I recently attended an academic conference where one of the presenters made a point about Catholic doctrine I found particularly humorous. The speaker mentioned that Catholicism teaches that the “soul” enters the “body” at conception (I knew that, of course, but he went on…). Technically, at that point, it’s just a single cell (zygote – once the sperm has been co-opted by the egg cell). Sure, okay, let’s say that is true. What, then, are the implications?
- I have brothers-in-law who are identical twins. Who knew they shared a soul? The original zygote, which was imbued with a soul on conception, ultimately split during a later stage, meaning they share a soul. (the speaker mentioned this one)
- Chimeras, people who have two sets of DNA as a result of one embryo basically consuming another one, technically have two souls. Cool!
- Siamese twins have conjoined souls.
- And, apparently spontaneously aborted embryos/fetuses just get shitty souls. Sucks to be you.
I know this blog is mostly geared toward a Mormon audience. And I know there is no hard and fast rule for when the soul enters the “body” for Mormons. But doesn’t the above illustration kind of make it clear that the very notion of a soul is absurd? I mean, come on – sharing a soul, dual souls?
I’m guessing the response of a Mormon apologist would simply be to say that the “insertion” of the soul takes place later in fetal development. And I’m guessing they would leave the specific timing of this occurrence up in the air (nice and ambiguous, just how apologists like it). If that’s the case, then what’s the harm in an early abortion? You aren’t, technically, killing one of god’s creations, just a mass of soul-less cells. Of course, abortion doesn’t every really “kill” one of god’s creations, just the physical aspect of it – abortion doesn’t kill the soul. So why should religious people care anyway?
The way I see it, this is just one more argument for why we should stop thinking about the world in a dualistic sense (material and spiritual). Souls make no sense in the light of modern biology.