Talk:When does life begin?

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Life begins at...[edit]

Come to think of it, it all hinges on what you define "life" as. Say someone suggests "life begins at conception". So you ask what life it. Then after a while you effectively get "life is any point after conception". So "any point after conception begins after conception" isn't particularly impressive, is it? Clearly defining life isn't useful in that case, because everything just jumps out as a tautology from that. So would it not be easiest to suggest that we accept only what is meaningful as a real-world category (namely, the metabolism thing where life doesn't really "begin" as such) and enquire under what circumstances we should be able to end it? Clearly, when you experience any debate on "personhood", this is what you're really asking, right? When asking if this vegetable a person, we really want to know if it's okay to kill them - both the major contexts are abortion and euthanasia - and we don't debate personhood when it comes to sex and informed consent, for example - so this generalisation should be pretty obvious.

From this it leads to a question of what we're actually terminating when we "kill". It's obviously not cellular destruction, or genetic destruction, because cells metabolise long after what we'd conventionally call "death" and genetic material stays around for some time afterwards too. And it's obviously never in reference to individual parts of the body itself, otherwise transplants and amputations would be "killing". Yet it's not destruction of the body in its entirety, as "dead body" is a real existent object in our world.

Clearly, therefore, when talking about death we're looking at the emergent patterns formed by the movement and interaction of cells in our brains ceasing. The material of the brain remains intact and, as Dr Manhattan might put it, it contains the same number of atoms as a living one. We've destroyed nothing physical, only emergent. So clearly, Life in the context that we need to be discussing in this case is entwined entirely with the Self and whether that exists as a property of the brain itself. Scarlet A.pngpostate 02:39, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

This is why I differentiate "life" and "human life." Life certainly begins at conception, but human life in my view doesn't begin until consciousness arises from the brain. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:38, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Precisely because it's that consciousness in the brain that you don't want to destroy. Before that there's very little separating that bunch of chemically bonded atoms with any other bunch of chemically bonded atoms. Scarlet A.pngmoral 03:40, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Life certainly begins at conception
Nah, it started billions of years ago. Your parents are alive, their sperm are alive, their unfertilized eggs are alive, their fertilized eggs are alive, their zygotes are alive, chickens are alive, etc. "When does life begin?" is a red herring. Lots of things are alive that are not people. The correct question is "When does personhood begin?". Hmmph (talk) 04:19, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
Life certainly begins at conception
So my sperm are all dead before they reach an egg?--Weirdstuff (talk) 10:48, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
See the above. Define "life". Both "life" and "personhood" are nouns that we define quasi-arbitrarily, and sometimes use synonymously. If Person A and Person B don't actually agree on their definition of "life", they don't really disagree at all. Scarlet A.pngsshole 16:48, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

It begins after the kids are out of the house and the dog is dead.--Arisboch ☞✍☜☞✉☜ ∈)☼(∋ 09:29, 2 November 2015 (UTC)

Title confusion[edit]

If you want to say "when does personhood begin", then that should be the title...

I was expecting to find something about the beginning of all life on Earth or on extraterrestrial planets, but instead found something only focused on the everyday human.

I'd wager it's pretty common for someone to expect what I did and get disappointed when they actually read the article. Nullahnung (talk) 09:39, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Well, at least this page links to Origin of life, so nevermind, I guess. That weakens my complaint. Nullahnung (talk) 09:44, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
This was origionally written as a direct response to the anti abortion meme of "Life begins at conception". This is made pretty clear in the opening paragraph. Innocent Bystander (talk) 09:51, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
Wouldn't an "origin of life" article be titled "When did life begin?" and not "When does life begin?"?--Coffee (talk) 13:17, 25 January 2014 (UTC)
You're probably right. Good point. Nullahnung (talk) 15:26, 25 January 2014 (UTC)

Relevance of Scott Gilbert's Essay?[edit]

I fail to see how any of the 4 points brought up in the Genetics section are relevant to the debate at all. Assuming that the summary given is accurate, it's just one giant straw man.

1. The same could be said of a man on his deathbed. It's irrelevant to the discussion at hand 2. True, but also irrelevant. Baby Salmon have even bleaker odds of survival, yet I don't see anybody saying they aren't salmon. 3. I don't even understand what he's trying to get at here. The life at conception position states that life begins at the fusion of the sperm and the egg, which occurs in a fraction of a second. 4. Again, irrelevant. Ethos isn't empirical. The processes that occur during development are.

And at the end of the day, life is a continuum, so any cutoff you choose is going to be arbitrary in some way, shape, or form. What we should be debating is which point is the LEAST arbitrary, and at the very least, this summary and article as a whole doesn't address this well at all. 24.248.245.194 (talk) 07:06, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

There aren't really any "least arbitrary" cut-off points - they all have their strengths and drawbacks. If you want to take the genetic point of view, it might seem least arbitrary because you have new genetic material, but from a metabolic point of view it's almost the most arbitrary. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 11:44, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

So All Christians Believed in Ensoulment?[edit]

Question about ensoulment, especially since I've been Catholic all my life and never heard the term before. Can someone site specific Biblical passages that point toward ensoulment in such a way? Furthermore it sounds like ensoulment was a way of saying that a fetus that died in the womb wasn't subjected to "Original Sin" and therefore since there was no other scientific evidence to suggest otherwise the church found it convenient to say this to women so they would not fret over their lost child going to Hell. I imagine that the lack of reference is because there is none to point that this idea of "ensoulment" was ever used to justify abortions. Could be wrong, but I doubt it.

Alternation of generations[edit]

Should I make this a tailnote in the genetics section? WalkerWalkerWalker 09:24, 2 November 2015 (UTC)

"Life in general only began once"[edit]

This may not be the case. Many estimates support the view that abiogenesis may have occurred multiple times on Earth, and either resulted in multiple causally independent sets of protocells eventually settling into one LUA, or repeated mass extinctions wiping out all protocells and Earth being devoid of life for the days/years/millennia/millions of years required for new self-replicators to arise by abiogenesis. Alternatively,it is possible that one lineage became life, whilst another lineage became viruses or a subset of viruses.

Untitled section about article's conflation of things[edit]

The article is somewhat misleading by conflating thus confusing the issues and creating many shades (too many, IMO) of "what life is" and "when does life begin", etc. Let us not be timid to examine this matter from a purely neutral perspective: This is all about the "Pro Life" vs. the "Pro Choice" debate; which, if you asked me, is not really a debate but an artificially created, yet one more 100% fabricated issue, aimed at dividing society thus making easier to ..."conquer" by those who will benefit from our division (e.g. cui bono?). Ask any Biologist (or better Embryologist) and you will learn that: About 20 hrs after a male gamete (sperm) has come into contact, entered and fertilized the female gamete (ovum) a common center (nucleus) is visible in the resulting cell. Then about 6 hrs later the first cell division has occurred and the 9-month-long "journey" has started before a new human being is born. Speaking from a natural perspective (e.g. not religious, not ideological, not political, etc.) once an ovum has been fertilized, NO one has right to stop its progress of developing into a fetus and eventually a new born baby, except Nature itself (I am referring to spontaneous abortions, or simply the cell division suddenly stopping, due to some internal "error" or abnormality detected by the woman's body or simply the safety mechanism build into the developing embryo which (from a purely technical perspective) aims to i) prevent the progress (thus birth) of a "defective" organism and ii) to ensure that the female despite the loss of this baby will survive to reproduce again. Of course this is a simple, if not simplistic explanation, but 100% accurate and honestly described. It clearly pinpoints the exact moment in this whole process after which Nature should be left alone to take over and humans should simple sit back and enjoy the ...flight! After all humans have all the control (i.e. birth control) they want BEFORE that point. — Unsigned, by: Xwpis ONOMA / talk / contribs

"NO one has the right to stop its progress". On what basis is that negative right constructed? Why should that set of cells have rights that say, a tumor doesn't?
You are making a case, but you don't establish the basis of your actual thesis, but instead describe some unrelated biology as if it means anything.
Where does the right to life come from? Why do fetuses get it, and not, say, carrots? What distinction is lent them? ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 19:58, 22 February 2019 (UTC)