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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

 
On the one hand, we have Charles W. Baughman, Retired Professor of Old Testament Studies at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, MO. On the other, is King Gustav, who I believe to be a Lutheran, based on the intro to his blog, The Sword of Gustavus:
The truths of Christianity are holistic - that is, they encompass and color our view of everything in life. Just as Gustavus Adolphus worked through his vocation to shape 17th Century Lutheranism in both the civil and ecclesiastical realms, this blog is my attempt to comment on anything and everything that touches the hearts and minds of confessional Lutherans.
Dr. Baughman and King Gustav read the same Old Testament, yet from it they produce wildly different examples of support for their opposing beliefs.

The King cites Psalm 51, although the verse he links to leaves me puzzled as to how this proves anything about the beginning of human life:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,and in sin did my mother conceive me.
King Gustav's primary argument seems to be that the point at which human life begins cannot be solved by science:
Put simply, scientists measure and observe things. They do empirical studies, chart data, and explore hypotheses through experimentation. You can’t, however, chart the point at which cells become a human being. Why? Because the concept of a “human being” is a philosophical distinction. Christians and ethicists, therefore, have every right to make judgments in this case because such issues, by definition, fall in their realm.
Dr. Baughman refers us to several texts to bolster his argument that human life begins with breath and not at conception. Some of the passages he quotes are:
In Genesis 2.7 we have the first detailed account of the creation of a human being by God: "Yahveh God (The LORD God) formed the man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living nefesh." We could translate nefesh here as either "breath" or "being." Life began for this human being when God breathed breath into him.
Another is:
One of the most graphic examples of the equation of life and breath in the Bible occurs in Ezekiel 37. Here Ezekiel sees a valley of dry bones. Finally, after being reformed into bodies they do not live until breath enters them. Psalm 104.29-30, again, illustrates breath brings life.
And finally, one that I myself have used in this blog:
The Law in Exodus 21.22ff. further confirms that in the Bible a fetus is not considered to be a living human: "Whenever men struggle with each other and strike a pregnant woman so that she miscarries but there is no harm; he shall be severely fined according to that which the husband of the woman shall impose upon him and he shall pay as the judges decide. (23) If there is harm, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, bruise for bruise, blow for blow." Here, only harm to the woman is considered, since the aborted fetus would be dead. Thus, the fetus is not regarded as a human life.
Be sure to read their complete entries on this topics. Dr. Baughman can be found here. And King Gustav's Sword of Gustavus is here.

And please tell us what YOU think.

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