Recently, Christians have been more than a little excited by the following CNN article titled Dying Twin Holds Sister’s Hand in Sonogram. Why would they be excited by this news story? For the obvious reason that it appears to show an act of compassion or support from one twin to the other.
For example, Fazale Rana, second-in-command at the old Earth creationist organization Reasons to Believe, shared the article in a recent facebook post, to which he added his own two cents.
Now, I happen to know that Reasons to Believe likes to think of itself as a bit more scientifically respectable than the usual young Earther crowd, so I decided to introduce a plausible naturalistic explanation for the hand-holding that did not imply a voluntary act of compassion, just to see what Fazale might say:
To which Fazale retorted, and to the reception of many an upturned thumb:
And so I parried thus:
And so, finally, Fazale tells me exactly how a sonogram of a twin grasping its sibling’s hand is evidence for the claim that the fetus is a human person, despite the fact that this grasping is an involuntary reflex, a premise that Fazale is compelled by his own scientistic predisposition to accept:
What an odd reply. Now, Fazale says that the involuntary palmar grasp reflex was really what he had been getting at all along! The reflex itself is evidence that we are dealing with a person. Well, I must admit that I was now a little baffled. Evidence how? Chimpanzees have the same reflex, after all. Indeed, our own grasp reflex serves no real purpose, whereas in other primates, it allows newborns to cling to their mothers’ body hair. Thus, our own grasp reflex is a vestige, endowed on us by our hairier ancestors. Ironic, then, that Fazale would take this to be evidence. In any case, I felt perhaps it may have been my position that was not sufficiently clear. And so I laid it out:
And at that point, Fazale vanished from the thread, perhaps as bored as me, or perhaps offended by my allegation of disingenuity. My objections to the use of the sonogram video as evidence for personhood ultimately fell on deaf ears.
It seems that, in reality, Fazale Rana does not need a great many reasons to believe.