Right-Wing Christians’ Hostility to Science Destroys Lives

Feb 24, 2015

By Valerie Tarico

When a pilot program in Colorado offered teens state-of-the-art long acting contraceptives—IUD’s and implants—teen births plummeted by 40%, along with a drop in abortions. The program saved the state 42.5 million dollars in a single year, over five times what it cost. But rather than extending or expanding the program, some Colorado Republicans are trying to kill it—even if this stacks the odds against Colorado families. Why? Because they insist, wrongly, that IUD’s work by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred. This claim, which is based in bad faith and scientific ignorance, undermines fiscal prudence and flourishing families.

Excellent Family Planning Transforms Family Life

Research from around the world shows that children and families are more likely to thrive when women are able to delay, space, and limit childbearing. The benefits are enormous: healthier moms and babies, less infant mortality and special needs, more family prosperity, higher education, less domestic conflict and abuse—even lower crime rates. Whole communities gain as women (and men!) become more productive, creating a virtuous economic cycle. Public budgets become easier to balance, and more revenues can be invested into infrastructure instead of basic needs.

Despite mountains of evidence showing that family planning empowers family flourishing, early and unwanted pregnancy has been a tough pattern to change, even in the United States. Until very recently, half of U.S. pregnancies were unintended, with over a third of those ending in abortion. For single women under the age of 30, 70 percent of pregnancies are unintended. For teens that’s more than 80 percent. This pattern has many causes, but part of the problem is antiquated family planning technologies that are highly prone to human error. In any given year, 1 out of 11 couples relying on the Pill will end up with a surprise pregnancy. For couples relying on condoms alone, this rises to 1 out of 6!


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99 comments on “Right-Wing Christians’ Hostility to Science Destroys Lives

  • Republicans do not really care about blastulas. They care about more future Republican voters.

    We could test this. Suggest a birth control program for Democrats only.



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  • It is part of the ignorant teaching, the ignorant, that anything to do with sex is taboo and dirty!

    It is a formula for propagating ignorance combined with an arrogant, superior know-it-all attitude!

    It should therefore be no surprise that they have no idea how biology works, have no inclination to study and learn anything from anyone “contaminated by knowledge”, and are babbling drivel they have copied from each other!

    Other people running their own lives on the advice of medics and scientists!!! – without the intrusion of interfering god-botherers!! (Preposterous!! – Must be the work of Satan!!!! – Next they’ll be saying fat-cats should pay taxes!!! )



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  • Noboddy is better at fustrating human sexuality as christians.
    The damage they have done through history and they still do is incalculable.

    Particularly hateful and disgusting is the battle over the ownership of our own bodies -especially those of women. Our bodies belong to us, they aren’t under licence for us to use and to return. Get the heck over it.

    The one in Colorado is a very interesting programme -and doubtlessly effective. I hope some nuts won’t ruin it.



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  • Yes, this is an egregious example of rightwing hostility to science. But it is the leftwing that is leading the charge against science in the field of GMO biotechnologies. Fearmongering and outright lies are their prefered methods of attack against a scientific field which has given the world higher agricultural yields at less cost to the environment and absolutely no deleterious effects to human health. This war on science has cost millions of lives and 100s of thousand of cases of blindness in countries that could have benefited from Golden Rice. It will cost millions of lives more due to starvation and cause immense deforestration and erosion due to continued reliance on primitive farming methods in the developing world. The hypocrisy of the leftwing is nowhere more obvious than in Europe which has banned GMO agriculture but which imports millions of tons of American GMO grain to feed their livestock because there isn’t enough land to grow feed in Europe. This agricultural imperialism they have successfully imposed on their former colonies in Africa where only Upper Volta is reeping the benefits of GMO crops. These elitist leftists who eat expensive organic vegetables seem to be saying to the poor of the world “Let them eat cake!” With the world population set to rise to 9 billion in 2050 and 12 billion in 2100, it’s high time for the Left to stop their war on the poor and their defiance of science (Sorry, couldn’t resist).



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  • What I find so blatantly hypocritical about the religious-right’s stand against abortion because of the ‘sanctity of HUMAN life’ is that their feeling for the sanctity of life doesn’t seem to extend to wanting to provide healthcare (which would further protect human life) and they seem to have little hesitation to involve our country in wars that clearly kill human life. So, you see I am shocked at their hypocrisy that they seem utterly blind to. Either ‘human life is sacred’ or it is not.

    Personally, I’ve always agreed with George Carlin when he pointed out that WHO was responsible for the notion of the so-called sanctity of human life? HUMANS, of course and WHY? Well, simply because it protected our own self-interest as a species. Myself? I think all life deserves to reach the full measure of its’ existence but I realize as an animal species that is an omnivore (and mainly carnivorous) something has to die (whether it be plant or animal) in order to sustain my existence. Now this need to eat, doesn’t make it right to kill the plant or creature,, it is just an inescapable fact of any creatures existence that something must die in order for it to continue existing.



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  • Compulsory sex education for pupils from seven under Lib Dem plans; rise in school rape allegations; and police agree to use new stop and search protocols, all in the news today.
    All children in England’s state schools should get lessons about sex and relationships from the age of seven, the Liberal Democrats have said. Under the Lib Dem plans, which will be included in the party’s manifesto for next year’s general election, schools would be required to offer lessons on sex and relationships in Key Stage 2 – which includes children aged seven to 11. The party also plans to make all state-run secondary schools offer the lessons, which form part of the wider area known as personal, social and health education (PSHE), the BBC reports.

    This world is obsessed with Sex and Sexuality. Leave children to be children and let them enjoy it. Faith and Religion are very important together with Education. The two can work side by side. Please let children retain their innocence as long as they are able. I was shocked and horrified when I heard from the Coalition for Marriage about the behaviour of Ofsted with regard to the questioning of young pupils about marriage. If this is ‘Modern Britain’ we had all better be on our guard! They seem to show little of the tolerance they would urge on us. I am disgusted at this type of questioning put to children of such young ages. In my opinion it is not necessary, let children be children. They have to grow up quickly as it is, let them have some time when sex doesn’t have to rear it’s ugly head at them. It shouldn’t happen, certainly not at school. It is just another occasion of Ofsted interfering in faith schools.

    What’s the point of the legal age being 16 when you are being taught at school that it’s ok as long as you practice safe sex. Nothing about love, respect, serious relationships or more importantly abstinence! Oh and something needs to be done about BOYS, too! Girls can’t be the only ones responsible for resisting pressure you know. More sex education in schools = more teenage pregnancies= more abortions. One of the problems is that now in schools we are taught safe sex at an early age, and not abstinence. The message was basically that sex at a young age is fine as long as it’s practiced safely. It should be taught that at such a young age, neither protected or unprotected sex is ok. The message is simply not clear enough.

    The government swiped aside hundred of years of the meaning of marriage in one fell swoop without public consent. It was the single most undemocratic thing I have witnessed. At least Scotland got a referendum. The meaning of marriage, a definition that predates the Union by a very long time, got nothing. Cameron did it as a crown-pleaser, and we are left with the politically-correct mess to live with. Now he’s sending OFSTED Stasi around to menace those who differ in their personal opinion about the meaning of marriage. The irony on the notion of tolerance is rich indeed, and I do not accept that because I have what might be termed a ‘traditional’ view of marriage (or, in government-speak, ‘outmoded’, old-fashioned’, or ‘intolerant’) that I treat others who differ from my view with less respect. I do not, and I expect my views to be treated with a similar level of respect. Just because something is law certainly does not make it right.I thought Ofsted were meant to be inspecting education standards, not promoting their own agenda. Yet another reason to scale it back to Local Authority inspections.

    Teenage pregnancy rate in Great Britain is the highest in western Europe. It is a civilised country and Yemen is a backward country because it allows young girls to get married. It is also gross hypocrisy for the police to prosecute paedophiles when the government is overseeing boy scouts being given condoms from the age 11 and girls of the same age being told it is OK to have sex if they use ‘protection’. Boys and girls at age 11 are not allowed to marry but they can have sex and produce children. Every parent is worried about his child being indoctrinated into the idea that gay and sexual promiscuity is “normal” modes of behaviour. At the same time, all parents have the right to control their children and it is their Duty to control them.

    It would seem that Ofsted are themselves intolerant and discriminatory. These questions are personal and intrusive. These idiots should be more concerned about the academic achievement and the well being of the children. Schools should instruct their pupils that if they are uncomfortable with the questioning they should tell the inspector to mind his/her own business. Children are told to say no if inappropriately touched so they should be able to say no to inappropriate questions. What is happening is that the Government wishes to deal with the ‘Trojan Horse’ schools but fears being labelled ‘anti-Muslim.’ Using Ofsted to ‘get at’ Jewish and other religious schools that have not bought into the idea of SSM will enable the Government to ‘clamp down’ on all religious schools. In this way it hopes to avoid the charge of Muslim bashing when it finally makes some further ineffectual move against Muslim extremists running schools. Faith and education are compatible. Removing faith of any sort from education would be a logical impossibility. “Multiculturalism isn’t about conforming to one standard, but celebrating differences of perspectives, and so long as they are founded on tolerance and mutual respect, should be valued and protected.

    Jonathan Rabson, director of NAJOS, added: “This confrontational approach by inspectors is a worrying trend never been seen before in the UK Jewish community. We fear it suggests a shift in policy towards faith schools. It follows a growing suspicion that faith schools are being targeted after news broke this summer of Operation Trojan Horse, an organised attempt by Islamists to covertly co-opt schools in England. In a letter to both Ofsted and Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, educators argued that Jewish schools were being “disproportionally targeted” and that “Jewish values and ethos are being questioned by inspectors in a climate of hostility designed to unsettle the pupils at member schools”.

    For those who insist on compulsory sex education in schools, I disagree with this approach. The place for sex education is the family, not even in schools, not least at a time when gay mis-sexuality is presented as an option. In our sex-obsessed culture, fornication, promiscuity, adultery and homosexual perversion (including so-called SSM) are the scandals of the day. Popular entertainment and social media need to be purged of gross impurity. How can we complain about the sexual abuse of children yet not be opposed to the wider picture? It is time to return to modesty, personal restraint and sex in marriage only.

    Indiscipline, incivility, binge drinking, drug addiction, gun and knife crimes, teenage pregnancies and abortion are part and parcel of British schooling. These are the reasons why majority of Muslim parents would like to send their children to Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. Only less than 5% attend Muslim schools and more than 95% keep on attending state and church schools to be mis-educated and de-educated by non-Muslim monolingual teachers.

    Muslim schools teach Muslim children that sex outside marriage is a sin. Homosexuality is also a sin. sex before marriage and homosexuality are western values and Muslims are not supposed to adopt them.

    There are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk



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  • Isn’t that called the food chain ? . The only creature who doesn’t get eaten is the one with no natural predator.
    That is why there are so many HUMANS . If any other animal does try to eat us we usually have the means to prevent it. It is also why the Lion was called the king of the Jungle – no natural predator . Notice I said was
    as Humans have been proving their manhood by bumping off the lions for centuries.



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  • The simple problem is that there is insufficient sex and relationship education in schools because children DO NOT get proper education at HOME . Most children who end up pregnant are the ones who are not taught anything at school or at home. Ignorance in any area will always lead to problems and knowledge of sexuality
    is no exception.



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  • Iftikhar Feb 25, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Compulsory sex education for pupils from seven under Lib Dem plans; rise in school rape allegations; and police agree to use new stop and search protocols, all in the news today.

    Linking these in this manner is just bigoted ignorance.

    All children in England’s state schools should get lessons about sex and relationships from the age of seven, the Liberal Democrats have said. Under the Lib Dem plans, which will be included in the party’s manifesto for next year’s general election, schools would be required to offer lessons on sex and relationships in Key Stage 2 – which includes children aged seven to 11.

    Most schools already do.

    The party also plans to make all state-run secondary schools offer the lessons, which form part of the wider area known as personal, social and health education

    Again this teaching about responsible adult relationships has been done effectively for years, and it effectively prepares children for adult life – unlike establishments which bask in ignorance and guilt about bodily functions and social relationships.

    Every parent is worried about his child being indoctrinated into the idea that gay and sexual promiscuity is “normal” modes of behaviour.

    Sex education is learning about responsible stable relationships, not indoctrination in dogmatic bigotry from the dark ages.
    People born with homosexual or transgender biology, should be treated with respect, rather than ignorant abuse.

    It is time to return to modesty, personal restraint and sex in marriage only.

    There is no good reason to import tribal dogmatic ignorance and prudery into modern cultures.

    For those who insist on compulsory sex education in schools, I disagree with this approach. The place for sex education is the family, not even in schools,

    I can understand that those whose personal sex education has been neglected, may feel threatened by the knowledge of the younger generations, who understand the biology and working of bodies, and the nature of stable family relationships.
    Later arranged marriages between people kept ignorant of sexual relationships, is no form of education at all.

    Unfortunately religious bigotry and ignorance can be quite assertive, and where allowed to rule in theocracies, causing much guilt and unhappiness where none is necessary.

    Indiscipline, incivility, binge drinking, drug addiction, gun and knife crimes, teenage pregnancies and abortion are part and parcel of British schooling.

    Really?? There are certainly some problems in some cities but compared with many Muslim countries where where rival sects are killing each other British cities are peaceful.

    These are the reasons why majority of Muslim parents would like to send their children to Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods.

    They could move to Iran, Libya, or Egypt and easily achieve this, but somehow I think they might find the supposed English “gun and knife crime” problems small by comparison!

    Only less than 5% attend Muslim schools and more than 95% keep on attending state and church schools

    I think that tells you something about real preferences in seeking a better life than is available in Muslim theocracies.

    to be mis-educated and de-educated by non-Muslim monolingual teachers.

    I think its called abandoning backwardness and “integrating into modern society”.

    There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.

    Ghetto design 1.01 ! –
    This is one of the best arguments I have seen why faith schools should not be allowed to be tools of discrimination and segregation to divide populations causing tensions, between unintegrated groups, and why citizenship, personal health, and social education classes are required.
    It is clearly why OFSTED is intervening in the “Trojan Horse Schools”.



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  • Here is another breakthrough in science which the “pro-disability” – “know-it-all-noddies”, will jump up and down about – chanting their ignorance!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-31594856
    .UK approves three-person babies.
    The UK has now become the first country to approve laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.

    The modified version of IVF has passed its final legislative obstacle after being approved by the House of Lords.

    The fertility regulator will now decide how to license the procedure to prevent babies inheriting deadly genetic diseases.

    The first baby could be born as early as 2016.

    A large majority of MPs in the House of Commons approved “three-person babies” earlier this month.

    The House of Lords tonight rejected an attempt to block the plan by a majority of 232.

    Mitochondria are the tiny compartments inside nearly every cell of the body that convert food into useable energy.

    But genetic defects in the mitochondria mean the body has insufficient energy to keep the heart beating or the brain functioning.

    The structures are passed down only from the mother and have their own DNA, although it does not alter traits including appearance or personality.

    The technique, developed in Newcastle, uses a modified version of IVF to combine the healthy mitochondria of a donor woman with DNA of the two parents.

    It results in babies with 0.1% of their DNA from the second woman and is a permanent change that would echo down through the generations.

    Sally Cheshire, the chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said: “Britain is the first country in the world to permit this treatment, and it is a testament to the scientific expertise and well-respected regulatory regime that exists across the UK that Parliament has felt able to approve it.

    “The HFEA now have to develop a robust licensing process, which takes into account on a case by case basis the technical and ethical complexities of such treatments to ensure that any children born have the best chance of a healthy life.

    “The HFEA has a long tradition of dealing with medical and scientific breakthroughs, ensuring that IVF techniques, pioneered in the UK and now practised across the world, can be used safely and effectively in fertility treatment.”

    James Lawford Davies, a lawyer from Lawford Davies Denoon which specialises in the life sciences, told the BBC: “All of the legal arguments made in opposition to the regulations are hopeless.

    and among the anti-science “HOPELESS” (“decision by navel gazing Faith-thinkers”)!

    The Catholic and Anglican Churches in England said the idea was not safe or ethical, not least because it involved the destruction of embryos.

    Other groups, including Human Genetics Alert, say the move would open the door to further genetic modification of children in the future – so-called designer babies, genetically modified for beauty, intelligence or to be free of disease.

    OOOooh! That’s terrible!! ” Free from disease” – and for future generations too!!! (Alert??? – Did these people stand it the queue for pork pies when the brains were given out!!)



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  • Aside from the idiotic Dominionist idea that Christians need to outbreed atheists and those of other religions in order to dominate society, most Christians believe that women are inherently sinful temptresses who need to be utterly controlled by fathers and husbands at all stages of life. Allowing girls and women to decide when, where, and how to have sex, and allowing them to control pregnancy and its outcomes is heretical to the patriarchal worldview. Rightwing conservatives, who are interested in power and profit, see teeming, uneducated masses as a force to be used – for labor and warfare. If those masses are educated and in control of their lives, there’s no power base for the plutocracy. Why else do you see American Republican conservative Christians outlawing abortion, restricting access to birth control, undermining public education, destroying preschool programs, busting labor unions, lobbying against any and all social programs and welfare, trying to wrest control of Social Security from the government into private hands to be played like the stock market, pushing for deregulation and privatization of everything from banks to prisons to food inspection, and overturning environmental laws that interfere with their desire to exploit every resource for maximum profit? I may be overstating my case, but if you can’t control women (since they are key to reproduction), you’re not going to be able to keep anyone “in their place”, and you aren’t going to have that slave labor force you want.



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  • “There are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.”

    Would the same statement apply if you replace “Muslim” with “Catholic”, “Jew”, “Scientologist”, “Jedi”, or “Atheist”? If not, why not?

    Would you agree with the converse, that where Muslims are in a minority the school may opt out as a non-Muslim Academy and that there is no place for a Muslim child or teacher in a non-Muslim school?
    If not, why not?

    “Muslim schools teach Muslim children that sex outside marriage is a sin. Homosexuality is also a sin. sex before marriage and homosexuality are western values and Muslims are not supposed to adopt them.”
    Excuse me?
    I’m not suggesting homosexuality originates in any particular place or time, but the open nature of homosexuality in the West is a relatively recent phenomenon, and prior to the 20th century, in Western (i.e. Christian) lands, it was always considered an aberration imported from the Muslim orient, particularly sultans and caliphs and other members of the elite, e.g. Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid.

    “The Christian West generally frowned on and even criminalized sodomy. When some nineteenth-century European elites wanted to experiment sexually, they had to go to Muslim lands. Richard Burton wrote in his terminal essay that some European elites especially, vacationed in Islamic lands specifically to experiment in the sexual perversions that were rampant, as confirmed by Murray & Roscoe and others.” (Yoel Natan, Moon-o-theism, vol. 2, p. 105) Gavin Maxwell says: “Homosexuality between man and boy was never considered in any way abnormal or shameful in Morocco until the infiltration of European opinion with the French [occupation].” (Samar Habib, Islam and Homosexuality, vol. 1, p. 65)



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  • For those who insist on compulsory sex education in schools, I disagree with this approach. The place for sex education is the family, not even in schools,

    Deeply and evidentially flawed.

    The lowest teen pregnancies, STD and abortion rates come entirely from those countries that have comprehensive sex education in schools.

    It is time to return to modesty, personal restraint and sex in marriage only.

    Well thats been a disaster for American teens of fundamentalist families, with above average rates of teen pregnancy.



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  • I used to think I could see an underlying theme or connection between the far right’s attitude to birth control, abortion etc. and their general desire to be Masters of the Universe like they were before FDR came along and spoiled the party for them. [They still hate him with a fervour.]

    But just one thing was puzzling me….

    Less and less do they need the masses for warfare. That’s largely a high-tech game now, and the soldiers they do need are (generally) highly trained volunteers, certainly compared to the barely healthy draftees of a century ago.

    And most of the heavy labour is more and more being done in China and other faraway places, so they less and less need a local labour force manning the mills and mining the mines. (Just hairdressers and burger-flippers, oh and someone to design those gadgets that will get made in China.)

    So while the elite need (local) cheap labour and/or cannon fodder less and less, why do they still persist in policies designed to have the hoi-polloi breed themselves into poverty and ignorance?

    I suppose there is a conspiracy theory explanation for why the Masters of the Universe would like the masses to breed themselves (back) into poverty and ignorance, and bring back capital punishment until you can execute people for petty theft (or disrespecting a Master of the Universe).

    But it doesn’t do to be too paranoid. There’s no conspiracy.
    Most of these people are dumb (cunning, perhaps, but dumb). They believe the world is about 6000 years old, that should tell you something. They just pursue whatever policy works for them and their faction, personally, right now, and screw the rest of us.
    If they had the cunning and foresight to e.g. ruin the education system so that a generation or two from now the masses will be more pliable, they should also be able have the cunning and foresight to see that e.g. if the glaciers melt and the US dries out, they’ll lose the value of all their shorefront properties and have to move to Canada. But they consciously operate only with a horizon of the next fiscal budget or the next quarter’s returns, and anything that doesn’t affect the next bottom line is instinct – their personality shining through.

    So I think all these anti-social policies are not part of some master plan (the appearance of design does not necessarily imply design), but simply because they’re anti-social, selfish sociopaths lacking empathy for anyone but themselves or at most their closest kith and kin.



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  • This world is obsessed with Sex and Sexuality.

    And then how many paragraphs??

    Children being children with sexual developments that they know nothing about. Things going on with their bodies that none wants to talk about. Brilliant!



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  • 24
    Lorenzo says:

    I’m tempted to disregard your needlessly huge comment with a witty remark such as:
    If you could keep going in the bedroom department as long as you kept on writing, we’d all be a lot happier -starting from your partner.

    But I don’t think you’d ever had a partner, unless someone was forced and under some sort of death treat, and I feel like a little more elaboration might turn out to be fun.

    This world is obsessed with Sex and Sexuality.

    No, by any means, no. Those who obsesses over sexuality are those upon whom the white castration of various faiths is imposed. As your comment brilliantly demonstrates.
    Furthermore, if you pay attention, many of the flirting with bad quality pornography that goes on in the media is associated with programs somewhat linked to the political right which, in turn, is usually where religious conservatism lurks.

    A good, early, sexual and sentimental education increases the chances to enjoy a balanced, peaceful life dramatically. Also, protects others from humongous, bigoted word ejaculations, I shall add…

    There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.

    This is just fodder for wars. But I guess you have to let off your sexual frustration somewhere -and since your beliefs tie a big fat knot onto your sex, you have to find some other way, I suppose.
    Oh, don’t get me wrong: Islam holds no copyright on this heinous sectarian attitude and belief. It’s in the company of its two sisters at the very least.
    Humanity is a whole, it’s one. Get the heck over it.



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  • Tyler Feb 26, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Why would someone argue that an embryo has no value or very little value?

    If the research showed that IUDs killed embryos would the writer’s view change?

    Large numbers of zygotes and embryos spontaneously abort naturally – especially if the are defective, or the mother is undernourished!

    Most theist anti-abortion / contraception rants, come from biological illiterates, who learned their pseudo-embryology from biblical scribes, nutty dogma, and Catholic priests. They can’t tell a zygote from a baby – and when challenged, will try to redefine a zygote as a baby because their mumbo-jumbo said so!



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  • Hi Alan,

    I am not sure what all religious have said on this subject but I’m sure some crazy stuff has been said. With the respect to the science of embryology I think it is the duty of everyone to get it right and to speak accurately. I have heard religious and secular people deny that a zygote is a human being. This worries me. I have also heard people try to mislead people by equating a human being with a cell from your hand because both are living. I just don’t see how devaluing the life of the embryo helps or protects the rights of women – to me part of the greatness of modern science is that it allows us to look after both human beings with great success. I think the problem is that our social support systems have not kept pace with our human needs.



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  • When a pilot program in Colorado offered teens state-of-the-art long
    acting contraceptives—IUD’s and implants—teen births plummeted by 40%,
    along with a drop in abortions. The program saved the state 42.5
    million dollars in a single year, over five times what it cost. But
    rather than extending or expanding the program, some Colorado
    Republicans are trying to kill it—even if this stacks the odds against
    Colorado families. Why? Because they insist, wrongly, that IUD’s work
    by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred. This claim, which
    is based in bad faith and scientific ignorance, undermines fiscal
    prudence and flourishing families.

    The Christians and right wingers that support ignorance like this are not only ignoring that this reduces abortions and teen births which they are typically against, but it underlines what they really want. In fact what they’ve always wanted: Reproductive control.

    This is the same party that has extremists trying to keep women from being able to abort rape babies, and prevent women from making any meaningful decisions regarding their own reproductive rights. So even if a solution actually gives them things they’ve been clamoring for, they still can’t be happy with it because it offers potential and actual choices that don’t match with other antiquated notions of what sex is, how we’re supposed to practice it and ultimately women’s role in society.

    No one with this mindset is going to be happy unless they abandon this bronze age nonsense.



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  • To me, the embryo is a human being. Sorry for not being more clear. I was referring to the fact that some people don’t value the embryo as a human being – they treat it as something less than human. I’m not sure what is allowing them to treat this very young member of the human species so callously.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 9:15 am

    With the respect to the science of embryology I think it is the duty of everyone to get it right and to speak accurately.

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002398.htm

    I have heard religious and secular people deny that a zygote is a human being.

    A zygote is not a human being! It is human tissue. Some zygotes (as with some eggs and some sperms), go on to become human beings, large numbers abort naturally.

    This worries me.

    It is basic biology.
    Claims to the contrary are theology not biology.

    I have also heard people try to mislead people by equating a human being with a cell from your hand because both are living.

    There is nothing misleading about equating DNA in zygotes or blastocysts, with other human cells. Both cell types have a full set of human DNA, and with modern cloning techniques, DNA from various cells have the potential to develop into new organisms. We all shed thousands of human cells with full copies of our DNA all the time.
    Pretending zygote or hand cells, are whole human beings is ridiculous!

    The claim that fertilised eggs are human beings is just nonsensical dogma, which seeks a place to insert “souls” into zygotes and embryos, and is struggling to find a credible slot to do so.

    It is this sort of nonsense which leads to irrational opposition to work on stem cells, and invitro work, using transplanted mitochondria, to avoid passing on genetic disabilities.



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  • Hi Phil,

    I agree that the ‘qualities’ or ‘attributes’ (don’t go Aristotelian on me) of an embryo are different than mine – however, at one time I didn’t have these qualities and I shared the same qualities as the embryo because I was one. However, the embryo does have human DNA like me – and it will follow the same growth arc as myself.

    I don’t like this ‘qualities’ argument – it seems so elitist and can cross over into eugencis way too easily. If another guy can bench more than me does that make him a better human being because he is physically stronger than me? If one woman is better looking than another, does that mean she is better and that we should grant her a stronger claim to existence?



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 9:57 am

    To me, the embryo is a human being. Sorry for not being more clear.

    Where did you learn this? It was not from biologists!

    I was referring to the fact that some people don’t value the embryo as a human being – they treat it as something less than human.

    That is because it is human tissue, just like the skin cells I brush out of my mouth when I clean my teeth.

    I’m not sure what is allowing them to treat this very young member of the human species so callously.

    This is simply a misconception about membership, Membership of an intelligent species is usually recognised by the presence of a brain!
    Zygotes have no brains!



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  • Alan, without any interference or technological assistance the majority of zygotes will go on to become ‘human beings.’ You do science no favours when you try to blur the distinction between a zygote and other cells that have human dna. In fact, it is only because you can make a disintinction between the two that we are able to have this conversation at all.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Alan, without any interference or technological assistance the majority of zygotes will go on to become ‘human beings.’

    This is simply wrong!

    Over several trials, this concludes that around 70% of all zygotes fail to be carried to term.

    You do science no favours when you try to blur the distinction between a zygote and other cells that have human dna.

    I don’t need to. Science does not need favours, it works on evidence! I

    In fact, it is only because you can make a disintinction between the two that we are able to have this conversation at all.

    What on Earth does that mean?

    I have now given you two links to the biological information you are lacking.



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  • Alan, zygotes are human beings and without technological assistance continue to become fully grown human beings. Cells with human dna need to be turned into zygotes (human beings) before they can continue growing as human beings – whether or not that dna has been cloned. “Zygote” is just a term for one developmental stage of a human being.



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  • I apologize for saying the majority of zygotes go on to become human beings. I didn’t mean to raise another issue. What I meant to say is that zygotes are human beings. I was not trying to raise the issue of how many zygotes are lost due to miscarriages or abortions – both of which result in a loss of human life.

    Your link above actually implicitly acknowledges my point that a zygote is a human being. Perhaps, you can ask them to change their terminology or even change it yourself.

    From Rational Wiki (italics – mine):

    A common fundamentalist argument against abortion is that each human being is granted a soul at the moment of conception, and that destroying that “soul” is equivalent to murder.

    Scientific research has compiled the following information about the rates of naturally aborted pregnancies in human beings.
    This chart assumes that 200 eggs are in an environment with sperm nearby.
    Successfully fertilized 168 are successfully fertilised[1] 84% left alive
    Successfully implanted in womb (1-2 weeks from fertilization) 138 68% left alive
    Survive 4 weeks from fertilization 84 42% left alive
    Survive to become a fetus (8-11 weeks from fertilization) 70 35% left alive
    Survive to term and are born alive (38-42 weeks from fertilization) 62 31% born
    Over several trials, this concludes that around 70% of all zygotes fail to be carried to term. There has been very little action by conservatives to defend against what must be an appalling source of infant death.
    Due to all those zygotes that get fertilized but fail to implant, women in Virginia will probably need to go to the sheriff’s office to get their tampons examined, as the zygote now has the rights of an adult there.[2]



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 11:06 am

    You keep making these assertions!

    Where are you getting your information?

    A zygote is not a baby, a seed is not a plant, a spore is not fern, and an egg is not a fish. even though they have potential to become those IF they continue their development. Thousands don’t!



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  • Alan, you’re the one making this ahistorical and non-scientific assertion and now false comparisons.

    As I noted above your own websites implicitly acknowledge that a zygote is a human being.



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  • 41
    Lorenzo says:

    I have heard religious and secular people deny that a zygote is a human being. This worries me.

    I could argue that, if you try to read Shakespeare to a zygote it won’t give a damn. No matter if it will later develop into a human or a rat.
    A more serious point is that a zygote, albeit it may become a human being, is carried by a woman who is currently a human being, with everything that it implies. The mother is human life blossoming, while the zygote is just the seed of it.

    But all of that is, I learned, not really important -and a mostly male way to abusively babble around the problem.
    What matters is: voluntary interruption of pregnancy -in vulgar “abortion”- WILL happen, no matter how evil a curse on the practice you can cast. It just will. Because mothers are human being and perceive their zygote as a human being, a child to be, who deserves love and a happy and adequate environment to grow in. If that environment isn’t available, because of the young age or because of the social condition, the choice of interrupting a pregnancy might be taken and will be taken by some. Again, in the very face of all the curses the various religions have cast and all the future ones that will be cast.

    You have to accept that fact, you can’t deny it without being willingly dishonest. And once you accepted that fact, you have to make a choice, a very important one:
    Do we force women to put their lives in the hands of the first self taught obstetrician who will use parsley or a pointy stick or do we allow those women who have taken that decision to have it carried out by trained professionals in sterile rooms and with the appropriate instruments?

    I think that, hand on heart, nobody really likes abortion. I’m fairly sure that no woman would ever think about it lightly or superficially. But it’s a matter of respect at stake here: forcing women to be ripped off and risk their lives is utterly inhumane. If someone wants to interrupt her pregnancy, then she shall, at least, have her life as safe as it can be. That is the difference. Who makes the case for the legality of pregnancy interruption puts her humanity, her empathy end her respect for others before everything else.
    Furthermore, you can regulate, impose reasonable limits on the age of the embryo that can be willingly aborted. You can make sure that, what’s being discarded, is a cell conglomerate that cannot feel pain yet, or show any even remotely human awareness of the world.

    Furthermore, something that religious literalists and fundamentalists don’t get in their thick heads -apart from the question of respect- is that the only way to reduce pregnancy interruption at a minimum, if not completely eliminating it, is not ban it, but is sexual education: information about contraceptive techniques, how are they used safely and what behaviors should be avoided to avoid pregnancy in the first place.
    And no, abstinence is something else that does not happen among human beings. We are apes: we like sex, it’s part of our social behavior. Sex is almost as essential as oxygen to us.



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  • Lorenzo, thank-you for your response.

    I hope that once you have sorted through all of these extraneous issues you will one day ask yourself what is a zygote. I agree there are no easy answers for a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy. However, I believe abortion is a non-answer.

    There are better solutions to abortion as you have mentioned such as sex education, adoption, more support services such as daycare, etc…

    They fact that many humans enjoy sex does not mean they have lost the ability to control their sexual desires. I hope not – that would be a very unfair and uncivilized society. I sincerely hope that taking responsibility for one’s own actions is not a religious idea and that taking responsibility for your offspring is not a religious idea. I hope I never put on the goggles that cause me to so downplay the role of personal responsibility I was able to harm another simply because I felt like it.

    The fact that artificial abortion will occur doesn’t make it right. For example, theft seems to occur fairly regularly in human society but society has deemed it appropriate to criminalize such action. The frequency of an action doesn’t make it legal or illegal.



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  • Can someone explain to me why abortion is seeking the shelter and support of the atheistic community? What does abortion and IUDs have to do with atheism or reason and science?

    Sadly, there is not a lot of science involved in an abortion procedure – especially a late term surgical abortion procedure.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Your link above actually implicitly acknowledges my point that a zygote is a human being. Perhaps, you can ask them to change their terminology or even change it yourself.

    You are simply misreading the articles!

    From Rational Wiki (italics – mine):

    .A common fundamentalist argument against abortion is that each human being is granted a soul at the moment of conception, and that destroying that “soul” is equivalent to murder.

    This is quoting a fundamentalist claim which it is debunking, NOT stating a scientific one.

    Scientific research has compiled the following information about the rates of naturally aborted pregnancies in human beings.

    It is talking about naturally aborted pregnancies in human MOTHERS (as distinct from cats dogs etc). It is not referring to the pregnancy as a human being!

    The Medline + link uses the proper terminology – (egg, sperm, zygote, blastocyst, embryo, foetus, pregnancy. etc.) and likewise does not use the term “human being” as a substitute for these stages of development.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Alan, you’re the one making this a historical and non-scientific assertion and now false comparisons.

    Nope! I linked you the world’s top medical reference database, giving you the correct terminology, naming each developmental stage correctly.

    As I noted above your own websites implicitly acknowledge that a zygote is a human being.

    No they don’t!
    You are simply misreading the articles!

    :- Possibly as a result of confirmation biases.

    I have linked my sources, so again I ask you, “Where are you getting your information for your claims?”



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  • Sorry Alan I don’t have the time to argue with you about something that you’re utterly incorrect about. You seem too intent on politicizing this issue rather than getting to/admitting the truth of the matter.

    For everybody’s amusement why don’t you tell us when a human being becomes a human being if it is not at the moment of fertilization?



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    especially a late term surgical abortion procedure.

    The merits of ethical and medical issues surrounding late term abortions, are an entirely different issue, to silly claims about zygotes being human beings!

    What does abortion and IUDs have to do with atheism or reason and science?

    You have this backwards!
    These are personal, family, and medical issues, so “what do they have to do with religious dogmatism from the bronze-age and the dark ages?
    Perhaps you can spot what population science, and medical science, have to do with reason and science!



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  • 49
    Lorenzo says:

    I hope that once you have sorted through all of these extraneous issues you will one day ask yourself what is a zygote.

    The extraneous issue, here, is what a zygote is, my dear. And a mostly male “extraneous issue”, as well.
    The central question is about humanity and respect -of women first of all.

    If you want to know, technically, what a zygote is, you can look up Wikipedia. It’s the state immediately after the two gametes joined up to form a single cell, which, later, will develop according to its genetic content.
    It’s a state common to every sexually reproducing organism, and it’s very much not a human being. Not even close. Women are, though, and you’re supposed to treat them as such.

    But again, this is not the big issue here.

    The fact that artificial abortion will occur doesn’t make it right.

    The fact that it will occur imposes the need to regulate it. And, as a principle, I prefer the most humane regulation there is. In this case, even considering the fetus-to-be-a-child, the most humane solution is regulating the practice and mandating that it is carried out by professionals in the proper places with the proper tools.

    Sticking to your (specious) example: society deemed theft unacceptable, because exploitation of individuals and violence upon them are deemed immoral, and yet we do not mangle and mutilate the thieves to death because they stole a bag of crisps, do we? In some cases, even, “theft” is legalized and regulated -it goes under the name of “dispossession”.
    Furthermore, fighting poverty and social marginalization while promoting equity and redistribution of wealth is a way more effective strategy to bring down theft rates than violent repression. It took a long time to get to this point, but we are here now.
    Of course, some still live in the middle age and consider the earth flat, but that’s no reason to… well, that’s no reason, full stop.

    Allowing and reasonably regulating the voluntary interruption of pregnancy is hugely more humane than forcing women into the hands of those who induce abortion with a stick. Fact.
    Also, it’s very well established that ban on the practice has little or no effect on the size of the phenomenon, it just enormously increases the risks for the women. What brings it down is contraception and good sexual education.

    They fact that many humans enjoy sex does not mean they have lost the ability to control their sexual desires.

    Controlling sexual desire is a very different thing than repressing and denying them, isn’t it? Nobody is advocating to live a life at the mercy of every lust a human brain can conceive. That would be a very unhealthy life. But a life of self castration is just as unhealthy.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Perhaps you could answer the question as to your sources of information.

    (BTW: I suspect I already know them, as sites promoting “soul-magic”, and they are not reputable science sources)

    For everybody’s amusement why don’t you tell us when a human being becomes a human being if it is not at the moment of fertilization?

    It is not a black and white issue, but DNA is recognised as human from a certain point on this chart!

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/malapa-fossils/lineage-graphic

    Perhaps for everyone’s amusement you could explain when human ancestors acquired “souls”?

    LUCA? Tiktaalik? Ardipithecus afarensis? Homo erectus? Homo heidelburensis?



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  • Olgun Feb 27, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    70% of zygotes are not getting a proper burial…..oh mein gott!!!!

    …and heaven is full of of these innocents!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ..or was that somewhere else if they were not baptised!!!!



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  • Actually you’re probably correct to lump abortion in with population science. I look forward to discussing nuclear weapons, the various carncinogens in food products, and other life destroying phenomena. However, I hope (and bet) we don’t take the same attitude with those subjects which is to say that I hope our attitude towards these other subjects is not: “As long as we can find it or build it, let’s legalize it, and let’s do it. Throw caution into the wind. If it kills humans, so be it.”

    What makes stating the fact that a zygote is a human being, silly?



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Sorry Alan I don’t have the time to argue with you about something that you’re utterly incorrect about.

    Would that be roughly translated as: –

    “I haven’t got any evidence or a rational argument to present in support of my assertions?”



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  • 54
    Lorenzo says:

    Can someone explain to me why abortion is seeking the shelter and support of the atheistic community? What does abortion and IUDs have to do with atheism or reason and science?

    With atheism: nothing directly.
    With reason: as I mentioned before, voluntary termination of pregnancy is not a choice “for the best” rather for the least evil. Reason helps a great deal individuating the most humane solution and in the formulation of regulations that are fair.
    With science: it has even more to do with science, since, the moment you’re required to regulate the practice, you need factual basis to orientate yourself. Science allows you to determine up until when the embryo doesn’t interact with the world but chemically -for example.

    Furthermore, it’s not that “abortion seeks” anything around here. Atheists, rationalists and humanists are bound by their use of reason and by the principle they tend to share to support, at least to some extent, the cause.

    Sadly, there is not a lot of science involved in an abortion procedure

    This just tells me how badly informed are you. Having science involved doesn’t mean that the proceudre is pleasant to watch, but that it’s safe and effective and doesn’t causes more suffering that it’s necessary.

    especially a late term surgical abortion procedure.

    This is a somewhat different issue, isn’t it? Terminating a pregnancy in its early stages is, for sure, less of a moral quicksand than terminating it when the fetus may be viable.
    Anyway, as I said before, voluntary termination of pregnancy is not a pleasant activity, nobody likes it per se, and involvement of science is not guarantee of pleasantness -rather, effectiveness and safety.

    However, even 10 years ago, considerably less than 1% of the total voluntary terminations of pregnancy happened after the 21st week of gestation (in the UK and USA). That is encouraging.
    As if hadn’t been said enough: these practices aren’t nice, nobody likes them. They are allowed because we hold the well being and safety of the woman at the dearest -the other branches of the debate are of a secondary importance. The most effective way to make them unnecessary is a good an thorough sexual education.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    What makes stating the fact that a zygote is a human being, silly?

    You could start by looking at the size and structures without wearing the faith-blinkers of dogma!
    A zygote is a bunch of undifferentiated cells with some assembly instructions!

    A human being has a whole range of specialist systems, structures and organs.

    It’s like asking why it is silly to state “the fact”, that a heap of iron ore and some architects’ drawings are an ocean liner!

    Making up your own “facts” is usually silly!

    Actually you’re probably correct to lump abortion in with population science. I look forward to discussing nuclear weapons, the various carncinogens in food products, and other life destroying phenomena.

    We could discuss the fallacies of forced analogies and “guilt by association”, and a lack of study or understanding of biology, – illustrated in silly zygote claims.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/02/right-wing-christians-hostility-to-science-destroys-lives/#li-comment-170523



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  • Thanks for having an open mind on this subject Lorenzo. I guess science and reason have not conclusively spoken on the ethics of abortion.

    But I would just like to make one last point – being against abortion doesn’t mean that you’re anti-women’s rights or not looking out for the well-being and safety of women.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    I guess science and reason have not conclusively spoken on the ethics of abortion.

    That’s the problem with guessing instead of using reasoned scientific research methods.

    Key guidance on ethics – an A to Z – http://bma.org.uk/practical-support-at-work/ethics/ethics-a-to-z

    Actually there are scientifically drawn up medical and legal codes of ethics, where decisions are based informed expert opinion. In backward countries and theocracies they just copy stuff from the bronze-age!

    But I would just like to make one last point – being against abortion doesn’t mean that you’re anti-women’s rights or not looking out for the well-being and safety of women.

    Being against abortion per se on the basis of dogma, without researching the subject and expert studies on the subject, leads to blindly doing exactly that!
    There are numerous reports on social, economic, and medical reasons, why particular circumstances require people to be able to choose abortions, and many reasons why busy-bodies unconnected to them, should not be interfering in other people’s personal lives.



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  • 59
    Lorenzo says:

    I guess science and reason have not conclusively spoken on the ethics of abortion.

    Well, science doesn’t make ethics decision, nor inquiry -actually, I’d question the whole premise of an “ethic” in the most exquisitely philosophical meaning, but that’s another story…

    Reason, on the other hand, does bother with moral questions. I’ve discussed the matter a great deal in the past years, because the free access to voluntary termination of pregnancy is forever under attack. The standpoint I tend to prefer is the one I have been advocating until now: the one that focuses on humanity and practicality.
    I also have a position on the “humanity” of zygotes and embryos and fetuses but, as I said, I don’t think they are the first priority because, whereas their “humanity” is still subject of moral debate, the humanity of women is not.

    being against abortion doesn’t mean that you’re anti-women’s rights or not looking out for the well-being and safety of women.

    Of course it doesn’t, per se. Trouble is, all too many times anti-abortionists movements hold in deep disregard the safety and the well being of the woman. If you are not one of those people, that can only make the world a better place.
    A remark that is always made is, of course, that women have the right to decide over their own reproductive system -as much as any of us has the right to decide over any part of our body. This, though, doesn’t mean necessarily abortion: to me, it means contraception and responsible sexuality first of all and, those two goals, can be achieved with a good and thorough sexual education -at school and at home.
    Sadly, caution and contraception are not enough against the tricky mistress that is statistics and you will always end up with some unwanted pregnancies. As for what to do with those, I refer you back to everything I said until now.
    Something that I didn’t stated clearly yet is: a quality sexual education puts you in a position to recognize when the possibility of a pregnancy is real and an early detection may alleviate you from late, morally more challenging, decision later.

    All of that flies right in the face of institutionalized religions -where, on the contrary, an often openly misogynous “morality” is mandated. It may be that we’ll never be able to reason ourselves out of the quagmire, but certainly we have done orders of magnitude better than any holy book has ever managed.



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  • @OP – Right-Wing Christians’ Hostility to Science Destroys Lives

    The refusal to accept the science of evolution, together with selling 80% of antibiotics for use in feeding animals which are not even ill, is doing just that!

    People are dying from antibiotic resistant pathogens!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-31537617
    Nearly 180 people at a Los Angeles hospital may have been exposed to a deadly strain of bacteria from contaminated medical equipment.
    A similar outbreak was reported last month in Seattle. Eleven patients died.
    The infections are difficult to treat because many strains are resistant to antibiotics.
    The CDC said that national figures on the bacteria are not kept, but 47 states have seen cases.



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  • Alan, I have to say I am a little offended by your very unsupported assertions that a zygote is not a stage in a human being’s life. I find that you have only shared your personal new age philosophy and what you wish to be true – that a human being is whatever (and whenever) you decide is a human being. On a website that is dedicated to reason and science you have simply tried to ‘scream’ the loudest by posting lengthy rants. It was very discouraging to say the least – in fact, they were somewhat frightening. You came across as an ideologue. Your statements were neither reasonable nor scientific.

    It is making it appear to me that this website is more concerned with promoting some new aga philosophy than promoting understanding of science through the use of reason.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Cells with human dna need to be turned into zygotes (human beings) before they can continue growing as human beings – whether or not that dna has been cloned.

    . . and with DNA which is not human, cells are turned into zygotes, which become fish, cats, crocodiles, chickens, or elephants etc. It is the DNA which is relevant to the species, not the empty cell wall.

    “Zygote” is just a term for one developmental stage of a human being.

    Not necessarily. It is the term for the next stage of a developing egg cell of many animals, but only if it has the full set of human DNA (like the rest of our cells), does it become a human rather than some other animal.

    You really are struggling to cling to your mistaken preconceptions in the face of the biological evidence!



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Alan, I have to say I am a little offended

    Being offended by science is a well known feature of god-delusions – especially god-delusions making up their own “facts” in the face of scientific evidence.

    by your very unsupported assertions that a zygote is not a stage in a human being’s life.

    I think you are well into psychological projection here!
    My explanations were well supported by evidenced links from the world’s top medical experts, while you have consistently declined to name the sources of your assertions.

    I find that you have only shared your personal new age philosophy and what you wish to be true –

    More psychological projection which is again confirmed by your wish-thinking here!

    that a human being is whatever (and whenever) you decide is a human being.

    Perhaps you should learn to read the scientific links I have provided?

    On a website that is dedicated to reason and science you have simply tried to ‘scream’ the loudest by posting lengthy rants.

    More ranting psychological projection!

    It was very discouraging to say the least – in fact, they were somewhat frightening.

    Indeed! I would hope that the scientific evidence I have provided, would discourage irrational, unsupported, and misleading adherence to bronze-age misconceptions about reproductive biology. God-delusions do indeed find science frightening, and threatening to their continued existence!

    You came across as an ideologue.

    .. and even more psychological projection, in the absence of you offering any evidence quoting reputable scientific sources.

    Your statements were neither reasonable nor scientific.

    I’m afraid that’s what those “faith-blinker- preconceptions” do to viewing of well evidenced and well reasoned science, when the dogma-mind-blockers are in place. Only circular “reasoning” from dogma is visible to the believer!

    You could just have stated that you were quoting theological sources when I first asked, as many posting here know the position of medical science on these issues of embryonic developmental stages! Bluster and rhetoric, kids nobody who is well educated in biology!



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  • Alan, here are some links showing the stages of human embryogenesis. If you read them you will note that all human beings that grow to be adults pass through the zygote stage of existence, just as they pass through the toddler and adolescent stages of human growth. A zygote is just one stage in human development as it is a stage for other multicellular organisms.

    (I really wish I didn’t have to do this on this website for someone who is a self-professed rationalist):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_embryogenesis

    http://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php?title=Embryonic_Development

    https://www.ehd.org/virtual-human-embryo/

    Now if you want to philosophize or moralize as to whether a human zygote should be considered a “human being” for moral reasons or in law we can discuss that – but let’s not forget that the science is quite clear: a human zygote is one stage in the life of a human being.



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  • Tyler Feb 28, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Alan, you would be honest if you would just admit that you’re moralizing.

    I am moralising! I have linked the UK doctors’ medical code of conduct for the medical ethics related to abortions, which I generally support as the moral position based on informed scientific expert opinion.

    You have simply stated that you are opposed to abortion per se and all you have produced in support, is a ridiculous claim that zygotes are human beings!

    Here are some links – I really wish I didn’t have to do this on this website:

    Where do these say anything to support your flawed claim that zygotes are human beings??? – and in what way what do they differ from my Medline+ link I gave earlier, defining correct names for the stages of development??



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  • Ok Valerie Tarico this is a good liberal view on this story, but let’s bring in a little truth !

    First let’s talk about how it works, and yes some Republicans did at first cite this as a reason to defund this bill! But also note of fact the bill is being co-sponsored by Rep. Don Coram a Republican Also here are other facts why some Republicans don’t want to fund this bill They believe the state shouldn’t be funding something already covered by some health insurance policies.
    “So in my way of thinking, why would the state want to fund something that’s already covered in our health situation?” said Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa.
    But Wolk notes that some of the women the program is designed for don’t have health insurance. He said the funding also helps train health care providers on how to implant the devices

    From http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/c03064e9ce8d47cdad6009cbe8ab9cd3/CO–Birth-Control-Funding/

    Ok Mr. Wolk what about Obamacare does it not work in your state?

    How it works:
    Both types of IUD prevent fertilization of the egg by damaging or killing sperm. The IUD also affects the uterine lining (where a fertilized egg would implant and grow).
    So pretty much like an internal condom, and more convenient that putting one on it the heat of the moment! However doesn’t stop STD’s even slightly!!

    You may be a good candidate for an IUD if you:
    • Do not have a pelvic infection at the time of IUD insertion.
    • Have only one sex partner who does not have other sex partners and who is infection-free. This means you are not at high risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or you and your partner are willing to also use condoms.

    Well damn that just blew it Here’s some statistics on teen with STI’s & HIV:

    New estimates show that there are about 20 million new infections in the United States each year.
    Young people age 15 to 24 account for 50% of all new STDs, although they represent just 25% of the sexually experienced population
    46% of American high school students have had sexual intercourse and potentially are at risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and other STDs. Get yourself tested for HIV — and tell others you did! Sign up for Update Your Status.
    Roughly 75% of all reported gonorrhea is found in people age 15 to 29, with the highest infection rates found in teen girls age 15 to 19 and 20- to 24-year-old men.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are more than 110 million STIs among men and women in the US. This includes both new and existing infections.
    The annual number of new infections is roughly equal among teen girls (51%) and teen guys (49%).
    HPV (human papillomavirus) accounts for the majority of prevalent STIs in the US.
    The US has the highest rate of STD infection in the industrialized world.
    6 in 10 sexually active high school teens reported using condoms during their most recent sexual intercourse.
    1 in 4 teens contracts an STD/STI every year
    From https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-teens-and-stds

    New HIV Infections  (Aged 13-24)
    • In 2010, youth made up 17% of the US population, but accounted for an estimated 26% (12,200) of all new HIV infections (47,500) in the United States.
    • In 2010, young gay and bisexual men accounted for an estimated 19% (8,800) of all new HIV infections in the United States and 72% of new HIV infections among youth. These young men were the only age group that showed a significant increase in estimated new infections—22% from 2008 (7,200) through 2010 (8,800).
    • In 2010, black youth accounted for an estimated 57% (7,000) of all new HIV infections among youth in the United States, followed by Hispanic/Latino (20%, 2,390) and white (20%, 2,380) youth.
    From http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/age/youth/index.html

    Risks of using an intrauterine device (IUD) include:
    • Menstrual problems. The copper IUD may increase menstrual bleeding or cramps. Women may also experience spotting between periods. The hormonal IUD may reduce menstrual cramps and bleeding.1
    • Perforation. In 1 out of 1,000 women, the IUD will get stuck in or puncture (perforate) the uterus.1 Although perforation is rare, it almost always occurs during insertion. The IUD should be removed if the uterus has been perforated.
    • Expulsion. About 2 to 10 out of 100 IUDs are pushed out (expelled) from the uterus into the vagina during the first year. This usually happens in the first few months of use. Expulsion is more likely when the IUD is inserted right after childbirth or in a woman who has not carried a pregnancy.1 When an IUD has been expelled, you are no longer protected against pregnancy.
    Disadvantages of IUDs include the high cost of insertion, no protection against STIs, and the need to be removed by a doctor.
    From http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/intrauterine-device-iud-for-birth-control

    There are even law suits out on IUD’s below is an example, but this leads to another question will the states (I mean the taxpayers) be held liable for suits such as this??

    hundreds of women throughout the United States have filed product liability lawsuits alleging that the IUD carries an unreasonable risk of problems, such as spontaneous migration and uterine perforation. According to allegations raised in these IUD lawsuits, Bayer knew or should have known about the risk of these Mirena problems, yet failed to provide adequate warnings for women or the medical community. While withholding important information about the risk of devastating complications, Bayer aggressively promoted Mirena IUD systems as a hassle free form of birth control, negligently and recklessly making false and misleading representations about the safety of the device. – See more at: http://www.youhavealawyer.com/mirena/#sthash.C38uZLKO.dpuf

    From http://www.youhavealawyer.com/mirena/

    So then Valerie here’s my take on all this info First as usual Unlike sold as a Christian Conservative against all that’s good for America, in real light it’s an Entitlement/Money/Political thing let’s break it down !

    A} If a Christian Conservative is a Co-Sponsor of the bill I would call that Bipartisan bill !
    B} Selling Colorado as doing such a great job because of this program well check this out:
    50 State Comparison Story Between 1991 and 2013, the teen birth rate declined by an impressive 57% nationwide. It has declined in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups. However, progress has been uneven. as far as the Colorado teen pregnancy rate they rank #24 in 2013 (Actually there’s 3 #24 placed so makes 25 stated doing as good or better than Colorado) why did 25 stated do better that them without that great program or added cost to taxpayers?
    C} Also this program was started by generous gift of $25 Million from a citizen, so needed to be introduced on a separate funding bill , which seems to have not been the case here !
    D} IDU’s are not cost affective 1- Disadvantages of IUDs include the high cost of insertion, no protection against STIs, and the need to be removed by a doctor. 2- • Have only one sex partner who does not have other sex partners and who is infection-free. This means you are not at high risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or you and your partner are willing to also use condoms. 3- (CDC) reports that 19 million new STD infections occur every year (February 2013 new information indicates this number is now 20 million). And, even more alarming, is that nearly 50 percent of these new cases happen to young people between the ages of 15 and 24 4- The way that you can get an STD is by having unprotected sex, and that means having vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex and not using a condom consistently and correctly. 1 in 4 teens contracts an STD/STI every year ! 5- There are about 30 to 40 types of HPV that can affect the genital area. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 6 million new cases of genital HPV infections* in the United States each year. It is estimated 74% of them occur in 15 to 24 year olds. 6- New HIV Infections (Aged 13-24)
    • In 2010, youth made up 17% of the US population, but accounted for an estimated 26% (12,200) of all new HIV infections (47,500) in the United States.
    • In 2010, young gay and bisexual men accounted for an estimated 19% (8,800) of all new HIV infections in the United States and 72% of new HIV infections among youth. These young men were the only age group that showed a significant increase in estimated new infections—22% from 2008 (7,200) through 2010 (8,800).
    • In 2010, black youth accounted for an estimated 57% (7,000) of all new HIV infections among youth in the United States, followed by Hispanic/Latino (20%, 2,390) and white (20%, 2,380) youth.
    From <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/age/youth/index.html

    As anyone that does the research can see this is money flushed down the toilet, You’d do better by them and the state by teaching them about self control, properly using a condom, and educate them about STD’s, STI’s, & HIV ! With Grown-up pleasures comes Grown-up Responsibilities !



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  • being against abortion doesn’t mean that you’re anti-women’s rights

    Of course it does, unless you’re referring to your own pregnancy.

    Science informs the legal pathway allowing women a sensible avenue for modern, legal human tissue removal in most civilized countries. In ghastly contrast the anti-abortionists effectively promote amateur obstetric alternatives using coat hangers and frequently killing the unfortunate woman.
    For theological balance Xian misogynists would do well to realize that warts, tumours and carbuncles possess more soul than do embryos, according to the theology department of church of the FSM.

    The safe disposal of human tissue and other infectious waste material is handled in hospitals in a scientifically safe manner. Ignorant Xian teens using unhygienic wire, camel-based solutions are an abortion of an affair and risk lives. Pre-emptive education prevents most unwanted pregnancy, as cultures with decent sex education illustrate so vividly. Science has made the removal of human tissue as straightforward as cutting your toenails, whereas religion seeks to turn it into a medieval, backyard flirt with infectious death. If we allow anti-abortionist this concession what will they demand next, slavery?

    The worship of eggs is an example of religious extremism which promotes misogynistic terrorism. A recent murder of a security guard at a local fertility clinic attests to that fanatical religious urge.

    Prescriptive Canon Egg Law idolatry is unscientific and threatens both biology and democracy by elevating the status of blastocysts to that of sacred gods with ‘little hands and feet’, or more clinically, Eggnostic Pareidolia. Eggcentric delusions allow imaginary miniature people to mediate the fertility choices of women.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

    Idolizing eggs, or Hysterical HumptyDumptyism, is OK in the privacy of your own house provided that they’re your own eggs. However, coveting everyone else’s egg or foetus is a bit sick I reckon. Eggistentialism in Xian males makes Sharia Law look less paternalistic.

    The avid worship of fertilized eggs or hyper-zygoticism is a faith-induced fetish related to womb-envy. Science, through the prism of psychiatry, understands radicalized anti-abortionism as misplaced agape love or erotomania. This obsession with everyone else’s eggs occurs as a consequence of a broken love map of people who also worship crackers.

    Most modern xians reject anti-abortionism. Pro-women’s rights laws inhibit anti-abortionists from preserving or idolizing any eggs but their own. I have no objections to what women do with their own egg, at home or in your their own garage, but Catholics don’t own every single egg.

    If you can believe that a biscuit can contain a tiny Jesus then imagining microscopic people in blastocysts is a small additional leap of faith to hebephrenic/hallucinating eggists.

    Childhood indoctrination damages neurological circuitry associated with emotional attachment through cracker-worship and other tricks. Misplaced agape love and devotion for imaginary miniature people is just symptomatic and to be anticipated. Ironically most teenage abortions result from Catholic students, who religiously avoid contraception. Simply issuing free RU486 (Mifepristone) in school canteens or libraries, along with educational information, would avoid most unwanted teenage pregnancy.

    A simple leaflet could inform those naïve kids about HumptryDumptyism in minutes.



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  • Len Walsh Mar 1, 2015 at 7:06 am

    A simple leaflet could inform those naïve kids about HumptryDumptyism in minutes.

    HumptyDumptism is not much of a basis for an evidence based logical argument – except when it is looked at through the “interpretation” of faith-blinkers!

    A classic example is the Vatican definition of “right-reason” and “truly scientific”!

    BTW: A neat idea quoting it in relation to eggs!



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  • A classic example is the Vatican definition of “right-reason” and “truly scientific”!

    Thanks Alan.
    “Objectively disordered” with respect to gays is another, and my personal favourite is “mental reservation” which is the Catholic euphemism for deliberately lying.

    In the instance of this thread of course we find theists insisting eggs are human beings or miniature people, with invisible arms and legs I suppose. Now that’s rabid HumptyDumptism.



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  • Alan4discussion Feb 27, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 9:15 am – I have also heard people try to mislead people by equating a human being with a cell from your hand because both are living.

    There is nothing misleading about equating DNA in zygotes or blastocysts, with other human cells. Both cell types have a full set of human DNA, and with modern cloning techniques, DNA from various cells have the potential to develop into new organisms. We all shed thousands of human cells with full copies of our DNA all the time.
    Pretending zygote or hand cells, are whole human beings is ridiculous!

    We have a discussion on the scientific methods of using skin cells to clone new individuals here!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/03/two-dad-babies-could-soon-be-a-reality/#comment-170980
    The team, from Cambridge University in the UK and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, built on previous work where baby mice were successfully raised from mouse skin cells that had been converted into what’s known as primordial germ cells – the precursors of egg and sperm cells.

    “We have succeeded in the first and most important step of this process, which is to show we can make these very early human stem cells in a dish,”

    Theistic denial, is no answer to scientific evidence!



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  • Alan, I don’t want to egg them on but the Right-Wing Xians seem to have deserted this discussion.

    Hostility to science is bizarre yet common. Favouring the rights of eggs over women is an issue I thought had been resolved long ago, though evidently not so in the USA.

    In Australia the hostility is broader and centred on climate science rather than degrading women’s rights. We’ve closed down science funding and no longer have a federal science minister.

    Ian Plimer’s book is popular in Catholic schools. You might remember he took on the creationists over Noah’s Ark, and lost in the courts. He’s a Catholic creationist who writes books for high school kids now. Heaven and Earth and How to Get Expelled from School are his latest.



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  • Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Alan, I have to say I am a little offended by your very unsupported assertions that a zygote is not a stage in a human being’s life.

    I see you have moved the goal-posts from your earlier claim in order to pretend credibility and pretend that I am disputing that a zygote is a developmental stage, rather than your original claim.

    Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    What makes stating the (PSEUDO-)fact that a zygote is a human being, silly?
    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/02/right-wing-christians-hostility-to-science-destroys-lives/#li-comment-171590

    Tyler Feb 28, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Alan, here are some links showing the stages of human embryogenesis.

    It seems you are incapable of looking at the zygote images without “faith-blinkers”and reading your own links, so have in a pretend patronising post presented a strawman moving of goal-posts, as if this had any significance to your argument which the links refute!

    The zygote images bear no resemblance to human beings, as any objective observer can see!



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  • In the instance of this thread of course we find theists insisting eggs are human beings or miniature people, with invisible arms and legs I suppose.

    We did? Who did? Where?

    The only posted comments I find “in the instance of this thread” that make any such statements were posted by @alan4discussion and @Len Walsh.

    Curious…



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  • We did? Who did? Where?

    Doug, we were discussing how lives are destroyed through the hostility of right-wing Xians to science, when suddenly…

    Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 11:06 am
    zygotes are human beings

    The delusional belief that fertilized eggs, or zygotes, are miniature human beings is hysterical HumptyDumptyism and is not widely practiced in educated society. It is harmful because devotees disregard a woman’s rights due to this bizarre belief.

    Modern science has provided the morning-after pill, ensuring the unwanted tissue is minimal, or just an egg. This is not men’s business Doug, unless you have a functional womb.

    Hostility to climate science is a truly calamitous Religious Right strategy.



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  • Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 7:37 am

    “In the instance of this thread of course we find theists insisting eggs are human beings or miniature people, with invisible arms and legs I suppose.”

    We did? Who did? Where?

    Tyler did, – but I added the historical reference to the Preformationism on which the claim is based.

    The only posted comments I find “in the instance of this thread” that make any such statements were posted by @alan4discussion and @Len Walsh.

    Curious…

    This looks very like a theist claim to me!

    Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Actually you’re probably correct to lump abortion in with population science. . . . . . . .. . . . . .Throw caution into the wind. If it kills humans, so be it.”

    What makes stating the fact that a zygote is a human being, silly?

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Tyler Feb 27, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Your link above actually implicitly acknowledges my point that a zygote is a human being. Perhaps, you can ask them to change their terminology or even change it yourself.

    So the leading world medical and scientific database needs to change it’s accurate definition of a zygote, because some god-delusions insist that they should be called “human beings”! –
    Humpty-Dumptyism taken far into the world of delusionist comedy!



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  • Hi @Len Walsh.

    "…we were discussing…"

    Oh, I didn't realize you were involved in that discussion. My mistake.

    Anyway, my main point was that no one has claimed here that a human egg is a human being. (Though I am willing to admit that I may have missed it. If so, please point it out.)

    As I understand it, based on the wonderful scientific documents generously provided by others here and elsewhere, once a human egg has been fertilized (by the addition of complementary genetic material), it is no longer an egg, it is then a zygote, a new, physically and genetically distinct individual member of the group of animals biologists and other scientists call Homo sapiens, the species from which came the egg and presumably the complementary genetic material as well. If this does not sufficiently define a “human being” for anyone familiar with the biological facts, then what else possibly could? Obviously there are several factors that must be part of the definition, but some of the factors that have been posited here are simply extraneous and added for non-biological reasons. There is nothing remotely resembling universal agreement on the definition (even among "respected scientists", some of whom claim that it is not theirs to define or that science cannot define it). Nevertheless, the definition must include at least a sufficient complement of genes and chromosomes and whatever other cell contents may be required to continue changing and growing from stage to stage along the developmental path encoded in its genes (transferred to it from at least one other human being) and so clearly illustrated in the previously mentioned documents.

    Understanding (validly interpreting) the objective biological facts this way does not require theism (nor Humpty-Dumptyism), and does not necessarily lead to any of the outcomes you claim. Though some may use/misuse this information in support of certain other beliefs or policies or attitudes or behaviors, to assume all others who believe that a zygote (not an egg), a blastocyst (not an egg), an embryo (also not an egg), and a fetus (also not an egg) are all human beings, just like infants and toddlers and adolescents and adults and octo-generians, have those same beliefs is jumping to conclusions based on insufficient evidence.



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  • Tyler did, – but I added the historical reference to the Preformationism on which the claim is based.

    Tyler didn’t.

    This looks very like a theist claim to me!

    Of course it would. Some minds are particularly well-wired to see theistic claims, even where they don’t exist. It’s like seeing cute animals in clouds or faces in geological features on the Moon or Mars. We’re all prone to it, but some of us have learned to be skeptical and control for it.

    So the leading world medical and scientific database needs to change it’s accurate definition of a zygote.

    The “database” very purposely never uses the words “human being”. If any of the documents you’ve cited do, please point them out, because I really want to see this. All I’ve seen is the term “human development”. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that this term refers to development of “human beings”, from fertilization (zygote) to whatever stage the “being” reaches beyond that event and stage. Any other interpretation would have to be based on some extraneous agenda, perhaps.



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  • Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Anyway, my main point was that no one has claimed here that a human egg is a human being. (Though I am willing to admit that I may have missed it. If so, please point it out.)

    Wrong!! – I pointed out the quotes in my recent post!!

    Though some may use/misuse this information in support of certain other beliefs or policies or attitudes or behaviors, to assume all others who believe that a zygote (not an egg), . . . .. . . . are all human beings, . . . .

    Nope! No assumption involved!

    http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=8
    I am a professor at UCSB and I run a research lab in addition to teaching classes. My favorite class to teach is called Developmental Biology!

    As you know, when a sperm fertilizes an egg, that starts the “development” of a new organism. Now, that newly fertilized egg, called a “ZYGOTE,” has to divide to create lots of smaller cells.

    So as you see – anyone who is educated in embryology, knows that a fertilised egg IS a zygote at the beginning of its cell divisions – as does anyone who looks up educational information.

    a blastocyst (not an egg), an embryo (also not an egg), and a fetus (also not an egg) are all human beings, just like infants and toddlers and adolescents and adults and octo-generians,

    The rest of the fallacy of extension is irrelevant.

    have those same beliefs is jumping to conclusions based on insufficient evidence.

    Nice try at asserted a false equivalence and denial, – but scientific definitions are based on objective observations, of cell types, structures, size, appearance, etc. and have more than sufficient evidence to support the observable differences between zygotes and “human beings” – unless biased “Faith-dogma-blinkers” are worn to filter out the objectivity.

    Cells in zygotes are undifferentiated human tissue – as I stated earlier.

    It is only the theist assertions which are based on Humpty-Dumptyism, blind-faith in dogma, and an almost total lack of understanding (such as basic processes, observations, and terminologies) , which jump to conclusions based on insufficient evidence.

    Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    “Tyler did, – but I added the historical reference to the Preformationism on which the claim is based.”

    Tyler didn’t.

    “This looks very like a theist claim to me!”

    Of course it would. Some minds are particularly well-wired to see theistic claims, even where they don’t exist.

    .. and some sufficiently familiar with them to recognise them when they do exist, while others are hard-wired by indoctrination, to fail to recognise them and deny their theist origins, despite the evidence presented! (or the earlier part of the discussion and links they didn’t look at!).

    If this was a scientific discussion of the topic, we would be discussing the medical and legal points about late stage foetal development, not silly theist Humpty-Dumpty redefining of scientific terminology, as a pretext for claiming “human rights ” for fertilised eggs!



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  • Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    The “database” very purposely never uses the words “human being”.

    Of course it doesn’t because the distinct stages should not be confused. So trying to use a blanket term is unhelpful.

    If any of the documents you’ve cited do, please point them out, because I really want to see this. All I’ve seen is the term “human development”. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that this term refers to development of “human beings”, from fertilization (zygote) to whatever stage the “being” reaches beyond that event and stage. Any other interpretation would have to be based on some extraneous agenda, perhaps.

    It is precisely because of extraneous agendas, (particularly those related to abortions) ,confusing human persons, human beings, human rights legislation, and theist dogmas, that developmental stages should be clearly identified, and the shifting sands of semantic ambiguity avoided.



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  • Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    All I’ve seen is the term “human development”. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that this term refers to development of “human beings”, from fertilization (zygote) to whatever stage the “being” reaches beyond that event and stage. Any other interpretation would have to be based on some extraneous agenda, perhaps.

    “Human being” is a vernacular term.
    I have seen some scientists use it in the context of human embryos, but it adds obscurity rather than the clarity expected from science in identifying individual organisms.

    In the wider context of embryology, adding “being”, makes no sense.

    We do not discuss frog beings, fish beings, dog beings, chicken beings, grasshopper beings, moth beings, or aphid beings, so adding “being” to the term human, adds nothing except confusion and opportunities for misinterpretation.



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  • Nope! No assumption involved!

    http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=8

    I am a professor at UCSB and I run a research lab in addition to
    teaching classes. My favorite class to teach is called Developmental
    Biology!

    As you know, when a sperm fertilizes an egg, that starts the
    “development” of a new organism
    . Now, that newly fertilized egg,
    called a “ZYGOTE,” has to divide to create lots of smaller cells.

    [Emphasis @alan4discussion, I assume.]

    “So as you see – anyone who is educated in embryology, knows that a fertilised egg IS a zygote at the beginning of its cell divisions – as does anyone who looks up educational information.

    Did you seriously mean to use that to support your position? Because this professor used the words “fertilized egg” to describe a zygote? Well, what else would it be? Does the adjective “fertilized” have no effect on the word “egg”? Does fertilization not add something to the egg to significantly change the thing that it was before it was fertilized? (Hint: Yes, it does.) If a university professor calls lumber a chopped up tree, has s/he just asserted that lumber is a tree? If a university professor says carbonated water is called soda, has s/he just said soda is water?

    A zygote is not an egg. Like “soda”, the term was invented to refer to something that is clearly different from its main component due to addition of one or more other components that change it in significant ways. You can keep calling it “carbonated water” if you wish, but you are just wasting breath or space on the page and it doesn’t change the fact that it is not water. As the good professor stated, a zygote is the start of “a new organism”.

    “…it doesn’t because the distinct stages should not be confused…

    Who is confusing the distinct stages here?

    It is precisely because of extraneous agendas… that developmental stages should be clearly identified, and the shifting sands of semantic ambiguity avoided.

    Excuse me, kind sir, but “distinct stages“, “developmental stages” of what, exactly? (Hint: we are discussing the development of individual human organisms, otherwise known as “human beings”.)

    How about simple honesty? We can clearly identify the distinct developmental stages without denying that they are all stages in the lifecycle of a human being.



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  • Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    “It is precisely because of extraneous agendas… that developmental stages should be clearly identified, and the shifting sands of semantic ambiguity avoided.”

    Excuse me, kind sir, but “distinct stages“, “developmental stages” of what, exactly? (Hint: we are discussing the development of individual human organisms, otherwise known as “human beings”.)

    Err no! Human “organisms” without the vernacular additives give a clear meaning.

    (Among the South Sea Island Cannibals, humans were known as “Long Pigs” – but that does not make it a scientific term)

    How about simple honesty? We can clearly identify the distinct developmental stages without denying that they are all stages in the lifecycle of a human being.

    We can clearly identify the distinct developmental stages (for your education), without denying that they are all stages in the life-cycle of a salamander being, a chicken being, a pig being, and a monkey being, on page 3 of this link! (allegedly)

    http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/04/2/pdf/l_042_03.pdf

    However I will use the scientific term “individual”, or just plain “human” (or other species) and the specific names of the development stages.
    eg. “An individual chicken embryo”.



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  • “Human being” is a vernacular term. I have seen some scientists use
    it in the context of human embryos, but it adds obscurity rather than
    the clarity expected from science in identifying individual organisms.

    In the wider context of embryology, adding “being”, makes no sense.

    We do not discuss frog beings, fish beings, dog beings, chicken
    beings, grasshopper beings, moth beings, or aphid beings, so adding
    “being” to the term human, adds nothing except confusion and
    opportunities for misinterpretation.

    Granted. But if all you do is substitute the word “organism for “being”, nothing changes. There’s still dishonesty about where/when that individual organism begins.

    So let’s stop being dishonest. Just as with all those other organisms (which we agree are “beings”, though it need not be stated), whenever we see the word “human” in biological literature, in the context of individuals, it is not incorrect to interpret it to mean the same thing as “human being” (in the vernacular).
    And because it has been clearly shown to all of us that human development, in the context of individuals, begins with the zygote, we can now all go off into the world secure in the knowledge that a zygote is an individual human organism.

    Now, who wants to tackle “personhood”? Because that’s where the real issue is.



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  • Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    In the wider context of embryology, adding “being”, makes no sense.

    We do not discuss frog beings, fish beings, dog beings, chicken beings, grasshopper beings, moth beings, or aphid beings, so adding “being” to the term human, adds nothing except confusion and opportunities for misinterpretation.

    Granted. But if all you do is substitute the word “organism for “being”, nothing changes. There’s still dishonesty about where/when that individual organism begins.

    In biology when an individual organism begins is far from precise, so most asserted times and places are approximate. The process fertilisation takes several hours for a start.
    Many zygotes die without implanting and many abort spontaneously.
    Telling the police that there are bins full of tampons and dead “human beings” in the ladies toilets, would be ludicrous!

    So let’s stop being dishonest. Just as with all those other organisms (which we agree are “beings”, though it need not be stated),

    Do we? I listed “salamander beings”, to show the ridiculous nature of tagging on the superfluous word “being”.

    whenever we see the word “human” in biological literature, in the context of individuals, it is not incorrect to interpret it to mean the same thing as “human being” (in the vernacular).

    Not really! The vernacular use of terms like “theory”, cause all sorts of misconceptions when explaining science to the public. We could use the term “Homo sapiens” or just plain “human”, and then give particulars. ( sperm, cell, zygote, foetus etc.)

    And because it has been clearly shown to all of us that human development, in the context of individuals, begins with the zygote, we can now all go off into the world secure in the knowledge that a zygote is an individual human organism.

    It may be – or it may be some other organism as with the animals I linked. – or it may just be a very short-lived POTENTIAL organism.

    Now, who wants to tackle “personhood”? Because that’s where the real issue is.

    Ah! now you are getting to the crux of the matter. Which is where you came in, as I was dealing with theist claims that “zygotes were human beings”, implying person-hood, as leverage for assertions about, abortion, in-vitro fertilisation, cloning and the resetting of cells to make germ cells, on this, and the 2 dads discussion you participated in on this site.



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  • once a human egg has been fertilized (by the addition of complementary genetic material), it is no longer an egg

    Doug, you’re entitled to call your fertilized egg Nemo or Toby or anything you fancy but ensoulment doesn’t magically make an egg into a human being. If you choose to nurture yours until it becomes a baby then that’s your affair. If you have any qualms about abortion then don’t have one, but don’t tell women what to do just because you imagine it’s a tiny person in there. It’s none of your superstitious business what women may choose to do with their own parasites.

    American teens would be served best by providing free morning-after pill dispensing machines in all school canteens or toilet blocks. Introducing sex ed would reduce the need over time.

    How do you feel about the war on climate science being waged by the Religious Right? I think that’s more important than debating the roll-back of women’s rights to accommodate imaginary miniature people.



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  • Hi again, @Len Walsh.

    "…you’re entitled to call your fertilized egg Nemo or Toby or anything you fancy…"
    Actually, no, I'm not entitled to do that, and I have no need or intention to do that in any case. The word zygote works just fine for me.

    "…but ensoulment doesn’t magically make an egg into a human being."

    I completely agree. I even agree to the converse (and maybe even the inverse) of that statement.

    "If you choose to nurture yours until it becomes a baby then that’s your affair."

    Well stated. I can't disagree.

    "If you have any qualms about abortion then don’t have one, but don’t tell women what to do just because you imagine it’s a tiny person in there. It’s none of your superstitious business what women may choose to do with their own parasites."

    I don't imagine "it's a tiny person in there". All I've been arguing is that a human zygote is not an egg, but it is the first stage in the lifecycle of a human being (in the biological, as opposed to any other possible "vernacular", sense of the word). I certainly have no "qualms" about spontaneous abortion and I think intentional abortion can be the correct course of action in a wide variety of different situations, which should be decided on a case-by-case basis. I have no intention of telling any women what to do if they happen to find themselves in a situation where abortion may be an option. None of my attitudes toward other human beings is based on superstition. (For someone so concerned about me telling others what to do, you seem to be doing a lot of telling me what not to do.)

    "American teens would be served best by providing free morning-after pill dispensing machines in all school canteens or toilet blocks. Introducing sex ed would reduce the need over time."

    I won't say you're wrong; at the same time I don't know if I would agree with the word "best", but that's mainly because I haven't looked thoroughly at all the options and weighed risks, benefits and all that time-consuming stuff that is required for making good decisions. If your conclusion on what is "best" is supported by valid scientific evidence, then who am I to argue?

    "*How do you feel about the war on climate science being waged by the Religious Right? I think that’s more important than debating the roll-back of women’s rights to accommodate imaginary miniature people.

    *" I think, in general, the Religious Right gets a lot of things Wrong because I don't share their worldview. You're as free as I am to prioritize the many available discussion issues as you please. I have never debated any "roll-back of women's rights to accommodate" anything, imaginary or otherwise. My only interest in joining this thread was to share my viewpoint and argue my position on what a human zygote is and is not. I was open to the possibility that my position was wrong, I "listened" to the arguments and presented counter-arguments. After much back-and-forth, I am comfortable maintaining my position that a human zygote is not an egg and that it is in fact the first stage in the lifecycle of an individual human being, based on the biological evidence.

    [Slightly edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use.]



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  • @alan4discussion-

    In biology when an individual organism begins is far from precise, so most asserted times and places are approximate. The process fertilisation takes several hours for a start.

    This may be true, but fertilization does occur, and the development process does have a beginning.

    Many zygotes die without implanting and many abort spontaneously.
    Telling the police that there are bins full of tampons and dead “human beings” in the ladies toilets, would be ludicrous!

    I am no expert on law, but I’m pretty sure spontaneous abortion is not illegal anywhere. When no crime has been committed, there is no need to tell police anything, so I fully agree that it would be ludicrous.

    The vernacular use of terms like “theory”, cause all sorts of misconceptions when explaining science to the public. We could use the term “Homo sapiens” or just plain “human”, and then give particulars. ( sperm, cell, zygote, foetus etc.)

    So long as we are honest about which of these “particulars” represents the first stage in the development of an individual human organism.

    …dealing with theist claims that “zygotes were human beings”, implying person-hood, as leverage for assertions about, abortion, in-vitro fertilisation, cloning and the resetting of cells to make germ cells…

    Just to be crystal clear, I have not and will not (based on the current evidence) equate(d) the term “human being”, in the sense of an individual human organism, with the word “person”. While it is clearly not possible to be the latter without first being the former, it is clearly possible to be the former, and not be the latter.



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  • I completely agree…Well stated…I can’t disagree… Much obliged thanks Doug.

    "I have no intention of telling any women what to do if they happen to find themselves in a situation where abortion may be an option…I won’t say you’re wrong"

    I can only applaud your clear progress and I do appreciate how disturbing fundamentalist obsessions with obstetric nomenclature can be.

    [Slightly edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use.]



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  • Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    “…you’re entitled to call your fertilized egg Nemo or Toby or anything you fancy…”

    Actually, no, I’m not entitled to do that, and I have no need or intention to do that in any case. The word zygote works just fine for me.

    ..And yet you continue to insist on the ambiguous vernacular term “human being”, being substituted to provide slippery-slope fallacious arguments about person-hood.

    “…but ensoulment doesn’t magically make an egg into a human being.”

    I completely agree. I even agree to the converse (and maybe even the inverse) of that statement.

    ?????????????????????

    The theist claim of “ensoulment at conception” is the basis for all sorts of irrational claims. As I pointed out earlier, eggs remain eggs during the hours of fertilisations process, before they start dividing as the zygote continues its multi-celluar development.

    I don’t imagine “it’s a tiny person in there”. All I’ve been arguing is that a human zygote is not an egg, but it is the first stage in the lifecycle of a human being (in the biological, as opposed to any other possible “vernacular”, sense of the word).

    As I have previously stated, the term “human”, (ie human zygote, human embryo) needs no adding of the word “being”, to make the descriptions less clear and open to misinterpretation.

    I certainly have no “qualms” about spontaneous abortion and I think intentional abortion can be the correct course of action in a wide variety of different situations, which should be decided on a case-by-case basis. I have no intention of telling any women what to do if they happen to find themselves in a situation where abortion may be an option.

    It seems we are largely in agreement. Unfortunately where theist administrations are in power, they do not share this view, and irrationally and persistently interfere in doctor-patient relationships.

    None of my attitudes toward other human beings is based on superstition. (For someone so concerned about me telling others what to do, you seem to be doing a lot of telling me what not to do.)

    .. . and yet you defend the use of the ambiguous language which is the basis for generating spurious superstition based arguments, when the proper scientific names of the development stages would present a clearer view.

    Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    @alan4discussion-

    “In biology when an individual organism begins is far from precise, so most asserted times and places are approximate. The process fertilisation takes several hours for a start.”

    This may be true, but fertilization does occur, and the development process does have a beginning.

    This comes back to your claim, that in embryology, “fertilised eggs are not eggs”. (I think a lot of chickens would disagree!)

    Of course “fertilization does occur” and various points could be considered as “beginnings” (production of eggs and sperm, fertilisation, cell division, implantation, growth of a placenta, cell differentiation)
    It is the theist fixation and prejudgements, on levering magic souls into embryos, which generates these circular arguments. Not the actual biological processes which are a continuum of process, at different levels of probable outcome.
    (In humans about 30% progress naturally all the way from fertilisation to birth. – Eggs and sperm vastly less)

    Telling the police that there are bins full of tampons and dead “human beings” in the ladies toilets, would be ludicrous!”

    I am no expert on law, but I’m pretty sure spontaneous abortion is not illegal anywhere.

    You clearly have not researched the subject!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2012/11/woman-denied-a-termination-dies-in-hospital/

    Women have been arrested for miscarrying or unreasonably refused abortions, in various theist backwaters.

    Just to be crystal clear,

    ???????????? – You will use an ambiguous term in place of a clearly defined one to be “crystal clear”????

    I have not and will not (based on the current evidence) equate(d) the term “human being”, in the sense of an individual human organism, with the word “person”.

    So why persist with the ambiguous term when the term “human” will suffice with greater clarity?

    I have not and will not (based on the current evidence) equate(d) the term “human”, in the sense of an individual human organism, with the word “person”.

    With the deletion of “being”, the sentence is just as meaningful, and less ambiguous!

    While it is clearly not possible to be the latter [person] without first being the former, it is clearly possible to be the former [human /human being?], and not be the latter.

    In the interests of CLARITY?????????? – by insisting on using terms which need lengthy explanations to clarify their definitions, in place of scientific ones which are clearly defined and understood.



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  • Let’s look at the ambiguity problem caused by the width, of the vernacular definitions.

    The first one could be applied to whole living organisms but probably not to parts or organs. Biology in transition to producing separate independently living organisms is unclear.
    “Thing” is not defined.

    The second definition can be applied to any material object.

    The third one is specific to organisms with brains and possibly specifically to sentient humans.

    The range of interpretations is very unclear and unhelpful in the context of discussing early stages of pregnancy.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/being
    being – noun

    a living thing

    the state of existing ( essence; especially : personality)

    the most important or basic part of a person’s mind or self

    The term “being” is frequently introduced by theists, using vague suggestions of the third definition as a question-begging, means of asserting “souls” – without clearly stating the nature and dogmatic and semantic source, of their unevidenced claims.

    If the third definition (and some aspects of the second) is used, that would exclude any stages prior to the development of a functioning brain.

    It is therefore better to stick to precise scientific terms, to avoid semantic slipping and sliding.



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  • Doug Mar 8, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    As I pointed out here, a heap of iron ore is a stage in the development of a motor vehicle. That does not mean it has an individual existence as a motor vehicle!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/02/right-wing-christians-hostility-to-science-destroys-lives/#li-comment-170580

    As the good professor stated, a zygote is the start of “a new organism”.

    Just like the heap of iron ore is the start of a new motor vehicle!

    Excuse me, kind sir, but “distinct stages“, “developmental stages” of what, exactly? (Hint: we are discussing the development of individual human organisms,

    Development is not the arrival of an independent separate entity. It is an on-going process as yet to produce a product.

    otherwise known as “human beings”.)

    Nope! “Humans” are the end product, not the early developmental stages incapable of independent existence. (ie. Survival)
    Human zygotes do not live as independent organisms, and are incapable of existing as independent organisms.

    How about simple honesty? We can clearly identify the distinct developmental stages without denying that they are all stages in the lifecycle of a human being.

    Nobody is “denying” that:- like the iron ore, they are part of a sequence of developmental stages, of a vehicle or an organism – That is a strawman argument.
    They are absolutely not separate human organisms capable of independent survival. They should be honestly recognised as human tissue, which MAY become a separate organism IF they continue (against the odds) through the stages of development – In the same way the iron ore may, or may not, become a motor vehicle.



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  • Hello, @Len Walsh-

    I can only applaud your clear progress and I do appreciate how disturbing fundamentalist obsessions with obstetric nomenclature can be.

    I have read this response several times in an attempt to evaluate its sincerity. You refer to my “clear progress”, and though I really want to give you the benefit of the doubt, I am confused by what you mean by this. If you’re not being facetious, then I have to assume you mean that in your view I have somehow “progressed” toward seeing the subject matter in a way that meets with your approval. But in order to have “progressed” in that way, you would have to have known what my views were before I “progressed” and that I wasn’t already there. But you couldn’t have known that. It appears that you assumed what my views “must be” based on the incomplete picture provided by a few questions and comments that I made on this and other subjects on this website, and then you filled in the other stuff based on your pre-conceptions of what a person who asks those questions or says those things must believe, I assume based on previous experience with people who deserved a measure of disapproval. This has been one of my biggest frustrations with some of the “discussions” and “discussers” on this website.

    From my perspective, there has been no “progress” of any sort, as there has been no change in my beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, what-have-you on the subject under discussion. If you sincerely saw “progress”, it’s not because anything changed in me; it must be that something changed in you. So applaud yourself.

    And with that I bid you, and this discussion, farewell.

    [Slightly edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use.]

    And, just for the record, I apologize for anything in my previous remarks that may have been interpreted as “snark”. It may have been intentional, and if so, it was probably in retaliation for what I perceived as a harsh and disrespectful tone which I thought “deserved” some feedback. I should have resisted the temptation and provided the feedback in a more civil way.



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