Chimeras - two souls in one body?

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Sometimes two separately fertilized eggs fuse within a woman's womb and become one baby, who appears completely normal and is, except that she/he has two different DNA lines in her/his body.

 

Bear in mind that neither egg died or disappeared. Both continued to live, grow, and develop, but instead of becoming two different human beings they became different parts of one human being. Early embryos are totipotent, meaning they have the capacity to become an entire human being or part of a human being, or two human beings, or a human being and a half, or a severely flawed attempt at a human being. Their cells have not differentiated - not yet committed to being any one of these. Thus the whole stem cell debate.

 

A few years ago Lydia Fairchild had to wage a court battle to keep her own children - because DNA tests "proved" they weren't hers! DNA samples from her mouth swab didn't match the DNA of her children, but DNA from a cervical smear did.

 

A court official told her that the test scientifically proves she was not the mother. They then accused Lydia of taking money to be a surrogate mom or even kidnapping the kids - and warned her that authorities could remove her children at any time.

 

After a second DNA test got the identical result, Lydia headed back to court to retain custody of her own children!

 

The lawyer that finally took her case (others turned it down) discovered the New England Journal of Medicine had documented an identical case. And researchers confirmed Lydia was a medical miracle - one of only 30 known people with a double DNA identity.

 

The incredibly rare [but not miraculous] condition is called chimerism, which means these people are their own twins.

 

Two fertilized eggs fused in her mother's womb instead of developing as twins. When they fused, so did the eggs' strands of similar-but-distinct DNA.

 

As a result, samples from different parts of a chimeras body can reveal different DNA.

 

Science never ceases to amaze me, but in this case my questions are more of a spirtitual nature for those of you who believe in the existance of the soul. If (as many religions assert)a fertilized egg is a human being -- a soul, where did one of those souls and beings go? If there are then two souls assimilated in one physical body, does one soul suffer for the decisions of the soul with the consciousness? Or is it possible that on some meta-physical level, both souls have consciousness within one body?

 

A Chimera - when myths are real (sort of)

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All I can say, is I guess there answers you need to figure out yourself, they all depend on ones beliefs..

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If you believe in the existence of a soul, does it necessarily have to be linked to the DNA of the body that it inhabits? I can see how a chimera poses a conundrum if you believe that a soul becomes associated with a body at the moment the egg is fertilised, but what if the soul only comes in later, once the embryo has reached a certain stage of development? I can imagine Catholic theologians having a hard time getting their heads round this one.

 

What about siamese twins? Not a chimera, since they have identical DNA, but effectively two people in one body?

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Or is it possible that on some meta-physical level, both souls have consciousness within one body?

I think that out of all you wrote in your post, this (quote) is the key.

What I mean is, as you said, many views (I am trying to be as general as I can so I wont say religions) assert the existence of a "soul".

And in addition very often a "super soul" - usually referred to as "God", to which souls will "return to"/"unify with".

 

I think our (human) problem is, that we as humans, by definition, are individuals, and in a possession of an "ego". (It could be a totally different thread for the question weather we are in possession of the ego, or does our ego posses us (and then who is "us" and who is the "ego").

And therefore, we tend to see things in general as singularities.

 

On the question why it is so, also from the "spiritual" point of view, I think we'll need a thread on its own.

 

But, the fact that we think and live as singularities, does not necessarily mean, that on this "meta-physical level" (as you put it) things are the same.

 

May be, in the meta-physical level, we are all like a big see of life energy (i.e all part of "god").

Just like drops of water in the see, with no individual awareness, at least not in the form we have during our life time as Humans.

This will allow "fusion" of "souls" also on a smaller scale... (like the fusion of a sperm with an egg).

 

But I wouldn't really know...

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What about siamese twins? Not a chimera, since they have identical DNA, but effectively two people in one body?

In this case though, there are two distinct personalities and egos and brains. In the case of a chimera, one is hidden within the other. Only one (as far as we know) consciousness is actually speaking and expressing itself. Or??? Are they? that's the mystery.

 

@TheLSB, If I understand what you are trying to say, then you are referring indirectly to the problem of "identity and change in conscious beings". The molecules that make up a human being change over a lifetime. But, in the end, you still refer to a 80 year old man as being the same person as an 8 year old boy. Because he is, only 72 years have gone by. But his molecular makeup has changed.

 

Here is an analogy: If you completely rebuild a person's body after a terrible accident by some feat of modern science, but leave their head and brain the same and intact, is it still the same person? In other words, where does the soul reside? In the consciousness or in the DNA?

 

Think about that in regards to a chimera. It's mind-boggling.

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From a quick look at the Wiki article on chimeras, it would seem that the two sets of DNA are not spread evenly throughout the body, but different organs have different sets of DNA (depending, I suppose, on which bit of the embryo each organ developed from). Assuming the seat of consciousness, and hence the soul, to be linked to some part of the brain, then the soul whose embryo got the brain would be the lucky one. Don't know what would happen to the other one. Maybe it would have to make do with inhabiting things like the liver and kidneys, or hands and feet. Or would it admit defeat and go off to look for a new embryo?

 

Come to think of it, what about people who have had organ transplants? Do they qualify as chimeras?

 

 

In other words, where does the soul reside? In the consciousness or in the DNA?

For me, that begs the question: "What is the consciousness?"

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GreenTea, you are thinking along the same lines as I.

 

Do you know the philosophical condundrum, Locke's socks?

It ask, if you take a sock with a hole in it and repair it with a patch, is it still the same sock? What if, over the years, you continue to patch up other holes? In the end, is it the same sock as it was in the beginning?

 

So, the same applies for humans with body parts with different DNA. Whether it be a chimera or a person who has received new body parts.

 

The question is; what is the inherent nature of our bodies if not material?

 

So that leads us back to the same thing...is the soul then only in the brain? Is the consciousness only in the brain? Or does it come to be at the moment of conception as the "spark of life"

 

If the latter is true, then one would have to go right back to where I started and ask, what happens then to the soul of the other fertilized egg?

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Here is an analogy: If you completely rebuild a person's body after a terrible accident by some feat of modern science, but leave their head and brain the same and intact, is it still the same person? In other words, where does the soul reside? In the consciousness or in the DNA?

No, I don't think you understood what I was trying to say.

What I was trying to say is, that MAYBE our notion to think in singulrities is wrong.

For example:

You asked if I was referring to an 80 year old man... as in one person, one identity, one "soul".

But what about the cells that make up his body?

Aren't they just as alive as he is?

Part of him, make him up?

Just because the body cells and the various organisms that make it up, don't talk to us, doesn't mean they don't have a "soul" - they ARE alive!

Even our body does not follow the "singularity" notion.

Our body is an intricit and complex inter play of many cells, that make up our body.

It might be that its a "reflection" of what is happening on the "meta physical plane", where our "souls" are all part of one big "soul".

In such a case, it could very well be possible for souls to "merge", since they don't really have any "beginning or end" or individual "existence".

So if you ask where does the "soul" reside, may be in the brain, then why not ask, in which part of the brain, or which cell?

 

I think the answer (or at least part of it) is that we are not singularities, not on a physical level and not in the spiritual level.

Our ego, in that sense is "abnormal" (not only ours, but of all concious beings).

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James Brown would probably disagree with you. You gotta have soul man...

 

But, seriously. Science never ceases to amaze you, which is basically what this is - a scientific phenomenon and certainly not spiritual

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LSB: Yes, OK..I get you now. Well, that takes us to whole new territory doesn't it? And GreenTea was right in saying that most theologians would have a very hard time wrapping their minds around this one.

 

@GreenTea: have you read the trilogy His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman? It is a must if you are interested in exploring the question," what is consciousness?". It is all purely fictional but considering we have to scientific, undisputable answer for that, the delivery of Pullmans theory being given to us from within a fictional story makes no difference.

 

Just an interesting read...

 

but The LSB was right that we would need a whole other thread about that one.

 

 

But, seriously. Science never ceases to amaze you, which is basically what this is - a scientific phenomenon and certainly not spiritual

Crawlie, I both agree and disagree with you on this one. Normally I view everything from an analytical and scientific perspective. But I am agnostic, not atheist so sometimes a scientific or shall we say, "natural" phenomenon makes me question certain spiritual aspects. This is one of those cases.

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I can imagine Catholic theologians having a hard time getting their heads round this one.

Easy, Baptism or Communion, take your pick. Which brings up another problem, what is Christ's soul doing in your body? :o

 

Or you can believe that the whole religious aspect of a soul is flawed which is more likely the answer. ;)

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But I am agnostic, not atheist so sometimes a scientific or shall we say, "natural" phenomenon makes me question certain spiritual aspects.

Not sure about spiritual aspects but take it maybe towards the topic of dual personalities. You are made up from the fusion of two separate eggs and, therefore, two separate "beings" so to speak.. Does one still develop the personality of one of these potential beings or are there aspects of both? A kind of schizophrenia if you please?

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That's really interesting because you would have to define exactly how a personality is formed. There must be a conscious, mental awareness in order to process incoming information in both brain hemispheres and then develop matching behavioral ...um..what's the word I am looking for?... "patterns"?

 

Someone this past weekend just told me that schizophrenia is the polar opposite of parkinsons disease. That in one the brain is producing too much of ... (oh damn I can't remember must look it up) in one and too little of it in the other.

 

Personality is also genetic. So back to Crawlie's point: if you have two separate genetics then purely from that perspective you could have attributes of both. But if only one consciousness exist then it would trump (or decide) which genetic personality traits are the most dominate.

 

*uh...I think* :unsure:

 

side note: there was a CSI episode in which a male chimera was raping women but the dna never matched because his sperm had a different DNA as his saliva or skin. freaky

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Only identical twins have identical genes, since they're split from the same fertilized egg. Fraternal twins do not, since they are the result of two different sperm meeting two different eggs.

 

My sister and I are identical. I've got a built-in organ donor. :D

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Makes more sense now. :) Organ donating is interesting in that context, because I believe if you get a genetically different organ transplant that would make you a chimera as well.

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Do you know the philosophical condundrum, Locke's socks?

It ask, if you take a sock with a hole in it and repair it with a patch, is it still the same sock? What if, over the years, you continue to patch up other holes? In the end, is it the same sock as it was in the beginning?

Well, I hadn't really planned on getting into metaphysical deep waters this evening, but this is sort of fascinating. I really don't know if I'm the same person as I was 20 or 30 years ago. I don't mean just that my personality has changed and evolved, but do I still have the same identity? When I try to remember what I thought and felt 30 years ago, it's like looking into the mind of a different person. In fact, when I was a kid, I used to think, how do I know that I've always been "me"? Supposing up until the day before, my consciousness had been inside the brain of the little girl next door, with all her experiences and memories, and had then somehow moved over into my brain with all my recollections? How would I be able to tell?

 

EDIT: Thinking about this again, I suppose Locke's sock is no different from the human body in which the individual atoms are continually being replaced by metabolism, but the body as a whole retains the same form.

 

 

The question is; what is the inherent nature of our bodies if not material?

I would say the body, including the DNA, anything that's made of atoms and molecules, is material. But consciousness is something else. I mean, the body, and even the higher functions of the brain, seem to be quite capable of functioning effectively without any need for a conscious observer. I could just be a highly intelligent robot, but why am I aware that I exist? I'm really not convinced that science that deals only with the 3-dimensional physical world can give a satisfactory explanation of the subjective phenomenon of consciousness. That's not to say that I don't think there is a rational explanation, but rather that there is more to existence than just the physical world that we think we're aware of. What is physical matter anyway? I'm sitting here at a desk which seems fairly solid, but it's made of atoms which are made of subatomic particles which are made of ... what? OK, I'm not a physicist so I'm probably going to get my terminology wrong here, but when you get down to stuff like electrons and quarks, you can forget about the notion of anything solid, because you're dealing with something that is represented by a wave function which has only a certain probability of being in any given place at a given moment.

 

I've rambled on a bit there, but I think what I'm trying to say is there is a hell of a lot we don't know. Anyway, I'd better shut up now before interplanetjanet and BadDoggie come along and try to slice off my consciousness with Occam's Razor. ;)

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I remember that Freeman Dyson once made the case that very much in nature couldn't be explained without some kind of consciousness present. At least on a universal, human and sub-atomic level. My personal belief is that there is some kind of consciousness anywhere in nature, it is influenced by genes, which is just another name for what statisticians call probability. Probability guarantees that certain events do happen.

 

So with chimeras there would be a mixture of two probabilities which together form an outlet for one single human consciousness.

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Not sure about spiritual aspects but take it maybe towards the topic of dual personalities. You are made up from the fusion of two separate eggs and, therefore, two separate "beings" so to speak.. Does one still develop the personality of one of these potential beings or are there aspects of both? A kind of schizophrenia if you please?

Just to clear up a common misconception: Schizophrenia is not the same thing as a "split personality" or "multiple personality disorder".

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