Cloning Bill passes Senate – just

Despite a general expectation that the stem cell legislation would not come to a final vote until Thursday at the earliest, the whole thing was debated, a small number of amendments considered and a final vote taken, all by 9.00pm tonight.

The final vote was 34 – 32, which means if I had voted the other way, the legislation would have been defeated. (see the bottom of this post for the full list of how people voted).

I would have preferred the extra day or two to think further about the matter and discuss my concern with others, and I really didn’t reach a conclusive view in my head about how I would vote until the very final minutes. I suppose that just makes me look indecisive, but it’s an indication of how conflicting my views were (and still are) about a key issue within the legislation, and my feeling that both sides had weaknesses in their arguments that weren’t adequately addressed. My views changed quite a bit over the months as I kept examining and exploring some of the issues involved, and I can’t recall any occasion where I have been so unsure about the best way to vote.

Senator Penny Wong’s speech touched on what I believe is the key issue in this legislation, which I feel did not really get enough recognition. She quoted Frank Brennan who said:

The moral quandary confronting law makers has been determining what respect, if any, is due to the entity which is created by means of the successful transfer of the nucleus of a human adult cell into an enucleated human or animal egg.

In other words, what value do we place on an embryo clone? I don’t think the Senate has determined this very clearly at all and I am unhappy that I supported something which left this key question so poorly addressed. I did ask a question of Senator Patterson, the proponent of the legislation, at the very end of the debate seeking her response on this matter to see if that could assist in resolving my concerns. Her response didn’t fully resolve the issue for me, not that I expected it could. Still, I think it was a bit better than I had expected, which possibly influenced my final decision a little bit.

The matter of the status of an SCNT embryo was touched on in the Lockhart report (page 88), where it said “that embryos formed by fertilisation of eggs by sperm may have a different social or relational significance from embryos formed by nuclear transfer.” It was also specifically touched on, albeit briefly, in the majority report of the Senate committee inquiring into the Bill. paragraph 3.31 quite specifically stated that embryos created through cloning have a lower intrinsic value than an embryo produced by egg and sperm.

The principle that ‘all people are created equal’ is an intrinsic one. The strong inference with this legislation is that embryos created through cloning technology are different in value to other embryos. They are indeed different in some respects, but I think we clearly need to do some more thinking as a society about what value we do give to such embryos, and why.

As well as discovering over the course of the day that things were so tight that my vote could be the deciding one, I also unexpectedly found myself successful in amending the legislation to remove the ability for animal eggs to be used for the creating of embryo clones.

I had assumed there would be a range of amendments put forward, particularly by opponents to the Bill, to tease out some of the weaknesses in the arguments being used. It wasn’t until 3pm that I confirmed there wouldn’t be any amendments at all from the Bill’s opponents, so I decided then to put forward an amendment myself focussed on the use of animal eggs in cloning so that at least the issue would receive some specific consideration, given how publicly controversial it had been. By 8pm, my amendment had been agreed to without opposition.

This issue wasn’t a determining factor for me in whether or not to support the legislation, but I do think the legislation is better off without it. In these days of a government controlled Senate it is now virtually impossible for a non-government Senator to get substantial legislative amendments agreed to, and yet I suddenly found I had successfully made a substantial amendment that I had never even contemplated I would be moving until just a few hours earlier.

Mind you, whilst the amendment was successful, it actually still didn’t receive a great deal of extended debate (apart from when I spoke to my own amendment). I presume the ‘No’ side took a tactical decision to try to leave the Bill unamended and therefore as ‘unattractive’ as possible – I guess to maximise the chances of it being defeated in the Senate or the House of Representatives. None of them spoke to my amendment at all, however I presume they felt it would be too difficult for them to actually vote to allow the ability for animal eggs to be used for embryo clones.

Those in favour of the legislation seemed to be keen to just bring on the final vote as soon as possible – I presume because they had such a slim margin in favour and they were worried that waverers might change their view overnight.

My lack of enthusiasm for the vote I ended up casting in favour was such that it is possible I would have taken a different view tomorrow, so I guess in that sense their strategy worked, although the reverse situation could easily have applied in regard to where my thinking was at a particular time.

I really don’t feel that, in the main, either side of the debate adequately attempted to consider or acknowledge the views expressed by the other. A lot of the debate throughout the process felt akin to being stuck in the middle of a round of the culture wars, with all of the attendant lack of interest in genuinely engaging with any perspective or view which didn’t already match people’s predetermined position. So much of it boiled down to ‘no embryo should ever be destroyed’ versus ‘the potential to find cures and treatments should not be denied’. Both positions have their own internal validity, but they shouldn’t stand in total isolation from other issues or from the various conflicting and interconnecting principles and diverse community views that are involved.

I didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of siding with those against the Bill, particularly given the ferocity with which some of the anti-science and anti-abortion arguments were expressed. However, whilst one can’t always fully resolve moral or ethical dilemmas in situations where competing principles are in play, I wasn’t comfortable supporting the Bill when there seemed to be so little recognition of the potential problem with ascribing different worth to different types of embryos.

Still, one has to vote one way or the other at the end of it all, so I did. I could have abstained I guess, but I felt that would have been too big a cop out in these particular circumstances.

First up tomorrow, legislation seeking to remove the requirement to consider cultural background or customary law when determining bail or sentencing for a conviction under the federal Crimes Act (which I wrote about in this post six months ago).

The voting list for the final vote on the Cloning Bill

FOR:
Ruth Webber (ALP)
Natasha Stott Despoja (Dems)
Kerry Nettle (Grn)
Judith Troeth (Lib)
Judith Adams (Lib)
Trish Crossin (ALP)
Jeannie Ferris (Lib)
Kim Carr (ALP)
Kate Lundy (ALP)
Anne McEwen (ALP)
Claire Moore (ALP)
Gavin Marshall (ALP)
Alan Ferguson (Lib)
John Faulkner (ALP)
David Johnston (Lib)
Amanda Vanstone (Lib)
Carol Brown (ALP)
Penny Wong (ALP)
Bob Brown (Grn)
Jan McLucas (ALP)
Andrew Bartlett (Dems)
Andrew Murray (Dems)
Nick Sherry (ALP)
Richard Colbeck (Lib)
Kay Patterson (Lib)
Chris Evans (ALP)
Lyn Allison (Dems)
Linda Kirk (ALP)
Kerry O’Brien (ALP)
Marise Payne (Lib)
Robert Ray (ALP)
Rachel Siewert (Grn)
Russell Trood (Lib)
Dana Wortley (ALP)

AGAINST:
Gary Humphries (Lib)
Ursula Stephens (ALP)
Steve Fielding (Family First)
Eric Abetz (Lib)
Ron Boswell (Nat)
Cory Bernardi (Lib)
Barnaby Joyce (Nat)
Sandy Macdonald (Nat)
Alan Eggleston (Lib)
Nick Minchin (Lib)
Chris Ellison (Lib)
Julian McGauran (Lib)
Helen Polley (ALP)
Annette Hurley (ALP)
Santo Santoro (Lib)
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Lib)
Nigel Scullion (CLP)
Ross Lightfoot (Lib)
Guy Barnett (Lib)
Mark Bishop (ALP)
Paul Calvert (Lib)
Grant Chapman (Lib)
Mitch Fifield (Lib)
Bill Heffernan (Lib)
John Hogg (ALP)
Steve Hutchins (ALP)
Rod Kemp (Lib)
Joe Ludwig (ALP)
Stephen Parry (ALP)
Michael Ronaldson (Lib)
Glenn Sterle (ALP)
John Watson (Lib)

NOT PRESENT IN THE CHAMBER:
George Brandis (Lib)
Stephen Conroy (ALP)
Brett Mason (Lib)
Christine Milne (Grn)
Michael Forshaw (ALP)
Ian Macdonald (Lib)
Helen Coonan (Lib)
George Campbell (ALP)
Ian Campbell (Lib)
Fiona Nash (Nat)

(Those not present arranged informal ‘pairs’ so that those for and against cancelled each other out. I think these names are in an order where the first 5 names were opposed to the Bill, and the next 5 in favour – although that is partly guess work and I am happy to be corrected)

The legislation will now go to the House of Representatives for debate and a vote by the end of November. Reputedly there is a decent majority in support of it there, but given that the Senate outcome came down to a single vote, I wouldn’t be too sure.

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81 Comments

  1. Thanks for your efforts. There are a lot people who have suffered much who will probably thank you too – you will have given them hope at long last.

  2. I wouldn’t overstate the hope, Graham. Tangible results are likely to be a way off yet and will still probably not appear at all for some conditions. Still, I know the research has potential to deliver some amazing things down the track and I imagine I’ll now keep a much closer eye on it in the future to see how it unfolds.

  3. While I am not happy with the vote (and certainly wasn’t impressed with what little of the debate I heard/read) I am grateful you moved that amendment given the constant pressures to push the boundaries.

  4. Thank you for the insight into the thought processes of a politician trying to decide how to vote on a matter. All too often it seems politicians vote along party lines, so it is good to see some people giving it due care.

    I don’t think stem cell research should be prohibited, as I feel the potential benefits are significant, and don’t think embryos are at the stage of development that require the same rights as a fully developed human (I’m not quite sure yet where I draw the line, but I think it’s around about the point where a nervous system and brain develop).

  5. Ron

    I expect all of those not present had legitimate reasons to be elsewhere, unless one of them was standing out of the vote to give effect to a pair. While pairing can seem a bit strange, it is the best way to ensure the genuine will of the entire Senate is reflected in a particular vote. If we didn’t do it, then everytime someone was ill, had a plane delayed, let along had to be away on other parliamentary business or family matters, it could throw the balance of the Senate out of kilter.

  6. Thank you for your vote. I am one of the many people who may one day benefit from such research, or if not me, then others in the community. Thank you.

  7. Thanks for the explanation, Andrew.

    I asked the question because Conroy voted against RU486 and I expected his vote to have been no yesterday.

    Considering his announcement yesterday that he and his wife had a daughter using IVF and surrogacy which I believe is illegal in his home state and necessitated going interstate, I detect a whiff of hypocrisy.

  8. Ken, I’m pretty sure the system of pairing is a Westminster invention and has been going on for a long time.

  9. Andrew, It is very pleasing to see a politician grappling with the issues and working to resolve them, even up to the final moments of making the decision. Theraputic cloning does carry with it ethical dilemmas but it also represents hope for many people that their own genetic material might one day provide a cure. That hope alone is worth a lot – and represents the other side of the ethical arguments.

    I thought the amendment on not using animal eggs was a good one, if only for the purpose of reassurring people about the process.

  10. I was pleased to know that the Bill had been passed, and thought the vote was interesting in that the overwhelming majority opposed were men.

    I’m also interested in this notion of politicians and their conscience vote – Andrew, how many politicians put their anti abortion, anti SCNT or other contentious issue, views to the public prior to an election?
    Do the general public get a choice anyway? since we only get to vote for whomever the party puts up, do we get proper representation with a conscience vote?

  11. The complexity of this issue is beyond me, but I think the thoughtful way you were approaching it is evidence of the importance of having non-major party people in the Senate.

  12. “paragraph 3.31 quite specifically stated that embryos created through cloning have a lower intrinsic value than an embryo produced by egg and sperm.”

    So, does this mean that if a cloned embryo should be raised to adulthood (illegally), the person involved would retain this “lower intrinsic value”? Would they have the same rights as other citizens?

    To further illustrate the absurdity of this paragraph, one might note that identical twins (who are of course the result of cloning), do in fact have the same legal status as other people in most modern societies.

  13. Deborah:

    I guess it’s up to electors or organisations if they want to ask candidates before an election what their views are on abortion or another matter. I usually get surveys from Right to Life and the like at election time asking my views.

    It’s up to voters how much weight they put on the personal beliefs of a candidate versus the party. I suspect conscience votes for the other parties are too rare (and often on unexpected topics) for it to be a primary factor. In my view it’s another reason for conscience votes/floor crossing to be given greater support and encouragement.

    It shouldn’t just be these ‘moral’ issues where people have an ability and responsibility to exercise their consciences.

    John: Identical twins are biological clones, but they are created through egg and sperm, not through SCNT, so the issue doesn’t arise for them. The science at the moment is such that there is very little prospect of a SCNT embryo developing into a fully developed human being – and of course there are very stiff penalties on some who seeks to attempt this. However, it is reasonable to assume that as the science progresses the prospect of SCNT embryos being able to develop further will increase – it was this scenario which is at the heart of the key problem I had. I suppose the fact that in the immediate future the chances of this happening are very remote, and the only use will involve destruction at less than 14 days was a factor in my feeling I might be able to live with it.

    But we need to sort out in our own minds much more clearly what we believe the SCNT embryo/entity is and what worth we ascribe to it. We’re a long way from producing fully grown people through cloning, but there’s little doubt it is a possibility down the track. However, even the prospect down the track of the potential for SCNT embryos to go past 14 days to when a nervous system and organs start to develop is one that needs confronting, rather just denying it could ever happen.

  14. As Deborah noted, it’s interesting the men vs women voting pattern here.

    I wonder which bit in the process bothers them the most, the sperm or the egg?

  15. Andrew

    I would be interested in your reasons re use of animal eggs.

    I am using a chimeric monoclonal antibody (Mabthera) made from a mouse. I am curious to understand your reasoning.

    No criticism meant.

  16. Yes muzz – no doubt the notion of not being held accountable for not turning up to work is a universal value of politics.

  17. JA #14 “So, does this mean that if a cloned embryo should be raised to adulthood (illegally), the person involved would retain this “lower intrinsic value”? Would they have the same rights as other citizens?”

    Doesn’t anything illegal have a lower intrinsic value? eg alcohol and tobacco vs marijuana, immigrants vs asylum seekers, to some people with narrow views?

    They should be of equal value (intrinsic and extrinsic) and legal status as other citizens, no matter how they came into existence. Equal rights? Well, we’re all still struggling with that one.

  18. I must admit Andrew, that I’m a little perplexed as to why you’d vote for a bill about which you hadn’t been able to “reach a conclusive view in my head”. Although I must admit that I’m biased in that I would have been against the bill, it seems a contradiction that you’d pass a bill you aren’t sure about.

    Having said that, I have really appreciated the chance to understand your thought process in assessing legislation, and I’m loving reading your blog. Thanks!

  19. Steve

    Probably easiest if you read the speeches I gave on my animal eggs amendment.

    Here

    and

    Here

    They weren’t terribly well prepared – as I said in my main post, until a few hours earlier I was assuming I would be able to respond to amendments and comments on this issue, rather than actually have to lead the debate on it – but they should give you the main gist of it.

    Happy to answers any further questions you have after that.

  20. Lynette2, I think it’s the terrible thought that women can somehow, somewhere, exercise control over their own reproductive organs.

    Notice also that under no circumstances can women actually be financially rewarded for their assistance eg surrogacy, SCNT egg donation. Women are expected to be completely altruistic in this (although it is their eggs that are crucial to the research) while medical companies make millions.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/healthscience/stories/DN-stemcellpoliticsdog_17nat.ART.State.Bulldog.3eef992.html

  21. Bring on all forms of cloning I say! Bring back the woolly mammoth, clone Jesus from the shroud of Turin, save the ALP’s knowlege tree. I want blue roses, meat grown in vats, a new head when mine gets old. Mix animal and human DNA – it would be great to see what happens!!!

    Women have thousands of unused eggs and men have billions of unused sperm. There’s plenty of fertilised eggs we can make and destroy without harming anyone.

  22. Andrew
    Congratulations on voting for this bill. However any of the other 33 Senators who voted for the bill could equally say “if I had voted the other way, the legislation would have been defeated”, just to keep your vote in perspective

  23. I notice Crikey get a lot of “good copy” (in the press meaning of the term) from you Andrew. I hope it means they will strongly campaign for your re-election, as that would only be fair, considering how much of their news, quotes and daily leads they take from you (and indeed the other democrats).

    I mention it because you’re their editorial today (again).

  24. I feel for you on this Andrew.
    Its a tough one, particularly as most of the implications (either for good or otherwise) wont be known for a long time.
    I’m glad i wasn’t in your shoes, i’m pretty torn about the issue myself, with so many ‘on the one hand, but on the other hand.. ‘ that if it were tangible i’d look like an octopus.

    Thanks for your preparedness to think it through and keep an open mind.

  25. (off-topic comment deleted)

    (I may try an open thread or an ‘ask your questions here?’ thread again sometime, but would like to keep comment threads relatively on-topic, except maybe unless they lead themselves off-topic by increments) 

     

  26. This is a good development.

    As biotechnology improves, women will gradually lose their exclusive control of reproduction, and men will gain some reproductive rights at last. However, it will be a long haul.

  27. Off topic reply to  #28

    I was actually replying in increment to #26 (also off topic) re “good copy”.

  28. Hi Andrew,
    Understood, my aplologies, it would be good to know what that was all about though – perhaps on another thread? I did search for, and couldn’t find a thread that was relevant, and Dodgy’s post had reminded me of seeing that and thinking at the time – what the? (or so I justified to myself anyway!)

  29. Andrew Bartlett [post 2]:
    Hope is vital and it makes an incredible difference, even if results are decades away.

    Similarly, it is hope and the knowledge that research is actually being done that keeps many cancer sufferers going.

    Ken [post 4]:
    Agree on both counts. (i) It’s Andrew’s explanations, musings and so on that make his blog so thought-provoking. (ii) At the risk of offending religious enthusiasts, I myself would put that line right up at where sentient independent existence is possible. Anyway, the Senators have got this Bill just about right – let’s hope it doesn’t suffer from the Sadim Touch (reverse of the Midas Touch) in the House of Representatives.

  30. Am glad the bill passed, although have read too much Orwell, Huxley etc and seen too much surrender to expediency on other issues like Sedition/ Asio/ so-called “Terrorism”; SBS/ABC suppression, refugees, aborigines, IR etc. Thus am, of course, as concerned as ever as to the “slippery slope” precedent arguments.
    Like,
    Y’know:
    … Frankenstein patents his monster and any damage it does or will do, is therefore waived in favour of a neolib “property rights” reading, under direction from particularly zealous competition regulator.
    This is reinforced when the government recruits it for the “War on Terrorism”, and any damage to innocent bystanders is suppressed by way of FOI as “collateral damage”, with Ruddock and Albrechtsen then condemning sceptics as naughtily “anti-Israeli” and “anti-American” for questioning its use in mid east wars, despite Geneva Convention…
    Am tired of the enthusiasts and their nonsense that an embryo is, in any meaningful way, “human”.
    Sorry Andrew, against your allusion, I propose, All people are BORN equal; not MADE equal’.
    Like wise canot understand the sympathy for detestable creatures like Fierravantiwells ( Wheelbarrow? ), Abetz and Santoro, who despise the concept of alternative view point and are the most active members in this society for suppression of freedom of information and speech.

  31. Thank goodness for the compassion of women in squeezing us through the vote.

    I think excluding the animal eggs will prove to be a serious mistake.

    EP:

    I don’t think women have exclusive control of reproduction. It can be controlled by both men and women in various ways, in conjunction with modern medicine/prophylaxis – but sometimes the biggest players are mother nature and fate.

    I think most things happen for a reason, which might not come to light for a long time.

  32. re dodgyville’s comment #26, perhaps you can get a job with Crikey when you are finally no longer a Senator.

    I also appreciate how difficult it must be to try to come to a basic understanding on so many issues in the parliament, and then have to decide how to vote on them all, especially issues which may not be of particular interest.

    I struggle keeping up with the handful of issues I’m interested in.

  33. Andrew

    I kind of understand the amentment on animal eggs.

    I suppose politics is the art of the possible. It is better to have some legislation passed than none.

    That being said the amendment will seriously hamper research.

  34. Steve

    There were a few different reasons that come together to reinforce my position on the animal eggs amendment. I appreciate it may make research a bit more difficult, but I don’t think it will ‘seriously hamper’ it.

    I took the opoprtunity to express some personal views, but they weren’t my primary motivation. I was influenced significantly by the views expressed by the Chief Scientist Dr Peacock and also the comments of Prof Bob Williamson from Melbourne Uni, who stated:

    “In contrast to the great importance of permitting the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer into human enucleated eggs in culture, the use of animal wggs in this way is not critical for scientific progress. Indeed, using more than one species could make the interpretations of some experiments more difficult.”

    In addition, hastening slowly down this path has some merit. There will be another review of how things are turning out in a few years time, and I imagine if it does turn out to be seriously hampering research, it will not be overly hard to amend the legislation down the track.

  35. Andrew Bartlett [at 39], Paul Walter [at 35], CORAL [at 36]:

    The Animal amendment was wise at this stage.

    I, too, am concerned about some research being conducted without well thought-out guidelines.

    That, in some countries, this research may have been going on in secret for years (and if so, possibly for evil military purposes) is no excuse whatsoever for allowing it to be done here without effective oversight and comprehensive control on potential misuse.

    Besides, without this amendment, ruthless political manipulators would have frightened the gullible and the bewildered with gory stories of Frankenstein monsters skulking around everybody’s dunny or pouncing out of every shadow.

  36. Last night on “A Current Affair”, it was said that the waiting list for donor eggs is now 7 years long – so long that the list had been closed.

    Steve Madden (and, I think, Jim) have indicated that research will be seriously hampered if restrictions are placed on access to animal eggs.

    I have mentioned previously that human eggs are very hard to get and also involve risk to the donor’s health and wellbeing.

    The idea of “Franken-tiny-bit-of-bunny” is not entirely a furphy, if rogue scientists should get away with breaking the rules.

    The same concerns regarding people wanting to grow therapeutic clones to harvest their organs, while being valid, should not prevent scientists using animal eggs in accordance with a strict set of guidelines.

    Graham Bell:

    Ruthless political manipulators have already frightened the gullible and the bewildered with the idea of “Frankenbunny”.

    Effective oversight and comprehensive control on potential misuse of therapeutic cloning and other stem cell techniques can easily be put in place.

  37. Andrew Bartlett:
    Identity. Can’t recall anyone using this word in this issue. Cells, gametes, foetuses, organs, all carry genetic messages and they all certainly have all sorts of potential …. but they do not have Identity.

  38. We are pleased to know that you voted for the stem cell research. We will remember your decision at the next Federal Election, and also those who voted against this Bill.

    Thanks

    D and M Sampson

  39. Thank goodness for the compassion of women in squeezing us through the vote.

    Or, what a pity it was that the women had no compassion for the embryos.

    Well done to the 32, I say.

    Suffice it to say I’ll be very interested to see which Senators voted in favour of a truly compassionate society.

    This may appear to be a harsh criticism of you personally, Senator, which I don’t intend. I’m not saying the pro-cloning voters lack compassion altogether, just that I disagree with you how that compassion should be directed.

    I do think it’s a pity that when you weren’t entirely sure of the way you should vote you chose to go with the bill. I would have thought that to stick with current law would have been more prudent.

    I am, however, very interested in your reasons for voting as you did. In particular, I’m intrigued by what things you thought were not adequately addressed by each side of the debate.

    I’m interested more for the purpose of being informed than with debating you on this topic. After all, it’s rather pointless now.

  40. This discussion seems encapsulated in that space between two poles represented by Alexander Bell and Louise.
    I’d agree with Alexander that gametes, embryos etc are more to do with potential than actual identity or consciousness.
    Is Louise so wrong to query the time at which a growing cellular entity acheives meaningful humanity, though?
    I felt the other night, that birth is a good demarcation point, but it is true that, if a baby pops forth as a “human” it may have acheived that status some time earlier in gestation, to fulfill the conditions for that status ( of course, Peter Singer, the philosopher, maintains that the meaningful conditions for humanity referred to by Alexander may not be fulfilled until some time AFTER birth ).
    On a different issue, I tried to say in an earlier post that the ability of any given person or group to prioritise expediency above principle, in just about any given situation, and usually to an egregious level with egregious results for victims (war and famine “collateral damage”? ), that appalls objective onlookers. The claim that the research itself will continue to be done and applied ethically, wisely and for genuinely good reasons, is utterly problematic!!
    The reality of genetic research, along with things like electronic surveillance and subceptional propaganda and advertising, for example, is that the given issue is no longer theoretical, but already a practical one.
    The genie excaped from its bottle, the horse bolted, as to many situations our time is faced with, all too long ago. We are left with an unsatisfactory situation seeking a defensible and workable fall-back position involving regulation and damage-control.
    As to the existence of “Frankenbunnies”, Coral, I suggest you watch parliament more often. Or even just observe some of the behaviour ’round the shopping centres leading up to Christmas. Are you sure I am misanthropic in querying whether some lab door has not been left open inadvertantly, alrea

  41. What is life?
    What is it that distinguishes life from death or from inanimate states such as rocks? where does it start and end?

    for centuries we have tried to define these distinctions and demarcation points and never resolved the issue because such material predefinitions are not the nature of life. Life is spiritual, eternal, infinite.

    It does not start and it does not end, but is in constant change.

    life is the process of change as spirit constantly reinvents itself.

    We eat vegetables (amongst other things), the vegetables are re-incarnated as either the substance of our body or as fuel turned into heat as well as (theoretically) fertilising the soil through shit. Our body is reincarnated over and over again in our life (every 7 years I’m told) constantly reincarnating the life force of what we eat drink and breath.

    Some of us have children as we reincarnate.

    Then we die and our final incarnation of what we have eaten returns to the soil as fertility or into energy and minimal fertilisation through cremation. The fertility of the soil and the (theoretically?) protective greenhouse layer allows for the life force to reincarnate as grass which is eaten by cows to reincarnate their body and then provide manure for fertility (or some other species might eat them).

    But our children, who came from us continues on just as ours has continued from Adam and eve.

    life doesn’t start at conception or end at death.

    human consciousness seems to occur some time between conception and death, but consciousness is just a by-product of chemical and electrical reactions within ecological systems, both within the organs and organisms of the body as well as interaction with the environment.

    consciousness is an illusion but the subconscious is that most directly connected to the eternal nature of life and is strongest in the unborn feotus and comatose geriatric.

    All that comes between these two eternal states is an illusion.

    I hope that clarifys things

  42. All sorted John, you get an extra portion of buckwheat alfalfa and goat’s milk for that.
    Actually, it WAS a good rave… evidence of an inquisitive mind; manifestation of the soul- way to go!

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