And the Lord God formed a man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and he became a living soul.

Genesis 2:7

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

It finally looks like winter is done, March Madness is over, the eclipse hoopla has subsided and the world continues to turn as time metaphorically marches on.

The eclipse was a big nothing burger in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was overcast last Monday with drizzle, and we were only going to have 80% occlusion of the sun in our area. I don’t understand why everyone was so hyped because we experienced a “real” 100% eclipse of the sun in August 2017.

Perhaps it was the novelty of an eclipse and the temporary distraction from the problems of the world. The eclipse did cause us to look up and consider the wonders of the Creation and hopefully our place in it. What we know and perceive at the moment is not all there is.

Some might consider an eclipse and the darkness within totality a metaphor for the state of our country. I won’t elaborate on what the utterly vacuous Sunny Hostin of The View and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said. If you’re curious, look it up. Since antiquity, eclipses have been harbingers of doom or warnings. However, celestial events follow Newtonian physics and carry no portent for me. Far more disturbing is mankind’s fealty to idols and the substitution of government for God.

These days, my weekends start early. Throughout my medical career my days began at 6 a.m. and still do. But I no longer rush to the hospital to make rounds and then hustle to the office. Previously, my life was constructed around night and weekend call schedules. These days, if I didn’t have an essay to post every Thursday afternoon, two weekly Bible study groups and church on Sunday, I might not know what day it is.

As usual, my essay topic for the week found me. Perhaps it is unwise to reflect on abortion, but it is everywhere again after President Trump posted his thoughts on this controversial and contentious issue. You should read or listen to President Trump’s statements on abortion rather than accept what Biden and his agitprop media and Democrats are spinning or even accept what I say. However, what I heard Trump say was a pragmatic attempt to gain consensus similar to Abraham Lincoln’s approach to the slavery debate.

President Trump said people must follow their hearts and minds regarding abortion. And like Ronald Reagan, Trump believes there should be exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Trump also supports in vitro fertilization and said he would not sign a national abortion ban. Finally, Trump believes the states and the people should decide abortion policies instead of Federal dictates. This is consistent with Amendment X of The Constitution which says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

President Trump’s statements on abortion are incremental toward the preservation of life. Trump’s position is vastly different from Democrat leadership’s “abortion on demand” policy, even in the third trimester of pregnancy. However, Trump realizes you must win elections to change policy and “save our country which is currently, and very sadly, a nation in decline.”

Since the 1960s numerous methods of contraception have become available. BCPs (birth control pills) are effective and reliable as are vasectomy and tubal ligation. But nothing is foolproof except abstinence.

IUDs (intrauterine devices) work by hindering implantation of fertilized eggs as do the morning after pills and other abortifacient, “miscarriage making” therapies.

In the abortion debate, the most important question for me is, “When does human life begin?” Neither sperm nor an egg has a full complement of DNA which is necessary for life. At conception a proto-human exists that if allowed to proceed a human being will result. A crude analogy is the ingredients of a cake, subsequently baked in an oven.

I will continue to struggle with abortion until doctors, scientists, ethicists and theologians can decide when a fertilized egg becomes a human being. Remember, the definition of viability is artificial and continues to change with technology.

As I’ve researched the abortion issue, consideration of the soul is conspicuously absent. I imagine the soul as the non-anatomical essence of a human being. Since you can’t measure the soul, some would argue that it doesn’t exist. I think they are wrong.

Imagine your brain. It can be touched, seen, and perhaps smelled or tasted. In other words, it can be objectively known. However, I have a mind and thoughts which cannot be measured. This concept is called Cartesian dualism after Rene Descartes’ thought experiment and his proclamation, “Cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am.) In other words, my thoughts are nonobjective, but nonetheless real, as is my soul.

I used the Biblical quote from Genesis to address the notion of ensoulment. The NIV translation of Genesis 2:7 reads, “The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Perhaps the man was not fully constituted as a human being without a soul. I believe these thoughts are germane to abortion, but also miscarriages, by raising the question of when a human exists. Perhaps the early fertilized clump of cells which science labels a morula – after a mulberry – is not yet ensouled and does not yet possess an essence.

It’s complicated, as the 2009 movie title proclaims. Hindus believe in karma which suggests souls are recycled. I don’t believe in karma because I’m a Christian whose belief and hope is that the soul is transcendent. God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Yes, “I wonder as I wander out under the sky.” But like the Proverbist (3:5), I trust in the Lord more than my own understanding.