This is one of the two places I post whatever strikes my fancy in a given moment. You will see anything from photography and Conservative politics; to religion and literature. I will post pinup girls, comic books, classic horror films, and circus/carnival posters. I am a stage performer, a paralegal/clerk, a Christian, an aging rocker, and..yes... a Doctor Who fan. If you don't like a post, don't troll me over it. I don't care. Just wait five minutes and something you like will show up. Other places to find me on the web:
First off, what you are about to read must in no way, shape, or form, be construed or confused to be an advocacy for abortion and I will adamantly oppose any attempt to misquote or cherry pick these statements for that end.
I am a religious individual, specifically, Mormon. These words are, however, my sole responsibility and are not the policies or doctrines of my church. These thoughts are solely and wholly mine and I alone am to be judged for them, both by my God and by those who will invariably and inevitably take it upon themselves to act as God and pass judgment on me for them.
I recently saw an article, written by a staunchly religious man, (Catholic, I think), wherein he stated that if you participate in the ALS bucket challenge; then you might as well be dumping dead babies over your head, because ALS requires stem cell research, which in turn requires a fetus. And that, if you support the curing of ALS, then you advocate infanticide. Naturally, I had to challenge that.
On the topic of ALS research and support for it being tantamount to condoning infanticide: Clearly from the comments here, life is only worthy of preservation if we deem it so.
To hell with sufferers of a crippling and ultimately fatal disease, if it has anything at all to do with our precious fertilized eggs. I mean it isn’t like the growing of stem cells is not currently done using harvested adult cells and grown artificially.
To he’ll with curing diseases that take lives prematurely if it means harvesting cells from our precious fetuses. Let’s not even discuss that science is five steps ahead of you on that objection ready by finding alternate harvesting and manufacturing of stem cells.
No, no, let’s just make this about a half assed pro-life stance that is just as misguided as the half assed conclusions drawn by pro-abortionists to excuse infanticide. Never is there talk of compromise… for instance, the donating of cells from fetuses already slated for abortion.
Nope. One side is about flushing it all down a sink and the other side is all about never doing anything but saving every part. Then what? Let them die of whatever disease takes them from there?
The first argument is that such a compromise would establish an industry of profit from abortion. Said industry already exists. They already turn a profit from the killing of fetuses for convenience.
The remedy for such things is a law, the likes of which was already passed by Bush and changed by Obama; that mandated that stem cell research be conducted in a way in which the cells are not harvested from new sources. Yes, that law did exist, and yes, it was chained by Obama. Once again, the fight is with Obama and liberals.
The compromise is to pass legislation mandating that the cells be from adults, the already dying, or manufactured. If the issue really is about living fetal cells, that is. If the real issue for the staunchly religious, is the preservation of the fetus; then it opens a series of questions that the religious; or at least this religious man; are not prepared to tackle.
I propose that the manufacturing if cells does not create a life and that life begins when the soul enters the body. Not before. This in turn, opens several other questions.
I believe that the soul is the life, not the egg and sperm. The egg and sperm merely contain the base components to replicate life. An artificially manufactured cellular composition cannot, therefor, contain a soul and thus is not a life.
You see both sides have it wrong, in my opinion. It is not a life until God imbues it with a soul. And this is reserved for the naturally gestated. Clones may only possess full life if they are complete AND God grants them a soul. Thus, a manufactured stem cell is no more than that.
NEXT OBJECTION: “But this logic allows for warehouse full of clones living a nightmarish existence. WHY NOT JUST HAVE ENTIRE BODIES LYING AROUND WAITING FOR YOU TO BE PUT IN THEM?”
No.. it is what would allow the cloning of single cells. Why do you believe that the regulations and standards of well established science suddenly vanish because we are speaking of the manufacturing of a human cell as opposed to the hundreds of living organisms manufactured every day to replicate living organisms? Because we are talking about replication of human cells instead of animal cells and viruses?
How is the manufacturing of a single cell at all different from one living animal to another? Viruses are replicated in entirety every day. They too, according to the medical qualification of what constitutes life are living creatures. But do they possess a soul? (I will return to this.)
Do we end all research of any kind that might require replication of a living cell? If so, we go back to a state before most of our now cured diseases had viable treatment. The curing of a great many diseases which have plagued mankind, has required the replication and manipulation of the cells or bacteria that cause the disease. Is this not the exact same science which replicates DNA or stem cells?
What if a way was discovered to replicate the stem cell without creating an entire fetus or harvesting from a living host? What if the cells could be harvested without taking the life of the fetus or infant. What if these cells could simply be replicated in a lab? (A series of solutions already being explored.) Would our zombie novel objections remain? Is it really about life?
Or just like the left and their insistence on fetal harvesting: is it really about social control? Because, again, I’m not hearing either side reach for a compromise that offers the saving of both the fetus and the person dying for lack of the needed cells.
This, to me, raises a series of ethical/spiritual questions that I have yet to have answered in a reasonable fashion, by either the staunch religionists or the moderates of intelligent design philosophy. (I know the atheist answers and don’t buy them personally.) This is for the religious and spiritually minded.
To coin a phrase, what I am speaking of here is quantum spirituality.
(a) If life begins at conception and conception begins at the unifying of the elements that make life; then does the soul matter?
(b) Does the soul enter the life form at the moment of conception or does it enter at the point at which physical function of the body occurs, or when the life might survive independent of the womb?
(c) Does the soul of the living entity created, wait to be placed in the entity created?
(d) Is the soul of the entity existent before the entity is physically created or do they spring into existence simultaneously?
(e) Is there a soul for every physical entity that is created?
(f) If there is a soul for every living entity, does this include animal, plant, and amoebic level life forms?
(g) Does the soul only inhabit a single physical entity for which it is created, or does it simply wait in queue for the next physical entity of whatever form springs into existence next?
(h) if there is a soul for every life form, does this include the life form that is asexually reproduced or manufactured artificially?
(i) does the artificially created or asexually reproduced entity also lose that soul upon death?
(j) Does the soul of every entity suffer the same conditions of pre-life, post-life, grace, purgatory, saving, or damnation according to its existence?
(k) Would this not, in turn mean, that just as earthly existence is a prerequisite for these conditions, that each and every soul should be granted the opportunity to live?
(l) Would this not mean that if we do not create a living entity in which that soul might live; then we are denying the soul the right to exist?
(m) What of such ideas as pre-ordination or pre-destination? Can a soul be pre-ordained to dwell in a fetus that is to be aborted? Or in a single celled organism that will replicate disease? Or in a single cell that will bring life to another through a cure?
(n) Would it not be precisely in line with the plan and will of God, that we should seek to preserve and better the lives of all of his children?
(o) Would this in turn, not mean that we should offer the opportunity of life at every possible turn?
(p) Do we deny a soul the right to exist any less than the abortionist, if we deny the possibility for the existence of life at every level?
I know these are tough questions and I was awake at 4 a.m. with insomnia as I heal this rotator cuff surgery. I still suffer the migraine from the churning of these questions in my mind.
I don’t ask these questions to be blasphemous or to seek to deny God and the soul. In fact, I write these questions as I contemplate the speech that I will be giving on The Holy Spirit at the baptism of a friend tomorrow.
But on this subject in particular; we must delve into the quantum reality of the soul; if we believe in the existence of the soul.
I welcome debate. Feel free to send a response to: firstname.lastname@example.org
One such response came from Kelly Bronner, who wrote:
“I read your post yesterday on stem cell research and the questions one must ask about the soul.
Personally, I don’t see a problem with being generally against abortion and pro stem cell research. The stem cells are not taken from 20 week old fetuses who move and feel pain, but from embryos in their earliest stage of development. I don’t believe the soul enters the body immediately at conception, because most of the time, for whatever reason, a naturally conceived blastocyst does not implant in the womb. It seems too strange that God would make it so a woman might have several children she did not know existed waiting for her in heaven. This is why I also believe that using the morning after pill and other forms of contraception that might prevent implantation is acceptable.
I think some pro-life people stand against ending a human life in any stage of development for the sake of consistency. It’s easy to say “if it’s human, you can’t kill it or interfere with its ability to live, no matter what” because then we avoid cognitive dissonance. But does that give us a practical reason to care about a recently fertilized egg? At least, I don’t believe we have a practical reason to impose our views about it on the rest of society, since we don’t have a practical reason to assume it has a soul.
Some mediums and people who have had near death experiences believe they have seen or felt the presence of animal souls. However, that does not mean human souls are not special. Although in some religions animals are said to have souls, from my understanding, for a soul to incarnate into a human gives it an advantage for then it is closest to enlightenment. God sent his teachings to humans through prophets to be repeated in sacred texts. As a Christian you must believe that Jesus came to earth for the sake of humans. So we are not murderers every time we interfere with the life of a non-human. I also believe, along with most religious/spiritual people, that our lives have a grander purpose than just existing. We are supposed to learn and grow. There may be specific things we, our souls, need to do in a certain life. If this is true, then our souls will not randomly incarnate into whatever life form is available - tree, monkey, etc. They will occupy a body that gives them the opportunity to learn and develop in the way they need to. So I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to keep creating various forms of life to give souls the opportunity to live on earth. They will come to earth anyway, eventually.
As to whether it’s better to use embryos for research than throw them away, I say yes. If a woman going through IVF is left with extra embryos, I see nothing wrong with putting them to some use rather than simply discarding them. I would say they very probably do not have souls, because at that stage an embryo might not even implant in the womb. It’s possible that our souls enter later than implantation. I think it’s the Torah that says it enters at around six weeks. Maybe it enters when the body begins to be able to feel and respond to stimuli. But at the very least I think it’s safe to assume it has not entered within the first few days of conception.
I know I didn’t address every point you made in the post but those are the things I wanted to say.”
I responded with the following:
First, let me thank you for a well thought and reasoned response. As a blogger, I rarely encounter people that want to do more than have flame wars and insult fights over the opinions of others, or to browbeat people into submission intellectually. This is particularly true when dealing with topics of religion, spirituality, history and science. We seem to have a dire inability to simply have reasonable dialog any more and that makes a response like yours golden.
I lean toward agreement with you on many of your points. I do not believe that the soul enters the body until the body begins its own physiological function. I suppose that based on the premise of the question, the only one knowing for certain is God.
I differ with you on abortifacient drugs. I tend to believe that if the real intent is to prevent a pregnancy in the first place because you don’t want children, then there is a collection of methods available to people; even at the expense of employers insurance funds; which do prevent fertilization in the first place. I know this is one that comes down to whether or not one even believes in God; but pregnancy is able to be averted without forcing those that object to skirting the line of whether you and I are wrong and life, (including the entry of the soul), begins at conception. Ultimately, this is an issue of choice on both sides and if the Secularist was intellectually honest, they would see it as such and not force the issue of having an employer pay for abortifacients. (But that is a sidebar to the overall point of our discussion.)
I agree with you that the Pro-life stance is mostly about consistency; though some would argue that they are inconsistent when it comes to comparison of this with the death penalty for instance; because some see the snuffing out of the life of a criminal that has essentially forfeited his humanity by committing acts against both God and humanity; as acceptable recompense for that level of crime. I can be counted among said people.
The interesting thing about my “Christian perspective” is that it is tainted with over twenty years of exploration into other philosophies and religions including Paganism and Spiritualism. I have personally seen stuff that would shake some of the most hardcore bible thumpers. But one common thread through all but one or two religions, (which we will not delve into here), is the idea that life is a sacred thing and that all living entities have a spirit. This leads to the line of questioning in my original article. I don’t have the answers, but exploring the ideas with others is the only way we formulate answers. And, in this particular area, I like your answers here.
"As a Christian you must believe that Jesus came to earth for the sake of humans." Yes. I also believe that we were given dominion over the animals, the plants, and the various other forms of life. So, if it be that we must take the life of a lesser life form, whether for protection, for food, for shelter, for clothing, etc… I tend to fall more in line with the way of thinking of the Druids and the Native Americans; in that we must understand, appreciate, and thank God for our dominion over these beings and for the sacrifices made by said beings that we might live.
This leads us to the overall question in the article. If a lesser form of life, in this case, a single celled organism or a single cell from a living being can be used to save and enhance the lives of other beings; then this, to me, is in line with the plan of God as to our dominion and stewardship of our world. I don’t, however, believe that it is right to take the life of one human in order to save the life of another; where that first human is not a direct physical threat to the existence of the second. This, to me, is murder. Hence my opposition to abortion as a practice.
However, where the choice to abort has already been made, would it not make sense to preserve those cells or organs that might be used to preserve the life of another? Yes, I understand the challenge that this might establish a platform of abortion for profit. But, I wonder if it is not possible to pass legislation that mandates that no such compensation be granted either to the aborter or to the abortionist.
I wonder also if it isn’t just as well, that we simply find a way to artificially manufacture the needed cells based on their elements. It seems to me that if we can find a way to manufacture the needed cells without harvesting from an already living being, then we are, in this regard, saving a life at both ends. This is where I differ sharply with the far right. But then, as you can tell from a great many of my thoughts, I lean moderate right and tend to seek mediation rather than further conflict.
It seems to me that if science and scientists would make the same effort, ignoring the far left’s demands for total removal of all consideration of religious thought from the process; a balance might be reached and a middle ground discovered. But, that may be asking a lot.
Thank you again for your response. With your permission, I will quote this exchange in its entirety in a further article.
(Note: Said permission was granted and here you have the whole exchange.)