This paper was originally given at the Humanae Vitae International Conference, University of Melbourne, 1978.
The transmission of life is quite paradoxical. We know with certainty that the link which relates parents to children is at every moment a material link, for we know it is from the encounter of the female cell (the ovum) and the male cell (the spermatozoon), that a new individual life will emerge. But we know with the same degree of certitude that no molecule, no individual particle of matter enclosed in the fertilized egg, has the slightest chance of being transmitted to the next generation. Hence, what is really transmitted is not the matter as such, but a specified conformation of the matter, or more precisely, an ‘information’.