Conception (n) 1. the action of conceiving a child or of a child being conceived. "an unfertilized egg before conception" synonyms: inception of pregnancy, conceiving, fertilization, impregnation, insemination 2. the forming or devising of a plan or idea. "the time between a product's conception and its launch" "the product's conception" synonyms: inception, genesis, origination, creation, invention; beginning, origin3. the way in which something is perceived or regarded."our conception of how language relates to reality”
At a gathering I attended some time ago, one of the speakers suggested that conception, as defined by (1) above, as a cooperative effort between the many sperm that valiantly make their way to the egg, rather than as a competitive struggle between rivals for the prize of contributing to the next generation. He suggested that perhaps as the sperm all gather and attach themselves to the surface of the egg cell, they communicate with one another and decide which among them is best suited for the union.
My conception (as in 3 above) at the time was that he was off a bit. My background in biology offered up the idea that sexual selection was all about either male/male competition or female choice. My initial conception was that more likely the sperm all presented themselves and interacted with the egg, at which time the egg decided which she would accept as her consort. But as I’ve allowed the idea to roll around in my mind for a while, I’ve come up with an alternative (or perhaps not so alternative) hypothesis, one that sees conception as defined in 2 above.
I’d suggest that perhaps the conception of a child is more like a beautiful ritual carried out between the egg and her many sperm suitors, a cooperative ritual between all of them. It is the inception of a plan or idea, not only the creation of a new life, but also its invention.
I’d suggest that the many sperm and the single egg all make physical contact and engage in beautiful foreplay, they merge and learn each other’s biochemistry, look at the code, ponder with creative wonder the possibilities inherent in genetic recombination and alternative applications of gene expression and decide what’s most beautiful, most interesting, where the greatest potential might lie.Life learns. Life tries new things. Life is creative. Life is cooperative. Creation of new life is expression of pure love at the cellular level, even if that’s not always the case at the level of the man and woman playing host to the story. And it is indeed a very beautiful love story.