Worldviews and Baby-Killing

Worldviews matter. Our framework for looking at the world will impact what we see, how we see it. Our worldview will also impact what we do and how we do it. Thus a worldview matters not just on a theoretical level, but on a very practical level as well.

Ideas have consequences, in other words, and bad ideas have bad consequences. What we think and believe can greatly impact what we do and the way we behave. And it goes without saying that the idea that all worldviews are equal is of course nonsense.

The Nazi worldview for example is a far cry from the sort of worldview adhered to by someone like Mother Teresa. Whenever bad ideas or worldviews dominate, we tend to see some pretty bad results. Conversely, whenever good ideas or worldviews predominate, we tend to see some pretty good results.

We have the witness of history to back this up. We see quite clearly in history where certain worldviews have led. Consider just one example: the way we treat the unborn and the newborn. We find that contrasting worldviews lead to quite different outcomes here.

Back in ancient – and pagan – Greece and Rome, life was cheap. This was especially so for babies, children and women. Men mattered, but others did not very much. Thus women were treated poorly, abortion was rampant, and infanticide was a common practice.

This contrasts greatly with what occurred when Christianity came on the scene. All three groups found their status highly elevated and their wellbeing greatly improved. Historians both then and now have of course documented all this. Thus it is worth looking at this in a bit more detail, especially given that a revival of pagan worldviews has led to a revival in the promotion of infanticide, as I have recently written about.

As the West becomes increasingly post-Christian – in fact, anti-Christian – and the old paganism reappears, then we see a corresponding increase in beliefs and practices long ago largely eradicated because of the Christian worldview.

Christianity, in short, was a great civilising force in human history. When Christianity goes, so too goes that civilising influence. The overwhelming force for good which Christianity has been for so long I have documented elsewhere. See for example: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/09/09/why-faith-matters/

And this: billmuehlenberg.com/2005/09/07/a-review-of-how-christianity-changed-the-world-by-alvin-schmidt/

So let’s look at infanticide and related issues in ancient Greece and Rome. It might be best to just offer here some broad summary statements. The references and documentation to the early historians and writers who discussed this can be found in these books for those wishing to take it further.

Let me begin with a quote from David Bentley Hart’s helpful 2009 volume, Atheist Delusions. He notes how Christianity actually transformed in very practical ways the early world as it replaced pagan worldviews and practices with those fomented by Christ:

“There can be little question regarding the benefits that the new faith conferred upon ordinary women – women, that is, who were neither rich nor socially exalted – literally from birth to death. Christianity both forbade the ancient pagan practice of the exposure of unwanted infants – which is almost certainly to say, in the great majority of cases, girls – and insisted upon communal provision for the needs of widows – than whom no class of persons in ancient society was typically more disadvantaged or helpless. Not only did the Church demand that females be allowed, no less than males, to live: it provided the means for them to live out the full span of their lives with dignity and material security. Christian husbands, moreover, could not force their wives to submit to abortions or to consent to infanticide.”

D. James Kennedy wrote a helpful volume in 1994 called What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? He also looks at how Christ and the early Christians turned their world upside down. Because Christians saw everyone – including children – as being made in the image of God, this led to some very real changes to how they were treated. He writes:

“It was a dangerous thing for a baby to be conceived in classical Rome or Greece, just as it is becoming dangerous once more under the influence of the modern pagan. In those days abortion was rampant. Abandonment was commonplace: it was common for infirm babies or unwanted little ones to be taken out into the forest or the mountainside, to be consumed by wild animals or to starve or to be picked up by rather strange people who crept around at night, and then would use them for whatever perverted purposes they had in mind. Parents abandoned virtually all deformed babies. Many parents abandoned babies if they were poor. They often abandoned female babies because women were considered inferior.

“To make matters worse, those children who outlived infancy – approximately two-thirds of those born – were the property of their father: he could kill them at his whim. Only about half of the children born lived beyond the age of eight, in part because of widespread infanticide, with famine and illness also being factors. Infanticide was not only legal: it was applauded.”

Alvin Schmidt’s very useful 2001 book, Under the Influence, also deals with this topic. For the first time in human history, all of human life was sanctified, and that certainly resulted in some major changes: “Historical research shows that infanticide was common not only in the Greco-Roman culture but in many other cultures of the world as well.”

He continues, “‘Infanticide,’ said the highly regarded historian W.E.H. Lecky, ‘was one of the deepest stains of the ancient civilizations.’ It was this moral practice that the early Christians continually opposed wherever they encountered it.  And it was this depravity that they sought to eliminate.”

Many more such summary quotes could be offered here, along with quotes from those living back then. But my point by now should be quite clear: worldviews really do matter. Not all worldviews are the same. And when it comes to the very real issues of life and death, the importance of a worldview becomes all too apparent.

Today we have all sorts of esteemed academics and elites trying to make the case for infanticide. They even euphemistically term it “post-birth abortion”. And today we see the decline of, and attack on, Christianity all around the Western world.

It should seem clear to any thinking person that there is a very real connection between the two. Just as the rise of Christianity and the decline of paganism led to a major reduction in infanticide and abortion, so too today’s rise of a new paganism and the war on Christianity is leading to a rise in, and support for, infanticide as simply an extension of the abortion mentality.

Worldviews really do matter in other words.

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13 Replies to “Worldviews and Baby-Killing”

  1. Seeing as abortion is just pre-birth infanticide, all they’re doing with that euphemistic name is calling it “post-birth pre-birth infanticide”.

    But as for me, I’ve never seen anyone convince me that there’s something so special about the electrochemical reactions that go on in my body, but don’t go on in an infant or a foetus or an embryo or a zygote, that makes my life worthy of protecting, and not theirs. Doing a degree in psychology and learning a lot about the brain in the process actually convinced me infanticide and abortion etc. are wrong—but at a time I was equally convinced God didn’t exist.

    Pre- and especially post-birth infanticide are nothing other than selfishness and self-centredness let run riot.

    Felix Alexander, Melbourne.

  2. Hi Bill,
    The re-emergence of paganism is very frightening. How long can our girls and women folk go on being exploited before they realise they would be much better off living in a re-Christianised Culture?

    It was the elevation of the importance of women and children by early Christians in the pagan world which ensured the growth of the Church. It is so tragic that so many girls today have been conned into accepting abuse of their bodies and their motherhood as ‘normal.’

    Alan Williams

  3. I’m struck by the subtle irony of the change in worldview.

    During the Vietnam War American service personnel were often cursed in the street by the Neo Marxists and their fellow travellers as “baby killers”.

    Now forty years later baby killer advocates are lauded as being at the vanguard of progressive thought.

    The current truth is …..

    Is it just me or is it plain to see that without God’s objective moral standards one is cast adrift in a sea of moral confusion and whatever is convenient at the time?

    As is said ” The current truth is…… ”

    Doug Holland

  4. Bill, once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head. People say we need to get out of the dark ages and let a woman choose whether her child lives or dies but I always say that we already left that behind in Ancient Greece and Rome! We are enlightened NOW! Don’t go back to the dark ages of rampant abortion and infanticide. Forty years ago we argued the case that an embryo/fetus was human and not just a blob of cells. But now people accept that it is human and not just a bunch of cells but we should be allowed to kill it! And this is exactly the reason why a worldview is so important. Forty years ago if they were convinced that the fetus was a human, they had enough of a Christian worldview to understand why killing an innocent human being is wrong. Now you have to evangelise them first to put them in the correct worldview to understand why intentionally killing another innocent human being is wrong!
    Anna von Marburg

  5. Save the whales and kill the babies?
    …….and the sick, the elderly, the depressed, those in pain…..did I miss anyone?

    Michael D. Robinson

  6. Fine article. Thanks. InterVarsity Press once had a book on a similar theme called “Abortion and the Early Church” by Michael Gorman I believe and while out of print (go figure!) I believe it can still be found as per http://www.amazon.com/Abortion-Early-Church-Christian-Greco-Roman/dp/1579101828

    Did you happen to see the CNN Presidential debate clip where surprisingly Newt G quipped back at the loaded question asking CNN moderator exactly about infanticide and the duplicity of there never asking and now feigning hoopla about significantly less? It is amazing and happens in the first minute and a half and check out the crowd response to CNN. This one should be forwarded widely and double underscores your finely made points above. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=14Im6uyK_wY

    Joe Whitchurch, Indiana, US

  7. Excellent comparisons, Bill. It reminds me of some historical fiction I read on the hideous practices of the Roman army’s treatment of slave children they would take with them on military excursions. I was just reflecting over the past few days on the verse, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’ and how the influence of Christianity has influenced, for example, the nation of South Korea. As an English teacher, I come across many different nationalities and I would say that since the great awakening of Christianity in that nation, their people have risen morally, spiritually and economically. It’s so interesting to see Christian Koreans interact with almost pagan Europeans in the classroom. They have no problem at all in standing up for their Christian values. What a shame our western nations are throwing out the treasure that has made us what we are today in terms of humaneness, morality and prosperity. Meanwhile, as Christianity arises in the East, many of these blessings gravitate to those nations.
    Dee Graf

  8. Wonderful article Bill. I’d just like us to remind ourselves that reverence for life and care for widows and orphans began in the old covenant. I think Judaism was the first civilising influence as God began to teach us how to honour Him and how to live with each other. The Jews, alone among the peoples who surrounded them, understood these things much as we, who follow Jesus,do today.
    We’re similarly surrounded too and face the same risks of being drawn in to pagan practices. Thank God for watchmen like you!
    Anna Cook

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