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Biology/Birth/ Origin of an organism

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QUESTION: Thank you for your consideration of my question.

Question: "Biologically speaking, when is a new organism actually born?" Is it born at conception - when the organism's existence (being) first begins? Or is it only 'born' at Parturition (when it finally emerges from the womb?)

In science, when is a new organism "born?"

Semantically, the definitions for the word 'birth' are very inclusive. One of the definitions for the word birth is "Any coming into existence."

So, I know that the semantic case can be made. I would like to know if there is anything in science to support the above.

Thank you!
~ Loren

ANSWER: Hi Loren
Scientists do like to argue over semantics.
Mammals are born when the leave the womb. Other animals are born when the egg hatches. With sexual reproduction existence comes about when the egg is fertilized. That would be my definition. Others may disagree

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Walter but I would like to follow up.

You said:

"Hi Loren
Mammals are born when the leave the womb. Other animals are born when the egg hatches. With sexual reproduction existence comes about when the egg is fertilized. That would be my definition. Others may disagree."

It appears that you are accepting that conception is a 'birth' too but that you are not wanting to call it that#

Though it's not very common, I have read comments from scientists where they have referred to conception as the 'birth' of an organism#

I am inclined to believe that they are correct# However, I have not been able to find anything in science #biological# sources to support their claims#

Here is an example or two, if you will be so kind as to consider them#

Thanks again#
~Loren

The Modern Treatment of Syphilitic Diseases,

"The parent diseased before conception gives birth to a diseased child, "Which s THEN Formed and Developed in the Womb" of a tainted mother#  Page 340" # http://books#google#com/books?id=W3VUAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA340&lpg=PA340&dq=+%22concepti #


" This is why a single embryonic cell, "Born at Conception", can differentiate into all the different structures of the body. So all the cells in the body have identical sets of chromosomes."

http://www.psrast.org/cell.htm


P.S. - Please consider these two comments as they relate to one another.

ANSWER:   One definition of birth is coming into existance.The other is leaving the womb or egg.
I was unable to bring up the first reference you gave. As to the second one it seems to me that with the term "born at conception" the word born is used in a different way then  when considering the exit from the womb or egg. The reason you cannot find support for the view of scientists that conception is birth of an organism is because the term "birth" is arbitrary and means different things to different people. Proponents of the belief that a fertilized egg is a person want to accept that conception is birth. This may be true but it is not a fact because it cannot be tested.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Walter, thank you for allowing some followup questions from me. I hope that you
will indulge me a little more. I have no other experts to ask these questions to
at this time.

You answered: "One definition of birth is coming into existance."

Yes. Exactly. I am trying to get a scientific answer on when an organism "comes into
existence." Is it at conception? Parturition? Or is it at some other time?

You mentioned "persons." I understand the other debates and circumstances but I am
not asking about "persons" with this question, so please don't bias your answer
with that anticipation.

Walter, you also said: "The reason you cannot find support for the view
of scientists that conception is birth of an organism is because the term
"birth" is arbitrary and means different things to different people.
Proponents of the belief that a fertilized egg is a person want to accept
that conception is birth. This may be true but it is not a fact because
it cannot be tested."

I hope that you can appreciate my dismay with that situation?

Setting aside the 'personhood' debates that will likely go on forever
regardless of when science says a new organism is *born* - science is not
supposed to beholden to any one belief over another. Is it?

A organism would begin (originate) when it begins and the *Personhood*
debate would have nothing to do with when and how (biologically) the new
organism was 'born'.

Correct?

Please understand that I am not asking you to say that conception is
the birth of a **person**. I am only asking you if conception is the
birth of any animal organism (human or not).

Answer
All I can say is that the accepted definition of birth is exit from the womb or egg. The scientific for birth is Parturition. Does an organism exist before before parturition. Of course! Does it exist at fertilization. Certainly. It is my view that a organism is not born until it enters the world. I cannot state this as a fact because it can't be tested

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Walter Hintz

Expertise

Science teacher for over 50 years. MSc. in biology. I can answer questions in general biology, zoology, botany, anatomy and physiology and biochemistry.

Experience

I have a MSc in biology and have been a science teacher for over 50 years. At present I am a faculty member at a college and a science consultant at seven catholic schools.

Publications
The Ohio journal of Science
Momentum-The Journal of the Catholic Education Association

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