The Flashing Divine Spark at Conception

Image above is claimed by some to be evidence of a bright flash of light that marks the moment life begins when sperm meets egg

There is a claim that at the moment of conception there is a visible spark. Spoiler alert, it’s a myth, and is simply not true at all. I’ll explain what is actually going on later. Despite this being revealed as a total myth to anybody who looks into it, Republican State Sen. Mike Azinger of West Virginia stood upon the state senate floor during a debate and used it as justification for approving SB 468.

Does the man not have anybody working for him to advise that his claim is BS, or does he know, and he simply promotes this myth as fact to manipulate others?

OK, let’s step back and take all this a step at a time, because what we have here are multiple layers of utterly delusional religious lunacy.

The West Virginia Bill – SB 468

This was introduced on Jan 16. Here, at time of writing is where things stand with it.

It is designed to mandate the religious indoctrination of all students in all schools within the state with anti-abortion propaganda.

To be specific, it mandates that students must watch “Meet Baby Olivia,”. It also mandates that the WV Attorney General must sue for any failure to do this. To be clear, West Virginia is not the only red state promoting this, North Dakota has already passed a law on this. Similar bills have also been filed in Kentucky and Missouri.

The video itself is deeply misleading. It mischaracterizes how soon fetuses exhibit certain traits, and uses a timeline for pregnancy that is two weeks earlier than is typical. The promoters of this video claim it is factual, but they are lying. It masquerades as a biology lesson, but in reality it is propaganda.

Subject Matter experts correctly identify it …

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a professional organization with over 60,000 members, said in an email that the video is anti-abortion misinformation “designed to manipulate the emotions of viewers.”

…The Iowa physicians and educators said references to fetal “heartbeat” are widely disputed. At six weeks, the embryo isn’t yet a fetus and doesn’t have a heart.

The video also describes the animated figure’s motion and actions with words like “playing,” “exploring,” “sighing,” and making “speaking movements.” Those words assign human traits and properties to a fetus that are more sophisticated than medicine can prove, said Emily Boevers, a practicing OB-GYN in Iowa and co-founder of Iowans for Health Liberty, which advocates for reproductive health care.

The deeply disturbing aspect here is the attempt to mandate this religious propaganda in all West Virginia schools.

The Debate

During the debate for the bill in West Virginia, Sen Azinger, who is promoting this bill, stood up and made a series of utterly bizarre claims.

You can find the full debate online here.

  • Click the Agenda tab, and then select Azinger at the 11:29am mark

Bizarre Stance 1 – Telling Others what they believe

This devout Baptist decides to declare the following on behalf of all Jewish people …

First of all, it’s essentially an absurdity that all Jewish people believe that lifehood, for lack of a better term, begins at another time other than conception. 

Any Jew who believes the first five books of the Bible would, by definition, believe that life begins at conception because Genesis 4:1, for one example, says “And Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived.” 

There. Right there. “Adam knew his wife and she conceived and bare Cain.” So any Jew that believes the Torah, which is first five books of the Bible, I believe, would have to believe that.

and therefore would be fine with this video…

Er …no.

The claim that Adam and Eve Fucked and she then had a baby does not establish a “Life begins at Conception” claim.

Fact check:

  • Studies from the Pew Research Center show that Jews overwhelmingly (83%) support abortion rights
  • Via MyJewishLearing: An unborn fetus in Jewish law is not considered a person (Heb. nefesh, lit. “soul”) until it has been born. The fetus is regarded as a part of the mother’s body and not a separate being until it begins to egress from the womb during parturition (childbirth). In fact, until forty days after conception, the fertilized egg is considered as “mere fluid.” These facts form the basis for the Jewish legal view on abortion.

In other words, Sen Azinger is arguing from a position of complete and total ignorance, which to be frank, is what he normally does.

He also within this debate maintains that rather astonishingly low bar of “knowledge” with what comes next.

Bizarre Stance 2 – The Death Of Evolution

He attacks the stance taken by some that the video is not scientifically accurate as follows …

All of a sudden, we have a lot of senators who are all upset and worried about accuracies in science class. I think it was the senator from Taylor who mentioned that, “Hey, look, evolution’s been taught in science class for how long now?” And that’s a quickly dying theory that many, many understand to be an absurdity in and of itself, just because it can’t pass the first test of First Cause.

While it is true that evolution is taught as science, what is jaw-dropingly weird is his claim that it is a “quickly dying theory“.

Evolutionary biology has been very robustly established as a “scientific theory” and has been confirmed by literally mountains of evidence. To be specific … anatomy, molecular biology, biogeography, fossils, and direct observation.

The use of the word “theory” when prefixed by another word such as “scientific” defines things that are not wild whacky thoughts, but instead are things that have been verified to not be wrong.

His use of the phrase “that many, many understand to be an absurdity” translates to, “me and a few others at church prefer to embrace the idea that a god did it all by magic”. Creationism is a minority view. Most people who are religious are just not as nutty as he is. Instead, they accept reality and conclude that evolutionary biology is how god did it.

Finally, he claims evolution fails a “test of First cause“. Again no, this is pure unfiltered nonsense. Evolutionary biology explains the diversity of life. The origin of life, Abiogenesis, is currently unknown. However, not knowing something does not in any way justify grasping hold of your favourite myth and sticking it into the gap as a “solution” on the basis of no evidence at all.

There are things we know to not be wrong and there are also things we just don’t know. When faced with something we don’t know, then be honest just say “I don’t know”, not “a god did it by magic”

But hey, you know all this.

So does he continue to maintain this rather astonishingly low bar of “knowledge”?

Of course he does, because next up comes the spark claim.

Bizarre Stance 3 – The Spark at conception

This next bit is a dive into some recent religious mythology …

So this is a great bill. It shows conception. And Google it: At the very nanosecond of conception, there’s a flash of light. When conception occurs in human beings, and I believe it’s across the whole animal kingdom, at the point, the second, of conception, there is a flash of light. 

That’s God telling us, I believe, that life begins there.

OK, so let’s follow his guidance and google “flash of light at conception” and see what we get.

There are indeed a few news stories regarding a 2016 paper that incorrectly report the claim that this is a flash of light at conception. However, dig a bit deeper and you discover that the “flash of light” is man made, a tool utilised by scientists to view the release of zinc.

One of the top hits in Google comes via the National Catholic Register. Serious kudos to them for getting their reporting on this spot on. Their story is titled “Contrary to Reports, There is No Flash of Light at Conception“, and very robustly debunks this modern myth,

It is all comes from a scientific paper titled “The zinc spark is an inorganic signature of human egg activation

Some read the word “spark” and then started pounding the keys to rapidly churn out a hyped up media articles.


As explained by the National Catholic Register …

The “flash of light” only refers to the “inorganic signature” of the “zinc spark” detected with fluorescence microscopy in the laboratory—an analytical technique. Calcium levels rise in the egg when a sperm enters it. These high calcium levels cause zinc to be released outside the egg. Researchers wanted to see the zinc, so they simulated fertilization in the lab and put the eggs in a solution containing a fluorescent tag (FluoZin™-3). When the zinc is released, it is chemically labeled because this tag bonds to it. The tag (also called a fluorophore) can be illuminated with light of one color, and it emits light of a different, specific color. That “fluorescence” can be detected under a suitable microscope, thus revealing the zinc.

In other words, to see the zinc they created a setup that would have a fluorescent glow when the zinc was released. The result was the picture at the top of this article.

To put that in very clear terms – sparks of light do not actually fly out of zygotes inside each mom.


In essence, to ensure that they can mandate the promotion of religious ignorance, State Sen. Mike Azinger deployed three bits of pure ignorance to justify doing it …

  • He claimed that the Jewish community embraces the idea that life starts at conception – they don’t.
  • He claimed that evolutionary biology is both absurd and dying – it’s not
  • He claimed that at the moment of conception there is a spark of light – there is not.

If indeed people wish to bask and wallow in ignorance and superstition, then sure, why not. People will indeed embrace beliefs to such a degree that they end up doing crazy stuff. For example, the Amish rather famously avoid rather a lot of modernity for religious reasons

Thankfully the Amish don’t rock up to our front doors demanding that we abandon cars and electricity, nor do they strive to pass laws that aim to thrust their beliefs upon the rest of us.

However, when some of the fanatically religious wish to pull us all into a cesspit of stupidity and ignorance, and insist that our aversion is unwarranted because all that shit is truly delicious yummy stuff, then that’s a hard “no”.

Beyond the claims made by State Sen. Mike Azinger there is also the bigger issue in play here. The drive by religious extremists to airdrop cookie-cut legislation into any states where they can gain any kind of traction is deeply concerning. Their goal is to try and forcefully inject this indoctrination that masquerades as science into as many young minds as possible.

It’s this long view game plan that we should be truly wary of.

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