Antinatalism as a challenge against Christianity.

UPDATE: Since Inmendham posted a link to this entry on his site, but has banned me from commenting on his videos because he is an asshole, I will reply here: no, I never said that Christians cannot be antinatalists. In fact, my conclusion in this entry is more or less the opposite, that Christians MUST be antinatalists, or they are being absurdly evil.

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If antinatalism is based on any ethical principle, it must be based on the principle that we are responsible for the harm we create for others. We are to be punished for generating harm to others; we are not, however, to be rewarded for generating benefits to others, and these do not cancel each other out. A doctor who saves a patient’s life, and then punches him in the face, is responsible for that punch regardless of the fact that he also saved his life.

Antinatalism is therefore nothing more than the extension of basic principles of ethics and justice to the realm of the creation of human lives. There is nothing innately difficult or complicated about it; all that’s really needed to understand to become an antinatalist is that creating harm for others is wrong, and that creating human lives necessarily entails the creation of harm for others, especially, and most importantly, for the life that is created.

It seems to me, therefore, that antinatalism entails a strong condemnation of Christianity, more than any other ideology. If one is a Christian, believes in the existence of Hell, and that one cannot be guaranteed of not going to Hell (for even if one believes in Jesus today and believes that this is all one needs to do to go to Heaven, one can never be guaranteed that he will steadfast in that belief for the rest of his life), then it seems that the probability of any given new human life going to Hell is more than trivial.

And now, for the kicker: since Hell is an eternal, that is to say infinite, punishment, and any proportion of an infinite term must necessarily be infinite as well, we must conclude that the Christian breeder who creates a new life is guilty of bringing about infinite suffering into the world!

Why is no one noting this? It is a titanic ethical issue. Combined with the fact that Catholicism and other Christian sects have taken radically pro-reproduction stances throughout history and still today, we have on our hands an evil that is so incalculably vast that it cannot even be imagined. Either every single Christian breeder doesn’t really believe in Hell, or every single one of them has more guilt in bringing about suffering than all serial killers, dictators and rapists put together, for no finite amount can be compared to any infinite!

To a Christian, this conclusion may seem absurd on its face. How can it be infinitely evil to bring new life to term in this world? They consider it a great virtue. Well, many great evils have been called virtues in the past. But more importantly, we often acknowledge that it can be evil to bring about human lives when we know those human lives will not be worth living (for instance, when they will be afflicted with some crippling genetic disease). It is only fundamental human decency and compassion to not bring human lives to term when we know they will not be worth living. But what if there is a good chance that this human life will be chosen for terrible torture and death? Would this not be a good argument against bringing that life to the world as well? But Hell is eternal torture, which is infinitely more terrible than earthly torture.

One may argue against my position that I don’t really believe in Hell anyway, so what am I complaining about? My point here is not that I literally believe that Christian breeders are infinitely evil. Rather, I am pointing out that Christian pro-natalist positions cannot be reconciled with the notion of an eternal Hell where anyone may in theory be thrown if they stop fulfilling some condition. Indeed, many Christians would argue that they themselves do not know if they will go to Heaven, let alone their children. My position is that any Christian breeder who does believe in Hell and decides to have children anyway must be either a callous person to that extent, or simply so imbecilic that they never realized what they were doing.

Look at the stark facts. There are anywhere from 14 million to 36 million atheists in North America alone (from adherents.com). According to Christianity, all these people will clearly go to Hell. And we know that most of these people were raised by Christians, and that more than half of these Christians believe in Hell. This is not, therefore, a trivial argument or case. We are talking about tens of millions of people who, from the perspective of their own belief system, have inflicted eternal suffering on their children by creating them. These people, in my view, are purely and simply evil.

Of course, Christianity is founded on the antithesis of justice and compassion, being innately nihilistic in nature, and I don’t expect Christians to understand ethical arguments such as this one. I don’t expect Christians to stop breeding on the basis of their own stupid beliefs, either. It’s not like there aren’t plenty more reasons not to be a Christian, anyway: anyone who believes in its pile of disgusting nonsense long enough to have children has more problems than I can explain or solve in any number of entries. I just thought it was an interesting angle on the antinatalist issue that might interest other atheists as well, and perhaps be used as an argument to rebuke Christians. Use it as you will.

Why should we have children? Why should we perpetuate the species? This is a fundamental question which two thousand years of Christianity have utterly failed to answer, despite one of the religion’s most prominent tenets being “be fruitful and multiply,” and promoting childbirth through an oppressive clergy. Therefore, Christianity fails to provide the meaning for life that it promises, and it is a religion unfit to exist on this planet. It needs to be eradicated.

15 thoughts on “Antinatalism as a challenge against Christianity.

  1. Arizona Atheist April 20, 2011 at 13:56

    Hi, I just wanted to drop a quick message to say I like a lot of what you have to say on your blog and I recently bought and started reading your book about market anarchy. I’ve only been able to read about the first chapter due to the need to begin studying for an upcoming test but I found your book so far to be well argued and very well written. I think I’m going to really enjoy it and I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

  2. Lori April 20, 2011 at 22:35

    My own belief is that religion in general is a technology (that is, an invention) for amplifying social control. My best guess is that encouragement of fertility, like any other religious meme, was discovered at some point in history to be conducive to social control. One way this control asserts itself is economic. One who has dependents has fewer luxuries when it comes to economic security. ‘Taking this job and shoving it’ is no longer just about risking one’s own standard of living. Voluntary austerity has some liberatory effects in common with being child-free, as it trains one in resourcefulness and DIY praxis, and lowers one’s personal ‘poverty line’ and one’s susceptibility to indenture through debt. Recall the ‘yuppie Nurenberg defense:’ ‘I’ve got a mortgage.’ Combine poverty with celibacy (the only reliable birth control in a prescientific world) and you have a very powerful combination. It’s no wonder that Catholicism bundled poverty and celibacy into a package deal that also includes obedience! While of course lay people are expected to reproduce to their maximum potential. The duress potential upon people with dependents can of course be political as well as economic. How many accounts have we heard about citizens of ‘Communist’ dictatorships being deterred from dissent or defection by implied threats against family members? Since I’m of the belief that the personal is political, I see politics in the employer-employee relationship. For how many years was it perfectly legal to discriminate based on marital or family status? The stated rationale was of course that marriage and family supposedly were indicators of ‘stability’ or ‘responsibility’ or even ‘maturity.’ But could the actual motives have included ‘indenturability’ or even precarious or marginal solvency? Motives can be hard to prove, but bias (and discrimination?) against single adults and childless (i.e. child-free) couples (later to be called ‘DINKS’) certainly wasn’t unheard-of in mid-20th-century America.

  3. Sister Y April 25, 2011 at 14:33

    Religious people don’t really do ethics the way secular philosophers do, beyond a certain point – the deity’s best interests are the only interests allowed to be taken into account, and the deity says procreate your pants off (usually).

    • Francois Tremblay April 25, 2011 at 16:09

      Not all Christians believe in Divine Command Theory, but… yea. Most of them do.

  4. […] is the fact that many Christians, if their philosophy is taken to its logical conclusion, are seriously risking an eternity of agony for their children, simply by all that begetting that their good book encourages them to get up […]

  5. […] an art form. It can also be a religious thing. Voluntary austerity in pursuit of anagory takes the monastic formula of “poverty, celibacy and obedience,” drops obedience, suggests (but by no means […]

  6. Sem October 13, 2011 at 16:05

    Hi,

    I’m a Christian, I’ve been thinking about this for about a year now.

    Even though you clearly hate Christianity – I think you make good points.

    I would say the following:

    1) Not all Christians believe in “eternal torment”, in which case the argument fails (or at least collapses to the regular antinatalist argument)

    2) If a Christian does believe in “eternal torment”, then I think you are correct.

    Sem

    • Francois Tremblay October 13, 2011 at 20:50

      Yes, I agree that not all Christians believe in Hell. That’s true enough. In fact, Hell is not Biblical at all, but the whole concept comes purely out of the commentaries.

  7. […] have already refuted such a line of reasoning insofar as Christians are concerned, in my entry Antinatalism as a challenge against Christianity. If there is any chance at all of any given child ending up in Hell (for whatever reason), then […]

  8. Brian Will April 26, 2012 at 17:14

    People will create their own hell; God doesn’t have to do it for them. Besides, if you accept the Western view that God did in fact create an eternal physical torture chamber of fire than one can conclude that Hitler and Stalin were more merciful than this deity. At least they gave their victims a way out; a way of escaping their torturous environments: death.

  9. macdaddy December 27, 2012 at 13:10

    As an ex-mainstream nondenominational Christian (that’s read “Baptist”, by the way) I believe your appeal would fall on deaf ears. A mainstream Christian would probably retort, “But my child has a higher probability of going to Heaven, because I’ll be here to teach them about Christ” (or in other words, “I’m willing to roll the dice”). Christians get reminded of Hell often enough that if this tactic were to work, they would’ve figured antinatalism out by now.

    This being said, one needs to attempt to speak to mainstream Christians in terms of their own paradigm if they want to pose questions regarding natalism. I know that you attempted to do that by talking about Hell even though you don’t believe in it, but I don’t think it would work. The reason is that mainstream Christians, at the core of their weltanschauung, don’t see people suffering as unjust. To them we choose to sin, making us imperfect, so it is just if God punishes us for our iniquities. The perfect and singular Son of God suffers because of that sin. Thus there is a great injustice; the perfect must suffer because of our choices (Jesus must suffer because of our conscious decision to do wrong/be imperfect). Don’t misinterpret me as saying this is how it actually is, rather, it’s the paradigm that mainstream Christians operate in.

    Because of this, I think the following questions would be the best to pose to Christians in regards to antinatalism. Yes, there are a whole lot of a priori’s, non-sequitur’s, and other logical issues. But note how they are couched in terms of Christ’s suffering, which Christians [ostensibly] abhor:

    1. Who or what is Jesus saving you from?
    2. Isn’t it cruel to task Jesus with saving more people than He already has to?
    3. If He already has your sins to forgive/cross to bear, and you know that we are all sinners, why do you feel it necessary to create more sinners? If we all are Fallen, isn’t having children perpetuating Christ’s suffering? Do you enjoy Christ suffering? What put Him on that Cross?
    4. Aren’t your sins enough of a burden for Christ to bear, or are they really not that big of a deal? If they’re not, why don’t you take responsibility/pay the price for them yourself?

    (Note that I think the above questions display a profound misunderstanding of Christ and His message, but it’s couched in terms that most Christians will recognize. I’m running through their answers in my head, and having a really difficult time seeing how they could answer those questions and not at least understand the antinatalist position. I’m sure they’ll try to say that “God’s love is infinite, so He can forgive all of everyone’s sins”, but then they would basically be admitting that sin isn’t really that big of a deal, so there’s no real incentive to stop. And before they retort that the incentive to stop sinning is because they love God, that doesn’t change the fact that not having children saves God a whole heap of sin, generations worth in fact, so if you really love Him, there’s a really good way to stop sin in its tracks right there. In terms of God’s ability to forgive sin, having children would seem to be the very definition of “testing God”. I could also see them saying that Christ already suffered and died, so His suffering is not ongoing, so we’re not really adding to it. Again, though, that would basically be saying that sin is not that big of a deal. If that were the case, and the price had already been paid in advance for any sins you may commit, what’s one more, right? And lastly, if they admit that if sin really is a big deal, that it’s their fault, and that they can’t atone for it themselves, then the only other conclusion I can see is that they actually enjoy Christ’s suffering, and have a serious case of schadenfreude. Any pronatalist Christians care to oblige? I’d again like to reiterate how profoundly different this is from my personal understanding of Christianity, but it’s the paradigm the majority seem to utilize.)

    • Francois Tremblay December 27, 2012 at 14:38

      Yes, I’d like to hear from natalist Christians on this as well, but I doubt any read my blog. I could always make a new entry about it…

  10. […] one day go to Hell based on an uncertain hope that they might go to Heaven instead (I’ve already written that one anyway). But what exactly is […]

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