Table of Contents
Part IV: The Virgin birth and The
Mind-Less: Yet Alive
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.
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. (47)
44. Sherrington, Sir Charles, ref. 5, pp.149f.
1 of 3
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,
47. Sherrington, Sir Charles, ref.5, p.35.
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,
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.
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.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
Previous Chapter *
End of Part IV * Next Chapter (Part V)