Science vs. Bible: When Does Life Begin?

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A colorful group of people ask each other questions about when life begins.
There are Bible verses supporting the idea that life begins at conception, but do science and medicine line up with our faith-based claims?

There is plenty of evidence in the Bible to answer the question, “When does life begin?” But do science and medicine line up with our faith-based claims? Does life really begin at conception?

When the beginning of life is discussed among youth groups or from the pulpit, it comes with powerful scriptures about preborn life. Usually, these scriptures include Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 1:41These scriptures are handy resources when discussing the beginning of life among fellow believers. But what evidence do we have when discussing the same topic amid those who don’t see the Bible as an authoritative source?

Taking a deep dive into the most recent scientific studies on preborn life, we find plenty of evidence that life begins at the moment of conception.

When does life begin scientifically?

For the sake of clarification, let’s define what it means to be a living being. In the most scientific sense of the word, life means, “an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.”

So, when do human beings enter the state of having life?

The "Quickening" and Earthquakes

History states that the first instrument for recording earthquakes was invented by a Chinese philosopher, Chang Heng, in A.D. 132. Before Chang Heng’s clever seismoscope, the best way to tell if an earthquake occurred was through experiencing physical sensations.

If the ground was shaking and houses were falling, and suddenly large pieces of land split open by separating tectonic plates, you were pretty sure an earthquake was taking place.

Of course, since Heng’s invention, we have developed even better tools for understanding earthquakes. Not only do we know when earthquakes occur, but that sometimes they occur even when we don’t feel them. Now, seismograph technology helps us study the Earth’s movements. We know we would be silly to think that earthquakes only exist when we feel them, hear them or find a newly made riff in the field.

For thousands of years, society recognized a pregnancy as “living” when a woman could feel the baby move inside of her. This moment of tangible evidence for life was known as the “quickening.”

Like the seismograph, the invention of ultrasound technology revealed that the presence of life was more than a collection of physical sensations.

Life Begins at Conception

While some argue that there’s no way to know when life begins, advancements in technology and medicine say otherwise. Several obstetric tools produce evidence that life begins at conception. Furthermore, research into the moment of conception has revealed some significant hints at the exact moment of life’s beginning.

Ultrasound Technology

While ultrasound technology was first applied to the field of medicine by Ian Donald in 1956, the wider use of ultrasound for viewing the preborn didn’t occur until the 1970s.

Notably, the greatest revelations of preborn life via ultrasound came around the ruling of the famous Supreme court case, Roe vs. Wade (1973).

The first episode of See Life 2021, “The Truth About Life,” takes a deeper look at life issues.

Ultrasound technology has improved and evolved exponentially since the beginning. Now, life in the womb is detectable as early as 8 to 12 days post-conception. Additionally, evidence of preborn life can now be viewed through 2D, 3D and 4D ultrasounds.

Embryology and Genetics

As previously mentioned, having “life” means being in ownership of certain potentials. For example, we could say, by definition, that a living human holds the potential to grow, metabolize, respond and reproduce. However, we certainly wouldn’t consider a human any less for not accomplishing these tasks. A man or woman is no less human if they cannot reproduce. Likewise, a person with limited motor skills or an inherited metabolic disorder is equally as alive and human as their non-diagnosed friends and family.

According to studies in Embryology, a developing embryo contains unchanging genetic information for the life it contains. Consequently, a full-grown adult contains the same genetic blueprint as they did as a developing embryo. Knowing this, we can reason that, genetically speaking, life begins at conception.

The Mysterious Light

Equally as interesting, scientists were able to record that bursts of light, fireworks made of zinc, occur at the moment of conception. Researchers say the spark of light hints at the health and viability of an egg.

Given that science has recorded this surge of energy at conception and a potential loss of energy at death, these occurrences may provide the general parameters for the beginning and end of human life.

Scientists document and study the flashes of light that occur at the moment of conception.

When Does Life Begin Medically?

Many medical professionals agree that life begins at conception. Moreover, they acknowledge that mother and preborn child are two patients. Each may be treated and diagnosed differently since their medical needs may vary. As Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, the “Father of Modern Genetics,” stated, “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place, a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion … it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”

Dr. Lejeune is one of many medical professionals who claim science confirms that life begins at conception (click here for more details).

Oddly, the practice of treating mother and baby as separate patients changes when the topic of abortion is approached. Dr. Lile, who is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, explains the concept of preborn as patients and the goal of obstetrics. 

Dr. Lile discusses how he and his colleges treat the preborn as patients.

When Does Life Begin Legally?

According to the Judicial Learning Center, “Laws protect our general safety, and ensure our rights as citizens against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself.”

Laws are not intended to outline and quantify humanity. However, some laws establish when and which individuals have a claim to certain rights. For example, although a non-resident of the United States is equally as human as a U.S. citizen, a U.S. citizen will have a claim to certain rights that a non-citizen will not.

But it’s a good thing that law does not determine life! If this were the case, our nation would not have accomplished great historic feats like the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage.

Had we let the laws of the early 1800s continue to define that slaves were less human than their owners, we would probably still be practicing slavery today.

Dr. Lile Discusses the difference in law between preserving preborn turtles and preborn children.

Thankfully, the advocating of our forefathers and mothers on behalf of basic human rights influenced our nation’s laws to serve all humans, not just those of a specific sex or heritage. Even so, our nation’s laws fall short of fully preserving and protecting all human life equally.

Take, for example, the ruling of Roe vs. Wade and the Endangered Species Act. Both of these influential landmarks of the law were decided in 1973. While the ruling of Roe vs. Wade has allowed for the abortion of 6.3 million preborn children, the Endangered Species Act established that the abortion of preborn turtles is deserving of jail time or a hefty fine of up to $100,000. 

Further Research

Evidence of when life begins continues to grow along with scientific and technological advancements. Focus on the Family’s annual See Life event is a great resource for investigating life issues. This year’s series fearlessly investigates the tough questions most people have about the value of life and life rights. Check out this year’s See Life event for more insight into the sanctity of human life. 

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There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

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Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!