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On Ideas; Not People

“I attack ideas, I don’t attack people – and some very good people have some very bad ideas.” –Supreme Court Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia

Recently, Governor Cuomo of the state of New York signed into law the so-called “Up-To-Birth” abortion bill and in its wake, Alabama and Georgia have voted to ban the practice of abortion. Although the subject of abortion has never left us and continues to be a volatile dividing topic which threatens to fracture, or perhaps, completely destroy friendships and other relationships, the controversy surrounding the issue has been pushed to the forefront of the public consciousness by these events. It has also revealed that within the pro-choice camp there are, indeed, varying degrees of permissibility, with these degrees usually separated by trimester (i.e., abortion is permissible if done within the first, or second trimesters, etc.). In fact, it seems, there are those who are pro-choice who are quite squeamish about the law signed by Cuomo, and it as at least on this foundation the two opposing sides can, perhaps, find a bit of common ground on an issue which generally allows for none. At the same time, there are pro-life people hesitant on bills like the one Alabama and Georgia have passed and other states are considering.

The signing of the Reproductive Health Act, January 2019.

No doubt about it, it is a divisive issue, and in beginning, to make this essay perhaps a bit more agreeable to the critic, I would like to begin by highlighting a couple of things I am seeking to do in my examination of it. I assure the reader that it is my intention to examine the issue and not people. Being pro-life means a lot of challenges are thrown your way, some more valid than others, and I would be quite dishonest with myself and with whoever might take up this essay to say that I haven’t found myself sympathetic to a person’s plight in some circumstances. Truly, there are individual issues, (which I will address), where it might be easier, or rather, quite certainly, it is easier, to critique the issue than to be an actively confronted with it. If my exploration of abortion or any resulting subjects that arise from it seem cold, let me assure the reader it is not the case, and I would implore those interested to remember that I am exploring in a philosophical way the issue itself and not the people. I have absolutely no interest in going after people on a personal level. After all, concerning those who have had an abortion, it is a course of action that cannot be changed, for it has already occurred, and all change must reside in the present and future. This is why I am much more interested in ideas themselves than the people who may hold those ideas and making them a target. Of course, it can be hard to separate the person from the idea because it is people who hold the ideas. Regardless, it is my goal to achieve this, as much as possible, in this work.

There are many ways in which people justify their positions, but not all are applicable. I recall a TV show in which a character expresses that she is pro-life and is answered by another saying that they had no idea she was the religious sort. She denies this and asks if you have to be religious to believe that an unborn child represents a life? He responds by saying there is a correlation. This, I would agree, is accurate to some extent, but as the show points out it is not necessarily the case. The point is, not all people are religious, so when approaching the issue to the general public, one finds an appeal to religion to be lacking. Simply, a non-religious person is not going to be swayed by any religious argument and might be put off instead.

Also, one cannot claim to be objective and not look at the side which holds their position. In doing so, it isn’t as if there haven’t been atrocities committed in the name of the pro-life movement. First off, if you walk into an abortion clinic and murder people, either the patients or the practitioners, you have absolutely no business applying the term “pro-life” to yourself. You are anything but and represent a direct and horrific contradiction of the pro-life view. We also need to perhaps question our methodology in promoting the pro-life position.

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Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear Jr.

Is this to say it should be accepted by pro-lifers? Should we just sit on the sidelines and remain silent then? I would hope it is obvious that this is not what I intend to do. In an effort to refute the challenges and ideas to the pro-life view, I hope to show by addressing the critics that there is a rational basis for the pro-life position, which may produce a bit more good than screaming insults at people in or outside a clinic, merely waving a sign, or trying to block people from entering. I don’t wish to devalue anyone protesting or their passion for the cause, but in my understanding, going after an idea is like a vaccine to a particular action, and it is to here we should start, for it is much more efficient than just fighting the symptoms of a disease that is already caught. You aren’t going to be able to stop the tide by merely setting up a breakwater.

Alderney Breakwater Feb 2016

On The Fringe

Simply addressing the challenges to the pro-life position isn’t enough to produce a case for it. The view needs to stand on its own rational foundation, and I will get into that, but I find that the challenges represent some of the greatest hindrances to accepting the pro-life view. Again, I will address these, and perhaps others I hear during the process of writing this, but here are some examples that are cited to the pro-lifer as a challenge:

A.) Rape

B.) Incest

C.) Birth Defect

D.) Life of Mother

E.) If Outlawed . . .

F.) It’s my body

G.) Bundle of cells

H.). None of your business

Conservative speaker Ben Shapiro pointed out at a Q and A session that these represent fringe issues of the whole and don’t represent the majority of abortions. This is true, but does that mean it is a sound rebuttal? Well, that might be a little more complicated. The father of the discipline of logic, Aristotle, proposed the principle of non-contradiction. This law, in short, says that anytime a contradiction is present, this represents a falsehood or fallacy within the whole of the argument.

Ayn Rand sums it up eloquently and concisely:

“To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality.” –Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand Reader, p. 260.

“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” –Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, p. 152.

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This is likely the view that is taken by pro-choice people when they offer these challenges, that is, they attempt to show a contradiction somewhere in the thinking of the pro-lifer and thus, by necessity, prove that it is false. It certainly might seem to work, for if the pro-lifer says that abortion is not permissible, but admits that it might be so in some other case, in the critic’s mind, it represents a contradiction and it invalidates the whole pro-life argument. So, in that case, and according to that point-of-view, no, it isn’t a good rebuttal.

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Yet, how a pro-lifer may regard it is a bit different, and in this sense, it is a sound rebuttal. In truth, contradiction is much harder to prove then one might suspect, particularly on a philosophical level. Yes, there are simple forms, like when one contradicts their statements in an account or personal anecdote, then we can easily determine they are lying, but in issues like this, it becomes more problematic. The reason why is that in order for a contradiction to exist and be applicable, the particulars need to be virtually identical. One of the ways the charge of contradiction is overcome is to show error on the part of those making the charge that the circumstances are similar or the same. Simply pointing out major differences in situation A from situation B is often enough to validly and soundly counter the charge of contradiction.

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It is on these grounds that Ben Shapiro’s rebuttal was sound, that these are differing circumstances, and are so individual and relatively rare that they represent fringe issues that don’t reflect the vastness of the real circumstances surrounding the majority of the practice. Shapiro addressed this by asking the woman bringing the question if she would agree that in the majority of cases it was wrong, to which she would not agree because she wasn’t willing to limit abortion to the exception to the rule. Therefore, Shapiro reasoned, her line of questioning was simply an excuse. So, in a very real way, how effective this answer by Shapiro is, and those who utilize it, really comes down to your own personal philosophy on contradiction and its relation to truth. However, I seek to build a case for the pro-life view by appealing to both, so I will too address the individual cases which are often cited by pro-choice people, as well as admit that when we talk about abortion, these represent minute fringe circumstances which do not appeal to the whole and don’t represent a contradiction to the pro-life position.

On “In The Case of…”

This is probably the area that gets the pro-lifer in the most amount of trouble and gets the most ire directed their way. To be completely honest, it would be much easier to take the position like I discussed in the last section and write off these fringe examples as inadequate to justifying the whole practice, because some of these can be quite uncomfortable to discuss in both a philosophical way and as a sympathetic human being (by the way I am not suggesting that this was what Shapiro was doing, for I believe he has answered the individual circumstances in other cases). Truly, the pro-life view isn’t unfeeling, for if they were, we would have to ask why these “fringe” examples are so often pressed towards pro-lifers? I suggest part of the reason is because it does make us uncomfortable, and pro-choice people know it does, and if it makes us uncomfortable and invokes feelings, then just like others, we are not unsympathetic to these challenges. What the pro-lifer position believes though is that just because we are sympathetic to someone, or something, it doesn’t mean that a resulting action is justified or right. No, just like law and morality, we need to admit that emotion and rationality are not always in sync. It seems clear that emotion and action can indeed be opposed to each other. This is not said to so much a devalue an emotional response, but rather it is the question of whether it is rational that the emotional response is carried out in action? Either rationality is reined in by emotion, or emotion is by rationality.

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Concerning this, it is rationality that should have authority over emotion. We see the dangers and unreliability of emotion all around us, and even in our personal lives, we can think of times where emotions have got the better of us or led us astray, or where we regret an action that was promoted or prompted by emotion. Again, this is not saying they don’t have value, or even that emotions always imply error, only that to rely on them solely is a mistake. Yet, don’t people also make mistakes being adherent to strict rationality? Absolutely, but this is because rational people make mistakes in determining what is rational, for while we can identify mistakes in the pursuit of what is rational (i.e., as Rand said, we can have a faulty premise), with emotion we cannot. We can only identify it when it hurts us, others, or doesn’t produce the end we desire or anticipate. Thus, while mistakes can be found in determining rationality, it is not the rational that is at fault, but our misunderstanding of it and our own miscalculated errors. Emotion, on the other hand, can be inherently dishonest and wrong. At times.

So it is on the basis of rationality that we appeal. To do otherwise is generally because the view can’t be defended on rational grounds. If you can’t provide a defense on rational grounds, then often it is the case that the next method of justification is to shift the burden of proof and where it lies.

On Defense and Building a Case

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M. C. Escher, “Bond of Union,” 1956.

When offering a defense of a particular viewpoint or issue, or attempting to construct a proof of that view, there are numerous methods that one can appeal to or exercise. The first is what can be referred to as the classical. This defense simply seeks to first determine a proof for an element upon which all other subsequent issues rest. Yet, there are other ways proofs are constructed.

There is the evidential, which seeks to prove something on the basis of pure, empirical evidence.

There is the experiential, which seeks to prove based on someone’s experience. However, it must be remembered that philosophically this approach is generally considered unreliable and represents what’s called the anecdotal fallacy.

There is the historical, which seeks to prove a case based on the historicity of a particular subject.

There is the presuppositional, which seeks to prove based on first making the assumption a view is true and then pointing out either its flaws or its validity. This is also called systematic consistency presuppositionalism. In the science of logic, we can refer to this as a form of indirect proof.

Now, certainly, I think all these will find their place in the construction of my argument, but if I had to classify my attempt, I would classify it as classical and henceforth, we should start with the element upon which many of the others rest. This is presenting a case that the unborn is a life. It should be noted too that these constructs and methods are used on the pro-choice side as well.

On The Life Inside

I was reading a debate online one time and, as I recall, a pro-choice woman was defending her pro-abortion stance, and ended up saying something like the following: “I didn’t give this thing permission, it is merely a parasite stealing my nutrients.” To the pro-lifer, this would almost be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. I don’t recall if the pro-life person offered the fact that even a parasite is a living thing, but regardless it represents how some pro-choice people view that life inside. A parasite. Indeed, I have seen this argument a number of times on Facebook and message boards. We see in that such a statement, great efforts are made to not only avoid referring to it as a life (“thing”), but also deny its value (“parasite”). It may be argued that some people who have abortions fear this “thing” will continue to be parasitic once it is born, not biologically, but to their lives in some degree. It isn’t a powerless and dependent child, but a mere parasite.

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Crepidostomum cooperi

It is the case that biological, familial, or social dependency doesn’t equate to something being parasitic. For one, parasites are invading creatures, living creatures, that do not share the same biological makeup of the host. You do have creatures that can absorb another of its species, I believe there is an angler fish that does this, but in these cases it is an independent being prior and then becomes biologically dependent, even losing some of its organs and mobility in the process. It is not a growing, developing thing, but something being enveloped into another. A baby is a growing developing being, which when carried to term will become independent, in a biological sense, and continue to increase in independence. As much as anything can become independent anyway, for we are all dependent beings in some regard.

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8 weeks

Now that we got the idea of a fetus being a parasite out of the way, let’s move on to offering proof of life. In order to do this, we have to ask the question: What is life? There are a number of ways people approach this question, there is both the scientific and the philosophical. I read a work by one woman doctor, who was pro-choice, that made the admission that it appears by science that life begins at conception, but said it wasn’t that easy, that what determines a life is based on what a person believes is a life, or it represents a philosophical question and not a biological one. While reading it, I must admit that I was almost impressed with her candor on the subject. Many scientific works have been written to support the idea of life at conception, or life approximate to conception.

The American College of Pediatricians stated in 2004:

“The American College of Pediatricians concurs with the body of scientific evidence that human life begins at conception–fertilization….Scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified this age-old truth. At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species of homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development. The Mission of the American College of Pediatricians is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being from the moment of conception.”When Human Life Begins, American College of Pediatricians, March 2004.

Also:

“In that fraction of a second when the chromosomes form pairs, the sex of the new child will be determined, hereditary characteristics received from each parent will be set, and a new life will have begun.” –G. & M. Kaluger, Human Development: The Span of Life, p. 28-29, 1974.

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We see in the earlier example, the woman who declared the unborn to be both a thing and a parasite, that this both deny the personhood of the unborn, but also devalues it at the same time while removing its humanity and or personhood. It could be said that the even more basic foundation of the pro-life view is that all life is valuable. It doesn’t devalue but promotes value. In fact, in the pro-life position, pure living existence is beyond worth. I am not saying that we do not attribute value to lives based on the actions of a person, I am saying that the condition of living in and of itself is immeasurably valuable. This is applicable here because of the different philosophical ideas on what defines a life, and in order to address these differences as a whole, we will need to appeal to a life’s value, and on this, we will build the case based on potentiality and actuality.

Yet, on a biological basis, the pro-choice doctor is hard-pressed to, by biology alone, science alone, disprove that life isn’t exhibited in the developing body. As a National Geographic video entitled “The Biology of Prenatal Development” declared:

“Biologically speaking, human development begins at fertilization.”

Young chicken in the chicken coop on the farm

The critic, or those undecided on the issue, may ask about the development and if this presents a challenge? When asked what a life is, one word that is thrown around, is that in order for something to be a life, it needs to be a sentient being. I’ve seen many pro-choice debates and arguments which state that sentience must be achieved before the term life can be applied to it. This condition, analytically, or definitionally, suggests the following:

1) Independence

2) The ability to perceive or sense

3) The state of being self-aware

4) The desire for self-preservation

5) Intellectual capability

6) Mobility

As we can see, to refer to something as a “sentient life” would be a bit of a tautology in this context. Sentience implies life. So, if one asks what makes a child a life, and the answer is life (aka. Sentience), well, that doesn’t really answer much. It sounds better in a rhetorical sense, rather than providing insight into what life is. Yet, in it, they suggest that these sentient characteristics aren’t found in the developing life of a child. We should address each of these to see if this is a worthwhile response to the question of what is life?

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1. Independence I believe is something we have already touched on. Whether something is independent or dependent isn’t quite enough to determine if it is a life or not, simply because, to some degree, all things are dependent. The philosopher William Rowe came to the conclusion that there were at least three forms of being. There were impossible things (things that couldn’t exist because of the law of non-contradiction, i.e., a triangle with four sides), there were cogent things (things that can either be thought to exist or thought not to exist; possible things), and finally necessary things (a thing that must be). In the latter case, you leave the realm of strict philosophy and more into theology and for this reason, we won’t get into that, but needless to say, the cogent thing, the category of which we all belong, does imply dependency. Only a necessary thing can be completely independent. A true sentient being cannot be completely independent, but rather must be dependent, as the other characteristics of the condition show. For instance, much of our intellectual capabilities exist a posteriori, that is derived from experience, and therefore even our knowledge is dependent, to a vast degree, on experience and the world around us.

What about it being biological independence that is implied? Several years ago, I was unfortunate enough to get very sick and I wound up on dialysis due to the shutting down of my renal function. Would this unpleasant experience, in which by use of an umbilical and machine filtered my blood, have made me any less of a life? Certainly, we might ponder how such a frequent treatment might affect one’s life, but we can’t say they cease to be less of a life than anyone else who isn’t dependent on that treatment. Conditions for life, don’t negate the condition of life.

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Earlier in the essay, we also touched on whether a living thing can exist within another living thing, and it is clear it can. Much of what we discuss in this aspect is not so much life but mobility and how that mobility suggests life. To use myself as an example, when I was ill I spent a number of weeks immobile and unconscious. This didn’t negate my life or its value proper, nor would it anyone else. In fact, doctors and nurses work tirelessly to preserve life in such circumstances rather than abandon it. I hope the reader can see that I don’t mean these as direct comparisons, but mean them to show that dependency is a condition of life, and in some circumstances, necessary for it. Rather than independence suggesting life, it often seems that the more dependent a living thing is, the closer to pure being that life exists. Knowledge, wisdom, and experience are the things that we pile onto the tabla rasa of pure being or life proper.

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2. The ability to perceive or have sense perception has been long acknowledged by the scientific community and a number of studies have been done which provide some startling proof of the unborn’s ability to sense and perceive. In fact, it has been long held that frequent reading or certain types of music can be beneficial to the development of the unborn. This is a prime example of some pretty well-known facts about the perception and sense that is found in the life in the womb. Yet, again, we find instances where an inability doesn’t negate life. A person in a comatose state, for instance, isn’t declared a non-life, rather we do all we can to preserve it. This critic might say though, that like the angler fish, it was at first sentient and then lost its independence, and it is desirable that it be restored to the state it already achieved. However, I hope the reader can discern that I am making the argument that an unborn child is analytically and empirically sentient.

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3. The state of being self-aware is labeled as number 3 is almost interchangeable with number 4, that is the desire for self-preservation. The reason why is because when a being is self-aware, self-preservation is often evidence of that awareness. I believe it may be a whole other long topic to discuss the levels and degrees of self-awareness, but in a general sense, these two things go hand and hand. While we understand the basic principle of self-preservation, it remains the case that preservation is not an independent condition achieved by self, but often a dependent condition by which other things are utilized to achieve preservation.

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4. The desire for self-preservation. There have been many people that have been pro-choice and shifted their views to either pro-life, or in some cases, come to admit that the subject isn’t as black-and-white, or cut-and-dry, as they first made it out to be. Often times these shifts are experiential. An avid opposer of Planned Parenthood, the organization that performs the most abortions per year in the United States, changed her opinion on abortion after watching one being performed. Her account says that while sitting in on the procedure and watching it on the monitor, she was quite struck when the unborn child drew back from the instruments that were being used to dismember it, as if in fear and pain. This account has been parroted by several ex-practitioners of abortion, who have come to denounce it. This provides some anecdotal evidence that the unborn are self-aware, have an instinct for self-preservation, and indeed, sense and perceive.

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5. Intellectual capability is often an attribute used to characterize a quality or value of life, rather than life itself, or life proper. In this way, it is often used in a relative sense, but, again, it doesn’t say something is not a life because of a lesser capability, but only assigns a primarily subjective value to it. In the vast majority of cases, a need for self-preservation, and sense, or perception, are used as evidence to denote an intellectual property to being, or a being. However, this is not always the case, as many may say that a tree or plant lacks intelligence, but does seem to be geared towards self-preservation. Yet, in this case, nobody really concludes that botanical things don’t represent life either. One thing we can be reasonably sure about is that intellectual capability isn’t only revealed by what something knows, but the ability to attain knowledge. As the experiments with music and reading, and the whole process of living life show, in fact, is that our intellectual faculties are understood by our ability to learn rather than anything else. That a sentient life must have intellectual capability only means that it have the ability to learn, and this is certainly the case, especially during the latter portions of carrying the child to term.

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6. Mobility also seems to be implied by those arguing sentience. Yet, along with some of the other characteristics, the state of being immobile only applies to a quality of life, rather than life itself. Many people and things are hindered in their mobility, but live fulfilling lives, and this certainly wouldn’t be the case if they ceased to be a life altogether. In fact, one could be justified in saying, in general, young age and old age are both characterized by a lack of mobility. This doesn’t mean that it is invaluable or ceases to be, rather we teach the young to walk, and we seek to prolong the mobility of those who are becoming feeble. It is the case, again especially in later portions of pregnancy, that the life inside becomes increasingly mobile and active, much to the mixed delight and, honestly, the discomfort of the mother. The child’s mobility eventually outgrows the womb.

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You may notice that I am now referencing portions of pregnancy rather than as a whole, but again I have shown that these characteristics, or rather the lack of them, don’t negate life, but at the same time, we do associate life with them. That is why even in the pro-life group, the nearer to term a child is aborted, the more horrendous it becomes. With the signing of Cuomo’s “Up-To-Birth” abortion bill and the blocking of the bill which would make mandatory medical care for a child of a botched or unsuccessful abortion, it becomes actually harmful to the arguments of the pro-choice camp. Indeed, it seems like most of them are completely thrown out the window. A mere choice cannot empirically shift life to a non-life, or a non-life to life. All the choices we make in life are not judged simply on the choice, but how these choices correspond to reality. Choice doesn’t change reality, you’re either correct or you’re not. I find it increasingly true that those backing this bill, and opposing the mandatory medical care for those who survive abortions, is to toss aside the arguments that the pro-choice group has spent years, decades, in fact, formulating.

For these reasons, when a person says that an unborn child, or fetus, or whatever you would like to label it, must be sentient to be considered life, I think it is quite reasonable to conclude that it is sentient, and thus, by their own measure, a life.

On Scientific Backing

Although I have quite railed against independence being necessary for something to be considered life, one cannot help also appeal to these definitions, that is, to both debunk in adherence to, and apart from. To explain further, I find it to be faulty on the basis of the general (i.e., independence isn’t a condition of or for life) and the specific (i.e., it can be shown that independence is applicable to the unborn). For those who might critique me and say that am contradicting myself, I should point out that the former, the general, is a classical or evidential answer, while the latter is a presuppositional form. I would also direct the reader to my previous section on building a case to explain the paradox.

So, in order to further clarify, we should make a distinction between the quality of independence and being individual. These are two different things. A thing can be a singular, individual (not necessarily a person), but be dependent at the same time. This goes to show that individuality doesn’t equate to independence, and dependence doesn’t equate to non-individuality. Certainly, an individual life has certain characteristics which distinguish it from other lives. Of these, we can apply form and mass, and matter, or can appeal to more scientific evidence for individuality, particularly when it comes to living organisms, like genetic makeup, and DNA. Also, when concerning the more complex organisms, organs, skeletal structure, and cellular composition. In addition, individuality can be shown in causality, that is cause and effect. For instance, that which may affect the mother might not affect the newborn, and that which may affect the newborn might not affect the mother.

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If one suggests that individuality must be exhibited in order for something to be independent or be life, then this is both shown on the philosophical level, and on the scientific level. It is immediately at or approximate to conception that the unborn has its own individual genetic code and DNA.

“The two cells gradually and gracefully become one. This is the moment of conception, when an individual’s unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated.”National Geographic, “In The Womb” (Video).

It is a matter of 5 ½ to 6 weeks when the child’s heartbeat can be detected.

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Sure, we can distinguish life apart from such complex organs, but they are certainly attributed to human life, and it is this life which quickly becomes apparent. It is an interesting subject because in a world so devout to science and the pursuit of it, in certain areas, it becomes chiefly ignored for the sake of things like “choice.” However, I recall I said that I would refrain from making this about people and just about the issue itself, so I will depart from this particular train of thought because I perceive it might lead up into the opposite.

On Arguments Against The Pro-Life Position

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Julio Ruelas, “Critica“, 1907.

I suppose it is difficult to address the whole of these opposing sides, pro-choice and pro-life, in such general terms. One must recognize that it is likely that people of the pro-life view, and the pro-choice view, disagree with certain aspects of those arguments which are used by the side that they are aligned or associated with. As I said, it is sometimes hard to address people and ideas separately, and I really don’t like having to paint a whole group of people with one broad brush stroke. So, if I have characterized anyone who reads this and they are thinking, “This isn’t me at all,” I could only ask for your patience and to share your individual thinking with me in the comments, but I only ask that you might be respectful as I have tried to be.

It would be quite unsound for me to think or say that I believe I am going to answer every argument out there against the pro-life position. I am not that prideful, nor delusional. I have heard many clever arguments against the pro-life position, but I believe that the ones I offer here are the most applicable. What I mean is that is quite often those clever examples are reducible to these issues which I will address, but, again, to make the suggestion that these are all the arguments out there would be quite a gullible and suggestion. If anyone has any further arguments, I would be most open to hearing them.

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Once more, before we get into it, I understand how easy it is for me to sit at a keyboard and talk on these topics without ever having set foot in the shoes of those who have endured these oft brought up examples. My sympathies, in a number of these examples, are quite profound. Further, I must mention that an exploration of these issues kind of surprised me, in that the ones I thought were going to be easy to refute, became quite difficult, and the ones I thought would be difficult, ended up being a little less complex than I had imagined. All and all an exploration of these issues brought a few surprises.

On The Case of Rape

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It should be evident to the reader by now that I won’t adhere to the “fringe circumstance” argument that Shapiro used to address one of his questions. I do believe it has some validity, but this is primarily to ones who have already been convinced on the soundness of the pro-life argument. To those not convinced, these are issues that need to be addressed. Out of these, the case of rape is a large and looming one.

I was somewhat pro-choice at one time but held that it shouldn’t be used as a form of birth control. I haven’t completely abandoned that position, in that, I have ideas that have carried over from one side to the other. I recall and still hold to the idea that the consequences of the committed abortion would fall greatly upon the rapist rather than the victim. For instance, I believe those found guilty of rape are punished way too lightly for us to be called a “civilized” society. Not only do I want increased punishment for rapists, but if a pregnancy resulted, I think they should be punished twice over. I bring this up because I hope that it goes to show that I am not completely unsympathetic to the plight and torment that such victims may have to go through. Far from it.

Indeed, the impregnated victim of rape could perceivably consider that child an unwanted token of a horrific event in their lives, and would not, therefore, be treated as wonderfully as a child deserves. This is at least one argument I have heard regarding this tragic example, and in it are a number of elements I think might be the case, but notice that implicit in it is the idea that children deserve to be treated in a moral way. The argument goes beyond this, of course, but it is interesting to note that it admits to the value and worth of a child in declaring that it deserves to be treated in a certain way.

Yet, this is only one aspect. Another says, that because the child was conceived during an unwilling, and unlawful, and traumatic event, the victim is justified in terminating the pregnancy through means of abortion. This is chiefly an appeal to emotion. Why this is the case is that it implores us to understand the decision by appealing to our sympathies. Yet, in our emotional understanding of the decision, does this mean the decision is rational? It does not.

Here is where the classical proof comes into play and it comes down to the following. If the unborn represents a life, then it is not rational and, sorry to say, unjustifiable. If it does not represent life, then, well, frankly, most abortion is justifiable. I sought to show, albeit in brief, that on both a scientific and philosophical basis, it is reasonable to conclude that the unborn are analytically alive. Thus, it would be unjustifiable. Allow me to explain further.

Given that the unborn represents a life, it has a certain intrinsic value, this is why the rape victim is a victim, because her life too has intrinsic value and it is not just the body that is harmed when someone is raped, but all elements of their lives. It is their future that is victimized and I, again, would like much stricter penalties on those who commit rape than we currently have. A brief period of time in prison, a release with flyers going out to the community doesn’t seem like enough, and I think this is an issue where we could all agree. That being said, an attack on an innocent party doesn’t facilitate or rationally excuse another. In the case of these examples, you wind up with, essentially, three parties. The rapist, the victim, and the unborn. That the woman is victimized doesn’t justify the harming and victimization of another innocent party. The stealing of one parties innocence doesn’t necessitate or excuse the trespassing of another.

I think we have a pretty moral understanding of this. We make concessions when a victim attacks the perpetrator who victimized them, but we don’t when it is an outside and innocent party. A woman whose life is victimized by a rapist, going after her rapist and taking his life, sorry to say, I am not going to be too sympathetic toward him on that one, but if she murders his children, well then I am going to say that is not justifiable in any sense. It just comes down to this, if you are a victim then you deserve all the sympathy and all the help in the world, but it doesn’t give you the justification nor right to harm innocent life. What to do about the child once it is born? Well, those are issues that raise some difficulty, but difficulties don’t allow for the harming of innocent lives. They need to be tackled on their own and I would suggest that the issue of what one does with a child, an unwanted child, is an issue that extends past abortion, but to suggest abortion is the only avenue is quite disingenuous.

It also isn’t universal that women who have been raped abort their children. Now, this can’t be considered a pro-life argument per se, it’s an anecdotal fallacy, but it does show that support, advice, guidance, and help to those in such a terrible situation may be available, and practical, to those who need and may benefit from it.

On The Case of Incest

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In all likelihood, and for good reason, the following this one will make most people squeamish. Yet, it is worth addressing because, not only does it include a couple other of the arguments we will visit, but also, its a subject that has been increasingly popping up due to the “love is love” movement, if you will, becoming increasingly prominent in today’s society, which, I hope makes the reader just as squeamish. No, I am not talking about LGBT or how they may use the term, but people who have taken it to justify great perverse examples which I would prefer not to get into here. Yes, they do make me that squeamish.

This argument is actually an amalgamation of other arguments. For one, in cases of incest, rape is often considered as its cause by those who are proponents of this argument. The other is from birth defect, and as we have addressed the first, the second one is where it gets tricky. I will save some of it for addressing birth defects as a singular issue, but there is no doubt that incest can produce birth defects. Yes, no doubt. I once heard a law professor speaking about how it was some sort of rumor or falsehood that incest can produce such deformities. I don’t know how studying law makes someone an expert on such things (by the way I am not an expert either), but it flies in the face of genetics and history.

Indeed, when one looks over the monarchy governments over the course of history, it becomes apparent that some were deformed by the close intermarrying of bloodlines, many monarchies believing that the bloodlines needed to be as pure as possibles, which led to deformities both in body and mind. This seems to be the focal point of the incest argument, that of physical or mental deformities. I will seek to show that these don’t justify abortion on their own, but neither does the cause. It may seem grotesque to some, but the product of intermarrying or otherwise, still remains a life, and the extinguishing is unjustifiable. Yes, that life still has value. Yes, it is still a life. Thus, it is not justifiable to terminate it because of source, victimhood, or condition. We get into some of these deeper in the next section.

On The Case of Birth Defect

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Recently, a mentally handicapped man sat before the Senate and testified passionately that his life was worth living. It is sad that a handicapped man had to testify to that, to remind people, to show people, to inform them that his life, despite his handicap, had value. That he was not worthless. That he enjoyed his life and contributed to the life of others. This is echoed by actor John C. McGinley known most famously for his roles in the movie Office Space and his role on the TV show Scrubs. Though his mission is different, namely, the removal of a certain offensive term from the public lexicon. He hasn’t expressed an opinion on abortion, but his love for his mentally handicapped son is shared by many families in his circumstance. His mission is a good one, and one I have changed my view on over the years. Simply, I used to have a “words don’t hurt” mentality when it came to such things, and I justified it through scholastic adherence, but I have since then shifted my thoughts on it. I may write on it someday.

This is the danger we reach when we see birth defects and determine that that life has a lesser value or absolutely no value. Many families who have children who are handicapped, while they admit the challenge, also declare their love for their special needs sons or daughters. Challenge and difficulty don’t negate value, sometimes it actually does the opposite. I find slippery slope arguments sometimes to be fallacious but we do need to ask if this is permissible and allowed, then where does it end? This represents a problem I have reached with trying to iron out the pro-choice view, in that it is incredibly blurry. This permissibility of the hazy can lead to things beyond the pro-choice argumentation. We literally have people advocating now for the death of sentient, independent, and individual, living beings. Again, this completely does away with the arguments we are examining.

Not to get too far off track, when we say or allow that a deformity means that something doesn’t have a right to live, that is very dangerous territory, and in my mind, quite wrong. Since “sentience” has no place anymore in determining whether some live or die, at what age outside the womb is the permissible? Although we are getting quite good, that is science is, at detecting birth defects inside the womb, what about if one only becomes apparent at birth? Is it justifiable then?

I just find it hard to look at someone handicapped either mentally or physically and think their life isn’t worth living. Yet, in the case of abortion, when it is justified because of this line of reasoning, that is exactly what we are doing, we are predetermining that their life has a lesser value than those without handicap, and then it needs to be asked, where the line is drawn? In addition, how is it affecting those who are handicapped now when we argue on this basis that it is better that they should not have been born?

On The Life of The Mother

As I have revealed, there were a few surprises when examining the individual issues raised against the pro-life view. This is one of them. I, for some reason that I can’t honestly articulate, thought this would be an easy one to address on a philosophical level, but it turned out to be a bit more difficult than I thought. Particularly, because one needs to show that a contradiction doesn’t exist in their view when included within a whole argument. Further, it raised some philosophical issues which I didn’t expect. That being said, let’s move into it.

In the strictest sense of the term, here is one condition where I am “pro-choice.” I want to make this clear because I have heard some pro-life arguments which declare that it is not permissible to abort in such a circumstance. I am pro-choice on this issue because of the reasons I will share, but also because I can’t say that a mother in unjustified or wrong in giving up her life for her unborn child as some mothers have done. I recently read about a mother who denied herself chemotherapy because it would terminate the pregnancy, but in doing so was giving herself a death sentence. Such loving sacrifice I couldn’t ever say was wrong, it is the ultimate and I can’t help but find it honorable and find it worthy of the highest accolades.

Yet, should the life of the mother, if threatened, be bound to die because of the life of their unborn child? This is where it gets tricky, and I believe we will present another element to this question later when we discuss potentiality and actuality, but here we will just appeal to ideals. I must admit to the reader that by ideals I mean an idealism. I am somewhat of an idealist in that I do think morality is objective. I also share in the views of some of the more famous idealists like Martin Luther King Jr. who I cite because of his idealism concerning the inherent rights of man, which are applicable in this discussion and it is here where I would like to begin on answering the question concerning the life of the mother.

When I began to examine this question I felt like I was in sort of a stalling tailspin for a while in that I didn’t know what direction I would go, except into confusion. Yet, eventually I found my footing and some even ground concerning the intrinsic rights of man, or as some may say, all living things. What are these intrinsic rights of man that idealists frequently cite? Further, what rights are exhibited in behavior like self-preservation? As you may recall, we touched on this already when discussing sentience. The most basic right that life has, which it strives to grasp hold, is the right to live. The right to life. This is indeed the most basic right to any living creature. The conflict, of course, comes in when the right of one thing to live conflicts with the right of another.

This is exactly what we find happening in the case of where the mother’s life is threatened by the life inside. We find that the mother’s right to life is in conflict with the unborn’s right to life. What do we do in such situations? How do we determine which one has the greater right to life? We should face the facts and realize that we all probably encounter this conflict more than we would like to admit. In the foods we eat is one example of how we experience in our normal everyday lives this right to life. It is when pondering the general rules which govern such right to life interaction where things become difficult. There are general principles, but no real rule, which allows for the pro-choice position in this circumstance. In fact, if we consider the one anecdote I provided, then it seems to add more credibility to this principle.

This principle may seem silly in how simplistic it is, but often right to life decisions are governed by principles relating to chronological order. Simply, if a thing has a long-established right to life, then when in conflict with another right to life, the former takes precedence over it. This is not always the case, however, and other elements come into play. For instance, the greatness of a thing might overpower the right to life of another, which in other circumstances may have a presiding right to life. A younger lion may overtake an older gazelle because of might rather than any right to life, not that the animal kingdom would have any concept of that. Despite this, I believe there are certain principles at work in the world, in general, which are metaphysical and which, when analyzed, can provide insight into human behavior and ethical questions.

Even Darwin denoted these metaphysical principles, in his Origin of The Species, and his exploration of the survival of the fittest. Yes, in his view, it was fitness, aka. greatness and might that precipitated his survival of the fittest principle. Also, but not always, what is more fit to protect its life is often more developed, in which age can be a factor. So what governs conflicts between rights of life is fitness and chronological factors. In these aspects, the mother is justified in preserving her life, but only in as far as she is living, not the condition of her life. The anecdotal evidence which I brought forth, shows that if a woman believed her life wouldn’t extend much past the child, then she is justified in viewing the child’s right to life above her own.

In the end, making difficult decisions in these circumstances is justifiable because the mother’s right to life preexists the one of the unborn and, as heart-wrenching as it is, should be given the choice to prolong her life in such a tragic situation. To some degree, I think this might surpass the abortion argument though. I mean, really, how many of these situations take place at a Planned Parenthood rather than at a hospital? I can’t say it never happened, but I am willing to bet that these incidents don’t occur at Planned Parenthood.

On The “It’s My Body…” Argument

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This argument isn’t a particularly good one. I would hope that this answer to the pro-life movement is less literal and more figurative, in a sense saying just, “it’s my choice.” Though this argument too is not a very valid reason for terminating a life, it at least attempts to make the morality of such a position relative, while the former “it’s my body, my choice” argument is tainted by absurdity. This is easily rebuked by utilizing principles of identity. From the pro-life perspective and the view that the child represents a life, it is the life of the child that is terminated and not the life of the mother. This alone indicates that there are separate lives, or if you prefer, bodies which should be regarded.

One way to approach this is to address the issue while appealing to philosophical theories concerning the nature of form and of identity, or how we can differentiate between individual forms. One way we do this is by noting the differences between one form and another. It is the case, of course, that pregnancy does affect the nature of the whole, i.e. the mother, but this doesn’t necessitate that both the child and the mother are made up of the same substance regarding body and form.

Let us say, for example, that one wishes to demolish a wall inside their house to expand a room. Well, the demolishing of that wall, although changing the overall layout of the house, doesn’t cease to make it a home. It is an individual structure, which, given that there is sound construction, doesn’t negate the house itself. So, yes, while pregnancy does affect the body of the woman who is pregnant, this doesn’t mean that the child is a part of that body alone.

In fact, how often is it the case that women can produce children without any sexual contact? If pregnancy is a manifestation of the body of the mother and is not merely a cause of effect to the mother’s body, then we might be justified in asking whether or not virgin births and pregnancies should be more commonplace?

The bodies are certainly linked, and the critic might approach this and ask why if the bodies are not one and the same then why the death of one can bring about the death of another? Doesn’t this, given my train of thought, imply that the bodies are one and the same because of the sharing of effects? To take the home and wall example again (as poor as it might be), to knock out a wall from inside the home can indeed be often done, but one must take into account the construction. If one knocks out the wrong wall, which is internally necessary for the house’s sound construction, then the home might become unstable and collapse. Still, just because an effect is similarly shared, doesn’t mean that the wall and the home are one.

Obviously, too, there are structural differences between a wall and a house which provide distinguishing characteristics to imply that one isn’t the other. This is too the case when it comes to child and mother. The child has its own internal organs, its own DNA, its own chromosomes, and various other differences which distinguish it as an individual from the mother. To suggest otherwise is quite a twist on sound logic, biology, and science as a whole. Yes, the body of the child exists within a body, but it is not equitable to that body in which it exists. Both have separate identities. In short, it is not the body of the mother which one is addressing, but that individual body which is being terminated. If mother and child shared the same exact substance, then both would be terminated by the abortion.

On a Business That is None of Yours

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This one has been refuted by the pro-choice movement itself and organizations like Planned Parenthood which while saying its none of anyone’s business other than the mother’s and their doctor’s (abortionist), at the same time they demand taxpayer-funded support, which pulls just about every taxpayer into the debate. While many might support or not care where their tax dollars go, it does justify the opponent of abortion to join in the conversation. To say it is none of anyone’s business doesn’t negate the fact that we are demanded to pay for it, and until each person has to cover their own expenses, or people can opt out of having their tax dollars to go to such a cause, this argument is a strongly invalid one.

Let us suppose this is the case though, that our tax dollars are not used and you can opt out completely of anything that supports or goes to the cause, would it still be none of anyone’s business, particularly the business of men? That men can’t make judgments on the practice is said as a method to silence opposition, but its not particularly a good argument, since boys too are terminated in the womb, and men are paying for it, and have an active part in the creation of a child. If it is none of the business of men to make judgments on abortion, then the child is none of our business at all. To follow this to its logical end would mean the end of all child support being paid by men and all responsibility would fall on the woman. Of course, we would not dare say such a thing or suggest this course of action, because men share in the responsibility for children and it very much is our business.

We also have to ask whether or not we can approach any moral question if we are not directly involved? This is akin to cultural relativism or ethical relativism except in hyperdrive. These questions usually concern cultures and civilizations far removed from us and then ask if the actions they take or the ideas they have can be judged by another culture? For instance, do people in the United States have a right to judge practices like female genital mutilation as is done in areas within the Middle East? If we don’t then are we justified in granting asylum because of such practices? If we are cultural relativists then we would either need to practice stringent isolationism or embrace lawlessness and anarchy on both an international and domestic scale.

Yet, the “none of your business” argument suggests a cultural relativism within one’s own culture. This is why it’s a hyper-cultural-relativism and denies the existence of objective morals whatsoever, which is wholly unrealistic. When we follow these principles to their logical and eventual end, we find that we certainly wouldn’t want to live in a world where this is the case. We want men to not be “deadbeat dads” (there would be no such thing in an ethically relative world), we want them paying child support and taking care of their offspring, we want a world where we can question morality objectively that we may apply laws, which would not exist if we didn’t believe in such objectivity. No, as a non-aborted citizen, we do have a right and responsibility to make moral questions and examine these questions as they confront us. Therefore, it is on these grounds that this is a paper thing argument which falls apart under the lightest of scrutiny. It really doesn’t have any more logical weight than just telling someone to shut up.

On The Right To Judge

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This argument is strongly related to the last but has at least one more distinction. It assumes that one can have their own moral beliefs, but even in the presence of these views, one cannot pass judgment on a person who does otherwise. It is somewhat self-defeating though.

For instance, a person who declares that a person is wrong in daring to judge another for a particular practice is doing the same thing they’ve declared shouldn’t be done. Pretty much in the same breath. Simply, to say one is wrong to pass judgment is judgment and indicates the absurdity of this statement even on a very subjective level.

On “A Bunch of Cells”

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One of the questions that concerns both science and philosophy is the question of identity, and there are numerous ideas concerning the complexities of life and matter and how it is manifest within a singular identity. In the strictest of terms, for instance, life within the womb is a bunch of cells, but then again, so are all living things. Not only this, but we can even go beyond this and say that all living things are made up of energy. An analysis of the matter of which life forms are comprised, to the quantum level, is indeed scientifically useful, and philosophically useful, but it doesn’t negate life. Life is a complex unity of energy, cells, genes, chromosomes, DNA, chemicals, elements, all working in unison to allow life to thrive. To say a person is a just a composition of cells and the genetic code isn’t necessarily untrue, but it is an examination of the particulars of which make up life, not of the definition of it.

In fact, I would suppose that to say we are just an amalgamation of cells is a bit of an analytical statement, and is presupposed in the definition of life. This is not to say that all form is living because it is made up of cells, for such a statement would be quite ridiculous. It is to say that cellular structure and composition is a necessary part of life, so it doesn’t really add anything to the argument at all, since “bundles of cells” can be both living and nonliving. It amounts to that the child is not a life, which is already the argument anyway, and it ignores the other particulars, DNA, chromosomes, genes, organ development, and others which present further evidence of life.

As a side note, we do know that certain forms of life represent colonial organisms, or ones that are considered a singular being, like the so-called flying spaghetti monster (Bathyphysa conifers), a siphonophore, which is an organism made up of a cluster of individual organisms called zooids. A more famous example is the Portuguese man o’war. One would be forgiven for considering this creature to be a jellyfish, but a jellyfish represents a single multicellular organism, while a siphonophore, is an organism made up of a colony of individual organisms. All this just is mentioned to show that a “cell-cluster” is both to be expected in a life form, and isn’t enough to negate the presence of life. A general principle of life within biology and science is that life is multicellular, this usually only applies to the more complex forms of life, but there are even singular cells which represent life, called unicellular organisms (single-celled organisms). They are considered by science to be the oldest form of life and contains things like algae and plankton. It is quite obvious that we cannot compare human life to algae or a zooid, but one cannot say that based on a cellular cluster it doesn’t represent life, nor, even, a single-celled organism.

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Bathyphysa conifers

In relation to this the 6th edition of Patten’s Foundations of Embryology says:

“Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.” –Bruce M. Carlson, Patten’s Foundations of Embryology, 1996.

On Assuming The Negative

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When we look at abortion from a broad perspective, one is often challenged with the question, “When does life begin?” This is a reasonable question and in argumentation, it is used to either defend one’s position or argue against the other side’s position. In other words, it is both used on the offensive and the defensive side of the argument. Yet, we all use it to solidify our own position on the issue because it is so integral an element and by asking it we agree that this is more than a relative issue, but an objective one. Now, again, there are few places where there is room for compromise on abortion, but one that we find often is found here. When it comes down to it, many simply say they do not know where life begins, and as pro-life as I may be, at least this is an honest answer. None of us are truly omniscient, nor can we remember the exact moment upon which life or consciousness was given unto us.

This is the question we reach with this line of thought: Is it reasonable then, that since we do not know where life begins in the womb exactly, that we should, therefore, not consider it to be life, and treat it as non-life? To me, this is quite an unreasonable approach. As a whole, when we say we do not know when life begins, is to open ourselves up to the possibility that it may be a life, as opposed to those who flatly deny it. Since we all know the value of life, and the possibility of life is there, then why would we assume the negative rather than the positive? It seems to me that if you value life, then you would at least want to side on the side of caution that you may be, indeed, terminating a life, rather than since you cannot know, decide that it is worth discarding or terminating. Indeed, it could be said, if we were to even accept that it does not represent life, that life is so valuable that even a developing life deserves to be protected.

On The Positive and Absolute Value of Choice

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At this point, one may argue that it is choice that is the deciding factor, but this too falls apart under scrutiny. Just because someone has a choice to do something, doesn’t make the choice correct, moral, or rational. Driving down a two-lane highway, I have the choice to veer off into the oncoming lane and hit another car, to both end my life and take many others with me. I give this example, not as a direct comparison of abortion, but rather to show that it is not choice that presents us with absolute freedom and a positive value upon making any choice, but rather the context of that choice and the situation within which it is regarded and applicable. The truth value, moral value, and rational value doesn’t exist in the presence of choice itself, but in the choice taken. Yet, in the pro-choice movement, there is present the presupposition that the presence of choice indicates a positive absolute value in the expression of it. Yet, our common life experience empirically shows that this is not the case and saying a choice is correct simply because of the presence of choice is a poor one. Though I do believe there are those on the pro-choice side that understand this and use other means to make a case for abortion, at the same time, it is presented as a general companion to the movement, rather than a necessary component of it.

On Pure Being Through Causality

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Throughout this essay, we have touched on some of the scientific backing behind life and its origins, but there too is the philosophical side to address when it comes to life being manifest in the womb. This part represents more the metaphysical principles behind the science and more general philosophical categories, but it may be of some use to those who aren’t so quick to dismiss philosophical elements and argumentation.

It is not in dispute that those who have life generally have the ability to create life. This too, is a principle of causality, that an effect of a cause will, in some part, have semblance with that cause. An effect will resemble the cause, and this applies to things like life. Two living things coming together to create an effect, that living nature is presented onto that effect. This is all that is meant when it is said that life begets life. No matter what your cosmological viewpoint, this cannot be denied, and although some might question whether it is a necessary principle, the fact that it is such a looming one is beyond dispute.

Well, what does this have to do with proving life is in the womb? Well, it cannot be deductively and without room for doubt be deemed true (deductive logic being hypothesized to be only represented in pure mathematics and pure propositional logic), but it can be used in the inductive toolkit for defending the pro-life position, that the child within the womb represents a life because the child’s causes are life, and that life is communicated unto the unborn.

This does present us with a snowball effect of philosophical issues. For instance, that not every time man embarks on creating an effect, if you will, does it end in expressing life. If I build a chair, I am not creating life, but only form. If I make a clock, I am only creating form and function. I may produce something that makes movement, or in the case of robotics, even mimics life, but it is not life. Further, sometimes the desire and actions that bring life, for various reasons aren’t enough to actually bring it into being, nor is the life always carried to term. Yet, in the latter case does that mean it never existed at all?

Briefly, so why don’t a chair or clock resemble life by these philosophical theories? Notice, they aren’t the product of natural processes, like child-creation, for instance, rather they are produced by the mind and by action and in this way they really do have a semblance. They have an aesthetical resemblance and one that fits our desires for function and use. They resemble our plans, our ambitions, and what we find aesthetically pleasing. In this way, they do take on a resemblance, but we are quite unable to impart life unto these things, unlike in the case of a child, upon which we impart life.

On Potentiality, Actuality, and The “Unanswerable” Argument

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A few months ago, I was presented with a pro-choice argument that was touted to be unanswerable by anyone who has a pro-life position. I am not the only one in this regard that when approached by someone who says they had something “unanswerable,” it immediately piques our interest and we immediately embark on seeing it is really the case. Sometimes they aren’t very interesting or challenging, and sometimes very, and sometimes you learn new things, and sometimes you don’t. While in particular, this one was very creative and clever, it wasn’t particularly difficult, but, in my case, it actually helped me iron out a pro-life position.

Many of you have probably seen it so I would like to paraphrase a bit here, but leave all the rational parts intact. Suppose you were a pro-life person and were caught in a burning building. In one room there was a two-year-old girl and in another, there is a room full of a thousand zygotes and both are of equal distance away. You only have time to run and grab one before the building collapses taking everything inside with it. Which one do you go get? The zygotes or the child?

Clever, right? I will admit it. It is. Yet, this doesn’t mean it’s correct. First, it represents a kind of logical fallacy called argument from consequences. In it, a hypothetical scenario is introduced where both consequences are undesirable (i.e., if one leaves the child then the zygotes are burned up, if one leaves the zygotes then the child is burned up). Then those offering the scenario ask the person to make a judgment call based upon it. Further, the scenario is perfectly structured for one to make a singular choice, in that both are of equal distance apart, you can only grab one, so on and so forth.

We put this in another context with the same logical operators and we see it’s not particularly rationally effective. Suppose you were a pro-animal person (who isn’t?) and were caught in a burning building. In one room there is a kitten and in another room there is a puppy and both are exactly the same distance away from you. You only have time to run and grab one before the building collapses taking everything inside with it. Which one do you go get? The kitten or the puppy.

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Obviously, this differs in that the kitten and puppy both represent life, while the pro-choice person is trying to argue life. However, this shows another element though, that the original scenario is also fallacious in that it is an appeal to emotion. It also becomes apparent in what it seeks to do. For instance, if one says, “I would grab the kitten,” then the person offering the challenge could declare “Aha! Then you hate puppies!” Just because one pushes for a judgment between consequences both undesirable doesn’t really show the exact reason why either is undesirable.

Unlike the kitten and puppy though, which may have a bigger judgment call element, this one does seem more obvious. Obviously, we would all grab the child. Due to this, the critic says, “Aha! Then you agree that zygotes don’t represent life.” This is the thing that helped me iron out my position, and let me explain.

I noticed that it is zygotes alone. It’s not women impregnated who have this stage, all thousand of them or whatever you would like to say. There is indeed a dependency of life on the mother at the zygote stage and that cannot be denied, nor has any pro-life person, as far as I know, tried to deny it. This goes back to the beginning of the essay, if dependency negates life. It does not. If you take a dependent thing and demand it be independent, it’s going to die. The greater the dependency the more fragile it is in independence. So how does it apply here?

It applies because it presented into my mind a distinction between potentiality and actuality. In the scenario, when we are confronted with the young child, that represents both actuality and greater independence. A zygote shows a potentiality in that without being within the womb of a mother, it cannot continue to develop.

J. Clark says:

“Each human begins life as a combination of two cells, a female ovum, and a much smaller sperm. This tiny unit, no bigger than a period on this page, contains all the information needed to enable it to grow into a complex…structure of the human body. The mother has only to provide nutrition and protection.” –J. Clark, The Nervous System: Circuits of Communication in The Human Body, p. 99, 1985.

If left to its own devices, if not protected, then it is a death sentence. Therefore, it is dependent on the mother, and since the mother isn’t there, it is a thing that represents a potentiality relatively more than the actuality found within the child.

Yet, as I have stated, both consequences are regrettable and tragic. Due to this, then, we can see that even if, to go back to the section Assuming The Negative, potentiality deserves to be protected. For instance, if you are to ask the pro-life person if it was him in a burning building with zygotes if he or she would grab them, you may find more people opting to do so (I refrain from saying this absolutely because of the judgment call, for one’s own life is still to be taken into account within such a situation and I can’t speak for everyone). It shows that there at the very least there is a value in protecting the potentiality for life as well as it’s actuality, thereby, to assume the negative isn’t rational.

So yes, while clever, and I actually have to give some respect to the question, it doesn’t do what it seeks to do, and it helped me iron out my own position, not just concerning the challenge itself, but my pro-life stance in general.

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On The Charge of Sexism

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The charge that abortion is symptomatic of sexism doesn’t stand up either. The reasons for this are, first off, that there are pro-life women too and it actually is quite demeaning to say that women who are pro-life are only so because they have given in to the power of men. This, while not sexist (because you can’t be sexist towards your own gender right?), it is demeaning to say that because someone doesn’t agree with your viewpoint, they are weak, can’t think for themselves, ignorant, or stupid. In that regard, with that kind of treatment, it’s hard for me to see how such a charge champions for women. It can’t. The process of tearing down will never lift up.

Yet, let’s for a moment even assume that is true. Let us just give that to the pro-choice position. Does it still hold that there is proof of sexism? No, because the pro-choice side, if you will notice, doesn’t push to only save male children, but wishes to do so despite gender, from both female and male pro-lifers. It is not a sexist position, but a rational and moral one which no gender can claim hold of.

On The Pro-Life View Being a Religious Position

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Yes, I had to touch on religion eventually, but I will keep this argument in context. This is an attempt to label pro-life people as religious in order to give it sort of a mythical quality to the non-religious pro-choice group. See the problem there? This one is refuted because there are religious people who are pro-choice. There are groups that don’t believe in religion and are pro-life. Among these are groups like SPL (“secular pro-life”), which is of the greater atheistic pro-life movement, as well as even pagan pro-life, the latter only being mentioned because a lot of those who argue that pro-lifers are religious are referring to Judeo-Christian theology. Yet, while it is the case that many religious people are pro-life, that in itself doesn’t make it an irrational position, andy more than people declaring murder should be made legal because the religious believe it shouldn’t be.

The fact that it is not religious is exhibited by the wide range of beliefs and views of individuals who hold to the pro-life position. Some, of which, I have been privileged to talk to. The other reason that people push the religious angle to discredit pro-life, is because if they can put a religious label on it, it is easier to evoke the separation of church and state and say that it is unconstitutional to impose restrictions on abortion on the grounds that it would be imposing something religious, like it is some mystical religious practice or something to believe an unborn child represents a life and should be protected as such. Questions of morality, choice, life, what constitutes life and what protections it should receive is in no way religious, as I hope this whole essay is evidence of.

On The Women Seeking Abortion Will Be Injured or Die

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This oft-repeated argument goes as follows: If abortion is made illegal, then it would force women who want abortions to do so through illegal means, which are less safe and can lead to injury or even death. While this is certainly a sad consequence of banning abortion across the board, it sidesteps the fact that these things happen with current abortions. Interestingly, it is hard to get numbers on such incidents because it is not legally required that abortion clinics provide them, whether it be death or complications. In addition, when a death occurs it is characterized as maternal death and not one necessarily resulting from abortion. Some deaths are caused by the anesthesia, medical conditions, and the surgical procedure itself. In addition, the risk of cancer is said to increase. Abortionfacts.com states:

“Approximately 10% of women undergoing elective abortion will suffer immediate complications, of which approximately one-fifth (2%) are considered life-threatening. The nine most common major complications which can occur at the time of abortion are: infection, excessive bleeding, embolism, ripping or perforation of the uterus, anesthesia complications, convulsions, hemorrhage, cervical injury, and endotoxic shock. The most common ‘minor’ complications include: infection, bleeding, fever, second-degree burns, chronic abdominal pain, vomiting, gastrointestinal disturbances, and Rh sensitization.” –David C. Reardon, Ph.D., https://www.abortionfacts.com/reardon/major-physical-affects-related-to-abortion

Whyprolife.com says there is even danger in the abortion pill:

“22 women who took the abortion pill have died since 2000. Women who have had surgical abortions have died also. Just to name a few: Antonesha Ross died on May 8, 2009, in Chicago of untreated respiratory complications that should have prevented her from having an abortion in the first place. Ying Chen died on July 28, 2009, in California after an anesthesia reaction that went unnoticed. Karnamaya Mongar died in November of 2009 in Philadelphia after unlicensed personnel administered her sedation medications and oversedated her. Jennifer Morbelli died on February 7, 2013, in Maryland because of an amniotic fluid embolism. Tonya Reeves hemorrhaged to death in Chicago in July of 2012. On February 13, 2013, Maria Santiago died in Maryland of sedation complications. Given the reasons . . . for underreporting, these cases represent an unknown but small fraction of actual complications or deaths related to abortion.” –www.whyprolife.com/abortion-risks-side-effects-and-complications/, 2018.

Indeed, it seems that even deaths which have been caused or contributed to by abortion or labeled as “maternal” rather than referencing the abortion itself as a cause, just as the CDC monitors deaths under the Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System any specifically related to abortion. Further, there are a number of studies that I invite the reader to look up about the psychological effects of abortion in the long-term. I don’t mention these things to indicate that there is no difference between the abortions of yesteryear (illegal) and currently (legal), for I am certain the former was much more dangerous, but we cannot say that abortion is 100% safe either, or without consequence.

Whatever you think about the numbers and findings, it still doesn’t mean that the argument for the health of women seeking an abortion through illicit means is a good one. Whether abortion is safe isn’t that much of a consideration if it is immoral. Let us simplify this argument for the sake of time. If the developing child, or whatever you want to call it, represents a life, then taking that life is wrong (the cases of the life of the mother being threatened by the pregnancy alone notwithstanding). It amounts to infanticide. If it does not represent life, then it is justifiable. However, if it is a life, and is therefore morally wrong, then the fact that someone gets hurt or maims themselves, or dies in the pursuit of doing wrong, isn’t a good rationale for the legalization and approval of that wrong.

On Only The Rich Will Only Have Access to Abortion

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I just heard this one and needed to include it to answer it briefly. I don’t think it will take as much time as any of the other challenges because it falls apart pretty quickly. It says that if we make abortion illegal, only the rich can afford it. I may, I hope, not have to explain why this is a bad argument for too long. Let’s put it in another context. We may all disagree on whether drugs should be made legal, but for the sake of illustration, let’s put it this way: Let us suppose that meth is the most expensive drug on the planet (you can probably already see where I am going with this). Therefore only the rich and upper classes can afford to do meth. Thus, it follows, that we should legalize meth on the grounds that it is more affordable for everyone and everyone can do meth. Again, not a direct comparison, but one that emphasizes that if something is wrong, how much someone pays for that wrong, and how much people can’t afford that wrong, is a bad foundation upon which to give your support.

On Progression, Regression, and The Political Pendulum

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Abortion has always been a mainstay in the public dialogue, but within my life, I have to say, I haven’t seen it like this before. This is why I decided to write somewhat extensively on it and present all the arguments. One large reason that it has come to the forefront of the political and social discourse is because of how far one side was willing to go, advocating unequivocally for what amounted to infanticide. One thing we notice about society and the political spectrum is that when we press for progression too far, or try to regress into the past too far as well, the political pendulum will sometimes violently swing the other direction. This swing, which is always in motion, can occur over a gradual period of time, or at other times it can be rather abrupt. Due to the fact that it was pushed so far one direction, that children out of the womb, who were independent, or actual and sentient, were subject to choice, not only negated all the arguments pro-choice people were making for years but also shocked those who were in the middle on the abortion issue. If you think about it, that isn’t too surprising. To say that you can slaughter a child born out of the womb because choice overcomes its life is shocking, and that it was testified too and freely admitted, was, in another sense, confirmation of what some of those pro-lifers who advocated for slippery-slope arguments were saying.

There is something to be aware of here for the pro-life group. As I said, this pendulum is always in motion, so it is to likely swing the other way, and may already be starting to as of this moment.

On Whether Can You Be Pro-Life if You Were Once Part of or Exercised a Pro-Choice Viewpoint?

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Yes! Indeed, many have switched between views, degrees of those views, and jumped back and forth over their lives, and this won’t change. Why this is a question included, is because sometimes people invest so much in a particular view that its either frightening to get away from or they feel hypocritical for moving from one end of the spectrum to another. We often have friends, family, or colleagues we fear we may disappoint or may disagree with us and we are afraid we might lose them. Certainly, it is a fear of mine in writing this. Yet, this isn’t always the case, nor should it be. These views, pro-life and pro-choice, don’t seem to be exclusive ones at all.

I’ll leave it with this thought and paraphrase author C. S. Lewis by doing so, that it is the case that people adhere to progressivism simply because of its appeal that it is progressive. Yet, there is nothing more regressive and stagnant then not recognizing a mistake and refusing to turn around. When one embarks on a journey toward a particular destination, it is not progressive to make a wrong turn and keep going, it leads you only further away, and the only way to really progress is to turn again and proceed back toward your intended goal. If your goal is the truth then don’t let your mistakes keep you from progressing forward.

Thank you all for reading and I hope at the very least this work might present you with the understanding that the pro-life position isn’t arbitrarily foolish, but thought out, explored, and despite the challenges (some of which are gut-wrenching), still stands in the light of its challenges.

Also, I welcome any comments, but because within my studies I have found those who insult, express uncontrolled rage, hatred, and threats to be the most irrational and convincing, all such comments will be ignored. However, I welcome any further challenges or thoughts that I may have not considered and would love to hear your thoughts on these issues.

Again, I thank you.

 


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There are many questions that confront us regarding how the Bible and the natural sciences interact. We are inundated with Darwinian models of development for the complex forms of life we see around us. It is quite understandable, then, that the generally secular scientific field would eventually confront or clash with the Word of God. For the most part, the supernatural origins of life as revealed in the Holy Bible are at complete odds with the strict naturalism of the current scientific establishment. It is in this case that Christianity becomes more classically liberal than those in or adhering to today’s institutionalized scientific oligarchy, for the Christian realizes that some of the challenges brought forth by secular science are not ridiculous or absurd but should be applied to Scripture for an answer to any phenomenon which is used by science for its own ends, or to make the believer stumble. It is odd, but not surprising, that science makes this one of their manifest goals through the use of appeals to emotion, straw man arguments, and outright vicious attacks. Science doesn’t do this wholesale, but it is seen time and time again. The Christian is wise to not use similar means to reject their challenges, but weigh them based on that special revelation from God, His Word.

What led me to ponder this, in particular, was the evolutionary theory and the natural sciences which suggest that a shape of a creature’s teeth not only shows the diet of the animal but also, apparently, determines it. In this question, a conflict arose within me that if put in question form would ask, “If all creatures initially only ate from the fruit of the land then why the differences in tooth form? Would this not imply a great inequality of efficiency between species regarding their ability to feed and denote an imperfection within God’s design?” It should be noted that tooth form isn’t always indicative of a creatures’ diet, take the panda or fruit bat, for example, that have teeth like the carnivores (as well as other attributes), but aren’t strictly carnivores themselves. While tooth form cannot absolutely be assured to necessarily and correctly identify a creatures’ diet, there is a general rule here that cannot be denied.

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The irony is not lost on me that in my studies I have confronted some very difficult issues, generally in the realm of philosophical apologetics, only to find myself, when embarking on scientific apologetics, to be tripped up by something as “simple” as tooth form. To address this issue, I believe we have to get rid of the idea that, near the origins of predation, a carnivore wouldn’t be able to eat at all if meat were not available. Even if predation was a later development, it doesn’t mean that a carnivore couldn’t have lived, for a time, off plant material. I am not addressing so much the physical need here, for I believe there are further biological imperatives which make meat consumption a necessity to some creatures, but rather I am more addressing the ability. To put it in another way, I grew up in a home with several cats and saw them grazing off grass often, which is apparently done in an effort to calm an upset stomach (makes you wonder where they got this knowledge from?), and their love for, and the effects of, catnip are plainly obvious. Further, livestock has been observed on occasion to consume rodents or scavenge off the dead.

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When I was a child I visited a national park and witnessed someone feed a hot dog to a deer. The park ranger got quite irate with the person and told them that in doing so they threaten to shift the deer’s natural diet, which he said would have devastating consequences. One could argue about the exact meat contents of a hot dog, or indeed its contents in general, but that is beside the point. The real point is that just because something is less efficient, like a carnivore grazing, it doesn’t mean that it cannot do so at all. A cat doesn’t turn down its nip because it lacks tools to help it partake more efficiently. This is all very obvious, but I believe a near fully-developed presupposition to the contrary is at work here and is somewhat giving me difficulty, but perhaps further exploration into the biblical timeframe for carnivorism will help settle this matter and the conflicts I still feel are present.

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In my short study of the origins of carnivorous behavior as it applies to the Bible, I found four possible viewpoints discussed. A) Pre—Fall of man, which denotes both death and animals eating other animals immediately after the creation, B) Post-Fall of man, which says that death came into the world only after the fall, and only then did creatures start consuming each other, C) Pre-Flood (in my mind the same as B), and D) Post-Flood, which states that creatures killed only other living creatures after they left the ark.

To explore this issue, my method would be to being at D and work toward A because, not only are the temporally latter ones easier to eliminate as possibilities, but also the closer to A we arrive at with carnivorism being present, the less problematic this issue becomes. This doesn’t imply a complete ease though and more difficulties may arise with such eliminations. For instance, if carnivorism appeared after the flood (D), though it would help to explain the lack of conflict between carnivorous species on the ark of Noah, as well as simplifying some food logistics, the resonance of the tooth form problem becomes greater. It is here, at D, we will start, but for the sake of recollection, let us revisit the possible time frames for the appearance of carnivorism:

A: Pre-Fall Carnivorism
B: Post-Fall Carnivorism
C: Pre-Flood Carnivorism
D: Post-Flood Carnivorism

D: Post-Flood Carnivorism

Though favored by some, this conclusion isn’t one of the primary ones in terms of its proponents, but since we know that arguments from consensus present us with a looming logical fallacy, we would be amiss if we eliminated it as a possibility on this basis alone. As far as I have been able to tell, the scriptural support for this idea comes from Genesis chapter 9:

Genesis 9:2-3, “The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority. Every living creature will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything.”

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It is my view that proponents of D equate God’s decree that man can partake in the consumption of meat with the emergence of carnivorism. This, again, may be attractive because if carnivorism didn’t exist up until this point, then it would solve many of the issues concerning Noah’s ark. Answers in Genesis is the apologetics ministry of the rather well-known Ken Ham, and they reference or imply the D view when addressing the food taken onto the ark. Answers in Genesis suggests that if D is true then it was just plants taken aboard, but if A, B, or C is true, then dried or salted meat could have been brought as food. It could have been done with ease, for Genesis 9:2 implies that a “fear and terror” toward man wasn’t inherent in animals until this time. This is worthy of note, especially for this topic, because it denotes not a change of animal form, but of behavior. In addition, we find that animals would have come to the ark easier if they did not fear man. Genesis 6 records how this took place and the command for food to be brought upon the ark:

Genesis 6:19-22, “’You are also to bring into the ark two of all the living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of everything——from the birds according to their kinds, and from the animals that crawl on the ground according to their kinds——will come to you so that you can keep them alive. Take with you every kind of food that is eaten; gather it as food for you and them.’ And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.”

Could man have killed animals for the food of other creatures on the ark even though God didn’t give the living creatures to man to eat until after the flood? I believe so, for Abel many, many years prior, killed animals, the firstborn of his flock, as a sacrifice to the LORD. Genesis chapter 4 records:

Genesis 4:4“And Abel also presented offering——some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering.”

It is possible, then, that Noah could have provided meat for the carnivores on board the ark, and given the command to take “every kind of food that is eaten” it seems it would be reasonable to conclude that he did so (if the emergence of carnivorism occurred between A and C), since “every” would include meat. If it did not occur until D, then this question isn’t an issue. It is a complex problem, the logistics of the ark, with plenty of tangents and additional questions, so we shouldn’t spend too much time on it lest we get off track, but it should be mentioned that the issue of food on the ark becomes less a problem if we believe the miraculous took place, like forms of hibernation or the youth of the animals led to the ark, God not choosing the most fully grown of the animals.

Concerning this point, the NLT rendering of Genesis 8:17 says:

Genesis 8:17[NLT], “Release all the animals——the birds, the livestock, and all the small animals that scurry along the ground——so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”

I think the NLT translation might be on to something here. Other versions render the verse as saying “every creeping thing that creeps,” rather than “small animals that scurry along the ground.” It may be translated this way by the NLT because “creeping thing that creeps” is tautologous and the translators may have thought there was another idea being implied here. Other translations have reached the same conclusion of redundancy, and use other terminology to break it up like, “creatures that crawl” or “scurry” or “move upon the ground.” In the NLT they use “small animals.” Why this is may be found in the Hebrew word which is rendered in the NLT as “scurry” (Hb. Ramas) and denotes steps that are “small.” It may follow then, at least in the mind of the translators, that an animal with such small steps would also be small in stature. Does this mean that all the animals on the ark may have been small or young? I don’t know for sure, but regardless it is an interesting translation.

In addition, some believe that Genesis 7 and the animals mentioned there were used as a food source or breeding stock for other animals.

Genesis 7:1-3, “Then the LORD said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before Me in this generation. You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and a female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female, and seven pairs, male and female, of the birds of the sky——in order to keep offspring alive on the face of the whole earth.’”

Some of these animals were used as sacrifices (Genesis 8:20), but it specifically says only some were. These were most likely the males, while the females weren’t sacrificed, and could all be inseminated by just one virile male if need be.

Genesis 8:20, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD. He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered it to the LORD.”

To remove the conclusion D as a possibility, I believe we can refer to the fossil record, which Christians believe exists largely in part to the great deluge. It is in this fossil record that we find clear evidence of carnivorism. There is the compsognathus found with a lizard in its stomach, the fossil of a velociraptor and a protoceratops in a lethal struggle, and dung from a T-Rex with bone fragments in it, to name a few. Therefore, we can deduce that A, B, or C must be true and eliminate D as a possibility.

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The critic at this point might be quick to attack the Christian on the use of science, which we supposedly don’t believe in, but this charge is an erroneous one. The Christian has no objection to science or its use, quite the contrary, but the Christian uses science in a ministerial way and not a magisterial way. As Creation Ministries International explains, this is because magisterial science “is bound to be flawed, because science by its very nature is tentative, and starts by axioms invented by fallible humans.”

Creation Ministries International continues:

“Science should never be elevated to the same level as logic, because valid logical deductions from true premises always lead to true conclusions, while scientific theories come and go.” —Johnathan Sarfati, Creation Ministries International, https://creation.com/feeding-carnivores-on-the-ark-and-refuting-an-accusation-of-closet-scientism

The magisterial vs. the ministerial is a theological principle discussed by Aquinas and Luther, among others, which addresses the role and position of human logic, reason, and thought in relation to the Holy Scripture, that, in short, according to ministerial viewpoint, should not be placed higher than or exercise an authority greater than that of the Holy Bible, but can still be instrumental in interpreting, understanding, and even providing proofs of the Scripture through use of human intellectual faculties. Yet, when these faculties override and claim a greater authority than that of God’s Word, it becomes magisterial in nature. While ministerial reason is to be encouraged, magisterial reason is not. These terms can also be applied to specific disciplines like magisterial science or ministerial science.

It is through the use of such ministerial science in conjunction with the Bible, that we can draw the conclusion that carnivorism existed prior to the flood, and thus eliminate D.

C: Pre-Flood Carnivorism

As mentioned before, I believe that C is synonymous with B in terms of the origin for carnivorism. In the time frame after the fall and up to the flood, it isn’t completely impossible that people ate meat, but in this period, we know it certainly wasn’t sanctioned by the Lord, but this doesn’t mean that people didn’t eat it at all. God says that during this era all men were wicked and corrupt.

Genesis 6:13[NIV], “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’”

Regarding the period between B and C, I think the most we can come to conclude is that it was a time where violence grew and carnivorism was developing or growing in this violent world. Further evidence I would use to support the conclusion that C should be regarded as B, and nothing more, is the fact that during this time no significant covenant was made between God and man. Prior to the Abrahamic covenant, there were three others: The Edenic covenant (A), the Adamic covenant (B), and the Noahic covenant (D). C, again, represents the period between the Adamic covenant and the flood. The emergence of carnivorism represents such a large event in biblical and natural history, I would propose that it coincided with some major event in Scripture, such as the flood, the covenants, the creation, or the fall and the curses that resulted from it. Since none of these exist in the C period, I would conclude that it is unlikely that carnivorism originated at this time.

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B: Post-Fall Carnivorism

In terms of the proponents of these positions, this one apparently has the most adherents. In general overview, the reasoning is quite valid. Most believe that in Eden there was no pain, no suffering, no violence, and no death. The perfection of Eden has long been accepted as a reality in history to many Christians, and because if its conditions of goodness and perfection, it is determined as impossible that carnivores existed. In order for a creature to attack and kill another creature, this would require violence, death, pain, and suffering. Therefore, it is concluded that carnivorism didn’t exist until at least the fall, and it was only after the fall that carnivorism became a reality in the world. Again, in my experience, this has the most proponents, but because we don’t rely on arguments from consensus, we should look at the reasoning and the evidence. Though the general reasoning is valid, is it sound?

Wherever this discussion takes us, we are mainly confined to the Book of Genesis. It is in this book and just after the fall when God decrees His curses in response to the original sin. This is where I would like to start. It should be of interest that the first animal ever said be “killed” is by the Lord Himself.

Genesis 3:21, “The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.”

We should point out that verse 21 doesn’t explicitly say that God directly killed an animal and used the skins. It is, for instance, possible that God created skins for Adam and Eve by just materializing the matter, if you will, but we have to recognize that God too works in the natural world and uses, or manipulates, natural processes to accomplish His will. I find it likely, then, that God’s natural processes may have dispatched a particular animal and off that animal skins were supernaturally removed, much like Adam’s rib, and made into a clothing or covering for Adam and Eve. It was this archetype which led to man, like Abel, producing and keeping flocks of livestock. Further, it provides a representational model for the sacrificial covering for sin which was done in the Old Testament though sacrificial animals and completed in the New Testament by the final sacrifice as accomplished by and through Jesus Christ. Regardless, unless by some supernatural materialization, it seems that immediately after the fall death gained some greater foothold in the world. This is evident in the warning man is given by God concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.’”

Further man’s death is evident in the curse upon him:

Genesis 3:17, “And He said to Adam, ‘Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “Do not eat from it”: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life.’”

“All the days of your life” could suggest there is something apart from those days, but v.19 explicitly refers to the death of man:

Genesis 3:19, “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

So we know the death of man is mentioned at this time, as a part of the curse, but what about the death of the animals and creatures? Let us consider God’s curse against the serpent:

Genesis 3:14-15, “Then the LORD God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’”

As with the man, “all the days of your life” can imply a certain number of days, a particular length of life, and therefore, by contrast, implies something apart from that life, and the only thing apart from life is death. In addition, there was to be a hostility between the serpent (the animal) and the woman (mankind). We would ask ourselves what this hostility would look like or what form it would take? The “seed” mentioned, means a generational offspring, so the animal serpent, that is generally regarded as the snake, and mankind would have hostility toward one another, which would result in that “seed” striking each other. This hostility and the striking very much implies a harm or death upon both the animals and man. We should not forget the dual nature of this prophecy and curse though (common in Scripture). We know through inference that the serpent was an evil spirit of the enemy occupying a physical form, or representing one, which differed from the snake of today.

Thus, the curse not only addressed the physical form but the spiritual nature as well. The animal form was cursed with a differing form, with certain behavioral traits, like hostility, and a prophecy concerning the serpent being struck lethally on the head, and yet, being able to inflict harm upon the “seed” of man, perhaps not quite as lethally, suggested by it striking the heel. This prophetic revelation in curse also applies to the final conflict between the spiritual serpent, our shared enemy, and Jesus Christ in the End Times. The curse applies to both the spiritual and the material, just as many passages in the Holy Word do.

Not coincidently, it is immediately after these curses that God makes and produces the coverings for Adam and Eve. We recall what the Lord said to Noah:

Genesis 6:13[NIV], “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’”

Therefore, it seems that it could be concluded with these curses that violence came into the world, along with death, and both the animals and man were cursed because of it. This resulted in changes in behavior for both. The change in behavior, according to the proponents, resulted in animals becoming violent and consuming each other, and man becoming violent and murdering one another, which we see evident in the account of Cain and Abel.

It is for these reasons that I do consider B as a possibility for where animal carnivorism originated. However, we cannot ignore examining the final position people occasionally take, the one of A. There are a couple more arguments for B but we will tackle those in the next section because they have great implications to the A position as well.

A: Pre-Fall Carnivorism

That Pre-Fall Carnivorism didn’t exist is made by A’s detractors by appealing to one of the verses in the creation account, which says:

Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.”

This counter-argument rests upon the statement, “it was very good” and concludes that there is no possibility, or it is highly unlikely, that God would create carnivores, give animals over to death, and consider this “good.” Though I feel there is no absurdity in the detractor declaring that there was no Pre-Fall Carnivorism, in this particular case I find the argument to be quite superficial in that it supposes God’s exact motive, reason, and meaning in declaring His creation to be “good” and in actuality threatens to replace His meaning with our own. We can’t fault a person too much for this though because, in reality, we do it all through Scripture and it is the challenge for every Christian to let the Word speak for itself and not place faulty impressions and interpretations upon it.

In this case, we may find “good” can mean many things. For instance, “good” could mean, given God’s omniscience, that it is the appropriate instrumental cause for the ultimate execution of His will. “Good” could also mean that creatures are without sin and morally good, but I think this is shortsighted because of God’s other declarations of “goodness” in the creation account. We could, of course, ask how moral goodness could exist in light of predation, but we hardly make the case that animals are sinning, evil, or are immoral in some way if, say, a lion takes down a gazelle.

The word for “good” in Genesis 1:31 many take to mean perfect, but the word (Hb. tob) doesn’t always mean this. It means pleasant or agreeable. The perfection of Eden is so ingrained in our doctrines that it is almost difficult to swallow the idea, but that there was some imperfection in Eden may be suggested in Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis 2:18, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his compliment.’”

In order for there to be perfection in Eden, everything must be good and if there is something that is not good then there is no perfection. Therefore, the reasoning goes, Eden wasn’t perfect. While this solves a lot of theological issues, many are raised as well. We remember that Adam and Eve were both created on the sixth day:

Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”

This being the case, can we really consider Eden to be perfect prior to it being called “very good,” by the Lord? Was it merely perfect after the fall? Again, we find the Hebrew word doesn’t mean perfection, and this is obvious, for the distinctions are made between good and very good in the days of creation. After all, there can be no perfect and a very perfect.

If it could be shown that carnivorism and predation predate the fall then our doctrinal views of Eden would have to be radically altered. We might be willing to do this given there is enough evidence, but it seems there is great scriptural evidence to the contrary:

Genesis 1:29-30, “God also said, ‘Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth——everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”

Although there are other verses that the proponent of A must reconcile, which we will address later, Genesis 1:29-30 is the most daunting one. The first thing that is brought to the table is that it chiefly addresses man. Twice in the passage man is mentioned (”I have given you”; “This food will be for you”), and it is in addressing man, in conjunction, that the “wildlife of the earth,” “bird of the sky,” and the crawling creatures are mentioned. Here a proponent may point out and base his argument on, or add to it, that not mentioned are the creatures of the sea, but I find this observation to be somewhat in error. To me, the phrase “I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed,” implies something on the surface of the land and not in the deep. Yet, this observation does point out the fact that aquatic or sea-dwelling animals that are herbivores represent a minority, which does pose a problem, though if Pre-Fall carnivorism is true, then the problem is negated.

This is considered important, I suppose because with the strength of the application to man, and animals only being addressed in conjunction, it could suggest that while the former application is quite literal, the latter has the opportunity to lean more towards the figurative. I think this is apparent in the proponent’s answer, which says that in these verses, God never says animals don’t eat meat. While true, this is an argument from silence and must be regarded carefully. In most cases, applying such argument to Scripture is dangerous and ill-advised. For instance, why is it not the case that God never said man couldn’t eat meat?

Another approach proponents take is that there isn’t anything wrong with the verse, in that it doesn’t need to be divided into parts or segments to make room for carnivorism or predation. Simply, the two premises, every green plant for food and carnivorism in Eden, are not mutually exclusive. Ultimately, it is said, man and all the animals mentioned here, partake of vegetation and consume it in some way. In my mind, the proponent that starts from this position has a better argument than one who divides up the verse. Yes, there is still an element of an argument from silence, but pointing out that there may be a false dilemma present and assumed here makes the argument from silence less profound.

Before we move on from Genesis 1:29-30, a little further exegesis is in order. The word rendered as “wildlife” or sometimes “beasts” is from the Hebrew word chayah. Rich Deem of godandscience.org gives us an observation that is worthy of note:

“An examination of the Hebrew word chayah indicates that in the vast majority of uses, the word refers to animals that eat flesh.” —Rich Deem, “Did God Create Carnivores on The Sixth Day?”, http://www.godandscience.com/youngearth/carnivores.hmtl

While Deem admits that some chayah references are ambiguous and that there are a few where herbivores are referenced, he does post a table, minus verses with ambiguity, which shows carnivores are truly referenced more often by this Hebrew word.

His argument is that chayah refers to carnivores as being created by God on the sixth day and says this is evident in the text itself:

Genesis 1:24-25, “Then God said, ‘Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife [chayah] of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so. So God made the wildlife [chayah] of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

Rich Deem concludes that chayah means a carnivorous animal for, if not, the verses become unnecessarily redundant. He says that there would be no reason to bring up prominent herbivores such as livestock if chayah referred to them already. In addition, perhaps, the creatures that crawl would be redundant as well. If this is the case, and we accept Deem’s conclusion(s), then it is reasonable that the meanings of chayah in verses 24-25 and 29-30 would be the same.

For a moment I was ready to refute Deem’s reasoning here on the grounds that the Book of Genesis frequently gives a summary and follows it up with specificity. This has led to some errors in interpretation and conclusion, for instance, more than one creation account being recorded, between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2. I was initially thinking that this was the case with Genesis 1:24-25, but then I realized that I was focused more on verse 25 than verse 24. In the Bible, as far as I am aware, the same convention we use to move from generality to specificity is used. First comes the general statement soon followed by the specific(s) regarding the general. This would make sense if applied only in verse 25, in that the verse would move from chayah, to livestock, to creatures that crawl. I was going to dismiss Deem on this basis, but then I took a look one more time at verse 24, where chayah does not come first, but last, moving from livestock, to creatures that crawl, and then to chayah.

There is, of course, the possibility of some convention in the Hebrew where generalities can follow specifics, and it certainly isn’t unheard of in the English language, such as is the case in a review, so it cannot be considered deductive proof of Deem’s claims. There is still room for doubt. However, looking at the passage once more, it does seem to refer to a specific group of animals, due to the fact the order is reversed in such quick succession and, further, it mentions after chayah, “according to their kinds.” It seems unlikely this phrase “according to their kinds” would be included in the generality or summary along with the specifics. Again, if this Genesis 1:24-25 can be reasonably concluded to reference carnivorous animals, then it follows that Genesis 1:29-30 likely does as well.

Genesis124-30

I find it of interest that the Lord says in Genesis 1:24, “Let the earth produce living creatures.” Many creationists believe in forms of evolution. The Old Earth Creationist often has no issues with ascribing evolution as an instrumental cause of the Lord’s creation, both in terms of macroevolution and microevolution, while the Young Earth Creationist denies macroevolution but allows for microevolution. While I may find some of the theories of the OEC camp fascinating, I do subscribe to YEC cosmology, and being the case, I find the statement intriguing, in that, perhaps, it suggests or leaves room for a microevolution in the world, that the world, not earth in terms of ground, will produce differing animals but in accordance with their kinds.

This may be a reference to the genetic archetype of many of the creatures we see today, this archetype being observed, according to some, in the phenomenon of differing creatures having the ability to mate and produce offspring (such as the liger, wolfin or grolar bear). If this is the case, then it isn’t difficult to reach the eventual conclusion that the microevolution present in the statement would imply certain laws which make and have made it so that such crossbreeds haven’t taken a large hold in the natural world and became a separate species themselves, like natural selection. Though, granted, we may be getting ahead of ourselves.

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Wolfin: Dolphin-Whale Hybrid

Lastly, there is the argument that Genesis 1:29-30 references only certain creatures, while leaving others out. This is based on the phrase, “everything having the breath of life in it.” In Hebrew, the word in question is nephesh. This refers variously to any being that has a soul, is living, has a knowledge of self (self-aware), has desires, passions, has an inner being, and emotional faculties [Brown-Driver-Briggs]. Thus, it is reasoned, that more “simple” forms of life along with those not of the sky or land, and beings which don’t apply to nephesh are exempt from Genesis 1:29-30.

The possibility of Genesis 1:24-25 mentioning carnivores or predation benefits Deem’s conclusions by largely removing the argument from silence. I mentioned earlier that we do encounter arguments from silence not infrequently in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. Continuing along this point, when such an argument is impressed upon us, or proposed, we ask what should our response be as students of the Bible and of God? When confronted with such an argument we appeal to the rest of God’s Word in order to find how accurate or inaccurate that proposition is. Regarding Genesis 1:29-30 we find that on both sides there are other verses to appeal to. Many detractors of A, particularly those who believe B is accurate, reference the Book of Romans to refute A:

Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Romans 5:12 being used to rebuke of Pre-Fall Carnivorism is relatively easy to refute. Sin, in fact, did enter the world through one man, but death through sin refers not only to physical death, but spiritual death as well, and it was by Adam’s sin that all man become privy to death. Nobody is exempt because all (excluding Christ) have sinned. We find very readily that this verse regards man specifically rather than animals. If we were to apply the verse to animals, then we would have to come to the conclusion that animals sin or can experience spiritual death, which is not the case. However, because sin “entered the world,” what does remain evident, is that the world was, and is, negatively affected by sin.

Another verse used to refute A (or prove B) comes from 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

1 Corinthians 15:22 also refers to man specifically and not to animal life.

The Believer’s Bible Commentary gives a bit of context and remarks:

“Adam and Christ are presented as federal heads. This means that they acted for other people. And all who are related to them are affected by their actions. All who are descended from Adam die. So in Christ, all shall be made alive. This verse has sometimes been taken to teach universal salvation [Christian Universalism]. It is argued that the same ones who die in Adam will be made alive in Christ and that all will eventually be saved. But that is not what the verse says. The key expressions are in Adam and in Christ. All who are in Adam die. All who are in Christ shall be made alive, that is, only believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be raised from the dead to dwell eternally with Him. The all who shall be made alive is defined in verse 23 as those who are Christ’s at His Coming. It does not include Christ’s enemies, for they shall be put under His feet (v. 25), which, as someone has said, is a strange name for heaven.” —William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, ed. Art Farstad, “1 Corinthians 5:22”, p. 1805-1806

1 Corinthians goes on to say that the last enemy to be abolished will be death, and this refers likely to the physical and the spiritual.

1 Corinthians 15:23-25, “But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death.”

Yet, when the world passes away and death is done away with, the lack of death will be one of the foundational premises upon which the new creation is constructed, and it is in this new creation where we get such descriptions of the predator and the prey (there will no longer be this distinction) lying in peace together and man being allowed to eat from the tree of life.

Isaiah 11:6-7, “The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together, and a child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.”

Revelation 2:7, “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life which is in God’s paradise.”

Isaiah117

An argument for the presence of carnivores in Eden is mentioned by Rich Deem and it is taken from Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis 2:19-20, “So the LORD God formed out of the ground every wild animal [chayah] and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal [chayah], but for the man no helper was found as his compliment.”

Again, we see the Hebrew word chayah appear here, and once more we see the phenomenon of the order being reversed in quick succession. Conspicuously missing from v. 19 though is “livestock.” So, in this case, I would find it an acceptable conclusion that the word chayah can be used in a general sense (which I don’t deny), while in v. 20, based on the form, shift into a specific sense. The Hebrew word translated as “livestock” here is behemah, the plural of which is behemoth which many will recognize from the Book of Job.

Job 40:15-17, “Look at the Behemoth, which I made along with you. He eats grass like an ox. Look at the strength of his loins and the power in the muscles of his belly. He stiffens his tail like a cedar tree; the tendons of his thighs are wound firmly together.”

Given that many scholars regard behemoth as a plural of the word behemah, then it is interesting that it would say that the behemoth eats grass like an ox. If behemah refers to an ox already, then why in Job would it say that it eats grass like one? The behemoth and its counterpart, the leviathan, are well known among Young Earth Creationists because their depictions strongly resemble that of a dinosaur. Some commentators conclude the behemoth is a hippopotamus, but if you look at the tail of a hippo, there is no conceivable way its tail can ever be compared with a cedar tree.

Job4017a

Further, when examining Job 40 and 41, I believe what is being described are herbivore creatures, the behemoth, and carnivorous ones, the leviathan. In the case of the behemoth, this is suggested if it is the plural form of behemah. Yet, it is possible these terms can be used in both a specific context, referring to a specific animal, and a general context. Given all this, let us approach Genesis 2:19-20 once more:

Genesis 2:19-20, “So the LORD God formed out of the ground every wild animal [chayah] and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to the [behemah], to the birds of the sky, and to every [chayah], but for the man no helper was found as his compliment.”

Worthy of note is that the Book of Job suggests the leviathan’s carnivorism in its tooth form:

Job 41:13-16, “Who can strip off his [the leviathan’s] outer covering? Who can penetrate his double layer of armor? Who can open his jaws, surrounded by those terrifying teeth? His pride is in his rows of scales, closely sealed together. One scale is so close to another that no air can pass between them.”

There is the belief that the leviathan merely represents a crocodile or alligator, but given that Job 41 describes the creature as having powerful and graceful limbs, it is likely not the case.

Job 41:12, “I cannot be silent about his limbs, his power, and his graceful proportions.”

It is my contention that the behemoth and the leviathan referenced in Scripture may not necessarily refer to a specific animal, but rather a class of animal. For in Job chapters 40 and 41 we have some problematic descriptions, within both the behemoth or leviathan classifications. If within each class we are to consider them only one animal then these problems remain, but if we allow for the possibility that there is too a class of animals referenced, these become far less problematic. This is, of course, another topic altogether, and I only bring it up because, in the same way, this too could be the case with chayah and behemah. This convention isn’t unheard of in English nor would I expect it to be in the Ancient Near East, particularly in an era before such stringent scientific classifications.

It is concerning the Hebrew names of animals where Rich Deem raises the argument that many of the names denote carnivorism or violent behavior. Although interesting, we really have no idea what language was spoken by Adam or if the names changed over time. It is impossible to say that what Adam called a lion was perfectly transmitted without change or error and all the while keeping the original name and meaning in the Hebrew. Deem admits these issues, but says that one would expect that the original meanings would be transliterated into the Hebrew if the names differ at all from what Adam gave them. Thus, I do present Deem’s table for the curious, but as a means of proving the A position, it is ineffective due to a large number of presumptions that need to be made.

Another argument that is used to build the case for Pre-Flood carnivorism comes from God’s command to Adam in Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.’”

The argument simply asks how Adam knew what death was and to what God was referring if he had never seen death? The counter-argument, I suppose, would be that God isn’t necessarily talking about only physical death here, but a spiritual one, as is evident in the phrase, “for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” We know from the Scripture that Adam and Eve lived several hundred more years, so the death God was referring to must have had a great spiritual application. The argument attempts to prove the existence of death in the Pre-Fall world of Eden, for this would be required if predation and carnivorism were to exist. It should be mentioned that some feel the wording, “for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” is to be taken metaphorically and means that on the day Adam would eat from the tree he would become mortal. Matthew Poole’s Commentary believes the phrase has a threefold meaning:

“1. Spiritual, by the guilt and power of sin: at that instant thou shall be dead in trespass and sins, Ephesians 2:1 [”And you were dead in your trespasses and sins”].

2. Temporal, or the death of the body, which shall then begin in thee, by decays, infirmities, terrors, dangers, and other harbingers of death.

3. Eternal, which shall immediately succeed the other.” —Matthew Poole’s Commentary, “Genesis 2:17”

The physical death of man is referenced in the curse and Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden.

Genesis 3:19, “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

Genesis 3:22-23, “The LORD God said, ‘Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.’ So the LORD God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.”

Often when people regard Eden, we think of it as a place or state of perfection, which can be a problematic view, and this perfection extends unto man and the Pre-Fall immortality that some people conclude was an inherent attribute of Adam and Eve’s being. Was it? When we regard this passage in Genesis chapter 3 concerning their removal from the garden of Eden, it declares that in man’s sinful condition, Adam and Eve must not eat from the tree of life and live forever, which seems to imply that they had not yet eaten from the tree that would grant them this immortality. Why would they need to eat form something to gain that which they already had? As there are reasons to support Pre-Fall death, there are ways around it too, such as Adam and Eve were immortal to begin with and this immortality was negated by sin, which could have been reclaimed by eating of the tree which they weren’t initially forbidden to eat from.

This is the very reason that it is unlikely that any great amount of time passed between the partaking of the forbidden fruit and when Adam and Even encountered God walking through the garden. So, like many of the topics we have discussed and will discuss, this is not proof positive, but at the very least it presents us with the possibility that in body Adam and Eve weren’t meant to be eternal. If the case, then death existed prior to the fall.

Following the same kind of reasoning that is used with Genesis 2:16-17, the curse against Eve is referenced to imply that pain too was a part of the Pre-Fall world:

Genesis 3:16, “[God] said to the woman, ‘I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.”

This argument is faulty because if we use the reasoning here that pain must pre-exist in order for it to be intensified, in the context of this verse then we too must say that the bearing of offspring did as well and this becomes extremely problematic, at least from a YEC perspective. The explanation then is that God’s original will for the birthing process is that it would be a less painful experience. His declaration, then, could simply refer to His changing of His initial plan due to the sin of Adam and Eve and the justice and judgments that came upon them from God. This certainly has its parallels in our lives and indeed in the Scripture, where the initial will and plan of the Lord is withheld or changed because of judgment resulting from sinful behavior. In the end, I find the argument based on Genesis 2:16-17 to have a relatively greater weight than the one based on Genesis 3:16.

Conclusion(s):

So where does all this leave us? Does it get us anywhere closer to an answer than when we started? Well, yes and no. The answer is negative by virtue of the fact the Bible really doesn’t specifically state when or where carnivorism or predation originated, but it is affirmative because we have found some very interesting information which has both narrowed it down to a couple possibilities and, in my opinion, removes the prominence and difficulty I was having with tooth form and the Darwinian ideas concerning these forms, which in actually extend far past tooth form.

After careful study, I think we can safely conclude that the D and C propositions can be eliminated as possibilities. This leads us to A, Pre-Fall Carnivorism, or B, Post-Fall Carnivorism being the most rational of choices. In order to fully disclose my thought process to the reader, I must admit I have gone back and forth between these choices quite a bit and formulated it as a logical disjunction, that is that the choice is either A or B [formulated (A v B)]. Yet, perhaps because I recently referenced false dichotomies or false dilemmas earlier, I wondered what would happen if I regarded it as A and B (A * B) (because I learned logic just using scratch paper forgive me if I translate them incorrectly into type format). Although it may not be accurate, it initiated an idea. I recalled from earlier that God created the creatures of the sea on the fifth day, and creates the chayah and behemah on the sixth day, along with the creatures that crawl.

Genesis 1:21, “So God created the large sea creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”

As a side note, the Book of Genesis says God created the large sea creatures. Most large creatures of the sea are not herbivores like may be the case on land, but rather carnivorous in their dietary habits.

Genesis 1:24, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock [behemah], all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”

The creation of women is in Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis 2:22, “Then the LORD God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.”

Now, all this occurred on the sixth day, and we might have a tendency to overlook this. We find the Scripture is quite silent about the time between the sixth day at the end of chapter 2 of Genesis, and the beginning of chapter 3. However, immediately after the original sin is committed we are given an interesting or peculiar detail about God’s presence in the garden:

Genesis 3:8[HCSB], “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

The word translated as evening here is the Hebrew ruach. Both the Brown-Driver-Briggs and the Gesenics’ Hebrew and Chaldea Definition lexicons concur with ruach being a day breeze and the evening being the specific time, also denoting a cooler breeze, as mentioned in some translations. Given the creation account closely precedes this one, could the reference to this evening breeze tie in with the repeated statement “evening came and then morning”? Could this imply this is the seventh day? We don’t know for sure and we could really only speculate, but it does impact the A or B (A v B) question regardless.

Granted, to many this might all seem like a lot of needless speculation and to a certain extent, I would agree. Yet, just because something is speculative doesn’t mean that it is completely without value, or that no conclusions can be drawn from it. We would love it and desire often that God, our Lord Jesus Christ, existence, and the world, would always have their truths discoverable and determined by a strict deductive method, but this isn’t the case. Also, when concerning the Lord, we should not expect it to be, for the very definition of God is one of incomprehensibility. We not only stand upon the firm foundation of grace for our salvation and justification but stand on it too for any knowledge that man is able to attain concerning our Eternal Lord. This principle too applies to His creation where speculation can be a route of discovery and revelation.

Can we gain anything, any conclusion, from our process of speculation here? I believe we can. As mentioned before I am a Young Earth Creationist and found that my shifting back and forth for the origins of carnivorism in either the A or B period, was indicative of something which would only be applicable to the YEC. It occurred to me when examining if I was subjecting myself to a false dilemma and whether it could be both A and B in some way, that this origin point might be obscured due to the short period of time between the two possibilities.

Though it is speculative that ruach would imply the seventh day (I cannot help finding the thought appealing that God took a stroll through His creation on His day of rest), it did bring the point home that in this account we are probably not talking years of time passing, but rather mere days. This doesn’t answer the question in as much as it applies to the problem of tooth form respectively between herbivores and carnivores. The Old Earth Creationist might not subscribe to Gap Theory in particular (the theory that a large amount of time is present between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2), but hold there may be gaps of time in the creation account itself, that the days were not literal days, so on and so forth. The YEC might allow for days here and there, but the time generally allowed in the creation account isn’t major, a day here or there perhaps.

Thus, while our exploration solves, or at the very least greatly reduces the problem from tooth form, it does so mainly for the YEC and less for the OEC. In this regard, I have accomplished one of the things I set out to do, for all this has removed the difficulty of tooth form from my mind. Say, if I consider the earth 7,000 years old, the span from the creation to now, then this means that the time span between a non-carnivorous world (assuming A is not true) to a carnivorous world would be days not eons. By virtue of this, then we can see how the determination between A or B can become blurred and obscured, essentially looking like the same choice. It may be akin to how parallel railway lines might be separated, but the eyes perceive them to meet on the horizon at a single point and place given that the distance is great enough.

Train tracks goes to horizon in orange majestic sunset.

What this doesn’t answer is the direct point of origin concerning carnivorism. Let us consider a couple more things though. In order for carnivorism to be extant at the creation, as we have said, death would need to be present. While some may declare this to be an impossibility, or rather improbable, so too many say that it depends on what one means by death. Did plants die? If everything ate plants then there has to be some form of death present. Right? Well, the detractor of A might say that animals only ate surface foliage and not the whole plant which would cause it death, but the proponent of A might answer this still implies death, in a form at least, for by and through consumption, it is said that there is a cellular breakdown and a death that takes place on that level. What about creatures that crawl or swarm like bugs? Insects, certain classes, like spiders (ugh), aren’t real big on the leafy greens, except as a place to live, so this remains another reason why we could consider A to be a possibility.

By admitting that A is a possibility, however, we run into some problems. We have already touched on this, but why would God call the creation good or very good? Further, why would God create a world at the beginning that had such imperfections? This is an important question, and I don’t mean to downgrade it to those who struggle with it, but if we really think about it in this context, this isn’t exactly a new formulation of the question. In fact, the Christian is still left with the same questions he or she had before, like the problem, or argument, from evil, suffering, free will, and their relation to responsibility. In that regard, nothing has changed. These are another subject, but should we remove A as a possibility on these grounds? No. In my opinion, it’s a poor reason to base the denial of A on. Yes, these problems need to be addressed, but independent of this question. We must beware that we don’t use this question to write off theories which could grant or imply a credibility to it. Again, this is another long topic.

Another thing that considering the possibility of (A v B) being a false dilemma lead me to think about was that although there would still need to be a point of origin, in terms of (A * B) there could be a progression of carnivorism in the world which would encompass all A, B, C, and D. Again, we have already referenced verses which imply God’s changing of animal behaviors.

If I had to or was forced to make a solid conclude the origin and progression of predation and carnivorism, this would be it:

A: This is the origins of predation and carnivorism, but the world during this time was far better than it is today. Certain predations existed among the invertebrates, sea creatures, birds, and insects, but as far as the land animals, although they were given the equipment for predation by God’s omniscience and foreknowledge, for He knew what was to happen in a brief time, the land animals’ eating habits consisted of salads being their main course, but this period was short lived. If any meat was consumed by land animals at this time, it was supplemental at best.

B: With the arrival of sin, the curse, the judgments, and consequences, the tools for predation and carnivorism went from only having the activation switch flipped into the on position to being shifted into overdrive.

C: As time passed, though many animals never lost the ability to indulge in plant material, it took a back seat to other forms of sustenance, moving from the main course to a side dish, and finally to a garnish. Eventually, the world became “full of violence” in the time of Noah. It was during this period that man may have started to eat meat, though not by God’s allowance.

D: After the flood, God authorized man to partake in the consumption of meat.

There we have it. I think this form can reconcile many of the difficulties and questions, but on a personal level, it is the issue from tooth form being addressed or answered which makes this exploration so effective. It need not be a stumbling block to the Christian, like those individuals I saw on Quora and elsewhere wondering about this subject just as I did. At this time, I suppose I would put the origin of carnivorism and predation at the creation.

Yet, as with all my thoughts and writings, I reserve the right to change my mind or have my mind changed.

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Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

It may not be as explicit a reference to the deity of Christ as other verses, but it is worth asking, what being other than God can command the angels? Indeed, this question reminds me of the inquiry of the disciples asked in Matthew chapter 8:

Matthew 8:27, “And the [disciples] marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?’”

Though not referencing each other or being conterminous in an obvious way, Revelation 22:16 and Matthew 8:27 show us that Christ has the authority over creation and the rulership over the angels. Again, we ask, who else or what else could that be other than God Himself?

Even if we ascribe a god-like state to Christ, like some Christian denominations or sects do, then we need to admit some form of polytheism with roots in mythology (that is the deification of mere humans into godlike forms, a motif which is so prevalent in mythological tales).

It is a possibility that ‘angel’ simply refers to ‘messenger’ in Revelation 22:16 but I don’t think this is the case. In the heavenlies, it seems apparent that angels preside over churches or even locations, i.e., nations and towns. This is suggested in the book of Daniel:

Daniel 10:13, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.”

Daniel 12:1, “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who was in charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at the time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”

Regarding Revelation 22:16, a phrase worth focusing on is, “I am the Root and descendant of David.” The Greek word for root here is rhiza. Rhiza can have a couple definitions, a literal one, and a more figurative one. The literal meaning is, “a shoot; source; that which comes from the root; a descendant.” Figuratively, it means “source.” If we assign the literal meaning to root in this verse, the passage becomes somewhat tautologous. Repetitive verses or those that are tautologous in their content aren’t arbitrary, but rather repetition, at least in the context of biblical exegesis, impresses upon the reader an issue of utmost importance. Yet, here it would seem somewhat erroneous for Christ to state to John something like, “I am the descendant and descendant of David.”

Yet, if we use the figurative meaning, it reads, “I am the Source and descendant of David.” This latter rendering is pretty amazing, but what if we take the words at their face value? What is a root? Is it not that from which things, vegetation and fruit, for example, spring forth?

According to the English dictionary, the noun of root (Christ is using it in this noun context) means, “the part of the plant that attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches or fibers.” Also, a root is defined as the “basic cause, source, or origin of something.” Do not these definitions give us insight into the nature of our Lord? Let us consider them for a moment:

The Part of The Plant That Attaches It To The Ground or To a Support

While seeking an intimate relationship with God, we quickly discover this is an impossible task if we wish to approach God of our own accord. It becomes apparent that we need an advocate or some form of spiritual support to keep us firmly planted in God. This advocate for our faith is Jesus Christ and it is in Him we remain grounded that we might be reconciled unto the Creator of all things. Colossians, according to the NKJV states:

Colossians 1:21–23, “And you, that were once alienated and enemies [of God] in your mind by wicked works, yet now has He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight: If you continue in the faith founded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul am made a minister.”

Typically Underground

That which is underground is generally invisible to those above ground. Yet, evidence of that which lies beyond the surface may show signs of its presence and be perceivable to those above. Although the glory of our Lord, for a duration, spent time above ground, on the surface with His creation, He has risen and now rests at the right hand of the Father. God’s presence may be invisible, but evidence of His existence and His attributes surround us continually. The apostle Paul makes this clear:

Romans 1:18–20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

This shows that whatever we are grounded in will produce a harvest according to its kind. If we are grounded in unrighteousness and ungodliness then the truth will be suppressed in us and we will discourage and suppress it among others. However, if we are grounded in God, then godliness and righteousness shall be the result, which will produce the appropriate harvest within the self and among all man.

Conveying Water and Nourishment To The Rest of The Plant

Let us consider a plant to be representational of the church. Likening the church to a plant isn’t absurd given Jesus’ numerous parables emphasizing trees, plants, and vegetation, which was extremely relevant at the time with many of the Jews being well familiar with agriculture and agricultural practices. Even today, individual churches, when expanding, are said to branch off or plant other churches.

Jesus, in the book of John, says:

John 15:5, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Thus, Christ truly is the root of our salvation and faith, not to mention our very existence (John 1:3). It is in Him we are grounded. Whenever a branch is removed from the vine, or a plant is detached from its root, it withers and dies. So too does our hope in the gospel when we remove ourselves from the Lord. Christ Jesus provides the spiritual nourishment that we may be reconciled unto the Father and apart from Him, this is an impossibility. He nourishes us and provides to us the living water necessary for eternal life. The apostle John records:

John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Revelation 22:1, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as a crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

Via Numerous Branches or Fibers

In the conveyance of spiritual nourishment, the Lord uses several different means. The church itself expresses and shares this same nourishment, but it is Christ who is the source. If a church comes to lose focus or somehow parts from Christ, it is no longer of the river of life from which one drinks to quench their thirst, but rather a stagnant puddle.

Another fiber or branch used are those blessed individuals who have important gifts who serve this water to others. They are essentially the cup-bearers of the church, but again the source of this water is found in the Lord. The prophets of renown and those of today, for instance, are cup-bearers of the living water. The book of Hebrews mentions these cup-bearers:

Hebrews 1:1-2“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the world.”

Yet, this represents just one gift. In truth, we are all called to be the cup-bearers and branches of this living water, to not hoard it, but convey and transmit it unto others, both inside the church and outside it.

Christ encouraged His disciples:

Matthew 28:18–20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Yes, Christ is our basic cause. Our source. Our origin. One might be tempted to ask, ‘Being such, wouldn’t the word for seed work better?’ Seed might impart the idea of origin better, but when it comes to all the other attributes we have discussed, I believe that root is the best analogy given the whole scope of the metaphor. Regardless, the one who asks this question is somewhat justified and I would point them to the book of 1 Peter which says:

1 Peter 1:20–25, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory is like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

The Greek word used for seed here is spora, which according to Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament means, ‘a sowing; figuratively, origin.”

It is my contention that Christ is referring to Himself as the Root in Revelation 22:16 in a more figurative manner, indicating He is the source of David, for both his existence and faith. As the book of Hebrews states:

Hebrews 12:2a, “[Look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

It was Christ Himself that was the founder of David’s existence and faith, and Christ perfected this faith in Him. This can be difficult to grasp or wrap our minds around, but only because human thought is trained and often based upon a chronological framework, while Jesus Christ transcends our human understanding of time and chronology, for Christ is not bound to time, but rather is timeless, aka., eternal. Christ is the Root because He is the Creator and Savior. As the gospel of John records:

John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not made anything that was made.”

John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”

To get the most accurate understanding of the nature of Christ we need both the source figurative interpretation of root as well as the descendant element. Each one on its own will not suffice. The former gives us the nature of Christ which is shared with the Father, His eternal nature, and divine substance, and the latter emphasizes the incarnation of Jesus Christ as man. The two are congruently needed to provide the best representation of Jesus Christ.

To continue with Revelation 22:16, the phrase “the bright morning star” raises some questions due to what is recorded in Isaiah chapter 14:

Isaiah 14:12, “How you are fallen from heaven, O day star, son of the dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low.”

Some believe that the phrase, “the bright and morning star” or “day star, son of the dawn!” refers to Lucifer, which is a Latin transliteration of the phrase. Understandably, a few find it odd that Christ would take this name in Revelation 22:16. Yet, there are a couple things I would like to point out: The name Lucifer isn’t even in our most ancient manuscripts. However, concerning the renderings where the name is included, this translation becomes immediately suspect due to the Latin name being included within an otherwise Hebrew text. In these cases, it is apparent that the meaning of Isaiah 14:12 was already presupposed by translators, which supposedly, according to the proponents, references the devil being cast out of heaven, and the phrase was transliterated providing the name.

It is my belief that the context concerns the judgment of the nation or the king of Babylon, which is referred to as the “bright morning star” or “day star, son of the dawn.” It being a worldly kingdom, it is a possibility that Christ referred to Himself as such because He has overcome the world. As the book of John says:

John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Even if Isaiah chapter 14 refers to the casting down of the enemy, which I don’t believe it does, taking over the name, which in itself is not evil, given its meaning, in the same way, can be symbolic of the defeating or overtaking of the enemy.

However, Isaiah 14:12 is clearly about Babylon, for verse 4 says:

Isaiah 14:4, “[Y]ou will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: ‘How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased.’”

One might argue that there is the possibility that the passage in Isaiah is a kind of veil for both the prophecy and the spiritual truth concerning our shared enemy, but in the strictest of terms, Isaiah 14 refers to Babylon. In my opinion, the motive one might have for holding to this view is that they personally put a great emphasis on church doctrine, but we must be wary of even church doctrine, for this too can go astray. Sadly enough. Let us not be like those sects of Christianity, the names of which I will omit, that put a greater emphasis on their literature than on the Word of God. The cup-bearers of these sects threaten to poison their followers with stagnant water, rather than the ever-flowing water of life which pours from the throne room of our great Lord and Savior.

Thank you all for reading and God bless.

—Brandon


Psalm 45:7, “You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

In addition to Psalm 45:7, Ecclesiastes says:

Ecclesiastes 9:8, “Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head.”

If, as in Psalm 45, oil represents a content joy, and we are told never to have this lacking, then it needs to be asked how this content joy can be achieved? Psalm 45 makes the connection between loving justice and hating evil with the blessing of “the oil of joy.” This is an anointing of a “contended joy” if you will. This relation isn’t as explicit in Ecclesiastes, but there can be an alike connection made.

In the Scripture, garments are symbolic of one’s spiritual condition. For instance, sackcloth is representational of mourning or a state of despondency or being destitute, and white garments represent a state of righteousness, that is a condition of being free from sin or cleansed of sin. I believe, then, that Solomon in Ecclesiastes is saying to be righteous always before the Lord, and never let our contented joy be lacking.

Going back to Psalm 45:7, we can render the lesson like this: “If you love justice and hate evil, resulting in a righteousness, then you will be blessed by a ‘contented joy.’” Simply, it follows then that if a contented joy is lacking in our lives, then perhaps we are not clean, or sin is still somewhere manifest in our lives. In other words, our garments are dirty.

For the sake of consistency, we should take the full passage in Ecclesiastes into account. It states:

Ecclesiastes 9:7-9, “Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun.”

The Apologetics Study Bible For Students remarks:

“These verses [Ecclesiastes 9:8-9] resemble passages in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh and the ‘Harper’s Son’ from Egypt. Both were composed long before the time of Solomon, and it seems clear that he knew them. It is not troubling to find that a biblical text reflects knowledge of other well-known literature of antiquity; this international character is a feature of Israelite wisdom. Because of Solomon’s extensive international contacts we would expect him to be familiar with such literature, and the similarities to these other passages reinforce the Solomonic authorship of Ec[clesiastes].” —Duane A. Garrett, “Ecclesiastes 9:8-9,” Apologetics Study Bible For Students.

This indeed can become problematic for Christians whenever this kind of thing occurs, but should it be the case? In the specific example mentioned, it should be noted after reading the Epic of Gilgamesh and a few Harpers’ Songs (from the tombs of Intef, Neferhotep, and Inherkhawy) that Ecclesiastes is far from plagiarizing these other sources. There may be similar motifs, but we need to be careful of comparing the Word with other works from the ancient Near East, for some have a tendency to emphasize the similarities but disregard the differences.

The difficulty some may have in these and like examples arises from a couple of presuppositions which Christians and critics alike make, the most prominent being that sources outside of the Bible are necessarily false, while those in the Bible are necessarily true and sanctioned by God. I know how this may sound, but I implore the reader to let me explain. I will refer to this as a “compound presupposition” because one supposition implies the other. Both parts of this supposition can be problematic.

Concerning the former, sources independent of the Bible are necessarily false, we may run into problems when a contemporary or well-known text, of that time, is cited in regard and relation to the truth of God and we let this become a stumbling block. In terms of the latter, that what is included in the Bible is necessarily true, this becomes problematic when we approach it from the position that anything recorded in the Bible must be concluded to be supported by God when this isn’t always the case. A narrative which is tragic and horrific isn’t always endorsed by God, but rather at times arises because of disobedience to God. The latter part of this “compound presupposition” is a tactic frequently employed by critics of Christianity.

An example would be the account of Jephthah’s Vow found in Judges 11:30-40. It has been forwarded by some critics in their argument against the character of God, but as the Christian or Jew may know, God nowhere gives His approval of such a thing and it is indeed a direct disobedience to God! This is the tragic account of Jephthah’s Vow:

Judges 11:30-40, “And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. He said, ‘If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the LORD whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’ So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave him victory. He crushed the Ammonites, devastating about twenty towns from Aroer to and area near Minnith and as far away as Abel-keramim. In this way Israel defeated the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. ‘Oh, my daughter!’ he cried out. ‘You have completely destroyed me! You’ve brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the LORD, and I cannot take it back.’ And she said, ‘Father, if you have made a vow to the LORD, you must do to me what you have vowed, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me do this one thing: Let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.’ ‘You may go,’ Jephthah said. And he sent her away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children. When she returned home, her father kept the vow he had made, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for a young Israelite woman to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah’s daughter.”

Again, the account is used as an attack on God’s character by critics, which is based on the presupposition that what is recorded in the Bible is endorsed by God. This despite that God clearly forbids such a detestable practice as human sacrifice:

Deuteronomy 12:31, “You must not worship the LORD your God in the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughter as sacrifices to their gods.”

Leviticus 18:21, “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the LORD.”

Leviticus 20:2b-5, “If any of them offer their children as a sacrifice to Molech, they must be put to death. The people of the community must stone them to death. I myself will turn against them and cut them off from the community, because they have defiled my sanctuary and brought shame on my holy name by offering their children to Molech. And if the people of the community ignore those who offer their children to Molech and refuse to execute them, I myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community. This will happen to all who commit spiritual prostitution by worshiping Molech.”

It is easy to see that all that which is recorded in the Bible is not endorsed by the Lord, so the Christian should reject this stumbling block outright.

In addition, God’s Word is taught to have supreme authority, which is accurate because it is of God. Thus, when an independent source is included, some may feel this authority is threatened by a lesser authority, one who strictly isn’t God. Yet, we know from the Scriptures that the LORD’s authority stretches beyond the blessed text we hold in our hands. As the apostle Paul implies in the book of Romans:

Romans 2:14-15, “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.”

If even the thoughts of the Gentiles could testify and reflect God’s law, then couldn’t God’s truths be known to them as well, recorded in their literature, and then repeated by men of God without any contradiction taking place? We recall what Paul says earlier in the book of Romans:

Romans 1:19-20, “Since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.”

Therefore, we should not be concerned about independent wisdom from independent source material being mentioned in the Scriptures. As a casual student of philosophy, it is not uncommon to see truths that align with the Scripture mentioned by some of the great thinkers. As I might cite or borrow from a philosopher when examining or writing on biblical truths, so too could the writers of the Holy text without negating or challenging the truths of our Lord in Holy Bible which represents the greatest of revelations. We should consider it not to be problematic, but a reinforcement.

If we are assembling a dresser we purchased from IKEA, although it may come with its own instructions straight from the manufacturer, and if we look online to search for further support, we are not invalidating those instructions, but rather with the extra-material, reinforcing that original source material that we may accomplish the task more efficiently with that added understanding others have gained.

Thank you for reading and God bless.


2 Corinthians 6:7, “In the word of truth, in the power of God, through the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” (LITV)

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The development of this verse into its modern form, that is, as it is expressed by the NIV or the NLT, for instance, is an interesting example and raises some compelling questions about Bible translation.  We learn when studying this verse that its exact meaning is quite obscure, though perhaps not unintelligible. What we have is a verse that has some questionable attributes, and the scholarly answers to these questions have provided material for the translation. This raises the question, within biblical translation, how much liberty one might take with the manuscript text. The critic might be tempted to jump on a verse like this to disprove the reliability of translation, but it would amount to a poor argument, for the extant verses that are obscure are greatly outweighed by ones that are clear. In addition, scholars are careful to keep the verse in the context of the latter, that the overall biblical message is not hindered or altered by translation. This verse, in particular, has its historical peculiarities as made evident by the range of translation it has undergone.

Keeping sense of it all, and making sense of it all might prove to be a challenge, but I will attempt to do so for the benefit of the reader, and I will further attempt to extrapolate meaning from the verse. I may have to borrow from several sources to do this, however, and some of the evidence might come from commentaries, from those more familiar than myself with the translation process and as what might be expressed in the Greek. This process will hopefully give us more insight into the verses exact meaning, and show that what can be induced or deduced from it can be seen as Scriptural as applied to the whole of the Word.

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First, it may be constructive for us to first delve into some of the basic philosophies concerning biblical translation. To do this I will borrow a sizeable portion from the introduction to the Life Application Study Bible’s New Living Translation’s introduction. I believe this is a short but comprehensive explanation of biblical translation philosophies which we will see manifest in this study. The Life Application Study Bible in the “Introduction to The New Living Translation” begins by introducing us into the world of biblical translation theory.

“English Bible translations tend to be governed by one of two general translation theories.” –Life Application Study Bible

The first theory we are introduced to is one called, ‘formal-equivalence’ theory.

“According to [formal-equivalence] theory, the translator attempts to render each word of the original language into English and seeks to preserve the original syntax and sentence structure as much as possible in translation.” –Life Application Study Bible

“A formal-equivalence translation preserves aspects of the original text—including ancient idioms, term consistency, and original-language syntax—that are valuable for scholars and professional study.” –Life Application Study Bible

“[Formal-equivalence] allows a reader to trace formal elements of the original-language text through the English translation.” –Life Application Study Bible

The second theory we are introduced to is called, ‘dynamic-equivalence’ theory.

“The goal of [dynamic-equivalence] translation theory is to produce in English the closest natural equivalent of the message expressed by the original-language text, both in meaning and in style.” –Life Application Study Bible

“A dynamic-equivalence translation, . . . focuses on translating the message of the original-language text.” –Life Application Study Bible

“[Dynamic-equivalence] ensures that the meaning of the text is readily apparent to the contemporary reader. This allows the message to come through with immediacy, without requiring the reader to struggle with foreign idioms and awkward syntax.” –Life Application Study Bible

“[Dynamic-equivalence] also facilitates serious study of the text’s messages and clarity in both devotional and public reading.” –Life Application Study Bible

The Life Application Study Bible tells us that work in conjunction with each other and it is impractical to use either/or to the extreme.

“The pure application of either of these translation philosophies would create translations at opposite ends of the translation spectrum.” –Life Application Study Bible

“A purely formal-equivalence translation would be unintelligible in English, and a purely dynamic-equivalence translation would risk being unfaithful to the original.” –Life Application Study Bible

“In reality, all translations contain a mixture of these two philosophies.” –Life Application Study Bible

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The Life Application Study Bible goes on to express that utilization of the dynamic can be formal, and that the formal can prove to be dynamic.

“Translations shaped by the dynamic-equivalence theory are usually quite literal when the original text is relatively clear, and the translations shaped by the formal-equivalence theory are sometimes quite dynamic when the original text is obscure.” –Life Application Study Bible

Further, we can see the methodology of the New Living Translation is in all actually probably applied by most translators.

“The translators [of the New Living Translation] rendered the message more dynamically when the literal rendering was hard to understand, was misleading, or yielded archaic or foreign wording.”Life Application Study Bible

Keeping the principles of both formal-equivalence and dynamic-equivalence in mind, we can see by comparison of different translations, that a translation rendering is dependent upon the degree the translators exercise these two philosophies within any given verse. In our study of 2 Corinthians 6:7, it seems apparent that a great volume of dynamic liberties are taken within the verse in some translations. Perhaps, some borrowing from commentators and/or the scholarly research of the more formal translations, and applying them as deemed fit within the verse itself.

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Again, this raises the issue and question, to what degree can we justifiably apply “liberties” and are we indeed “licensed” to do so? Indeed, this question should be taken on a case to case basis. In this study I will state several translations of 2 Corinthians 6:7, attempt to expound on the reasoning of the rendering, as well as pose some of my own thoughts or questions concerning the more literal translation of the Greek, in that one more knowledgeable that I am may reach or provide answer.

Now, let us go to the Greek to give us a starting point upon which to build.

2 Corinthians 6:7, “In a word of truth, is the power of God, through the weapons of righteousness on the right and of left.” (Greek)

Further, let us relate another translation, the NLT, because the NLT shows us the extent of dynamic-equivalence. I believe these two translations (for even the Greek is translated into English) show us both ends of the spectrum within the formal (Greek) and dynamic (NLT) theories. Let the reader note that it is not a rebuke or correction of the NLT, for I don’t have the wisdom to be able to do so, nor the knowledge. I am merely exploring and posing some questions to the reader for them to make up their own mind.

2 Corinthians 6:7, “We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.” (NLT)

A couple things we can note immediately. The Greek, or rather, Greek-to-English translation omits several things in comparison to the NLT. There, for instance, is no mention of hands, nor no mention of anything being in those hands. Rather than “in” within the NLT, The Greek-to-English says “on.” Further, there is no mention in the Greek-to-English about faithfulness and preaching. Also, there is no reference to offense or defense and “in the power of God” is completely reworded to say, “God’s Power is working in us.” However, is this interpretive translation completely erroneous? Not necessarily.

The KJB puts the verse like this:

2 Corinthians 6:7, “By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand on the left.”

Much like later in the verse, there is debate about this part of the Scripture, that is, what the KJB states as “by the word of truth.” William MacDonald in The Believer’s Bible Commentary says:

“By the word of truth’ may indicate that all of Paul’s ministry was carried out in obedience to the word of truth, or it may mean that it was an honest ministry, consistent with the type of message which he preached, namely the Word of truth.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

So we are given two options concerning what “by the word of truth” means. It could, as MacDonald points out, refer to the honesty and reliability of the apostle Paul’s message and ministry, as it would be characterized, as free of deceit or falsity. On the other hand, it could mean it was carried out in obedience to the word of truth, which is the Word of God. However, I would argue that the two cannot be divorced from each other. Can the two really be said to be apart from one another in the apostle Paul as regards the correspondence adhering between a word of truth and being in the Word of Truth? In other words, if the apostle Paul let falsity or disobedience creep into his ministry then he would be transgressing against the Word of truth. Thus, the message, his personal character, his obedience and the character of his ministry, in order for it to be classified as truthful, in and of itself, it would need to be in the Word of Truth. Thereby, we can make the following statement, that Paul’s ministry had to be a word of truth, in the Word of truth, by the Word of truth, and of the Word of truth. The two schools of thought cannot divorce one another unless it means, again, trespassing against the Word of truth. What is important, then, is the Word of truth, which Paul subscribed to, preached, and by all accounts, after his conversion, followed. With this standpoint, the two schools of thought concerning Paul’s statement, “by the word of truth” lose their distinction, for it becomes increasingly irrelevant, in light of Paul’s obedience to the Word of truth. Then we can say it references not only the Word of truth but Paul’s obedience to that Word, that is his correspondence with the Word of truth as he shared this Word of truth, covering both the ‘Scriptural’ interpretation, and the ‘honesty’ interpretation. For if Paul’s ministry was dishonest or used trickery then he would no longer be in coherence with the Word of truth, and his message would reflect this cloudy distortion.

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Albert Barnes tells us:

“[‘By the word of truth’ refers to] making known the truths of the gospel. It was [Paul’s] object to make known the simple truth. He did not corrupt it by false mixtures of philosophy and human wisdom, but communicated it had been revealed to him. The object of the appointment of the Christian ministry is to make known the truth, and when that is done it cannot be but that they will commend their office and work to the favorable regards of people.” –Albert Barnes

Matthew Poole says:

“[‘By the word of truth’ is] living up to and keeping our eye upon the word of God, which is the word of truth: this seems to be the sense, rather than speaking truth to everyone, as some have thought.” –Matthew Poole

Charles John Ellicott expands on this further:

“Both words [word and truth] are, in the Greek, without the article, and this throws a slight shade of doubt upon their meaning. With the article, the same combination occurs in Ephesians 1:13 [and] 2 Timothy 2:15; and there can be no doubt that there the sense is objective—‘the word which conveys the truth of God to men.’ Here a subjective meaning, ‘a word of truthfulness,’ or ‘truthful word,’ as distinct from insincerity of speech, is grammatically possible; but in James 1:18, where precisely the same combination occurs, we have ample warrant for retaining the objective meaning even here.” –Charles John Ellicott

According to Ellicott then, we have more than a enough evidence to suppose that the “word of truth” referenced by 2 Corinthians 6:7 is the Word of God. I personally feel we have presented enough evidence to make this part of the verse’s interpretation a non-issue. Paul was simply walking in the truth and preaching this truth, and the truth went out unto the hearts of man that they might turn give their lives to the Lord, turn from wickedness, and be saved. This truth when out unto men, through and by the power of God, which Paul walked in. If we apply these lessons, then we find that this interpretation better fits all translation.

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Next regards the power of God. Paul not only established outright the power of God by doing the miraculous, he also walked in the power of God. Due to his faith and obedience the power of the Holy Spirit became ever more present upon his life and ministry. Though the outward manifestations or miraculous events certainly attest to the power of God, we need to ask ourselves, to interpret this verse, did the physical expressions of God’s power truly display, in Paul’s mind and spirit, the full measure or richness of the Lord our God? How much greater is it probably the case that Paul found more value in the eternal benefits offered by the richness of Christ rather than the temporary and fleeting physical outcomes of the displays offered by the Lord. Most certainly, both do have their place, let no reader misunderstand, but it all moves towards one end or goal, that is the salvation of man, that they may come to Christ and be eternally saved. Thus, the richness of the power of God would be found in the Holy Spirit within Paul, who attempted to move all man unto this end.

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William MacDonald addresses this in the Believer’s Bible Commentary:

“By the power of God doubtless signifies that the apostle did not carry on his work in his own power, but in simple dependence on the strength which God provides.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

While absolutely true, another significant truth we need to keep in mind is how the power of God is imparted upon words. As Paul states in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 2:4-5, “And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”

Further in 1 Thessalonians, Paul says:

1 Thessalonians 1:5, “For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.”

In the church today there is a tendency among pastors to desire to entertain as well as preach the truth. This is not surprising concerning our T.V. laden society. I will stop well short of supposing assigning a value of right or wrong to these tactics, for to do so would suppose limits on the methods of the Holy Spirit how He utilizes certain means to reach people in today’s word. Paul himself relied not only on the power of the message of the pure gospel, but also used great discernment regarding, for instance, when to rely on the simple and “foolish” message of the cross and when to apply reason and argument. The book of Acts, as recorded by Paul’s companion Luke, records more than a couple instances where Paul uses reason in attempt to argue for the validity of the gospel. Acts says:

Acts 17:2-4, “As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, ‘This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.’ Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.”

Acts 17:17, “[Paul] went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.”

Acts 18:4, “[Paul] also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and His resurrection, they said, ‘What is this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.’”

However, it seems apparent that no matter what “tactic” Paul used, He recognized the power of God in the words he preached. Thus, he did not rely on human speech and tactics alone, but sought the power of God in all his words, which the Lord graciously bestowed upon them. At the same time, it is likely, that Paul found the words and reasoning of man alone to be lacking, and the power of God needed to be first and foremost in the message he preached. Concerning these things, the Pulpit Commentary, states:

“[By] the form and matter of [Paul’s] discourse [the apostle Paul] would not attempt to use the keen sword of philosophical dialectics or human eloquence, but would only use the weapon of the cross.” –The Pulpit Commentary

On a personal level I feel that we need to be careful stating things like this, because of the fact that Paul did in fact reason with others. The reconciliation between these two sides, the power of God and the simplicity of the message of the cross, and the reasoning factor, can be merged by simply stating that the message of the cross is included within the reasoning and the power of God is relied upon for the power of the words, and not necessarily that of human reasoning, though God often applies reasoning in His Own arguments. Isaiah states:

Isaiah 1:18, “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.’”

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We often use another word in our defense and reasoning with others concerning Christianity. This word is “apologetics.” Similar charges are made for apologetics, as Norman L. Geisler explains:

“The charge is made that no one ever comes to Christ through apologetics.” –Norman L. Geisler

Here we can use apologetics almost interchangeably with reasoning.

“If this implies that the Holy Spirit never uses apologetic evidence to bring people to Christ, this is clearly false.” –Norman L. Geisler

Norman L. Geisler cites C. S. Lewis as a prime example. C. S. Lewis himself said:

“Nearly everyone I know who has embraced Christianity in adult life has been influenced by what seemed to him to be at least a probable argument for Theism.” –C. S. Lewis

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Geisler also cites the example of St. Augustine.

“Augustine tells in his ‘Confessions’ how he was led towards Christianity by hearing a Christian debate an unbeliever.” –Norman L. Geisler

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In addition, Geisler echoes the statement of Lewis when he says:

“God has used evidence and reason in some way to reach virtually all adults who come to Christ.” –Norman L. Geisler

So, whether in debate, in reason, in the simple message of the cross, and indeed, in all these examples the power of God, and the power He imparts on words must be evident to have an effect or they fall on deaf ears. Thereby, we see that the “power of God” referenced in 2 Corinthians 6:7, is multifaceted and despite the arguments for singular meaning, we find that in all probability it has multi-meaning, some of which we have discussed here. It is likely that Paul found that words alone, without or moving ahead of God and His power, fell on deaf ears. Again, as 1 Thessalonians 1:5 said, “it was not only with words but also with power.” Thereby, words alone, without the power of God were useless to Paul. The power of God needed to be included and, thus, his words needed to be led by the Holy Spirit, whether in reason or in the “simplistic” message of the cross.

In conclusion of these first two parts of the verse, that is, “In a word of truth,” and “In the power of God,” we see that all words spoken by Paul were in correspondence of truth with his speech. Further, that all his speech was related to the truth made extant by God and that his words were led by the Holy Spirit and thus imparted with power by the Holy Spirit to turn those who obeyed true reason to Christ or bring those affected by the simple message of the cross unto salvation and reconciliation with God. Both represented the power of God and the truth of God, which Paul not only spoke in, but walked in.

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Finally, we get to the last part of the verse, which in the Greek-to-English states, “Through the weapons of righteousness on the right and of left.” There is much debate about this last part of the verse, concerning not only the translation, but what it exactly means. There are a number of commentaries which imply that they agree with the KJV translation which says:

2 Corinthians 6:7, “By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

We note the last portion of the verse, “by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” This is interesting terminology for many of our current translations say, “With the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.” Even the LITV says, “through the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

We should first ask what the weapons of righteousness are as expressed by Paul. I believe that some of these weapons, or armour are mentioned in the previous verse.

2 Corinthians 6:6, “We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.”

Thus we find these are some of the weapons (armour) of righteousness:

  1. Purity

  2. Understanding

  3. Patience

  4. Kindness

  5. Holy Spirit

  6. Love

In addition, Ephesians 6:13-18 gives us more of the armor of God that we can apply to this list.

Ephesians 6:13-18, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm. Sand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor [breastplate] of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

  1. Truth

  2. Righteousness

  3. Peace

  4. Faith

  5. Salvation

  6. Word of God

  7. Prayer

  8. Alertness

  9. Persistence

Therefore, the Scriptures tell us we have at least 15 weapons or armour of righteousness.

  1. Purity

  2. Understanding

  3. Patience

  4. Kindness

  5. The Holy Spirit

  6. Love

  7. Truth

  8. Righteousness

  9. Peace

  10. Faith

  11. Salvation

  12. Word of God

  13. Prayer

  14. Alertness

  15. Persistence

Some can be classified in argument as armour and others as weapons, so it kind of makes sense why there is a disagreement between scholars as whether 2 Corinthians 6:7 means armour or weapons. I think it can be understood as both, for we have the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God and the breastplate of righteousness. These things we not only put “on,” but hold “in” our hands as weapons. Thereby, we find the NLT’s translation of 2 Corinthians 6:7 useful, but it too needs a little explanation.

2 Corinthians 6:7“We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.

This translation might seem a little odd concerning some of the more “simplistic” translations we have visited within this essay, but in fact it does have a rational basis that is worth examining. The Believer’s Bible Commentary explains:

“One of the more probable explanations is that it ancient warfare the sword was held in the right hand and the shield on the left. The sword spoke of offensive combat and the shield of defense. In that case, Paul would here be saying that a good Christian character is the best offense and defense.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

However, MacDonald himself points out the difficulty in translating this passage:

“There is some doubt as to the exact meaning of the expression on the right hand and on the left.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

This can be shown by examining some classical commentary concerning the verse. There are a number of different interpretations. These include:

  1. One is fully clothed in the armor of God on the right side and on the left.

  2. One is fully armed and has weapons in the both the right and the left hands.

  3. One is fully prepared for battle by weilding a weapon on the right hand and shield on the left.

“Interpreters bare varied much in the exposition of this passage; and many have run into utter wildness. Grotius says, that it refers to the manner in which the ancient soldiers were armed. They bore a spear [or sword] in their right hand, and a shield in the left. With the former they attacked their foes, with the later they made defense. Some have supposed that it refers to the fact that they were taught to use the word with the left hand as well as the right. The simple idea is, that they were completely armed. To be armed on the right and on the left is to be well armed, or entirely equipped. They went forth to conflict. They met persecution, opposition, and slander. As the solider went well armed to battle, so did they. But the armor with which they met their foes, and which constituted their panoply, was a holy life. With that they met all the assaults of their enemies; with that all slander and persecution. That was their defense, and by that they hoped and expected to achieve their conquests. They had no swords, and spears, and helmets, and shields; no carnal weapons of offense and defense; but they expected to meet their assaults, and to gain all their victories, by an upright and holy life.” –Albert Barnes

It appears, then, that the NLT translation is a profound blend of both theories, that is 1 and 2, and with other biblical evidence such as Ephesians 6:13-18. The fact is that whether or not we consider the list of the fifteen provided armaments as either weapons or armor, that is either offensive or defensive isn’t nearly as important as the fact that these things should be evident in our lives. If evident, then they will serve their place as both offensive and defensive due to the power of God as long as we remain in the truth and speak the truth.

truth


2 Corinthians 6:2, “For [God] says, ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is the acceptable time! Behold now is the day of salvation.” (LITV)

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Paul here quotes from Isaiah 49:8. It would certainly be beneficial to us to refer to this verse in Isaiah, and the previous one, so that we might understand what the acceptable time means.

Isaiah 49:7-8, “The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the One who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the One who is the servant of rulers: ‘Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the LORD, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen You. At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as My covenant with them. Through You I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.”

This chapter in Isaiah is a prelude, foreshadowing or prophecy of what would eventually come to pass. Israel would be in state of enmity against God and His Holy Servant Jesus Christ. Verse 7 gives us insight into this strife, which is extant on man’s part alone, but despite the presence of unbelief and outright hostility against God and God’s Holy One, God sought it fit to impart grace upon mankind.

I would ask the reader to reflect upon the sublimity of these facts, that at one of the most hostile times in history towards God and His Holy One, that God somehow, in accordance with a grace and love far surpassing that of human-kind, purposed a time of His favor through that same Holy One, Jesus Christ. As William MacDonald mentions, the “day of salvation” mentioned, as it pertains to Jesus, “refers to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

"Resurrection of Christ," by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

“Resurrection of Christ,” by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

Therefore, this “time of favor” can be said to be situated between the resurrection and Christ’s return. Philip E. Hughes, of the NIV Study Bible, says:

“[This is] an affirmation that is true in a general sense of all God’s saving acts in the history of His people, but that finds its particular fulfillment in this present age of grace between the two comings of Christ.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Hughes correctly points out that throughout history there have been manifest times of God’s favor. However, there is an innovative originality concerning the particular age we live in now, where this hallowed salvation is made available to all mankind. Yet, we say this in a general sense, for there is also an individualistic sense in which, by Paul’s words, is not only suggested this blessed grace or salvation, but also it serves as a warning. For we are told that it is a time of God’s favor, but one necessary condition of time is that it passes. The direct consequent, then, is that this time of “acceptability” will pass. Henceforth, we understand the urgency of Paul’s message, that ‘now is the day of salvation.’

Now-Time

The NIV Study Bible points this out when it states:

“[‘Now’] underscores the urgency of the divine invitation.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Time is somewhat of a relative term as it is used here. We should realize that time can mean, this moment, today, this week, fifty years from now, a hundred, or, indeed, eons from now. Of course, the verse applies its message for today. Paul does this in probably the full understanding that mankind, when it comes to salvation and holiness are the greatest of procrastinators. We tend to put off these things like obedience and faith because we fool ourselves into thinking that we will always have tomorrow, the next day, or the next, and so on, to come under the grace of our Lord. However, nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, nor ten minutes from now. This strikes me as a rather prideful assertion and delusional assurance, for all evidence points to the contrary. Rather than putting these things off, let us today put on the full armor of God, with its helmet of salvation, shield of faith, shoes to spread the gospel of peace, breastplate of righteousness and belt of truth. Let us put on the shining armor of right living, as the Scriptures tells us:

Romans 13:12, “The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.”

Ephesians 6:11, “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

Ephesians 6:13-14, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”

Let us again consider the general and specific application regarding this “time of salvation” as it pertains to both mankind as a whole (general) and the individual (specific). We find the generality of the time of God’s favor to pertain to all man in this age between the appearances of Christ. It is in this age we are offered salvation by and through faith (in which obedience becomes an integral part) in Jesus Christ. Yet, as we have said, since it is mentioned in the context of time, it will not carry on indefinitely. Rather, this time supposes an end, so, let us run in haste and endurance that race marked out before us, while we still exist within this state or time, for we do not know the time when it will come to an abrupt end.

End

Here is our chance. Here is our opportunity. Let no man suppose that this opportunity will always be there, for if it was the case the Scriptures would not emphasize us coming to the Lord, or obeying His statues, “as long as it is still today.” The Scriptures say:

Hebrews 3:7-8, “That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested Me in the wilderness.’”

Hebrews 3:13, “You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”

Hebrews 4:7, “So God set another time for entering His rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.’”

Psalm 69:13, “But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of Your favor, in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.”

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”

Psalm 32:6, “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach Him.”

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No, we must run for the goal, which is Christ Jesus, in all due haste. How I cringe when I hear Christians suggest by their words that they can always ask for forgiveness later. How I cringe when I realize I too have done this very thing. Now I am not one to put limits on the grace of the Lord, for this is beyond my scope of knowledge, but this attitude speaks loudly in a resounding tone of arrogance and disrespectful presuppositions. For it supposes God will always forgive us and that He is always willing to forgive. Frightfully enough, the Scriptures, though Jesus tells us if we seek we shall find (Matthew 7:7), Proverbs makes it clear:

Proverbs 1:24-28, “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored My advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for Me, they will not find Me.”

Therefore, let us not suppose we are always fit to be found under the grace of the Lord our God. However, those of us who have been forgiven for our past sins let us rejoice and take a firm hold of the faith. For the Lord has granted us favor, and not by our own works, but by His grace which transcends all understanding of man.

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1My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – 3indeed if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4and if you look for it as silver and search for it as hidden treasure, 5then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

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In my last entry I discussed, or rather the Scripture discussed, the consequences that occur when one doesn’t fear the Lord. What is this fear of the Lord and why is it so profound? I yet do not know in the profound measure it deserves, but I have the understanding that despite the clues I have gotten concerning the fear of the Lord, in truth its much deeper than I can fathom at this point. This is why I have yet to do any recent writing on the topic. I pray the Lord will lead me in discovery about this often wondered about phrase? What is it to fear the Lord? I invite the reader to stay tuned. One thing we do know about the fear of the Lord, however, is that it is elsewhere too aligned with a knowledge, which again speaks to its profound nature. Isaiah 11:2 says,

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.”

An interesting thing occurs to me. Both in Isaiah and the aforementioned Proverbs 2:5 mention BOTH the fear of the Lord, understanding, and a, or the, knowledge of God. In addition, how Isaiah talks of it suggests it being a fruit of the Spirit.

Regardless, despite the missing profound variable about the fear of the Lord, I believe there are a number of conclusions and important points we can extrapolate from these verses. First, to dissect the collection of verse a bit, there are eight conditions, or antecedents, and two consequents. The eight conditions are, to accept the Lord’s words, store up His commands, turn your ear to wisdom, apply your heart to understanding, call out for insight, cry aloud for understanding, seek it as silver, and search for it as hidden treasure. The two consequents are, an understanding of the fear of the Lord, and finding the knowledge of God.

I would like to do something a little different for this current entry and analyze the Scripture by these conditions and consequents. First, I will cite the conditions, slightly paraphrased, and immediately after write upon them. After the conditions are finished, I will then do likewise for the consequents mentioned in Proverbs 2:5. I pray this translates well into a blog post.

Accept The Lord’s Words

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I believe there are quite a few of us guilty, including myself, of approaching the Scripture with a presupposed message in hand. Simply, we go through times in our life where we encounter challenges, reap calamity, are distressed, brought low, and seemingly trampled underfoot by any number or matter of things. Of course, being of a somewhat juvenile in faith, as even the most faithful can be at times, outside Christ, we turn to our Bibles to bring us a positive message or, at the very least, one that will make us “feel better” somewhat. In a time such as this, we may be in danger of not accepting what the Lord is really trying to tell us. We find something scary, or something convicting, and we turn the page. Searching for that other verse to give us our needed exhortation. If this isn’t describing you at all my friend then God bless you!

However, I only write from personal experiences and I know the tricks of the self, as well as the enemy, are not original temptations at all. For, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 says:

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

When getting a Word from the Lord sometimes we don’t want to hear it and we fool ourselves in thinking that intuitive scripture that came to us must be mistaken or misheard. Yet, we are called not only to accept those things which make us feel good, like grace, but also those things which frighten us, like judgment. However, this is all for our own good. The Lord doesn’t want calamity to fall upon us and gives us stern warnings in order that we might have it “the easy way” rather than the “hard way.” This is simply due to his unfathomable love, much like how a parent might warn and discipline their children when they have done wrong.

Store Up The Lord’s Commands Within You

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To tap into a little bit of my own testimony, I attended a Christian private school while I was in high school, but didn’t become a Christian until after. At the time, while in school, I found one of the most ridiculous academic activities to be memorization. This ranged from vocabulary quizzes and exams to even, dare I say it, Bible verse memorization. Be assured I feel ashamed for this now, and certainly you can tell how depleted my ability to reason was at this time in my life. I mean, why would I need to memorize the Bible if I had to always have it on me anyway? Surely, the Holy Word would warrant an open book test right? Now its easy to see from my vantage point where the ridiculousness really lied.

Certainly, some of this came from just a sluggard kind of lifestyle and its paramount laziness, but whatever the causes, the effects were the most important. That whole time when I could have been soaking in God’s Word, I disregarded its importance, and thus missed out on an opportunity to be more versed than I am currently in biblical doctrine or writ. In addition, it is obvious to me, that I missed out on a great opportunity to build up a surplus of faith, which would have helped me out more during those times when I crawled through the darkness, often of my own accord.

Not only must we accept all things God reveals in His Divine Revelation, but we must also store up His commands in our hearts. This is not only for conviction purposes as one might suppose by the word “command,” but rather they are also means of following God’s perfect advice, and means of attaining blessing in our lives. This seems paradoxical that a command might act as a blessing. In and by our simple humanity, it remains a fact that we often do not like to be told what to do. Yet, we should not be so hesitant about following what the Lord tells us to do, for in that there is the aforementioned blessing. If the Lord didn’t want us to know that was the case, He wouldn’t have told us. Yet, since He did, we can have complete assurance in what the Lord says is truth. To simplify, we need to store up His commands in our hearts that we may avoid trouble and be blessed by our observance.

Turn Your Ear To Wisdom

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I recall as a small child getting in fights with my sister. On one particularly inspired mature moment, I covered my ears as she spoke and mumbled something like, “La,la,la,la,la…” to drown out her counter-argument. Whatever that might have been. Regardless, there are those times when we don’t want to hear what wisdom has to say. Moreover, we have a choice to listen to wisdom, or ignore it and drown it out. There is action and choice in this, which is made evident in Proverbs 2:2 when it tells us to turn. To turn towards something is to turn away from something else. This is much akin to the message of true repentance.

Apply Your Heart To Understanding

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The message here, to apply one’s hear to understanding, is one of commitment. We should commit to understanding. There are those questions that arise when studying the Holy Writ which are difficult to understand. We human beings tend to get discouraged or write off questions if we do not understand them. Indeed, I too went through a season where questions arising from study were discouraging to me, in the vein that such questions would arise the ever more dangerous question if what I believed was false. I had not yet understood that just because I had not the answer, didn’t mean there was no answer to be found. This is not a commitment to understanding, but rather a fleeting faith which is void of understanding and even the possibility of understanding. We are called to something much greater. A commitment to understanding that though questions arise, the Lord has many ways in which to deal with questions. These range from an understanding to a greater faith despite our questions. We almost live under the presupposition that if truth exists then we must have all the answers pertaining to that truth. Yet, the very idea of faith is that in spite of our questions we yet do still believe. Thus, we must not only commit to understanding, but to faith as well despite a

ll the unanswered questions that may arise within us. Let us have a greater faith in the Lord that He surpasses our questions and our abilities to understand. For as the scripture states, let us not lean upon our own understanding, but transcend it as the Lord transcends all.

Call Out For Insight

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Insight is more than a knowing, it is a discernment which grants us an aptitude for both the answers to questions and the direct application of the lessons found within, which can be understood as a wisdom. However, to call out for insight is to acknowledge a lack of insight and to call upon God in steadfast prayer for holy inclination. We acknowledge our lack of Godly insight, for His insight is as infinite as He is, and us being creations of His are necessarily below His enormity. So we are not to call out to the sciences, but rather God Himself who surpasses all human knowledge and man’s practicality. There are, of course, those insights of worldly or practical matters, but how much greater are those insights of spiritual matters which apply to everything? For God is everything! To call out is to desire in earnest. We don’t mutter or have some intellectual arbitrary want for insight, but we call out in a fervent heartfelt aspiration.

Cry Aloud For Understanding

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This is much similar to the one above, that is to call out for insight. It reiterates the above committing us to the importance of the lesson, that we should in earnest cry out for understanding. Furthermore, are we are not to consider it being ever fully gained, for the understanding of the Lord is as limitless as He is. Let us, therefore, take refuge in our Lord when we come unto a situation that demands further understanding. Moreover, let us be discerning in being able to identify those areas in which we lack in understanding, not lean on our own, and may the Lord grant us the understanding to be able to approach any subject or situation in a Godly knowledge which far surpasses that knowledge of man.

Look For it as Silver

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To look for something as silver is to already understand its intrinsic value and worth. Beneath the earth lie vast amounts of precious metals which when mined produce a vast storage of wealth. Likewise, at times, this understanding remains hidden from us in the same vein as one of silver or gold and we must be steadfast in our approach to find these caverns of wealth and understanding. Let us not rush after the gold of fools but rather those precious gems and metals which line outcroppings of knowledge and wisdom.

Search For it as Hidden Treasure

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There are those who dedicate their lives to the seeking of vast fortunes of wealth which have been lost over the ages. Such people invest their time, their money and even their wellbeing in order to discover hidden treasure buried within soil, sand or under the oceans. These treasure seekers not only find a thrill of discovery in such efforts, but also know that if successful then their endeavors will be greatly rewarded. Our endeavors will be greatly rewarded if we seek understanding like those who seek the treasures of old.


24But since you refuse to listen when I call and nobody pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – 27when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28‘Then they will call to me, but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. 29Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. 30Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke. 31They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them, 33but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.'” –Proverbs 1:24-33

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Though Proverbs contain many verses which can cause elation, there are those scary ones as well, which warn and rebuke. Some of these like verses share in telling of the potential consequences of a life of sin. This group of verses however I think we are dealing with one sort of sinner. That doesn’t mean not all sinners can reflect upon the verses of course, for they are applicable to just about anyone. Yet, going into the text, I believe there is a group of sinners which are referenced here. To coin a term, assuming it hasn’t already been coined, I will call this group of individuals, “God’s bad weather friends.” We all know the idiom concerning a, “fair weather friend,” obviously signifying that a particular individual only has a relationship with you when the atmosphere is to his or her liking. God’s bad weather friends are exactly the opposite. These folks seek a relationship with God only in times of trouble. The rest of the time they go on sinning, yet when trouble comes along they look to God for deliverance.
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I hope to explain how the Lord drew me to these conclusions. First, however, to really follow the way my thought process was guided, we need to start from the beginning of this collection of Scripture. Verse 24 says:

24But since you refuse to listen when I call and nobody pays attention when I stretch out my hand,”

Foremost, what we see is that this verse, and those following it, are not only directed to an individual, but also a group of individuals. “You,” commonly is used to target a singular individual, though it can be used for a class of people, but “nobody” specifically refers to more than one person. Not only does this suggest a plurality, but an absolute as well. “Nobody,” as a term is negated whenever there is exception.

One of these notable exceptions in Scripture is the exception of Lot. In Genesis 18 we find the fascinating account of Abraham bartering with God over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In an effort to help save Sodom and Gomorrah from God’s wrath, Abraham argues with the Lord.

25Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? 26The Lord said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’ 27Then Abraham spoke up again: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?’ ‘If I find forty-five there,’ He said, ‘I will not destroy it.’

From Abraham’s questions I can’t help wonder if Abraham was trying to discover the value of a human life to God. Regardless whether or not Abraham even had that inkling, we do find out the answer. Every human life is important and holds immense value to God. The bartering and humble boldness of Abraham continues as the Lord eventually concedes that He will not destroy the city if there are ten righteous people. Of course, God couldn’t find ten righteous people, so the cities came under His righteous wrath. However, it was not the case that nobody there was righteous. A man named Lot lived in Sodom. It was for his sake that God, though He didn’t relent from His anger, but for the sake of one righteous individual, the Lord called him and his family out of the city delivering him another way.

In the study of Proverbs we have already discovered some city imagery, which I believe carries over into the verses addressed here. Right now we are hearing from the point of view of “wisdom,” which is literary personification of a concept, that is wisdom. Yet, it is much more than that. This wisdom is God, for Proverbs 2:6 says:

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

It is God that is “wisdom,” for absolute wisdom is an attribute of God Himself.

Concerning verse 24, they refuse to listen when God calls, and do not pay attention when God stretches out his hand. What does it mean for the Lord to stretch out His hand? It can mean several things. Out of the short list I have compiled, and I do not claim to have all the possibilities written down, I noticed that a lot has to do with the position of the palm when conceptualizing the Lord’s outstretched hand.
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It can be a reference to omniscience, an offering, acceptance, judgment, compassion, help, or the means of bringing about an event, either as a blessing, or as a calamity. “Since you refuse to listen when I call,” indicates that God has offered Himself to these people first, and they have not paid attention even when the Lord outstretches His hand. In this context, I believe the Lord’s outstretched hand to have the attributes of judgment, compassion, help and a means of bringing about a calamity. Meaning the people talked about here had a “bad weather” relationship with God. They reaped just consequence and then asked the Lord for his help. The Lord in His compassion, helped the folks in their time of distress, but they immediately went back to simple lives.

The term, “since,” indicates a upcoming consequent. Proverbs gives us several reasons why this judgment is to occur. Aforementioned there is the refusal to listen to God and the fact that nobody pays attention when the Lord stretches out His hand. I myself have been guilty of this very thing. At times I will pray for something in earnest and when it is answered from God by His very hand, I have forgot about the Lord. Simply, I have forgotten to give praise and credit where it is due. Furthermore, I don’t always act the way I should when receiving deliverance or rebuke from the Lord. This is only one reason why this group of Scriptures is so convicting to me.
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In addition, to not listening and not recognizing the Lord’s outstretched hand, a couple more reasons are given as to why negative consequence will befall such people. These are because there is a complete disregard of the Lord’s advice and a non-acceptance of the Lord’s rebuke. How interesting it is that we are confronted with the term, “advice.” Many have the conception of God, that he is some omniscient arrogant deity that sits up on His thrown and just throws out commandments with a, “follow me or else,” type attitude. Though this is true to a degree, the fact is that such an unflattering view of God negates one of the most important attributes about God. That is His love and His desire to be in a relationship with every single individual that humbles themselves before Him. So while it is true the Lord has made commandments, at the same time it is also true that He desires a relationship. This is the meaning behind the term, “advice.” The Lord could have said, “Since you don’t obey me, then . . .” However, The Lord did not say such a thing, but makes His rebuke telling the objects of the Scripture that they have ignored His “advice.” When we juxtapose “command” with “advice” we find quite the striking difference. Advice suggests a deeper personal relationship. A relationship with somebody who cares about what direction the object towards which this advice is offered and is going.
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26I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – 27when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.” –Proverbs 1:26-27

To better extrapolate the meaning behind these two verses, it is necessary to jump down a bit to verse 31 and 32:

31They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them.”

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Although there is much contrast within this group of verses, there is also a coherence between who a man is and what consequence is to come to pass. The term fruit here is the consequent of these peoples state of heart and being. Their ways bring about a punishment which is corollary to their very behavior. “Simple,” in practical terms, refers to the indulgence of carnal desires. Such a simple man, no matter what Lynard Skynard might think, is completely wayward, for their ways suddenly shift in an effort to fulfill those carnal desires. Neither the wayward momentum of the simple, nor the stagnant ways of the complacent fool, will save them. Indeed, it will become their very downfall.

Even mockers will have their just and corollary reward. Mockers are brought up specifically just previously in Proverbs 1, Verse 22:

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?”

There are at least three classes of folks dealt with in our group of verses. The simple, the fool, and the mocker. As said before the simple indulges in the carnal desires. The fool is complacent and lacks knowledge, by choice, for there is a relationship between the simple and the fool. The mocker is included as well and more likely than not this has to do with a person who through behavior or by his spirit mocks God. God answers such as these in verses 26 and 27.

Yet, the Bible tells us in Ezekiel 18:32, that God takes no delight in even the punishment of the wicked. However, Proverbs specifically mentions God mocking and laughing. God also laughs which in turn can be a form of mocking. Is this God taking pleasure in the punishment of the wicked. We have somewhat of a paradox here, and when studying the Word, I love paradoxes. Why? Instead of writing them off as contradictions, the exploration of paradox gives us a deeper understanding into the Word of God and even God Himself.

Here we have a paradox between the absence of pleasure when God punishes the wicked, and His ability to mock. To settle this paradox we need to ask ourselves is it necessarily the case that mockery must be a form of pleasure. In practical applications, that is concerning human behavior, we find this not to be the case. Every mockery is not motivated by a joy. Quite the contrary, most mockery is a form of displeasure. Mockery, in human terms, seeks to lower another for a prideful purpose, as opposed to God whose motives are for just purposes. Since it is just, mockery from God seeks not to lower, but to reveal truth. God mocks the prideful, for next to God we are nothing. It is the pride He mocks. It is not directed at the punishment itself. Mockers mock due to prideful purposes, and because of that pride, God will mock the pride of the proud and bring them low. Thus, mockers too will eat the fruit of their ways. They will mock and in turn be mocked by God. For how misplaced is pride when compared with the Lord?
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There is much imagery shared here concerning storms and weather. Keeping along the lines of our current themes the storms too must signify something. Since it comes upon the sinners it must be a part of the sinners God is mentioning specifically. Simply, we find the punishment fits the crime in that the fruits of the sinner will be the very ones to befall them. So, mockery for the mockers, the simple, the carnal desires, and the fool, the lack of knowledge. Since we have all this corollary fruit, so too would the storms mention be representational of those spoken of in Proverbs. How can a storm be representational of an individual as regards sin?
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Let us take the waywardness of the simple for example. To be wayward, according to Dictionary.com, is to have turned away from what is right and proper; willful; disobedient. Swayed or prompted by caprice; capricious. Turning or changing irregularly; irregular. To be capricious is to be given to sudden unpredictable change, as one’s mind or the weather. Both these apply to the simple, in that they frequently change their mind to follow their own wayward carnal appetites and upon such the Lord will bring a storm of calamity. This storm will hit from all sides and the simple will make their plea to God for deliverance. Yet, the shifting storm is of their own doing much like their shifting desires and wills. It is this plea that will not be heard from by God. They will eat of their own just deserts. Verse 28 says:

“Then they will call to me, but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.”

In this arises another paradox for the Bible also tells us in Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9, “Seek, and ye shall find.” Aren’t these men seeking God by their plea? Is the Holy Word contradicting itself? Not at all. Rather than this being the case, we receive insight into the heart of such individuals. Verse 29 and 30 read:

29Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. 30Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke.”

Such people hate knowledge, don’t fear the Lord, don’t accept his advice, nor his rebuke and being the case have not a heart for God, but a heart of self. It is only out of self-preservation that they cry out to God, not for the knowledge that they have done wrong and sinned. Nor is it for a healthy fear of the Lord. The Lord understands the human heart better than we ourselves do. Is the Lord bound to redeem those who have not heart for Him? Certainly not, though He does deliver the sinner at times to make Himself known unto them, but we should be wary of relinquishing ourselves to our basic “needs” and then begging the Lord for deliverance and forgiveness when consequence comes upon us. Such a repetition of behavior suggests a focus on self and not on the Lord.

To give scriptural evidence of this, the Book of James says in Chapter 4, Verse 3:

“Ye ask, and receive not because ye ask amiss that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

This is an amazing verse for it shows that the Lord doesn’t answer prayer if it is to encourage sinful behaviors. The people in Proverbs sought sinful behavior and ask for deliverance from trouble in order that they may continue to indulge in their lusts.

31They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.” —Proverbs 1:31

Scheming certainly has its bad connotation. Yet, there are blessed schemes as well. Dictionary.com defines a scheme as a plan, design, or program of action to be followed, project, an underhand plot, intrigue. A visionary or impractical project. A body or system of related doctrines, theories, etc. Any system of correlated things, parts, etc, or the manner of its arrangement. A plan, program, or policy officially adopted and followed, as by government or business, an analytical or tabular statement. God has his own Holy schemes as is made evident in the sacred doctrine, but beware the underhand schemes of man which seek to deceive, if not self, then others including our Lord, but the Lord cannot be deceived due to His infinite perfection. What people desire in sin is often the very same means unto which they will meet their ends.

32For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them, 33but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

In addition, let us be wary of the complacency of the fool, complacency being foolish in and of itself. Being void of knowledge, wisdom, and is moreover given to sin. There are many things that bring about complacency. Drinking and drugs being two prime examples. We find that when these things are evident in life, complacency creeps into the lifestyle of the individual. Due to the dangers of idle hands we see an implicit and even explicit relationship between complacency and sin.

Despite some of the scary moments in Proverbs, there are messages of hope as well. The fact is we can choose to fear the Lord. We can choose to be non-complacent and non-foolish. We can chose not to be simple and not mock. We can repent and turn our hearts away from evil and towards the Lord. Such that do this will live in safety, be at ease, and be free of the fear of harm. Now that doesn’t mean that harm will not come to us, but in history time and time again we see those blessed men and women of the Lord who did not fear what harm was to come to them by the hands of man. Matthew 10:28 says:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

We can be free of the fear of this harm simply by fearing the Lord. This brings ease and rest to the soul. Due to the fact that we can count on this salvation, we can live in safety, knowing our salvation is secure in the Lord our God by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ.
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20Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square. 21On top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech. 22How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?23Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.” —Proverbs 1:20-23

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There are many things that set the Holy Bible apart from other books of antiquity. One simply is how people respond to it. Out of all books of antiquity it is unique in that almost every world view attempts to come to the Holy Bible, have it validate their belief system, or, on the other hand, they attempt to use it against itself to disprove it’s authenticity. These arguments run the gamut from being absurd and silly, to requiring extensive study by believers to provide an adequate answer against the charges. This charge, in particular, has surprised me for a couple reasons. First, due to its absurdity, and because I have heard it more than once. One would be most inclined to think the more absurd a charge is the rarer it becomes. Yet, there are those examples where there are shallow and boundless absurdities which we hear time and time again. This is one such charge.
 photo 383_zpsac971fa1.gifThe charge regarding Proverbs is that it denotes and thus “proves” a kind of polytheism. Polytheism is simply the belief in many gods, appropriately from the Greek’s, who had their own mythology concerning many gods and demi gods, “Polys” meaning “many.” At any rate, it has been argued that wisdom, which is personified more than once in Proverbs, is indeed reference to another god rather than an attribute of God. I find this to be quite an odd argument because of the fact that personification of concepts within forms of writing is such a prevalent instrument. From pop lit to the archaic, personification has been used in everything from these abstract concepts, like wisdom, to nature and animal forms. This being the case, to jump to such a literal conclusion is quite silly. Yet, here it is.

To somewhat prove the case that this isn’t a separate god speaking, but rather the one and true God, we only need to look at the gender of this personification. Wisdom is regarded as a female, while God is almost always depicted as male, when we take into account the personal pronouns which reference God Himself. This is nothing against the female gender mind you, quite the contrary, but what it does symbolize is God’s role when we come to him for salvation. He provides for us and we, the church, are His bride. The irony of this view, made even more ironic because it is argued from the point of view of feminists, is that if one is to hold that the female gender is derogatory in symbolism, and that we, that is all human kind, are referred to in a the female gender, it requires a derogatory view of the self if one is remain in complete coherence with that view.

What we have here is not a literal personification, but rather an abstract personification of one of the attributes of God. Verse 23 says:

“Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.”

To, “pour out,” is a not uncommon phrase in Scripture which is attributed to God, for God holds the cup of wisdom and pours it out to anyone who repents. Thus, the wisdom spoke of here is not a deity, but a part of God, not apart. There are a couple other curiosities to this verse which speak of and to wisdom. One of these I believe to be so profound that I have not grasped the real gravity of it. Thus, if there are any out there with insight, I would appreciate further clarification in the comments section immediately below this post.

It is interesting, but wisdom is said of speaking in four locations. This is the profoundness of which I speak. These are, out in the open, in the public square, on the top of the wall, and at the city gate. Instead of the Scripture saying, “Wisdom cries out…,” it gives us these four specific locales. Why? Though I do not claim to understand the full significance, and I have an inkling there is more, I think there are a few things we can safely and scripturally determine to be the case here. “Out in the open,” may refer to the fact that even outside men, independent of them, this Godly wisdom exists. “In the public square,” can signify that among men God’s wisdom calls to us.

“At the city gate,” I believe may need some clarification. Unlike contemporary cities, cities of antiquity were often surrounded by a wall and often had one or several gates that led into or out of the city. These gates were closed at times at certain hours and most definitely when the city was under siege. When someone was said to be at the gates, it is equivalent to saying, “Someone is at the door.” Meaning that one was or is on the other side. Thus, when wisdom calls out from the city gate, she is not crying out from inside, but from outside! This is symbolic of the human heart who has erected walls or strongholds against the wisdom of God, and God Himself. Despite this wisdom still cries out. “She” cannot be silenced.
 photo atthegates_zps04295a45.jpg“On top of the wall,” is a metaphor for this wisdom being loftier than man’s wisdom. Though it can be among men, it is greater than man and his own knowledge, reason or logic. As I had said before, the polytheistic argument is used other places in Proverbs. This includes Proverbs chapter 9. Here, in Verse 3, the lofty metaphor is repeated once more.

“She (wisdom) has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city.” —Proverbs 3:9

Saint Thomas Aquinas quotes it another way:

“Wisdom sent her maids to invite to the tower.” —Proverbs 3:9

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Aquinas himself uses the verse to attempt to prove that the Sacred Doctrine is more noble than other sciences, but does liken the metaphor to its transcending nature:

“Since this science is partly speculative and partly practical, it transcends all others whether speculative or practical.” —Saint Thomas Aquinas

It is interesting to note that chapter 9 holds a lot of similarities to chapter 1. However, what we can gather from all this is that there is this transcending nature to wisdom and not only that but, there is also the apparent meaning that wisdom is everywhere, though not all men choose to recognize or hear it. This is utmost importance do to it being repeated. As we continue in chapter 1 this becomes more apparent.

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mocking and fools hate knowledge.” —Proverbs 1:22

It is quite fascinating that we are able to define what we are simply on what we love or hate. That’s worth repeating. We define what we are simply on what we love or hate. If we love to mock we become mockers. If we hate knowledge we become fools, and if we love our simple carnal ways, we become exactly that. This extends to even truth in general, of which God is a part. Those who love truth will see it, while those who hate the truth will avoid it altogether. Yet, truth and wisdom call out to us from their lofty positions to change our ways. To hate mockery, the carnal, and to love knowledge. All this so we might become respectful, spiritual and wise.


10My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. 15My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; 16for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. 17How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it! 18These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! 19Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.” -Proverbs 1:10,15-19

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There are many things we find when studying the word. One of these is the honesty in which the Word addresses sin. What I mean is that it offers a kind of paradox. On one hand the warnings against sin are stern, but on the other hand the desire we have to sin or become disobedient is made evident. This paradox of course is settled by the grace of Jesus Christ. Here it is no different in sharing the tempting natures of sin. Verse 10 points out how sin and even the sinful can entice one. Sin can look glamorous or even fulfilling, but we know from both empirical evidence, namely our experience, and from the Scripture, that there is nothing further from the truth. Our enemy is not beyond using others to temp us and we should constantly keep this in remembrance. We should not give into the enticing appearance of sin, for the path that following sin puts us on is one that leads straight to death. Those who are of a sinful nature stroll upon these paths to ruin. Their paths are not straight, but crooked, winding and unsafe. How swift to shed blood and resort to violence are they who stroll upon this path. In addition, all forms of sin become their traveling companions and one should look to avoid such company. These men sabotage and ambush themselves.

“How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it.” —Proverbs 1:17

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For a moment Verse 17 confused me. Yet, when I read 18 it began to make sense. The man whose feet rush quickly into evil are their own enemy. Going back to verse 15 it got me to thinking, “Do all sinners enjoy shedding blood?” No, I believe there exists a distinction here. Not a distinction that allows excuse to be made, for all men will be without excuse, but rather there are several types of sinner the Bible mentions. Elsewhere in Scripture we are given distinctions of outward rebellion in sin, conceptual sin, grievous sin, habitual sin, and finally sins of iniquity. There can be another distinction made concerning Verse 10. These are those who struggle against sin and accept the Lord’s grace for sinning, for purposes of distinction I will refer to this as reluctant sin and the other as willful sin. I do not say “reluctant” because I wish to belittle the personal responsibility in sin. Rather, I use this term for lack of others at the top of my head, and for strictly distinction. Reluctance denotes a slowness or hesitation to sin, which means one is slow in sinning and quick to receive grace offered. Willful sin however, as is the category those whose feet rush into evil belong, denotes a quickness to sin and a slowness to receive grace offered. A major component of receiving grace properly is to repent, or turn from sin. Grace offers us the ability to do so, and not to excuse indulgence in sin.

The willful and “fast” sinner is the one who is quick to shed blood. Even “reluctant” sinners are not so quick to shed blood and still can detest violence and in fact be peacekeepers. The paths of these willful sinners end in ruin. They will not see success, for verse 17 says they will sabotage themselves. Casting an obvious net to catch a bird conflicts with one’s desire. If one wishes to be successful in such an endeavor, they need to cast a concealed trap and after run and hide. We too should run and hide from sin, lest we be as the man who casts an obvious net only to be met with no success whatsoever.

Success is an interesting paradox with profound meaning, in that the more a person strives for it, the more distant it can become. In his book, “Man’s Search For Meaning,” holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl states:

“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success; you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge, then you will live to see that in the long run – in the long run I say! – success will follow precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.” —Viktor E. Frankl

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The success of the sinner fails in that the success is based on the self, rather than on something greater than the self. Even those entrepreneurs who hold vast wealth because of the establishment of goods and company, do so because they believe in a cause greater than themselves. Of course this cause can be almost anything to supplying that which the world lacks to wanting to change or better things that already exist. The Christian has an even greater cause and this dedication is based on God’s will and not the will of the self. This leads to success.

I could use my very blog as an example. Whenever I focus on writing for an audience, rather than extrapolating the deep mysteries found within the Scripture and how it speaks to me personally, I find my writing, as well as my contemplation to wane to a vast degree. The more I forget about the audience which may or may not find their way to my blog, the better my writing and logical analysis. Whenever I try to impress with wit or wisdom, I find it all the more lacking, than when I humbly approach the Word and let it lead me in the way the Lord wills. However, if I have a particular goal greater than myself, as in sharing the message the Lord has deemed important, and focus on that alone, the more success I feel I have in my blog entry.

Quick to sin men are prideful, arrogant and violent according to the Word. His focus is so on the self, in the end, he will see no success by his sinful endeavors. They lie in wait, says Verse 18, to ambush only themselves. Their own actions testify against them so that their bitter means cannot bring sweet results. There are results which pacify, so let us not deny. Yet, where and by what means do these ends eventually lead. As we have mentioned, they lead to ruin, destruction, and death. By spilling other’s blood for gain, they spill their own. They contradict self, seeking to further self, they deteriorate it. The ultimate self-treason.

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