Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Steps to Life

As I mentioned last week, this week’s blog is going to focus on the next aspect of the Scientific Method, hypothesis. The third step is prediction. Because hypothesis and prediction go hand in hand, I’m including prediction in this post as well.

But first, let’s remind ourselves what the word science means. The word science comes from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge. (

Do we have an understanding of what “knowledge” means?

a(1): the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2): acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique b (1): the fact or condition of being aware of something (2): the range of one's information or understanding c: the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning ; d: the fact or condition of having information or of being learned (a person of unusual knowledge) ( )

Why do I go to such lengths to define the terminology that we are using? Sometimes we take for granted words that we use every day without considering the impact those words have or really mean. The words from the definition that stick out in my mind are: familiarity, understanding, being aware of something, and circumstance or condition of apprehending truth. Remember these, they will come in handy later.

Okay, so now we’re ready to tackle the second step of the Scientific Method. Our first resource, “Science Made Simple,” says the following about hypothesis. This word basically means "a possible solution to a problem, based on knowledge and research." The hypothesis is a simple statement that defines what you think the outcome of your experiment will be. (

In other words, the hypothesis is a single question complemented by a simple answer that proposes a solution to your original question or consideration. Our experiment will be based on whatever we define our hypothesis to be.

With our topic in mind, my hypothesis will be:

TOPIC (or question): “Given the scientific data of what it means to be human, does the pre-born child qualify as a human being?”
OBSERVATION: I believe that the pre-born child does qualify as a human being because:
(1) From the moment of conception, every piece of information that a person needs to be human is contained in the dividing cells of that embryo (zygote).
(2) Through informal, exploratory observations, the growth of the human embryo always results in a human being.

The third step in the Scientific Method, prediction, is the part of the method that allows you to “get specific -- how will you demonstrate that you hypothesis is true?” (

Let’s use these definitions to work our way through the second and third steps of the Scientific Method for the pre-born child.

Through the diligent research of Crick and Watson, we know that every living thing has DNA and that DNA is unique to each particular life form (We know that the DNA of a fruit fly is separate and unique to the DNA of a human. While chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas most closely “relate” to human through DNA (chromosomal mapping is similar in specific areas, but humans have 23 chromosomes), human DNA is still unique.

What is even more mind-boggling is the fact that each human’s DNA is unique to them. So for example, even though both Tom and Judy have human DNA, their particular genes are unique to them. Each and every person contains their own genes within their 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up their DNA. We know from familiarity that is true. We observe other humans on a daily basis. We see that even though siblings are related, they are still their own unique individuals. This leads me to the understanding that every human is unique and should be given respect that human life demands.

Our next step is to tackle the informal observations part of the hypothesis. This is rather easy. For example, the growth of the human embryo always results in a human being. We are aware that when a human female is pregnant, she will always give birth to either a male or female human being. Our being aware of something is that we (from the time that we are small) are not worried that our mother is having a puppy or a kitten, but a human being. This is also the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth.

Now that I have the observations set, it is relatively simple to come up with the following prediction.

Using DNA as evidence, the pre-born child is a human being.

Pretty fun, huh?

Next week, we get into some interesting thoughts with the next step of the Scientific Method, the experiment. Until then, consider how you might approach such an experiment.

Thanks for tuning in!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Scientific Method and the Pre-born Child: Observation

Two weeks ago, I talked about using the Scientific Method to investigate the pre-born child.

Last week I abandoned all science to share my feelings on a family happening. This week, I return to the original theme of using science.

I do not wish to negate the importance of last week’s blog. I believe that God has given us a conscience and a heart for a reason and we are asked to make decisions using these faculties every day.

Nevertheless, there are those out there who seem to separate science from conscience and therefore it is necessary to provide a more sterile perspective in order to communicate with those who may not see life as a precious resource. Therefore, I venture into the Scientific Method…

The first step in the Scientific Method is called Observation. “This step could also be called ‘research.’ It is the first stage in understanding the problem you have chosen. After you decide on your area of science and the specific question you want to ask, you will need to research everything that you can find about the problem.”

I have chosen the pre-born child as the topic to investigate. This part of the method will be easy as there is so much information out there on the development stages of the “fetus”.

The first two months contains a great deal of formation and I have used the following website for all the information presented here.

“Between 5 and 8 days after fertilization, the blastocyst attaches to the lining of the uterus, usually near the top. This process, called implantation, is completed by day 9 or 10. Then an inner layer of membranes (amnion) develops by about day 10 to 12, forming the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac fills with a clear liquid (amniotic fluid) and expands to envelop the developing embryo, which floats within it.

This stage is characterized by the formation of most internal organs and external body structures. Organ formation begins about 3 weeks after fertilization, when the embryo elongates, first suggesting a human shape. Shortly thereafter, the area that will become the brain and spinal cord (neural tube) begins to develop. The heart and major blood vessels begin to develop by about day 16 or 17. The heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20, and the first red blood cells appear the next day. Blood vessels continue to develop in the embryo and placenta.

Almost all organs are completely formed by about 8 weeks after fertilization (which equals 10 weeks of pregnancy). The exceptions are the brain and spinal cord, which continue to mature throughout pregnancy. Most malformations (birth defects) occur during the period when organs are forming. During this period, the embryo is most vulnerable to the effects of drugs, radiation, and viruses.

At the end of the 8th week after fertilization (10 weeks of pregnancy), the embryo is considered a fetus. During this stage, the structures that have already formed grow and develop. The following are markers during pregnancy:
• By 12 weeks of pregnancy: The fetus fills the entire uterus.
• By about 14 weeks: The sex can be identified.
• By about 16 to 20 weeks: Typically, the pregnant woman can feel the fetus moving.
• By about 24 weeks: The fetus has a chance of survival outside the uterus.
The lungs continue to mature until near the time of delivery. The brain accumulates new cells throughout pregnancy and the first year of life after birth.”

There is so much information presented here, but the highlights include that the baby’s heart begins to beat at 28 days from time of conception. The baby’s organs have formed by week 8.
One of the most important pieces of information to consider is that the baby’s DNA is formed from the moment the egg and sperm meet. Everything to make that child who they will become is present from the very first time the cell divides.

For those of us who believe in a Creator, it begs the question of when does the child receive their soul? It is my theory that if the child has every detail worked out in it’s DNA from the moment of conception, then why wouldn’t their soul be present? Some Jewish traditions hold that the baby isn’t given a soul until it is born.

So here is the biggest question of all: If by 24 weeks the baby has a chance of survival outside the uterus, then why is partial birth abortion allowed? The procedure demands that the mother partially delivers the baby, everything except the head. It is at that point that the child’s head is punctured and it’s brain is sucked out.

These are all observations. The facts about how a human is formed, the facts about a “medical” procedure. They are all undeniable. (Sometimes the truth is harsh.)

Next week, we will tackle the next element of the Scientific Method, the hypothesis. In the meantime, there is a great YouTube video that shows the stages of the growth of the pre-born child. and . Enjoy watching them and see how you were formed.

P.S. Trinity Rose, I miss you. Love, Aunt Retta.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Tribute to Trinity Rose

I try to be very methodical with regard to my discussions on science and faith. However, there are times when systematic reasoning does not apply to this human reality that we live in.

Yesterday was one of those days. Let me explain.

Sunday night, my brother and sister-in-law gave birth to a little girl, Trinity Rose. Her gestational period had only been 23 weeks. This tiny little human being opened her eyes and turned her head toward voices. Her tiny little hand grasped her mother’s thumb. Her legs were the size and length of my fingers, and her arms were the size of my pinky. Her beautifully shaped nose was the size of this letter “O” and her wonderfully fashioned ears were the size of small buttons.

Nevertheless, she was here. She was beautiful and she was human. Weighing only about a pound, she was a human being that Children’s Hospital considered viable. They tried everything to keep her here with her parents.

Regrettably, that was not her fate.

Yesterday afternoon, as my family gathered to see this tiny expression of God’s love, she left us as quietly as she had been formed in her mother’s womb. What she left was more powerful than any words spoken, more beautiful than any rose. What she gave us was a moment in time to imagine God’s love. She left a statement more influential than any legislation, more thoughtful than any philosophical argument.

With the quiet beating of her heart, she said, “I am here. I am a gift from God. Treasure me for these few moments that can I be with you. Love me for my uniqueness; hold me close to your heart."

As I watched Trinity Rose’s mother hold her and her father embrace them both, I experienced a moment lost in time. Though I heard the clock tick away the moments that sweet baby would grace the earth with her presence, everything stopped. A family here as it should be. Loving, protected, meaningful.

As we cry for her parent’s loss, we are graced by her appearance. As we mourn, we are educated. No matter how people argue whether the child in the mother’s womb is viable, no matter how heated the dispute gets, one reality that cannot be denied. This tiny person held her mother’s finger and looked into her eyes. Her mother and father will always treasure her and no legislation can separate these hearts.

Science is a method used to describe nature’s facts. It can never describe what’s in the heart.
Last week, my posting said I would use the Scientific Method to discuss the preborn child. I asked a pro-choice friend of mine to read it, hoping we could discuss her thoughts. She indicated that she couldn’t, it would just make her angry.

I reflected on why that would be. Why would you be angry discussing such a topic? But after yesterday, I understand. Those who fear the truth turn their fear into anger; it is their only weapon, it is their only defense. Once a person is educated on the truths of what it means to be a person, they are forever changed. Some people cannot bear to experience the reality of what that means.

Beginning life issues have always been a topic for the heart. Science can never take the place of that. Abortion, stem cell research, embryonic manipulation, and all other beginning life issues will not be won in the “trenches,” but by the pure persuasion of the heart, by pure love for humanity. Simply put all battles that are truly won by standing at the foot of the Cross. Love given, love received.

That’s what Trinity Rose will always be. Love given. Love received.