| Another thing that indicates personhood from the time of conception is the doctrine of original sin. Since the fall of mankind, our parents have passed on their sin-nature through the generations. The Bible indicates that we had a propensity to sin from the time of conception, and only a person can have a moral inclination. We were not born into this world, squeaky-clean. We already had a sin nature. Psalm 51:5
I cannot make sense of this unless I point to a spiritual realm. Before we have physical brain waves, we have minds. Before we have a physical comprehension of right and wrong, we already have a spiritual inclination.
Children do symbolize innocence because of their lack
of experience with evil and their total dependence on their parents. Perhaps they are the closest to moral purity that we see in this world. According to Christianity (and Islam), one baby was born without sin, and he fulfilled the law of conscience by his total dependence on God.
Jesus taught that we must become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom. In many ways God wants us to grow up and mature and find independence, but in our relationship to him, we must never ever grow up. Mark 10:15
Humanists believe that we start out completely innocent, with a “blank slate,” and that our faulty environment contributes to our corruption. Theists believe that the problem lies in our hearts.
Theism identifies humans as the cause of their own evil. When you choose something, any choice, good or evil, comes from you. That identity that was you from the time of conception determined your fall into sin.
Muslims do not teach the doctrine of original sin, but they do believe, as theists generally do, that evil comes from the human heart, not the environment. In their eyes, children reenact the story of Adam and Eve as they come into the world and fall into sin. We might ask them why all human beings become sinners. Perhaps they would say that children have the same potential that their parents had for sin and that it simply happens. It’s impossible to comprehend how someone goes from good to bad.
It’s hard to imagine that Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler and other evil men started out as little children. It’s hard to believe that little baby Adolf already had the evil in his heart that would over many years of experience grow into a deep wickedness unlike the world had seen. Is it the experiences that made him evil, or was it the experiences that brought out the wickedness that already existed in his heart? According to theists, the evil already exists in our hearts even when we are “innocent” children.