Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rough Draft: Stuff Pro-lifers Should Know: Cell Lines have no souls

Henrietta Lacks with her husband.  Source for the image
Before one understands the use of cell lines from aborted fetuses, one must first understand what a cell line is.   Medical researchers need human cells to test their theories and learn how the human cell works.  The types of cells they need are called, “immortal cells”.  These cells can be grown indefinitely, divided among scientists around the world, and frozen for decades.  However until the 1950’s they did not exist.

In 1951, a thirty year old African American woman went to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland for assistance with her cervical cancer. While there, a scientist sampled the cells of her tumor without her permission. For unknown reasons these cells continued to reproduce in the labs becoming the first immortal cell line. Though Henrietta Lacks died later that year, her cell line survives around the world till this day.

These cells were named after the first two letters in her first and last name.  Dubbed HeLa cells these cells were used in the development of the first polio vaccine just a year later.  The cells have been used in much scientific advancement including in vitro fertilization, gene mapping, and even cloning. 

Twenty –five years later, 1976, HeLa cells had contaminated many cultures of cells that were thought to contain prostate and breast cells.  Given the challenge of separating out HeLa cells from every other immortal cell line, a post doc decided to call Henrietta’s widower in Clover, Virginia.  However, he only had a third grade education and did not even know what a cell was.  What he understood from the phone call was a little different,“We’ve got your wife. She’s alive in a laboratory. We’ve been doing research on her for the last 25 years. And now we have to test your kids to see if they have cancer.” This is not what the scientist state, but he did not realize that Henrietta’s family would not understand.
Because some of Henrietta’s family belonged to a faith healing Christian sect, HeLa cells have taken on a religious persona since that fateful phone call, thirty five years ago.  If you put every HeLa cell end to end, they would stretch around the globe at least three times.  Combined they weigh at least 50 million metric tons.  Some in her family have considered her to be the “Lord's first immortal being”, chosen and brought back to life as these cells to cure diseases and she sometimes causes problems.  Her daughter thought that her mother intentionally contaminated the cell lines in 1976 as a way of getting back at the scientists who used her.  She ferverently believed that her mother’s soul existed in these petri dishes and test tubes from London to Sydney.  She worried that her mother was unable to be at rest or felt pain from the countless experiments performed globally over the decades.

Here lies a large part of the theological argument.  Are human cell lines still human?  More importantly do they have a soul.  The modern anti-abortion movement teaches that life begins at conception.  Though a secular argument, the pro-life movement seems to imply that a human soul inhabits a single celled organism.  The argument against stem cell research seems to imply that a human soul inhabits a blastocyst which contains around seventy to a hundred cells.  Evangelical Anthropology assumes that a soul can exist without a brain on the microscopic scale.  Jeremiah is told

“Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you.
Before you were born I set you apart.
I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5*

Cell lines however are not like removing a limb.  Any human debris that I leave behind given enough time will generally decay.  If I lose a limb eventually this limb would rot before or soon after my passing.  Cell lines however have the ability to out live their original body.  Not only do they outlive the body, they can reproduce and proliferate and be taken to corners of the globe the body has never seen.  In this sense, and I think the correct sense, cell lines are like organ transplants.  I have had the pleasure of knowing individuals who have donated their liver to patients, because of what they considered to be God's command.  In these instances, they do not believe that their soul is attached to another individual.  Likewise when one receives a kidney donation, one generally does not bind the other soul to their body.  Organ donors are not thought to rest in pieces instead of peace.

I wish that I could be more Biblical, but the Bible does not give much guidance in these matters.  There are general principles, but these were taught to people who only thought on a macroscopic scale instead of a microscopic.  Like Henrietta's family, they had no idea what a cell even was, much less that they could exist beyond death.  We have learned a lot since the days of the Biblical writers.  For example, we now know that objects of different mass fall at the same rate.

Even without much spiritual guidance, I am fairly certain the soul remains with the whole instead of being scattered every place that we leave our cells. 

Coming up next: Fetal Cell Lines and Vaccines

*For the last two centuries this verse has been interpreted as life, a human soul, begins at conception.  For most of the rest of church history, this was not the mainstream interpretation.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Abortion and Slippery Slopes

Since Clinton ended the five year moratorium in 1993 on "Federal funding of therapeutic transplantation research that uses human fetal tissue derived from induced abortions", abortion has gone down. 

More on this later.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Glenn Beck's Alinsky Marxist Islamic Caliphate

In Beck's Islamic Caliphate there are 15 from Africa, 7 from Europe, 9 from Asia, and 9 from the Middle East. My numbers could be off, but I did my best reading Beck's map.  If you find more you can let me know.

For the record this would be the largest Empire by far.  The first caliphate and possibly the most populated caliphate, the Umayyad caliphate, held about 62 million. After the first caliphate, the Muslim population largely divided into smaller caliphates.  No, Islamic power ever rose to the former first glory.

Here it should be noted that a number of modern Christian Empires surpassed the Umayyad Caliphate in strength, area, and population.   The greatest empire that ever existed was the British Empire.  The Russian and the Spanish empires rank third and fourth.    Three of the top five largest empires were Christian.

At the height of the Soviet Union there the empire held about 300 million.  Again, the largest Islamic empire contained only about 62 million.  At over 80 million, Egypt alone contains a higher population than any of the former Islamic Empires.  Many do not realize it, but the nation of Nigeria contains about 150 million people.  These two nations by themselves would add up to more than the Soviet Union.  Governments and conspiracies break down when they cannot control their people.  The likelihood that billions of people could be conquered and put under an Islamic Caliphate is preposterous. Human nature practically forbids it.

Africa: Senegal, Gambia, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger,  Somalia, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Libya,

Europe: Germany, Greece, Albania, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, France, Vatican City?

Asia: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, Malaysia,  Indonesia, East Timor, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan

Middle East: Iran, Jordan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rough Draft: Updating the Old Testament: Part Two

 Source for image:

7tc Heb “his height was six cubits and a span” (cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV). A cubit was approximately eighteen inches, a span nine inches. So, according to the Hebrew tradition, Goliath was about nine feet, nine inches tall (cf. NIV, CEV, NLT “over nine feet”; NCV “nine feet, four inches”; TEV “nearly 3 metres”). However, some Greek witnesses, Josephus, and a manuscript of 1 Samuel from Qumran read “four cubits and a span” here, that is, about six feet, nine inches (cf. NAB “six and a half feet”). This seems more reasonable; it is likely that Goliath’s height was exaggerated as the story was retold. See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 286, 291.

The evidence for the four and a half cubits is very convincing.

  • The LXX:[10] 6 feet, 9 inches
  • 4QSama[11] 6 feet, 9 inches
  • Josephus:[12] 6 feet, 9 inches
  • Lucian recension:[13] 6 feet, 9 inches
  • Codex Vaticanus:[14] 6 feet, 9 inches
  • Codex Alexandrinus:[15] 6 feet, 9 inches

The earliest Hebrew source that puts Goliath at six and a half cubits is dated at AD 935.  The earliest Greek source, Symmachus is dated around AD 200. Origen, in his Greek translation found in the fifth column of his Hexapla also lists Goliath’s height as six cubits and a span. Jerome also put the six and a half cubits into his 4th century Vulgate. 

Origen, Symmachus, and Jerome were probably all witness to Hebrew manuscripts that date to at least the late second century.  However, thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have a copy of Hebrew that predates the next copy by about one thousand years.  Also, we have Greek sources that predate Origen and Symmachus by over a hundred years.  Given the plethora of older manuscripts, Goliath was most likely 6 feet 9 inches.

I would already have made this video, but I am tweaking my sources and trying to get more textual information. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rough Draft for a new video, "Did Noah have a Small Brain?

Homo Sapiens, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo cepranensis, Homo antecessor, Homo Erectus, Homo Ergaster are generally regarded by modern creationists as human and descendants of Noah post-flood. I found one paper on AIG that would also include even Homo Habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba. A lot of creationists would consider these three to be too ape like.

They draw the line between the bipedal apes: Ardipithecus kadabba, Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus bahrelghazali, Australopithecus bosei, Australopithecus anamensis, Australopithecus aethiopicus, Australopithecus robustus, and as mentioned above generally Homo Habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Australopithecus sediba, plus Homo georgicus, Homo gautengensis. These bipedal apes are thought to be descendants of a pair of bipedal apes that Noah took on the ark.

Anyways I am trying to convey that modern creationism argues for a human family with several species of smaller brained descendants. Also they argue for a group of bipedal apes descended from probably one bipedal ape kind. I have been compiling this for a future video entitled “Did Noah have a small brain?”

Kurt Wise argues that the Tower of Babel was built by Homo Erectus

Human: Homo Sapiens,

Human: Homo neanderthalensis,

Human: Homo rhodesiensis,

Human: Homo heidelbergensis,

Human: Homo cepranensis,

Human: Homo antecessor,

Human: Homo Erectus,

Human: Homo Ergaster

Ape: Homo Habilis

Human: Homo Habilis,

Human: Homo rudolfensis,

Ape: Homo rudolfensis,

Ape: Homo georgicus,

Ape: Homo gautengensis

Human: Australopithecus sediba,

Ape: Australopithecus sediba,

Updating the Old Testament: Part One

I have been accused of having a YouTube Account dedicated to taking down Ergun Caner and his family.  I hope this is not the case.  Anyways there are issues that I would much rather be talking about.  For now, I will devote this blog (which I set up inorder to comment on the impetuous FBCJaxWatchdog blog) to my videos that nobody watches.  I am not promising that I will never talk about Ergun here, but I will try to avoid it.  I have videos on Vimeo and YouTube and a Twitter account.  You can watch him there.  

A Summary of the Creationist Ceratopsian Kind