From _American Atheist Magazine_, January 1989, p. 33. A Roman Catholic member of the mand
From _American Atheist Magazine_, January 1989, p. 33.
A Roman Catholic member of the mandatory motherhood movement
recently was asked what happens when a single zygote (fertilized
egg) splits and turns into twins - whether each baby would come
out with half a soul, or if one would have a whole soul and the
other would be a soulless zombie. The Roman Catholic readily
replied that since god is omniscient, he would know in advance
that the single zygote would produce two babies, and thus he
would zap two souls into the single zygote - making it possible
for us to commit double murder by flushing a single cell down
Whatever the case may or may not be with fully separate
twins, there is a problem when a zygote begins to form twins but
doesn't divide completely, as in the case of Siamese twins.
What happens when the separation ends with two bodies but only
one head? Or two heads but only one body? Or how about two
partial heads sharing one brain? Or how about one body, one
head, and no brain? And how about the not uncommon condition
where the object born looks more like a slug-filled cabbage than
a vertebrate? How many souls does *it* have? What about the
case where twins form, but one never develops beyond the early
stages of differentiation and remains as a parasitic growth in
the abdominal cavity of the other twin? Does the parasite have
a soul, and will it be resurrected in glory?
It is now possible to take normal zygotes and separate them
after the early stages of cell division into clumps of cells
which will form twins, triplets, or litters. If this were done
with human zygotes, would god - knowing that some unbelieving
scientist was planning to make a clone out of the zygote - zap
into it enough souls to go around? If so, this means we would
be able to control god. If we wanted god to make more souls
for us to experiment with (if experimenting with souls were
possible), all we would have to do is divide the conceptus up
into the number of souls we wanted god to create. Neat!
If we were to divide a conceptus in two, let one part grow
into a baby, and deep-freeze the other to be used for artificial
implantation and surrogate pregnancy ten years later, would the
part to be frozen have a soul? Where would it be located in the
deep-freeze? What if the freezer were to go off several years
later, and the would-be twin were never to make it past the four-
celled stage? Would god know in advance, and not give it a soul?
Or would he give it a soul even though it will never become a
baby - as happens naturally to about one-third of all conceptions?
If god gives the never-to-be twin a soul, will it go to hell?
Limbo? How about caviar heaven?
As interesting as the previous experiment may be - since it
gives humans the power to control god's acts - there is an even
more interesting problem for the compulsory pregnancy people to
solve. It is now possible to take two, three, or any small
number of fertilized eggs - each one of which might by itself
become a baby - and fuse them all together to make just one
mosaic baby. If each zygote has one soul at conception then this
composite baby must have two, three, or more souls! Of course,
god in its prescience might know that some of the zygotes would
be fused and have no need of their own souls, and god might create
some zygotes without any souls at all. But this, of course, would
violate the Roman Catholic teaching that every zygote has at
least one soul.
We will leave it to the theologians to decide how many souls
result when one fuses a human zygote with a genetically nearly
identical chimpanzee zygote. Will the part human / part ape
creature have a soul at all? Will its hybrid body be resurrected?
Will it wear golden slippers with openings at the sides to
accomodate the prehensile big toes?
"[Pregnancy] is like a harmless slavery of sorts. It is only nine
months." -- Kevin Welch in talk.abortion
This raises an interesting question more directly related to abortion:
if God knows in advance how many babies will result, and so puts two
souls in a zygote that will become twins, why is it not possible for
God to put _no_ soul in a zygote which is going to be aborted? In that
case, it might be that everyone who gets born had a soul from conception,
while abortion would still be moral.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank