When does a human soul begin?


I’m surprised how many non-dualists there are on here. When do you think a soul begins? Conception, 1st trimester, birth?


My vote goes to moment of conception.


Its an interesting question. God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul, so one could honestly say at the first breath- but then, John the Baptist lept in Elizabeths womb at the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb.

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, **even from his mother’s womb.**KJV


As one of those non-dualists, qaz, I’ll take a crack at the question.

To be able to answer the question appropriately, we first need to explain what we mean by “a human soul.” If we hold that it is some immaterial thing separate from the human body as Plato and other Greek philosophers believed (a concept that got imported into Christendom), then it is not at all clear when it begins. Somewhere I heard that the Roman Catholic view is that God has a bundle of souls somewhere up in heaven which came into being when He created them (whenever that was), and then when He sees there’s going to be a baby, He plunks that soul into the egg at conception, or into the baby at birth, or somewhere in between. Others think that the “soul” is created at some point such as conception, birth, or somewhere between. This theory has God creating the body and soul at approximately the same time.

Eaglesway referred us to the Genesis passage which affirms that God breathed into the body He created (Adam) the breath of life and he became a living soul. Notice that the body didn’t receive a soul but became a soul. In the Old Testament, the word “nepesh”, sometimes translated as “soul” means (the noun) “being” or “living being.” Adam became a living being.

However, if you insist that it means “living soul” in the Greek philosophical sense, then to be consistent it should also be so translated in Genesis 9:10 where God said to Noah, “and with every living soul that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.” So that would mean that those birds and animals are living souls (or had living souls in them). However the problem evaporates if we recognize that Moses called these birds and animals “living beings.”

Or worse yet:

Hmmmm… It seems that “souls” can die! And how do you go about touching a soul—dead or alive! However, all translators render “nephesh” as “body” in that verse. But the translation “anyone’s dead being” would serve just as well.

In the New Testament, the Greek word “psyche” often translated as “soul” actually means “self.”

So the question in the OP becomes, “When does a human being (or self) begin?” Would we call a zygote (a fertilized human egg at conception) a “human being”? Well, it’s human isn’t it? And it’s a being, isn’t it? So it seems appropriate to call it a human being. And from that point, that human being grows unless it is killed by abortion. Whether killing it at an early stage is correctly labelled as “murder,” I leave to the philosophical ethicists.

As I see it, body and mind are two aspects of a human being at birth. As in the song “love and marriage”, you can’t have one without the other and be truly be alive.


Actually, it does not necessarily say that Adams body became a living soul. God breathed into Adam and the consequence was that “he became”. Even as God says “I Am”… “Adam became” a living soul. Not to disagree with your whole point, but it can be read either way honestly. So the assumptions either way are not so clear. But Paul referred to the “earthly tent” and the “vessel of clay”. When the clay pot crumbles or the “I Am”(soul, ego, id) departs the earthly tent, the idea that it ceases to exist until the resurrection is to me, at best unclear.


Hum :wink: All my P-Zombie and Zombie friends, are still trying to find their soul :exclamation: :laughing:


Well, since my “soul” is myself, if I’m trying to find my soul, I’m trying find myself. Psychologist say that it is important to “find yourself.” :laughing:


I used to think this and it is/was my default, but I am not entirely sure of this anymore. I was extremely surprised to learn (and I thought I knew the Bible completely - hyperbole of course) that even the Jews didn’t consider an unborn Baby quite on par with a human yet. I was rather disappointed to learn this, because from my point of view, I am totally anti-abortion and I believe it is life and worthy of the same life as anyone else. Still, scriptural, I can’t justify this position. That said, as noted in my other forum posts, I don’t regard the Bible as the ultimate authority… A higher authority inside of me tells me that killing an unborn fetus is evil, cruel and anti-human. Potentially understandable if you have no means to feed it, your life is in jeopardy or you were raped. But for the sake of convenience? For not wanting you lose your slender figure? Monstrous. That said, people do bad things when they are scared and many regret it after the fact… Much sympathy for them, as knowing your killed your would be child would drive many to madness. Though perhaps a calloused person wouldn’t care - probably better that they don’t as ignorance is bliss.



I remember hearing Ben Carson said he supports a pill that could end up a pregnancy if taken almost immediately after conception, which could be used if a woman was raped. Thoughts?


Qaz, just before I read your post, I was thinking about this very method of ending a pregnancy. My first wife and I actually used this method, without really thinking about it. Is the zygote a human being? Well… it’s human and it’s a being and so clearly it is a human being.

The real question is not whether or not it is a human being, but whether or not it is a person. If the zygote is a person, then my wife and I committed many murders, since the very meaning of “murder” is the unjustified killing of a person. Also, I’m sure that the zygote has added many cells to itself before this pill destroys it.

Here is the question with which I think we must deal. When does the life which was begun, become a person? Many people, including myself, believe that destroying a fœtus through abortion is murder—at least from its development at 3 months (maybe 1 month) and later. But is it a person and is it murder if it is aborted in a very early stage? and if not, at what stage does the fœtus become a person?


Since this theme is about the human soul, let’s dedicate a song to it :exclamation: :laughing:


Paidion, thank you for bringing up the political implications of deciding at what point a human soul begins to exist. I am anti-abortion too, but I hope there is a way to terminate pregnancy very early in a way that wouldn’t be murder, for the sake of women who have been raped.


Paidion, thank you for bringing up the political implications of deciding at what point a human soul begins to exist. I am anti-abortion too, but I hope there is a way to terminate pregnancy very early in a way that wouldn’t be murder, for the sake of women who have been raped.

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I think the humaness or human spirit begins at conception which is when the DNA is created. DNA is what identifies us legally and i think it’s a God given identification tag. Of course if a woman is raped or there is incest there are mitigating circumstances that s/b considered.


Yes, thats where the difficulty enters in about the mutuality of fetus and womb, because the fetus is not guilty of the sin of its father, and from one perspective should not be excluded from those “special considerations”. So difficult to consider and to judge.