Saturday, 15 October 2011

Jesus was an Antinatalist

In the early but non-canonical Greek Gospel of the Egyptians (early 2nd century), Salome appears as a disciple of Jesus. She asks him how long death would hold sway, and he says to her,

So long as women bring forth, for I come to end the works of the female

To this Salome replies

Then I have done well in not bringing forth


  1. Very interesting! While looking around for more information about this, I found this rather telling quote by a 2nd-century writer named Theodotus of Byzantium: "And when the Saviour says to Salome that there shall be death as long as women bear children, he did not say it as abusing birth, for that is necessary for the salvation of believers."

    Now where have I heard that one before? ;)

  2. Salome says 'Until when shall men continue to die?'
    Christ answers 'So long as women bear children.'
    Salome then asks 'I have done well then, in not bearing children?'
    Christ then says 'Every plant eat thou, but which hath bitterness eat not.'

  3. haha, didn´t see that one coming =)

    But in a sense, christianity, in some aspects, is antinatalistic - and buddhism is pratically antinatalistic also, at least to my eyes.

  4. Well, Shadow, religions usually do preach compassion at some level, and antinatalism is a consequence of compassion ... fully realized compassion. :-)

  5. OK, this got me thinking again about religion. Sister Y made a post "Judge Nature", in which she mentions "r" and "K" "Natural selection" methods.

    Since religions are passed on (mostly) from parent to child, religions that give "r & K tips" thrive. K-tips must be suggestive of compassion: they must ask at least people to treat their children well.

  6. Srikant,

    Thanks for complementing me, man, you are right indeed, fully realized compassion. =)

  7. Todd, thanks for the comment. Yup, Theodotus captures nicely the schizophrenic attitude of Christianity to the world: on the one hand, it sees it as a veil of tears; on the other, because it is supposedly God's creation we can't say too many nasty things about it for fear of insulting the creator. A nice bind!

    Anonymous: Thanks, man. Extra info appreciated.

    Shadow & Srikant: Hey, guys. Thanks for the comments. Yes, religion fully realised should be about compassion based on acknowledgement that the world is fundamentally a shithole. I've got more to say about this, but will save for it for a future blog post, it being a big topic n'all.

  8. "religion fully realised should be about compassion based on acknowledgement that the world is fundamentally a shithole."

    That's basically what I've always found attractive about Buddhism- among the major religions, it's the only one that takes this as an explicit starting point, and doesn't pussyfoot around the issue by writing it off as "God's plan" or whatever. Buddhism boils down to "the world sucks; it always has and always will; here's how to escape."

    Granted, the Buddha's proposed escape plan stops curiously short of simply wiping out consciousness through attrition, possibly because he believed in reincarnation. Or maybe because "nirvana" just sounds nicer, and no one would have paid attention to him otherwise.

    Maybe Jesus was the same way. If he had explicitly endorsed antinatalism, he would have been ignored and forgotten, or worse (look at what supposedly happened to him for what he DID say!) So he dressed it up and made his message more marketable, at the unfortunate expense of its real substance.

    Wild and unfounded speculation? You bet, but what's the internet for otherwise?

  9. Hey, Todd. Yes, it's interesting. From what we can garner from the New Testament, Jesus was unmarried and appeared to have a pretty fraught relationship with his family, whom he more or less disowned. It also seems that he believed that the world was going to end very shortly and made a remark somewhere along the lines of "woe betide pregnant women". Generally, it seems he believed that the world had become so corrupt that the only answer was a total wipeout. I know the feeling!

  10. Karl,

    Nice pointing about religion.

    I said in my comment that christianity, in some sense, and some aspects, is antinatalistic, because I also agree with you that it also entails the "god made it so love it" concept in it also. So, it was nice of you to point it out. And yeah, do write more about it. I find that the antinatalistic blogsphere is quite calm these days. Only you and I are pratically posting.

  11. Shit, the internet ate my second post!

    Todd, nice pointing out about religion.

    It sure seems that the buddha is aiming at antinatalism all the way, and yeah, maybe if he didnt´dress up nicely his religion people wouldn´t even listen to him, and that could be the same with Jesus. I don´t know, maybe it is, maybe it isn´t, but it sure seems so.


    You got it.

    If I boiled down antinatalism to a sentence, it´d probably this:

    "The world is corrupt, so let it burn down".

    Now that´s probably two sentences, I don´t know, my grammar may be a little off, but you get my drift!

  12. As unpopular as it sounds here, I don't think Jesus was explicitly endorsing antinatalism, although I agree he seems to permit it. I think that's just His way of saying "as long as humans exist, there will be those who deserve eternal punishment". He left it up to us as to whether or not to procreate.

    Nor does he seem to explicitly endorse AN in any of the Gospels. Therefore, 20 of the most brilliant theologians of all time, miraculously brought together to debate the issue, can't come to a consensus about this any more than 20 people picked at random from the IRS tax rolls.

    Still, I do agree that (assuming Heaven/Hell alternatives are true) it's better not to take the chance on having a child due to the possibility (in many theologies, PROBABILITY), that the child will choose a life path that will end up in eternal torment.

  13. world is fundamentally a shithole.
    Yesterday, I happened to see this "Who wants to be the next millionaire" kind of TV Show, where a participant had a little daughter of about five. It seems her daughter's first few years were spent battling many infections and illnesses -- sometimes even in coma, and so she couldn't "learn" talking properly and is underdeveloped for her age.

    The host of the show, of course reacted with a "we are so sorry to learn about this ...", but heck!, someone should say, "If only she weren't born ..."!

  14. The submarine Srikant fires a high-explosive torpedo.....hits the ship...BOOOM!! DEEP SIXED the "Good Ship" S.S. Perpetual Genesis. Glug, Glug, Glug goes the water on the starboard side!

    As inmendham/Gary said, "We're entered into a whole pile of shitty lotteries".

  15. Srikant: Good stuff! Ah, but we can't spoil the great time everyone is supposedly having, can we?

    Filrabat: I guess I should say that I intended the post title to partly ironic or satirical. The Greek gospel of the Egyptians seems to have had Gnostic leanings, so clearly they moulded Jesus to suit their ends. Ah, the Gnostics and later the Cathars. They knew the sad truth about this existence!