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When life begins

April 15, 2011

As part of my ethics subject at college we were discussing stem cell research. Most of the debates over these types of issues, including IVF, is really about when you believe life starts. Most Christians seem to believe that life starts at conception, that is the moment the female egg is fertilized. I’m not necessarily disagreeing but I would like to raise three interesting points.

1. Spontaneous abortion
A lot of abortions or miscarriages occur before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. Sometimes the fertilized egg doesn’t make it to the womb or fails to embed itself in the womb. If all these aborted embryos are human life and go to heaven then there will be a huge number of people in heaven who never lived on earth. I personally find this unlikely and there seems little Biblical support for it.

2. Identical twins
If the fertilized egg splits in two 4 to 12 days after conception then identical twins have been conceived. If we believe that human life begins at conception and the embryo therefore has a soul, what happens if the egg splits? Does each twin have half a soul? I don’t believe so.

3. What does the Bible say?
It is difficult to find passages in the Bible that relate specifically to this topic, however I like Psalm 139:13-15:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

David talks about God knitting him together in his mother’s womb and being woven together there. I think there is a strong argument to say that God gives life to the embryo by knitting it or implanting it in the womb. This happens at about day 6, not day 1.

Just a thought.

by Susan Barnes
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Susan Barnes

~ writer of insightful posts about God and faith