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Comments by tomt

Go to: Leading scientist Richard Dawkins slams Scottish Football Association over sacking of Hugh Dallas

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by tomt

@cheesedoff17 I feel really strongly about the use and misuse of humour. I've had this discussion a few times on RDF. My view is pretty much summed up in my post here:

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/554257-somali-teenager-tried-to-set-off-car-bomb-in-us/comments?page=2#comment_556382

Click on the link included in that post which includes links to three of the best (in my view) skits on religion.

Anyway as I posted above I am definitely posting with unhealthy frequency so going to limit myself to <1 hour online daily from now on, I'm not trying to 'drive by comment' but I may not reply promptly to any replies to this post.

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 08:46:27 UTC | #556463

Go to: Catholic billboard responds to atheist message outside Lincoln Tunnel

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by tomt

The market place of ideas at work.

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 05:00:17 UTC | #556390

Go to: Leading scientist Richard Dawkins slams Scottish Football Association over sacking of Hugh Dallas

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by tomt

@Scott b Thanks, to be honest I have fairly thick skin so being constantly labelled an accommodationist, concern troll or occasionally Religious Fundamentalist in disguise is not going to ruin my day.

The big problem is that I find myself hopelessly addicted to following and responding to the debate on the site - which is a massive time drain and personal weakness!

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 04:53:13 UTC | #556386

Go to: Leading scientist Richard Dawkins slams Scottish Football Association over sacking of Hugh Dallas

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by tomt

@ xmaseveeve Hello again! I posted a response to your reply in the other thread you might enjoy.

It's clear that this campaign has absolutely succeeded in opening up the debate on this issue and in grabbing some media attention which is great.

I also agree (it might surprise you to hear) that laughter is the best medicine. The original photo with caption was a great ad-hoc act of satire, however personally I don't find many of the cartoons linked to particularly amusing or witty. What really concerns me though is that if you are going to reduce the influence of the likes of Pete Kearney you need to be able to engage support not only from Atheists, Agnostics and Sceptics but also from Catholics. The cartoons that are being circulated run the risk of pushing Catholics towards Kearney which is counter-productive.

What do I think would be more effective? At this stage I think whats needed is an email campaign to the Scottish parliament highlighting how the likes of Peter kearney are abusing legislation intended to end sectarianism in order to deepen it.

However my head is not so far up my own backside that I don't recognise the following:

1) Unlike Profesor Dawkins I have taken no action in the public sphere to combat the existential threat to civil society posed by faith based education and the creeping influence of religious special interests on public life

2) Unlike Professor Dawkins I have not taken a significant amount of time out from my day job to help further the cause of Rationalism and offer support to those trying to leave religions they no longer feel at home in

3) I have not (nor am I about to) taken the initiative to draft such a letter to the Scottish parliament.

I posted my concerns about the campaign because (perhaps misguidedly) I believe it may be useful for Professor Dawkins and other Atheists to know that there are those that dissent. I do often seem to find myself dissenting though so am considering just deleting my account and going back to relying on Chris H's column on slate.

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 04:17:03 UTC | #556384

Go to: Somali teenager 'tried to set off car bomb in US'

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 92 by tomt

@xmaseveeve thanks for the response. I really care about humour and believe it to be one of the most powerful tools we have for shifting attitudes and bridging the issues that divide us. This is why I am extremely vocal when I see it being used in a way that deepens those divides. A good litmus test of whether a joke is malicious or not is to ask yourself how comfortable you would be telling the joke to a club full of the people your joke skewers. How would you expect those people to react? Would they find it funny or would they be hurt?

For example I'm pretty sure if I told a joke about the number of Jones' in the room to an audience of Welsh people, they'd probably have a chuckle. A joke about the number of Mohammud's to a group of Somalians I believe would not elicit the same response. You may well disagree and I respect that right.

Satire falls into a different category because you are ridiculing someone who has held themselves forth to be the object of your satire-a public figure like the pope for example. In that instance it matters less how the figure targetted might feel about it, what matters is whether your joke is raising consciousness in your audience.

I'm probably not going to be revisiting this thread and doubt anyone else is, if you are interested I had a link to great examples of religious humour in an earlier post of mine, you can find it here:

http://richarddawkins.net/comments/533187

Hope they give you a laugh.

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 03:55:43 UTC | #556382

Go to: Leading scientist Richard Dawkins slams Scottish Football Association over sacking of Hugh Dallas

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by tomt

Interestingly the Sun now has a comment from Nil-by-Mouth a Scottish anti-sectarianism group which states that the email was tasteless but Kearney's response added fuel to the fire of sectarianism. I've tried unsuccessfully to find the original comment from nil-by-mouth so must reluctantly link to the Sun:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/3254012/Bigotry-row-was-fuel-to-the-fire-in-Hugh-Dallas-email-affair.html

My two pence on the issue (not that anyones asking): RDF was definitely right to highlight the issue, however I don't support the way the campaign is being conducted because it doesn't seem to me that this response does much for the cause of reason and whilst sending some of these cartoons might be interpreted as an act in favour of free speech they do nothing to promote quality of speech.

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 03:31:04 UTC | #556379

Go to: Football referee sacked for pope joke

Go to: A grand unified theory of man

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by tomt

Jos Gibbons your post was really informative and interesting. I didn't agree with it all, but it was a really good and thought provoking read.

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 23:12:48 UTC | #556293

Go to: A grand unified theory of man

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by tomt

The guy wasn't really attacking evolution or rationalism was he? From what I read he was simply stating that the natural and social sciences have become estranged and that this is a bit of a shame because the social sciences have vast store houses of data on human behaviour which might be useful to those studying human behaviour from an evolutionary point of view.

His last paragraph was a call for greater co-operation between faculties. Whats wrong with that?

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 21:22:04 UTC | #556227

Go to: Somali teenager 'tried to set off car bomb in US'

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by tomt

not sure anyone still cares about this one, but the Washington Post have a more detailed and balanced article on the arrest which raises and addresses to some extent the question of entrapment:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/30/AR2010113000398.html

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 09:26:22 UTC | #555848

Go to: Somali teenager 'tried to set off car bomb in US'

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 88 by tomt

@nunbeliever

I'm not sure what you mean by relativist or what evidence you can produce to support the claim that I somehow hate western culture or love Islamic culture. As you may have noted from my last post I don't agree that this arrest was entrapment but I do think the argument deserves to be aired we strengthen our civic institutions only be constantly challenging and scrutinising them.

What I am is a strong believer in Civil Society, and in order for Civil Society to function we need to leave the door open to dialogue - this is not possible when people talk ignorantly about others or make fun pointlessly at their expense. Whilst this may be something that religious groups do to others we can not and should not stoop to the same level. There are a number of reasons I think it is important to call people out who make comments of this nature:

1) I have frequently seen posts on this site from those in Islamic countries who are trying to leave their religion behind - I believe a great deal of damage is done when they read posts labeling them terrorist by appearance or taking the piss out of their names.

2) There is a growing presence from far right types on this site, as evidenced by the large number of comments along the lines of 'send them all home','they should be executed without trial' etc. I think the article on the UK fighters in Afghanistan is a great example of this. Even making jokey comments about how certain groups look or how strange their culture (note culture not religion) seems creates an environment that encourages and emboldens these idiots.

3) This site is supposed to be about promoting rational thought and thinking. Making ignorant remarks about peoples names in no way contributes to this.

4) It is genuinely not funny to make comments about these names. You would have said the same thing about Adam Adamsson? Perhaps but even then it would be childish and if Adam Adamsson was up on charges of terrorism I would add tasteless. But the fact is that these comments were targeted at Somali immigrants, a group that as even the main article pointed out are really afraid of all being labeled terrorists. Now you may feel that I'm raining on your parade of humour thats really all in good taste but I suggest you take a look at the first part of this great rant from Stewart Lee on the issue of political correctness:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGAOCVwLrXo&feature=related

Anyway interested to know your reactions. As I wrote at the start of my post I believe dialogue is the key to the successful functioning of civil society so I'm keen to read the counterpoint.

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 00:02:22 UTC | #555705

Go to: Somali teenager 'tried to set off car bomb in US'

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by tomt

Not convinced by his argument but Glen Greenwald at Salon.com has a fairly detailed article looking at the legitimacy of this arrest which may provide food for though to those considering the entrapment issue:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/11/28/fbi/index.html

In particular he writes:

Blockquote Second, in order not to be found to have entrapped someone into committing a crime, law enforcement agents want to be able to prove that, in the 1992 words of the Supreme Court, the accused was "was independently predisposed to commit the crime for which he was arrested." To prove that, undercover agents are often careful to stress that the accused has multiple choices, and they then induce him into choosing with his own volition to commit the crime. In this case, that was achieved by the undercover FBI agent's allegedly advising Mohamud that there were at least five ways he could serve the cause of Islam (including by praying, studying engineering, raising funds to send overseas, or becoming "operational"), and Mohamud replied he wanted to "be operational" by using exploding a bomb (para. 35-37). But strangely, while all other conversations with Mohamud which the FBI summarizes were (according to the affidavit) recorded by numerous recording devices, this conversation -- the crucial one for negating Mohamud's entrapment defense -- was not. That's because, according to the FBI, the undercover agent "was equipped with audio equipment to record the meeting. However, due to technical problems, the meeting was not recorded" (para. 37).

Finally it is unbelievably childish of people to be mocking his appearance or name. Claiming his parents lacked imagination is just bigoted and small minded. If you actually took the trouble to read up on this guy you would know that he attacked his parents in his 'martyr' video for trying to stop him form pursing this course.

Its not as if names with a religious background are the exclusive preserve of Moslems or religious groups. My parents aren't religious but my name has biblical routes, the same is probably true for most people on this site. Jacob was the most popular name for boys in America in 2009 according to the SSA a name with clear biblical routes, also in the top 10 for boys Michael, Joshua, Daniel and Noah:

http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/

Mon, 29 Nov 2010 00:08:36 UTC | #555045

Go to: Fight the good fight: Blair v Hitchens

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by tomt

Just watched the whole thing. An example of civil society at its best - this is the sort of dialogue we need to see even more of. What a wonderful world it would be if debate of this quality was broadcast on a regular basis!

Sun, 28 Nov 2010 10:03:17 UTC | #554669

Go to: Billboard: "You Know It's a Myth"

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by tomt

@TrickyDicky why not call it Christmas, i'm not sacrificing an enjoyable cultural tradition simply because I don't believe in God. I'll probably sing some carols too. No one in my family is religious but we've always been able to enjoy the holiday and pick and choose those traditions we enjoy.

Fri, 26 Nov 2010 08:59:52 UTC | #553397

Go to: Blair vs Hitchens: the dress rehearsal

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by tomt

Can't wait to see this, debating whether to fork over 5 bucks to watch the live stream.

Fri, 26 Nov 2010 07:27:42 UTC | #553357

Go to: Islamic anti-Semitism

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 288 by tomt

I've been looking into Henrik Clausen the guy who has been distributing this video and he does not look like the kind of person anyone interested in rational debate would be interested in sharing a platform with.

He is editor of EuropeNews a site that focuses on covering Islam and its interactions with Europe.

He deemed the following appropriate for the humor section of his website:

An out-dated cartoon presenting if not racist certainly distasteful presentations of Arabs:

http://europenews.dk/en/node/34721

A story about a Spanish ban on a video game hosted on a conservative website that featured a character whipping immigrants out of the country. Which did he think was funny the game or the fact it was banned?

http://europenews.dk/en/node/37501

You can see the 'humor' section of this guys site for yourself here:

http://europenews.dk/en/taxonomy/term/155

You should also be able to navigate to the homepage from the humor section.

Henrik Clausen's Europe News has a clear anti-immigration agenda, the site provides links to extreme far right orgnisations without criticism or comment.

This article on the French Defense League:

http://europenews.dk/en/node/37672

Linked directly to a blog Gallia Watch:

http://galliawatch.blogspot.com/2010/11/french-defense-league.html

Which provided a promotional clip for the Racist FDL and uncritically posted chunks of their agenda

Please can the moderators of the RDF website look at who they are getting into bed with when they publish content from the likes of Henrik Clausen and Europe News. We should not allow rational debate on Atheism and Secularism to be high-jacked by anti-immigration, far-right extremists. Aside from the fact that any rational person would surely want to avoid promoting the cause of these people association with such groups will damage the Atheist and Secularist movement by association.

Finally RDF, PZ Myers and co. should note that Europe News is not interested in promoting Atheism, they are only interested in attacking Islam and immigrants of Arabic / Eastern European and Northern African origins.

It should be noted that Henrik Clausen doesnt have any affiliation with MEMRI that I can see, it appears to me that as a 'new' organisation he was probably sent this video by MEMRI and has decided to distribute it to further his own agenda.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 22:35:47 UTC | #553249

Go to: Islamic anti-Semitism

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 284 by tomt

Both sides have behaved like monsters - that's what war and a decade long dehumanisation of your enemy will do.

No human being deserves this. The comments on this weighing up whether Israelis or Palestinians are more at wrong are a little ridiculous and seem to ignore the terrible human suffering caused to both sides. Years of debate on the world stage have not resolved this issue, you are not likely to on RDF.com

Just to be clear, and because I am keen to distance myself from idiots who claim that the extremists in this video are somehow justified...I have not been criticising MEMRI because I am not sympathetic to the plight of Israel. I am criticising MEMRI and this video because it seems clear to me that this video was designed to create fear in the viewer and dehumanise Arabs and Moslems in the viewers eyes. Such a program of dehumanisation ends discourse and fans the flames of conflict. Videos like that do not belong on this site.

N.B In my first comment I implied that MEMRI was a tool of the Israeli government, I think this is overstating it. I think MEMRI is carrying out propaganda activity independently of the Israeli government but in a manner it believes (incorrectly) advances the cause of Israel.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 20:06:14 UTC | #553193

Go to: UK-based Taliban spend months fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by tomt

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 08:21:48 UTC | #552916

Go to: Islamic anti-Semitism

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 256 by tomt

@inquisador I am certainly not implying that MEMRI fabricated the content of the video I am just trying to make point out that it is

a) Not clear that this video is in anyway representative of the Arab media and therefore I am not sure how it helps RDF readers educate themselves. This collection seems to me to be the equivalent of taking Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck as representative of the Western Media or collating campaign speeches from the National Front or EDL as representative of British Politics.

b) Not clear that from the presentation of this video that the impartiality of MEMRI as a commentator on the media has been called into question by a number of respected news organisations. It is worth noting that MEMRI has also been endorsed by several respected news organisations, however I think the fact that the debate exists is something that should have been considered before posting this video and certainly should have been disclosed to readers.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 08:16:34 UTC | #552914

Go to: Islamic anti-Semitism

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 253 by tomt

Neodarwinian I agree with you the people in the video with the exception of Mr Said are clearly racist bigots. My point is only that the RDF site should exercise more editorial control over what it puts up. As the link I posted before demonstrates there is clearly a debate over the reliability of MEMRI's work and a question as to whether they are deliberately misrepresenting Arab media in order to advance a political agenda. I think the editors of the RDF site ought to at least note that this debate exists rather than simply distribute the material without the health warning.

Whether or not in this instance the content is reliable if the site does not exercise editorial control it runs the risk of becoming a sort of Atheist Madras where we feed one another a skewed view of theists.

For those that are interested Brian Whittaker at the Guardian (who it seems to me does have an axe to grind with MEMRI and who now appears to work with a rival organisation) wrote an interesting article on their work in 2007:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/may/15/arabicunderfire

There is also a good debate on the Guardian site between Brian Whittaker and Yigal Carmon (president of MEMRIi):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/jan/28/israel2

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 07:37:22 UTC | #552902

Go to: Islamic anti-Semitism

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 251 by tomt

The content of this video is horrific and alarming. Urgent action needs to be taken to combat ignorance and racism of this type. I should have stated this first and foremost before jumping in to explaining why this material doesnt belong on RDF. Apologies.

Blockquote

Comment 250 by tomt :

@Andrew B. Please understand I have no problem with Israel and I dont see what grounds you have to imply I'm some sort of anti-zionist for simply reporting the fact that MEMRI has been accused of bias and propagandizing by a number of media watchdogs, CNN and the Guardian. There is a fairly detailed Wikipedia page appearing to offer both sides of the story on MEMRI which I think is worth reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East_Media_Research_Institute

I understand your point that all media is to some extent biased, however the material in the video is of no use to anyone interested in moving the topic forward rationally - to do that it would need to provide us context, provenance and counterpoint. This video is the equivalent of collecting some of the wackier comments from this site and claiming they offer an insight into the Atheist media, or taking Glen Beck and Rush Limbaughs best bits and claiming they offer insight into Western perceptions of the middle east.

My understanding is that the RDF exists to promote Rational thought and debate this video in no way contributes to that and therefore doesn't belong on this site.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 03:35:08 UTC | #552878

Go to: Islamic anti-Semitism

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 249 by tomt

@Andrew B. Please understand I have no problem with Israel and I dont see what grounds you have to imply I'm some sort of anti-zionist for simply reporting the fact that MEMRI has been accused of bias and propagandizing by a number of media watchdogs, CNN and the Guardian. There is a fairly detailed Wikipedia page appearing to offer both sides of the story on MEMRI which I think is worth reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East_Media_Research_Institute

I understand your point that all media is to some extent biased, however the material in the video is of no use to anyone interested in moving the topic forward rationally - to do that it would need to provide us context, provenance and counterpoint. This video is the equivalent of collecting some of the wackier comments from this site and claiming they offer an insight into the Atheist media, or taking Glen Beck and Rush Limbaughs best bits and claiming they offer insight into Western perceptions of the middle east.

My understanding is that the RDF exists to promote Rational thought and debate this video in no way contributes to that and therefore doesn't belong on this site.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 02:40:45 UTC | #552869

Go to: Islamic anti-Semitism

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 247 by tomt

Would just like to second all of those who are upset to see the RDF site uncritically posting material from MEMRI an organisation that even a brief google search will show has a track record for promoting biased inflammatory material and which has been criticised by both CNN and The Guardian newspaper as a propaganda tool of the Israeli government.

This is scaremongering pure and simple and has no place on a site which exists to promote reason and critical thought.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 01:11:13 UTC | #552833

Go to: Allah’s existence to be debated at UK’s leading mosque

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by tomt

@DamianIcely - linked to what I think is there website: http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/emrc/about.php

Thu, 14 Oct 2010 00:42:45 UTC | #533192

Go to: Allah’s existence to be debated at UK’s leading mosque

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by tomt

Well unless its a meta-joke poking fun at the sort of joke an ignorant and uninformed person would make about Islam...then it is not particularly funny and based on an offensive stereotype. Implying that Muslims are all involved in suicide bombing even as part of a joke perpetuates a dangerous and ignorant stereotype much like the 'protocols of zion' myth.

The fact that someone is simply 'making a joke' doesn't give them a free pass to be an asshole. And whilst, I would not ban people from making such ignorant statements, I'll call them out on it when I see it.

Examples of jokes about religion that are actually funny...

  1. Every sperm is scared
  2. Proof of God
  3. In the bullshit department...

As for the EMRC - they research the impact of the growing Muslim population of Europe on their community - they set out with the assumption that the growth of this population has a positive effect (so they have an agenda) and seek to counter what they describe as 'Islamaphobia' the perception that a growing Muslim population is bad for social cohesion and security. See here

Thu, 14 Oct 2010 00:30:21 UTC | #533187

Go to: Allah’s existence to be debated at UK’s leading mosque

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by tomt

Comment 13 by DamianIcely :

The EMRC is a respected establishment that regularly performs double blind tests on muslims around Europe. These include find the trigger experiments using blindfolded fundamentalists. The value of their contributions to science should be neither mocked nor undervalued.

This is an ignorant and bigoted joke.

Wed, 13 Oct 2010 23:28:26 UTC | #533168

Go to: I had no idea this was even a question

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 91 by tomt

@smilingatheist

I am constantly accused of concern trolling simply because I question the consensus view on this site-something I find ironic from a collection of 'free thinkers'.

As for her question:

Do you think a baby conceived in test tube is still a child in the eyes of God?

It is ambiguous I agree but in the context of the article, the quotes included and the long-standing theist objections to IVF, the question only makes sense if read as invoking the Theist myth of a test tube baby - their belief that somehow pre-transfer embryos are actually children. If these embryos are children in the eyes of god or science there is an ethical issue to be debated around all the wasted embryos. The alternative reading which everyone here is happy to adopt (because it is easiest for us to always believe the absolute worst about theists) would be that there is somehow an open question as to whether IVF children are really people in the eyes of god. Once again this reading is possible because Grossman has not expressed herself particularly clearly. HOWEVER such a reading makes absolutely no sense in the context of the arguments Theists make that IVF is unethical or the broader Catholic argument for right to life.

I am not disagreeing with those who say that the views expressed in the article are wrong-headed and offensive. In my very first comment (comment 6) I made it clear that her view was ignorant and that the suggestion that IVF parents are shoppers is particularly offensive.

However I was urging everyone to calm down because in their enthusiasm to bash Grossman, commentators from this site were rushing over to USA today posting comments stating that only a monster would suggest test-tube babies are not fully realised human beings. This is exactly the position that Catholics and other Christian fundamentalists take to oppose IVF, Stem-Cell research and abortion. By urging calm I was hoping to prevent any more Atheists and making the Catholic case against IVF on a fairly broadly read news site.

As you will see if you look at the Faith and Reason blog today, Grossman has now been able to write an article implying that Atheists are mean and bitter: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/religion/index

Anyway this story is about to fall off my RSS feed so I probably wont respond to any further @tomt 's

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 22:20:21 UTC | #531099

Go to: I had no idea this was even a question

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 82 by tomt

Comment 80 by Nunbeliever :

She is clearly asking whether test tube BABIES are to be considered real humans. Yes, she is discussing this issue from a religios perspective. But surely if a child is not to be considered a child in the mind of God, then how could a human being ever consider such an abomination a real child. She does not say whether this is in fact her own opinion, but I think the fact that she is seriously even considering such a question a legitimate one is highly disturbing.

Your interpretation is not supported by what she is actually saying in her article.

My interpretation is supported by 3 factors

1) Common sense - even though the media often favours the theist over the secularist position it is simply not reasonable to think that USA today is going to keep up an article that suggest children from IVF are not human

2) I read the whole article - this woman's column is a 'web buzz' aggregation of articles elsewhere on the web, if you click on the links or read the articles linked to you will see that they are all concerned with the embryos pre-transfer

3) Understanding the arguments - When pro-lifers, Catholics and other religious fundamentalists opposed to IVF or stem cell research talk about 'Test-Tube Babies' they are not referring to just the child that is born, for them as soon as an egg is fertilised it is a baby - in their mind the embryos fertilised and kept on ice are babies. This is why for theists there is a relevant question to be answered - are the thousands of test-tube babies created and never used as part of IVF treatment human or not? Opposition to stem cell research and IVF by the Catholic church (which receives most attention from Grossman) is always on the grounds that fertilised embryos are actual human beings thus killing them is a mortal sin. The Catholic church has never argued that the babies that result from IVF have no soul, the Catholic position is summed up quite well by Keith Fournier at: http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=38117&page=1

" Yet, human embryology and developmental biology affirm that a human embryo is not distinct in kind from a human being, but a human being at an early stage of development. Even prior to implantation, a human embryo is a unique living human being with the genetic constitution and epigenetic primordial that continues to develop throughout his or her life. However, the right not to be killed in the womb, the right to be born and the right to participate in human relationships are rejected for these little persons. Human embryonic lives are reduced to what one astute Catholic philosopher and lawyer, Robert George, called a "pre-personal way of being human". "

The position everyone on this site claims Grossman is arguing is a clearly ridiculous one which no religious body supports.

Hope that helps.

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 15:02:54 UTC | #530899

Go to: I had no idea this was even a question

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 77 by tomt

@Letsbereasonable

Comment 73 by Letsbereasonable :

Where are you reading what you are reading? This is what I read...

Do you think a baby conceived in test tube is still a child in the eyes -- or mind or hands, depending on your theology/philosophy -- of God? Does the science behind this merit the Nobel Prize for Medicine or condemnation in the realm of faith and ethics?

First of all, the author of the article has structured her whole piece terribly so it is not at all clear initially that she really means to ask - should we treat the pre-transfer embryos as humans NOT should we treat the actual children that result from IVF as human beings.

What gives it away - is the quote from Ignacio Carrasco de Paula at the end of the article - he says of the pre-transfer embryos:

"In the best of cases they are transferred into a uterus but most probably they will end up abandoned or dead, which is a problem for which the Nobel Prize winner is responsible."

The article that Grossman has linked to at this point (found here) in which we see stated the Catholic opposition to IVF (expressed by the FIAC)deploring:

"the use of human beings as animals for experimentation and then destruction.

"It (IVF) has created a culture where they are seen as useful means to an end, rather than the precious individual humans that they are,"

Clearly if the Catholic church or Grossman was really suggesting that the children resulting from IVF were not human this would not be an issue.

The final test to prove my reading of the article is one of simple logic - do you really think it is plausible that USA today would publish an article stating that children resulting from IVF might be less than human. Given the Catholic position on abortion is it likely that they would be claiming IVF children are less than human.

What Atheists need to realise is that when we talk about test tube babies we generally mean the babies that result from IVF. However when theists, particularly Christian fundamentalists talk about test-tube babies they have an image in their mind of an actual baby in a test-tube, created by a scientist either to be implanted in a mother, experimented on or discarded. This is why they get upset and why uninformed commentators ask the question 'should test-tube babies be viewed as human'.

What we need to do, is calmly and rationally explain the science of the situation:

These are not babies but 8 cell cultures -(if my understanding is wrong, please correct me) - there is no question of these cultures feeling pain, having brain function or anything remotely approaching sentience.

Appreciate this was rather convoluted, hoped it helped.

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 06:31:35 UTC | #530630

Go to: I had no idea this was even a question

tomt's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by tomt

Can everyone please CALM DOWN.

She is not saying that the children who result from IVF are not human

She is asking whether the fertilised embryo pre-transfer to the womb is a human being. This is why she has added the quotes from the Catholic church talking about the thousands of un-implanted embryos who end up 'abandoned' or 'dead'.

The answer to her question is from the point of view of someone who supports IVF or other forms of embryonic research:

NO - an embryo pre-transfer to the womb (at roughly the 8 cell stage) is not a human being.

Everyone who is rushing over there and ranting 'how can you say this you evil XXXX of course they are human' is actually making the classic pro-life argument. This would be funny but it makes the rest of us look like idiots.

IF you need to rant about something, rant about the fact her article is so poorly written that someone who scan reads it might get the idea she is proposing that actually children resulting from this procedure are somehow less human. Alternatively rant about the fact that so many of us 'free-thinkers' are willing to think uncritically and react in a knee-jerk fashion just because someone on the RDF website told us to. Better yet rant about the fact that the understanding of embryology science is so poor some people take the term 'test-tube' baby to mean that pre-transfer to the womb there are actual viable babies being kept on ice.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 18:07:04 UTC | #530375