How Life Began at Conception

ViaNtodd, here’sa great piece of history:

That year, Christianity Today — edited by Harold Lindsell, champion of “inerrancy” and author ofThe Battle for the Bible — published a special issue devoted to the topics of contraception and abortion. That issue included many articles that today would get their authors, editors — probably even theirreaders — fired from almost any evangelical institution. For example, one article by a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary criticized the Roman Catholic position on abortion as unbiblical. Jonathan Dudley quotes from the article in his bookBroken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics. Keep in mind that this is from a conservative evangelical seminary professor, writing in Billy Graham’s magazine for editor Harold Lindsell:

God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: “If a man kills any human life he will be put to death” (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense. … Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.

Christianity Today would not publish that article in 2012. They might not even let you write that in comments on their website. If you applied for a job in 2012 withChristianity Today or Dallas Theological Seminary and they found out that you had written something like that, ever, you would not be hired.

Quite frankly I think the debate over when life begins is a way to distract people from the fact that this entire debate is about the power of the state, and whether government should have the ability to force you to bear a child against your will. Not to mention prevent you from obtaining much-needed medical treatment in the guise of morality, should your pregnancy go terribly wrong in the way that pregnancies can.

Nevertheless, it’s fascinating to see the way the desire for power has shaped the public positions of evangelical Christians who claim their authority comes straight from God. Go read the whole thing.


7 thoughts on “How Life Began at Conception

  1. (I’ll definitely have to go read the links. But…)
    Their mention and emphasis on the ‘soul’ is exactly right. Because once you make the discussion one of the human soul, it becomes fairly easy to twist the ‘life begins at conception’ people into knots.
    They want the ‘easy’ answer, one simple rule: egg meets sperm, entity is ’embued’ with a soul, and that is that – human life.
    OK… What about identical twins? The ‘split’ into two distinct beings obviously happens subsequent to that ‘egg meets sperm’ moment (it actually frequently happens a day or two later, at the blastocyst stage). So do the twins ‘share’ a soul? Or does is one of them walking about as a soulless zombie?
    Ummm…second soul ‘arrives’ at the moment of that split? So easy rule, ‘egg meets sperm’ but with one exception. After all, all things are possible with God.
    OK…did you know that it is entirely possible for the two split apart blastocysts to ‘re-merge’ back into one being (occasionally seen as conjoined twins, but also as one normal human)? Does the resulting one normal human have two souls? Or did the second soul go back to ‘the bullpen’ when the re-merging happened?
    AND… did you know that such ‘merging’ of two blastocysts doesn’t have to be a re-merging of identical blastocysts? That two eggs can meet two sperm forming two blastocysts – and having two souls – can then merge into one (semi-)normal human with two distinct and detectible sets of DNA?
    That is, you can have one egg + one sperm (one soul) result in two (or more) humans, AND you can have two eggs + two sperm result in one human (but two souls?)? So much for the ‘simple’ rule
    Or maybe we don’t have the slightest fucking idea when the thing is ’embued’ with a soul, maybe it doesn’t happen until months later, and having an abortion is the ‘moral equivalent’ of having your appendix removed.

  2. Funny, I thought life began when the kids left home and the dog died.
    More fundie knicker-knotters: so, some athiest pimply geek, working as a tech in an IVF lab, pipettes a drop of sperm into the tube of eggs, and FORCES GOD to ensoul hundreds of fertilized eggs?
    Fuck YEAH! Imagine the enormous cosmic power, to make Yahweh your bitch.

  3. Seriously though, I have always said the pro-choice camp missed the boat when the anti-choicers began to “define when life begins”. We should have stood up and really had that discussion then. Unfortunately we didn’t think we’d have to. After all, who could have forseen all this crazy back then?

  4. First they need to demonstrate that there really is such a thing as a soul.
    That’s the problem with arguing “reasonable theology” with fundies — first you have to have read their particular pet version of the Bible, then this “sophisticated theologian,” then this other one over there, then that one, and then you’d better convert to their flavour of Christianity, at which point you’ll agree with them and they win. You moderate Christians are screwed; I can always say “I reject the whole damn thing; it’s imaginary, next argument please,” but you get caught up in dashing like greyhounds after the motorized and turbocharged goalposts.

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