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Origin of Life

Melodist

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minasoliman said:
Melodist said:
minasoliman said:
In fact there was another thread a while back on this same issue where I pretty much talked about how cloning may force us to change the "life begins at conception" theory.
I guess the question would be "when does the old tissue receive a new personal identity". Seeing how, last I heard, cloning required the genetic information to be inserted into a new egg to be developed, it could be argued that it becomes a new person at that point. If we get to a place where complex organisms can be cloned by regeneration from just a piece of tissue belonging to the original subject, things might get a little more complicated.
I think you'll enjoy this discussion  :)

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20098.0.html
Some interesting points in there to think about concerning genetic material and what makes a person physically unique and identifiable. We still have the questions from the religious POV, "Do we believe the Word became flesh?" and "At what point during Mary's pregnancy?".
 

JamesRottnek

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Does the point at which a fertilized egg has a right to life (even if such point is the point of birth) really matter in any fundamental way?  Shouldn't we, instead of lobbying to outlaw abortion - something that is usually not going to succeed, and will only serve to make more abstractions out of more people, and cause more people to hate those abstractions, and the people they associate with them - perhaps focus on real efforts to minimize the number of people who choose to abort babies?  Perhaps, instead of debating when abortion becomes a killing or a murder or whatever term you wish to use, we should be discussing how to promote birth control, such as condoms, and teaching people to properly use them, and discussing how to provide - as a society - for unwed (and otherwise poor) mothers and their children, and work to make adoptions easier, and encourage more Americans to stop going to godawful countries like China and Haiti and adopting all their infants, when they could instead be meeting with poor pregnant women, including unwed teen soon-to-be-mothers, and arranging the adoption of those children, so that they are not aborted?  Wouldn't this be a more useful expenditure of time and energy?
 

Achronos

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JamesRottnek said:
Does the point at which a fertilized egg has a right to life (even if such point is the point of birth) really matter in any fundamental way?  Shouldn't we, instead of lobbying to outlaw abortion - something that is usually not going to succeed, and will only serve to make more abstractions out of more people, and cause more people to hate those abstractions, and the people they associate with them - perhaps focus on real efforts to minimize the number of people who choose to abort babies?  Perhaps, instead of debating when abortion becomes a killing or a murder or whatever term you wish to use, we should be discussing how to promote birth control, such as condoms, and teaching people to properly use them, and discussing how to provide - as a society - for unwed (and otherwise poor) mothers and their children, and work to make adoptions easier, and encourage more Americans to stop going to godawful countries like China and Haiti and adopting all their infants, when they could instead be meeting with poor pregnant women, including unwed teen soon-to-be-mothers, and arranging the adoption of those children, so that they are not aborted?  Wouldn't this be a more useful expenditure of time and energy?
But we do educate and promote contraceptive use. The problem is that it's just not enough. Plus we should have the freedom to have contraceptives or not. Now I do agree that those who willingly not use contraceptives and the female is pregnant is ultimately responsible for its birth. But when they don't want the birth it's either abortion or adoption. So I think there should still be a focus on outlawing abortion then we will see a change in sexual ideology.
 

minasoliman

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Melodist said:
minasoliman said:
Melodist said:
minasoliman said:
In fact there was another thread a while back on this same issue where I pretty much talked about how cloning may force us to change the "life begins at conception" theory.
I guess the question would be "when does the old tissue receive a new personal identity". Seeing how, last I heard, cloning required the genetic information to be inserted into a new egg to be developed, it could be argued that it becomes a new person at that point. If we get to a place where complex organisms can be cloned by regeneration from just a piece of tissue belonging to the original subject, things might get a little more complicated.
I think you'll enjoy this discussion  :)

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20098.0.html
Some interesting points in there to think about concerning genetic material and what makes a person physically unique and identifiable. We still have the questions from the religious POV, "Do we believe the Word became flesh?" and "At what point during Mary's pregnancy?".
That was also talked about in the thread.  And I believe ozgeorge made a good point that you can't compare the Incarnation to man's conception.  For man, our question is when does personhood begin in the embryo.  In Christ, the person is the Word of God, pre-existent.  Second of all, and this is my own argument, there was no fusion of sperm and egg.  This was a full-blown virgin miracle.  We don't know at what point or how Christ was made man out of woman's seed alone, but somehow it happened.  So at this particular issue, you cannot compare as well.  Either way, personhood and the way the incarnation was done, the point you make seems invalid.
 

vamrat

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JamesRottnek said:
Does the point at which a fertilized egg has a right to life (even if such point is the point of birth) really matter in any fundamental way?  Shouldn't we, instead of lobbying to outlaw abortion - something that is usually not going to succeed, and will only serve to make more abstractions out of more people, and cause more people to hate those abstractions, and the people they associate with them - perhaps focus on real efforts to minimize the number of people who choose to abort babies?  Perhaps, instead of debating when abortion becomes a killing or a murder or whatever term you wish to use, we should be discussing how to promote birth control, such as condoms, and teaching people to properly use them, and discussing how to provide - as a society - for unwed (and otherwise poor) mothers and their children, and work to make adoptions easier, and encourage more Americans to stop going to godawful countries like China and Haiti and adopting all their infants, when they could instead be meeting with poor pregnant women, including unwed teen soon-to-be-mothers, and arranging the adoption of those children, so that they are not aborted?  Wouldn't this be a more useful expenditure of time and energy?
"Wouldn't this be a more useful expenditure of time and energy?"

Yes, I very much believe that it would be.  But then, here is the problem:

"...and work to make adoptions easier..."

Anything the .govs get their fingers in is going to be difficult.  I think the main thing is that there would have to be a "no strings attached" policy.  I'm not exactly sure how adoptions work in the US, as is, but I think that it would be easier to get people to adopt if there were something in place where the natural mother of the child has no right to ever try and get back into the life of the child without explicit consent from the adopted parents.  I can see that being a sticky issue.  At least when the natural mother is some peasant in China with no means of contact the parents know that they will be able to raise the child without interference.

This may not actually be an issue, once again, I know almost nothing about the adoption laws and process.

One thing I do know is that adoptions can be very expensive.  I think that it would be in society's best interest to make it cheap for someone who has the desire to adopt since they are doing a service to society, rather than adoption being a service rendered to the potential parents.
 

vamrat

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orthonorm said:
vamrat said:
orthonorm said:
Kerdy said:
I thought someone was going to prove the instant life begins.  I am interested in seeing the empirical, irrefutable evidence.
Then your grasp of the science of "life" ended somewhere before middle school. There are different sorts of inquiry appropriate to different questions. Sometimes multiple forms of inquiry each with answers differing in their content but just as rigorous and truth to their method exist.

This thread is to allow such a mixture of methods to occur.
So, how should I frame my inquiry to ascertain at which point you would consider human life to begin?
If you are talking to me, you don't need to. I'll get to it. But to think that science has some sorta "irrefutable claims" is silly, since many folks would argue that for any claim to be considered within the realm of science it must necessarily be capable of being refuted. I am trying to help Kerdy as much as I can.

And I doubt that something like science is going to offer a meaningful answer. The fact the people flock to science or some "point" along the way to understand life is completely bassackwards.

And all my posts are answers. I fear before this is over, people will accuse me for being more cryptic than ever.
FWIW, I don't give a hoot damn for how science would answer this problems.  In fact, I really don't care if you give any backing to your claim at all, I would just be interested to know when you consider a human child to be considered a human child.

In all honesty, despite the grandiose title of this thread, I am much more interested in whether or not you can give give a straight answer to a question without excess sophistry, than I am with the actual question.  It's a subjective question, though all I am interested in is a raw, gut, answer.  Full of opinion and short on rationalization.
 

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Opus118 said:
Kerdy said:
Until we can clearly define when life begins, all other arguments are futile.
Isn't this the real question? I am also not sure what other arguments are at issue here.
Until we can clearly define when life begins, all other arguments are futile.

Biologists generally have a definition for this. It allows them to make statements that viruses and mitochondria aren't living organisms.
This is the real question, and one I don't think we'll ever have a definitive answer to. In the other thread I brought up ensoulment- this is a supernatural occurrence. There is no test we can run, no empirical evidence to give us any answers as to when this occurs.

There is no "until we can define". IMO, we'll never be able to define it. Which isn't to say I don't think it's worth talking about, but there are real issues with real life implications and no possibility of concrete answers, unless God has an 800 number I'm unaware of.
 

orthonorm

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vamrat said:
orthonorm said:
vamrat said:
orthonorm said:
Kerdy said:
I thought someone was going to prove the instant life begins.  I am interested in seeing the empirical, irrefutable evidence.
Then your grasp of the science of "life" ended somewhere before middle school. There are different sorts of inquiry appropriate to different questions. Sometimes multiple forms of inquiry each with answers differing in their content but just as rigorous and truth to their method exist.

This thread is to allow such a mixture of methods to occur.
So, how should I frame my inquiry to ascertain at which point you would consider human life to begin?
If you are talking to me, you don't need to. I'll get to it. But to think that science has some sorta "irrefutable claims" is silly, since many folks would argue that for any claim to be considered within the realm of science it must necessarily be capable of being refuted. I am trying to help Kerdy as much as I can.

And I doubt that something like science is going to offer a meaningful answer. The fact the people flock to science or some "point" along the way to understand life is completely bassackwards.

And all my posts are answers. I fear before this is over, people will accuse me for being more cryptic than ever.
FWIW, I don't give a hoot damn for how science would answer this problems.  In fact, I really don't care if you give any backing to your claim at all, I would just be interested to know when you consider a human child to be considered a human child.

In all honesty, despite the grandiose title of this thread, I am much more interested in whether or not you can give give a straight answer to a question without excess sophistry, than I am with the actual question.  It's a subjective question, though all I am interested in is a raw, gut, answer.  Full of opinion and short on rationalization.
I never engage in sophistry or hardly ever.

In fact I would suggest that presupposing there is something like a "gut answer" to anything worth discussing is sophistry (rhetoric in service of ideology) at its most powerful.

To be honest, and I have tried to honestly figure out if I have a "gut reaction" to your question, I don't have one.

In fact, I rarely have "gut reactions" to such things as I have usually taken some time throughout my life to think about such matters in some depth.

Seriously, I've been overrun with work and my mysterious just like last year and when I am at the liturgy all the time sleeping sickness has begun to emerge again, so my time is very limited and even then I spend it poorly.

But to answer this question emphatically. I have no "gut reaction" to your question.

In fact, your question may not be the best one to pose, but we will see.

So if that is all you wanted to know, then the answer is no. In fact, it is situations like these where I wonder how anyone with a meager degree of critical thinking and a little exposure to something approaching an analytical manner of thought could possibly answer "yes".

I am taking a break from work and being worn down. So I will post some stuff here for a bit.

 

orthonorm

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Opus118 said:
Kerdy said:
Until we can clearly define when life begins, all other arguments are futile.
Isn't this the real question? I am also not sure what other arguments are at issue here.
Until we can clearly define when life begins, all other arguments are futile.

Biologists generally have a definition for this. It allows them to make statements that viruses and mitochondria aren't living organisms.
Opus, I am sure you know this controversial. I wish my ex-best friend were still around as this was a question she was keenly interested in and would have been able to give me resources for me to steer you toward.

Before she decided to practice medicine, she dealt did research in this area. Not only is it questionable whether viruses might be alive but what about prions? Of course life has been extended to language and ideas, hence the idea of a meme.

The work on autopoiesis is quite interesting here as a definition of what is alive and what isn't, and here of course I a referring the popular work Maturana and Varela. I stumbled across this when doing work on Niklas Luhmnann's System Theory.

In short, however, I am not sure any biological account in the empirical sense is ever going to be satisfying as it already rest on certain assumptions biologists themselves are rarely required to make clear. I think biologists haven't had their fundamental crises within their discipline like some of the other sciences that have required them to turn fully to examine the ontological approach their manner of research has taken. Although it does seem as though they are approaching such an advent of radical examination in light questions raised in biotech and cognitive science.

 

orthonorm

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Cognomen said:
In other words, most people don't really believe that a recently fertilized egg is the same thing as a baby you can see swimming around in an ultrasound.
 

orthonorm

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akimori makoto said:
I always begin any discussion on abortion by trying to have the interlocutor agree that late-term abortion is entirely horrific and clearly repugnant -- then I argue backwards from there to try to say there is no clear point at which you can say the child is not a child but simply a mass of cells. Is this kinda what you have in mind?
 

orthonorm

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In case a mod think I am up to something weird, I am posting posts from the thread that spawned this one, I would like to reply to or use to work off of and have them stand on their own for others to do so, if they wish.
 

orthonorm

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Asteriktos said:
Kerdy said:
I feel it important, prior to discussing what is or is not wrong, a clear explanation of exactly when life begins should be established.  Without that, all views are subjective and nothing more than opinion. 
We'd have to define life first, and then human life... wouldn't we?
 

orthonorm

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Kerdy said:
Asteriktos said:
Kerdy said:
I feel it important, prior to discussing what is or is not wrong, a clear explanation of exactly when life begins should be established.  Without that, all views are subjective and nothing more than opinion. 
We'd have to define life first, and then human life... wouldn't we?
Perhaps, but this is where science begins to fail miserably and the only place to obtain the answers being sought is within what God has already provided.  I was going to add no one has ever been able to supply the answer outside conception (which modernists abhor), but I thought someone would actually try.
 

orthonorm

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IoanC said:
As far as why a fetus is a person, it is really very simple to answer. I think people get stuck in the fact that the fetus is a very early stage of human development. But, the true and full understanding is that no matter what stage a person is in, we are also talking about a soul; we believe that since the moment of conception a new soul joins the universe. Otherwise it's plain to see that the very purpose of conception is to bring new life into the world. What, when one wants children the fetus is good, and when one doesn't want children the fetus is bad? How subjective is that? And then, if you let a fetus grow it will most certainly become an adult, unless external factors come in (such as abortion or illness).  How many of us have not been a fetus at one point? Obviously, all of as have, so we could at least consider the fetus as potential life, if we do not believe the fetus is actually the soul of one who is the image and to become the likeness of God.
 

orthonorm

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vamrat said:
ZealousZeal said:
vamrat said:
Orthonorm, at which point do you think life begins?  I ask as a matter of interest not as one of debate.

I will withhold my own opinion on the matter because I'd be interested in what you have to say without my own opinion being called into question without knowing what page you are on first.


ZZ, I'd be interested in knowing yours as well.  Once again, as a matter of interest.
I think life begins at conception- I don't think there's any denying that at that point the embryo has genetic information making it unique from its parents. A separate, unique, human life.

I think a more interesting question is when does ensoulment occur? I don't know. I think of the spontaneous abortions that occur before a woman even knows she's pregnant and wonder if God is allowing these souls to pass or how that works. I just don't know. It's above my pay grade. I stick with conception.
I agree with you on all points.

I would guess that ensoulment occurs at conception as well.  "In sins did my mother conceive me", etc.
 

orthonorm

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I quoted the above posts because I think they hold some interesting insights or problems about area in which the OP lies.

Now to the drawing board.
 

orthonorm

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orthonorm said:
IoanC said:
As far as why a fetus is a person, it is really very simple to answer. I think people get stuck in the fact that the fetus is a very early stage of human development. But, the true and full understanding is that no matter what stage a person is in, we are also talking about a soul; we believe that since the moment of conception a new soul joins the universe. Otherwise it's plain to see that the very purpose of conception is to bring new life into the world. What, when one wants children the fetus is good, and when one doesn't want children the fetus is bad? How subjective is that? And then, if you let a fetus grow it will most certainly become an adult, unless external factors come in (such as abortion or illness).  How many of us have not been a fetus at one point? Obviously, all of as have, so we could at least consider the fetus as potential life, if we do not believe the fetus is actually the soul of one who is the image and to become the likeness of God.
I was glad to see someone introduce the notion of the person rather than just human life as such. If we are going to take something resembling a Christian perspective on this, I think asking when human life begins is not the most felicitous of ways to construct the question.

As I've mentioned in other places, the importance placed on persons is what is important within Christianity, not on life as such and not even human life. After all we can see earlier in the thread people able to begin to cut up something like human life so finely that no person we could recognize would remain.

Christians, especially those professing to be Orthodox, claim to believe in a personal God first and foremost. A God who became a human person (note the that personhood not necessarily being tied to being a human) within our time. A God of relations among three persons (please excuse the use of the lowercase as I try to not orthographically introduce a difference not yet made clear). Only one of which is human and divine.

The Orthodox celebrate and pride themselves, if I may dare to use that word here, in emphasizing this radically personal and ontologically relational God and rightfully so. It does seem to be one of the most distinctive characteristics of Orthodoxy, at least to me as I have encountered various Christianities, so to speak.

I would suggest then when and how do we become persons be the operative questions.

Cognomen said:
In other words, most people don't really believe that a recently fertilized egg is the same thing as a baby you can see swimming around in an ultrasound.
All due to respect to what Cognomen was trying to get at here, but I what I see goes to personhood and that somehow persons are born not of mere genetic coupling and genetic development but out of relation to other persons.

Again without getting too sophisticated (not sophistic), each member of the Trinity are persons in virtue of their relation to another member of the Trinity. The most apt relationship being between the Father and the Son. As much as the Son is eternally begotten by the Father, the Father becomes the Father only in virtue of the Son.

We believe in One God, the Father . . .

Before we even profess the Son, He is there allowing God to be what we first call Him, Father.

So if we can admit there is something radically personal about the Christian understanding of God and that personal nature rises somehow out of relations among persons, then we will find our answers I believe in a similar manner for persons as we usually use the word, ourselves.
 

orthonorm

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To question of "ensoulment" already raised by more than a few as a matter of fact in this discussion:

IoanC said:
As far as why a fetus is a person, it is really very simple to answer. I think people get stuck in the fact that the fetus is a very early stage of human development. But, the true and full understanding is that no matter what stage a person is in, we are also talking about a soul; we believe that since the moment of conception a new soul joins the universe. Otherwise it's plain to see that the very purpose of conception is to bring new life into the world. What, when one wants children the fetus is good, and when one doesn't want children the fetus is bad? How subjective is that? And then, if you let a fetus grow it will most certainly become an adult, unless external factors come in (such as abortion or illness).  How many of us have not been a fetus at one point? Obviously, all of as have, so we could at least consider the fetus as potential life, if we do not believe the fetus is actually the soul of one who is the image and to become the likeness of God.
vamrat said:
ZealousZeal said:
vamrat said:
Orthonorm, at which point do you think life begins?  I ask as a matter of interest not as one of debate.

I will withhold my own opinion on the matter because I'd be interested in what you have to say without my own opinion being called into question without knowing what page you are on first.


ZZ, I'd be interested in knowing yours as well.  Once again, as a matter of interest.
I think life begins at conception- I don't think there's any denying that at that point the embryo has genetic information making it unique from its parents. A separate, unique, human life.

I think a more interesting question is when does ensoulment occur? I don't know. I think of the spontaneous abortions that occur before a woman even knows she's pregnant and wonder if God is allowing these souls to pass or how that works. I just don't know. It's above my pay grade. I stick with conception.
I agree with you on all points.

I would guess that ensoulment occurs at conception as well.  "In sins did my mother conceive me", etc.
I must insist on this point, all life has a soul. All animals, plants, etc. There is more speculative commentary about what is typically considered "non-living" entities having souls as well (which would take us no where, but I am just mentioning it in passing).

To be sure from a traditional Orthodox perspective, the notion of having a soul I am not sure is a great way to frame the problem.

All life is ensouled.

I might post another post to make clear my method before I call it a night and what I am going to try to avoid to stay somewhat on topic and risk the chance of producing maybe something of a help to the discussion.

But again:

Even if human life had the specific character of being the only sorta life which were ensouled we are back to the same problems raised by the method of attempting to locate some origin of life via genetic identity and genetic sophistication.
 

orthonorm

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To my method:

If I had to describe it, it would be something like a lay Orthodox Christian phenomenological approach.

I hope not to bring any assumptions to the table that aren't obvious to most folks who would participate in an internet forum about Orthodoxy. In fact, some of the points I make might just seem pedantically obvious. But it is more in thinking about the problem within our day to day encounter with persons in light of the "simple" truths of Orthodoxy which might be helpful.

I don't know.

I don't want to get into points which would take us into Scriptural or Patristic lengthy debates.

I don't want to use language or rely on my own expertise which might unfamiliar to the typical poster here.

I don't want to preclude any other discussions or approaches, as mina's wonderful points earlier in the thread raised some questions for those unfamiliar with research he was discussing. (Great stuff mina!)

I see no reason why varying approaches cannot be discussed simultaneously. I hope they are, it was one of my reasons to have this thread taken out of the religious section to begin with.

I have thought through these issues at some length and have found multiple methods which arrive at different conclusions, for the time being, I am going to primarily maintained the method outlined above, with the occasional post or two addressing the other methods being discussed,  as I think it would be the most accessible and productive for most who might want to discuss the issue here.

 

Achronos

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Since orthonorm is contributing to this thread, I may add something of worth tonight or tomorrow.
 

orthonorm

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A quick amendment to my "method", my phenomenological approach won't limited just to Orthodox Christian as such insights, but encounters in our day to day world I think most people participating in such a forum can agree to without much argument.

Something like: I know those better who I spend a greater degree of my time with than someone I have never met nor know exists.

Nothing too crazy.

Also, I can't say I will be populating the thread as frequently as I wish I could. Work, health, home, social life, and all that.

And for anyone who doesn't know, I do have trouble at times with dropping words when typing, using homophones, etc. I'll try to avoid it, but I can't guarantee it. So bear with me. And I have my idiosyncratic at times manner of speaking which I tend to write in around here. Deal.
 

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orthonorm said:
I must insist on this point, all life has a soul. All animals, plants, etc.
I would be interested to know the definition of "soul." Also, in your view, does the soul continue to exist after the death of the organism.
 

orthonorm

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stanley123 said:
orthonorm said:
I must insist on this point, all life has a soul. All animals, plants, etc.
I would be interested to know the definition of "soul." Also, in your view, does the soul continue to exist after the death of the organism.
This will get us sidetracked; however, others and I have discussed the matter of life meaning ensouled here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=33568.0

To latter part of your question, that would certainly seem to be more speculative from what I understand. (Is all of creation throughout time redeemed? If so, what does that mean? Will everything that has ever existed somehow be recreated?) And it would definitely take away from the main point of thread for me at least.

That is best I can do for you. Others I am sure have more infos.
 

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Interesting, re: all life having a soul.

When I use the term, I suppose I'm referring to that part of us which is eternal.

Certainly more to think about.
 

orthonorm

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ZealousZeal said:
Interesting, re: all life having a soul.

When I use the term, I suppose I'm referring to that part of us which is eternal.

Certainly more to think about.
To quibble a bit but not to get side tracked. Orthodoxy would hold that the soul isn't eternal. That is to say in the sense that your soul existed from all time. Again, I don't want to get side tracked with a discussion about augments for the existence of souls from eternity as objects of the mind of God or the like.

Your soul is from your parents in a strict genetic sense to put in a pedestrian manner. I might end up back here in more detail as my ramble continues, but I just wanted to throw that out there.

EDIT: To be ribald. It ain't like your soul is hanging out somewhere and then gets planted or zapped into your body at sometime.

 

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orthonorm said:
ZealousZeal said:
Interesting, re: all life having a soul.

When I use the term, I suppose I'm referring to that part of us which is eternal.

Certainly more to think about.
To quibble a bit but not to get side tracked. Orthodoxy would hold that the soul isn't eternal. That is to say in the sense that your soul existed from all time. Again, I don't want to get side tracked with a discussion about augments for the existence of souls from eternity as objects of the mind of God or the like.

Your soul is from your parents in a strict genetic sense to put in a pedestrian manner. I might end up back here in more detail as my ramble continues, but I just wanted to throw that out there.

EDIT: To be ribald. It ain't like your soul is hanging out somewhere and then gets planted or zapped into your body at sometime.
Not eternal in the sense of backward in time eternally. I agree with that.
But I was thinking of the life of a soul being eternal with a beginning in time, but with no end in time. Do souls have this property according to your philosophy?
 

Achronos

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If the stages of child development are part of what we consider, phenomenologically, to be part of what makes a baby, then we cannot rightly ignore those implications.  Each step in the process is part of, basically, what we rightly consider to be child.  To break down those steps, and isolate them from the outcome is disingenuous.  Human development is part of the human experience, and our knowledge of that transcends time or independent sequences of time

In the end, it hardly matters when the fetus is viable or living.  These arbitrary determinants about when abortion is correct and incorrect distract from the our fundamental knowledge about child development. It's as though two farmers were arguing about whether or not it was right to harvest their crops before those crops had fully matured. No farmer plants a seed wondering whether or not it will grow into corn, or squash, or what have you.  Likewise, no one becomes pregnant and wonders what the final implication is.  Viability is part of our understanding of child-birth, and that factors into our considerations even before the child is technically viable.
 

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orthonorm said:
EDIT: To be ribald. It ain't like your soul is hanging out somewhere and then gets planted or zapped into your body at sometime.
Good point, well-taken. I certainly don't believe in any sort of soul "Pre-existence" vis-à-vis Mormon theology. What stanley123 described is more what I had in mind- definite beginning, no end. When that beginning occurs being the subject at hand.
 

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I think what orthonorm was saying at the end was something along the lines of Origenism.
 

minasoliman

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Achronos said:
If the stages of child development are part of what we consider, phenomenologically, to be part of what makes a baby, then we cannot rightly ignore those implications.  Each step in the process is part of, basically, what we rightly consider to be child.  To break down those steps, and isolate them from the outcome is disingenuous.  Human development is part of the human experience, and our knowledge of that transcends time or independent sequences of time

In the end, it hardly matters when the fetus is viable or living.  These arbitrary determinants about when abortion is correct and incorrect distract from the our fundamental knowledge about child development. It's as though two farmers were arguing about whether or not it was right to harvest their crops before those crops had fully matured. No farmer plants a seed wondering whether or not it will grow into corn, or squash, or what have you.  Likewise, no one becomes pregnant and wonders what the final implication is.  Viability is part of our understanding of child-birth, and that factors into our considerations even before the child is technically viable.
I think what you're saying is sound and valid.  However, if one let's say takes a skin cell from me body and can turn into another "me," then, to be blunt, I'm inclined to say that a fertilized cell might not be so different from the thousands of cells we kill and shed in our body every day.
 

Achronos

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minasoliman said:
Achronos said:
If the stages of child development are part of what we consider, phenomenologically, to be part of what makes a baby, then we cannot rightly ignore those implications.  Each step in the process is part of, basically, what we rightly consider to be child.  To break down those steps, and isolate them from the outcome is disingenuous.  Human development is part of the human experience, and our knowledge of that transcends time or independent sequences of time

In the end, it hardly matters when the fetus is viable or living.  These arbitrary determinants about when abortion is correct and incorrect distract from the our fundamental knowledge about child development. It's as though two farmers were arguing about whether or not it was right to harvest their crops before those crops had fully matured. No farmer plants a seed wondering whether or not it will grow into corn, or squash, or what have you.  Likewise, no one becomes pregnant and wonders what the final implication is.  Viability is part of our understanding of child-birth, and that factors into our considerations even before the child is technically viable.
I think what you're saying is sound and valid.  However, if one let's say takes a skin cell from me body and can turn into another "me," then, to be blunt, I'm inclined to say that a fertilized cell might not be so different from the thousands of cells we kill and shed in our body every day.
And that qualifer seperates the pebble from the boulder.
 

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orthonorm said:
To be sure from a traditional Orthodox perspective, the notion of having a soul I am not sure is a great way to frame the problem.

All life is ensouled.

I might post another post to make clear my method before I call it a night and what I am going to try to avoid to stay somewhat on topic and risk the chance of producing maybe something of a help to the discussion.

But again:

Even if human life had the specific character of being the only sorta life which were ensouled we are back to the same problems raised by the method of attempting to locate some origin of life via genetic identity and genetic sophistication.
Answer me this question please:

Are dogs and cats self-aware?
 

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Achronos said:
orthonorm said:
To be sure from a traditional Orthodox perspective, the notion of having a soul I am not sure is a great way to frame the problem.

All life is ensouled.

I might post another post to make clear my method before I call it a night and what I am going to try to avoid to stay somewhat on topic and risk the chance of producing maybe something of a help to the discussion.

But again:

Even if human life had the specific character of being the only sorta life which were ensouled we are back to the same problems raised by the method of attempting to locate some origin of life via genetic identity and genetic sophistication.
Answer me this question please:

Are dogs and cats self-aware?
No, I won't answer the question. I have my method and I am sticking to it and wonder where it will go.

Feel free to continue as you wish.

 

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ZealousZeal said:
orthonorm said:
EDIT: To be ribald. It ain't like your soul is hanging out somewhere and then gets planted or zapped into your body at sometime.
Good point, well-taken. I certainly don't believe in any sort of soul "Pre-existence" vis-à-vis Mormon theology. What stanley123 described is more what I had in mind- definite beginning, no end. When that beginning occurs being the subject at hand.
Except that, in an Orthodox understanding the human 'soul' (however defined) is not truly eternal even in the the more limited 'going forward' sense. Our existence is *always* contingent. That is, the soul exists, and will continue to exist, only because God chooses that it do so, not because of any quality inherent to it--that is, God did not make our souls eternal, He simply made them and then continues to support their existence (and could, if He were the capricious type, remove that support at any time resulting in our complete and final extinction). And this is true not only of our 'souls' but of our bodies--remember, that, per St. Paul, at the Ressurection our 'souls' will be joined again to our (reconstituted) bodies which will be 'transformed' to be 'as Christ is'. There is nothing inherently eternal about us--but when we experience eternity it will be as bodies *and* souls--as Christ Himself retains the Human nature He assumed at the Incarnation.
 

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witega said:
ZealousZeal said:
orthonorm said:
EDIT: To be ribald. It ain't like your soul is hanging out somewhere and then gets planted or zapped into your body at sometime.
Good point, well-taken. I certainly don't believe in any sort of soul "Pre-existence" vis-à-vis Mormon theology. What stanley123 described is more what I had in mind- definite beginning, no end. When that beginning occurs being the subject at hand.
Except that, in an Orthodox understanding the human 'soul' (however defined) is not truly eternal even in the the more limited 'going forward' sense. Our existence is *always* contingent. That is, the soul exists, and will continue to exist, only because God chooses that it do so, not because of any quality inherent to it--that is, God did not make our souls eternal, He simply made them and then continues to support their existence (and could, if He were the capricious type, remove that support at any time resulting in our complete and final extinction). And this is true not only of our 'souls' but of our bodies--remember, that, per St. Paul, at the Ressurection our 'souls' will be joined again to our (reconstituted) bodies which will be 'transformed' to be 'as Christ is'. There is nothing inherently eternal about us--but when we experience eternity it will be as bodies *and* souls--as Christ Himself retains the Human nature He assumed at the Incarnation.
I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure I think it substantively changes the issue of ensoulment. We may not be inherently eternal, but we know that God is not capricious and our faith teaches us that we will have an eternity. The soul exists, as you say, eternal due to God's largesse- when do we get it?

Then, orthonorm contends that all life is ensouled. I don't think that's germane to the issue, either, and would only lead us to a redefinition of terms. I read the thread you linked, orthonorm, and it is definitely interesting, but I'm not sure how it relates to humans who are unique from trees and cats in the eternal landscape. Unless you're arguing that they aren't?

Good discussion, all.
 

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Achronos said:
Answer me this question please:

Are dogs and cats self-aware?
I think that to a limited extent they have a certain intelligence and awareness in knowing who is taking care of them.
But I am not sure on what you mean by *self* aware. They know how to lick their paws which I guess they recognise as theirs and not some other cat's or dog's.  However, they are unable to write down a historical report of how they were treated.
 
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Eric Kandel, the famous neuropsychiatrist and 2000 Nobel prize winner in Physiology/Medicine, said in one of his lectures something along the lines of this:

We can't actually compare the intelligence of a human with a dolphin or a bird. Sure, we are able to do things that fit the way we live and we do them very well. But the same works for animals. A bird needs to fly and does so very well. Can a human do that? No.
 
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