Yet Another Definition of When A Human Life Begins.

A letter in our local paper quotes from  Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”.  Yes, it says the god knew you before you were even one cell.

The point being you were a person to the god even before conception. It brings to mind the Monty Pyton skit with its song, “Every Sperm is Sacred”.

There are various and arbitrary definitions of “when a human life begins”.  These definitions change over time and from culture to culture.  They even change within the Bible.

There is in the Bible discussion of life beginning with”breath”, conception and life at birth.  No where are the words, “One cell at conception is a human being.”

There is not now, nor has  there ever been, one consistently used definition of when a human life begins.  There are even societies that do not assign full human status at birth.

The Supreme Court has made a ruling about abortion, but this is not the definition of human life adopted in our laws.  We don’t not start the clock of life, legally, until birth.

I have never seen, not even once, a discussion of how to roll the theory that life begins at conception into our legal system.  That’s because it’s all but impossible.

We don’t have a way for some public official to record when we have sex.  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn conservatives are working on this.

Until then, we need stop pretending one cell is a human being.

http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/391071/group/Opinion/

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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53 Responses to Yet Another Definition of When A Human Life Begins.

  1. Stanta says:

    Many a person sits in jail for causing the death of an unborn child by reasons of violence or drunken car accidents. Only in a doctors office is it legal.

  2. Brad says:

    Let’s just say life begins at the gleam in your eye.

  3. Michael Ross says:

    “we need stop pretending one cell is a human being.”

    How many cells do you say it takes to be a human being? Enough to be brainwashed into leftist wacko thinking?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 1:58 “How many cell do you say it takes to be a human being.”

      We’ve operated under one rule in the West for a long, long time. When an official, like a doctor, signs a birth certificate, there is a human being. Maybe there is some better way to decide, we haven’t found one yet.

    • Brad says:

      I guess you can be brainwashed by right wing wacko thinking when you are a single cell.

  4. Henry says:

    Jon: “No where are the words, “One cell at conception is a human being.””

    The cell was discovered in 1665, yet you expect a discussion of a scientific matter in a religious work six millenia prior. Your expectations are unrealistic and out of order in your zealous pursuit of antichristianism.

  5. Henry says:

    Jon: “There is in the Bible discussion of life beginning with”breath”,”

    Yes, I have recently seen that passage taken out of context often. As applied, one would have to assume Adam was born as a baby without knowledge of the texts. God created “the man”. He was not born as a baby according to the texts. Therefore, to use that passage and apply it to the abortion debate is intellectually dishonest.

  6. Henry says:

    Jon: “I have never seen, not even once, a discussion of how to roll the theory that life begins at conception into our legal system.”

    Then you haven’t been paying attention to your own blog. I have brought this up before. In every case of law, except for abortion, life is always upheld vigorously by our laws. Life is held as precious. Even a murder/rapist’s life is held as precious. Where is the benefit of the doubt given to a fetus/baby? The abortionists have not demonstrated that there is no life. The benefit of the doubt to keep these babies alive protecting life should be used until the abortionists can provide evidence otherwise.

  7. Michael Ross says:

    “I have never seen, not even once, a discussion of how to roll the theory that life begins at conception into our legal system.”

    If you don’t know whether a person is alive or dead, would you bury him/her?

  8. Ed says:

    Jon…. a couple weeks ago you wrote about the same – the unknown definition of when life begins. You referenced a country that allows killing children up to 2 years old. I mentioned I have a hard time even envisioning you saying its OK because one of your children doesn’t want your 2 yr old grandchild…so it’s OK to just kill the child. That’s not something for a civilized society to debate Jon……that’s an individual needing serious help.

    It’s ironic that you are so concerned about women’s rights and the health of the mother when abortion is debated, yet when an abortion clinic needs to have admission privileges at a hospital to continue operating for the health and safety of expecting mothers, this is unnecessary and the mother’s health and quality of care becomes totally insignificant? Which way do you want it ? Jon – who is the champion for the child? Do you believe we should love children? For you, when does that clock start?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Ed 3:59 I’ve explained it just a few posts down. Since forever, the West has started life’s clock when the Doctor signs the birth certificate. We do not have any legal concept to replace this. I’m waiting for right to life operatives to come up with just something. Alas, there is nothing. No one has anything but religion to justify the view one cell is a human being.

  9. .e says:

    What is life?

    What is human?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .e 4:09 Great questions. I would add these, “What is a religious concept of human life?” “What is a secular concept of human life?”

      It would be my view we don’t have any better answers to your questions or mine than the rules we now use for birth certificates and abortion. If someone comes up with better answers some day, we can consider them.

  10. Avatar of Kevin Kevin says:

    When does the spiritual soul enter and leave the earthly body?

    • Henry says:

      According to Jon, when the doctor writes the certificate of live birth. I would presume on the other end, Jon would believe the spiritual soul leaves when the doctor pens his signature on the death certificate. Scientific.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Henry 4:35 “Jon would believe the spiritual soul leaves when the doctor pens his signature on the death certificate. Scientific.”

        No, the spiritual soul does not leave the body when the doctor signs off. So far as anyone knows, there was not a “spiritual soul” in the body, or anywhere else so it did not leave then or earlier or later.

      • Michael Ross says:

        It doesn’t matter when we become human. We are only cosmic accidents, come from monkeys and baboons, life has no intrinsic meaning or purpose. When we are dead and gone, that’s it, it will be as if we never existed. Who cares when we become human or when we cease being human.

        “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless!’ Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

        Amen to that, right Jon?

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Michael 5:13 “When we are dead and gone, that’s it, it will be as if we never existed.”

          That is what people like myself conclude, having seen no evidence to the contrary. For some reason, it does not bother me this is the case, nor does it seem to bother any nonbelievers I know.

          It bothers people of faith, I can tell it bothers you. Could you explain why it is so important to you to believe you will live on in some unknown form?

          • Michael Ross says:

            I would want my descendants to remember me in a good way but beyond that I still don’t like the idea of going out of existence. I know that doesn’t prove God exists except that being in His image we contemplate death and eternal life. Like Him we are eternal. A dog or a cow do not give such things any thought. Animals do not bear their Creator’s image. “Let Us make man in Our image”. In a sense wanting to live eternally with God does prove His existence.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Michael 8:08 “I would want my descendants to remember me in a good way…”

            So do I, and, everyone I would think.

            “Like Him, we are enteral….In a sense wanting to live eternally with God does prove his existence.”

            We don’t really know there is a “Him”, or anything eternal. The human mind can come up with some wonderful solutions to things like not wanting to die.

        • entech says:

          It is so irritating when people for whom you have some respect, who have some intelligence and knowledge come up with things that they know are distortions if not actual lies.
          Michael you come up with so many arguments against evolution and point to some many sites that try to show that it is wrong that you must know better than to come up with come from monkeys and baboons, as you know the concept involves a common ancestor that is Not related to any existing entity, the common ancestry goes back a long way to more primitive beings. Where the process started no one knows, did some god inject the first instances of self reproducing life and at some later time in development select one to become special and injected a “soul”, or, did it develop naturally out of increasing complex structures. The possibility of a “god” is not excluded by any science, much science leads to a view that a “god” is not necessary – that is as far as science and physics can go, the rest is metaphysics, philosophy, speculation, hypotheses.

    • entech says:

      What exactly is a spiritual soul?
      What actually enters the mind when people start to think like Henry and Michael is the solipsistic ego. When some people look around at the magnificence of the universe they cannot help themselves, they think this is made with me in mind, this was created and the creator created me specifically in his image, I am his representative on earth. All I have to do is believe this and it will last forever, never mind what mental hoops I need to jump through, what convolutions, this is all for me.
      On the other hand some others looking around simply say, how wonderful it all is, how lucky I am to be a part of this, a part that is aware of being part and being able to think and see it all. “I”, whatever I may be, came from the universe and when “I” stop being aware I will return to the universe, that is all I know, that is all I need to know.

  11. Ed says:

    If it isn’t one cell, then who determines that e.??

  12. Formerly Fargo Bob says:

    It’s so interesting to read all these comments from the pro-birth crowd. Just once I’d like to see something from them that indicates they are actually pro-life and pro-human. Frankly, I think their main interest in opposing abortion is controlling women and making them pay for the “sin” of having sex.

  13. .e says:

    Amen. It seems to be a crevasse that is impossible to leap for such as Jon. I used to think this way. Seeing graphic pictures of the result of abortion and becoming a parent and watching my own mother die solidified my prolife perspective now.

  14. Brad says:

    When did it become the government’s job to intrude into people’s private and personal affairs? Is communism the new conservatism?

    • Henry says:

      Should government have gotten involved in the murder-suicide that occurred in Otter Tail County recently? Using your rationale, it is a family affair and a private matter. Again, government gets involved with matters of upholding precious life, except for abortion. That is what we decided as a society. If life doesn’t begin until the MD inks in the certificate, that gives them a godlike status.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Henry 1:22 “If life doesn’t begin until the MD inks the certificate….”

        I’ll bet you have a nifty way to avoid Jeremiah 1:5, “I knew you before the womb.” It doesn’t actually mean you were a human before conception, right??? (Even though that’s what it says.)
        I know people who take the Bible literally have their standards. The stardard is: If I don’t agree with it, it has to mean something else I do agree with.

        • Henry says:

          Jon: “I’ll bet you have a nifty way to avoid”

          Poisoning the well already? You are becoming desperate my friend.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 1:28 “Poisoning the well already? You are becoming desperate my friend.”

            Not following you here. You are agreeing or not agreeing with the Bible, the god establishes a human before conception?

          • Henry says:

            Jer. 1:5 reads plainly.

            The concept is consistent with a few other passages.

      • Brad says:

        The critical difference between a living and breathing human being and a fetus is that the fetus exists inside the woman’s body. Anything that exists inside of someone’s body is THEIR property. It’s not the Republican party’s property, it’s not the government’s property. It is exclusively the property and responsibility of the mother.

        • Stanta says:

          Why can people who murder a pregnant woman get charged for two murders?

          • Brad says:

            I’m not sure if that’s the way the law works in every state. But the murderer does not own the victim’s unborn child, the slain mother did. Again, what a mother does with something that exists inside her own body is exclusively her own business, but when someone else harms or kills that unborn child, then that person is intruding into that mother’s personal and private life, obviously in a very heinous manner.

  15. John Solberg says:

    Life begins when the fetus, child, grouping of cells (call it what you want) can live outside of the womb by itself. Can a single cell live by itself? No. Now debate how much mechanical assistance can or should be used.

    • Michael Ross says:

      “Life begins when the fetus, child, grouping of cells (call it what you want) can live outside of the womb by itself.”

      Can a newborn live by itself outside the womb? Not for long.

  16. buzz says:

    Common sense is a rare commodity today. I truly believe each person knows instinctively when they are doing wrong. If the shoe fits man up and wear it. Maybe someone should come up with an “evilness” test manditory for everybody 12 and older.

  17. PK says:

    Wow. I haven’t been on here for months and the first visit back Jon’s still talking about Monty Python and sperm. Looks like i haven’t missed much. Hope everyone’s well.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      PK 3:40 “Hope everyone’s well.”

      Thanks. Welcome back, PK. Same topics, but time changes and brings up new ways to look at things. The only thing different about abortion is the Biblical reference to human life before conception. Yes, every sperm really is sacred.

  18. BG says:

    It is my understanding, in most parts of the US, someone can not be charged with murder if they have killed an unborn. However if that child ever drew a breath, murder would then apply. If the child was born but never got air into it’s lungs, the law does not see it as ever being alive. Therefore, you cannot murder something that had never lived. I’m still confused as to the people that want government to keep out of their churches. But the churches want to rule the government. It seems the church wants a separation when it benefits them. For example, they don’t want contraception to be part of their healthcare and they don’t think they should pay taxes. But they want the government to help them take care of the poor and grant any business they may run as a nonprofit. They do want to tell me that I don’t have the right to decide if I will carry a baby to term. There is an old saying from the 70′s, “There is no room in my womb for your nose. So keep YOUR religion and YOUR politics out of it.” If you don’t want the government to come around telling you what to believe, then don’t you go around telling me what I should believe. It’s my belief and it’s right for me. I give you what you are not willing to give in return. I give you the choice to follow your own belief because it’s right for you. I hope it makes you happy. My belief makes me happy. Leave me to mine, and I’ll leave you to yours. That sounds fair to me.

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