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Beginning of Life

The Bible states that human life begins at the absolute “beginning or inception” using the term "conception". Because the term “conception” has been variously (re)defined in the current scientific, medical and bioethics literature, Christians may become confused over the Church’s creedal, doctrinal, biblical, liturgical, traditional, and cultural language of, “Life begins at/with conception.”

“Conception” has been defined in all the following ways: the moment of fertilization (union or fusion of sperm and egg), syngamy (the last crossing-over of the maternal and paternal chromosomes at the end of fertilization), full embryonic gene expression between the fourth and eighth cellular division, implantation and development of the primitive streak.

Scientifically and Biblically, conception is most appropriately defined as fertilization. The activation of an egg by the penetration of a sperm triggers the transition to active organismal existence. Some scientists and theologians note that it is only at the end of the process of fertilization (syngamy) that a substantive change has taken place resulting in a new, unique, living, individual human person.

CMDA affirms that it is appropriate to maintain the traditional biblical and creedal language of the Church without accommodation. Christians can remain biblically and biologically accurate by understanding that “conception” refers to the absolute “beginning or inception” of life, which is fertilization.


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