What is a Human Embryo?

Tantalus Prime and I have been discussing abortion. Tantalus takes exception to my observation that human life begins at conception. He believes that the humanity of a human zygote/embryo/fetus isn’t a scientific fact, but merely a matter of linguistics: The exact moment at which a fertilizing egg becomes human… is a horrible scientific question! Is asking the exact size beyond which a stream becomes a river a good scientific question? Of course not, because this is not an empirical problem but one of definition. Define the term human however you want, but don’t pretend it is an empirical question to be solved. Scientists can’t even agree on what constitutes a living organism, so what makes you think pinpointing the demarcation Read More ›

Playing “Science Says” Is a Political Game

This morning Discovery Senior Fellow David Klinghoffer has a piece up in Human Events detailing the problem with the oft-heard claim, “Science says . . .” President Obama echoed an often-heard lament when he complained recently that, among Americans, “facts and science and argument do not seem to be winning the day.” According to distressed cultural observers, public ignorance about science is evidenced by failure to accept global warming, “animal rights,” euthanasia and Darwinian evolution. The assumption is that doubting scientists’ claims means you have divorced yourself from reality. Yet steadily accumulating stories from the scientific community itself suggest grounds for doubting that scientists all pursue truth without fear or favor. Last year’s “Climategate” email leak from the University of Read More ›

NCSE’s Joshua Rosenau on Abortion and Murder

Joshua Rosenau — the National Center for Science Education’s Program and Policy Director– and I have had a spirited discussion abort human rights and abortion. On abortion Rosenau hews to the materialist/Darwinist code of ethics: human rights belong to the autonomous and to the strong. Not to children in the womb. But even Rosenau is skittish about the manifest venality of the pro-abortion argument: “First, nothing I’ve written should be taken to suggest that fetuses (especially in the third trimester) don’t have moral status as people.” Huh? Rosenau asserts that it is moral for the mother to kill her unborn child… if she doesn’t want him. Could there be a more explicit denial of moral status to a person — Read More ›

In Which I Answer Tantalus Prime’s Queries About Abortion

Tantalus Prime is a graduate student in neuroscience. He’s been following my debate about abortion with Joshua Rosenau of the NCSE. He asks some questions about my views on the right to life that are worth answering. Tantulus: Egnor asserts that humanity is a discrete, not a continuous variable. If so, then would he kindly point to the exact point at which the human begins? After all, fertilization itself is a multi-step process. So, where is it? When the sperm breaches the oocyte membrane? Formation of the pro-nuclei? Initial DNA replication? Degeneration of the pro-nuclei membrane? Formation of the mitotic spindle? Fusion of the chromosomes? Division of the chromosomes and formation of the first daughter cells? This really should be Read More ›

Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design: I Wish Gallup Would Ask More Precise Questions

Gallup has just released its most recent poll (conducted annually I believe) describing Americans’ views on the origin of humanity. This year, according to Gallup, the numbers have changed slightly: PRINCETON, NJ — Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago. Thirty-eight percent believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16%, up slightly from years past, believe humans developed over millions of years, without God’s involvement. So what question did they ask to get these results? Here it is: Which of the following statements comes closest to your of the development of human Read More ›