Lately I've been reading a book by Romanian pastor, Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001), founder of Voice of the Martyrs. The book is entitled The Answer to the Atheist's Handbook and was written in 1975 (the year I was born). It is a direct and glorious response to the once commonplace, Atheist's Handbook. Wurmbrand, who endured 14 years of Communist imprisonment for preaching the gospel, knew well both the practical and ideological ramifications of atheism. His book is a great read, and while it doesn't deal directly with abortion, I want to excerpt a fascinating section that describes a hypothetical conversation between a grown person and an embryo. The following begins on page 139:
The apostle James writes: "What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." But it does not go off into nothing. Steam turns into water. Nothing is ever lost. Earthly life passes away, but it does not become nothing. A caterpillar becomes a cocoon, a cocoon a butterfly. Dead men have passed out of our sight. It does not mean that they do not exist any more.
Suppose we could speak with an embryo and tell it that the life it leads in its mother's womb is only a preparatory one. The real life follows in another world unknown to the embryo, in conditions unimaginable to him. The embryo would answer like The Atheist's Handbook, if it had the intelligence of an academician: "Don't bother me with these religious superstitions! The life in the womb is the only one I know, and there is no other. Sheer inventions of greedy clergymen!"
But suppose this embryo could think with greater discernment than our academicians. It would say to itself: "Eyes develop in my head. To what purpose? There is nothing to see. Legs grow. I do not even have room to stretch them. I have to keep them folded over my breast. They embarrass me and my mother. My whole development in the womb is senseless unless there follows a life with light and color and many objects for my eyes to see. The place in which I'll spend this other life must be large and varied. I will have to run in it. Therefore my legs grow. It will be a life of work and struggle. Therefore I grow arms and fists, which are of no use here." Reflections on his own development would lead an embryo to the knowledge of another life, though he had no experience of it.
This is exactly our situation, too. The church of Christ teaches us that life in this world also has an embryonic character and is only a preparation for the real life which follows. How do we know that? If God (or nature, for the sake of argument) had created us only for this life, we would have given first the wisdom and experience of old age and then the vigor of youth. We would have known how to live. But the fact is that while we are rigorous young men and women, we lack wisdom and more often than not throw away our years on nothing. When we have accumulated wisdom and experience, the funeral hearse is waiting outside our door. Then why do we accumulate wisdom? Well, why do eyes and legs and hands grow on the embryo? Only for what follows. Our development in this life points to a future one.
We have no direct access to life after death, just as the embryo has no direct access to life after birth. From our vantage we can look back, and the need for developing eyes and hands and legs becomes obvious. We were simply being prepared for the next stage of life. Will we someday look back on this stage of life, from beyond the grave, and suddenly understand what is today thoroughly perplexing, namely the pangs and longings of the human soul? Why are they there? Who put them there? What purpose do they serve? C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." This is Wurmbrand's point, and he continues with the following a few paragraphs later:
I passed many years in solitary confinement, without books. I passed my time imagining all kinds of situations, that I was the president of the Soviet Republics, the King of England, the pope, a millionaire, a beggar. I could imagine all such situations. They are imaginable because they are possibilities of life... But I tried to imagine that I was dead, and I never succeeded because death is not one of the possibilities of life.
If you try very hard to fancy yourself dead, the last thing you imagine is that you see yourself stretched out immobile in a coffin in a funeral chapel. The fact that you see yourself in the coffin shows that you are not dead. A dead man does not see himself. The unimaginability of death is no slight argument in favor of the eternity of human life.
Finally, Wurmbrand comes back to examine the human body on a purely biological level and this is what he finds:
The human body to be fully satisfied needs very few things: food, clothing, shelter, rest, and at a certain age, a partner of the other sex. How is it then that atheist-humanists who have plenty of all of these are sometimes melancholy and dissatisfied? How is it that people imprisoned for their beliefs, hungry, shivering with the cold, in chains, separated for years from their beloved ones, can exult for joy? What is the mysterious entity which can be depressed while the body has all good thing and can rejoice while the body passes through sufferings? It is something other than the body. This is the soul.
A human being can have every physical need abundantly met and still be miserable, and another human being can be physically deprived to the point of death and still have great joy. This is the mysterious reality for which humanists, atheists, and evolutionists have no answer. In the abortion debate, abortion proponents go to great lengths to argue that it is often better to end a child's life than to let that child endure suffering down the road (by being born into poverty or with a disability). Such reasoning completely ignores what experience has already taught each of us. Life is much more than mere physical needs, and those who have gotten by with the least, tend to understand this the best. What is obvious to us today was not obvious to us as embryos, and what will be obvious to us in the future, we can barely get our minds around today. What if, just maybe, the suffering we endure in this life is preparing us for the life to come, either for eternal wrath or eternal joy? If that's the case, and Scripture says it is, then we'd do well to give our spiritual condition more than just passing consideration. Nine months in the womb is nothing compared to 70 years on the earth, and 70 years on the earth is nothing compared to the eternity beyond.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.