Sketches on Atheism

Abortion: There is No Ethical Dilemma

How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?

This is arguably the most significant question in any discussion concerning the legality of abortion, and because facts matter, the following seventeen words are critical in understanding that before gestational week 25, although more accurately week 28, there is no ethical dilemma in terminating a pregnancy because nothing is being killed—or worse, to use the careless language of some, murdered.

At no stage does life magically appear in a zygote, a blastocyst, an embryo, or a foetus.

Life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago and has not been interrupted since. There is no ‘divine spark,’ no ensorcelled moment when the inanimate abruptly transforms into the animate. A foetus was never inorganic and suddenly becomes organic. The egg and the sperm are already parts of the living system—a 3.8 billion years old system driven by chemiosmosis, where the rechargeable chemical battery for life, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), is first broken down and then re-formed during respiration to release energy used to power every living reaction.

This is a fixed, unmovable fact. It is not up for debate, and from this cardinal truth it becomes immediately clear that when discussing pregnancy, and the ethical-cum-legal guidelines concerning the decision to terminate one, we are never talking about the inception of life, rather the beginning of a human organism, and the first defining feature of a living human organism—long before self-awareness, direct experience and memories shape an individual’s personality—is that a living human organism can die.

In as few words as possible, defined human life begins the moment its twin, death, also springs into existence. Without death there is no life. The former begets the latter. The latter assigns meaning to the former. One delineates the other, and the definition of human death is not in dispute. Death is the permanent loss of capacity for consciousness and all brainstem functions. Or more simply put: death is when electroencephalography (EEG) activity ceases. That’s it. That’s death, and a 2002 survey published in the journal Neurology comparing worldwide standards and regulations of death found brain death to be the universal legal and medical measure accepted across the globe. In the U.S., laws on brain death vary by state, but all states recognise that death is determined by the irreversible cessation of brain function, or as bluntly stated in the journal, Nature Reviews, Neuroscience: “Brain death means human death”—And for very good reason. Consider this simple fact: Theoretically, I can remove the heart from an adult human being, and for just as long as I keep blood flowing through the body, that person will remain being a living person because their brain is still working naturally. You cannot do the reverse of this experiment.

It follows quite naturally therefore that the onset of a defined human life is when foetal brain activity begins to exhibit regular and sustained activity, and this occurs consistently around week 25. It is an important milestone when considering the ethical lines of abortion, lines that should always err on the side of caution, but it is crucial to note that the brain’s major physical substrates—those structures essential for consciousness—are not, however, complete until week 28, after which the process to full bilateral synchronisation begins.

There is no approximation or inference here. Research into foetal brain development started in earnest in the early 1960’s, and today we have a precise picture of what is happening, when and where.

Simply put, foetal brain development is a process of continuous specification and refinement of brain areas that begins at the end of the third gestational week with the formation of the neural tube. This is not a ‘little brain,’ rather the first rung of scaffolding that marks the beginning of a construction process triggering the production of specialised ectodermal neural stem cells. These neural progenitors are produced along the neural plate, and through division can differentiate into committed neural sub-types such as neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes which then migrate around the developing brain (and central nervous system) like modular construction blocks. Upon reaching their target region, the young neurons need to then become part of information processing networks, developing axons and dendrites and synaptic terminals that allow the cells to communicate with other neurons.

At 20 weeks, the first intermittent firings in both cerebral hemispheres can be detected, but these are little more than blind test-firings. By week 24, as electroencephalographic activity nears constancy, the foetus can begin to react to aversive stimuli, but there is still no coherent information flowing down major pathways because those pathways have not yet formed. For example, two of the most essential structures for consciousness, the thalamocortical and corticothalamic pathways that transmit sensorimotor information, only begin to form 4 weeks after those first intermittent firings, at the very end of the second trimester, but are only complete by gestational week 28. After which, as noted by neuroscientist and chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Christof Koch, the electroencephalographic rhythm across both cortical hemispheres signals the onset of global neuronal integration.

And with that a complete human organism begins to exist. Despite sharing the same metabolic rate as the mother, and although it will not be until week 32 that the brain is ready to control respiration, it is at this point when the ethicist can call the foetus truly “On,” and only after something is “On” can it be turned “Off,” meeting the universally recognised definition of human death.

So, how can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?

You can’t.

Without a continuously functioning, synchronised brain there is no full human organism—a fact noted by Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, James Goldenring, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Development of the Fetal Brain:

“When the coordinating and individuating function of a living brain is demonstrably present, the full human organism exists. Before full brain differentiation, only cells, organs, and organ systems exist, which may potentially be integrated into a full human organism if the brain develops. After brain death what is left of the organism is once again only a collection of organs, all available to us for use in transplantation, since the full human being no longer exists.”

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260 thoughts on “Abortion: There is No Ethical Dilemma

    • Indeed, and here is the so-called ”Father of the Anti-Abortion Movement,” Jack Willke:

      “Since all authorities accept that the end of an individual’s life is measured by the ending of his brain function (as measured by brain waves on the EEG), would it not be logical for them to at least agree that individual’s life began with the onset of that same human brain function as measured by brain waves recorded on that same instrument?” (Dr. Jack Willke, Abortion: Questions and Answers)

      The interesting part of this quote is that Willke accidently shot himself in the foot. This statement was based on a factoid taken from a mistranslated Japanese study which appeared to say brain activity was detected much earlier.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Unsurprisingly, my be an American, I disagree with your statement. That being said, at least you are one of the too far below 1% who understand the actual argument over abortion. So, cheers!

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      • I disagree with your criteria for humanity / personhood. But, as I said, at least it the right argument to argue, somethig so freaking few on either side seem to understand.

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      • Fair enough, but if it’s not a functioning, synchronised brain (consciousness), then what other measure do you suggest we use to define a living human organism?

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      • Chromosomes and cellular activity. I see a human as a human irrespective of the state of their mind. Or, at least pretty close to that. After all, that is the definition of a living homo sapiens, i.e., human.

        Note also: I do think abortion should be treated as the crime of murder – another point where I find sooooooo many of my side of the issue failing basic understanding.

        Yep! Murder. Remember, however, that murder has limits, the most commonly accepted being the saving of one’s own life and limb or that of others. No woman should be forced to carry a baby to term at reasonable risk to her life anymore than a woman should have to endure a crime upon her body rather than kill the aggressor.

        I’m also in favor of arguments where a nonviable – Anencephaly and other terminal birth defects or things like Tay–Sachs – are merely taking a person who will not live or recover off life support.

        And …. because there ARE idiot pro-Lifers out there – if the unborn baby is dead, it can’t be murder. Hell! Forcing the mother to carry to term should be Attempted Murder 2 in my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The genome is simply the plan, and until seconds after birth the foetus has the same metabolic rate as the mother. A mammal it’s size has a far, far, far speedier metabolic rate. At birth a switch is thrown and the baby’s metabolic rate goes through the roof (becoming that of a mammal its same size) and it transitions from being an organ to an individual.

        Good points you make in the rest of the comment. I’m in Brazil and am appalled at the number of Zika babies.

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      • Jz, do you really believe that the foetus is just an organ of the mother, like having an extra kidney? I wouldn’t think many doctors or biologists, and I am neither, would agree to that hyperbole.

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      • No, I’m not presenting that as an argument. I believe full bilateral synchronisation determines the beginning of the living human being, but to put it simply, a baby in the womb behaves as if it were a part of the mother, not a unique entity. Its cells have about the same metabolic rate (the same speed of life) as its mother’s organs. It’s a part of a bigger whole, rather than an individual… Until it’s not anymore. The very moment a baby is born a switch is flipped and all its internal processes speed up rapidly, and at 36 hours after birth, the baby’s cells have the same activity rate as a mammal its size. In this sense, babies literally transition from being an organ to being an individual in mere hours.

        It’s a curious fact, but a fact it is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jz, I’m coming back to this post because I’m still not quite getting it. I’ll be chewing on it all day to try an understand it better. I might even do a post once I can grasp it and come to an opinion. Thx again for your patience.

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    • “Chromosomes and cellular activity. I see a human as a human irrespective of the state of their mind. Or, at least pretty close to that. After all, that is the definition of a living homo sapiens, i.e., human”

      so this seems to be an argument that eggs and sperm are “human”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Only to the abortionists, since that’s a straw man that the baby killers favor when called upon their beliefs and actions.

        Now, when they combine – that’s a human being…if the parents aren’t otters. 😉

        But hey! I’m Southern. I’m not going to argue too much about things not being people if you’re going to go there.

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      • what does being southern have to do with this? if you are only concerned about chromosome and cell activity, then you do want them considered equal to human, or you really haven’t thought this through.

        and baby killers? Hmmm, like the Christian god? This god, if one believes the myths, murdered a child for the actions of its parents.

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      • Well, idiot, being a Southern man of modern age DOES “color” my view of personhood, both because 500K+ Whites died in the war that ended up giving the Blacks that legal status and MY WIFE is one of those PEOPLE who got that boon by default / inheritance.

        So yeah. Maybe my science might be overcome by my reality.

        As for the God of the Christians – I wouldn’t propitiate, much less worship, that psychopath. That DOESN’T mean I don’t think the unborn aren’t people.

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      • Hmmm, in a war that whites started because they wanted to enslave people and wanted the new territories to be able to enslave people. It is interesting that evidently your wife is black, yes?

        As has been pointed out, cellular activity and chromosomes doesn’t make a person. Your “reality” is no more than your baseless opinion. And you apparently want this baseless nonsense to be why you can tell a woman that she must risk her life.

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  2. Fascinating post, my friend and quite informative. Oh, your post contains one factual mistake, however. You state, “Life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago and has not been interrupted since.” This isn’t true. Around 2.7 billion years ago, God, evil, hateful bastard that he is, decided, “Ya know, all this ‘life’ I’m creating seems to suffer a lot. Maybe, before it becomes highly sentient in another 2.69 billion years, I should just stop it and end all the pain I’m causing.” Thus God, the evil bastard, stopped all life and went to the moon to have a ham sandwich. However, he soon got bored of having nothing to watch suffer. So, he once again started life up on earth, and, evil bastard that he is, has enjoyed the wails and screams of pain and death in living things ever since. Oh, he also moved up to having steak on Mars rather than ham sandwiches on the moon. Something about liking the color red more than whitish yellow. Go figure.

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  3. Isn’t there a more fundamental and perhaps more significant question? This relates to the prevention of the existence of another human being. The Catholic church tries to prohibit some forms of contraception but it does not prohibit human existence prevention by means of abstinence and um.. celibacy.

    Any potential human not permitted to exist by whatever means is denied life and the precise mean by which that denial is enacted seems rather irrelevant in comparison to the fact of non-existence.

    Anyone who actively pursued all possible opportunities for procreation would be rapidly sanctioned by both church and state.

    In short: Everybody actively denies life to potential human beings that could exist if they acted otherwise. This includes the Pope. And that is as it should be.

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    • Hi John, I’m not quite sure I understand your point. My apologies. If I’m reading you correctly, masturbation is preventing a possible human life… Not having sex is preventing a possible human life… space travel is preventing a possible human life.

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      • I think he is arguing we are all “abortionists” as he very, very broadly defines it (stymying the creation of life). Which is his way of noting the absurdity of the “pro-life” position?

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  4. A very novel (and good) argument, John. Well argued … and the number of minds changed on the issue will probably be close to zero. I argue this issue at the “do you want to give the state that much power over our bodies (to make that decision for us) or do you want to leave it up to us and our families as advised by doctors and, yes, even clergy? Anyone wanting to give the state that much power is a zealot, probably a religious zealot.

    This is in spite of the Bible saying clearly that life begins when the baby takes it’s first breath (the Breath of Life) and, in addition, according to the bible, the punishment for destroying a fetus does not equate to killing a living human being even though the fetus has the potential of becoming a human being.

    So, this is an emotional argument stirred by whom? I suggest it is stirred by politicians/citizens with ulterior motives.

    Liked by 6 people

    • ACTUALLY Steve… 😄 the Bible does say more about the beginning of life, but you must FIRST have the proper hermeneutical (exegetical) method in place for the Holy Spirit to move throughout your neurological transmitters and receivers in order to FIND all the 100’s of Biblical passages that speak directly to abortion or non-abortion! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  5. @JZ

    It’s nice to see the complete thought all in one place. Thank you for that JZ.

    The other, larger part of the equation is that, astonishingly, the facts of the matter regarding foetal development matter little to the men who wish to maintain reproductive control over woman’s bodies.

    As your summary clearly demonstrates the anti-woman crowd does not have a leg to stand on. Yet the debate continues because patriarchal religious inanity trumps factual science and human rights in a good portion of the world.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Been meaning to put it all down in one essay, and as it appears this rodeo is about to spark up again, figured I should pull my finger out. Keeping it to 1,000 words was a challenge, though.

      We’ve talked about this before, but I just don’t understand this urge by some to impose their perceived ‘authority’ over women. It makes no logical sense to me.

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      • @JZ

        “It makes no logical sense to me.”

        Most of the constructed hierarchies in our social domains don’t make sense and cause more trouble than what they are worth. That just may be a different post though…. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  6. JZ, let me get this straight. Are you saying that abortion is not ‘killing’ because it does not cause ‘death’ because up to a certain point, brain activity, the unborn baby isn’t ‘alive’ yet to be killed, ie. Cessation of brain activity?

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      • So Are you saying that the unborn baby is not human… or alive… until brain activity? DNA alone doesn’t determine what organism it is? And chemical and biological funtion alone doesnt mean it’s alive? My fear is that you are defining so narrowly in order to avoid obvious facts. That the unborn child actually is living tissue and is already a human organism in the womb, developing yes… but already a human organism by DNA and already alive by biological and chemical activity.

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      • I think you’re misapplying his idea. Would he agree with you that the baby isn’t really human life or yet a human organism before foetal brain activity?

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      • Was he talking about foetal development? Would he agree with you? Have you reached out to ask him? I think you’re misapplying him

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      • So in that article is there a quote that addresses the question you raise in your post? The one you quoted is dealing with brain death or an already alive person.

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      • The quote is self-explanatory, and talking about the development of the foetal brain: “When the coordinating and individuating function of a living brain is demonstrably present, the full human organism exists. Before full brain differentiation, only cells, organs, and organ systems exist, which may potentially be integrated into a full human organism if the brain develops.”

        See the words: Before full brain differentiation….

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      • What does he define as full brain differentiation? Is it full electrical brain activity? Or is it just the development of the brain structure as a separate organ?

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      • He is speaking about the brain death of an already living person. You are trying to apply this to determine when a foetus can be considered fully alive, or a fully human organism.
        I think you are trying to make his words say more than he would agree on a completely different question.

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  7. The argument is very sound, but somehow lacks an emotional parallel, and religion is all based on tugging at ones emotions. What we need is to compile some feel good stories about how having an abortion positively impacted women’s lives, then they will listen to sound science. Great post John. And all (almost) in one place. Lol

    Liked by 7 people

  8. I’d like to add some more links to support John Zande’s ideas and views of abortion.

    But first, let me define what I mean by HUMAN life. According to me HUMAN life demands the presence of consciousness.

    Today’s mainstream theory in neuroscience says that consciousness is mainly localized in the cortex.

    It’s also an overwhelming consensus that human consciousness includes the ability to think and to feel.

    A fetus without a cortex in its brain can still survive (for example breathe). But without the cortex, such a fetus is to be compared with a stimulus-response apparatus, governed by reflexes. (Reflexes are actions performed as a response to a stimulus and these actions take place WITHOUT conscious thought.)

    Thus HUMAN life is more than just breathing and using reflexes.

    To call it HUMAN life, it’s reasonable to demand that the fetus must be able to interact with its environment in more ways than just using subcortical reflexes.

    In order to be able to interact with its environment in a more sophisticated way than just using reflexes there must be:

    a) an ability for incoming signals from the sense organs to be registered and perceived by the brain (this “reception disk” is located at the thalamus); and

    b) an ability to forward (send) these signals from the thalamus to the cortex of the brain.

    Such a connection – called the thalamocortical connection – doesn’t arise/emerge before gestational week 24. That is, before week 24 the signals, at best, can get to the thalamus area of the brain, but not be forwarded to the cortex (where consciousness mainly arises and works).

    Also the thalamus has to become mature “in itself” before it’s able to receive and to know where to forward the information received.

    Before gestational week 20 the thalamus can be likened to a tabula rasa, that is, the thalamus is in a blank or “empty” state unable to receive and process outside impressions soming from the sense organs..

    So the presence of (some sort of) consciousness demands the ability to react on to the brain incoming signals from the sense organs. And that can’t be done until the thalamus is mature enough.

    And there must also be a functioning thalamocortical connection (normally established geational week 24 or even later).

    I myself like the “global neuronal workspace” (GNW) model of consciousness. The GNW means that the whole brain – the different parts of the brain – are more or less connected and, thus, able to cooperate by creating a continuously changing and dynamic “flow of consciousness”.

    This continously changing and dynamic “flow of consciousness” can be seen in (maybe above all) the default mode network (DMN), which plays a key role in allowing us to perform tasks on autopilot.The DMN is activated when we think of nothing special (cf. daydreaming).

    John Zande explains all this In a more summarizing way, both in the blog post and in the comment field (see for example July 22, 2018 at 2:43 pm) to KIA, where Zande writes, “When the coordinating and individuating function of a living brain is demonstrably present, the full human organism exists.”

    (I think that John Zande with “the full human organism” means the same thing as I do, that is a fetus able to be sentient and/or aware, thus demonstrating important parts of what we often call consciousness.)

    Anyway, here are the links I recommend KIA and others interested in the topic to explore further:

    1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25160864 ;

    2) https://philarchive.org/archive/LAGTEO-5v1

    Liked by 4 people

  9. (TRIES to be the uninformed, run-of-the-mill Christian antagonist here…)

    This is what God’s Word says specifically about the pre-born:

    When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:41, 44)

    Then some evangelical-fundamentalists claim that from this passage — about the “Son of God Jesus” — that human life (other than this incarnation of Jesus) starts as an embryo and grows into a fetus:

    While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7)

    As far as the “Holy Scriptures” or “God’s Word” says, these are the ONLY two passages remotely extrapolated as possibly being related to abortion. Period. Anything other passages yanked out of the Bible are simply twisted and distorted way out of their intended genre and context.

    What many/most evangelical fly-by-night apologists do when it comes to extracting specific legal guidance from their Holy Scriptures are that they forget to pay attention to the genre of the biblical passage they are studying or pulling out of thin air before interpreting (not proper hermeneutics!) the specific verses. On these exegetical principles Christians and Christian seminaries are GREATLY divided and nowhere near unanimous on all the specifics of hermeneutics. For example, TRY to reconcile the morality of a most popular anti-abortion passage used in Exodus 21:22-25. Notice the different assigning of life-values(?):

    If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

    The only final conclusion in a religious debate is that the claimed Christian “God” really has nothing specific to say, certainly not medically, scientifically, or factually with zero ambiguity, about when human life actually begins in the womb. Obviously the Bible is NOT an exhaustive genetic, embryological, or neurological encyclopedia. Attempting to use the Bible as a legal foundation for abortion would be no different than using it for the exploration of Mars.

    Despite this glaring ambiguity that hasn’t changed the last 2,000 years and never will… there will always be Christians pronouncing themselves — and their own interpretive methods of Scripture — as right, as true and hence self-proclaim THEY are the “True Christians.”

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    • Profession, you wrote … passages yanked out of the Bible are simply twisted and distorted way out of their intended genre and context.

      HOW can you say such a thing??? Don’t you know the BIBLE says (to prove itself) that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (KJV). Sheesh! Did you forget all your larnin’?

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      • 😄 (appreciates Nan’s biblical reminder of omni-everything supercedes all human knowledge and reasoning power then, now, and forever will be…) 🤪

        WOMAN! Why do you have to go slam the door on me like that with such miraculous exegesis and biblical recall!? That said, come join me in going to Mars and all space exploration AND with me into the 22nd century of geneticism-stem cell research cuz… we only need ONE reference book/encyclopedia to DO IT ALL don’t we!? 😇

        Let all the world scream “Hallelujah AMEN!!!” 🤭

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    • The Jews were actually quite specific. Halacha (Jewish law) does define when a fetus becomes a nefesh (person):
      “…a baby…becomes a full-fledged human being when the head emerges from the womb. Before then, the fetus is considered a ‘partial life.’ ”

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      • (notice my evangy-fundy antagonistic sarcasm…)

        John! I cannot find the Book of Halacha in my 4th-century CE Hellenistic canonical Bible! 😠 What are you blabbering about man!? Btw, can I use this Talmudic jurisprudence to explore Mars and stem-cells too!? 😛

        On a serious sidenote, THIS is an example of why Hellenistic Christological Faith-followers have no real clue about their inescapeable Jewish roots or Second Temple Judaism/Messianism. They ignorantly defer to Saul of Tarsus. LOL

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      • For Mars colonization, multiple vials of Donald Trump’s orange sperm has been collected and every woman who takes the trip will need to be impregnated with it so that the first Martians will come out genetically superior, tied emotionally to Vladimir Putin, and orange. 😀

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  10. I think you have to be a little careful with purely functional definitions, though I think you are making a bit of a reductio argument regarding the ‘potential argument’ on the other side when you bring it all down to neurological mechanisms.
    If it were strictly the case that the function of neurological mechanisms created value, then we had best not go to sleep, and anesthesia should be outlawed.
    By the same token, if genetic potential is the gold standard, we should all be sitting on our hands in a dark room, lest we somehow limit genetic potential somewhere.
    “At no stage does life magically appear in a zygote, a blastocyst, an embryo, or a foetus.
    .. A foetus was never inorganic and suddenly becomes organic. The egg and the sperm are already parts of the living system—a 3.8 billion years old system…” – Great statement, with all the relevant facts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Keith, good to see you around

      You’re right, it is a reductionist argument, but that is what we have. If new information were to come to light demonstrating some other (previously unknown) element in a human organism then I’d have to re-assess everything and alter my thinking accordingly. Regarding sleep and anaesthetics, the brain is still working, but this starts to hit upon the varying laws concerning brain death: whole or brainstem. The measure I think is rational is when the brain begins to exhibit sustained activity, even though that occurs well before consciousness is even physically possible.

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  11. Excellent read and I agree 100%. So logical and reasonable and accurate and therein lies the problem for so many influenced by religion, emotion and cultural influence.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. John, btw… forgot to say this is an excellent all-in-one post on a topic that in truth has very little controversy in the realm of science — the ONLY place the prenatal ‘life debate‘ rests — and any attempts to try and force the science into another domain is ludicrous and pure imaginative fiction.

    So very well done John. 🙂

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  13. You bring up some fair points, JZ. I don’t think it’s a stretch to attach human rights to a developing fetus so long as the fetus is capable of being declared dead. Upon death, those rights don’t exist. Socially, there are fewer taboos regarding termination of rights in a human who has developed and then ceased brain function than one who hasn’t developed them yet. In the abstract, it shouldn’t be difficult to conceptualize the issue in this way to make it easier to see why abortions do not have to carry such artificial weight.

    I do wonder if you’re intending to go further than Dr. Goldenring went in the quote at the end of the post. He was very clear to qualify his position with the word “full,” ostensibly to avoid quibbling over whether a fetus was some other version of a human organism or not (that is, issues of homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli, and reproduction). You stated near the end of your post, “Without a continuously functioning, synchronised brain there is no human organism[.]” If that’s the case, someone might argue that it would disqualify many living things as being organisms because they lack qualified brain systems. I’m not sure it’s necessary to take that extra step, as limiting it to some “full” human organism would satisfy your thesis just fine.

    There are some other issues that this essay passes on which could be relevant to other things, like whether or not a mother owes a duty of care to a full human organism growing inside her. That said, in all fairness there’s always a landmine to step on with this issue. Still, I think it’s a great way of framing the issue in general.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Sirius

      Goldenring is actually a staunch anti-abortionist, which is why I like quoting his paper. And I agree with the “full,” being full bilateral synchronisation. Ethically, though, the cut-off date should be earlier, with valid arguments for week 24/25 (when the foetus, much like a sea slug, can begin to respond to aversive stimuli, and activity in the brain becomes continuous), or week 20 (when activity in both hemispheres can first be detected). Personally, I’d err on the side of extreme caution and say 20 weeks. I mean, that’s 5 months. Decisions to terminate should be (and most are) made inside weeks. No one should *need* 5 months. Of course, medical emergencies should be treated separately.

      Homeostasis is a hallmark of the living system, so it’s not a defining marker, and until birth, the foetus has the same metabolic rate as the mother. I mentioned it above somewhere, but the foetus behaves much like an organ. It’s a part of a bigger whole, rather than an individual. The very moment a baby is born all its internal processes speed up rapidly, and at 36 hours after birth, the baby’s cells have the same activity rate as a mammal its size. In this sense, babies literally transition from being an organ to being an individual in mere hours. At 32 weeks, the brain is ready to control respiration, meaning, if premature, it can assume responsibility for energy production.

      All in all, we’re talking about an emergent system which becomes an individual, a human organism, and the brain is that single defining thing. As everything is part of the living system (which is why Goldenring says “living brain”), the task is to identify the onset of the complete organism. The genome, for example, is no more the human organism than an architect’s sketch is a physical building. If the legality of abortion becomes a subject again (which it looks like it might in the US), then the arguments have to cemented in reality, in facts, and it’s simply factually wrong to use words like “kill.” And I think anti-abortionists have to be confronted, and confronted hard, when they try to muddy the subject with lies.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I of course agree with your assessment here, but I don’t think that it’s going to be very persuasive with many. Because really what we’re dealing with is a much more emotional definition of personhood from the other side. Any sort of warped Bible arguments aside, I think it largely stems from a focus, not on “what is”, but rather on “what will be. I’ve always been uncomfortable with that sort of thinking, because this requires a certain degree of prediction that I think is unwise for the law to get involved. I also think that this can be termed killing, as it is the extinguishing of life, but I don’t think we are killing a person, and it is most certainly not murder.

    For me it all boils down to three things related to what is the most humane and moral options for the mother, child, and society in general.

    1. What is not debatable is that a woman who has reached sexual maturity is in person, and this person should simply have the right to not have their body legislated.

    2. The goal of reducing abortions is not a matter of illegality. This is not why abortions happen. If we are truly interested in reducing abortions then we must also be interested in the care of women and children in our society. We must have things like easy access to birth control, adequate family leave from work, adequate sex education, and for fuck sake’s stop judging women who have sex out of wedlock because of some religious bullshit! The countries that have the least amount of abortions, aren’t the ones that have made it illegal.

    3. Overpopulation is also an important moral concern. This is ultimately why abortions happen, because of a real or perceived feeling that they will be unable adequately take care of the child. Ultimately abortion (and prior to that infanticide) was practiced because of low resources, for the size of the tribe. This could because of environmental factors that led to a low food supply, or simply an accidental pregnancy that would have made the tribe too large putting stress on their ability to survive given the resources that were normally available. It’s hard-wired into us by evolution. Now I’m not one to say we are slaves to our evolutionary roots, but we do have to understand this truth, and use that fact to help us build solutions to reduce the number of abortions if we feel that abortion is wrong. If all abortions that happen were actually brought to term in the U.S. this would be nearly 700,000 new people a year. Coincidentally that’s slightly higher than the estimate of how many illegal aliens we gain a year, and yet that number is said to be a strain on our economy. At least illegal aliens are performing a job and paying taxes. This would not be the case for many of these babies. The very things that anti-abortion people are generally against like taxes and welfare would skyrocket. Ironically many if not most Latin Americans are catholic and would be the least likely group of people to get abortions. Republicans really are just the most confused people out there. Bottom line is that we can’t just get all dreamy thinking about what a fetus is going to be in the future, but we have to think about the big picture and all those extra children there would be and how much suffering kids in poverty experience and what all that is going to cost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Swarn

      From experience, the argument does make the anti-choicer stop and think, and then wrap themselves up in frustrated knots. I don’t think it ever changes their minds, they’re not actually interested in learning anything, but it does get them thinking about the actual facts of foetal development and the faulty language they use. Ultimately, though, the argument is directed to rational thinkers, not the religious, and is critical in shaping any sensible (informed) conversation concerning legality and ethically sound cut-off dates.

      Your 2nd point is right on the money. We should be talking about prevention, not arguing over access. Your 3rd point is also right on the money, and it strikes the religious in the heart. Rational (and thoroughly justified) antinatalism informed by a man-caused global mess (overpopulation/resource depletion) forces the diehard believer to confront the corporeality of this captain-less spaceship Earth.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps, you’ve been more successful than I have in using the argument then, because reactions I’ve received haven’t been overly charitable. lol Perhaps it is because for most people who are pro-abortion they are also the type to not see the brain as a physical organ, and like a commenter above prefers to think about soul and mind. For many it seems like beating heart is more important than brain development, or that pictures on an ultrasound look baby shaped.

        Being a parent has certainly multiplied my love for children, but certainly hasn’t changed my views on abortion. In fact both my wife and I, in honest reflection know that are grief would be much greater at the loss of our 4 year old over the loss of a newborn. The difference in personhood is enormous between those ages. In the moment, there is simply much more to lose in a 4 year old and a newborn. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be sadness, but I do think that we’d get over it sooner. I’ve noticed this also in people who have lost children, as opposed to lost babies. They are far more deeply impacted by the loss of an older child. Instinctually it makes sense, and must be this way. To me there is simply no comparison to actual murder and abortion.

        On the other side I did concede a point to a anti-abortionist who said that there are cases of pregnant women being shot and both the fetus and mother dying, and that person has been charged with a double homicide. I think that it’s not fair to call it a double homicide.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh John, John, John… a birth certificate is of no consequence on account:

        Ephesians 1:4
        “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

        It’s your aseity model at play….

        Like

  15. Like others have said, nice to see all these familiar sentences put together in one post. It’s a very clear and factual presentation of one aspect of the debate. But I still think abortion should be outlawed because a fully formed baby/child/adult could have lived that will never have the chance to live. And that means something. Especially if you’re religious and believe your god has a plan. My other observation is that when abortion is illegal, women don’t have as many abortions and therefore more unplanned and unwanted children get to exist. This is a good thing (based on facts). Obviously the ideal situation is that abortion is illegal, that women submit to sex on the whim of men and then accept all consequential pregnancies – this is achievable and fair – exactly as the invisible creator deity intended. All these are facts that can be verified by my blogging buddies like Wally, Insanity and KIA, who all base their understanding on FACTS, not on hazy feelings about babies underpinned by a patriarchal suspicion of women making decisions about their own lives.

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  16. It’s a case of examining what one’s basic premises about life are. It’s a personal evaluation too, irrespective of scientific facts which continue to be workable sution until proven otherwise. Until consciousness can indeed be measured, this is is all rather moot. I do commend your very clear argument though, and to some extent I agree with it, but then my beliefs are non-conformist and non-conventional, so my opinion too is moot. 🙂

    It’s lovely to read your work, dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is very interesting! Have a look at: https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/scientists-generate-key-life-event-in-artificial-mouse-embryo-created-from-stem-cells

    Scientists are now able to make artificial mouse embryos in a culture dish in the laboratory. These embryos even undergo gastrulation, often called the most important event in life after the moment of fertilization of the egg.

    Gastrulation means the embryo can organize itself into the three body layers that all animals have: an inner layer (endoderm), a middle layer (mesoderm) and an outer layer (ectoderm), determining which tissues or organs the cells will then develop into. (Read more about these three body layers here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germ_layer .) .

    And maybe best of all: the timing, architecture and patterns of gene activity reflected that of natural embryo development!

    To develop further, in order to get a real living mouse individual, this artificial embryo probably “just” has to be implanted into the body of a real mouse mother or an artificial placenta.

    Now God, the Creator, seemingly must handle competition not only from J. Craig Venter but also these scientists at University of Cambridge.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I read this post today after spotting that Paul Braterman had re-blogged it recently. You say: “the onset of a defined human life is when foetal brain activity begins to exhibit regular and sustained activity…”.

    You may be interested to know that around an hour ago young earth creationist Ken Ham tweeted the following:
    “Do these protestors also carry signs saying “humans in mother’s wombs feel pain & want to live?” They want to protect fish (which are animals, not humans who are made in God’s image), but what about the millions of children murdered yearly by abortion?”

    I know that Ham believes a foetus is ‘alive’ from conception, but he is also apparently claiming that any foetus or ‘human’ in the womb can feel pain (or any in cases where abortion is legal). Speaking as a layman, and risking over-simplification, I thought that the human nervous system controlled how we process and feel pain (the central nervous system – brain and spinal cord – and the peripheral nervous system).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ashley. Yep, if the physical mechanisms/networks to process information are not in place, then the foetus cannot feel anything. Ham is simply wrong, but that has never stopped him spouting his nonsense.

      A good article on foetal pain (linked below) was published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association ): Fetal Pain: A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence

      A pertinent section reads:

      Pain perception requires conscious recognition or awareness of a noxious stimulus. Neither withdrawal reflexes nor hormonal stress responses to invasive procedures prove the existence of fetal pain, because they can be elicited by nonpainful stimuli and occur without conscious cortical processing. Fetal awareness of noxious stimuli requires functional thalamocortical connections. Thalamocortical fibers begin appearing between 23 to 30 weeks’ gestational age, while electroencephalography suggests the capacity for functional pain perception in preterm neonates probably does not exist before 29 or 30 weeks.

      http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=201429

      Liked by 1 person

      • From your article John:

        No human studies have directly examined the development of thalamocortical circuits associated with pain perception. The developmental age at which thalamic pain fibers reach the cortex has been inferred from studies of other thalamocortical circuits, which may or may not develop at the same time as thalamic fibers mediating cortical perception of pain.

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      • “While the presence of thalamocortical fibers is necessary for pain perception, their mere presence is insufficient—this pathway must also be functional. It has been proposed that transient, functional thalamocortical circuits may form via subplate neurons around midgestation, but no human study has demonstrated this early functionality. Instead, constant SEPs appear at 29 weeks’ PCA, and EEG patterns denoting wakefulness appear around 30 weeks’ PCA. Both of these tests of cortical function suggest that conscious perception of pain does not begin before the third trimester.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • John…. you don’t know how to understand science papers… if we summarise your paragraph above, it reads:

        <b<It has been proposed that transient, functional thalamocortical circuits may form via subplate neurons around midgestation, but no human study has demonstrated this early functionality.

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      • You say “Yes” … but you haven’t a clue how to put the information together..

        No human studies have directly examined the development of thalamocortical circuits associated with pain perception.

        What don’t you understand about the above conclusion of the paper?

        Is it really that difficult?

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      • Seems you’re having trouble understanding the conclusions of the paper. But do feel free to conduct your own research and publish a paper on the subject, as these actual experts in the field have.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Interesting…. so you admit that:
        No human studies have directly examined the development of thalamocortical circuits associated with pain perception.

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      • I did….

        CONCLUSION: No human studies have directly examined the development of thalamocortical circuits associated with pain perception.

        It would appear that the review paper would support the view that your “theory” is based entirely on conjecture.

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      • The conclusion is:

        Pain is an emotional and psychological experience that requires conscious recognition of a noxious stimulus. Consequently, the capacity for conscious perception of pain can arise only after thalamocortical pathways begin to function, which may occur in the third trimester around 29 to 30 weeks’ gestational age, based on the limited data available. Small-scale histological studies of human fetuses have found that thalamocortical fibers begin to form between 23 and 30 weeks’ gestational age, but these studies did not specifically examine thalamocortical pathways active in pain perception …

        Because pain perception probably does not function before the third trimester, discussions of fetal pain for abortions performed before the end of the second trimester should be noncompulsory. Fetal anesthesia or analgesia should not be recommended or routinely offered for abortion because current experimental techniques provide unknown fetal benefit and may increase risks for the woman. Instead, further research should focus on when pain-related thalamocortical pathways become functional in humans. If the fetus can feel pain, additional research may lead to effective fetal anesthesia or analgesia techniques that are also safe for women.

        If you wish to demonstrate that thalamocortical fibers begin to form sometime before 23 and 30 weeks, as all studies have demonstrated, and that these pathways only begin to function around 29 to 30 weeks, as all studies have demonstrated, then do so.

        And you’re also missing the point of the paper, and the post, which is establishing the ethical cut-off date for abortion quite some time before consciousness (which requires complete and functioning thalamocortical pathways) is even physically possible.

        Liked by 1 person

      • John you really are hard work… again, summarise your above post:

        Small-scale histological studies of human fetuses have found that thalamocortical fibers begin to form between 23 and 30 weeks gestational age, BUT THESE STUDIES DID NOT SPECIFICALLY EXAMINE THALAMOCORTICAL PATHWAYS ACTIVE IN PAIN PERCEPTION. Pain perception PROBABLY does not function before the third trimester, discussions of fetal pain for abortions performed before the end of the second trimester should be noncompulsory.

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      • Exactly, and if there’s any evidence for thalamocortical fibres forming before the repeatedly observed time (no earlier than 23 weeks), and those thalamocortical fibres becoming functioning pathways up to 6 weeks later, then present it. You seem to be missing the fact that what is being discussed here is the specific ‘hardware’ required.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Philip Rand:

        Sorry to say, Philip, nut you remind me of the Miguel de Cervantes novel Don Quixote, wherein the delusional protagonist fights windmills that he imagines are giants.

        I’m not sure you can understand my message, Philip, but nevertheless I’d like to have a try.

        First of all, it is utterly important to understand the difference between nociception and pain.

        According to Wikipedia, nociception (a.k.a. nociperception, from Latin nocere ‘to harm or hurt’) is the sensory nervous system’s response to certain harmful or potentially harmful stimuli.

        And Wikipedia defines pain in this way: Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The International Association for the Study of Pain’s widely used definition defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.

        Please, Phiulip, notice the use of words like “feeling” and “emotional” in the definition used above, which indicates that some kind of higher-level processing capacity is needed. That is, a more or less mature connection between thalamus and cortex must be implemented/present before pain can be experienced in a proper way (representative of how we normally use the noun pain today). .

        From this we can also draw the conclusion that pain is a product of higher brain center (read: cortical) processing. Whereas nociception, which can occur in the absence of pain, should be viewed more as a neural pathway called reflex (or reflex arc). That is, no cognition (no “mind”) – worth mentioning – is involved in the response to a nociceptive stimulus. But is needed when it comes to experiencing pain.

        BTW, Philip, here’s a paper describing the difference between nociception and pain in a more scholarly way than I do: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK32659/.

        And here’s another link I recommend you to read carefully: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK32659/ .

        Some quotes from that second paper:

        Quote #1:

        According to the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.2 The traditional standpoint is that the registering of a nociceptive stimulus with a sensory system and perceiving a nociceptive stimulus as painful are not the same process.3 Nociception includes registering noxious stimuli with specialized free nerve endings and transmitting information about it. Data provided with nociception are imperfect and incomplete for the CNS to make a direct copy for current events. Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment.4

        Quote #2:

        The classical view of the proper perception of pain is related to the processing of afferent nociceptive signals at the level of the cortex cerebri. […] The perception of pain among adults encompasses the subject’s consciousness and active cortex cerebri, which enables learning and activates memory and emotions in the process of pain processing.9

        Quote “3:

        Based on EEG analysis, Burgess and Tawia concluded that a fetus becomes conscious at about 30 to 35 weeks gestation and consequently feels pain in this period.13 Based on behavioral reactions to noxious stimulation, comparable to the adult or older child, Rogers concluded that the fetus feels pain as early as the 26th week of gestation.14 Derbyshire concludes, based on the necessity of cortex cerebri activity in processing pain perception, that the earliest period when the fetus can feel pain is the 23rd gestation week. That is the week when thalamic projections, which can transmit information about nociception to the cortical plate, are formed.5 The maturity of the thalamus and associated subcortical structures with proper thalamocortical connections at the 20th gestation week accompanied by a coordinating electroencephalogram rhythm, provide the possibility for the fetus to experience something approximating “pain”.6

        Quote #4:

        Glover and Fisk also take into account the activity of cortex cerebri in pain processing and consider that the 16th gestation week is the earliest possible period for the fetus to feel pain.7 The 16th week sees the first contact of subplate zone with outer fibers which belong to the group of monoamine fibers and originate at the brain stem.8 The subplate zone is a temporary formation of the future mature cortex cerebri.

        Quote #5:

        Fetuses start to respond to vibroacoustic stimulation from the 23rd to the 24th gestational week. By the 30th week of gestation, all fetuses respond.35 The blink-startle response appears from the 24th to the 25th week of gestation and is consistently present after the 28th gestational week.36

        Finally, here’s a third paper I recommend you to read, Philip Rand: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1440624/ .

        Allow me to quote from that paper too:

        Notwithstanding limitations, it is useful to view the pain system as an alarm system […] At this time, however, the nervous system has yet to fully mature. No laminar structure is evident in the thalamus or cortex, a defining feature of maturity.4,5 The external wall of the brain is about 1 mm thick and consists of an inner and outer layer with no cortical plate. The neuronal cell density of the outer layer is much higher than that of a newborn infant or adult and at seven weeks’ gestation has yet to receive any thalamic projections. Without thalamic projections, these neuronal cells cannot process noxious information from the periphery.

        The first projections from the thalamus to cortex (the higher alarm) appear at 12-16 weeks’ gestation. By this stage the brain’s outer layer has split into an outer cortical rim, with a subplate developing below. The thalamic projections that develop from 12-16 weeks penetrate the subplate. Within the subplate, cortical afferents establish prolonged synaptic contacts before entering the cortical plate. The subplate is a “waiting compartment,” required for mature connections in the cortex.6,7 The major afferent fibres (thalamocortical, basal forebrain, and corticocortical) can wait in the subplate for several weeks, before they penetrate and form synapses within the cortical plate from 23-25 weeks’ gestation. Subsequent dissolution of the subplate occurs through prolonged growth and maturation of associative connections in the human cerebral cortex.

        Current theories of pain consider an intact cortical system to be both necessary and sufficient for pain experience.9,10 In support are functional imaging studies showing that activation within a network of cortical regions correlate with reported pain experience.9 Furthermore, cortical activation can generate the experience of pain even in the absence of actual noxious stimulation.10 These observations suggest thalamic projections into the cortical plate are the minimal necessary anatomy for pain experience. These projections are complete at 23 weeks’ gestation. The period 23-25 weeks’ gestation is also the time at which the peripheral free nerve endings and their projection sites within the spinal cord reach full maturity.1 By 26 weeks’ gestation the characteristic layers of the thalamus and cortex are visible, with obvious similarities to the adult brain,6,7 and it has recently been shown that noxious stimulation can evoke haemodynamic changes in the somatosensory cortex of premature babies from a gestational age of 25 weeks.11 Although the system is clearly immature and much development is still to occur (fig 1), good evidence exists that the biological system necessary for pain is intact and functional from around 26 weeks’ gestation.

        In short, and to summarize, this is, in principle, the same message as John Zande is launching in this blog post and in his comments. Actually, I don’t understand why you continue to act like a delusional Don Quixote, Philip. Do you belong to the science denial movement?

        Liked by 2 people

      • @Philip Rand: Not only histology. Also anatomy.

        If there are no connections between the thalamus and the cortex area in the brain, the signals/information from the thalamus can’t reach their destination in the cortex. The signals dont have any route to follow, and these signals don’t know what their destination is, if there are no routes for them to follow.

        Maybe it’ll be easier for you to understand if you read this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortical_blindness .

        From the eyes the visual stimuli/signals go to the thalamus and from that “reception desk” the signals are relayed to the visual processing areas in the brain’s occipital cortex. But if that area is damaged, or missing, the brain (read: the individual) can’t experience anything (at least not consciously). There is no awareness of what the eyes have seen if the processing area is dysfunctional or out of order.

        Here’s another example for you to consider, Philip: https://www.livescience.com/63216-brain-plasticity-lobectomy.html .

        A quote from this latter article (about a child who got parts of his brain lobes removed surgically because he suffered from severe epileptic seizures):

        But there’s nothing wrong with his eyes, Behrmann told Live Science. U.D. can still “see” in the sense that both of his eyes pick up light information from the left side of his world. But because the right side of his brain [after the surgery] lacks a processing center, there’s nowhere for that information to go. So it gets lost, she said.

        “I suspect that he doesn’t have obvious awareness that he is missing that information,” Behrmann said. “It’s a little bit like, everybody’s got a blind spot,” but we aren’t really aware of it, she added.

        Philip, if you want to know more about the thalamocortical system/circuit, then you should read this paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3055433/ .

        Or at least read this quote from that paper:

        Similar to the mature cortex, the developing cortical plate consists of 3–6 cellular layers. Depending on the specific cortical region, cortical layer I is formed between GA weeks 24 and 34, and layers III and IV appear between GA weeks 32 and 34 (Kostovic et al, 1995). Each layer contains a distinct array of cells types, the morphology, and laminar location of which dictate the pattern of local and distant projections that each cell may send or receive (Figure 3).

        Liked by 1 person

      • By the way John… I did examine the research (including BB’s)… and I have the nutshell of a paper that would answer your “hardware” challenge (it isn’t difficult|)…. answer the above question and I’ll show you….

        Like

      • Not sure what point you’re trying to make here, Philip, but a March 2010 report from the UK’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists concluded exactly as the 2005 synthesis study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded:

        RCOG, 2010: In reviewing the neuroanatomical and physiological evidence in the fetus, it was apparent that connections from the periphery to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation.

        https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/rcogfetalawarenesswpr0610.pdf

        And in 2012, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agreed with both RCOG’s and the JAMA study’s findings.

        https://www.acog.org/About%20ACOG/404.aspx

        And as you can see from BBNEWSAB detailed work, this opinion is solid and shared across the field… and for very good reason. There is no conspiracy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • On the whole from what you chap’s have offered the research is pretty piss-poor… none of it is quantitative ALL of it is simply qualitative.

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      • Yeah, you’re right. It’s a global conspiracy of neuroscientists, obstetricians, gynaecologists, researchers, dozens of medical journals, and every university campus on the planet. You caught us, Philip.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What I enjoy about you (and Stephen Law) is that both of you use your blogs in a zero-sum manner. What is particularly interesting is that both your “behaviour” can be formalised (yet another demonstration of the strength of information -physics).

        Well, at least you are retreating from your: How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?

        Turns out, that it isn’t the most important question after all…

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      • uniform? Oh! In that case the information bandwidth is broad….meaning it contains no information…. meaning your idea is non-sense (again one can formalise this notion quite easily)

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  19. @Philip Rand: One of the papers I linked to earlier today – this one: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3055433/ – has around 350 references to corroborate what’s asserted in the paper.

    So I ask you to give me just one or maybe even two references/links that validate your view.

    As far as I can remember, you have not linked to any paper yet. Why not? Are you a solipsist? They are known for being unable to differentiate between their own subjective reality and the objective reality that is accepted by the vast majority of us humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BB

      My comments were quotes from the paper John referenced; for example|:

      No human studies have directly examined the development of thalamocortical circuits associated with pain perception.

      The above conclusion for John’s referenced paper also applies to ALL your referenced paperS. All you have provided is qualitative not quantitative.

      This is the reason I asked you about histology (which you declined to answer; most probably because you don’t know what it is)>

      Only latter did I made a comment concerning the quality and methodology of the work; which is poor.

      Like

      • @Philip Rand:

        Your quote says that No HUMAN studies are available.

        And that, in turn, depends on ethical holdbacks. There is no conspiracy involved here.

        There are, of course, plenty of studies on (other) animals (for example mammals and fish) focusing how pain is experienced.

        So your objection is relevant only if you consider the human brain being totally different from all other (animal/mammalian) brains at ALL brain levels, not only the (neo)cortical level.

        The thalamus of other mammals functions in exactly the same way as the human thalamus. There is a total consensus of this among leading neuroscientists today. (Or link to a leading neuroscientist denying this, Philip.)

        To be able to experience pain there must be a connection between the thalamus and the cortex, that is a well-functioning thalamocortical system.

        Feeling/Experiencing pain takes place in the cortex. It’s not the same thing as responding to a nociceptive stimulus. That kind of response can be “processed” and executed at a subcortical level. No cognitive activity in the (neo)cortex is needed to simply respond to a nociceptive stimulus.

        So, please, link to some scholarly papers that validate your view. And don’t forget to link to papers that also conclude that the research John Zande and I have linked to “is pretty piss-poor” (to use your own words, Philip).

        Here’s a paper describing the evolution of brains from early mammals to humans: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3606080/ I recommend you to read it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • BB

        Let’s consider just one of your points:

        Your objection is relevant only if you consider the human brain being totally different from all other brains at ALL brain levels, not only the cortical level.

        And let’s link the above with an experiment that is relevant to one of the methodologies that is used in the papers you quote from, i.e. fMRI.

        Check out this paper and then give me your views (I did state in a previous post that fMRI is a poor tool in the research you & John are interested in, i.e. it blurs measurements):

        NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.

        REFERENCE: “Neural correlates of interspecies perspective taking in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon: An argument for multiple comparisons correction,” Craig M. Bennett, Abigail A. Baird, Michael B. Miller, and George L. Wolford, poster, 15th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, San Francisco, CA, June 2009.
        REFERENCE: “Neural Correlates of Interspecies Perspective Taking in the Post-Mortem Atlantic Salmon: An Argument For Multiple Comparisons Correction,” Craig M. Bennett, Abigail A. Baird, Michael B. Miller, and George L. Wolford, Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results, vol. 1, no. 1, 2010, pp. 1-5.

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  20. This is probably the most convincing argument I’ve come across concerning pro-choice. That being said, there is one thing in specific that troubles me. I accept the definition of human death provided: “the permanent loss of capacity for consciousness and all brainstem function,” though I think you may be neglecting the word capacity. Capacity implies that something has the ability or power to do. The zygote, blastocyst, embryo, or what have you, has the capacity to gain consciousness, and it certainly will if left alone. Therefore, it is alive, and it can be killed.

    You stated that, “defined human life begins the moment its twin, death, also springs into existence.” At the moment of conception, a living human system with its own personal DNA has commenced a process which will inevitably end with the termination of the process, and the termination of the process is death. In other words, human life is the process and death is the termination of that process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sam, yes, you’re absolutely right, and what you’re talking about is potential, much like a chassis has the potential to become a car if it’s construction continues. A chassis, though, is not a car. DNA (the genome) is just the plan. It is no more a human being than an architect’s sketch is a building.

      I think I understand the point you’re making at the end, but the genome in and by itself does not determine death. Death can come from a car crash, an acquired disease, starvation, a bolide impact. If a person’s lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on the circumstances) to die of old age, then it is mitochondria that determines death. This alien species (with its own DNA) living inside every cell makes the decision to stop energy production, and the cell dies. In this sense, we’re being murdered, and it raises an interesting conundrum of life.

      I, like you, have been entirely and completely remade from the inside out a number of times. This is the literal truth. Not one cell in my body today was present the day I was born. After roughly every 7 to 10 years every cell in a healthy human body has been replaced. Some organs and tissue of course churn through the replacements faster than others, but as a rule of thumb every decade the body, including the brain, has physically remade itself. Or at least sort of. The pulmonary trunk heart cell being fashioned inside me right now to replace one that’s perhaps 4 years old and fast approaching its use-by date will not, sadly, be made as “new.” Instead it will be a heart cell with all new parts – new molecular strings – pretending to be my age. The cell is new, yes, but it is a copy of the used cell. Age is not reversed. No organism lives ten years then remakes itself as it was; younger and healthier.

      Dive a little deeper and things get even looser. Presently I’m composed of about 7, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 flavoured atoms bundled together to make up 30,000,000,000,000 cells. Supremely more complex than the 5,939 words that make up King Lear, but also frightfully less stable. Virtually every one of those atoms – 98% of them – will have divorced me by this time next year. The atoms presently making my left hand today (an energetic basket of mostly oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, sulphur, sodium, and magnesium) have absolutely no relation to the hand that existed 12 months ago. In this sense, at the atomic level, I’ve been remade – reborn – countless times.

      Admittedly, that is a bit farfetched. Atoms don’t just pack their bags and vacate in one foul swoop like 7 billion, billion, billion lemmings jumping off a cliff all at once. They come and go quite fluidly through every sandwich we eat, every breath we take, every trip to the toilet we make, and every kiss we plant. We are showered with atoms by just stepping out into the sun and we will shed hundreds of thousands of them on our way to the shops to buy dog shampoo. The carbon atoms though that make my left hand today are not pretending to be my age. They’re just being an atom, ageless in any true sense of the word but with a sort of birth as the discarded waste product of helium fusion and, if the conditions are right, a sort of death in their own fusion into sodium and neon.

      So, it’s not atoms, not the genome, and not even cells that “make” the person.

      Liked by 1 person

      • John you state:

        The cell is new, yes, but it is a copy of the used cell.

        You forgot to mention that it is an error correcting copy of the used cell.

        Like

      • I don’t know that I agree with your analogies… You’re right that a chassis isn’t a car, and that it has the potential to become a car, “if it’s construction continues.” But, if you leave a chassis alone in a garage for ten years it will remain the same, and if you leave a zygote alone it will certainly develop into a human. When’s the last time you met an architect that could sketch out a building that could build itself? An architect can sketch out a building, but unless another action happens (construction workers start building) it will just remain a sketch. With human life there is one continuous process, and what you are comparing it to has two.

        “Potential,” refers to a currently unrealized ability. Someone in a coma does not realized that they have the potential/ability to regain consciousness. So, if you think it’s fine to dispose of a zygote, foetus, etc, that doesn’t realize they have ability, why not dispose of those who are comatose as they can be burdens as well?

        I’m not entirely sure what you’re getting at with the body remaking itself periodically… What does make the person? It sounds like what you’re describing is development, which is another characteristic of being a human.

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      • and if you leave a zygote alone it will certainly develop into a human

        Not at all. 75% of all pregnancies are terminated naturally.

        A comatosed patient has a synchronised brain. If the brain stem stops working then they are a vegetable existing only on life support.

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      • Could you link to that statistic? Maybe I should have used my words more carefully. Regardless, let’s go with the majority instead of focusing on the minority and basing stuff off of that. Most of the time it will develop into a human on its own.

        I don’t see the relevance in your final two facts, perhaps you could elaborate?

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      • Apologies, it’s 70%

        From the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

        “Around half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%.”

        50+20 =

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      • Tell me, what’s the percentage of buildings that build themselves should you leave the sketches to sit? I was mistaken and I accept that most fertilized eggs don’t make it, but this is irrelevant to my actual point.

        A comatose patient having a synchronized brain doesn’t change the fact that the patient is unaware they have potential. I’m curious as to whether you’re arguing that brain activity is the beginning of life, or that potential isn’t the beginning of life?

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      • Life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago. what we’re talking about is the beginning of a defined human organism. You simply can’t equate an unconscious adult with a foetus that lacks even the physical mechanisms for consciousness.

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      • Because a human organism can die.

        Here is the legal, scientific and medical definition of human death:

        In 1979, the Conference of the Medical Royal Colleges, “Diagnosis of death” declared: “brain death represents the stage at which a patient becomes truly dead.”

        This was updated in the 1980s and 1990s to state that brainstem death, as diagnosed by UK criteria, is the point at which “all functions of the brain have permanently and irreversibly ceased.”

        Further still updated in 1995 (to present), “It is suggested that ‘irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness, combined with irreversible loss of the capacity to breathe’ should be regarded as the definition of death’

        This is mirrored in US law:

        U.S’s Uniform Determination of Death Act (§ 1, U.L.A. [1980]) states: “An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory function, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead.”

        It is also mirrored in Australian law:

        The Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) Statement on Death and Organ Donation define death as: a) Irreversible cessation of all function of the brain of the person; or b) Irreversible cessation of circulation of blood in the body of the person.

        You can find the same defintion of human death across the planet.

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      • I’m going to say that it’s living and so therefore it can die – and I think you’re going to say that that may be but its not comparable to a human death. Either way, I think we’re arguing in circles.

        Let’s try something else, if you’re up for it. If abortions weren’t in demand then we wouldn’t need to have the conversation of morality and abortion. Under what circumstances do you condone the use of abortion?

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      • I said this above somewhere, but will repeat it here: If you wish to break this debate open to meaningful discussion you will have to demonstrate the existence of some previously unknown element (a soul, for example) in the human organism. If such a thing can be demonstrated then the entire subject has to be re-examined. Until then, facts are simply facts.

        Under what conditions? Any and all applicable conditions. That’s what “choice” means, and after a reasoned cut-off date, as necessitated should there be a medical emergency.

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      • Allow me to backtrack for a second. So you say a comatose victim isn’t equal to an embryo because the embryo can’t yet die a human death (because it isn’t a human.) Once again, I’m not arguing that an embryo is a human but that it is as valuable because it is becoming one, and it’s mission is to become one regardless of whether it stalls naturally or not. By your suggested cut-off date it is about 80% likely to carry out, regardless of when the real beginning of human/valuable life is. You can’t argue that, “it may or it may not become a human so you can do whatever you want with it.”

        I understand your reasoning that life can’t exist without death and vice versa. As I’ve been saying, I think that at the moment of conception a defined human organism begins a process. As you correctly stated, most of the time the process doesn’t carry out. But a miscarriage/an embryo stalling on its own is not the same as intervening in the affair and manually aborting.

        I’d like to return to your rebuttal to my first comment. You stated:

        “but as a rule of thumb every decade the body, including the brain, has physically remade itself. Or at least sort of. The pulmonary trunk heart cell being fashioned inside me right now to replace one that’s perhaps 4 years old and fast approaching its use-by date will not, sadly, be made as “new.” Instead it will be a heart cell with all new parts – new molecular strings – pretending to be my age. The cell is new, yes, but it is a copy of the used cell. Age is not reversed.”

        I’m not exactly arguing that the genome, atoms, or cells is what makes the person, although that’s part of it. I’m more saying that the process of aging marks life, and when you stop aging you’re dead. The reason you can’t find a definition of death that says, “when you stop aging,” is because a foetus isn’t a person (but it should be respected as such).

        Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t give a cut-off date in the post. If asked, i’d say week 20 is a good ethical line, well before sustained activity, and well-well-well before synchronisation.

        I’m more saying that the process of aging marks life

        OK, but by that measure then the human organism only begins after birth. The foetus shares the same metabolic rate (the speed of life) as the mother, which is that of a mammal her size. A mammal the size of a foetus has a metabolic rate equal to that of, say, a possum. At birth, the baby’s metabolic rate speeds right up and in a matter of hours it has the same metabolic rate as, say, a possum (a mammal its own size), and that rate decreases as the child grows and matures into adulthood.

        Of course, you can see the enormous ethical problem here in using that as our measure, and so we return to brain activity as the far better (more ethical and better informed) measure.

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      • “It follows quite naturally therefore that the onset of a defined human life is when foetal brain activity begins to exhibit regular and sustained activity, and this occurs consistently around week 25.”

        My apologies John, I guess you didn’t say specifically, but this quote lead me to believe you thought the cut-off date should be at 25 weeks. Why 20 weeks? (I’m guessing it’s to provide a safety net, but I wouldn’t mind confirmation in case).

        What is it you mean when you say, “week 20” … 20 weeks from what? My answer would be 20 weeks from the moment it started its development; a development that will continue until it ends, or in other words dies.

        While a foetus shares metabolic rate with it’s mother, it is still developing and growing independently and this is what I mean by aging. Admittedly I should have used those words from the start.

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      • Yeah, 20 weeks being a good “safe” ethical line with plenty of room to spare.

        While a foetus shares metabolic rate with it’s mother, it is still developing and growing independently and this is what I mean by aging.

        Actually, this is not exactly true. It’s not independent at all. In the video you see the narrator say’s [at birth] babies literally transition from being an organ to being an individual in mere hours.

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      • I don’t mean that it exists independently. It may rely on the mother, but it grows independently from the mother in the sense that it’s developing body parts, etc.

        Also, it’s a little far fetched to say that a foetus is equal to an organ up until birth, don’t you think? If that’s the case why not allow abortion up until birth?

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      • Yeah, no one’s saying it *is* an organ, but that is certainly how it behaves. If, for example, you had an instrument that could only measure metabolic rate, then the foetus would be invisible.

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      • Well, your original point was aging, and that is lorded over by an individual’s metabolic rate; the speed of life. All mammals have about 1 billion heartbeats. Humans have cheated a little, with medicines, diet etc. we’ve pushed that out to close to 2 billion, but the fact remains, the metabolic rate is inseparable from aging, and whilst in the womb, the foetus is not ‘aging’ as a unique individual organism.

        As to developing, I’ve never questioned that fact. There is no question. I’m not even entirely sure why anyone would question that.

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      • You were right about aging. There is a reason why we start back at zero on one’s birthday.

        I guess what I was really trying to say is that development is life so the start of development is the start of life and the end of development is death. It all comes back to “the process” I referred to in my original comment

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh John!

        Not at all. 75% of all pregnancies are terminated naturally.

        You are playing with stats….is that value calculated from fertilization or implantation?

        My guess is you are using fertilization…. and in that case, the woman wouldn’t even realise that she is pregnant…even science wouldn’t be able to discern if she were pregnant.

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  21. @Philip Rand:

    Your link is interesting. But almost totally irrelevant in this case.

    fMRI measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. This technique relies on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases.

    Therefore the fMRI technique should be combined with other methods that can confirm/validate the findings from the fMRI exploration of the brain.

    Let me state it this way: You don’t use fMRI – at least not primarily and absolutely not alone – to find out how neuronal arborization takes place. See for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendrite#Dendrite_development .

    You study the arborization better in a microscope and/or by examining different biochemicals (including proteins) in vivo or in vitro.

    What your reference, with focus on a still today “famous” dead salmon analysis, shows is that fMRI is much about statistics. (Cf. the saying “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”.)

    All this is explained in (some) detail, hopefully understandable for laymen in this article: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/scicurious-brain/ignobel-prize-in-neuroscience-the-dead-salmon-study/

    Here is a quote from that article clarifying what went wrong in the fMRI finding analysis of the dead salmon:

    Now, to clarify: what exactly were they doing? Well, when you do fMRI studies in the brain, there’s a ton of information there. The information is generally broken down into sections called voxels. Up 130,000 of them in a single study and contrast selection, looking at each one to see if it is ‘activated’ compared to the others. And doing the statistics on these studies gets to be a problem. You have to do thousands of comparisons, and you being to run into something called the “multiple comparisons problem”. If you do a lot of tests, at least some of them will come out positive, even if they are not real. These are called false positives, and they are something you really want to watch out for.

    To solve this problem, there are various methods for correcting the multiple comparisons, but this also means that you lose a lot of statistical power. In other words, you get rid of your false positives, but it might mean you don’t see things that are really there, you might find false negatives instead. There is a running debate in the fMRI field over whether false positives or false negatives are more dangerous. The authors of this study contend (and I am inclined to agree) that the false positives are more likely to get overblown and lead to problems down the line. For a really good wrapup on the stats questions, I recommend neuroskeptic’s piece on the topic.
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    So in the final results, the authors compared the normal multiple comparisons, with the multiple CORRECTED comparisons. When they used the multiple corrected comparisons, the dead salmon showed nothing. When they did the multiple comparisons without the correction, the salmon showed significant increases in “activation”, coincidentally, in the brain and spinal cord. This shows the importance of correcting for multiple comparisons and avoiding false positives.

    So, Philip Rand, your only reference so far is highly irrelevant in two ways: 1) Neuronal arborization (how neurons build connections with each other) is not primarily studied by using fMRI (at least not fMRI alone). 2) Every scholarly neuroscientist knows that fMRI data must be properly analyzed, otherwise things can go wrong (and a dead salmon can seem to be alive).

    BTW, This is in a way similar to how laymen misunderstand how today’s DNA testing for diseases functions. Such DNA testing is just ONE important way to assess a person’s susceptibility to a disease. Before drawing conclusions about the risk of developing a specific disease you also should examine environmental factors and so on. Not rely on the DNA testing alone.

    You need to come back with some more RELEVANT links/references, Philip Rand. Otherwise I will consider you being a “simple” conspiracy theorist. The dead salmon analysis rather reminds me of the Piltdown man hoax because in both cases the right conclusion is present from the beginning if only you examine the data/findings in a proper way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BB

      If the paper is irrelevant, then why do the papers you & John quote from use brain imaging techniques?

      You miss the point of the measurement result (which the authors missed as well):

      Measurement is intrinsic to the phenomena and arise out of measurement

      There is a better way than the corrected method the authors used in the statistics. It is a method I have used in condensed matter experimental results.

      Like

      • @Phiip Rand:

        At least the papers I linked to build on the use of many different techniques. Not only fMRI.

        Do you really believe, Philip, that the paper I mentioned yesterday, the one with around 350 references, only referred to fMRI studies of the brain in all these references?

        You just showed that you haven’t read the papers I linked to. (Or you haven’t understood what you read.)

        BTW, Philip, that is typical for conspiracy theorists.

        Liked by 1 person

      • BB

        Go back to that paper and examine the protocols used ( for example look at the statistical methods). The very fact that they are using multiple techniques indicates that they cannot measure the phenomenon they wish. Hence, recourse to a deductive argument; that is the anomaly in the method.

        Like

      • @Philip Rand:

        For example, you can see, in a microscope, if there is neuronal arborization taking place or not. Or in in vivo and/or in vitro studies/experiments.

        Of course the scientists use different techniques depending on what they examine/study.

        And sometimes the used techniques/methods can confirm each other, indicating that the findings are real, and not a statistical artifact. That’s good, according to me. .

        But you, Philip, seem to insinuate that the scientists often (?) use the same techniques/methods only to get the findings they want to have, thereby using their experiments and studies to suit their own wishful thinking and purposes.

        Genuine science doesn’t function in that way.

        Just face it! You are spreading conspiracy thoughts and fake news, Philip.

        Sp come on, link to some scholarly papers instead of misusing your own solipsistic thoughts and reasoning. Try to be serious. Don’t denigrate scientific research!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t need to…. your papers conclusion does it for me when they state:

        The body of knowledge supporting our understanding of normal neural circuits development in human beings, however, is still highly imperfect, as it is derived largely from cross-sectional studies of animal, primarily rodents. These reports supplement a relatively small number of studies in human and nonhuman primates that compare measures of brain structure and function across narrow developmental windows. Thus, although studies in rodents and invertebrates have provided invaluable insights into the genetic, molecular, and cellular events that guide and regulate the development of neural circuits, extrapolating these findings to human beings is hazardous and only partially remedied by scant, but important data from nonhuman primates (Liu et al, 2008). Similarly, the all too common use of data on neural circuit structure and function that are derived at one developmental period to infer prior or subsequent developmental events has fundamental limitations. Therefore, our understanding of the cellular and molecular events that subserve neural circuit maturation during childhood and adolescence in human beings remains provisional and incomplete.

        By the way John referenced a paper using MRI as well….

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      • I am not evading anything John…

        So, how do they measure the physical structure?

        Get that correct and we can proceed.(one word answer)…..

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  22. @Sam Freeze:

    You wrote: The zygote, blastocyst, embryo, or what have you, has the capacity to gain consciousness, and it certainly will if left alone. Therefore, it is alive, and it can be killed.

    Yes, they all have the capcity to some day hopefully gain consciousness (at least if we are talking about humans). But your conclusion, that they are alive (at least full of potential life), does not automatically follow from that proposition/statement.

    Among many things, how do you define life and how you define the start of life? For example, having the capacity to be alive (become a living being) is not the same as being alive (all the time).

    For example, why start with the zygote? Suppose a coitus interruptus or using a condom. If you didn’t use those methods to avoid fertlizing the egg, the fertilized egg would have “the capacity to [one day] gain consciousness, and it certainly will if left alone”.

    Is everyone using contraceptives or practicing coitus interruptus – or consider masturbation – a potential murderer?

    Do you see what I mean? Why start with the zygote? Why not start your reasoning before the zygote is formed?

    Liked by 1 person

    • BB

      You have defeated John Zande’s idea when you state:

      how do you define life and how you define the start of life?

      Because it reveals the non-sense of John Zande’s question:

      How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?

      Like

    • A correction:

      I wrote: Suppose a coitus interruptus or using a condom. If you didn’t use those methods to avoid fertlizing the egg, the fertilized egg would have “the capacity to [one day] gain consciousness, and it certainly will if left alone”.

      If you didn’t use those methods to avoid fertlizing the egg, you can say that also the unfertilized egg would have had “the capacity to [one day] gain consciousness, and it certainly will if left alone [and by allowing it to become fertilized]”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • BB

      Your thinking is ill-disciplined… look at the type of questions you ask:

      Is everyone using contraceptives or practicing coitus interruptus – or consider masturbation – a potential murderer?

      Well, BB…. prepubescent children have committed murder… so that answers your lost-in-the-woods question….

      Like

    • You’re correct, being alive/conscious and having the potential to be alive isn’t the same, but they are equally as valuable. To be clear, I’m not arguing that a zygote and human are the same thing, obviously they are not. I’m saying they have the same value.

      I actually don’t know what you’re trying to say in the latter half of your statement, perhaps you could rephrase? I would argue that everyone is a “potential murderer” but thats a conversation for another time. Those who practice contraception/masturbation aren’t murderers because it’s just one set of DNA that will die off in about a week anyway, and it’s their own. It’s only when two sets come together and make an individual set that I consider it to be unjust.

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  23. @Philip Rand:

    You wrote: How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?

    I think John Zande already has explained to you what he meant by asking that question.

    At least I understand what his message is.

    But obviously you don’t understand his answers. Neither do you seem to understand what I write in my comments.

    I find this debate becoming a waste of time, if you don’t come up with some scholarly references/links, I’ll stop commenting your fake news and misunderstandings here and now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But I did reference your scholarly article provided by yourself that came to the conclusion (I figure it represents your position):

      The body of knowledge supporting our understanding of normal neural circuits development in human beings, however, is still highly imperfect, as it is derived largely from cross-sectional studies of animal, primarily rodents. These reports supplement a relatively small number of studies in human and nonhuman primates that compare measures of brain structure and function across narrow developmental windows. Thus, although studies in rodents and invertebrates have provided invaluable insights into the genetic, molecular, and cellular events that guide and regulate the development of neural circuits, extrapolating these findings to human beings is hazardous and only partially remedied by scant, but important data from nonhuman primates (Liu et al, 2008). Similarly, the all too common use of data on neural circuit structure and function that are derived at one developmental period to infer prior or subsequent developmental events has fundamental limitations. Therefore, our understanding of the cellular and molecular events that subserve neural circuit maturation during childhood and adolescence in human beings remains provisional and incomplete.

      Like

      • @Philip Rand:

        Do you know what a microcope is and why and how it is used by scientists?

        With the help of a microscope you can see IF there is a neuronal arborization taking place and how far that process has proceeded/gone at every gestational week.

        You want a clarification of a correction I submitted earlier today. Yes, I agree. The clarification I submitted became a bit truncated. Sorry for that.

        Anyway, here’s my clarification of the earlier clarification I submitted a little while ago. :

        1) I apostrophized Sam Freeze, but the comment landed below one of your many, as usual, irrelevant comments, Philip. .

        2) In my first comment to Sam Freeze I wrote: Suppose a coitus interruptus or using a condom. If you didn’t use those methods to avoid fertlizing the egg, the fertilized egg would have “the capacity to [one day] gain consciousness, and it certainly will if left alone”.

        WHAT I MEANT is this:

        Suppose a coitus interruptus or using a condom. If you didn’t use those methods to avoid fertlizing the egg, you can say that also the unfertilized egg would have had “the capacity to [one day] gain consciousness, and it certainly will if left alone [and by allowing it to become fertilized]”.

        In short, every female egg has, in a way, a potential to get fertlized and thereby resulting in a living organism, if all the necessary conditions for life are fullfilled.

        So if you try to prevent that from happen, it’s not too far-fetched to state that you are a murderer, AT LEAST if you use the same “logic” and way of reasoning as pro-lifers are so notoriously prone to do.

        If early abortion is murder, then also preventing a fertilzation can be seen as murder. (BTW, why does God allow spontaneous abortions? Is he a murderer, too? In my eyes he is! But I also think that the theistic god concept is nothing but pure bullshit. )

        So, in short, what the pro-life (anti-abortion) movement does is to start their reasoning assuming that we always must begin our thought experiment´chain with the zygote. Why not start with the gamete? Anyway, it’s just thought experiments, both of them, wherever we define to place the first link of the chain.

        Who has decided that we always must begin the reasoning chain just with a zygote, i.e. after a complete fertilization? What’s wrong with starting with a gamete? Both alternatives are only philosophical thought experiments.

        Is it God who has decidet this? Or is it maybe you, Philip?

        Perhaps you ARE God, Philip? At least you seem to pretend that you know all this we debate here much better than all the neuroscientists that John Zande and I refer to. Everything John and I have referred to here is of “piss-poor” quality according to you.

        Even if you ARE omniscient (which I doubt), Philip, why can’t you give John and me some links that validate your hypotheses? How can it be so difficult for you to submit some references where the whole paper – not only a short paragraph of it, a debate method called cherry-picking – shows you are right and all others damned wrong.

        I’m still waiting. How long do I have to wait for your references/links?

        Liked by 1 person

      • You state: “if early abortion is murder, then also preventing a fertilization can be seen as murder.”

        This is absolutely ridiculous. For humans to not be murderers in this scenario, we would have to reproduce as frequently as possible as to not “prevent” a fertilization.

        It is too far-fetched to state you are a murderer for using contraception. An egg is either fertilized or its not, and you can’t “murder” [end] what does not even exist. At the point of fertilization another individual set of DNA exists and it then becomes unjust.

        Like

      • BB…. look at the data you have supplied (concerning emergent brain structures)

        12-16 weeks’ gestation. (range 4 weeks)
        17-22 weeks’ gestation? (no data)
        23-25 weeks’ gestation. (range 2 weeks)

        Notice how the range reduces (though the error is still large).

        There does not appear any data in your references with regard to the period 17-22 weeks’ gestation.

        Now, you ask yourself this: What is the reason for this reduction in range?

        Like

      • By the way “microscope” isn’t exactly the branch of science that is used to measure “structure”. A microscope is simply the meter.

        No, the method is a specific technique used to examine this:

        system + meter + environment

        One inclusive word describes the entire technique, i.e. It is called….

        Like

  24. @Philip Rand:

    Of course you can’t assume that all individuals – or their brains – mature at the exactly same rate. There are always individual differences. That’s why a serious neuroscientist can’t say that exactly gestational day X or gestational week Y the neuronal arboriszation will have to be at level Z.

    There will always be individual differences. Let’s take menarche as an example, i.e. the first menstrual cycle, or first menstrual bleeding, in female humans.

    According to Wikipedia, the average age of menarche is very difficult to estimate accurately and exactly. It varies significantly by geographical region, race, ethnicity and other characteristics.

    Various estimates of the menarche have been done by scientists all over the world. The median age seems to vary quite significantly. I myself – I’m no expert on menarche – propose/suggest that most girls have their menarche at age 11-14.

    This doesn’t mean that menarche can’t occur at age 9 or age 16. But that also doesn’t mean that menarche in a healthy girl can occur at age 3 or so.

    It’s the same with neuronal arborization. Even if there is a broad range within which the population studied can have its neuronal arborization levels plotted, it’s still possible to calculate propabilities like the statistical median value or statistical average value for the population that is studied.

    And of course neuroscientists can say that before that or that gestational date we have never seen arborization being present at level X or Y or Z in the brain.

    A very good indication that the neuroscientists are right in their assumptions concerning arborization is that never has a fetus survived before a completed gestational week 20, not even before a completed gestational week 21.

    Have a look at the statistics in this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_viability .

    The table says/shows that the chance of postnatal survival lies at 0 per cent up to completed gestation week 21! The survival rate AFTER 22 completed gestation weeks lies at 0-10 per cent. Then the survival rate starts to rise clearly and distinctly from day to day.

    Also see: http://www.spensershope.org/chances_for_survival.htm .

    The explanation is, according to the neuroscientists, that the brain before gestation week 20 – and probably also some other inner organs – is/are so immature/incomplete that survival is impossible for that reason.

    Before completed gestational week 20 the fetus is similar to a very simple input-output apparatus. That’s why they can’t process and experience/feel pain stimuli at that age. But the fetus can be seen as an input-output apparatus and is thus able to respond to nociceptive stimuli with the help of subcortical reflexes/circuits.

    When the thalamocortical circuit is established also varies, but it seems to be mature enough some time between (approximately) gestation week 25 and 30.

    This means that a newborn baby can survive even if the thalamocortical circuit is not fully mature. But the brain’s maturation process must apparently at least have started. And that is never the case in a fetus before gestational week 20. (It can be calculated by knowing the maturation/growth rate and then counting/calculating backwards.)

    Finallly, today I’ve learnt, above all, that it’s a waste of time to debate pro-lifers. At the moment I’ve lost interest in trying to explain to pro-lifers what is important to know about the brain’s maturity during different gestation weeks. It’s definitely more fun for me to talk to a wall or a door at home. So maybe this is my last comment in this comment field.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. @Sam Freeze:

    I’m not debating any more (at least not at the moment).

    But I recommend you – and other interested followers of John Zande’s excellent blog – to read these two articles:

    1) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-f-gilbert/countering-republican-claims-embryos_b_8152028.html (about when the individual human life starts); and

    2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_birth_control .(both artificial and natural methods of birth control).

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1) Main point of the article: “there is no consensus among scientists as to when human life begins.” Exactly. I’m not pretending I know for sure, hence why there’s a debate, and why I’m using words like “believe” as opposed to “know.” I’m arguing that this is the best bet.

      And if we don’t know for sure, shouldn’t we play it safe? The earlier the better, so why not pick day one as opposed to 24-26 weeks in?

      2) Why in the world is this relevant?

      Like

      • Sam Freeze

        John Zande states:
        If you wish to break this debate open to meaningful discussion you will have to demonstrate the existence of some previously unknown element (a soul, for example) in the human organism. If such a thing can be demonstrated then the entire subject has to be re-examined. Until then, however, facts are simply facts.

        Fact is the existence of the soul can be demonstrated. However, Zande would not entire into such a discussion (though it is quite easy to demonstrate).

        Like

      • Sam Freeze

        Your argument does indeed defeat John Zande’s thesis. It does because you recognised that Zande’s main point in his blog piece is:

        In the U.S., laws on brain death vary by state, but all states recognise that death is determined by the irreversible cessation of brain function, or as bluntly stated in the journal, Nature Reviews, Neuroscience: Brain death means human death And for very good reason.

        And obviously a foetus is at the opposite extreme, so it isn’t applicable.. This defeats Zande’s argument entirely. Zande’s argument is ill-posed.

        Like

    • Your hate for religion blinds your thinking.

      I can tell you hate it not only from your blog, but because you try to work it into every argument and every comment, even when the topic is unrelated/not what is being discussed. And your thinking is blinded because of this.

      I understand the need to step back and cool off from debating, it’s necessary to clear one’s mind. But, you chose to leave after my first rebuttal and that doesn’t necessarily bode well for your argument, and I’ll never know if I was wrong or not. Nevertheless, I’ll be here when you return.

      Like

  26. @John Zande: Have you read this blog post: http://jayarava.blogspot.com/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html ?

    I think you come very close to Sean Carroll’s view of the religious bullshit concept soul.

    Carroll’s argument begins with a series of propositions:

    The mind is the brain.
    The brain is made of atoms.
    We know how atoms work.
    When you die there is no way for the information that was you to persist.

    Professor Carroll’s propositions are analyzed in the blog post I just linked to.

    Also, I’m sure you’ll like what you can read in this paper: http://science.jburroughs.org/mbahe/BioEthics/Articles/Whendoeshumanlifebegin.pdf .

    But, please, don’t show it to any pro-lifer because then they can get a deadly heart attack.

    BTW, I wish you a wonderful weekend, John!

    Liked by 2 people

      • @John Zande: We had no rain at all in one month. And tropical temperatures all July. We thought we lived in the Middle East.

        But now God seems to have made us suffer enough. Praise the Lard! Glory to Him!

        Northern Sweden has already had some rain showers. But new fires are popping up almost daily in southern Sweden. But so far they are under control and can be extinguished before they’ve become too big.

        You are really well-informed, John! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Actually BB… the second site won’t give one a deadly heart attack… but, if one is a mug it wii give your computer exploit…. Dodgy, dodgy, BB…. you can’t be trusted…. why do atheists always insist on attempting it infect other peoples computers when they have lost arguments?

      Like

  27. Imagine standing in a fertility clinic and a fire starts.
    You have the time to save 1 thing and 1 thing only before you escape safely with your life and the thing.
    To your right there is an 8 hour old baby. To your left there is a refrigeration cabinet with 800 fertilised embryos ready for implantation.
    Which do you leave with?

    See, there is no ethical dilemma.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Brexit is like watching someone screaming “you weren’t listening to me, so now I’m going to blow up everyone in this room”, and being concerned and then realising you’re in the room… And then realising everything they had been saying that you weren’t listening to was inane bullshit anyway…
        So… It’s like being held hostage by inane concerns. That’s what it is like.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no…. yet another chap who has read Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Art of Being Right…. Stephen Law bases a lot of his work on this book (but never gives credit)

      Like

      • Not familiar with either.
        Can’t really say where I got the analogy from.
        Am I wrong, though? Because you don’t seem to be engaged with any content.

        Like

      • To your right there is an 8 hour old baby. To your left there is a refrigeration cabinet with 800 fertilised embryos ready for implantation. Behind you is a working forklift and you just happen to hold a valid forklift license. Which do you leave with?

        Like

    • In the heat of the moment I would leave with the baby, but that doesn’t make it morally right.

      Consider this: Imagine it’s the end of the world and you’re in a spaceship flying to another habitable planet. The only survivors are on your spaceship – yourself, and a five year old. Now there’s a fire on your ship and you can either save the five year old and you can both die alone and that’s the end of the human race, or you could save a box with a thousand viable embryo’s that you can ensure would be born from artificial wombs. Which do you choose?

      Like

      • I appreciate the fact that a snap decision isn’t necessarily indicative of the truth of the morality.

        But I also don’t think adding an existential risk to the species doesn’t preserve the analogy on highlighting the question of the value of the two things…

        Like

      • Adding the existential link simply highlights the absurdity of the original proposition.

        Besides, your proposition doesn’t question the value of two things (you’ve got that wrong)…. it is questioning the value of 801 things!

        Like

  28. Thanks! Philip is maybe a lier as well, but a LIAR he definitely is. Trying to persuade people not to open the links I provide, by insinuating I load them with malware, that’s offensive and outrageous.

    BTW, John, I have noticed that different kinds of thought experiments have begun to appear in the comment field. That’s good! I like that.

    Therefore now allow me to introduce yet another thought experiment.

    Pro-lifers often claim that the human zygote has the potential to become a unique adult human being some day (with a unique personhood). And this uniqueness is in a way so sacred, according to many pro-lifers, that when the zygote is turned into an embryo or fetus it must not be aborted.

    Now time for a small – but yet important – digression.

    What does the Bible tell us about the sanctity of life and of fetuses? Consider these four verses (Exodus 21:22-25):

    22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

    Clearly the Mosaic law doesn’t protect the life of fetuses AS MUCH AS it protects the lives of living persons who once managed to leave the womb, i.e. who have been “born” = who have begun to live their own lives outside their mother’s body. According to the Mosaic law fetuses apparently have a lower “human” value than those individuals have who have started to live their own individual lives (each of them with a unique personhood) outside the womb.

    So why don’t pro-lifers like to refer to these Bible verses? My own answer to that question is that pro-lifers are sanctimonious persons a.k.a. hypocrites.

    But now over to the new thought experiment I promised.

    Have a look at this paper: https://www.nature.com/news/2004/040422/full/news040419-8.html .

    In a Japanese lab scientists have created a unique mouse, by fusing DNA from two different eggs (from two different female mice). This must mean that the mouse fetus in question is a unique (mouse) individual (with a unique “personhood”), with around 50% of the DNA coming from one mouse and the other 50% of the DNA coming from another mouse.

    This is something else than ordinary cloning, in which the uniqueness of the fetuses can be questioned.

    Now suppose that the same technique is used on human eggs. If you fuse the DNA from two human eggs – one from woman X and one from woman Y – then the zygote Z that follows (at least can follow) surely will be unique (= have it’s own “personhood”).

    If uniqueness is the important factor here, which pro-lifers claim it is, shouldn’t we then expect pro-lifers to stand up and yell, in tandem, “Such a human fetus is unique and also has a unique personhood and therefore has the right to be born and must not be aborted!”?

    That is the thought experiment I wanted to share with you your followers, John!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I see what you mean. Things start to get a tad confusing when an individual can be created that is not a *traditional* individual.

      This starts to touch on the rights of Artificial Intelligences. Have you ever read David Brin’s, Stones of Significance? I think it’s one of the best short stories i’ve ever read. You can get it on Amazon for 55 cents, but I’ll past the PDF below. It’s fascinating as it details the level of “human” rights afforded to AI’s, with a superb twist in the end.

      http://fennetic.net/pub/david_brin_-_stones_of_significance.pdf

      Liked by 2 people

    • Very interesting, John! Thanks once again! You are both broad-minded and deep-minded! And very kind!

      Talking of intelligence and mind, have you read this paper: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/computer-programs-can-learn-what-other-programs-are-thinking ?

      A quote: After some training, ToMnet could not only identify a character’s species after just a few steps, but it could also correctly predict its future behavior, researchers reported this month at the International Conference on Machine Learning in Stockholm.
      A final test revealed ToMnet could even understand when a character held a false belief, a crucial stage in developing theory of mind in humans and other animals.

      Maybe we’ll see (the equivalence of) consciousness in an AI robot before I die and come to Hell?

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Hi again, John!

    Here’s a newspaper article from The Guardian I think you’ll like: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/aug/03/denialism-what-drives-people-to-reject-the-truth

    About people who distrust science and are extremely good at confirmation bias and cherry-picking..

    Have you met such people here in the comment field lately, John? 🙂

    I myself can’t remember seeing them. But I’m an old man, so my memory may deceive me.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Here are some new thought experiments – and questions – to consider.

    Pro-lifers seem to build their case on three propostions:

    1) God created humans in a special way, i.e. He created them/us to be the crown of the divine creation act/process (cf. Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

    2) “In the image of God” means that human beings have a soul. Without this soul humans would more resemble an animal than a divine being.

    3) If God has inserted a soul in something that one day has the potential of becoming an adult man or woman, it’s morally wrong (= against God’s will) to stop the development of that something that is meant to one day become an adult man or woman.

    So abortion can be seen as a way to alter God’s creation plan. Which, in turn, can be regarded as a rebellion – or at least a mutiny – against God himself.

    Now, let’s have a closer look at these propositions.

    For example:

    When does the divine soul enter that something which is meant to one day become an adult man or woman?

    Some pro-lifers mean the soul is inserted when the zygote (the fertilized egg) is formed. But these pro-lifers must then explain how it’s possible for the zygote to divide into two or more separate embryos. If there is just ONE soul at the start, how can that soul ensoul TWO or more embryos? Is the one soul split in two? Does each embryo become ensouled with only .5 souls? Or from where does the extra soul originate?

    The simplest solution to this dilemma is that there is no soul, at least not so early in the gestation process.

    The next simplest solution to this dilemma is that the ensoulment takes place AFTER the gastrulation process is completed (around gestational day 14 or so). The concept gastrulation means that from now on the embryo no longer is able to divide in order to become two or even more separate beings.

    So how can pro-lifers claim that the soul is inserted already when the zygote is formed? I really want to know the answer to that question.

    BTW, here are some extra questions to ask pro-lifers, for example:

    i) Who inserts the soul? Or: What does the process of ensoulment look like? Please describe it in detail.

    ii) What does a soul consist of? Is it atoms or something else? Is it energy or matter or both energy and matter?

    iii) From where does the soul (to be inserted) arrive (before it’s inserted to the zygote)?

    iv) Is the soul created at the same time as the zygote is formed? If so, is that view compatible with the by most Christians held view that both God and we humans now live in the seventh day of the creation week? That is, shouldn’t we rather conclude that God is resting from the creation at the moment? Cf. Genesis 2:2-3: And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

    On the other hand, if God – in order to don’t violate His own day of rest – created all the souls beforehand, where do all these souls exist at the moment?

    Read more about this by clicking on the following link: https://www.gotquestions.org/souls-created.html .

    In that article you can read, among other things, that maybe “God designed the human reproductive process to also reproduce a soul”. If so, please explain this in more detail. Does it mean, which the Bible seems to endorse, that the soul doesn’t enter the newborn baby’s body until it takes its first breath? If so, that might explain the event told in Numbers 5:11-28, where we can read about a woman, accused of adultery, who is forced to drink “bitter water” designed to cause a miscarriage.

    Verses 19-22: 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you.20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”—21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell.22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb MISCARRIES.” “‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Do you apostrophize my comments, Sam Freeze? Then I want you to know that I’ve never made that kind of assumption.

    But nevertheless I think that most pro-lifers who follow John Zande’s outstanding blog are Christians.

    I’ve also have debated Muslim pro-lifers. Their view(s) seem to be rather similar to what you can read here: http://www.ilmgate.org/when-does-the-soul-enter-the-fetus/ .

    A quote from that article.

    “Each one of you is constituted in the womb of the mother for forty days, and then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then Allah sends an angel who is ordered to write four things. He is ordered to write down his deeds, his livelihood, his (date of) death, and whether he will be blessed or wretched (in religion). Then the soul is breathed into him…” (Sahih al-Bukhari no: 3036).

    Based on the above Qur’anic verse and Hadith, the jurists (fuqaha) have inferred that the soul (ruh) enters the foetus at around 4 months/120 days after gestation.

    Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states:

    “The soul enters the foetus at 120 days (4 months), as established by the Hadith.” (Radd al-Muhtar ala Durr al-Mukhtar 1/202)

    Thus, when the age of the unborn child reaches 120 days (4 months), it no longer remains a lifeless object; rather, it is a living human being. At this point, all organ differentiation is almost completed and the child acquires the shape of a human body.

    And Allah knows best.

    A question to you, Sam Freeze: Maybe you have changed your view from what you told us the other day (that human life probably starts at the moment of conception) to the Muslim views of when human life begins, expressed in my quote above?

    Why I continue to comment here in the comment field is not to debate different debaters. I just want to provide more information about questions pro-lifers ought to try to answer if they are honest people.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Funny you should respond with more religious material. My apologies, I should have said: “Why do you consistently make the assumption that all pro-lifers are religious?”

    Although, to be fair, all of your pro-life critiques have been directed to the Christian view of abortion…

    Why not leave religion out of it for a change?

    What makes you think I’ve changed my views?

    “I just want to provide more information about questions pro-lifers ought to answer if they are honest people” – I don’t want, nor do I feel the need to answer your religious questions when discussing abortion. I’ll say this one more time – it’s not relevant to the current discussion.

    Should you have secular questions/thought experiments I could ponder over, I would love to consider them.

    Like

    • Sam Freeze

      Don’t interact with the old man (BBNEWSAB)… BBNEWSAB SPREADS MALWARE!

      And it appears that John Zande supports his endeavours (as Zande hasn’t blocked him from his site)

      Like

  33. According to me, and I’m not alone having that view, whatever your position regarding abortion is, that position is at least partly founded upon what could be described as nothing other than religious belief.

    Yes, I know there are also atheists who are against abortion. But they are a minority.

    The best arguments against abortion are no doubt the religious ones. That’s why I prefer to address them

    Just an example: Suppose a woman is pro-life. Maybe she is because she thinks that there is an inherent sanctity to human life that must be respected.

    Then this is a view that can be held by both religious and secular/atheist people. And that fact doesn’t automatically make the view nonreligious.

    That same woman might also use exactly the same argument to advocate that since there is an inherent sanctity to human life that must be respected, then every woman must of course have the possibility to decide what will happen to her own body, if she becomes pregnant.

    So, and this is my main point, any discussion of human rights is essentially a discussion of religious belief. More or less.

    It’s hard to argue that inherent human rights are a demonstrable fact like gravity, electromagnetic forces etc. The belief in inherent human rights is just a view, built on feelings (emotions). Not a scientific fact, built on scientific experiments or observations.

    I reiterate: The belief in inherent human rights (for fetuses or ordinary humans) is just a feeling people have.

    They feel it must be an inherent right. They can’t prove it in a scientific way. They can’t know if it’s objectively right or wrong. So it becomes a subjective “truth, not an objective “truth”.

    I dare say that everything grounded on feelings belongs to the magisterium of magical thinking. Take a look at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking .

    In the magisterium of magical thinking religious beliefs dominate. More or less. The religious beliefs dominate even if you are an atheist who does the magical thinking. Of course atheists need not draw their belief in inherent human rights for fetuses and ordinary people from statements made in an ancient holy (religious) book. Nevertheless the magisterium of magical thinking is loaded with religious thoughts.

    Do you now understand better why I make so many religious references when I write my comments in this comment field?

    Like

  34. Philip Rand apparently doesn’t know that an antivirus program signaling it has detected malware NOT always means that malware de facto is being present.

    If all antivirus programs – not only the one Philip Rand uses – signal that they have detected potential malware, then you should be careful.

    If just one antivirus program signals that it has detected potential malware, but other antivirus programs don’t, then it is more probable to believe that there is NOT malware built into the link in question. But I doubt that Philip Rand can understand that because he is blinded by hate against me.

    I always open (click on) every link before I post them in my comments. If my antivirus program then doesn’t warn me of potential malware, but maybe Philip Rand’s antivirus program does, you can’t conclude that I’m spreading malware. If you persist claiming – which Philip Rand does – that I’m spreading malware, then I dare say that Philip Rand is a liar and probably a crackpot as well.

    If I really were spreading malware, why doesn’t the malware infect my laptop? I’ve opened the same “infectious” link that Philip Rand’s antivirus program warned him to open. And I suppose that Philip didn’t open the link after the warning he received from his antivirus program. Otherwise he is very stupid.

    And why doesn’t John Zande ban me, if I really were spreading malware?

    I can tell you, Philip Rand, that, as a matter of fact, I always open the links myself BEFORE I post them. No one of all my posted links here in the comment field has my own antivirus program warned me to open.

    And believe it or not, Philip Rand, my laptop didn’t become infected! That indicates that your own antivirus program sent you a false alarm.

    Maybe the explanation is that my malware is so intricate and strange that it only infects computers/laptops belonging to Philip Rand? At least Philip Rand seems to believe that is the case.

    Perhaps I should start to call Philip the Liar Philip Rant from now on? I’ll think about it.

    Anyway, you should be ashamed, Philip Rant!

    Shame on you, Philip Rant, for accusing me of spreading malware.

    I suppose that at least one more reader/follower has clicked on that same link without being warned by his/her antivirus program. Why hasn’t that reader/follower given you support, Philip Rant? Isn’t it peculiar?

    Like

  35. A clarification.

    I wrote: Why hasn’t that reader/follower given you support, Philip Rant?

    What I mean is that all those who clicked on my link should now have infected computers/laptops regardless if their antivirus programs warned them or not of any malware. So why don’t they say that the link was infected?

    You, Philip Rant, are the only one yelling and ranting here.

    Like

    • -Blocked Website Details-
      Malicious Website: 1
      , , Blocked, [-1], [-1],0.0.0

      -Website Data-
      Category: Exploit
      Domain: science.jburroughs.org
      IP Address: 174.47.106.104
      Port: [58875]
      Type: Outbound
      File: C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe

      Like

      • Once more, Philip Rant.

        I’ve never denied that you received a warning from your antivirus program.

        Receiving a warning from one’s antivirus program is NOT always equivalent of there being a real threat detected. It can also be that the antivirus program in question is “oversensitive”. A warning can be correct or it can be wrong.

        But I doubt you can understand that. You’ve got a huge cognitive problem since you seemingly are unable to listen to – and take in – other explanations than the one you have decided must be the only right one,

        And that, in turn, is so typical of religious & woo solipsists. They can’t discriminate between subjective truths and objective truths.

        So it’s easy to understand that – and why – you hate me.

        Like

      • Dear John, I’ve been spreading malware I’ve collected from this fine site all over my tomato garden this summer. The tomatoes I’ve grown are DELICIOUS!!! Problem is, whenever I eat one, porn sites pop up on my computer. (I NEVER knew such sites existed!) I’m thinking perhaps you need to allow slightly better malware on your site so that when I spread it, the fruits I grow from it will lead me to better websites. You know, ones that try to collect money form me to help religious pastors buy a fleet of airplanes so they can more readily spread the good word of flying pink unicorns throughout the world. Thanks, and have a malware-full day. Oh, here’s a link with no malware but, nevertheless, is fun, educational, and joyous; #deporttrump2russia

        Liked by 2 people

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