Science: June 2004 Archives

New technology reveals much about fetal development, including certain behavior occurring much earlier than previously thought. See also Evangelical Outpost and La Shawn Barber
ht and thanks to Tim Challies for posting on this early enough for me to find it first.

Most of these posts consider the relevance of this issue to abortion. I don't think this will affect in any way the insistence of pro-choice philosophers to list a bunch of properties not yet true of a fetus and to define personhood by them, then saying that moral status only comes when you have those properties. Since the argument is circular, they can just change whatever properties they'll insist are required for personhood, and you'll still come out saying mentally handicapped people aren't persons. You'll just have to say that more of them are. Once you allow circular arguments, you allow people to get away with such moves.

Still, what some of these posts are suggesting is right. 'Murder' is a legal term, and the law as defined by judicial activism allows abortion, so I don't see how abortion can be murder at this point, but it is the killing of a living human being, biologically distinct from its mother even if it's biologically dependent on her (which I think is a moral reason to presume against abortion rather than for the right to abort). I don't see why defining personhood to exclude this kind of human being should lower our estimation of the horror of such a killing.

Crispus raises some thoughtful questions about stem-cell research. One issue (for another time) is whether it's wrong or ok to end the life of a human organism for the purpose of possibly helping other human organisms to avoid a debilitating disease. Crispus raises a different issue.

My question: if stem-cell research is the next big thing, then why isn't private industry all over it? The research and development dollars they plugged in would be more than made up by profits from medicinal cures. Could it be that it's too iffy an enterprise and they want a government guarantee?

I haven't thought about this aspect of the issue before. Is the lack of commercial interest a good sign of the low potential for research progress?

Meanwhile, in both the cagtegory of science news and the category of "What the Pork?", an Iranian woman has supposedly given birth to a frog after having picked up the embryo while swimming in a dirty pool. Thanks to Patriot Paradox for posting the link.

My list of favorite posts is getting fairly long, and I've decided to remove some of the earlier ones. I still want to have a link to them, so I'm linking to them in this post, and then I'll put this post in the list of favorite posts. That way the list will be shorter, but I'll be able to find them fairly easily without having to search the whole site.

New low for racist left looks at a poster making fun of National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice that I believe to be racist. I explain why in the post, and somehow some slack-jawed yokels found the post, completely ignored my reasoning and everything about me that a quick look around my site would reveal, and proceeded to call me a racist. It was probably the most commented-on entry in the history of my blog, and the comments are quite characteristic of the average response to the kind of point I was making, which is simply to ignore it and change the subject, to charge me with things I never said and don't believe, and to take everything I said in the most uncharitable way possible.

Pacifism links to my fairly comprehensive teaching notes on arguments for and against pacifism, including both philosophical and biblical arguments.

Personhood and Abortion summarizes some of my views on abortion, in response to some statements by Senator Sam Brownback (R, KS). Careful-thinking people realize that personhood is the central issue in the debate (not life or humanity), but personhood by itself itself doesn't decide the issue one way or the other, giving pro-life and pro-choice reasons for thinking that. I offer two considerations that should also come into play, one having to do with violence and the other from the fact that we view very early miscarriages as unfortunate but not as bad as losing a child at a later developmental stage.

Update: I've removed some of the posts originally in this entry and put them into a topical one on apologetics, because they belong there. This one's a little haphazard themewise.

Update 2: I've moved more into Christian Ethics Posts. This post is getting smaller and smaller.

Weekend Roundup II

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Here's some more stuff I've been catching up on from the weekend away:

The universe has been expanding faster than the speed of light (via Volokh).

Poliblogger links to a story about three washed-up action hero actors playing three washed-up action hero actors who open up a private investigtor firm. The actors? William Shatner, Robert Wagner, and Lee Majors. I'd watch that.

King of Fools points out that John Kerry is now advocating unilateral engagement with North Korea. He's also got a good post on lust and objectification that picks up on themes I blogged about recently.

Bill Hobbs gives a mini-roundup of connections between Saddam and al Qaeda (link from One Hand Clapping).

Rebecca Writes gives some helpful reflections on the moral implications of Philippians 2:1-8, including just what it is about Jesus' giving of himself that Paul is telling the Philippians to imitate. This post got a mention on Blogs4God.

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