(I'd prefer a Biblically-based answer, but if an early-church author or someone like C.S. Lewis needs to be referenced, that's fine.)

Few Christians will dispute that we humans have souls, but the question is when we get it. Do we get it at conception? If so, what about twins? Surely the have different souls. Or perhaps we get our soul at some later point. In that case, is abortion okay (especially in the case of medical necessity) before that point?

Heh, is there even a widely-accepted authoritative source that answers this question?

  • C.S. Lewis is hardly an "early-church" author... born 1898, died 1963... I'd say he's more of a modern-church author. (In other words, my mom might have met him in her lifetime...) – Nathan Wheeler Aug 24 '11 at 2:08
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    My point was that he's a very widely-known and accepted Christian writer. Martin Luther and John Calvin weren't early-church authors either... – El'endia Starman Aug 24 '11 at 2:10
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    The wording of your question seems to imply that "we" are our body rather than our soul. Wouldn't it be the body that is the optional extra and the soul which is the essence? Or is it worded this way on purpose for a particular reason? – hippietrail Sep 6 '11 at 20:19
  • @hippietrail: It certainly makes more sense to think of our identity being bound to the soul, not the body, but it's more natural to refer to our bodies. – El'endia Starman Sep 6 '11 at 20:21
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    @El'endia I don't know what denomination you are apart of but please realize that the answer you accepted is from a Mormon perspective. He quoted the book of Mormon and tried to say it was Genesis 2:9 which was probably just a mistake on his part, but definitely a big one . Most Christian denominations don't accept the book of mormon as scripture. – 2tim424 Sep 7 '11 at 7:17

I don't know of any official position other than at conception (i know individuals who disagree though), but I haven't heard any body defend that position in detail. Before you asked this, I didn't really think I needed a reason to accept that other than the fact that when a human egg is fertilized the result is always going to be human and not some other animal. So interfering in a pregnancy that will otherwise continue as normal is always the same as murdering a human being, because it's not going to be something else. Now interfering in a pregnancy that definitely(and not just possibly) would lead to death for mother and/or child may be a different matter. However given some of my other resent research, I just couldn't sleep until I had the answer to this fundamental question of when a soul comes into being. So this is my opinion on defending at conception.

First of all Genesis 2:7 (KJV + Strong's numbers) says:

And the LORD<03068> God<0430> formed<03335> man<0120> of the dust<06083> of<04480> the ground<0127>, and breathed<05301> into his nostrils<0639> the breath<05397> of life<02416>; and man<0120> became a living<02416> soul<05315>.

Now some take this to mean that the soul enteres when a babe is born and takes his first breath. However we have to remember this is hebrew, not english, the second breath<05397> here is actually nshamah , wich also means spirit. So a better understanding may be that the spirit of life was what was breathed into him. Now that was talking about Adam who was not born by a woman but was formed out of the dust by God. So he was getting a soul at his conception, but to find out about the soul of anyone else we may need to look elsewhere. I point you t'ward Genesis 9:4:

But<0389> flesh<01320> with the life<05315> thereof, which is the blood<01818> thereof, shall ye not eat<0398>. I realize this is talking about animals, but you may have noticed this already that the world life there is the same word as soul (nephesh) in the first verse. So here we see that the life/soul is in the blood. It also states this in Leviticus 17:11: For the life<05315> of the flesh<01320> is in the blood<01818>: and I have given<05414> it to you upon the altar<04196> to make an atonement<03722> for your souls<05315>: for it is the blood<01818> that maketh an atonement<03722> for the soul<05315>.

So the while my original statement, about interrupting a pregnancy at any point is human murder, still stands. The question now becomes if the life = soul and the life is in the blood; when does a fertilized human egg have blood? Well I'm no medical doctor, but if I'm reading this correcting according to wikipedia there is a type of hemoglobin(blood) present at the very first week of pregnancy.

So while I'm sure you'll find people who would disagree, I wouldn't say it's much of a stretch to say the soul is present no latter than the first week of pregnancy if not at conception itself. Of course the people, who want to believe babies don't have souls until a specific date, will usually not take the bible literally anyway; so this isn't likely to be of any value to them.

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  • Great answer; +1. I'll wait until there are a few more upvotes before accepting it. – El'endia Starman Sep 7 '11 at 13:19

According to David, he was sinful at conception. Surely to be sinful, we must have a soul to place the sin on.

Psalm 51:5 NIV
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

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A soul is the combination of the body and the spirit.

And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul; Genesis 2:8 IV

The spirit was created before the body, possibly even before the creation.

Nevertheless, all things were before created, but spiritually were they created and made, according to my word. Genesis 2:9 IV

From this we can deduce that the soul is received when the spirit enters the body. Here are references that indicate God considers us individuals while in the womb and the spirit enters the body at conception.

And the children struggled together within her womb; Genesis 25:22 IV

The word "children" is the Hebrew word used for already-born children.

And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. Luke 1:41 IV

The word "babe" is the Greek word used for already-born children.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 IV

Added for clarification:

An easy way of understanding this is to use a house as an analogy. A house is made of walls and a roof. The combination makes a house. You could say that the walls are the body and the roof is the spirit. The combination of the body (walls) and spirit (roof) make a house (soul). body + spirit = soul. Your spirit is what God made to be your identity. Your conscience is the expression of your spirit through your body, the thinking aspect of your soul, therefore limited to what the body is capable of.

Do not make the mistake of believing that any part if you is everlasting. As we know, the body can be broken. The soul can also be broken, by separating the spirit from the body. This happens is death. The spirit can also be destroyed by being cast into the lake of fire, also called the second death.

For those who are having difficulty finding some of the Genesis references, I am using the Inspired Version of the Bible. Note: this translation may or may not correspond with the original Hebrew in places.

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  • @What (and Jared): I added a link to the version and a note saying that the IV may not correspond to the original Hebrew in particular verses. Is that acceptable? – El'endia Starman Sep 14 '11 at 21:31
  • @El'endia: Yes. This is the only online version that I know of and it's not a very good one. I am in the process of making a better one. – Jaguir Sep 15 '11 at 2:49

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