[Vision2020] Whale Song for a Stubborn and Evasive Tony

nickgier at adelphia.net nickgier at adelphia.net
Mon Apr 10 11:28:20 PDT 2006

Hi Tony,

First, let's get something clear.  Yes, logic is strict and cold, but it is the only way that human beings can begin to settle the differences between them.  The other advantage is that logic does not play favorites, so I cannot twist it, as you claim, without being called on it by any rational person.

When faced with the clear logical implications of your religious faith, you suddenly turn agnostic and evasive with regard to your own belief.  You say that fetuses are God's children and that implies that God is a father, which further implies that God is a person.  As you must surely know, Christianity is based on a personal relationship with a personal God.  How can this description of Christian belief possibly be called, as you charge, "a twisted and presumptuous characterization" of this great religion?

So let me repeat my argument that you cannot now honestly evade.  Your God is a person and human beings are persons; therefore, personality identity cannot be based on genetics.  I have not "contrived" this distinction between human beings and persons--cool, clear logic has done it for us.  The courts have not contrived this distinction either as they have declared that brain-dead humans are no longer persons.  Thank the gods that logic still rules there rather than the sentiment and rhetoric that rules everywhere else. 

In your most recent response, you drift, as you have before, from your genetic argument to one implies that humans have value because they can create such things as great works of music.  Now you have switched your argument to mine: persons are valuable because they have significant mental lives.

Whales compose and sing complicated songs that they change every season.  Dolophins have 40 percent more cortical area in their brains than we do.  They communicate by very complex sonar signals.  Just think what they could do if they had opposable thumbs.  Or perhaps they are so advanced in their thinking that they realize that technology would eventually destory life on earth.

And then there are the talking apes.  Washoe has taught all of her children sign language and they make up new words all the time.  One of the women who works with her just had a miscarriage, and Washoe was wracked by grief and signing that she was so sorry.  These nonhuman beings are therefore persons and should be protected legally as much as human persons are.  And we have proved once again that there are terrestial persons who are not human beings. 

Our laws dictate that only persons can be murdered, so until you can prove that the fetus before 25 weeks is a person, then you have no moral grounds to condemn those who respect the law, based as it is on our religious, moral, and legal traditions.  You are the wild-eyed liberal who wants to change the tradition according to your confused thinking. 

My conscience is clear, Tony, because my position is based on the best religious, moral, and legal reasoning and the best available empirical evidence.  I'm sorry if I come off cold and callous if I say that your position is based on emotion and fuzzy thinking.

Just one last point for you to ponder.  You evaded the problem about defining the soul, the seat of personal identity, in germs of genetics.  In addition to it giving no grounds for unique personal identity, it is also a thoroughly materialistic view of the self.  Is that the view of the soul that you as a believer want to hold?

Thanks for the dialogue,


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