Tricky Dickey:
Congress, Cowards, and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Research — By on July 17, 2006 at 6:11 am

This week the Senate is expected to approve legislation already passed by the House that will expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. If it passes, President Bush will veto the legislation, a move that should be praised by pro-lifers, fiscal conservatives, and anyone who values science and ethics.
If corporations asked the government to fund research into hydrogen-fueled cars by over-hyping their potential while denigrating the alternatives (i.e., electric cars), the watchdogs in the media would be writing Pulitzer-winning exposes. Yet embryonic stem cell research, which currently consists of bad science and even worse ethics, is given a pass. The hype and outright dishonesty surrounding the support of this research instead of adult stem cell research is scandalous — and has been abetted by the mainstream media. (Former Science Editor Tim Radford of the UK’s The Guardian even admitted at a recent conference that he and his fellow science journalists hype stem cell research to sell more newspapers.)
Since they can’t even cover the obvious story-behind-the-story, the media are even less likely to report on the Congressional hypocrisy of creating a law to circumvent one that they themselves have passed. Yet that is what the current legislation intends to do.
In 1996, former Arkansas congressman Jay Dickey attached an amendment to the Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill that prohibits the use of federal funds for research that destroys or seriously endangers human embryos. The Dickey Amendment, which has been reimplemented every year since ‘



  • http://philosophicalmidwifery.blogspot.com/ Franklin Mason

    In the past I’ve argued here – and others too – that an embryo is a mere collection of cells that have not yet reached that degree of interdependence necessary to constitute a human being. To my objection to a prior post in which you said that no one rejects the claim that a human begins to exist when sperm fertilizes ovum, you referred me to argument intended to show just this. I found it unpersuasive.
    Indeed it seems that the issue of the just when a human being comes to exist is very much a live issue. Yet you continue, here and in other posts, to ignore such worries and simply write as if we all agree on the matter. We do not.

  • Neil Shotton

    Franklin,
    Great post!
    There are many issues in this very complex argument that are not easily cataloged and that do not fit well into brief statements of ideologue. Federally funded research of embryonic stem cell does have enormous potential, even though it is over hyped. Especially with the fertility clinics still trashing embryos at the present rate, it should be part of the program. However, the Feds not very aggressively funding adult stem cell research remains a disappointment. Like many things, research follows the money.

  • Tim L

    Franklin,
    What is your point? Of course it is a live issue. I had no idea that Joe had to defer to your opinion or anybody else when writing his essays!
    He didn’t write as if we all agree on the matter. He wrote it in a way to be persuasive in his argument!
    Do you really think this post is about you?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Joe would be more plausible if he didn’t presume to fool us into believing he has some type of special insight into the research results of stem cell research. The fact is we have no idea what will or will not be produced by such research. As for which research has the most ‘promise’, that is literally nothing more than a guess. If we knew which research had promise for sure then we wouldn’t have to do any research because we’d already know the results!
    If corporations asked the government to fund research into hydrogen-fueled cars by over-hyping their potential while denigrating the alternatives (i.e., electric cars), the watchdogs in the media would be writing Pulitzer-winning exposes.
    I don’t doubt for a second the gov’t has funded research into both hydrogen cars and electric ones. It’s well known that a lot of gov’t research results are taken up by private industry for profit. ESC advocates did not ask the gov’t to do anything special in terms of research…it was the critics of ESC research who instituted a special rule restricting federal funding of it.
    In an even playing field, those seeking to get federal funds would submit research proposals that would then have to compete with all other proposals for the available funds. Of course ESC was over hyped when it first came out. Quite a few breakthrus were over hyped. Anyone recall robotics, genetic engineering, superconductors, even HDTV?
    It’s ironic that because of the Federal ban advocates of ESC are having the states set up state funded ESC research institutions. What’s ironic about this is because they are dedicating funds to ESC research…rather than just having ESC research compete on its merits with other research proposals…the end result will probably be more ESC research than would have taken place without the ban.

  • Tim L

    Boontoon,
    Joe is simply deriving his opinion based upon results as of this date. Adult stem cells have shown much promise over the past few years. Embryonic stem cells have shown no promise thus far.
    So why not stop making this an issue and support what works? Especially since there are some people that object to one source and not another?
    I guess if a person was close minded and didn’t respect opinions other than their own then this would be an issue. Fortunately, deeply held beliefs are respected around here, so I guess we don’t need to worry about ESC any longer. After all, there are plenty of other options.

  • Oliver I.

    To Franklin:
    I can’t speak for him, but I think Joe’s target audience for this post was like-minded evangelicals. The issue at hand is the spineless tactics of certain politicians.
    Personally, I think life begins at conception based on my belief in a spiritual component to human life; that is, though a zygote cannot yet experience life like a adult human, it still possesses the worth of a human adult. And a zygote has the capacity for becoming a human adult, which we have no right to squelch.
    In any case, it is an important issue.
    Has Joe made a post solely to explain why he thinks life begins when “sperm fertilizes ovum”? I’d like to read it.

  • Bryan K Mills

    I’m still amazed at the socialism that has embedded itself in everyone’s mind: the government pays for all the non-profitable research then the private companies come in to reap the benefits.
    The government pays for research no one wants to do, art no one wants to see, trains no one wants to ride–anything that can’t survive on its own in the free market gets my money to prop it up.
    I don’t like this. Especially as it pertains to activities I find morally repugnant.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Tim L
    So why not stop making this an issue and support what works? Especially since there are some people that object to one source and not another?
    I’m not sure why you are addressing this to me. Joe is the one who has declared that he knows embryonic stem cells don’t work. The position I’ve staked out is that we don’t know & I’ve yet to have anyone here show me that there is reason to believe their knowledge of this field is superior.
    Joe is simply deriving his opinion based upon results as of this date. Adult stem cells have shown much promise over the past few years. Embryonic stem cells have shown no promise thus far.
    First promise is future based, not past. In the previous thread it was claimed that adult cells produced 70 treatments and embryonic cells none. This, however tells us nothing about their promise. Their promise would be how many treatments they will produce in the future. If adult cells have been exhausted but embryonic cells will produce one treatment then objectively embryonic cells have more promise. (Of course this greatly simplifies things, not all treatments are equal for one thing. A cure for all forms of cancer is hardly equal to a treatment for, say, Parkinsons that works 5% of the time and has horrendous side effects).
    Second what makes this comparison difficult is that adult stem cells have no research restrictions on them and raise no ethical objections. While embryonic research ideas may get sexier headlines, the fact remains a researcher writing up a proposal and funding request has had more outlets to turn too if his proposal uses adult stem cells rather than embryonic ones. In effect, ASC has enjoyed a head start so to compare the two in terms of results is premature.
    I guess if a person was close minded and didn’t respect opinions other than their own then this would be an issue. Fortunately, deeply held beliefs are respected around here, so I guess we don’t need to worry about ESC any longer. After all, there are plenty of other options.
    I’m not sure what you mean here. As for the later part you are just engaging in wishful thinking. You are pretending that you or Joe know what ESC can or cannot do and you are pretending that there are alternatives if ESC is taken off the table. If you take ESC off the table you should be clear about it, it would be a sacrifice. You can argue such a sacrifice is justified just as we justify the cost in terms of knowledge that results from other ethical restrictions on research…but don’t pretend you know something you really cannot know.

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    “Federally funded research of embryonic stem cell does have enormous potential…”
    Horse manure. If it did, the private sector would be all over it without the need of propping up from the federal government (see Bryan Mills post). The pro-abortion left is behind the immoral cannibalization, based entirely on pseudo-scientific propaganda and more doomsday hysteria: i.e. If only Kerry/Edwards were in office, Christopher Reeves would be alive and well, Parkinsons would be cured, the lame would walk and the blind would see!

  • http://newsojourn.blogspot.com Mark Hunsaker

    Follow the money guys. Why would anyone ignore the tremendous success of Adult Stem cell research and subsequent treatments in favor of the inethical approach of ESCR?
    Simple. Adult Stem cell treatments are always unique. So far, research has found that one treatment may work on one or a few patients, but not on mass numbers. Indeed, ASCR can be used to treat many patients, but each requires unique application of the method.
    In otherwords, ASCR (at our current stage of understanding) could not be mass produced while ESCR (it is believed) could be mass produced and as such mass marketed.
    Follow the money. That is where politicians (almost) always go.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Horse manure. If it did, the private sector would be all over it without the need of propping up from the federal government (see Bryan Mills post).
    Basic research is often not undertaken by the private sector. In order to make a profit on research it has to result in something that can be patented. Basic research, though, often has a long way to go before it can even begin to get to the point of being patentable as a product that can be sold by the private sector to recoup R&D costs.
    Follow the money guys. Why would anyone ignore the tremendous success of Adult Stem cell research and subsequent treatments in favor of the inethical approach of ESCR?
    Who is ignoring adult stem cell research? Let’s remember just reading headlines about research is not the same as actually doing research! By your very statement how could ASC’s be ignored if they have had ‘tremendous success’. BTW, speaking of ‘tremendous’….do I think that perhaps a bit of spin is happening here on the side of ASC too?

  • Bryan K Mills

    “Could” be. The question is whether they “should” be.
    Where are the feminists screaming about the exploitation of women–all the poor ladies who will risk their health to be pumped full of hormones and harvested in exchange for money?
    And for the argument that the clinics are destroying the embryos anyway, we might as well get some use out of them… let’s go ahead and start experimenting on and harvesting inmates on death row and the terminally ill.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Franklin In the past I’ve argued here – and others too – that an embryo is a mere collection of cells that have not yet reached that degree of interdependence necessary to constitute a human being.
    Let

  • The Raven

    From the National Institutes of Health:
    “VI. What are the potential uses of human stem cells and the obstacles that must be overcome before these potential uses will be realized?
    There are many ways in which human stem cells can be used in basic research and in clinical research. However, there are many technical hurdles between the promise of stem cells and the realization of these uses, which will only be overcome by continued intensive stem cell research.
    Studies of human embryonic stem cells may yield information about the complex events that occur during human development. A primary goal of this work is to identify how undifferentiated stem cells become differentiated. Scientists know that turning genes on and off is central to this process. Some of the most serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are due to abnormal cell division and differentiation. A better understanding of the genetic and molecular controls of these processes may yield information about how such diseases arise and suggest new strategies for therapy. A significant hurdle to this use and most uses of stem cells is that scientists do not yet fully understand the signals that turn specific genes on and off to influence the differentiation of the stem cell.
    One of the tremendous advantages of scientific-method-based inquiry is that there are often concrete answers to speculative questions. From the reading above, it should be clear that ESC research is not being posited as a source of immediate known benefits. What we do know is that this appears to be a route toward further knowledge.
    In most cases, the person who argues against the pursuit of knowledge is wrong.
    The person who advocates the banning of books is wrong.
    The moralistic censor and lemon-faced gatekeeper and know-nothing Luddite is always wrong.
    And posts like Joe’s are a excellent example of why it is so important that Evangelicals restrain their sphere of influence to the church. Applying religious dogma to the serious business of science causes more harm than good. Remember that medical ethics are an important area of medicine and biological research – we aren’t at risk of grievous harm because there are already tools in place to review and monitor the kind of research envisioned here. The universal reverence for life should acknowledge the living as well as the potentially alive, and reserve emphasis for the alleviation of human suffering.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Another reason “Why would anyone ignore the tremendous success of Adult Stem cell research and subsequent treatments in favor of the inethical approach of ESCR?” —
    Magick with a K.
    In his non-fiction book Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, F&SF author Orson Scott Card uses the origin of his fantasy novel Hart’s Hope as a case study. HH grew from a doodle-map of a fantasy city and a fantasy writer’s classroom exercise to come up with a unique rationale for a fantasy-magic system.
    What the classroom brainstorming session came up with was:
    Magic was powered by life-force; the magic-user “burned up” life-force — his own or someone else’s — to power the spell. The more life-force you burned in a casting, the more powerful the magic effect. Human sacrifice (burning ALL the life-force in the sacrifice) was the most powerful; the more life yet to be lived, the more life-force available. And who had more potential life unlived than a newborn infant? (This was how the Main Bad Guy — actually an evil queen named Beauty — made herself into the local Dark Lord in the backstory.)
    Well, the Stem Cell Research (TM) advocates swallowed this fantasy magick system for real. Making the paralyzed walk and the senile into geniuses burns a lot of life-force, and who has more life-yet-to-live than even an infant? An unborn child, of course, and his/her Magick Stem Cells…

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Where are the feminists screaming about the exploitation of women–all the poor ladies who will risk their health to be pumped full of hormones and harvested in exchange for money?
    There are no such women. ESC research gets its embryos from women who are paying clinics to shoot them up with hormones to get pregnant. As you should know, being someone who follows this issue enough to comment about it, the IVF clinics almost always create more embryos than could possibly be brought to term.
    Joe:
    Let

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Bryan Where are the feminists screaming about the exploitation of women–all the poor ladies who will risk their health to be pumped full of hormones and harvested in exchange for money?
    Here’s one place: http://www.handsoffourovaries.com/
    The feminists are out there, but they are being drowned out. The exploitation of women in egg harvesting is likely to be the issues that turns leftists against cloning (and hence, ESCR).
    Boonton Indeed, however this excusion thru the biology textbook does not answer when a human person emerges.
    That is correct. I just hope that people will finally start admitting that they are arguing about when it is acceptable to kill human beings for the purposes of medical research.
    Also, isn’t it odd that the only times people make distinctions about “human being” and “human person” is when they want to treat members of the human species as sub-human?
    How do you know a cure for diabetes might not be more like a blood transfusion where a handful of embryos may provide the right cell ‘types’ to handle 90% of the population?
    Um, because I have a basic understanding of what stem cell research is for. What makes such treatments valuable is that they are genetically specific, not “types.”
    Boonton For example, in the previous post we were told ASC has given us treatments for Parkinson’s Disease. Please cite what that treatment is and how a person diagnosed with Parkinson’s would go about obtaining it?
    The citations can be found in the following articles:
    Love S et al., Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor induces neuronal sprouting in human brain, Nature
    Medicine 11, 703-704, July 2005
    Slevin JT et al., Improvement of bilateral motor functions in patients with Parkinson disease through the
    unilateral intraputaminal infusion of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, Journal of
    Neurosurgery 102, 216-222, February 2005
    Gill SS et al.;

  • http://philosophicalmidwifery.blogspot.com/ Franklin Mason

    Tim,
    My point was that here and elsewhere Joe writes as if there’s no real dissent on the issue of when a human life begins (note that I do not say simply ‘life’ – of course the fertilized ovum is alive, but I hold that it’s not yet the human being that will later come to exist); and no, I didn’t think the post was about me.
    Perhaps Oliver was right. Perhaps the purpose of Joe’s post was to convince like-minded people that they have not acted in consistency with their views about the origin of human life. But if that’s so, Joe has significantly restricted his audience. He knows people like me regulary read and post here, but perhaps sometimes we’re not invited to the party.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The feminists are out there, but they are being drowned out. The exploitation of women in egg harvesting is likely to be the issues that turns leftists against cloning (and hence, ESCR).
    And it isn’t hard to see why they are being drowned out. While http://www.handsoffourovaries.com wants a mortorium on egg extraction for research purposes the fact is most egg extraction happens for purposes of reproduction either a woman seeking to have her egg(s) fertilized in a test tube or a woman being paid to donate her eggs to another woman. It’s a bit of a stretch to call this exploitation unless you’re going to label every transaction where money is used exploitation. This ‘exploitation’ sounds similar to those that claim all marriage is exploitation or claims that even consensual hetrosexual is rape….a distinctly minority view that is indeed drowned out.
    That is correct. I just hope that people will finally start admitting that they are arguing about when it is acceptable to kill human beings for the purposes of medical research.
    Hold on a second, why does this sound less like an argument and more like an attempt to play word games? Over on the other thread we touched upon using the phrases human life and human beign. Generally speaking there’s plenty of things that we all agree are human (blood cells, hair, dead tissue, toenails) but are not human beigns (a corpse, all the cells of your body taken as individuals etc.). There is no scientific, uncontested definition that lets us sort all possible cases into those categories…. We may have a living human body that has ceased to be a human beign (for example, just about everyone agrees full brain death is the end of a human beign’s life even though the human body may still have living organs in it…may even be performing some of the functions of life), it does not follow that the beginning of a human beign MUST coincide with the beginning of a human life.
    In fact it would be somewhat inconsistent if it did. At the end of a human beign’s life we do not consider a single handful of cells that remain alive as a living human beign. Likewise we would be deeply skeptical of the claim that a human life without a living brain (again I’ll use the sci-fi hypothetical of a decapitated body hooked up to advanced life support) is a human beign. We don’t believe the end of a human beign coincides with the end of human life so why assume they must begin together?
    Also, isn’t it odd that the only times people make distinctions about “human being” and “human person” is when they want to treat members of the human species as sub-human?
    Actually you must make a distinction between human life (meaning something that is living and of the human species) and a human beign if you want to have any coherence to your thoughts in the matter. Over on the previous thread Gordon attempted to put forth definitions that did not make such a distinction and the result is you reach absurd conclusions such as killing a single human blood cell is killing a human life.
    Um, because I have a basic understanding of what stem cell research is for. What makes such treatments valuable is that they are genetically specific, not “types.”
    Um what if there’s only a handful of genes that cause 90% of the diabetes cases?
    Information on obtaining treatments can probably be found at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov.
    So you have not found treatments for Parkinson’s. You’ve found some ideas that may produce something someday but as of today they are not treatments. (Are there even clinical trials available right now using ASC for Parkinson’s?)
    Again I’m not saying ASC research hasn’t yielded useful things, I’m pointing out that you’re engaging in the very same hype that ESC supporters do.
    I agree. And I think basic research can and should be done on the existing ESC lines. They are more than adequate for this purpose.
    And how do you know this?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    My point was that here and elsewhere Joe writes as if there’s no real dissent on the issue of when a human life begins (note that I do not say simply ‘life’ – of course the fertilized ovum is alive, but I hold that it’s not yet the human being that will later come to exist); and no, I didn’t think the post was about me.
    Indeed, guess what? The unfertilized ovum is also alive as are sperm cells. We stumble over ourselves here because we are using ‘beginning of life’ as shorthand for ‘the beginning of a human beign’. It isn’t even the beginning of human life because, an UNfertilized egg is human life as well. It isn’t dog life or cat life after all!

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Um, because I have a basic understanding of what stem cell research is for. What makes such treatments valuable is that they are genetically specific, not “types.”
    Also Joe, you clearly did not read what Raven or I wrote. It is also possible that ESC/ASC research will reveal which genes in stem cells end up getting switched on to cancer or diabetes in many cases. The treatments that result may not be replacing your stem cells with stem cells from a clone embryo of you but rather a treatment that targets the genes that are most likely to fail with age. Knowing which genes these are, though, may require comparing ESC to ASC for large samples of the population.
    So it’s quite simplistic to speak of ASC simply as an alternative to ESC research or to speak of them as if they were mutually exclusive (in other words, doing ESC research ‘ignores’ ASC research).

  • http://www.fillup.org Phillip

    It is important to realize that there is more to being pro-life than being anti-abortion. It includes the unwavering defense of all embryos. Allowing funding for any stage of embryonic stem cell research by the government opens a slippery slope to future life-debasing behavior.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Boonton It’s a bit of a stretch to call this exploitation unless you’re going to label every transaction where money is used exploitation. This ‘exploitation’ sounds similar to those that claim all marriage is exploitation or claims that even consensual hetrosexual is rape….a distinctly minority view that is indeed drowned out.
    I know it would cut into your status as this blog

  • The Raven

    Joe: “And I think basic research can and should be done on the existing ESC lines. They are more than adequate for this purpose. “
    Nope. When I read this, I remembered two things, namely, that we’re short on viable lines and that ones we have were corrupted by mouse growth factors. A quick check confirms this:
    “Kennedy contends that new lines are needed for research because all current ones were developed in the presence of mouse cells that provided needed growth factors, and thus may be contaminated with viruses or proteins from those cells.”
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/09/tech/main553079.shtml
    So there’s only 11 lines approved for use, which researchers say is “hampering” progress. Thing is, I don’t follow the logic that says it’s OK to use the 11 lines Bush is happy with, but no others. If it’s wrong to conduct ESC research, then it’s wrong, period. If it’s permissible, then proceed with caution and respect for the precious life forms that underpin this area of inquiry.
    Much like organ donation that seeks to give importance even to the remnants of a human life, we have embryonic stem cells that are left over from treatments at in vitro fertilization clinics and instead of washing them down the sink, they could be put to valuable use and potentially lead to breakthroughs in medical science.
    This, I would contend, demonstrates a deep respect for life and a respect for those currently suffering from horrible illnesses and possible succor for those in years to come. Joe, your nay-saying here is clearly not backed by research or a close reading of the details. You don’t want any inquiry in this area because investigating the processes of life is treading on the tenets of your religious faith.
    This is why I assert that religion has no place in this discussion. Your personal views should not impede the fulfillment of science that affects, not only your own congregation of fellow believers, but also the lives of secular Americans and members of other faiths who do not share your preferences. Better instead that you simply make a personal choice to never partake of any medical procedure that results from stem cell research.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Raven Nope. When I read this, I remembered two things, namely, that we’re short on viable lines and that ones we have were corrupted by mouse growth factors. A quick check confirms this:
    You might want to update your sources. The article you cite is from 2003 and that line of argument is no longer tenable. As Geron CEO Tom Okarma recently told Wired News,

  • http://www.evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    There’s another avenue that I find surprizing —
    corporate welfare. The Left is all against it
    until it suits one of their pet projects. Then
    it becomes ok. This funding is just another way
    to spend and divide. There’s more, but this
    is enough.
    http://www.evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  • Eric & Lisa

    Joe,
    I have found it very difficult to care about this issue. It is so distant and appears to be so incredibly abstract to me that its hard to care. My knowledge and understanding of the science behind this debate is so limited that it appears like hard work would be needed in order to reach a fair analysis/judgement.
    Because of that, I really havn’t given it much thought. Until now.
    Your arguments in this thread are so persuasive and your detractors so ill-informed that I can’t help but care. It seems that sometimes I fail as a Christian because an issue is complicated and i’m lazy.
    But you’ve convinced me that this is something I should care about, especially with your clarifying of what is a Human Being and what is a Human Person. Powerful stuff.
    Thanks Joe for the post.

  • http://decorabilia.blogspot.com Jim Anderson

    Joe,
    You are careful to point out a distinction between “human beings” and “human persons.” Why?

  • The Raven

    Joe: “You might want to update your sources. The article you cite is from 2003 and that line of argument is no longer tenable.”
    Excellent. That’s a provable assertion. I’ll check with a researcher in the area and report back to you. This should be easily provable. If you’re wrong, this will be immediately demonstrable. If I’ve overstated the case, the facts will bear that out. But the fact that Bush restricted all lines to those in effect as of 2001 means that the only way you are likely to be correct is if some super-secret, unknown scientific procedure has emerged that allows us to remove the mouse-cell corruption and “cleanse” the lines in some fashion. Unlikely, but we’ll see.
    “It

  • Eric & Lisa

    The Raven wrote:
    As for the remainder, I assure you that I have no “faith” to speak of.
    According to http://www.dictionary.com the definition of the word faith is:
    Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
    I take you at your word, Raven.

  • http://parableman.net Jeremy Pierce

    The death row case is a good analogy, but you take it in the wrong direction. Of course it would be fine to use organs from Texas death row inmates, provided that the property party has provided consent. In their case, that’s usually going to be the person being killed. If they have signed their organ donor card, take the organs.
    The parallel in the embryo case is the parent. If the parent is fine with harvesting the organs of a kid who is going to be killed, then taking the organs isn’t problematic. Killing the kid is, but not taking the organs. But given that the kid will be killed, taking the organs isn’t immoral provided that the proper consent has been issued from the legal representative. Why this somehow gets immoral at the embryonic stage when it’s perfectly fine at any later stage is beyond me, and it doesn’t make any sense to me to tar and feather politicians for suggesting that we allow this when we allow it for older kids.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The women who are most likely to risk their health to undergo the egg harvesting procedure are generally those who are young or in need of money. This is why exploitation is becoming a growing concern on this issue.
    Joe, the embryos for ESC research do not come from volunteers paid or unpaid. They come from women who paid clinics to harvest their eggs and produce embryos for IVF therapy. As we explored in the previous thread this almost always produces more embryos than can be used. The unused embryos are either destroyed now or destroyed later since even in a freezer it is a matter of time before the embryo becomes unable to ever be implanted in a womb.
    Because those without a financial interest in the matter have said that the lines we have are adequate. And if they are not

  • Eric & Lisa

    Joe,
    I think you are making progress. It looks like Boonton is willing to concede that what they want money for in order to destroy are indeed human beings.

  • http://brainshavings.com/ Puddle Pirate

    Are you folks aware of the other sources of embryonic stem cells? You can get ‘em from umbilical cords and placentas without having to kill a human being.

  • Gordon Mullings

    Joe:
    Excellent post.
    The objectors inadvertently reveal their profound moral obtuseness.
    Onlookers should know this is a second thread in succession that has touched on this. Cf. here to see what happened to B’s arguments that he has again trotted out, last time around — only a few days ago. [You will also find therein some interesting cites.]
    It is plain that the agenda we are seeing is driven by the moral incoherence of evolutionary materialism, which on moral issues boils down to “might makes right.”
    We should understand from recent history where that leads, and act decisively to restore that basic, Creation Order derived respect for life that is at the foundation of Western Civilisation.
    Let us think that over, very carefully, before blindly following the latest propaganda trotted out to push the underlying secular humanist agenda.
    +++++++++
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon

  • Gordon Mullings

    PP:
    A point of correection: in this context, the stem cells you refer to as deriving from cord blood etc are called ADULT stem cells.
    The moral objection is to the intent to harvest embryos from IVF clinics and use them to clone out tissues etc for the desired treatments, which will kill the embryos.
    The specifically Judaeo-Christian moral objection to this is:

    RO 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    The issue is HARM. And, on such a matter as the taking of life, if in doubt, restraint is the proper course. That is, the burden of proof that harm is not done properly rests on those who asdvocate ESCR — and the turnabout attemnpts above demonstrate that they cannot meet it but are intent on proceding without restraints.
    I hardly need to detail that restrainst such as the Apostle Paul summarised int he above are foundational to civilisation.
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon

  • Gordon Mullings

    PS: let me back that up, as it is likely to be challenged. Here is, David A. Prentice, Ph.D. Professor Department of Life SciencesIndiana State University:

    Within just a few years, the possibility that the human body contains cells that can repair and regenerate damaged and diseased tissue has gone from an unlikely proposition to a virtual certainty. Adult stem cells have been isolated from numerous adult tissues, umbilical cord, and other non-embryonic sources, and have demonstrated a surprising ability for transformation into other tissue and cell types and for repair of damaged tissues. This paper will examine the published literature regarding the identity of adult stem cells and possible mechanisms for their observed differentiation into tissue types other than their tissue of origin. Reported data from both human and animal studies will be presented on the various tissue sources of adult stem cells and the differentiation and repair abilities for each source, especially with regards to current and potential therapeutic treatments.
    Adult stem cells have received intense scrutiny over the past few years due to surprising discoveries regarding heretofore unknown abilities to form multiple cell and tissue types, as well as the discovery of such cells in an increasing number of tissues. The term

  • http://www.cafepress.com/boldface Bob McCarty

    I

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Eric and Lisa,
    I’m glad you think I’m making progress. Sadly in the coherence department you don’t seem to be making much progress. For the record I’m not conceding that an embryo = a human being, I’m trying to nail down what exactly is meant here when people use the term human beign.
    Gordon,
    Onlookers should know this is a second thread in succession that has touched on this. Cf. here to see what happened to B’s arguments that he has again trotted out, last time around — only a few days ago. [You will also find therein some interesting cites.]
    We were cut off rather quickly there when Joe closed the comments. I’ve been reluctant, though, to just hijack another thread with our argument spilling into it. Perhaps it would be more fair to those who have just been following this one for you to summarize your points as I have mine and then to address the arguments that I have raised.

  • Gordon Mullings

    Onlookers:
    By going to the other thread you will see easily enough the bankruptcy of the argument that an embryo is not human life to be protected.
    The core of the question came in the exchange in which I summed up as follows, July 16:

    6] [B;] You present a definition of a human beign that is on its face absurd.
    –> B, look above: I have never attempted to define what a human being is. You should realise that that is a major undertaking in philosophy, especially since a major live option includes among the class of human beings the one who is God incarnate. Instead, I have examined this on a case by case basis. [And yes, we are back to that issue in phil again: one does not need a precising definition to recognise and act appropriately on cases in point. In fact, such definitions DEPEND on the ability to intuitively recognise cases in point, to test them to see if they include all and only cases of what is being defined.]
    –> What, specifically, I have pointed out, is that the zygote is plainly alive and human, with the potential to grow into a baby, so is deserving of the protection we accord to other undisputed cases of human life.
    –> There is nothing at all absurd in such a position, and I can easily enough show the moral conundrums that we end up in if we deny it. Indeed, I and others have pointed out some of these.

    You will note that I refuse to take the burden of proof. There is a reason: I am on the side of life, so properly hold the benefit of the doubt.
    Let us just remember that if there is a doubt and innocent life is on one fork of an issue, the burden of proof properly lies on the part of those who would take life. [Note how in a capital case it is the Government that must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Guess why.]
    The arrogation of the benefit of the doubt in the above is telling, as Joe pointed out.
    GEM

  • nedbrek

    Sorry I have been incommunicado lately…
    I am curious why people are against the strongest definition of the right to life possible (at conception). This can only protect you. Will arguments of the value of vivisecting people convince you some people should be vivisected? How long before congress declares you more valuable for your organs than your net taxes?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Gordon,
    I’m not sure what the major undertaking is here…in the previous thread you dismissed this as a simple problem and accused me of playing word games…now this is a huge philosophical issue beyond the scope of us mere humans.
    Read my actual posts, I suggest we start with the simple argument about the soul. If one believes humans have a soul that is distinct from their bodies then the definition problem is relatively easy. Killing a human beign is harming their body so their soul can no longer inhabit it. If a person’s soul has already departed then the while the life in the body may be killed it is not killing a human beign (for example, harvesting the living organs from a body of someone completely brain dead).
    Now of course this does leave a very diffucult issue of when we have a soul and when we don’t. However this illustration should put to rest the notion that there isn’t a difference between human life (meaning life that is related to the human species) and human beigns. Just as we DO NOT assert both end at the same time it is not reasonable to just assume they must both begin at the same time.
    nedbrek
    I am curious why people are against the strongest definition of the right to life possible (at conception). This can only protect you. Will arguments of the value of vivisecting people convince you some people should be vivisected? How long before congress declares you more valuable for your organs than your net taxes?
    Errr, well from a purely self-interest perspective anyone here who has a brain to formulate an opinion on the matter already made it well past conception but assuming the person making this judgement is trying to be sincere in it let me pose this to you:
    Suppose some yahoos successfully lobby to get unfertilized eggs defined as human beigns making research on them impossible. This would do nothing good for me or you and probably wouldn’t harm either of us but there is always the chance that research on unfertilized eggs might result in something that will someday either help us or someone we care about. In this way a too strong ‘defense of life’ ends up harming life.
    Likewise imagine someone redefined death to mean every cell in your body must die. This may help you if your greedy grandkids want the hospital to pull the plug on you so they can inherit your vast estate….however how would you like to need a kidney transplant in a country that adopted this law?

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    I see the game now afoot here is on “the definition” of human life, being and person, in a context where Alice in Wonderland rules are being imposed, all in a context where a lurking world-view and civilisation agenda implies “might makes right.”
    I repeat: FOR VERY GOOD REAON, BACKED UP BY HORRIBLE RECENT HISTORY, IT IS THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY EMBRYOS TO CONDUCT “RESEARCH” AND CARRY OUT “TREATMENTS” WHO HAVE A BURDEN OF PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THEY ARE NOT DOING HARM TO HUMAN LIFE.
    Further to this, the rhetorical ploy in this thread and elsewhere, of trying to shift this burden of proof unto those who would protect life from harm, is absolutely telling.
    Now, on points:
    1] Ned: I am curious why people are against the strongest definition of the right to life possible (at conception). This can only protect you.
    –> You hit the nail on the head. (But, the underlying point is, that those who would exploit others never see themselves in the role of the victims.)
    2] B: in the previous thread you dismissed this as a simple problem and accused me of playing word games…now this is a huge philosophical issue beyond the scope of us mere humans
    –> Quite a distortion of the remarks in the previous thread!
    –> Notice, in the excerpt from that thread’s last post above, I pointed out the difference between recognising/identifying cases of a phenomenon [relatively easy to do] and the difficulty of creating a verbal definitional statement that includes all and only cases of the said phenomenon [very hard, sometimes maybe impossible]. A classic case is that biology exists in a context where there is no satisfactory definition of life, though we obviously recognise a great many cases in point.
    –> In this case, we can run back through a form of a sequence that Francis Schaeffer classically used in the 1970’s to show what is going on:

    a] start 5 minutes after birth: is this a case of human life and a human being? Obviously.
    b] Go back 2 hours. Is there a material difference? Obviously, not.
    c] Go back another two hours. No material difference, again.
    d] Repeat: at no stage is there a material, step-change difference, except the obvious one: fusion of sperm cell and ovum leading to implantation. At that point, a unique DNA code appears, forming the basis for natural human life from womb to senescence. That is, we are seeing a continuous unfolding of the development of life in the host environment of the womb, from the moment of conception on.

    –> In short, there is excellent reason to recognise human life as being present from conception, and thus to protect it from imposed harm.
    –> But of course this runs clean across a massive agenda, with a lot of blood on its hands

  • Tim L

    I find it so amazing that some people are so enthralled with the “potential” of stem cell research but are not with the “potential” for human life.

  • nedbrek

    Boonton:
    “Suppose some yahoos successfully lobby to get unfertilized eggs defined as human beigns making research on them impossible.”
    From an information theory standpoint, the sperm and egg are parent cells (actually half cells). At fertilization, you have new information (all the information the new person will ever have in their cells). So no logical definition can start before then.
    The problem is justifying a later point. Any later point is only a question of development. If life is development, it’s easy to see the definition change as society changes. And I’ve can’t recall the last time our rights became stronger with time…

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    d] Repeat: at no stage is there a material, step-change difference, except the obvious one: fusion of sperm cell and ovum leading to implantation. At that point, a unique DNA code appears, forming the basis for natural human life from womb to senescence. That is, we are seeing a continuous unfolding of the development of life in the host environment of the womb, from the moment of conception on.
    Of course going from a single cell to two cells is a 100% growth, that is a material change. So is the formation of an upper brain. All Gordon has done here is declared that the formation of a unique DNA code is basically the equilivant to the creation of a new human soul and everything after the fact is just cosmetic. Needless to say a dozen cells together hardly has the structure, appearence or functioning of, say, a third trimester unborn baby yet he would have us believe all the action happens at conception and the rest is just trivial changes. He does not, of course, apply this to the other end of life…he would not rule that death has not happened unless every cell with that human’s unique DNA not longer has any possibility of reproducing.
    –> Now, this is coming from a secularist proponent of evolutionary materialism in this blog, and so the twists, begged questions and gaps in the hurled elephant

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    nedbrak,
    From an information theory standpoint, the sperm and egg are parent cells (actually half cells). At fertilization, you have new information (all the information the new person will ever have in their cells). So no logical definition can start before then.
    Here’s an interesting fact I once read. One theory about the rise in obesity links it with the nutrition mothers in developed countries had during pregnancy. If they had poor nutrition the DNA in the unborn child ‘assumes’ the environment is one of famine and gears the metabolic system to be slow. If nutrition was good then it gears it to be fast. When the child is then born into a country like the US where junk food is cheap and plentiful its slow metabolism confronts all the available food resulting in a fat kid. So sometimes at least the question of whether something was caused by DNA inherited from your parents or was caused by your environment is actually quite complicated. In this case at least, it is both since the very same DNA in a different prenatal environment would have produced a thin kid even though he would eat just like his less fortunate brother.
    So from an information standpoint new information is created well past fertilization. DNA is less like a blueprint and more like a complicated computer program that can, to a degree, alter its own code from cues in the environment. We talk about stem cells being over hyped but I suspect DNA has been overhyped as well. DNA alone hardly makes a unique human beign IMO.
    BTW, speaking of making a fetish out of DNA it’s nice of Gordon to accept that twins are humans. He leaves out the question of when they become two different human beigns? Before or after seperation?
    What if a drug was developed that inhibited an embryo from dividing into twins but otherwise left its development unharmed. Would that be killing a human beign or not? Why not? What if the ‘information’ that would result in two twins was present in the new DNA that was created upon fertilization?
    I know Gordon would like to declare talk of souls off limits here but in the case of twins (assuming he wouldn’t object to such a drug), what would he say to those who believe that the two human souls of the twins are implanted in the fertilized egg before seperation? To such people the prospect of such a drug would imply either that one soul would be cheated of life or two souls would end up unnaturally mixed up in one body…would Gordon tell them to just go home since their concern for souls is full of question begging and ‘hard’ philosophy?

  • The Raven

    In the previous thread on this subject, Joe maintained that the 22 lines available for federal funding research support were “viable” because of some Salon article he read.
    I contended that they were not viable. But, lacking empirical data to back that assertion, I said that I would ask an expert. I did.
    I contacted the Stem Cell Research Foundation, and asked them directly if the 22 lines were usable, or if they were of too poor quality to conduct productive research. Here is the response to that query. But if you want to click away here, I’ll summarize: Joe is wrong.
    Bush is wrong.
    [—begin response—]
    Hello,
    Thank you for your email. There are many reasons why the current embronic stem cell lines approved by the government are inadequate:
    a.. Because of the very early stage of development that stem cell science is in, no one knows how long these cell lines can be kept alive, or if they are hardy enough to supply all the government scientists who would like to use them in research.
    b.. Even if the cells can be kept alive indefinitely, the longer they exist, the more genetic “mistakes” will accumulate in them. These mistakes will then be passed on to patients who receive them. The tendency of aging cells to accumulate genetic mistakes is known to be a major cause of cancer.
    c.. The existing cell lines were grown atop a layer of mouse “feeder” cells and were given animal growth factors. This means that they carry a risk of infection from animal pathogens, and that they must meet the FDA’s rigorous screening process for animal-to-human transplants if they are ever to be transplanted into humans. The chance that unidentified mouse viruses could cross species and harm humans basically renders these cell lines useless for human therapies.
    d.. In order to minimize the risk of rejection, close genetic matches must be found for those who hope to receive transplants of the cells. The small number of cell lines approved by the government don’t come close to providing the genetic diversity that will be needed for widespread use.
    I hope this is helpful. Kind regards,
    [—signed, end response—]
    Joe, I understand that you are uncomfortable with scientists examining the basic processes of life, but we are the world’s leader in science and research. We are now able to make these inquiries. Advocating ignorance and continued blindness in this direction only means that other countries will surpass us in this effort and we will lose yet another edge in the evolution of social systems world wide. I think that it behooves us to be in front and provide knowledgeable ethical direction from the standpoint of being the world’s authority in this area.

  • Gordon Mullings

    Onlookers:
    Interesting to see the rhetorical games isn’t it. A few comments on points:
    1] NB: the sperm and egg are parent cells (actually half cells). At fertilization, you have new information (all the information the new person will ever have in their cells). So no logical definition can start before then. The problem is justifying a later point. Any later point is only a question of development.
    –> this aptly more than anticipates:
    2] B: Of course going from a single cell to two cells is a 100% growth, that is a material change. So is the formation of an upper brain. All Gordon has done here is declared that the formation of a unique DNA code is basically the equilivant to the creation of a new human soul and everything after the fact is just cosmetic. Needless to say a dozen cells together hardly has the structure, appearence or functioning of, say, a third trimester unborn baby
    –> First and foremost, I am not the authority saying that the point of formation of new human life is conception. IT IS AN OBJECTIVE AND LONG SINCE GENERALLY RECOGNISED FACT OF EMBRYOLOGY. Cell multiplication and differentiation into the basic three-layer structure of the human body then further development into organs and recognisably “human” shape is just that: DEVELOPMENT.
    –> Indeed, onlookers should see the above remark by Joe of July 17 in which he provided no less than five cites and a link to a major article, which I again linked above and cited.
    –> Here, again, is just one of those those five cites, which suffices to show the force of the point NB made above:

    “Zygote. This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).

  • Gordon Mullings

    PS let’s excerpt from a comment by Jack Baur over at NB:

    10 Great Media Myths in the Debate of Stem Cell Research
    Myth 1. Stem cells can only come from embryos.
    In fact, stem cells can be taken from umbilical cords, the placenta, amniotic fluid, adult tissues and organs such as bone marrow, fat from liposuction, regions of the nose, and even from cadavers up to 20 hours after death.
    Myth 2. Christians are against stem cell research.
    There are four categories of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, embryonic germ cells, umbilical cord stem cells, and adult stem cells. Given that germ cells can come from miscarriages that involve no deliberate interruption of pregnancy, Christians in general oppose the use of only one of these four categories, i.e., embryonic stem cells. In other words, most Christians approve of three of the four possible types of stem cell research.
    Myth 3. Embryonic stem cell research has the greatest promise.
    Up to now, no human being has ever been cured of a disease using embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have already cured thousands. For example, bone marrow cells from the hipbone have repaired scar tissue on the heart after heart attacks. Research using adult cells is 20-30 years ahead of embryonic stem cells and holds greater promise. This is in part because stem cells are part of the natural repair mechanisms of an adult body, while embryonic stem cells do not belong in an adult body (where they are likely to form tumors, and to be rejected as foreign tissue by the recipient). Rather, embryonic stem cells really belong only within the specialized microenvironment of a rapidly growing embryo, which is a radically different setting from an adult body.
    Myth 4. Embryonic stem cell research is against the law.
    In reality, there is no law or regulation against destroying human embryos for research purposes. While President Bush has banned the use of federal funding to support research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 2001, it is not illegal. Anyone using private funds is free to pursue it.
    Myth 5. President Bush created new restrictions to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
    The 1996 Dickey Amendment prohibited the use of federal funds for research that would involve the destruction of human embryos. Bush

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    –> First and foremost, I am not the authority saying that the point of formation of new human life is conception. IT IS AN OBJECTIVE AND LONG SINCE GENERALLY RECOGNISED FACT OF EMBRYOLOGY. Cell multiplication and differentiation into the basic three-layer structure of the human body then further development into organs and recognisably “human” shape is just that: DEVELOPMENT.
    Again this is just a playing word games. We accept the distinction between human life and a human beign (although we often use different terms and, to make it all the more confusing, use the same terms interchangeably). The only ‘objective facts’ that embryology and related fields can tell us are things such as when a new set of DNA is created. This alone does not tell us a human beign in the philosophical sense has arrived or will arrive in the future.
    –> FYI B, duplication of the original zygote is growth, not innovation of information or origination of genetically unique human life.
    Indeed, but why does the duplication of a unique genetic code get ditched at defining the end of a human beign’s life? Again Gordon reduces humanity to nothing more than a unique genetic code.
    –> Nor is it a particularly Marxist analysis to point out that a system of thought that boils down tot he survival of the fittest and the domination of the powerful as a direct implication ends up in the principle that “might makes right.”
    Unlike eugenetic theory of the past almost all modern day discussions of euthanasia and the like revolve around the wishes of the patient. Again I point you to the legal culmination of this debate in the innovation of the living will where the patient is able to speak to us after they have passed the point where they can communicate. Such an idea would be entirely rejected by a Nazi era advocate of ‘survival of the fittest’. Why, he would ask, would a person so weak that they couldn’t even communicate with us be given deference in their wishes?
    –> ONLOOKERS, FYI, IN THAT THREAD JOE POINTED OUT THAT MR KINSLEY IN HIS RUSH TO ADVOCATE FOR ESCR, FAILED TO NOTE THAT IT IS PRECISELY ASCS THAT HAVE PRODUCED AN EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE, NOT ESCS. Indeed, there is an excerpt there on the details of the case in point, on July 15, the last post in the still open thread.
    Again a distraction. It is impossible to predict what threatments may or may not come from a line of research without actually doing it. Second this assumes a false choice. If research A produces 70 treatments and research B only helps us understand a disease a bit better then B is not a failure. Both types of research were successful.
    –> Q: Why then is there this refusal to face facts? ANS: because there is a power agenda at stake, whether or not B wishes to recognise it. And, far from ducking issues, I pointed out that definitionitis is an intellectual disease and itself what ducks the material facts.
    Because these facts are irrelevant. Imagine we looked at four areas of research and ranked them in terms of treatments produced to date. Suppose Alpha Research has made 150 treatments, ASCR 70, ESCR 0 and Beta Research 0. Does it follow now that ASCR should be labeled a failure and all resources given to Alpha? Of course not, a grant request would have to be carefully reviewed and it would be a foolish judge who simply dismissed all applications for anything other than Alpha simply because to date Alpha has a superior record.
    We know that even being objective and having great expertise in the field still only makes evaluating such requests slightly better than guessing. The rejected application that was viewed as unpromising may end up being the one that makes an amazing breakthrough. Nonetheless, since resources are always limited judgements have to be made. However what we can be sure of here is that no one on this list, especially Joe and Gordon, have the expertise to judge ESCR as without promise. Joe’s attempt to forecast the thereapies that ESCR would produce are laughable in how much he presumes to know about the field while wearing his ignorance like a white suit.
    This is not a trivial issue. If ESCR has no value then there’s no point in spending time and effort to do it. However if it does have value then declining to do it in the name of ethics should be recognized as such just as other ethical restrictions on research do indeed prevent us from obtaining information that would otherwise be very useful. It also would let us know if it was worthwhile to find a way around the ethical issues, such as finding a method to extract ESC while leaving the embryo intact.
    –> First, I pointed out that hard philosophy is something we have to recognise as just that: philosophy is about hard questions and if its not hard it is not philosophy. What B did was to try to put forth an even harder question whilst hurling the secularist materialist reductionist “mind = a function of brain” elephant about it.
    Sorry if the question is too hard for you just say so or don’t. The question is hardly irrelevant. While born twins are cute the fact is the twinning process may be very risky and very destructive to embryos in many cases. A thereapy that reduced the chance of twinning may in fact be something that has great appeal to couples seeking children. You complaing about reductionism but you’ve reduced humanity to a DNA code. Talk about materialism!
    –> Further, on twinning, we see here the force of my point above, in correction to Joe et al: at conception, genetically unique human life begins, leading to one or more individuals. THAT IS ALL WE NEED TO KNOW TO RECOGNISE THAT WE HAVE A DUTY TO PROTECT THOSE ONE OR MORE INDIVIDUALS FROM DELIBERATE TAKING OF THEIR LIVES. Thus, in the context of answering the question of duty here, we have enough to answer so we should be satisfied at that point.
    So the question remains on the table. Would such a drug be the taking of the life of an individual twin or would it be protecting the individual that already exists (assuming such an anti-twinning drug has some value beyond simply keeping twinning from happening…say reducing the chance of miscarriage/birth defect)? Gordon’s system here reduces to a long winded argument from authority (his). “All we need to know” is that he will tell us what is right and any attempt to honestly figure out the implications of his system ourselves will leave us to be accused of just playing games.
    As for being secular, there’s no need to make that assumption here. I used the analogy of the person buying a car. The car is made in a factory but the driver doesn’t get the car until it goes to the dealership. A non-materialist view can very well be that the soul requires a body and requires a body with a brain. Therefore if the brain is destroyed it is not murder to…say…harvest living organs from the body because while elements in the body still contain ‘human life’ the human beign himself is dead. Of course if your’re a materialist then whatever you consider a soul to be still has to be made out of matter and energy which still implies a complexity beyond the single or handful of cells format.

  • Gordon Mullings

    No Boonton,
    Not at all:
    1] WORD GAMES: it is YOU who are playing word games. You know full well that the objective facts and consensus of embryology are as NB and I have summed it up, and as Joe cited long since. We have spoken to the fact that the point of fertilisation is the point where genetically unique human life begins and that ESCR is based on the destruction of that life.
    Further we have pointed out that the balance of the evidence is that it is ASCs that have promise for medical treatments due tot he problem tied into the very flexibility that ESCs have.
    To that there has been no coherent, fact based response, just willful obtuseness.
    2] EUTHANASIA: As to the notion that the modern euthanasia discussions revolve around the wishes of hte patient, the sickening case of Terri Schindler Schaivo and others that have seeped out around the edges of the blackout on the truth here give the lie t it.
    3] PROMISE: It is precisely the claim that here is promise of treatments that has been used to obfuscate the truth. When advocates of ESCR fail to point out the truth — even within days of it having been pointed out explicitly — that in the cases they cite [Parkinson’s here] it is ASCs that are producing fruitful results, that is dishonest.
    4] VALUE: Indeed, the point of the big push for govt money to fund ESCR is precisely that the pharmaceutical research market and the charity-funding for research market have already rendered a firm empirically supported verdict: ASCs work and ESCs are not worth the risk of investors’ money. in short,t he current value of ESCR is 0 or negative.
    So, we must account for the grab for tax money to fund what is morally indefensible and experimentally unfruitful on other grounds. Those are not hard to find: there is an agenda to drive out moral considerations on medical research and to provide a “cover” for cloning games.
    5] HARD QUESTIONS: If we do not need to engage a hard question to answer adequately a problem it is common sense not to traipse into the hard question. We know that conception is the starting point for new human life and the place where new individual human beings begin their natural life’s journey.
    That is enough to know that there is no justification for killing them in the name of research or the willow-the-wisp of treatments of diseases that are already finding promising treatments from alternatives that are not morally indefensible.
    So, there is no need to hijack the thread into a rabbit trail on wen the soul enters the body and what the soul is. It is enough to point out that you have hurled an elephant, identifying the soul with brain function, and where that leads: terry Schaivo and worse.
    6] TWINNING: Again, to expose the game all I need to do is quote myself earlier this morning:

    on twinning, we see here the force of my point above, in correction to Joe et al: at conception, genetically unique human life begins, leading to one or more individuals. THAT IS ALL WE NEED TO KNOW TO RECOGNISE THAT WE HAVE A DUTY TO PROTECT THOSE ONE OR MORE INDIVIDUALS FROM DELIBERATE TAKING OF THEIR LIVES. Thus, in the context of answering the question of duty here, we have enough to answer so we should be satisfied at that point.

    I do not need to answer a hypothetical anti-twinning drug — BTW which would be functionally indistinguishable from an abortion-inducing drug [as you are looking at something that has to stop the growth process of the embryo, as twinning is an offshoot of that process] — to see that we are looking at the origin of genetically unique human life at the point of conception, so at least one individual’s life is at stake. One life at stake is enough to answer the moral issue: love does no harm, so love does not kill the innocent.
    Your side may well prevail in the power games in the media, courts and parliaments, as has happened with abortion: for the US 47 million innocent unborn slaughtered and counting. But they cannot change the fact that under false colour of law they would thereby impose the barbarity and moral incoherence of

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    2] EUTHANASIA: As to the notion that the modern euthanasia discussions revolve around the wishes of hte patient, the sickening case of Terri Schindler Schaivo and others that have seeped out around the edges of the blackout on the truth here give the lie t it.
    Like it or not much of the legal wrangling around the Schaivo case (BTW what’s up with inserting the Schindler between Terri and Schiavo? I wasn’t under the impression that she had kept her madain name. Am I wrong or is this another case where you, in the name of respecting other human beings, have decided that you are more fit to decide her own name than she was?) was trying to establish anything that would indicate what her wishes would have been if she wound up in the situation she did.
    Like it or not to a Nazi-like supporter of euthanasia/eugenics in the 1930’s the issue of what she would have wanted would be irrelevant.
    3] PROMISE: It is precisely the claim that here is promise of treatments that has been used to obfuscate the truth. When advocates of ESCR fail to point out the truth — even within days of it having been pointed out explicitly — that in the cases they cite [Parkinson’s here] it is ASCs that are producing fruitful results, that is dishonest.
    There is no proposal now to fund ESCR. If the ban was removed applications for ESCR would be evaluated as would all other applications for different types of research grants. If all ASC research was always and everywhere more ‘promising’ than ESC research then the ban would be moot since ESCR would never be able to win any funding on its merits regardless.
    4] VALUE: Indeed, the point of the big push for govt money to fund ESCR is precisely that the pharmaceutical research market and the charity-funding for research market have already rendered a firm empirically supported verdict: ASCs work and ESCs are not worth the risk of investors’ money. in short,t he current value of ESCR is 0 or negative.
    Using this logic the entire National institute of Heath must be ranked a 0. As we reviewed before pharamceutical research rarely goes very big into this type of basic research. The connection between funding basic research and finding patentable treatments takes too long to materialize and is too risky for most private funding.
    Of course don’t forget, again, that private for-profit corporations need patentable results. If a company spent a billion dollars and discovered that keeping a cancer patient warm with a fleece blanket cured cancer 90% of the time they would go bankrupt because they could not patent blankets or the knowledge.
    I do not need to answer a hypothetical anti-twinning drug — BTW which would be functionally indistinguishable from an abortion-inducing drug [as you are looking at something that has to stop the growth process of the embryo, as twinning is an offshoot of that process] — to see that we are looking at the origin of genetically unique human life at the point of conception, so at least one individual’s life is at stake. One life at stake is enough to answer the moral issue: love does no harm, so love does not kill the innocent.
    No you do need to answer the hypothetical. What is causing you such angst is that all the text you have wasted here has done nothing to help answer the question. You fall back on trying to change the hypothetical by charging it would be ‘indistinguisable’ from an abortion inducing drug. Why would such a drug need to stop the growth process of the first embryo? The hypothetical specifically said it simply preventing the first embryo from twinning leaving the first embryo at peace to develop as a single, non-twin baby.
    Are you now going to tell us your knowledge is so vaste, so great, that no such drug could ever exist? Give it a break Gordon, you aren’t fooling anyone here except those who want to be fooled.
    I notice your inept attempt to address the hypothetical remains an argument from authority. You assert that one individual is at stake so as long as the drug leaves at least one individual healthy after 9 months it is presumably acceptable. But what if whatever causes twinning is encoded at fertilization? Then by using your method two individuals are present and preventing one of them from twinning off the original embryo would be doing harm.
    To make the hypothetical more illustrative I added the twist that twinning may be harmful to the first embryo so then the question of whether there are one or two individuals before twinning becomes critical. If there is only one then the drug may be essential. If there are two then it is evil. Yet for all your words your proposed system is at a complete loss here to give us any guidance.

  • nedbrek

    Boonton:
    “The only ‘objective facts’ that embryology and related fields can tell us are things such as when a new set of DNA is created. This alone does not tell us a human beign in the philosophical sense has arrived or will arrive in the future.”
    Purely philosophical questions are not interesting. They cannot be objectively measured or answered. We need simple, clear rules for today’s people, who cannot even agree on the meaning of “is”! :)
    Twinning is a non-issue. If it helps, think of it as a form of asexual reproduction that we lose very early in life…

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    It is clear that the substantial issue is over:

    Geneticaly unique human life begins at conception, develops in the womb and goes through birth, then further growth and development. So, plainly, actions that deliberately kill the embryo in the name of research and treatment of those already born are morally indefensible.

    That is why we see B’s repeated attempts to change the subject above.
    I will pause and remark on some points of note:
    1] NB: Twinning is a non-issue. If it helps, think of it as a form of asexual reproduction that we lose very early in life…
    –> An interesting view.
    –> My further comment would go to the “soul” question that lurks in it, within the Judaeo Christian frame:

    a] Within this frame, the mind, soul, will, heart, and spirit are key terms that speak to the inner, invisible man, the moral and intellectual agent who drives the actions of the visible outer man.
    b] Biblically, death is the result of the separation between that iner man and the outer man: the body without the spirit is dead. [This is of course precisely not in the context of the conflation of mind and brain that we see in so much of evolutionaruy materialist thought. Down that path lies a massive self-contradiction.]
    c] From what point is that inner man present in the outer man? Actually, this was discussed in the previous thread (but, onlookers, don’t expect B to acknowledge that), on July 15:

    in Luke we may read very plainly, right there in the nativity story we read out every Christmas:

    LK 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
    LK 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
    LK 1:39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” . . . . LK 1:56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

    –> Here we have a baby in the womb, past the point of “quickening” leaping for joy on being in the presence of the incarnated, embryonic Emmanuel — and that plainly long before his “quickening.”
    –> This is of course not intended to persuade those who do not take the Bible seriously. But it is decisive for those of us who do, i.e. Christians faithful to the faith once for all delivered unto the saints, in the words of Jude 3.

    d] That is, buried in the mystery of the incarnation, on the biblical worldview — and the key warranting argument for that is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus “According tot he scriptures” [as is discussed in this recent thread], from the very earliest stages of life — the inner man is present.

    2] Purely philosophical questions are not interesting. They cannot be objectively measured or answered.
    –> By definition, phil is about hard-to-answer questions. For many people that means the field is abstruse and uninteresting.
    –> That has nothing to do with its actual vital importance: especially, since basic phil analysis soon shows us that our thinking and reasoning embeds major worldview-level faith commitments and life agendas.
    –> Such Faith Points are in fact in many cases subject to objective assessment, especially on factual adequacy and logical coherence. Though equally important, assessing whether such a worldview’s core claims are simplistic, elegantly simple and powerful, or an ad hoc patchwork is admittedly more a matter of comparative judgement.
    –> The real issue in our day is the triumph of manipulative rhetoric over sober analysis of what is sound, wise and morally legitimate. As Aristotle — the self-destruction of Athens ringing in his ears — warned long ago, we can be easily enough persuaded to trust the untrustworthy and to give in to our emotions, instead of going with what is right.
    3] B: trying to establish anything that would indicate what her wishes would have been
    –> And, in the teeth of credible evidence that the testing was inadequate relative to current standards, dismissing evidence that she was conscious of her circumstances and communicative though trapped in a mostly paralysed body, not to mention evidence that she did in fact want to live: “IIIIIII . . . . WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA . . . .!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Let us never forget those poignant last words, when she learned of her fate: to be dehydrated and starved to death. For shame!
    –> In short, there is little or no material difference, save that the current situation is more hypocritical. It boils down to “might makes right,” currently rhetorical might as naked power cannot be brought to bear until the remnants of Creation-order anchored liberty can be eliminated.
    –> I use her birth name to remind us all of what was done to her and her family, who were perfectly willing to care for their daughter.
    4] There is no proposal now to fund ESCR.
    –> And, what did Pres Bush just — very properly, though unpopular with the propagandised ands deceived — veto, if not a proposal to authorise US Federal funding for just such “research”?
    –> In a world of objective analysis and cool thinking, the plainly better candidate, morally and technically, would win hands down. but we live in a world of rhetoric and propaganda-inspired mass hysteria that comes in waves. That explains stock market bubbles [the last one being in the late 1990’s], and it very handily explains the enthusiasm for this “research” programme.
    5] the entire National institute of Heath must be ranked a 0
    –> Again, estimating the net present, risk-adjusted value of specific projects of research is a matter for real options value analysis . . . which, BTW, is often focused on precisely the medical research field. The basic idea is that at each stage of exploration and development, we are buying an option to move to the next stage, which is subject to valuation, e/g with Black-Scholes or a discrete-state version of it, for starters.
    –> In this case, we have a proposal subject to major moral hazards and legal risks, and beset by massive technical challenges, ESCR. It also faces a substitute, ASCR & T, which is already in many cases not just research but also routine treatment [e.g. through bone marrow transplants etc].
    –> The principle of creative destruction rapidly informs us that the rise of the latter may easily reduce the NPV of investments in the former to 0 or negative values. In that context, the strong focus of the biomedical firms on ASCs as opposed to ESCs when their money is on the line is telling. [I think it is notorious that tax money is often wasted on politically driven agendas of little or no or even negative value.]
    –> In the case where not enough is known to assign probabilities to outcomes, various decision-weighting criteria from game theory apply, e.g. minimise the cost of a bad outcome whatever state the world [the “opponent” in the game] may be in. (Paul’s advice in Fair Havens in Ac 27, AD 59, is a classic of this: stay in the harbour for winter — at most the ship is at risk. If we sail we put the ship and our lives at stake. But, the owner, the kubernete [not quite Captain] and the general feeling prevailed. They sailed out when a sweet south wind made them think they could get away with it, only to be caught in a vicious 2 – week long nor-easter, and making shipwreck at Malta.)
    –> In that context, many NIH projects hold positive NPV, some 0 and some doubtless, negative — but they may hold high positive political value for key constituencies which are able to pour the tax payer’s money down a black-hole to please their wishes.
    6] You fall back on trying to change the hypothetical by charging it would be ‘indistinguisable’ from an abortion inducing drug. Why would such a drug need to stop the growth process of the first embryo?
    –> Here, we see the gap between blue-sky hypothetical worlds, and empirically constrained worlds. NB has given a good point and I have remarked in more details above, but let us address why this hypothetical is simply a red herring.
    –> Without too many details, the point is that in effect the zygote in its early development is capable of becoming two separate individuals, so-called identical twins [as opposed to fraternal twins]. A drug to suppress that would in effect suppress growth of the embryo as a direct result, leading to abortion.
    –> But more to the point, we already know that at conception in utero, genetically unique human life is formed, and that at least one individual human being is the natural result. The deliberate destruction of at least one individual is no different, morally, from the deliberate destruction of one individual. Neither can be justified in the name of research or treatment — as is evident from the ducking and dodging we see here and elsewhere on the part of ESCR advocates.
    –> And, BTW, twinning notoriously runs in families [cf recent NG on Chang and Eng’s descendants], so it is probably genetically encoded.
    7] I notice your inept attempt to address the hypothetical remains an argument from authority. You assert that one individual is at stake so as long as the drug leaves at least one individual healthy after 9 months it is presumably acceptable.
    –> I observe a resort on B’s part to dismissive language rather than dealing with evidence. Further,”inept”-itude in B’s estimation is utterly irrelevant to the merits on the matter.
    –> As for dismissing authority, this is selective hyperskepticism of the worst kind: 99+% of practical arguments rely on authorities, so the real issue is the credibility of the relevant authority — one reason for Reference lists in Scientific papers.
    –> Repeat: so long as at least one individual human life is at stake, the deliberate killing in the name of research or treatment is morally indefensible. That holds for ESCR, and it holds for your hypothetical anti-twinning drug [that will end up being an abortion drug]. As the Hippocratic Oath counsels: first, do no harm. [Cf Rom 13:8

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    1] NB: Twinning is a non-issue. If it helps, think of it as a form of asexual reproduction that we lose very early in life…
    –> An interesting view.
    Indeed it is Gordon, that a pair of twins are not really siblings but rather parent and child and the ‘mother’ of twins is really a grandmother?
    –> Here we have a baby in the womb, past the point of “quickening” leaping for joy on being in the presence of the incarnated, embryonic Emmanuel — and that plainly long before his “quickening.”
    Which says nothing about this debate, nothing even about the early Christian view that quickening was the moment a soul entered an unborn baby. This baby, being past the point of quickening (in her sixth month according to the text) would have alrady had a soul per that old view. You write almost as if the text had said her 12 cell’ed embryo had lept for joy!
    Terri Schiavo
    Let us never forget those poignant last words, when she learned of her fate: to be dehydrated and starved to death. For shame!
    How ironic that not a moment before Gordonw as talking about how Aristotle warned how easy it is to be persuaded to trust the untrustworthy and to give in to our emotions. As expected, Gordon plays the emotion card instead of addressing the point that even if you felt the Schiavo decision was wrongly decided the legal arguments revolved around trying to establish what her wishes were (or would have been). In contrast a ‘might makes right’ eugenicisst POV would have regarded wishes as irrelevant.
    –> I use her birth name to remind us all of what was done to her and her family, who were perfectly willing to care for their daughter.
    Indeed as you and your kind used her. Feel free to decide on her behalf to divorce her from her husband, feel free to decide what her name even should be. Don’t actually let her decisions that she actually made stand. She didn’t choose to keep her maiden name, she didn’t choose to divorce her husband or leave him. Yet you presume upon yourself the right to speak for her and decide for her. It’s sad that to this day you and many who were on her parents side cannot see how much your arrogance alienated many from your arguments and made them instinctively turn against you in revulsion.
    –> In a world of objective analysis and cool thinking, the plainly better candidate, morally and technically, would win hands down. but we live in a world of rhetoric and propaganda-inspired mass hysteria that comes in waves. That explains stock market bubbles [the last one being in the late 1990’s], and it very handily explains the enthusiasm for this “research” programme.
    I don’t doubt that research proposals sometimes get through on emotional bubbles but for the most part the evaluation process is pretty much objective (that does not mean it is a crystal ball, obviously a proposal may look good on paper but may yield no good results when implemented). There’s no reason to think that the NIH, which has a good track record, would willy nilly approve ESCR grants just for the hell of it. Keep in mind that research grants are competitive so issuing a grant on the basis of hype will lead to disappointed researchers whose own grants were rejected to argue that their proposals were equally worthy.
    –> Again, estimating the net present, risk-adjusted value of specific projects of research is a matter for real options value analysis . . . which, BTW, is often focused on precisely the medical research field. The basic idea is that at each stage of exploration and development, we are buying an option to move to the next stage, which is subject to valuation, e/g with Black-Scholes or a discrete-state version of it, for starters.
    Yea ok, now your just spinning your wheels hoping to impress us. Do you have like a personal mission to make even the simpliest point as long winded as possible?
    Twinning
    Here Gordon presumes to speak with his presumption of infinite knowledge:
    –> Without too many details, the point is that in effect the zygote in its early development is capable of becoming two separate individuals, so-called identical twins [as opposed to fraternal twins]. A drug to suppress that would in effect suppress growth of the embryo as a direct result, leading to abortion.
    Yet he writes later on:
    –> And, BTW, twinning notoriously runs in families [cf recent NG on Chang and Eng’s descendants], so it is probably genetically encoded.
    If twinning is genetically encoded it may very well be caused by a gene that gets ‘turned on’, possibly by some environmental cue. Therefore if a drug inhibited that one gene from activating twinning could be prevented yet the embryo would develop normally as a single child. Gordon is a bit too wordy for his own good. In trying to fight the hypothetical he ended up showing the hypothetical is a more plausible than I thought.
    Even more ironic, if twinning is genetic and genes create a human beign then by this logic two individuals are present at fertilization. But as we saw before DNA is not as static as it appears. Genes may get turned on or off based on cues in the environment. If twinning makes two individuals and DNA creation marks the creation of an individual then does one or two individuals exist at fertilization? What if the ‘cue’ that activates the twinning gene never arrives?
    Gordon has proposed (and pretended it is a unquestionable scientific fact) that a human beign can be reduced to the grossly materialistic definition of simply the creation of a unique genetic code. For anyone that seriously believes in souls this definition is unworkable. For anyone that does not believe in souls this definition is arbitrary to the point of absurdity.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    First, let us note the undisputed status on the core issue:

    Genetically unique human life begins at conception, develops in the womb and goes through birth, then further growth and development. So, plainly, actions that deliberately kill the embryo in the name of research and treatment of those already born are morally indefensible.

    Now, on a few points:
    1] B: Indeed it is Gordon, that a pair of twins are not really siblings but rather parent and child and the ‘mother’ of twins is really a grandmother?
    –> Not at all: as I showed by pointing to cloning, the parents are the parents and the twins are siblings. [Cloning, if it were to work, would create a rather late “twin.” Of course, cloning to harvest organs from such “late twins” is the underlying agenda. To see that, simply substitute “cloning” for the

  • Gordon Mullings

    PS; On defining when human life begins. I think it is necessary to cite Joe again, in more details, with the proviso on twinning as I have noted above:

    JOE, citing the real experts and standard reference works, then commenting:

    [1] “Zygote. This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    –> Onlookers — I have but little hope that B will see this — note that the key point is that the 5+ -month unborn John the Baptist leaped for Joy in the presence of the just recently conceived Jesus in the Womb. JESUS is the one who was not yet “quickened.”
    Ohhh, I get it. But then by using Jesus you open yourself up to several problems:
    1. Christian doctrine holds that Jesus, being as member of the Trinity, always existed even before his stay on earth 2,000 years ago.
    2. So it is not viable to conclude from this passage that a human’s soul is implanted/created at either fertilization or quickening.
    I’ll pass on the topics of Schiavo, the promise of adult versus embryo stem cell research and the application of Black-Scholes etc. Gordon fails to introduce any new ideas here.
    On the contrary, the science shows unequivocally that genetically unique human life plainly begins at conception.
    Indeed but the question is should the creation of genetic uniqueness be equated with the creation of a human soul (non-materialists already know what that is even if there’s no objective test to measure souls…for our materialist friends let us define a soul as that quality which makes marks the difference between human life and a living human beign).
    Gordon has mounted, and Joe too, what is essentially a very long winded argument from authority. quote after quote of scientists telling us that fertilization creates a unique genetic code (a fact) is coupled the assertion that a unique genetic code is all that makes human beign (a philsophical assertion that cannot be established simply by scientists looking under their microscopes).

  • nedbrek

    On asexual reproduction:
    “a pair of twins are not really siblings but rather parent and child and the ‘mother’ of twins is really a grandmother?”
    Asexual reproduction does not create a parent-child relationship. The two individuals are genetically identical, the relationship is sibling.
    On the “implanting” of souls or arbitrary definitions:
    My definition of human life is, a set of cells able to survive and a set of experiences (starting at conception or twinning). So my toe is only alive in respect to me (or some sort of toe transplant recipient), since it would die on its own. I have yet to see a compelling argument for a better definition.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    By set of experiences you simply mean fertilization. You don’t mean by experience any ability even in theory to have a memory of the event or even to have the ability to formulate thoughts, or feelings about the event.
    Isn’t your definition rtather arbitrary? Why wouldn’t someone just as easily define quickening as the ‘experience’ that marks the beginning of a human soul?

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Notice first and foremost what stands, after all the rhetoric is said and done:

    Genetically unique human life begins at conception, develops in the womb and goes through birth, then further growth and development. So, plainly, actions that deliberately kill the embryo in the name of research and treatment of those already born are morally indefensible.

    However, B is clearly not at all hesitant to rush in and comment about what he knows but little on, as long as it will serve as a distractor from the main point. A few notes therefore follow, but first NB has again pointed out something interesting:
    1] NB: On the “implanting” of souls or arbitrary definitions: My definition of human life is, a set of cells able to survive and a set of experiences (starting at conception or twinning). So my toe is only alive in respect to me (or some sort of toe transplant recipient), since it would die on its own. I have yet to see a compelling argument for a better definition.
    –> Here of course, NB points to the vital difference between the body part, the biological organism [the set of cells] and the individual who undergoes the experiential chain of life from embryo to eventual death. Human life encompasses all three.
    –> The second remark is equally interesting: NB points out that “definition” is a potentially objective process, and has here offered a contender that is not arbitrary by virtue of being open to challenge but is objective by virtue of being sufficiently well established that there are no serious alternatives. [B’s attempt to tag this as

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    –> Here of course, NB points to the vital difference between the body part, the biological organism [the set of cells] and the individual who undergoes the experiential chain of life from embryo to eventual death. Human life encompasses all three.
    “experiential” presumes that the biological organism experiences the chain you are talking about. But no such facts have been produced to support this claim. While you may believe your chain is objective it is anything but. Those who are less inclined to accept your sudden embracing of crass materialism will be even more reluctant to again ditch the idea of a soul and reduce human beigns to a particular arrangement of cells.
    –> The second remark is equally interesting: NB points out that “definition” is a potentially objective process, and has here offered a contender that is not arbitrary by virtue of being open to challenge but is objective by virtue of being sufficiently well established that there are no serious alternatives. [B’s attempt to tag this as

  • bmmg39

    “Indeed, however this excusion thru the biology textbook does not answer when a human person emerges.”
    Wait a minute. I keep hearing ESCR-proponents allege that the personhood of the human embryo is a mere religious belief. So then we demonstrate that science is actually on OUR side, and then we’re told that “there’s more to being a person than science.” In other words, the pro-ESCR side abandons science once it sees that it supports the personhood of the human embryo, and resorts to talking about “real” people having dreams and aspirations. OF COURSE the biology book answers when a person’s life begins.
    By the way, the proper way to talk about Dennis Turner is to say that he’s been greatly helped with his own adult stem cells. Be careful to avoid talk of a “cure” or to suggest that a treatment has been “developed.” That he was without most of his Parkinson’s symptoms for five years is astounding in and of itself, even though I [ahem] never heard Michael J. Fox bring it up.
    And those of you who criticize the comment about women donating eggs miss the point. According to the RAND Institute, more than 88% of those 400,000 embryos in IVF clinics are being reserved for future attempts at pregnancy: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9038/index1.html
    From the 11,000 or so that HAVE been slated for research-related destruction, it’s been estimated that the maximum number of stem-cell lines that would be derivable would be about 275 — NOWHERE NEAR what scientists say they’d need for human therapies. That means they’re trying to wean people onto the idea of research cloning (euphemized as somatic cell nuclear transfer). Hence the comment about women and their eggs.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    I see we are still picking up new commenters in this thread. BMMG, interesting comment, and welcome!
    It is now very plain indeed that on the merits, the issue stands as:

    Genetically unique human life begins at conception, develops in the womb and goes through birth, then further growth and development. So, plainly, actions that deliberately kill the embryo in the name of research and treatment of those already born are morally indefensible.

    Now, let us do a little deconstruction on B’s further rhetoric:
    1] While you may believe your chain is objective it is anything but. Those who are less inclined to accept your sudden embracing of crass materialism will be even more reluctant to again ditch the idea of a soul and reduce human beigns to a particular arrangement of cells.
    –> My rhetoric meter pegged on this one!
    –> First, as BMMG aptly pointed out, I have cited well-accepted objective, scientifically established data and informed opinion that show that genetically unique human life is present at conception, and in the natural course develops as one or more individual babies [allowing for twinning, which we can see as an early, natural process of asexual reproduction].
    –> This citing of well-established facts by no means commits me to any materialist philosophy, and in fact just yesterday I discussed biblical evidence from Lk 1 and the concept of the hypostatic union, within the specifically Judaeo-Christian worldview. B, sadly, is spinning his rhetorical wheels madly, but is just digging himself deeper in the mud: I think it is dawning on him, too. [Onlookers, bend your prayer bones, please . . .]
    –> Now, where at least one individual is present, we generally accept that one or more human beings are present, and it is also generally accepted that individual human beings are to be protected. So widely accepted is this, that those who would support abortion on demand, or more recently, ESCR and cloning [and beyond that the chimera-horrors of Rev 9:1 – 11 lurk . . .], first seek to manipulate public perceptions, in order to dehumanise the young baby in the womb, and desensitise the conscience to what is being done.
    2] Now the factoid that a new genetic code is created by fertilization is not debated and is indeed well established. However the question is what creates a new human soul (for those with a materialist bent I’ve provided a definition that does not require superntural belief)
    –> Let us cite the real experts on embryology and ethics again, who tell us quite plainly, that at fertilisation, new human life is initiated:

    [1] “Zygote. This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Wait a minute. I keep hearing ESCR-proponents allege that the personhood of the human embryo is a mere religious belief. So then we demonstrate that science is actually on OUR side, and then we’re told that “there’s more to being a person than science.” In other words, the pro-ESCR side abandons science once it sees that it supports the personhood of the human embryo, and resorts to talking about “real” people having dreams and aspirations. OF COURSE the biology book answers when a person’s life begins.
    Hmmm, perhaps instead of listening to whoever you are listening to you should read what’s written here. First no one has said personhood is a ‘mere religious belief’. It is a very important question but it is not a scientific one. Gordon and others have asserted that personhood starts with the creation of a unique genetic code. In that science is on ‘their side’ only in that they are correct that a unique genetic code is created at fertilization. Feel free to find a single post anywhere that claims a unique genetic code is NOT created at fertilization.
    And those of you who criticize the comment about women donating eggs miss the point. According to the RAND Institute, more than 88% of those 400,000 embryos in IVF clinics are being reserved for future attempts at pregnancy: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9038/index1.html
    True but most have multiple embryos ‘reserved’. Because the miscarriage rate with IVF is high, women will typically implant several embryos until one ‘sticks’. Often then the remaining embryos are then ‘surplus’ because the woman will already be carrying a baby to term. In theory she could, years later, tap the embryo supply again if she wants a second child however there are serious questions of how long an embryo can remain frozen and still be viable. I’ve read after 5 years many IVF clinics will not implant an embryo because the chances of success go down dramatically. So embryos frozen in IVF clinics are not in ‘suspended animation’ that could be kept forever until a woman came along willing to donate a womb. Sitting frozen in an IVF clinic is a slow death sentence for a frozen embryo.
    From the 11,000 or so that HAVE been slated for research-related destruction, it’s been estimated that the maximum number of stem-cell lines that would be derivable would be about 275 — NOWHERE NEAR what scientists say they’d need for human therapies.
    You mean what they expect to need.
    Gordon:
    –> In short, B is running away from the FACTS by labelling them a “factoid” then rushing on to impose a redefinition of the soul: soul == brain function, which of course dehumanises the comatose.
    On the contrary, I have never contradicted your claim that fertilization creates a unique genetic code. Yet you keep citing experts who assert this over and over, pretending that someone here is asserting a unique genetic code is created at some point other than conception.
    I also did not equate a soul to brain function although a functioning brain is necessary for a soul to make decisions with a human body. The comatose do have functioning brains. They do not function as well as the non-comatose but we explored that issue in a previous thread. Human life is discreet therefore if ‘brain function’ is the test then having a functioning brain is sufficient. In other words a person whose brain functions twice as well as yours DOES NOT have twice the life of you. If the comatose person’s brain is dead then he is usually considered dead by standards that are accepted by most people, even pro-lifers.
    –> In short, on the evidence, the souls were present in both cases, and in the case of Jesus, long before “quickening.” The relevance of the creedal conclusion expressed in the term “hypostatic union” is that Jesus of Nazareth is both 100% human and 100% God, so we may confidently infer from his basic, essential human characteristics.
    Again you are stretching way too far here. Christian theology holds that Jesus existed not only at this moment but BEFORE. In fact, he existed as part of the Trinity even at the beginning of time. It would not be correct to infer from that we human souls therefore were created *before* fertilization.
    –> The point is that in terms of the publicly promoted “promise” of ESCR, ASCs have far better prospects and the market has actually voted on that as the case I cited shows. Creative destruction has happened as a superior innovation has eaten up the value of the other technology and the capital already invested in it. [Here, the relevant market-cluster is that for research investments, financial, institutional, human, career-choice.]
    Here this is nonsense. First of all whether or not ASC have more promise than ESCR is irrelevant. If the hot dog stand down the street is profitable then it is a valuable business even if it will never hold a candle to the billions in profits that Google generates. Second as Raven has done a good job of pointing out, this type of research is basic research which is not so easily analyzed with expected returns. The typical NIH research grant is not expected to result in treatments or breakthroughs.
    –> Now, of course the above distinction between a scientific theory and a philosophy is a welcome advance in the longstanding back-forth.
    Good to you see you’re starting to pay attention. I’ve been pointing that out for quite a long period of time now on this blog.
    –> I believe a fair reading of the bold italics [emphases mine] in context indicates that brain function is the effective definition of the soul that B is using. THAT is why I raied the issue of its implications for the comatose and paralysed.
    Again here are the bold italics you were referring too:

    If a person’s soul has already departed then the while the life in the body may be killed it is not killing a human beign (for example, harvesting the living organs from a body of someone completely brain dead).

    To be clear this explores the distinction that we have made here between human life and a living human beign. Human life is anything living that is related to the human species so even after a person dies you can extract cells, tissues even entire organs from their body that is still alive yet the human beign himself is considered dead. Brain death, not DNA death, is an accepted modern standard for the death of a human beign (in previous ages it was less strict, people sometimes still talk of a heart that has stopped beating as death).
    –> As a brief and limited to the point of being crude (but telling) analogy: computer hardware is vital for expressing the software, but the software is not at all confined to the hardware, nor is it reducible to the state of magnetisation of certain areas on a hard drive. It is complex, functional information, and artifact of that most familiar — we are aware of the inner and outer worlds through our minds — and yet most mysterious of all entities, the mind.
    This is actually a good analogy but it doesn’t really tell us much. The question still is when does the body get its software and when does it lose it….or more to the point when are we responsible to care for the body because its software needs it and when has the body broken down so much that we no longer consider it a vessel for the software….hence we can salvage some of the parts such as the keyboard or mouse without any ethical objections.

  • Gordon Mullings

    Onlookers:
    I think this exchange is increasingly approaching the threshold of unprofitability. However, let us again summarise the material issue:

    Genetically unique human life begins at conception, develops in the womb and goes through birth, then further growth and development. So, plainly, actions that deliberately kill the embryo in the name of research and treatment of those already born are morally indefensible.

    It should be plain from this that I am speaking in the first instance to the procreation of one or more individuals, and the core issue is that we have no moral right to do harm by taking innocent human life.
    In that context, it is equally plain that the consensus of the informed experts, for good reason, is that the one or more individuals who come into being at conception [and twinning if that happens] are just that:

    LIVING + HUMAN + BEINGS = LIVING HUMAN BEINGS

    Further to this, we see no good reason or facts offered to reject the obvious, observationally anchored conclusions, but instead a series of attempts to shift the burden of proof from those who would do at least potential harm to innocent human beings, to those who would protect life. but plainly, simple intuitive morality properly tells us that it is those who are at serious risk of doing harm who have a case to prove.
    I will also pause and comment on a few points:
    1] B: Gordon and others have asserted that personhood starts with the creation of a unique genetic code.
    –> Not at all. Kindly cf the immediately above.
    2] Human life is discreet therefore if ‘brain function’ is the test then having a functioning brain is sufficient.
    –> This of course yet again tellingly begs the question, cf. the immediately above.
    –> In short, B here asserts that brain function is necessary and sufficient for having a soul, i.e. It is in B’s mind equivalent to it. That arises from:

    a] it being a test implies that it is a NECESSARY condition, on pain of simple irrelevance in logic. [For, if it were only sufficient

  • Gordon Mullings

    H’mm:
    Let’s do a TM, coutesy the lovely Ms Jill Stanek:
    +++++++++++
    Fetus farming shot to hell

  • Gordon Mullings

    PPS: The WS article is HOT. Key excerpts:

    Scientists associated with a leading firm in the embryonic stem cell field, Advanced Cell Technology, recently published a research paper discussing the use of stem cells derived from cattle fetuses that had been produced by cloning (to create a genetic match). Although the article did not mention human beings, it was plain that the purpose of the research was not to cure diseased cows, but rather to establish the potential therapeutic value of doing precisely the same thing with human beings. For those who have ears to hear, the message is clear. I am hardly the first to perceive this message. Slate magazine bioethics writer Will Saletan drew precisely the same conclusion in a remarkable five-part series, the final installment of which was entitled “The Organ Factory: The Case for Harvesting Older Human Embryos.” . . . .
    I suspect that those in the biotech industry who do look forward to fetus farming are betting that moral opposition will collapse when the realistic prospect of cures is placed before the public.
    The ideal legislation to protect human life and preserve public moral sensibilities would ban all production of human embryos for research in which they are destroyed . . . .
    we find ourselves at a critical juncture. On the one hand, techniques for obtaining pluripotent stem cells without destroying embros will, it appears, soon eliminate any plausible argument for killing pre-implantation embryos. This is great news. On the other hand, these developments have, if I am correct, smoked out the true objectives of at least some who have been leading the charge for embryonic stem cell research. Things cannot remain as they are. The battle over embryonic stem cell research will determine whether we as a people move in the direction of restoring our sanctity of life ethic, or go in precisely the opposite direction. Either we will protect embryonic human life more fully than we do now, or we will begin creating human beings precisely as “organ factories.”

    It could not be plainer than that, folks. just remember the recent excerpt above that shows that there is credibel evidence that we do not need to harvest ESCs to generate the sort of results we just saw, given the reported totipotent BLSS’s that are already being taken from adult tissues.
    GEM

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    –> This of course yet again tellingly begs the question, cf. the immediately above.
    You didn’t post a question above.
    -> In short, B here asserts that brain function is necessary and sufficient for having a soul, i.e. It is in B’s mind equivalent to it. That arises from:
    Actually this is what you quoted:

    2] Human life is discreet therefore if ‘brain function’ is the test then having a functioning brain is sufficient.

    Again we go in circles but perhaps we are making some progress finally.

    a] it being a test implies that it is a NECESSARY condition, on pain of simple irrelevance in logic. [For, if it were only sufficient

  • Gordon Mullings

    B and Onlookers:
    I do not think much more that is profitable can be got from this thread. I will very briefly note:
    1] Logic: if B is claiming that brain function is only a sufficient condition for the soul tro be present, then that means that lack of brain function is not a test for the soul’s absence, due precisely to the logic of implication. But, in context he uses it in that way, so it is plain that he intends that it is both necessary and sufficient.
    2] Human lives vs human beings: a tortured attempted distinction without a difference that evades the force of the burden of proof — on those whose behaviour would potentially do harm.
    3] Sq root of -1: I can’t resist this. This is a well-defined, understandable concept, B. The best way to see that is by looking at an operator j that rotates a unit vector anticlockwise pi/2 rad or 90 deg from the real number line centred on 0. Apply j twice: j.j. 1 = -1, or j^2.1 = -1, i.e. j^2 = -1. This then leads directly into using j as a basis for rotating vectors, hence applications to alternating current and signals analysis.
    4] Jesus and incarnation: before/after properly relates to our space-time existence. So, “before” the incarnation, Jesus was not a human being though was and remains the Second person of the Godhead, who in humility did not grasp equality with God but emptied himself and became incarnate as the suffering servant, ultimately crucified Saviour; and, by the raising up of God, our risen exalted Lord. [I am here alluding to a C1 church hymn cited by Paul in Phil 2:5 – 11 which builds on Is 45:18 ff.] In respect of his humanity, he was 100% human, though of course not sinful. Members of a class exhibit the characteristics of that class, so his embryological biological humanity and associated spiritual nature are relevant.
    5] ASC vs ESC: the evidence shows that if basic research on ESCs is desired, the logical thing to do is to continue to use mice etc, over which there is no contention or moral question

  • Gordon Mullings

    PS A supplementary note: What did not happen, though, was euthansia nor was Terri declared ‘dead’ or a ‘non-person’ etc. Of course, what presicely happened is that Terri was starved anddehydrated to death by court order ont he insistence of her husband who had long since been living with another woman. he refused treatments, tests and offers to take over Terri’s care.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    In respect of his humanity, he was 100% human, though of course not sinful. Members of a class exhibit the characteristics of that class, so his embryological biological humanity and associated spiritual nature are relevant.
    Nonetheless, we do not know what the unborn child was reacting to…Jesus the human or Jesus the person of God. Indeed what the Bible had to have been describing would have had to be part of Jesus’s divine nature. It is NOT a characteristic of humans that their presence can be projected to unborn children in wombs outside of the one they are in.
    Another reading could simply be that the passage was relating what Elizabeth said to Mary. Women often do interpret the unborn baby’s movements half in jest and half seriously as reacting to something happening outside the womb (“Ohhh, he’s kicking again, he hates it when he hears that man’s voice on the radio!”). In that the Bible, in this case, is simply reporting what was said without saying Elizabeth was right or wrong in reading her unborn baby’s behavior. The message of the passage, as I read it again, seems to be emphasizing that Elizabeth perceived that Mary’s pregnancy was unique and special. It states that she was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ and filled with joy so how do we know that her unborn child didn’t react to that and she read that as him perceiving the presence of Jesus?
    5] ASC vs ESC: the evidence shows that if basic research on ESCs is desired, the logical thing to do is to continue to use mice etc, over which there is no contention or moral question

  • Gordon Mullings

    B:
    A few notes:
    1] John in utero: in the biblical context, his responce was to the approach of Theokotos, with the embryonic Immanuel present in her womb. In short, the issue is the manifested presence of God perceived by the spiritual person, even in the womb. The passage explicitly notes that Elizabeth was speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, i.e. this is endorsed as an accurate word from God, in Luke’s classic phrase as “Theologian of the Spirit” — filled with the Spirit.
    2] of mice and Men: [Due acknowledgment to Steinbeck, one of my favourite American authors] If there is any merit to ESC mice can show it quite well without getting into the moral thicket of killing human life in the name of curing disease. But the evidence is precisely that early undifferentiated embryos are NOT the likely source of effective and safe cures. So it leaves open the issues int he recently cited articles.
    3] Feeding tubes: They are not in any significant sense “life support” but a means of feeding. Further to this, there is evidence that in this case Terri could swallow for herself.
    4] Root minus one: The point is, that intuitive appreciation and logical sense are utterly distinct. What was aimed for was a concept that provided completeness: all numbers having square roots, leading rapidly to the Argand plane and thence a breakthrough in mathematics, indeed, it has aptly been noted that often the shortest and surest line between two conclusions about real numbers runs through the complex plane, a very familiar world for me. [Further note: the ijk vectors were developed by an extension of this to three dimensions and beyond lie Quaternions. Toss in vector and matrix theory, determinants and tensors for good measure. Stir and sprinkle with Parmesan and olive oil. Scrumptious.] The soul is similarly mysterious, but that does not mean that it does not make logical and empirical sense, just as the mind is mysterious but obviously makes a lot of sense. Further to this, in a biblical context, with the core warranting argument of the resurrection in play, I think we can know a lot about the soul. Even the old Greek thinkers were able to figure out a lot based on logical inference and observation. Knowledge claims by finite and fallible men are in the end provisional but that does not mean that we cannot have high confidence in them, amounting to moral certainty. But here we come up against the opposite challenge to the issue in Occam’s Razor: Einstein’s observation that everything should be as simple as possible but not simpler than that. That is in a world of profound mystery and wonder, worldviews without room for mystery and wonder are simplistic. [NOTE: I recall a very bright 6th form classmate in Math Class at HC over in insula Barbadoe getting very upset over the concept of complex numbers and declaring intent to develp a refutation of such “nonsense.” This stuff cuts clean across neat and simple views of the world! (Guess whose signature that central place of mystery is . . .) But, I always enjoyed using the Laplace plane to explain behaviour of lumped parameter system elements in the context of control theory or even circuit analysis. The rubber sheet diagram with poles pushing it up and zeroes nailing it down was especially popular with students. Run the cut along the jw axis and you got the frequency response. The sigma axis gave damping and impulse response characteristics. (The transfer function in the time domain is the infinite impulse response.) I think in Econ you use p for the plane, we use s. I used to tell students: p — Pierre, s — Simon, i.e. de Laplace.]
    5] DNA = human beings: neither I nor any other serious person has asserted such a claim. What I have pointed out is that the human zygote is a living human entity, and develops as one or more human individuals, who properly are recognised and respected as human BE-ings. In that context, human life is to be protected and those who would take potentially innocent human life bear the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt. burden of proof shifting in this context is its own surest refutation.
    6] Human lives and human beings: cf 5 just above.
    7] Schaivo: Mr Schaivo’s attempt to back-date Terri’s death to the early 1990’s is the most telling evidence on what is going on.
    ++++++++
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    1] John in utero: in the biblical context, his responce was to the approach of Theokotos, with the embryonic Immanuel present in her womb. In short, the issue is the manifested presence of God perceived by the spiritual person, even in the womb. The passage explicitly notes that Elizabeth was speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, i.e. this is endorsed as an accurate word from God, in Luke’s classic phrase as “Theologian of the Spirit” — filled with the Spirit.
    Perhaps, yet we still have a problem here of trying to pull too much text out of too little. Way too little.
    3] Feeding tubes: They are not in any significant sense “life support” but a means of feeding. Further to this, there is evidence that in this case Terri could swallow for herself.
    They require an operation to insert, are prone to infection, etc. Again just because they are low-tech and have been around for a very long time doesn’t make them non-life support. There was equal evidence that Terry would have chocked
    7] Schaivo: Mr Schaivo’s attempt to back-date Terri’s death to the early 1990’s is the most telling evidence on what is going on.
    Indeed, he came to believe his wife had died when the part of her brain that carried her personality was destroyed. I recall an evangelical blogger who took the same view at the time, writing an essay describing what he thought was Terry’s last moments being her soul departing her body when she was first taken to the emergancy room.
    But again we return not to the question of whether she had died before or after the tube was removed but her wishes and who should speak for them since she could not. I would ask you to consider this, suppose I was in such a situation but unlike Terry I had the ability to communicate clearly and I communicate that I do not want a feeding tube. Would my refusal be euthansia? Remember except for one state in teh US ‘assisted suicide’ remains illegal so doctors could not legally kill me. If, for example, I refused a ventillator but my body was still able to breath without it I could not legally request doctors ‘finish the job’ with an overdose.

  • Gordon Mullings

    B:
    Thunder again looms in the background, even as I access through a jury rigged setup: a tropical wave hit the local phone co hard with lightning strikes yesterday. At least the MVO folk tell us the volcano

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Ahhh, you with your volcano and Terry with his overseas adventure on the other thread…I debate with action packed bloggers here while the only notable thing happening in NJ is that it is nearly 100 degrees.
    The heresay goes in both directions with Terry. Her family also ‘remembered’ Terry making statements going in the other direction…although there it was more indirect talking about what should happen to Karen Ann Quinlin rather than herself. Equally dubious is the claim that she said anything in the last days of her life.
    1. We already know the supporters of her parents had distorted perceptions…reading random behavior in a manner that they felt was meaningful even if it meant ignoring hours of random behavior to latch onto the one eyemovement or sound that might be useful to their case.
    2. We already know from the autopsy that her brain was severely degraded, especially the higher level functions that would have controlled speech, thought, and decision making.
    3. We already know that whether it was intentional or not the supporters of her parents were not hostile to, shall we say, ‘distorting’ the truth when they felt it would suit their case. This involved sudden memories that Michael had abused his wife, novel theories that a murder attempt had left her in that state and so on.

  • Gordon Mullings

    B:
    The VP of the local phone co just came on air with profuse apologies and a publicx announcement of the lash-up, which doubtless will shortly dreramatically degrade. Oh well, such is life in the tropics.
    I note on themain observation that in a situation where we may err on either side, the basic duty is plain: we err on the side of LIFE. For, without life, no other rights are possible.
    Otherwise, we are monsters.
    Gravce, open our eyes
    Gordon