Just read…

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.

Tough Loss for Livni, the Caps, Etc.

perez-bibPresident of Israel Shimon Perez nominated Benyamin Netanyahu to be the new Prime Minister. Tzipi Livni has refused to co-operate in a unity government. Netanyahu was Prime Minister before, in the late nineties.

May God grant peace and stability to Israel. Let us pray that our Holy Father will have a spiritually profitable visit in May–and our little band of pilgrims in November, too!

Continue reading “Tough Loss for Livni, the Caps, Etc.”

Not Above My Pay Grade

 

 

 

 

In the U.S. Congress, the Speaker of the House must have a higher salary than a junior Senator.  The Speaker undertook to catechize the country ( http://www.catholicexchange.com/2008/08/26/113593/ ) on a question which the democratic nominee asked for more money before he would give an answer (http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080818/pl_politico/12602 ).

 

Archbishop Wuerl has written to us priests, asking us to explain Church teaching on abortion at the Holy Mass this Sunday.  It is pretty unusual for him to tell us what to preach on.

 

I thought it might be illuminating to try to break the matter down into discrete kinds of questions, so that we can see what is certain and what is not certain.  There are two distinct kinds of questions involved.  The first kind aim at things that exist; the second kind aim at the right thing to do.

 

When precisely did each of our lives begin?  When did our souls come into existence?  When we were in our mothers’ wombs, what happened?  None of these are questions about what we ought to do or not to do.  Some people might say these questions are just idle curiosity, needless philosophizing.  They are speculative questions.  They are not for everybody; most people do not worry about trying to answer speculative questions of this kind.

 

One reason for the unpopularity of these questions is:  Getting an irrefutable answer to any profound speculative question is very difficult.  “Is my dog asleep right now or awake?” is a speculative question; it can be answered just by looking at the dog.  But “When does the human soul come into being?” is not so easy.

 

As Cardinal Egan and other Catholic leaders have pointed out since Speaker Pelosi’s confusing catechesis last Sunday, we have recently developed remarkable means by which to observe pregnancies.  We can now see pretty well what is going on, and we can analyze the biological processes with great precision.  All this gives us a clear answer to the following question (a question which perplexed people for many centuries):  Is there a stage in the process of development when the guest of the womb changes from one kind of thing into another kind of thing, from an inanimate type of thing to an animate type of thing?  Or:  Is there a moment we can pinpoint when what does not appear to have been human now becomes human?  The clear answer to these questions is:  No.  No such moment has ever been discovered.  It would seem highly unlikely that it ever will be.

 

Still we have not touched the question of the soul, nor have we considered what ought to be done or not done.

 

Souls are invisible.  Sonograms and other studies show us that what began as one cell eventually grows into a recognizable baby.  Something makes this happen, some organizing power that keeps all the molecules from separating from each other into some kind of soup.

 

Speculative questions like this are endlessly interesting, so it is rather presumptuous for anyone to claim that he or she has the final answer.  The Church does not settle speculative questions.  When needed, She settles questions regarding what we believe and what we are to do or not do.

 

Sacred Scripture teaches us to believe that God has a plan for everyone to get to heaven, and that plan begins in the womb.  God loves the occupant of the womb, and He will always provide for him or her.  We believe this with certain faith.  There is no doubt about it.

 

Now let us get to the practical questions.  Should any pregnant woman ever have an abortion?  Should anyone ever perform an abortion, or co-operate with an abortion in any way?  When Rick Warren asked about when an unborn child acquires human rights, this was a somewhat convoluted way of leaving the speculative realm behind and transferring the debate to the moral realm.  Someone who has rights cannot be killed.  So Rick Warren’s Saddleback Forum debate question really was:  Must the law prohibit abortion?

 

Moral questions have to do with what you or I do or don’t do.  Unborn children die in their mothers’ wombs all the time in miscarriages, but a miscarriage is not a moral matter; it didn’t result from what someone did or didn’t do.  Moral questions are confined to you and me and what we choose.

 

Answering moral questions is generally easier than answering speculative questions, especially when the speculative questions involve invisible realities.  Moral questions require moral certitude, because we either act or we don’t; we either do something or we don’t do it.  For me to do something, I have to be sure that it is not gravely evil for me to do it.  For the law to permit something, the legislator must be sure that it is not the slaughter of innocents.  There is no doubt that it is morally wrong to take risks when it comes to the life or death of innocent people.

 

Moral questions are not beyond us, like some speculative questions are.  We can always know what to do or not to do, either by reasoning things out carefully from basic principles like the Ten Commandments, or by submitting to the authority of the Church.  We do not have to know everything about the situation; we only have to know what to do or avoid.

 

In the case of the moral questions here, there is no doubt whatsoever.  It is never okay to have an abortion.  It is never okay to co-operate in an abortion.  It is never okay for the law to permit abortion.