The definition of “human”, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a bipedal primate mammal. In contrast, the definition of “person”, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is a human being regarded as an individual. Being an individual does not have to do with being a human. Being an individual has to do with being a person, somebody who has his own personality and talents. The question is when should a human be given his rights and status as a person, and when should that status be taken away? Some would say that a human is given his individuality at birth and that personhood is then taken away when he is deathly ill and is of no use to society, and thus he can be aborted before birth or euthanized when he becomes useless. This view does not agree with biblical evidence. a human being is a unique, individual person with legal and biblical protections from conception to death.
The first evidence that individuality starts at conception and ends at death comes through scientific and biblical support. The American College of Pediatricians, a national organization of pediatricians and other health care professionals, agrees that individual personhood starts at conception, “The American College of Pediatricians concurs with the body of scientific evidence that corroborates that a unique human life starts when the sperm and egg bind to each other in a process of fusion of their respective membranes and a single hybrid cell called a zygote, or onecell embryo, is created.”1 According to a secular, nonfaith-based organization, a unique human life starts in the very beginning at conception when a single cell organism is formed within a mother’s womb. Not only do many scientific organizations agree that unique life starts at conception, but the Bible also supports this view. In Jeremiah I :4-5, the Bible shows how God knows a person before they are born, “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou earnest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Even before a person is conceived, the Lord knows who they are, their unique traits, and that they are a somebody. The scientific and biblical evidence that personhood begins at or even before conception is overwhelming. The Bible also has evidence of legal protections for unborn children, while U.S. law has struggled to discover a firm interpretation of fetal rights.
The second indication that personhood begins at conception and ends at death is unborn children have legal protections through biblical law. Unfortunately, in the U.S., abortion has been defended based on privacy and equality. The U.S. legal system believes that an unborn fetus has no legal rights until the child is born and thus can be aborted before birth. Even though the U.S. continues to support abortion, the Bible protects unborn children from wrongful death in the womb in Exodus 21 :22, “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished … ” If a child is killed within the womb of its mother, judgement must be passed for this wrongdoing. the Bible tells us that killing or aborting a child within the womb is a crime against the law of the Scriptures. These guidelines are not only given for unborn children, though. The elderly and disabled are also protected by these biblical guidelines.
The final supporting factor as to why a human being is a unique individual from conception till death is the elderly and disabled have the same rights and protections as working adults. In 2014, a debate arguing physician assisted suicide was held at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, the Acting Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and a Senior Research Scholar attending the debate, made this statement against physician assisted suicide, “It does not matter what a person looks like, how productive the person might be, how others view that person, or even how that person may have come to view herself/himself. What matters is that everybody, black or white, healthy or sick, is a somebody. Assisted suicide and euthanasia require us to accept that it is morally permissible to act with the specific intention-in-acting of making a somebody into a nobody, i.e., to make them dead.”2 Dr. Sulmasy said this at a nonfaith-based event, but faith can also be applied to this issue. Paul writes to the Corinthians about using their lives for God as long as they can live in I Corinthians 6: 19-20, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Paul is saying that humans have no right to defile their bodies or another’s body because they are God’s. According to a secular scientist and the Bible, humans are protected morally and biblically. As Dr. Sulmasy put it, man has no right to make “a somebody into a nobody.”
To sum it up, a human being is a unique person from their conception in the womb till the day they die. The Bible and much of science support the fact that an individual person is created when a single cell organism is formed at conception, not at birth. Biblical law protects unborn children from death in the womb and recognizes them as a unique person. Secular scientists and the Bible also back the fact that humans still have value even if they are not of use to society. All evidence points towards the reality that being a human means being a person with individuality and uniqueness. Being a human means being a somebody.
1 Miranda, Fred de, and Patricia Lee June. “When Human Life Begins.” American College of Pediatricians, 17 Apr. 2017, www .acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins.
2 The Linacre Quarterly, and Daniel P. Sulmasy. Non-Faith-Based Arguments against Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. National Institutes of Health, Aug. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102187.
Article written by Benjamin Veenstra of Watertown, WI, 1st place winner of 2018 Essay Contest