24. Why would God create conjoined twins? (Warning, contains graphic content)

While this subject borders on the macabre, I believe that taking an unflinching look at natural extremes can provide us with important insights into how God, or nature, works.

Such unique traits are fascinating because, on the one hand, we see the miracle of creation, but on the other hand, we see that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. Something unexpected has happened, and nature seems unprepared to handle it. And this leads us to ask some interesting questions about the existence of the individual soul, and questions about who, or what, is behind the formation of these bodies.

Dicephalic Parapagus Twins

Let’s start with the inspirational twins Abby and Brittany Helsen. While in the womb, God or nature knitted them together in an amazing patchwork of organs and bones. The way these twins are joined, it smacks of design, almost as if someone carefully crafted their two bodies so that they could continue to operate in this way.

But on the other hand, 75% of conjoined twins fail to survive. So if there is such a craftsman, he’s certainly not very good at designing viable conjoined twins.

From a spiritual standpoint, we look at Abby and Brittany and see two separate spirits, as they clearly both have unique thoughts and personalities. So, as strange as it is to say this, if the spirit exists, it seems to reside inside one’s head. But if this is true… can two spirits share one brain?

Craniofacial Duplication (Diprosopus)

Figure 1

According to a 2002 article in the medical journal Radiology, “The rarest type of conjoined twins… is diprosopus, where a child is born with two faces on one head.”

Diprosopus (which kinda sounds like a dinosaur) may not actually be a conjoined twin at all, but a duplication of the face caused by an excess of the (I kid you not) Sonic Hedgehog protein.

In the case of Figure 1, it was found that some of the brain’s frontal lobes were also duplicated. But having these extra brain bits didn’t seem to translate to having an extra soul or dual personalities.

Figure 2

Indian-born baby Lali (Figure 2) has an even more pronounced second face. She too likely has the same (if not more) duplication of brain matter. But how much brain matter can be duplicated before we’re asking “Is this one person with two faces, or two people sharing one brain?” or “Did God insert one soul or two?”

My guess is that any extra brain matter would become integrated into one singular sense of self. This is hinted at by the fact that baby Lali blinks all four of her eyes simultaneously.

Figure 3

More disturbing is when there is a lack of the Sonic Hedgehog protein, which can cause facial features to lack separation, sometimes resulting in a cyclops (Figure 3).

If there is a designer, why his he allowing such things to happen? Is it necessary to have a certain number of two-headed, two-faced, cyclops babies? Are evil forces at play? Or does nature just sometimes make mistakes?

Synecephalus

Figure 4

Synecephalus (Figure 4) is a very rare type of conjoined twin where the twins share a head and face, but have four ears and two bodies. In other words, there’s little question that these are twins and not one person with duplicate features.

Again, how would God handle the soul in this case? Would he insert one soul knowing that the two minds would become one? Or does he insert two souls, which might result in a two senses of self? Or does he not even bother, knowing that this project is doomed to fail?  (And if it is doomed, why didn’t he end it sooner? Or not create it at all?)

What I find particularly interesting about Figure 4 is how both rib cages come together. These cells continued to assemble themselves, assuming they were in the correct location. While nature may not have noticed that something had gone wrong, an intelligent designer should have, and should’ve terminated the project much earlier.

Craniopagus

Between these extremes are varying levels of craniopagus, where two twins are conjoined at the head. This type of conjoined twin is especially noteworthy because it can result in a partially shared brain.

Take the case of Canadian twins Tatiana and Krista Hogan (Figure 5). These adorable twins, born in 2006, have been the subject of several news stories and documentaries. As they learn to speak, they’re teaching us more about what it means to share part of a brain.

Figure 5

It’s said that Tatiana and Krista share a thalamus, which connects their brain stems, and it appears this allows them to share some brain signals. They have shown many signs of being able to pick up on the other’s sensory input, and they often do things in unison. But each also has her own independent personality.

If these two girls share overlapping brains, do they also share a percentage of a soul? If they each shared half a brain, would they have 1 soul, 1.5 souls or two?

Parasitic Twins

Lastly, and perhaps most disturbing, are parasitic twins.

Unlike conjoined twins, a parasitic twin ceases development during gestation and becomes a partially developed vestigial formation upon the body of the other twin.

Parasitic twins come in random shapes and sizes, and some even become completely entombed inside their twin. The cells of these parasitic twins find a way to survive, even where they were never intended.

One type of parasitic twin is craniopagus parasiticus, where a parasitic head of a twin is attached to the head of another twin.

In craniopagus parasiticus, God or nature doesn’t even bother to give a body to the poor parasitic head, so it has no chance of surviving on its own. Even if the head is conscious, doctors must remove it in order to give the more developed twin any chance at a normal life.

From a spiritual perspective, one wonders if God gives parasitic heads a soul, and why he would allow such a cruel thing to happen to these children and their parents. Why would God force us to kill an infant, so that its twin may survive?

From a naturalist perspective, I can see how a developing parasitical twin might think its needs are already being met, and fail to produce a second body.

The other 75%

But most of the above photos are of survivors. Few of us ever see pictures of the majority of conjoined twin that don’t survive.

Figure 6

Take, for example, the conjoined twins in Figure 6. In this case, the one twin died because its brother was growing directly out of his face, in the form of a garbled mess.

How could a good God knit together something like this in a mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)? Can God even put a soul into a mangled mess without a head? Why allow it if God can’t possibly use it? Or are we just looking at a tragic mistake of unguided nature?

Who, or what, forms our bodies?

There’s no question that life is complex. I find it miraculous that a few cells can multiply and grow into such complex organisms, replete with close-knit bones, organs, muscles, nerves, etc. How does each cell know where to go and what to become? There seems to be some central command orchestrating the entire project. But where is this oversight when it comes to conjoined twins?

These bizarre mergers do not appear to be intentionally malicious. If Satan is behind them, why not just kill them instead of conjoining them? Why combine them in random ways? With random amounts of success and failure?

Nor do these mergers speak to the work of a benevolent God, who is creating something new and magnificent. If God forms them in the womb, why does He fail so badly (Jeremiah 1:5)?

Rather, these mergers appear undirected and unintentional, with each cell going about its own business, trying to integrate itself within the whole. When a cell runs up against something unexpected, like a twin, it latches on and says “Eh, close enough.”

What might we expect if God forms our bodies?

If we are being intelligently designed, we might expect the designer to look upon twins about to conjoin and say “No, no, no, that’s all wrong!” Or at least provide adequate programming so that “Cell A” knows never to merge with “Cell B.”

If God exists, it appears as if he not interfering with the natural world he created. But if God is still in charge of creating new souls and inserting them into babies, he must remain somewhat involved. How can he command the soul-creation process, yet not dictate that twins should always remain separate?

It’s difficult to imagine that God is currently up in Heaven bemoaning this situation to Jesus…

“What’s wrong, God?” asks Jesus. “Oh, nothing, I just had to insert some new souls into a freakish parasitic twin.” “Did you make it appear completely random?” “Yes, of course, we can’t have everyone down there thinking these mistakes are intentional. Still… it makes me so very sad because I love them so much.” “Well… you are an all-powerful God, can’t you just stop?” SMACK! God slaps Jesus to the ground. “See what you made me do!? Stop questioning my judgement! Why must everything I love force me to punish it so badly? My hands are tied, Jesus. My ‘perfect’ creation has listened to the talking snake, leaving me no choice but to conjoin the occasional twin.” “Yes, I suppose,” says Jesus, “But must you also conjoin animals as well?” SMACK! “Yes!” says God, “It’s all part of my plan to save mankind! It’s all necessary.”

What might we expect if nature forms our bodies?

If only nature is in control, then…

  1. The cells are calling all the shots, for better or for worse.
  2. We might expect a high failure rate.
  3. We might expect oddities like conjoined twins, because nature was never programmed to forbid them.
  4. When cells do make mistakes, we might expect them to continue forging ahead, because they don’t understand that what they’re making is doomed to fail.

The naturalist in me sees conjoined twins as nature’s unfortunate experiments. She may fail 75% of the time, but 25% of the time she gets lucky, and actually makes something fit enough to survive.

This is similar to the evolutionary process, though these mistakes are on a genetic level. When mistakes turn out to be advantageous, the organism survives and replicates. If the mutation is a disadvantage, the organism is wiped from existence. It’s just a matter of probability — create enough random mutations, and eventually you stumble upon something that works.

What nature really has going in her favor is that she only keeps her winners. As the winners continue to interbreed, they all share in all their new-found strengths.

Conclusion

If we say the soul is evidenced by one’s sense of self, then how can two twins share a sense of self? Are they sharing a soul, or are they simply sharing part of an organ that is responsible for forming the sense of self?

As for how we are formed, I would assume that any benevolent OR malevolent creator would show signs of intent, not randomness and failure. If God intends to insert a soul into a creature he loves, he should take measures to ensure it doesn’t succumb to stupid mistakes, and he certainly shouldn’t continue building something that’s destined to fail.

But nature has no intentions, she reacts only to physical and chemical reactions, which sometimes results in randomness and failure. She doesn’t create our bodies because she cares for us, and she doesn’t take measures to make sure we won’t succumb to stupid mistakes. She plods along in ignorance, oblivious to her failures. What works, works, and what doesn’t, doesn’t.

While God may have made us perfect, what we observe today is nature making random mistakes and experimenting. We do not observe God creating new lifeforms from scratch, or showing other clear signs of intent. Conjoined twins appear to be the result of such natural and random mistakes, and not an intentional design choice.

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328 Responses to 24. Why would God create conjoined twins? (Warning, contains graphic content)

  1. Hamdy Mousa says:


    Nice info for all believers in God ( Jewish, Christian, & Muslim)

    • Hi Hamdy Mousa,

      Well… nice for Muslim believers, perhaps (as its goal is to prove divine inspiration of the Quran). Most Jews and Christians would just consider it wishful thinking.

      But it does go to show how easy it is to take words from ANY religious text and, with the benefit of hindsight, give the text new prophetic meaning. The same fuzzy logic and mental gymnastic occurs with Biblical prophecy, and prophecies from other texts. But it’s just a clever mix of coincidence, hindsight, confirmation bias, and loose reinterpretations of words with ambigious meanings. We could do the same thing with many non-religious texts.

      For example, “Wreck of the Titan” written in 1898 featured a fictional ocean liner “Titan,” which sinks in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. In 1912, the “Titanic” sunk in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. It was just coincidence, but if this book were a religious text, no doubt people would be arguing that “The only reasonable conclusion is that this description was given to the authror from God!”

      Thanks,
      500Q

      • Garbonzo says:

        I’ve never heard of that book before, but honestly, the way you describe it, that seems like way too much of a coincidence. There’s something more unexplainable afoot there in my opinion. Just like how someone put in their yearbook from 1993 that the Cubs would win the World Series in 2016. The odds of guessing that in 1993 are uncountable. At some point the odds have to get so high that you have to say it’s way too unlikely. For instance, the odds that the world will end tomorrow.

        I think the real point here is that even IF a book got a few prophecies right, it doesn’t mean it was from God or an Almighty power. It could just be an unexplained phenomenon. My friend is an empath and can tell me exactly how I’m feeling at that moment. It’s a real thing, but hasn’t been studied by science just yet.

        Look up some of Michael Persinger’s studies for instance. Remote viewing and telepathy may be a real thing, some studies on quantum mechanics have shown particles seemingly knowing about the future. So being able to see into the future may not be so impossible.

        The point is that there’s a lot we don’t know. You can’t point to God as the cause of the things we don’t know as a “god of the gaps”.

        • Hi Garbonzo!

          Back to the Future also made the popular prediction that the Cubs would win in 2015, which failed. Fact is, there are trillions of predictions (intentional or otherwise) that are made every day. Most of the unlikely ones will fail, but it’s the unlikely ones that succeed that get our attention. We notice the hits but ignore the misses.

          If you asked this same student to predict the next few winners of the World Series, it would quickly become apparent that he just got lucky. And really, with a limited number of baseball teams, the odds aren’t as improbable as they may seem. The Cubs were bound to win eventually.

          But extremely improbable events happen every second. For example, the odds of getting a Royal Flush are 1 in 649,739, yet it happens every day.

          Or if the odds of something happening to a human on a given day are 1 in a billion, it would STILL happen to 7 people, every day (and it probably seems impossible to them that such a thing should happen!).

          Or a few billion years ago, the odds that a particular set of atoms inside a star would one day come together to form you, so that you could grow up to post your exact words on the above post, in response to this exact article, on this particular day, at that particular second, are so infinitesimally small as to be considered statistically impossible — and yet, here you are.

          So impossible things happen all the time, but that doesn’t mean they are supernatural events (or that they need a “God of the gaps” to explain them).

          500Q

          • Garbonzo says:

            There’s such a thing as being too skeptical, and keeping an open mind is also a part of being a rational and scientifically-minded person. An open mind, but not so open that our brains fall out.😉

            There’s a balance. And that means not being too skeptical or too gullible.

            There are tons of radical things on the brink of scientific research that would blow our minds and challenge our traditional worldview. In light of this, it’s not a jump to say it may be possible.

            In the case of the Cubs prophecy, the person doesn’t claim to have a permanent ability to tell the future. They had a very vivid dream of the Cubs winning in 2016. It was most likely a one-off thing. Of course it can be a coincidence. It can be a coincidence that OJ’s blood was at the crime scene too though, right? Yes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but when I look at the totality of the evidence, I realize it may not be such an extraordinary claim. I’m not 100% confident in any of this, just about as confident that OJ did it.

            Look up the Global Consciousness Project from Princeton for instance.

            There are tons of credible anecdotes like this as well. You look at one after the other after the other of seemingly sane people with these experiences of telling the future and you have to question how can all of this be coincidence. Just looking at the totality of the evidence.

            Also I don’t pretend to know the exact odds of predicting the World Series champion from 23 years prior, but I’m sure it’s higher than getting a Royal Flush or higher than 1 in a billion.

            How many people are predicting sports events like this? I’m willing to wager the number is less than you might think. I know I certainly never have, and neither has anyone I’ve ever known. You have to be quite the eccentric, or confident in your prediction to put it in your yearbook.

            Back to the Future didn’t predict anything, it was a fictional work. Every miss lends credibility to the hits, anyway. He did something no one else has done before.

            The Cubs were obviously bound to win eventually. That’s why a predicton that the Cubs will eventually win would not be much of a prediction. The odds would be near 100%.

            As for the incredible odds of being here, we can’t say for sure this is by chance, it’s not a fact. I’m not saying God did it, but what if the universe just always was? One theory is that our universe continues to expand and contract like a heart muscle. It has always been doing this and always will be. It’s fair to say that no matter what’s right about how we came to be, it’s beyond our comprehension right now, so you can’t really use that as proof just yet. We don’t even know what sparks life yet.

            I think that seemingly near improbable events happening is a tell-tale sign that there is something more to it than what we conventionally know about that event and that it deserve more scientific study.

            Some ancient people believed that weather events was caused by a diety. Other people might have said it was COMPLETELY RANDOM and we couldn’t predict these things or understand why they happen. Until someone began looking into it and now we realize why and how these events happen and can sometimes even “predict the future” and know when a weather event will happen.

            Back then, can you imagine how ridiculed someone would be by the wise men of the era if they believed weather could be predicted?

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