In the debate over abortion, a number of questions need to be answered in order to come to a proper conclusion concerning the morality of the procedure. At issue are such things as the autonomy of a woman over her own body, what is the beginning of life, and when does what is in the womb become a human being. In the previous THURSDAY’S THOUGHT, I contended that a person’s humanity is not determined by the ability, or inability to perform certain activities, but by the possession of an immaterial soul. The question that now needs to be addressed is do people actually possess a soul and, if so, when is it generated or how is it acquired.

Since the dawn of civilization, mankind has recognized the existence of something more than just the physical properties that constitute humanity. Greek philosophers, such as Plato, believed in an immaterial entity known as the pseuche or psyche. But longevity of belief does not necessarily confirm the reality of something. Proving the existence of a soul is next to impossible. Material objects can be identified by one’s senses, but how do you identify an immaterial object? In the end, I believe there are two reasons to believe in the existence of a soul. First, and foremost, the Bible declares that man possesses one. Second, it is the only thing that can explain any after death experience. Obviously, there will be some who reject the authority of Scripture as well as life after death. Space will not permit me to validate either of these two reasons here. Lord willing, I will deal with the issue of the soul and life after death in a future THURSDAY’S THOUGHT.

A popular meme states that life begins when a being takes its first breath. Genesis 2:7 is cited for biblical support. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The “logical” reasoning is breath of life --> living, no breath --> just a compilation of cells. Since the child in the womb is not breathing, it cannot be a human life, and therefore is subject to an abortion. But the “logic” fails in numerous ways. First, while breathing may not occur in the normal fashion in the womb, babies do breathe. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged through the placenta of the mother. If this did not occur, the baby would die. Secondly, if breathing is the tell-tale sign of the existence of life, what is the condition of the person who suffers with sleep apnea when they momentarily stop breathing? Have they momentarily died? Third, Genesis 2:7 says nothing about Adam breathing. While it is reasonable to assume that Adam was not breathing before this act and began breathing on his own after it, the issue is not the activity of Adam but that of God breathing into Adam. What then constituted this “breath of life” that caused Adam to become a “living soul”?

Three Hebrew words are vital to the understanding of the teaching of this verse of Scripture. The first is the word neshamah, translated as breath. It is used 24 times in the OT. 2 uses in the Book of Job are instructive. In Job 26:4, Job responds to the criticism of Bildad with, “To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit (neshamah) came from thee?” A few verses later Job continues, “All the while my breath (neshamah) is in me, and the spirit (ruach) of God is in my nostrils;” (Job 27:3). Bible translators could properly translate Genesis 2:7 as, “…God breathed into his nostrils the spirit of life…” It is interesting in the New Testament that James states that death occurs when the spirit leaves the body (James 2:26). Likewise, a person who has not been born again, who is spiritually dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1) is devoid of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). The third word used above in Genesis 2:7 is the Hebrew word nephesh translated as “soul”. It is used at times synonymously with ruach (spirit) as in Job 7:11, “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit (ruach); I will complain in the bitterness of my soul (nephesh).” What we learn from Genesis 2:7 then, is that Adam became a living being, possessing a soul, when God breathed into him the spirit of life. Life begins with the possession of a soul which ultimately generates the ability to breathe.

Human beings are not created in the same manner as Adam was. So, when does God impart the spirit of life that brings the possession of a soul forming a living human being? That question will need to wait to be answered until next week’s THOUGHT.

Who We Are:

The Salina Bible Church is an independent, Bible-teaching church, located approximately 6 miles south of Apollo, PA at the intersection of routes 819 and 981.

Contact Us                                                 GPS Directions 

(724) 697-5357

Mailing Address:
       Box 275
       Salina, PA 15680

Physical Location:

4132 Route 819
Avonmore, PA 15618

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