Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Abortion Paradox

Abortion.  It's a hot topic.  Passion on both sides of the argument.  I'm not here to change your mind about it one way or the other, so don't worry.  I'm looking deeper.

Christians generally view abortion as bad.  They site verses like Psalm 51:6 and Psalm 139:13 as support  for the idea that God plays an active role in making babies.  If God is making all babies, then nobody should put an end to them, or so the logic goes.  (Of course, they don't really consider that natural miscarriages happen at a rate of over 10% for young, healthy mothers, and that rate climbs as health decreases and age increases, but we'll let that go for now.)

Do this:  Ask a Christian pro-lifer what happens to babies who are aborted in the grand scheme, in God's eternal plans.  I've only come across two real variations so far (other than "I don't know"):  1)  They go straight to heaven.  or 2) God, knowing all things, assigns them salvation or damnation based on how they would have turned out had they not been aborted.

Answer #1 is troublesome.  If aborted babies go straight to Heaven regardless of how they would have turned out, then why is God putting all of us through this life experience, with its inherent trials and tribulations, where He will end up condemning the vast majority of us, instead of just sparing us the drama and welcoming everyone into Heaven?

Also, this position creates a very odd reward schedule for a Christian mother, or would-be mother, if she is not mentally sound.  After all, the primary goal of any Christian mother would be to raise her kids in a way to enhance their reception of Jesus, with their salvation being the end desire.  Yet by a would-be mother having an abortion, she could ensure that her child goes straight into Jesus' arms.  In fact, such a would-be mother could look at her abortions with great pride, considering that she is directly helping to populate Heaven.

Answer #2 is no less troublesome.  If God can determine where the child will ultimately end up before he or she is born, then this life on earth is pointless because God knows our fate already.  Not only that, but God is purposefully making billions of souls which He knows will be condemned to Hell from the moment He starts making them.  The question of "why are we here?" takes on a whole new dimension, and the answer becomes clear.  We are suffering for God's amusement.


  1. So you've actually come across three answers but you are only arguing from 2. Not a bad plan...

    But from a scriptural perspective I suppose answer #1 is probably closest if Matthew 24:26 is used for interpretation, but answer 4 is that they do neither if Ecclesiastes 6:4 is used instead. Maybe we don't know is a valid answer. An answer more people should try?

    I don't think we are suffering for His amusement, but I think some of our suffering He finds amusing, usually when we don't know we are suffering - Psalm 2 comes to mind.

    And now I am done, I promise not to bother you any more. I have benefited from our meeting, I hope you have too. Best wishes.


  2. Hi David. You are not bothering me at all. Keep firing away anytime.

    The "I don't know" reply, while probably most accurate and honest, isn't a real answer to the question. Something must happen. "I don't know" doesn't happen. So it is a non-answer relative to this argument.

    Ecclesiastes 6:4 doesn't really say anything definite. It's actually pretty close to saying "I don't know."

    I think you are off with your verse quote of Matthew 24:26
    "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it." NIV

    That's speaking of false Christs.

  3. Well, I guess since I'm a woman I look at the answers proposed here a little bit differently. And maybe it's because I want a child so badly and haven't had one but answer number 2 is kinda creepy to me. I've never heard that one. Weird. It's a non-sequitur. It seems illogical to argue from would haves of things that didn't happen.

    Answer number 1 then seems just. A child who hasn't had the opportunity to do anything yet doesn't deserve hell. And I just can't see women getting pregnant for the sole purpose of having an abortion to populate heaven. I realize that doesn't speak to the mentally unstable mother you mentioned. But there have been mentally unstable women who have killed their infant and small children and said it was so they could go to heaven. I don't think that's a reward for the mother. The question then becomes what does God do with the mother? That answer is definitely I don't know.

  4. Of course all of this is assuming there is a heaven and hell.

  5. @D'Ma
    I'm an engineer, which makes me a bit of an oddball by nature. ;-) So I'm not surprised you (and probably most of the world) see it differently.

    I am sorrowed to hear that you do not have children despite wanting them. My wife and I can't have children, so I share your pain.

    Cases like the one you mention with the mother who killed her children are exactly the level of mental stability I was referring to. They are rare, but they do happen, like the woman who just drove her and her kids into the Hudson.

    What does God do with the mother in such cases is a very interesting question. We couldn't know. Does God cut her some slack for being mentally unstable? Or for having pure intentions behind her actions? As we know, she would not have committed the unpardonable sin.

    As you aptly point out, it's only relative if there was a Heaven and Hell to worry about. ;-)

  6. I'm evidently pretty much an oddball, too. So don't feel like the Lone Ranger. And I'm sorry you and your wife aren't able to have children. :(

    To be honest I'm not a big proponent of abortion. I'm not sure my religion has as much to do with it as my desire for children. I don't understand it as a means for birth control.

    I'm not against it in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother's life/health. Though I'm not sure even if I was raped I could do it. That's a personal thing and I'd never judge someone for having gone through it. It can't be an easy decision no matter what.

  7. I'm actually pretty close to your position. I'm not a big fan of abortion either. However, I know kids (and adults) make mistakes. I think the best way to make a child turn out right is to be able to love them completely. Pretty simple. Yet not everybody can psychologically move past their mistakes so easily, and so an originally unwanted child probably has a higher likelihood of becoming resented or unloved. Sometimes, the time is just not right. Like you said, it's a very personal issue. Though I would rather not have abortions with the exception of extreme cases like you mention, I can't judge those who feel it is the best decision for them at the time.

  8. Doh! My dyslexia is acting up Matthew 24:26 "...It would be better for him if he had not been born."

    And thank you, apparently I will ;-)

    "So it is a non-answer relative to this argument" - but if the answer truly is WE don't know (as I suspect) then the argument is sophistry, not a real paradox.

    As for abortion - my own stance is a bit wishy-washy (surprised?) I am morally opposed to abortion, but I've only had to deal with the question on an intellectual level. I'd like to think I would live up to my morals, but since I have not been tested I can't say. I would not vote to support it (moral choice above and feedback from non-believer nurse I know who worked for a clinic) but the law is the law (human of course).

    BTW - I am returning to work after a forced hiatus so my frequency will be modulated.

  9. @David:
    Doh! You did it again with Matthew verse number, but that's OK because I'm dyslexic so it looked correct to me. In the context, it's speaking about Judas. Obviously, God's got a special brand of woe lined up for him. I think the interpretation is better rendered for this argument " would be better if he 'was not' instead of that he 'was,' because now he will become the subject of God's wrath..." I don't think this verse is valid for an abortion-based argument.

    ...if the answer truly is WE don't know (as I suspect) then the argument is sophistry.

    I think you are off target. If I was simply trying to trap believers, yes, perhaps it would be sophistry. But I'm not.

    As I stressed in my previous reply, I am concerned about what actually happens, not the perception of what people think may happen. I am focusing on the mechanics, because they would tell us something about God.

    Answer #1 is a paradox because it invalidates the testing of the fleshly man (as a reason for us being here) in order to qualify for Heaven. In fact, it negates any real reason for us being here. In that in the perspective of the eternal afterlife, this blip of time is insignificant. So it follows that the way we will glorify God in the afterlife is far superior to how we do now. Again following logically, if that is true, and Answer #1 proves we do not need to be here, then this is a waste of time and suffering. (Of course, when you think about it, God's grace does the same thing! Maybe I should write a grace paradox next...)

    Answer #2 arrives at the same paradox via a different route.

    My suggestion to ask a pro-life believer about what happens to aborted babies is really to get them thinking, not to mislead them or trap them, as you have suggested by the the word sophistry.

    No, we don't know what happens, but something does happen, and it makes all the difference. This is theology, not sophistry.

  10. @David:
    By the way, I forgot to say congratulations on returning to the workforce! :-) I'm happy for you! Oh, and I can handle an FM commenter.

  11. Hmmm, maybe I'm not ready to go back to work...

    Point taken on not v. not been born.

    Agreed the question of why we are here is not sophistry - even if the intent is to mislead.

    Not knowing and building a life choice around that takes faith. We will live by faith, it just remains to be seen where the faith is centered.

    I anticipate the grace paradox, even expecting to have my butt kicked.

    But for any pro-lifer or pro-choicer out there they can rest assured, if there is a God to satisfy (as I believe there is), His mercy and justice are satisfied in the outcome.

  12. It's a good thing that we humans *don't* have the answer to this one, for the reason mentioned above (crazy parent kills children for sole purpose of sending them to Heaven).

    Calvinists would immediately argue that living a life on Earth is *not* necessary in any way for salvation--we're chosen before this time. And they have a wealth of Biblical support for this position.

    Options 1 and 2 are the easiest explanations for our logical minds to contemplate, but I think Option 3--an option that includes the concept of God's foreknowledge of a person's soul--must be included, also.

  13. Your Option 3 may be a better way of wording what I meant by Option 2, or, at least, more to the core of the issue. :-)

    That perspective in and of itself is interesting, because God makes souls. So He is making them with full knowledge in advance that they will ultimately be condemned. Not only that, the vast majority of the souls which He makes will be condemned (narrow road).

    Your response? Biblical, and I'll even make it for you: Romans 9:21 "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?"

    That still does not give me a warm, fuzzy feeling of being perfectly loved... ;-)

  14. 1) Yes, he creates souls knowing that the majority will end up in Hell. And yet his desire is that *all* would be saved, according to verses like 1 Tim 2:3-4, so clearly free will is a fundamental concept here.

    2) The claim that "we are suffering for God's amusement" may be your logical conclusion, but we should note that it's directly contradicted by God's own words many, many times.

    3) If Christianity is a hoax, then its authors shot themselves in the proverbial foot with statements such as the one you mentioned above ("small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matt 7:14)). Unless, of course, their goal was to create a small, exclusive cult.

  15. 1) But if life itself is not necessary to become one of the elect, then free will itself is not a necessary component for Salvation in the sense in which you use it...

    2) Are you suggesting that if my contention were true, that it would be the one and only contradiction in the Bible? ;-)

    3) The start of Christianity is a bit complicated for sure, but I doubt that the passage on the "narrow road" really dissuaded people who wanted to believe. After all, consider the Shakers which started in the 1780's. They take a vow of celibacy. You would think that such a movement would be dead by now, but it is still continuing to this day...