From: JW Burgeson [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Mon 7/22/2002 2:33 PM
To: Adrian Teo; RDehaan237@aol.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: RE: Infusion of the soul as a process
>>Just a suggestion: How about the traditional view, that the
huamn soul is
formed upon conception and therefore, the conceptus is a
fully human person?
I addressed that, of course. It suffers from the three arguments I made
which seem to make it untenable. To refresh your memory:
1. Conception being a process, not an event
2. The fact of occasional twinning
3. The fact of occasional twins fusing back into one conceptus.
As I pointed out, none of these is an absolute barrier to
view, but the three together seem to make that view problemmatical.
Adrian: More accurately, fertilization is a process, which
begins when the sperm binds to the zona pellucida, a protective layer
outside the egg. Penetrating this layer takes time, as anyone, even
without the technical knowledge, would realize, because things are
happening at the molecular level. However, the traditional view that
personhood begins at some specific point in time (perhaps
scientifically unmeasurable) still stands, probably when fusion (the
final step in the fertilization process) between the sperm and the
ovum take place.
Point 2. The arg that prior to 2 weeks, twinning can occur
suggests to some (e.g. Norbert Ford) that personhood begins only
after that period because all the cells are totipotent (each capable
of developing into distinct human individuals). There are a number of
problems with this view. First, the scientific info is inaccurate.
Twinning can occur after the 14-day period, even up to a few months
(e.g. fetus-in fetus). Thus, advocates of the twinning argument would
have to say that human personhood doesn't begin until much much
later. But the more significant point is that even though the cells
are totipotent, they are all part of a single embryo, a unified
whole. Totipotency is simply a normal part of human development. At
the point of fusion, the zygote has the full genetic complement of 46
chromosomes - it is a human person.
Point 3. Recombination following twinning says nothing about
personhood. It is rationally possible that two persons came into
existence, and one died along the way. I don't see why this is a
Cells do not develop into human persons. Personhood is a
discrete category. The person either exist or not. I maintain that a
person comes into existence at the point of fusion.
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