very fine exposition of the truth of science. You know I am not known for weaving the cloth of threads, I only do my best to posit what I do know.
    .
    For science to know anything, the thing must first be defined correctly. All life comes from and with the soul. (We know this because when the soul leaves the body, death occurs.) Aristotle said that a table has a table soul and a rock has a rock soul, existence, as a thing exists. The human being is composed of a human body and an immortal human soul, from the very first moment of existence.
    .
    The Supreme Court went looking for the constitutional person in Roe v. Wade, but found only life, really, the human soul, for without the human soul, there would be no life and no need for abortion. Signs of the soul are life, growth, free will and sovereign personhood. (The person wills to live. The person dies when the person chooses to not live.) Finding the human soul, the Court ought to have found the person. When the human soul is aborted, life for the human person ends. When the human soul is created by our Creator, a new person is begotten. The court must be concerned with the human person and our constitutional posterity, those future generations still to be brought into the world, as these future generations exist in the mind of God. Atheism is unconstitutional. The Constitution of the United States of America, is the law of the Land, and bringing our constitutional posterity into the realm of the physical is constitutional while destroying our posterity is unconstitutional and unlawful.
    .
    What was not proven, for the burden of proof was on Sarah Weddington and the abortionists and the burden of proof was not met, was that the newly conceived was not a person. How Roe presumed to go into court and state that the physical existence of our posterity in a citizen’s womb was not a person, and without proof, to have her unconstitutional falsehood placed into law.
    .
    The individual substance of a rational nature, is Thomas Aquinas’ definition of the person, the human being composed of human body and human soul. God creates life and endows unalienable rights enumerated in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. The state is constituted by the persons to protect and preserve human life, our physical constitutional posterity.
    .
    How is it that the actual bench the Justices sat upon has a bench soul and the newly begotten human being has no human being soul, as the individual substances of a rational nature sitting in Roe v. Wade found to be Truth and Justice?
    .
    The human being without the human soul, life and personhood does not exist in time and in eternity.

  • Thank you, Phillip: “This is the realization of the fullness of personhood – potency realized in act. But this personhood was always present from the moment of conception in potency if not in act.”
    .
    In the sovereign Person of Jesus Christ, as true God and true man the act of the human being is perfect and eternal. Made in the image of God, man has recourse to Christ’s perfect act from conception. This is evident in the Immaculate Conception. Without God, man is worse than lost, man ceases to exist as man. Man takes his being from God, through Christ. Roe v. Wade is the imposition of atheism on our citizens and taxation without representation.
    .
    “Who Will respond to the twinning question later.”
    .
    Two or more souls are sent into the material, physical world and direct the growth of two or many persons with free will and sovereign personhood made in the image of God.

  • “In cloning the egg is emptied, the insides of a cell from whatever is being cloned are put in, and the result is induced to start growing as if fertilization had just occurred. (Nuclear transfer; I mentioned this in the Frankenstein installment.)”
    .
    It is the Frankenstein installment. Frankenstein had no soul of his own only that of the dead.
    Cloning is not a fertilized egg in act or in potential, no procreation only manipulation. Cloning produces the walking dead, zombies with no soul of their own.

  • Since the science and philosophical angles have been covered so well (we obviously have had practice engaging our culture of death), might I offer a “everyman’s” explanation for those neither scientists nor philosophers and perhaps do not give the thought to it we do. We agree that a human is no less of person because he or she is missing a leg, or more of a person be he or she has an higher IQ. We are not more or less of a person because we just turned 5,10,30, 50 or 70. Good looks, wealth and power do nothing to make us more of a human person. And except for the cold blooded atheists, most of us do realize that being born is an artificial and phony criteria that does not make us more or less human. When we can get most people on this same page it is time to propose the question, what makes us a human person? Most people believe in something metaphysical such as a soul that makes us human persons. Coming this far in the discussion makes it a lot easier for a person to conclude the personhood of the unborn human regardless of the stage of development.
    I have found that a similar discussion on love and the purpose of sexual expression can lead others to better understanding of the evil of contraception, however, I think an inner selfish desire to hold onto lust makes many a person to not actually deal with their own conclusions.

  • I would have reservations about describing a zygote as a “person.” I should prefer to say that it was a “living individual whole whose life is—all going well—to be the life of one or lives of more than one human being.” Perhaps, “human organism” would be the best succinct description.
    .
    Then you are arguing that not all humans are people. And that you get to choose which is which.
    .
    I mean that if A and B are monozygotic twins, they cannot both be the same “person” as the zygote from whom they developed.
    .
    The zygote was a person, who became two people.
    Sort of like how a clone– even if a man cloned himself using one of his mother’s eggs or a woman with one of her own, which would (IIRC) make the clone identical in all but age– is not the same as the cell-donor.
    If there’s a transporter accident that makes two identical to-that-point people, they’re not the same person even though they were.
    .
    Kevin– I think you’re right. It’s easy to lie to yourself when you really, really want it to be true.
    .
    Mary-
    I’d disagree with you on the Frankenstein’s monster, but we’re coming from two different directions– you’re correct on the metaphorical/symbolic point of the story.

  • Foxfier,
    Check online the biology on that. I think all texts note that the cells are totipotential and thus uncommitted to a role in a person as yet for about 14 days. That’s why they can be scientifically teased into twinning. At c.14 days the cells commit and twinning can no longer take place. Human matter is present in the first two weeks but not a person. But check the embryology sites online. The second problem is the chimeric individual who has the DNA of two persons thusly: two fertilized fraternal twins lie too close in the initial days and fuse into one cell mass which eventually becomes one person ( unless identical twinning happens days later). Provable cases of this are so recent (? last 60 years) that it is possibly another reason St. John Paul II hesitated in talking of this area with absolute certitude in EV and hence the CDF also.

  • I think all texts note that the cells are totipotential and thus uncommitted to a role in a person as yet for about 14 days
    .
    Does not follow.
    .
    Yes, before the cells specialize, they are totipotential; that doesn’t mean it’s not an organism, it’s a description of that stage in every mammal’s development.
    I linked at least one site explaining the difference between “matter” and an organism, which also explained when the cells diversify.
    .
    The second problem is the chimeric individual who has the DNA of two persons thusly: two fertilized fraternal twins lie too close in the initial days and fuse into one cell mass which eventually becomes one person ( unless identical twinning happens days later).
    .
    There’s a reason I didn’t go into the theories about the soul, although I have noted before that charity demands we believe all living humans (or things-which-seem-to-be-nonhuman-people) have a soul.
    .
    Does death mean that the one who died didn’t have a soul? Even if they die very young? Did health care improvements then mean that young children gained a soul relatively recently?
    I trust God to figure out who has a soul and who doesn’t; it has nothing at all to do with the post, unless you’d like to argue that those you decide do not have a soul are OK to kill.

  • Heck, I never even mentioned DNA. The “each person has their own unique DNA, so if you don’t have unique DNA or if you have more than one DNA sequence you are not an individual in your own right” is taking a science-based rule of thumb (DNA us usually unique to an individual) and conflating it with observed facts (individuals are different people) to make an assumption that the reason a person is a person is their DNA, rather than that being the program that builds their body.
    I’m not 40-mumble percent the same person as my mom, even though our DNA is the same on that level.

  • Penguins Fan writes, “Anyone who tells me that my wife’s miscarriage did not result in the death of our baby..”
    .
    I am very sorry that you and your wife lost your precious baby; I too had a miscarriage and know the pain of that loss.
    .
    You might find the movie “Heaven is For Real” comforting. http://youtu.be/hFVOo9oNVeg

  • Some quick thoughts from another writer on Anscombe and twinning:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2006/01/sweet-reason

  • bill bannon: “Human matter is present in the first two weeks but not a person.” God awaits the will of man and his wife at procreation to instill a human soul and endow human rights with free will and personhood, simultaneously at fertilization of the newly begotten human being. There is no human being, no human life, no human matter without the human soul.
    .
    The soul is the form of the body. The will of the individual to live and grow to become the human form of the soul must be present.
    .
    From the beginning, body and soul, are present in the human matter. The person is present. The will is present. Life is willed to be by the human being in his soul. There is no human life without the human soul and the personhood therein.
    .
    Man is the glory of God. There is no man without God. There is no life without God. God is present in the life of the newly fertilized egg from the first moment of existence, for God is existence.

  • Mary,
    You wrote, “The soul is the form of the body”. But Aquinas saw the first two successive souls ( vegetative and sensitive) as not being the rational soul.
    Delayed ensoulement was the longest tradition on the matter in the Catholic Church. Your view began in the 18th century at which point St. Alphonsus kept with the older one. Trent’s catechism has the older one in the section on the Incarnation/ Creed article three, 9th paragraph:
    ” ….the most sacred body of Christ was immediately formed, and to it was united a rational soul enjoying the use of reason; and thus in the same instant of time He was perfect God and perfect man. That this was the astonishing and admirable work of the Holy Ghost cannot be doubted; for according to the order of nature the rational soul is united to the body only after a certain lapse of time.”
    That is why the CDF passage cited by Michael PS implied that the ensoulement issue is not settled as did St. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae…in section 60 or 61.

  • Here’s the section from Donum Vitae:

    “This Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith] is aware of the current debates concerning the beginning of human life, concerning the individuality of the human being and concerning the identity of the human person. The Congregation recalls the teachings found in the Declaration on Procured Abortion: “From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a new life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. To this perpetual evidence…modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, the program is fixed as to what this living being will be: a man, this individual-man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life, and each of its great capacities requires time…to find its place and to be in a position to act.” (25) This teaching remains valid and is further confirmed, if confirmation were needed, by recent findings of human biological science which recognize that in the zygote resulting from fertilization the biological identity of a new human individual is already constituted.

    Certainly no experimental datum can be in itself sufficient to bring us to the recognition of a spiritual soul; nevertheless, the conclusions of science regarding the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of this first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person? The Magisterium has not expressly committed itself to an affirmation of a philosophical nature, but it constantly reaffirms the moral condemnation of any kind of procured abortion. This teaching has not been changed and is unchangeable. (26)

    Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life.”

  • From Ms. Anscombe “And this “living individual whole” is nothing less than a complete and distinct human organism possessing all of the genetic material needed to inform and organize its growth, as well as an active disposition to develop itself using that information. The direction of its growth is not extrinsically determine , but is in accord with the genetic information within it.”
    .
    “as well as an active disposition to develop itself using that information.” This would be the rational will to live of the rational human soul

    The fact that a human individual in the embryonic stage can divide or be divided into two individuals is no cause for doubting whether the individual is a human being.
    “In “Embryos and Final Causes,” Anscombe correctly observes that “the Catholic Christian Church has always objected to procuring abortion, but to this day has not adopted the doctrine of immediate animation.””
    .
    “Immediate animation”, even of several souls, is necessary since there is no life without the rational soul.
    Aquinas taught that “ensoulment “ took place when the child began to kick and was felt, leaving the question as to how the child arrived at that point. If the soul is the form of the body, there is no body without the soul.

  • Phillip,
    The CDF Cardinal writing that seems unaware of the identical twin problem at all.

  • Phillip: “Certainly no experimental datum can be in itself sufficient to bring us to the recognition of a spiritual soul:”
    .
    The Immaculate Conception, the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is proof that the human soul is present in the human being from conception.
    .
    To Foxfier: From whom did Frankenstein get his soul? Was Frankenstein’s soul pieced together with the pieces of his body? The pieces were dead, having no soul. The souls of these dead had already gone to eternity, leaving Frank. with no soul from them. Did God bless the dead in Frank. with reincarnation? I think not. The Frankenstein monster had no soul.
    .
    I am glad that Ms. Anscombe was a contemporary of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

  • bill bannon:
    “Mary,
    You wrote, “The soul is the form of the body”. But Aquinas saw the first two successive souls ( vegetative and sensitive) as not being the rational soul.”
    .
    I am one person. How many souls can one person have? Vegetative and sensitive and now, rational are phases of the one human soul. Are you two souls when you sleep and when you are awake?
    .
    When God creates a rational, immortal human soul at procreation for the newly begotten child, that soul guides the child into eternity, forever. Am I to meet my vegetative and sensitive souls in the hereafter. I hope I like myself. If I do not, I am coming back for a refund, and God help them.

  • “Immediate animation”, even of several souls, is necessary since there is no life without the rational soul. ”
    .
    “even of several souls” refers to twinning and tripleting and is not a comment on a vegetative or sensitive forms of the soul.

  • The CDF Cardinal writing that seems unaware of the identical twin problem at all.

    More like, does not see it as a problem.

    Same way I don’t.

    Same way various others haven’t.
    ***
    Maybe you could explain why you do find it to be a problem?
    Is a person less themselves if they get a liver transplant? Am I less myself than I was before having children– since it’s been found that mothers carry the DNA of their children in their blood and body after the birth or loss?
    ***
    If some sort of a machine did the Star Trek trick where Riker was duplicated– technobabble, one guy thought he’d been beamed up and it failed, the other thought he just had a rough go being beamed up, technobabble— would you then think they are the same soul, or had no soul, or had two souls up to that point?
    That’s just a simplified, scifi version of cloning, unless you think that the soul is somehow involved in the egg? Because a clone is made out of a differentiated cell that is put in an evacuated egg that is then shocked….or maybe you’d claim clones can’t have souls?
    Then there’s the currently-can’t-do-it-but-probably-eventually-will form of cloning that bypasses the embryo stage and instead “prints” the body from the DNA at some stage of growth…. (We already grow skin, it’s a difference of degree.)

  • Mary-
    From whom did Frankenstein get his soul?

    From God. Same as any victim of rape, IVF child, or future children of other atrocities on the course of human development.
    .
    In the natural course, a child’s is made from the combination of his parents’ bodies. In IVF, similar but outside of the body. In cloning, similar but the parts are egg shell and cell filling. In, God forbid, the case of GM people– DNA parts of various parents in an egg shell. In the Frankenstein Monster’s case, similar but from the actual chunks of the people.

  • Foxfier,
    No, he is unaware when he writes this: ” that in the zygote resulting from fertilization the biological identity of a new human individual is already constituted “. That rules out multiples which result not from an individual with a primitive streak ( post 14 days ) but multiples result from the fact that the cells are totipotential with no primitive streak prior to the primitive streak phase when no twinning can happen because dual members like hands now have their initial basis.

  • Here for readers are two opposing very intellectual authors on the twinning problem in the Jesuit periodical, Theological Studies…

    http://www.ts.mu.edu/readers/content/pdf/51/51.4/51.4.2.pdf

    http://www.ts.mu.edu/readers/content/pdf/58/58.4/58.4.6.pdf

  • “…how could a human individual not be a human person?”

    Bill,

    As I formulate my response to the question of twinning (which will take some thought to respect your position) perhaps you can address this question from Donum Vitae.

  • Also, just quickly reading from your 1st reference, we have this:

    “But we suggest that appropriate protection of the human organism changes with its developmental stages. We wish to present a theory which recognizes the right of every potential mother to a meaningful life and a healthy personality development,2 but which condemns irresponsible destruction of fetal life.”

    It seems, at least from the first paragraph of your first reference that the degree of protection depends on its developmental stage. Also that every “potential mother” has a right to a meaningful life that does not involve an “irresponsible destruction of fetal life.” What is a responsible destruction of fetal life?

  • I am one person. How many souls can one person have?

    “Soul” is used at least partly as a way of saying “it is alive.” So, if it’s alive, it has a A soul, although the animating thing for a cat isn’t the same as for my son. (possible bad explanation here, it’s as good as I can do)
    ***
    bill bannon

    No, he is unaware when he writes this ” that in the zygote resulting from fertilization the biological identity of a new human individual is already constituted “

    No, he is not.
    It is a simple statement of FACT that a new, human, individual is there. It’s a statement of biological fact, as is the the POSSIBILITY that the individual organism which is human (a restatement of ‘human individual’) can become two, or theoretically more, individuals.

    It’s no more challenging to me than “two parents can become two parents and a child” as a description of biological fact.
    ***
    Likewise, you are avoiding the “twinning” effect of cloning– while it’s artificial, it’s still making an identical twin.
    ***
    You have still not explained why you find a human individual becoming two human individuals a thing that is troubling.

  • As Catholics, we too believe
    that “from the moment of conception, the life of every human being is
    to be respected in an absolute way because man is the only creature on
    earth that God ‘wished for himself and the spiritual soul of each man is
    ‘immediately created’ by God.”1
    But we are also vitally concerned as to
    when one might reasonably believe such absolute value could be present
    in a developing organism. We would also like to defuse some of the polar
    opposition fanned by the rhetoric of both prolife and prochoice advocates
    that creates a legislative dilemma for morally and religiously responsible
    politicians.

    These two things do not gel.
    Either you respect the humanity of every HUMAN BEING from THE MOMENT OF CONCEPTION or you ‘try to defuse the polar opposition fanned by the rhetoric…that creates a legislative dilemma for morally and religiously responsible
    politicians’.
    .
    You can recognize fact, or you can try to make it easy.
    There is no middle way.
    ***
    Either a human is a human and to be respected as this from the moment that the human organism is alive, or it’s something to be bartered away for the ease of whoever is doing the trading– and who, from history, is incredibly unlikely to pay the price of being a human non-person.

  • Phillip,
    Let’s lengthen your first quote: ” nevertheless, the conclusions of science regarding the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of this first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?”
    There is neither an individual nor a person present as long as the cells have not decided on how many people are going to be born….or a lab deliberately teases the mass into twinning. Ergo this is another quote in which the Cardinal in question seems oblivious to the possibility of identical multiples.
    Your second question is what Shannon means and since his phrasing is general I can only guess. He is saying that if the c. pre 14 day human cell mass is ended for an emergency then that is not abortion. Pro life people for years have been saying it is but Popes have not had the same rythmn of repetition. If they thought so, they should be saying so frequently and loudly as pro life people do. If the pill is an act of murder then it could easily be said by a Pope to a world press and they have not done that. They might know that the choice to eat too much by a woman also militates against implantation and therefore a
    pope would then have to add that. They don’t because they know this area is iffy. The CDF says “procured abortion” not as they could have said “both procured abortion and pills that are abortifacient from fertilization”. The late Jerome and the late Augustine saw abortion as mortal sin but not murder until the preborn was formed and that was based on the Septuagint version of Exodus 21: 22-25 “If two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is struck in her belly, and her child comes out not fully formed, he shall pay a fine. As the woman’s husband shall impose, he shall pay it with a valuation. But if it is fully formed, he shall give a soul for a soul…”
    Only in modern times did someone notice that this might be a mistaken translation because one Hebrew version reads differently : “When men are fighting and one of them strikes a pregnant woman so that her offspring comes out, and there is no mishap, he shall be fined in accordance with what her husband shall impose upon him, and it will be given over to adjudication. But if there is a mishap, then you shall give a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.” ~Exodus 21:22-25. Here a preborn’s life seems to worth the brawler’s life no matter how young. But the Vulgate by Jerome is the official Church version based on other manuscripts still which Jerome rendered: “If men fall out, and one of them strikes a woman who is pregnant, so that the child is still-born, but she herself lives, he must pay whatever sum the woman’s husband demands, and the judges agree to; if her death follows, then life must pay for life.” (DR)
    So the Vulgate does not have the brawler paying for the foetus with his life but he pays for the mother’s life with his. So our official version actually supports the Jewish position that the mother’s life is more valuable than the preborns.
    Since Biblical manuscripts differ, the Church is not bound by them but at the extraordinary magisterium level where there is no doubt, She condemns abortion infallibly in section 62 of Evangelium Vitae in such a way as to pass canon 749-3 that demands clarity of infallibility in heresy trials. But that clarity is not reached on the abortifacient question of the preimplantation human cell mass. Ergo Shannon is arguing against the pro life position of laity and lower clergy but is not arguing against the clearly infallible of the Magisterium and his view resembles the relative assessments of the late Jerome and the late Augustine.

  • There is neither an individual nor a person present as long as the cells have not decided on how many people are going to be born….
    .
    If that is so, if the human involved dies before birth then there is no human, and thus those who lose children before birth have not actually lost a child with a soul.
    .
    This being a rather…bold… assertion, do you have anything to support it?

  • They might know that the choice to eat too much by a woman also militates against implantation and therefore a pope would then have to add that.

    What on EARTH are you talking about?

  • But the Vulgate by Jerome is the official Church version based on other manuscripts still which Jerome rendered:

    Again, but in English, with official citations if you please.

  • Foxfier,
    The rational soul according to Aquinas cannot divide and fills the entire organism therefore prior to twinning, there cannot be a soul…it’s withdrawal from part of the cell mass would be death to that part.
    Summa T. Part 1, Question 76, article 8:
    ” But since the soul is united to the body as its form, it must necessarily be in the whole body, and in each part thereof…on the withdrawal of the soul, no part of the body retains its proper action…”
    The twinning problem will return the Church eventually to the delayed ensoulement tradition that stretched from the Fathers to St. Alphonsus di Ligouri.

  • Foxfier,
    Go here to number one for Vulgate as official Church text and google it and you’ll see multiple attestations:
    https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/bible_versions.htm

  • Foxfier,
    I don’t agree with your inferences from my text and for obesity and implantation…here but google on your own too.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130709124127.htm

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20395425

  • The official Church version is n longer St. Jerome’s translation, but the Nova Vulgata Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio of Pope John Paul II:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/bible/nova_vulgata/documents/nova-vulgata_index_lt.html

    I purchased a hard copy from the Vatican’s publishing house a few years ago. It cost about$120.00 or so. I had it blessed by one of our priests here in Charlotte who also knows Latin.

  • They are identical in most places and herein on this issue they have the same meaning…here is your new Vulgate and the same meaning:

    si rixati fuerint viri et percusserit quis mulierem praegnantem et abortivum quidem fecerit sed ipsa vixerit subiacebit damno quantum expetierit maritus mulieris et arbitri iudicarint

    If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman’s husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award.

    23 sin autem mors eius fuerit subsecuta reddet animam pro anima

    But if her death ensue thereupon, he shall render life for life,

    24 oculum pro oculo dentem pro dente manum pro manu pedem pro pede

    Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

    25 adustionem pro adustione vulnus pro vulnere livorem pro livore

    Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

  • Kevin: “Most people believe in something metaphysical such as a soul that makes us human persons.”
    .
    The human being, body and soul, makes us human persons. Government is constituted to protect human persons. Atheism denies human persons and defines the human being as an animal with no metaphysical soul or transcendent purpose or vocation in this world and without heaven. Atheism is refuted in the very First Amendment. Atheism is unconstitutional, while the atheist must be tolerated until he learns and accepts the truth about himself as a creature of God.
    .
    Freedom of religion must remain a civil right for when the atheist finds himself in the truth.

  • Foxfier: I love you.
    .
    Mary-
    From whom did Frankenstein get his soul?
    From God. Same as any victim of rape, IVF child, or future children of other atrocities on the course of human development.
    .
    In the natural course, a child’s is made from the combination of his parents’ bodies. In IVF, similar but outside of the body. In cloning, similar but the parts are egg shell and cell filling. In, God forbid, the case of GM people– DNA parts of various parents in an egg shell. In the Frankenstein Monster’s case, similar but from the actual chunks of the people.
    .
    Death is defined as the soul leaving the body. This happens when the body begins to decay (usually two or three days, Lazarus took four days) and the soul can no longer abide in it. Everything you say about life and soul coming together is true. My problem, trying to wrap my mind around the idea that Frankenstein had no life in his body since his parts were dead, the soul having left. No, I think that God did not give Frankenstein his life or his soul. Frankenstein is a fairy tale, filled with Mary Shelley’s errors.
    .
    “In, God forbid, the case of GM people– DNA parts of various parents in an egg shell.”
    .
    DNA parts exactly. DNA is human body parts and may not be patented or bought or sold, or owned by any person other than the human being to whom God created the DNA for.
    Foxfier: I love you. Keep up the good work.

  • Foxfier: “I am one person. How many souls can one person have?
    “Soul” is used at least partly as a way of saying “it is alive.” So, if it’s alive, it has a A soul, although the animating thing for a cat isn’t the same as for my son. (possible bad explanation here, it’s as good as I can do)”

    .
    This is very well done. A cat has an animal soul which dies with it when the cat dies. (I suspect that Frank. had a Frank soul that died with him when he died…really dumb). Only the human being has a rational, immortal human soul capable of knowing, loving and serving God. (animals serve God by being animals, in the sense of Aquinas’ vegetable soul. Animals are innocent and not capable of committing sin). The immortality of the human soul is the image of and likeness of God in our being human. Without acknowledging our Creator, man cannot know who he is, or where his destiny lies.
    .
    Twinning is the individual person, begotten, sharing himself and this too requires free will assent. The person consents to live at procreation. This act of the will to live is an act of the person’s soul. Can a twin or triplet be less than the human being, body and soul, of whom he or she is begotten? Can a candlelight be less, more or less, than fire? (very poor analogy)

  • bill bannon: “Foxfier,
    The rational soul according to Aquinas cannot divide and fills the entire organism therefore prior to twinning, there cannot be a soul…it’s withdrawal from part of the cell mass would be death to that part.
    Summa T. Part 1, Question 76, article 8:
    ” But since the soul is united to the body as its form, it must necessarily be in the whole body, and in each part thereof…on the withdrawal of the soul, no part of the body retains its proper action…”
    The twinning problem will return the Church eventually to the delayed ensoulement tradition that stretched from the Fathers to St. Alphonsus di Ligouri.”
    .
    Not if there are more than one soul and more than one person immediately animating the procreated individual.

  • bill bannon: “There is neither an individual nor a person present as long as the cells have not decided on how many people are going to be born….or a lab deliberately teases the mass into twinning. Ergo this is another quote in which the Cardinal in question seems oblivious to the possibility of identical multiples.”
    .
    Actually the person does decide. The cells do not decide. The free will, an attribute of the immortal human soul, acts in deciding to live and the twinning may be God’s creation and immediate animation of more than one person (soul) in this particular individual.

  • Mary,
    I am done. This debate swallowed my Friday. It will not devour my weekend. Adieu.

  • “…There is neither an individual nor a person present as long as the cells have not decided on how many people are going to be born….or a lab deliberately teases the mass into twinning.”

    I know you are not here still Bill but this is just a longer assertion of what you have said before and not an actual argument as to why.

    Clearly there can be a soul present. If the cell mass is totipotent there seems to be no problem in a portion of it splitting off into a distinct, self-organizing body. This of course would also require the presence of a distinct soul infusing this new person. Why is this impossible?

  • “He is saying that if the c. pre 14 day human cell mass is ended for an emergency then that is not abortion.”

    Though this does make for an important distinction. If a woman is pregnant and finds out before day 14, then they could, according to the author, licitly have an abortion.

    “If the pill is an act of murder then it could easily be said by a Pope to a world press and they have not done that.”

    Of course this is part of the reason that the Church is opposed to the ACA contraception mandate. That certain pills act as abortifacients by preventing implantation of the fertilized egg which typically occurs between 6 – 8 day.

    “Ergo Shannon is arguing against the pro life position of laity and lower clergy but is not arguing against the clearly infallible of the Magisterium and his view resembles the relative assessments of the late Jerome and the late Augustine.”

    “So the Vulgate does not have the brawler paying for the foetus with his life but he pays for the mother’s life with his.”

    Though from that perspective, one can claim that a fetus about to be born is not a person.

    Yes, and the CDF as noted above as am I arguing from the perspective that modern science in its full understanding of embryology provides. Something Augustine and Aquinas (and Aristotle from which Aquinas evolved his understanding of gestation) did not have.

  • Mary de Voe’s ingenious suggestion of two souls runs into a difficulty pointed out by St Thomas. What exactly do we mean by saying there are two, rather than one. “Although the intellectual soul, like an angel, has no matter from which it is produced, yet it is the form of a certain matter; in which it is unlike an angel. Therefore, according to the division of matter, there are many souls of one species; while it is quite impossible for many angels to be of one species.” (ST I q 76 a 2) Apart from matter, there can no more be two souls of the same species than two angels of the same species, or two identical ideas. They would be one and the same soul (or angel or idea). There would be nothing to separate or distinguish them.

    Discussions around ensoulment cannot answer the question of identity. Miss Anscombe in The First Person, makes the point that “If the principle of human rational life in E.A. is a soul (which perhaps can survive E.A., perhaps again animate E.A.) that is not the reference of “I.” Nor is it what I am. I am E.A. and shall exist only as long as E.A. exists.” She continues, “But “I” is not a name: these I-thoughts are examples of reflective consciousness of states, actions, motions, etc., not of an object I mean by “I,” but of this body. These I-thoughts (allow me to pause and think some!) are unmediated conceptions (knowledge or belief, true or false) of states, motions, etc., of this object here, about which I can find out (if I don’t know it) that it is E.A. About which I did learn that it is a human being.”

    Hardly surprising that in Donum Vitae, the CDF says, “”This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement.”

  • Hardly surprising in that the Church rarely makes pronouncements in favor of one philosophical position or another. What is surprising in Donum Vitae is it does develop Church teaching in that it accepts that all human life are persons from the moment of conception. Again, the key phrase:

    “…nevertheless, the conclusions of science regarding the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of this first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?”

    I might add here, given that his small audience is aware of the twinning problem, I suspect the CDF has been aware of this problem. Thus, making the assertion that a human person is present from conception being even more remarkable. Even given the tradition of authors such as Augustine and Aquinas.

  • That should read “…this small audience…”

  • Phillip

    The CDF was careful to qualify its remarks.

    ““The Magisterium has not expressly committed itself to an affirmation of a philosophical nature…” and “This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement.”

    In other words, Catholics are free to dispute over the questions of individuality and ensoulment and personhood and are not tied down to any particular philosophical or metaphysical position.

    Wittgenstein probably said it best, when he remarked, “the human body is the best picture of the human soul.” (PI II, iv, 178) and “To have an opinion is a state – a state of what? Of the soul? Of the mind? Well, of what object does one say that it has an opinion? Of Mr. N.N. for example. And that is the correct answer.” (ibid I § 573)

  • It does so from the perspective of philosophy and there is a right to not hold the position. But from the perspective of science it does go in that direction as per the quote I provided.

  • Hardly surprising that in Donum Vitae, the CDF says, “”This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement.”

    Part of why I pointed out that the question of ensoulment didn’t come into the argument.

  • Phillip
    I think Foucault and Derrida have convinced most of us that the objective features of a phenomenon so little constrain the ways it is classified and theorized that these features can be disregarded in trying to understand why a particular classification system or scientific theory has been adopted

    Foxfier
    You are right.

    I have always been particularly impressed by Tertullian in the Apologeticum, where he is obviously expressing, not his own views, but the common teaching of the Church.

    “With us, homicide being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even what is conceived in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood for its sustenance. To prevent a birth is to hasten homicide; nor does it matter whether you take away a life [animam] from one that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a human being which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed.” [My translation – Clearly, “Animam” here has its normal Latin meaning of “life”; not “soul” in the philosophical sense.]
    This passage is so important, given that the author’s floruit(160-220 AD) and his acquaintance with the churches of Rome and North Africa, that I give the original: “Nobis vero semel homicidio interdicto etiam conceptum utero, dum adhuc sanguis in hominem delibatur, dissolvere non licet. Homicidii festinatio est prohibere nasci, nec refert natam quis eripiat animam an nascentem disturbet. Homo est et qui est futurus; etiam fructus omnis iam in semine est” (Apologeticum 9:8)

  • bill bannon: “Mary,
    I am done. This debate swallowed my Friday. It will not devour my weekend. Adieu.”

    .
    Sometime blogging may make on feel like Jonah in the whale.. Have a nice week end, Bill.
    .
    The Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculate from the first moment of her existence in the womb of Saint Anne, her mother, is the Immaculate Conception. Jesus Christ’s mother, Mary, was ensouled from the first moment of her existence and Mary is the person all mankind must emulate after the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The soul of Christ was conceived in the Incarnation. The soul of Christ took on human flesh in the womb of Mary. Without reference to Mary, because Mary is the mother of God, and Jesus, because Jesus is true man and true God, the human race is lost. How is it possible that one human being is immaculate and sinless from conception (1854) and another human being of the same species cannot have a soul?
    .
    The human being in the species homosapiens is composed of body and soul. Without the soul there is no life; no human being. Miscarriage tells that there was once life. “I AM” comes into being at the very first moment of existence, at the fertilization of the human egg by the human sperm at procreation. God is existence. A person is the sovereignty of God in man, his soul. “I, in them and Thou in me” John 17: 23. …for you are men sacred to me, as I, the Lord am holy.
    .
    If the soul is the form of the body, then, how did the body get formed from fertilization to ensoulment, unless the body had a soul from fertilization to ensoulment to form it? Immediate animation. “Love one another as I have loved you.”
    .
    The human being knows God, our Creator, from the first moment of his creation, of his being made in the image and likeness of God. The human being is being all he can be from ensoulment and life to desoulment and death.

  • “God created man in His image, In the image of God he created him, Male and female he created them” Gen.1:27.
    .
    God took Eve from Adam’s rib. Twinning.
    Look at the word id entity. Man is an id entity and man’s id is made in the image of God. The purpose of sex is to bring forth more ids, ids who are sacred.
    I am enjoying this excursion into words and meanings. The newly conceived child listens and learns and loves, all through his soul which can twin.

  • Oooh, I hadn’t considered that aspect, Mary.

  • This is as profound as it is simple: We, the people, are all Jesus Christ’s twin.

  • Oh Foxfier: I boofed on my own teaching. “The newly conceived child listens and learns and loves, all through his soul which can twin.” ought to read:
    .
    The newly conceived child listens and learns and loves, all through his soul WHO can twin.

  • Professor Peter Singer of Princeton University cares not a bit about any ensoulment process experienced by a human child in the first weeks or months of his/her development, rather the good professor holds that a child’s right to be born, or to stay alive once born, turns on the child’s possessing self awareness or functionalism.
    .
    Absent self awareness, a child, according to Professor Singer, may be subject to abortion at anytime including post birth.

  • “I think Foucault and Derrida have convinced most of us that the objective features of a phenomenon so little constrain the ways it is classified and theorized that these features can be disregarded in trying to understand why a particular classification system or scientific theory has been adopted.”

    There are some things that are true regardless of Derrida or Foucault or how anyone chooses to interpret the phenomena. One would be that the Earth revolves around the Sun and the heart pumps blood. Among these scientific facts is that from the moment of conception, a distinct, new human individual is present.

    Now, as Donum Vitae notes, it is difficult to conceive of a human individual who is not possessed of a rational nature and thus not a human person. Though perhaps to preserve the appearances for continental philosophers, some will try.

  • Slainte-
    that is why he is known as one of the more honest pro-aborts. His views are utterly abhorrent, but they are logical, based on his beliefs, and he follows them right off the cliff.

  • Who is Professor Singer to dictate Who is and Who is not self-aware? The sovereign personhood of the newly conceived and begotten individual substance of a rational nature, constitutes our nation as our constitutional posterity, from the very first moment of existence…not a very new idea. The Chinese count the age of the child from the moment of conception. Existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights.
    .
    If bill bannon made Mass today he heard John 14: 1-19. I thought of the Hound of Heaven. In Jesus Christ, theology and philosophy are united as Jesus is Man and God.
    .
    Michael Paterson-Seymour: “What exactly do we mean by saying there are two, rather than one. “Although the intellectual soul, like an angel, has no matter from which it is produced, yet it is the form of a certain matter; in which it is unlike an angel. Therefore, according to the division of matter, there are many souls of one species; while it is quite impossible for many angels to be of one species.” (ST I q 76 a 2) Apart from matter, there can no more be two souls of the same species than two angels of the same species, or two identical ideas. They would be one and the same soul (or angel or idea). There would be nothing to separate or distinguish them.”
    .
    This is why the human body with two or three souls divides to become two or three human beings, (all within the creative power of God), in the fourteen days before the cells become diversified. The necessity of twinning and of tripletting prove the presence of more than one human soul. Who can deny the human soul to any individual? “I am the Way the Truth and the Life” If the child has life, the child has a soul, the brother of Jesus Christ, and a child of our Creator.
    .
    Atheism, as practiced by Peter Singer is unconstitutional. Our constitutional posterity, begotten, have the same endowed free will and freedom as our constitutional posterity birthed into citizenship…The Preamble.
    .
    slainte: “Absent self awareness, a child, according to Professor Singer, may be subject to abortion at anytime including post birth.”
    .
    Hitler, too, destroyed those individuals who did not measure up to his idea of self-awareness, and if they were Gypsies, Jews, homosexuals, disabled or priests, religious or political opponents, they were destroyed even faster. More of Margaret Sanger’s legacy of “useless eaters” and “human weeds”. Any individual who dares to believe in the human soul and God in America is verbotten.
    .
    Speaking of id-entities brought forth in fertilization, there are also id-iots. Moral relativism explained and exposed and annihilated.

  • Who is Professor Singer to dictate Who is and Who is not self-aware?

    To quote pop culture of my generation:
    Good, bad, he’s the guy with the gun.
    ***
    Less obscurely: he has the ability to act, and he has desires he wants to be fulfilled, and he chose his viewpoint based on the things he wants to be true. He then applied logic to those views and realized that if he wants to be able to kill those who are not functioning on the same level that he is* then they have to be not-really-people. Recognizing this is how we have atheists or agnostics who are still absolute pro-lifers.
    .
    *at least in theory; in practice, he behaved honorably to his own disabled mother. When you’re a better person for being a hypocrite, maybe your philosophy needs to be reexamined.

  • Foxfier: “he has the ability to act, and he has desires he wants to be fulfilled, and he chose his viewpoint based on the things he wants to be true.”
    .
    Every soul “has the ability to act,” the soul makes a free will act to live and consents to life, these are two free will acts of the self-awareness of the soul and consciousness. “and he has desires he wants to be fulfilled,”. The pursuit of Happiness is the soul’s directing of the human body to grow into who the person is to be and facilitating the discernment of one’s vocation and destiny. The endowed soul, the form of the body, desires these benefits for the human body. These gifts are the “Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity” of our Constitution. “and he chose his viewpoint based on the things he wants to be true”. All persons have an opinion based on the things he knows and wants to be true. The intellect is an attribute of the human soul, the form of the body, who makes choices and informs the person from the very first moment of existence.
    .
    If Peter Singer does not like the form of the body and his choices, Peter Singer is not free to injure, assault or kill the person. Even now Peter Singer is deemed to be a monster.

  • May I add that when the soul makes the act of a free will choice to accept Jesus as his Savior, worship God in a free will act of accepting the gift of Faith, and when the soul, the form of the body, works to form the body; these acts are the work of the Holy Spirit in the holy soul of man; acts to which man in his sovereign soul and freedom gives assent.

  • If Peter Singer does not like the form of the body and his choices, Peter Singer is not free to injure, assault or kill the person. Even now Peter Singer is deemed to be a monster.

    Rightly so– at least philosophically– but that’s a function of him having the physical power to express his desires/beliefs.

    The Problem Of Sin, writ very black and white.

  • In his Rethinking Life and Death, Singer says, “[The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life”

    To say that the fetus is not both alive and human is plainly nonsense and, in calling for greater honesty from those who defend abortion, Singer is so far right.

    The French National Assembly was of the same mind, when it enacted the Veil Law (Loi n° 75-17 du 17 janvier 1975, concerning the Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy), Art 1 of which declares, “The law guarantees respect for every human being from the outset of life. There shall be no derogation from this principle [Il ne saurait être porté atteinte à ce principe] except in cases of necessity and under the conditions laid down by this Law.” [My translation]

    Most French people, on either side of the debate, regard the “convenient fiction” to which Singer refers as a typical piece of Anglo-Saxon hypocrisy. However, Singer’s views can be traced back to the malign influence of a French philosopher, René Descartes and his Mind-Matter dualism.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “In his Rethinking Life and Death, Singer says, “[The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognize that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life”.
    It is the duty of the state to prosecute crime and “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” From The Preamble. Abortion was legalized to “protect the life of the mother.” It is wrong to take that being’s life unless that being has been taking the mother’s life unto the mother’s death. The mother’s death must be imminent, here and now, not maybe in the future or a prognosis. The mother and father beget that human being’s life. God creates that human being’s life. Atheism is unconstitutional.

    René Descartes and his Mind-Matter dualism.”
    .
    This I know. The human, rational, immortal soul is the seat of reason and immortality. The immortality of the human soul is life, earthly human life and heavenly human life, the life of the saints in heaven. Once life, created and endowed by our Creator, is begotten, life is a right (not a wrong) and may not be explained away as an opinion by any other human being. The rational, immortal, human soul is endowed with intellect, intuition, free will, sovereignty, personhood and humanity, the power of compassion, to recognize and understand, to empathize and sympathize with other individuals of homo-sapiens. Devils refuse to do this. Angels behold the face of God.
    .
    In “I think therefore I AM” Rene Descartes proved that he existed as a human being by exercising his free will to act in the act of thinking. Descartes might also have proved his existence in the free will choice to act in the experience of sacrificial love. Descartes proved that the brain, as an organ, had a purpose directed by his soul and this purpose was to know; to know the experience of himself as a human being and to know, to love and to serve God, in and through and with Jesus Christ, the true purpose of man existence.
    .
    How can we admit of man’s soul when we are forbidden to admit of God? We are not forbidden to admit of God or the reality of man’s immortal soul by our Founding Principles ratified by all states. The First Amendment: “or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”
    .
    Peter Singer, steeped in his ignorance of the truth of his existence and his purpose in life, is an id-iot and as an id-iot, must be tolerated as an id-iot. Singer’s self-awareness of himself is defunct.

  • Mary de Voe wrote, “In “I think therefore I AM” Rene Descartes proved that he existed as a human being…”
    No, No, No! Descartes is saying, in effect, “I can conceive myself not to include or be my body.”

    As Miss Anscombe points out, “by that method Descartes must have doubted the existence of the man Descartes: at any rate of that figure in the world of his time, that Frenchman, born of such-and-such a stock and christened René; but also, even of the man — unless a man isn’t a sort of animal. If, then, the non-identity of himself with his own body follows from his starting-points, so equally does the non-identity of himself with the man Descartes….
    This led to an imaginative tour de force on the part of Locke: might not the thinking substance which thought the thought “I did it” — the genuine thought of agent-memory — nevertheless be a different thinking substance from the one that could have had the thought: “I am doing it” when the act was done? Thus he detached the identity of the self or ‘person’ from the identity even of the thinking being which does the actual thinking of the I-thoughts.”

    In fact, “I” is not a referring expression at all, any more than “it” is a referring expression in “it is raining.” “I am MPS” is not an identity proposition. It is connected to an identity proposition, “This thing here is MPS.” But there is also the proposition “I am this thing here.” It means: this thing here is the thing, the living human being, of whose action this idea of action is an idea, of whose movements these ideas of movement are ideas, of whose posture this idea of posture is the idea. And also, of which these intended actions, if carried out, will be the actions.

  • It would appear, Michael Paterson-Seymour, that Descartes and you, Sir, have traced yourselves back to the mind of God and have proved the existence of your immortal souls. for “I” is the name of God. but “it” is not. “I” is a person. “It” is not a person. “I can imagine myself as an idea in the mind of God.” “I am a soul willed by God into existence.” “It is this soul who I am who is. Thank you, Michael Paterson-Seymour.
    .
    My goal is to align the human being, body and soul with the Constitution. How well I do only time will tell.
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    That one-celled human being loves his Creator, loves his life and loves his parents. Who can prove otherwise? That one-celled human being who is growing to know, to love and serve God in thought, word and deed is a child of God. He has a Right to Life. He is legally and morally innocent. His conscience is a clean slate.
    .
    No idiot may exercise his ignorance in prohibiting or destroying the embryo’s love for God. “…or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” The idiot is jealous of the one-celled human being. The idiot cannot destroy the embryo’s conscience, the embryo’s will to live and the embryo’s will to love. The idiot cannot destroy the one–celled human being’s immortal soul.

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