One cannot ask science to deal with the existence of God. Science can only deal with observation and experiment. Science, through observation and experiment, can prove that the human zygote, or any later development stage, does contain human DNA, that (except in the case of a clone or an identical twin) it derived ultimately from a human egg cell, science can prove that it meets the criteria for science to declare it is alive, and that if it successfully implants in the womb it can develop into a complete human.
That is all science can observe. The cell is alive and has human DNA, only the very first cell derived directly from a human egg cell, and it has the potential to develop into a complete human if it implants in the womb; the rest of our cells from then until today came from cell division into new cells after implanting.
Now so many of these comments to my article say that these are the facts, and only these facts, that scientifically prove the first cell is a full human being meeting all the requirements to conclude that all the rights intrinsic to our humanity are vested in that person. (What requirements? That is never stated beyond reciting these facts.)
Not so fast. These are facts, true enough, but the anti-abortion people have decided by themselves that these facts are sufficient to prove, to their satisfaction, that the single fertilized cell is fully human. But it’s wrong to then claim that science has proven them right.
Let’s clarify with a less contentious example. Science proves the universe exists. The existence of the universe is a fact. Some people believe the existence of this universe is sufficient to prove to their satisfaction that God exists because only a God could have created this universe. (I won’t go into it, but there are sound, scientific reasons to support this belief. Not prove, but support.) But can these people then claim that science has proven the existence of God? Science did prove the facts that have convinced these people that God exists; did science therefore prove that God exists? I hope you see the problem. (I really hope you see the answer has to be NO.)
Science does prove the facts I have listed above about the first cell. Those facts convince some people that the first cell is therefore fully a human being with unalienable rights intrinsic to humanity and deserving of the full protections of our Constitutional Right To Life. Fine, so far, they can believe that. But can they then declare that science has proven their view right? If you believe that, then you have agree that science has proven that God exists, because of the same logic.
To risk putting too fine a point on it, the problem is this. If I use some scientific facts to draw a conclusion that satisfies me, can I then say that science has proven my conclusion? Isn’t the problem compounded if there are other scientific facts that are inconvenient to my conclusion, but they are rejected out of hand because they disagree with the conclusion which has been declared is proven by science?
Read back through the comments to my original article, and you’ll see that this is exactly what is going on. No discussion is ever made about on what basis or conditions the question of full humanity rests. Instead, two or three scientific facts are cited that are simply claimed to settle the question without debate; no facts or logic are presented to support the claim that these scientific facts, and only these facts, are to be allowed, nor that these facts do actually settle the debate. It is all just assumed.
The claim is then made that the conclusion has been proven by science because the three facts come from science; all inconvenient other scientific facts are dismissed out of hand without consideration or debate, on the grounds that they must be false because science has already proved the other conclusion true.
And so it goes.