Are Humans Ensouled at Conception?

Alan discusses whether humans are ensouled at conception and what happens when an embryo twins.


00:00 Does a soul split when an embryo twins? Well, it depends on your answer to

00:04 one key question.

00:09 There are generally two Christian views on ensoulment.

00:12 There's creationism, and there's traducianism. Now the creationist view

00:16 says that God creates a new soul ex nihilo, out of nothing, at conception or

00:22 at some point after conception but, of course, before birth.

00:25 Now, creationists agree that a new soul is directly made by God, but they differ

00:31 as to when ensoulment occurs. Now, the traducianist position holds that each

00:36 soul is generated by his or her parents as a function of their procreative act.

00:41 Now, in this view, ensoulment can only occur at the moment of conception. Question

00:47 then is, if the human embryo twins as in monozygotic or identical twins, what

00:52 happens? There's a single soul split or something else? Well, the answer will

00:57 probably depend on your view of when ensoulment occurs. If you're a creationist

01:01 and you believe that ensoulment occurs some time after conception, well, then you

01:06 potentially avoid the difficult question of how twins get their souls. You could

01:10 simply say, well, God gives each twin a soul after the embryo splits but

01:15 sometime before the twins are born. Very simple. But if you believe ensoulment

01:20 occurs at conception, which could be a creationist or a traducianist, by the

01:24 way, then it seems that there are two options. You can claim that God creates

01:29 the two souls for the one zygote, and then once it splits, each soul follows a

01:34 single embryo. Or you can say there is only one soul initially, and when the

01:38 embryo twins, that's when God creates another soul and gives to the other twin.

01:42 Now of course, I'm not here to, you know, argue the merits and the weaknesses of

01:47 each view. It's definitely an interesting debate, okay? I tend to lean towards the

01:52 traducianist view. I believe that God creates an additional soul when the

01:55 embryo twins and not before. But of course, I'll say I have several friends

01:59 who disagree with me. Either way, I don't believe this is an essential Christian

02:03 doctrine and so therefore not one that we should divide over.

video |
Alan Shlemon