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The Human Embryo: Too Little to Care Much About?

R. Martin Palmer

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Life begins like everything else, at the beginning. At the moment of fertilization, a new human life begins. The human embryo is a being; and being human, she is a human being. She is person and not property because no property has the property of building itself. Everything necessary to make the new human being--the entire blueprint necessary to build a human being capable of going to the moon and putting a foot on the moon--is there in the very beginning. Nothing is added after the moment of fertilization. It is all locked in. Not only the color of our hair and eyes but even how long we will live, accident or sickness not intervening, is there in the very beginning. The complete information necessary to build the new human being is written in the smallest subscript of the universe. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

The human embryo, which would fit on the tip of a pin, seems very small. But what is big? What is little? To us, a professional basketball player is big because he is taller than we are, and a baby in a crib is little because she is smaller than we are. But to God, what is big, what is little? To us the earth is big because it is much bigger than we are and a grain of sand is small because it is much smaller than we are. But we are judging by the position of our own body and its size on the continuum of what is big and what is little. But to God, what is big and what is little? We look out beyond our big earth at night and see the infinite stars swirling in the milky ways of space; and we now understand that in the grains of sand there are new universes that go inward in the other direction into the sub-atomic particles in new milky ways of 'inner space' we have yet to discover (but which are already known to God). To God, what is big and what is little?

This commentary is provided by The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. Reprinted with permission.



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