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Doctrine in dialogue format
Study to show thyself approved unto God,..., rightly dividing the word of truth.
"Your observation is most correct Mr Busybody. Although the title of my book has a bearing on the subject matter, my choice of titles is that of any other writer, to attract the attention of a prospective reader."
"The title does indeed vie for my attention Mr Cynic. And from the short blurb I read concerning your book, the focus of your writing is centered around the eternal nature of the soul. Since I've yet to have the opportunity to read your book, you'll have to consider me a complete neophyte and take me step-by-step through what appears to be a complex maze of information."
"I can see no other way by which you may understand what I've written Mr Busybody. As you've already pointed out, my book is indeed filled with details that if read detached from its associated introduction the meaning would become lost in the shuffle."
"That brings me to what you said at the beginning of this interview Mr Cynic. You made the statement that the title of your book does not necessarily have anything to do with the subject matter of your book. Will you explain your meaning?"
"Certainly Mr Busybody. As you already know and have indicated, the subject of my book is in regard to the eternal nature of the soul. Most people just accept this concept, that is to say, they believe that the soul of man never dies. Not being one to accept as fact what I can't prove for myself, I set out to investigate what it is that constitutes life, and how life differs from the soul."
"I see. Then am I to assume that your use of the word headless Mike is merely a play on words, that is to say, that a person without a head is not alive and therefore has no soul?"
"Not at all Mr Busybody. Headless Mike is indeed alive, or rather he was alive, but that was many years ago. Let me explain."
"Please do Mr Cynic. You've peaked my curiosity, and thrown me into confusion all at the same time."
"That was my intent Mr Busybody. Let's begin at the beginning. In your opinion, when does life begin?"
"When does life begin? You mean when does a child, that is a baby become a person? That question has been asked by the most well known of professionals in all fields Mr Cynic. And as far as I know, no one has come up with a hard and fast answer to the question. I would assume that a fetus becomes a human when it's born, but there are others who claim it's a full-fledged human when it's conceived and the egg begins to divide itself. But then the question might arise, should the embryo fail to continue dividing after its initial split, has it then cease to become a living soul as well? And again, if the egg should become twins or triplets, is the soul still one? Or does it divide as well? Am I on track with your quest Mr Cynic?"
"Precisely so Mr Busybody. As you say, there are many schools of thought on the subject of when an embryo becomes a human and therefore deserving of human rights. Now, considering the research involving stem cells where science and the medical field is attempting to find a cure, through the use of aborted fetuses, for such illnesses as diabetes, spinal injuries such as the one Christopher Reeves experienced, and Parkinson's like that of Michael J Fox, as well as many others, what is your take on the moral implications of this type of research?"
'You have a way of throwing me curve balls Mr Cynic. Are you by any chance a pro baseball player during your off time from writing?"
"Perhaps in a previous life Mr Busybody. But you haven't answered my question."
"I was hoping to avoid answering that question Mr Cynic. But off hand, having not given the matter my considered attention, I would have to say no to such research. But what's you're point in asking me such a debatable question?"
"Remember our topic of discussion Mr Busybody. We're looking into the eternal nature of the soul. By today's ethical standards such research, as well as abortion in general, is acceptable and in fact desirable, while in the not too distant past such an attitude would have been considered deplorable, if not outright criminal. Now, in this time of rapid change, the fetus is considered as nothing more than a simple extension of a woman's body to do with as she pleases. Previously this same fetus was considered a human from its beginning, and voluntarily destroying the fetus was seen as tantamount to murder."
"I've noticed that moral values seem to change according to what seems expedient for the moment. And if I'm not mistaken, even though a doctor can now destroy a fetus almost at will, a mother can not do so without being charged with a criminal act, and if a person was to attack a pregnant woman and the fetus is injured in the womb, that person can be charged for assault on the child, or even worse. Such ambiguity seems a bit befuddling to me, but getting back to the eternal nature of the soul...."
"Yes, the soul. My question to you Mr Busybody is, considering the lack of absolute truth concerning the age at which a fetus becomes a person, when, in your opinion, does the child obtain a soul that by necessity lives forever? Is the soul part of the egg? If so, at what point? Is the soul part of the sperm? Again, if so, at what point? Can you see how the subject of the soul has not been researched to any degree?"
"I must confess you've brought up some interesting questions that I have never considered."
"Now, moving on to another area where life has begun to take on new attributes. Whereas cloning in the past was relegated to the Science Fiction genre and something outside the realm of possibility, we see where cloning is now not only a possibility, but a fact. What used to be relegated to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is coming to pass. Man has walked on the moon, and he has managed to clone everything from a fruit fly to sheep and pigs, to, according to some reports, a human being. Now, my question to you is, what do you think should be the moral values placed on the cloning process? That is to say, what is likely to be the outcome of cloning human beings?"
"More curve balls Mr Cynic? Again, I hadn't given the matter much thought, however I can see certain problems that might occur if cloning was to become commonplace. For instance, would such a... person be a person? Or would it, or should I say, he, be something less than human? What would be the legal status of such a one? Could a clone be taxed as you and I? Would they serve in the military? Would they have any human rights afforded a person? Considering the population explosion where there lacks enough food for those of us born through natural means, where would sustenance come from if cloning was to become a widespread practice?"
"You've hit upon some very good points Mr Busybody, but there are some factors you missed. For instance, if I was to create a clone of myself, would that clone be my possession to do with as I please? If I decide to exterminate the clone, could I be charged with murder? How about if I was to raise up many clones, farm them if you please, for the purpose of selling off the body parts. This has been an issue under consideration already. Add to this those who desire to clone themselves in order to have spare parts when they're needed. Through the process of cloning those with sufficient funds can hold a bank account of clones, if you will, whereby parts are available that can be used without fear of rejection as is an ever-present possible with donated body parts."
"Yes, I can see how there's a great deal more to the concept of cloning than I had supposed. But then, our subject is the eternal nature of the soul. How does cloning have anything to do with the subject of your book?"
"Is a clone a person Mr Busybody? Does a clone have a soul? If so, then where did the soul come from? Is the clone's soul, if it in fact has one, part of the person's soul who contributed his or her body part to create that clone? If a clone dies, does his, her, or its soul live on? And if so, what is the destiny of that soul? Is a clone subject to the same moral laws as other humans, according to God's perspective?"
"I have no answer to any of those questions Mr Cynic. I'm at a loss for words."
"Looking at the inability to speak, we now come to Headless Mike. We've considered the question of life in regards to the prospect of if a clone in fact has a soul. We've also looked at the question of if a fetus has a soul, and if so, when does it begin. We've also considered the concept that the beginning of life is an unresolved issue. Now, my question is, when does life end? Is a person no longer alive if their brain is dead? How about if a person's heart stops, but is kept beating by mechanical means? When does life cease to exist?"
"Again your question is one beyond my ability to answer My Cynic. I guess, since the subject of your book is the eternal nature of the soul, I would say the body is dead when the soul leaves the body."
"You're trying to read my mind Mr Busybody, but you drew a blank. However, you raise a good point. Returning to the scenarios I presented, that of a person with a heart that is only kept functioning because of a machine, whereas the body and the mind is gone. Is there a soul in that body as long as there's blood being pumped to its cells? How about a person who's brain dead, but the heart is revived and now functioning on its own? If a person is declared clinically dead, their body has ceased to regenerate itself to the point that the body is lowered into the grave, then revives, does the soul leave the body when the person dies, then return again?"
"Again, I don't know the answer to your question. But I would think that if a person's brain is not functioning, that person is dead, and the soul would no longer be in the body. If it comes back or not, I don't know."
"How about a person with no head Mr Busybody, would that person be dead or alive?"
"You're referring of course to Headless Mike. Are you trying to tell me there was actually such a person, someone who was alive but his head was severed?"
"Not a man Mr Busybody. Have you ever been assigned the task of beheading a chicken?"
"Yes, as a boy on my grandfather's farm. What of it? It's not something I relish looking back upon. I pity the poor chicken, its head on the chopping block while its body scurries about the yard. Now Mr Cynic, you're not going to tell me that chicken is still alive just because its body is still active for a few minutes are you?"
"Of course not. But tell me Mr Busybody, if that chicken without a head was to stand up, walk around the yard and perch on a fence, and perform as it would if it still had a head, what would you then think?"
"I'd think I was losing my marbles. But such a thing couldn't happen. It's physically impossible. You're now moving into the realm of the imaginative or miracles, and not reality."
"Not at all Mr Busybody. This very thing occurred in 1945. A farmer in Colorado had his wife fetch a chicken for the evening meal. When she chopped off the head of the rooster, she missed the neck and cut off its head, leaving only part of the brain stem and one ear. The rooster behaved as it always had, trying to crow, and to preen itself, and to eat. Mike, then called Miracle Mike, had to be fed with an eye dropper seeing as it was unable to feed itself. Headless Mike lived for eighteen months without a head, only succumbing when an attendant forgot to feed him. Now for my question, was the chicken alive when functioned those eighteen months without a head? Or was he dead?"
"I suppose it was alive, but then how could it be alive without a head? By what you told me the chicken was without any capacity to think or reason. So if it had been a person in that condition, we would again have the situation you posed earlier of a person who's body was still functioning but his brain was dead. I can't give you an answer to your question, but you're surely not going to tell me the chicken had an eternal soul, are you Mr Cynic?"
"Of course I'm not Mr Busybody. What I'm showing you is that, like birth, the beginning of a person's life, the cessation of life is not a clear-cut as we assume it to be."
"Ok, I see that Mr Cynic. Now the question remains, when does the soul begin? Where does the soul go after death? When does the soul cease to be, if it is not in fact eternal? You've left me with many questions I can't answer, and you've given me many reasons for doubting the popular concept of the eternal souls. Now give me the answers to these seemingly unsoluble questions."
"Ahh, there's the rub Mr Busybody. My point is not to give answers, but to challenge the answers that have been given. For no telling how long it's been assumed that the soul is eternal, and this assumption has gone without challenge. It's not my point to answer what I consider to be a fallacy in thinking, but to show that facts unquestioned may not be facts at all."
3Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. (Isaiah 55:)
28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mat 10:)
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