Monthly Archives: November 2010


“Conceptual” Art
Originally uploaded by kenneth_rougeau

When does life begin?

That has got to be one of the most important questions of the day. I posit that this occurs quite early.

The female egg and the male sperm are haploid cells belonging to each person.  They have a function and belong to the organism, yet they are not of themselves a unique organism.  Their DNA, although haploid, is identical with that of the person.  Their function is to unite:  the egg works to chemically attract the sperm, and the sperm works to get to the egg.  “If fertilization is not accomplished, the oocyte typically ceases to be within twenty-four hours after ovulation; and sperm degenerate within two to five days.”[1]

Originally uploaded by abhilasha1190

Once the first sperm enters the egg, the entire scenario changes. Now, you have a new entity with its unique genetic code. How do we know this? Because it is in some way self-aware of the fact that it is now different, and reacts chemically for the protection of the new organism. This is known as the egg cortical reaction.

When the sperm fuses with the egg plasma membrane, it causes a local increase in cytosolic Ca2+, which spreads through the cell in a wave…  There is evidence that the Ca2+ wave or oscillations are induced by a protein that is introduced into the egg by the sperm, but the nature of the protein is unknown.  The Ca2+ wave or oscillations activate the egg to begin development [Development of what?  Of the new organism], and they initiate the cortical reaction, in which the cortical granules release their contents by exocytosis…  The contents of the cortical granules include various enzymes that are released by the cortical reaction and change the structure of the zona pellucida. The altered zona becomes “hardened,” so that sperm no longer bind to it, and it therefore provides a block to polyspermy.[2]

“…there now appears to be a distinct organism directing its own processes of growth and development…  The [egg cortical reaction] especially seems characteristic of a new organism, whose existence depends upon a structural barrier to outside forces, rather than of a gamete cell, whose existence is fundamentally oriented toward uniting with another gamete…”[3]

[1] Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, Embryo:  A Defense of Human Life (New York:  Doubleday, 2008), 36.

[2] Bruce Alberts et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell, 4th ed., (New York: Garland Science, 2002), (accessed November 28, 2010).

[3] George and Tollefsen, Embryo, 38-39.

What Kind of Logic is This?!?

Blastocyst: – Day 5

Originally uploaded by lounbern

From Embryo: A Defense of Human Life by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen

[There is a] claim made by some supporters of embryo-destructive research that because early-stage embryos can split into identical twins, they are not yet individuals or determinate human beings. (Pg. 22)

I don’t think this conclusion necessarily follows.

The only thing the twinning phenomenon changes is how many persons there are, not whether it’s a human person.

Why We Tell the Story

Is anyone else daunted at the challenge we are all called to?  Of evangelization?  Proclaiming the Gospel to all the world?

Once on this Island | Orem High School

Oddly enough, I gain inspiration to do this from one of my favorite musicals:  Once on this Island, which I was introduced to in high school (which happens to be polytheistic in presentation).  In particular from the closing song, “Why We Tell the Story”:

And she stands against the lightning and the thunder
And she shelters and protects us from above
And she fills us with the power and the wonder
Of her love

And this is why
We tell the story

Why we tell the story

Why we tell the story
Why we tell the story

If you listen very hard you hear her call us
To come share with her our laughter and our tears
And there’s mysteries and miracles befall us
Through the years

We tell the story
We tell the story!

Life is why
We tell the story
Pain is why
We tell the story
Love is why
We tell the story
Grief is why
We tell the story
Hope is why
We tell the story
Faith is why
We tell the story
You are why
We tell the story
Why we tell the story
Why we tell the story
Why we tell the story

So I hope that you will tell this tale tomorrow
It will help your heart remember and relive
It will help you feel the anger and the sorrow
And forgive

For all the ones we leave
And we believe
Our lives become
The stories that we weave

Once On This Island - 2008 - MFAA

I find resonance in this song of the Christian life. There is joy, sorrow, pain, grief, and hope. Stories connect us to each other and stories teach us. Why do we proclaim the Gospel? To help others live this life well. To grab people by their hearts and impart the faith which saves.

What does this song highlight for me?
There is a God who fills us with the power and the wonder of His love.
A God who calls us to share with Him our laughter and our tears. Our prayer should be sincere and intimate, and not reserved for those times when we feel pious, but perhaps especially when we are not, or when we do not feel like praying.
The Gospel has relevance for every aspect of life.
The Gospel is the reason for our hope and our faith.
We need to keep ever before us His passion, which He suffered on our account, and to forgive those who have wronged us.

But perhaps most of all, because our lives do become the stories that we weave. What we say, what we repeat, what we choose to expose ourselves to… all these things shape us into the person we are. We are what we repeatedly do. What stories am I incorporating into myself and sharing with others?

It also contains a fundamental truth of the interconnectedness of all human persons. We are made for relationship and we are made to uphold and uplift each other.

So, why do we tell the story?

YOU are why!