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."?

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Life isn't based on "personhood." After all, pond scum is "alive." The bar is set extremely low when it comes to judging if something is alive.

Well, if your argument is that life begins at conception simply because the DNA exists, then would you consider a person to be alive long after they’ve passed away simply because their DNA still exists? DNA is nothing more than the building blocks of life, not life itself. That’s like opening a model car kit and saying “Look at my cool car.” No, what you have is a bunch of pieces and a set of instructions, but nothing that is definable as a car. That’s more or less what we have with a fertilized egg.  We can say “life begins at conception” but it doesn’t make any more sense coming from our mouths than it does from a believers.

 If you’re going to say that pond scum is alive, I think it would be reasonable to make that assessment on the fact that it is fully developed (to the extent pond scum can be). I think the same assessment can (and should) be applied to human life. The complexity of the life itself shouldn’t be an issue, but the stage of development should be. In the same way that simply mixing the appropriate ingredients together doesn’t make a cake, combining sperm and egg doesn’t make a life. Both have to develop in order to realize their potential.

Well, your argument makes sense until one plugs in the fact that in the one case the cells are in a building phase and in the other the cells are headed in the other direction, entropy, disorganization. That time has a direction to is what makes the difference.

The argument stands on its own with just the cells that are in the “building phase.” If I understood your reply, you were referring to the human embryo, In which case stages of development are entirely relevant to the distinction between life/non-life. Please clarify if I misunderstood your intention.

True. With the first stage, life begins. Consciousness, no. Life, yes.

I said nothing about consciousness. The problem lies in where we think life actually begins. You have yet to convince me that an undeveloped fetus, let alone a fertilized egg, is alive. If you have any scholarly reading that better addresses your argument, I’d be happy to read it, otherwise we will simply have to agree to disagree.

If you're actually ABLE to be convinced, then you must have some idea what would convince you. And what would that be?


I can be convinced of anything when given the appropriate evidence. There must have been something that informed your stance that I have yet to discover for myself. Please enlighten me if you will. Share your sources of knowledge.

As to what would convince me: I think it was pretty clear what I was asking for, but I’m happy to restate it another way: Provide verified research by respected scientists that shows life begins at conception and I would happily acknowledge your point.

What about human cells (and cell lines) kept in culture for experiments and such by us cell biologists? These were all derived from human tissues of human individuals ...

Whether a living thing deserves legal rights, be it fetuses or endangered animals or plants is for the lawyers.

That something is an individual of that species once a sperm reaches an egg is a simple scientific fact. It bothers me to hear otherwise intelligent people, who normally would defer to facts, propound a fiction because it's convenient.

"It bothers me to hear otherwise intelligent people, who normally would defer to facts, propound a fiction because it's convenient."

not half as much as it bothered me for otherwise intelligent people erroneously calling all dogs parasites despite the scientific facts to the contrary . and calling for a ban of a breed of dogs due to 16 deaths caused by them a year, while having no problem with private pool ownership despite the fact they kill over an order of magnitude more people. not on topic i know,  but i wanted to elaborate when i said pot meet kettle.


On topic. The question for me is when does the fetus become more than living tissue with a potential for an individual life. and i would have to say the biggest factor their would have to do with brain development and consciousness.

 i guess the real disagreement between us would be what constitutes a person. in one sense you are right but in another 1,2 4 or 8 cells with the potential to become a baby also does not quite  constitute a person



Why does it have to be more than living tissue? Trees are alive without actual consciousness (they have tropism, but not much more). People go unconscious regularly and, in the case of comas, for a long time.


Off topic: The difference being that there is evidence on both sides in the case of the dogs, whereas there is no evidence that "life begins at birth," which is a rather obvious end run based on adopting a stipulated definition that denies scientific common sense.


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