Saturday, April 3, 2010

Souls Not Created At Conception

by Babu G. Ranganathan

My fellow Christian pro-life advocates are making the wrong argument when they claim that a human soul comes into existence upon conception. The Bible confirms that there are human souls, or persons, existing in our very bodies before conception.

It is a mystery, but our souls existed before conception. God is not creating new souls for a new body every time at conception, as many of my fellow Christians believe. God's creative works were finished on the Seventh Day of creation week as recorded in Genesis. Everything that exists now, body as well as soul, existed in some form since that day. After creation week, the Bible says that God "rested" (or ceased) from any more creative activity. Thus, we literally existed in some form from the time of Adam, even though we were begotten (born) centuries later,

There are two types of cells in our bodies: reproductive cells and all other cells known as somatic cells. Reproductive cells (i.e. sperm and ovum) come from somatic cells. That means we must have existed in the somatic cells of our parents' bodies at some point. Identical twins come from the same cell.  When a fertilized egg cell splits early after conception into two separate embryos there are two distinct individuals who will be born. This is evidence of the soul's pre-existence.

The Bible teaches that animals have souls, although their souls aren’t as advanced as human souls (who have been created in God's image). The same Hebrew word for "soul" that is used for man is used in reference to animals in Genesis, but the English translators didn’t translate the word as “soul” for animals because they found it offensive to give animals that kind of recognition. Non-conscious life (vegetation), on the other hand, has no soul. 

The Bible teaches that all creatures having the breath of life possess a soul, and this includes animals and humans. The basic meaning of the word “soul” in Scripture has to do with life that has consciousness, will, emotions, and intellect. That’s why animals can learn and figure things out for themselves and have emotional bonding with other animals and with humans. Animals don't completely run on instinct. However, the "breath of life" should not be confused with the soul itself. The breath of life, given by God, is what gives the soul its life.

We have succeeded in cloning animals. Cloning of animals involves using their somatic cells. Cloning is the same as bringing an identical twin into the world. If humans are ever cloned (and they shouldn’t be) the cloned person would be an identical twin with a distinct personality of his or her own. He or she would not inherit any knowledge or experiences from the person cloned, but would genetically be an identical twin. 

Does this mean that we are committing murder when we intentionally destroy the somatic cells of our body? Are we committing murder by scratching the cells on our nose because those cells contain distinct human souls? No. God has not given human souls the natural means towards development to independent life apart from conception of sperm and egg. However, if a human is ever cloned that newly developing cloned life should also be given full rights towards full development.

Cloning is wrong. That is not how God intended humans to come into the world, but successful human cloning would be proof that human souls exist before and apart from conception. All of this shows that the soul is physical but distinct from the rest of the body.  

These are all great mysteries. Scripture says, in the New Testament Book of Hebrews, that Levi was already in Abraham's loins when Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. Levi, then, already existed as a person in Abraham's loins centuries before he was begotten or came into the world! We cannot go further than what God's Word allows. Scripture says that the secret things belong to God.
What about abortion? Is abortion murder? According to the Bible, murder is when you kill someone with malice. That is the definition of murder in the Old Testament. Jesus, in the New Testament, says that hating your fellow man is equivalent to murder in God's eyes. What Jesus said about hatred defines the Old Testament meaning of malice.

Many who support the right to abortion do so not because of malice or hatred towards the unborn but because they do not wish to see an unwanted or severely deformed child enter the world and suffer. However, this does not make abortion on demand moral or right. Those who are pro-life argue that an unborn's right to life outweighs a woman's right of privacy or choice.

What about the many racists in our society? Aren't they murderers according to Christ's definition of hating your fellow man as being murder? Our nation's economic foundation was built on the back of African slaves. Then, after slavery, there was segregation of blacks and whites, all of this based on hatred and contempt of other fellow human beings because of differences in physical features.

Abortion is wrong, but the greater sin in God’s eyes is racism, the hatred of our fellow human beings because of how they look. As a former pastor of mine once said, to hate another human who has been created in the image of God because of they physically look is a great sin against God.

What if they’re ugly, you say? God is testing you to see whether you will love someone even if he or she is ugly out of respect for their souls being created in God's image. 

If you’re pretty or handsome give God the glory. You didn’t do anything to deserve it. It’s only by God’s undeserved grace.