BREAKING DOWN CARL SAGAN’S LOGIC ON ABORTION Part 6 “All human sperm and eggs are genetic halves of ‘potential’ human beings” (My 1995 correspondence with Sagan) Kevin R. Henke versus Carl Sagan

_

The last two posts I did in this series were basically points made by Carl Sagan on abortion but refuted by Adrian Rogers (pictured below). Today I am going refute Sagan’s point on abortion by using the scientific argument from my atheist friend Dr. Kevin R. Henke who is a scientist. (I first got to know Kevin R. Henke after reading his story in Ed Babinski’s book “Leaving the Fold.”)


Carl Sagan pictured below:

_________

Recently I have been revisiting my correspondence in 1995 with the famous astronomer Carl Sagan who I was introduced to when reading a book by Francis Schaeffer called HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT written in 1968. 

Image result for francis schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer

I was blessed with the opportunity to correspond with Dr. Sagan, and in his December 5, 1995 letter Dr. Sagan went on to tell me that he was enclosing his article “The Question of Abortion: A Search for Answers”by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. I am going to respond to several points made in that article. Here is a portion of Sagan’s article (here is a link to the whole article):

Image result for carl sagan ann

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan pictured above

 “The Question of Abortion: A Search for Answers”

by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

For the complete text, including illustrations, introductory quote, footnotes, and commentary on the reaction to the originally published article see Billions and Billions.

The issue had been decided years ago. The court had chosen the middle ground. You’d think the fight was over. Instead, there are mass rallies, bombings and intimidation, murders of workers at abortion clinics, arrests, intense lobbying, legislative drama, Congressional hearings, Supreme Court decisions, major political parties almost defining themselves on the issue, and clerics threatening politicians with perdition. Partisans fling accusations of hypocrisy and murder. The intent of the Constitution and the will of God are equally invoked. Doubtful arguments are trotted out as certitudes. The contending factions call on science to bolster their positions. Families are divided, husbands and wives agree not to discuss it, old friends are no longer speaking. Politicians check the latest polls to discover the dictates of their consciences. Amid all the shouting, it is hard for the adversaries to hear one another. Opinions are polarized. Minds are closed.

 

Is it wrong to abort a pregnancy? Always? Sometimes? Never? How do we decide? We wrote this article to understand better what the contending views are and to see if we ourselves could find a position that would satisfy us both. Is there no middle ground? We had to weigh the arguments of both sides for consistency and to pose test cases, some of which are purely hypothetical. If in some of these tests we seem to go too far, we ask the reader to be patient with us–we’re trying to stress the various positions to the breaking point to see their weaknesses and where they fail.

In contemplative moments, nearly everyone recognizes that the issue is not wholly one-sided. Many partisans of differing views, we find, feel some disquiet, some unease when confronting what’s behind the opposing arguments. (This is partly why such confrontations are avoided.) And the issue surely touches on deep questions: What are our responses to one another? Should we permit the state to intrude into the most intimate and personal aspects of our lives? Where are the boundaries of freedom? What does it mean to be human?

Of the many actual points of view, it is widely held–especially in the media, which rarely have the time or the inclination to make fine distinctions–that there are only two: “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” This is what the two principal warring camps like to call themselves, and that’s what we’ll call them here. In the simplest characterization, a pro-choicer would hold that the decision to abort a pregnancy is to be made only by the woman; the state has no right to interfere. And a pro-lifer would hold that, from the moment of conception, the embryo or fetus is alive; that this life imposes on us a moral obligation to preserve it; and that abortion is tantamount to murder. Both names–pro-choice and pro-life–were picked with an eye toward influencing those whose minds are not yet made up: Few people wish to be counted either as being against freedom of choice or as opposed to life. Indeed, freedom and life are two of our most cherished values, and here they seem to be in fundamental conflict.

Let’s consider these two absolutist positions in turn. A newborn baby is surely the same being it was just before birth. There ‘s good evidence that a late-term fetus responds to sound–including music, but especially its mother’s voice. It can suck its thumb or do a somersault. Occasionally, it generates adult brain-wave patterns. Some people claim to remember being born, or even the uterine environment. Perhaps there is thought in the womb. It’s hard to maintain that a transformation to full personhood happens abruptly at the moment of birth. Why, then, should it be murder to kill an infant the day after it was born but not the day before?

As a practical matter, this isn’t very important: Less than 1 percent of all tabulated abortions in the United States are listed in the last three months of pregnancy (and, on closer investigation, most such reports turn out to be due to miscarriage or miscalculation). But third-trimester abortions provide a test of the limits of the pro-choice point of view. Does a woman’s “innate right to control her own body” encompass the right to kill a near-term fetus who is, for all intents and purposes, identical to a newborn child?

We believe that many supporters of reproductive freedom are troubled at least occasionally by this question. But they are reluctant to raise it because it is the beginning of a slippery slope. If it is impermissible to abort a pregnancy in the ninth month, what about the eighth, seventh, sixth … ? Once we acknowledge that the state can interfere at any time in the pregnancy, doesn’t it follow that the state can interfere at all times?

Abortion and the slippery slope argument above

This conjures up the specter of predominantly male, predominantly affluent legislators telling poor women they must bear and raise alone children they cannot afford to bring up; forcing teenagers to bear children they are not emotionally prepared to deal with; saying to women who wish for a career that they must give up their dreams, stay home, and bring up babies; and, worst of all, condemning victims of rape and incest to carry and nurture the offspring of their assailants. Legislative prohibitions on abortion arouse the suspicion that their real intent is to control the independence and sexuality of women…

And yet, by consensus, all of us think it proper that there be prohibitions against, and penalties exacted for, murder. It would be a flimsy defense if the murderer pleads that this is just between him and his victim and none of the government’s business. If killing a fetus is truly killing a human being, is it not the duty of the state to prevent it? Indeed, one of the chief functions of government is to protect the weak from the strong.

If we do not oppose abortion at some stage of pregnancy, is there not a danger of dismissing an entire category of human beings as unworthy of our protection and respect? And isn’t that dismissal the hallmark of sexism, racism, nationalism, and religious fanaticism? Shouldn’t those dedicated to fighting such injustices be scrupulously careful not to embrace another?

Adrian Rogers’ sermon on animal rights refutes Sagan here

There is no right to life in any society on Earth today, nor has there been at any former time… : We raise farm animals for slaughter; destroy forests; pollute rivers and lakes until no fish can live there; kill deer and elk for sport, leopards for the pelts, and whales for fertilizer; entrap dolphins, gasping and writhing, in great tuna nets; club seal pups to death; and render a species extinct every day. All these beasts and vegetables are as alive as we. What is (allegedly) protected is not life, but human life.

Genesis 3 defines being human

And even with that protection, casual murder is an urban commonplace, and we wage “conventional” wars with tolls so terrible that we are, most of us, afraid to consider them very deeply… That protection, that right to life, eludes the 40,000 children under five who die on our planet each day from preventable starvation, dehydration, disease, and neglect.

Those who assert a “right to life” are for (at most) not just any kind of life, but for–particularly and uniquely—human life. So they too, like pro-choicers, must decide what distinguishes a human being from other animals and when, during gestation, the uniquely human qualities–whatever they are–emerge.

The Bible talks about the differences between humans and animals

Despite many claims to the contrary, life does not begin at conception: It is an unbroken chain that stretches back nearly to the origin of the Earth, 4.6 billion years ago. Nor does human life begin at conception: It is an unbroken chain dating back to the origin of our species, hundreds of thousands of years ago. Every human sperm and egg is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, alive. They are not human beings, of course. However, it could be argued that neither is a fertilized egg.

In some animals, an egg develops into a healthy adult without benefit of a sperm cell. But not, so far as we know, among humans. A sperm and an unfertilized egg jointly comprise the full genetic blueprint for a human being. Under certain circumstances, after fertilization, they can develop into a baby. But most fertilized eggs are spontaneously miscarried. Development into a baby is by no means guaranteed. Neither a sperm and egg separately, nor a fertilized egg, is more than a potential baby or a potential adult. So if a sperm and egg are as human as the fertilized egg produced by their union, and if it is murder to destroy a fertilized egg–despite the fact that it’s only potentially a baby–why isn’t it murder to destroy a sperm or an egg?

Hundreds of millions of sperm cells (top speed with tails lashing: five inches per hour) are produced in an average human ejaculation. A healthy young man can produce in a week or two enough spermatozoa to double the human population of the Earth. So is masturbation mass murder? How about nocturnal emissions or just plain sex? When the unfertilized egg is expelled each month, has someone died? Should we mourn all those spontaneous miscarriages? Many lower animals can be grown in a laboratory from a single body cell. Human cells can be cloned… In light of such cloning technology, would we be committing mass murder by destroying any potentially clonable cells? By shedding a drop of blood?

All human sperm and eggs are genetic halves of “potential” human beings

All human sperm and eggs are genetic halves of “potential” human beings. Should heroic efforts be made to save and preserve all of them, everywhere, because of this “potential”? Is failure to do so immoral or criminal? Of course, there’s a difference between taking a life and failing to save it. And there’s a big difference between the probability of survival of a sperm cell and that of a fertilized egg. But the absurdity of a corps of high-minded semen-preservers moves us to wonder whether a fertilized egg’s mere “potential” to become a baby really does make destroying it murder.

Opponents of abortion worry that, once abortion is permissible immediately after conception, no argument will restrict it at any later time in the pregnancy. Then, they fear, one day it will be permissible to murder a fetus that is unambiguously a human being. Both pro-choicers and pro-lifers (at least some of them) are pushed toward absolutist positions by parallel fears of the slippery slope.

This position of only when the life of the mother is in danger is not an extreme position (see below)

Another slippery slope is reached by those pro-lifers who are willing to make an exception in the agonizing case of a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. But why should the right to live depend on the circumstances of conception? If the same child were to result, can the state ordain life for the offspring of a lawful union but death for one conceived by force or coercion? How can this be just? And if exceptions are extended to such a fetus, why should they be withheld from any other fetus? This is part of the reason some pro-lifers adopt what many others consider the outrageous posture of opposing abortions under any and all circumstances–only excepting, perhaps, when the life of the mother is in danger.

By far the most common reason for abortion worldwide is birth control. So shouldn’t opponents of abortion be handing out contraceptives and teaching school children how to use them? That would be an effective way to reduce the number of abortions. Instead, the United States is far behind other nations in the development of safe and effective methods of birth control–and, in many cases, opposition to such research (and to sex education) has come from the same people who oppose abortions.continue on to Part 3

For the complete text, including illustrations, introductory quote, footnotes, and commentary on the reaction to the originally published article see Billions and Billions.

The attempt to find an ethically sound and unambiguous judgment on when, if ever, abortion is permissible has deep historical roots. Often, especially in Christian tradition, such attempts were connected with the question of when the soul enters the body–a matter not readily amenable to scientific investigation and an issue of controversy even among learned theologians. Ensoulment has been asserted to occur in the sperm before conception, at conception, at the time of “quickening” (when the mother is first able to feel the fetus stirring within her), and at birth. Or even later.

Different religions have different teachings. Among hunter-gatherers, there are usually no prohibitions against abortion, and it was common in ancient Greece and Rome. In contrast, the more severe Assyrians impaled women on stakes for attempting abortion. The Jewish Talmud teaches that the fetus is not a person and has no rights. The Old and New Testaments–rich in astonishingly detailed prohibitions on dress, diet, and permissible words–contain not a word specifically prohibiting abortion. The only passage that’s remotely relevant (Exodus 21:22) decrees that if there’s a fight and a woman bystander should accidentally be injured and made to miscarry, the assailant must pay a fine.

I sent a letter to Carl Sagan that included an article by Greg Koukl that answers Sagan’s argument on 8-30-95 and that probably prompted Sagan to send me the article on 12-5-95. It can be found at this link https://thedailyhatch.org/2019/04/02/carl-sagans-response-to-my-8-30-95-letter-to-him-about-abortion/

Here below is the genetic argument for personhood:

My good friend Dr. Kevin R. Henke is a scientist and also an atheistic evolutionist. I had a lot of discussions with Kevin over religious views. I remember going over John 7:17 with him one day. It says:

John 7:17 (Amplified Bible)

17If any man desires to do His will (God’s pleasure), he will know (have the needed illumination to recognize, and can tell for himself) whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking from Myself and of My own accord and on My own authority.

I challenged Kevin to read a chapter a day of the Book of John and pray to God and ask God, “Dear God, if you are there then reveal yourself to me, and I pledge to serve you the rest of my life.”

Kevin did that and he even wrote down the thoughts that came to his mind and sent it to me and these thoughts filled a notebook.

Kevin did not become a Christian, but I am still praying for him. I do respect Kevin because he is an honest man. Interestingly enough he  told me that he was pro-life because the unborn baby has all the genetic code at  the time of conception that they will have for the rest of their life. Below are some other comments by other scientists:

Dr. Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic): “By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”

Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School): “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”

Dr. Alfred Bongioanni (University of Pennsylvania): “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.”

Dr. Jerome LeJeune, “the Father of Modern Genetics” (University of Descartes, Paris): “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence.”

Back on April 27, 2009 Fox News ran a story by Hollie McKay(Supermodel Kathy Ireland Lashes Out Against Pro Choice,”) on Jill Ireland.

It’s no secret that the majority of Hollywood stars are strong advocates for a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to terminate a pregnancy, however former “Sports Illustrated” supermodel-turned-entrepreneur-turned-author Kathy Ireland has gone against the grain of the glitterati and spoken out against abortion.

“My entire life I was pro-choice — who was I to tell another woman what she could or couldn’t do with her body? But when I was 18, I became a Christian and I dove into the medical books, I dove into science,”Ireland told Tarts while promoting her insightful new book “Real Solutions for Busy Mom: Your Guide to Success and Sanity.”

“What I read was astounding and I learned that at the moment of conception a new life comes into being. The complete genetic blueprint is there, the DNA is determined, the blood type is determined, the sex is determined, the unique set of fingerprints that nobody has had or ever will have is already there.”

However Ireland admitted that she did everything she could to avoid becoming a believer in pro-life.

“I called Planned Parenthood and begged them to give me their best argument and all they could come up with that it is really just a clump of cells and if you get it early enough it doesn’t even look like a baby. Well, we’re all clumps of cells and the unborn does not look like a baby the same way the baby does not look like a teenager, a teenager does not look like a senior citizen. That unborn baby looks exactly the way human beings are supposed to look at that stage of development. It doesn’t suddenly become a human being at a certain point in time,” Ireland argued. “I’ve also asked leading scientists across our country to please show me some shred of evidence that the unborn is not a human being. I didn’t want to be pro-life, but this is not a woman’s rights issue but a human rights issue.”

Kevin R. Henke is an American geochemistand former instructor at the University of Kentucky‘s department of Geology.[3] He currently works as a senior research scientist at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research.[4] He is well known for his criticism of young earth creationism and the scientific arguments they make for a young earth. In particular, he has been critical of the RATE project‘s results, which claim to show that zircons contain too much helium to be billions of years old, and has argued that Russell Humphreys, a young-earth creationist who was involved in the project, has made errors in his research. These flaws include that, according to Henke, “The vast majority of Humphreys et al.’s critical a, b, and Q/Q0 values that are used in these “dating” equations are either missing, poorly defined, improperly measured or inaccurate.”[5][6]Henke has also accused Humphreys of misidentifying his specimens, fudging his data, and not considering the possibility of helium contamination in this research.[7] He has also criticized John Woodmorappe for arguing that radiometric dating is unreliable.[8] On one occasion, Henke called Kent Hovind on the phone regarding Hovind’s $250,000 challenge to “prove” evolution. Hovind told Henke that in order to win the money he would have to recreate the Big Bang in a laboratory. Henke responded by proposing several alternative “proofs” that pertained to geology (his field of expertise), but Hovind refused, saying that the project must be chosen by him and it must not pertain to the area in which Henke has scientific expertise. Hovind therefore required Henke to prove that dogs and bananas had a common ancestor, and lowered the award to only $2,000 should he succeed. Henke accepted the challenge, and later drafted a contract, which was then posted on Talk.origins. However, one of Henke’s requirements was that the judges be unbiased, and Hovind rejected the challenge for this reason, insisting that he should be the only one who can choose the judges.[9][10]

Kevin R. Henke
Born April 17, 1957 (age 62)
Alma mater Doane College, University of North Dakota
Known for Criticism of young earth creationism
Spouse(s) Yvonne
Children Two[2]
Scientific career
Fields Geochemistry
Institutions University of Kentucky
Thesis Chemistry and environmental implications of thio-red® and 2,4,6-trimercaptotriazine compounds (1997)
 

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Babinski, Edward T. (2003). Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists. Prometheus Books. p. 242.
  2. ^ “Henke Spends Summer at NDSU” (PDF). Chem-News. North Dakota State University. 1996. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  3. ^ “Kevin R. Henke”. University of Kentucky. Archived from the original on 17 April 2004. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  4. ^ “ECT Staff”. Environmental Coal Technologies. University of Kentucky. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  5. ^ “The C-Files: D. Russell Humphreys Evidence for a Young World : NOT!”. New Mexicans for Science and Reason. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  6. ^ Henke, Kevin R. (2005–2010). “Dr. Humphreys’ Young-Earth Helium Diffusion “Dates”: Numerous Fallacies Based on Bad Assumptions and Questionable Data”. TalkOrigins Archive. Retrieved 10 February2014.
  7. ^ Young, Matt (2009). Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails). Rutgers University Press. p. 162.
  8. ^ “Dr Kevin R. Henke exposes John Woodmorappe’s fraudulent attacks on radiometric dating and reveals other creationist misrepresentations”. No Answers in Genesis. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  9. ^ Kolosick, Jama. “Kent Hovind’s “$250,000 Award to Prove Evolution!. No Answers in Genesis. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  10. ^ Isaak, Mark (2005). The Counter-Creationism Handbook. University of California Press. p. 30.
 

——

.

Related posts:

Taking on Ark Times Bloggers on various issues Part F “Carl Sagan’s views on how God should try and contact us” includes film “The Basis for Human Dignity”

April 8, 2013 – 7:07 am

I have gone back and forth and back and forth with many liberals on the Arkansas Times Blog on many issues such as abortion, human rights, welfare, poverty, gun control  and issues dealing with popular culture. Here is another exchange I had with them a while back. My username at the Ark Times Blog is Saline […] By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Francis SchaefferProlife | Edit | Comments (0)

Carl Sagan v. Nancy Pearcey

March 18, 2013 – 9:11 am

On March 17, 2013 at our worship service at Fellowship Bible Church, Ben Parkinson who is one of our teaching pastors spoke on Genesis 1. He spoke about an issue that I was very interested in. Ben started the sermon by reading the following scripture: Genesis 1-2:3 English Standard Version (ESV) The Creation of the […] By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Adrian RogersAtheists ConfrontedCurrent Events | TaggedBen ParkinsonCarl Sagan | Edit | Comments (0)

Review of Carl Sagan book (Part 4 of series on Evolution)

May 24, 2012 – 1:47 am

Review of Carl Sagan book (Part 4 of series on Evolution) The Long War against God-Henry Morris, part 5 of 6 Uploaded by FLIPWORLDUPSIDEDOWN3 on Aug 30, 2010 http://www.icr.org/ http://store.icr.org/prodinfo.asp?number=BLOWA2http://store.icr.org/prodinfo.asp?number=BLOWASGhttp://www.fliptheworldupsidedown.com/blog _______________________ I got this from a blogger in April of 2008 concerning candidate Obama’s view on evolution: Q: York County was recently in the news […] By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Atheists ConfrontedCurrent EventsPresident Obama | EditComments (0)

_

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: