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Abortion and Christianity: Historical perspectives

QinguQingu Registered User regular
edited February 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
This thread is NOT intended as a debate on whether abortion is right or wrong.

I'm genuinely confused—and curious—as to how anti-abortionism has become synonymous with much of Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic. Many Christians cite the Bible for their beliefs against abortion. However, the Bible is silent on the issue. It tells us not to "murder" but it never elucidates whether killing a fetus is considered murder (and after all, there are plenty of permissable killings in the Bible). There is even a verse, Exodus 21:22, that seems to be pro-choice: the penalty for striking a pregnant woman and causing her to miscarry is a fine, but if there is any further harm the penalty is eye-for-an-eye.

Jews and Muslims both allow abortions. Nothing in the Old or New Testament directly discusses abortions, and the passage above seems to say that killing a fetus is not equivalent at all to murder.

So where does Christianity's opposition to abortion come from? It isn't a recent idea; the earliest Christiand and church fathers were against it. And anti-abortionism predates Christianity. From the hippocratic oath:
I swear by Apollo, Æsculapius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgement, the following Oath....

To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death.

Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion.

Incidentally, Tertullian (an early church father) actually refers to Hippocrates in his indictment of abortion.

Discuss? Where does the idea that killing a fetus = murder come from, and how did it become absorbed by Christianity?

Qingu on
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Posts

  • Magus`Magus` Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Well, uh, a lot of people base stuff 'on the Bible' that isn't there. It's human nature to derive meaning from something that actually lacks it in order to suit your goals.

    Magus` on
  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    The specific tie to Christianity comes from (and I may be getting the specifics wrong, so take this with a grain of salt) a Catholic Cardinal's official, church doctrine, determination that a human body is inhabited by the soul at the time of conception. Therefore, the argument goes (and was predominantly adopted by the other sect of Christianity) that a fetus is a person owing to its possession of a soul, therefore "killing" a fetus (abortion) is murder.

    That's the gist of the argument, at any rate.

    werehippy on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    werehippy wrote: »
    The specific tie to Christianity comes from (and I may be getting the specifics wrong, so take this with a grain of salt) a Catholic Cardinal's official, church doctrine, determination that a human body is inhabited by the soul at the time of conception. Therefore, the argument goes (and was predominantly adopted by the other sect of Christianity) that a fetus is a person owing to its possession of a soul, therefore "killing" a fetus (abortion) is murder.

    That's the gist of the argument, at any rate.
    But anti-abortionism predates the Catholic church. It's all over the early Christians' writings. And they seem to base much of their argument on Hellenic philosophical thought. From Tertullian's De Anima:
    Tertullian wrote:
    That the unborn child is alive:

    How are they dead unless they were first alive? But still in the womb an infant by necessary cruelty is killed when lying twisted at the womb's mouth he prevents birth and is a matricide unless he dies. Therefore there is among the arms of physicians an instrument by which with a rotary movement the genital parts are first opened, then with a cervical instrument the interior members are slaughtered with careful judgment by a blunt barb, so that the whole criminal deed is extracted with a violent delivery. There is also the bronze needle by which the throat - cutting is carried out by a robbery in the dark; this instrument is called and embryo knife from its function of infanticide, as it is deadly for the living infant.

    This Hippocrates taught, and Asclepiades, and Erasistratus and Herophilus, the dissector of adults, and the milder Soranos himself, - all of them certain that a living being had been conceived and so deploring the most unhappy infancy of one of this kind who had first to be killed lest a live woman be rent apart. Of this necessity of crime, Hicesius, I believe did not doubt, as he added souls to those being born from blows of cold air, because the word itself for "soul" among the Greek relates to such a cooling.
    He also goes on to argue that Jesus was alive in the womb because Elizabeth and Mary heard them kicking, and other such arguments. But it's interesting how steeped in Greek thought the early Christians' opposition to abortion was.

    In other words, I don't think you can say the root of it is the Catholic Church.

    Qingu on
  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Qingu wrote: »
    But anti-abortionism predates the Catholic church. It's all over the early Christians' writings. And they seem to base much of their argument on Hellenic philosophical thought. From Tertullian's De Anima:


    He also goes on to argue that Jesus was alive in the womb because Elizabeth and Mary heard them kicking, and other such arguments. But it's interesting how steeped in Greek thought the early Christians' opposition to abortion was.

    In other words, I don't think you can say the root of it is the Catholic Church.

    I was referring more to the modern "equivalence" between Christian religion and an anti-abortion stance. I'm not nearly an expert on early religious history, but I'm pretty sure that until the time of the rise of the Catholic church and then it's later fracturing into independent sects, there was little uniformity in Christian beliefs so any argument about how Christians were against abortion, but not Jews or Muslims, predating that timeframe would be doomed to fail.

    werehippy on
  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Great topic. I'll be following this one closely. *cheers*

    I'll edit this when I have more time to contribute.

    MikeMan on
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  • MentholMenthol Registered User
    edited February 2007
    Qingu wrote: »
    But anti-abortionism predates the Catholic church.

    Most things "christian" predate the catholic church.

    Mithras. The symbolism of evergreens and eggs. Very little is original. It was simply easier to convert the heathen masses by adopting their customs.

    Menthol on
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  • VeegeezeeVeegeezee Registered User
    edited February 2007
    Wikipedia ahoy. Not a scholarly resource, check the references, etcetera etcetera.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache

    The Didache was an early Christian writing, apparently written very shortly after the life of Jesus, so it's not by any means the original statement on abortion. It is the oldest link between abortion and Christianity that I know of, though. You can read one translation here:

    http://www.catholicplanet.com/ebooks/didache.htm

    From chapter two, verse two:
    Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not corrupt boys; thou shalt not commit fornication. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; thou shalt not practice sorcery. Thou shalt not procure abortion, nor shalt thou kill the new-born child. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

    The wording varies by translation.

    Veegeezee on
  • olanmillsolanmills Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I don't think the answer is that complicated.

    Christians and pro-life advocates seem to focus more on the (as they believe) immorality and unfairness of throwing away a life for a sort of convenience. I think the reason for this is because this type of argument will appeal to a lot of people who aren't particularly religious or conservative about sex. You're right; the Bible doesn't specifically say anything about abortion, but if you can convince people that a fetus is a human life, or at least cause uncertainty about it, then many people, religious or not are uncomfortable with the practice of abortion. It doesn't really have much to do with religious teaching honestly, other than being fair and selfless towards each other.

    However, I think the reasons that the pro-life position is associated with Christians is because of what the Bible says about sexual morality. I believe that this is perhaps the "original" reason behind why Christians take up the cause against abortion.

    In an indirect way, treating abortion as an acceptable practice is to further make acceptable and perhaps even idealize premarital sex, multiple partners, etc. This is the same reason you'll see Christians against proactive birth control and STD education campaigns in school. It's not because they want teens to have lot of babies or live with diseases. In fact, most American Christians are glad to have good sex ed courses. What they don't like are campaigns which will give the impression to kids that sexual immorality (as explained in the Bible) is perfectly acceptable and even expected in our society.

    I believe that this is the real religious basis for the position against abortion. I'm not suggesting that religious pro-life advocates are being dubious. I think both reasons (right to life and sexual morality) are very important to them. It's just that the religious basis is more about sexual morality than the actual paractice of abortion.

    In other words, abortion is something we have, or something that is being used more commonly because we aren't following the morals taught in the Bible. To make abortion more common and acceptable is to further idealize the kind of lifestyle that is not moral by Christian standards.

    olanmills on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    Most abortions are carried out on married women who already have children and cannot afford more. Most have experienced contraceptive failure or are in relationships where they feel unable to take control of their own fertility. As a result, that argument fails because it rests on the innaccurate stereotype of an abortion requestor as a stupid teenager. It also ignores abortions of medical neccessity. Lastly, abortion rates are not increasing, and are actually highest in countries with poor access to contraception and illegal abortion. "Abortion on demand" is a myth, and a statement that directly implies that women are incapable of rationally evaluating their choice to abort or retain a fetus. I know you're trying hard not to preach as per the OP's request, but its sneaking through in places.

    Veegeezee, that's an interesting quote, but it comes from a writing generally regarded as apocryphal to Christian canonical writing. Its also a fairly obvious ripoff of the ten commandments. I doubt many christians use it as a justification, or even know it exists.

    From what I remember of my history, the religious connection to anti-abortion positions in its modern form arose fairly recently - Victorian-era, IIRC. Quite a bit of it actually stemmed from how dangerous the surgery used to be, particularly before we knew about germs and the need for sterile conditions (that's also why many early feminists were anti-abortion - because of the danger, and because women were often coerced into having them by partners or circumstance rather than being allowed an actual choice they way they are today). I'm way fuzzy on the details, though.

    The Cat on
    tmsig.jpg
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Most abortions are carried out on married women who already have children and cannot afford more. Most have experienced contraceptive failure or are in relationships where they feel unable to take control of their own fertility. As a result, that argument fails because it rests on the innaccurate stereotype of an abortion requestor as a stupid teenager. It also ignores abortions of medical neccessity. Lastly, abortion rates are not increasing, and are actually highest in countries with poor access to contraception and illegal abortion. "Abortion on demand" is a myth, and a statement that directly implies that women are incapable of rationally evaluating their choice to abort or retain a fetus. I know you're trying hard not to preach as per the OP's request, but its sneaking through in places.

    I think he was just stating what he thinks they believe, not necessarily what he believes. Sexual education doesn't necessarily cause an increase in abortions, but I don't doubt that some people believe that it does.
    The Cat wrote: »
    Veegeezee, that's an interesting quote, but it comes from a writing generally regarded as apocryphal to Christian canonical writing. Its also a fairly obvious ripoff of the ten commandments. I doubt many christians use it as a justification, or even know it exists.

    I think it's just being referenced as a window into the thoughts of the time, demonstrating that a connection between religion and anti-abortionist views existed at that point.

    jothki on
  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Most abortions are carried out on married women who already have children and cannot afford more. Most have experienced contraceptive failure or are in relationships where they feel unable to take control of their own fertility. As a result, that argument fails because it rests on the innaccurate stereotype of an abortion requestor as a stupid teenager. It also ignores abortions of medical neccessity. Lastly, abortion rates are not increasing, and are actually highest in countries with poor access to contraception and illegal abortion. "Abortion on demand" is a myth, and a statement that directly implies that women are incapable of rationally evaluating their choice to abort or retain a fetus. I know you're trying hard not to preach as per the OP's request, but its sneaking through in places.

    Veegeezee, that's an interesting quote, but it comes from a writing generally regarded as apocryphal to Christian canonical writing. Its also a fairly obvious ripoff of the ten commandments. I doubt many christians use it as a justification, or even know it exists.

    From what I remember of my history, the religious connection to anti-abortion positions in its modern form arose fairly recently - Victorian-era, IIRC. Quite a bit of it actually stemmed from how dangerous the surgery used to be, particularly before we knew about germs and the need for sterile conditions (that's also why many early feminists were anti-abortion - because of the danger, and because women were often coerced into having them by partners or circumstance rather than being allowed an actual choice they way they are today). I'm way fuzzy on the details, though.

    Cat, help me out. Recommend a couple good books on abortion to me.

    Shinto on
  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User
    edited February 2007
    Hey, this thread is actually better than I was expecting from the title. Good OP Qingu :^:

    I think one argument against it was the Jewish belief that the soul was in the blood (or something like that - it is related to the practice of draining blood from meat to make it Kosher, for example).

    Keep in mind though, I'm relating something Gil Grissom said on CSI :wink:

    Andrew_Jay on
  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Well every religion needs members, especially when you're a religion in its infancy being persecuted by the dominant culture. Of course they're going to condemn abortion, becuase it could literally wipe out the religion. I think most of the church's doctrines were created out of neccesity or *gasp* practical thinking. It wasn't until later that they became enshrined as mythical mandates by issued from the mouth of Jesus.

    Malkor on
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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited February 2007
    I dunno, opposition to abortion seems a no-brainer if you operate on the assumption that there is a human soul, and that that soul is the source of a being's moral worth. If you have to guess when a clump of cells gets endowed with a soul, given the non-discrete nature of human development, conception is the most reasonable assumption. And if the soul is what makes someone a person... well, there you go.

    ElJeffe on
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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I dunno, opposition to abortion seems a no-brainer if you operate on the assumption that there is a human soul, and that that soul is the source of a being's moral worth. If you have to guess when a clump of cells gets endowed with a soul, given the non-discrete nature of human development, conception is the most reasonable assumption. And if the soul is what makes someone a person... well, there you go.

    Yes, it works well with our current popular theology.

    I have a suspicion that the finer details of historic theology are actual somewhat more strange and complex than what now seems natural.

    Shinto on
  • VeegeezeeVeegeezee Registered User
    edited February 2007
    jothki wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    Veegeezee, that's an interesting quote, but it comes from a writing generally regarded as apocryphal to Christian canonical writing. Its also a fairly obvious ripoff of the ten commandments. I doubt many christians use it as a justification, or even know it exists.

    I think it's just being referenced as a window into the thoughts of the time, demonstrating that a connection between religion and anti-abortionist views existed at that point.

    I wasn't implying justification - anyone with a need to justify their stance has plenty to work with in the canonical Christian stuff. Historically speaking, though, I don't know of a lot of documented links between Christianity and anti-abortionism at all.

    Also, I'm not sure it's ripping off the ten commandments. I think it's actually referring to them. Now that I've said that, though, I'm not sure.

    Veegeezee on
  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I reckon (in my ignorant and source-less way) that concerns on abortion were more due to the health of the mother than of the unborn. Abortions pre-modern times would often end up with a dead mother too. I mean infant-mortality rates were horrific until recently, people would have been used to them dying.

    Plus life was cheap. (Of course with the Catholic Church's view on condoms and HIV you might consider whether that's actually changed at all.)

    corcorigan on
    Ad Astra Per Aspera
  • CangoFettCangoFett Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Jeremiah Chapter 1
    4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

    5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."


    Psalm 139
    13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother's womb.

    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.


    Isaiah 49
    5 And now the LORD says—
    he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
    to bring Jacob back to him
    and gather Israel to himself,
    for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD
    and my God has been my strength-


    There are many more, but these are just the first few I could find of God forming people in the womb, and knowing them before they are even born.

    God created most of the universe in 5 days, then man on the sixth. Life was created specifically for man. The accounts of the first 5 days say, "And God saw that it was good"

    On the sixth day, after creating man, it says "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."

    God has set man apart from all other creations, everything we have is because of Him, and He has a love for us not from birth, but from the womb where we are created.

    CangoFett on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited February 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I dunno, opposition to abortion seems a no-brainer if you operate on the assumption that there is a human soul, and that that soul is the source of a being's moral worth. If you have to guess when a clump of cells gets endowed with a soul, given the non-discrete nature of human development, conception is the most reasonable assumption. And if the soul is what makes someone a person... well, there you go.

    Yes, it works well with our current popular theology.

    I have a suspicion that the finer details of historic theology are actual somewhat more strange and complex than what now seems natural.

    Possibly. Then again, a lot of the tenets of a lot of religions are just based on common sense. I don't really see a strange and complex origin for things like, "Don't murder people," and it would surprise me if "don't murder unborn people, either" was much more complicated.

    ElJeffe on
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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I dunno, opposition to abortion seems a no-brainer if you operate on the assumption that there is a human soul, and that that soul is the source of a being's moral worth. If you have to guess when a clump of cells gets endowed with a soul, given the non-discrete nature of human development, conception is the most reasonable assumption. And if the soul is what makes someone a person... well, there you go.

    Yes, it works well with our current popular theology.

    I have a suspicion that the finer details of historic theology are actual somewhat more strange and complex than what now seems natural.

    Possibly. Then again, a lot of the tenets of a lot of religions are just based on common sense.

    Not really.

    It's just that the ones that defy common sense in a dramatic way don't survive because their followers are weakend by them and they are unappealling to potential converts.

    Because abortion on a non-apocalyptic scale does less to sway the material survival of followers and groups of followers, the discipline of common sense isn't brought to bear on it too heavily, so the ideas around it remain in the realm of theoretical theology.

    Shinto on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited February 2007
    So what you're saying, then, is that the religious tenets that were created during the very earliest religions were completely random and had no correlation with those ideas which were most useful in preserving civilizations?

    I mean, just about every religion has some equivalent of "Don't murder." I see two possibilities, here:

    - Every religion in existence descended from some single religious Mitochondria Eve which was fortunate enough to have "Don't murder" as a tenet, or
    - "Don't murder" is so blindingly obvious a virtue that every religion stuck it in there, because c'mon, duh.

    I know that there are a lot of random, nonsensical things that have since fallen out of vogue, such as "Don't eat meat on Fridays" and "If you don't sacrifice a virgin goat on the third day of each month, God will fuck your shit up," and perhaps those tenets even outnumber the ones that I'd classify as obvious. But that doesn't invalidate my point, because I didn't say anything about most tenets, merely many. And I really find it hard to believe that Grog was sitting around in his cave pondering the finer philosophical points of why Thundarr the Lightning God didn't want him pounding Ook over the head with his club.

    ElJeffe on
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  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    So what you're saying, then, is that the religious tenets that were created during the very earliest religions were completely random and had no correlation with those ideas which were most useful in preserving civilizations?

    I mean, just about every religion has some equivalent of "Don't murder." I see two possibilities, here:

    - Every religion in existence descended from some single religious Mitochondria Eve which was fortunate enough to have "Don't murder" as a tenet, or
    - "Don't murder" is so blindingly obvious a virtue that every religion stuck it in there, because c'mon, duh.

    I know that there are a lot of random, nonsensical things that have since fallen out of vogue, such as "Don't eat meat on Fridays" and "If you don't sacrifice a virgin goat on the third day of each month, God will fuck your shit up," and perhaps those tenets even outnumber the ones that I'd classify as obvious. But that doesn't invalidate my point, because I didn't say anything about most tenets, merely many. And I really find it hard to believe that Grog was sitting around in his cave pondering the finer philosophical points of why Thundarr the Lightning God didn't want him pounding Ook over the head with his club.

    To be fair, and this is the key point, every MAJOR MODERN religion has don't murder as a tenet (and even within that, it's with varying strength and specificity). That says nothing at all about the thousands of splinter sects of each religion or the thousands of completely spontaneous religious movements (cults and so on).

    Basically what Shinto was describing, and what pretty much anyone who looks at religion serious and objectively accepts, is a sort of "evolution of ideas". The religions that last thousands of years and have millions of followers are going to have certain traits in common, as all large land animals have certain traits in common.

    There's absolutely no physical proof of divine favor of a given religion, so the only way to gain followers is through persuasion, a competition of ideas. A relatively reasonable religion (or one that can be mutated into such) that imposes relatively little on the day to day activities of its followers will be more successful than one that calls for radical changes, like cutting off your balls or killing left handed people.

    werehippy on
  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    So what you're saying, then, is that the religious tenets that were created during the very earliest religions were completely random and had no correlation with those ideas which were most useful in preserving civilizations?

    Everyone knows Jesus Christ.

    Almost no one knows another miracle worker named Honi the Circle Drawer who lived at the same time and was also executed around passover.

    There are reasons the worship of Jesus spread and Honi was forgotten. These dynamics are not unlike the one governing evolution or the survival of businesses. In the world new organizations, philosophical, financial, biological, are always being created. Those that don't contradict common sense laws or can accomodate themselves to common sense laws survive. The others are footnotes.

    Shinto on
  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I mean, just about every religion has some equivalent of "Don't murder." I see two possibilities, here:

    - Every religion in existence descended from some single religious Mitochondria Eve which was fortunate enough to have "Don't murder" as a tenet, or
    - "Don't murder" is so blindingly obvious a virtue that every religion stuck it in there, because c'mon, duh.

    It could be because the phrase "don't murder" is vague enough that most religions with that commandment could have almost completely different definitions of murder. In one religion, killing a person because he insulted you might not be murder. In another religion, that might be considered murder.

    Couscous on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited February 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    So what you're saying, then, is that the religious tenets that were created during the very earliest religions were completely random and had no correlation with those ideas which were most useful in preserving civilizations?

    Everyone knows Jesus Christ.

    Almost no one knows another miracle worker named Honi the Circle Drawer who lived at the same time and was also executed around passover.

    There are reasons the worship of Jesus spread and Honi was forgotten. These dynamics are not unlike the one governing evolution or the survival of businesses. In the world new organizations, philosophical, financial, biological, are always being created. Those that don't contradict common sense laws or can accomodate themselves to common sense laws survive. The others are footnotes.

    I'm still not seeing how this contradicts my claim that a lot of the tenets of a lot of religions are just based on common sense.

    ElJeffe on
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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2007
    You've made it out to be that someone sat down to create a common sense religious philosophy.

    I'm saying that only the common sense one's survive.

    There is some overlap in that a philosophy designed for common sense will survive, but I think that the process of founding a major religious school of thought is a somewhat less deliberative and self conscious act than all that.

    Shinto on
  • SenjutsuSenjutsu thot enthusiast Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    Cat, help me out. Recommend a couple good books on abortion to me.
    Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret's Fetus

    Senjutsu on
    Sarksus wrote: »
    I'm gonna get a PhD in incest.
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    You've made it out to be that someone sat down to create a common sense religious philosophy.

    I'm saying that only the common sense one's survive.

    There is some overlap in that a philosophy designed for common sense will survive, but I think that the process of founding a major religious school of thought is a somewhat less deliberative and self conscious act than all that.

    On the micro level of individual survival it doesn't

    On the larger scale of human survival forming common beliefs to reinforce social groups is quite important.

    nexuscrawler on
  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret's Fetus
    Well played, good sir.

    an_alt on
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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited February 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    You've made it out to be that someone sat down to create a common sense religious philosophy.

    If so, that wasn't my intent. I don't think people really sit down to create religious philosophy in general, except in a few isolated instances. Generally, they just sort of evolve.

    ElJeffe on
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  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    There are lots of historical and biblical references that we can refer to. Papal edict has a lot of sway with Catholics. I'm sure your frontline anti-abortion activist is familiar with all that, but I doubt the average pro-life church-going American really studied it that much.

    From my persepctive it is simply this: the pro-life stance, and the devoutly religious stance (whatever religion it may be), both appeal to similar principles of philosophy. If, for whatever reason, you tend to believe in an innate quality of human being, and/or you believe that categorical principles trump practical societal concerns, then you are likely to be both religious and pro-life, though not necessarily both.

    For your average modern pro-life Christian, being both Christian and pro-life is more correlation than causation. Philosophical underpinnings exist that tend to lead to both. But there are plenty pro-choice Xians and, to a lesser extent, athiest pro-lifers.

    I don't claim to really know or understand what all these philosophical underpinnings really are, but it just seems that most people would, in a world without abortion, still be Christian, and in a world without particular Christian doctrine, still be pro-life.

    Yar on
  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    You've made it out to be that someone sat down to create a common sense religious philosophy.

    I'm saying that only the common sense one's survive.

    There is some overlap in that a philosophy designed for common sense will survive, but I think that the process of founding a major religious school of thought is a somewhat less deliberative and self conscious act than all that.

    On the micro level of individual survival it doesn't

    On the larger scale of human survival forming common beliefs to reinforce social groups is quite important.


    You might have misunderstood me, because I have no idea how what you are saying applies to what I was saying.

    Shinto on
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I dunno, opposition to abortion seems a no-brainer if you operate on the assumption that there is a human soul, and that that soul is the source of a being's moral worth. If you have to guess when a clump of cells gets endowed with a soul, given the non-discrete nature of human development, conception is the most reasonable assumption. And if the soul is what makes someone a person... well, there you go.

    Of course, that is based on the assumption that there is a 'moment of conception', which is a vast oversimplification.

    jothki on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited February 2007
    jothki wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I dunno, opposition to abortion seems a no-brainer if you operate on the assumption that there is a human soul, and that that soul is the source of a being's moral worth. If you have to guess when a clump of cells gets endowed with a soul, given the non-discrete nature of human development, conception is the most reasonable assumption. And if the soul is what makes someone a person... well, there you go.

    Of course, that is based on the assumption that there is a 'moment of conception', which is a vast oversimplification.

    Well, yes and no. There's a discrete point at which the sperm enters the egg. There's a discrete point at which the fertilized egg implants itself into the uterine wall. You can argue which one is the more significant, but either way you can point to a distinct point in time and say, "This is where it all begins." Once the egg implants itself, you're out of discrete moments until you get to the somewhat arbitrary point at which the baby pops out of its mommy's cooch.

    ElJeffe on
    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • VeegeezeeVeegeezee Registered User
    edited February 2007
    ~~~o 0

    Figure (a): Pre-conception.

    ~~~o0

    Figure (b): Conception.

    Veegeezee on
  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    cooch

    Yar on
  • KatholicKatholic Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Qingu wrote: »
    This thread is NOT intended as a debate on whether abortion is right or wrong.

    I'm genuinely confused—and curious—as to how anti-abortionism has become synonymous with much of Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic. Many Christians cite the Bible for their beliefs against abortion. However, the Bible is silent on the issue. It tells us not to "murder" but it never elucidates whether killing a fetus is considered murder (and after all, there are plenty of permissable killings in the Bible). There is even a verse, Exodus 21:22, that seems to be pro-choice: the penalty for striking a pregnant woman and causing her to miscarry is a fine, but if there is any further harm the penalty is eye-for-an-eye.

    Jews and Muslims both allow abortions. Nothing in the Old or New Testament directly discusses abortions, and the passage above seems to say that killing a fetus is not equivalent at all to murder.

    So where does Christianity's opposition to abortion come from? It isn't a recent idea; the earliest Christiand and church fathers were against it. And anti-abortionism predates Christianity. From the hippocratic oath:
    I swear by Apollo, Æsculapius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgement, the following Oath....

    To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death.

    Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion.

    Incidentally, Tertullian (an early church father) actually refers to Hippocrates in his indictment of abortion.

    Discuss? Where does the idea that killing a fetus = murder come from, and how did it become absorbed by Christianity?

    "And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life." (Exodus 21:22-23)


    The Bible tells us God is involved in our creation from the womb:

    "Did not He who made me in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb? (Job 31:15)


    Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother's womb. (Psalms 22:9-10)

    (http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/prolife.html)

    Something that I have always actually been confused myself is how do pro-choice people justify that the fetus is not alive? Because the only reason I personally am agaisnt abortion is that I think it is a form of legalized murder.

    Katholic on
  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2007
    "And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life." (Exodus 21:22-23)

    Exactly how do you think this quote supports a pro-life position?

    Shinto on
  • KatholicKatholic Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    "And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life." (Exodus 21:22-23)

    Exactly how do you think this quote supports a pro-life position?

    Well to be honest when I saw this thread I just typed "bible on abortion" and grabed a few quotes. The key is "penalty life for life" as in the fetus life=to your's. I don't really care what the bible states I was just answering how right wing neo-christians justify their position.

    Katholic on
  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2007
    Katholic wrote: »
    Something that I have always actually been confused myself is how do pro-choice people justify that the fetus is not alive? Because the only reason I personally am agaisnt abortion is that I think it is a form of legalized murder.

    War we blithely accept as an unfortunate necessity when it is justified by the most trivial reasons.

    Abortion we rail against.

    Mysterious.

    Shinto on
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