one of the most wonderfully lucid expositions of the state of the pro-life question which I think I have ever read.
Everything Mr. Gray has written illuminates. I beg you, dear reader, to click through and read.
Mr. Gray simply neglects one fundamental aspect of the question:
Can “science” answer the queston of when human life begins? Depends on what you mean by “science.” The question of when human life begins must necessarily have recourse to the science of metaphysics, because a human body is animated by an immaterial, rational soul.
Taking as a premise the fact that an immaterial, rational soul animates the human body, the question then has to be: when does the soul begin to animate the body?
The study of fetal development could conceivably indicate some point at which this might occur. The fact is that such study does not indicate any such point, other than the beginning, i.e. fertilization.
Mr. Gray claims that a zygote must not be a living organism because the zygote does not respond to outside stimuli. For one thing, this statement itself cannot be admitted as fact. We do not know this; we merely surmise it, based on observation under circumstances other than the norm. Under normal circumstances, the zygote is not observed, and its interactions with its environment are certainly infinitely more complex than we can claim to know.
But even if we grant this assertion of Mr. Gray’s, it cannot establish that a zygote does not have a soul. Do people in comas not have souls?
It seems to me that the key fact here is this: Human beings certainly have souls; babies when they are born show solid evidence that they have souls; and once we reach the age of reason we give incontrovertible proof that we are not merely material beings.
The burden of proof, therefore, when it comes to embryology establishing that a zygote is not a human being, must lie on the side of disproving that the zygote has a soul. Granted, it would not be possible for observations to disprove it altogether, but a solid indication would have to be found.
In other words, observation of the stages of development would have to discover a turning point that indicates a transition from pre-human to human. Every attempt that has been made by embryology to establish evidence for such a transition has been disproved by the discovery of further evidence.
Absent such a solid indication of a stage of development where a zygote or blastocyst undergoes a transition to “humanity,” the reasonable person concludes that the organism has been human from the moment of conception.
Mr. Gray’s argument about organizational complexity simply begs the question: If the zygote were not adequately complex itself, then how could it develop into a blastocyst? There would have to be evidence of the introduction of some other factor into the original cell, which added to the zygote’s complexity, allowing it to develop. But science actually holds the opposite thesis: Namely, that the DNA present in the zygote possesses all the complexity necessary for the zygote to develop into a 5-foot+, strapping dude or dudette.
All of the consequences which Mr. Gray so lucidly presents do, then, in fact, follow. A reasonable and decent human being cannot have anything to do with abortion, artificial contraception, or in vitro fertilization. All of these involve (at least in many, or most, if not all, instances) killing a person with a soul.