Time to Talk Abortion, Kids!

*insert sarcasm above, but just a little*

*insert sarcasm above, but just a little*

Yes everyone, I’m going to get controversial again. And yes, this is inspired by a lovely thread I got involved with on one of the news sites I follow. The beginning of the thread went like this:

Don’t support abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t support gay marriage? Don’t send a wedding gift to your gay friends.

The ensuing outcry was immense against this person. Arguments such as, “Don’t forget rape, extortion, armed robbery and assault, to name a few. If you don’t like them, don’t do them!” and the like were rolling like stones over the original poster. I couldn’t help but include my two cents, and got me into a couple conversations, some very informed, kind, and respectful, and some not so much. I’d like to share my views from this thread and see what everyone else thinks.

What is an abortion?

Enter Ziggy the Zygote, everyone!

Enter Ziggy the Zygote, everyone!

Let’s start with the basics, the definition of abortion. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an abortion is, “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.” From here, we must also deduce the definition of embryo: “a vertebrate at any stage of development prior to birth or hatching,” and fetus: “an unborn or unhatched vertebrate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind.” Basically, an embryo becomes a fetus around the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy. This also leads to the need to define birth: “brought forth by or as if by birth.”

When is an embryo a baby?

The reason I want to get these definitions out here is that these four words are interpreted very differently by each individual person. Namely, there are many who include the word human in the definitions of embryo and fetus, and who either draw a line or completely ignore the stage of birth as a measuring point of when a developing human can be considered a human. Bringing these definitions together in their current state does not explain where the line of embryo to human being lies (if any), and so people interpret the definitions to support their individual claims.

Instead of doing this, I’d like to point out a characteristic of an embryo or fetus on which I base my personal view on the subject. And no, I’m not going to go into what stage the embryo can feel pain or when it develops fingers and toes or all that nonsense. I want to talk about how the embryo survives as an embryo and not as a human. Embryos are protected within the womb of the mother, and cannot survive during most development stages outside of this environment. Additionally, the embryo feeds off of the nutrition the mother intakes. Now, I’m going to take some time to focus on these two attributes. Looking at the embryo as a collection of cells which are in development into a specifically designed creature, and those cells being protected during development within the confines of a protective area which stimulates that development, one can make the comparison that an embryo is like a pupa within a cocoon: “an intermediate usually quiescent stage of an insect that occurs between the larva and the imago in forms (as a bee, moth, or beetle) which undergo complete metamorphosis and that is characterized by internal changes by which larval structures are replaced by those typical of the imago.” The main difference being that the protective outer casing for an embryo is another living creature. Keeping this in mind and looking at the second attribute of an embryo, the fact that the embryo must feed off of the nourishment of the mother, I see another parallel; a parasite.

BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!

BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I said it. Embryos are parasites: “An organism that lives in or on another organism (its host [aka the mother]) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.” Biologically speaking, I see no argument against this concept. Combine the idea of the parasite and the pupa, and you have an embryo. So the question then becomes when does the parasitic pupa (embryo) become a human? Well, looking at the pupa aspect, it can be suggested that the moment that stage of the creature loses the attributes which make it that particular stage, it becomes the next stage. This means that the embryo remains an embryo until it sheds the attributes of an embryo. If it can be agreed that an embryo requires the safety of the womb to complete development, and also requires the nourishment of the mother to develop and survive, then it is safe to say that the embryo is no longer an embryo when it no longer needs the protection of the womb nor the nourishment of the mother. Basically, the embryo becomes human at the point of birth and the severing of the umbilical cord.

Now, keep in mind that there are situations where the mother cannot carry the embryo into what we would consider full development. It is usually the case, however, that in these situations the need for protection due to bodily development is completed, and the creature is in a stage of growth (aka the third trimester). In this case, the creature could be considered a human child, I believe, where it must only be assisted in feeding, and can exist off of nourishment not from the mother.

Is abortion murder?

So, to summarize, an embryo can be considered a parasite in a pupal stage of development, feeding off the mother and developing into a new creature, a human. Once that embryo no longer needs to feed off the mother and is fully developed, it becomes a human, just as a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Through this deduction, I do not consider abortion to be murder. It is the same as getting dewormed, at least on a biological level. This does not take into account the emotional implications behind an abortion, nor do I claim that I know what I would do if I became pregnant and was not in the position to raise a child.

What this means for everyone else…

All of the above, as with all of my rant/commentaries, is simply my personal view on what abortion means. It is up to the individual to decide how to deal with this situation if they are faced with this kind of decision. There are those who will not agree with my deduction, and therefore with my conclusion, and that’s fine. There are some who will find my conclusion as immoral, just as there are some who believe that contraceptives are immoral as well. Well guess what? If you consider abortion to be the murder of a child, provide me with a scientific rebuttal that refutes my claims above. I am open to your discussion.

Your response, however, is reserved to your own view and how you would react in such a situation. I will listen to your argument, and you may be able to change my mind. Who knows? Just as with gay marriage, however, the morality of abortion is up to the judgment of the individual. Your opinion on the morality of this issue does not make an embryo a living human being. In other words…

lebowski_opinion

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28 thoughts on “Time to Talk Abortion, Kids!

  1. I’ve always considered myself pro-choice on a policy level, but am unsure about my feelings about whether abortion would be immoral. You make a good case for why it isn’t immoral, but it’s really hard to separate from the idea of what that embryo./fetus is eventually going to be. Love the graphic at the beginning by the way.

    • Thanks about the picture. XD I was trying to make the images a little more light-hearted.

      For me personally, I believe I would have pro-life leaning if I were put in the situation. That, however, includes a lot of emotional consideration. Some people do not have that emotional connection with that which is not a human being yet. I can understand that. Additionally, there are situations where the birth of the child would cause much more strife for the family and possibly for the child itself if it were born, and so I will not project my personal choice on those in other situations like that. Hence the “It is up to the individual to decide how to deal with this situation if they are faced with this kind of decision,” line. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      • In an ideal world, every baby would be wanted and cared for and offered great opportunities. That’s not reality. Given that and the unfortunate circumstances of many women who get pregnant, abortion certainly seems like an option that should be available.

  2. Biologically, the definition of a human being is the product of conception of two human beings. Legally, murder is the willful causing of the death of a human being. Abortion is murder. The problem is that when you get away from a biological definition of “human” and start defining the word politically, anyone could end up being defined as non-human.

    The argument that a human being doesn’t become legally human until she or he can live apart from the mother would apply to children as well, because they cannot survive on their own. It would apply to disabled adults, it can apply to the elderly.

    My son is 19 and refuses to get a job and support himself. Can I kill him?

    • Hey Misha! Thanks for the comment!

      Regarding your definition of human, although it does make sense, I cannot find a dictionary definition which makes this the basis of the definition itself. Biologically speaking, I agree that humans can only be created as a product of two humans of opposing sexes. This is not the only biological attribute of humans, though. I go back to the image of the caterpillar and the butterfly. A caterpillar and a butterfly have the same genetic makeup, because they are stages of the same creature. That does not mean we can call a caterpillar a butterfly before it goes through metamorphosis. In the same way, I do not see a human embryo as a full-on human being, I see it as a stage of life.

      In all honesty, it seems to me that your second paragraph goes very much into the political aspect of what defines a human, and you are overlooking the biological definitions. A pupa must physically be protected from the elements in order to physically develop to the point that it can survive and grow in the elements. This is the same with an embryo, which until it reaches the fetal stage, cannot physically exist outside the womb. A human child, on the other hand, does not need literal physical protection from the elements in the form of the mother’s body. A child goes through physical growth, not development, and goes through mental and emotional development, which does not require physical protection. Physical nourishment from the mother categorizes embryos as parasites as well. At the beginning of a child’s life, a mother may feed the child her milk, still allowing for the child to be parasitic to a point, however it is not absolutely necessary for the child’s survival. Other nutritional options can be present, in case the mother cannot produce milk (and I mean natural options that are not man-produced, as this example must span beyond only human embryo versus being examples). Embryos carry both the traits of a parasite and a pupa at once. When one of those traits is no longer needed (usually, if not always, the pupa traits end first), then it is no longer an embryo and continues to the next stage, a human being. In this way, I think could be argued that a fetus (the third trimester) is a human being by all accounts. Again, on a personal level, I cannot grasp nor understand the idea of aborting after two trimesters of development, both because I would think a mother would have enough time to think about it emotionally and would know if the child were not developing properly in the earlier stages (if it were to be born disabled).

      Regarding your son, I’d be charging that boy interest for every day he doesn’t pay you rent! XD But seriously, again, because he does not need the physical protection of his mother’s physical body to survive and does not feed off his mother literally (wow, that sounds wrong on so many levels…), he is certainly a human being. Just a lazy one. XD

      • If I go into the mountains and step on a bunch of California Condor eggs, the EPA is not going to care that the eggs aren’t birds yet–the fact is that my actions would have decreased the population of an endangered species. Nor is it going to matter if I can demonstrate that the nesting pair has a better lifestyle as a result of my actions. The law is there to protect the species, not individuals.

        The pro-life position is that laws against homicide exist to protect the human species, that the ending of a human life at any stage of development is a crime against humanity as a whole. When a human pregnancy is intentionally ended, that is one less person in the world. I think that’s a bad thing, because I like people. I am one.

  3. This is a question that requires a lot of thought and reflection. To just blantantly say that ALL abortion is murder is just moral absolutism and will get you nowhere. There are liegitmate cases where a preganancy can be a direct threat to the mother. An ectopic preganancy is one such example. With the exception of very rare cases, an ectopic pregancy is not a viable option and there is little choice but to abort the pregnancy. There could be other cases where it is discovered that there will be serious birth defects when the child is born. This causes undue stress and hardship on a family and also results in a severely diminished quality of life for the person in question. Cases like this don’t really present too much of a challenge in my opinion. The problem arises when the child was unexpected, unplanned for and essentially unwanted. Pregnancy prevention technologies are not 100% effective. Pretty damn close but not quite. The question is, whose decision is it? The mothers? Or does society have an obligation to weigh in? I can agree with arguments presented from both sides. There’s problems with over population, lack of jobs, etc and in worse cases (3rd world countries) lack of food, clean water, etc. But is this a justification? This is a question that will not have an absolute answer. If we could focus our attention on educating people about the benefits of pregnancy prevention techniques and strategies and the further develop even more effective pregnancy prevention technologies, we will have to deal with this question less often.

    • I’m honestly a tad surprised at you, Ashley. I wasn’t expecting such an ‘on the fence’ kind of answer from you. I completely agree with you that there is no final answer that would make everyone happy (not that it’s about making people ‘happy,’ more that people will never agree on one answer). It also does depend on the individual situation, certainly. I suppose what surprises me is your final statement: “…we will have to deal with this question less often.” I would not expect you to be willing to avoid the decision of where the line is drawn. I’m not saying you have to make a decision by any means, I just wasn’t expecting that from you. ^_^

  4. Rana,

    Maybe I’m not such an ogre after all? LOL. Anywho, I just wanted to say that I have thought about it a great deal. In theory, except in the cases of etoptic pregnancies, etc, I would be a pro-lifer, because the thought of destroying human life (pre or post birth) is very unappleaing to me. However, the practical side of me says that abortion should be allowed rather than allowing an unwanted child to live a terrible life and then become a burden to society. I have seen documentaries that have presented a case where abortion has a direct relation to the lowering of crime rates. Children who would be unwanted would tend to come from less fortunate, lower income families and would be more likely to become criminals (petty or otherwise) in the future. Its a very compelling argument.
    If you’re asking me to make a choice (which is what I should have done the first time around since that’s what your asking for and I shouldn’t be avoiding the question anyways) I have to say that I agree with the law the way it is now and say that abortions should be allowed. Do I like that answer? Not really, but hey, who said life is supposed to be all fun and games?

  5. To Rana:

    First, sperm, and a fertilized egg are two different things. Human life occurs in the union of the man and woman, not either by itself. Also, I don’t think you the crude example you opened your article with. Your better than that, and if I were your father, I’d have more to say.

    Next, by starting at Webster’s Dictionary, you are beginning in the shifting relativism of semantics. Without beginning in absolutes, we may define things for any outcome we wish, and that is what you are doing here. Define a black man or Jew as not human, and you’ve justify enslaving or killing them. And why would you take a particular dictionary as “absolute”? Also, what is unique about human beings is their eternal soul, and this does not depend upon the stage of development.

    The issue of whether the child in the womb is at a stage where they are capable of feeling pain is also irrelevant, just as to painlessly kill a person by slipping barbiturates in their drink before dismembering them make it no less murder. Murder has to do with the wrongful taking of the life of another regardless of pain or means.

    The idea of the child being parasitic does not apply when it is a dependency upon one’s own kind. A lamp nursing on its mother is not a parasite, it is her offspring. Why do you arbitrarily choose the ability to feed as the defining line? After birth, the child will be dependent upon its parents for years. Walk away from a toddler for a week, and when you come back that child will be dead. (And the truly parasitic years do not come until the early teens!)

    Regarding your claim that abortion is like getting “dewormed”. This would only be true if it were a worm. Remember also that this child has everything within its makeup except food and air to develop into an adult human being. It all there. Just add food, water, and time. All of us die without nourishment, and our inability to procure it for some reason (draught, famine, paralysis, old age, a medical condition, etc.) does not make us less human, and only stresses that we human beings live in a constant state of dependency. Take away your air to breath, and you will be panicking within seconds, and dead within minutes. Without water for a day, you’ll be miserable, and without it for a week, dead (Sort of a sobering perspective.)

    Regarding morality, you said, “Well guess what? If you consider abortion to be the murder of a child, provide me with a scientific rebuttal that refutes my claims above. I am open to your discussion.” I would say that, with the incredible and irreversible evil of killing a human being at stake , the onus is on you to prove that it is not murder. You are at best entering into a situation where there are two doors, and behind one is a person and behind the other there is not, where this situation is presented over and over and each time you fire a shot into one of those doors and hope you didn’t kill anyone. In other words, you do not KNOW that this is a human being, you are guessing, and many intelligent and scientific people strongly disagree with you. On top of this, you are taking an awful bet on, also on an arbitrary notion, that God will not judge. In the final analysis, God’s opinion is all that counts. These children belong to Him. If you are talking about my contrary opinion, no big deal. But I’m not the one you must answer to.

    You said that just as with gay marriage, that the morality of abortion is up to the individual. That is certainly not true. Morality is absolute, and we merely act morally or immorally, with God judging our actions according to His own standards, which do not and cannot change and have nothing to do with our opinions. We do not determine morality any more than we determine God. (Though as I’ve said before, you seem to be attempting that as well) You said, “Your opinion on the morality of this issue does not make an embryo a living human being.” I would say to you that your opinion does not deprive the child of its humanity – only of its life.

    And finally, you give the quote, “Don’t support abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t support gay marriage? Don’t send a wedding gift to your gay friends. You are forgetting the central issue here. You are not giving the child the option of “Don’t want to die, don’t be aborted!” You know, Rana, everything you say is upon the slippery slope of moral relativism, including defining God as you wish. Upon this gelatinous foundation, you can do what you want to do (unless someone or something more powerful than yourself stops you) , believe what you want to believe, define God, the world, yourself, others, and morality as you wish. Upon this foundation there is no basis to conclude anything. You can, if you choose, define the cut-off of humanity as puberty, where the person has the ability to reproduce, viewing their humanity on a longer term continuum of survival of your genetic code. Some might define murder to be OK to everyone but themselves. This comes down to one thing and one thing only, and until you settle this question everything else is nonsense. Is there a God who is the source of all absolutes? The job then becomes finding what those absolutes are, and what side of them you happen to be operating upon. That quest you have not taken up yet, because you do not yet see your responsibility to your Creator. Without absolutes, how can one even debate? Why would one debate? I say I’m right, you say you’re right. End of discussion – that is, until I start taking your stuff, and messing with your life. I guarantee that you will then respond in a way that acknowledges absolutes. If I kill the most important people in your life, torture you for years, and steal everything you’ve worked for, you will suddenly be quite convinced that I am not only wrong in your eyes, but absolutely wrong. You will also not be OK with “Que sera, serra”, “Who am I to judge?” All of a sudden, justice will be important to you. Justice is part of who God is and who we are, and when you consider the issue of destroying life, you may wish to take that into account.

    • Hey Thunder! Haven’t heard from you in a long while.

      First, with the first image, it’s honestly just supposed to be a more light-hearted ice-breaker. Same with all the images. It is a serious subject for so many, I was trying to not make the entire post serious to the point of depression. I don’t expect that that will be much a reason to you, but it’s just my style.

      I will go back to the dictionary reference at the end. To begin, I’ll start with your reference to when the embryo can feel pain. I believe I made it clear in my post that I agree with you. It does not matter the point at which specific neural connections are made in order to the body to react to pain. Your example, I believe, is support of that belief.

      Regarding a parasite not being a parasite if it is feeding off its own kind I do not agree with. There are cases of kinds of ticks and fleas which live off of secondary blood from their own kind. Instead of expending energy by going after a large host, they wait for one of their own kind that has gorged itself on a host, leaving it slow and fat. They feed of their own kind in this way. I’m not saying this is how an embryo works, but I’m saying that you are skewing the definition of parasite in order to avoid the similarities. (I’ll get more into that at the end, addressing the dictionary thing.) Parasites are defined strictly on a biologically, physically binding need. An embryo requires sustenance from the host, the mother, as well as protection from the elements in order to develop fully. On a biological level, there are no other differences between an embryo and a human. Your discussion on the human child needing the parent even after birth is on a emotional, mental development level, not a direct, required physical dependency. The environment of the womb supports a developing child in a way that cannot be reproduced after birth, specifically in the first two trimesters. In the third, the child’s body may be able to tolerate living conditions outside the womb due to their bodily development being complete, and their need for protection is simply for the sake of bodily growth and establishment of strength.

      On your next point of human dependency for survival, I cannot argue. However, in this and your next paragraph, you do not address the real definition which is needed to make a determination on the morality of abortion; when can a collection of developing cells be called ‘human?’ You speak of the incredible and irreversible evil of killing a human, but you do not define human, what makes us human versus a pile of cells, an ant, a zebra, a dog. You say it is on me to prove that abortion is not murder. I have presented my case, my view, of why it is not. You speak of murder as being wrongfully taking another’s life, however you exclude two things; 1) when is it wrongful to abort a child and when is it acceptable (bringing in the usual argument that if the childbirth with kill the mother), and 2) again, clearly stating how those developing cells that are an embryo are defined as a human being. Taking life is not murder, it is the taking of a human life that is murder in human society. I am by no means condoning the killing of animals, mind you. As I said many times before in my other discussions in the comments, I do not believe I would choose to abort a child if I were put in the situation. I am not in the position, however, to deny another person their interpretation of their own situation and their decision to abort a child. If murder is evil and wrong, then isn’t the killing of another in self-defense just as evil and wrong? I am not willing to deny someone’s right to protect themselves if they are attacked and about to be killed just because I find it morally wrong that they should kill another so that they may live.

      You talk about the embryo not being able to say that it does not want to be aborted. I consider this a support of my claim that an embryo cannot be defined as human, and can be considered at the same level as an animal. Again, on a personal level, I would not abort my own child, nor kill an animal that inconvenienced me. However, we must look at an embryo in this respect as a category of animal, and determine by that how it should be treated as an animal. Again going back to deworming, a parasitic worm is a living creature, and yet we are willing to kill them. We step on insects all the time, we eat animals as food. Unless you can clearly define human and define how an embryo developing into a human has the attributes of a living human being in order to be defined as such, you have no basis for defending an embryo as a human life which can be murdered. I do believe that Misha provided a good defense to his argument, providing a definition of what is human to support his argument. Your statements at the beginning of your post are vague, and although if more well-worded they may be appropriate, they are not an answer to what defines a human being. I would ask that you elaborate on that point before continuing on how my view is unfounded. To me, a human being has very specific attribute of emotion, detailed communication, and advanced problem-solving skills to include creating new things that do not exist in a natural setting. Not all of these need be attributes of a human for it to be so, but at least one must be met, most specifically the attribute of emotion.

      Now to your final point, your introduction of god into the discussion. You speak very constantly on the need for absolutes, and yet you completely refute my use of definitions from the dictionary to support my point. Although definitions can be put in differing terms to be expressed, they are still definitions of words which, I would consider, absolute on a foundational basis. If I cannot trust in a dictionary to define a word, how then can I communicate? There would be no absolute in human communication if it were not for those words having defining purpose. I am not saying that the dictionary I specified is the absolute dictionary of all definitions, but if I cannot trust this dictionary, why trust any dictionary? If you want me to make an argument with a foundation, with an absolute basis, I choose to rely on the absolute of words and definitions of those words.

      You speak to morality being an absolute and the absolute of god. I go back to the dictionary example. If you tell me that I cannot trust Islam, or Buddhism, or Catholicism, then how can I say that I can trust any religion, when religion is established and defined by man? I do not see what basis you can say that you do not define god as you wish just as I do. You refute the beliefs of other religions, despite people of those religions having just as much passion, faith, and belief in their religion as you do in yours. I’ve said this enough times to you that it confuses me why you have to dwell on it so much when I have already accepted it; there are aspects of morality which have been established through human development as absolutes (murder is evil, love is good). It may be very true that there is a god and that god has established all the absolutes of good and evil regarding any choice we make as human beings. You state yourself, though, that we do not know those absolutes: ” The job then becomes finding what those absolutes are, and what side of them you happen to be operating upon.” You also consent that if we knew the absolutes, there would be no point in debating. If you claim to know these absolutes, then there should be no grounds on which for me to make a debate. And yet here we are, and all of your comment does not refute my argument, but question whether my argument is on the path of righteousness and god, which is not the point of the argument in the first place. In other words, your argument is simply saying that your idea of absolutes is different from mine, and therefore you must be right and I must be wrong. You use a different dictionary which must be better than mine. This provides no absolutes, Thunder, it only provides a different perspective.

      It may be a depressing thing for someone who is so set in being right to accept, but even if there is an absolute in this world, it is not known to humans. Someday, perhaps we will be know it in this life, but until then we can only live in subjectivity. Justice and morality are subjective to the individual, just like everything else. There may be slight aspects of the absolute which we believe we know, and try to make universal, but that is the best we can do until we are presented with an absolute which can be undeniable by anyone. If it makes you uneasy that humans are subjective, and everything in this world of ours is still subjective, then I can’t help you. You can either accept that subjectivity and still be willing to trust in what you feel is absolute to you, or you can live in vein, demanding that your absolutes are universal, and constantly live in denial that your absolute does not solve everyone’s problems. It’s up to you. I’ve already come to terms with it. Your decision in that matter is your own.

      • Rana,
        I’d like to reply to two things you mentioned: What makes us human, and when is it right to abort a child.
        The “you in you” is your spirit. Here’s a phrase to describe it. I am a spirit, I live in a body, and I have emotions, and intellect. Emotions and intellect can be diminished or destroyed with a good whack on the head. But “you” are still in their. If you go into a coma for a week, and cannot speak, think, or respond, you are still a person. Your humanity is intact and is dependent on none of this. God honors the unity between a man and woman – an act of intimacy and love. Man is created in the image of God, and this means in the image of the Trinity. I believe that God created the sexes because they are necessary to portray the image of who He is. The male corresponds to the Father – instructing, absolutes, hard lines, structure, authority, etc. The female corresponds to the Holy Spirit, which the Bible tells us, gentle, comes alongside, is a counselor, comforter, can be grieved, is the instrument of Creation (like a womb), and last but not least, the “helper”, with the Son “begotten” in their unity. God originally “breathed” a spirit into Adam “and he became a living soul.” All things reproduce after their kind, and the spirit is also reproduced at conception (Where else would it come from, unless God actively breathes a spirit into each person at some point later. So if you believe you have a spirit, you must have received it at conception. That is the essence of who you are, and that is what you hope will live on forever – because we all know our bodies will die. (And Christians understand that we will receive “glorified bodies” as Jesus demonstrated after His Resurrection – that could touch and be touched, eat, feel, and appear and disappear at will, walk through walls, etc. ) So the core of what makes us human is our spirit. If you are not careful, but basing it upon emotional ability, etc., human life will be come relative. In other words, a smart person or more emotionally mature person will be “more” human than one who is less so. (And when we venture down that path, we can then murder the elderly, the handicapped, and so on. (And I am virtually certain that is coming to a society that does not value life and will be hard pressed with a burgeoning baby boomer elderly population)
        Consider this also (and here I refer to Scripture)
        Eccl 3:14I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. The very reason we live forever in heaven or hell is because we were created eternal beings. Nothing can be added from that or taken away. Nothing of the child’s essence is added or taken away after conception. It’s all there. Why are we obsessed with big? In the computer age, we understand there is amazing complexity in a tiny computer chip. There really isn’t much difference in the wonder of the human body or the wonder of a galaxy. Big and small are relative. The only difference between the acorn and the oak tree is time, and time, according to Einstein, is relative. Same with a child. God inhabits all of eternity at once. There is no difference to Him between conception, birth, and death. (For this reason, we must also understand that our sin is eternal, and requires an eternal sacrifice)

        Regarding when is abortion right? I don’t even believe it is right in the case of rape. If it’s murder, its murder, and the evil act of one of its parents has nothing to do with the child’s intrinsic value. If you believe it is a child, then rape would not justify killing it, any more than it would be justified to kill the child as a toddler, just because he was the product of a rape, or lives in poverty, etc. Nor does the mother’s preparedness, or whether she happens to want the child or not. In other words, the mother and father’s will, desires, circumstances, or personal morality have nothing to do with the child – that is unless you want me to judge you by your parents, etc. A child born is poverty is no more or less valuable than one born in privilege, and there are plenty of wealthy people who have turned out miserable and not much credit to the race, and plenty of poor who have risen above their circumstances and are content in life. And whether they are happy, sad, nice, or evil, has nothing to do with their inherent value as a person. For the woman who is in a truly life-threatening situation, or is pregnant with triplets and all will die unless they remove one or two, I can only say that I do not envy her situation, and at least we are INCLINING toward preserving life as best we can. We are comparing the fact of the mother’s valuable life with the fact of the child’s, or the fact of saving one child vs. losing them all. At least we are comparing life with life, not life with convenience of the other life, or some other lesser quantity than the fact of life itself. In order to understand my view, in regard to rape, poverty, etc. Begin with the fact that I value the child’s life as much as the life of anyone living on the face of the earth, then ask what, in light of that foundation, is appropriate. In a few weeks I am going to address a group we get together with on the issue of the christian response to abortion, and I will be confronting them with the idea that their response needs to be similar to if they were lining up and killing Jews, children, or anyone in one of the buildings in your neighborhood. What would that justify? Would you break down the door? Would you refuse to intervene if the law simply made killing toddlers or Jews legal? I think that among those who believe it is murder, they must be consistent in their response. I for one, believe it justifies a more radical response that does not honor the rights of the mother at all, given the life of the child. That is a consistent response with my belief that it is murder.

        • Thunder,

          In regard to your points on what makes an individual an individual, the soul, I say this. You make the point when you quote scripture to say that the soul is forever, an eternal thing. If the soul is born at conception as you believe, what is to say that keeping the soul from ever experiencing the evils of this world, and instead eliminate the binds which keep it away from god before it even has the ability to feel physical pain, is not in the eyes of god a mercy? I say this not only as a new perspective of your point for you to consider, but also as my own consideration of the soul. I appreciate the life I live and strive to live it to the fullest, but I also live with the understanding and acceptance that I could die at any moment. All people fear death because they fear the unknown, what is laying in wait on the other side of the darkness. Put in the position of my last moments of life, I would be afraid. It is, however, an inevitability, as well as, to put your words differently, a beginning of a true eternity, if our idea of the eternal soul is correct. Life should be cherished, and certainly no life is above another life in the eyes of god (however in my view this also counts toward all animals, which I’m sure could create a whole new discussion topic), but at the same time, it should be understood and accepted as an eventual certainty that death comes to the living, an absolute, if you want to bring in our earlier conversation. I’m sure your argument to this is why, then, should we cherish life is I can act so disinterested about the concept of death? To me, the value of life is in what we are given to experience. I am not going to kill a person simply because they have a soul, and my belief is that he or she will live on afterward. At the same time, I have a hard time mourning a person who dies. I always have had that issue, where I find it hard to sympathize with those who have lost loved ones. I do not believe that person is ended, I hope that they are not, and I have had enough experiences in my life that I am confident in that belief. In that, I see no tragedy in death, only another step in our existence in this universe. If someone were to come up to me and murder me in cold blood tomorrow, the only despair I would feel in death would be how my boyfriend would react, not my life’s end.

          To expand, I do not believe that our souls are created at the point of conception. Granted I have nothing to base this deduction on, however I do believe that our souls, as eternal entities, are created before the establishment of our bodies. I do not recall any Christian source which would support that a soul is created at the point that the human body is created. If there is such a source, I’d like to read it.

          To your last paragraph, I completely respect your stance on the matter. If you have drawn the line of life for a child at conception, then stand by that for yourself. Find ways to convince pregnant women to not abort. But I look to this quote of yours and wonder why this cannot be applied in all circumstances, including the instance of disagreement in opinion over issues such as this: “Whether they are happy, sad, nice, or evil, has nothing to do with their inherent value as a person.” Every person has value, and in that every person’s personal situation and their views which lead them to a decision regarding that situation, has inherent value as well. Whether that decision makes you happy or sad, them happy or sad, whether that decision is good or evil in the eyes of themselves or you, they have value as human beings to make their own personal decisions and live with the consequences.

          • Everything is fine and sounds logical, Rana, but one dimension in this complex issue is missing in your post: given to humans free will that can change many predetermined factors in their lives. It is not accidental omission because it does not fit well to your assumption: “I do believe that our souls, as eternal entities, are created before the establishment of our bodies”.

            Much more complex and challenging is the concept of life and souls provided in the Bible as allowing more choices for people during their short or long lives. In this perspective human ‘souls’ can be seen in more dynamic pictures as differently shaped/sized/colored etc. alive ‘fruits’ that together can exist (after the ‘final departure’) in another dimensions with eliminated physical limitations what can be much more satisfying/interesting/challenging, and what many religions name as ….. . So, glory and deepest respect for each life at any stage as our decisions with the possibility of deciding about lives of other creatures come after gradual creation of our individual consciousnesses (Can be it also named as the souls?).

            It is hard to define/formulate/decide, but my point is that the main duty of people is learning/studying as deeply as possible own personalities/souls. Mastering/perfecting this process can produce more true love to ourselves as to God (we are created as reflections of Him/Her). Only after it we can find deeper sense and better ‘results’ in this basic biblical rule “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
            Just look how more sophisticated religions increase dimensions of love.
            In Spartans Greece visibly deformed kids were killed. Today, we do not kill yet (only when detected earlier certain genes during pregnancies) kids with the Down syndrome. I asked a few years ago one Canadian technician installing a sophisticated equipment in our lab about his kids. He has 5 sons. One of them plays in a famous rock group that even played for Obama’s inauguration, another is an acclaimed opera singer, another engineer etc. I asked him a silly question which of them is the most liked by him as his wife. His answer was that the youngest (at that time 17 or 18) with the Down syndrome. I heard how he is so emotionally sensitive and other things that helped me to understand better unknown for me general facts about people with such limitations. However, they would be ideal to work in archives or ware houses as they are extremely meticulous and with a lot of patience to maintain the already established order. It means that in more wisely organized social systems where work is matched with carefully studied personalities such people would be ‘discovered’ as valuable/contributing members of society instead of the first for soon (?) approved euthanasia regulations in our each day more promoted secular society driven by profits and competitions.

          • Rana,
            As far as your question as to whether there is a Biblical basis for the soul automatically coming at conception, vs. God actively and individually breathing a soul into each child, there is no Biblical evidence that I can think of. But logically, if a person believes we have a soul, it must either be imparted at conception through what is transferred from the parents (along with the genes, etc.), or God must impart it as a specific and separate act. Again, God is eternal, and the Bible does say in Psalm 139, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”
            Ps 139:13-18
            13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
            14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
            15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
            16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
            17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
            18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. (NIV)

            That God “knits us together in our mother’s womb”, suggests that to abort this process is to interfere with God’s amazing handiwork. That God allows it (as in, He does not stop it) does not mean He approves of it. God just holds things to account in His own time and way. An eternal God is in no hurry. It’s His show, right?

            Regarding sparing a child the pain of this world by aborting it, I believe that the point is that this is not our rightful decision to make, and God has quite a bit to say about the evil of men taking upon themselves the role of God. It goes back to authority. Only God has the right to tell anyone what to do, or as Creator, to take life. It is OK to kill animals or for civil government to kill criminals only because God has, by His own choosing, decided to give us dominion over animals, trees, etc., and to give civil government the right (and Biblically, the mandate!)to execute justice in matters of this life. So the taking of any life – birds, trees, or people, goes back to God’s authorization. We simply cannot determine good and evil by our own standards. God, as author, determines these things, just as if you were to publish and ebook, and I, not being the author, went in and edited it and embellished it with Scripture verses and cleaned up some of the theology in them 🙂 , I would be acting presumptuously, because no matter my thinking, the book would not be mine to alter.

            • Thunder, I find it ironic that your scripture passage supports my belief in the soul existing before conception, as it says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” If god is omnipotent and knows all, before, during and after what we know in our lives, then two things can be deduced, I think: 1) god already at least knows who and what are to become in creation, aka we exist as souls in the mind of god before we are conceived; and 2) if we are to abort a child, it is already known to god, and therefore has already happened, and whether it is against god’s plan or not, it still is. An eternal and omnipotent god has already decided, as we have already acted, from god’s perspective. Again, this, I believe, supports my belief that god does not judge us for our failings as humans. God created us as flawed, influential creatures, and knows that we are going to fall for it, as to god, we already have. To judge us not only for what it made us to be, but also judge us for what it knows we were going to to regardless, is not a god of love, understanding, or compassion. Not to me, anyway.

              To me, your discussion on when it is okay to take a life versus when it is not is simply humans making excuses/loopholes in the rules to justify breaking them. Instead, I look at it as, again, the parameters of good and evil, not the rules of god. Good and evil set precedents in order to exist, as they are intangible aspects of our lives. There must be things which constitute as good things, either items or actions, and the same with evil. These precedents are the rules, not of god, but of conflict. Every action we make will hold aspects of good precedent and evil precedent, depending on the person who observes or is affected by that action. There are no loopholes, no excuses for certain actions versus other actions, it is simply the precedent which we set based on the parameters of good and evil on a majority scale. Death upsets most people, and so is held in the precedent of good; however, death can bring food, and so is accepted in the manner of killing animals, while death can also, on a wide scale, demonstrate the sacrifice for a belief, like in war, and so can be viewed as an honorable action, and again is accepted in that setting. Again, it’s all subjective perspective. God may have authored good and evil, but we are not alternate authors editing the script, we are characters in the story, a choose-what-happens kind of story, living out that story by our own decisions.

  6. Rana said to Rolling Thunder: “your absolutes are universal, and constantly live in denial that your absolute does not solve everyone’s problems”.

    Yes, religions sound dogmatic/simple, but the concept of God accompanied people for many thousands years and allowed to control our animal instincts as gradually convert our mammal mentality into something known now as human. Let’s also remember that for thousand years people faced more serious problems and religions were helping them to survive very harsh environment. Can we imagine what would happen with our ‘modern’ local societies facing hunger and lack of electricity for a few weeks with no external help? The explosion of crimes and inhuman behaviors is better not be modeled/projected.

    Included/considered also in ‘weighting’ role of religions should be very dark/cruel Middle Ages with many religious wars, but we should notice that as a ‘fruit’ of it was reached the highest level of social discipline/morality in Europe. What we see now is very short living erosion/devaluation of such values. Up to 60s the rest of the world looked at European/North American cultures with big respect. It was quickly eroding cultures of so called Third World dominated by Muslims.

    Now their more radical religious leaders do not need much training or intellectual power to show our decadency – it is very easy for them to present our democracy/systems as bringing up only ‘pigs’ etc. driven by freedom of sex/pleasures and unethical social manipulations. Good example is Africa where up to late 60s was growing number of Christians (representing EU/N.Am. culture/civilization) and now it is exploding there number of people converted into Islam. I give this as an example and I hope that you Rana will not use it for supporting now very popular slogan saying that religions only cause problems and should be eradicated.

    Rana, this ‘experiment’ ridiculing God/Religions with pro-choice policies is so widely promoted only in the last few decades and caused already so many fast growing problems on many platforms. The same way acted communists on a similar global scale in their countries. What happened with their nations? – total moral and economical collapses that that killed this initially strong block. Now the real rulers of this world (Money in the hands of a very few) act the same way as the former Dear Leaders implementing their similar social engineering techniques.

    P.S.
    In the ‘duel’ between Rana and Rolling Thunder I would find deeper values behind Rolling Thunder’s rhetoric.

    • Hey spoplawski! I think you may have misinterpreted my response to Thunder’s religious stance. I do understand the importance of organized religion in human society. The concern I have is when someone takes their trust in their faith and blurs that trust with the trust in their religion. Religion as an organized societal construct may hold importance in the foundation of society as a whole, guiding and supporting the masses in having somewhere to belong and providing a outer foundation for their morals and values. That is all well and good. There are so many religions, however, that when a person goes so far to say that his or her religion is the only religion, the true religion, and all other religions that have ever existed during the over 200 thousand years of recorded religious expression by human beings, I have concerns. There are plenty of people who are good, loving people, who live without religion, and only live on faith. There are also many many people who are good and loving who follow other religions. Religion has brought some bad things to the world, but it also brings good, that I would not dare to deny. When religion causes conflict, however, is when the followers of a religion demand to the rest of the world that they are right, and that anyone who does not believe as they do are wrong. Sometimes religions try to ‘save’ those unbelievers by converting them, either mentally, emotionally, or physically. Sometimes they simply say, “You are screwed, and there is no hope for you, so you are under me, for I am saved and I am good by default.”

      My interest in separating church and state is not in a way to suppress religious belief or freedom of expression of that belief. When that expression impedes the rights of others is where the line should be drawn. Christians would incredibly strongly argue that religion is the source of morality, but in reality they only believe that their religion is the source of morality. The fact is no one religion is the source of morality. Morality may be an absolute concept which humans live by, but where does that absolute come from? If we say god, we immediately eliminate the idea of universal truth to support us, because we are depending on our own personal idea of god, not a universal god which everyone agrees with. It is possible that god influences what our absolute morality is, but until we can speak to god and hear what those absolutes are, we cannot determine in this life what they are on our own. We can only make deductions and accept what the majority of the consensus is. Perhaps we end up being wrong, but that is what makes us human. We cannot be right about everything. We have not been right about everything since we evolved to think on a moral level, and I do not believe that we are at the evolutionary point that we are god-like enough to know all moral absolutes. When we finally hit that evolutionary point, we will all agree on those absolutes and cease to be human, being a more divine creation, a god-like state of being. I don’t believe we will ever ‘evolve’ to that point, but I think after our death we will likely come to that place where we can exist with god and understand god’s intent much better. Until that time, I will never assume that I can know the answers of god or morality. I will live as I can, deducing my interpretation of morality, balance it against the majority consensus of morality, and conduct my life accordingly.

      • Yes, I did not read carefully your piece, Rana I saw your few ‘liberal slogans’ what prompted my fast classification you as typical … and ‘attack’. However, I do not feel guilty and instead very proud for receiving (digging out) from you many deeper reflections and especially this sentence: “It is possible that god influences what our absolute morality is, but until we can speak to god and hear what those absolutes are, we cannot determine in this life what they are on our own”.

        Here it is a quintessence describing truly religious people who instead of easy repeating/following basic dogmas are constantly active in their minds by questioning and developing their internal understanding/interpretation of God as their personal relation with Him/Her. It is something alive in our ‘souls/minds’ that like plants need our constant care and can introduce/add more ‘alive/subtle’ elements to our fixed/predetermined ‘living rooms’ representing our personalities. Religions can be seen as the Earth/soil for our spiritual growth that should never be neglected/eliminated for too long from human minds.

        Mentioned by you the issue of “the only religion, the true religion” that cause and (-ed) so many conflicts is definitely correlated with this factor mentioned above. In the all organized religions we have true/active members constantly focused on developing such ‘plants’ in their ‘rooms’ and groups of ‘politicians’ trying to use such deep values for social manipulations to gain more power/influence over others. The point is that truly/deeply religious people are the most tolerant and humble. When religions are not used or influenced by minds of ‘politicians’ it can secure long lasting peace/harmony/cooperation what somehow proves a history of XVIII-XIX century Jerusalem/Palestine. Similarly was powerful Christianity in the first 2-3 centuries in Rome and without fights/politics or open confrontation the Christianity was able to gain (after consistently ‘executed’ humble/passive approach/attitude) finally the top status as the official religion – and this ‘marriage’ with power corrupted it later 😦

        Thank you Rana for your response.

    • spoplawski:
      You are very right about the moral and economical collapses, and things are reaching a point of such confusion as every boundary is ignored or exceeded, that things will start popping at some point. Just today I heard on the news that a school dance was cancelled because certain parents decided it was sexist, bigoted, and arbitrary to have a father-daughter dance! A sweet dance between a father and daughter, is now considered evil! At issue is the nearly complete collapse of the nuclear family. We are entering a time of homosexual marriage, and the incredible breaking up societal foundations that will follow. We are well into the time of broken families, where many of these kids have no father or picture of two very different parents acting in distinct roles in unity that is focused outside of themselves and onto their children, which they raise to be happy, competent, and productive members of society . Rather than letting them feel the tension that something is wrong, they are instead moving to make any kind of “family” – single parenting, two moms or two dads, Mom plus boyfriend plus children from his former marriage, Mom plus boyfriend plus nearby guy father figure – any combination at all to be just as good as the traditional family. They’ve already transcended the line of the marriage, and now have crossed the line of the sexes. It may only be a matter of time until they cross the lines of the species – where dogs become legal parts of families, with full rights as U.S. citizens, and a person can be given a life sentence for killing one. In all of this, it will be convenient to destroy the elderly who use up so much of the healthcare dollars. So we can kill children in the womb and the elderly, but will go to prison for killing a dog. All is relative in this brave new world. All is mush and confusion. Just wait till some crisis comes and we find our foundation is made out of Jello! Our society is fast rejecting every boundary, every hard line that God has set up, and all that is masculine. Nature abhors a void, and what will replace these things will be a monster like none we’ve ever known before.

      • Rana and Rolling Thunder,
        The soul’s notion is similarly recognized and treated seriously by both of you. Only your interpretations/assumptions are different what is great and allows more of further discussions.

        In my approach, less important are precise definitions of the “soul”. Instead , I would focus more attention on recognizing/analyzing it in each person and even in material subjects or situations what definitely sounds strange when treated literally. We can talk about a special spirit/climate of each musical concert or poetry recitation as in each case unique interactions between the artist and audience occur. We can also notice an influence of local spirits when for example architects arrive to he places where are planned houses building and after longer stay feel need to modify humbly previous concepts after interacting with the local ‘spirit’.

        I would propose a deeper conceptional connection of the spirit’s notion with the personality’s concept. This mentioned by Rolling Thunder Psalm 139 is easy to ‘digest’ even by no believers as we observe some genetic connections of certain features in each human/animal personality with their parents or remote relatives. It means that ‘shapes/characters’ of our souls are in big parts predetermined, but not in 100%. We still can modify/adapt our personalities as our God ‘equipped’ us with free wills and developed consciousnesses.
        The beauty and value of each life is that we, the people, can participate in active modifications of our ‘souls/personalities’ proportionally to our efforts toward developing deeper understanding of ourselves, the neighbors and the God/world’s rules. It translates to the possibility of focusing our lives on becoming more spiritual/sensitive instead of more materialistic what now promotes (unfortunately) our present civilization/social system.

        • spoplawski,
          True, part of the essence of the human spirit, or soul, is free will, regardless of the means that it is imparted. Beings with free will will reproduce after their own kind just as all life does, which means their offspring will have free will.

          • Reproducing “just as all life does” with ‘production’ of offspring does not need much free will and so open open human conscious as it is universally ‘solved’ by implanted relatively simple instinct of reproduction in the majority of living organisms.

            Humans’ duties in this respect are doubled as beside physical reproductions they can also ‘produce’ fruits/offspring of their spiritual development. In New Testament is mentioned need of being ‘born again’ and in general meaning (beside very important literal context provided by Jesus) we can also use it for this additional interpretation:
            Each person in its body posses a conscious with unique personality and free will that are developing to certain level after their childhood influenced by active interaction with the surrounding environment (family/society/events etc). With time since our early childhood we become more mature and such questions are more often asked internal us: What is our role/destiny/future in this short life?
            It means that we become more aware about becoming a parent of its very special internal ‘child’. It is our soul/personality that need very careful guiding, protection from potentially damaging external influences and also new/additional education/training in certain directions that will develop/master certain gifts given to us (for example inherited from our genetic code and the already shaped childhood).

            After experiencing more often such reflections with growing maturity we often start studying/analyzing our personalities with higher interest and implement certain changes that can contribute more efficiency/successes when interacting with other people. At such levels become very important our motivations.
            The most common/prevailing among people is competition that overshadows cooperation and care for harmony. Instinct of competition, the most prevailed among alive organisms, mobilizes for bigger efforts, but also generates social conflicts that can be extremely destructive. At this moment the role of religions is very important as forcing us to see higher orders about us and for humbly admitting that we are not gods but part of something bigger with perfect special places where our developed (as much as possible) personality/soul can fit. For religious people it means that their more developed ‘soul/personality’ has bigger chances to continue a conscious existence in so called Heaven under a direct guidance of the Creator and for atheists rewarding is a perspective of seeing more harmony, justice, comfort and peace in their earthy lives.

            What about marrying the both approaches with this assumption?:
            Each born person can find its perfect place in human society and the only issue is promotion of our search for spirituality on a mass scale that can secure our more harmony/civility/humanity in our globalized society instead of the presently ruling/selecting/dividing us consumerism with never ending run for more.

            P.S. I am focused on this idée fixe for the last 18 years and hope to present soon some fruits of it.

    • Thank you, Sahm. I usually wouldn’t have much to say either, but when inspired by well-versed discussion, I can’t help but share my thought process. Glad you enjoyed. 🙂

  7. @Rana, Your logic is precise and consistent, but it is not enough when we ‘deal’ with God and when we try to understand His/Her logic/concept. Scientist in applied technological as social science create many precise mathematical models for many processes occurring in this world. The most common way for verifying which model is better or closer to the real circumstances is performing computer simulations that uses random numbers and many repeats. In general, such processes need many repeats and not influenced random input values to secure more credible results in judging which ‘model’ (can be also seen as human individuals) is closer to the reality (established by God rules in our Universe).

    Human lives are roughly predictable from the God’s perspective as we receive already prepared body with unique genetic code and determined ‘souls’ that are supported by more or less powerful intellectually minds. We are also born in certain families that can make childhood difficult or easy. However, it is also given for us the element of final touch for this ‘rented’ soul & body what is strictly correlated with our free will.
    This mentioned by you Rana, “parameters of good and evil” represents a randomizing element for ‘feeding’ our free will. It together allows seeing results of our lives marginally unpredictable that become similarly challenging/fascinating/interesting for us and the Creator.

    Your way of thinking is slightly different from mine what I want to illustrate on your previous example: “I find it hard to sympathize with those who have lost loved ones. I do not believe that person is ended … I see no tragedy in death, only another step in our existence in this universe.” I see differently such situations and feel deeply sorry for those loosing loved ones. I assume that similar empathy will have our God for them. He is able to delay each death, but He does not act because it would contradict with his a priori established randomization of our lives (result of giving for us free will interacting with good and devil).

    I want to believe that He ‘cries’ more at our each death in comparison to any human being that lost loved ones. Much more painful for him are our acts of killing other people and especially calculated abortions. God controls not properly developing embryos and many woman think about delayed periods that are more painful,but in fact they experience self-induced pregnancy’s termination when certain pathologies occur. I heard that statistically for each successful birth there are four self induced termination in very early stages. It does not happen when the Down syndrome is present, but those kids are probably also needed as such people can play important roles (teaching deeper compassion and personal attachments) in loving God and other people ideal societies.

    God is great, life is challenging/exciting and we are part of this Universe forever with a growing conscience at the time of the Earthy lives glorifying its creation!!!
    Our passionate and manifesting enthusiastic as intense personalities’ development Earthy lives produce rich spiritual ‘fruits’ that are harvested by God in His spiritual dimension and I hope that this hypothesis is worth of our consideration as magnifying our zest for meaningful as dignified lives.

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