When does life begin according to atheists? [Kill Em With Kindness]

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When does life begin according to atheists? [Kill Em With Kindness]

I had been debating someone on a different online forum about some political issues and it turned into a conservative vs. liberal debate, to which I posed the question what exactly is a liberal and what is a conservative.  The response I got was defining a liberal as "Modern liberalism is infused with idea that truth is relative. Surveys consistently show this. And if truth is relative, it also must follow that honesty is subjective."  So I asked for an example of when truth could be relative and I was given as a liberal example, "A human embryo is only a human after the first trimester, and a "partial-birth" abortion is not a death (explain partial birth)." 

Anyway I got to wondering, how do you guys define when life started?  I couldn't exactly find any concrete position here so I thought I'd put the question up for debate.

And forgive if this has been a previous post...

What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason. - Voltaire


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Quote:I consider anyone

Quote:
I consider anyone under the age of, say 10 (at least) to be a parasitic organism.

Welcome back, Losingstreak.  Haven't seen you for a while.

I was going to mention something about this earlier, but I didn't for fear of derailing the whole thread.  Since you've opened the can of worms, and there really is no debate about when life begins, I'll run with it.

Humans don't form any permanent memories for a significant amount of time after birth, and by some definitions, they are not truly sentient until a couple of years old.  (By others, they are... it's a debatable point.)  It wouldn't be totally wrong to say that we aren't fully human until well after birth, if humanity is defined by sentience.  I don't agree with that, but someone could make the point and not look completely foolish.

By a broad definition of parasite, children are technically parasites.  By a more specific definition, fetuses are parasites.  We get into some trouble with the generalizations, though, as most parasites are fast-reproducing compared to their hosts, and typical definitions exclude by default members of one's own species.  It could be asked whether this distinction is scientific or polite.  I don't know the answer.

From Wiki:  (Since this isn't a serious discussion anyway)

Parasitism is a type of symbiotic relationship between organisms of different species in which one, the parasite, benefits from a prolonged, close association with the other, the host, which is harmed. In general, parasites are much smaller than their hosts, show a high degree of specialization for their mode of life and reproduce more quickly and in greater numbers than their hosts. Classic examples of parasitism include the interactions between vertebrate hosts and such diverse animals as the tapeworms, flukes, Plasmodium species and fleas.

The harm and benefit in parasitic interactions concern the biological fitness of the organisms involved. Parasites reduce host fitness in many ways, ranging from general or specialized pathology (such as castration), impairment of secondary sex characteristics, to the modification of host behaviour. Parasites increase their fitness by exploiting hosts for food, habitat and dispersal.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote:Quote:I

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
I consider anyone under the age of, say 10 (at least) to be a parasitic organism.

Welcome back, Losingstreak.  Haven't seen you for a while.

I got lost in New Mexico for a while after a "spirit journey" I took with a NAC friend of mine.

Or perhaps I was just busy. Your guess is as good as mine.

Quote:
I was going to mention something about this earlier, but I didn't for fear of derailing the whole thread.  Since you've opened the can of worms, and there really is no debate about when life begins, I'll run with it.

I prefer to see it as a can of tapeworms, as it were.

Quote:
Humans don't form any permanent memories for a significant amount of time after birth, and by some definitions, they are not truly sentient until a couple of years old.  (By others, they are... it's a debatable point.)  It wouldn't be totally wrong to say that we aren't fully human until well after birth, if humanity is defined by sentience.  I don't agree with that, but someone could make the point and not look completely foolish.

Depending on your definition of what constitutes a human being, I would wager that there are some people who never merit such a title. I happen to know several people personally who exist at a level that I do not consider to be human.

Quote:
By a broad definition of parasite, children are technically parasites.

So are 30-something basement-dwellers, I should think, but I figured that it would be simpler just to count children for the post I originally made. I suppose those on life-support, or those suffering from severe dementia might make the list as well.

Quote:
By a more specific definition, fetuses are parasites.  We get into some trouble with the generalizations, though, as most parasites are fast-reproducing compared to their hosts, and typical definitions exclude by default members of one's own species.  It could be asked whether this distinction is scientific or polite.  I don't know the answer.

When I'm in the picture at these forums, the safe bet would be that I'm not speaking scientifically.

Quote:
From Wiki:  (Since this isn't a serious discussion anyway)

Parasitism is a type of symbiotic relationship between organisms of different species in which one, the parasite, benefits from a prolonged, close association with the other, the host, which is harmed. In general, parasites are much smaller than their hosts, show a high degree of specialization for their mode of life and reproduce more quickly and in greater numbers than their hosts. Classic examples of parasitism include the interactions between vertebrate hosts and such diverse animals as the tapeworms, flukes, Plasmodium species and fleas.

The harm and benefit in parasitic interactions concern the biological fitness of the organisms involved. Parasites reduce host fitness in many ways, ranging from general or specialized pathology (such as castration), impairment of secondary sex characteristics, to the modification of host behaviour. Parasites increase their fitness by exploiting hosts for food, habitat and dispersal.

Sounds like an apt definition to me. Especially if the exercise is to find a definition that easily includes kids, fetuses, and the like. Although if it could be argued that some "happiness" achieved through raising offspring was somehow beneficial to the parent, then the relationship between the parent and fetus/child/basement dweller might not be so easily described as parasitic.


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imthinking wrote:aiia

imthinking wrote:

aiia wrote:

But it moves and has an objective to reach the egg.

Is it a programmed mechanical device then?

It exhibits certain properties common to living things, but reproduction is a required property of ANY living thing. And since it does not exhibit reproduction, it is not living.

I am by no means an expert, but this is my understanding. Sperm don't actually have an "objective" to reach the egg. To have an objective, you have to be able to think as far as I'm concerned. Instead the sperm cells all move vigorously not necessarily of their own accord, but it's just what they do. This is construed as "trying to get to the egg".

 

If reproduction is a requirement of life, then one has to consider all the humans that are incapable of reproduction.  This deficiency does not make them any less "alive" than those that can reproduce.

I think sperm/eggs are an exception to the "rule", in that their reproduction (or growth) is only possible by mechanisms of the host organism.  But they are indeed alive, from a scientific point of view.

Also, I think sperm DO have an objective - to reach the egg - by means of chemical sensing receptors.  It's still a theory by scientists, as far as I know, but if true, that ability sure gives the sperm a distinct capability, for one unique purpose.

 

 


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The 'philosophical' aspects

The 'philosophical' aspects boil down to personal viewpoints.

So as Hamby said, talk about usefullness, in this context, and what stage of growth do we consider the maturing fertilized egg 'human' in the sense of a person, is 'just' a value judgement. It is important to our personal world-view, it is important to society, but only in the context of the shared values of our society. Different societies across the globe and thru history have varied wildly in many of their values, including the value of human life at all stages.

Many Western societies, a couple of centuries back, did not consider dark-skinned Africans to be human. Many put woman into a lesser category.

So values are naturally important to the individual, but judgement about which value judgements are 'superior' to others is just another value judgement, and has to be accepted as such. Wrapping such ideas and analyses into 'philosophy' doesn't change this.

We can investigate different value systems objectively by observing which ones seem to more conducive to smoother functioning of society, more happiness, less conflict, mental illness, depression etc. We still end up placing values on the relative importance of these factors, but at least we can base our judgement on the demonstrable consequences of different approaches to living, which are very often not what we would intuitively assume.

Philosophy, as distinct from the more rigorous disciplines which have spun off from it, namely science, math, logic. is just playing with ideas, occasionally coming up with some interesting concepts, but most philosophy is useless in establishing truths about the nature of reality, or even worse, leads us to entertain ideas which are actively misleading.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Sapient wrote:That's like

Sapient wrote:
That's like saying a human without hair on his/her head is not life.  The thought is so extremely preposterous one must assume you're blocking reality with theist goggles.  Take them off and join us here in REALITY.

And you might want to re-read my posts on this thread.  I never disagreed that cells are not "life."  I was not debating the science of this; I was asking questions.

Calm down man...not every theist is against everything an atheist might say.

What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason. - Voltaire


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kellym78 wrote:Any cell

kellym78 wrote:
Any cell regardless of its function is useless on its own. It's a large combination of similar cells that make up an organism and the parts required for it to function. It's like the tree/forest analogy. So if a cell is nothing, why is a conglomeration of nothings not also nothing?

My calling it "nothing" had to do purpose, not existence.  Sorry if I wasn't clear.

What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason. - Voltaire


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Hambydammit wrote:Now you

Hambydammit wrote:
Now you know that science doesn't, in fact, take away wonder or awe.  You also know how fulfilling it can be to take a scientific discovery and run with it because the scope of even a small insight can have enormous impact on our day to day lives.

You misunderstood my comment about being "cold" was not a shot against it being awe inspiring.  It was just an observation in how nature works and how it isn't going to ask for someone's feelings (wouldn't be nature if it did).  But that doesn't mean I am not impressed.  That really got me wondering why you considered what I said fallacious...but eh doesn't make any difference anyway.

Hambydammit wrote:
To address your main point, the reason the scientific explanation sounds cold to you is that you've been fed (and believed) a bullshit version of human life.  There is no magic in the universe.  There is no "higher meaning."  There is no inherent sanctity of human life -- or any other life, for that matter.  However, the very act of living is amazing.  The realization that each moment I experience is a singular, unrepeatable, unimaginably brief flicker of time makes that last bite of seared tuna taste really fucking awesome!  If I never get another bite, I have done something amazing, and my existence was better for it.

(Speaking of which... tonight, I'm making a Tuna, Fennel, Avocado, and Tangerine salad with Citrus Vinaigrette.  I've wanted to try this recipe for months!)

Again, it is about how nature works.  We have emotions and to see something work without "feels" cold but that's only because of perception.  I just simply made the comment out of amazement.  I agree about how life is amazing and how each experience should be incredible.  Because I happen to also believe God had a hand in it doesn't take away from how I as a human being react to it.  As I was telling you before, I never intended any "atheist vs. theist" lines here.

btw...that recipe does sound good.

Hambydammit wrote:
As I've said, I have a very clear understanding of my position on abortion, and I'm very comfortable with it, regardless of political posturing.  Does this mean I'm a cold, calculating shell of a man who doesn't have any human compassion?  Of course not.  Ask anyone.  I'm a very empathetic person, and my preferred field of study -- evolutionary psychology, specializing in human sexuality -- is interesting to me precisely because I want to help other people have a healthy and true understanding of their own bodies and minds.  I'm tired of seeing my friends repeat mistakes over and over because they simply don't understand their own instincts.

Whether it's inner city violence, spouse abuse, genocide in Rwanda, or the destruction of the rain forest, there is something happening in the world that you look at and think, "That sucks, but damn... it's just part of the way the world works,"  and then you go on being a good person in spite of it.  Just because science looks with an unbiased eye at human existence, it doesn't mean that you or I or anyone else must turn into a cold, heartless person.  The true explanation that fetuses are not technically humans doesn't make pregnancy any less wonderful for a couple who's been trying to get pregnant for years.  The fact that a girl who doesn't want a baby gets an abortion doesn't make parenthood any less wonderful for those who love it.

Think of it one more way.  Suppose that scientists discovered, with as much certainty as they have about evolution or gravity, that human fetuses go through a phase where they are not only not human, they are actually chimpanzee -- in every way.  (I know it's stupid and far fetched, but run with it.)  When you have a candlelight dinner with your beloved, and you gaze longingly into each others' eyes, is the experience any less meaningful?  Of course not.  Science doesn't take away from the warmth of your life.  It just explains in true terms why it is as warm and wonderful as it is.

And I am not here to disagree with anything you just said in that block.  I don't know how else I can be clear in saying that while we might not agree on some specific topics...on this thread we are not at odds about what is "alive."

Hambydammit wrote:
Yeah.  I don't know how else to say it.  It's sort of like the ID/evolution "debate."  It isn't a debate at all.  It's just the educated on one side and the ignorant on the other, and occasionally the ignorant say things like, "Hey... you.... um... scientists... you ain't so smart!!!"

Ok... Razorphreak... that last comment was not directed specifically at you (yet).  You seem to be absorbing the information and trying to incorporate it into your worldview.  That's more than I can say for a lot of theists.  However, I have to say this clearly.  If you come to any conclusion other than life being a continuum and sex cells being alive in every sense of the word, you're being delusional and irrational.

Keep in mind that this whole time I was trying to refer to human life although, as you told me before, that was not your concern.  But I do agree that cells no matter their purpose, are life.  If there was nothing more than that to all aspects of the question, including the political and philosophical, we were done a long time ago.  The only difference here is, I never looked at it as a continuum.  Not even as a Christian would I see a conflict in that position.

What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason. - Voltaire


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BobSpence1 wrote:Many

BobSpence1 wrote:

Many Western societies, a couple of centuries back, did not consider dark-skinned Africans to be human.

The United States, however, took a strong stance against such abhorrent views, and agreed that each dark-skinned African was three-fifths of a human.


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Hambydammit wrote:(Speaking

Hambydammit wrote:

(Speaking of which... tonight, I'm making a Tuna, Fennel, Avocado, and Tangerine salad with Citrus Vinaigrette.  I've wanted to try this recipe for months!)

<derail>

1 lb penne + 1 can water-packed tuna (drained) + handful basil chiffonade + zest strips of one lemon = deliciousness.  Try it some time.

</derail>

 

 

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Gonna throw my option into

Gonna throw my option into the pot

 

I "believe" that a "fetus" can be considered human only when it has gained the necessary biological structures to feel pain, as we know it.

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Philosophy and the art of abortion

razorphreak wrote:

What I got to wondering as I kept pondering the point you make here is if the  philosophic is just as important as the biological.  Should we care about the purposes of each stage?  Take Kevin's post for example.  Each time I read it I can't help but think of the extremity of the ideas not just against my own personal opinions but at the same time thinking how many Americans might react to something like that.  Thinking about it can open a Pandora's Box of scenarios not just from the moral aspects of it but think if it had been an option say 100 years ago; would this world have never seen the likes of someone like Hitler or Einstein or for that matter any single person on this forum (whoa)?

But extremes aside, is there more to "life" than just the biological?  If so then I think hamby's point of human life being nothing special (paraphrasing from the "Since humans are just another life form in the same tree, I can't think of any reason to treat humans differently" point) just flew right out the window.  So I wonder, since we agree on the scientific, is the philosophical aspect of "when does life begin" important? 

My personal take: just as important as the biological.

I just want to say, "What BobSpence1 said." I had started a reply to this earlier, got derailed by work (or a work-like activity, anyway), and never came back to it. But, it said pretty much what BobSpence1 said -- I distrust philosophy in general, as it seems to be extremely subjective. I've been in too many discussions about philosophy to believe that it holds any meaningful truth, in general.

That said, I do love the way philosophy provides a method of understanding others' points of view. And also, science as an epistemology is a philosophy, and it has been quite successful at helping us shuck open reality. So I do understand that philosophy has a purpose.

But I think philosophy as a method of defining your own beliefs and morals is important. It allows us to understand each other, and ourselves. We can at least figure out why we get creeped out by the thought of slaughtering a three-month-old baby, even though biology really has very little to say directly on the subject.

As far as finding "more to 'life,'" that's also subjective.

So, with all this subjectivity, I think the only thing to discuss is why you think the things you do, or hold the morals you hold, and so on. I too believe philosophy is also important, very much for the reasons BobSpence1 mentioned: it gives us a social framework. It also helps us understand each other, if we are willing to listen and consider each others' opinions and philosophic foundations.

But I don't think we'll find an objective philosophical answer to the question of "when does life begin." We'll have dozens of well-considered, well-argued answers. As an example, a newborn's brain grows at an extraordinary rate during the first 6 months. As the brain is an important (perhaps defining) part of us being "human," is a newborn as human as a six-month-old?

I guess all I'm saying is, from a personal and societal point of view, the philosophic questions about the beginning of life are important. But near as I can figure, there's no one "right" answer. That means the only real point of discussing it is to illuminate the reasons individuals hold the opinions they hold, and to try to understand each other.

Anyway, that's how I see it. As per usual, I could be way off base.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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razorphreak wrote:kellym78

razorphreak wrote:

kellym78 wrote:
Any cell regardless of its function is useless on its own. It's a large combination of similar cells that make up an organism and the parts required for it to function. It's like the tree/forest analogy. So if a cell is nothing, why is a conglomeration of nothings not also nothing?

My calling it "nothing" had to do purpose, not existence.  Sorry if I wasn't clear.

You're begging the question with the assumption that we have a purpose--or that any organism has a "purpose." If we were going to get technical, our only purpose would be gene proliferation, which would make a lot of the commenters in this thread nothing.


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kellym78 wrote:You're

kellym78 wrote:
You're begging the question with the assumption that we have a purpose--or that any organism has a "purpose." If we were going to get technical, our only purpose would be gene proliferation, which would make a lot of the commenters in this thread nothing.

Strictly along scientific lines, ok sure, but I thought were were discussing cells, not people.  Every cell has a function, i.e. purpose.  Sperm and eggs from humans (indeed any animal) each has a purpose as the means to reproduce.  If only one exists, then by itself it is nothing as its function/purpose cannot be achieved.  Again, this is what I meant by "nothing."

What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason. - Voltaire


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razorphreak wrote:kellym78

razorphreak wrote:

kellym78 wrote:
You're begging the question with the assumption that we have a purpose--or that any organism has a "purpose." If we were going to get technical, our only purpose would be gene proliferation, which would make a lot of the commenters in this thread nothing.

Strictly along scientific lines, ok sure, but I thought were were discussing cells, not people.  Every cell has a function, i.e. purpose.  Sperm and eggs from humans (indeed any animal) each has a purpose as the means to reproduce.  If only one exists, then by itself it is nothing as its function/purpose cannot be achieved.  Again, this is what I meant by "nothing."

Just like one isolated human individual cannot reproduce.

Adult humans are sperm and egg cells way to generate more of themselves

I think you are way too hung up on this "purpose" thing. I would much prefer the less question-begging term "function".

There are plenty more ways to judge the value of a life-form than just its function within some larger system. What is the purpose of a human life? Is someone only of value if they reproduce, or perhaps if they make some other significant contribution to society?

What is the "purpose" of human society, civilization? Surely, you are missing something if you value something only because you perceive it has some function, or "purpose". Having a function in some larger system is a significant aspect of an entity, but that seems to me a very crudely utilitarian way to assess the 'value' of something in itself, appropriate to our tools and labour-saving machines. Makes me think of people who see themselves as 'cogs in the machine' of some large organisation - they have a clear purpose. Is that something we should aspire to?

I will grant that for single cells, their value to us is pretty much dominated by their function realtive to us, which makes sperm and egg cells very important, those inhabiting our guts also quite important (to our continuing health), all the way thru to the very negative value of disease-causing bacteria.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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life begins

Life begins the day your kids get their own place and move out.


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razorphreak wrote:I had been

razorphreak wrote:

I had been debating someone on a different online forum about some political issues and it turned into a conservative vs. liberal debate, to which I posed the question what exactly is a liberal and what is a conservative.  The response I got was defining a liberal as "Modern liberalism is infused with idea that truth is relative. Surveys consistently show this. And if truth is relative, it also must follow that honesty is subjective."  So I asked for an example of when truth could be relative and I was given as a liberal example, "A human embryo is only a human after the first trimester, and a "partial-birth" abortion is not a death (explain partial birth)." 

Anyway I got to wondering, how do you guys define when life started?  I couldn't exactly find any concrete position here so I thought I'd put the question up for debate.

And forgive if this has been a previous post...

I don't know about anyone else but I would say "life starts when you make out of your parents house alive"

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for real this time

razorphreak wrote:

I had been debating someone on a different online forum about some political issues and it turned into a conservative vs. liberal debate, to which I posed the question what exactly is a liberal and what is a conservative.  The response I got was defining a liberal as "Modern liberalism is infused with idea that truth is relative. Surveys consistently show this. And if truth is relative, it also must follow that honesty is subjective."  So I asked for an example of when truth could be relative and I was given as a liberal example, "A human embryo is only a human after the first trimester, and a "partial-birth" abortion is not a death (explain partial birth)." 

Anyway I got to wondering, how do you guys define when life started?  I couldn't exactly find any concrete position here so I thought I'd put the question up for debate.

And forgive if this has been a previous post...

3.8 billion years ago

bodhi


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Life began 3.8 billion years

Life began 3.8 billion years ago ???

I 'suggest' multiplying that by 'infinity'. Transitional fluxuations are not beginnings nor special.  Spectacular YES! , IMO , based on excited stardust carbon, me, life.    !(?)!

"Life": the transitional event when energy and matter become "alive" as most often scientifically defined in biology.


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I AM GOD AS YOU wrote:Life

I AM GOD AS YOU wrote:

Life began 3.8 billion years ago ???

I 'suggest' multiplying that by 'infinity'. Transitional fluxuations are not beginnings nor special.  Spectacular YES! , IMO , based on excited stardust carbon, me, life.    !(?)!

"Life": the transitional event when energy and matter become "alive" as most often scientifically defined in biology.

I was making an associative joke.


 

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Cool bodhi,   and I went

Cool bodhi,   and I went serious   LOL    


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doomed soul, having worked

doomed soul, having worked with severly retarded individuals, who cannot feel pain, by that I mean they place their hand on a hot oven coil and show the same emotion as touching their lunch, do you feel they are human?


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Quote:doomed soul, having

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doomed soul, having worked with severly retarded individuals, who cannot feel pain, by that I mean they place their hand on a hot oven coil and show the same emotion as touching their lunch, do you feel they are human?

I think you've missed a really huge point.  The words, "human," "fetus," "person," "species," and even "life" are not representative of actual empirical divides.  They are relatively specific boxes that hold relatively specific concepts.  Just as you and I are "survival machines" for the genes within us that have been "alive" since the beginning of life, all creatures are survival machines for their genes.  Some of them are so wildly different from each other that they cannot reproduce with each other anymore, so we humans say that they belong to different species.  In reality, all of life is the same thing -- an expression of four letters in strands of DNA.

Within the scientific box, a creature that shares the same genome as other humans is a human.  If it has a mutation that expresses as severe retardation or lack of sensory perception, then it is, in evolutionary terms, unlucky.  I can't think of any reason why severely retarded people ought not be considered persons under the law.

 

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razorphreak wrote:Anyway I

razorphreak wrote:

Anyway I got to wondering, how do you guys define when life started?  I couldn't exactly find any concrete position here so I thought I'd put the question up for debate.

My 0.02c in short: Life doesn't begin or end, it just is. And the human existence is, basically, life transformed from one state into another.

Longer answer: Hamby earlier pointed out how a person between the ages of newborn and only a few years is not sentient by some varieties of measure which can be put to that term.

So on a narrow scale defining human sentient babies are not sentient. Doesn't that indicate that humans, by this narrow definition, are 'made' from babies? And if babies are psychologically a different creature to us, then what psychological structure does exist in a baby exists on the continuum of human sentience and extends beyond our definition. While we recognise the baby as biologically alive in a sense quite equal to a developed human while at the same time it is psychologically distant from human life as we know it, we are in part recognising that life becomes human and clearly was an equally significant something else along the way.

Hamby also referred to this in the sense of a continuum of stages which defines life as a whole precluding the notion of dividing it up to single out a beginning or end. And frankly, I agree. Life is a series of transformations into and out of a variety of vaguely distinguishable states, and there is no qualitative difference between a developing foetus and a developing human in terms of life, both are simultaneously living and dying constantly on a cellular level, though the rates differ. To wit, a foetus incorporates less death in its continuous state than a grown human does - is it, then, more alive? (rhetorical question)

Ultimately any definition of when life starts is bound and determined to be nonsense (with possibly the exception of Bodhi's comment) because life doesn't start at all, it is transformed. If we put the question to transformation and ask, at what stage, generally speaking, of transformation does life become human, by the example which Hamby brought up about newborn sentience we can see, the answer entirely depends on what we are defining to be human, by some definitions we can begin to exclude even large numbers of our existing population which are already considered by themselves and others to be people.

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Good morning Australia 

Good morning Australia 

Ishmael (novel) 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_(novel)

    That's interesting .... myth, symbolism .... Thanks again teacher Eloise, messenger of the "Oneness" ....

 


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seen too much wrote:doomed

seen too much wrote:

doomed soul, having worked with severly retarded individuals, who cannot feel pain, by that I mean they place their hand on a hot oven coil and show the same emotion as touching their lunch, do you feel they are human?

No, no i do not consider them human...

Then again, i havent considered myself as human for a long time, either...

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I AM GOD AS YOU wrote:Good

I AM GOD AS YOU wrote:

Good morning Australia 

Thanks IAMGOD Smiling Good morning to you from Australia.

 

I AM GOD AS YOU wrote:

Ishmael (novel) 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_(novel)

    That's interesting .... myth, symbolism ....

Have you ever seen the film Instinct? (Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr) That film is based on Ishmael, but the characters are changed somewhat, in the film the Ishmael character is a man who lived among Gorillas (a talking Gorilla of a different kind), and it's not, by a long shot, all of Ishmael captured on film but I totally recommend it anyhow, it's a very nice adaptation of the story.

I AM GOD AS YOU wrote:

Thanks again teacher Eloise, messenger of the "Oneness" ....

This was me being the most panentheistic I can be. On the subject of life and death the only answer that makes sense to me in light of everything is that they are both the same thing - to live is to die over and over again - that same thing, then, doesn't know death as we know it, it knows life and death as we know our hands and feet, and it's in everything.

The only question left then is in what way is that 'something' a cohesive entity of significance to human existence? Is it nothing more than a static background in which the vectors of our temporal existence lay, or does it entail it's own dynamical system?

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Eloise. I bet I did see the

Eloise. I bet I did see the film "Instinct", but I forget it's message.  Anthony Hopkins is an xlint actor. I will try to see it again. There are web sites that stream many complete movies no longer in the recent box office and for profit market. I will try to find the sites and that movie. I have some catching up to do .... Thanks kind Eloise, you rock. Be extra super nice to your self.

All, as us too, is gawed, whatever all that is !    

 


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I felt really bad when I

I felt really bad when I finally got around to reading Ishmael.  I had a bunch of acquaintances who had recently read it, and all of them said things like, "DUDE!!  Hamby!!  You've got to read this book!  It's going to change the way you think about everything!"  I read the first few pages one day when I got cornered and forced into it.  It didn't grab my attention, but I promised that I would find a used copy, or borrow it from somebody, and read it.  After probably six months of stalling and making up answers for why I hadn't read it yet, I spent an afternoon with it.  After that, I avoided my friends for at least a week because I didn't want to tell them I'd read it.  The thing was, all I could think of after reading it was, "You mean you guys hadn't thought of any of this before?"

I'm not very good at bald face lies, and I found most of Ishmael to be so patently obvious that I almost thought it was a kids book.  Then again, I'm into evolutionary psychology, so things that seem obvious to me aren't necessarily common knowledge.  Then again, I love the fact that there's a book out there that's accessible to the average reader, and does a good job of helping people flip over into a naturalist way of viewing humans.  I even recommend it from time to time to people I know won't read any of the "real" science authors.

In any case, I'm going to see if Netflix has Instinct.  I don't think I've seen it, and I like Hopkins.

 

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Thanks Hamby for all your

Thanks Hamby for all your xlint posts. Is is not "obvious" that we are the "force" or what I call "gawed", like many atheists of the east? Religion and the very discussion of, "yes gawed, no god", is proof that humanity in general is barely out of the "superstition age" .... Gawed? , whatever is, IS. Go science. My primitive Rum rants are an attempt to show that religion and it's god definitions are obviously silly and destructive, to all who can think.   I decided long ago to preach atheism by a road less traveled. This gets me in a bit of trouble but that was the plan, me god !  Hey, and any road of atheism is indeed a good road .... yet no perfect road I have yet found ! LOL    


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I thought the definition of

I thought the definition of life was far from absolute?.

Don't some people consider computer viruses to be approaching that level, they certainly reproduce, mutate use the resources of their enviroment etc?

Should people who use AV software be convicted of animal cruelty Smiling

 

 

 


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Technically, life conforms

Technically, life conforms to the following broad conditions:

Homeostasis -  That is, internal self regulation.

Organization - This is kind of obvious, as any replicator (another condition) will have to be organized as opposed to random, but in general, this is to say that there are unique components that are consistently organized.

Metabolism - consumption of energy through the conversion of nonliving material.  (Food consumed while alive dies before it is converted.)

Growth - there are several specific things that constitute growth.  It isn't just adding matter.  It must become larger in its parts as a result of metabolism.

Adaptation - this is the evolutionary definition of adaptation, that is, responding over time to the environment.

Response to stimuli - this is a shorter term response, as in moving towards or away from light.

Reproduction - just what it says.

 

I'm no computer guru, but I think the case for computer viruses being alive is more metaphorical than literal.  They do reproduce, respond to stimuli, and sometimes adapt through something akin to natural selection, and they are certainly organized, but I think the comparison breaks down when you try to ascribe metabolism or homeostasis.  Viruses don't have bodies to regulate so they can't do either.

Once again, I need to point out that there are two ways of discussing life.  If we are being scientific about it, life is a very specific thing, and there really isn't any wiggle room.  If something is life-like, that's fine, but you can't say it's alive.  Philosophers, on the other hand, can say anything they want, and they're perfectly free to make comparisons between memes and genes and binary replicators.  If the comparisons are philosophically useful, bully for them, but it doesn't add any scientific validity to the statement that something is living.

 

[EDIT: I guess I should mention that viruses are often cited as a gray area between life and non-life.  Virology is one of those subjects I've never gotten into, and I can't claim to know a lot about it.  However, viruses do contain DNA, RNA, or both.  They do mutate.  They are organized.  They do experience recombination.  I can't speak to the subtle differences that make viruses difficult to classify as living in the strictest sense of the word, but I know it's something that gets tossed around often.  Maybe that's what you were thinking of when you said the definition is not absolute.  If that's the case, I think (maybe DG can correct me if I'm wrong) that it would be more correct to say that viruses are a gray area, not the definition of life.]

 

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when life ends for millions of...

Please help stop the cruelty, every day man murder millions!?. where is the humanity.

to help stop this insanity please remember god kills a kitten every time you m.....

P.S this one's for the LoL's


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Eloise wisely asks, "The

Eloise wisely asks, "The only question left then is in what way is that 'something' a cohesive entity of significance to human existence? Is it nothing more than a static background in which the vectors of our temporal existence lay, or does it entail it's own dynamical system?" ~~~

     Interesting question and poet wording. LOL

This is over my head of course, but I will answer ... That "something", all of what is, in a 100% connected sense is simply "ONE". I think of this "cohesive" glue holding the seemly infinite "parts" together as the greatest mystery. I call this mystery gawed, the glue !

GAWED "glue" I don't believe is conscious, or self aware, or with self purpose. One of my favorite definitions of "g-o-d glue", is WTF.  G-O-D is all a science question for me. Religion is an xlint lesson in idol inventing, as you so know.

I hope you laugh alot, our cool Eloise ..., a "savior, a healer", a teacher, a student.


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Hambydammit wrote:I felt

Hambydammit wrote:

I felt really bad when I finally got around to reading Ishmael.  I had a bunch of acquaintances who had recently read it, and all of them said things like, "DUDE!!  Hamby!!  You've got to read this book!  It's going to change the way you think about everything!"  I read the first few pages one day when I got cornered and forced into it.  It didn't grab my attention, but I promised that I would find a used copy, or borrow it from somebody, and read it.  After probably six months of stalling and making up answers for why I hadn't read it yet, I spent an afternoon with it.  After that, I avoided my friends for at least a week because I didn't want to tell them I'd read it.  The thing was, all I could think of after reading it was, "You mean you guys hadn't thought of any of this before?"

I'm not very good at bald face lies, and I found most of Ishmael to be so patently obvious that I almost thought it was a kids book.  Then again, I'm into evolutionary psychology, so things that seem obvious to me aren't necessarily common knowledge.  Then again, I love the fact that there's a book out there that's accessible to the average reader, and does a good job of helping people flip over into a naturalist way of viewing humans.  I even recommend it from time to time to people I know won't read any of the "real" science authors.

In any case, I'm going to see if Netflix has Instinct.  I don't think I've seen it, and I like Hopkins.

 

While I enjoyed Ishmael and agree w/ many of Quinn's concepts, it seemed to almost deify the 'Noble Savage" viewpoint, which although might be viewed as romantic, is not altogether true.

Ishmael is the first of (3) books Quinn wrote on the same subjec:

2.) My Ishmael

3.) The Story of B

Of the 3, The Story of B was easily my favorite.  Quinn's storytelling improves w/ this one and it has a more interesting plot.  The plot revolves around a mysterious character referred to as "B" who threatens the authority/hegemony of the church & faces multiple threats of assasination (B referring to the scarlet letter once worn by those who dared "blaspheme" the church).

Quinn takes on religion's role in our current society's predicament and how they have aided the "taker" ideology that threatens the planet.

Quinn makes the connection between the biblical "fall of man" mythology and the beginning of totalitarian agriculture (ala Jared Diamond), making the same connection many philosophers have already made  that the fall coincidentally coincides w/ the emergence of social privelege.

If you're going to read anything by Quinn beyond Ishmael, I definitely recommend reading the 3rd installment. 

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
George Orwell


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Quote:While I enjoyed

Quote:
While I enjoyed Ishmael and agree w/ many of Quinn's concepts, it seemed to almost deify the 'Noble Savage" viewpoint, which although might be viewed as romantic, is not altogether true.

Very true, now that I'm thinking about it.  I suppose the focus for my friends was more on the idea that modern civilization isn't something magical or sacrosanct, but rather just an extension of what we were before we figured out fire and agriculture.  I suppose I basically glossed over the romantic appeal of the whole "life would be better if we lived simpler lives."  I don't think he ever came out and patently endorsed the noble savage idea or said that life would be perfect if we lived like that.  To me, he was basically saying, "Look, it doesn't have to be the way it is."

Then again, it's been several years, so I might be remembering wrong.  I can't say I remember much besides Takers and Leavers.  Actually, now that I remember that, you're right.  That is really skewed towards the noble savage.  (Instead of rewriting this, I'm letting you see my thought process in detail, as if you cared.)

In any case, I suppose that for people who really need a myth, Ishmael isn't the worst thing in the world for them to latch onto.  While the noble savage idea is distinctly wrong, I don't think it's as inherently harmful as theism.

 

 

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
While I enjoyed Ishmael and agree w/ many of Quinn's concepts, it seemed to almost deify the 'Noble Savage" viewpoint, which although might be viewed as romantic, is not altogether true.

Very true, now that I'm thinking about it.  I suppose the focus for my friends was more on the idea that modern civilization isn't something magical or sacrosanct, but rather just an extension of what we were before we figured out fire and agriculture.  I suppose I basically glossed over the romantic appeal of the whole "life would be better if we lived simpler lives."  I don't think he ever came out and patently endorsed the noble savage idea or said that life would be perfect if we lived like that.  To me, he was basically saying, "Look, it doesn't have to be the way it is."

Then again, it's been several years, so I might be remembering wrong.  I can't say I remember much besides Takers and Leavers.  Actually, now that I remember that, you're right.  That is really skewed towards the noble savage.  (Instead of rewriting this, I'm letting you see my thought process in detail, as if you cared.)

In any case, I suppose that for people who really need a myth, Ishmael isn't the worst thing in the world for them to latch onto.  While the noble savage idea is distinctly wrong, I don't think it's as inherently harmful as theism.

 

 

Actually I hesitate to even critique what Quinn has accomplished w/ these books because I tend to agree w/ him on so many things.

Mostly that our current world condition tends toward the destructive and has the potential to be downright catastrophic.

It takes intelligence, a critical eye and a certain amount of courage to even express such a thing and that seems far too rare these days.

 

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
George Orwell