Does it begin at conception? This definition is the “bone of contention” that separates advocates of “pro-life and pro-choice”. To confer “personhood” to a fetus is also not a traditional Talmud law; this teaching allows abortion with limits but still inaccurate as defined by God.
Debate on this subject continues that is predicated on one’s interpretation of when human life begins. Does it start when 2 strands of DNA coalesce, at fertilization when zygote(fertilized egg) is formed? At embryonic stage? How about when fetal heartbeat is confirmed by ultrasound? How could these visible actions be ignored as evidence of life, some may ask?
Still, others would disagree even with these obvious intra-uterine activities, as “life”. With our advanced knowledge and understanding, one can correctly argue with the absence of life on metals, although with motion that is by automaticity, (as programmed by the inventor/manufacturer) like self-driving cars, machines, robotics and drones. Are they not “life-forms” just because they are “inorganic matters”?
In that case, consider a well preserved “organic” heart by hypothermia prior to transplant that is not moving, is that dead because of absence of visible contraction? But, when transplanted, re-warmed and begins to contract because of perfusion myocardial automaticity, is that heartbeat not an evidence of when life begins? Yet, when EEG is just flickering or lost of cerebral activity on “circulatory arrest and profound hypothermia” during a cardiac procedure or when a person on ventilator still has cardiac function but with “flat EEG and no pupillary reflex with pupils dilated, is the person still functionally alive or dead? Likewise, the motion in the intricate process of the electron transfer chain, ATP, formation of Vitamin D, chlorophyll, physiologic process, etc. , is that “life”? It is an obvious suspension of disbelief to assume those established activities as “life”.
Similarly, and extending the controversy, when “water moves/separates”as in Genesis 1:6-7 (CSB) “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters, separating water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above the expanse. And it was so.”
Exodus 14:21-22 (CSB) “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The LORD drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with the waters like a wall to them on their right and their left.”
These verses suggest that mere activities or motions of water are “kinetic energies established, programmed and activated (by God) from potential energies” but not necessarily living entities or “having life”.
As humans have different take on any subject depending on their diverse educational background, can they really define when life begins? For this very important subject, and without endorsing or denying pro-life nor pro-choice, who really should define when life begins? The giver or recipient of life? The Creator God or humans? The answer is obvious to anyone who believes in an “intelligent designer”.
Genesis as a source
As Creator God (YHVH Elohim) and “source-of-life” revealed this definition of life in the book of Genesis, what better place to go back to and understand? Here is what it says in Genesis 2:7
“Then the LORD God (YHVH Elohim) formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Notice the 2 components of man based on where it came from:
1. The matter-component comes from the “dust of the ground”. It is “earthly” as confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:48
2. The non-matter or spirit-component comes directly from Lord God himself, the “breath-of-life”, which is “heavenly” as confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:48
What defines life or death?
As clear as sunshine, presence of that “breath-of-life”(aka “spirit-of-man”) defines whether a “being” is “alive or dead”, and not motion of cells or activities of organ systems. This concept is further buttressed conversely by what defines death:
Ecclesiastes 12:7 “For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
Psalms 146:4 “His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.”(i.e. no longer thinking or brain activity stops).
Acts 7:59 “They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
From the preceding verse concepts, it is clear that presence of “breath-of-life”(aka, spirit-of-man) makes a living being and it’s separation or absence from the matter-component of man, defines death. By extension, any activity or motion within and by the matter-component of man does not define “life” in the absence of “breath-of-life”.
Mechanism of material creation
Notice the process of how this material creation begins. In a nutshell, there has to be 2 distinct sex-opposite persons from where DNA has to originate as haploid gametes. There are 2 strands of DNA that has to bond as a double helix, with one strand coming from an egg of a female and the other strand from a sperm of a male. The fertilized egg then becomes a zygote which then grows and develops body components in-utero, till maturity and then delivered. The intrauterine movements and responses of the fetus appear to be reflexes and automaticity. Keep in mind that the intra-uterine fetus is not breathing atmospheric air on its own, and blood-respiratory exchanges are through fetal circulatory mechanism via the placenta.
In Genesis, when man was created, the “material/flesh-composition” came from organic and inorganic material elements, aka, “dust of the ground”, but did not have life, a “living being”,until God breathe into his nostrils “the breath of life”. That “breath-of-life”, aka “spirit-of-man” did not come from the ground but came directly from spirit-composed God-Creator, by “breathing into the nostrils” and therefore “a spirit-component-of-man”. A living person therefore has 2 components: flesh from the ground(earthy)and spirit-of-man(heavenly), without which the flesh is dead. This spirit-component is the only component that survives and goes back to the Creator when a person dies; the “real you” lives as the “rest of you” rots and dies.
Harmonizing concepts of “activity” vs “human life“
Conceptually from the preceding, activities/motion do not define “life” nor should it be defined as “beginning of life”. All the changes that come with “union of 2-strands” of DNA by whatever method, nor the complex biochemical processes that come after, are spontaneously programmed into these organic and inorganic materials all the way through growth and development of the fetus in-utero, before the infant is delivered and spontaneously breathe on its own, can be considered “activities” but “not life itself”. They are “kinetic energies emanating from potential energies” established by the Creator God. Only when, the “spirit-component” is “breathe into man”, at which time of spontaneous breathing-in atmospheric air, can the “material component” be called a “living being”.
When an infant is delivered but does not breathe spontaneously even after attempted resuscitations the baby is dead and called a “stillbirth”. But, with breathing atmospheric air on its own, that becomes a “living being”, then learns from its fully developed 5-senses. As to a possible mechanism of learning is, a concept of “holographic DNA” may help in the growth and development of humans.
On the other hand, it is more complex spiritually, the growth and development of the “spirit-of-man” (female strand) by in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit of God (male strand) given to us by Jesus, as a gift from the Father. Nevertheless, the same general mechanism that leads to a change into a “new and ongoing creation”.
A continuing controversy is “the beginning of life”, at conception or when? This is a head-butting challenge among “pro-lifers and pro-choice abortionists/infanticide”, heightened and aggravated by federal and/or state funding for “women’s health”. This division emanates from humans co-opting God as the definer of when life begins and their failure to recognize the process of human creation with 2 components of man as taught by the “Life giver-God” in the Holy Bible.
God formed the “material component of man” from the inorganic/organic “dust of the ground/earthy” and became a “living being” only when the “breath-of-life/spirit-of-man” is given by spirit-composed “Creator-God/YHVH-Elohim”. Any biological process before this spirit-component (real you) was given to that material component resulted from kinetic energy programmed automatically within potential energy by Creator-God, the ultimate source of anything physical and spiritual. energy.
As the “material human creation” starts with a complex 2 stranded/double-helical DNA, one feminine strand binding with another male strand, so does “spiritual new human creation”. Spiritually speaking, the “spirit-of-man/breath-of-life” is the feminine strand put in man to be a living being.
This then learns from the “5 senses” of the flesh-composed human and becomes the composite of that “natural body” from which decision is made to take action confronting him/her. But this “flesh-composed” body is subject to “pull of the flesh” and needs a “Comforter/Advocate” (Holy Spirit) to empower it to overcome temptations and falsehood as Jesus learned in the garden of Gethsemane. It is a Genesis human creation that is lacking in spiritual power as planned for good purpose. It is merely a “template/temple “ into which the “male strand of spiritual DNA” (again from God) in-dwells and binds with the feminine-strand, the “spirit-of-man”. Through a more complex process, the “spiritual zygote” then grows and develops through a process of sanctification, learning wisdom to “choose good from evil”.
This post should not be taken as an indictment of “pro-life” nor an endorsement of “pro-abortion”. No one should act out their beliefs with “criminal behavior”. For those being tempted to “abort”, please consider alternatives like adoption, second-opinion and most specifically, not to engage in sexual intimacy prior to commitments with one another , whether through civil or church venues. For rape and incest, there are laws that govern; we hope and pray that your personal decision will be consistent with what God wants.
“This article is not about casting aspersions nor endorsing the merits of either side of the debate, a controversy aplenty. Rather, the goal is to give pause to the animus, make time for reflection and provide salutary perspective.
Some may not like to hear the truth, but somehow, one needs “to tell how the cow ate the cabbage”, a Southern catchphrase. This subject is a difficult one to resolve in its entirety and we will not be able to “carry forests on my back” but at least let us put a “crack” on this “nut”.
People have to muster gumption to tackle this dilemma of “when life begins and ends”. It is a yeoman’s task to venture on finding a balance among different perspectives, biblical or secular, cerebral or emotional they may be. That said, one recognizes the consequences emanating from issues about pro-life/pro-choice and life/death dilemma.”
Moreover, the advice of Paul within the context of I Corinthians 8:4 and in I Corinthians 10:28 can provide direction so as not to alienate others. With kindness and gentleness, try harder not to offend others with personal beliefs.
In responding to these difficult situations, always express the “fruits of the Holy Spirit”, in Galatians 5:22-23 viz.,
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
My hope and goal are to unite, not divide, on “things that matter”. through biblical studies.
***After knowing “when life begins”, does this knowledge justify abortion or infanticide? Can society confer “personhood” to a fetus according to traditional Talmud law; this teaching allows abortion with limits but still inaccurate as defined by God. For the answer, the next biblical research may help and will be posted soon as a follow-up.***
Hyperlink version original post: September 22, 2020
Critique is welcome at email@example.com