Abortion question


#1

According to the Catholic church the soul enters the body at conception. This is why abortion is wrong, correct? It also teaches the soul is indivisible despite the fact a foetus can divide into two several days after conception. Is this true? How do we deal with this problem?


#2

You are not letting God be God… It is that Omnipotent thing again! :slight_smile:

He knows if it is going to be a single or multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc). There is no problem here. The correct number of souls are present at conception.

For God all things are equally easy!

God bless!


#3

Edited a bit:

  1. AKAIK, The Church has no binding teaching on when the soul enters the body.

  2. No. Abortion is wrong because it kills a human without just cause.

  3. Again, AFAIK, the Church has no binding teaching on this issue.

  4. We start dealing with this problem by sticking with what is the truth.

– Mark L. Chance.


#4

The root of your question, as I understand it, is: how does the soul reside in or “populate” our bodies. Is it different from when we were one cell? Two cells? A million cells?

I think the difficulty arises from a faulty understanding of the souls spatial nature, how it does or does not fill space–in particular our body space. For example, if we lose a finger or an arm, that does not mean we lose part of our soul that we might have assumed was present in that appendage. Frank Sheed, in his book “Theology for Beginners” has a wonderful chapter in which he explains the nature of the soul. I highly recommend it:
shop.catholic.com/cgi-local/SoftCart.exe/online-store/scstore/p-B0072.html?L+scstore+wmms7435ffa367a3+1123785599


#5

Actualy these are very interesting and important questions which cannot be dismissed, especially concidering the advent of manipulative twinning and feotal stem cell extraction. That and is also of particular interest to me given that I have identical twin brothers.

Let’s say that a stem cell is extract from a fertilized ovum after only a couple divisions and prior to gene specialization. Is this stem cell a twin or merely a disconnected piece of tissue? Can that cell be legitimately cultured and used for a skin graft later in life? A stem cell extracted from my body is also potentially a twin if placed in the right hormonal environment, but few if any Catholic ethicists claim that it is the environment which determines personhood.

Mark’s second statement is meaningless given his first statement unless Mark is prepared to admit that there are (at least potentialy) human beings without human souls.

Adam


#6

[quote=mlchance]Edited a bit:

  1. AKAIK, The Church has no binding teaching on when the soul enters the body.

  2. No. Abortion is wrong because it kills a human without just cause.

  3. Again, AFAIK, the Church has no binding teaching on this issue.

  4. We start dealing with this problem by sticking with what is the truth.

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

What’s AFAIK Mark?


#7

[quote=FightingFat]What’s AFAIK Mark?
[/quote]

AFAIK = As Far As I Know


#8

[quote=FightingFat]What’s AFAIK Mark?
[/quote]

As far as I know… Which I mistyped. :smiley:

My first and second statements for review:

  1. AFAIK, The Church has no binding teaching on when the soul enters the body.

  2. No. Abortion is wrong because it kills a human without just cause.

Nope. Even after cutting-and-pasting, it still isn’t meaningless. I don’t have to admit anything about the soul to claim abortion is unjust. The existence of the soul is irrelevant to the question, “Why is abortion wrong?” Even if we didn’t have souls, abortion would still be evil.

The abortion issue is terribly simple: An embyro is alive. A human embryo is quite obviously human. Killing a human is generally a bad thing to do.

– Mark L. Chance.


#9

I agree with Mark. When the soul enters the body really has no place in the abortion debate, since most abortion proponents don’t believe in souls anyway. But everyone knows that a new human being begins at conception. That is the beginning of a new individual of the human species. Our position is that all human beings must be protected at all stages of development.

A newly conceived human being is genetically distinct from the mother and remains the same human individual until death. If we start defining human beings as arbitrarily beginning at some point other than conception, that definition is purely legal, not biological. And what the law gives, the law can take away.


#10

[quote=mlchance]As far as I know… Which I mistyped. :smiley:

My first and second statements for review:

  1. AFAIK, The Church has no binding teaching on when the soul enters the body.

2. No. Abortion is wrong because it kills a human without just cause.

Nope. Even after cutting-and-pasting, it still isn’t meaningless. I don’t have to admit anything about the soul to claim abortion is unjust. The existence of the soul is irrelevant to the question, “Why is abortion wrong?” Even if we didn’t have souls, abortion would still be evil.

The abortion issue is terribly simple: An embyro is alive. A human embryo is quite obviously human. Killing a human is generally a bad thing to do.

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

First, in response to the above bolded quote - When would anyone have just cause to kill a human? :confused:

Second, my observation is - Every fetus will have a soul given the chance to live, so it is irrelevant when the soul is present. There is always eventually a soul. Even if there was no soul at the moment of conception (which I personally believe there is), abortion would still be wrong. I’m not sure I’m clear on the division part of the OP’s question. Is it referring to twins or just the cell division that normally happens as life grows?


#11

[quote=Jesus4Me]First, in response to the above bolded quote - When would anyone have just cause to kill a human? :confused:
QUOTE]
If someone threatens your or your families life(s), you have the legal, moral and spiritual right to defend yourself and/or family.
[/quote]


#12

QUOTE]
If someone threatens your or your families life(s), you have the legal, moral and spiritual right to defend yourself and/or family.

Ahhhhhhhh! Got it - now I’m on the same page. Thanks!
[/quote]


#13

[quote=mlchance]1. AFAIK, The Church has no binding teaching on when the soul enters the body.-- Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

My dad always said, “If all else fails, read the directions.” So I pulled out my trusty Catechism of the Catholic Church and found the following in paragraph # 2274: "Since it must be treated from its conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being."
In the glossary under PERSON, HUMAN: "The human individual, made in the image and likeness of God; not some thing but some one, a unity of spirit and matter, soul and body, capable of knowledge…"
So, if the embryo is a person from conception and a person has a body and soul, we can conclude that the Church has defined ensoulment as occurring at conception.


#14

[quote=mlchance]Nope. Even after cutting-and-pasting, it still isn’t meaningless. I don’t have to admit anything about the soul to claim abortion is unjust. The existence of the soul is irrelevant to the question, “Why is abortion wrong?” Even if we didn’t have souls, abortion would still be evil.

[/quote]

Mark has managed to engineer a remarkable departure from the Catholic faith and especially Thomism. It is meaningless to discuss human beings without souls from a Catholic (and especially Thomistic) perspective of soul. It is like discussing a square triangle. The soul is the substantial form of the body. Whether it survives death is irrelevant to the existence of a ‘soul’ in all living things…be it vegetative, animal or rational. A human being without a soul is dead, you cannot kill something which is dead.

As Strider has indicated, the Church has ipso facto defined ensoulment as occuring at conception.

And JimG seems to have missed the point entirely because (at least one) identical twins don’t have a firm moment of conception but rather a moment of seperation but seperation can occur naturally or through human intervention. And jburgherr nonesense about two (the ‘right’ numeber) souls inhabiting one body is likewise philosophic nonsense.

Adam


#15

[quote=Strider]My dad always said, “If all else fails, read the directions.” So I pulled out my trusty Catechism of the Catholic Church and found the following in paragraph # 2274: “Since it must be treated from its conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.”

[/quote]

It says here it must be treated as a person, not that it necessarily is one. The Church really doesn’t say exactly when ensoulment occurs. I think that it most likely occurs at conception (I always joke with my gf that if I became pope I would define it as such), but there is at this time no authoratative teaching on the subject–mainly because there is no need for any. Even back in the day when many thought ensoulment took 40 days, abortion before then was still condemned as a grave sin.

As for twins, who’s to say soul fission doesn’t occur?


#16

From Evangelium Vitae:

  1. Some people try to justify abortion by claiming that the result of conception, at least up to a certain number of days, cannot yet be considered a personal human life. But in fact, “from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. This has always been clear, and … modern genetic science offers clear confirmation. It has demonstrated that from the first instant there is established the programme of what this living being will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization the adventure of a human life begins, and each of its capacities requires time-a rather lengthy time-to find its place and to be in a position to act”. Even if the presence of a spiritual soul cannot be ascertained by empirical data, the results themselves of scientific research on the human embryo provide “a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?”.

Furthermore, what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo. Precisely for this reason, over and above all scientific debates and those philosophical affirmations to which the Magisterium has not expressly committed itself, the Church has always taught and continues to teach that the result of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence, must be guaranteed that unconditional respect which is morally due to the human being in his or her totality and unity as body and spirit: “The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life”.


#17

[quote=amarischuk]Mark has managed to engineer a remarkable departure from the Catholic faith and especially Thomism. It is meaningless to discuss human beings without souls from a Catholic (and especially Thomistic) perspective of soul.
[/quote]

This thread isn’t about Aquinas’s writings on the soul. It is about abortion. It is unnecessary to discuss the soul with reference to the abortion question. In fact, it is detrimental to an effective condemnation of abortion to discuss the soul.

– Mark L. Chance.


#18

[quote=mlchance]This thread isn’t about Aquinas’s writings on the soul. It is about abortion. It is unnecessary to discuss the soul with reference to the abortion question. In fact, it is detrimental to an effective condemnation of abortion to discuss the soul.

[/quote]

Hum…

[quote=FightingFat]According to the Catholic church the soul enters the body at conception. This is why abortion is wrong, correct? It also teaches the soul is indivisible despite the fact a foetus can divide into two several days after conception. Is this true? How do we deal with this problem?
[/quote]

Yes Mark, of course the thread is about abortion and not the soul.

I am sorry FightingFat (a name I sympathize with, no longer being my former lifeguard self) but if you are looking for a straight answer you should go somewhere else, rather than Catholic Answers. Ironically, I asked a similar question at the ewtn website (Catholic Q and A) nearly a year ago and got no reply. To even suggest that there is a deficiency with Catholic moral theology on the point of manipulative twinning is sacreligious here.


#19

No, it has nothing to do with WHEN a soul enters the womb of a mother at all. Abortion is wrong because it is the taking of a human life, that God has created within the womb of a mother.When life is created within the womb of a Mother, at whatever stage, ending that life is a mortal sin and murder in the eyes of God. It is that simple and yet that powerful.


#20

In fighting abortion it is pointless to begin arguing Thomist theology with secularists. They will always point to Aquinas’ thoughts about delayed ensoulment.

But Aquinas knew nothing about genetics, and little about embryology. We do, and we now know definitively that a new genetic human being is created at conception. Whether that new embryo later splits to become twins is not relevant to abortion. The new human being created, whether one or two, is distinct from the mother.

Because it is a distinct individual of the human species, it is by definition a human being, and all human beings must be treated as human persons.

With respect to twins, there are several theological possibilities, none of which is certain. God may create a new individual soul when the twinning occurs. Or, there may be two souls from the beginning of conception.


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