Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Fun topic right? This is a highly sensitive issue that sparks strong emotional responses from both sides; it is a very fascinating topic. Up until my "deconversion" I had always been pro-life, my reasons were simple and black and white. In short I believed it was murdering a baby. This opinion was of course held by me to a large degree because all of my friends held the same opinion and it was reinforced by my primary in-group, the church.

Why did I change my mind? Maybe my answer can be found in ex Rolling Hills Covenant Senior Pastor Gordon Kirk. When I was an eighth grader he was speaking to us about how bad abortion was because it was murder and against God's will. He fielded a few questions and than a particularly intelligent one "Pastor what if your daughter Christina was raped and got pregnant as a result? Would you abort the baby?" Pastor Kirk was silent, and then carefully and to his credit answered honestly, "I don't know"

And that is the crux of it for me. Of course abortion is a regrettable option and should be prevented at all costs. But do I have the right to take away that choice from my neighbor?

The overwhelming majority of people who are Pro-Life are so for purely religious reasons.(There are also atheists who are pro-life but not many) They believe that upon conception there is a divine spark created and thus an eternal soul. In the real world however nearly 40% of pregnancies spontaneously abort. In fact I expect there will be many Christians in heaven who will be amazed that in addition to their children they already know, will be a few kids who will introduce themselves, "Hi Dad, I am one of your kids whom Mom's womb spontaneously aborted! Anyways, you were gonna call me Richie, nice to meet ya! And here's Samantha and Jim, your other spontaneous aborts from that chick you met at the bar " Get my point here guys? God must really love abortions, because he chooses to abort 40% of all conceptions.

It is also very interesting to point out the actions of the abstinence ONLY movement serve to increase unwanted pregnancies. Barack Obama in the campaign said, "Lets make abortions rare, I wanna reach out to the other side to reduce unwanted pregnancies" Now of course in the religious movement there are fervent and frothing parents who lobby the school board to present abstinence as the only option, and this increases unwanted pregnancies. Obama was coming from a place of measured reason and logic; the abstinence only movement coming from a place of superstition. (Have sex and you will be tortured by the 'devil')

How does abstinence only movement increase unwanted pregnancy? Well if you think about it just makes sense; statistics show that when kids are presented abstinence as the ONLY option for birth control, they are much more likely to not use protection when they do have sex. And so viola, you have an unwanted Pregnancy!

And more then likely the poor girl will have to have an abortion..


Brett said...


I think this is an interesting and telling post. Something that I have noticed since your conversion to atheism is a staunch and religious defense of homosexuality (Prop 8) and abortion. What is interesting is that as far as I know, you are neither gay, nor have you sought an abortion. So why the expending of energy? You would say it is to help the under-dog, but I am not convinced. Rather, I think that it goes back to the tenets of your faith.

Atheism is the attempt to eradicate God from the equation, because with God comes moral culpability. So you use the gay agenda and abortion to further your end goals - moral indifference. After all, if we can vindicate the slaughter of our own children with out a passing wince, what could possibly be classified as wrong?

What is ironic is that abortion and homosexuality are both contrary to the expressed tenets of evolutionistic atheism - the preservation of the species. Homosexuality is unable to procreate, so how does it serve evolution? While abortion may help to reduce overpopulation, it is indiscriminate and runs the risk of killing helpful human beings. Wouldn't a more thoroughly atheistic approach be to gather our children together until we find out which ones have the genetic make up for preserving the human race and keep those (possibly assigning them to trainers/guardians who might better develop their particular gifts)? Then we could just terminate the children that are of no benefit (or of less benefit) to society. This would be a win/win for the atheist (unless, of course, you are an underachieving atheist...).

But this is not going to happen. We can not convince ourselves (yet) that this is really morally neutral. So we have chosen a via media. We do it when we can't look our children in the eye. We convince ourselves that our unborn are not people, but an inconvenience that can be corrected with a medical procedure. We have found clinical terms to make genocide acceptable. Because in doing so we have validated a religion of death and it is celebrated in the sacrament of abortion in which we drink the blood of our unborn for our own peace of mind.


Let Freedom Ring said...

Wow, Brett........ what an amazing post. Exremely thought provoking and beautifully written.


Garrett said...

Yes indeed good response and I will write more later but I am itching to get these quick questions out.

Why aren't you concerned with the fact that I am wearing a garment made out of two different seeds?

What is your/John Calvins response?

Brett said...

I love it, you're already resorting to redirection. I expected more of a fight first.

I'll take that as conceding my points and a desire to enter into a Bible study to understand the typological intents of the ceremonial law in the Torah. Do you want to do that via the blog or through another venue?

Garrett said...

No Brett since I have ceded all your points apparantly i want to talk about how much I love avocados....seriously you will get your fight soon :)

dole2obama said...

Big guy-
A couple of points to be made here:

1. The church has placed an emphasis on protecting life (a good thing)but has gotten in bed with corrupt politicians (ex. Larry Craig and Mark Foley) and allowed this painful issue to become politicized. It is very difficult to have a real debate on this issue because of the hypocrisy and methods used on both sides of the political spectrum.

2. With respect to all the leaders of the church who insist that the goal of atheism is moral indifference and thus it leads to vindication of the slaughter of our own children I have one question; where is the moral outrage at the slaughter of over 100,000 innocent Iraqi lives? How many of those were children? Why is the church not making a stand on this issue? Is this not moral indifference to the suffering of innocent children?

3. If abortion is an evil that needs to rectified in this world why would Jesus not spend more time/sermons/discussions preaching about this evil?

Brett said...


I am assuming I the leader in the church who insists... so I will take a stab at answering your questions.

I basically agree with your points (to an extent).

1. I don't think the 'church' should be in bed with any politicians. I support the separation of church and state for religious reasons. I don't (out of my religious office) support any candidates. We do not promote propositions, candidates or movements as an institution. So I am happy to agree with you that the outcome of such alliances have been detrimental.

2. I fully agree that the slaughter of innocents in other countries is equally heinous. I am the first to acknowledge America's complicity in heinous acts and I think you and I might find common ground here. I think such complicity should be punished.

3. I'm confused by your third item. Is it your understanding that Jesus was pro-abortion?


dole2obama said...

Hi Brett-
Thanks for the response on this issue. My point on the abortion issue is that Jesus had numerous opportunities to speak out and declare his opposition to the future slaughter of millions of potential humans. He could have used his time on earth to warn future generations about the evils of abortion. I am not asking you specifically for an answer here, just raising a point on this issue. We spent innumerable hours in RHCC and youth group (even standing outside the gates of a doctors home to publicly protest), (this was with Lunada Bay youth group, we also protested the "psychic eye" on PCH), so we did whatever was in our power to pray to God to stop abortion. Now, all of these things were good and our young hearts were in the right place, but my overall question is why the lack of attention to the abortion issue in the Bible.

P.S. Thanks for your insight and knowledge

Garrett said...

OK here we go with my response, Brett your comments include a gross mischaracterization of evolution (strawman) they also include the assumption that those who are pro-choice love abortion, so much in fact that we have started our own religion in which our sacrament is babies unborn blood.

Maybe I wasn't clear in my post, I personally do not like abortion, and while it may not be my choice or Tasha's choice, I cannot restrict the choice for my neighbor.

Matt's point is course very valid because your entire worldview is shaped by the current version of an ancient series of Hebrew writings which you interpet in a certain manner.....it seems that you exert a disproportionate amount of energy about something that Jesus said nothing about and is not specifically spelled out in the bible....this remains a curiosity to me....why don't you expend as much energy in rebuking those who wear a garment with two different seeds? Unlike abortion this is something that is expressly prohibited and spelled out in Leviticus.

Oh no you will say, I don't have the correct interpretation....You have said in the past that I have no standard in which to declare anything is right or wrong. Well I say the same to you, your interpretation is your standard...Calvin's interpretation is your standard....You cannot say that God is the standard because you are not God. You say I am my own standard? Guess what YOU are your own standard! Why should I believe you? Just because you claim to speak for God? You are a proponent of just one of many thousands of interpretations of the Hebrew text...yours is similar to the one Calvin pushed forth with the force of burning someone alive.

If you don't believe me here is a list of good churches that are Pro-Choice..
American Baptist Churches-USA (see below),
American Ethical Union,
American Friends (Quaker) Service Committee,
American Jewish Committee,
American Jewish Congress,
Central Conference of American Rabbis,
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
Council of Jewish Federations,
Episcopal Church (USA),
Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot,
Moravian Church in America-Northern Province,
Na'Amat USA,
National Council of Jewish Women,
Presbyterian Church (USA),
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,
Union of American Hebrew Congregations,
Unitarian Universalist Association,
United Church of Christ,
United Methodist Church,
United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.

And Peace!!

Garrett said...

Slight correction...I said in my comments

"You cannot say that God is the standard because you are not God"

What I mean is you cannot claim to be the authority on God's standard because you are relying in fact on YOUR OWN STANDARD of interpretation.

Brett said...


Thank you for your response. I apologize but I have to confess that some of the more technical arguments you employed, as a demonstration of staunch rationalism have confounded me. I am sure that is no surprise to you since I am but an chemically imbalanced, superstitious, religious lunatic who has a struggles with the higher thoughts of modern man. So I hope that you will indulge me a a few minutes as I try to wrap my (albeit small) mind around your response.

While it wasn't the issue of your post, you bring up my standard for truth, the Bible. Reading you critique it comes down to two issues - 1) they are old and 2) I interpret them in a certain manner. First, I didn't know the age of something precluded it from being true. But, fair is fair. You are older than I am so you can't be correct on this issue as I am. If this wasn't your point, why bring up the fact that they are ancient. Is there something about antiquity that you are prejudiced against or was that a red herring? Your second argument is even more curious. If I can follow it - it appears that your argument goes like this, because there is more than on interpretation, none can be right. So anything that gets interpreted more than one way fails to be true. Well that is your interpretation of things, not mine.... oops.... more than one interpretation, guess we must both be wrong. That is fine if you want that to be your test of truth, but it is yours. Multiple interpretations don't bother me, nor should they. It makes complete sense (cf. Matthew 13:13; Luke 8:10) on multiple levels. To say there is more than one way to interpret something does not mean that none are right. You may not like how I interpret, but I am wiling to painstaking defend why I do and I am willing to be corrected if you can demonstrate why I am wrong. It happens all the time through rational and reasonable discussion (which I am, evidently, incapable of) rather than through verbal hand-grenades. You know the answer to your concerns with the ceremonial standards of Leviticus. You know that they were temporary physical-tangible pictures of purity, separateness, and distinctness (demonstrated through clothing, ethnicity, food and so on) that were intended to to teach spiritual realities. You may not like that, but it is the simple reality. You may ignore these facts because you find it fun, but I grow tired of played and easily refuted arguments. You like to get exercised over a single word like 'jackal,' but when you receive and answer that deals with that single word, you cry 'foul... you're parsing every single minute detail...' Ummm.... so you can bring up a minute detail of concern, but I can't answer it? As the Church Lady would say, 'isn't that conveeeenient?' But, again, this takes us far afield. Your post was on abortion, not ancient Jewish writings.

You say I spend a disproportionate amount of time on abortion. Okay. I'm sorry for bringing it up, oh wait I didn't... you did. Well then, I am sorry, for alluding to it in several of my blog posts over the past two years, oh wait, that was also you. I am utterly confused... again... (wow, I am really starting to get a complex about this). So you can post an offensive blog post and if I respond to it, I spend a disproportionate amount of time on it? ... what can I say?.... I'm.... sorry? I'll try not to do it again?

(continued next post)

Brett said...


Next you claim that I grossly misconstrue the atheist agenda as lovers of abortion. The feeling you get is that I suggested you have semi-annual abortion parties complete with obligatory Bloody Marys. 'Foul!' you cry, 'I said I don't like abortion.' Well this gets a little more dicey, but let me try to parse it for you (since that seems to be your favorite word). First, you don't like it, but ironically your post set up two poles - Christians and atheist (...oh... there are a few atheists who oppose it but not many...). You then said it was the hypocrisy of your former pastor that pushed you over the edge and, then, proceeded to mock God as if he must like abortions. So I apologize if I failed to see your distaste for abortion consistently played out through your post. They appeared to be words without substance. You mocked those who oppose it and defended those who seek to expand it. And yes, President Obama has sought to expand abortions (late term, etc), not limit them. So again a verbal distaste sounds hollow to these (younger) ears. I have a question, do you believe it is wrong or not? If not, why did you seek to avoid it? If you do believe it is wrong, why? And on what basis? I get that there are choices that we would not make for ourselves that we would not impose on our neighbors. You may not get drunk on the weekends, but if your neighbor chooses to, you say fine. But what if your neighbor is a drunk and his children are neglected and in danger? Would you not call CPS? When his choices endanger another, we do impose our views on our neighbors. So it is with this issue - abortion is far more harmful to the child than the adult. Why would you not oppose this legislatively? Or maybe you aren't really against it, but you know that to say that outloud and categorically just sounds cold so you seek to walk a middle road - 'I will say I personally don't like it, but support it and write blog posts about it and mock those who oppose it and hope no one points out the odd inconsistency...'

Of course you don't say you love abortion - I really can't find a place in my response where I said you do. I said it is a tool you use to salve your conscience. Again, you say you don't like it (personally), you have not sought it, and yet it comes up regularly on your blog. You mock those who oppose it (consistently). It is fundamentally tied to your conversion to atheism. It is an agenda you have adopted and I want to ask 'why?' I think my answer is still pretty darn good. You need to find a way to make it acceptable because if you can, you look pretty good... after all even something like that is acceptable and you certainly haven't done anything that bad.

(continued in next post... again)

Brett said...


The problem is you are caught in a dilemma. You say that there is no right or wrong, only social constructs. But a few weeks ago you said you weren't that bad, after all you have never raped children. Are you saying that raping children is wrong or it is socially unacceptable? If it becomes socially acceptable would you engage in the behavior? Would you simply choose not to.. and, even, say it's not your preference, but you certainly can't tell your neighbor not to? If I stand up that day and say it is reprehensible are you going to ask why Jesus didn't preach more sermons on the evils of such acts? Are you going to mock those who stand up against it? Or are you going to admit what you already know... namely that there is right and wrong that goes far beyond changing moral constructs and that reality is what terrifies you because you know that standard will one day be used to judge you? You have already admitted (albeit without consistency) that there are acts that are evil. In doing so you have admitted a standard beyond yourself. And that is, in my estimation, why you have championed an agenda you claim to not like... so that you can judge yourself good against others and salve your conscience. You are caught, not in my web of treachery and minutiae parsing, but in between what you know is true and what you want to believe is true. Abortion is just a tonic to help you deal with that epistemological chasm.

But what do I know? I am a chemically imbalanced, evolutionarily challenged, superstitious and irrational, religious lunatic. Logic, reason and consistency are lost on the likes of people like me, so please have patience with me while I try to understand the issues better.


Garrett said...

Crud, now I'm all in but this has to be tabled till next Tuesday.......Mark and I have to go PARSE the slopes...wish you were down here

Brett said...

Have fun on the slopes. Talk to you next week.

Garrett said...

I'm back.......

Let me circle back around and try to ask this again...this is an ethical question-Abortion-and it is one that evokes strong emotional responses from both sides....and the myriad of different flavors of christianity interpet it differently...this fact alone is endlessly fascinating to me, my reason for so many sects and schisms is because the bible itself is confusing and contradictory...your reason is because they don't have the right interpretation, or perhaps they are false sects governed by "The Devil" (If I have mischaracterized here please let me know)

The bottom line here is that when you make the claim that there is an absolute standard that governs right and wrong on ethical issues your standard is immediately proven "subjective" because you are interpeting the text according to what you think it means, or what the reformed church thinks it means.

So this standard "outside yourself" definition cannot be "God" the very second two christians get two different readings on what the bibles says on ethical issues....All credibility is undermined, because if there really was an absolute standard "outside yourself" it would be impossible for two adherents of this standard to disagree.

But of course we all know that there is huge disagreement. You yourself went through a major evolution of how you interpeted the bible, starting out as Covenant theology, then John McArthur, then onto Reformed. In 20 years your reading on the bible could change, and you could change your interpretation yet again.

To sum up===It strikes me as ridiculous to claim an "absolute standard outside yourself" when adherents to the standard cannot agree on the standard. Thus by definition making it "A Subjective standard outside oneself" which is how I believe we all operate, no matter what deity you worship or don't worship

Brett said...


So let me get this straight - the possibility of being misinterpreted empties something of all objective meaning and removes the possibility of (objective) authorial intent?

You just made communication not just difficult, but impossible? Why do you blog if YOU believe that communication is rendered impossible by the possibility of differing interpretations? You have not just stated that someone can misunderstand someone else, but the fact that the hearer must interpret what is heard renders the whole meaning subjective.

But of course you don't really believe this, or you wouldn't have written it - it would have been pointless. Rather you have demonstrated the importance of seeking to rightly understand the speaker/writer in order to have effective communication.

There is big difference from saying 'it is possible to misunderstand the standard' and saying 'I am the standard.' If you really believe what you wrote... then it has no meaning until I give it (and the meaning I choose to give it is that you agree with me :) ) and you might as well have written nothing or anything. Or if you believe that it had meaning that was possible to be understood by others, then it renders your thesis moot.


Garrett said...

I think we're off Abortion specifically now and I'll try to bring up a few things...Again correct me if I am wrong here: You have a static text that that is originally written in Hebrew and Greek. This is Gods way of communicating to us..there will never be another communication from God to us other than this text. The text must be interpreted at least twice, (once for the translation, another for to explain what it means) Again I am being as generous as possible here.

There are tens of thousands of different interpretations of this text. Now even if I granted you that one of these interpretations is the correct one, there is no way for "The outside standard i.e. God" to verify that firsthand...I haven't seen him on CNN lately confirming that John Calvin happened to get it right"

Therefore absent of this firsthand confirmation from God, everyone interprets the bible in the way it makes the most sense for them. I interpret it one way, so does my Dad, so do you, etc.

So I think you and I and everyone else arrives at conclusions to ethical questions like abortion in the same manner...we are influenced by culture, genetics, religion, our family and friends, the media, the Zeitgeist, etc.

And it boils down to this you and I and everyone else are really our own standards.

Brett said...


I'll let this be my last post and then ask you to have the last word.

First, you are basically right - I believe that God's word is static in the sense of not changing (this is not to deny it's living character - which refers to something else).

Second, I agree that God has not been on CNN lately affirming John Calvin.

Third, I disagree that communication is impossible without this sort of CNN appearance. To believe that would deny normal rules of communication as well as the established commitment to the belief that the Bible interprets itself.

Fourth, I appreciate your acknowledgment that all of your views originate within you and have no objective meaning. I would differ from you at this point and say that is why I am a foundationalist. What this strand has demonstrated is that abortion is deeply related to ethics and epistemology. You state that you believe that ultimately both of those originate within you, while I believe that, in both, we are pursuing something outside ourselves. Herein lies the difference between Christianity and atheism. By your admission, atheism is ultimately subjective. I pursue Christianity because I am longing for the objective.

I would only reassert here the reason I believe the atheist longs for this subjectivity. Because, at the end of the day, it is a comfort to the conscience to say 'ethics has no meaning outside of the imposition of our thoughts on others because then there is no eternity to consider in light of the many things that I know I have done wrong.'

Again, I invite you to have the last word.


Garrett said...

Allright, I'll have the last word Bill O'Reilly style....

A couple closing points...You cannot claim that the bible says abortion is wrong, you can only claim "I interpret the text to say abortion is wrong" In doing so you have not proved any objective authority, only your own subjective interpretation.

Your repeated claim that an atheist clings to subjectivity because it "eases the conscience" is another subjective claim not based on any proven objective standard.

You never answered me or Matt when we asked why Jesus never said anything about abortion..

And finally, "If God is everywhere at once, where does he go on his vacations?" (:

Ineke said...

o boy, where do i start
i probably live in the most godforsaken country on earth. we dutch embraced gay marriage, we legalised abortion and not only do we atheists kill our babies, we also like to kill our elders, in other words we legalised euthanasia. o, and last but not least, when we practice the above, we are usually stoned, coz soft drugs are sort of legalised too.

back to abortion.
if you want to prevent abortions (and simply declaring you are against it wont dot it) be prepared to buy condoms for your son or birth control pills for your daughter. THOSE are the actions that prevent unwanted pregnancies and thus abortion. The Netherlands has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world, while abortion is easily accessible (and with easily i mean compared to the usa in general.
Yes, i am an atheist, but it makes me laugh out loud when someone seriously suggests that equals moral indifference.
I believe in love and i believe in education.
both work best combined to prevent an unwanted pregnancy and that is the best rule to prevent abortion.
sorry to take your last words from you Garret.

Garrett said...

Ienke...it's great to know my blog has made it's way to te Netherlands! I appreciate your weighing in on this topic and you make a great points that I agree with whole heartedly...especially your point about the abortion rates being so low in the Netherlands....it absolutely makes sense and I can only hope people here will take such a reasoned approach..