Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Secular Bullshit.

Religious ideology falls into 2 basic rules, regardless of one's faith.  Those rules are:

1.  You're right and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong.

2.  When in doubt, refer to rule #1.

This is why you can't ever win an argument with a fundamentalist, evangelical or any other label you wish to affix to a person who lives their lives by an arbitrary religious mandate.  It's not because their arguments are so solid, their facts to undeniable and their positions so perfectly defensible, it's because they can't be wrong, ever.

For example, there is not a single verse in the bible about abortion.  Nowhere in the bible is there even anything that addresses terminating a pregnancy early.  However, you can't argue that the bible doesn't say abortion is a sin because there are passages that talk about the womb and since babies are formed in a womb, that must mean it's talking about abortion being bad!  When I did a quick Google search for bible verses about abortion, what I found was:

"The Bible doesn't call abortion "abortion" but Scripture does address abortion. Consider these examples to start:"
Now, right there we're talking nonsense.  "The bible doesn't call abortion "abortion"... then what does it call it?  Surely, if the bible references killing an unborn fetus, it must call it something?  There must be some term given to ending a pregnancy before the baby can live outside the womb, right?  So, what are these scripture passages that "address abortion"?

"Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
 First, this passage is what Jesus supposedly said to the prophet Jeremiah specifically, so to extrapolate them as a general message to mankind is deliberately deceptive.  However, even if you completely ignore that very important distinction, it says nothing about ending a pregnancy at all.  Nothing about any sin or transgression in abortion.  Again, this passage is Jesus telling Jeremiah that he was chosen, before his birth, to be a prophet of the lord and that's it.  This is a perfect example of how fundamentalists will derive any meaning they want from the words of the bible so they can defend their ideology, because I promise you, you cannot argue this point with any evangelical.  If they see this as an implicit statement of life beginning at conception, then that's what it is and any attempt to prove otherwise officially makes you a minion of the devil, sent to test their faith.  It's a perfect, circular argument with all the mental gymnastics necessary to bend reality to fit ideology.  But wait, there's more...

So, in looking for additional scripture regarding abortion (or the lack thereof), I found:

"For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." (Psalm 139:13-14)
Again, nothing at all in this passage about abortion or any right or wrong in the act of getting an abortion or even the fact that abortion exists at all.  This passage is a praise to the lord.  It's about God being all around you, in heaven, on Earth, and so on.  It's about God creating you and knowing you and being a part of all things, but it says nothing about the morality of ending a pregnancy, or even the sanctity of the life that God knows so intimately.  Also, again, it matters little because an evangelical will see this as clear, irrefutable evidence and you would be the blind fool for not realizing it yourself.  You would be the crazy one for not seeing the obvious truth in it.  You would be the one doing the mental gymnastics to argue against this point, not them.  However, since I'm not making this post for evangelicals, I can continue with more examples for people who are logical and sensible enough to separate fantasy from reality...

"What then shall I do when God rises up? When He punishes, how shall I answer Him? Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?" (Job 31:14-15)
This might be the greatest passage ever to prove my point.  This passage is about man's treatment of each other and the real sin denounced in this book, chapter and verse is the sin of greed.  In fact, let me post the entire passage so that you can see who God is really speaking against here:
13 “If I have despised the cause of my male or female servant
When they complained against me,
14 What then shall I do when God rises up?
When He punishes, how shall I answer Him?
15 Did not He who made me in the womb make them?
Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?
16 “If I have kept the poor from their desire,
Or caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
17 Or eaten my morsel by myself,
So that the fatherless could not eat of it
18 (But from my youth I reared him as a father,
And from my mother’s womb I guided the widow);
19 If I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
Or any poor man without covering;
20 If his heart has not blessed me,
And if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
21 If I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
When I saw I had help in the gate;
22 Then let my arm fall from my shoulder,
Let my arm be torn from the socket.
23 For destruction from God is a terror to me,
And because of His magnificence I cannot endure.
24 “If I have made gold my hope,
Or said to fine gold, ‘You are my confidence’;
25 If I have rejoiced because my wealth was great,
And because my hand had gained much;
26 If I have observed the sun when it shines,
Or the moon moving in brightness,
27 So that my heart has been secretly enticed,
And my mouth has kissed my hand;
28 This also would be an iniquity deserving of judgment,
For I would have denied God who is above.
1.  "If I have despised the cause of my male or female servant when they complained against me,"

This means if you speak badly about the grievances of those who work in the service of others then you will be punished, because we are all equal in the eyes of God.  This verse specifically says that the actions of those who denounce movements like Occupy Wall Street and other populist uprisings against the greed of the ruling class are wrong and will be punished.  People like Newt Gingrich saying the occupy protestors need to "take a bath" is despising the cause of the servants.  He and those who agree with him have no sympathy or compassion for the servants, they view them with disdain and belittle their causes.  Note:  No mention of abortion.

2.  "If I have kept the poor from their desire, or caused the eyes of the widow to fail"

Pretty straightforward.  If you have done anything to keep the poor from enjoying the same "desires" as anyone else, then that is sinful.  "Desire", incidentally, doesn't mean simply physical desires, it means anything that they should want to be happy.  That includes being healthy, as a result of obtaining basic health care.  It includes being healthy and happy, as a result of obtaining a meal to eat.  It includes being happy, as a result of being treated with dignity, as is fitting for all of God's children.  When this passage speaks of causing "the eyes of the widow to fail" what could it be speaking of, other than allowing a woman to go blind because she could not afford treatment on her own?

3.  "Or eaten my morsel by myself, so that the fatherless could not eat of it."

Another straightforward passage.  This means that if a person is greedy and eats food by himself that could be shared with the less fortunate, then they are sinning and will be punished.  The "fatherless" taken literally means an orphan or a child without a father to provide for them.  However, when the bible was written, women weren't allowed to work and provide for their families, so the term "the fatherless" applies to any child or dependent who cannot provide for themselves.  Certainly, that's not nearly as much of a stretch of wording as some of the biblical extrapolations I've seen and heard before.

4.  "If I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or any poor man without covering."

If you have sat by and held onto your riches while those without shelter and adequate clothing freeze and suffer in the elements.  If you ignore those who don't have the basic necessities to survive.  If you neglect the homeless.  See, really being "pro-life" means caring about ALL life, not just the life of the unborn or the life of the devout Christian.  It means caring for the soul of both the sinner and the saved, it means caring for the soul of your enemies as well as your friends.  

5.  "If I have made gold my hope, or said to fine gold "You are my confidence"; If I have rejoiced because my wealth was great and because my hand had gained much;"

Once again, the word of God here is pretty basic and easy to understand.  If you put more value in wealth and riches than you do in kindness and compassion for others.  If you live to create wealth instead of happiness, if you serve money instead of God, if you exalt greed as a virtue, then you are a sinner.  The bible does not once specifically mention getting an abortion as a sinful act, but it repeatedly and specifically mentions greed and the hoarding of wealth while others go without as very sinful behavior.  Yet, today, we have wealthy men like Mitt Romney and less-wealthy but still very rich men like Rick Santorum lecturing us on what is and isn't acceptable behavior in the eyes of God.

Rick Santorum, who says that entitlements like welfare, social security and medicare are bad for America and should be done away with.  Who says that providing public services like basic education and healthcare is a bad thing and should be left to the private sector.  Yes, the "private sector", otherwise known as  men who make gold their hope, men who place their confidence in gold, men who rejoice because their wealth is great and their hands have gained much.  These are the men who Rick Santorum wants us to put our faith in, who he wants us to depend upon to provide for us.  Those who have sworn only to provide for their own prosperity.  Saying that we should depend not on a benevolent and democratic government to watch over us, but instead rely upon selfish and corruptible men for these things is a direct violation of the very same bible passages that Rick Santorum would use himself to justify taking a stance against abortion.  The same passages that say ALL life is precious are the same passages that men like this would use to try and say that only SOME lives are precious.

The bible doesn't make any specific mention of abortion.  This is not debatable.  Even biblical scholars maintain that abortion is not mentioned specifically in the bible.  However, the justification that these same scholars and theologians would use to explain how the bible still teaches that abortion is wrong are the numerous mentions of how life is precious from its very inception.  How even the least among us are sacred.  In fact, there is a passage about exactly that:
"Whatever you do to the least among you, you do to me."
However you treat the poorest, weakest and least-influential people around you is how you treat the lord himself.  This is another passage that could be interpreted to refer to how you treat an unborn child, but it is directly and specifically about how you treat living, breathing human beings around you.  If you choose to sit in judgment of those who seek an abortion, but you aren't fighting just as hard to preserve the lives of adults and children in your own community, then you are a hypocrite in the eyes of God.  

See, being truly "pro-life" means valuing ALL life.  Not just the life of the unborn, not just the life of the wealthy and powerful, not just the life of the Christian.  It means valuing the life of the poor, the sinner, the non-believer and even those who have different beliefs from your own.

I have heard many Christians defend support for wars and the death penalty by saying "an eye for an eye" and talking about how God takes vengeance on the sinful and wicked.  However, God has never spoken to me personally and said that a condemned criminal deserves to die or that a foreign country deserves to have war declared upon it.  God never said that our soldiers should be killing anyone in any other countries.  So, who makes that determination?  Who decides what men deserve death, in the eyes of God, and which deserve life?

Men make that decision, of course.

Men in office, men like Senator Rick Santorum, make a declaration of war against a country like Iraq or Afghanistan.  On this declaration, tens of thousands of American soldiers travel to those countries and kill the men there that have been determined to be the "enemy".  Sometimes women, children and innocent men are also killed by our armed forces in the commission of this war.  These deaths are regarded as "regrettable casualties".  If a gang member kills an innocent bystander while pulling a drive-by on an enemy gang, those are also "regrettable casualties", however, they are treated as an "enhancement" for sentencing and usually result in that gang member being given either the death penalty or life without parole.  What is the difference between enemy street gangs accidentally killing innocent people and enemy armies doing the same thing?  Does God draw the same distinction between acceptable and unacceptable murder that man does?

Rick Santorum has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to go to war with Iran.  This war would result in thousands of deaths and many of them would be innocent civilians, caught in the crossfire, because war doesn't play by the rules, it doesn't take place in safe, civilian-free designated battlefields.  Rick Santorum does not feel that holding this desire for war makes him a murderer.  However, he does feel that holding a desire to terminate an unwanted pregnancy makes you a murderer.

Now, I've looked all through the bible for a mention of the word or the act of abortion and I have found nothing.  In spite of this, I have found pages of arguments from pro-life Christians where they explain how "what this passage here really means is that abortion is wrong and life begins at conception and all life is precious and sacred in the eyes of God."

Likewise, I have looked through the bible for a passage that says "Only certain lives are precious." and I have not found that passage either.  What I have found, however, are pages and pages of bible passages that say ALL life is sacred in the eyes of God, that ALL men and women are the children of the lord, that EVERYONE on this planet is special and equal before the lord.

If you believe that passages in the bible where God says that ONE specific person is special actually pertain to every unborn child, then you have to also believe that the passages in the bible where God says that EVERY living person is special and deserves the basic necessities for life and happiness.  If you believe that passages in the bible that aren't even ABOUT unborn babies were actually intended to apply to unborn babies, then you have to believe that passages that are actually and directly about the poor, the hungry, the sick and the homeless apply to these people.  If you believe that "You made me in the womb" means that abortion is wrong, then you must believe that those who "rejoice because [their] wealth was great" are sinners and acting against the teachings of God.

If Rick Santorum is doing God's work by opposing abortion, then he must be doing Satan's work by supporting war, no matter who the enemy is.

However, if, like Rick Santorum, you believe that some people deserve to die, then perhaps some babies do as well?

Who's to say an unborn fetus might not be born and grow up to become a murderer, a rapist or even a Democrat???  Who's to say it might not grow up to be... GAY!?!  Wouldn't killing a baby Hitler be the same thing as killing an adult one?  In fact, wouldn't it be better, since that would mean millions of Jews wouldn't have to die first?

Who makes the distinction as to which adults deserve death in this world?  Who makes the determination as to who's transgressions merit being put to death?

Men and women.

Who makes the determination which babies get to be born and which are aborted?

Men and women.

I'm not perfect, nor do I ever claim to be.  I don't pretend to possess some greater knowledge that is unattainable by others.  I don't believe myself to be specially anointed by God or any other higher power with an authority that no others have.  I'm just a man, like everyone else.  I am imperfect and fallible.  I am prone to temptation and emotion, I am opinionated and ideological.  

What I try to never be, however, is a hypocrite.

First of all, there needs to be a clear distinction drawn between "pro-choice" and "pro-abortion".

I do not agree with abortion.  I would never choose to abort a child that I fathered.  I would counsel any girl I knew who was pregnant to keep the baby.  I would never suggest abortion as an option.  However, if I am not a party to the conception of the baby, then I cannot make the final decision.  Only the mother and father of that unborn fetus can make that decision.  I support the freedom of a mother and father to make the choice as to what to do with an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy, even if I disagree with the choice that they make.

Thus, I am opposed to abortion personally, but I am pro-choice when it comes to allowing other people to make their own decisions.  I am NOT "pro-abortion".

Likewise, there needs to be a distinction drawn between "pro-life" and "pro-fetus".

If you believe that ALL life is sacred and precious before God, that ALL life must be preserved and defended and that ALL people on this Earth are entitled to the same rights, opportunities and basic happiness, then you are pro-life.

If you believe that only unborn babies are sacred and precious before God, that only unborn babies must be preserved and that the rights of the unborn baby supersede the rights of all others, including the very life of that baby's mother, then you are not "pro-life", you are pro-fetus.

If you believe that sometimes people deserve to die, but only when you or your religious leaders make that determination.  If you believe that people of other religions are allowed to die because they don't believe what you believe.  If you believe that anyone but God himself can make that determination, but you still think that abortion is murder and life begins at conception, then you are a hypocrite.

Unfortunately, the people for whom this observation applies the most will think I am just another Godless liberal.  They will continue to contort the bible to fit their personal narrative and they will continue to believe that they are more special, more enlightened and more perfect than anyone who disagrees with them.  They will strictly adhere to Rule #1 of the religious ideology handbook, and if that fails, they will refer to Rule #2.

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