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When does the soul of man begin?

Submitted: 10/15/2006
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Question: When does the soul of man begin? In the womb before birth or after the birth of a child?

Answer: Genesis 2:7 says that man became a 'living soul' when he began to breathe. This suggests that a person is not alive until he begins to breathe air and that he is dead when he ceases to breathe air. The ability to breathe seems to be the biblical definition of being alive. This is not to say that a child is not alive prior to birth and can be eliminated at the whim of its mother. An unborn child is alive in a dependent state. That is, it is depending on its mother for whatever life it has. If it is removed from the womb prematurely, it will die if it is not yet able to breathe on its own. The Hebrew word translated 'soul' specifically refers to a breathing creature. We should not think that man has a soul, but rather than man is a soul. The soul that sins shall die, meaning that the wages of sin is death, the cessation of life.