When did we begin to exist? I suppose there are really only two options:

  1. We were created before we were born (our spirits existed in some state similar to our state after death, without a body)
  2. Our spirits were created at the time of conception or birth (I'm not interested in a discussion about whether it was conception or birth; that can be another question)

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  • 4
    This is also something that might have some answers on philosophy.SE, although that would not need to limit itself to the two options presented here – Marc Gravell Sep 5 '11 at 18:32
  • The one answer here actually pretty much answers your question: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/195/… – El'endia Starman Sep 6 '11 at 6:19
  • Note that the notion of the pre-existence of souls comes from Platonism and predates Christianity, and this belief was declared heretical in early Christianity. – Dan Apr 16 '16 at 4:49

It's clear that God formed our bodies in our mothers' wombs.

Job 31:15 NIV

Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

Isaiah 44:24

“This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,

Psalm 139:13

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

There really is no more scripture other then this one mention of God knowing us prior to our earthly state. Here is the one mention.

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

This mention could easily be interpreted that God is not limited by time, thus could very well have known exactly how He wanted to create you.

I would say that it boils down to this. God created mankind on earth, thus He created their souls at the same time.

Isaiah 45:12

It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.


In addition to Jeremiah 1:5, already quoted by Jonathon, we have the case of the man blind from birth:

John 9: 1-3

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Since the man was born blind, and did not become blind later on, the implicit assumption here is that it's possible for a premortal sin to cause a congenital defect as punishment. Jesus didn't correct them by saying that there's no such thing as premortal existence, but instead said that the man's blindness wasn't punishment for any sin at all.

Taken together with Jeremiah 1: 5, we've got a fair amount of support for the spirit of man existing before mortality begins.

  • I'm pretty sure the idea of premortal sin is strictly an LDS doctrine. Outside of LDS circles this passage is read to mean that sin was not involved in this birth defect at all, neither his own in any state of existence nor anybody elses, but that God chose it to be that way. – Caleb Sep 6 '11 at 20:21
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    @Caleb: The point I used this example to make is that the question that was asked assumes premortal existence (you have to exist before you can commit sin) and Jesus didn't say anything to contradict the basic assumption. And as far as I know there is no LDS doctrine of "premortal sin." – Mason Wheeler Sep 6 '11 at 20:47
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    Having never encountered the phrase before in Protestant or Catholic circles I did a little searching before commenting and most of the references were in LDS or related sites. Whether you call it a doctrine or not I don't know but it's something that Mormons discuss that isn't much elsewhere. As for John, the Pharisees spent most of their time TRYING to trap Jesus with word tricks and he generally avoided their questions rather than trying to set every step straight. The lack of a rebuttal on the point doesn't carry much weight. Do you set every troll question you see straight? – Caleb Sep 6 '11 at 21:06
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    @Caleb: Fair enough, except this one wasn't a troll question from the Pharisees; it was his own disciples doing the asking. – Mason Wheeler Sep 6 '11 at 21:18
  • My mistake. <...> – Caleb Sep 6 '11 at 21:20