Would it be possible for a human couple with a soul to conceive a child without a soul?

Since ensoulment is an act of God…For example, would it be possible for some of our ancestors to have souls and some not? If God willed it.

This would be to deny the creation of God.


Animation of matter does not happen without a soul.
Actually, it is God’s creation of the soul that gives success at fertilization.


The soul is the principle that animates a living body. Because a child at conception is alive by definition, it wouldn’t be possible to conceive a child that has no soul.

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@John_Martin @neophyte

Aren’t animals animated as well and dont have souls (rational souls)?


It is nonsensical to try and describe life without the very thing that makes it alive.


Every living thing has a soul.
Animals simply do not possess the rational and immortal souls that humans have.

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If something is animated with life, then it has a soul.

God is infallibly faithful, which means:

  1. There is a 100% chance he will answer a prayer
  2. There is a 100% chance he will sustain a creature
  3. There is a 100% chance he will do what he says he is going to do.


They have souls, but not rational souls.

As in, is it a logical impossibility for God to bring that about? No, it is not. But as a theological premise it seems we hold that all descendants of Adam and Eve are ensouled.

I think this is an interesting thought experiment:

Suppose just prior to ensoulment, God checks whether or not a person will go to hell. If the person would go to hell, God does not create the soul, and instead just has the “physical husk” do all the things the ensouled person would have done. Then when the husk dies, no one is the wiser, and no souls have to go to hell.

If this is a thing God is capable of doing, the question is why wouldn’t he actually do this?

This is a kind of embarrassingly medieval pronouncement. Back when that definition of soul came out, people knew basically nothing about biology. They were grasping for some kind of explanation for why living matter moved around. No problem for the theologians, they had their “God of the Gaps” at the ready and explained that the reason is… a supernatural soul! Huzzah! God must exist or how else do you explain the motive force in living beings?!? Checkmate atheists and all that.

But we don’t need any appeal to the supernatural to explain the motive force in living beings anymore. We figured it all out, and threw out vitalism along the way. So for you to trot out this definition requires clarification:

When you say

The soul is the principle that animates a living body.

Please give the definition of “principle” and “animate” that you think make this a meaningful definition of soul, because surely everyone here learned how metabolism, muscles, and nerves work in school.

Yet the best science we have cannot animate the dead.

Perhaps this knowledge is not as common or simple as implied.

Sure we can, what are you talking about? It’s like a middle school demonstration:

Linked this way because youtube thumbnail is a little gross. Don’t click if you’re squeamish about dead things

Life from lifelessness.
Anything less and your argument fails.

That’s a bit of a desperate claim now that your first has fallen through. We can’t re-light the sun once it burns out, but no one is saying there must be supernatural explanations for how the sun got lit.

As for completely-synthesized-life, people are literally working on it as we speak. There is no fundamental reason to think they will fail.

Since the “unensouled husk” doesn’t have a rational soul, he cannot – by definition – “do all the things [he] would have done [if] ensouled”.

Moreover, you’re suggesting that God would allow two human persons to procreate a non-human person – a seeming zombie? That’s obscene.

It doesn’t fit with the notion of God as all-good.

There are many things God “is capable of doing”, but does not do. That neither impinges on His omnipotence nor demonstrates that He is not all-good.

(One other odd implication of your thought experiment: it would imply that God defers to ensoul the child of two humans, but also chooses to ensoul children of couples in which one or both isn’t fully human.)

This is kinda an embarrassingly simple refutation: the notion of ‘quickening’ is seen as early as Aristotle, and while he talked about a human soul, he wasn’t making a theological pronouncement about a supernatural soul or attempting to “checkmate atheists.” Nor, clearly, was he trying to assert anything about a “god of the gaps” (whatever you think that means).

There is no bright line that defines life. It is a selection of criteria. Does a virus have a soul?

First? What claim is that?

You wish to equivocate life itself to a nuclear explosion?

The track record speaks for itself.
And there is every reason to believe that they will continue down the path.
God himself is the author of life. Not man.

Scientifically, people try to come up with a reasonable list of criteria for what is or isn’t life. Viruses do indeed fall into a gray area and while they typically haven’t been considered living things, there is some debate on it.

So do viruses have a soul? I don’t know.

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