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when does human life begin? Login/Join 
<joseph c. rat-stinger>
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catholic teaching forbids abortion because supposdely the life of an individual human being begins at conception. most christian denominations go along with this.

but where does this teaching come from? it's nowhere in Scripture, and natural law as articulated by the ancients had no understanding of sperm and eggs, stem cells and the like.

consider this:
- twinning can happen many hours after conception, when there are already many cells in the embryo. does this mean that God infused two souls into the fertilized egg? or does God make one soul initially, then add another one later? how do we explain this?

- in vitro fertilization produces many fertilized eggs; the purpose is to implant them in a woman's uterus and grow the embryo as in any pregnancy. is the church saying that every one of those fertilized eggs is an individual human being? is God so bound by this biological reality as to have no choice about infusing a soul just because an egg is fertilized?

- cloning. we're not even talking about fertilized eggs here, but about taking the nucleus of a stem cell and replacing the nucleus of an unfertilized egg with this nucleus, which then begins to divide and grow into a new human being (theortetically--probably). would such a clone have a soul? if it develops into a human being with mind, etc., how could we say it doesn't?

it seems that these are all new questions and no doubt they are being discussed somewhere. how they are answered will have impact on the Church's condemnation of abortion. for if an abortion is really ending the life of an ensouled human being, then it's not murder, etc.

tough times for christian ethicists and philosphers!

j.c.r. Wink
 
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Yes, tough times for ethicists and philosophers!

But I don't think this means that we can't continue to affirm the dignity of human life no matter what its form may be and so I see no need to revise our moral code in light of these new developments.

Any cell that is destined to develop into a human individual ought to be considered a human life and its desctruction ought to be condemned by the Church.

As for when the soul was given, who knows. Perhaps God gives two souls to a fertilized egg, which is why it splits and becomes twins. Who knows?
 
Posts: 43 | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Concerned Catholic:
[qb]
Any cell that is destined to develop into a human individual ought to be considered a human life and its desctruction ought to be condemned by the Church.

As for when the soul was given, who knows. Perhaps God gives two souls to a fertilized egg, which is why it splits and becomes twins. Who knows?[/qb]


Quite so, Chris! Traditional Catholic teaching has emphasized that the soul is for the body and the body for the soul. This means that the soul is the intelligence that guides the body's development, and the development which takes place is for the soul to express in the physical plane.

I have read, however, that even St. Thomas Aquinas was not convinced of the need to say that the soul was given at the moment of conception. He thought a certain level of complexity had to be attained first. Other Catholic theologians/philosophers have maintained the same, but the Church never accepted this for two reasons: 1, to safeguard against abortions; 2, the impossibility of saying when the soul was actually given. I'm not sure if Catholicism would consider ensoulment at conception a doctrine, but I suspect it is, or is certainly treated as though it were such.

With the issue of stem cells and cloning, however, we have some very new questions to wrestle with, so I appreciate with Mr. rat-singer Smiler is trying to say about this. Your point, however, that a cell destined to develop into a human being ought to be considered a human life is a good one, I think.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good points rat-stinger!

Have you read, 'A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion' by Daniel A Dombrowski and Robert Deltete, profs of philosophy at Seattle Uhiversity? It point out many of the contradictions in the Church's teachings on abortion.

Also, there are bona fide religions that do not see life beginning at conception.

And, if the Church is, in reality, pro-life...why isn't it pro-life when it comes to the children violated by pedophile priests?...I don't see much of a campaign or advertizing about that......or how about the woman who has been raped by her husband?...where is the Church's pro-life stance there? Or the woman who has been abused in general? What happens to the pro-life stance there? I don't see millions of dollars being spent on any of these other issues.

Perhaps, what the Church really means is pro-zygote, pro-fetus? It should be more specific.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good points rat-stinger!

Have you read, 'A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion' by Daniel A Dombrowski and Robert Deltete, profs of philosophy at Seattle Uhiversity? It point out many of the contradictions in the Church's teachings on abortion.


Such as. . .?

Also, there are bona fide religions that do not see life beginning at conception.

Yes, and there are bona fide religions which:
- make no distinctions between God and creation,
- teach reincarnation,
- condemn the Christian teaching on God as Trinity,
- suppress women's rights.

And, if the Church is, in reality, pro-life...why isn't it pro-life when it comes to the children violated by pedophile priests?...I don't see much of a campaign or advertizing about that......

Pedophilia is condemned, of course, and priests guilty of this in these days are generally "de-frocked." That it doesn't make the front page of USA Today doesn't mean it's not condemned.

or how about the woman who has been raped by her husband?...where is the Church's pro-life stance there? Or the woman who has been abused in general? What happens to the pro-life stance there? I don't see millions of dollars being spent on any of these other issues.

Several years ago, the Pope caught a lot of flack for suggesting that husbands ought not act commit acts of lust with their wives. Respectful sexual relationships in marriage are of course promoted, and raping of spouses or anyone is condemned. So is the abuse of women. Why would you believe otherwise?

Perhaps, what the Church really means is pro-zygote, pro-fetus? It should be more specific.

Well, I could point you to quite a few documents if you're interested in reading them. Only say the word. . . but you'll have to register first to post here.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For me personally, this is a rather easy question to answer. I believe life begins at conception but my reasons are perhaps a little different so I thought I would share them. I recently spent time with a couple who were going through the pain of a miscarriage. In talking with the father, he expressed guilt because he did not seem to feel the loss as deeply as his wife. I was not surprised. I don't think most men are able to grasp the absolute reality of a child until they at least feel the child moving and some may not until the child is born. The woman on the other hand, is made aware of the presence of life simply by the changes she experiences in her own body. These changes begin at conception and therefore for me life begins at conception... the new life impacts upon another in a very real way. What is simply a concept for a man, at least in the early stages of a pregnancy, is a reality for a woman - or at least it was for me and for other women I have talked with. It wasn't simply a bunch of cells growing with my body, but a baby - a new life. So my belief is not rooted in religion or science but in my own experience of pregnancy. For me it is enough.
 
Posts: 278 | Location: Pennslyvania | Registered: 12 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It wasn't simply a bunch of cells growing with my body, but a baby - a new life. So my belief is not rooted in religion or science but in my own experience of pregnancy. For me it is enough.

----------

I had to smile at this one, Wanda. My Dad (father of eight children--I'm the oldest) has a saying, When a woman thinks she's pregnant, she is! This seems to resonate with what you're saying.

Not too many mothers, I don't think, argue that the life growing in their womb is a human being, an individual person. They establish a deep relationship with this little one almost from the start.

Of course, there ARE women who don't want to be pregnant with the life they carry--and for a wide variety of reasons (some like rape or incest seem especially compelling). But their desire to abort their little ones hardly constitutes a philosophical principle for evaluating whether or not what is being aborted is a human life or not. Rather, it's an unwanted human life, which seems tragic enough without moving to the more drastic solution of abortion--especially when so many are willing to adopt.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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