Atheist and psychologist Valerie Tarico demonstrates in a recent post just how many militant anti-theists have to shoot themselves, logically, in the foot in order attempt to make an argument against another position. In a post titled “How to Use the Bible Against Abortion Protesters“, she gives the supporters of infanticide a collection of cherry-picked and straw man arguments to place on their placards that, against the average, unthinking, biblically illiterate evangelical who is working the front lines, might seem meaningful.
Since she is going to throw out some one liners, I’m going to generate some one line responses back at her. Then, possibly in another post(s), flesh out some of the verses a little more. So let’s run through her bullet points and generate some meaningful retorts.
God aborts 60%. Who are you to judge the Almighty?
My response: YOU aren’t God.
There’s a logical discontinuity between what God, as the all-wise creator and sustainer of the universe, allows to continue to completion and what he doesn’t. The fact that the majority of conceived children do not either make it to implantation or make it to delivery does not mean that one human being has the right to decide whether or not those that do get to be born or not.
Fact checked: The Lord says he’s ok with it
My response: Where did he say that?
Most often this comes from misrepresentation of what is known as the imprecatory psalms, which are merely the outcry for justice in the face of tremendous loss to the only good and just God. The fact that such appeals are made in the face of anguish and defeat in no certain terms that God is “okay” with anything. I thought that this was supposed to be about the Bible.
•God prescribes abortion potion – Numbers 5:22-27
My response: Nope.
While the language being used by the writer is often used, symbolically, to describe a miscarriage, many scholars agree that the curse is that the woman will not be able to conceive any children, which, in the ancient near eastern cultural context, meant that the woman was cursed by God. Furthermore, in a context where adultery was a death sentence, and even the suspicion of infidelity in some contexts could result in the woman’s death, the opportunity to prove ones innocence was one that was welcome, something discussed here.
Also, see TektonTV’s response to this
•Kill fetus, get fined – Kill woman, get death –Exodus 21:22-23
My response: Nope, again.
The fine only applies to premature birth, and the language in regards to application of capital punishment applies to either the unborn child, the pregnant woman, or both. But you actually have to read a little past v23 to know that.
•Infant becomes person after birth – Leviticus 27:6
My response: A 20-year old isn’t a person–Leviticus 27:3
When you’re just making stuff up, you can say anything. And that’s what we get here. In Jewish ceremonial law, the tribe of Levi was wholly dedicated to God, and so the other tribes could “buy back” their ceremonial dedication in the form of a tax. In other words, it has nothing to do with whether or not an infant is a person.
Under a heading titled, “Expose the underlying misogyny”
•Girl babies twice as unclean as boys – Leviticus 12:1-8
My response: Girl babies are twice as much work as boys.
Myself, I have boys, but they have nieces and we have kept them as babies and they were twice as much work when it came to diaper changes, especially because one had a chronic yeast infection. She would probably kill me for mentioning that, but it just goes to show how absolutely illogical and incoherent Valerie’s argument is. Why does this, as an aspect of Jewish ceremonial law, matter? It has nothing to do with the either the value or the personhood of a female child.
•Women should keep silent – 1 Cor. 14:34
My response: Don’t make arguments on textual variations.
Many modern commentators argue that, given the fact that there is a clear break in the thought between the end of v33 and v37, and the fact that the verses seem to be unoriginal in the text (as discussed here). But, more importantly, even if it is a text addressing a specific problem in a specific context and doesn’t mean that women are to be perceived as any less valuable or unequal to men. Most likely, given its similarity to another passage (discussed here and here) if it is an interpolation, it is a tacit reference to that text.
•Sell raped daughter to rapist – Deut. 22:28-29
My response: Cherry-picking translations is logically indefensible.
I’ve written an entire post on this passage here, but what exactly does that have to do with the question at hand? Nothing.
Female? Cover your head or cut off your hair – I Cor. 11:6 [with picture of hijab]
My response: Women: your hair was given as a covering. 1 Cor. 11:15
There’s a particular cultural context at play here that has no relevance to the issue. Rich Pierce of Alpha and Omega Ministries preached a sermon on this text that is worth listening to. More than that, a hijab is nothing like the scarves that women wore at that time.
•Women will be saved through childbearing – 1 Tim. 2:15
My response: Yes.
From a health perspective, absolutely. But most commentators argue that the “salvation” referred to here is sanctification which is emphasized by the end of the sentence where Paul states that it will be accomplished, “if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control,” which are the very same things that he encourages men to pursue. Hmmmm.
•Women make men dirty – Rev 14:4
My response: So, it’s okay for men to misuse women sexually?
Talk about completely misrepresenting a text that says nothing of the sort. That thinking is so 6th century. The fact that a symbolic group of men have not “defiled themselves”, which means that they are sexually pure, says nothing about women. I have to wonder how many hours Valerie has laid awake at night to dream up this fantasy of hers. It sounds like a persecutorial delusion, but I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t make such a diagnosis.
She goes on to quote some patristics and non-Christian sources. But, there’s one that in her throw away points I think really needs to be grabbed and examined because, I believe, it fully demonstrates just how fully refutable so many of the assertions that she is making are, point blank.
•Jesus focused on real people
My response: You’re damn right he did. (Pardon my language.)
The question that Valerie, and every person who believes that there is nothing wrong with murdering a child in the womb has to answer is: when does personhood begin? Just when does the “product of conception” become a person? If humanity, and all of its inherent rights and privileges, is conveyed at a particular time or location, what is that time, and where is that location?
The consistent, coherent scientific and Christian position is that point is the moment of conception because all of the components are there, and a new, distinct human being is, not might or could be, the result. Every other position is completely arbitrary. By giving that statement she just handed over her weapons to her opponents because Jesus, as the Second Yahweh, has made known to his creatures, in his revealed word that he knows each and every one of us, and that he holds us responsible for how we deal with one another.
Thank you, Valerie, for providing your own refutation.