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When Judaism Meets Science

 

“a rare masterpiece”
– Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, HUC

“careful research, passionate analysis, and good sense”
– Rabbi David Teutsch, RRC

“clear, engaging”
– Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, Sinai and Synapses

“a tremendous tome”
– Rabbi Wayne Dosick, SpiritTalk Live!

“an absolutely fascinating book”
– Rabbi Richard Address, Jewish Sacred Aging

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Posts Tagged ‘Judaism’

“When Judaism Meets Science” at Beth Emet

Sunday, April 19, 2020 @ 11:04 AM
posted by Roger Price
Beth Emet – The Free Synagogue

Beth Emet – The Free Synagogue is a Reform congregation in Evanston, Illinois. In November, 2019, it hosted an interview of Roger Price, author of When Judaism Meets Science. The interview was conducted in front of a live audience by David Graham, then a litigator and partner with the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP. Previously, Graham was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School and more recently, and repeatedly, was designated a “Best Lawyer” in commercial litigation. For several years, he also served as president of Beth Emet.

The program begins with a brief introduction by Marci Dickman, Beth Emet’s Director of Lifelong Learning. For the next forty–five minutes, Graham’s questions and Price’s responses cover a number of issues discussed in Price’s book, including the distinctive approaches of science and religion, the roles each plays today, the challenge of science to religion on matters such as the Passover story and genetically modified crops, the reaction of segments of the community to science’s challenges to religion, the problem with cognitive biases, and the need for critical thinking. Audience questions followed, and extended the discussion for another forty–five minutes. During this segment, comments were made concerning boundaries, abortion, the anthropic principle, the purpose of the Torah text, prayer as quotation and as affirmation, the need for humility, and the impact of writing a book. The entire session is available here, without editing or commercials: https://soundcloud.com/bethemet/roger-price

read more

Judeology Explores “When Judaism Meets Science”

Monday, March 2, 2020 @ 04:03 PM
posted by Roger Price

Judeology is a website dedicated to sparking Judaism “through science, technology, and the arts.” Recently it posted a podcast about what happens when Judaism meets science. One of the things that is unique about this podcast is that the host, Yaakov Schefres, is not a rabbi but an aerospace engineer. Over the course of just over a half hour, Yaakov and I engage in a wide ranging discussion about the different approaches and techniques of religion and science with respect to the big questions of the day. We talk about faith in religion and confidence in science, as well as about the evolution of Judaism and self–correction in science. We also explore descriptions of the Biblical text as history, science, an ethical guide, and a community bond. Finally, we address some contemporary issues, including abortion, assisted fertility techniques, and artificial intelligence.


I hope you enjoy this discussion. Of course, if you want to learn more, the book “When Judaism Meets Science” is available at your local etailer.


For now, listen here: https://www.yaakovschefres.com/judeology/

Judaism and Reproductive Science: Be Fruitful and Multiply. But How?

Monday, February 17, 2020 @ 11:02 AM
posted by Roger Price

Guest Essay by Prof. William D. Petok

Assisted Reproductive Technology.
Credit: wikigramas.org

The Bible and Fertility

The Biblical imperative is clear. “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and tame it . . . .” (Gen. 1:28.) And God gives no description of how Adam and Eve are to do this. Again, after the flood, the same message comes from on high: “God then blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.’”(Gen. 9:1.) At least seven more times the commandment is given. This must be important!

Later in the text we are introduced to the problem of infertility. Sarah struggles and suggests that Abraham use the first known surrogate, Hagar, her handmaiden. After Ishmael is born Sarah conceives at the ripe age of 90. Tension between the two women increases and Hagar and Ishmael are cast out.

Infertility skips Isaac and Rebecca but plagues the next generation of the Matriarchs. “When Rachel saw that she was not bearing [children] to Jacob, Rachel came to envy her sister. She said to Jacob, “Let me have children; otherwise I am a dead woman.’” (Gen. 30:1.)

And finally, Elkahnah’s wife is stricken. Unfortunately, Elkhanah misses an opportunity to connect with his wife when he says “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” (1 Sam. 1:8.) Then, “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget Your servant, but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life.’” (1 Sam. 1:10-11.) Miraculously, as in earlier texts, she conceives, and a son is born.

Modern Fertility Strategies

Today, we are less likely to rely on divine intervention for fertility problems. Reproductive medicine has developed an array of strategies for both men and women who are unable to create children “the old-fashioned way.” The most complex of these are considered Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and include In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in which eggs and sperm join without other manipulation in a petri dish, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), in which sperm is introduced to the uterus via a catheter, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), in which a single sperm is injected into a single egg under the microscope, the use of donor sperm or eggs, and the use of a gestational carrier when a woman’s is unable to carry a pregnancy to term for medical reasons. More recently, pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) allows the determination of genetic problems with an embryo before it is transferred to a uterus. The process involves removing several cells in order to test them. Finally, egg freezing allows a woman to freeze her eggs for later use or donation at a later time.

As an added benefit of these technologies, same sex couples who wish to have children to whom they have a genetic connection can employ one or more of the above methods and build their families.

When Judaism Meets Reproductive Science

What does Judaism, the religion that brought us “Be fruitful and multiply,” have to say about these methods which did not exist when the biblical authors created the texts above? Many religions approach the problem of infertility with some amount of overlap. Judaism says that procreation is a religious duty, that infertility is imposed by God and may be seen as a punishment for wrongdoing. In fact, all the major religions take the view that infertility is a punitive response from the deity. As with most religions, Judaism has denominations ranging from the most orthodox to the most liberal. And the range of opinions on what is acceptable is significant. Generally, the more strictly one adheres to Jewish law, the more restrictive are the options.

Judaism in its most conservative forms is fairly flexible when it comes to ART. IVF is acceptable, particularly when the sperm and egg come from the individuals who will carry to term and raise the infant. IUI is acceptable if the sperm comes from the husband of the woman who will carry the pregnancy.

Egg donation

There are rabbis who will reject the use of donor eggs while others allow it with the husband’s consent. A major concern, if the donor is Jewish, would be the “provenance” of the egg for future marriage of the child. Regardless of faith, it’s a bad idea to marry a half sibling. The genetic consequences could be problematic. In the most religious circles, a gentile donor is preferred, the assumption being that the child will only marry a Jew, thus removing concerns about gene lines and consanguinity. Many authorities would favor a full conversion to insure the Jewish heritage of the child.

Sperm Donation

The use of donor sperm from a Jewish donor is not allowed because it constitutes an adulterous relationship, at least metaphorically, because the donor creates a child with a woman who is not his wife. The child would then be considered a mamzer or bastard.

For men with male factor infertility, this option is removed. A non-Jewish donor, on the other hand, changes the equation. The child can’t unknowingly marry a half-sibling because in “proper” marriage arrangements there is only a Jewish option. If a donor is Jewish, accurate records must be kept to insure that the donor’s subsequent children are not potential marriage mates.

Seed Spilling

The issue of IUI, IVF, and ICSI are complicated by how the sperm and egg “get together.” Since these procedures all take place without intercourse, “spilling of seed,” or masturbation, is required. The original text from Genesis (38:9) and then again in Leviticus presents questions about emission of semen and raises similar questions about ritual purity. Jews who follow a strict interpretation of text will then have a problem with how sperm are obtained for the procedures above. Typically, a man provides a specimen for use by masturbating into a collection cup. But this violates the prohibition of spilling seed. In order to avoid the prohibition, special collection condoms have been created so the couple can have intercourse and the “seed is not spilt.” In the most observant situations, there is a small hole at the top of the condom, so it is “possible” for seed to escape into the vagina and it won’t be “wasted.” From a medical/scientific point of view these machinations are less than desirable, but acceptable.

Surrogacy

Some Jewish denominations allow surrogacy via gestational carrier. This a distinctly different form of surrogacy than the one Abraham employed. Today that would be referred to as “traditional surrogacy” in which the carrier is inseminated with the father’s sperm, carries the child to birth and the turns the infant over to the parents who will raise it. This practice is used far less today than 25 years ago because of advances in IVF which allow creation of a fetus outside the womb and subsequent transfer to a carrier. In the best case, the carrier would be an unmarried woman. However, some Halachic authorities raise the question of maternal identity. Is the carrier, who’s only contribution to the birth is her womb, a mother? It is possible to find Halachic authorities who make the case both for and against gestational surrogacy. Liberal Judaism, which has accepted patrilineal descent, finds gestational surrogacy acceptable.

Most gestational surrogacy arrangements today involve a woman who is done creating her own family. As with any pregnancy, one risk is future infertility due to complications of gestation or birth. Another reason for this guideline is that a woman who has her own children is more likely to turn over a child she has carried for someone else. Many carriers comment that they loved being pregnant and look forward to the process especially because they will be able to sleep through the night after the delivery!

Anonymity

While egg and sperm donors were initially required to be anonymous for reasons that don’t make sense today, there is a strong movement to create donor sibling registries. This allows donor conceived children to find their half-siblings, “diblings” in some circles, and obtain ongoing medical information about their donor which may impact them in the future. When donor sperm and later donor egg procedures became possible, no one could have predicted the impact of technology on reproduction. Today, with genetic testing from organizations such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com, it is almost impossible for a donor to remain anonymous. In the not too distant future, children who are not told about their donor conception could easily discover the “truth” when they take biology in middle school and bring home the DNA swab kit to learn about their own genetic makeup.

Egg Freezing

Egg freezing, a process in which a woman’s ovaries are stimulated in a controlled fashion to produce more eggs than are normal for one cycle, is gaining acceptance in the Orthodox community. The procedure allows eggs to be retrieved by needle aspiration while the woman is sedated. They are subsequently frozen and stored in cryopreservation tanks for later use. For an unmarried woman in her late 30’s, this is a significant development as it allows her to preserve some measure of fertility until she finds a mate. It is also significant for a woman who has a medical condition that requires treatment that can render her infertile, such as some treatments for cancer and other diseases. As striking a development as it sounds, it is an imperfect process. Not all frozen eggs will thaw properly and not all of those that do thaw will fertilize. Finally, not all those that fertilize will develop into embryos that can be transferred.

Genetic Testing

Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) was developed to diagnose genetically transmittable disorders. The process involves removing a single cell from a day 3 embryo and studying the genetic makeup of that cell. While the process is taking place, the embryo is frozen for later use. At day 3, the eight cells that make up the embryo are undifferentiated. Removing one will not affect the subsequent development of the embryo. The information obtained can prevent the transfer of embryos with Tay-Sachs, Down’s syndrome, and other disorders. It could also be used for sex determination, something that Halachic and non-Halachic authorities consider frivolous.

Additional Resources

This brief overview of Judaism’s approach to ART is by no means exhaustive. The reader who wants a deeper dive into both the Jewish approach and the broader field of ART is referred to several books and websites listed below.

Grazi, Richard V. Overcoming Infertility: A guide for Jewish couples (Toby Press, 2005). An edited collection by an experienced reproductive endocrinologist with contributions from rabbinic and medical experts.

Finkelstein, Baruch and Finkelstein, Michal. (The Third Key: the Jewish couple’s guide to Fertility (Feldheim Publishers, 2005). Contains halachic explanations of ART and what is and is not permissible for the most observant.

Cardin, Nina Beth. Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope. Jewish Lights Publishing, 1999. Written by a Reform rabbi, this book, subtitled “A Jewish Companion for Infertility and Pregnancy Loss,” contains spiritual resources for those coping with infertility and pregnancy loss.

Jewish Fertility Foundation. https://www.jewishfertilityfoundation.org.  Headquartered in Atlanta, this organization provides financial assistance, educational awareness and emotional support to Jewish people who have medical fertility challenges.

Uprooted. https://weareuprooted.org.  A Boston based organization that offers advocacy and ritual creation. Uprooted educates Jewish leaders in assisting families with fertility challenges and provides national communal support to those struggling to grow their families.

Puah. https://www.puahfertility.org. Headquartered in Israel and providing services in the United States, this organization describes itself as “fertility, medicine and halacha.” In addition to information and events, it offers lab supervision to insure rabbinic requirements that Jewish parentage is established.

A Time. https://www.atime.org.  Headquartered in Brooklyn, this organization is focused on religiously observant Jews dealing with infertility and family building challenges.

RESOLVE. https://resolve.org/ The national patient advocacy organization. RESOLVE provides free support groups in more than 200 communities and is the leading patient advocacy voice.

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. https://www.sart.org.  SART provides unbiased information and sets standards for in vitro fertilization (IVF). Member clinics provide data on success rates which are validated and available online. The website contains a wealth of patient friendly information in print and video form.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine. https://www.asrm.org.  ASRM is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine. Its patient information page, https://www.reproductivefacts.org, contains significant information about the medical aspects of infertility and its treatment

************

William D. Petok, PhD, is a Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University/Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Philadelphia, PA.

The views expressed by Prof. Petok are his own and not necessarily those of the Blogmaster. They are published in order to promote this blog’s mission to provide information and foster discussion about matters of faith and science. The Blogmaster thanks Prof. Petok for his contribution to this forum.

Rabbi Richard Address Explores “When Judaism Meets Science”

Sunday, October 27, 2019 @ 10:10 AM
posted by Roger Price
Rabbi Richard Address

RABBI RICHARD ADDRESS is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. There he develops and implements the Sacred Aging project which has been responsible for creating awareness and resources for congregations on the implication of the emerging longevity revolution that has begun to impact all aspects of Jewish communal and congregational life.

In winter 2018, Rabbi Address began hosting a weekly podcast, Seekers of Meaning. Rabbi Address’s interview of author Roger Price concerning the latter’s new book, When Judaism Meets Science, covers a wide range of topics, including creation, evolution, bio–ethics, fake news, the anthropic principle, a Jewdroid, and the Greenberg hurdle. Running about forty–five minutes, without commercial interruption, it can be heard here: https://jewishsacredaging.com/som-pod-roger-price-author-of-when-judaism-meets-science/

When Judaism Meets Science can be purchased from various etailers, including Amazon, and also from the publisher, Wipf and Stock.

Rabbi Wayne Dosick explores “When Judaism Meets Science”

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 @ 10:10 AM
posted by Roger Price
Rabbi Wayne Dosick

RABBI WAYNE DOSICK is the host of, among other programs, SpiritTalk Live!: Journeys into Mind, Heart, and Soul, a weekly Internet radio program, heard on HealthyLife.net. There he leads conversations about the “great questions of existence, in a quest to find meaning and worth in life, though intellectual inquiry and sacred spirit.” His conversation with author Roger Price concerning the latter’s new book, When Judaism Meets Science, can be heard on the following podcast:http://healthylifenet.mainstreamnetwork.com/media/STL082119.mp3

Rabbi Dosick is also an author of eight books and hundreds of essays and columns in Jewish periodicals. Teaching and counselling about matters of faith and spirit, ethical values, life transformations, and evolving human consciousness, he has spoken and conducted seminars, workshops, and has been a scholar-in-residence at more than 200 bookstores, synagogues, churches, schools, universities, hospitals and health care facilities, businesses and corporations, and community organizations throughout the country. Articles about Rabbi Dosick and his books have appeared in more than 90 newspapers and periodicals, and he has been interviewed on more than 150 radio and television shows, including “Good Morning America,” the Larry King Show, CNN, and NPR. More information about Rabbi Dosick can be obtained here: https://sites.google.com/site/rabbiwaynedosick/.

When Judaism Meets Science can be purchased from various etailers, including Amazon, and also from the publisher, Wipf and Stock.

The Battle for Jerusalem and the Origin of Fake News — 2700 Years Ago

Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 11:02 AM
posted by Roger Price

Sennacherib Prism,
Oriental Institute, U. of Chicago

 

How can you tell what is true and what is not in the Hebrew Bible (the “Tanakh”)? How can you separate fact from fiction and fable? In some instances, science can help. For instance, both geological and archaeological records confirm that the whole earth was not submerged in flood waters during the last six thousand years, and evolutionary biology demonstrates that all land animals and birds do not owe their existence to creatures that were on a vessel floating on those mythical waters. Similarly, we know that the Sun did not stop in the sky for twenty-four hours during a battle at Gibeon, for that would have meant that the Earth ceased to rotate during that period of time, which, in turn, would have caused cataclysmic consequences neither reported in the story nor elsewhere. (See Gen. 7:6-8; Josh. 10:12-14.)

From a modern perspective, then, it is reasonably easy to identify some biblical stories that are not factually accurate. They may well contain worthy moral or other lessons, but as factual recitations of actual occurrences, they fail.

At the same time, there are other stories in the Tanakh that seem quite plausible, even contemporary in their nature. How can we tell if they are historically true or historical fiction or simply imagined? One such story concerns the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (pronounced Seh-NACK-er ib) during the reign of the Judahite king Hezekiah about 2700 years ago.  read more

The Torah and Tachlis of Violence with Firearms: Ethics and Evidence

Sunday, November 12, 2017 @ 02:11 PM
posted by Roger Price

 

 

 

WARNING: This is serious stuff. Human life is at stake. If you are looking for confirmation of preconceived narratives, stop. You probably will not find that here. If you are looking for solutions in slogan form or less than 750 words, stop. You surely will not find that here. We will go ten times farther than that. And this is not a discussion about some utopian ideal. It concerns the world in which we actually live, with the government and law we have and human nature as it is. If you will not deal with reality or ambiguity, stop. You will be annoyed here. If you are not interested in facts that define a problem or evidence that may offer a solution, again, please stop. Otherwise you will be disappointed and unhappy. If anyone is left, thanks in advance for considering this essay. 

 

These days in the United States we see and hear much violence associated with firearms. Sometime it erupts in a mass shooting at a college or an elementary school, a church or a Jewish Community Center, a nightclub or, as it did most recently, an outdoor concert.  Sometimes it comes with the steady staccato of an attack by one gang banger attempting to snuff out another. Sometimes it comes by way of a single bullet, the shooter and the shot being the same person. However it manifests itself, the sadness that follows is palpable.  Our hearts are broken at the loss of life, of what might have been, of possibilities foreclosed permanently. And we are angry, too – angry at the perpetrator and angry about the conditions that permitted if not caused a person to become so hateful or so self-righteous or so desirous of notoriety or so callous or so full of despair that s/he acted to take a human life.

When such violence strikes, to the extent its senses and sensibilities have not been numbed, the Jewish community here has not been shy.  With sermons and articles and resolutions and more, it has spoken — loudly, passionately and repeatedly. But it has not spoken uniformly, much less always wisely.  There is in the Jewish community, as there is in the nation as a whole, a variety of viewpoints. The question before us is whether our tradition can offer both Torah and tachlis, that is both instruction grounded in Jewish values and ideas that are also practical and productive. read more

A Solar Eclipse Deserves A Blessing

Thursday, August 3, 2017 @ 09:08 PM
posted by Roger Price

Credit: USAF/Museum of Aviation

We are on a fantastic journey, over which we have precious little control. As our universe expands, we are pushed deeper and deeper into space. We travel along, like some pebble carried with the tide. Our own galaxy, like hundreds of millions of others, rotates, and it does so at about 168 miles per second. On one of the spiral arms of our galaxy, our solar system has its own rhythms. Within the solar system, our home planet goes around our local star, the Sun, and our moon orbits around our home planet, even as the Earth and the Moon spin too.

Once in a while, in the midst of all this motion, the Moon travels between the Earth and the Sun in such a way as to block the light of the Sun from reaching us. It casts a shadow on our planet. The blockage may be partial or complete. We call this event a solar eclipse. In a total eclipse, when the Moon obscures the entire solar disk, the fullest form of the Moon’s shadow, the umbra, lasts no more than a few minutes in any one spot, but the effects are stark as darkness literally covers the Earth and the temperature drops.

We will ooh and ah as the eclipse begins, but we know that this too shall pass. All that was will be again and soon. Normalcy will return. One might think that it would be an occasion for a blessing, a b’rakha. After all, Jews seemingly have blessings, or b’rakhot, for every event and circumstance, from the sublime to the mundane, and from the time they arise to the time they go to sleep. And there are well recognized blessings for similar occurrences. For instance, when one sees a comet or lightening, there is Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheynu melekh ha’olam, oseh ma’aseh v’reyshit (Blessed is the Eternal One, Sovereign of the universe, maker of the works of creation). When one sees something beautiful like a tree or an animal, one might say Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheynu melekh ha’olam, she’kakha lo b’olamo (Blessed is the Source of wonder, Ruler of the cosmos, that such things are in the world). There are blessings on reaching the ocean, on smelling fragrant grasses and spices, even on witnessing an earthquake. But traditionally, there is no blessing for an eclipse. Why? To answer that question, we need to understand some science and some Judaism. read more

The Rebbe Meets Einstein: A Dialogue

Monday, June 5, 2017 @ 09:06 PM
posted by Ronald W. Pies, MD

“The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.” — Galileo Galilei
There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. —R.G. Ingersoll

 

Introduction

                When I was a resident in psychiatry over thirty-five years ago, one of my mentors said something that forever changed the way I thought about my profession. “In psychiatry,” he said, “you can do biology in the morning and theology in the afternoon.” My teacher was being a bit facetious, but on a deeper level, he meant what he said. I understood his message to be simply this: the problems of my patients could be understood and approached from both a “scientific” and a “religious” perspective, without fear of contradiction or inconsistency. Yes, I know—there are many critics of psychiatry who would challenge its “scientific” bona fides, but that is a debate that would take me far afield. Instead, I would like to use my teacher’s claim as a point of entry into a much broader question; namely, in what ways do science and religion differ, and in what sense do they have features in common?

                This is hardly a new question, and I don’t claim to have any revolutionary new answers. But I hope that by distinguishing between the truth claims and the wisdom claims of these two realms—science and religion—I can make the case for a modified form of “compatibilism.”  To do this, I will draw out the ancient Augustinian distinction between scientia and sapientia, whose meanings I will try to make clear presently. In addition, as an illustration of how this distinction may be helpful, I will present an imagined dialogue between two seminal figures in the realms of science and religion: Albert Einstein and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as “the Rebbe.” What makes this dialogue different from the usual “Science vs. Religion” boxing match is the eclectic and nuanced positions of the two figures. For in an important sense, Albert Einstein was a deeply religious scientist–and the Rebbe, a deeply scientific theologian. read more

Judaism, Neuroscience and the Free Will Hypothesis (Part 2)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 12:03 PM
posted by Roger Price

Credit: DARPA

The Jewish assumption of free will is ancient and enduring. But what does modern neuroscience have to say?

The history of neuroscientists’ efforts to explore the free will phenomenon was reviewed in 2016 by philosopher and neuroethicist Andrea Lavazza in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The setting for our current understanding was drawn a half century ago with the discovery by Hans Kornhuber and Luder Deecke of the Readiness Potential (“RP”), a measurement of increased bio-electric activity in the brain. The RP was measured by an electroencephalogram  (“EEG”), a procedure in which electrodes were placed on a subject’s scalp to allow for the recording of bio-electric activity. This activity was seen as an indication of preparation for a volitional act.

One question raised by the discovery of RP was whether an individual was conscious of an intention to act before RP appeared. In the early 1980s, Benjamin Libet, a son of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine who became a neuroscientist at the University of California-Davis, sought to answer that question. Libet and his team designed a relatively simple test. First, subjects were wired for an EEG. To record muscle contraction, electrodes were also placed on subjects’ fingers. Then the subjects were asked to do two things, spontaneously move their right finger or wrist, and, with the aid of a clock in front of them, report to researchers the time they thought they decided to do so.

What Libet found (Libet et al. 1983) was that conscious awareness of the decision to move a finger preceded the actual movement of the finger by 200 milliseconds (ms), but also that RP was evident 350 ms before such consciousness. While Libet recognized that his observations had “profound implications for the nature of free will, for individual responsibility and guilt,” his report appropriately contained several caveats. First, it noted (at 640) that the “present evidence for the unconscious initiation of a voluntary act of course applies to one very limited form of such acts.” Second (at 641), it allowed for the possibility that there could be a “conscious ‘veto’ that aborts the performance . . . (of) the self-initiated act under study here.” Finally (at 641), it acknowledged that “the possibilities for conscious initiation and control” in situations that were not spontaneous or quickly performed. read more