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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

This is the last of a four-part reply.

(R) As far as the humanity of an unborn baby, all the characteristics of what makes us human exists with in the DNA of a zygote. To deny this is the deny one of the most basic facts of science.
(MB) Our DNA is what makes us "Homo sapiens sapiens" and not what makes us "human" in the moralistic or philosophical senses. These are two entirely different realms. The moral argument for "humanity" does not reside in DNA. It rests on the dogmatic concept of the "soul". Until you can prove that souls exist, you have no argument to support the "humanity" of an unborn baby.

(R) If you would have asked a doctor in the 1870 the question - when does human life begin - the answer would have been "at the moment of conception." You would have gotten the same answer in 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960, and 1970.
(MB) Which proves what? If doctors made mistakes in the past, does that mean that they should be held to those mistakes today? Certainly, you realize that people have believed a lot of things in days gone by that are no longer held to be true.

(R) Currently, if you ask a doctor when human life begins, none of them seem to know.
(MB) This is primarily because of the ambiguous definition of "human life". Once that is defined clearly, the answer to when it begins will be much easier to answer with certainty. Until then, if a doctor says that he doesn't know when it begins, he's just giving an honest answer.

(R) Its quite comical that an otherwise non-political question always had a definitive answer up until it became political question in 1973.
(MB) You're approaching that from the wrong direction. It only became a political question when the "definitive" answer proved not to be quite so clear at all. Therefore, it's not "comical" at all. It's an example of the proper workings of our system.

(R) BTW, emotion has nothing to do with whether or not an appeal/argument is true.
(MB) That's absolutely correct. Now, do you see why the emotional approach against abortion can't be used to formulate coherent arguments?

(R) For example, if you were emotional fired up over genocide happening somewhere in the world, would that mean that genocide is really not wrong just because you have emotions attached to your arguments? I think not. Emotional content within an argument has nothing to do with its validity. So your attempt to bring it up is yet another red herring.
(MB) I bring it up exactly because of the reasons you just stated! I've been trying to get through to you that your arguments against abortion are *entirely* based on emotional appeals. Please reread what you just stated and keep it in mind during any subsequent responses.

How is that "moral anarchy"? That is natural law. The weakest and most vulnerable are always the first to perish in any species. This is what helps to ensure the survival of the strongest and most fit. This has worked for every species of living thing on the planet (including Homo sapiens) for billions of years and is still ongoing today. Even if you don't believe in natural selection, the process is still taking place. This means that it would be the "will of God". By your reasoning, this would mean that your God supports moral anarchy.
(R) First, you are begging the question of whether or not evolution is true. You are assuming what you conclude. That is a classic case of a circular argument.
(MB) I'm begging no questions whatsoever, nor am I assuming my conclusions. All you need to do is observe any population of any species in the wild. The weakest are the first to perish while the strongest survive and produce more offspring. Those offspring inherit the strong characteristics of their parents. This happens whether or not you believe in evolution. How can you possibly dispute this?

(R) Besides, it is not natural law for species to destroy their OWN young. If that were the case, self-extinction would be the most common cause of obsolesces.
(MB) Neither of those statements is true. A great many animal species will cannibalize their own young if the survival of the parents demands it during times of dearth. Also, dominant males in social species (including primates) will often kill any offspring produced by one of their "harem" females that they did not father. This is to ensure the survival of their own blood lines.

(R) According to natural law, species prey upon other species, not their own.
(MB) Species prey on other species in order to eat. Killing one's own kind has nothing to do with obtaining tonight's supper.

(R) But even if you silly assertion was true, (which it is not), you would seem to be assuming that humans are not intelligent moral creatures, and that we should behave just like every other species of animal on earth.
(MB) Homo sapiens sapiens (and its ancestors) walked the face of the Earth for many thousands and millions of years before they developed the intelligence that allowed the species to gain dominance over all others. Morality could not have been invented until after intelligence was evolved. Prior to that time, there *was* no real difference between early humans and any other animal species. Sometimes, I think we might be better off if we *did* still behave like every other species. I don't know of any other animal species which commits hate crimes, starts wars, or ravages its environment like humans do, for example. I also don't know of any other animal species which has to invent dogmatic belief systems in order to justify their own behavior.

If this is a "scientifically accepted fact", there must be some sort of revolution going on that nobody else has heard about. Or, perhaps, you have some sort of unusual definition of "personhood"? I think you need to define that concept precisely. I also think you need to think that definition all the way through while you are devising it.
(R) The emerging embryo may not have a fully developed personality, but it does have complete personhood. I am defining "person" as something that is distinctly a human individual. So "personhood" would be the quality of being a distinct and separate human individual.
(MB) So, by that reasoning, "apehood" would be the quality of being a distinct and separate ape individual? I suppose the same should apply to "zebrahood", "froghood", or even (dare I say it) "Robin Hood"?
    Sorry, but your definition is completely worthless as an argument against abortion. As I predicted, you failed to think it all the way through while devising it. Consider, also, that a corpse would be a "person" by your definition since it is a distinct and separate human individual with the same human DNA as the rest of us. Perhaps you need to revise your definition a bit?

(R) An unborn baby is a distinct human individual. Therefore, an unborn baby is a person.
(MB) How far back do you take that definition? Is a fertilized egg a "person", as well? What about a frozen embryo? Your definition is simply too vague to apply in all cases.

(R) From a strictly scientific point of view, there is no doubt that the development of an individual human life begins at conception.
(MB) Wouldn't that "development" actually begin with the production of the egg by the mother and the sperm by the father?

(R) Consequently, it is vital to understand that you did not come from a zygote, you once were a zygote; you did not come from an embryo, you once were an embryo; you did not come from a fetus, you once were a fetus; you did not come from an adolescent, you once were an adolescent. So to kill you either as a zygote, fetus, child, adolescent, or an adult, would be to kill the same person.
(MB) You didn't carry that far enough. Remember that a corpse did not come from a person. It once *was* a person. By your reasoning, to cremate a corpse is the same as burning the same person. Nor, did you begin your chain of events early enough, i.e., you did not come from a sperm and an egg, you once *were* a sperm and an egg. Therefore, by your reasoning, if a man has any ejaculation or a woman releases an egg and the end result is not a pregnancy, the result is the same as killing the same person. The silliness of this chain of rationalization indicates that there must be some other determining factor that defines "humanity" from the moralistic point of view.

Nice evasion of the point (yet again) in order to return to more speech-making. In order to justify your speech, you still need to define "human life" and prove that it applies equally in all respects to the unborn as it does to the rest of us.
(R) I think it is quite evident what constitutes "human life." It is alive, and it is fully human. To deny that an unborn baby is not "human life," you'd have to deny that it is a human, and you'd have to deny that it is alive, and both of those denials would be the pinnacle of ignorance.
(MB) Once more with the false dichotomies. One problem is that is makes the unsupportable assumption that Homo sapiens sapiens is the only "human" species that has ever existed. Another is that you have only a fuzzy definition of "fully human". What constitutes "fully human"? It can't be specific DNA, since no two people have the same DNA. You can't broaden the scope of "acceptable" DNA without encroaching on the chimpanzees -- whose DNA is over 98% identical to ours. The only thing you have left is to posit the existence of the "soul" and that leads to a whole new world of problems for your arguments.

There's no hair-splitting here at all. Proving whether or not anything is being "killed" in an abortion is crucial to the success of your case. If you can't do this, you can't fall back on anything other than your own personal morality -- which won't amount to a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys as far as the woman in question (or anybody else, for that matter) is concerned.
(R) After this comment, it is my view that you are no longer rational, nor logical, and it is futile for me to continue responding any further.
(MB) I accept this as a concession that you cannot defend your views. Your failure to understand the ramifications of your own arguments are not any condemnation of mine. Considering all the parts of Reply #16 that you ignored prior to addressing this particular comment, it would seem that you are merely looking for a way out of the dreadful beating that your case is taking.
    The question before you is very simple. If the answer is as clear-cut as you seem to think, there would be no reason for you to bail out of the debate in order to avoid presenting it. In fact, I would think that you would take pride in presenting something that would strongly support your case. Since you apparently can't do this, you're taking the low road and quitting without bothering to make any attempt to answer all the questions that are still on the table. Is there any better indication of how weak your case actually is?

(R) You are clearly trying to split hairs with definitions -- a game that I will not play.
(MB) You've tried to play the redefinition game, but have failed miserably. This is because your arguments have been unsound right from the start. Rewording them doesn't improve that situation.

(R) You and I both know that babies are killed as a result of abortions. If you disagree, I insist that you look at the pictures I attached to this email and behold the wonders of abortion, and you tell me if anything was killed.
(MB) On one hand, you write a very good paragraph about how emotional appeals don't solve anything. Then, you turn around and spam my Inbox with over 500K of abortion "shock" graphics. If these aren't designed to appeal to emotion, I'm not sure what is. If you can't "kill" a fetus in the first place, a picture of an aborted fetus does not suddenly prove that it was "killed". If you *can* kill a fetus, you don't need shock graphics to reinforce the point. Do you really think I've never seen similar photos before?

(R) It seems that your approach to this debate is to tout yourself as some paragon of rationality and reason, and bash the Christian belief system with ever chance you get.
(MB) Not at all. I use rationality and reason since those are the only tools that apply while formulating a sound argument. You admitted that yourself in the aforementioned paragraph concerning emotional appeals. Now, you're going to blast me for doing so? You are also guilty of invalid extrapolation here. To bash an argument which is based solely on Christian dogma is not the same thing as blasting the entire Christian belief system. In fact, you can't claim that I'm blasting that whole system since there clearly is *not* one "system" of Christian belief. It is primarily only the staunchly conservative and fundamentalist elements within Christianity who are the emotionally vocal opponents of abortion.

(R) I guess no one's every told you that tooting your own horn is meaningless. But you are free to puff yourself up if you must.
(MB) I'm doing no such thing. This debate has nothing to do with me personally. It is confined to the subject matter under discussion. If I defeat your arguments, that does not make me any better. Self-gratification is not my goal. Seeking the truth and refuting the nonsense is my goal.

(R) You have a bad habit of falsely calling your deluded opinions concerning religion "facts."
(MB) Since you maintain this erroneous view even when conclusive documentation, evidence, and argument is provided to back up my points, your statement is nothing but the whining of somebody who can't handle being proven wrong and who won't allow himself to believe the truth even if it's demonstrated to them.

(R) However, it is clear that your commentary is based purely on your own misguided bigotry of religion.
(MB) Not true. Just because I understand from where your views ultimately originate does not mean that I am either "misguided" or a "bigot". On the other hand, you continually slam science, reason, and any belief system that does not conform to your own chosen dogma. This could normally be brushed off except that these slams often constitute the entirety of your "rebuttals" in lieu of real and direct answers.

(R) All you do is recycle the same stereotypical characterizations that you have ripped off of other atheistic philosophers. I have yet to hear an original thought come from you.
(MB) Unless you have read every word every written or can document the original source of everything I write, how can you claim that I have never posted an original thought? In point of fact, the very case study that we have debated at length is completely original with me, so this is proof positive that you have no idea what you're talking about and are just grasping blindly for insults rather than making any attempt at serious and meaningful debate.

(R) Also, through the course of this debate, (and others), it is YOU who cannot resist the urge to speech-make any more than a dog could resist the urge to slobber. You speech-make two paragraphs in response to one sentence of mine.
(MB) I can see that you don't know what a "speech" is, either. This is when a debater ignores the current point or question and just launches into an unrelated diatribe on whatever he wants to say. If you'll check everything I've written, you'll find that I *always* directly address the current point/question. In addition, I find it rather curious that you are now complaining about my doing what you have often demanded of me, i.e., providing detailed point-by-point rebuttals to your arguments. If it takes two paragraphs to do that, so be it. If you don't want to hear the answers, don't ask for them.

(R) It is futile to try to reason with one who is so clearly arrogant and condescending to those of other moral systems or belief systems...
(MB) If your case is weak and you are incapable of presenting it well or properly, those failings will not be corrected by tossing meaningless insults at me. Your statement has all the force of a small child whining about somebody being a "meanie".

(R) ...and I do not have the time or patience to wrestle with your arrogance any longer for the hope that you would reason with me through the facts.
(MB) Since I've already proven that you have no intention of acknowledging any facts in these debates even when irrefutable proof is presented to you, this statement is also a meaningless whine. The sheer volume of things you've sent me in the past is a good indication that you do, indeed, have the time. Perhaps you are finally beginning to realize that what you don't have is a decent case, but you're not yet at the point where you can bring yourself to admit to that.

(R) But since you think you know it all, and have all facts, and are inerrant and infallible in your views, there is nothing anyone can say to you; so it is a mystery why you even have this website to begin with.
(MB) I'm always open to being corrected, but, that won't be done by insults, whining, or emotional appeals to anything supernatural or irrational. I won't even begin to claim that I have anything approaching all the facts, but responses like yours are so totally devoid of any facts that they are easy for me to refute convincingly. If you want to challenge me, you are advised not to load your debating guns with small-caliber blanks.
    My web site is here to present various issues for open debate. Its purpose is to further the search for the truth concerning these issues. I freely admit any time that I am wrong, since presenting the truth is of ultimate importance. I have no ego that needs protection nor any dogmatic belief system that rules my life and which also must be protected.
    This is not the first debate on this site where you have been trounced. I am also not the only person you have had grave problems debating -- as proven by similar exchanges posted on your own web site. I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish by these poor performances, but you're certainly not making any positive contributions in support of your side of these issues. In fact, I should really thank you for helping to show just how weak those arguments truly are. Any time you want to come back for more, I'll be here. But, I won't be holding my breath.
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