Abortion: the Bible does not support a key Pro-Life position.

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Jane-Q, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    One of the key arguments employed by the Pro-Life side of the ongoing Abortion debate (at least in America) is the Pro-Life assertion that life begins at conception.
    There is some good science which might be enlisted to support this contention (and just as much good science that might suggest otherwise).
    But (while I support one side of the abortion debate for sociological - i.e. "good public policy" - reasons . . . which I will elucidate at the bottom of this post, for those interested), I am more concerned here in discussing historical/linguistic considerations as they merge with theological ones.
    Specifically:

    The Bible does not support the contention that life begins at conception.
    The Old Testament theologically assumes that life begins at birth.
    And the New Testament adds nothing to countermand this theological assumption.

    When God created Adam in Genesis 2, God formed Adam out of material elements . . . and then God breathed His spirit into Adam and Adam was alive.
    The Hebrew word for "breath" and for "spirit" is ruach. It literally means "breeze" or "wind."
    But in the Bible, God gives an individual human being the breath of life (God's spirit) at birth. Then, at the end of life, God takes-back His divine spirit unto Himself at the moment when the person dies (i.e. breathes his or her last).
    The picture in the mind - God's spirit as the breath of life - is a very poetic commonsense understanding. For the ancient world. But it is also rather profound, theologically:
    God's gift to every human person on this planet . . . is that He lends you His spirit for all the days that you are alive. But when you die, the spirit which saw you through life . . . is returned to God.

    A fetus in the womb (mammal or human) in large part replicates the journey of evolution: developing from a one-celled creature to a multi-celled creature, to a creature with a central-nervous-system and a circulatory system (heartbeat), to a gilled fishlike creature, to a lunged reptile-like creature, to a social creature with emotions (a mammal). And on to a smart primate creature with a proactive prefrontal cortex. This is how DNA builds living creatures, using "sequencing triggers."
    When the fetus's heart starts beating the fetus is essentially an early form of fish. When the fetus develops the "capability" for feeling emotions, it is a ferret-like early-mammal in the womb. But it needs interaction with a fellow creature to actually "feel" an emotion - i.e. to trigger the capacity to feel any emotion - after it is born into the world and starts to interact "socially" (which scientists are now telling us is happening even at day-one after an infant is born). Birth is the trigger-mechanism.
    Same with the prefrontal cortical building of neural-networks. All neural-network-building is potential in a fetus (latent). But nothing specific is actually built until after the trigger-event: birth. An infant (from day-one after birth) is "smart." A fetus is not.
    i.e. (and this fact is crucial) . . . what makes a human liken to God (i.e. "made in God's image" . . . full of God's spirit) does not arrive until you take your first breath. Out of the womb. The newborn human (from day one) is acting in the world as a smart social creature. A creature that is intelligent and moral. A creature with God's spirit within him or within her.
    i.e. Birth is the key event in the human spiritual rise toward divinity. There is no intelligence and there is no morality in a fetus. Both intelligence and morality are not latent but proactive. Intelligence starts "out of the womb" actively perceiving and constructing the world. And morality starts when (also "out of the womb") the infant begins transacting socially with fellow creatures.

    So (to me) the ancient Hebrew writers basically got it right. "Life" - your journey with God - begins at birth.

    Jane.

    { Abortion is a remarkably complicated political and moral question. My personal view is pragmatic. In the 1920s in American cities, on Saturdays women lined up around the block to get back-alley abortions. It was against the law. Most religious denominations condemned it. Many women died of complications or due to unskilled practitioners. The women were not ignorant of these facts. But a certain significant percentage of women kept coming. Like Prohibition in the 1920s (outlawing consumption of liquor), the outlawing of abortion sounds good on paper. But in practice it is just very bad social policy. It generates far bigger social problems than it solves. All morality is situational and relative. And has a practical side. God gets that. Because that is the way God works in the world, too. God never tried to make a "perfect" world, just an ever-improving one. If something is not working very well, you try something else. And until something better comes along, that means (in my pragmatic view) we publicly accept the existence of low-cost, medically-safe, widely available abortions. Because there will always be a certain significant percentage of women (like in the 1920s) who will seek them out, legal or illegal. Despite all the education and preaching you patronizingly throw at these women. }

     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Interesting points!

    The most ridiculous thing in this debate is we have a proven way to drastically reduce teenage pregnancy and abortions....sex education on condom use, and various birth control methods... what we do know is abstinence insistence does not work (not in thousands of years of trying) nor does threat of Hell and damnation.... what anti abortion laws do do is increase the deaths of women in illegal abortions.

    Again, great thoughts, thanks.
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Shame then that America is passing a Bill through congress to try and cut down on 'campus rape culture' prevalent in the US?

    (As reported on various news sites and the BBC this morning.)

    Seems to me a fundamental attitude is at fault here, and throwing condoms and abortion clinics at the problem ain't gonna solve it.
     
  4. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    I agree that a fundamental attitude is at fault here, though not the one you highlight. The conservative attitude that basic sex education should not be taught to children is one of the biggest attitude flaws.

    How are kids supposed to know how to handle sexual relations and realize the dangers of venereal diseases if all this information is hidden from them? This has never made any sense to me.

    If parents refuse to give their children the knowledge they need to be safe, and also refuse to allow the schools to pick up the slack, then condoms and abortion clinics are realistic answers to dealing with the problem at hand.

    It is a matter of sticking one's head in the sand approach, and either dealing with the inevitable results that occur with the total failure of that approach. Or simply ignore the massive problem this approach is creating.

    Take Texas (Please!). They are one of many states run by conservative governors that have created artificial regulations to make sure that almost no abortion clinic can remain open. The result. Texas has had a huge spike in unwed young women with children. These are women that are almost guaranteed to never get a chance to improve their life situations. They will remain a drain on the state's resources for decades. And their numbers are increasing at an alarming rate.

    Even worse, most all these children will never have any real chance to get ahead. Creating an entire generation of poor people the state will continue to have to support for as long as they live.

    Lives of squalor, misery and hopelessness. But by god they were born!
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi GK —
    I was just throwing it out there ...

    Here in the UK we have a more enlightened approach, and we also have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and STDs in Europe, so whilst I agree that education trumps ignorance, it's the form the education takes that can be problematic.

    I think we follow the US in being obsessed with sex. Or perhaps thinking about sex in an immature way.

    Whilst liberals defend 'sexual freedom', the evidence is that porn stars set the norm for fashion (Brazillians, anyone?) and don't get me started on the music industry, rap especially, which is convincing teenage girls they are merely the sexual playthings of men and boys.

    Comparisons between the teen girl magazine market was most telling. The UK mags had articles on everything from how to kiss to how to give a blow job that'll freak your boyfriend out. The European equivalent had articles on ... managing relationships ...
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Rape is not sex...it is a blatant act of violence and control over another...

    condoms increase rape??

    really?
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    It's still a sex crime. By definition an act of sexual violence.
     
  8. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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  9. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    OK. Anyone got any references where the Bible proposes abortion?
     
  10. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Hahaha, good counter, T!
     
  11. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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  12. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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  13. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    It was used heavily in our country to support slavery, fight civil rights, fight women's right to vote...now gay marriage... it is quite the thing...
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    So you will understand my concern when someone in your country asserts the Bible is pro-abortion.

    (As an aside, it's just more evidence of the point I made 'here' – and I'm bored with this endless finger-pointing at others as if that validates anything.)

    Back to the point:
    Anyone got a text that actually endorses abortion? ... Anyone?

    You see, what worries me is, why stop there? Logically, the same can be said of euthanasia, and eugenics? Do remember that the US had a healthy eugenics program before WWII, which ended when the Nazi 'solution' to the problem emerged as a PR disaster for its proponents in the US. But it continues to be practiced in jails, apparently, through forced sterilisation and ... would you believe it ... this article was posted only hours ago ...

    So you will understand when an outsider looks at your country and thinks, OMG, 'the bitch is in heat again', to paraphrase Brecht.
     
  15. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Don't think I'll be reading that article
    "MOST POPULAR ON THE WEEK
    ...
    2. How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
    ...
    9. The dumb war in Syria will haunt Democrats' 2014 prospects"

    Finding articles from the US that are unbiased by the polarised political climate is hard nowadays, I think, it seeps through everything.
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    lol...biased political climate change...

    But yes, the bible was used in this country to prolong slavery as G!d's way...fight civil rights for blacks, fight the right of women to vote, backpedal science and evolution, and now climate change and gay rights, marriage equality.....

    Ain't nuthin we can't twist the words to prove...including abortion as shown in the link above...

    But endorse abortion... nobody endorses last ditch efforts to avert problems...we all endorse behaviour that will prevent unwanted pregnancies....well some of us do.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    But surely common sense says anyone who takes that seriously shows a remarkable lack of discernment?

    The author of the site seems oblivious to the fact that 'skepticism' is a philosophical position, resting on reason, logic and sound argument. There's no philosophy behind The Skeptic's Annotated Bible, as far as I can see.

    It's just taking the piss. I would have thought the 'conservative fundies' would never buy into this sort of thing, so I guess the 'liberal fundies' do?
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    You asked if anyone believes there is any scriptural support.... googled and found...

    while most of his points seem spurious....they are enough for some to hang their hat on... but I don't know if they are any less spurious than arguments that were made in the past and still work on some today...
     
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    What, The Skeptic's Annotated Bible? Are you serious?

    Ah, thank God ... at least you realise the interpretation 'twists' the text ... for a minute there I thought you were putting this forward as a serious argument.

    The question still stands: Any serious and informed scholarship saying the Bible endorses abortion?

    The whole feckin thing is spurious, that's the point, isn't it? No-one treats this as informed scholarship, do they?

    Skepticism is a philosophical position (like cynicism). It rests on reason, logic and sound argument to make it's point. This, as far as I can see, does none of that. it just plays to an audience that's already made up its mind.

    A satire on the Bible I could accept, although it's pretty superficial, so not that good. Hardly insightful or clever.

    Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary. Now that is clever. Very insightful, very intelligent ...

    That's the point. On the one hand you have the Biblical literalism for the conservative fundie. I would think they'd happily burn every copy of TSAB.

    This, on the other hand, is Biblical literalism for the liberal fundie.

    Both demonstrate the same worst trait of fundamentalism; narrow-minded ignorance and the refusal (whether through choice, inability or incapacity, I'm not sure) to see anything in the text other that what they're looking for.
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Actually, I'll widen the scope –
    Anyone know of any spiritually-oriented commentary that supports abortion?

    Jews, Christians, Moslems, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Daoists ... all regard abortion as wrong. Can't think of a religion that OKs it.

    And, as far as I know, all religions regarding 'life' occurring at the moment of conception, not at the moment of delivery. The actual 'moment' varies, some see it early in the pregnancy, some later ... but then we're working on systems that had a very limited knowledge of the process ... but then we're not talking medicine or biology here.

    We can spin texts to say whatever we want, we can invent meanings, situations, circumstance ... but if we really want to know what a Tradition says, and not simply what we want it to say, we have to look in context and not just pick the bit that appears to make our case.

    Sitz im Leben!

    So yes, the Bible is Pro-Life.

    Does it endorse bombing abortion clinics, threatening people, etc? No. That's America, that's not Christianity. That's cultural habit under the guise of religion.
     

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