Friday, October 10, 2008

Testicles Thwart Bush and Religion

The Christian right-wing-ness in President Bush caused him to put Judeo/Christian religion ahead of science and the cures for many diseases and biological defects, by banning the use of the reproduction of stem cells.

There may be no science that proves the human soul begins when life begins at conception, and there are epistemic arguments for saying the soul begins at birth. But the religious limitations placed on stem cell reproduction is being thwarted by men's testicles. That is something Mr. Bush can do nothing about, unless Christians wish to being arguing that the soul exists in each half of the human connection, i.e., in the sperm and in the egg.

Studies showed scientific potential using "spermatogonial cells" from the testicles of mice. "The new study used cells taken from biopsied tissue from 22 different men undergoing various medical treatments. The men ranged in age from 17 to 81. Researchers found that after a few weeks of growth, the cells could differentiate into various types of cells just like those taken from embryos," said the Associated Press.

However, some scientists, saying the idea is promising, also said testicle cells are not a reason to give up on research on embryonic stem cells.

"It's exciting. We could do it for males; that leaves women without as easy a method," said stem cell scientist George Daley of Children's Hospital in Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. He was not part of the new research, said the AP.

This is great news for disease and genetic researchers all over the globe. But I have a problem when religion outweighs the secularity of our laws. Our Founders may have been superb theologians and great believers in the Deist God; but they knew the danger of allowing religion to dictate the terms of our laws.

The Deists were Naturalists, which is why Thomas Jefferson got away with writing that "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" were the basis for human equality; they allow us to assume among the powers of the earth our separateness from each other and our equal stations in life. He did not write "God" alone, and indeed there is anecdotal evidence that Benjamin Franklin might have had a hand in encouraging that turn of words.

The use of the words "Nature's God" allows each man and woman his/her own understanding of the nature of existence, including the total non-belief in the supernatural, if that is the decision one comes to; but invoking the "Laws of Nature" gets right to the heart of the naturalism of the Deists, indeed, right to the heart of any naturalist.

Christians and all religions of supernaturalism deny that only the the laws of nature exist devoid of a supreme being. Deists as supernaturalists believe, in the same moment as they believe there is a God, that that same God endowed Man with Reason and endowed the world with immutable laws, and that together those laws and Man's reason are all that can be counted on. God may have created the world, but after that he was strictly a hands-off kind of Creator. All the answers to the questions of the world are to be found in Reason, including the questions and answers on the meditations of faith. Faith itself, however, is a matter for the soul.

It is not of that reason, in other word it is not reasonable, to assume that a soul can exist before the tabula rasa has any empirically-generated material of mind by which such a thing as the soul can exist. The soul is not supernatural; it is part of the nature of Man's being, as much as his toenails or his liver--or his mind.

But mind is the product of sensory impressions retained by the brain; and soul is the emotional content, the structure of the metaphysical meaning of those retained impressions. "Nature's God" is to the description of the contents of each human's individualistic beliefs regarding the questions and the rational answers of existence, what "soul" is to the emotional content regarding the nature of existence.

"Every time we walk along a beach," wrote the naturalist Loren Eiseley, "some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.”

"Ancient urge" is not what I would call the emotional content of man's soul, but the soul is as old as man himself, so it is indeed ancient. But this emotional content is ostensive in its nature; in other words, it is the description in emotional terms that only that which we call a soul can point at using our volition of the faculty of consciousness.

How many times have you heard it said, "What I felt can't be described in words?" What was felt and indescribably in words was ostensive. My Webster's defines "ostensive" as "directly pointing out," as one can only point to the sky or the ocean to "point out" what is the color blue. Without pointing, the color comes down to the scientific description of the wavelength of the color. Without feeling the soul, its nature comes down, like the description of a wavelength, to the reductive, deterministic science that declares all things in consciousness to be merely the firing of neurons, and chemical and electrical operations of the physiology of the body.

The soul is much more than reductive descriptions of the scientific evidence of how the body works. In order for the "ancient urge" to awaken, it must be struck by empirical impressions. A human born without sensory awareness can never gain consciousness, because without things about which to be conscious, it cannot exist. To exist without things to be conscious of is contradictory of the definition of the word. That much does not not contradict reductionism.

The soul is the emotional content of consciousness, and as such it cannot exist until the mind has gained enough sensory impressions to create one. This can only begin at birth, and it may be almost immediate. It would not contain much at that point, but the volition of the soul cannot begin begin before birth, before the trauma of birth awakens the brain to the content of sensory knowledge. It is the volition of the soul that upsets the apple cart of reductionism.

Right-wing fundamental Judeo/Christians are fighting
the wrong enemy when they fight science as a whole. It is only this idea of
reductionism, of the idea that man is nothing but the contents of his physiology
producing a "belief" in the existence of the soul, that the fundamentalists must
fight. Many scientists who believe the soul begins at birth, not at conception,
believe in God and the soul, not in reductionism. These scientists are not the
enemy of Christians; many of them are Christians.

To believe that such an object as the soul, created by sensory impressions and emotionally judged by the nature of each man's metaphysics, is immutable while believing the physical body that created it is not, (Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,) to believe that the soul is transcendental and that it is placed or created or somehow infused into the fertilized egg at the very moment the sperm enters it, is the stuff of religion. And that stuff of religion contradicts the non-deterministic, non-reductionistic laws of nature that define the means of the creation of the soul.

If there be a God, He caused its creation in birth, not in conception.

To post Comments click here Testicular Stem Cells Thwart Religion to Determine Law
Note: I will be the featured speaker at the Center For Inquiry (CFI) meeting, October 16, 2008, in Portage, Michigan. The topic is "Atheism as a 'Religion' Protected by Courts According to the Establishment Clause" CEC

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