Biblical Scholars are, essentially, lawyers.
They study scripture, rather than bills of law, but the basic concept is the same. Both lawyers and biblical scholars arrive at predetermined conclusions and then cherry pick scripture or law to support their position.
This leads to stupid situations in which one set of Christians say one thing, while another set say something completely contradictory. Both argue that the Bible supports their position!
Often the only positions all Christians can agree on have no basis in scripture whatsoever. An excellent example of this is abortion.
Abortion is a topic all Christians seem united against, yet their position has very little basis in Biblical scripture whatsoever.
Never Mind What the Bible Says
I can see why the pro-life movement think abortion is wrong - when my wife was pregnant, we went to the doctor and had an ultrasound scan - and there was a baby, with a head, arms, legs and everything! And he moved! And wiggled!
This was at about 12 weeks - and even thought the baby was on the 'inside,' it was still clearly a little person. So as far as I'm concerned, an abortion at that stage would be killing a little baby.
Science and medicine is advancing so fast that the upper limit for abortions is meeting the lower limit for successfully delivering a premature baby. Clearly, it's wrong to abort a healthy fetus if it was developed enough to have survived outside the womb.
As science progresses, so to will the stage at which a premature baby can be born. We might end up 'growing' babies in test tubes from beginning to end, so it's deeply troubling to think that a 12 week old baby might be considered a constitutionally protected American citizen if he's lying in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but would be considered 'fair game' for the abortionist if he was left inside the womb.
What does the Bible say?
"Jewish law is quite clear in its statement that an embryo is not reckoned a viable living thing (in Hebrew, bar kayama) until thirty days after its birth. One is not allowed to observe the Laws of Mourning for an expelled fetus. As a matter of fact, these Laws are not applicable for a child who does not survive until his thirtieth day." Rabbi Balfour Brickner
Abortionist is presumably the second oldest profession, stemming from the need created by the first.
There were abortionists practicing their trade even back in the Biblical days - and the Bible itself has a very pragmatic approach to the subject.
Pro-life Christians generally use one passage, Jeremiah 1:5, to support the position that the Bible says abortion is wrong. In that passage, God tells David:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
Pro-life Christians argue that this is proof that God considers an embryo, within the womb, to be one of his subjects and a human soul - therefore, aborting would be murder.
However, this argument is flawed for numerous reasons.
Firstly, God tells David he knew him 'before I formed you in the womb.' So that means that David's 'soul' existed BEFORE his egg was even fertilized.
Secondly, God was talking about David specifically - not all unborn children. David had a very important destiny, so God had chosen him and 'knew him' for a reason.
As for the rest of the unborn Biblical children? Well, the old testament is very clear on the subject.
A baby wasn't considered to be 'a person' until a full thirty days after birth.
Numbers 3:15 shows that babies younger than 30 days were not counted in a census (presumably because infant mortality was so high in those days.)
Abortion was openly practised and condoned in the Biblical days, since a fetus was not considered a human being. That belief is consistent throughout the Bible.
For example, a man who murdered a pregnant woman was only held responsible for her death, not the death of her unborn child. In Genesis 38, Judah even orders Tamar to be burned at the stake, despite the fact that she was pregnant with twins.
In Numbers 5, God himself curses unfaithful wives to have abortions - and it's one of his priests who serves the 'bitter waters' that cause a miscarriage.
When the Bible was written, nobody could conceive of test-tube babies or Neonatal Intensive Care. Most pregnancies failed, or children died a few weeks after being born. That's why the Bible didn't consider babies 'people' until they'd been born and lived long enough to have a fair crack at life itself.
The Bible even admits that God first formed Adam from the dust of the ground - and only then did he give him the breath of life, turning man into a living soul.
If you consider that to be an allegorical account of pregnancy, it suggests that the first seven months are devoted to constructing the organs and body and only by the eighth month does the fetus display 'consciousness' and become a person.
There is no ambiguity. The Bible itself does not consider life to begin at the moment of conception. It's only science and rationality that has cultivated that belief.
Right for the Wrong Reasons?
I believe the religious right are wrong on several issues - like opposing equality for gay people. An awful lot of bigoted nonsense is justified by a few misinterpreted passages from the Bible. Abortion, however, is not one of those issues.
I might not entirely agree with the pro-life crowd (I think banning abortion would be a disaster) but I can see their point in fighting abortion - and I share their beliefs enough to know that abortion is not a choice I'd be willing to make.
I just find it uncomfortably ironic that the book many pro-lifers believe in, the old testament, is actually one of the most astoundingly 'pro-choice' documents ever written!
Thank goodness that we live in a secular society! If we lived under Bible law, people wouldn't just be having abortions right up until the moment they give birth - there'd be a loophole allowing them to murder their newborns if they changed their mind about being a parent within the first thirty days!