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Everything posted by AzurePhoenix

  1. Under official advisement to not be drawn further from the point of the thread by your baiting, addressing why Dr. Axe's tests don't accurately reflect the numbers likely to occur under natural conditions and within actual organisms will have to be set aside for the time being. That was only in regards to the basic question as it was phrased, without going further to address the inferred context regarding when a group of cells deserves human rights. Every argument I've made relating to the intended context as it rleated to abortion thereafter has been independent of those first expressions of technicality. My points, and those of others, are that regardless of how something is related to anything else, or its uniqueness, or it's genome or particular genotype, the characteristics that earn an entity personhood and the rights that that status entails are independent from those aforementioned things. Those characteristics of personhood essentially being the entity's capacity to appreciate its own existence, from our point of view. What matters then are those particular characteristics, not where they came from, whether that means evolution, a deity, or the guy who programmed a self-aware AI. Give me three alternative individuals from different universes, one evolved, one created by god, one a manufactured but sentient, self-aware cylon, their disparate origins wouldn't matter in regards to whether or not I considered them people (assuming they're all comparatively likable). recognition of the factual uniqueness doesn't necessarily suggest any recognition of intrinsic value or the deserving of rights based on that uniqueness alone.
  2. the particular quote i disagreed with was You did not say moral (truth), you said morality. You said there can be no morality (unspecified,) I pointed out that evolution adequately accounts for morality (relative/subjective/variable). From there you argued impotently that the word itself doesn't apply to our use of it, an argument which serves no purpose since regardless of whether you call subjective morals morals or social norms or freaking skittlemonkeys, what they are referred to as has no bearing on the implications or veracity of the concept itself. My argument has remained perfectly consistent. Your habit of clumsily and ineffectively attempting to twist what others say to suit your smug fantasy of your inerrancy is juvenile, and grew tedious many threads ago. If by redefine you mean use valid variations on the word that may differ from your own, I'll have to disagree. I find that more accurate and intellectually honest than just inventing fantasy definitions or pretending that real, alternative definitions don't exist when they conflict with the one I'm blindly biased towards, or are wrong just because I wish they weren't valid. Then how are they meaningfully, applicably different than variable, subjective morals? Or does their origin just make them honorarily special for no practical reason? And that standard is survival value. Surely you understand that the requirements for the overall long-term success of such a complex association as a population of organisms in an ever-changing ecosystem requires the behaviors of those organisms to shift and adapt to better overcome the protean circumstances that can negatively impact the group's success. Fixedness in the face of out-competitive change is a maladaption and direct route to extinction. Any moral can be arbitrarily believed to be an absolute if you presuppose the existence of moral absolutes, whether murder is wrong or that making guacamole without liberal amounts of cayenne pepper and lime is wrong. The nigh-ubiquitous negative regard for murder and rape held by humans are adequately explained by the practical negative impact they have on a group, and as a result, the success of the individuals within the group. The empathy many or most humans show for one another can be explained in part as an adaptation to help us maintain this advantageous group structure, as you are less likely to harm another if you can empathize with them. Game theory even accounts for sociopaths who aren't bound by empathy for one another, and do not follow moral norms, as part of a behavioral arms race. It's expected, inevitable actually, that some individuals will adapt within a group to exploit the general social norms to their own advantage and increase their success. However, their success is kept in check by the fact that the wider, cooperative social behaviors adapt to counter them (this is why most sociopaths are more subtle than the serial killing psychopaths they're portrayed as popularly; it wouldn't do to draw attention, and retribution, upon yourself). If the "moralists" failed however, the amoralists would rapidly dominate the population until everyone was amoral. However, if everyone is exploiting everyone else, it rapidly becomes advantageous to be able to depend on a group of others you can trust, and moral behaviors re-establish themselves. If a social group was entirely moral however, in its naivete, it'd be ripe for the picking by the first amoral mutant. The most evolutionarily stable strategy is for a few subtle amoralists to exploit a larger, largely moral society that's ready to be a little amoral back if it can catch them in the act. Amoral from the socially benevolent point of view that is, in that the predominate behaviors of cooperation, empathy, and pity have to be overridden to do a practical thing in direct opposition to what would otherwise be considered optimal for group success under normal circumstances, exemplified by the capital punishment debate in the US. When you say that I argue that morals exist but believe they shouldn't, you are implying the consistent use of term "morals" when you know full well to make the distinction that I recognize the existence of variable, subjective morals with demonstrable practical value, and deny the existence of absolute, metaphysical ones. Actually, when I introspect I tend to realize that it'd be very easy to slip into nihilism in response to the ultimate purposeless of the material, uncreated universe, if I were too stupid to simply accept and appreciate the cards we've been dealt by that very same universe. done Actually, I am certain that the existence of a God of almost any sort would not resolve the moral absolute problem. I'm sure you've heard of the Euthyphro dilemma, which Skeptic has been addressing, just as I'm sure you've ignored it or thrown a pretzel of bad logic at it and declared it vanquished. I feel that murder is bad. I'm bred and further influenced by my upbringing to do so. But I'm also perfectly aware that I could be motivated to want to commit it under certain circumstances, even not feel about about having committed it. Upon objective examination of that premise, I recognize objectively why murder would usually be bad in most circumstances. So long as you are assembling a jury of humans taken out of many of today's pervasively religious societies, deeply rooted, subtle biases will prevail over true objectivity, just as they've mangled any semblance of your own. All introspection is is considering what you feel or examining information that originated externally. Relying on what you feel can only cripple objective analysis, while externally obtained information can be erroneous or incomplete. (Absolute) morals cannot exist, even with a god. (Practical, variable, subjective) morals do exist regardless of whether or not there is a god, and even if there were a god somehow capable of making non-arbitrary absolute morals themselves exist, then without some sort of retribution for breaking those moral codes variable evolved morals would supersede the absolute ones in importance. However, if breaking God's absolute morals did result in retribution, particularly retribution greater than the costs of following them, then they only matter for the same exact reasons that variable, evolved societal norms do. It doesn't matter where they come from, only that it's in our best interest to not gamble with the retribution of breaking them. Which is equally self-serving.
  3. the scientifically derived explanation for the evolutionary diversification from a common ancestor is perfectly adequate, and repeatedly shown to be consistent with observable reality. The mechanisms that allow for this have been factually observed, and, lets say in the case of an eye, the evolution of all of the little intermediary steps necessary to form an eye like our own have been shown to be individually possible. It would require some unknown mechanism to working to actively prevent these processes from occurring to limit the possibility of the evolution of a complex eye via observed mechanisms. Ultimately, there are no coherent arguments against the relatedness and common descent of observed life on earth, only evidence for. Anyway, do you believe that genetic testing can be used to determine the relatedness of individual humans within a population? Or is that metaphysics too? Since the use of genetics to evaluate the relatedness between more distinct groups of organisms in phylogenetics is the same principle. But even if none of that were true, how does the relatedness or lack thereof between groups of organisms impact the issue? It seems that the conception/life/person issue is a matter of "what is" regardless of what came before.
  4. Occam's Razor is a principle of parsimony (parsimony of assumptions, to be specific), not simplicity. A common error. Without exploring the details of the nature of this "ineffable spark" or its mechanisms and origin, then yes, it would certainly appear very simple at first glace. However, evolution can be similarly simplified to an equally meaningless not-quite-explanation. However, simplicity isn't the point. While evolution in its effectual, thoroughly-explained glory is a very complex system, it and how it can shape life from microbes to complex multicellular eukaryotes is well understood. Your spirituality hypothesis requires an enormous number of baseless, unverified assumptions. Agnostics would claim unverifiable (but that's an unverified assumption itself.) Evolution requires few unsupported assumptions. While the origin of life itself, abiogenesis, is more mysterious and requires more assumptions than the evolution of existing life, abiogenesis hypothesis still tend to make far fewer assumptions than supernatural/theistic/spiritual hypothesis do. Ergo, materialistic explanations are more elegant by Occam's measure. Speculatively, if we ever did come across evidence that spirit (which currently remains a nonsense word for the barest idea of an unformed concept) does in some form exist, it by no means necessitates the existence of a god, whether abrahamic or deistic or otherwise. The implications of the existence of spirit would depend entirely on the specific nature or properties or what have you of spirit. Thank you, I'm always on the lookout for an infuriating but hilarious mashup of fallacies and pitiable self-delusion. Seriously. I'm sort've a masochist that way... I have half a shelf devoted to theism, apologetics and crackpottery. If you haven't, you should read There is a God by Anthony Flew, it's a delightfully agonizing read. I don't particularly care about whether or not I'm correct. What I care about is what the evidence suggests, even if the truth turns out to be something I don't like (as is all too often the case.)
  5. Look up epigenetics. Non-genetic external factors and mechanisms can influence and change gene expression, and potentially influence the phenotype, albeit without altering the original genome of the organism. Axolotyls are a good example, typically most individuals of the species never mature out of their larval phase, but can be induced to do so via application of hormones. We're not in disagreement over the basic fact of his uniqueness, but over the implications and ultimate importance of it at the embryonic or fetal, or even infantile stage. So you are saying you would not consider our non-human ancestors people. Which again forces me to reiterate, do you attribute any special philosophical value to the term "person" that non-human sentient intelligences (including our distant ancestors) wouldn't possess? Would you consider them "lesser than" human-persons? your preferred definition is limited and narrowly particular. In common parlance what you say is often the case (and so likely to show up in dictionaries, as you've shown), but those fields that take time to examine and consider the deeper philosophical concept of the idea are not so definite, and often define personhood according to a set of cognitive characteristics regardless of humanity. In theistic mythos, gods are regularly considered people (the persons of the Trinity, for example,) ethology and psychology frequently consider what characteristics constitute personhood, with the inevitable conclusion that it's not necessarily "just a human thing." You have to take into account that you seem to just be using the word person in a laymen context as a synonym for "human," ignoring that its often used with the implication of deeper philosophical values regarding the concept of a being's "worth" or "rights" and whatnot. You are sticking to a particular, and fairly shallow variation of the definition of person, and that's perfectly valid in your subjective use of it, but there are other definitions of the concept that apply it to a wider range of concepts, and those other definitions are not wrong. Not at all, you're just using a different concept of "new life" than the way I was expressing the concept of life. My reference to the conception of a distinct organism is perfectly synonymous with the context that you're using life in. My conceptions only become inconsistent when you apply your own foreign context to them. It's as if you said 3 is smaller than 4, and I said you were wrong because I used the symbol 3 to represent the amount we call six.
  6. Evolutionary processes do not generate objective moral truths because there is no such thing as an objective moral truth. All morality is the result of the practicality of social conduct, and are only as intrinsic as a mating behavior is to a particular species of bird. Your definition of moral is clearly at odds with my own. A moral is a moral whether its an eternally absolute characteristic of the universe, or a set of fluidly subjective behavioral guidelines developed for the sake of immediate and or long term practicality. And if all the world decides to declare my definition false and yours correct, then all that means is that there is no morality at all and what you simply call social norms are the best we have to work with as a consequence of the fundamental absence of morals from the universe. What does honestly interest me about your perspective though, is what good is a moral absolute if it doesn't yield to practicality? What purpose does it serve? What would even be an example of a moral absolute? I've certainly never heard of one. Only to moral realists / absolutists. You are one, I am not. Both of us are just repeating ourselves useless, but once more, because there is no universally intrinsic sense of right and wrong. Anyway, you are making the positive claim, not me; the burden of proof is on you to show that absolute morals intrinsic to the fundamental nature of the universe itself exist.
  7. Oh no I wasn't discounting panspermia as something that might possibly be possible, at least within a solar system, I just meant that, even if it can occur, and has, there's still likely to be batches of life that don't share common biological ancestors and are completely isolated from one another, and so those ones are entirely unrelated in that sense. Specifically, I was making the distinction that the amino acids in meteors are sub-biological, and so even two lines of organisms descended from the same batch of amino acids, aren't biologically related, just chemically.
  8. why? what does personhood mean to you that it must be limited to Homo sapiens? Is it just a simple direct synonym for human, like kitty is to cat? Or does personhood itself hold a philosophical significance to you that restricts it specifically to Homo sapiens? If so, in what way, and would you assign more value to a human person over a non-human non-person entity of comparable intelligence and sentience or greater? Or would you respect them as beings equal to yourself, with all the same rights, just not called "people"? And ydoaPs brings up another excellent example. In several million years, our descendants will have evolved into a completely new species, even genus, and eventually, family and beyond. They will be as distinct from humans as humans are from our tree shrew ancestors. They will not be human. Would you still consider them people? indeed he is absolutely unique genetically, and that uniqueness will be added to via life experiences and epigenetic development... but except for those organisms that reproduce clonally, the exact same thing can be said for any other living thing. I'm not sure what your point is. He is genetically distinct. So? You state "are in fact" as if the definition of personhood is established and definite. This is not true. As I pointed out earlier, there are a number of varying, widely used definitions of personhood, some legal, others religious, others ethological and such. On the surface without more data to go on, your preference seems to be one of human exceptionalism, but there are others, and according to some, such as my own self-awareness preference, an infant isn't. Not really... I don't contest the basic truth of what your saying, only the immediate relevance to the topic. And I in no way suggested life doesn't require carbon. What I said is that two lines of biological descent originating from two independently generated abiogenic events are not biologically related. I don't know how mineralogists or chemists conceptualize relatedness, or if they even do, but the two lines of descent would only be related in THAT sense.
  9. Those societal norms of which you speak are part of what I'm talking about yes, but they themselves are often a memetic evolution of those intrinsic morals of which you speak. However, my primary focus was in regards to evolutionary social behaviorism in general, which laid down those "intrinsic" moral foundations (thanks to their own practicality) in the first place. Game Theory goes a long way to explain why particular behaviors we consider moral evolve form the social interactions of species, as well as why violations of those broader rules are also an inevitable consequence of the broader moral base in the first place, and why occasionally its advantageous, or practical, to go against the wider social code of conduct. Using this ethological science, predictions are routinely made and these hypothesis often confirmed by observation of the concept put into practice by various organisms. I'll take a look after work. The fundamental failure of your argument is the baseless assumption of the necessity of moral invariance. Nothing supports your claim. In the end, all morality breaks down to is which social behaviors prove to be the most effective at maintaining long-term evolutionary stability.
  10. Seems to be that responsibly utilized abortion can easily reduce suffering. It's like any other technology, none are intrinsically good or bad, but the people who use all of them tend to be morons. Most people would say the coal-power was great, but it's done immense harm, for great gain. Should we have never discovered agriculture? It was certainly responsible for vast amounts of harm to humanity. Easy grain allowed larger, more reliably fed populations of sedentary people, but at the cost of back breaking work, epidemics, crippling poverty, malnutrition, tooth decay and a reduction in life expectancy. I think it can be said that agriculture is incontrovertibly responsible for far more suffering on a far greater scale than abortion ever could be. But that by no means means that we should give it up.
  11. That was only true so long as we were ignorant of the nature of the human mind and behaviors, and how that relates to other, non-human lifeforms. If you landed on an extraterrestrial world and found an intelligent, emotional, moral species that looked like terrestrial cuttlefish, who fell in love and wrote music and mourned their dead, could you honestly say that they are not people because they are not human? Or a species countless eons more advanced for ourselves, in all those senses, would they not be people too? And if they are considered people, and we're still considered people despite they're being more advanced in all those ways than us, can you honestly claim that a non-human species less advanced than us but clearly displaying those traits to some degree (like dolphins) isn't worthy of its members being called people too? Like I've said before, if "person" simply means "human" then the term is arbitrary and meaningless. And keep in mind, if we're going to bring legal definitions into this, then legally, corporate entities can be and often are considered persons too. Which supports our point. If brain death is equivalent to death, when the body can be kept biologically alive, then the death is referring to the death of the individual person that is derived from the mind that once "inhabited" the body. This is in keeping with the concept that the "person" is the conscious mind itself. Or so it seems to me. The initial question wasn't "what was the first cause of everything," it was specifically "when does life begin," and the abiogenesis of life from non-life is the most technically accurate answer to that question.
  12. Many theistic theologians would describe a miracle as a direct divine intervention in the workings of the universe, including violating the laws of physics. Most spiritual laymen would claim it's any unlikely event that has a deep impact on their lives for the better (like winning a large sum of money or surviving a plane crash or recovering from cancer) or something as mundane as pretty colors in nature or birth, and was ultimately in some way directed to occur by their deity or some unidentified metaphysical force. Similar to the theologians but with less close examination of the concept, if any. The average person tends to take such metaphysical concepts for granted without ever really thinking about them. The rational simply consider "miracles" as highly unlikely occurrences, possibly even perfectly explainable ones (and typically expressed with less emphasis than a spiritual person would use) as well as how Insane and Skeptic described.
  13. it's not just "possible," it's the established reality. THIS is a different matter. The relatedness issue is a matter of the fact that all extant lifeforms on earth are descended from a shared ancestral organism. Unless panspermia were viable and involved, life from other worlds would be descended from an independent source, an isolated and separate abiogenic event. well as I discussed, your point of origin as a unique and distinct organism is definitely the point of conception. But there are multiple levels to the question. At no point did you "start being alive," there is no point on the continuum of biological descent where that can be said to be true beyond the ultimate shared origin of all life on earth. But your individual organism was conceived. But beyond your conception, deeper than your random happenstance fusion of a particular of gametes, that which makes you YOU, what makes you a person, is more than just the genome you were born with and the shape of your body, its your mind and experiences, your self-awareness and personal sense of identity. If your head were removed and incinerated and your body kept alive on an advanced life support system, would that body be YOU or just what's left of what used to be the real, meaningful you.
  14. Utterly, quantifiably false. Morals can be and are derived from the interpersonal interactions between the individuals that make up any social group. There may be no ultimate eternal consequences on the scale of the universe, but indivudals are still held accountable for their actions by both the material consequences of their actions and the response of their society. Also false. If there is anything to be gained from not carrying a baby to term, and the gains are considered greater than the costs by the people directly involved, then abortion can be perfectly practical even if the persons involved consider it immoral themselves. You cannot deny that people often commit acts that even they themselves consider immoral for the sake of of the practical concern of pressing necessity or desire. Extreme and obvious examples of course are demonstrated in war, but its equally true on the everyday scale from not informing a store clerk that they accidentally gave you back too much change, or having an abortion.
  15. In fact, 1, 2, 3 and 4 may decide to kill the fetus. You questioned the practicality of having an abortion. The fact is, if your life will be better off according to your personal values and perspective for having terminated the fetus, then regardless of morality, the abortion was still practical. You raised the question of practicality, not right and wrong. Second, you use the term child. This is a very similar question to that of personhood. An embryo or early stage fetus is no more a child than a potato is. Similarly, a young goat or puppy or cub is certainly no less conscious and sentient and intelligent than a human infant for a portion of their lives, but in general most people would not consider a bear cub a child, leading me to suggest that a child is an immature person, which takes you back to the personhood question as I described it in your other thread. When anti-abortionists call an embryo or fetus an "unborn child," it is no different than calling a cow an "unprocessed barbecue dinner." Or you an "unsenesced geriatric." They are defining it based off what it has the potential to perhaps one day become, not what it is. we're not discussing morality. YOU raised the question of practicality. The morality of an act does not necessarily determine its practical value. Immoral acts can be practical, moral acts can be impractical, and vice versa. Convenience is akin to practicality. You were asking about practicality, and what is convenient is practical. Again, disregarding the fact that a fetus is probably not a child, and that an embryo certainly isn't a child in the first place. Secondly, disregarding that disregardment, an embryo or fetus is a what, not a who. They do not perceive or think, they are not aware of themselves, they have no identity. Word yourself carefully. Your wholesale declaration there means we have no right to eat the meat we do, or, assuming vegetarianism, no right to end the life of a plant to eat, or to take antibiotics to kill infectious microbes. I very much doubt that you live entirely off of completely inanimately non-living fare, in which case, based on this moral perspective, only a self-aware Aritificial Intelligence running on any other fuel besides biogenic matter can be purely moral. What I'm guessing you mean, is that no human has the right to take a human life. But then that raises the question, does the human organism warrant this special pleading for no other reason than the fact that it is a member of the human species, or because it might be a person someday? But then, this all hinges then not on life, but on your definition of a person. If you are basing all of this morality on a biblically-based view of personhood that considers a person a being with a soul, rather than based on the secular qualities that I have presented, then how is this not a religious matter? The basis of your moral regard for the matter is religious in origin and nature. Only if you hold that a lump of cells can be considered a person with all the rights considered due to a person based solely on the pattern of its genome. I personally do not believe that a mindless lump of cells has the same value as a self-aware being capable of enjoying a subjective experience of existence. I believe death takes more from a human or a dolphin than it does a dog or cat, that death from a dog or cat takes more than from a deer or sheep, that the death of an ungulate takes more away from the ungulate than that of a lizard, that the death of a lizard takes more than the death of a fish, and that the death of a fish takes more away from the fish than the death of a half-formed fetus. The only difference is the potential for the fetus to become something that can suffer loss. But regardless of any of these things, they have nothing to do with your own point of Practicality. Regardless of right or wrong, moral or immoral, murder and abortion, despite being very distinctly different things, can both be perfectly practical actions.
  16. Addressing what you specifically excerpted; On what is this based? First, what is spirit? Second, what properties of spirit would render it freer than matter? And in what sense? Third, to be a "refutation" in any real sense, it has to be shown that spirit does in fact exist and is in fact "freer" than matter in the ways described. Why? Why should morals rooted in spirituality be any more real than those rooted in materialism? Where do they come from? If the assumption is that they are derived from some interpretation of the Abrahamic God, or something like it, then the Euthyphro Dilemma rears its ugly head, to politely point out that morals must then be absolutely arbitrary. Since materialism based morality is absolutely not arbitrary, than materialistic morality has more meaning than Divinely-mandated morality. Based on what? Why would these things be based on spirit rather than material biology?
  17. It was a perfectly biological answer. From the origin of life to today every organism is a small piece of an ongoing continuum of life with no gaps of non-life between one cell and the cells it divides into along the way. In multicellular organisms such as ourselves living germ-line gametogonia divide into living gametes via meiosis, and when complimentary gametes fuse, a new genetically distinct organism is produced, but at no point is new life created, nor has it ever been created within the framework of life on earth as we know it since its initial origin. Ergo, life began 3.8 billion years ago. Assuming that this is related to abortion, which seems likely, the real question would be, when does an organism become a person with all of the rights entailed by personhood. (I apologize beforehand if this post honestly had nothing to do with human fetuses and abortion and whatnot) "Personhood" is an entirely different matter from "life", and different people have different interpretations of what constitutes personhood. Some people think a person is an individual organism representative of the human species, or genus if you'll kindly allow for neanderthals and other non-sapiens Homo species. From a mindless lump of cells (equivalent to a seedling potato) to fully functional self-aware adult to braindead meatpuppet on a respirator, they're all individual humans and so they are people. Personally, I think this makes the term person redundant and simply another word for "human," with no deeper meaning than to make the distinction of "members of our species and no other are people just because we are humans ourselves and we feel smug about that." Others, such as myself, think personhood is defined by a range of characteristics related to consciousness, sentience, sapience and self-awareness. - Some people claim that the point a fetus becomes a person is the point that brain activity begins, but if that's the case, then why shouldn't any organism with the most rudimentary brain activity be considered a person? Like worms. - You can move it up a bit and define personhood as sentience, the capacity to perceive subjective sensations (qualia), often it seems the most highly valued sensations being emotion, suffering and pleasure. This certainly includes fetuses after a certain period of development, and infants, but also, plenty of animal species most people wouldn't ever consider people. And you can't tell me a box turtle doesn't freaking love strawberries. - Many others, and I myself, consider personhood a matter of self-awareness. If an entity is aware of its own existence as an independent entity, then it is a person. This includes all the other apes besides ourselves, pretty much all the toothed whales we've been able to study in an interactive manner, parrots and corvids, and elephants, and I happily consider non-braindead members of all of these species to be people. If we ever created a self-aware artificial intelligence, by my own definition I would consider the AI a person, no matter its form. However, it also means that human infants are NOT people until some time after they're born. I freely and often admit that human infants are not "really people," but for the sake of sentimentality are granted honorary personhood, particularly if they're cute. - Other people take it further, and measure personhood against the potential for the sum of human cognitive and behavioral traits, including consciousness in general, sentience, self-awareness, language, culture, etc etc, and that it takes all of these things to make something a person. I kind've feel that this is just more human exceptionalism, as people with this viewpoint often tend to express it at the species level, without regard for the fact that plenty of people that people would definitely consider people without argument would be excluded for this reason or that. Like babies. - There is also another group of people, who feel that personhood is a matter of having a soul. Now, most people who believe in the soul have no conceptualization of what a soul is supposed to be in the first place, but nevertheless they feel that having one is really important. Anecdotally, I know a woman who claims that the fully aware and fully human clone of another human, with all of the thoughts and feelings and biology of any other human, would NOT be a person on account that clones don't have souls. Which of course, seems patently absurd (if we're pretending for a moment that the concept of souls themselves isn't absurd). This raises the question then, if there is no such thing as an immortal immaterial soul and no one has one, then to a person who considers people people based on their soulishness, is anyone a person?
  18. It can be. 1; as pointed out, responsible birth control use is more practical, but in the event of a failure it is a practical consequence of said failure. Assuming that you were using birth control in the first place because you ACTUALLY didn't want to get pregnant and the getting pregnant against your will bit doesn't change your mind about the matter, then an abortion is a perfectly practical way to return to not pregnant status. The only practical way in fact, since our research into time travel seems to have stalled. 2; having a baby is a major life changing event, that can have major impacts on careers, education, money and relationships. If these impacts against the status quo are more undesirable than the desirability of having a baby (or undesirability of having an abortion if you're a glass half empty sort've person) then it is practical to make the least undesirable choice. 3; an unwanted, traumatic pregnancy (such as through rape or incest) can have a negative psychological impact on someone in which case abortion is a practical solution. 4; most obviously, when pregnancy poses a threat to the mother's physical health, abortion is indisputably practical. Hell, it can be argued than any and every pregnancy carries a degree of risk. All of these choices, and others, are entirely dependent on the comparative value of having a baby vs not having a baby from their own personal perspectives. If they believe that the value of a fetus's life outweighs the value of their lifestyle or relationships or health or mental well-being, then to them, an abortion is not practical. If not, then they are entirely practical. you can give yourself to whatever you like, but it's beyond arrogant to dictate for the rest of "us." I belong to those I love and myself, and if some Great Sky Fairy does exist beyond all odds and reason, I certainly do NOT belong to it, regardless of its hand in the origin of the universe or world or life. Likewise, anything conceived through me is mine until it can think otherwise for itself. If I don't abort it first First off, that's a sentimental thought, not a practical one. Given that your thread is focusing on the practicality of abortion, wouldn't it be sensible for you to give practical reasons for your position? What are your own practical arguments against?
  19. Higher oxygen levels would be suitable in the absence of a more efficient respiratory system, that's what allowed Arthropleura to grow to 8 and a half feet long back in the carboniferous (giant centipede relative), though better lungs would still be ideal. Regardless they definitely wouldn't be the spindly legged things most people imagine if the gravity was anywhere near earth-like, not if they wanted to stand higher off the ground than a centipede, they'd probably be at least as stout and robust as Moon's robber crabs. I sometimes like to imagine intelligent psuedo-dromaeosaurine terrestrial pack-hunting stomatopods with avian respiratory systems hunting us into extinction...
  20. Search for cross-references of telomeres and senescence with olm or naked mole rat. That should bring up some stuff. Or just wiki senescence.
  21. I would say it's only philosophical only to the same extent that organizing the card catalogue at the library and determining what book to shelf alongside what others is. What we call what doesn't change what is, it's a tool. Whether you consider the platypus a monotreme and a mammal and a vertebrate and a craniate and an animal or if you just consider it "that specific fuzzy rubbery-billed egg-laying lactating population of interbreeding thingies over there in that pond," how we categorize them doesn't change the implications we can draw about evolution from that specific set of populations of platypus. So we might as well put the tool to use. When I pointed out the "humans are apes" bit, I was working within the perfectly useful framework that you already established by asking about what separates humans from apes. You established the apes as a group distinct from humans yourself at this point, and I simply pointed out that within this framework that you were deriving "ape" from, we are equally classed as apes within that same framework. Regardless of what you call them, populations of distinct interbreeding organism of shared biology and close relatedness exist, and using these population of organisms you can determine how they are related to other such organisms and figure out where they all came from, how they evolved. Your argument is a thin candy shell wrapped around nothing. You have yet to point out a single contradictory claim. Every single one you think you have is an artifact of your complete lack of understanding of the concept you are attempting to refute.
  22. I have to suspect that you are intentionally misinterpreting what was obviously a dumbed-down analogy. The traditions of the families represent the genetically based biological traits of diverging populations. A metaphor. Idiot. What this means is that they separated long enough ago, and diverged far enough from one another that they've changed enough to not "sync" in whatever sense it is that's preventing them from breeding, whether chromosomal incompatibility or physical incompatibility (wrong shaped pollen) or what have you. It's a predicted element of evolution. If two distinct organisms (like a tree and a tiger) separated by billions of years of evolution, distinct at the genetic and cellular and physiological levels COULD interbreed, there'd be a serious problem for the theory of evolution. But you do not see turtles knocking up mushrooms. Like has been pointed out, they ARE closely related enough to reproduce. In many cases apparently distinct cultivars of a plant look completely different based solely on a difference in one gene complex that has no influence on their reproductive compatibility. I should also point out, squash are the fruit of a plant, not the plant itself in the sense of the mature organism. More comparable to the differences in egg size and color between two chickens. personal incredulity has no place in a discussion beyond you asking questions with the intention of learning what you need to learn to overcome your poor comprehension, which is obviously not your goal. You not understanding is not an argument against anything. Anyhow, we have not claimed in this thread that any of these things preclude an Intelligent Designer, but they are perfectly viable without one regardless. Abiogenesis is a separate issue. I know this has been pointed out to you, and I know you're aware of this, so stop associating it with evolution in general. Very different species evolved exactly how it was pointed out to you. Divergent populations, gradually acquiring different mutations over time and having those mutations selected for or against to account for tiny individual divergences, for so long that those changes pile up. The evolution of species is well understood. Your claims to the contrary are simply wrong. I don't know if you're just ignorant of the mechanics of it, or if you're in active denial of the facts, if you're deluded, or if you DO understand and you're just stubbornly pretending otherwise for the sake of raising an argument. But it is one of those four options, and no other. Again you are simply wrong. You are making false claims that are in complete contrast to the reality. The evolution of the eye is actually well understood. It's actually an easy thing to evolve, and has happened independently over a dozen times. You. Are. Wrong. We have genetic evidence of their relatedness to other extant animals, from the only other monotreme, the echidna, to more distant marsupials and placental mammals, and even its relationship to reptiles, as well as physiological comparisons to less derived fossil mammals and mammal-like reptiles, and we have numerous ancestral fossils that demonstrate their evolutionary descent. In fact, the platypus is a very helpful animal that confirms many of the predictions of evolution. I'm confused about what you're trying to imply by posting the Species Problem. The species problem isn't a problem for evolution in any sense, but is a clerical issue that basically amounts to "how should we classify species for the sake of categorization to make studying the concept easier." The Species Problem itself is a consequence of exactly what I pointed out in my first analogy, mainly being that the way evolution is predicted and SHOWN to work means there are no demarcations between what we call species, which makes the Species Problem evidence in support of how evolution is supposed to work.
  23. I like to cook food I like and eat it and go home to my own bed in my comfortable home and do things to my loved one and go outside to swim and hike and kayak. At the simplest level, the freedom to be able to do all these things is all the incentive i need to not do bad. On a deeper level, we evolved as a social species with the necessary instincts to behave socially, including an underlying, instinctual sense of right and wrong, and interpersonal empathy shaped by behavioral evolution to ensure we get along, for our individual sakes. There's an entire field of the relationship between evolutionary behaviorism, morality and the advantages, and how it relates to Game Theory. Look the last up.
  24. If you can get away with it, then sure, there may be no consequence to yourself if you're willing to take the risk, but for most of us, it's in our best interest to play by the rules and exercise morality towards each other. And anyhow you may still be negatively affected by such things as guilt and whatnot. I don't see why divine punishment is considered a better motivator than worldly practicality. Both are ultimately rooted in self-interest, the former via extortion, the latter more generically. It's not like doing good out of fear of divine retribution or reward is any more noble by comparison.
  25. Not pseudoscience. Plausibility is one of the things that distinguishes pseudoscience from speculative science. Beyond that, a large part of science is making predictions and hypothesis. That's what serious consideration of extraterrestrial life is, speculative hypothesis. We make plenty of hypothesis before we're able to test them, say, before we have the telescope or the city-sized particle accelerator we need, or before we've found the predicted fossil. *most intelligent creatures in the known universe*. Claiming anything more than that is a leap of baseless assumption. And to clarify, proof of what specifically? If we're discussing the emergence of intelligence, sociality, tool-making (and by extension, technology), and communication, then we certainly do have a living planet of examples to base our extrapolations of what earth-like life might be like, or how civilization and society might develop. Similarly, we have chemistry to base speculations of what alternative forms of bio-chemistry might be like; so on and so forth. On the other hand, we have no means by which to speculate whether life is common, or that the conditions are so stringent and uncommon that across the entire universe we're all there is, so your point is valid in that respect. But we certainly have a base of evidence to guess how earth-like life might evolve and develop. are you claiming that empirically, since we haven't been able to go out and check to see whether or not there is alien life, we are left to assume the equivalent of evidence against extraterrestrial life? the data does not support the uniqueness of life on earth, since there isn't enough data to make any claims about the prevalence of life in the universe. What you're discussing isn't empirical evidence against, but apathetic lack of concern for that which we don't have any data either way (dismissing the implications of earth itself as an example)
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