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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IX


Part IV: The Virgin birth and The Incarnation


Mind-Less: Yet Alive

     THE ABILITY of animals to respond normally to many stimuli, even in the absence of the cerebrum or after experimental removal of the cortex, has a direct bearing on the question of soul-life in the fetus. If the existence of consciousness (conscious awareness of the world around in animals and self-consciousness in addition in man) is essential to soul-life, then presumably the organ of mind must be present and functional before this kind of soul-life can be presumed.
     Yet animals without any organ of mind, either decapitated or with the cerebrum removed, exhibit a very large number of responses to external and internal stimuli which give all the appearance of being willed by a conscious individual. As mentioned in chapter 2, decerebrate cats are quite able to twist and land on their feet if dropped from sufficient height in an upside down position.
(44) All that is required is that the eyes and vestibular canals be in a healthy state. The same is true of decerebrate birds. They will fly, land on a branch, and balance in a perching position, in spite of the fact that they have no consciousness. (45) Decerebrate dogs will run or walk on a treadmill and react to strong foods or foods of unfamiliar flavour. (46) They can even be conditioned (though with some difficulty) to salivate at a given signal.
     Most such animals react correctively to any interference with their well-being: dogs right themselves if pushed off balance, and cats violently shake their heads if the guardian hairs across the ear opening are touched.

44. Sherrington, Sir Charles, ref. 5, pp.149f.
45. Carlson, A. J., and Johnson, V., The Machinery of the Body, University of Chicago Press, 1941, p.422. Also, Walter S. Cannon, The Way of an Investigator, Hafner, New York, 1968 (reprint), p.121.
46. Bell, G. H.; Davidson, J. N.; and Scarborough, H., Textbook of Physiology and Biochemistry, Livingstone, London, 1954, p.860.
47. Sherrington, Sir Charles, ref.5, p.35.

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     According to Bazett and Penfield, (48) cats which cannot possibly feel any pain (being brain-less) will mew if hurt, growl if aggravated, and purr when caressed or with milk in their stomach. The same animal remains highly responsive to mouse sounds, such as squeaks and scratching. (49) Such animals must of course be kept alive: they will not eat of their own accord and must be fed, and, even then, rarely survive for more than a few weeks. Yet during this time they maintain normal functions and body temperature reasonably well if the challenge is not too severe. They are unable to sustain anything more than rather limited departures from the normal environmental conditions, but they have every appearance of being aware. Yet this certainly cannot be the case. They are essentially vegetables.
     A decapitated frog will try to remove a drop of acid deposited on the back of a front leg by using the ipsilateral hind leg -- and if this leg is restrained, will then use the contralateral hind leg to do the job.
(50) All this, with absolutely no consciousness whatever as far as we know.
     And fetal life has extraordinary powers to cope with "handicaps." Jost experimented with rabbit embryos, decapitated experimentally at 19, 21, and 22 days, which nevertheless survived till full term (28 days).
(51) Jost observes that growth was not interfered with.
     Every so often a child is born congenitally brain-less. In such a child no consciousness in the ordinary sense is possible. Yet such children open and close their eyes, they have periods of apparent "sleepiness" and "wakefulness," they smile and coo when fondled and cry when roughly handled.
(52) Yet they cannot, of course, consciously feel either the caress or the injury. Such children may be kept alive for 3 or 4 years, yet cannot possibly have any awareness of what is going on in spite of all appearances to the contrary. Such children are completely without mind and presumably therefore soul-less. Yet they were conceived, came to full term, were born, and "lived." In the womb they cannot be distinguished from normal viable fetuses.
     In short, no amount of movement in the womb, much less evidence of apparently healthy prenatal development, can be taken as a guarantee that the developing organism is already a "person"

48. Baazett, H. C., and Penfield, W. G., "A Study of the Sherrington Decerebrate Animal in the Chronic as well as the Acute Condition," Brain, vol.45, 1922, p.218, 261.
49. Bell, et al., ref.46, p.860.
50. Koestler, Arthur, The Ghost in the Machine, Hutchinson, London, 1967, p.175.
51. Jost, A., Comte Rendus, vol.225, Paris, 1947, p.322-324: quoted by H. R. Catchpole, "Reproduction," in Annual Review of Physiology, vol.11, 1949, p.33.
52. Bell et al., ref.46, fig.47 opposite p.810.  See also J. D. French, "The Reticular Formation," Scientific American, May, 1957, p.56.

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equipped with soul life. Whatever term we use, whether "soul" or "spirit," there is little doubt the time of its "giving" cannot at present be settled by an appeal to human biology. The issue must still be settled on biblical grounds.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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