The Meaning of Life

Cool title? The title should probably say “The Definition of Life”, but “The Meaning of Life” will get more Google hits. 😉


noun\ ˈlīf  \plural lives\ ˈlīvz  \

Definition of life

 (Entry 1 of 2)1a: the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body

Not very helpful, but actually has 20 different definitions for the noun usage with a total variety of 11 sub-meanings. You choose.

I do know that in language used by medical professionals and scientists, living cells are distinguished from dead ones. Also, viruses are only marginally considered “life”, unlike bacteria and other single-celled organisms. I suppose in the broadest sense the human sperm and ovum are already life. So in the context of abortion, people can (and actually do) latch onto whichever definition of “life” is necessary to put abortion in whatever box is the most convenient fit for them personally. The deficiency of this practice of wagging dog by its tail is that it puts us back at the whimsical mercy of personal opinion.

What about separation? When does a baby become a separate life from its mother? Our cultural and legal structure, and frankly the religious structures from which those derive, mark the start of your life as a separate individual at the date of your birth…the time when everyone gets to see you for the first time. This tradition dates back hundreds of years, long before the advent of modern medical science and back to when they treated mental illness with noggin-drilling, syphilis with mercury injections, and fever with leeches.

Photo by Pixabay on

So could it be that abortionists are relying on religion and archaic, prescience traditions to justify the immorality of killing babies before they are born? Parish the thought…but let’s look at what science does have to say about separation. I Googled a few things…

When does a fetus have a heartbeat?

“When can I hear my baby’s heartbeat?

You may be able to hear – and see – your baby’s heart beat for the first time when you’re about 8 weeks pregnant if you have an early ultrasound exam. Otherwise, you’ll probably first hear it with a fetal Doppler at a regular prenatal care visit.”

When can I hear my baby’s heartbeat? | BabyCenter

When does a fetus have brain function?

“The early signs of a brain have begun to form. Even though the fetus is now developing areas that will become specific sections of the brain, not until the end of week 5 and into week 6 (usually around forty to forty-three days) does the first electrical brain activity begin to occur.

Jun 19, 2005″

‘The Ethical Brain’ – The New York Times

When can a fetus feel pain?

“Can a fetus feel pain at 8 weeks?

…Condic said unborn children have a capacity to feel pain much earlier. “The neural circuitry responsible for the most primitive response to pain, the spinal reflex, is in place by 8 weeks of development,” she explained. “This is the earliest point at which the fetus experiences pain in any capacity.”

May 24, 2013″

Expert Tells Congress Unborn Babies Can Feel Pain Starting at 8 ……/expert-tells-congress-unborn-babies-can-feel-pain-starting-at-8-wee…

Ok, to be fair I actually found lots of answers to that last one — ranging from 8 to around 20 weeks. So smarter folks than us are still working on it.

Also, we’ve known for a very long time that the mother’s circulatory system (blood) is separate from that of the fetus. I don’t even need to include sources for that one since it’s a no-brainer.

What about when the baby can survive outside the womb? Is that a good measuring stick?

“According to studies between 2003 and 2005, 20 to 35 percent of babies born at 24 weeks of gestation survive, while 50 to 70 percent of babies born at 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive. It is rare for a baby weighing less than 500 g (17.6 ounces) to survive.”

Fetal viability – Wikipedia

That was in 2005 by the way. Modern medical science has pushed that back a bit. I could repeat the most recent example of a very early birth that I sited in a past blog post, but I think it’s safe to say that science is not quite on the same side of the question of separation as mid to late term abortion proponents. Partial-birth abortion doesn’t even get to take a number. Also, since no human newborn in history has ever been able to survive ACTUALLY on their own, that sliding scale might slide right through the birth canal anyway.

So here’s a question…has scientific understanding rendered Roe Vs Wade obsolete? We’d have to read the science-based arguments used in the litigation of that decision…if there are any. The science in there would be 46 years old by now…not very “Progressive”.

There’s a thought. Maybe setting first-trimester abortions aside for now, how do we reconcile the apparent conundrum that people who call themselves Progressives, and who like to claim the scientific high-ground, want to fight for the right to treat what 2019 science seems to consider a human life roughly the same as they’re legally allowed to treat their dog? If they’re willing to do that with abortion…and perhaps some other things as well…then how can they complain when Conservatives do the same thing with stuff like Climate Change?

Also, what hope is there for folks who want to replace religion with science, if people think they can just ignore science whenever its conclusions become culturally or politically inconvenient? Actually, that seems par for the course with most of our treatment of religion too.

So if we’re just going to treat Science like belief anyway, then I guess that means we all get to start saying, “Ya, I know it’s science…but it’s not MY science.”

Ridiculous? Of course it is. But when folks whimsically put up euphemistic constructs…or worse, blinders…to protect themselves from the obvious, science and religion become useless as the ridiculous and the obvious become functionally indistinguishable.


~ by Bill Housley on June 23, 2019.

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