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60 Anti-Abortion Arguments Refuted (part 4)

8. "Personhood obviously begins at conception because, if you consider the question, 'When did your life begin?', then where would you be if it had been aborted?" BAD DATA, again --that is, this argument fails because it includes a faulty premise about "life", and confuses it with "personhood".

First, there are different types of "life". There is biological life, of course, but one day in the not-distant future there could be machine-life, too. Then there is the phrase "get a life!" which refers to something else altogether. And here is a cartoon presenting yet-another definition:
There are other and similarly-facetious definitions, of course, which need not be mentioned here.

The question "When did your life begin?" brings up the concept of "I", an entity who might offer an answer to that question. So, when does an "I" begin? What exactly is an "I"? Consider these concepts: "body", "mind", "spirit", "ego", "superego", and "id". Some of those items may overlap in meaning, but the average walking human is often claimed to be associated with all those concepts, related to "I".

Let us examine some of them more closely. In recent years it was discovered that the average "physical human body" is actually composed of something like 9% human cells and 90% bacterial cells. They mostly co-exist symbiotically, needing each other to survive, as a sort-of overall "society of organisms", or even an "ecosystem".
scientificamerican.com/ ... ultimate-social-network-bacteria-protects-health

The human-cell portion of that ecosystem begins to exist at conception; it is certainly a living organism. The womb is a fairly sterile environment, so this part of the overall (future) body grows alone, until birth. After birth, through such agencies as simple exposure to the real-world environment, and certain key things like mother's milk, the next phase begins, of a physical human life. It starts entering into symbiosis with essential bacteria, becoming a full ecosystem of mutually beneficial organisms. After the process completes, the extremely small bacterial cells will outnumber the large human cells by about ten to one.

Abortion opponents may now have a dilemma, even without examining other aspects of a "human life". Did it really begin at conception, if such a crucial-for-its-existence part of it, 90% of its cells, even though none of them are human(!), don't get involved until after birth (and when did that 90% begin to exist, anyhow?)???

Then there is "twinning", which poses an additional problem. The details of how twinning happens were discovered in the 20th Century, and, basically, a few days after conception, a single human organism might split to become identical twins --or even identical triplets.

Well, since identical twins/triplets simply don't physically exist as individuals until days after conception, exactly when should it be claimed that "life" began for just one of them?

A completely new factor, in the description of "human life", was discovered a couple decades ago. An extremely relevant video documentary about this is presented at intervals on the "Discovery Health Channel", titled, "I Am My Own Twin".

It turns out that when fraternal twins are conceived (two completely separate egg-fertilizations), the resulting organisms don't always stay separate. It is possible for them to merge together, to "jointly as a team" construct a single overall and often fairly ordinary-looking human body. The brain might be constructed by one member of the team; the heart might be constructed by the other member of the team. And so on.

This process is called "chimerism", and it is basically just another variation on the theme of a "society of organisms". The relevant fact here is, the merging of the two original organisms occurs several days after conception, much like the formation of identical twins/triplets. When exactly do we say that this chimeric human life began? The two conceptions might have occurred hours apart!

Moving on, let's examine another concept. The human mind develops differently from the body, and it is our minds that have allowed us to become the top predator of this planet, to an extent never equaled by any prior species here. Not only do we consume a vast variety of other animal species, from bugs to whales, we also consume mountains and forests and rivers! For many who support abortion rights, the human mind is what qualifies us as persons; the body is just a "vehicle" for the mind (and your eyes are equivalent to twin windshields of that vehicle, through which you see stuff). The mind is certainly more closely associated than the body, with the concept of "I", since it is the mind that must construct the answer to "When did your life begin?".

Well, when does that "I" begin to exist? This question now presents a dilemma to abortion-rights supporters, since it doesn't seem to have an exact answer, partly because some things are still unknown, about the full definition of what an "I" is. It is claimed that basic brain activity begins in an unborn human at about 6-8 weeks after conception; this activity is associated with low-level stuff like the heartbeat, and little else. Some higher-level brain activities may begin about 22-24 weeks. Or does it really happen that way?

Well, regardless, the overall type and magnitude of those brain activities are easily exceeded by many ordinary animals. If we were to declare that an unborn human is a person because of that level of brain activity, then animals like frogs and rabbits should be declared to be persons, too. Maybe even certain insects would qualify, such as an adult praying mantis. (Have you ever looked closely into the non-faceted eyes of one? That bug is aware!)

The fact is, a human typically does not begin to exceed most ordinary animals in terms of brain activity until about a year after birth. The "I" grows so smoothly from such a minimal start that nobody knows how to specify what its most relevant "beginning" really is.

Finally, about the "spirit". There are different definitions for that, just as there are different meanings for "life". Here the "soul" definition will be used; this document is not going to shy away from Religious concepts. That's because even those concepts don't lead to valid logical self-consistent arguments against abortion; those concepts are mostly used for nothing more than illogical claims.

Well, here's some actual self-consistent logic, based on at least one actual fact. Anything that can begin to exist as a result of some purely physical process can also be destroyed by some other purely physical process. Meanwhile, souls are supposed to be immortal, immune to physical destruction. Logically, this means it is impossible for a soul to exist as a physical thing, and it cannot begin to exist as a result of some purely physical event, such as a human egg-fertilization/conception. It means that if a soul is to begin to exist, whenever that might be, some sort of non-physical process is required, such as an Act of God.

It is likely that abortion opponents who base their arguments on Religion won't have a problem with that. However, this next thing is rather different. The Law of Cause and Effect is mostly in charge of the day-to-day workings of the physical Universe. Not God.

Science has discovered that, regardless of whether or not God exists, and regardless of whether or not the Universe was Created, the way the Universe works does not require God to be behind the scenes, consciously manipulating events. Review this this previously presented link:
physique. ... /Bell/references/Aspect_Nature.pdf

Because the Law of Cause and Effect exists, God can Rest, letting that Law do all the boring work in the Universe, such as throwing most lighting bolts from one cloudy part of the sky to another cloudy part of the sky, hundreds of times a day on trillions of planets for billions of years.

(continued next post)
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