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

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

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    how does it relate to abortion? the funny thing...I don't think anyone actually supports abortion...they support it as an option...a legal option....
    I don't know anyone who gets pregnant or gets others pregnant because they like to abort pregnancies.
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    The thing is, the Bible is Pro-Life as such, it does not discriminate or split hairs over what we call human and what don't.

    The unborn child, the old, the infirm, the weak, the dispossessed ... the marginalised by society are still human as far as the New Testament Tradition is concerned.
     
  3. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi Thomas.

    Thank you for the Hebrew linguistic lesson:
    The soul consists of three parts which are called by the Hebrew names, nefesh, ruach and neshama.
    The word neshama is a cognate of nesheema, which means literally "breath."
    Ruach means "wind."
    Nefesh comes from the root nafash, meaning "rest," as in the verse, "On the seventh day, [God] ceased work and rested (nafash)." (Exodus 31:17).
    --Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, "The Handbook of Jewish Thought" (Vol. 2).
    The source of your information and long quote is from a 21st century Rabbinic thinker, Rabbi Kaplan. I enjoy reading rabbinic thinking because it tends to be very lively and imaginative and playful. There is always layer upon layer upon layer of interpretation. There is an incredibly long history here of rethinking tradition, and then again rethinking it some more, and some more still.

    Rabbi Kaplan was not around 27.5 centuries ago when maybe a little better than half of the Torah was first written down, alongside the words of the earliest 4 prophets. Nor was Rabbi Kaplan around a century later when the Deuteronomist historians began to pen their 7 books. In fact there would be no rabbis at all for another 4 or 5 centuries, not until the Pharisees developed as a sect within Jewish Monotheism, setting themselves apart from the Sadducees and Essenes.

    And it would be another 4 centuries before the rabbis begin writing down their thought (after 200 CE).
    Rabbinic thought, lovely as it is, has zero to do with what those Jews - who went into exile in Babylon - believed, 2600 years ago.
    Zero to do with that part of the Hebrew Bible which had already been penned.

    Read instead scholars whose work focuses upon that era, Thomas, if you want to get the straight dope.
    Linguists of early biblical Hebrew like Mark S. Smith.
    Cultural historians like Israel Knohl.
    (Both, I believe, are Jewish).
    Many other scholars, I could name for you.
    If, Thomas, you genuinely desire to get a clear picture of how the ancient Jews actually thought, and what they actually believed.

    I am giving you this little historical lesson in exchange for the linguistic lesson you gave me.

    Here is a couple quotes you chose not to employ from Rabbi Kaplan's essay:
    One of the foundations of our faith is the belief in the immortality of the soul, and in life after death.
    No Jew believed in the "immortality of the soul" until Greek or Roman times. The Sadducees and many other Jewish sects never did. (Josephus said there were 24 sects of Jewish Monotheism, their beliefs ranging all over the map.) It was probably some mix of Persian thought (Essenes) and Middle-Platonic thought (Pharisees) out of which this major Monotheistic concept ("immortality of the soul") developed.
    All souls were created at the beginning of time, and are stored in a celestial treasury until the time of birth.
    This idea developed far later, still. (I'm not sure when. I'm guessing Middle Ages?)
    It's a pretty screwy idea.
    But if you believe this sort of thing, then it is easy for me to see why you see one conjoined package of DNA (which starts dividing immediately after conception) as having a soul.
    I get that. But it just sounds nutcakes, to me.

    To me, a creature has no soul until it becomes Godlike, i.e. social and intelligent. Not potentially so, but proactively so (i.e. post-birth).

    Giraffe or muskrat or any mammal.
    They are each intelligent social creatures. They think. They feel things.
    I am certain that each giraffe set of parents and each muskrat set of parents feel strongly about the living entity developing in the female womb (and there is some science out there to back this up).
    Feel strongly about the product of their parental procreation.
    Feel strongly that this entity is special, indeed "sacred" (post-birth, but possibly also "in the womb").
    It is natural for mammals to feel this way.
    It is a deep (genetically-embedded) feeling on their part. And this feeling has an attached mental interpretation responding to this feeling (i.e. it is interpreting "sacredness" to this growing entity in the womb).
    The interpretation is not good science on their part. But the feeling which spawns it, at least, is genuine.
    So if you accept this same subjective (parental/genetically-embedded) strong feeling in yourself, Thomas, as valid . . . you probably have to make the leap and say all mammals have souls. All products of all wombs are sacred.

    Possibly they are.
    But this is just an interpretation.

    Rabbi Kaplan limits his take on this interpretation ("treasury of souls") to humans alone, not all mammals. (Is that your position, too, Thomas?)
    It is an illogical, hypocritical limitation.

    And his is nowhere close to the interpretation which the most ancient portions of Hebrew Bible actually support.
    (To the ancient Jews, a person becomes a soul only once she or he is born and starts independently participating in the world. And not until such time. The entity in the womb - human or domestic animal - becomes sacred to God, only once it is born. And thus firstborns are sacred enough - pure enough - to be sacrificed to God.)

    No soul (to the ancient Jews) is "stored in a celestial treasury" prior to birth and injected into the fertilized egg at conception.
    (A Medieval concept.)
    I am talking about the Bible as actually written. Okay?
    (Not as it is interpreted in the 21st century!)
    I will state it again:
    This is the sole case which I (at the start of this thread) was trying to make!

    Jane.

     
  4. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi Thomas.
    Practicality, in the end, will always trump what in an ideal world "feels morally right."
    --Jane-Q.

    So ends justify the means?
    --Thomas.
    Only utopia-seeking idealists believe that.
    Hitler will murder millions of misfits to achieve racial purity.
    Stalin will starve to death a third of the Ukrainian people to convince them to get-with-the-program.
    Mao will send his best and brightest to hard-labor farms and ruin the Chinese economy to snuff out all western consumer desires within people seeking personal betterment.
    These are idealists at work, Thomas.
    (They not only believed they were striving for a "higher morality" . . . but also, yes - to them the end did justify the means.)

    Pragmatists are results-oriented: The best for the most people over the longest term of time.
    Pragmatists think ecologically.
    Their solutions might not appear flashy and fashionable. But if they work, they become fashionable in time.
    Their solutions might not have the sentimental appeal of something which "in an ideal world feels morally right." But when one of their solutions begins to work - improving people's lives - it begins to (ex post facto) feel very moral.
    (It's about the real future. Not a phony utopian one.)

    I'm thinking about Americans like Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, General George C. Marshall.
    Men willing to compromise in the details but not in the principles. It was their competitors and their enemies who were the idealists, narrower men and women who believed in the solemnity of their belief, their "cause."
    Clay and Lincoln and Marshall were long-term thinkers, who realized that old answers were no longer good answers. But they also recognized that people are people, often intransigent. These men compromised when they had to, but kept their focus. And, in the end, they got results.
    This was their morality, Thomas. An American style of morality. A pragmatic morality.

    You may not like it.
    But I'll take their morality any day, Thomas, over the morality of your Old-World idealists! :mad:

    Jane.

     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    often emotion, and closely held beliefs trump facts and logic.
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Well the quote is his, but the terms and their exegesis are as old as Scripture.

    My personal interests are Patristics and Christian Platonism, I could have quoted them.

    But if you read Scripture, it's evident.

    Having a soul is not the issue. My point is that conjoined package of DNA 'is' human. It's human DNA.

    OK. Doesn't make it wrong though. I still think you miss the point.

    Is that your definition of Godlike – social and intelligent?

    That sounds nutcake to me :D
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Jane. I admire your idealism, and am frightened by it.

    Let's leave it at that.
     
  8. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Is that not the whole basis of the religion? That we have a soul? That we are designed by G!d to be special and have dominion over the soulless masses of animals that we raise slaughter and eat...

    Is that not the only differentiation?

    sure it is a package of DNA that will be human once it finishes forming into one, once it breathes air and becomes alive... (and after nurture and nature take her way)
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    The soul is not the issue here. Jane's argument is that a human isn't human until they exit the womb.

    That's your way of thinking, not mine.

    All living things have souls. 'Soul' and 'life' are synonymous.

    My argument is there is life in the womb.

    No. One thing at a time.

    So you think a human isn't human nor alive until it's outside the womb, as well?
     
  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I think it is human when it can live on its own... probably about 2. prior to that a baby and prior to that a fetus...all have potential... but it takes a while before we can say they are human

    hu·man adjective \ˈhyü-mən, ˈyü-\
    : of, relating to, or affecting people

    : typical of people

    : having good or bad qualities that people usually have

    Full Definition of HUMAN

    1
    : of, relating to, or characteristic of humans
    2
    : consisting of humans
    3
    a : having human form or attributes
    b : susceptible to or representative of the sympathies and frailties of human nature <such an inconsistency is very human — P. E. More>
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    OK, whatever ... It's clear to me there's no common ground here.

    I go with what empathy tells me.
     
  12. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    I'm confused, 'human' is a human concept, it's we who decide what it entails. Why would we ever agree on this point?
     
  13. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Empathy tells me to hope no one ever needs an abortion...

    I think that is common for 99.9% of the population...

    Empathy also tells me that I hope when an abortion is needed, the people be supportive, and the gov't will will be complacent, and the medical facilities for the procedure will be available.
     
  14. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi Thomas.
    The source of your information and long quote is from a 21st century Rabbinic thinker, Rabbi Kaplan.
    --Jane-Q.

    (1) Well the quote is his, but the terms and their exegesis are as old as Scripture.
    (2) My personal interests are Patristics and Christian Platonism, I could have quoted them.
    (3) But if you read Scripture, it's evident.
    --Thomas.
    I read Scripture. And it is not the least bit evident to me.
    (Quite the reverse, actually. As I have already explained: To ancient Israelites, human life - aka "the soul" - begins at birth. And this is accurately reflected in the earliest scripture.)
    You will have to be very specific to have any hope of convincing me otherwise!

    1. "The terms and exegesis are as old as Scripture." No. Not true.
    a. Ancient Hebrew words change considerably over time. Read Mark S. Smith! You'll get an idea about how much they change over just one or two centuries in ancient times, nonetheless over 2.5 millennia.
    b. As to "exegesis," you and I both know that this is just a fancy word for a process of "interpretation" of texts.
    Interpreting the world, technically speaking, is not only "as old as Scripture," but it is at least as old as humans sitting around campfires and telling each other tales.
    c. If recent scientists, who are studying mammal neurology and behavior, are correct . . . mammals do not respond to their environment in a rote Pavlovian way, as previously assumed. The evidence suggests that they cognitively "interpret" their environment and "adjust their behavior" accordingly. So "interpretation" (exegesis) actually goes back millions of years in the history of "life" on Planet Earth.
    d. But, talking more narrowly, "Hebrew exegesis" as a formal learning/teaching/reading practice shows little signs of existing before the Babylonian exile, from a close reading of biblical texts. There is evidence of a formal practice of exegesis beginning to take shape in late Old Testament writings like Job or Ecclesiastes. And there is, indeed, much much evidence after Pharisee teachers/rabbis begin to seriously formalize the practice. Thus you can find evidence of Hebrew exegetic processes throughout the Gospels (less so in Luke), the Pauline letters, and many of the other epistles. So Hebrew exegesis helped form both Christian exegesis and Judaism's rabbinic exegesis found in the Talmud.
    But - when narrowly defined as a "formal interpretive practice" - exegesis is not "as old as Scripture." Not anywhere near as old as the oldest scripture, anyway. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

    2. "Patristics and Christian Platonism." I'd enjoy it if you quoted their exegesis. They may not be relevant, for the reasons that I've stated, above. But it would at least clarify for me where your assumptions surrounding the nature of early Israelite beliefs and interpretive-structures originates from.

    3. "If you read scripture, it's evident." No. Nothing is that self-evident.
    a. Scripture developed around it an interpretational (exegetic) tradition, over many centuries. Exegesis of texts evolved. New interpretations replaced older ones. Later, new spins were put even on these newer interpretations, in order to be a better fit with the tenor of the times.
    b. Thomas, hardly anyone actually "reads" the Bible, these days. You least of all (in love as you are with the program of exegesis you kneel before).
    c. People almost entirely "read" things through the rose-tinted sunglasses of the traditions they have been taught, the interpretations and the spins on those interpretations which they have (culturally and doctrinally) inherited.
    d. All exegesis in heavily flawed, for this reason. All, except the kind of "critical" exegesis which certain modern scholars bring to the reading of the Bible. It is an attempt to weed one very overripe garden, and to "reconstruct" the original meaning of words and texts and beliefs. It is not a perfect or foolproof process. But it is a far more sound process of "interpretation" than a traditional/"if you read scripture it is evident" process.
    e. Things which are "self-evident" to people are actually just longstanding cultural practices, which are sustained by the maternal warmth of tradition (habit) and the paternal bigotry of ideology (one very narrow and particular interpretation about how the world works).
    So don't tell me that it is "self-evident" that the ancient Israelites believed that life begins at conception. Or, for that matter, that anything else is self-evident. Because what is "self-evident" to you is always and only going to be a mirror reflection of your (cultivated/culture-bound) self.
    Is that your definition of Godlike – social and intelligent?
    That sounds nutcake to me. J
    Theologically:
    Do I believe . . .
    a. that God is altruistic/loving (socially not selfishly directed) . . . ?
    b. that God is adaptively one or two steps ahead of the curve, when it comes to changing with changing times (intelligent, not habit-bound) . . . ?

    Yes!
    And yes!

    Thomas, for chrissake!
    You're not trying to tell me you think God is a selfish idiot?
    It is a pretty miserly theology you are coming from, if you do! ;)

    Jane.

     
  15. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi again, Thomas.
    Jane. I admire your idealism, and am frightened by it.
    Let's leave it at that.
    --Thomas.
    "Idealism"? Very funny!
    A female college friend or student of yours is recently pregnant. She is single and recently out of work and desperate and not thinking too clearly, and she comes to you for advice.
    Understand, she is a friend and she is asking your advice. She may take it, she may not. The choice of what to do is ultimately hers.
    Do you a-priori limit her options, when you council her? Keep one or two reasonable options off the table (on ideological/idealist/"in a perfect world" grounds)?
    Do you make her feel evil for even entertaining the abortion option?
    This is how Christians do it in the good old USA. Christian fundamentalists, that is.
    Are your fellowship pragmatics any less cruel?

    So Thomas, yeah. I'm similarly frightened by your pragmatics.
    But okay. Let's leave it at that!

    Jane.

     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    No, I don't suppose it is.

    Ancient Israel saw life as a gift of God, and the child in the womb as a gift of God, and not a gift to be disposed of lightly.

    To use Ancient Jewish Tradition to endorse abortion on demand is a travesty.

    Abortion is sanctioned when the life of the mother is at risk. It was never allowed as a matter of convenience (or inconvenience).

    Rubbish. You think Scripture was written but never explained?

    I think the exegesis was there before the Scripture.

    OK. has the meaning and understanding of these specific terms changed?

    To use this argument carte blanche is nonsense.

    It also, by the way, undermines your whole argument. How can you say the Ancient Israelites had it right, when you don't know what they were saying? :rolleyes:

    Sorry if scholarship offends you.

    There seems to be the impression that the campfire is like something out of Blazing Saddles :D. You should look at Native American history, they have far more reverence for the campfire than you seem to have, and they are not the only ones.

    Does that apply to your assertions, or just mine? :rolleyes:

    Calm down, dear ...

    We're done.
     
  17. donnann

    donnann Well-Known Member

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    ok its very clear. thou shalt not kill. abortion is killing a baby . Its pretty clear.
     
  18. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Well it would be pretty clear if 'thou shalt not kill' was actually held as inviolate. Unfortunately as we all know too well, 'thou shalt not kill' except for A, or when B, or if one were to come across C, or a thousand other exceptions to the rule.

    The reality of religion is 'thou shalt kill' whenever the religion says it is okay. Don't see any reason why abortion should be any different.
     
  19. donnann

    donnann Well-Known Member

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    I believe its a gross misinterpretation of scripture to say killing is ever ok except in self defense. Jesus is the perfect example. He raised the dead he never killed anyone.
     
  20. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Gross misinterpretation or not. The bottom line is that religions of all stripes have thru-out history found loopholes to support killing when it was their desire to do so.

    Thou Shalt Not Kill
    Suffer Not a Witch to Live.

    Two diametrically opposed statements. Same source.
     

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