Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Random Thought(s)

1) With all due respect for Les, a lefty and Bucks fan who shows class and good humor in his reasoned and rational comments (not that others don't, mind you), a point he made on an earlier post kinda nagged at me. He said words to the effect that when he looks at a zygote, he just doesn't see a person. That may be so, and indeed, it doesn't look like what we think of when we hear the word, "person". But that doesn't mean what he sees isn't a person. A guy in a Hollywood level gorilla costume doesn't look like a person, either. The point is that looks alone don't tell the tale here. It is a person by virtue of the manner in which it came to exist, together with it's human DNA. I almost typed "and what it is destined to become". That would leave open the possiblility of someone saying that it is destined to become human but isn't yet, when in fact it is, but is destined to become an octegenarian awaiting double bypass surgery. It's simply a case of looks being deceiving, or, judging this tiny book by it's cover.

2) I've been taking heat at Geoffrey's blog, and elsewhere for comments regarding "honor" and how it relates to certain actions in wartime and other things. It seems it's hard for some to distinguish between when a particular action taken by two different factions might be acceptable and when it might not. It's an "ends justifying the means" debate that my opponents can't seem to resolve in their minds without putting their own at risk, or without accusing our own leaders of very nasty character. I will soon discuss this trait and it's relationship to such specific actions soon.

3) A recent post at Carol Liebau's blog presented a Newsweek Int'l article detailing the changing attitudes toward America from our Euorpean neighbors. This change has been a positive one with the elections of France and Germany's new leaders. Great Britain's new PM leans our way as well it seems, but is trying to avoid being seen as a Blair clone. In any case, the article spoke of many in Europe having a proble with our "unilateral coalition" in Iraq. Can a coalition be "unilateral"? It's an interesting article posted a day or so ago. Check it out.


Les said...

And with all due respect to Art, a righty and a Bulls fan who also shows class and good humor in his own equally reasoned and rational comments, his usage within this particular post's context of the very terms I used previously - namely, "see" and "look at" - is a rather literal and ultimately erroneous mischaracterization of the spirit underlying those very comments I made weeks ago. Let's take a peak at some of Merriam Webster's definitions for the term "see", shall we?

1. to perceive by the eye
2. to have experience of
3. to form a mental picture of
4. examine
5. to take care of
6. to regard as
7. to call on
8. accompany
9. to meet (a bet)
10. to give or pay attention
11. to have the power of sight
12. to grasp something mentally
13. to make investigation or inquiry

So I think numbers 1, 3, 6, and 12 are probably the applicable definitions to this topic, yes? If agreed, let's continue:

Number 1 obviously deals with the literal, visual definition on which you're basing your response, Art. Here we're on the same page. I completely understand and agree with the concept that the nature of any given object cannot always be determined simply by its VISUAL characteristics. For lack of a less ridiculous example, when I look at Kyle Reese and the Terminator side-by-side, I know for a fact that one of them isn't human, even though they both might visually appear to be.

The way I WISH you would have read my earlier comments, Art, would have included the all-important definitions numbered 3, 6, and 12. They're all connected, and especially in this particular hotbed of an issue, to ignore those qualities misses a VITAL ingredient of this debate. Marie Tussaud may have created some objects that visually bear a striking resemblance to human beings, but when I look at them, I don't "see" people. I "see" wax sculptures. Why? Because I understand and completely agree with your point that humanity comprises so much more than only that which my eye detects. We simply part company on what, precisely, that entails.

I don't know how I can explain the disconnect much clearer, man.

We're comin' for those Cubbies of yours...

Marshall Art said...

As I consider your comments, Les, I have to say that mine still stand. The punchline, however, lies in your last statement. (Not the one about the Cubbies. The Cards are after us, too. Safe money says we'll both be watchin' THEM bastards in the playoffs.) So my question would have to be, WHY don't you see full humanity even in the earliest stage of development. Quite a few points were made to that effect at the original post, but I thought that there were quality responses for them. I don't mean that as a self-pat on the back, but that they were of at least equal validity to render a washout on the given objections, if you get my meaning. Yet, to the points supporting equal personhood, they weren't so easily answered.

I wondered, and still do, if the problem with those opposed to my position, were thinking in terms of the aftermath, or what it would mean to concede the personhood of the smallest and youngest of our kind. All of that really has to be set aside, because as I stated at the outset, this point of personhood needed to be addressed first and it never really has been, particularly in light of current knowledge.

Now, I may be an aberration (is that a set up, or what?), but even back in the say, when gettin' laid was all life was about, I STILL couldn't get it on without thinking about the possibility of becoming a father. I knew even then that there was only one way to be sure it never happened (without getting fixed, that is). This was also the same time of my life when I became aware of the concept of abortion, and from the start I thought it was a horrible thing to consider. And this at the time of my life when I really didn't want to be bothered with God and anything to do with him (an important point considering Geoffrey's insistance that my position is predicated upon my religious beliefs. It really isn't, it's just that my faith adds to it.) So I knew what the act was for, despite the self-gratifying purpose to which I would put it.

So that's what I'm still waiting to hear, from you as well as from others; that there is some fact or evidence or something substantive that influences your opinion. For the record, I'll accept "I don't know, I just can't put my finger on it, I just don't" as being more honest than the no blood production line or things of that nature. Not that YOU, Les, would have that kind of argument.

I guess the thing is, is that those who disagree with me, seem adamant without explanation and that just seems less than acceptable about something that involves human life.

Marshall Art said...

"...back in the SAY..."?????

Get me a proof reader. Quick!

Goat said...

Geoff and his ilk ain't worth my typng time. why give them a platform or legitamacy by argueing with them? They aren't academic or even intelligent in their inane rants , why help puplicize them? Idiots need to be buried not published. They can spew their bile on their own sites , I for one will not help them by allowing them access to a conservative platform. Its your site and they bring a bunch of hits but conservatives should not give them an open platform to spew their inane bile.

Marshall Art said...

I can appreciate your point of view on this, Goat, but at this point in time, I don't feel the need to have them take a hike. Ya just never know when the right circumstance will flip that switch in someone's head. It could even be OUR heads, though it's difficult to imagine it actually happening. But I am open to the possibility. I figure there's no real harm, especially if they aren't too nasty, which, so far that haven't been. In fact, I might be a bit edgier on THEIR sites, where the full brunt of their philosophies, as well as their "minions" surround me and my most humble self. Thus far, I have fun frustrating them with reason, or at least my attempts at it, and even have fun when frustrated by their lack of same, or my sense that it's lacking. As the case may be.

But fear not. There is a line around here somewhere, and if it's crossed, there'll be heck to pay.

Les said...

"...I have to say that mine still stand."

There's a freakin' surprise. ;-)

"...those who disagree with me, seem adamant without explanation..."

Art, if that's how you interpret my position on the abortion issue, then you haven't been paying very close attention to my comments. In fact, you just stated my official position in your above comment, and it's the position I've taken from the very beginning. Namely, that I DON'T KNOW when a human being begins - nobody does with 100% certainty. Therefore, in a free society, I simply cannot justify outlawing what must be considered a medical procedure based solely on the subjective interpretations of what happens to be the minority within the scientific community. It has nothing to do with my own convictions regarding abortion. Again, as I've stated before, I furiously oppose late-term abortions. Accordingly, I'd also prefer it if women chose to bring their pregnancies to term. But the issue for me is the legality of the practice, and how that very practice meshes with one's personal liberties in the aforementioned free society.

"So my question would have to be, WHY don't you see full humanity even in the earliest stage of development."

I've answered this before, and you've either rejected my answers, ignored my answers, or simply questioned my subjectivity. I've noticed over the years that once you've failed to win over your opponents and the proverbial impasse has been reached, redundancy prevails. Therefore, I'm not going down this road with you again. If you'd like further insight into my position on this issue, then go back and reread comments I've made on the subject both here and elswhere for years. I'm not going to keep having this same conversation with you.

Marshall Art said...

Easy muh man. I don't always differentiate between general comments and those specifically to you. My bad.

But the fact is I apparently haven't been that clear myself. I understand that you don't know when personhood begins. My question would be then, why doesn't my list of reasons for it ring true for you? But the question is also for anyone else reading, so if you feel you've covered this ground, that's fine.

I will cop to questioning anyone's subjectivity on the subject because I think subjectivity inappropriate for such a serious subject. For the sake of law, as well as personal opinion, we have to take into account all we know on the subject, which I've covered exhaustively in that earlier post. When that is done, there's just way too much that supports the personhood of any phase of gestation.

But here is where the dismissing comes. Opponents to my case don't consider all the elements I list as being important to the argument and that really blows my mind. It's obvious that they are only using the line of demarcation we call birth as the only for sure point by which to allow for one's humanity.

I'm happy to know that you'd prefer a woman take the pregnancy to term. That's a good thing. You're so close.

I would question whether mine is the minority opinion in the scientific community. I can't imagine that a serious and objective biologist would insist he doesn't know for sure. I doubt that if one did, that even he would have a decent reason to doubt. If you have a link or source, I'd be truly interested in checking it out. And again, even if this sounds redundant, my position is in no way subjective because I've found no reason to go beyond what we know about the process.

And as to redundancy, I prefer to think of it as helpful reminders. I don't like slogging through archives, so I offer a little something so that others don't need to either.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

To be called an idiot by Goat is like being called ugly by Yasser Arafat. Physician, check the mirror. "Academc" I have never pretended to be. I am only educated, and use that education in my life. Funny how that works . . .

mom2 said...

As a mother that can still remember pregnancy, I knew from about the beginning of the fourth month by the movement I felt, that a living being was inside and at no point did I ever suspect that I was carrying anything but another person. Not a monkey, not a fish, not another species of any kind. I didn't have to wait until they were born to anticipate that I was going to have a baby human.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Mom2, your emotive response is heart-warming, but irrelevant. I listened to the fetal heartbeat of both my daughters on a regular basis from the 14th or so week right up to the very end. This in no way means they were ready to ride a bike, run for Congress, or even coo and patty-cake. They were, as you most pointedly but probably not self-consciously wrote, anticipated as being baby humans once they were born.

Much more important, at least from my point of view, is why your view should have any more intrinsic worth than the views of others, men or women, who may or may not have been parents. The issue is one of the legal status of a medical procedure, not the ontological status of a fetus. Why should your personal moral certainty trump the doubts of others who do not share your views? I applaud moral certainty as a theoretical proposition, but the legal imposition of a debatable moral and philosophical position upon the rest of us, especially as it involves all sorts of other legal, moral, social, and cultural values should not be reduced to one persons adamant claim that she just knows her little fetus was a human being.

For the record, I do not think any pro-choicer of whom I am aware has ever argued that a fetus is not a potential human being. They just do not believe - I certainly do not - that such potential should require the allocation of certain legal rights and status upon a fetus, legal rights and status that children actually born currently enjoy. I am not saying your feelings are not real, or important to you. I am suggesting that such points are not so much parts of an argument as they are the testimony of a person who was fortunate enough to give brith and raise healthy children when the odds were against her. You are to be commended for this; it doesn't mitigate against the realities of others, however, and should not and does not counter the realities and experiences of others.

mom2 said...

Geoffrey, I have a clear conscience with my views. I wonder how any parent can look at their children and not value life and eternity will make our earthly decisions validity known.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

UNtil eternity, however, we can only trust our own experience and judgment, as faulty as it may be. Me, I refuse to judge others who come to different conclusions that they are either morally viscious our intellectually inept. I do not live others' lives, and therefore have no basis upon which to cast such aspersions. I can find fault with the detrimental effects of certain actions they or another may take. I cannot, however, make any kind of absolute moral judgments because, you know what? I might just be wrong.

Just because you cannot imagine something does not mean it isn't possible. I for one cannot imagine watching FOXNews, but apparently, some do, so there you go. This is a mundane example, obviously, but no less serious for all that. The world is full of all sorts of strange, awesome, and wonderful, and horrific things, most of which are beyond the reckoning of any single individual. That is what makes me far more hesitant in passing judgment on others than some who pass their time on the intertubes. I do not believe for one moment that I have even approached the corner of truth, justice, or the American way, and much prefer to insist that my stances are my own, and subject to change aat the slightest whim.

mom2 said...

That is what makes me far more hesitant in passing judgment on others than some who pass their time on the intertubes.>

Oh, I hadn't noticed any hesitation.

Marshall Art said...


Upon further reflection, let me posit the following:

You insist of your preference that a woman (maybe only those with whom you've had relations, maybe not) bring her pregnancy to term. This suggests, if I'm not taking too much liberty, the possibility that you lean in the direction of personhood from start to finish, regardless of whether or not it can be proven at this point. Would this be accurate?

Marshall Art said...


As I have insisted that I don't use my faith to arrive at the conclusions I support, where then, do you have a problem with my argument since I've taken great pains to show the syncronicity therein? From a strictly biological standpoint, I fail to see, as you've failed to show, that there is any other conlusion one can draw from the data itself. One must inject their own subjective reasoning to take any other position. That being the case, as I see it, there is really no difference between the subjectivity coloring your position, than there is for the Nazis, KKK and their positions.

We certainly are far from perfect in deciding what, as a society, we believe and how or if those beliefs result in legislation, but it seems to me that facts need to be fully addressed first and foremost, particularly when deciding life and death issues like who is a person and who isn't. Those that support the mythical "right to choose" haven't been basing their support on anything other than subjective personal desires.

Les said...

"...because I think subjectivity inappropriate for such a serious subject."

As do I, and I noticed my slip up right after I posted the comment. I, of course, meant to say objectivity.

"Would this be accurate?"

More like irrelevant, in this case. I just want kids, which is why I'd like to see my girlfriend proceed with said pregnancy.

Marshall Art said...


Girlfriend??!!! Are you tryin'? Aren't you gonna marry her first?

Too personal, perhaps. But does you last comment mean you are only concerned about your girlfriend's decision, or is your preference that all women take their pregnancies to term. I'm only trying to get a fix on where you're coming from.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I AM hesitant to the extent that I do not call others "false teachers", their comments "non-Christian", etc. I certainly make penultimate judgments concerning issues, but I do not believe that these judgments have any absolute validity. I do not insist that others adhere to my views because I cannot imagine them doing otherwise (for example. . .).

Just because I do not believe that I have somehow been given a glimpse of Absolute Truth does not mean I am free from the call to speak my mind. I do the best I can with my limited resources and hope that I won't be too embarrassed when I find out how wrong I am, on any number of things.

Marshall Art said...


What do you mean when you say that you "don't" believe you've been given even a "glimpse" of Absolute Truth? This sounds like false humility it's laid on so thick. Could you elaborate on this, please?

But again, it seems that you're making another admission that there is no way we can realize ANY truth about God, that it is ALL beyond the scope and ability of mankind to fathom. Of all your assertions about faith and God and religion, this is the one that is the most blatantly false. I say this because of all we DO know about Christ historically, archeologically, and the fact that there is little difference between what we read in our Bibles now, and the oldest parchment copies of their originals that we have. If there is nothing that you can be certain of regarding your Christian faith, if there is no truth on which you can hang your spiritual hat, then why even bother? Couldn't you enjoy yourself better without all the pretense that surrounds such mammoth uncertainty? I'm not trying to be a wise ass here. I'm sincerely boggled and seek clarification if you're willing to provide it.

Marshall Art said...

One more thing regarding false teachers. When their teachings are so far removed from what tradition, reason and the Bible teaches, there is no subjectivity or "unrighteous" judgement involved whatsoever. If Spong, or anyone else were to say something outrageous, such as, we are to sacrifice a child every seventh year for our sins, or even if we were to dance naked smeared in pig fat on Christmas Eve, would you then not call him a false teacher or heretic? Spong's "teachings" are very nearly that outrageous in how disparate their connection to anything resembling Christianity. He uses a lot of the same words as we do, but he's not Christian. One should not fear calling a spade a spade in such situations. That in itself is a lie.

Les said...

"Girlfriend??!!! Are you tryin'? Aren't you gonna marry her first?"

Whoa, there! I'm just talkin' hypothetical scenarios for the sake of conversation here. I'll keep you posted if there's any breaking news to report, MOM. ;-)

But no - I'm not talking about ALL pregnancies. Again, while I'm not actively trying to hasten fatherhood, I wouldn't mind it if I got someone pregnant - whether planned or otherwise - because I do want kids. Simple as that. HER thoughts on the subject would have little bearing on where I stand personally on that particular wish of mine at this point in time. Hopefully, we'd be on the same page. If not, I'd most likely have a hard time justifying the continuation of the relationship.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

What you say about the Bible is som demonstrably untrue it is almost a parody of ignorance.
1 - The Bible was written mostly in Hebrew, Aramaic, and koineGreek. Modern Bibles exist in hundreds of languages and dialects. As every translation is an interpretation, we have literally millions of interpretations floating around out there.

2 - THere exis such a wide variety of MSS in all the originals that some scholars are hard pressed to come to a decision on clear texts. The ending of Mark is a classic example.

3 - New evidence, such as an Aramaic copy of Matthew that predates any of the then-extant Greek copies that was discovered in the 1990's, and is sometimes subtly, sometimes quite blatantly, different from those that came later, occasionally arises that calls in to question pretty much everything we thought we knew.

4 - No one knows who wrote the bulk of the books of the Bible, who edited them, what those editions might have been. We do have manuscripts, especially of non-canonical Christian works, but even these suffer from anonymity and other problems.

5 - As the canon of the Christian Bible wasn't settled for about three and a half centuries after Jesus (who left no writings of his own), there are all sorts of questions we can ask, few of which would have answers, about the process of of the development of the canon.

Finally, we humans do not have access to Absolute Truth. Period. It's even in the Bible. Period. WHen John's Gospel puts the words "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" in to Jesus' mouth, these are part of a much larger rhetorical ploy on the author's part, in which Jesus is echoing the word's of Israel's God in the theophany before Moses. What this tells us is that, for the author of the Fourth Gospel, Truth was not an element of logic or propositions, but the Divine Life incarnate in Jesus Christ. As with the great "I AM" of Exodus, Jesus is not a possession to be had, or the end result of a logical exercise. Truth is the Divine Mystery that encounters us, not something that we ever have.

I'm sorry if you disagree.

Marshall Art said...


1) Millions of different languages, perhaps, but not millions of translations. Your good friend Neil, just recently explained it in a manner I've heard before that is far closer to the truth than "millions of translations". You'd have the original (not really have it, per se), then you have the oldest copies, which were translated into one language, say, English. Or perhaps it was translated into German, or French, etc. But you have basically ONE translation from the original language into modern language(s). In any case, even with each of the ancient languages translated into a variety of modern languages, together with the various books (KJV, NIV, NAS etc), the differences in them are insignificant against the larger tenants of the faith.

2) The number of available manuscripts do NOT pose the type of problems you're suggesting, since they look at all of them together to glean the commonalities in their attempts to get at the truth or substance. Rather than cause concerns, the greater number of MSS actually HELPS determine what is proper interpretations/translations rather than confuses the issue.

Let's say you have two versions of a story written (or copied) by two different dudes. You're likely to find an error or two when you put them side by side. If they are trying to relate an incident as faithfully as possible, the readers will not know which is the more accurate, which has the actual error.

Later, two more copies are found. When compared with the first two, you find that copies 3&4 support copy 1, but that 1,2 & 4 have things that copy 3 has differently.

Still later, 3 more copies are found. Now, with seven copies to peruse, the readers can sort through and see where there is more agreement and know with more certainty which errors are truly errors. Add still more copies found, and the odds of having the truth go up even more. This is how it works with all the MSS from what I've read. However, your version makes it easier to maintain this "no one can know anything" angle.

3) Haven't heard of any new copies of Matthew found. But it will most likely be placed against all that they've already had (as in point 2)and determine if it is worthy of respect. Let me know if you hear anything more solid regarding this new find.

4) What isn't known about the bulk of the books isn't as much a problem for anyone other than modern liberal theologians, who for reasons I can't quite fathom, seem to prefer a muddied understanding of such things. They are not mainstream and should be studied with suspicion. In fact, they seem to me to be so eager to dismiss what has been understood about the Bible and what it says and whence it came that I'm surprised they spend another moment pretending to believe anything at all.

5) Here again, it is those who are unsatisfied with what the present Bible says that have a problem with how it came to be. There seems to be a determined effort to accuse those who determined which manuscripts and books made the cut and which didn't of some agenda other than to provide as accurate and faithful a source as possible.

So how it stacks up is this way:

1-We can't know who wrote any of the books of the Bible.
2-We can't know how accurate they were in jotting down that which happened.
3-We can't know how faithful were all those who copied the originals.
4-We can't know the motivations of those who selected those books which make up our current Bible.
5-There's no point in believing a freakin' thing regarding the God of Abraham because it's all quite possibly crap according to the sanctimonious modern liberal progressive theologians who for some reason are going to pretend to be holy anyway.

I'm NOT sorry I don't agree with you, Geoffrey, because I'm satisfied with the teachings, interpretations, research and apologetics of better theologians than those for whom you give so much respect. Your view of theology makes ministers of all denominations, and I believe you know one personally, to be nothing more than the scam artists and con men atheists accuse them of being. Frankly, I'm sorry you believe as you do. I hope your studies continue, but broaden in a way that includes scholars other than the Spong-like creatures working so hard to craft their golden calves.