I'm an atheist. I believe in reproductive rights for women. I believe a woman should be able to abort a pregnancy no questions asked. Why should I have to also believe the nonsense that "life begins at birth"? It seems to me that a human being is created as soon as a sperm fertilizes an egg. The DNA of a human being exists from that point onward. Are we so under the thumbs of the religious right that we can't say, "Yeah, life begins at conception. So what? The woman still has control."?
A major problem with this thread, and indeed all conversations of this nature, is there is a happy and pervasive conflation of terminology. I continue to see people switching freely between "human", "life", and a few other words that all mean something different.
Life is not the same as human, human is not the same as human being, and personhood is yet again something different.
Life began several billion years ago. It probably only began the one time, so to suggest that it begins billions of times each year over billions of years goes against scientific consensus by profound orders of magnitude.
Saying something is human doesn't say much. My dead skin cells that slough from my body by the millions each day are human skin cells. If people are using human as shorthand for human being, then perhaps they should make note of it.
Human being would represent something more akin to maybe what people are referring to when they use terms like life or human. The important aspect of this term being "being", a sentient individual. Of course, alone, it could mean anything that is alive or simply exists, but paired with human, most common usage would be in reference to the sentient individual with the rare exception.
Personhood would be more of a legal term that would grant certain rights to an individual based on some set of criteria such as sentience among others. This does not have to be limited to human beings and has, compellingly I think, been argued in favor of being granted to some non-human primates and other animals with highly functioning brains.
People may quibble about the meager definitions I have provided for various terms, but I'd be happy if during discourse of this type that there was at least recognition of the nuanced nomenclature involved. Best of all would be that people would agree first upon terms and their definitions prior to engaging in debate.
This thread isn't about abortion. It's about using terms like "life" and "living" consistently with the way we talk about other organisms, and especially mammals. It is the Christian fallacy to place man as separate somehow from the apes and squirrels and fish and tomato plants. There is never any problem referring to the early stages of those things as "alive." It is only when it comes to man that for purely political, and not scientific, reasons that we hesitate to call our earliest stages "life." By wanting to argue that a newly conceived human isn't alive, we are creating an exception for humanity. We don't hesitate to call a sprouting tomato seed "alive" or imbued with "life." Ditto for squirrel or chimpanzee embryos. But for political reasons, many find it convenient to speak of human embryos in a different way. Let's get the politics out of it and admit the truth and then say, "So what? It's still the woman's right to do as she wants with her own body."
I'm not sure I understand your reply or how it relates to what I posted. Aside from stating a desire to use terms consistently, that is.
To be a person is to have a personality.
Thank you Reggie, I was thinking similarly. Your post is where a LIKE button or thumbs up rating would come in handy for future reference.
Thank you, Pope.
So this thing with no heart, no brain, no jaw or opposable thumbs, no spine or sentience or nerves, this thing that we have to call an "it" because it doesn't even have a gender, you would call it human? Simply because it has the capacity to become human? You're one of those people that doesn't kill bugs, aren't you?
Why not? Simply because those things aren't developed yet. A biologist studying it will be studying it as a human embryo, not something unknown.
But they treat it like an embryo, not a human. Because it's not. They wouldn't be like "Oh hello there Mr. embryo, let me just... shake your... your little hand there... and how are you today?" An embryo's a monstrosity. You know it is. If you saw it writhing in a garbage can, you'd put it out of whatever little misery it's barely capable of. Okay that's a little dark. How about this? You wouldn't treat a half-cooked pancake like a pancake right? Because it's not yet. It needs to cook more before you can call it a real pancake and treat it like a pancake.
How are these pancake analogies, they doing anything for ya?
No, actually, my position is that "It's a human embryo, but so what? The mother's control of her own body means that simply because it's in her doesn't give the state the right to control it. I simply ask that we talk about human embryos as unexceptional and that we speak of them consistent with way we would an embryonic squirrel, for example. Nobody is standing on their head to insist that squirrel embryos aren't squirrels or that they aren't really alive.