When does life begin

I saw this article and wanted to know people’s thoughts on it. My initial thoughts are the bible isn’t a science book, so we shouldn’t go to it in this fashion. Second, I remember Paul speaking against the use of some drug, I forget the term he used, that was used to cause abortions. Can anyone help me remember what Paul is talking about?

Also, I believe the Church teaches life begins at conception (not after implantation in the uterus wall). When did this teaching begin? Is it the prevailing thought now in the scientific community?



For all creatures that reproduce sexually, life begins when a new genetic identity is formed. This is the moment when the male and female genetic material combine and create the genetic material of the offspring. This is not a debated topic; it’s basic middle school science.

The debate about implantation is about when pregnancy begins. Traditionally, pregnancy began with conception. Recently the terminology has been changed and many people hold that pregnancy does not begin until implantation. The identity of the newly created life is not changed at implantation but its chances of surviving until birth are greatly increased at that point.

Biologically speaking, there is no general consensus of what constitutes “life.” There is, in fact, an ongoing debate about whether viruses are “alive.”

But most biologists would agree that any organism which is “alive” must at least have these properties:

*]homeostasis (regulated internal environment, such as electrolyte concentration)
*]organization (into one or more cells, the basic building block of life)
*]metabolism (create energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis)
*]ability to grow
*]ability to reproduce (beget new organisms)
*]adapt (respond to surroundings)
The first four are obviously present in humans at the moment of conception, whereas the last two come later. Embryos are known to adapt (respond to stimuli) well before the end of the first trimester (when it is usually easy to kill them in the United States). Reproduction does not come about until adolescence, but the genetic ability to reproduce is there from the beginning - it simply must develop to become functional.

Metabolism transforms energy to create new cells (anabolism) and organically dispose of dead cells (catabolism). The ratio of anabolism to catabolism is our “metabolic activity,” and it is a common yardstick to measure “how alive” an organism is. If more cells are dying than are being created, the “total life” of the organism is decreasing, and the organism is dying. Biologically speaking, we are “more alive” at conception than we will ever be. For the first couple-dozen cellular divisions of a healthy embryo, there is zero catabolism, meaning the mathematical ratio of anabolism to catabolism requires division by zero, which is infinite (meaning metabolic activity is infinite, which is why this measure is rarely applied at this stage - it makes biologists look like they flunked math).

Fascinating post.:slight_smile:
From the Mayo Clinic:

Do take your vitamins. Folic acid plays an essential role in a baby’s development. A daily prenatal vitamin or folic acid supplement beginning a few months before conception significantly reduces the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

Online sources, including the U.S. Gov’t encourage women to update vaccines, eliminate alcohol usage, and take vitamins prior to the start of a pregnancy.

I wonder if this might speak to the issue of ability to adapt-to responding to surroundings?
It seems that these sources see the environment in which conception occurs as having influence upon the child and threfore would indicate that adaptation to environment begins quite early.

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