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On the ensoulment of frozen embryos

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Mario Cuomo spoke on the stem cell debate in a NY Times editorial. He’s reaching for a rational reconsideration of the religious and ethical issues Dubya says motivated his decision to limit federal funding of certain lines of research. This is offered as a favor to Mr.Bush, as he’s backed himself into a moral corner.

Although Mr. Bush believes that destroying an embryo is murder, he refuses to demand legislation to stop commercial interests that are busily destroying embryos in order to obtain stem cells. If their conduct amounts to murder as the president contends, it is hardly satisfactory for him to say he will do nothing to stop the evil act other than to refuse to pay for it.

Mr. Cuomo suggests a panel of "respected scientists, humanists and religious leaders" be assembled to review the relevant material. This, of course, will fail miserably to resolve the issue. Each side…and sadly, this time there are sides rather than a spectrum of positions…would have to be open to reconsidering their current position. Those on the science side of the debate do so as a matter of course. Those on the faith side of this particular debate refuse to do so as a matter of course, and this is one of the rare times where I will say the religious side is wrong…as in incorrect, not evil..for doing so.

The belief that ensoulment happens at the moment of conception is more than challenged, it is denied by in-vitro fertilization technology. This thought first occurred to me when I found out fertilized eggs are examined for defects by removing a cell at a very early stage of development.

Fertility doctors have known for years that early embryos seem unfazed by the removal of any one of their eight virtually identical cells, called blastomeres. In fact, it is common today to remove a single, representative blastomere from a laboratory-conceived embryo and test that cell for disease genes before deciding whether to transfer that embryo into a woman’s womb.

My immediate, rather cynical, reaction was, "Wow, how do you get into heaven with one eighth of your soul gone?"

When I read how embryos are preserved by freezing it was pretty obvious that the frozen result could not be called alive. Not only is there no biological activity going on in there, the material necessary for biological activity isn’t even present…not enough water, too much (which is to say, any at all) antifreeze.

Yet they are restored, implanted, children have been brought to term. And I defy anyone, no matter how pious, to look at those children and declare they have no soul.

Unliving things have no soul, living humans do, right? So the child’s soul had to "arrive" after fertilization and division into at least eight cells…probably more, since removing one of the eight has no impact. There is no other possibility. Most likely ensoulment requires a physical vehicle capable of supporting life.

That’s the conclusion Mr. Cuomo expects from his suggested panel. Maybe life begins when the fertilized egg is properly implanted in the womb. The repercussions of such a conclusion would be subtle…for instance, the Catholic doctrine against contraception wouldn’t be weakened at all. It could still be a mortal sin to interfere with the process, religious beliefs on the proper actions to take need not change. It would undermine attempts to paint abortion as murder when the physical receptical for a soul isn’t ready to support said soul yet.

But the most interesting repercussion of all would be the forced recognition that dogma extrapolated by humans is limited by human knowledge…the Pope being human, that would include him. And that would put more than a couple Pharisees in serious risk of exposure.

So, People of the Word will be told to "have faith" that this physical reality is irrelevant and they will NOT be told to pursue those commercial entities that are happily dismembering souls as we speak. It will be interesting to see if the faithful will be barred from using anything that is derived from this research…wages of sin and all that.

Scanned:NB
Edited: LH

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About Prometheus 6

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Your arguments here do not prove anything, especially not to people who believe in the soul.

    Removing one of the eight cells from an early embryo proves nothing. If my legs had to be amputated for some reason, more than one-eighth of my body mass would be lost. Nonetheless, every person who believes I have a soul now will believe I’d still have a soul after losing my legs. So they will never interpret the loss of one cell from an eight-cell embryo to be the same as having “one eighth of your soul gone.” Only a person who doesn’t believe in souls would interpret it that way.

    Freezing embryos proves nothing. Future technology may enable us to freeze, and then later thaw out without harm, adult human beings. Yet every person who believes in souls will believe these frozen adults continue to have souls. So it’s no challenge at all for them to believe frozen embryos still have souls.

    If these questions could be resolved by arguments as simplistic as the ones you make here, they would not be controversial.

  • TBJ

    Hey, I got a question. Why should “religious leaders” be allowed into any of these meetings? What happened to the division of church and state?

    I am being sarcastic.

  • http://www.prometheus6.org/ P6

    Like I said, people will insist the physical reality doesn’t matter.

    I’m perfectly willing to accept that life begins when a sperm cell touches an egg cell at all. But you, in turn, must accept that thousands, at least, of human souls are trapped in frozen corpses, never to experience life, and your president does nothing to prevent the commercial exploitation thereof. You must accept that every religion,every church that doesn’t openly combat the freezing of embryos and demand the bringing to term of every cell fertilized in an in vitro process is accepting murder on a grand scale. And that every person who was involved in an in vitro fertilization the ended with a single disposed fetus is a murderer or accomplice to murder.

    THAT is simple, and undeniable repercussion of the combination of life beginning at conception and in vitro fertilization. Fortunately, the science doesn’t put you all in that position.

    Future technology may enable us to freeze, and then later thaw out without harm, adult human beings.

    That’s an argument? That science fiction may come true?

    When an embryo is frozen, the suck out water and replace it with antifreeze. If they did not freeze it at that point,all biological activity would cease irreversibly anyway.

    This is all controversial because people cling to positions developed with a lack of knowledge. And as I said, there’s nothing in the facts that requires anyone to give up or change their behavior.

    Unless truth is a problem.

  • http://www.prometheus6.org/ P6

    And please note: the “one eighth of a soul” was a snark, not an arument…hence “my first, rather cynical, thought.”

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Ah, someone claiming their own personal and poorly supported opinions as the sole source of “truth.”

    For some reason this tactic doesn’t persuade me any more easily when it’s used in the name of science than when it’s used in the name of religion.

  • http://www.prometheus6.org P6

    What did I write that was opinion, much less unsupported?

  • http://www.prometheus6.org/ P6

    I could do the religious argument, you know (like, what was created first, Adam’s body or Adam’s soul?) but there would be all manner of head explosions. My saying the Pope is fallible (can you say Gallileo children?) is bad enough.

  • Terri

    I’m curious if all these “life begins at conception” & “IVF leads to murder” people have ever experienced infertility.

    I grew up and was raised Catholic. As an adult, I have pretty much renounced my Catholic faith for several reasons, too numerous to mention here. I consider my self pro-choice and pro death penalty if the situation warrants it – so no hypocrisy there. I also suffer from infertility.

    If it weren’t for research on embryos, millions of women today would be childless. When I went through IVF (twice), I gladly signed the consent form to have any spare embryos donated for research. So, go ahead and label me a murderer. I can live with that if it gives someone else a better chance to have a child.

    If you start the argument that life begins at conception, what do you say to the person who has several miscarriages? Are they murderers too?

    When the sperm meets the egg, what is formed is a blastocyst – a jumble of undefined cells that have the capacity of life. It does not have organs, it does not have a brain – only the possibility of those things. If we adhere to the belief that these jumble of cells are a living entity because of their possibilies – then shouldn’t the sperm and egg itself adhere to the same belief – each one has the possibility to create life. So are men murderers of possible life every time they wank off? Are women unkowing murderers every time they menstruate? If you follow the “logic” then these are possible conclusions. Do we really want to go there???

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    So, go ahead and label me a murderer.

    I would never do that.

    THAT is simple, and undeniable repercussion of the combination of life beginning at conception and in vitro fertilization. Fortunately, the science doesn’t put you all in that position.

    My own position is that a fetus is not an individual life until it can support life independently. And religions can declare abortion an abomination, they just have to do it on the basis of faith, not some pretense of scientific objectivity.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    Do we really want to go there???

    Frankly, yes.

    Let people deal with their contradictions or resolve them…but no one should expect me (in particular) to ignore them. They always have the option to ignore me.

  • Nancy

    I have a question I hope isn’t too personal, & does NOT involve religion at all: what was the impetus to breed, yourself, instead of considering adoption as a viable alternative? Why did you feel impelled to go thru all this just to end up having a child of your own genetics? Are your genetics that good? Was there family pressure? I’m curious why this particular venue & not another. Please excuse if it’s too intrusive. Thanks.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    The question is personal, but the answer isn’t. Reproduction is one of life’s imperitives. It’s a demand created by the very structure of your body, an amoeba’s body and every living thing in between.

    The details of my personal case are straightforward too. I was 19, in love with (no exaggeration) one of the five most stunning women it the world at that time. We had sex, she got pregnant and chose to keep the child. We raised the kid.

    But yeah, my genetics are that good.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    I need to not push that post button so fast.

    I’m curious why this particular venue & not another.

    Because as annoyed as any number of folks get with my drive-bys there WILL be serious responses. Because the site is visible enough. And I have chosen other venues…my own site, for one (I had to fix the link in the post, I didn’t realize it was broken…) and at The Ametican Street (same as the item posted at my site, so you only have to click one,and only if you’re curious.)

  • Nancy

    No, no: sorry. Misunderstanding. I was under the impression you had problems w/infertility. Therefore, I wondered why you went thru all the business of the tests & jumping thru all the hoops in order to have kids yourself, when plenty are available for adoption or fostering.

  • Nancy

    The ‘venue’ I was referring to was the venue of artificial implantation or in vitro, as opposed to simple adoption.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    I was under the impression you had problems w/infertility.

    Maybe I picked up a question directed at someone else.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Your opinion: “… ensoulment requires a physical vehicle capable of supporting life.”

    You have given no compelling reasoning to show this statement must be true. All you have stated are reasons you feel it would be emotionally disturbing if anything else turned out to be true.

    Your arguments to support those emotional reactions, no matter how effective they may be for bolstering your own personal beliefs, do not have any relevance to the underlying truth of the matter. The question of whether or not humans even have souls at all, much less the question of when they get their souls, remains completely unresolved by anything you have written here.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Who cares if embryos have souls or for that matter if souls even exist? Well, some deluded people may care and argue for as long as scholastic philosophers argued how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. But you’re never going to be able to prove it one way or another, and in the absence of proof the issue falls into the secular jurisdiction.

    As for when life begins, we’ve been overvaluing life for years now. In the ancient world when abortion was difficult people just left their unwanted babies out in the wilderness for wild animals to eat – or occasionally adopt – as soon as they were born. Abortion is at least an improvement over that practice.

    Dave

  • Shark

    re. Dave chimes in —

    heh.

    Just ‘heh.’

    =======

    VIctorPlenty: “…whether or not humans even have souls at all, much less the question of when they get their souls, remains completely unresolved by anything you have written here.”

    …or will ever read anywhere, anytime.

    BTW: One has to define “soul” — which ought to lead to an infinite downward spiral into a linguistic sorta hell.

  • Duane

    Shark says: One has to define “soul.”

    “Soul is fundamentally rhythm and blues, which grew out of the African-American gospel and blues traditions during the late 1950s and early 1960s in the United States. Over time, much of the broad range of R&B extensions in African-American popular music, generally, also has come to be considered soul. Traditional soul usually features individual singers backed by a traditional band consisting of rhythm section and horns.”

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    From Genesis: “…then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”

    I don’t believe that a spirit dwells within the body until the first breath is taken in. Perhaps I am being naive. I’ve always felt that a fetus was just something biological until separated from the mother and able to be an individual.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    You have given no compelling reasoning to show this statement must be true.

    I didn’t try.I said “most likely.”

    All you have stated are reasons you feel it would be emotionally disturbing if anything else turned out to be true.

    What I did was layoutthe inevitabilities. Other folks said it was “emotionally disturbing.”

    I invite YOU to give a possibility other than those I described.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    But you’re never going to be able to prove it one way or another, and in the absence of proof the issue falls into the secular jurisdiction.

    Dave, next time someone says you’re an extremist, send them to me.

  • Shark

    Duane, thanks for defining ‘soul’. I guess that implies it’s okay to kill Cher — but not okay to kill Keb Mo.

    I LIKE IT! I LIKE IT!

    [Shark running to fetch his gun…]

  • Shark

    BTW:

    The great Bill Hicks said:

    “A fetus isn’t a person until they’re in my phone book.”

    Hope that helps.

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Oh NO! NOT Cher! She has a soul! I know she does. It’s Madonna that I’m concerned with.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I know Cher has a soul – she’s had a Soul Lift to make it fresh and clean.

    Dave

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    So Victor…any possibilities other than those I mentioned?

    You have to admit, their being the only possibilites is a pretty compelling reason to accept the statement.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Frozen embryos are either alive, or not. You think they’re not. Other people think they are. None have put forward any compelling proof one way or the other.

    Clearly you have convinced yourself that your view is the only “truth” available on the subject, but you haven’t convinced me. Your opponents haven’t convinced me they possess “the truth” either.

    What “other possibilities” are you looking for?

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    What I’ve presented is not opinion. I’ve fixed the link in the post: it’s to the Scientific American web site, an independent explanation of freezing embryoes…I didn’t even write the letter asking the question.

    The major concern in cryopreservation of cells is the possible formation of ice crystals inside in the cells. You can imagine they are like little razor blades inside a balloon: ice crystals have sharp corners and little points. Thus they can damage a cell’s membrane or the membranes of various cell structures that exist inside the cytoplasm of cells. This is true for all cells, whether they be embryos, steak, fish, fruit or vegetables. In fact, most people can experience the effects of cryopreservation when they taste a piece of fish that’s been frozen versus fresh fish. It’s usually tougher, it doesn’t taste as good and it just has some negative attributes that distinguish it as not fresh.

    I’m looking for a possibility that would compel me to consider the result of the following operation “alive.”

    Cryoprotectants are basically antifreeze that we add to the solutions in which the cells are being frozen in to protect them from membrane damage and ice crystal damage. They are designed to both permeate the cells, meaning to get inside the cell, and to displace water to prevent intracellular ice crystal formation…Cryoprotectants are basically antifreeze that we add to the solutions in which the cells are being frozen in to protect them from membrane damage and ice crystal damage. They are designed to both permeate the cells, meaning to get inside the cell, and to displace water to prevent intracellular ice crystal formation. They have a second function of stabilizing the membrane and protecting it from damage during cryopreservation. And thirdly, they provide a “hyper-osmotic” environment that helps the process of dehydration, which draws the water out of the cells. This process is accomplished by using cryoprotectants composed of typically large sugar molecules that make a more concentrated solution around the cells, which by osmosis and diffusion causes water to move out. Simultaneously, cryoprotectants that are made up of smaller molecules such as ethylene glycol or glycerol are able to permeate the cell so it doesn’t shrink up like a raisin. Instead it can maintain its three dimensional structure to a degree but not be filled with water. Because our cells are made up of mostly water, if we dehydrated them to the point of having no fluid, they would be damaged by so-called solution effects, which result from the cell being too concentrated and not having its water replaced by some other compound.

    Understand what is being done here. If I took YOU and replaced the water in your body with antifreeze…

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    A frozen embryo retains the ability to grow into a mature organism after thawing, if the correct process is used.

    The only known things with that ability are, by definition, alive.

    Given that fact, you have provided no compelling reason to consider frozen embryos anything other than alive. You can toss around big scary words like “cryoprotectant” or “antifreeze” all you like, but such tactics appeal only to emotion and have no relevance to the basic facts.

    Your last sentence in comment 30 illustrates the emotional basis of your arguments:

    “Understand what is being done here. If I took YOU and replaced the water in your body with antifreeze… ”

    The mirror image of this statement could easily be found in arguments from radical anti-abortion activists: “If I took YOU and [did gruesome abortion procedure on you]… ”

    In both cases such tactics do more to obscure the issue than to illuminate it. Describing the gruesomeness of an abortion procedure fails to prove the embryo has a soul. Describing the strangeness of cryopreservation fails to prove the embryo lacks a soul.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    so…basically, everybody’s mad because the president won’t spend money on stem cell research…but if he did…then everybody would be mad because the deficit was bigger!

    Has anything done by the govt affected the pharm companies from conducting their research? Other than not put more money in their pockets? This research money they want from the govt…you know…the research money that they all claim is the reason for the high cost of medicine…that they’re gonna throw back into the price of anything developed form stem cell research anyway…is there some reason that needs to come out of my pocket?

    Explain to me why the federal govt needs to subsidize the pharmacuetical companies…are they short on funds for some reason? If they are, it’s because they sell drugs cheaper in every other fucking country on the planet!

    As far as I’m concerned…life began in my daughters the first time they kicked me in the head…and I don’t remember how many months into the pregnancy that was.

    just a thought…

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    A frozen embryo retains the ability to grow into a mature organism after thawing, if the correct process is used.

    The only known things with that ability are, by definition, alive.

    Really?
    The definition of life (as opposed to the meaning thereof).

    The cells are not alive.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    Plants use the correct process to turn soil, light, etc. into their bodies. Is the soil alive?

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    so…basically, everybody’s mad because the president won’t spend money on stem cell research

    That’s not my issue. My issue isn’t even the opposition to abortion. It’s the bad reasoning used to justify it, when the opposition to it is purely faith based.

    The “life begins at conception” argument is like the “intelligent design” argument.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    By your latest argument, whenever any organism is not directly engaged in reproductive activity, that organism is not alive, because it is not at that moment fulfilling all seven of the “conditions” set in the definition you linked.

    In fact by your interpretation of that definition, any organism that dies before reproducing was never alive at all. Such nonsensical implications render your latest argument meaningless.

    Freezing only delays an embryo’s ability to carry out all seven of those “life processes of life.” Logically, then, the frozen embryo must still be alive.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    By your latest argument, whenever any organism is not directly engaged in reproductive activity, that organism is not alive, because it is not at that moment fulfilling all seven of the “conditions” set in the definition you linked.

    1 – That’s not my argument, it’s a list of capabilities a thing must have to be alive.
    2 – Where did the at that moment come from? Neither I nor the linked site made any such suggection. I’m not responsible for any additional claims others may chose to ascribe to me.
    3 – By your argument, EVERYTHING is alive…something I have no real objection to, by the way.

    Again, you may chose to call it alive if you wish…which takes us back to comment 8.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    P6 – what you’re saying…or what I’m gathering from what you’re saying is that you don’t give a damn about anything but the fact that the president decided not to use MY money to fund stem cell research because he’s a christian and he belives life begins at conception…

    it doesn’t matter that I don’t give a fuck when someone else thinks life begins and that I think the pharmacuetical companies should fund their own damn research with all the money they’re making off viagra?

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    If by “I don’t give a fuck” you mean I’m real tolerant of the positions others take as long as they account for or absorb the inconsistencies, yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    That is exactly your argument, P6. Only by excluding its entire future life cycle from consideration can you classify the embryo as anything other than alive. The phrase at that moment is an absolutely necessary premise of your argument, even if you fail to understand this fact.

    Comment 8 is not relevant because I do not advance any claim about whether the embryo should be given the same legal status as an adult human or an infant. Recognizing the embryo is alive is not the same thing as calling abortion “murder.”

    Some people want to call the embryo an unborn human being and say it has all the same rights you and I have. Others want to call it only a potential human being and say it does not have any legal rights until some later point in its development. I’m not taking either of these positions at this time.

    All I’m saying is, if the embryo were not alive, there would be no later point in its development. If it were not alive, it would stay non-alive and there would be no controversy.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    So your position is that because it may, if properly handled, one day be capable of the activity necessary to have a life, it’s alive now.

    All the soil in the world is alive. All the water in the world is alive.

    Like I said initially: many people will insist the physical reality has no bearing.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    No, this is important. Let’s see if there can be clarity.

    Take a blastocyst. It, like every other living system, draws from its environment (in this case a womb) what it needs to execute all life functions.

    Remove the water, add antifreeze. Do nothing else and it’s dead. Do we agree?

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Soil is not alive. Water is not alive. No droplet of water or pinch of soil will ever become what an embryo can become. Inert matter stays inert. Dead cells stay dead. Therefore the frozen embryo must contain living cells, not inert matter or dead cells.

    If the frozen embryo is mishandled and is not properly thawed, it dies at that point. Death does not occur at the moment of freezing. Death occurs when the organism becomes too damaged to remain viable.

    The same can be said for the patient in a botched surgical operation. If the surgeon fails to suture the incisions properly, the patient may die. If that happens, the moment of death is not the time when the first incision was made. The time of death is the time when the damage becomes too severe for recovery.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    Fine.

    Take a blastocyst. It, like every other living system, draws from its environment (in this case a womb) what it needs to execute all life functions.

    Remove the water, add antifreeze. Do nothing else and it’s dead. Do we agree?

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    You know I’ve already answered that question. I’ll answer it in yet another way, in the interest of having at least one person be polite in this conversation.

    Suppose you put me into an airtight container with a two hour oxygen supply. Do nothing else and in two hours I’ll be dead.

    Still, my time of death would be at the end of the two hours. No rational physician would enter my time of death as the time that the psycho placed me into the airtight container. Why not? It’s very simple. If I had been freed before the two hours were up, I’d still be alive. It’s just not that complicated.

    Yet you would discard these simple facts in the reasoning you wish to use with frozen embryos. Because freezing is an exotic state for living cells, you feel the cells cannot be alive while frozen. You feel it very strongly, but you have provided absolutely no compelling reason for anyone else to share your feelings on this matter.

    Being sealed into an airtight container is a strange thing for a person to endure, but it doesn’t necessarily cause the person to die. Likewise, freezing is a strange thing for living cells to endure, but it doesn’t necessarily cause the cells to die.

    The fact that the cells can be thawed and still grow into a viable organism is pretty strong evidence that they don’t die at the moment of freezing.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    You know I’ve already answered that question.

    No you haven’t. It’s a yes or a no.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Only rhetorical trickery attempts to force a complex situation to resolve into a yes or no answer.

    If you ever become interested in genuine discussion of these issues, let me know.

    Otherwise, just remember your cheap debating tactics failed to convince me of your claim to possess “the truth.”

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    Only rhetorical trickery attempts to force a complex situation to resolve into a yes or no answer.

    Hey, I tried a high level approach. Now I’m trying to examine the issue one definitive step at a time.

    I’ve given my position clearly. And there is no FACT that FAITH will find compelling. So you’re probably wiser than I in quitting first.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Your views are also based on faith. You have failed to prove your views have any greater factual basis than anyone else’s.

    You can continue congratulating yourself on your perfect personal omniscience, and denigrating any disagreement with you as irrational superstition, but that arrogant approach will not make your arguments valid.

    After observing repeated signals that you lack any interest in understanding how others might form opinions different from your own, I choose to cease wasting my time on you.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    You have failed to prove your views have any greater factual basis than anyone else’s.

    I’ve failed to compel you to consider the issue step at a time. Technical flaw on my part.

    But I’ve come to understand the latest technique in the public debate: the demand for “compelling evidence.” Even an attempt to provide such shifts the standard to a personal, subjective one.

    See, that’s the great thing about faith. It precedes judgement. Perfect defense.And I’m seriously grateful for the reminder.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Any statement about the soul is a faith statement. Any statement about the soul is thus an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary proof, which you have not shown to exist in any form.

    You assume I am making some counterclaim against your claims about the soul, as part of some technique in “the public debate” when that has never been my goal at all. I am not a partisan of any particular group in this public debate. I find all the major factions use flawed arguments and fail to listen to anyone with differing views.

    I maintain only that all statements about the soul are equally faith-based opinions, and this is why no such statement can decisively resolve the controversies over the moral and legal status of embryos.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    What I am saying is the claim that a soul is inserted in an egg cell at the moment of conception is incompatible with physical fact.

    Now, if you’re NOT making a claim about the issue, why not step through it with me? The yes or no answer to the first step–would the blastocyst die if the water was replaced with antifreeze as the firstand final step in the process–would be a good start.

    Who knows? Maybe you can definitively disprove my unclaimed omniscience. Several folks would DEEPLY appreciate it (it’s not that I know everything, just enough not to make claims I haven’t considered thoroughly).

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    why? If a soul can live outside the body after death, why can’t it live inside the body before life?

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    No reason at all, Andy. As long as we’re clear life hasn’t started yet…

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    In comment 43 and again in comment 45 I anticipated where your “step through it” process would lead, and gave you my take on the resulting issues, although you rudely refuse to acknowledge my answers.

    If you think your step by step argument will lead somewhere else, feel free to walk through all those steps in one substantive comment. I’m not going to play your “yes-or-no” game.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    P6 – outstanding point!

    Like I said earlier…for me..I believe it was the first time one of my daughters kicked me in the head from inside her mother. Pretty sure there was more than 8 cells by that point…I don’t think the kick would have got my attention the way it did otherwise…

    it does seem to be a chicken and egg kinda question…better left to…who knows…

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    In comment 43 and again in comment 45 I anticipated where your “step through it” process would lead,

    And you accuse ME of the arrogant assumption of omniscience.

    One of the reasons people would appreciate you puncturing my pretensions is because they’ve found I don’t go in expected directions.

    and gave you my take on the resulting issues, although you rudely refuse to acknowledge my answers.

    Why should I acknowledge an answer to a question I didn’t ask? That NEVER works with me…browse my posts and the subsequent discussions, see for yourself.

    What’s happening here…and this is an opinion…is you are claiming not to take a position in order to avoid defending your position. And that’s okay because it’s REALLY visible, and therefore (also my opinion) just as good in its own way.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    it does seem to be a chicken and egg kinda question…better left to…who knows…

    Yes, true. Except we’re talking legal repercussions, the impact on real lives when these beliefs become politically rather than personally motivating.

    Right now, in New York, we have a bill on the Governor’s desk allowing the issuance of emergency contraception in the case of rape. He’s fucking thinking about whether to sign it or not.

    Hello!! EMERGENCY??

    And why? because he has to consider whether or not he wants to alienate potential voters in Podunk.

    I actually have HUGE respect for people’s faith thing…though I have my own view of it, I have seen prayer save my mother’s life…literally. Whether you think the reason was divine intervention, mind over matter, whatever…it worked. SO I wouldn’t mees with folks about it on the whole.

    But one’s faith doesn’t require manipulating other people’s lives. It doesn’t need anyone to act to take away people’s choices. God didn’t do that.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    I’ll agree with you on the issue of faith…but I still think it’s a matter of not only the presidents faith…but who should pay for this research…one minute folks scream that bush is big business the next they scream because he wont give billions to the pharm cos for stem cell research…you can’t have your cake and eat it to!

    I don’t want to give any more money to the pharmaceutical companies…they have more than enough…maybe if I had a spinal cord injury I might feel differently…I don’t…so…I don’t…

    You have faith that stem cell research will lead to some miraculous cure for who knows what…why should your faith manipulate my life by forcing me to spend my tax dollars on something I don’t want to?

    How is NOT paying for research that the drug companies can afford to pay for themselves take away anyones choices?

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    I am NOT the champion of Big Pharma.

    I didn’t raise this in connection with the stem cell debate, though you can easily figure out where I stand on that. But I find the idea of US (as in we citizens) paying for tax credits and shit for the wealthiest industry in existance, the thought that they need incentives beyond the obscene profits they already enjoy, is beyond bizarre.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Legal issues do not require claims about souls.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    Legal issues do not require claims about souls.

    Agreed.

    So all churches should back the hellout of any discussion of the legality of abortion, stem cell research, etc. Or at least use an argument that doesn’t invoke the installation of souls.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    So, P6, if my position on these issues is so visible as you claim, you should be able to tell me what my position is.

    I’m quite curious to know.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    What’s visible is that you’re avoiding giving your position. I’ve said why I think that is the case.

    Why don’t you simply state your position so there’s no confusion?

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    My view on whether or not embryos have souls is irrelevant, because I’ve never claimed everyone else has to share my view to be worthy of respect as rational human beings.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    My view on whether or not embryos have souls is irrelevant

    Not when you enter a conversation about whether or not embryos have souls.

    I’ve never claimed everyone else has to share my view to be worthy of respect as rational human beings.

    So then there’s only the one issue we seem to disagree on…whether or not one’s position on the ensoulment of frozen embryos is important in a discussion on the ensoulment of frozen embryos.

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    If souls can burn in Hell, can they remain in suspended animation within test tubes? Let’s get real.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    When you claim to possess “the truth” of the matter, P6, you take on the burden of proving your claim.

    My view is irrelevant to the strength of the reasoning you can (or in this case, apparently cannot) bring to bear in support of your claim.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    Silas – I think that’s the purgatory thing you might be talking about…when I was a kid the catholic church taught us that if you died with venial sins on your soul that you had to kinda burn them off in purgatory…at least that’s the way I understood it.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    When you claim to possess “the truth” of the matter, P6, you take on the burden of proving your claim.

    I offered. You refused.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    It’s fun watching you duck, Victor.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    And I have proven the truth of my claim…which is there are no options other than those I presented.

    You can prove your claim that by finding a possibility I missed. And I didn’t miss the possibility that I will burn in perdition for all eternity for my presumption.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    And that’s the truth…not whatever variant meaning you intend by the use of scare quotes.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    You offered nothing but a dead end argument. You proved nothing but your own inability to engage in a mutually respectful conversation.

    You have failed to establish any fact that makes it impossible for an embryo to have a soul, right from the moment of conception. It might not have a soul. Or it might. Nobody really knows, including you.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    You proved nothing but your own inability to engage in a mutually respectful conversation.

    Now that’s hilarious.

    Your second comment: a light insult

    Ah, someone claiming their own personal and poorly supported opinions as the sole source of “truth.”

    Then your fear of the “big, scary words” I use…

    You can toss around big scary words like “cryoprotectant” or “antifreeze” all you like

    …complained about in the same sentance as a claim that I’m arguing from emotion!

    …but such tactics appeal only to emotion and have no relevance to the basic facts.

    Followed by your adding to my comments and attributing the addiion to me.

    By your latest argument, whenever any organism is not directly engaged in reproductive activity, that organism is not alive, because it is not at that moment fulfilling all seven of the “conditions” set in the definition you linked.

    And when you said:

    The time of death is the time when the damage becomes too severe for recovery.

    I attempted to approach it from your direction.

    Take a blastocyst. It, like every other living system, draws from its environment (in this case a womb) what it needs to execute all life functions.

    Remove the water, add antifreeze. Do nothing else and it’s dead. Do we agree?

    You continue answering questions that were never asked, and imply I’ve been rude and/or insulting

    I’ll answer it in yet another way, in the interest of having at least one person be polite in this conversation.

    …and call my very direct statements,let’s see, what was that?

    Only rhetorical trickery…

    and

    …cheap debating tactics

    But when I decide to let it go

    I’ve given my position clearly. And there is no FACT that FAITH will find compelling. So you’re probably wiser than I in quitting first.

    You get personal and insulting.

    You can continue congratulating yourself on your perfect personal omniscience, and denigrating any disagreement with you as irrational superstition, but that arrogant approach will not make your arguments valid.

    …more than once

    although you rudely refuse to acknowledge my answers.

    And (here’s a denigration) foolishly take a position that undermines your faith

    Legal issues do not require claims about souls.

    …and evade

    My view on whether or not embryos have souls is irrelevantMy view on whether or not embryos have souls is irrelevant

    …and evade.

    My view is irrelevant

    Meanwhile, your demand for a “compelling argument” is so subjectively judged it’s unapproachable by anyone that doesn’t agree with you already…only we don’t KNOW if we agree with you because you can’t even say in public…or at least in this public place…what your position is.

    Like the McDonald’s commercial says, “I’m lovin’ it!”

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Your originating post began the insults, P6, denigrating anyone who disagrees with you, implying only “dogma” could lead anyone to hold a view different from your own.

    Continually you make the classic sophist’s claim to being the sole possessor of truth.

    A reasonable person could hold the views you describe about the souls of frozen embryos. Another reasonable person could hold views completely different from yours. I can state this without having to explain what my own views may be.

    You have consistently shown you are unwilling to extend the courtesy of such respectful disagreement to anyone else, a behavior which excludes you from the category of reasonable persons.

  • http://prometheus6.org/ P6

    Your originating post began the insults, P6, denigrating anyone who disagrees with you, implying only “dogma” could lead anyone to hold a view different from your own.

    Where did I say that?

    What did I say that denigrated anyone? Quotes, please…

    Nevermind, it’s right at the top of the page. Anyone can see for themselves.

  • http://www.ForBrainiacs.com Navigator

    You guys are amazing!

    You love to read your own script more than those on TV love hearing themselves on the monitors and call it “news”.

    It would seem that your comfort zones are alive and healthy, if not self arrogant. Has it occurred to you that what you write after thinking has nothing to do with reality? Might consider that in your quiet periods.

    You may wish to leave this blog long enough to get an education from St. Thomas Aquinas to modern biophysics, genetics and perhaps some chemistry.

    Right now, your gum clapping is deafening!

    If you can read and key at the same time you may be able to take in enough of the Houston Chronicle’s article by David Barash “When is the moment of ensoulment?”

    Otherwise, have a nice life.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    True! We are amazing! Thanks for noticing!

    — Navigator wrote: —
    >
    > You guys are amazing!
    >
    > . . .
    >
    > ((superfluous gum clapping snipped))
    >

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