Does an atheist who has an abortion committing a (mortal) sin if she firmly believes that it is not sinful in the least?

This is exactly what I’ve been thinking while reading through this thread. God writes His law on all our hearts. It may be convenient to tell yourself it is just a clump of cells, and even convince yourself of it, but I find it very difficult to believe that anyone really, truly believes it. All you have to do is see one picture of a 10 week fetus and it’s proof enough, or 9, or 8. Not wanting to see the proof does not relieve you from obligation of knowing the truth.

It doesn’t matter either way…an atheist is already in mortal sin by denying that there is a God and accepting His love & forgiveness! :shrug: :rolleyes:

Absolutely. I think people are getting sidetracked on the atheist aspect of the scenario. That has no bearing on it whatsoever. The person could be an Athiest, Buhddist, Muslim, Wiccan, or Jedi Knight or even a Catholic who just does not think abortion is a sin. The fact is that some sins are a sin against natural law. And a law that was written on each person’s heart by God himself. By saying this is “not a sin” because of ignorance of non belief of the Law is the same as saying a child molester and murdering rapist is not culpable for their sins. People then also get caught up in declaring God’s mercy. But that too is not the question. The person has commited mortal sin.

Now the argument on the other thread went that if the person is lied to by society then that lessens the culpability. But as we know from the First Sin. From the Fall of man. Culpability never disappears but rather is spread. Adam ate the fruit because Eve told him it was ok. Eve ate it because the serpent lied to her, telling her that not only was God not God but directly lying about God’s intent for the “rule” It is a great parallel. The woman and man were guilty though neither had Knowledge of the Truth. They believed a lie BUT they were still guilty of the sin. This is why Christ had to die. God punished the serpent as well. But he also found culpable the couple who was ignorant of the True reality of what they had done.

Yes, when mothers kill their babies in their wombs there is mortal sin. Even if they are atheist and even if they are faithful or ignorant. Don’t kill your babies is not a lesson one needs to be educated about. It is written on the heart of every man. Just like we don’t have to tell atheists that rape is wrong or murder of a 2 year old is wrong. It makes no difference. Many times in history people that do not believe as we do have committed sins against natural law. Against the heart of God. And those sins have almost always involved lessening the humanity of others.

One of the things that makes this evident is the nature of man being created in the image of God. It is what makes us separate from the animals with separate free will and morality. Athiest or not, ignorant or not. There are some things that you cannot be ignorant of. If the OP situation were true, if an atheist were not culpable. We would preach a Gospel of ignorance to save them… But that is not what we are command to preach is it?

It’s doubtful that most grave sins are actually mortal sins. The actual mortal sin is in the arrogance of self-ordained wisdom that leads a person to be blind towards the gravity of their many sins. You can have yourself as your teacher or you can have the Holy Spirit, but you can’t have both. Denying the Holy Spirit is an eternal sin, because without Him, you are incapable of receiving the necessary graces from Heaven to sanctify you. Once this single sin is repented of, all other sins fall like puppets that are attached to their dark master.

In fact, refusing to believe the sinfulness of an action actually increases a person’s culpability. “Full knowledge” pretty much means, inherently, you know that it’s wrong - even if you have managed to convince yourself otherwise. Any 5-year-old could tell you that a pregnant woman “has a baby in her tummy”. In fact, usually a 2-or-3-year old could tell you that. This is what is meant by “the law being written on our hearts”. And there is no way to tell a child what abortion is without saying that “Mommy decided to kill the baby”. Seriously. Even an intelligent 5-year-old wouldn’t really understand the confusing language that pro-abortion advocates use to try to explain their position. I could see invincible ignorance coming into play with regard to other sexual sins (especially masturbation and the use of artificial birth control), but hardly ever with abortion. If even a young child could tell you that it’s wrong when you use language that he/she can understand, then there is no invincible ignorance.

China is an atheist country. The government and a majority of people state that one child per couple is standard, and should be enforced. There are enforcers who will force families to have abortions (through full term) and sometimes shortly after the baby is born. Since the faith is in the governments decree, they believe thy are doing good works. So, your question applies to these enforcers who trap and preform abortions in he name ofthelaw of the land. Are they committing serious sin, or being obedient to parents (govt)?

Next, when a group has enforced the abortion on the family & the father and mother get violent toward enforcers, and grieve lost childreen, is it a sin? There are reports of many of these cases in China.

The first issues is failing to get to know God with your whole heart and soul. We are dealing with many people who are worshiping false idols (emporer, governement, & science). These blind them from getting to know God. This blindness is keeping them to form their conscience (individual and political) as God would have them form their conscience.

Now, since God’s comandments are not relative, we see the duality of pride and hurt among the people of China regarding new life (regulators are proud, families are hurt). Sin is keeping harmony between them. There are many unforeseen natural and spiritual concequences coming about due to breaking God’s natural and spiritual laws. We will worship relativism when we refuse to believe that the outcome of sin (mortal or venial) results in death; death of the body, and death of eternal life with God.

Yes, it depends if the atheist does kill the baby as an act of rebellion against/refusal of God/egoism. That would be mortal. Because the person knows it is a baby.

The example I made is if the person doesn’t know it is a baby, since she thinks it is not a human being, that wouldn’t be mortal sin for me. Saying it is not mortal sin doesn’t make it fine to do. It is still still. But this lack of knowledge that the baby is a baby is ignorance, lack of knowledge of what the person is doing. Therefore it would be venial for me. Then es, if the person gets to the truth, it becomes heavier to bear.

An atheist’s mortal sin is to be atheist, IF she can’t know there is a God by herself. Now, it would be funny that in her life nothing would point to this question. Still, it is theoretically possible.

Just, the atheism of the atheist is the mortal sin, not the abortion because she is atheist. That isn’t to diminish the gravity, but the culpability.

It is true, but it stil may create ignorance, if the one doesn’t believe because no one taught him/er. I mean it remains unlikely, but possible. That would be one of the very few example where an objective mortal sin is an actual venial sin for lack of knowedge of the evil.

I read a couple of persons who, in my opinion, confuse gravitity of the sin with culpability of the person.

The Catechism distiguishes three kinds of moral law.

1 Natural Law. (known to the nature of every man)
2 old Law. The law of the prophets
3 New Law. The Gospels.

This citation only deals with natural law


1954 Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:

The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted.5
1955 The “divine and natural” law6 shows man the way to follow so as to practice the good and attain his end. The natural law states the first and essential precepts which govern the moral life. It hinges upon the desire for God and submission to him, who is the source and judge of all that is good, as well as upon the sense that the other is one’s equal. Its principal precepts are expressed in the Decalogue. This law is called “natural,” not in reference to the nature of irrational beings, but because reason which decrees it properly belongs to human nature:

Where then are these rules written, if not in the book of that light we call the truth? In it is written every just law; from it the law passes into the heart of the man who does justice, not that it migrates into it, but that it places its imprint on it, like a seal on a ring that passes onto wax, without leaving the ring.7 The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation.8

1956 The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties:

For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense . . . . To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely.9

1957 Application of the natural law varies greatly; it can demand reflection that takes account of various conditions of life according to places, times, and circumstances. Nevertheless, in the diversity of cultures, the natural law remains as a rule that binds men among themselves and imposes on them, beyond the inevitable differences, common principles.

1958 The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history;10 it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. The rules that express it remain substantially valid. Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies:

Theft is surely punished by your law, O Lord, and by the law that is written in the human heart, the law that iniquity itself does not efface.11

1959 The natural law, the Creator’s very good work, provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices. It also provides the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community. Finally, it provides the necessary basis for the civil law with which it is connected, whether by a reflection that draws conclusions from its principles, or by additions of a positive and juridical nature.

1960 The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known "by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error."12 The natural law provides revealed law and grace with a foundation prepared by God and in accordance with the work of the Spirit.

But again,

This natural law is of the type of the 10 commandments. So the you should not kill is understood differently. No one wants to kill. But killing for eating is ok. Many do not kill for eating because they understand, for the same natural law (do not kill) that animals have equal dignity as human beings have.

Rejection needs and implies knowledge of what we reject. BUt not always the atheists are atheists because they reject God.
Those who think a baby in the first month of development is not a live creature, wouldn’t think it is killing, even if he knows killing is wrong. She has her opinion, which is wrong, but she knows what she knows and doesn’t know better.
By this I am not saying she absolutely cannot know better. She may very well be aware, afterwards. But if at the moment of the sin (which is grave in any case) the person thought she wasn’t killing because she didn’t know the baby was more than a tumour (sorry for the explicit, but I hope still clear analogy), then the person lacks knowledge of the truth. She knows something yes but not the truth.
If she doesn’t know what she is actuallly doing, I mean by that as a proper understanding of what is really happening, how is this sin a grave as it is, fullfill the need to have full knowledge?

As I said, no one wants to killl a baby, unless you are crazy. So an atheist who thinks a baby is a baby at the conception (there are such atheists) would commit mortal sin ,yes.

HOOSIER DADDY what you say is not in opposition with what I say. But knowledge needs understanding to be full. Still, many people don’t even know the Truth, let aside understanding it.

I am also asking myself how much the fact that the person is an atheist influences our understanding of the case. Atheism is a sin yes. Abortion also. Both are grave.
Consent and knowledge are the problem.
What to think about the Christians who are pro choice? They know the natural law, they know killing is wrong. But let say a non-denominational genuinely believes the cells are not a baby - honestly, in opposition with believing it by interest or egoism, there are many Christians who think so - Would the Christian commit a mortal sin? Well this helps to put some things aside, and clarifying the case. It is not that it doesn’t matter since the atheism is already condemned. It is true he may very well be condemned, but abortion is a separate issue. Being an atheist may or may not lessen the culpability. It may as well increase it, but to know this we have, again, to check the consent and the knowledge, since grave matter it is.

I have a more basic question for OP: Why do you think atheism is a sin, let alone a mortal sin?

Faith is gift. The Catechism says this:

"153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”. Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and 'makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.”

Some people have faith. Some don’t. Some struggle deeply with it, of that I am sure. But why are we bundling people off to hell because they lack the gift of faith?

I am not speaking about the person who tells themself they are an atheist because they are rebellious and are looking for a license to do what they want. I’m speaking about those who search for God; can’t find Him; and declare that He mustn’t be there. Why are we so sure those people are sinning? I think thinking they are sinning is just one more way the folks on this board see sin everywhere (except in themselves, of course:D).

So, you would agree with this statement. If I do not believe it is a sin, then it is not a sin that I can be held responsible for? Fine, then I guess we will never have to go to confession…:rolleyes:

Atheism is a sin, because God, as the Church says, will make sure that every little human being has a chance to believe in Him. That is, in a manner that only God knows. Missionaries and evangelists are the most common, but God does it through many ways. Now this would be sinful not to listen to the questions one aks himself about God. Atheism may only be a venial sin or mortal sin, depending on consent and knowledge, but now it becomes very difficult not to know God is an option in your life that you might consider :smiley:

Can you define venial and mortal sin as you understand them?

I’m sorry, MarcoPG, I respectfully think that the passage from the Catechism that I quoted directly refutes the assertion that God gives every human the ability to know him.

Besides, even if you’re correct, there are surely many in this world who haven’t had a chance to know him yet. The Chinese Communists Giggly Giraffe mentioned seem to qualify. Seems to me like you’re making sinners – and maybe mortal sinners - out of people whose only “sin” is having had no chance to meet Jesus yet.

Mortal sin is a sin about grave matter (natural law, ;)) done with total consent (I want to break the law) and full knowledge ( I know what the law is and i know i that what i do is breaking the law). I make this last distinction to show that natral law is not enough. Killing is wrong ok. What is killing? Do I kill an apple if I take it in my hand I eat it? No. And what I have in my womb? Yes. But you have to know who this is in your womb, and sometimes you never consider it may be a real human being from the conception, even if you know killing is wrong. It is the natural law. therefore, had I know this is a baby, and it is wrong to kill, Iwouldn’t have committed it. If I had knowing it, it would have been a mortal sin.

Venial sin is any sin which lack one of the 3 premises: grave matter, full consent, fulll knowledge. Above is an example of lak of knowledge.

Bad language may be an example of lack of grave matter, if you just say s***, for instance. It may be with full consent and full knowledge of the evil side of this type of incontinence, but it is nothing to say s***, as opposed to harming someone psychologically, to make him despair with the same language towards a person (You’re a s****). This would become grave if intended towards harming someone, making it mortal.

An example of lack of full consent is maybe the easiest one to understand. If you are obliged to do something contrary to God because you fear you would die or something like this, it may be grave matter (fornication, for instance) and fulll knowledge ( a catholic aware of the law of God), but since her girlfriend is pointing a gun against his head and threatens him to pul the trigger unless they make love before marriage, this qould be venial, because he totally free to chose.

It doesn’t contradict what I mean. If we are unaware of the gift, we remain silent and are not culpable. But God gives the possibility of Grace to everyone. Sometimes, we don’t know how or when. Then we have to accept.

In Gaudium et spes, chap. 1, 22:

All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way.(31) For, since Christ died for all men,(32) and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.

But in any case, mortal sinners would be the ones who reject God knowingly and with full consent. Remember that Jesus descended in Hades to preach to those who walked the earth before Him. They weren’t culpable, but had even less luck then those who walk the earth after him, and hear of him most of the time :slight_smile:

Is the original sin mortal sin?

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