Worthwhile Reads: Happy meals and life at conception

In “The ‘Biblical View’ That’s Younger than the Happy Meal,” Fred Clark of the Slactivist discusses the 1980s development of the idea that soul is implanted at conception. This is especially pertinent after my post yesterday on abortion and contraception.

Here’s a quote:

In 1979, McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal.

Sometime after that, it was decided that the Bible teaches that human life begins at conception.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Anders

    When did it begin then? I know that there was a tradition of abortions in old Viking society (together with infanticide) to keep the population at manageable levels. In our early laws it is stated that a pregnant woman can’t be killed until after she’s given birth. So there must have been some conception that a child in the womb is alive.

    • Pteryxx

      They may not have defined pregnancy, or ensoulment, as starting at conception though. Maybe they considered a pregnancy to involve a living child after quickening, for instance.

    • MadGastronomer

      Ancient Greece and Rome both allowed abortion. In fact, there used to be a reasonably safe and effective herbal abortifacient in Europe, but the Romans drove it to extinction through demand for it.

    • Rosa

      It’s varied really widely over time. For a long time, western Christian writers stuck with the Aristotelian view that ensoulment happened after 40 days for male embryos, and 80 for female. But like you said about the Vikings, in many places personhood comes with naming, at some point after birth.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    You can pull anything you want out of the Bible. It’s a long, contradictory book written by many people and edited, revised, translated, emended, corrected, and refined over the centuries by various people with differing agendas. The most popular version among English speaking fundamentalists is the King James which while a masterpiece of English literature* is one of the poorer translations.

    *This is rather surprising, considering the KJV was written by committee.

  • catgirlthecrazy

    This doesn’t have much to do with your post. I was just browsing some other posts when I saw this ad:


    Wow Google Ads. Just wow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1159674804 robertbaden

    Actually I see a lot of “Science say life starts at conception.”
    I’ve started countering that life starts at ovulation, and fertilization is just a task the ovum has to complete to go on living.

    • Mr.Kosta

      Well, not just the ovum, semen is made of millions and millions of living sperm cells and seminal fluid. Which makes you wonder if anti-abortion fellows consider male masturbation as a genocide.

    • jemand

      Life began 3.5 billion years ago :P

  • Kevin Alexander

    I’m pretty sure that the oldest tradition is that life begins with the first breath. Remember that god breathed life into Adam.

    • MadGastronomer

      That may well be the oldest tradition in the world, but if so, it wouldn’t have anything to do with Genesis. There are far older traditions in the world.

  • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

    I’ve been trying to find a way to work this into a post of some sort (and might today). Have you read Frank Shaeffer’s book Crazy For God? Wonderful story, and there’s an excellent part in there about the shift in the evangelical community toward this opinion on Biblical proscription.