Talk:When does life begin?/Archive 1

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copyright[edit]

email sent to Scott Gilbert

Dear Scott Gilbert

I am a contributor to a wiki known as Rational Wiki, the aim of which is to debunk irrational thinking in pseudo-science and religion (and have some fun). After some debate on the whole subject of abortion we required an article on 'When does life begin?'

When I cam across your web site at http://8e.devbio.com/article.php?id=162 I found the answer to what I as looking for and I used your structure and precied your ideas in the article I wrote which you can find here - http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/When_does_life_begin

I am now locking the door after the horse has bolted and asking for your permission to use your ideas. I ask this as

  • Although I have followed your structure and ideas I have not done a cut-and-paste job. Rather I have rewritten each section as a one or two sentence precis
  • I have, of course, credited you and added a link to the original article in the hopes that any readers will follow it to your far superior explanations

If you are not able to give permission for this please let me know and I will remove the article as soon as I get your reply

Yours faithfully

Bob Soles

This article has taken on a life of its own and the copyright aspect is no longer really an issue. All that we have left that is copied is the order of the five scientific views. Bob Soles 00:27, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

I have it on good authority[edit]

That life begins at Forty. Deny this and lose all credibility. --Kels 23:06, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

I am denying it and losing credibility. AceMcWicked 23:09, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
I have it on better authority (ie mine) that life begins when one stops posting on the Internet. --The Emperor Kneel before Zod! 23:11, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm sure we should parody these points in a fun article using that as a basis... Scarlet A.pngpathetic 23:12, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
How about adding it to this one? It's a bit lacking in snark. Oh, and life begins about 3.5 billion years ago and hasn't stopped yet. Only individuals die, the molecule we exist to replicate lives on... ħumanUser talk:Human 23:45, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
Hence 'when does a life begin' vs 'when does life begin'. The latter, as you say, is pretty obvious. --䷉䷻䷶䷈䷰䷒䷰䷈䷶䷈䷡䷶䷀䷵䷥

Scott Gilbert has actually said more[edit]

This article is an extra part of his book "Developmental Biology". In the sixth edition of this book he makes some pretty interesting statements, for example:

"Traditional ways of classifying catalog animals according to their adult structure. But, as J. T. Bonner (1965) pointed out, this is a very artificial method, because what we consider an individual is usually just a brief slice of its life cycle. When we consider a dog, for instance, we usually picture an adult. But the dog is a “dog” from the moment of fertilization of a dog egg by a dog sperm. It remains a dog even as a senescent dying hound. Therefore, the dog is actually the entire life cycle of the animal, from fertilization through death. /... / The life of a new individual is initiated by the fusion of genetic material from the two gametes—the sperm and the egg. This fusion, called fertilization, stimulates the egg to begin development."

Besides that, there is no such thing like textbook of human embryology that does not say that fertilization marks the beginning of the life of the new individual human being. But human embryologists are the main experts of this field.

Scott Gilbert actually makes his point quite well in the following quote:

"The entity created by fertilization is indeed a human embryo, and it has the potential to be human adult. Whether these facts are enough to accord it personhood is a question influenced by opinion, philosophy and theology, rather than by science." (http://www.sinauer.com/pdf/BioethicsCh02.pdf)

This is what Scott Gilbert thinks. Wikipedia's article Beginning of human life puts the main stress on fertilization. Life quite undoubtedly begins at fertilization.

Edit: "Therefore defining "life" to begin at this stage could - taking these facts at face value - make most women on the planet guilty of some form of manslaughter. " This is not even an argument and definitely not scientific fact against this definition.

Besides that, "twinning" is simply an asexual reproduction. The embryo developed as an individual organism before twinning. That there is possibility of twinning (which happens 3 times out of 1000) does not mean that embryo isn't an individual being before that. It's analogous to cell division - cell divides into two or more daughter cells, but the cell developed as individual unit of life before the division.

--Earthland 08:59, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

An ant is alive. Is it morally on the same level as killing a human to step on one? Wisest drug Hoover! 10:14, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I wonder why I was the one being advised to look up "demagogue". Oh, never mind. You're actually talking about completely another issue, haven't you noticed? The question is, when do we have another human being, not if it's right or not to kill that being. But as an answer to your question, do you think that human being has right to live only if it has certain weight or height, or level of intelligence? The most important thing about human being is fact that human being is human being. IMO. --Earthland 10:31, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Name[edit]

Is there a better name then having it as a question? - π 00:06, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

"Conclusions"[edit]

As quoted: "The entity created by fertilization is indeed a human embryo, and it has the potential to be human adult."

And then the "conclusions": "potential for human life"? Where did that come from? It simply isn't there. In a matter of fact, human embryo is human life:

Encyclopedia Britannica: "Embryo" - /.../ In humans the term is applied to the unborn child until the end of the seventh week following conception; from the eighth week the unborn child is called a fetus.

The Gale Encyclopedia of Science 1996, v 3, p 1327: For the first eight weeks following egg fertilization, the developing human being is called an embryo.

And even Merriam-Webster says: : "the developing human individual from the time of implantation to --Earthland 20:39, 15 November 2009 (UTC)the end of the eighth week after conception"

Therefore, Scott Gilbert makes difference between human individual and person, but he does say that scientifically, from the moment of conception we have new human individual.

--Earthland 20:39, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes, we get it. You think anything that is called human at all is deserving of life. We don't. Wisest drug Hoover! 21:12, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
I am a semi-sentient alien from Jupiter. I am not Human. Am I alive?--Skynet 21:21, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
It depends. How many fingers are you holding up? Wisest drug Hoover! 21:29, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Fingers?--Skynet 21:30, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Wrong. Wisest drug Hoover! 21:34, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Think of a number. Wisest drug Hoover! 21:34, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Ok, I'm thinking of one. OH! Can it be an imaginary number? I like this game.--Skynet 21:43, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm thinking of Pi. Also, I'm thinking of pie. --The Emperor Kneel before Zod! 21:49, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Oh,and I'm also thinking of pi --The Emperor Kneel before Zod! 21:51, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Right, now picture that number of mushrooms. Wisest drug Hoover! 21:48, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Hey guys. I've grown fingers now and I've got rid of the chastity belt and, well I think I'm going to like it here. Thanks for all your advice. Can I stop thinking of the numbers now, cos I'm getting distracted with the fingers.--Skynet 21:53, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
OK. the number you were thinking of was wrong anyway, so you're probably human. Wisest drug Hoover! 21:54, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm holding up three fingers! Okay, they're not my fingers, but you shouldn't get all hung up on details. --Kels 21:56, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
OOO. OOO. So does that mean I'm alive as well? Do I have a soul? Because being an alien I'm not sure.--Skynet 22:05, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
I have a soul, but it's that of a hoover. How did you manage to get a body? Wisest drug Hoover! 22:16, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Oh, we learn matter control very early on in Jupiter. Usually before we are a thousand earth years old. You've got to learn how to control these things if you want to get out of the core. The thing I'm working on now is biology though. I've got it looking human-female but it only looks that way. There's nothing really working inside if you know what I mean. No blood, heartbeat, sexual excretions etc. How do you do it? I'd be really really pleased if you could give me some tips. Really. I'd be ever so pleased.--Skynet 22:23, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Get an anatomy textbook? Wisest drug Hoover! 22:24, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Pouts. I was hoping for something a little more personal. Ah well. Never mind. I'm sure that I'll figure it out as I go along. (Happy again.) --Skynet 22:27, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
...More personal? But I don't know much about anatomy... Wisest drug Hoover! 18:26, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

"There isn't even consensus amongst scientists as to whether there's consensus."[edit]

This is a complete lie, an outrageous misrepresentation of science. You will never get enough of that, won't you?

1) All these scientists are absolutely sure.

It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive. It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception
—Dr Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School
The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception. This straightforward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological, political, or economic goals.
—Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School
To accept the fact that, after fertilization has taken place,
a new human has come into being is no longer a matter
of taste or opinion. The human nature of the human being
from conception to old age is not a metaphysical conception.
It is plain experimental evidence.
—Dr. Jerome Lejeune, known as
"The Father of Modern Genetics"
The basic fact is simple: life begins not at birth, but conception."
—Ashley Montague, a geneticist and professor at Harvard and Rutgers

2) Why not to trust the experts of this field - embryologists?

Virtually every human embryologist and
every major textbook of human
embryology states that fertilization marks
the beginning of the life of
the new individual human being.
—Dr. C. Ward Kischer ,Professor
Emeritus of Human Embryology
of the University of
Arizona School of Medicine,
American College of Pediatricians
This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being. /.../ Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm ... unites with a female gamete or oocyte ... to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.
—Keith L. Moore (1988. Essentials of Human Embryology.)
...gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual
—William J. Larsen 1993. Human Embryology.

3) If absolutely all encyclopedias agree, then doesn't it count as consensus?

Although organisms are often thought of only as adults,
and reproduction is considered to be the formation of a
new adult resembling the adult of the previous generation,
a living organism, in reality, is an organism for its entire
life cycle, from fertilized egg to adult, not for just one
short part of that cycle.
—Encyclopedia Britannica 1998, v 26, p 611
A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg
—Encyclopedia Britannica 1998, v 26, p 664
For the first eight weeks following egg fertilization, the developing human being is called an embryo.
—The Gale Encyclopedia of Science 1996, v 3, p 1327
Embryo. The developing individual between the time of the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs which characterize its body when it becomes a separate organism. [...] At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun.
—Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia 2002, v 1, p 1290
The new individual is established at the time of fertilization, and embryonic development simply prepares this individual for the vicissitudes of adult life, and the development of future embryos.
—Collier’s Encyclopedia 1987, v 9, p 117
The fused sperm and egg, called zygote, is a new individual with full capacities for development in a normal environment.
—Collier’s Encyclopedia 1987, v 9, p 121

You have failed to produce even a single expert who would specifically testify that life begins at any point other than conception. This article is a cowardly attempt to hide the truth.

In 1981 the U.S. Senate considered Senate Bill #158, the "Human Life Bill." Extensive hearings (eight days, 57 witnesses) were conducted by Senator John East. National and international authorities testified. A quote from the official Senate report, 97th Congress, S-158:

Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception (they defined fertilization and conception to be the same) marks the beginning of the life of a human being — a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.
—Report, Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, 97th Congress, 1st Session 1981, p. 7

On pages 7-9, the report lists a "limited sample" of 13 medical textbooks, all of which state categorically that the life of an individual human begins at conception. Then, on pages 9-10, the report quotes several out-standing authorities who testified personally:

- Professor J. Lejeune, Paris, discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down’s Syndrome: "Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception."

- Professor W. Bowes, University of Colorado: Be-ginning of human life? — "at conception."

- Professor H. Gordon, Mayo Clinic: "It is an established fact that human life begins at conception."

--Earthland (talk) 12:37, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Can I be the first to say "oh, get over yourself". Scarlet A.pngpathetic 13:09, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
The article as it currently is tells lies. It's as easy as that. You can either refute it with a rational argument or go on lying - but since RW advertises itself as something science-based, it would be... ugly. --Earthland (talk) 15:22, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
It depends on how you define "life" and "individual human life". If by "life" you mean something having biological processes, then sperm and eggs would be alive. If by "individual human life" you mean, say, the unique genetic makeup of an individual, then of course it begins at conception. If by life you mean something more...meaningful (PJR moment here)... then you might be wrong. So what do you mean by "life"? What do you mean by "individual human life"? — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 15:44, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Just because the article doesn't say exactly what you believe and only what you believe doesn't make it "wrong", it's actually quite good. And your wall o'quotes above is pointless. ħumanUser talk:Human 15:50, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Neveruse: The question of whether or not every human being is a person, is another question and biology has little to do with it. However, biology tells us whether or not something is a human being, and fertilized egg is definitely a human being. It is a functioning individual organisms that genetically belong to the species Homo sapiens. It has the characteristics of life - fertilized egg can reproduce its own cells and develop them into a specific pattern of maturity and function. It can develop only into a fully mature human. But this being is complete. Nothing new will be added from the time of union of sperm and egg until the death of the old man or woman except growth and development of what is already there at the beginning. All it needs is time to develop and mature.
The article currently states that scientists do not agree when does life begin, and this is an outrageous lie. That life of every individual human being begins at conception is not my belief or theory. It is not debatable, not questioned. It is a universally accepted scientific fact. And, Human, try to act more rationally. It is amusing to observe how people who are not capable of any rational refutation quickly choose the "standard emergency answer": it's just your belief, you just don't like it and that's why you say so, everything you say is pointless etc. Critical thinking? Huh. By the way, quotes from experts are not pointless. --Earthland (talk) 17:17, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Ian Wilmot who created Dolly the sheep would think that it happens 14 days after conception, as the "primitive streak" develops. We can quote individuals all day, bunging together some quotes from individuals and encyclopedias does not under any circumstances prove a consensus. For a start, I'm a scientist, and I don't think there's a very clear line, I don't even think "begin" is the right term. I can straw poll the people around me (about 10 on a full day) and probably get an equally wide range of opinions. Yes, quotes from "experts" ARE pointless. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 17:23, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
And can you quote Ian Wilmut actually saying such thing? What kind of scientist are you - I mean, an astronomer probably doesn't count as an "expert" of embryology. For a start, if the most respected academics (including Ashley Montague, who is actually politically pro-choice), the most respectected experts (embryologists) and the most reliable encyclopedia (Encyclopedia Britannica) all state very firmly that life begins at conception, then it is at least enough to refute the statement that "There isn't even consensus amongst scientists as to whether there's consensus." By the way, Encyclopedias are meant to reflect the scientific consensus.
Of course, you can quote few experts who disagree and few pseudoscientists and scientists who talk outside of their field, but it doesn't change the fact that the consensus is overwhelming. Even if dozens (not "few") examples from encyclopedias are not enough, the last quote from US Senat report makes it quit clear. As Dr. Herbert Ratner wrote: “It is now of unquestionable certainty that a human being comes into existence precisely at the moment when the sperm combines with the egg.”
You are little late here in RW. It's long since the "beginning of human life" was the main issue in the abortion debate. More intelligent pro-choicers (including Peter Singer) have understood that there is no point trying to deny that the embryo is a full living human being. Now the central issue is "personhood". --Earthland (talk) 18:26, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
By the way, these people are not merely giving their opinions. You should notice that all these experts and encyclopedias are absolutely sure - "It is now of unquestionable certainty", "there is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings", "It is scientifically correct to say", "a simple and straightforward matter", "no longer a matter of taste or opinion", "the basic fact is simple", "It is an established fact"
Sorry, but you alone with a bunch of friends and one or two scientists is simply not enough to argue against this. Don't try to deny the obvious fact. --Earthland (talk) 18:26, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
(EC) As I said, if by "individual human life" you mean the unique genetic makeup of an individual, then yes, "individual human life" begins at conception. — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 18:27, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

I mean every living individual organism that belongs to species Homo Sapiens. Such human organism begins to exists when sperm and egg unite. --Earthland (talk) 18:30, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

This would be the third time we've said basically the same thing. Maybe that's why you're having problems with other editors? — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 18:36, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
It seems that you fail to realise that people are trying to make a semantic distinction.
Above you have written that "However, biology tells us whether or not something is a human being". This is not true. Biology can tell us that a group of cells is the embryonic stage of an organism belonging to the species Homo sapiens as defined by its genetic makeup. It can tell "us" whether it's a "human being" only for a very specific, technical definition of "human being" (and by definition, all definitions are arbitrary). You are committing a fallacy of equivocation here. The meaning of "human being" and "human life" depends on the context and that's what the other users have been trying to explain to you, and that's what the article is about. Perhaps it should have been made more explicit.
"...and fertilized egg is definitely a human being.", "...the embryo is a full living human being..." - So it gets to vote? Pay taxes? Serve in the army? What's the criterion for "fullness"?
Also, some points not related to semantics: "It can develop only into a fully mature human." - No, it is not necessary. There are a number of developmental disorders that may prevent a zygote from becoming a fully mature human. Ever heard of spina bifida? It puts an interesting twist in your simplistic definition of "human being".
"But this being is complete. Nothing new will be added from the time of union of sperm and egg until the death of the old man or woman except growth and development of what is already there at the beginning. All it needs is time to develop and mature." - It also needs life support in the form of a placenta and an uterus to carry it to term, but let's not get pedantic. My point is that saying "nothing new will be added ... except growth and development" is like saying "we won't euthanize any animals in your zoo... except for the ones to which we'll give a lethal injection". It's not true that nothing new will be added - a lot will be developed on the base of the existing stuff, but it doesn't exist at the moment. A clump of cells that may develop into a brain if nothing goes wrong is not the same as a fully-functioning mature brain with orders of magnitude more, highly-specialized cells. --ZooGuard (talk) 19:47, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
The problem is that you peoples (RWians, Earthland especially, quoted persons etc) are mixing the ideas of "life", "unique genetic makeup", "human" and "personhood". Until those are cleared up, there can be no rational debate. Some pointers:
a) "Life" = Every single thing around. Including bacteria and animals.
b) "Human Life" = A single human cell. Or even a headless body, or a severed hand that hasn't died already as well.
c) "Individual unique makeup" = A cute way attempting to seperate a bunch of human life from another, until you realize that identical twins don't have that.
d) "Emergent, information based, self-aware entities arising from complex underlining structures, ie: A brain" = What actually matters, although probably you'd rather call that "personhood" or "conciousness".
As an evil abortionist it is my belief that a,b,c are worthless and without rights without d, and d would deserve rights even without a,b,c. A fetus has a,b,c but not d. An embryo begins to aquire d at about 20-25 weeks of conception. A full grown human body that just had an accident and has just been beheaded has a,b,c (with sufficient technology a headless body could potentially live the rest of his cellular lifespan without a head) but not d, a human skin culture has a,b,c, a bacterium has a and c, a strong A.I would just have d. Clear? Sen (talk) 21:10, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
What I was getting at with the "unique genetic makeup" is that before conception the makeup in question (probably) didn't exist, regardless of whether or not it will be duplicated. — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 21:21, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Sen, this is precisely what I was talking about when I mentioned multiple meanings of "human life" and "human being".--ZooGuard (talk) 06:59, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

getting back to the subject[edit]

I want to address Earthland's first comment.

  • 1) All these scientists are absolutely sure. -> Unless you quoted 80% of all the world's scientists, this is not evidence of a consensus. Your section title implies you were trying to persuade us that there is a consensus among scientists, but you seem to have abandoned that for a very general series of arguments about the definition of life.
  • 2) Why not to trust the experts of this field - embryologists? -> Being an embryologist does not make your statements on embryology true by definition. If these people are right, why not site a quote or study where they explain why they are right? Of course, you can't because the definition of human life is all opinion.
  • 3) If absolutely all encyclopedias agree, then doesn't it count as consensus? -> It might count (if you could actually cite "absolutely all the encyclopedias") as a consensus among encyclopedias, but not as a scientific consensus. I'm getting more confused as to what you're actually arguing. Mei (talk) 18:52, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
I would also like to add that 1) "sureness" is not an indication of "rightness"; 2) such thing as "quote mining" exists, and words may not mean what the reader thinks they mean; 3) encyclopaedias tend to simplify things, partially because of volume restrains, partially because that's the point of encyclopaedias - to provide a simple summary. Like basic textbooks, they tend to be full of "lies-to-children". (And if someone hasn't read The Science of Discworld, they should correct that error as soon as possible.)--ZooGuard (talk) 19:54, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

1 line[edit]

Life doesn't begin at conception, life begun once, about 3.7 billion years ago. Sen (talk) 20:02, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

That --Opcn (talk) 21:30, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Delete template[edit]

For some reason there is a delete template on this page. I vote that we delete the delete template and promote this to featured article.

For removal of delete template[edit]

--BobSpring is sprung! 19:02, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Against removal of delete template[edit]

For featured article status[edit]

--BobSpring is sprung! 19:02, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Against featured article status[edit]

Discussion[edit]

You can't vote to delete the template. The template means we are discussing deletion. If we are, it stays. If we're not, just remove it. Mei (talk) 19:06, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

OK. I don't think it should be deleted because it is a good article.--BobSpring is sprung! 19:11, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
We aren't discussing deletion. We are duplicating most of the talk page from Earthland's essay. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:56, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

"there is no point trying to deny that the embryo is a full living human being."[edit]

Do you even know what an embryo is? You seem to be under the misapprehension that as soon as a sperm fertilises an egg bang there's an embryo. What about a 32 cell blastocyst, is that a 'full living human being'? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 20:26, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

How about ectopic pregnancies, A significant number (like 8%) of women who survive strokes have Y chromosomes in the repaired tissue, from ectopic pregnancies, is that patch of cells a fully living human being? --Opcn (talk) 21:34, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
How about the "leftover" fertilized eggs from in vitro fertility treatments? ħumanUser talk:Human 23:58, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm just using one word, OK? Don't try to draw the attention away from the central issue. A zygote is just an unicellular embryo, by the way - and that is before it is called a "blastocyst".
Here an embryologist actually explains why she is right.
Now, this is kind of stupid to say that I can't say there's no consensus if I won't quote all the world's scientists. I quoted many very respected scientists who confirmed not only that life begins at conception, but that there is an overwhelming scientific consensus about it. You should also notice that you have still failed to produce even a single expert who would specifically testify that life begins at any point other than conception.
As said Dr. Bernard Nathanson, "the favourite pro-abortion tactic is to insist that the definition of when life begins is impossible". You can't still make difference between "life" and "personhood", can you? Personhood is a philosophical issue and as such it deserves no place in an article that claims to give an overview of scientific view. On the other hand, "life" is a very clear issue. The zygote is biologically the same being as 30 years old man. This being is also alive. Get over that. --Earthland (talk) 06:28, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
"The zygote is biologically the same being as 30 years old man." "That word you use, I don't think it means what you think it means..." --ZooGuard (talk) 06:54, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Right then Earthland, you are either being deliberately misleading or are playing a game of semantics;
  • Yes, a zygote is 'living', in that it is capable of reproduction via cell division.
BUT
  • That is something very different from a "full living human being". No?
So then, do you consider the following to be "full living human beings"? (I have numbered them so you can answer yes/no nice and easily)
1) Unused fertilised eggs from IVF treatments
2) Zygotes that do not successfully implant in the ovarian wall (and thus die)
I'm not trying to draw the attention away from anything, I'm trying to make you realise that there's a massive distinction between being biologically alive and a full living human being. How's the bible going anyway? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 10:00, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, a fertilized egg is a full human being. The unborn is simply less developed than an adult, but it doesn't make it any less human being. It has only potential skin, potential bones, potential legs and potential head, in other words, it is potential human adult, but it looks exactly like a human being should look at this stage of his or hers development. As Scott Gilbert himself has said: "Traditional ways of classifying catalog animals according to their adult structure. But, as J. T. Bonner (1965) pointed out, this is a very artificial method, because what we consider an individual is usually just a brief slice of its life cycle. When we consider a dog, for instance, we usually picture an adult. But the dog is a “dog” from the moment of fertilization of a dog egg by a dog sperm. Therefore, the dog is actually the entire life cycle of the animal, from fertilization through death."
I hope that you aren't just willfully ignorant. --Earthland (talk) 12:07, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
If you think that a single-cell zygote is the same as a full living human being, then you are an idiot. It also explains why you are having so much trouble understanding this, and why it is pointless to attempt to continue to discuss this with you. Speciationspeed! DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 12:46, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
You seem to be in trouble because you don't get the nuance, the fundamental difference. By "full" I do not mean "fully grown" - I am not myself a "fully grown human". A zygote is a full human being just like a newborn - it means completely human, not "half-human" or "pre-human" or "potential human being". That is the scientific truth you seem not to understand. This fact is so largely accepted even by most pro-choice people that it is a little embarrasing to even engage in conservation with people who deny it. --Earthland (talk) 14:36, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Potentialities do not count as actualities. That's why we have bothered to have an entire time dimension in this universe seperating the two. Else, may I point you at the fact that every human is a also a potential corpse, a potential decomposition pile and a potential fertilizer. Anyone attempting to argue that single cells have the rights of full humans because they are "potential full humans" might as well be arguing that full humans have no rights because all of them "potential corpses" (and corpses have no rights). After all what you concider "life" is just a brief slice and, temporaly speaking, you spend a lot more time dead than alive, no? Sen (talk) 17:03, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't think EL was going on the potential tangent. I believe what EL was saying is that the fertilized egg is a human life form and that is true. No potential about it. The difference between us and EL is that EL thinks that life form should have all rights we do. I think the difference is a personal one. Should EL be party to a pregnancy, I would assume EL would feel a meaningful connection to that zygote, whereas I would wait for it to be sentient until considering it something to attach myself to emotionally to the point where I could not terminate it with clear a conscience. — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 17:23, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Dear Sen, take some reading course. Is there such word like "misreading"? I'm not going to copy my essay here, but you may think that some parts of it address your question. --Earthland (talk) 19:18, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Consensus or not[edit]

Consensus

  • Encyclopedias agree (state it very clearly and firmly; you have failed to quote a single encyclopedia that would state anything else)
  • Experts agree (again, they state it very clearly and firmly; you have failed to quote an encyclopedia that would state anything else)
  • Very respected scientists and academics not only tell that they believe life begins at conception, they say that there is an overwhelming consensus ("It is now of unquestionable certainty", "there is overwhelming agreement", "it is scientifically correct to say", "a simple and straightforward matter", "no longer a matter of taste or opinion", "the basic fact is simple", "it is an established fact")

Not consensus

  • Personal disbelief that consensus could exists ("me & my friends don't agree")
  • One sentence in one article almost said something like that, although it isn't even sure that Scott Gilbert really meant that. He seems to make it quite clear that life does begin at conception: (in his book Developmental Biology): "Traditional ways of classifying catalog animals according to their adult structure. But, as J. T. Bonner (1965) pointed out, this is a very artificial method, because what we consider an individual is usually just a brief slice of its life cycle. When we consider a dog, for instance, we usually picture an adult. But the dog is a “dog” from the moment of fertilization of a dog egg by a dog sperm. It remains a dog even as a senescent dying hound. Therefore, the dog is actually the entire life cycle of the animal, from fertilization through death."

--Earthland (talk) 12:21, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

God, you're annoying... It's like talking to a wall. Even when someone agrees with you, you combatively rehash your answer. Over and over. And over. — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 12:52, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
The article states that there is no consensus. Here is the evidence. You can either accept or refute it. --Earthland (talk) 14:40, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Scott Gilbert makes it clear that the fertilized egg is a new individual human organism. Here he says that fertilization is the beginning of a new organism and writes that "Fertilization accomplishes two separate ends: sex (the combining of genes derived from the two parents) and reproduction (the creation of new organisms). Thus, the first function of fertilization is to transmit genes from parent to offspring, and the second is to initiate in the egg cytoplasm those reactions that permit development to proceed." --Earthland (talk) 14:51, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.
Please, for the love of god, don't repeat yourself in response to this. — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 16:14, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Then why not change the article so that it would actually tell truth? --Earthland (talk) 19:19, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm not a huge fan of the article...I don't know where I'd begin. There are a lot of conflations in the article. I'd like to see it be more specific and then maybe add the "personhood" equivalent page as you had mentioned. — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 19:25, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
ONE ZYGOTE, ONE VOTE - David Gerard (talk) 16:21, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
One zygote, one or more votes. — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 16:57, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Title change[edit]

If the title was changed into "the beginning of human personhood", it would be correct. Because the beginning of the life of new individual human being is conception, like it or not. It is an established fact

"Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)... The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual."

(Carlson, Bruce M. Patten's Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3)

--Earthland (talk) 14:59, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

I don't know if you've noticed, but nobody here cares and you're completely failing to convince. Obviously this is because everyone else on RW is part of a hivemind, and certainly not because you might be wrong in any way - David Gerard (talk) 15:13, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
I think we should change it to "The beginning of goat life". I've tried reading this replacing "human" with "goat" and it does shift your perspective a bit.--BobSpring is sprung! 17:15, 22 April 2010 (UTC)


Of course you have the right not to care, however - and this is a big however - I point out the factual inaccuracy. As I believe that you sincerely want to build a truly rational and science-based website, then "I don't care" is probably the worst answer you could give. Stop being childish. You can either accept that the factual inaccuracy exists or you can refute this claim. The choice is yours.
Neveruse raised some questions about how we can define "human life". Here is the answer.
Alive: Something is alive if it exhibits growth and converts energy into nutrients
Human: Something is human if it possesses a human genetic code, characterized by 46 human chromosomes. It means that every cell in our body possesses "human life", and that's why we must define-
Organism: An individual member of a species, a whole living thing, a being
""very time a sperm cell and ovum unite, a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific reason"
(E. L Potter, M.D and J.M Craig, M.D., Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant (3rd Edition). Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975, page vii)
--Earthland (talk) 19:26, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
But what do you think about making the article more goat-centric?--BobSpring is sprung! 19:40, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
I'd be ok with replacing every instance of "human" with "goat" as long as they all link to my user page. And does EL's style remind anyone of Ken? ħumanUser talk:Human 21:31, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
It probably means that Ken is more intelligent than you thought. Have you considered giving up your standard emergency answers? It's just obvious you have nothing to say. All of you. --Earthland (talk) 06:00, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
Actually I'm quite serious about the goat change. Most of this debate exists because the example used is humanity. Though vegans might still have ethical issues if we used goats.--BobSpring is sprung! 06:06, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
The beginning of human life if similar to beginning of almost every mammal's life.--Earthland (talk) 06:13, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
So you'd be OK with the goat change?--BobSpring is sprung! 06:26, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
Indeed: all of us. As I said, this is obviously because everyone else on RW is part of a hivemind, and certainly not because you might be wrong in any way - David Gerard (talk) 07:44, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
zygoats? larronsicut fur in nocte 08:17, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that's good too. Or perhaps we could use the long-eared jerboa as an example?--BobSpring is sprung! 09:00, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
I've gone with the goats - it makes a bit of a mess of the section about newborn babies being less than fully developed but the snark somehow adds. Bob Soles (talk) 09:21, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
I like it. This article can no longer be accused of lacking goat. Bondurant (talk) 09:43, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
Too bad Nx reverted the edits. ħumanUser talk:Human 07:55, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

It's been "fun", but[edit]

At first, you pushed your goat into a quote, and secondly the article still misrepresents science. You have failed to produce a single argument to support the claim that there is no consensus amongst scientists. You are pathetic. --Earthland (talk) 17:26, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Fuck me, is this a  K e n  D o l l  sock? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 23:23, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
Screw you, tiny man. Was it supposed to be something funny? You can go on talking about everything else, you can go on using your standard emergency answers, but the the fact that you have failed to produce a single argument to support your claim stays. Rationalwiki is not acting rationally. --Earthland (talk) 07:13, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Actually, it's getting a bit more like Conservapedia every day... --Earthland (talk) 07:14, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
OMGDZ we phailed because our article doesn't say exactly what you want it, and your endless quote mines, to say. Now go gently fondle yourself. ħumanUser talk:Human 07:54, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Apparently it is just a matter of time for RW to be worse than Conservapedia. I thought that you could do better. --Earthland (talk) 09:25, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
If the worst thing about conservapedia was that people don't listen to you, RW wouldn't exist at all. Mei (talk) 09:30, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
I more like thought people who are completely incapable of any rational discussion and instead use their childish standard answers, "it's just what you think", "I ignore everything you say", "I personally don't believe that life begins at conception therefore there is no consensus". --Earthland (talk) 09:39, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
And reality-denying seems to be also a common trait. "It is objective if I like it and subjective if I don't like it" --Earthland (talk) 09:41, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Or "I personally believe that life begins at conception therefore there is complete consensus, prove my quote mines wrong" ħumanUser talk:Human 09:43, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
You have failed to refute my evidence and you haven't even tried to introduce your evidence. The quotes from these very respected scientists could not be more clear and haven't been changed. --Earthland (talk) 10:00, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Quoting people saying 'there is a consensus' does not prove there is a consensus. Mei (talk) 10:04, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Oh well, let's see, medical experts and embryologists who are the only people who must know because it's their work to know, say that it is of unquestionable certainty, but of course there is no consensus because Mei knows better, although she doesn't have any kind of evidence at all. --Earthland (talk) 10:08, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't swear all that often, but Fuck Me, how is this argument still going on? Bondurant (talk) 10:09, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Do you know what a consensus is? There is no necessary link between consensus and truth. You can't prove there is a consensus on anything by saying that that thing is unambiguously true.
  • I don't need any evidence to say that you have failed to prove this - the burden of proof is on you. Mei (talk) 10:14, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
(EC)Yes, I'm starting to think we may need an "Argument done to death - go here." template or something of that nature.--BobSpring is sprung! 10:16, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Most of the time we were discussing whether there is consensus or not. Yes, a scientific consensus is not by itself a scientific argument, although it is based on scientific arguments. The article states that there is no consensus, that is a lie. A consensus by itself is not an ultimate proof that life begins at conception, however, "truth" hasn't been the central issue in this discussion - only consensus. But since you asked, I also gave you a link where and embryologist actually explained why life begins at conception.
  • If you say that I haven't proved anything you need to give arguments why
  • If you say that there is no consensus or that life does not begin at conception, you need not only to refute my arguments but give your own arguments. Since the article states that there is no consensus, but there is no actual evidence for this claim, the burden of proof is still on you.--Earthland (talk) 11:22, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
This isn't fucking tag. The burden of proof is on the positive claim, which is yours. Prove that there is a consensus, because otherwise we must assume there isn't. Mei (talk) 11:32, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
I didn't bring up 'truth'. Ever, at all. I have been trying patiently to remind you that we are debating the existence of a hypothetical consensus, but every single time you reply you are talking purely about whether or not this factoid of yours is true. At one point, you claimed the prove consensus by citing a person saying that there was consensus, but when I challenged this you instantly started talking about The Truth again. Please please please please decide what you actually want to prove. Mei (talk) 11:32, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
The article states "there is no consensus", and you haven't provided evidence to support this claim. On the other hand, the quotes I've so gently presented, do not only tell that this or that smart person believes that life begins at conception, but that there is an overwhelming consensus about it. If there isn't even a consensus that there is a consensus, then these scientists would not say that "It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive" or use words like "a simple and straightforward matter". Also, these quotes make the "consensus" part very clear:
"Virtually every human embryologist and every major textbook of human embryology states that fertilization marks the beginning of the life of the new individual human being." (Dr. C. Ward Kischer ,Professor Emeritus of Human Embryology of the University of Arizona School of Medicine, merican College of Pediatricians)
"Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being — a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings." (Report, Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, 97th Congress, 1st Session 1981, p. 7)
The fact that all well-known encyclopedias agree counts as a consensus, because encyclopedias are meant to reflect the scientific consensus. Even only the Encyclopedia Britannica article would be enough. EB is written by 4000 expert contributors and it is regarded as the most scholarly of encyclopaedias. You can say that encyclopedias "simplify" things but Britannica is very clear about this issue. --Earthland (talk) 12:20, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
'The article states "there is no consensus", and you haven't provided evidence to support this claim' -> I am going to write what I wrote before - The burden of proof is on the positive claim, which is yours. Prove that there is a consensus, because otherwise we must assume there isn't. This time, read it. Mei (talk) 12:40, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
'On the other hand, the quotes I've so gently presented, do not only tell that this or that smart person believes that life begins at conception, but that there is an overwhelming consensus about it. If there isn't even a consensus that there is a consensus, then these scientists would not say that "It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive" or use words like "a simple and straightforward matter"' -> Your ideas about quotes are mind boggling. All a quote proves is that someone said something. If I cited someone saying "there is no consensus" would your head actually explode? Mei (talk) 12:40, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
'The fact that all well-known encyclopedias agree counts as a consensus, because encyclopedias are meant to reflect the scientific consensus' -> No it doesn't. No they aren't. Mei (talk) 12:40, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
'Even only the Encyclopedia Britannica article would be enough. EB is written by 4000 expert contributors and it is regarded as the most scholarly of encyclopaedias.' -> I'm pretty sure people have told you about [[argument from authority] before. I guess you weren't listening. Mei (talk) 12:40, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm gonna break it down for you. To prove there is a consensus, you need to cite a survey of opinion, with a clear majority supporting this view, from a reputable source. Absolutely ignore all quotes and logical arguments. They aren't relevant to your claim at all, and you need to understand that. Mei (talk) 12:40, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Quotes are not "evidence". ħumanUser talk:Human 02:45, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

An expert explains[edit]

It is most difficult to argue with ignorant people. (It is always pleasant to argue with smart people). So I've e-mailed to a couple of human embryologists and asked them about the scientific consensus and how we can know it exists. I've already get my first answer. A quote from that:

A "scientific consensus" is reached when the scientific method has been completed. That is, when a particular question has been raised, theorized about, experiments designed to prove the theory are positive, and most importantly that the experiment has been repeated successfully in many other labs by other researchers around the world in order to reduce the possibility of artifacts. The Carnegie Stages have been internationally acknowledged to be accurate scientific fact since 1942; before that it was internationally known and acknowledged that sexually reproduced human beings begin to exist at fertilization with the 3-volume tome on human embryology by Wilhelm His in 1883-5! Not new! Anyone can look all of this up in any science library, or find it on the internet. Either people are simply ignorant of these objective scientific facts, or they just don't want to know them for various reasons. The international nomenclature committee consists of about 20-25 human embryologists from around the world (!) who meet about every 4-5 years (since 1942) to sort through the latest research data concerning human embryology. They then throw out as unscientific those that they determine are in error, and incorporate the good data into their large nomenclature volume for publication. You can't get more "consensus" or objective agreement than that! Again, please see the article on the Carnegie Stages that I have attached to this email. One caution: the Carnegie Stages only formally applies to sexually reproduced human beings, not to those asexually reproduced. If you need those scientific definitions, drawn from internationally acknowledged human molecular genetics texts, just let me know. However, once a normal human embryo has been reproduced asexually, his/her development follows the very same way as a human embryo sexually reproduced (as with naturally occurring human identical twins within the woman's body).
—Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.

The URL for the Carnegie Stages: http://nmhm.washingtondc.museum/collections/hdac/stage1.pdf

--Earthland (talk) 20:30, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

You can read from the document: "Despite the small size (ca. 0.1 mm) and weight (ca. 0.004 mg) of the organism at fertilization, the embryo is “schon ein individual-spezifischer Mensch”"
I hope you can all speak German! --Earthland (talk) 20:33, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
OK, it's a human being. I have no more compunction in killing an embryo than in turning off the life-support of a brain-dead person. Wisest drug Hoover! 20:36, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
You might have noticed that we haven't been discussing the morality of killing a human being. Just scientific facts. --Earthland (talk) 20:42, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
This obsession is ceasing to be funny. Get help, seriously. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:40, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes. Help RW to be actually rational. Change the article. --Earthland (talk) 20:42, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Okay, how's this for rationality; if you're going to play the "whine to the expert" game you need to do several things. 1) declare in advance who you're contacting. 2) State what you're asking, as no one can tell if you've loaded the question or taken it out of context or just asking the wrong thing 3) state all your responses. You've given us one, but said you contacted several, what did they say? This is how it works. Finally, so? You're not really proving anything with this at all. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:55, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

I asked: 1) is there a consensus 2) how can we know if there's consensus 3) how to explain it to all the ignorant people who choose to believe there is no consensus? I've got only one response until now. --Earthland (talk) 07:07, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Guess what[edit]

I found the source of the claim that we make (that there is no consensus). It wasn't easy, since there was no ref, but upon examining the article thoroughly, twice, I found an external link at the bottom. To my delight this lead to an article which clearly explained the differing viewpoints of scientists on the question of when human life begins. It is clear therefore that there is no consensus that life begins at fertilization, not even among embryologists (some say it begins at gastrulation). Since the author of that article, Scott F. Gilbert, is a respected scientist, I will believe him and do not find it necessary to further investigate the literature cited. Am I genius or what? -- Nx / talk 21:03, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

Can I now predict this won't slow Earthland down for a moment? - David Gerard (talk) 22:27, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
It means that you'd have to take up any issues with Scott Gilbert, not RW, as the article is mostly adapted from what he says and, actually, states so clearly. Of course, if the issue is about "consensus" then, if one expert says there is and another says there isn't, you have to side with the "isn't". Scarlet A.pngpathetic 22:35, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Excellent. Nx is useful. And funny. So is Dave G. And Armodikovnaschotski. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:51, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Isn't it what Wikipedia would call... uh, dependency on a single source or something? But I let the expert speak instead of me.

You will find that, despite the fact that there is a scientific consensus on this issue, and has been for over a hundred years, many people do not want to face it, have already cast their careers and reputations with the opposition, etc. All you can do is keep reminding them of the truth.
—Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.
Note that there are literally hundreds of sub-fields of "science", and usually one field is fairly ignorant of the accurate detailed facts produced in another field. For example, if you want the most accurate facts concerning human embryology, then you go to the work of the best human embryologists. You don't go to scientists who are developmental biologists, molecular or cell biologists, geneticists, biochemists, etc. Most of them have never taken a single formal course in human embryology at all! Much confusion has been rendered by non-experts, who haven't even had the course work or earned the degrees in a particular field, parading as "experts".
—Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.

Now, the question is, who is Scott Gilbert? A developmental biologist.... who has regarded"fertilization" as the beginning of life at least twice himself. Here and here. You should also notice that Gilbert cites NO human embryologist nor any source of Human Embryology. Many of the sources he cites for views other than fertilization are not scientists at all, but rather are philosophers, political theorists, or theologians. More importantly, Gilbert shifts very quickly from speaking of a consensus on when an individual human life begins to speaking of the onset of “personhood.” And this is surely a failure to respect disciplinary boundaries. “Personhood,” while potentially an important philosophical concept for the discussion of the embryo, is no biological concept at all. So no attempt to answer the biological question, “when does the life of an individual human being begin,” should be answered by reference to the concept of “personhood.” And finally, here is a response to Gilbert from a real human embryologist. Look at the "newest insults". May I, once again, quote?

On page 19 Gilbert describes gastrulation. He states that when the embryo "can no longer give rise to twins or other multiple births it is sometimes called individuation". No human embryologist uses this term. In fact, the Nomenclature Committee of The American Association of Anatomists rejected this term in its official lexicon Terminologia Embryologica. It is a false term and was used by Grobstein to justify his invention of "preembryo", which term has also been rejected by the Nomenclature Committee.
—C. Ward Kischer, Professor Emeritus of Human Embryology of the University of Arizona School of Medicine
In the chapter "Unit 1: When does human life begin?" Gilbert states on page 40: "Science does not offer a hard and fast answer to the question of when human life begins, and there is no consensus among scientist's opinions". Wrong on both counts. This is perhaps the most flagrant of Gilbert's falsifications. No human embryologist supports his opinion, and that is exactly what his conclusion is - an opinion, a political one at that. Virtually every human embryologist is unequivocal in their fact that the new individual human life begins at fertilization. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know this. Most any woman who goes through a 9 month pregnancy knows when that life began. It is as simple as that. Furthermore, in medicine, the Obstetrician routinely employs a formula to determine "when that life began", that is, the time of fertilization.
—C. Ward Kischer, Professor Emeritus of Human Embryology of the University of Arizona School of Medicine

--Earthland (talk) 07:03, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Here you go, an embryologist who disagrees with you. Do I win now? -- Nx / talk 07:54, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
This so called "human embryologist" does not disagree with me, he disagrees with the scientific consensus. Plus, the "article" is political/ideological not "scientific" and Mr. Potts makes some very dubious claims that certainly discredits him as a scientist. You have been proven false on all levels. Give up. --Earthland (talk) 08:39, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
I give up. -- Nx / talk 09:31, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Life does not begin at conception/fertilization[edit]

Life is usually defined as including the ability to ingest food of some sort and use the energy and chemicals in it to grow. Fertilized egg does not do this, any more than sperm or egg do. At some point, arguably, foetus parasite does, but most pointedly, fresh ejected baby does exhibit these symptoms. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:41, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Told you[edit]

it wouldn't slow him down for a second. A fixed position like that (even though the actual assertion seems to change with each new post, the fixedness is absolute), with no basis the holder can consistently explain, does not go away because of mere "facts" - David Gerard (talk) 09:21, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes. You are blind and you deny the reality and you can't even express yourself properly. You don't need to talk about yourself in third person.
I don't know how good education you have received. I've been taught, however, that for a rational discussion man actually needs to present arguments. Then it is possible to actually debate and find out the truth. All your arguemtns are "We should not doubt what Scott Gilbert says" and "hey, I found an embryologists who says something else, therefore there's no consensus". It should be also noted that although Mr. Potts has PhD in embryology, it's only on the electron microscopy of mammalian implantation. --Earthland (talk) 09:35, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Earthland, what does the article say? Does it say "There isn't even consensus amongst embryologists (not counting those that have a PhD on electron microscopy of mammalian implantation) as to whether there's consensus", or does it say "There isn't even consensus amongst scientists as to whether there's consensus"? You first disqualified everyone who is not an embryologist, now you're disqualifying everyone based on what their PhD was on? -- Nx / talk 09:40, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, embryologists are the main, if not only experts on this issue. Scientific consensus is the collective position of scientists in a particular field of study. And there is clear consensus, no matter if Potts, who is more like a spokesperson of Planned Parenthood agrees or disagrees. --Earthland (talk) 11:19, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Summary[edit]

  • Every major textbook of human embryology, all the most-known encyclopedias + scientific encyclopedias say that life begins at conception + an expert has confirmed that there is a very clear consensus
  • Scott Gilbert and one human embryologist (who was first physician to promote the technique of uterine manual vacuum aspiration + who was the first Medical Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation + who has done many abortions himself) claim that there is no consensus.

--Earthland (talk) 11:30, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

No but seriously[edit]

Earthland is correct that in a strict sense life begins at conception (define life). We're doing the topic a disservice by sticking to a simplistic black and white answer like he is. -- Nx / talk 12:08, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Not in a strict sense. A new member of our species is created at fertilization. It is, indeed, simple and straightforward fact, and avoiding black and white should not be a purpose in itself; most of the science is black and white. And gray can exist only because there are the distinct alternatives of black and white. We should always be striving to get out of states of uncertainty about the truth. --Earthland (talk) 12:23, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
No, reality is not black and white. I find your comments at User talk:Earthland#Terri Schiavo curious, as they contradict both your anti-abortion stance and this. -- Nx / talk 14:58, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Do you think that absolute truth can not exists? It is an intellectual blindness, tragic solipsism. --Earthland (talk) 15:59, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
I believe that the world is too complicated to be able to fit it into neat little black and white categories.
Also, if you would kill Terri Schiavo, why are you against abortion? -- Nx / talk 16:09, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps we've been talking about different things? Usually "you can see only black and white" is told to a person who thinks there are only two alternatives, a colorblind person whose mind can accept very few ideas. That is not the case. I assumed you wanted to say that simple, clear and straightforward answers do not exist?
There is a huge, huge difference between disconnecting Terri and aborting someone. Terri was unnaturally kept alive, even though there was absolutely no hope for recovery. Disconnecting means "letting die". An unborn person, on the other hand, is living in his normal environment with full capacities for development - in case a "doctor" won't cut him into pieces or poison him, of course. --Earthland (talk) 16:25, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I meant black and white in the sense that you believe there is only a yes or no answer. I believe that the answers are usually not simple, clear and straightforward.
  • But to kill Terri you would have to disconnect her feeding tube - it's not just letting her die, it's actively killing her. -- Nx / talk 16:45, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
There is no such thing as "unnaturally" apart from your imagination. Humans are parts of nature too, therefore everything we do is by default natural. For someone who has been complaining about intellectual blindness, it sounds to me that you criticize every single thing intelligent natural life does, while un-intelligent natural life gets a free pass on everything. Btw, whats your opinion regarding someone forcefully entering your house, opening up your guts, and connecting his arteries with yours in a way that if you forcefully disconnect him you will kill him? Sen (talk) 17:17, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
So is a tapeworm. ħumanUser talk:Human 16:37, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
To EL and all other objectivists - if there is absolute truth, prove it absolutely. Otherwise, just shut up. Mei (talk) 16:44, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
To say that there is no absolute truth is self-contradictory, because the statement itself has to be absolute to be accurate. And this is also a completely non-practicable way of living. I recommend to read Being Logical, D. Q. McInerny. --Earthland (talk) 16:58, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Fair enough. Consider "there is no absolute truth" a convenient shorthand for "there is no absolute truth except for the lack of absolute truth, which can be considered functionally absolute due to the complete lack of proved absolutes". Where does that leave you? Does that one quasi-absolute make it any easier for you to pretend you can be certain of anything? Should I be surprised that a statement referring to all possible statements is somehow functionally different from those statements? Mei (talk) 17:09, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Your last two sentences are an argument from adverse consequences. Even you should see that this is not any kind of logical argument. Mei (talk) 17:09, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
If nothing was absolute, then nothing would exist. Sen (talk) 17:29, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
  1. Physics has an infinite capacity for being stranger than you think. Any broad statements about the ultimate nature of reality are quite likely to be wrong.
  2. I'm not suggesting reality itself is illogical or subjective. I'm saying that our perception of reality is illogical and subjective, and that this is the same thing in practical terms. There is no way to prove any given thing absolutely, but that doesn't mean the thing is not true. Mei (talk) 17:43, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Actually in a strict sense, Earthland is not correct. Life doesn't start at conception, life started once, about 3.6 billion years ago. What happens in conception is some (pre-existing) cells signalling some other (pre-existing) cells in order to make some cells things to which we attach importance to. Life is an ongoing process that comes in different shapes, sizes and occasionally with gaps between it. This doesn't make it "created" out of thin air every time someone has "reproductively succesful" sex. Sen (talk) 17:07, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Truth has four categories: subjective, objective, relative and absolute. Definitely not everything is objective and absolute, although it is quite silly to say that the only truth that falls under "absolute" is that "there's no absolute truth". And it is still self-contradictory, there is no reason why to regard the "lack of absolute truth" to be better truth than anything else. I'm probably not going to discuss it.
Dear Sen, do you suggest that we are all 3.6 billion years old? (I'm asking, OK?) Individual life has a very neat starting point; fertilization. --Earthland (talk) 17:35, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
'it is quite silly to say that the only truth that falls under "absolute" is that "there's no absolute truth"' -> I clearly explained that that truth is not absolute, only functionally absolute. See my next comment. Mei (talk) 17:51, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
'And it is still self-contradictory' -> As I explained, it is contradictory because it's a simplification of the statement "there is no absolute truth except for the lack of absolute truth, which can be considered functionally absolute due to the complete lack of proved absolutes". That is not contradictory. If you argue that there is absolute truth, you have to prove something absolutely. That's what you've signed up for. Mei (talk) 17:51, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
'I'm probably not going to discuss it.' -> After complaining for three days that no one is refuting your arguments? Sure, that makes perfect sense. Mei (talk) 17:51, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Three days discussing absolute truth? No, it's like last half an hour.
If you want, then the truth is you can't logically argue against the existence of absolute truth. To argue against something is to establish that a truth exists. You cannot argue against absolute truth unless an absolute truth is the basis of your argument. --Earthland (talk) 17:54, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Three days arguing that we must change or delete the article. It might be four or two, I don't know, I'm an insomniac. Mei (talk) 17:59, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
'You cannot argue against absolute truth unless an absolute truth is the basis of your argument.' -> You just invented this principle yourself. Clearly people can argue against absolute truth, as they have been doing so for centuries. To argue against the existence of an absolute truth, logically all you need to do is say "you haven't proved that". Mei (talk) 17:59, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
"You haven't proved that" might not be a valid claim. That is a sort of things people say when they actually have no rational argument against truth. It is the favorite of little kids. It is probably philosophically important to say that I am sitting behind a computer at the moment and that it's not just happening inside my head. This is an absolute truth that can not be undone. --Earthland (talk) 18:14, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
I know it might not be a valid claim, my point was that drawing attention to a genuine lack of proof is a legitimate way of arguing against something without asserting a different absolute truth. And therefor, your proposition that all arguments rest on absolute truth is false. Mei (talk) 18:31, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
'It is the favorite of little kids.' -> Oh to live in Estonia, where the children are postmodernists! =D Mei (talk) 18:31, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
'This is an absolute truth that can not be undone.' -> And what is your absolute method of proof for this? Remember that we are talking about absolute truth here, and not anything resembling reasonable human assumptions. There is nothing you can cite to prove to yourself that what you're experiencing now is not a dream or a simulation. These things are unlikely in the extreme, but you can't just ignore the frailty of your perspective when you're seeking the absolute truth. Mei (talk) 18:31, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
It seems the more you argue against absolute truth, the more you prove its existence. Reality is absolute whether you feel like being cogent or not. The world is filled with absolute truth. Your own last edit includes many absolute truths: it is an absolute truth that all you must do is to say "you haven't proved that". If it is not an absolute truth, your claim simply falls apart. It is self-contradictory anyway. --Earthland (talk) 18:21, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Again you rephrase your argument that I must be arguing in favor of an absolute truth to disagree with yours. It still isn't true, as I explained above. To disagree, all I need do is observe the lack of proof. Mei (talk) 18:34, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
'it is an absolute truth that all you must do is to say "you haven't proved that"' -> No actually human logic is useful and internally consistent, but there is no reason to consider it absolute. Even math, the purest form of articulated reason, is illogical in many strange and unexpected ways. You seem to think that absolute truth just means "something I have decided is true". Mei (talk) 18:34, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes, the life paradigm we are all part of, is 3.6 billion old. Wither you remember it is irrelevant because memory is a specialized functions existing only in big brains. Virii, bacteria, fungi and such have no memory whatsover too. So just because when humans are the size of single cells, no memory gets transferred towards the next generation, this doesn't mean that this process, isn't in fact that old. If you are attempting to rhetorically seperate between the idea of information (the life process) and its storage medium (carbons, irons etc), aka, your problem is how old the material that make your body is, then you might be shocked to learn that your cells replenish their materials quite often, as does your body your cells. You have probably defecated the materials that made up your original ovum long ago. So the materials that make your body up were not incorporated there since fertilization, and the information that instructed how that incorporation happens, is much older than you, your parents, and the original version of it is 3.6 billions years old. Clear? Sen (talk) 17:56, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

EC, To Earthland-->:::::You should stop now, kid. I argue about things all the time with the full knowledge that there is no "absolute truth" behind my position, and we all do, unless you want to count statements that begin with "in my view" or "as far as I'm concerned" as having some sort of meaningful "absolute truth" at their core. Look it's obvious that there are, at best, wildly different answers to the question of "where does life begin," and it's impossible to separate these answers from the social/political/cultural/moral contexts in which they were created. Given that, the question that smart people (look around, there are quite a few here) should be asking is: Given that we can't tell when life begins, what sort of workable solutions can we devise for issues that hinge on defining/thinking about the concept of what counts as life?". P-Foster (talk) 18:01, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
It is an established fact that life begins at conception. Besides, there is a scientific consensus about it. You have ignored every single argument. --Earthland (talk) 18:30, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
This is not any kind of argument, but perhaps you should listen to the "deep thinker" Peter Singer: "(The argument that a fetus is not alive) is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being's life."--Earthland (talk) 18:34, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
EC Even if true, and I doubt that very much, so what? Obviously, many people contest the idea that "life" as a bunch of cells on their way to potentially becoming a human being is the same thing as "a human life." All "life" is not equal. Cockroaches and mosquitoes are "life" but I kill them with impunity and great joy. So an embryo is "alive." Doesn't interest me in the least, doesn't change my fundamental belief that someone should be able to kill it if she so desires. P-Foster (talk) 18:38, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Quite interesting[edit]

I've been thinking a bit about this little scifi-ish but possible idea lately. As far as we know right now, all sexually reproducing species produce gametes that are fairly short-lived and incapable of growing or feeding themselves, etc. They can be motile (sperm, obviously, are), but that's about it.

Imagine if a species developed whose gametes (one or both) were capable of self-sustained activity. The gametes could leave the parent as single cells or as more developed things. Running with the latter because it's more fun, a creature would develop or gestate a thing within itself that had only half a set of chromosomes. A half set should be enough to be a complete blueprint for a motile, feeding, growing thing.

At some point in development, the thing is released into the environment (or combined with one from another creature in an intimate physical act), where it "lives" for some indefinite period while seeking out (or waiting to accidentally run into) another one to merge with.

Now run with me further. Up til now I've been playing with the double-chromosome thing as if it is the living species and the half-set ones are just reproductive vehicles. Let us now say that the half-setters are long-lived, and very late in their life they combine with another one of themselves, making a short-lived double-chromosome thing, whose only purpose is to produce half-setters through recombination and insertion, that is, to shuffle the genes ands redeal them. The double-setters would not feed, they would use the energy acquired by the single-setters. They wouldn't need motility. Upon producing a hatch of single-setters they would simply be left as a dead husk, perhaps even being the first food for their brood.

And before you think I'm being utterly ridiculous, keep in mind the four-stage life cycle of insects...

Fun fun fun! ħumanUser talk:Human 15:56, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

This was a story in Analog in the 1960s - a humanlike species that alternated between a single set of chromosomes and a double set each generation. I forget the title or author, but I remember it from reading all of Astounding/Analog from 1960 to 1990 twenty years ago - David Gerard (talk) 16:08, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm coming up with new designs non-stop. Imagine a species with two highly distinct phenotypes - fully motile, feeding single-set creatures, and another that resembles a virus or bacteria. The single cell version "infects" the multi-cellular one and causes it to create offspring (of both types) via gene-shuffling. This is fun. ħumanUser talk:Human 16:34, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Selfish gene: we're just here to promote the continuance of our genes. 16:11, 25 April 2010 (UTC) yummy Toast&  honey(or marmalade)
Yup... ħumanUser talk:Human 16:35, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

And of course there's no need to limit the number of participants - surely three "individuals" of a species, whether of similar phenotype or not, could recombine their genes together. The only real weakness, evolutionarily speaking, that I see in my "single set" species is that the duplicate sets of chromosomes are more robust, if one is "broken" or a crappy mutation, the other copy can still produce the required features. ħumanUser talk:Human 17:28, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Actually in evolutionary terms that wouldn't have to be a disadvantage. A lot of "bad" genes are recessive - they hide themselves by never being expressed. In your system recessives won't be able to hide like this and they get culled quickly. And blast you Human - I was playing with this idea years ago - but never wrote it down.--BobSpring is sprung! 18:18, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Hmmm, good point about "bad genes" being culled. Only quibble might be that a "bad gene" might mutate into a very useful one. The dominance/recessive thing is a way to bring along baggage that might someday be useful. Maybe. So, yeah, as I hit "save" I thought, "damn you, CC by SA!" Though I guess I still "own" it. Have you ever read The Gods Themselves? It's a really good novel. Cool physicsy stuff, cool biology stuff, cool stuff in general. I won't spoil it by saying why I brought it up here though ;) ħumanUser talk:Human 20:08, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Quite boring[edit]

Did you write something important? English is not my mother language and my eyes played some tricks on me when I tried to read. I suppose it's on the same intellectual level as everything else written on this talk page (from those who deny scientific truth, of course). --Earthland (talk) 16:01, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Quiet please, adults are talking - David Gerard (talk) 16:09, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Selfish gene: we're just here to promote the continuance of our genes. 16:11, 25 April 2010 (UTC) yummy Toast&  honey(or marmalade)
I don't swear all that often, but Fuck Me, how is this argument still going on? Bondurant (talk) 16:18, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Fuck you. --Earthland (talk) 16:29, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Earthland, you pathetic piece of dogshit. Why the fuck are you here? Have you ever asked yourself that? You are the very definition of a single-issue editor, bordering on troll. Every time things die down, up you spring like the motherfucking weeds in my garden each spring, saying, "ha but you still haven't disproved me!" and on we go again. What surprises me even more is that people can be bothered to entertain you.
So why are you here? Are you here to change people's minds? You may be here for a long time in that case; how many members of Rationalwiki have you brought over to your side? And if you are here to change minds (and you seem to expect that we should all do so), then shouldn't you also be open to a change of opinion, since you expect that of us? Are you open to a change of opinion? At what point do you give up hammering on the same old argument?
Give up, you aren't going to get anywhere. Find another forum, or find some other way of contributing here. And Fuck You back. You fucking fucktard. Bondurant (talk) 16:47, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
It is a bit embarrassing to lower myself by answering you, but I just repeated your "fuck me" from my position. I am the second person or something. --Earthland (talk) 16:52, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

A (non-Socratic) Dialogue[edit]

  • Creationist: [dumps a shitload of mined quotes and concludes] Evolution is a theory!
  • Me: Um, yes, but "theory" also means...
  • Creationist: No! Stop denying the truth. Evolution is a theory!
  • Me: If you haven't noticed, I have agreed with you, but you fail to realise that...
  • Creationist: You are denying the truth. You are blinded by your ideology. This place is as worse as Conservapedia!
  • Me: *facepalm* --ZooGuard (talk) 17:15, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
It is not particularly funny to observe how ignorant people choose to speak everything else but not actually engage in a rational discussion. But it can be educational. --Earthland (talk) 17:38, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

EL's Angst[edit]

The whole basis of EL's angst is the conflation of "Start of life cycle" <=> "Where life begins". This over-simplistic viewpoint is, in its own terms, completely correct, it's only in a wider more realistic world that it starts to fall apart. When the logical consequences of his hard line are pointed out EL puts his hands over his ears and goes "La la la I won't hear you." EL then blows away any further discussion by burying the argument in endless quote mines and accusing anyone who disagrees of ignorance and/or moral degradation.

The key point is that he is missing the whole point of the argument. In the broader sense, in the widest, philosophical sense, where does life begin and what light can science throw on this. A key point here is the definition of "life". EL and other pro-lifers leap upon the unique DNA combination aspect and simply won't take any other aspect into consideration. His whole "a dog is a dog, even when it's a puppy" thing ignores any view point that he doesn't agree with. For example, as far as I am concerned, what makes me me is my mental processes. As such I shall cease to be me when my brain ceases to function and, by analogy, I started being me when my brain started to function. This definition of "life as brain function" is perfectly valid, logical and scientific but, as it fails to meet EL's prerequisites of making abortion "wrong" he simply won't hear it. What is worse is that he also refuses to grant anyone who disagrees any respect.

It's this lack of respect that angers me most. We, as a community,have welcomed EL and given him room to air his views. We have listened to them and given them due consideration. What have we received in return? Again and again he has called those who disagree ignorant or immoral. He simply refuses to acknowledge that any dissenting voice can have any value whatsoever. He puts himself above us, lording it on high, telling us how wicked we are.

EL, if you really want us to listen, then you have to start treating us with the respect we deserve and, if you don't feel we, and our views are worthy of respect, then what the fuck are you doing here.

Love and Kisses

Jack Hughes (talk) 12:15, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

Amen to that, Jack. DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 13:11, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
"When I started being me" is a philosophical question. "I" must already exists, and biology can tell when does a new individual member of human species begin to exist - only that. As I said, “personhood,” while potentially an important philosophical concept for the discussion of the embryo, is no biological concept at all. So no attempt to answer the biological question, “when does the life of an individual human being begin,” should be answered by reference to the concept of “personhood.”
But this question is silly anyway. If you have any interest to discuss it in a more appropriate place, use my essay's talk page. --Earthland (talk) 14:46, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
No, "When I started being me", can also be a scientific question. I consider "me" to be my thought processes. "When do those thought processes begin?" is a scientific question. That the container for those thought processes existed before but the thought processes themselves is undeniable but beside the point The thought processes themselves only started about 20 weeks post conception. This is a scientific fact.
Similarly others consider that "me" starts at viability. The timing of this is also a scientific question.
The article does not attempt to directly answer "Where does life begin" because, as it says in the first paragraph, this is dependent on the definition of "life" but attempts to give some of the science as to what factors can be taken into consideration whilst pondering what life is and when it begins.
As to discussing this on your essay talk space - why? Firstly this is directly pertinent to this article and your addition of an AFD template so any discussion should happen here and secondly experience has shown that our attempts at discussion inevitably resulted in juvenile squabbling. Do we really want to tread that weary path again. Whilst in the early days your essays made me look deeper into why I believe what I believe I feel that that well has run dry. From now on we're too deeply entrenched and throwing wiki stones at each other is pointless.
Jack Hughes (talk) 16:24, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
"I consider "me" to be my thought processes." is a philosophical statement, not scientific. Science cannot tell us whether or not we are using the correct criteria for determining which particular being should be considered "person" with certain rights. That is a philosophical question. Once we have established such criteria, scientific inquiry can tell us whether or not a given organism fits them.
On the other hand, the human individual is the organism that develops and exhibits the personality. Moreover, the personality cannot meaningfully be considered apart from the body. i mean - what kind of being the "vacant human body" (prior to the development of the cerebral cortex) could be, if s/he is not considered a human individual. Surely the body is not waiting for some outside force to inject a soul or a personality. Rather, the personality results from the interaction between the body and the rest of the world. The body is the medium through which the mind experiences the world. As such, its development is integral to the formation of the personality. Genes, intrauterine hormone levels, maternal disease and use of certain chemicals all have the potential to shape the development of the brain long before a complex cortex is evident. Therefore, it is not true that the body is merely an empty shell before the 20th week, passively awaiting the addition of an individual personality. The body has been directing the development of the brain all along, according to the instructions encoded in its DNA -- and with modifying influences from the external environment. If someone claims that the fetus is not human person, because he has not established his personality, then it is argued that things do not have nature before they have fully developed it - if they are not now and instantly ready to perform their inherent abilities. It does not take into account the fact that they have these abilities, only in passive state. It has not yet come to realization, but the fact remains that it exist in their nature.
Consider this: compare the passive and active abilities. A university lecturer has the active ability to explain me what did Immanuel Kant want to say in his book Critique of Pure Reason. Does an infant have this ability? Yes, in a passive state, because he is a human being and he has the human nature. But not in the active state, because he has not yet developed enough. What about a cat, on the other hand? Does a cat have ability to ever tell me what Immanuel Kant wanted to say? No, because a cat does not possess human nature. A zygote does. --Earthland (talk) 19:27, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Using your example - an infant has potential to explain Kant because (s)he has a brain with which to develop that potential. A newly fertilised ovum doesn't have a brain. Your argument could be equally used to support my contention that the start of brain activity is the start of life, or, if not, you could apply exactly the same logic to every spermatozoa that you discard on those Kleenex - every wank is mass murder. Just because they haven't met the right ovum yet doesn't mean they haven't got the potential to develop into (half of) a human being. It's your desire to draw this back/white line that forces you to choose a single point where it's not a point but a process. Jack Hughes (talk) 14:22, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
The newly fertilized ovum does not have brain, however, he has body and his body begins immediately to develop and as I said, his body already directs the development of the brain. Every zygote has the ability to explain me Kant, only in passive state because his body has not yet developed enough. The purpose of living in the womb is to develop enough to be ready to live life outside the womb. The purpose of abortion is to kill this life so that it will loose its chances to develop ... --Earthland (talk) 14:34, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

"Explain Kant in a passive state?" What the fuck does that even mean? How the hell can one "passively" explain anything? Just by sitting there? And since when does the ability to explain Kant count for anything? And beyond that, zygotes only can do one thing; grow and multiply. That's it. They represent nothing but a potential human being, and the conditions of their achieving that potential are contingent on a huge number of factors--including, most importantly, the decision of a woman to control what goes on in her own body. As David said above, be quiet. The grownups are talking--about Kant.. P-Foster (talk) 14:41, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but you clearly don't qualify as someone who could engage in a rational discussion. Your comment only reveals that you can't read properly, and I'm not even talking about understanding. There are lot more places where you can make your goat jokes. Choose any of them. --Earthland (talk) 15:15, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Your example of "potentially explaining Kant" is very poorly chosen, since very few people ever develop the capability to do so. A better choice would be "potentially telling me what they had for breakfast". ħumanUser talk:Human 18:01, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Hey, Earthland--screw you. The goat jokes were here before you. P-Foster (talk) 18:10, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
My goal in life is now to figure out what a "passive" ability is and how it differs from potential in any way. Also what it has to do with science. ~ Kupochama[1][2] 18:31, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
You are correct - it has nothing to do with science. Science can only tell us when does a new member of our species begin to exist. Science by itself does not tell anything about this being's moral status, just as it doesn't tell me whether it is right or wrong to rape you. --Earthland (talk) 18:36, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Then my goal is 50% complete, although the implicit comparison of abortion to rape is a bit discouraging. I'd like to say something about equivocation in all this, but I can't decide what, so I guess I'll resume lurking. ~ Kupochama[1][2] 20:04, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Reading this throws some light (I think) on a puzzling comment which Earthland made on his talk page:
  • "I think that if someone is kept alive with machines, and then disconnected, this person in question dies natural death, it doesn't count as "murder"."
I guess that he's maintaining that "intellectual life" doesn't count as life?--BobSpring is sprung! 20:13, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Science can only tell us when does a new member of our species begin to exist. That's the very narrow view of someone who wants 'science' to back up his own prejudices. It can also tell us
  • When brain activity begins
  • When viability outside the womb begins
  • When implantation happens
It's you, not science that is fixated on conception. Jack Hughes (talk) 08:17, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

I do not understand what do you mean by "I guess that he's maintaining that "intellectual life" doesn't count as life?" Terri was definitely very alive, perfectly alive and human in every possible sense, but it was simply time for her to die. This is the same question as euthanasia. If someone refuses to take the chemotherapy cure for third time, it does not count as euthanasia. A person simply acknowledges his natural death.

Science can tell us when brain activity begins, but

a) this is not the moment a new member of our species starts to exists b) science can not tell us whether it is a correct criteria to determine who is person

And science itself can not tell us when does viability outside the womb begin - viability depends on technology, not the unborn herself, it is largely a function of our abilities. --Earthland (talk) 11:48, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

If someone refuses to take the chemotherapy cure for third time, that is their own choice. In the case of Schiavo, it wasn't her choice, we didn't even know if she was still alive. For all we know she was screaming inside trying to tell everyone around her to save her. -- Nx / talk 11:55, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Or take a baby kept alive in an incubator. You said: "I think that if someone is kept alive with machines, and then disconnected, this person in question dies natural death, it doesn't count as "murder"." Presumably you'd have no problem with turning the incubator off? --BobSpring is sprung! 12:26, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Why do we always need edit points when EL is involved in the discussion[edit]

science can not tell us whether it is a correct criteria to determine who is person - I don't think any one has said that it can, except you. You're the one determined to link the start of the life cycle with the start or personhood because of science.

science itself can not tell us when does viability outside the womb begin - Well, yes it can and does. Evidence from very premature births is analysed in a scientific way to determine when viability starts.

but it was simply time for her to die - who says so? If you're involved in a road accident and have potentially fatal head injuries would you want life saving procedures to be ignored because it was simply time for EL to die?

As ever you see complex shades of grey as black and white. Jack Hughes (talk) 12:12, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

To Nx: I believe you wanted to say "we didn't know if she is still conscious", because life as such is out of question. Even RW's own article claims that Terri "died", non-living things can not die. My point is rather that Terri was kept alive in a completely artifical (unnatural) way and there was no help for recovery. Which means they let her die. Murder is something else. In abortion procedure, for example, the innocent human victim who is living in his natural environment is cut into pieces. — Part of a larger comment by: Earthland / talk / contribs 12:22, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
No, I meant alive. Braindead people are not alive, even if their body is still functioning. On the other hand, there are lots of people who would probably not be happy if you decided to kill them because they are kept alive in an "unnatural" way and there was no help for recovery. What about people with diabetes? Or what about people with a heart-transplant, who have to take "unnatural" immunosuppressants for the rest of their lives? Or should they use artificial hearts instead - oh, wait, that's unnatural too. Your last sentence is an appeal to emotion, the way they kill the baby is irrelevant. -- Nx / talk 12:39, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Your definition of "life" in this case is subjective and unscientific. I did not mean to affect your emotions, it would be unthinkable, but I emphasised that cutting someone into pieces is definitely killing not letting die. As I've already said (on my talk page), I did not say that all artificial help is always bad. A person using heart-transplant can continue his life in quit a normal way.
I must leave my computer for a while (isn't it ironic - I have to go to a debate club), but I hope to explain more later. --Earthland (talk) 13:47, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
I am pretty sure brain-death is the commonly accepted indication of death, i.e. the end of life. As for cutting someone into pieces vs. "letting them die" by removing their feeding tube - both acts are killing. Or would abortion be ok if it consisted of only cutting the umbilical cord and "letting the baby die"? -- Nx / talk 14:35, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Jack, you failed reading my comment. Viability does not "start" because it's not something that "belongs" to baby - it is largely a function of our abilities. 50 years ago viability was at 30 weeks. 25 years ago it had dropped to 25 weeks. But babies are still the same - fetal development has not changed in the last 50 years, only our understanding and ability to support a fetus outside of the womb has changed.
You can not scientifically prove that anyone is a person. Science can tell us when does a human being begins to exist, that's all. Everything else is pretty philosophical. --Earthland (talk) 12:22, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
How you twist things to your own viewpoint. At one point a baby is not viable. Sometime later it is. During that period, by definition, viability starts. Whilst this window is very much dependent on the surrounding technology it something that is pertinent to that baby.
You can not scientifically prove that anyone is a person - but that is EXACTLY what you have been trying to do all these months. You have been jumping up and down saying "Look, look, science says that the life cycle begins at conception, therefore after conception there's a full human being with full human rights." You've been banging on and on and on about science and now you finally say that it has NOTHING to say on whether someone is a person. How you contradict yourself.
Putting big questions with difficult answers into neat, separate boxes marked, for example, 'Science' or 'Philosophy' is very limiting. Our scientific understanding helps support, or otherwise, the philosophical argument about how rights are acquired during development. You have endlessly taken the philosophical position that full human rights are acquired at conception and argued furiously that this is scientifically supported. I, on the other hand, say that a suitable starting point for humanity is the beginning of meaningful brain activity and use science to place that at around 20 weeks.
Your endless contention that you are right "because of science" simply doesn't hold water. Jack Hughes (talk) 14:42, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Goddammit, Jack, you beat me to the punch. Trolly McTrollerson blatantly contradicts himself and admits that every fucking word he's written here for months is so much intellectual wankery because even he acknowledges that "personhood" is a something that we can't talk about within the cofines of cold, hard, "scientific knowledge--even while he's been arguing for that the whole time? hilarious. P-Foster (talk) 14:50, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Now here's a place I'd like to use three-words answers, such like "you are dumb". It is a scientific fact that every zygote is a human being, if we use the scientific definitions (human being - an individual member of species homo sapiens, individual member - a living functioning organism). And biologically there is also no other starting point for this being's life than fertilization.

These are facts. You may raise the question whether every human being is a person, but this is not a scientific question. There is no scientific basis to claim that zygote is not a human being, and I also believe there is no philosophical reason to claim that every human being is not a person. That's what we are talking about - if talking is the right word. --Earthland (talk) 16:37, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

FFS - biologically there is also no other starting point for this being's life than fertilization - wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. You, and many pro-lifers, hang on to this as the be-all and end-all but it is hotly disputed and not just by those who wish to kill babies. No one is disputing that the start of the life cycle is fertilisation but, tell me, in what way is a fertilised ovum any more 'alive' than a spermatozoa? One has a unique DNA pattern, the other doesn't but 'alive'... that's a whole different question. For many a huge part of "being human" is sentience. This is why someone with irreversible brain damage to the point where the brain can no longer function, however healthy otherwise, can be considered dead and at this point most have no problem turning off the life support system. If this is seen as the end of life simple logic states that the start of sentience - the start of meaningful brain activity - is the start of life. You can bang on about potentiality but the unfertilized ovum has potential as do all those millions of sperm.
Now, without getting all emotional about "ripping innocent babies from the womb", explain
  • What is wrong with equating human life with sentience. Remember that you seemed quite happy with pulling the plug on Terry Schiavo.
  • What makes a fertilised ovum more "alive" than an unfertilized one. Before you leap on genetic uniqueness bare in mind identical twins or the logical possibility of two unrelated individuals having the same DNA (very unlikely but not impossible)
  • You're big on 'potential' - in what way does the fertilized ovum have more potential than the unfertilized one apart from being further along the process. Before you leap on genetic uniqueness bare in mind that DNA is not a 'recipe for a human being' and environmental factors are just as important in determining who we are.
Jack Hughes (talk) 09:21, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Ah, you answered me? Sry, I didn't even notice that.
To begin with, life has a certain (probably not "clear") biological definition. Sentience has nothing to do with biological life. You probably agree with me that there are much more life forms that are not sentient but that are undeniably alive. Similarly, human life can exist without being sentient. There are indeed many born human beings who are not sentient, for example those under narcosis. It does not change the fact that they are living human beings.
Since "life" has only one biological definition and there are no "levels" of being alive - "Hey, I'm more alive than you!" - it means that your question "in what way is a fertilised ovum any more 'alive' than a spermatozoa" can not be answered in any meaningful way, just because your questions wasn't meaningful in the first place. In one case it is a part of another body, a reproductive cell of man that is alive, in other case it is a human being that is alive. This is the difference. The reproductive cells cannot singly develop further into human beings. They produce only "gamete" proteins and enzymes. They do not direct their own growth and development. And they are not individuals, members of the human species. They are only parts - each one a part of a human being. On the other hand, a human being is the immediate product of fertilization. As such he/she is a single-cell embryonic zygote, an organism with 46 chromosomes, the number required of a member of the human species. This human being immediately produces specifically human proteins and enzymes, directs his/her own further growth and development as human, and is a new, genetically unique, newly existing, live human individual. After fertilization the single-cell human embryo doesn't become another kind of thing. It simply divides and grows bigger and bigger, developing through several stages as an embryo and a fetus.
I've talked about the "twinning" argument in my essay, read at the bottom of "beginning of human life", ("Some usual arguments presented in opposition to "human life begins at conception" include:"). In short, it is not correct to say that all human beings begin to exist at fertilization. As has been known scientifically for a long time now, human beings can be reproduced both sexually (fertilization) and asexually (without the use of sperm and/or oocyte). Naturally reproduced human identical twins (monozygotic twins) are not sexually reproduced. They are reproduced naturally and asexually within the woman's body by means of the splitting off of one or more totipotent cells of the early embryo. Human embryos reproduced by cloning and many other kinds of genetic engineering are also not sexually reproduced, but rather asexually reproduced.
Now, I remember that the brilliant Mei has made a very ridiculous statement, namely that "Unless you quoted 80% of all the world's scientists, this is not evidence of a consensus". Oh well, suppose that I actually can do it - indirectly. As you probably do not remember at all, the Carnegie Stages of Early Human Embryonic Development (that have been internationally acknowledged to be accurate scientific fact since 1942), to which I gave you a link and that couldn't state more clearly when does a human life begin, ... well, what of it? Every human embryology text book is professionally required to use the Carnegie Stages, and they do so by using a superscript next to a particular term that refers to the Carnegie Stages - which documents that that fertilization is when a new human being begins to exist. I'm like so exited! Can't believe that I just said all that. Losers. --Earthland (talk) 17:53, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
"Fertilization requires probably slightly longer than 24 hours in primates..." At what point does this alleged human being start its life then? ħumanUser talk:Human 23:47, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
This is indeed the most "important" question at all and I am not surprised that you cant come up with anything else. According to Dianne N. Irving, the new single-cell human embryo is formed sexually at the beginning of the process of fertilization (when the sperm makes first contact with the oocyte). You should read more carefully, the first sentence told that "Embryonic life commences with fertilization, and hence the beginning of that process may be taken as the point de depart of stage". You are unbelievably pathetic and almost fanatic in your desire to deny the reality. This scientific document that is professionally required to be used by human embryologists in their textbookst says that the the organism at fertilization is "schon ein individual-spezifischer Mensch" (definitely and specifically a human person). --Earthland (talk) 12:40, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
No it doesn't. It takes up to 24 hours to form a 46 chromosome nucleus. Your claims that "This scientific document that is professionally required to be used by human embryologists in their textbooks" is a lame claim to authority, by the way. You have been boring for som long it's not even funny. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:35, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Of course its not funny if you have been proven absolutely wrong. If the question is about scientific consensus, you cant have a better authority than this. (Rememeber that we are not talking about truth but only about the consensus. If we are talking about consensus, then it is absolutely and only about authorities) Or prehaps you should remember who were the ones who recently claimed that whatever a random developmental biologist (Scott Gilbert) says should not be doubted in any way, and who quoted one embryologist (who is on the salary of Planned Parenthood and is not even human embryologist) as a proof that there is no scientific consensus. Think about it. The truth is, you have nothing to say at all, and you have never had, because, well... the reality simply isnt on your side. --Earthland (talk) 12:20, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Abortion header, and parallel article[edit]

Can we have two of the side bar "headers?" I think the abortion link would be good for this one, too. Secondly - do we have, and can we have an article "does it matter when life beings?" Being a pro-choicer, there is nothing of value in the argument "when does life being', cause at the heart of abortion - it's not about life, it's about a woman's right to decide what human is allowed to live inside her, and use her body for it's life support system. -- But i'm not sure if that's an article or just "essay".Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 14:52, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Done. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 14:54, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
As I mentioned on your talk page, it's far from irrelevant. It informs your decision, even if you're pro-choice you need to understand what you're doing and the effects of it in a way as close to reality as possible. Saying that "whether it's alive or not isn't important" is just as bad as going the other way and saying "it's alive and will scream in pain and you're the most evil thing in the world". ADK...I'll deport your bassoon! 15:31, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
I suppose it's "important", it's just not relevant (to me) to the legal issue at hand. To me, the only legal question should be the autonomy of a human being, and being told how they must use their body to host some other life. I got blasted (here, actually) for saying that to me, a fetus is biologically and ethically a parasite or a wanted baby. and it all depends on how the mother sees the child and her roll. I really think there is room for an article and not just an essay on this "is the question of life, the relevant question", but I'm not sure how to frame it. We have quite a few "essay like" articles here, that i think add quite a bit to our site. And this could be one. Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 15:43, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
For me the important point is to be informed when debating anti-abortionists. This article was created during the Bob Soles/Earthland spat as a counter to his "every sperm is sacred" line. Whilst I recognise your position you need this sort of argument in your arsenal against the Earthlands of this world. Travancus (talk) 15:51, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Addressing it is important for making sure your arguments are comprehensive. Even if it's not important to you personally, it might be important to your critics. If you want to go toe-to-toe with them, then you need to go a little on their terms and address the points raised there. How would you want to expand or add to the article as I'm not quite sure what you're getting at? Though yes, I do like the essay-like articles. In fact, they're all collective essays more articles anyway. ADK...I'll advocate your flightdeck! 22:40, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't know what i'm getting at yet (as far as a separate article), which is why I've not written a damn thing on it. I think I might, eventually, start it as an essay, then open it up to work it into an article. Travancus, i love that about RW in general. we have many many articles that are important for arguing particular points from Evo to politics. This is an area I'm pretty informed about, but when I'm talking with someone who says "Immigration will be our downfall", i can run here and see what we have on it.  :-) So i was NEVER suggesting getting rid of or changing the nature of this piece. this piece got me thinking about a separate article that sorta says "ok, so we've talked about when life begins, but is it relevant to the argument at hand, why and why not". But as i said, that requires thinking, and until the elections are done, RW for me is for relaxation, so research and editing. (i know, how sick is it to like to research for relaxation).Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 22:59, 13 September 2011 (UTC)