A comprehensive examination

                                        of the abortion issue: Part Two


Vector human embryo development circle flat icon Vector human embryo development circle with female uterus icon. Human fetus growth through the stages of pregnancy from a cell to a baby. Medica concept poster, isolated illustration fetus stock illustrationsBiblical narrative used to support Pro-Life view:  

       Pro-life advocates who believe life begins at the time of conception refer to several Biblical passages that they believe supports this view.  Let us examine these passages to determine if they support this view. 

       Jeremiah 1:4-5: The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

       Isaiah 49:1b: Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.

       Isaiah 44:24:  "This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb. I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

       None of these passages identifies conception as the beginning of life. The Jeremiah passage speaks of God knowing the prophet before his being formed in the womb. God knew Jeremiah before conception which suggests that Jeremiah was either literally alive before conception or that he was in God’s plan before conception. I submit it was the latter.  This writer goes on to say that before he was born God set him apart. This statement does not establish when his life began. It only establishes that before he was born God set him apart.  The same can be said for the Isaiah passages. Neither one establishes when life begins. 

       Psalms 139:13-14: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

       As is common in David’s writings, he often reflects on the creative power of God.  Here in Psalms 139 he is reflecting on God making his body. In the Isaiah 44 passage, God Himself is reflecting on His power to create.  However, nothing is said in these passages about when the body formed in the womb becomes a living body.  Adam was not formed in a womb but apparently was created as a fully formed body. However, this fully formed body wasn’t alive until the breath of life was administrated to it.

       Psalms 22:9-10: Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.  From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.

       Some have seen the statement “from my mother's womb you have been my God” to indicate David was alive in the womb. However, this passage speaks of life outside the womb. It speaks of being brought out of the womb and being at a mother’s breast and being from birth connected to God and not before birth.

       Luke 1:39-44: At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

       Mary had been told by an angel that she will become pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38).  She is also told her relative Elizabeth was six months pregnant despite being old in age and that nothing is impossible with God.  It is not revealed as to when Mary’s pregnancy began. At some point after being told she would become pregnant, she travels to the home of Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s voice, it is reported that the baby leaped in her womb.

       Some interpret this to mean the baby in Elizabeth’s womb recognized the Christ child in Mary’s womb, and leaped for joy because of it.  However, as already noted, nothing in this account tells us when Mary became pregnant. The angel only tells Mary that “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). Nothing is said as to when this pregnancy will take place.

       Elizabeth says “"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Even if you assume Mary was already pregnant when greeted by Elizabeth, there is nothing in this account that tells us the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy because it recognized that Mary was carrying the Christ child.  A mother feeling a baby move in the womb, especially at month six of a pregnancy, is common and could easily be caused by her emotional response to hearing the voice of Mary.

       Research shows that a fetus is constantly getting messages from its mother through chemical signals given to the placenta.  A recent study found that this includes signals about the mother's mental state (Science Daily November 2011).  It would not be unusually that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb jumped for joy because of Elizabeth’s mental response to hearing Mary’s voice. 

       This being said, this account gives evidence to their being life in the fetus as a lifeless fetus would not be moving around.  Movement of the fetus can be experienced as early as the 13th to 16th week (third/fourth month) of pregnancy. With some mother’s such movement is not experienced until the 18th to 20th week or more into a pregnancy. Movement of the fetus while in the womb is prima facie evidence that the fetus is alive.  This would negate the concept that a fetus is not a living organism until it draws its first breath at birth.

       Exodus 21:22-23: When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage (“born prematurely,” NET and other translations), and yet no harm (Hebrew: ā·sō·wn), follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm (ā·sō·wn), follows, then you shall give life for life (RSV).  I am using the RSV here because it more accurately reflects the Hebrew.

       Some interpret this passage to say that it is the hurt woman that is the focus of possible harm to follow and not the fetus. If such harm causes the woman’s death, the man or men who hurt her are to be put to death (life for life) as what they have done is seen as murder. Harm and possible death of the unborn fetus is not seen as the focus of this passage of Scripture.  This is the rabbinical interpretation of this passage as found in the Talmud.  In rabbinical teaching, a fetus is not considered a life until born and therefore abortion is not seen as murder. Within Judaism, the fetus is not viewed as a separate life from that of the mother until it is born and draws its own breath. Therefore, it is not seen as being a person having independent rights until being born.

       Some in the Jewish community see prohibitions against abortion as religious discrimination as under Jewish religious law abortion is legal and not criminal in any sense of the word.  This being said, there is a wide range of thought within the Jewish community as to when and when not an abortion should be permitted.

       Other interpreters of this passage see the miscarried fetus and not the mother as the focus of the potential harm and death described.  Those who take this position see this passage as supporting the view that a fetus is a viable life and to cause the death of such life, even as collateral damage as seen in this account, is to commit murder which under Old Covenant Law was punishable by death.   

      The Hebrew word ā·sō·wn is defined in BDB and the Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon as “mischief, evil, harm.”  This word appears 3 times in the OT in addition to the 2 times in Exodus 21:22-23.   In Genesis 42:4 Jacob is seen as not allowing Benjamin to accompany his brothers to Egypt because he feared that harm (ā·sō·wn) might befall him. 

       Genesis 42:4: But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm (ā·sō·wn) might come to him.

       In Genesis 42:38 Jacob is recorded as saying "My son shall not go down with you, for his brother (Joseph) is dead, and he only is left. If harm (ā·sō·wn) should befall him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol."  Genesis 44:29 says the same thing.

       Genesis 44:29:  If you take this one from me too and harm (ā·sō·wn) comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery."

       At this point in his life, Jacob believed his son Joseph had been torn apart by wild animals and died, a belief that he later found to be untrue.  The passages in Genesis indicate he did not want to have to experience the death of Benjamin like was true with Joseph as this would be too much to bear. So here it appears that the harm (ā·sō·wn) feared by Jacob was the death of Benjamin and the meaning of ā·sō·wn can include death.      

       Pro-life advocates see the harm (ā·sō·wn) spoken of in Exodus 21:23 as speaking of the death of the fetus born prematurely. “If any harm (ā·sō·wn), follows, then you shall give life for life" (RSV).  The “life for life” injunction is seen as informing us that the fetus that is prematurely born is seen as a living organism and those that caused its death would pay the ultimate penalty. Pro-life advocates see this narrative as showing that a fetus is a life and to cause its death is murder even when it happens accidently let alone purposely as in a planned abortion.

       If it should be that the correct interpretation of Exodus 21:23 is that the miscarried fetus is the one harmed and dies, this would establish a Biblical standard that an unborn fetus is considered a human being with the right to life.  If this should be the case, to terminate the life of such fetus through planned abortion could be considered murder. However, this being said, this narrative does not establish when life in the womb begins. While it may negate the concept of life beginning at birth, it does not establish that life begins at conception or at a specific point after conception.  It can also be argued that this account only pertains to a miscarriage due to negligence and should not be equated with a woman choosing to abort a developing embryo/fetus. 

 Pro-choice perspectives on abortion:   

       Pro-life advocates often proclaim that abortion diminishes the value of life and runs contrary to upholding the sanctity of life as seen in the Biblical Scriptures. Pro-choice advocates point out that life is not seen in Scripture as sacred as God Himself has ordered and carried out the destruction of countless millions of lives including the lives of infants.  The Noachian flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the killing of the firstborn in Egypt, the destruction of the nations that stood in the way of Israel entering the Promised Land and many other such events recorded in Scripture are pointed to as examples of life not being sacred in the eyes of God

       It is pointed out that during these events it is probable that multiple thousands of women that were killed were pregnant at the time and their fetuses were killed with them. Scriptural passages such as the following are cited to demonstrate what is believed to be God’s lack of concern for human life.

       1st Samuel 15:2-3: This is what the LORD Almighty says: `I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"  

       It is pointed out that natural abortions (referred to as spontaneous abortions) occur far more often than medical/pharmaceutically induced abortions. It’s estimated that 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, most during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is estimated that 23 million pregnancies end in a miscarriage worldwide every year.  

       Spontaneous abortions (abortions that occur shortly after conception) are at a much higher rate than the 15% miscarriage rate. Often the mother doesn’t even know she is pregnant when a spontaneous abortion occurs shortly after conception. It is pointed out that if life begins at conception, God is allowing multiple millions of lives to be lost shortly after such conception occurs. One pro-choice advocate I read went so far as to say God is the greatest abortionist of all.

       Some believe the high spontaneous abortion rate and high miscarriage rate shows how imperfect and fortuitous the process of beginning a new life is. It is concluded that a life being terminated through planned abortion is no big deal considering how much life is lost to spontaneous/miscarriage abortion.

       Pro-choice advocates question how you can deny a mother's choice to have an abortion in view of the fact that God allows multiple millions of embryos/fetuses to abort every year.

       Pro-life advocates respond by saying that natural/spontaneous and miscarriage abortions are the result of a problem pregnancy.  Such abortions are seen as the method God has created to eliminate problem pregnancies. God is sovereign over His creation and has the right to give life and take life as he sees fit. In the case of problem pregnancies God has created a method whereby the life of an embryo/fetus can be terminated.

       As to God mandating the killing of human life as seen throughout the OT and even in the NT, it is again pointed out that God is sovereign over His creation and has the right to give life and take life as he sees fit. However, the Scriptures show that God’s taking of human life is invariably connected to punishment for sin and not that God maliciously and arbitrarily kills people.  Therefore, it is felt that such pro-choice arguments as discussed above are bogus and do nothing to justify planned abortion.     

The spirit in man:

       The word spirit appears multiple hundreds of times in the Scriptures.  As covered in Part One of this series, in Hebrew the word for Spirit is rū·aḥ and it appears 377 in the Hebrew text.  In the New Testament the Greek word rendered Spirit is pneuma and appears 383 times in the Greek Scriptures. Rū·aḥ and pneuma have the same basic meaning.  They mean air. More specifically, these words denote the movement of air as in breath or wind. However, it appears these words are used in Scripture to denote a lot more than moving air.

        Ruach and pneuma are used in Scripture to designate a number of attributes such as power, wisdom and understanding.  These words are used to describe cognitive function.  God is quoted as saying He forms the rū·aḥ within man.  Job associates rū·aḥ with human understanding. 

       Spirit, at least as it pertains to man, appears to signify more than the breath that unites with the nehphesh/pseuche. Spirit appears to be associated with the physical brain and the cognitive function of a physical organism.

       Zechariah 12:1: This is the word of the LORD….who forms the spirit (rū·aḥ) of man within him.

       Job 32:8:  But it is the spirit (rū·aḥ) in a man, the breath (n'shah-mah) of the Almighty, that gives him (man) understanding.

       The writer of Ecclesiastes shows that upon death, the spirit returns to God who gave it. This appears to indicate the spirit is something separate and distinct from the dust of which the biological body is made.

       Ecclesiastes 12:7: And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit (rū·aḥ) returns to God who gave it.

      It is instructive that when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, it's recorded that her spirit returned and she got up (Luke 8:55). The indication is that the girl's spirit was reunited with her body.  Was this “spirit” simply the breath of life or something more?

       Luke 8:54-55: But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" Her spirit (Greek: pneuma) returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.

       Nowhere do the Scriptures teach that the nehphesh/pseuche, often rendered in Scripture as “soul.” returns to God. Scripture only speaks of the spirit returning to God.  Scripture indicates both humans and animals have spirit.  In Ecclesiastics 3:21, Solomon appears to be asking a rhetorical question.  "Who knows if the spirit (rū·aḥ) of man rises upward and if the spirit (rū·aḥ) of the animal goes down into the earth?" Solomon doesn’t answer that question here in 3:32 but appears to answer it in 3:19-20.

        Ecclesiastes 3:19a-20: Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath (rū·aḥ); man has no advantage over the animal.  All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

       Here rū·aḥ is being used to identify the breath of life that is common to man and animals alike.  The following passage says something similar.

       Psalm 146:3-4: Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit (rū·aḥ) departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing (NIV).

      "His breath (rū·aḥ) goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish" (KJV).                   

         As already discussed, the basic meaning of rū·aḥ is “moving air.”  However, this is not the only meaning of rū·aḥ.  Bullinger, in his Companion Bible shows rū·aḥ having the meaning of “invisible force.”  Rū·aḥ is frequently used in Scripture to identify the Spirit of God and in some cases to identify the spirit of man.  Where rū·aḥ is used to identify spirit, its meaning is more in line with the idea of invisible force. Sometimes rū·aḥ is used to identify the force of one's anger as will be seen below.  Rū·aḥ is also used in Scripture to define the exercise of God’s power which in reality is the exercise of His Spirit.      

       The first five verses of Ecclesiastes 12 describe the ageing of man and how everything becomes old, unattractive and lacking in stimulation as we age and approach death. In verse six the writer uses figures of speech to describe the process of physically/biologically dying.  In verse seven the writer speaks of the dead body as dust returning to the ground it came from and the spirit returning to God who gave it.

       Ecclesiastes 12:6-7: Remember him--before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit (rū·aḥ) returns to God who gave it.

       The writer doesn't define what it means for the spirit to return to God.  Is he simply talking about the breath of life or is he talking about a conscious cognitive entity returning to God?  At the end of Ecclesiastes 12:5, after speaking of the aging process, the writer says "Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets."  Is this a life after death statement?  The writer concludes chapter 12 by saying "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (12:14). Is this a life after death judgement?  If it is, this would indicate there is an afterlife for humans wherein all humans will be judged as to their deeds done while in the physical body.

       Paul wrote the Corinthians that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2nd Corinthians 5:10).

       Is the existence of an afterlife where judgement takes place related to the spirit that goes back to God who gave it?  The Scriptures don’t explicitly teach this but it appears to be a possibility.  

       As already discussed, rū·aḥ is not limited to identifying the movement of air such as in breath.  Bullinger, in his extensive comments on this word in the Companion Bible, concludes that context must be considered in determining how a writer is using this word. As previously noted, the Hebrew word rū·aḥ is found 389 times in the OT and is used in a variety of ways. We see such variety of usage in the following Scriptures.

       Psalm 104:29: When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath (rū·aḥ), they die and return to the dust.

       Psalm 139:7: Where can I go from your Spirit (rū·aḥ)? Where can I flee from your presence?

       Psalm 33:6:  By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath (rū·aḥ) of his mouth.

       Proverbs 14:29: He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit (rū·aḥ) exalteth folly (KJV).

        In Psalms 104:29 ruach is used to show death results when breath is removed. In Psalm 139:7 it is seen to express the presence of God which is more in line with the idea of a cognitive entity and not just moving air as is true in the breathing process. In Psalm 33:6 it is used to express God's creative power. It is likewise used in the creation passages. In Genesis 1:2 it is recorded that God’s rū·aḥ hovered over the waters. In the Proverbs passages it is used to define the cognitive activity of man which is a common use of rū·aḥ in relation to both God and man in the OT.  This is an even more common use of the Greek equivalent pneuma in the NT.  Solomon uses rū·aḥ some 22 times in Ecclesiastes and in different ways.  Here are a few examples.

       1:6: The wind (rū·aḥ) blows to the south and turns to the north. Here, rū·aḥ is being used to describe the movement of air.

       7:9: Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit (rū·aḥ), for anger resides in the lap of fools.  Here rū·aḥ is being used to reference a frame of mind.

       10:4: If a ruler's anger (rū·aḥ) rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest.  Here rū·aḥ relates to emotional expression.    

       Here are some additional examples of rū·aḥ being used to describe cognitive function.

       Genesis 41:8: In the morning his mind (rū·aḥ) was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.    

      Exodus 35:21: and everyone who was willing and whose heart (rū·aḥ) moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments.  

       Deuteronomy 2:30:  But Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. For the LORD your God had made his spirit (rū·aḥ) stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done.

       Even the Hebrew neshamah, which by context is most often seen as referring to breath, is sometimes used to identify something more than breath. Solomon wrote that “The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit (neshamah) of a man; it searches out his inmost being (Proverbs 20:27).

       In Job 32:8 both rū·aḥ and neshamah are used to refer to the cognitive function of man and not just the breath of air. In Job 34:14-15 there appears to be a distinction made between spirit and breath. Proverbs 18:14 shows spirit to be tied to mental activity. In Isaiah 57:15 rū·aḥ appears to pertain to the mental state of man.

       Job 32:8: But it is the spirit (rū·aḥ) in a man, the breath (neshamah) of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.

       Job 34:14-15: If it were his (God’s) intention and he withdrew his spirit (rū·aḥ) and breath (neshamah), all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.

       Proverbs 18:14: A man's spirit (rū·aḥ) sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit (rū·aḥ) who can bear?

       Isaiah 57:15: For this is what the high and lofty One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit (rū·aḥ), to revive the spirit (rū·aḥ) of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

      When Stephen was being stoned to death, he said "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (pneuma), Acts 7:59). Was Stephen speaking of his breath or was he speaking of some kind of conscious immaterial entity that would be received by Christ? In Luke 23:46, Jesus is recorded as saying the following:

       Luke 23:46: Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (pneuma) When he had said this, he breathed (Greek: ekpneó) his last.

       The Greek ekpneó means to breathe out, breathe out one's life, breathe one's last, expire. Was Jesus, in committing his pneuma to the Father, speaking of His breath or something greater?

       Paul speaks of the spirit (pneuma) in man as connected with man's thoughts just as the spirit (pneuma) of God is connected with God’s thoughts. Here it appears that “spirit” is associated with cognitive function in both God and man.

       I Corinthians 2:11: For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit (pneuma) within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit (pneuma) of God.

       In the NT, pneuma is rendered hundreds of times as the Spirit (pneuma) of God. For those who believe God is Father, Son and Spirit (a trinity), pneuma is here seen as a person of the “Godhead.” Pneuma is often used to identify various human and Devine attributes. There are entities seen in the NT that are called “unclean spirits (pneuma’s). In John 3:6 it’s recorded that Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit (pneuma) gives birth to spirit” (pneuma). Here the indication is that “Spirit” is an entity of some kind. In John 6:63 Jesus is quoted as saying “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit (pneuma) and they are life.” Here pneuma is seen as giving life and also as the very words of Jesus.

       In reviewing the many occurrences of pneuma in the NT, it becomes apparent that God has and is pneuma, man has pneuma and can become pneuma and that pneuma is associated with life in ways much beyond just being the air we breathe. James writes that “the body without the spirit (pneuma) is dead” (James 2:26a). Is James speaking about pneuma as the air we breathe or is he speaking about something more ethereal? It is instructive that Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, distinguishes between spirit, soul and body.

       1st Thessalonians 5:23: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit (pneuma), soul (pseuche) and body (sōma) be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

       The Greek sōma refers to the physical body. Pseuche, as discussed in Part One, is equivalent to the Hebrew nehphesh which is the life of the body facilitated by the breath of life. Since Paul distinguishes between pseuche and pneuma, it is apparent Paul is seeing pneuma not as the breath of life that facilitates pseuche but as a non physical component that facilitates cognitive activity much as he does in 1st Corinthians 2:11 as seen above and a number of other passages in his writings. 

       1st Corinthians 6:20: For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (sōma), and in your spirit (pneuma), which are God's (KJV).

       Here Paul instructs his readers to glorify God in body and spirit. Here “spirit” appears to refer to the mind and cognitive activity and not the breath that gives life to the physical body.  It must be noted that “in your spirit” is not included in some of the Greek texts of this passage and therefore many English translations don’t include this phrase.  However, it is included in the Textus Receptus text of the Greek Scriptures and translators who use this text include it in their English translations as seen in the KJV, Young’s Literal Translation, Geneva Bible, Tyndale Bible, Wycliffe Bible and Coverdale Bible.

       While rū·aḥ/pneuma are used in Scripture to express the breath of life, these words are also used to describe cognitive function. The question that must be asked is whether, when used to describe cognitive function, rū·aḥ/pneuma is a non-physical component and if it is, when is it given to the body. When Adam had the breath of life given to him, it would appear that he also became a cognitive person. Therefore, it would appear that when a conceived human receives the breath of live via the mother’s breath, it would follow that the spirit which enables cognition is given at the same time even though cognitive function is not seen in the embryo/fetus until months into its development.

       It must also be noted that the spirit that enables cognitive activity apparently needs the physical components of the physical brain to cognitively function. Adam was a completely formed human including a brain with all components necessary for cognitive function. As discussed above, identifiable brain activity in a fetus is first seen at about 28 weeks after gestation which is some seven months into a pregnancy. Some feel this is when life begins. Some will argue that all cognitive activity is a function of the components of the physical components of the brain and there is no such thing as a “spiritual” component involved.

       However, in view of the Scriptures discussed above, it appears that the breath imparted to humans involves more than the delivery of oxygen. While the “breath of life” imparts physical life, it also appears to provide for the ability of such life to be cognitively viable. While it is true that development of the human brain is a work in progress while the fetus is in the womb, so is this true of all body parts and all this development requires oxygen supplied by the mother from the air she b  reaths. Does the breath the mother provides also include some kind of vitality in addition to oxygen? Is this a vitality common to both man and animals?

       When Solomon speculates as to whether the spirit (rū·aḥ) of man rises upward and the  spirit (rū·aḥ) of animals goes down into the earth, is he speaking of cognitive function?  Since man has a much higher cognitive function than animals, does man's spirit return to God in a conscious state while animal spirit returns to the dust of the earth and perishes with their physical body?  Food for thought!

Part Three