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Abortion vs Christianity


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It's a biological fact that the vast majority of pregnancies end in miscarriage(often without the mother even knowing she's pregnant). If the soul enters at fertilization, this presents a bit of a problem for the Christian anti-abortion people. If these unborn deaths send the souls to Hell, that would make God morally evil. As God is by definition morally perfect, that is not an option. This means(assuming the protestant tradition) that the unborn who die go directly to Heaven. Would that not mean abortion is one of the most morally praiseworthy acts possible as it spares a soul all suffering and delivers it directly to paradise?

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Presumably one could easily defeat this argument by saying that is up to God to decide which pregnancies work and which don't.

Only if He waits until then to impart the soul. But then, why would He give a soul to a fetus that would be aborted?

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I believe the theologically correct answer is that the souls of the countless fertilized embyos that are flushed down the toilet unnoticed by anyone go to Limbo, where nothing good or bad happens to them, beyond having to bend over backwards to dance under a bar.

 

A more interesting question is why Christians who are obsessed with abortion being murder seem to show absolutely no interest whatsoever in preventing the largest single cause of human death today -- according to the way they interpret human life -- which is the spontaneous detachment of fertilized embryos from the uterus? Why doesn't medical science make saving these 'human lives' its top priority? Why isn't the number of these deaths listed in any table of mortality as the largest single cause of the loss of human life? For some reason we only seem to care about these entities or regard them as living humans when they are aborted, not when they die by accident.

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Marat , I'm not a medical person but I am a Catholic . I'd say that if any experimentation on fertilized embryos is needed to prevent what you term ' spontaneous detachment of fertilized embryos from the uterus ' then such experimentation is a Catholic objection . What can or can not be done to fertilized embryos is extremely complicated in the civil law of different countries and if in some Catholic countries a medical research team even wants to do an experiment with a minor step involved it may provoke a constitutional referendum .

 

Such referenda legally can have minimum timeframes to arrange and also minimum timeframes to implement legislation that may result from them and it would ultimately take so much time to get anything done that it wouldn't be worthwhile trying in the first place .

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A fetis is not a life of it's own but an extension to the mother. In my opinion for the line debate of pro-choice vs pro-life is Birth.

For that reason, I'm pro-choice by default.

 

What happens to a life after death is irrelevant.

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I believe the theologically correct answer is that the souls of the countless fertilized embyos that are flushed down the toilet unnoticed by anyone go to Limbo, where nothing good or bad happens to them, beyond having to bend over backwards to dance under a bar.

 

A more interesting question is why Christians who are obsessed with abortion being murder seem to show absolutely no interest whatsoever in preventing the largest single cause of human death today -- according to the way they interpret human life -- which is the spontaneous detachment of fertilized embryos from the uterus? Why doesn't medical science make saving these 'human lives' its top priority? Why isn't the number of these deaths listed in any table of mortality as the largest single cause of the loss of human life? For some reason we only seem to care about these entities or regard them as living humans when they are aborted, not when they die by accident.

I think the answer to your question lies in the attitude of life-positive living. Christians want people to accept and embrace life-potential as innately good power in human hands. So they basically want people to always support life and "turn the other cheek" when life is harmed or destroyed. They don't like to see people express the attitude that life is something negative to be eliminated or controlled lest it get out of hand (except to the extent they want to see individuals resist temptation and sinning, which could be viewed as "life getting out of control."

 

As for the OP issue that if miscarrying fetuses don't have souls yet, then it isn't sinning against them to abort their life; I can imagine a religious philosopher answering that it would be similar to destroying a house built for someone before they moved into it. It wouldn't harm them as much as if they had already settled in and you destroyed their house, but they would still be disappointed to have to give up the dream of the house they planned to live in and go through the trouble of beginning another search for a new house to move into.

Edited by lemur
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Every one of us was a foetus in a womb . Every one of us has a soul , whatever that may mean . So , when did your soul start ? , was it in that place called the womb ? , your soul ! , you ! , when did you begin as a spiritual entity ? , have you any memories of being there in that womb ? , concentrate ! , think ! , remember ! , recall ! , no ?.

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All ontological distinctions are arbitrary. We could say that everyone with an IQ less than 20 is not a human being, or that any person in a persistent vegetative state is not human, or that a fetus is not a human being until it is born alive. All three statements just set up an arbitrary, bright-line division for purposes of legal and ethical simplicity, but each has some biological factors in its favor and some against if you are assessing its claim to distinguish what is 'really' human from what is not. The utimate point is that biology only provides us with factors which you can variously weigh as you wish, but it can't give definitive answers about where we choose to draw the limits of the names we give things.

 

There is a general trend of associating more liberal attributions of humanness with more progressive social policy. The Nazis had not only a euthanasia program but also wanted to deny full human status to Jews, so they were ontologically conservative with respect to their definition of the group carrying full human status. However, recently progressives have also tended to become ontologically conservative with respect to attributing humanness, and they want to deny it to fetuses and people in vegetative states on the theory that these attributions limit the achievement of greater social goods. As your politics goes, so goes your ontology.

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I wonder what the Bible says. Well, let's see. The only verse I could find that disapprove of abortion specifically is Exodus 21:22-25.

 

"When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

 

Ah, so abortion is wrong! Not so fast; let's take a minute and look a bit closer. It seems that this only covers an extremely small subset of abortions. This indicates that if two men are fighting and accidentally cause an abortion, then they must pay a fine. The only time actual injury is involved is if the woman is hurt. This verse seems a bit too narrow to apply across the board about abortion, but the rest are covered by "Thou shalt not murder", right? Unfortunately, the Bible does not give a definition of murder, so we cannot tell whether the abortion of a fetus is murder. We can, however, gather some information from the above verse to make a judgement on whether abortion is murder.

 

Consider that this verse is the only type of abortion that is specifically called out as wrong. That could mean either it is murder (all other abortions are implied) or that it is not (this is a lesser type of abortion). The punishment, though, gives us a clue.

 

This case of abortion sounds like it might be an accidental death. Let's look at the punishment for that

 

"Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death."-Exodus 21:12-14

 

So, we can clearly see that premeditated murder calls for death, but you go free for manslaughter. The punishment for manslaughter doesn't quite fit here. The abortion verse might also be for property damage, so let's look at the punishment for that. I couldn't find a verse specifically about property damage, but Exodus 22 goes on about theft. Basically, you have to pay for what you stole. In the one case of property damage (crops burned by fire), the punishment is replacing the crops.

 

If we look at the accidental abortion as a case of property damage (which isn't all that unlikely in the times these laws were written), then we should expect the punishment to be restitution of the property! It's not very feasible to just give them another fetus, so it seems reasonable that the husband(the property owner) and the court should decide a reasonable compensation.

 

While it does seem that abortion would be viewed as theft or property damage, the Bible is rather unclear. As far as I can tell, there's nothing there to say that abortion is wrong in general. If it is indeed equal to property damage, can a man be punished for breaking his own property?

 

I believe the theologically correct answer is that the souls of the countless fertilized embyos that are flushed down the toilet unnoticed by anyone go to Limbo, where nothing good or bad happens to them, beyond having to bend over backwards to dance under a bar.

There are rather large assumptions in the OP. One of them, as I indicated in the OP, is a Protestant view of the afterlife. That eliminates limbo or purgatory.

Edited by ydoaPs
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If these unborn deaths send the souls to Hell, that would make God morally evil. As God is by definition morally perfect, that is not an option. This means(assuming the protestant tradition) that the unborn who die go directly to Heaven.

 

The Bible does not address the disposition of the souls of the unborn or of children.

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The Bible does not address the disposition of the souls of the unborn or of children.

I fail to see your point. There's such a thing as natural theology. In my third post, however, I did provide Biblical quotes.

Edited by ydoaPs
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Christians [should] abide by the Bible. I don't know "natural theology". It sounds extra-biblical. Anyway ...

 

Exodus 21:22-25. It says nothing about where the soul [if one exists at that point] goes. It refers to an unsolicited miscarriage as being wrong, and "harm done" may refer to inability to have more children or other disability of the woman.

 

Exodus 21:12-14. "Anyone who strikes a man and kills him" ... obviously not a fetus.

 

So, you're talking about the right/wrong of abortion, not the disposition of whatever soul might be affected. As far as I know, and I've read the Bible at least twice, neither the OT or the NT mentions abortion.

 

I just checked my exhaustive concordance, and "abort" ("aborted", "abortion", etc) does not appear in the Bible. However, "miscarry" (or "miscarried", etc) appears four times:

 

Gen 31:38 — These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks.

Ex 23:26 — None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.

Job 21:10 — Their bull breeds without fail; their cow calves and does not miscarry.

Hos 9:14 — Give them, O LORD— what will you give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

Edited by ewmon
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I wonder what the Bible says. Well, let's see. The only verse I could find that disapprove of abortion specifically is Exodus 21:22-25.

 

"When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

 

Ah, so abortion is wrong! Not so fast; let's take a minute and look a bit closer. It seems that this only covers an extremely small subset of abortions. This indicates that if two men are fighting and accidentally cause an abortion, then they must pay a fine. The only time actual injury is involved is if the woman is hurt. This verse seems a bit too narrow to apply across the board about abortion, but the rest are covered by "Thou shalt not murder", right? Unfortunately, the Bible does not give a definition of murder, so we cannot tell whether the abortion of a fetus is murder. We can, however, gather some information from the above verse to make a judgement on whether abortion is murder.

 

There's a problem with this original Hebrew verse, it's a bit vague. That's not surprising - much of the biblical text is somewhat vague, which is why we usually read it in context and the way to appreciate the meaning of certain words is done by comparing them to other places where they appear where the meaning is perhaps easier.

 

In this case, the vagueness of this verse comes mainly due to the part "yet no harm follows". Logically speaking, you would expect that this means the children are not harmed; hence, this is a live-birth. However, all the analyses I found about this verse speaks of a miscarriage. The key is not just "no harm" but rather the "further" --> No further harm. Further than what was already done. Further than the abortion.

 

Notice the followup verse, by the way: "If harm follows..." - meaning, if the woman died as well. The first part speaks of what happens when the child dies. The second what happens when the child and woman die.

 

 

All that said, I would be EXTREMELY careful relating to single words in a *TRANSLATION*.

That is, the fact you see "miscarriage" in a verse in English does NOT mean the original hebrew/greek/aramaic said that. The translation results in giving the sentences and words meaning already, and eliminates their original vague nature.

You're talking semantics AFTER they're interpreted rather than the semantics of what could be closer to the original.

Christians [should] abide by the Bible. I don't know "natural theology". It sounds extra-biblical. Anyway ...

 

Exodus 21:22-25. It says nothing about where the soul [if one exists at that point] goes. It refers to an unsolicited miscarriage as being wrong, and "harm done" may refer to inability to have more children or other disability of the woman.

 

Exodus 21:12-14. "Anyone who strikes a man and kills him" ... obviously not a fetus.

 

So, you're talking about the right/wrong of abortion, not the disposition of whatever soul might be affected. As far as I know, and I've read the Bible at least twice, neither the OT or the NT mentions abortion.

 

I just checked my exhaustive concordance, and "abort" ("aborted", "abortion", etc) does not appear in the Bible. However, "miscarry" (or "miscarried", etc) appears four times:

 

Gen 31:38 — These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks.

Ex 23:26 — None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.

Job 21:10 — Their bull breeds without fail; their cow calves and does not miscarry.

Hos 9:14 — Give them, O LORD— what will you give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

 

And finally, ewmon, I would be extremely careful to say that anyone should follow the bible and then go at it literally. There's a verse in this very chapter that says a woman who was rape should be married to her rapist who can never let her go. It's one of many orders whose ethics is, to say the least, questionable. I would beware of following biblical laws literally.

 

~mooey

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Also it's tricky to consider the disposition of souls from the older bits of the Old Testament, since there's not much about any afterlife at all in them. It's only in the later writings that the afterlife started to show up.

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ewmon, I would be extremely careful to say that anyone should follow the bible and then go at it literally. There's a verse in this very chapter that says a woman who was rape should be married to her rapist who can never let her go. It's one of many orders whose ethics is, to say the least, questionable. I would beware of following biblical laws literally.

I agree 100%. On the whole, any discussion on "Abortion vs Christianity" by non-Christians can be fraught with misconceptions (no pun intended). For example, most Christians I know interpret the Old Testament (OT) (ie, the Tanach or "Hebrew Bible") in light of the New Testament (NT). Am I the only Christian here?

 

To begin with, the Christian "love" commandments would override and negate forcing a rape victim into such a union along with other forms of corporal punishment ... for example, Christians also do not advocate chopping off hands of thieves or cutting out tongues of slanderers. Many non-Christians miss this point, sometimes entirely.

 

There's also an implied severitability clause with Christians. For example, just because Christians have negated the laws on corporal punishment, doesn't negate the entire Old Testament (for example, false testimony is still wrong).

 

Lastly, The New Testament admonishes people neither to add nor subtract from the Bible, so to one degree or another, Christians try not to read into the Bible more than is there. So, that's why you see me say things like, "The Bible does not address the disposition of the souls of the unborn or of children", and "neither the OT or the NT mentions [elective] abortion".

Edited by ewmon
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Lastly, The New Testament admonishes people neither to add nor subtract from the Bible, so to one degree or another, Christians try not to read into the Bible more than is there. So, that's why you see me say things like, "The Bible does not address the disposition of the souls of the unborn or of children", and "neither the OT or the NT mentions [elective] abortion".

If I recall correctly, you're referring to the bits at the end of Revelation promising punishment for anyone who adds or subtracts from the text. Revelation was written before there was any accepted list of New Testament canon, however, so it's hard to see how the author would intend for that to apply to anything other than the Book of Revelation.

 

That's not to say that it's perfectly reasonable for us to start making stuff up when the Bible isn't clear, of course...

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If I recall correctly, you're referring to the bits at the end of Revelation promising punishment for anyone who adds or subtracts from the text. Revelation was written before there was any accepted list of New Testament canon, however, so it's hard to see how the author would intend for that to apply to anything other than the Book of Revelation.

 

You're right, and thank you for the correction. Yet, most Christians I know apply that warning to the whole Bible (both OT and NT), so it's a fairly mainstream idea. I suppose they might claim the author had "prescience", and I would guess offhand that many Christians know very little about the canonization of the Bible.

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This whole line of thinking, based as it is on the assumption that we can reliably interpret antique texts as though they were modern statutes, seems absurd to me. There are three problems with this:

 

1) Any lawyer will tell you that a statute, a constitution, a common law principle cannot contain any secure meaning in itself, since words and texts are always quite finite in comparison with the enormous density of detail and variety in the real world. So comparing any written rule to the variety of situations in the real world and expecting a single, determinate, 'right' answer is extremely naive. Wittgenstein's philosophy of language supports the view of academic lawyers that all rules can only first claim to have any determinate meaning at all once they are framed in an interpretive context which narrows down all the divergent paths of potential interpretation. This interpretive context for modern laws is the judicial system, and its hermeneutic art of interpreting legal rules takes common law students three or four years of full-time study to learn, and appeals court judges will tell you they never stop learning how to construe the raw materials of the law faithfully to the intention of the authors of the statutes.

 

It follows readily from this that God would never be so idiotic as to attempt to convey a determinate meaning just by setting up a system of Biblical rules, since those rules could never contain any meaning in themselves independently of an interpretive matrix for them to give them significance. But since the Bible does not clearly establish the interpretive matrix for its rules, the fact that it seems to think it has communicated something determinate just proves that it is the work of Bronze Age nomads who didn't understand anything about the modern philosophy of language, rather than the work of God himself.

 

If the interpretive matrix is the 'Holy Spirit,' as some say, then its directives are so vague and disputable that it seems silly to fuss about the 'exact' meaning of the rules it interprets, since the ultimate exactitude of the message communicated is the product of the clarity of the rules multiplied times the clarity of the interpretive matrix, which is not clear at all. If the matrix is each person's insight (Martin Luther et seq.), then the vagueness problem only gets worse, so we have to wonder why there is a text in the first place to start the personal, subjective reflection going, since the subjectivity quickly becomes limitless. (Look at all the different messages derived from the Bible: e.g., the Shaker Communities, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Quakers, the Roman Catholics, etc.)

 

2) Any ancient text is invariably corrupt after a few centuries, and God must have known that this would happen with his message, so why was he so silly as to rely so heavily on the message -- per impossibile -- being transmitted without corruption? Not only is text miscopied, mistranslated, and misunderstood over time (Michelangelo's statue of Moses has horns because the radiance over his head was mistranslated as horns on his head during the Renaissance, for example), but whole sections are lost or added for purely contingent political and historical reasons at the various early Church Councils. (If Bishop Hippo of Alexandria wants a given book included in the Bible and he already has too much political influence, that book is defined as heretical and dropped, etc.)

 

3) Even worse is the problem of the radical indeterminacy of translation as described first by Willard Quine in 1969. It states that words and languages can only really be understood by those who also share the entire belief system of those using them, since otherwise each term in the language will lack the full set of resonances that inform its meaning for the person using it. In this sense all translation, even if technically accurate, is a falsification. Thus in a world where alchemy is accepted as a valid part of science, the words 'gold' and 'lead' cannot possibly mean the same thing as they do for us, since the original speakers thought of these substances as states of matter which could be changed into each other by chemical process (something like ice and water for us). Sure, we can translate the words 'gold' and 'lead' correctly in the sense of matching them up with our modern words, but this hides rather than reveals the ultimate meaning. Things get even worse when we get into philosophical and moral terms such as are vital for the Bible. For example, since Aristotle believed that it was perfectly moral to have slaves, what did he mean when he used the Greek word that we translate as 'humane'? In a sense we can find a translation for this, but we can't really understand that word as Aristotle did, i.e., in such a way that you could seriously regard yourself as humane and yet still accept slavery.

 

The same problems apply to the Bible, so an infinitely wise God would not have been so naive as to have thought that he really could have provided a continuing source of the same meaning via language from one historical era and belief world to the next, as he appears to have attempted by having given his message once and for all in the Bible at a given time in history. This proves once again that the Bible was written by Bronze Age nomads rather than by an infinite intellect, which would have been more linguistically sophisticated.

 

So if God wanted to communicate a message reliably to us, he would have had to do so in some metaphysically imaginative way to overcome all these problems. For example, there might have been some inner intuition of God's message available from birth to everyone's mind but visible to the intellect only if it adopted the properly moral orientation. But since there isn't, the message will always be turned to hash by all the contingencies of the empirical world detailed above.

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I agree 100%. On the whole, any discussion on "Abortion vs Christianity" by non-Christians can be fraught with misconceptions (no pun intended). For example, most Christians I know interpret the Old Testament (OT) (ie, the Tanach or "Hebrew Bible") in light of the New Testament (NT). Am I the only Christian here?

 

Seems to me you're looking for ways to find people who agree with you, rather than understand that while you might be "the only Christian" (I doubt that), it's actually you're the only Christian of that particular standpoint and particular way of reading the bible.

 

Christianity is not a unified belief. There are many kinds of Christians.

 

If you go and read the religious texts, you either say that you follow them literally -- in which case read the original texts and at least accept the horrible messages that exists in them -- or you say you go by symbolic pick-and-choose messages, in which case you should acknowledge that your pick might not be the other's choose.

 

You can't play both hands here.

 

To begin with, the Christian "love" commandments would override and negate forcing a rape victim into such a union along with other forms of corporal punishment ... for example, Christians also do not advocate chopping off hands of thieves or cutting out tongues of slanderers. Many non-Christians miss this point, sometimes entirely.

 

Fred Phelps would disagree.

So would the Christians in the crusades.

So would the Christians in the Salem Witch trials.

 

 

The fact a religion evolved with the times (sometimes despite the religion itself, having no CHOICE but to evolve with society) doesn't mean the underlying beliefs are irrelevant or aren't there.

 

If you claim that Phelps, btw, is a "bad christian", then surely you should set a clear argument for what makes a Christian "good or bad"? He's going by the absolute LITERAL laws of both the OT and NT; so if that's wrong, what's the right way?

 

(Don't get me wrong, I think Phelps is a bad HUMAN BEING. I do think, however, that the fact he's going by the literal word should WORRY Christians, and the fact that most of them shove him aside as if he has nothing to do with their religion is worrisome. You can't be a moral society without acknowledging what WRONG can come from the implications of your own texts.)

 

At the very least, acknowledge it.

 

Lastly, The New Testament admonishes people neither to add nor subtract from the Bible, so to one degree or another, Christians try not to read into the Bible more than is there. So, that's why you see me say things like, "The Bible does not address the disposition of the souls of the unborn or of children", and "neither the OT or the NT mentions [elective] abortion".

 

I didn't ask you to read MORE than there, I asked you to read WHAT's there. Beating up a child that's being rude is THERE. It's very CLEAR there, too, not just a euphemism or a symbolic story. It's a clear command. Don't read "between the lines", ewmon, it's enough you read the lines.

 

You can't go and say that you should pick and choose, either, without making it either consistent that the bible is NOT trustworthy as a whole or at least acknowledge that your pick and choose isn't others' pick and choose.

 

If it's symbolic, it's up for interpretation, even interpretations you dislike.

 

~mooey

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Will someone please lead me out of the darkness? We have a text which -- because of all the contingent historical factors we know distorted any possible link with a divine rather than arbitrary empirical sources -- has as much claim to be treated as authoritative as a fortuitously coherent text typed over a million years by a thousand monkeys, and yet everyone sweats and frets over the EXACT interpretation of each randomnly generated line to discover its 'true' meaning. Why? Has the world gone mad?

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mooeypoo: Your questions have been answered nearly two thousand years ago in the form of Paul's letter to the Galatians, part of the New Testament. Galatians 3:

 

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because "the righteous will live by faith." 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, "The person who does these things will live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole." 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

 

23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

 

http://www.biblegate...203&version=NIV

 

Also Mark 12:

 

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

 

32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

 

http://www.biblegate...012&version=NIV

 

The Christian theology which discards the strict rules of the Old Testament and their horrible consequences has been established since the writing of the earliest texts of the New Testament. You shouldn't be so quick to judge Christian theology when you have not read what it is founded upon.

 

(That's not to say there hasn't been disagreement; the Ebionites regarded Paul as apostate and strictly followed the law. But they vanished and Paul's teachings were adopted.)

 

Marat: Presumably, divine inspiration protects the many others from the contingent historical forces; surely arranging complex events to result in His goals is not beyond God's powers.

 

Some of the more blatant contradictions can't be explained away like that, but saying "it was protected by God apart from these few bits which were screwed up" is more satisfactory than "well, it's a bunch of stuff jumbled together."

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Will someone please lead me out of the darkness? We have a text which -- because of all the contingent historical factors we know distorted any possible link with a divine rather than arbitrary empirical sources -- has as much claim to be treated as authoritative as a fortuitously coherent text typed over a million years by a thousand monkeys, and yet everyone sweats and frets over the EXACT interpretation of each randomnly generated line to discover its 'true' meaning. Why? Has the world gone mad?

 

I don't go by the literal interpretation of the bible.

I don't go by the symbolic interpretation of the bible, either.

In fact, I don't go by the orders of any particular book, for that matter.

 

 

However, when someone claims that a particular book contains particular orders that are supposedly ethical, I think it's fair to examine that claim in light of the entire text. That is, if someone decides they go by the bible, then they should answer to *everything* the bible says - good and bad. If it's symbolic, they should be able to give a definitive answer as to why a certain denomination's symbolism is better than the other's.

 

Capn, I see what you're saying, but then, let me ask you this - why is it that despite this text we still have multiple Christian denominations, each with obviously a slightly different "take" on how to read the bible, and which of the rules in it they should obey?

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The largest splits between Christian denominations do not come from issues of Biblical interpretation but doctrines added independently; for example, the Protestant Reformation began partly because of the sale of "indulgences" by the Catholic Church, which is not an issue of Biblical interpretation but of priests basically taking spiritual bribes. Similarly, Presbyterianism exists because of disputes over church leadership and organization.

 

There are of course groups which split because of Biblical interpretation issues, but that doesn't negate the point about the love commandments. As you insisted ewmon do, I read exactly what is there, and it told me that the Old Testament law is no longer binding.

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