Hating Potential, Hating the Future

(You may also be interested in If a Fetus Isn’t a Human Being, What Is It? by Michael Egnor. But I will be focusing on a different article.)

The copy/paste below is from Must We Be Able to Reason to Be Thought of as Human Persons? by Michael Egnor

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Perhaps the most common justification that abortion proponents give for supporting abortion is that the human embryo or fetus isn’t capable of rational thought — and rational thought is the defining characteristic of humanity.

They’re wrong in a fundamental way. How they’re wrong is best understood if we look at the metaphysics of human development. Metaphysics is “The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.” (American Heritage Dictionary)

The philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC), who provided an important foundation for science, pointed out that humans are rational animals. That is, we have at least the possibility of rational thought, although at some stages of life (e.g., in the womb) we don’t think rationally. Even as adults, we don’t think rationally all of the time.

Biologist and abortion supporter Jerry Coyne denies that zygotes (the first stage of human development) have rational souls, or souls of any sort, when he writes,

And there’s no evidence [a zygote] has a soul or anything differentiating it from the embryos of any number of vertebrate species

Zygotes do have souls, in a quite obvious and non-mystical way. To have a soul (in Thomistic metaphysics, based in part on Aristotle) is merely to have the set of basic abilities and possibilities characteristic of life — the ability to metabolize, excrete, grow, the possibility to think and reason, etc. A soul is just a set of abilities and possibilities.

All living things have souls, because “soul” is defined as the characteristics that make them alive. The specific array of abilities and possibilities a living thing has determines what species of living thing it is. A tree has different abilities and possibilities than a man has. So Coyne is wrong to say “there’s no evidence [a zygote] has a soul”.

If It’s Alive, It Has a Soul


Where, I ask, is the evidence (beyond that asserted by religious authorities) that abortion is identical to murder, even in its very early stages? There is clearly a developmental continuum in a fetus, with an abrupt break when the baby is born, and so drawing a line for when a fetus becomes equivalent to a person with rights, including freedom from “murder”, is purely arbitrary. Many Catholics, though, draw the line at a rationally insupportable stage: fertilization. A “person” is not created at fertilization: we have a zygote that now will go on to continue development. That zygote is an undifferentiated ball of cells without mentation or the ability to feel pain.

Coyne asserts that a zygote is not a person because it cannot think or feel pain. Of course, “person” is a moral and legal term — if it can be killed at will, without legal or moral consequence, then of course it’s not a person.

But does the lack of capacities — e.g., to think or feel pain — mean that a zygote is not a human being in the metaphysical (and scientific) sense? Living things with souls (like zygotes) are composites of two principles — potency and act. Potency is the possibilities that a living thing can have. An acorn has the potency to become an oak tree, if all goes well. Act is what the living thing actually is. An acorn is in potency to become an oak tree, and in act for being a seed.

A human zygote is in potency for the ability to think. A neonate can think, although in a rudimentary way. An adult can think in a more actual way, and an Einstein can think in a profound way.

“Might Be and Is”

At each stage of human life, the human being is a composite of potency and act. Each human being has things she might be and things she now is. This combination of “might be and is” — of potency and act — is what it is to be human. In that sense, the zygote is no different from the genius — they are both composites of human possibilities and human actualities. Every human being is a composite, you might say, of aspiration and achievement.

This composite of possibilities and realities is the essence of what it is to be human. A zygote is mostly potency, and little act. An embryo has more act and fewer potencies (because some have already been actualized). A child has more potency and less actuality than an adult, in the sense that the child can potentially do more things in the future and the adult can do more things now.

As we get older, actualities are realized and potentialities fall away. Human development is the dynamic realization of possibilities.

So of course Coyne is correct to say that a zygote can’t think or feel pain, but that does not mean that the zygote isn’t fully human. To be fully human at day one of gestation is precisely to have the potentiality to think and feel pain, but not the actuality (yet).

Read the rest at Mind Matters News, published by Discovery Institute’s Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.

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These Darwinians are very good at dehumanizing people they don’t like.

Somehow, the people they so eagerly dehumanize are always the weak and the small, those who cannot defend themselves, and don’t fit in well at the very best parties.

And if they can, they’ll put you in the box of the subhuman too, Black Man:

In his purported manifesto, the shooter asserts that blacks “are a different subspecies of human.” Why? Because “Whites and Blacks are separated by tens of thousands of years of evolution, and our genetic material is obviously very different.” (emphasis mine, p. 14) Elsewhere he suggests that Europeans and Asians are more recently evolved than blacks (p. 17), which sounds eerily reminiscent of the view of countless racists of the past (including Charles Darwin himself) that blacks are the lowest humans on the evolutionary ladder.

You won’t find the shooter drawing on Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump in his manifesto. You will find lots of citations to articles in mainstream peer-reviewed science journals, including Nature Genetics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Psychiatry, Journal of Research in Personality, Personality and Individual Differences, and Current Directions in Psychological Science. You will also find citations to science articles published in media outlets like the New York Times. The shooter cites those sources to try to justify genetic reductionism and his abhorrent belief in black genetic inferiority.

How Science Fueled the White Supremacist Mass Murderer in Buffalo, NY by John G. West

Christians are NOT to go down the road they have chosen.

We must protect the future.

We must uphold the will of God, and not the will of sophisticated, murderous men.

The Law of God protects all mankind: men and women, children and the elderly, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, the believer and the unbeliever, the unborn and the genetically flawed (and the genetically flawless, too!)

THAT is God’s Will. And THAT is what we must uphold.

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