Saturday, September 30, 2006

Birth Control

Okay, enough lack of controversy. Darn it, this is supposed to be a blog, the web equivalent of...well, a lot, I guess.

I recently got to thinking about the subject of birth control (being the glutton for intellectual punishment that I am). Apparently, until the 1920s no denomination approved of it, and you get one guess as to who first allowed for its use. It seems odd that this is such a modern trend; birth control has been around since ancient times, and there have been plenty of times and places where the desire to limit the number and timing of children was present.

One of the most common ideas of when life begins is that it begins at conception, when egg and sperm unite. This seems logical: the fertilized egg, or zygote, is neither genetically the same as the mother or as the father; it is something new. However, the fact of the matter is that we don't actually know when life begins or ends; we can only say with certainty that life has begun or ended, not the precise point when this occurred. Medical science even allows for a person to be clinically dead and yet be revived.

Let's take an example. An egg and sperm unite, and by pressing fast-forward we find out that this egg divides into separate organisms and identical twins are formed from the one zygote. If ensoulment occurs at conception, then there are three possibilities. The first is that there is no soul present in the newly-formed zygote, the second is that there is one soul, and the third is that there are two souls.

If there is no soul present, then destroying the zygote is little different biologically from removing a wart. Keeping a fertilized egg in cryonic storage might even be considered the equivalent of donating blood. If ensoulment occurs some time after conception, then we really have no idea of when we are making choices over our own bodies and when we are making choices regarding others.

If there is one soul present, then when does the second soul arrive? Is there perhaps an elder and a younger soul in pair of twins, with one twin being a sort of lateral offspring of the other? Could the soul divide and grow into two, much as the cell itself did?

If there are two souls, then they are present in one body. God knows that, left alone, the cell will develop into two human beings and thus provides two souls. Two souls in one body isn't a new idea: Siamese twins are two people but share one body (and perhaps we could count pregnancy, although this would seem to be more of one body inside abother body).

It even seems possible that souls may be formed prior to intercourse. Perhaps the deliberate intention of the parents to produce a child creates a new soul before there is even a vessel for it. Do we really know that this isn't the case?

A large number of pregnancies result in spontaneous abortions. If these organisms do not yet have souls, then this is not a serious problem. If they do have souls, then perhaps we as Christians should be devoting a lot more energy to fixing this. If life begins at conception, then a spontaneous abortion is no different from an induced abortion or infant mortality in terms of a life being snuffed out.

Abortion is wrong for several reasons, but the fact that a human being is killed is secondary. There are times when killing is condoned, and even times when God commands it. Thus, killing is not intrinsically wrong. The primary sin of abortion is pride: we put ourselves in God's place as arbiter over life. If life begins at conception, then obviously those methods which destroy the fertilized egg are murder and those which prevent implantation are, at the very least, homicide. Again, though, it isn't beyond the scope of reason to imagine that life could even begin before conception. If so, then contraceptives are abortifacients. Regardless of these, however, the fact remains that we don't objectively know when life begins. By using contraception, we place ourselves in God's position and thus are out of line. The result is different from that of murder, but the sin of pride remains.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Couch Potato Meme

Okay, I've had enough reading of doctrine and theology for the moment time for a break.

Bold (or change the color) of all of the following TV shows which you’ve seen 3 or more episodes of in your lifetime. Bold and Italicize a show if you’re positive you’ve seen every episode of it. If you want, add up to 3 additional shows (keep the list in alphabetical order).

3rd Rock from the Sun
7th Heaven
Aeon Flux
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Allo Allo
American Idol/Pop Idol/Canadian Idol/Australian Idol
America’s Next Top Model/Germany’s Next Top Model
Arrested Development
Babylon 5
Babylon 5: CrusadeBattlestar
Galactica (the old one)
Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Beavis & Butthead
The Ben Stiller Show
Beverly Hills 90210
Bosom Buddies
Boston Legal
Boy Meets World
Brady Bunch
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Bug Juice
Chappelle’s Show
Charlie’s Angels
China Beach
Commander in Chief
Cowboy Bebop
Crossing Jordan
CSI: Miami
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dancing with the Stars
Danny Phantom
Dark Angel
Dark Skies
Davinci’s Inquest
Dawson’s Creek
Dead Like Me
Deadliest Catch
Degrassi: The Next Generation
Designing Women
Desperate Housewives
Dharma & Greg
Different Strokes
Doctor Who (new Who)
Doctor Who (series 1-26)
Due South
Dungeons and Dragons (old cartoon)
Earth 2
Everybody Loves Raymond
Facts of Life
Falcon Crest
Family Guy
Family Ties
Fantasy Island
Fawlty Towers
Flamingo Road
Full House
Get Smart
Gilligan’s Island
Gilmore Girls
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Green Wing
Grey’s Anatomy
Growing Pains
Happy Days
Head of the Class
Hill Street Blues
Hogan’s Heroes
Home Improvement
Homicide: Life on the Street
I Dream of Jeannie
I Love Lucy
Invader Zim
Iron Chef (Japan)
Iron Chef (USA)
John Doe
Kath and Kim
Knight Rider
Knots Landing
La Femme Nikita
LA Law
Laverne and Shirley
Law & Order
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Law & Order: SVU
Little House on the Prairie
Lizzie McGuire
Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Lost in Space
Love, American Style
Magnum P.I.
Malcolm in the Middle
Married…With Children
Melrose Place
Miami Vice
Mission Impossible
Mork & Mindy
Murphy Brown
My Family
My Favorite Martian
My Life as a Dog
My Mother the Car
My So-Called Life
My Three Sons
My Two Dads
Mysterious Cities of Gold
Night Court
Northern Exposure
One Tree Hill
Parker Lewis Can’t Lose
Perfect Strangers
Perry Mason
Picket Fences
Pirates of Darkwater
Power Rangers
Prison Break
Project Runway
Quantum Leap
Queer As Folk (US)
Queer as Folk (British)
Queer Eye For The Straight Guy
Remington Steele
Rescue Me
Road Rules
Samurai Jack
Saved by the Bell
Scarecrow and Mrs. King
Scooby-Doo Where Are You?
Sex and the City
Six Feet Under
Slings and Arrows
Small Wonder
So Weird
South Park
Spongebob Squarepants
Sports Night
Square Pegs
St. Elsewhere
Star Trek
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Enterprise
Stargate Atlantis
Stargate SG-1
Teen Titans
That Girl
That 70’s Show
That’s So Raven
The 4400
The Addams Family
The Andy Griffith Show
The A-Team
The Avengers
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Bionic Woman
The Colbert Report
The Cosby Show
The Daily Show
The Days And Nights Of Molly Dodd
The Dead Zone
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Flintstones
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Golden Girls
The Jetsons
The L Word
The Love Boat
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Mighty Boosh
The Monkees
The Munsters
The Mythbusters
The O.C.
The Office (UK)
The Office (US)
The Pretender
The Prisoner
The Real World
The Shield
The Simpsons
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Sopranos
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
The Twilight Zone
The Waltons
The West Wing
The Wonder Years
The X-Files
Third Watch
Three’s Company
Top Gear
Twin Peaks
Twitch City
Upstairs, Downstairs
Veronica Mars
What Not To Wear (US)
What Not To Wear (UK)
Whose Line is it Anyway? (US)
Whose Line is it Anyway? (UK)
Will and Grace
Wonder Woman
Xena: Warrior Princess
Young Hercules

Monday, September 18, 2006


Apparently our SDI program is further along than I'd thought before!

Either that, or the NRA has really stepped up its lobbying efforts.

(Picture via Drudge Report)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just a Thought...

One common explanation for the halo behind the head of saints and especially Christ was that it was seen as a sign of divinity, as Apollo was always shown as being in front of the sun. That makes sense.

At the same time, being a fan of puns, another, perhaps complementary, reason occurred to me:

What's the Greek word for "Messiah?" "christos"
What's the Greek word for "Golden?" "chrysos"

I wonder if there wasn't some wordplay there, especially in light of all the text notes I often see about Hebrew names which often sound like words for something else.

HokiePundit: Heretic?

I haven't been sleeping on the job; I've just been not publishing what I've been writing lately. We'll see whether or not I decide to post them later.

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