PostHeaderIcon A Really Stupid Answer

As previously stated, I am essentially dropping out of political commentary because the political situation is beyond the ken of rational discussion. Yet, I still have the urge to amuse myself via diarrhea of the keyboard, hence a journey into new fields of discussion.

Today’s rant was inspired by a billboard I saw the other day while riding down the highway. Now, I had seen this and similar billboards for years but, for some reason, this particular sighting rather slapped me upside the face when the idiocy of its message actually got through. The message:


Now anyone with ¼ of a brain knows that life, as we currently understand it, actually began several billions of years ago.

I am a longtime fan of the writings of the late Dr. Carl Sagan. Among other insights he offered us was that while the universe seems likely to spontaneously produce new life on a grand scale, by processes we do not yet fully understand, there remains the possibility that the universe got the process right ONLY A SINGLE TIME. And, in Dr. Sagan’s opinion, on the mere possibility that spontaneous life was a singular occurrence, we should treat it as a miracle beyond mere reverence. I find myself in total agreement with Dr. Sagan’s viewpoint.

Back to the billboard and the unbelievable ignorance behind it… The message on the billboard seems to suggest that each time conception occurs, a totally new life is formed as though there was no life in the elements involved in its production. In other words, neither the ovum nor the sperm possessed any trace of life before joining together. What horse manure! Extending this nonsense, we are asked to accept the notion that an individual human (or any other living entity for that matter) is a singular instance of life rather than the synergistic combination of billions of elements, each of which is alive (i.e. cells). And, each of which is able to die without causing the death of the larger “thing” of which it is a part.

Sorry fundamentalists, but life does not begin at conception. It began long ago and, in a so-far successful attempt to perpetuate itself, it has evolved itself into many different forms which, despite their external dissimilarities, are all part of a shared beginning. (Yes, I accept the singular miracle notion as the most likely explanation for the beginning of life.)

I am informed that the aim behind the silly statement “LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION” is to convince us that we should not kill unborn babies at any point in the reproduction process.

IMHO, this illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of life and the living things in our universe. While I fully agree with the concept that we should appreciate the miracle that life represents, should we not also appreciate the fact that all life forms flourish at the expense of other life forms? That is to say, they grow and live by consuming bits of other life forms. Whether those other life forms are actually alive at the moment of consumption is irrelevant.

While I understand such things as the vegan notion that one should not eat anything that “has a face”, I also appreciate that in harvesting, chopping, steaming then consuming a cabbage, one has destroyed life no less that if one did the same to a pig (although, combining the two makes for a better lunch).

This, of course, brings us to the even sillier notion that the pig has a greater claim on the right to continued life than the cabbage and that I (and my kind) have a greater claim than either pig or cabbage. As if it makes any difference. You may well ask why I find this notion “silly”? Simple. If all life forms are variations on a single creation of life, how could one derivation assume more “rights” than any other derivation?

This seems to me enough for one article. If this generates any interest, I will offer additional insights.

Troy L Robinson

9 Responses to “A Really Stupid Answer”

  • brauneyz says:

    Let me take a stab at Chris’ cryptic comment…

    The human ego places our species above all others, ergo ‘our’ life is superior, more special than lions, tigers, or bears, oh my!

    Take the moral (religious) argument out of abortion and it falls flat. This is why, IMO, the GOP will never dominate in discussions of life. They possess zero skill in logic. I can shoot them to pieces in less than three volleys re: death penalty, war, abortion, pigs into pork chops… you name it. Logic = consistency, and they are in short supply. They’re not called science deniers for nothing.

    Am I wrong, Chris?

  • While waiting for Chris’ clarification, let me suggest that you not get carried away in your despair, Troy. Political commentary is our hobby. It is what we do, and I reckon that just because we have concluded that politics is now futile, is not a valid reason to stop enjoying our hobby, right in the middle of the most interesting election since Perot kneecapped Bush 41. I am having no difficulty at all critiquing the horse-race, without caring a whit which horse’s ass might win it. 🙂

    Just don’t allow yourself to start hoping anyone in particular wins the thing, and you can amuse yourself all you want with political commentary. Not having a horse on the track, or a stake in the outcome, affords one the freedom to speak one’s truth fully, brutally, and as cynically as one likes. Even if the sheeple are not rational enough to appreciate it, your friends hereabouts are. 🙂

    Anyway, as Mary makes clear, you have not managed to avoid political commentary at all. More likely, you have jumped smack in the middle of it. For me, the very core of the oligarchs’ manufactured fallacy of the Left/Right political divide, which they use to keep the sheeple distracted from real issues, and at each others’ throats instead of their own, is exemplified by the abortion issue. Lost in the heated and often irrational debate over the merits of the issue itself, is that it shouldn’t be a government matter at all – especially a Federal one.

    As soon as one agrees that the coercive power of government should be used to either compel religious communities to permit abortions, or secular communities to be denied them, one has implicitly agreed that it is legitimate for a majority of citizens to oppress a minority through government action.

    This, in turn, demonstrates the fallacy of the concept of democracy as a legitimate organizing principle for a free people. If a woman wishes to hire a doctor willing to perform the medical procedure required to abort her pregnancy, neither should have to break a law to do so, just because 51% of their neighbors wish they wouldn’t. Conversely, neither should a Catholic hospital be compelled to provide the venue for the deed, just because 51% of the community thinks they ought to.

    Whichever side one comes down on regarding the morality of aborting an unwanted pregnancy, a rational advocate of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, must conclude that it is a matter which should remain beyond the purview of the Federal government to control. Allowing ones passions to permit the camel’s nose under that tent, inevitably leads to dire unintended consequences.

    More to follow… ◄Dave►

  • The suggestion above not to abandon politics entirely, was by no means meant to imply that a change of topics was not welcome, Troy. I much appreciate the opportunity to engage in the more challenging thought processes required to critique your rant here. 🙂

    First, I need to trot out my old friend:

    “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.”-Voltaire

    There are no less than 14 definitions for the term ‘life’ in my dictionary. It would appear that you are discussing a different one than intended by the religious folks on that billboard. Of course, in the process of their anti-abortion arguments, they haphazardly mix up the biological, metaphysical, political, and religious connotations for ‘life’ too. Although you acknowledge that you understand their intent, you derisively dismiss their arguments on the basis of biological and cosmological speculation, regarding the origins and timing of the inception of biological life itself.

    In the philosophical sense, as espoused by those delving into the rights of man, one’s life was considered the experience and memories of living ‘a life’ or, perhaps more cogently, a ‘lifetime’ as an individual with free will, and the freedom to choose to live it as one pleased. This had nothing to do with biology.

    In the political sense, then, the right to ‘life’ was taken to mean what those Enlightenment era philosophers meant by one’s ‘life,’ which was not a biological concept, but a metaphysical one. Politically, one’s life has always been considered to last from birth until death, and modern governments will issue a certificate to mark both occasions.

    This seems logical, since an individual cannot possess free will and begin life’s journey, until one has been at least born into the opportunity. At death, at whatever age and by whatever cause, the opportunity to experience ‘a life’ is past. Welfare checks are only increased at the birth of a dependent child, and Social Security checks cease promptly at death. Government assumes no responsibility for potential lives or past ones. 🙂

    Life to a Christian, whether they realize it or not, is something entirely different. For them, life is a spiritual concept and is considered eternal. It begins at ensoulment, which is when their God endows a developing child with a ‘soul,’ while still in the womb, and then never ends. Even when the earthly biological body ceases to function, is dead and buried, the soul continues to experience ‘eternal life,’ either in heaven or hell.

    Christians conflate the biological, metaphysical, and political concepts of life, with their biblical/spiritual lives, while trying to employ government coercion to prevent abortions. If politically one has a ‘right to life,’ then they reckon their infallible bible says eternal life begins at ensoulment, so that settles the matter. Government should defend the fetus’ right to life, and criminalize the act of ending it, for whatever reason.

    Somehow the logic escapes them that if life is eternal, the human lifetime is barely a blip on the scale of eternity. Once ensouled, it probably shouldn’t much matter to God or the fetus, if its rather insignificant biological life, ends in the womb or at age 95. Its spiritual life will be eternal in either case. If aborted, it just got to skip the tribulations of life on this earth, for an automatic E ticket to paradise. 🙂

    In historical times, ensoulment was thought to occur at about 40 days for a male and 90 days for a female. (I have no idea why the difference; but I bet it would be fascinating to learn.) At other times it was thought to occur at birth with the first breath. The timing is still being debated among religious scholars; but even 40 days is too long a window for the anti-abortionists, wishing to defend the sanctity of life.

    Since science’s relatively recent understanding of the process of conception, they have settled on the actual moment it occurs as the proper time for ensoulment, and thus the beginning of another spiritual eternal life. I know God is supposed to be omnipresent and omnificent; but to me, it seems unreasonable for them to expect God to be on hand with his handy satchel of brand new souls, watching every sweaty encounter on earth 24/7, in case he needs to act swiftly at the precise moment a zygote is formed. 🙂

    In any case, isn’t it interesting how easy it is for us to talk past each other, when employing different connotations for the same term? I disagree entirely with the Christian perspective on the whole issue of abortion; but I still respect their right to their opinion and their point of view. What I don’t respect, is their attempt to employ government coercion to enforce that viewpoint on others, who do not share it. All else aside, were I a woman, I would vehemently defend my absolute sovereign right to decide what may or may not be done with my own body. Period. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Troy Robinson says:

    OK, simple answer first… For purposes of this discussion, I used “life” in the biological sense. That is, the condition called “life” (or “alive” as may be) means (to me) to be capable of dying and also to be capable of reproduction (at least at some point in the life cycle).

    In any conversation with me, unless otherwise stated (by me), please apply Occam’s Razor to my utterances with the assurance that the simplest and most obvious definition of any word or term is undoubtedly the one I mean.

    As for abortion, that is the simplest issue in the world. If you are against it, don’t have one. What could be simpler? However, the “real” abortion issue, like so many other issues we face, is not really about what it seems on the surface. Instead, almost all of them are about control. That is, controlling the actions of others.

    As concerns ensoulment, I find it impossible to have a rational discussion on any subject where superstition is a required component.


    • What a curious response, Troy. Am I to conclude that my reply wasn’t appreciated, and that you were somehow offended?

      Even without employing Occam’s Razor, I had no difficulty at all understanding that you were using the term ‘life’ in the biological sense. I said as much. I posited, fairly I think, that those who erected the billboard in question were using a different sense of the term. I offered a couple more senses of the term, to explain how and why they likely came to the sentiment expressed. We agree on their agenda for doing so, and our mutual dismissal of that agenda.

      What will happen if we one day find ourselves in disagreement over which definition is the simplest and most obvious? In the vast majority of cases, our opinions are very much simpatico; but is it inconceivable that a devout Christian might consider his most often used biblical/spiritual sense of the term ‘life’ to be the most obvious? In all fairness, should we really consider it “unbelievable ignorance” if he did? Since Christians do not believe in reincarnation, he was taught, and has found no reason to unlearn, that a new ‘eternal life’ is in fact created by his God at conception. How is that his fault? 😉

      As for ensoulment, I cannot allow the fact that I remain unconvinced that such a thing exists, prevent me from even discussing the simple fact that most others do believe in the concept. The ancient Greeks managed to get a lot right in their ignorance of modern science, so I cannot fault Aristotle for his ‘superstitious’ conclusions on matters such as this, 300+ years before Jesus’ birth; or that subsequent philosophers of note took his conjecture serious enough, to offer their own thoughts on the subject.

      Your turn, my friend. Are we having fun yet? 🙂 🙂 â—„Daveâ–º

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