Marco Rubio is Right

Marco Rubio is Right August 27, 2015

The Life of a New Human Being Begins at Conception

Or, as Atheists for Life puts it: “For the embryology textbook tells me so.”

It is pro-aborts, not theists, who have to ignore the science go all wooly and mystical about “when ensoulment occurs” in order to rationalize the killing of human beings.

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  • cmfe

    Rubio does not believe that the life of the mother is of any consequence. In this he deviates from Catholic teaching as does Scott Walker.

    • Dave G

      Did they say that? Wow.

      • cmfe

        Scott Walker back as a Wisconsin legislator consistently opposed provisions to laws to protect the life of the mother. Kelly asked him at the debate and his answer hasn’t changed.

        • Dave G.

          Why did he do that? Was there a reason?

        • Mike Petrik

          What laws? Can you be specific?

          • cmfe

            Not without searching. I live in Wisconsin. He’s been in public office of some kind all his life. He certainly didn’t deny it when specifically asked about it by Megan Kelly.

    • sullibe

      How so?

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      You’d think if that were true, it would have been reported…


  • ManyMoreSpices

    Since it is typically the left that conceives of History of having an arrow that points towards Progress, I like to ask them this question:

    “Of the societies and individuals that looked at members of the species Homo sapiens and drew lines between those that were full persons and those who were less than fully human, how many have been judged kindly by history?”

    • Alma Peregrina

      Very good. You could also do this:
      Step 1: Ask them “Since paganism predates Christianity, and since the former allowed abortion when the latter forbids it, isn’t being pro-life more progressive, ergo correct?”
      Step 2: Watch their heads explode.

      • sez

        Yeah, but sadly they’re post-Christian now, so, therefore, more progressive than Christianity.

        • Alma Peregrina

          And I’m post-post-christian.

          And if they retort, I’ll say I’m post-post-infinity+1-christian.

          So now what, uh? Now what?

          • Joseph

            I think you mean post-post-Christian-Progressive

            • Alma Peregrina

              No, I mean post-post-infinity+1-christian-progressive.

              Or “awesome”, for short.

      • “Since paganism predates Christianity” — You mean, in the same way that Jesus predates Christianity?

        • Alma Peregrina

          What’s your point?

          • I mean to say that being ‘former’ to another movement isn’t always an argument. Many reasonable people would wish christians being more like Jesus. Likewise, sometimes we would wish christians are a little more like pagans. Like in allowing a few more gods on the plane without getting anxious.

            • Alma Peregrina

              “I mean to say that being ‘former’ to another movement isn’t always an argument.”

              We agree.

              I was joking about the progressives’ idea that something is right just because it is modern.

              That doesn’t mean I adhere to the inverse error of thinking that something is right just because it is older.

              I don’t care if it’s new or old. I care if it is true or false.

              My critique of the progressives’ mindset, however, still stands.

  • Rubio opposes same sex marriage, explores Islamophobic avenues (as is to be expected from pretty much all neocon christians), supports the Tea party – a party that hardly respects the separation between the secular state and religion, especially Christian religion), he does not support women’s rights when he should, and so on. For these and other reasons I would already avoid ever saying “Marco Rubio is Right” (but I would have agreed with “Right-wing”). It may seem like an argument from circumstance, but I’ll take it anyway: I do not expect a truly humanistic (or perhaps better: “human-driven”) opinion from such a man. What is to be expected here is a ‘biblical’ perspective. Which is simply not of our time anymore (regardless what you believe). And it is for this very reason that most reasonable people expect from Christians too, to resist all infiltration of such politicians with ‘biblical argumentation’ from entering the political arena.

    Of course, I know America is a very weird country in this regard – we Europeans really have a hard time grasping how in the world it is even possible that these people get a serious forum in the first place. But think twice: even to those secularists, agnostics or atheists who do like the Bible stories (for the great social or spiritual messages conveyed in it’s stories) – there is no way we can accept an argumentation which cannot be communicated in a ‘moral esperanto’ which we can all equally comprehend as a reasonable argument.

    Now with regards to this so-called scientific argument by Mr Rubio, this is a cover-up. Of course life begins at conception, and it is the beginning of a human life – but this is not the point. That argument is not decisive in terms of what defines a human being. It certainly does not constitute an argument the essence of which would actually make a murderer out of every mother who did an abortion of an embryo.

    Like so much of Republican rhetoric, what I hear is a very masculine mind speaking on behalf of all those women. What matters to them is not at all the stuff that women are made of, and experiences such as abortion, what matters to them is more power to the christian stronghold in the US. They do not care about what all other people intuitively already know: that mothers who have an abortion really did not suddenly turn into haters of their own babies – killers of a full-blown human being.

    This is what angers me the most about “the christian right” – the crudeness of what Mark Noll ever called “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind”. It has angered me when I was a Christian, and it still angers me today as a (religion-friendly) atheist. I have no trouble with Jesus, I have trouble dealing with the backward mentality of those who turn Jesus into a neocon who wants christians in power more than all human beings living in peace with each other and with the god they believe in.

    • JM1001

      …there is no way we can accept an argumentation which cannot be
      communicated in a ‘moral esperanto’ that we can all equally understand.

      Then I guess that means you enjoyed the Public Discourse article, which I’m sure you read, since it does not make any biblical or theological appeals in the course of its argument. In fact, it gets quite technical in the details of embryology, which any self-respecting secular European should appreciate.

      Of course live starts at conception, and it is the beginning of a human
      life. … [T]he things that do not matter are stuff like women having an abortion, being stigmatized like they killed, out of free will, a full-blown human being.

      That’s a very subtle sleight of hand there, but I’ve observed abortion debates for too many years to miss it. Do you see what you did? You acknowledged that human life — a new human being — begins at conception … and then you went on to invent a whole new category called the “full-blown human being” (whatever that means). Perhaps you might define it for us. Who should count as a “full-blown human being”? Who should be excluded? What are the criteria for inclusion and exclusion?

      • Did you see what you did? You took my words “a human life” and altered it in “a human being” – when you put in my mouth the words “a new human being begins at conception”. Life is a property of all living things, including plants, trees, and certainly animal life. I have no interest in arguing this way, mincing words. If there is supposedly a “human being” at conception, then we are off for redoing the whole debate, based on an argument which does not distinguish human life from human being (person). And while I would never oppose a philosopher doing a rethinking at this point, the same does not apply to a politician with a political bias of the kind which Mr Rubio is exposing in his program.

        • JM1001

          Well, since by “human being” you mean a person, then we should ask: What is your definition of a person? What are your criteria for the inclusion of certain human lives into personhood and excluding others?

          If there is supposedly a “human being” at conception, then we are off for redoing the whole debate, based on an argument which does not distinguish human life from human being (person).

          But that is precisely what’s at issue in the whole debate over the moral permissibility of abortion: What is a person? Should we adopt a developmental/functionalist conception of personhood? Or is personhood determined by the kind of being a thing is by its essential nature?

          The Public Discourse article acknowledges that science cannot settle this dispute. I only bring it up because you speak with the mere presumption — as though it should be obvious — that a new human life at conception is not a person, when that is actually the very question that is at issue.

          • It does not matter so much what my definition of a human being is – just as it doesn’t seem to matter much to Mr Rubio what exactly the definition of “life” is (obviously he wouldn’t argue the same way about saving trees – yet nowhere does he any philosophical attempt to precision). Neither will I philosophize here, while my concern is not what a philosopher says but with a politician is using in his attempt to get votes.

            My problem with Mr Rubio is not to say it is “obvious that a new human life at conception is not a person”. Although I think it is so indeed – because it is the consensus among most scientists and philosophers, few of whom would say about a 3 weeks old embryo for instance, “this is a person” (even while many of us will call it life, and most of us also know very well that even at this stage, life will try to survive (so abortion will always be violent in a way). But those are philosophical and ethical considerations which have been on our plate for quite some time, and to use them to get votes in a political debate is not something I find appropriate. Less so if the sudden “call for science” is done by a politician whose political agenda is more often contra than pro acknowledging the outcome of scientific investigation.

            • Alma Peregrina

              In short, it’s above your pay grade, so you should be free to do as you will with a human life that you are not sure if it’s a human person or not.

              But that doesn’t matter, as long as the politician you dislike is called out. That’s what’s really important.

              • No it’s the other way round. Contrary to the expectations of my opposites here, I don’t like bleeding embryo’s. Neither is what matters to me with regards to politicians (who want to have a say over America) correlated with my pro-life attitudes towards abortions. Because this is not the point. Politicians should not try bending science towards their political agenda – this is point number 1. Point number 2 is that the questions surrounding abortion are complex matter, not to be taken care of by politicians who pick up a few thoughts from a complex set of ontological and ethical studies in the field.

                PS. pro-life doesn’t necessarily ignore differences such as “life” (as also shared by animals) is not identical to “a person”.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  Point 1)
                  He’s not “bending” science towards his political agenda. He is using science, you’re the one bending it.

                  Point 2)
                  So, politicians shouldn’t take up complex matters, and they shouldn’t have any ideological leaning when they do so (because ideology is, by definition, picking up a few thoughts from a complex set of ontological and ethical studies in the field)?

                  I thought you were Left-Wing! What you have proposed here is more anti-statist than any tea-party member could dream of! You’re practically saying a politician can’t do anything.

                  And point 3)
                  “Opposed to the expectations of my opposites here, I don’t like bleeding embryo’s.”

                  You may keep pounding those straw-men… but I never said you liked bleeding embryos.

                  • 1) He is ‘using science’, yes – and he’s not using it correctly, because science does not tell us about “personality” at conception.

                    2) Politicians sometimes can pick up complex matters in a good way – but not if you make a dubious pseudo-scientific statement against abortion (and when your political agenda is right-wing then it gets only worse).

                    Yes I suppose you could say I’m left-wing. As an atheist I agree very much with people like Noam Chomski’s position on Israel for instance (on the other hand I am disgusted beyond words by the neocon Western-supremacism ‘pseudo atheism’ of the new atheists). At the same time I am entirely open minded when it comes to religions – but the christians (and Muslims etc) that I appreciate are usually people who understand the need for a common ground, a shared understanding of ethics, discussing options, looking at things from different perspectives, and never claiming a ‘religious right’ to moral issues – like all atheists are the same and they can’t appreciating good ethics etc.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      You said:
                      “He is ‘using science’, yes – and he’s not using it correctly, because science does not tell us about “personality” at Conception.”

                      Then I’m confused. How is he not using it correctly, when he’s saying exactly what you told here?

                      From Rubio’s article:
                      “Science reveals empirical facts. It cannot tell us who, if anyone, is a “person,” morally speaking—which beings, if any, have fundamental dignity and basic moral rights. There are correct answers to these questions—they are not merely subjective issues—but they are not answered by application of scientific methods of inquiry.”

                    • Ha, that’s true – Rubio is arguing from the point of view that science cannot tell us anything meaningful about the early life of an embryo. Which is incorrect: there is a lot of information about those things. But he is dismissing it for reasons I already suggested (and which you dismiss). But even if we dismiss his Catholic or otherwise right-wing ‘biblical’ convictions, it still remains true that there is a reason why he is dismissing science to be a contributing factor to a good decision. Whatever this reason is, it is not the right way to treat the information we have. A good philosopher will always also take ‘what we know’ into consideration – because science is a toolbox to assist us in our quest for understanding.

                      So my main point remains the same – Rubio has an agenda which is – to say the least – hard to understand if we ignore his political agenda.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Oh brother. If he says science points to human personhood begining at conception, he’s bending science to his political agenda. If he says science can’t tell if human personhood begins at conception, it’s because he’s antiscience.

                      Look, the title of this post is “Rubio is right”. Not “Rubio is a saint” or “Rubio doesn’t have an agenda”.

                      You’re focusing so much on the guy, you’re missing the point. Mark is not a right-winger. I am not a right-winger.

                      Could we please stop trying to read people’s intentions and start reading, like, the article itself? I don’t care if it’s Rubio, or the Queen of Denmark, the damn article is well written.

                      I’m not asking you to vote for Rubio or to like Rubio. But read what he writes before criticising it. Maybe you’ll learn something new.

                    • The contrast you are proposing in your first paragraph is false. It’s like you did not properly read your own suggestion. It is exactly as you said indeed: if he says A, he’s wrong, if he says not-A he’s also wrong. But the reason why this is not contradicting is, that in both cases the man wants to defend personhood at conception (or whatever alternative concept which may serve as an argument that there is more than just an early formation stage of a life form). You see what I mean?

                      To me, it doesn’t matter whether he brings in the ‘science’ in terms of a grammatical positive or a negation – in both cases he is not respecting the science. If he would go for agreement, he would be saying (as other Republicans do) that science actively supports the idea that at conception there is a “human being”. But you are right: Rubio DISagrees – by denying that science contributes anything whatsoever indicating a stage of development of life which does not yet show the characteristics of a “human being”.

                      I treated both as being the same problem. Sorry if this was causing some confusion.

                      PS. By the way, I am not indifferent towards the emotional motivations for people to defend human life as much as they can. My point is, that we should nevertheless try to have a honest debate about where to draw certain reasonable lines.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Science indicates that there is a development of life which does not yet show the characteristics of a human beings?

                      Please, tell me what science says on the matter. How does science prove an embryo is not a human being?

                    • Joseph

                      He can’t, dear. He can’t. His position is one based off of a blind faith and loyalties to his religion. Forget about it.

                    • You are mistaken if you take an argument against a pseudo-scientific claim (“science proves that an embryo is a human being”) for being an argument against my duty to take very serious anything that improves our understanding of something (in this case: what an embryo is). But see my recent comment above – in another discussion thread.

    • chezami

      Nice to see it isn’t just the Party of Personal Responsibility that relies on the Genetic Fallacy to avoid facing the bleeding obvious.

      • Mr chezami (Mark), I think it would be justified to say that “the bleeding obvious” (if I get the irony correctly – in this abortion context) is an argument from emotion. Here is an analogy for you. Imagine those thousands of children tied with tubes to mechanical breathing machines, feeding bags and all – the victims of a society where no medical considerations for abortion be acknowledged because “the bleeding obvious” forbids them. And I tell you, of course, that you “avoid facing the dehumanized obvious”.

        So maybe we can agree that you would get a kick out of watching all those dehumanized kids on tubes, just as much as I (obviously) get a kick out of watching bleeding embryos.

        • Alma Peregrina

          I can’t speak for Mark (even thought I suspect he will agree with me on this one), but I’ll speak for myself.

          I wouldn’t kick on all those dehumanized kids on tubes. It would be unethical.

          You, on the other hand, still can not grasp that a person can be against abortion without some political agenda behind it. For you we are all theocratic republican right-wingers that don’t care about children, but use embryos to control women’s bodies.

          • @almaperegrina:disqus just to be sure I hope you didn’t miss out on the irony. I wasn’t really accusing anyone of finding pleasure in watching dehumanized kids on tubes.

            Against your other statement: yes I can imagine a politician who undoubtedly HAS a political agenda (why else would he want to be in politics) COULD possibly be against abortion and at the same time trying not to misuse arguments in favor of this agenda. I just don’t believe that’s what happens to politicians most of the times.

            • Alma Peregrina

              I’m not talking about a politician.

              I’m talking about Mark and me, since you posed the question to him, not to Rubio.

              And maybe I misconstrued your intentions, because you wrote “can we agree that you would kick on all those dehumanized kids” instead of writing “can we agree that you would GET A kick on all those dehumanized kids”

              Huge difference. It sure looked like you were suggesting that we would be in favor of destroying those children on feeding tubes, because we’re utilitarian right-wingers.

              • I’m not a native English speaker so I will correct the phrase above. Yet, the parallelism seemed quite obvious – Mark suggested me having a taste for bleeding embryos, I was returning the favor.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  I’m not a native english speaker too. Maybe the confusion stems from there.

                  And no, Mark didn’t suggest you have a taste for bleeding embryos. Maybe you got confused with the sentence “facing the bleeding obvious”?

                  • I would say “the bleeding obvious” was a bit too obviously hinting at abortion in this context.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      I would say “bleeding obvious” is a common english expression.


                    • I know it’s a common english expression (I’m not that alien). What I literally just said is that in this context, the bleeding obvious is a bit too close to hinting at abortion. Of course this can be denied – but that wouldn’t really affect the real topic at stake.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      OK… I will conclude just by saying this: you assume too much about the motivations of people that disagree with you. That debate between diferent perspectives you so want… it will not be possible while you do not work on this.

                      Forget about Rubio. Concentrate on the average pro-lifer. Listen to what he/she is saying, without trying to find hidden motives. Even if that pro-lifer HAS a secret agenda, there’s no better way to deal with that than by replying to the REAL arguments that were presented to you.

                    • But ‘motivations’ aside, the argumentation itself remains pretty straightforward. (1) Science does not support the idea conception = person. (2) Scientific research DOES contribute meaningful data about things like brain functions etc. in an embryo. (3) Those things remain open for debate – but it is not up to the politician to put his ‘personal truth’ on the political agenda at the expense of the research being done so far. (Maybe I shouldn’t push this button too hard – I know in America a lot is possible that wouldn’t be accepted in Europe, but still, it is not up to a politician to ‘know better than the scientists’ – it’s like a scientist telling believers how to praise god, its awful).

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Every 3 points you presented are false. You’re pretending that science is on your side, when it is not.

                      So let me tell you something about myself. I’m a physician, I got an A in embryology and I’m a scientist as well, with 2 publications in international scientific papers.

                      I’m also a catholic… but why am I a catholic? Because I saw that, regarding abortion, the Catholic Church was almost the single one today that actually listened to current scientific evidence regarding the humanity of the embryo. That’s why I converted.

                    • I understand the conversion to Catholicism. Kind of like Leah Libresco (whose book I bought a while ago). I can appreciate it too, because the need for a framework of thought that has the ‘tools’ for protection of what is dear to us, readily available, is not hard to grasp. Catholicism can be seen as having the much needed rule set for protection embedded within its religious discipline (be it rites or ritual, sacraments, prayer, anything). I am not a catholic but I have more affinity with the 1.2 billion Catholics than with the 1.2 billion other Christians – generally speaking (Catholics are usually more rational). I have studied theology for a while, I am a fan of St Augustine’s writings, but also people like Hildegard von Bingen, or more recent thinkers like Edith Stein etc etc.

                      Talking about scientific papers, I am used to reading them. What I learned of it is that the old divide between person and ‘property’ (status of the embryo) is inadequate and probably unnecessary. The general consensus today (the way I see it based on latest papers) is that a fetus is a “partially developed human body” (and so is an embryo – be it even less developed). This is hardly deniable – although we can always deny a lot in science if we really want. The embryo/fetus may become a mature human body if not taken out of circulation (or not viable for other reasons). Yet, human bodies do not have rights, but persons do. However, the consensus is also that while an embryo or fetus does not have rights, we are still ought to have a duty to act on the basis of ethical considerations.

                      These ethics then are again subject to a consensus between human beings, based on the ethical standards the developed (and which may be subject to revision – be it not arbitrary revisions). So nowhere does this entail a ‘carte blanche’ for researchers. Neither is there an inalienable right of the embryo / fetus to be considered a human being (even pro-lifers are far from all being in favor of banning all potential use of such embryos for research – or banning all abortions).

                      One way to kind of conclude on the current state of affairs is, when Hugh V. McLachlan writes: “Let us think about and talk about embryos as what they are rather than what they are not or than what they are like – as least as a starting-point”. I see in these words a reasonable ethic, in which we do not follow the approach of an endless battlefield of minds unwilling to understand a different point of view, but rather a debate on essential equal grounds among adult people who are, not only willing to look at the scientific data with the intend to understand, but also willing to consider the lessons of the past, the words of ethical men of wisdom of the past, and so on.

                      When I reject Biblical language and Catholicism-as-dogma as being on equal terms with a language that all can understand (“commonsense” in the most literal meaning of the word) it is because a debate of one of the 7 world religions against the world (or one particular group of atheists calling themselves “Brights”, against the rest of the world) is no debate but a monologue. It has to be something we do together or it won’t be done at all. Too, it has to be “With Or Without God” (to paraphrase Gretta Vosper’s first book). Not “without God”, not “with god”, but both, equally valid. A singular “theistic” or “atheistic” jargon however would be exclusivistic, hence is not a dialog. Theism and atheism, treated as exclusivist states of mind, are irrealistic fabrications of the mind. There is no exclusivism in an ethical debate. We are all in it – or we are not in it at all.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Thank you for your response.

                      I would, however, point out that you still didn’t provide any scientific rationale for an embryo not being a human being.

                      You say that an embryo is a “partially developed human body”. Yes, that’s undeniable. What is left unanswered is, why can’t a partially developed human body be a human being?

                      Are the terms “partially developed human body” and “human being” mutually exclusive? No, they are not. Why can’t a human being have a partially developed human body?

                      Aren’t toddlers “partially developed human bodies”? Aren’t teenagers “partially developed human bodies”?

                      And, just so you can see the word twist you made, let me tell you: an adult is a “completely matured human body”. But human bodies don’t have rights. Human beings do. Why is a completely matured human body a human being?

                      It’s left unanswered, just like it is left unanswered why a partially developed human body is not a human being.

                      You are proving Mark’s point. You’re separating human beings from their bodies, as if a human being and his body were separate entities. This is metaphysical, akin to a kind of cartesian duality between body and “soul” (“human beingness”). It’s not scientific.

                      Also, all the arguments you provided are philosophical and ethical, not scientific.

                    • Your comparison does not sound like taking things serious. Toddlers and teenagers are no doubt living human beings, we don’t call them “bodies”. And you are accusing me of “twisting words”?

                      Your first point: Again, I am not arguing that science proves that an embryo is not a human being. I’m arguing (1) against claims like “science proves that there is a human being since conception”,and (2) that science contributes a lot of data about an embryo’s neurological functions for instance – which must be taken into account in an ethical debate. (This also in response to your last remark).

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      My comparison does takes things seriously. In fact, my comparison is what’s taking your reasoning seriously. But you don’t seem to take your own reasoning to its logical conclusions.

                      Haven’t toddlers “partially developed human bodies”?
                      Yes, they do.
                      But you say that they’re human beings.
                      Because “no doubt they are”. Because we don’t call them “bodies”.

                      Haven’t teenagers “partially developed human bodies”?
                      Yes, they do.
                      But you say that they’re human beings.
                      Because “no doubt they are”. Because we don’t call them “bodies”.

                      Haven’t embryos “partially developed human bodies”?
                      Yes, they do.
                      But you say they’re not human beings.
                      You never say…

                      But for me there is no doubt that they are human beings. And we don’t call them “bodies”. On the vast majority of cases, we call them “baby”, or “son”, or “John”, or whatever.

                      We just call them “bodies” when we are trying to find arguments to dispose of them.

                      Saying that toddlers are human beings because we “have not doubt” that they are, also doesn’t prove anything. May I remind that there are pro-choicers like Peter Singer that affirm that newborn childs aren’t human persons as well, because they are only partially developed?
                      Now, you just mentioned “neurologic functions”. Science may indeed help us study neurologic functions of the embryo…

                      But using “neurologic functions” will have the same problems as “partially developed human bodies”. Brain development is a continuous process. When do you establish the “human being” cut-off?

                      Is it when the neural tube closes around the 21st day of gestation? Is it when the child aquires abstract thought, around its late childhood?

                      Again, I refer you to Peter Singer. He claims (and he’s right) that there is no difference in neurologic function between a newborn and a 9-month fetus. Also, the newborn doesn’t have self-awareness, and the early-child’s neurologic function is very different from that on an adult.

                      So Peter Singer says that it’s not wrong to kill a newborn. And he has published articles about that.
                      Which brings me to your last objection. That “science doesn’t prove that there is a human being since conception”.

                      Which is wrong. Science does indeed prove it.

                      Human being = Human + Being

                      Human ==> science can prove that a human embryo is human, because he/she has human DNA, not the DNA from other species

                      Being ==> science proves that the embryo exists, that he/she is an organism, a new individual of the human species.

                      It is well established that a human being’s life cycle begins at conception. Before conception we have haploid cells, after conception we have diploid (and human beings are diploid by definition). Before conception you have maternal cells and paternal cells. After conception you have cells from a completely new individual, different from his/her progenitors. That individual will be born and grow, but he/she’s still the same individual.

                      You were once a fetus.
                      You were once an embryo.
                      You were once a zygote.

                      You were NEVER a spermatozoa
                      You were NEVER an ovocyte.

                      Conception was when you began to exist.

                      After conception you have a continuous process that only ends with the death of the individual. Establishing personhood at any other point besides conception will inevitably be arbitrary. Body development continues throughout extra-uterine life. Brain development continues throughout extra-uterine life. There’s no definite cut-off in those variables.

                      Now, you are right that science doesn’t prove that an embryo or a fetus is deserving of human rights.

                      But science can’t prove that anyone is deserving of human rights. That’s an ethical, not scientific debate.

                      However, science does establish that an embryo or a fetus is a human being. No doubt about that.

                    • Then your logic is not mine.A born human being is protected by law, but those are other laws than applied to unborn life. The science follows the same reasoning, it just zooms in more sharply on the subject of study. There is no point in saying whether we talk about born or unborn, we are talking about exactly the same thing. If that were true, then nothing would prevent someone else having it even more ‘backward’ (in time to say the least) and start a war on condoms following the same reasoning – because the sperm may not be a complete human being yet, but it contains half of the necessary ingredients so to speak, from which a human being may develop. You may remember that in the past, this reasoning was used indeed – always from a position where someone already believes something to be true because they wanted it to be true (be it for religious or emotional or any other reasons).

                      To me, this is not ‘logical’ at all. It is crossing different kinds of boundaries for the sake of a logic we would love to be correct (possible with very humane intent, but not necessarily for that reason also correct).

                      Also incorrect: it is not true that “we call them baby”. Certainly not the women who only at a given moment discover they are pregnant – they don’t all of a sudden give it a name (and those women – or man – who know more about what a 2 weeks old embryo is, often do not talk about “a body” indeed – but for other reasons than you suggest, certainly not because they think it is a person. Here again, I suspect you really are not being logical, you probably follow your heart (which I may respect) and this leads to an opinion which you try to posit as logic. I disagree, and while there is nothing dangerous in your opinion, the embarrassing thing (which I hinted at, and you immediately rejected) is still those mothers indirectly being stigmatized like they don’t love their children – they rather kill them. That, too, has its social consequences, and none of those consequences are necessarily ‘logical’.

                      Peter Singer is not the norm. Peter Singer may say that it’s not wrong to kill a newborn, but I already said even if the embryo of fetus is not yet a human being, even then we already have to ask what moral duties we have. This applies all the more when brain functions start to develop etc.

                      Your reasoning “Human being = Human + Being” is not logical. We are talking about the beginning of what constitutes a human body. The presence of the word “human” in this phrase doesn’t mean is as relevant as in the case of “human sperm”, there are boundaries at many levels, you can cross them at will but that doesn’t make good science or good logic.

                      Being is an existential and ontological category, it belongs to philosophy (and by philosophy I mean modern philosophy in the sense of pre-methodological science – at some point all of this will also be science). “You were once an embryo” is appealing to our perceptive sense of existence – the argument has also been used to prove eternal life (I cannot feel like I “exist” if I would really perish) – which is noble, but not for that reason ‘logical’. It has been used against evolution theory (I don’t feel like “I were once an ape” – which of course I never was, but it was applied to our experience of “where we come from”, arguing that this is not how life “feels”). All of this is perhaps noble – but I think there are other ways that still leave open a way to noblesse – yet not by calling this reasoning science. You are doing philosophy here, just as you said I did.

                      Your mistake is concentrated in your last phrase: “No doubt about that”. I have my doubts about what I am saying. You don’t.

                      No hard feelings. Good debate I think. No final solution for these conflicting ideas though.

                    • Joseph

                      Like Shea is prone to say, it’s the pro-abortionists who cite the mysteries of when a human being becomes a human being without any evidence to back them… they are the ones quoting from their religious textbooks here. To them, “science is just another man’s bible”. Let him go, Indy.

                    • Joseph

                      Ran out of ideas? So you’re hanging your hat on a false accusation… even though it’s starting to make you look even more ridiculous than before?

                    • Mr Joseph, I have no idea why some people always seem to believe that a sneer of derision here and there will make them look smart. It doesn’t. For starters: I just said this interpretation of irony in “bleeding obvious” does not affect the subject at all – You promptly start your little diatribe, deducing your big think from an utterly insignificant aspect. Problem with your short term memory, perhaps?

                      Back to the real issue: Taking abstraction from aforementioned irony-or-not hassles, the charge by Mark Shea was like this: apparently my distinguishing “life” (in general) from “person” was said to be a “Genetic Fallacy”. I disputed this – what’s more, I have no idea how “genetic” could possibly constitute a “person” – unless, of course, we give it time to develop into one – which is exactly the problem we are discussing here.

                      Ergo: Marco Rubio still isn’t right as far as I can see.

                      PS. No hard feelings – it’s a free country, derisive oneliners are part of the freedom for you to enjoy.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Genetic fallacy has nothing to do with genetics.


                    • Oh – so he literally meant the fallacy with that name? No relation with the subject of “conception”? But that doesn’t clarify anything, because I had no idea why he would come up with this particular fallacy. Where was I relying on ancient wisdom or whatever? You can’t have it more topsy-turvy than suspecting me of relying on some old source. Maybe the idea was more like I was relying on ‘old science’? But that’s not true. Old science would be, not to know anything meaningful yet about an embryo. I was talking about what we know about life today.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Mark wasn’t talking about ancient wisdom or old sources.

                      Fallacies are on the realm of Logic, not of Science per se. Therefore, they are not “new” nor “old”.

                      Genetic fallacy is an incorrect way of reasoning, where you say that a statement is false just because you know where that statement was “generated”.

                      So, you say that Rubio can’t be right about abortion, because he has a political agenda behind his pro-life ideology.

                      But that’s a genetic fallacy. You claim that his stance on abortion comes from his political agenda. But that doesn’t mean his stance on abortion is wrong.

                    • Oh, okay – so the fact that I argued from his political agenda…. Okay, I’m fine with this explanation, even while the political agenda was more of an ethical consideration. Compare: would you trust a politician who would work his way up to the Capitol by making strong statements against creationism? I wouldn’t – even while I reject creationism. The point being it is not really a politician’s business to make hard statements about things outside his academic discipline.

                      But no more about this aspect. The essential point is what Rubio is doing; the way he does it is… a different part of the problem.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      “Would you trust a politician who would work his way up to the Capitol by making strong statements against creationism?”

                      Yes, I would.

                      In fact, I would distrust a politician who said the opposite “I am an evolutionist, but I will not act on something above my pay grade. So I will not take a stance on this scientific debate, I’ll leave it all to scientists, and I will let creationists have their going on there as well”.

                      I would distrust this politican even more than a creationist politician. At least the creationist is honest. The other is clearly trying to avoid doing what’s right so as not loose popularity and votes.

                      Creationism is not science. Period. If you see creationism creeping on your educational model as science and do nothing about it, then you’re a worthless politician.

                      Also, the arguments put forward to say that an embryo or a fetus is not a human being are also not science. So, the same principle applies.

                    • Artevelde

                      Alma, in case you missed this article, I thought it could prove to be interesting.

                    • Clearly in your case I should have said “would you trust a politician who works his way upward by making statements PRO creationism”. And you already gave the answer: you would not trust him (this follows from the fact that you would distrust a hypocrite “even more than a creationist politician”). And I think it is fully justified not to trust a creationist politician. Which was my point: the politician’s attitudes towards such a fundamental domain like our modern science, IS important and justifies suspicion of such a politician.

                      And, just to be sure we do not misunderstand each other here: My ethical argument against Rubio’s unjustified use of scientific terminology to suggest science being totally supportive of his political agenda was one thing. My objection against the presupposition that science does not or cannot contribute meaningful insights in support of our ethical understanding and dialog on the subject of unborn life is another thing.

                    • Joseph

                      I’m not attempting to make myself look smart, I’m pointing out that you look dumb!

                    • Joseph wrote: “I’m not attempting to make myself look smart, I’m pointing out that you look dumb!” — Thanks for the ad hominems, but no. Have fun in peace.

                • chezami

                  Uh, no. I didn’t.

    • Alma Peregrina

      “there is no way we can accept an argumentation which cannot be communicated in a ‘moral esperanto’ which we can all equally comprehend as a reasonable argument.”

      Yeah, but whenever a christian tries the “moral esperanto” approach, pro-choicers will inevitably say we are trying to, and I quote, “impose our religion on them”.

      I mean, just look at this post! The article this post links to is basically a moral esperanto argument built on science, and yet you:
      a) clearly didn’t read it, because you say
      “Of course life begins at conception, and it is the beginning of a human life – but this is not the point. That argument is not decisive in terms of what defines a human being.”
      which is pretty much covered in the article
      b) atribute the article to religious motivations, because you say
      “Now with regards to this so-called scientific argument by Mr Rubio, this is a cover-up. (…) what matters to them is more power to the christian stronghold in the US. “

      So, it all boils down to this:
      You claim pro-lifers should make non-religious arguments that anyone may accept, but you will not read pro-life non-religious arguments, because every pro-life argument is ultimately religious.

      Circular logic at its finest.

      Before asking pro-lifers to do anything, please ensure that you are open-minded to pro-lifers doing what you ask them to. Otherwise, don’t ask pro-lifers to do anything at all. Thank you.

      • @almaperegrina:disqus wrote: “Yeah, but whenever a christian tries the ‘moral esperanto’ approach, pro-choicers will inevitably say we are trying to, and I quote, “impose our religion on them”.”

        Yes, I imagine they often do – but it will also depend whether or not the argumentation is really conform to moral/ethical considerations, backed up with, for instance, acknowledged wisdom of the past, and so on. I suppose you do realize that wrapping up a bible verse in something that still doesn’t really make sense unless you’re a christian, is not really what we mean when we say moral esperanto. If it’s done properly then it would be a solid argument.

        Furthermore, what you interpret as me ignoring the article is incorrect. I argue that a serious debate in a context where we can take the scientific, ethical, social (or ‘human’) arguments serious, is absolutely possible – but 1) we won’t redo all the considerations of the past unless there’s a good argument for reconsidering it, and 2) we won’t really do this in the context of a political campaign, because this is complex matter and certainly not a binary “pro-lifers versus pro-choicers” simple choice.

        • Alma Peregrina

          “it will also depend whether or not the argumentation is really conform to moral/ethical considerations, backed up with, for instance, acknowledged wisdom of the past, and so on.”

          Not really.

          Of course I wouldn’t use a biblical verse to justify something to a non-religious person. It’s sad that you still think that would be the case, since I haven’t mentioned God once throughout all this debate we’re having.

          But, allas, not using religious arguments still doesn’t matter. Pro-choicers will not acknowledge that. They will wave those arguments away saying: “You talk about science, but you’re a catholic, so it’s all about religion and your scientific arguments are a cover-up”.

          As for the depoliticisation of this political campaign, I’m sorry but it will not happen. This is a humans rights campaign and we need laws to protect those whose human right are being stripped away. It’s a political campaign.

          So that you’ll understand the unfairness of what you are proposing us, just imagine gays before the Supreme Court decision. Would you find it fair if I said: “Gays aren’t currently allowed to marry. Let’s discuss this outside political campaigns and not allow this to be taken up by pro-LGBT politicans because it is a complex matter”?

          If you want me to say that I would like that the pro-life movement would declare independence from the right-wing, and become a political movement on its own and that would cover all life, including after-birth, then I’ll say it. But nothing more.

          • “They will wave those arguments away saying: You talk about science, but you’re a catholic, so it’s all about religion and your scientific arguments are a cover-up” — That’s not true. You are simplifying the situation. Being a Catholic has never been an argument against someone’s opinion. What matters is how this Catholic (and this Muslim and this atheist etc) defends the case for a good ethical, humane point of view. And the reason why it is complex has little to do with Catholics, atheists or whatever – it is the matter itself which is complex. Abortions happen for a reason – and the reason is not exactly like mama’s just want to have aborted babies – it’s obvious that the problem sits deeper, deep inside our societal life, the constructions of our social relations and the cost of living, the way we organize our economies, our economics, etc etc.

            I cannot extend this debate right now because on my tectonic plate it is about midnight. But overall, I think we would probably agree on a couple of points here. We will probably have to agree to disagree on other aspects.

            • Alma Peregrina

              “That’s not true. You are simplifying the situation. Being a Catholic has never been an argument against someone’s opinion.”

              Oh, my poor, naive, friend… Little do you know…

              Being a catholic is, many times, the sole argument used against a catholic’s opinion. I’ve been a catholic debating for years, I know what I’m talking about here.

              But if you gotta go sleep, then I’ll not extend the debate further. Just read my last reply, where I show that you, by not having read Rubio’s article, are misrepresenting it based on assumptions.

              Good night.

              • “Being a catholic is, many times, the sole argument used against a catholic’s opinion” — It certainly is not my argument. Being a catholic may explain where someone’s view comes from (which I think is clearly the case with Rubio) but the real problem is the lack of an argument which is based on what we know today (including but not limited to scientific data).

                • Alma Peregrina

                  “It certainly is not my argument.”

                  Thank goodness.

  • Ronald King

    It is clear to me that human life begins at conception and also that what defines a human being begins in that moment of conception. To dismiss or be ignorant of that knowledge is tragic and is symptomatic of our lack of an empathic connection to all of life and the suffering which results from our ignorance.

    • Just a remark. It was also ignorance to treat apes like they were fundamentally lacking cognitive and deep affective functions. I’m just saying, ignorance is not to be limited to those who ‘dare to’ want a serious discussion on the status of a 2 weeks old embryo which has the size of the dot in the letter “i” I put between quotes here. My point is: you could be more careful in attributing “lack of an empathic connection” to those who keep the discussion on a dot-sized embryo open, while others (including believers) would – without blinking an eye – hunt lions or apes, or other mammalian or avian species that have true emotions according to the research done in the last few decades.

      • Ronald King

        Everyone reading this began as a dot on “i”. I don’t need to be careful about attributing a lack of empathy as it relates to a dot or to those who hunt lions or apes. There is no shortage of ignorance. There is a shortage of empathy especially for something we view as less than us.

        • Viewing something as “less than us” was exactly the point when I was referring to those animals – the remark you ignored in favor of emphasizing my “dot” remark, suspecting that I would not care about something only because it is only dot-sized. But of course, no one was arguing against empathy even towards what is dot-sized. The embryo of an ape, too, is dot-sized, and has the potential to grow up to an animal with a certain level of empathy (as has been demonstrated repeatedly). My remark is just what it is – an observation. You can do with it what you want. Ignoring is for free.

          • Ronald King

            I didn’t ignore your point about the ape. I thought that was included in my last line without specifically mentioning it. So you and I are in agreement, unless you disagree with that.