Is the phrase "the life of an individual human being begins at conception" a scientific fact or a faith based assertion? Is it testable, able to withstand scrutiny, and supported by the available empirical evidence? The answer is an unqualified yes.
Every text in human embryology supports this (see JivinJs embryology quotes for numerous examples.) Neuroscientist Maureen Condic puts it this way:
From the earliest stages of development, human embryos clearly function as organisms. Embryos are not merely collections of human cells, but living creatures with all the properties that define any organism as distinct from a group of cells; embryos are capable of growing, maturing, maintaining a physiologic balance between various organ systems, adapting to changing circumstances, and repairing injury. Mere groups of human cells do nothing like this under any circumstances.Even those who support ESCR cannot escape this fact. For example, Christopher Thomas Scott, in his pro-ESCR book Stem Cell Now, states on page 22
Life begins with a single cell. One cell, dividing into two, then two into four, and four into eight until there are billions of cells: patterned and diffuse, color-coded and clear, working class and upper-crust, ancient and young, assembled into a great, thriving mass that is the complete organism.Neither gametes (sperm and egg) or other groups of somatic cells have the capacity as a human organism, whether it be the one-celled zygote or a fully mature adult. This is precisely what science supports.
It is very important to understand the implications of the fact that the individual life of a human being begins at conception. Logic dictates that this scientifically verifiable fact tells us that the life of a human being cannot start at any other point in time. In other words, when a scientist claims that no one knows when a human life begins, they are either incorrect or are using the term "human life" in a non-scientific way. Regardless, their assertion will not be testable, supported by empirical evidence, or able to withstand scrutiny. In other words, it won't be science, as I will demonstrate in the next post.