November 9th, 2011


Life Begins When?

This morning I awakened to a story on the radio about the "Personhood" initiative. Some well-meaning folks are seeking to have states pass laws saying that "life begins at conception" and to ban all abortion and all uses of human cells. I appreciate their purism and their willingness to take this value to its logical end. At least these "lifers" are not hypocrites! But unfortunately for them, their initiatives are falling like flies under a flyswatter. Why? People are unwilling to force women to have babies they don't want. It is problematic. If you MUST give birth to any conceptus that sticks, do you still then have to mother it? Or can you ignore and abuse it? Well it turns out, you CAN ignore and abuse it. If the government notices how bad you treat your kids, it takes them away and they get treated even worse. These people who wish that every conceptus become a child are neglecting to consider the logical outcome of their actions. MORE unwanted children helps create a desperately sick society that doesn't respect life at any age.

But back to the question of when life begins. Life "began" when a bunch of chemical components somehow found themselves able to do something that they couldn't do separately. And somehow they became able to spread, expand, and later to reproduce. Since then life has been continuous. We are an extension of the life that began in the slime. Tentacles of life reach out all the time, in every direction. We are host to more living cells that are NOT us than to cells that ARE us. Life is a network, a collage, a confusing interconnected amazing self-promoting thing. Cells die but life goes on. Skin cells. Stomach cells. Sperm cells. Egg cells. The idea that a sperm cell + an egg cell is somehow sacred because it is more alive than any other cells is exaggerated. The web of life goes on. The boundaries of death remain.

QotD: Skepticism

What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and, especially important, to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument. The question is not whether we like the conclusion that emerges out of a train of reasoning, but whether the conclusion that emerges out of a train follows from the premise of starting point and whether that premise is true.
--Carl Sagan in his Baloney Detection Kit
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