An Exchange With A Christian Anti-Abortionist, November 2000

In November, 2000, I received an unsollicited email from, someone who did not sign his or her name but whose email headers later gave the name "Nicky Troxell." "Nicky" began with insults, but went on to try to defend his or her anti-abortion position.

I'm posting this entire exchange as an example of the authoritarian irrationalis and fascist mentality which can hide behind the claim of "religious faith" in the abortion controversy.

(This is an exact reproduction of the exchange. Only the message headers have been omitted. All of my messages were signed by me, but I have omitted my name except in the first and last of my messages, for brevity. - Grover Furr, Jan 26 2001)

Subj: baby killer

you make me sick. you scum.

Subj: RE: baby killer

Same to ya!

Subj: burn in hell

you'll burn in hell and i'lll be laughing my ass off.and you deserve everything you get.

Subj: RE: burn in hell

What's this all about, anyway?


Grover Furr

Subj: because

you think its ok for unborn babys to be killed. yes babies, not a lump of cells , babies. and its murder. its disgusting.

Subj: RE: because

Everyone agrees babies should not be killed.

But there is a sharp disagreement on what a "baby" is.

Let me ask you: is a fertilized ovum -- a one-celled ovum, with one sperm -- a "baby"?

If you answer "yes", IMO you degrade human life by equating this one-celled entity to a human being.

If you answer "no", then we get to the real question:

At what point in the development from one-celled entity to full-term infant do we call the fetus a "baby", i.e. a human being?

There is no "objective" answer here. It's not in the Bible or in science. It is completely a matter of definition.

Contemporary legal thought says: a fetus is a "baby" when it is "viable." So, what is "viable"?

I agree with that definition. "Viable" changes over time. Younger and younger fetuses can develop normally, with medical intervention.

But there is a limit. It will never be possible for a fertilized ovum to be "viable."

But, to repeat, let me ask you again.

Is a fertilized ovum -- a one-celled ovum, with one sperm -- a "baby"? Yes, or no?

If "yes," what evidence do you have that your statement is true?

If "no," then at what point does the fetus become a "baby"?


Subj: RE: because

i think that an ovum is a potential human being. but at 21 days when the heart starts to beat, the baby is truly alive and should be treated as such. i guess you think partial birth abortion is ok too.

Subj: RE: because

A "potential human being" is, by definition, not YET a human being.

Therefore, killing a fertilized ovum is NOT killing a human being, but killing a "potential human being."

Therefore, killing a fertilized ovum is NOT murder.

Again, you state that "at 21 days when the heart starts to beat, the baby is truly alive."

That means that you yourself agree that before the heart starts to beat, the "baby" is NOT "truly alive." Therefore, it cannot be murdered.

Now, let me ask you: What is your evidence that "the heart starts to beat" at "21 days" (I guess you mean, 21 days after the sperm has joined with the egg?)?


Subj: RE: because

i learned that in biology class. besides what you are saying makes no sense because most abortions are performed after 21 days .

Subj: RE: because

Thanks for your reply!

1. Check up on your facts. What YOU "learned in biology class" may or may not be accurate. This is an important question. It would be irresponsible to accuse someone of murder without being certain of your facts.

2. You have agreed that a fetus in which the heart is not yet beating is not a "real human being", and therefore that killing that fetus is not murder.

But here is a central issue:

3. WHO SAYS that the matter of a "beating heart" should be the deciding factor as to when the fetus is a "real human being", rather than just a "potential human being?"

To put it even more clearly: YOU say the criterion is "a beating heart". Others say it is "viability."

What makes you right, and the others 'murderers'?

It cannot be an appeal to authority. After all, there are many 'authorities.'

I contend that it is a matter of definition -- "socially acceptable" definition, if you will, but still, of definition. YOUR definition of "real [as opposed to 'potential'] human life" differs from my definition.

And no doubt there are others who would disagree with both of us.

So what makes YOUR definition the best one, the one we should all accept, the one God accepts (since you said I was going to hell, you must believe that God accepts your definition. But how do you know that?)


Subj: RE: because

its simple. if a heart is beating its alive. nothing can live without a heart beat. and therefore if its alive it = shouldn't be killed. and before you bring up the animal argument, i'm a vegan.

Subj: RE: because

The question is not whether "it" is "alive". A fertilized ovum is "alive," and you have already stated that, if the heart is not beating, a fertilized ovum is not a "real human being."

The question is: Why does a "beating heart" define what is a "real human being" rather than "viability"? (or, in principle, some other definition).

The question is NOT "therefore if its alive it shouldn't be killed". No one denies that a fertilized ovum is alive. For that matter, a flower is "alive."

The question is: what defines a "real human being"?

And, further: Why should anyone else accept YOUR definition? What makes your definition of "real human being" -- a "beating heart" -- valid, while mine -- "viability" -- is not?


Subj: RE: because

what give you the right to think that killing an innocent baby in the = womb is ok?? have u ever heard of the silent scream?? watch it and then tell me its still ok.

Subj: RE: because

You have already admitted that a fertilized ovum is NOT a "real human being."

You have stated that a fertilized ovum BECOMES a "real human being" when the heart begins to beat, and said that you believe this is at the age of 21 days.

I have asked you for evidence that this is THE right definition, and that anyone who has a definition of when a fetus becomes "a real human being" which is LATER than 21 days (or, whatever time the heart begins to beat), is a murderer.

Why don't you answer my question?

After all, the whole issue of "abortion=murder" hinges upon this question of definition -- when a fetus 'becomes' a "real human being."

So: what is your evidence that your definition is the one that should determine who is a murderer and who is not?

If you do not have such evidence, that means that you do not have evidence that those who believe 'real human life' begins LATER than 21 days (or whenever the heart begins to beat) are murderers.

And, it scarcely needs to be said, if you do not have excellent, objective evidence that someone is a murderer, you ought not to call them a murderer.

So please answer my question.


Subj: RE: because

if the hearts beating its alive, it has a presence, an awarness. if you want to look at it from a bible standpoint , jesus said if anyone should offend one of these little ones then it is better they have a millstone hung around their neck aqnd dropped in the sea. thats pretty clear. how can you say you are a human?? maybe someone could say you don't fully become a human until your reach this stage of development, until you are spiritually aware. maybe some people would consider you not a human yet. this is my answer

Subj: RE: because

You state:

"if the hearts beating its alive, it has a presence, an awarness."

This doesn't solve any problem. No one denies that, e.g., a fertilized ovum has "a presence." You do not even need LIFE to have "a presence." A rock has "a presence."

It's not true to say that a beating heart confers "awareness". "Awareness" is not a function of a beating heart, but of the brain and -- depending upon just what you mean by "awareness" -- of consciousness.

The quote attributed to Jesus speaks of children, not of fetuses with a beating heart.

I assume, BTW, that you would not assert that all those who are not 'believers in the inerrancy of the Bible' -- which is far from all Christians -- are murderers. If you do, then you should say so up front, and not pretend to be discussing abortion.

I think you have not considered these important issues with enough care. Until you do, you ought not to get on your moral high horse and assume that those who disagree with you, as I do, are "bad" or are "going to hell", and that you are "right."

In fact, if your argument is full of holes, the chances that you are "right" are very poor.

Think about it, and get back to me.


Subj: ha ha

no your argument iius full of silly psycho babble. you can put a lot of pretty words on it or describe it with a bunch of = rhetorical babble , all meant to hide the truth of of what abortion = really does and what ir really is the murder of an unborn child and yes anyone who supports abortion or who has had abortions without = repentence is going to hell. ask any minister, they will tell you. i know you college teachers have a problem with bending your will to = suit gods because the majority of you have a god complex. the same with scientists. a fetus is a child. i've thought about this a long time ago. and although you deny it, lets see whos right on judgement day you can try to justify abortion all u like but its wrong i know that because i have faith i know with conviction that i'm right. thats all that matters

Subj: RE: ha ha

You yourself have agreed that a fertilized ovum -- that is, a fetus -- is not a "real human being" until it has a beating heart. You THINK that is at 21 days after conception, because you learned that in biology class.

That is, you admit that killing a fetus BEFORE it has a heartbeat is not murder, because, while a pre-heartbeat fetus is "a potential human being" -- your words -- rather than a "real human being."

This is not a debate between you and me. This is what you have written.

My question is: Why is "heartbeat", rather than some other criterion, say, "viability", the 'dividing line' between "potential human being" and "real human being"?

It is not a question of asking some 'authority', e.g. a minister.

I know several ministers who agree with ME, not with you. But I realize that doesn't mean I am right. I'm sure you know several ministers who agree with YOU, not with me. But that doesn't mean YOU are right.

Otherwise, it's a matter of "MY minister can lick YOUR minister any day". Or, "YOUR minister isn't really a minister, like MINE is." Childish nonsense like that.

Saying that the people YOU know and respect, or the ministers YOU like and believe, agree with YOU does not settle anything either. There are always OTHER ministers who disagree with you and them.

Similarly with any authority.

This issue cannot be settled by an appeal to authority of any kind.

Even if it were in the New Testament, that would only mean those who believed the New Testament were "inerrant" would be bound by it. But most Christians in the world do not believe the N.T. is "inerrant."

And most people in the world are not Christians. So even that would not settle anything. And then we'd be discussing religion, not abortion.

One thing is clear, though. You are calling people -- me -- 'murderers', and so on, even though you are very unclear about all this yourself. I know you are unclear about it, because you cannot explain it.

The fact that you "have faith" and are convinced that you are "right" doesn't prove anything. Lots of people "have faith" and are "convinced" (that's what 'have conviction' means). And they disagree with each other.

Nobody is a murderer because YOU "have faith" or "conviction." Who do you think you are, anyway? Aren't Christians supposed to have humility? And how about the mote in your neighbor's eye vs. the beam (a larger object) in your own?

In other words: Drop the self-righteous tone. It ill befits a Christian. Or anybody else.


Subj: hey

if you know any minsters who believe abortion is right they are not true preachers. they are hypocrites. i'm not unclear i did it explain it. it just convicys you of the fact that you are wrong so you don't want to hear it. i know i'm right and as much as you try to get away from it, abortion is murder plain and simple like i said we'll see who is right on judgement day

Subj: RE: hey

How do you know which ministers are "true"?

By whether or not they agree with you!

Who needs God when someone as all-knowing as you are around!

On abortion: you have not "explained" anything. Your position is self-contradictory.

You admit that a fetus is not a "real human being" before the heart begins to beat.

All I did then was to ask you what is your evidence that heartbeat, as opposed to some other criterion -- say, "viability" -- is what separates a "real human being" from a "potential human being."

I've asked this several times. You don't answer. You just get abusive and upset.

As for "we'll see who is right on judgement day" -- that's fine with me. But it is dishonest on your part to say this, because you do not mean it at all.

You are trying to impose YOUR self-contradictory opinion, one which is unsupported by any kind of evidence whatsoever, on others.

You call me a "murderer", but have zero evidence -- none at all -- to back up your charge, except that you disagree with me!

This is not "morality", not even "Christian morality." It is just dogmatic stupidity, thinly masked by arrogance.

A little humility -- no, a LOT of humility -- would help you. You are never going to amount to anything without it.


Subj: RE: ha ha

a baby has a soul, which is why its wrong to kill it. i suggested you watch silent scream but i guess you are afraid of the = truth. i know i'm right. do you know what goes on in an abotrion?? a baby is ripped apart with a suction machine 40 times stronger than a = vaccum, but i guess you don't care anout that i'll take my supposed ignorance to your self decieving cruelty anyday

Subj: RE: ha ha

Nobody advocates killing babies.

The question is: what is a baby?

You have admitted that a fertilized ovum is "potential human life", and does not become "real human life" until the heart begins to beat. You believe this is at 21 days after conception.

Since a baby is "real human life", you believe that abortion before 21 days is not killing a baby, and therefore is not murder.

(Obviously, you do not object to the French 'morning-after' pill, then?)

The real issue here is: when is a fetus a "baby"?

I have asked you four times now for EVIDENCE to defend your position, that a fetus becomes a "baby" -- "real human life", as opposed to "potential human life", when the heart begins to beat.

Evidence is EVERYTHING here. Why? Because nobody is a "murderer", and nobody is "going to hell", simply because YOU 'believe' that the beginning of heartbeat is the time a fetus becomes a baby.

You, or I, or anyone, may "know I'm right", as you say. But it doesn't mean anything at all. All the people who "know they are right" disagree with one another.

So where is your evidence that the commencement of heartbeat, rather than, say, "viability", is the point at which a fetus becomes a human being?

Why are you refusing to answer this question?

I suspect it is because you know very well that you do not HAVE any evidence. You just SAY it is, and BELIEVE it is. And you want everyone else to agree with you. And you call those who don't agree with you "murderers."

It must worry you that you do not have this evidence, and have to fall back on "what you believe" and "what you know."

No Christian thinks that "what you believe" or "what you know" is going to send anybody to hell, much less make anybody a murderer. This is just arrogance.

Think about this.

I wrote an article on the cinematic fakery used in the film "Silent Scream." This fakery was widely publicized when the film was released, back in the '80s. Perhaps you do not know about this fakery? If not, you should read up on it.


Subj: you are lying

about silent scream. that was just a dirty trick used by the pro choicers to hide the horror of what abortion is. when the heart beats , a baby is alive. you can't say its not. a heartbeat means life, no human or animal can live without a heartbeat. why won't you answer my ??? about the brutality of abortion?

Subj: RE: you are lying

I would like to read the evidence that the criticism of "Silent Scream" was dishonest. Please recommend some. Make sure it has some EVIDENCE, and is not just what somebody 'believes' or 'knows'.

You write:

"when the heart beats , a baby is alive."

An UNfertilized ovum is "alive." A fertilized ovum is "potential human life."

Why isn't a fetus whose heart has just began to beat also "potential human life", rather than a human being?

Because you say it is?

Pardon me, but who made you God?

Concerning "brutality": is it "brutal" to chop down a tree? Is it "brutal" to slaughter a chicken?

The question in this case is not "brutality". It is: What is a 'baby'?

We all agree that babies should not be killed.

We do NOT agree on the point in the gestation of a fetus that that fetus becomes a 'baby', i.e. a human being.

You are going to need more than just your say-so to settle this question.

I strongly suspect that you have no evidence to back up your opinion.

Rather than question your opinion, however, you just hold to it even more dogmatically than before.

This is arrogance.


Subj: really??

you would never believe that silent scream was a lie because it would overwhelm you with guilt. you must agree that without a heartbeat , human or animal can't live so why is it in your view that a baby with a heartbeat is not alive???

Subj: RE: really??

About "Silent Scream": I will discuss it with you when you have read the controversy about it, examined the evidence, and can discuss it intelligently.

Why ask me whether a heartbeat is necessary for life? Of course it is!

No one denies that a fetus is alive even _before_ it has a heartbeat. If it were not alive, it could not develop.

An UNfertilized ovum is also alive. However, it is not a human being, but -- in your own words, a "potential human being."

Here is your problem.

1. You have no evidence to support your view that a fetus becomes, not a "potential human being," but a "real human being", at 21 days or whenever a heartbeat can be detected.

You _believe_ this, but you have no evidence to support it. Therefore, you keep changing the subject.

2. You are treating this discussion, not as an investigation into reality, but as a _debate_. You against me. That is childish. Whether "you defeat me" or "I defeat you" is of no consequence.

You are threatened, and therefore angered, by the fact that you have no evidence to back up your view that a fetus with a heartbeat is a "real human being".

So, you can't refute my contention that "viability" is just as reasonable a point to set as defining when a fetus becomes a "human being."

That -- the definition of that point -- is what this whole discussion is about.

You call me "murderer" simply and solely because I do not agree with you, even though you do not have any evidence to support your views.

That is the height of arrogance.

Why not get off your high horse?


Subj: whatever

i'm right. i feel in my soul i'm right . i have something called faith, which is as real as anything. i know that god will judge rightly. i am not saying this because you have beaten me or because i am wrong. the evidence i present you don't want to hear.=20 this is very emotional for me, its not a subject i can discuss lightly = over coffee. i just wrote you to express my disgust. i guess i thought i could make you see the truth but that impossible because you want to stay blind. you would never accept anything i say so this is pointless,its just a drain on my emotional energy. and for what?? nothing because its like talking to a brick wall. i can only hope that you will see the truth someday.

Subj: RE: whatever

Do you not understand that every fanatic, Christian, fascist, Muslim, whatever, believes "I'm right" because "I feel in my soul I'm right", and because "I have something called faith, which is as real as anything"?

If you do not understand this, then you are very naive.

Who do you think you are, to call other people "murderer" without any evidence whatsoever, just because YOU are "convinced" that you are "right"?

Do you have no shred of humility at all?

Or is religion just an occasion for you to parade your self-righteousness in an arrogant manner?

I do not know you personally.

But the manner of thinking that you have expressed in your emails to me is the same kind of thinking that produces assassins, terrorists, and dangerous fanatics of every sort.

The same kind of authoritarian, arrogant, self-righteous thinking that produced, for example, Timothy McVeigh, who blew up 160+ people, including many children, in the Oklahoma City Federal Building.

Dangerous, wilfully ignorant, intolerant, fanatic thinking produces dangerous, intolerant, fanatic ACTIONS.

Try a little humility. Before it is too late. Before you become a menace to everyone around you.


Subj: An article for you

Subj: ok sure

you can justify this any way you like, but i know i'm right. i look to a better world with justice for all. gods world all of your doubt and negative posturing can't take that away from me. like i said, we'll see who right on judgement day.

Subj: RE: ok sure

No, you do not 'know' you are right. You are CONVINCED you are right.

That is not the same thing at all.

You accuse me of being "negative" just like you accuse me of supporting "murder." Because I disagree with you.

You are filled with fear that you may not be right. So, you insist even more strongly that you are right.

You are mainly a threat to yourself. But your kind of thinking supports terrorism and murder against anyone who doesn't agree with you.

Hard to think of anything more arrogant than this.

A word of advice: try making friends and working with some people who do NOT share your views on this subject. Try doubting your own views.

Humility is essential for wisdom.

You have a lot to learn.



Subj: thats a joke

i'm not afraid of anything. i know i'm right and i feel it in my heart. thats all that matters. someday there is going to be a judgement and everyone will be accountable for what they have done. nobody will escape it. and i don't want any baby killers for friends. you should try doubting your views because they are wrong. but if lying to yourself is what you need to do to live with yourself, then thats what you will do. you are blind, by your own choice. i don't know how people like you sleep at night.

Subj: RE: thats a joke

Every fanatic "knows he is right."

The trouble is -- he isn't.

You think that YOU are an exception! Others can "know they are right" too, but they aren't. Only you!

Why not be honest, at least? Admit that you have no evidence that the commencement of a heartbeat is the only valid measure of when a fetus becomes a human being, a baby.

IF you were honest, you would say it honestly: I have no such evidence. I just believe it, that's all.

That, at least, would be a step.

But no. You are not honest enough to write this. Probably you are not honest enough to admit it, even to yourself.

You have admitted that a fetus is not a "real" human being, but a "potential" human being, before the commencement of a heartbeat, which you believe to be 21 days after conception.

You have no evidence that this is so.

Yet you call those who refuse to simply accept YOU as the "world's expert", the "great authority" on this important question, "murderers."

This is truly arrogance! You really do have a Jehovah complex. You really claim for yourself the authority of God!

"Do not doubt my word! I am right! This is Nicky Troxell speaking! World, tremble and obey!"

"Those who disagree with me on this point are murderers! They will all go to hell!"

Nicky, get a grip! Before it is too late and you go completely over the edge.


Subj: bug off

go ahead and think its ok to kill a defensless person. you and all pro choice people are utterly sick and selfish god says do not kill you think hes kidding?? you and people like you make me physically ill

Subj: RE: bug off

As you know very well, no one is saying "its ok to kill a defensless person." I do not see that even you yourself can believe that. I hereby deny it once again.

You would prefer to believe that, no doubt because it gives you a sense of moral superiority.

You "believe" things without evidence. You are "convinced you are right." You "have faith" that you are right.

And on that basis and no other, you send emails to me calling me insulting names!

I am sure that your parents taught you better. But, even if they didn't, you know that this kind of behavior is wrong. Everyone knows it.

But you persist, because you get some kind of gratification from it.

The 'abortion' issue makes you feel morally superior, allows you to vent your anger at persons you don't know. An anger stemming from insecurity and inadequacy, it seems.

You do not want to discuss, but to preach.

And you are NOT interested in evidence.

At bottom, you have nothing to say. Lies and insults, that's all.

I can't stop you from sending them to others. But I can stop wasting my time on your childish and immoral emails.

Be assured I will answer no more emails from you.

Learn to think. Learn to discuss. Learn a little humility. You have a lot to be humble about.

Get a life.

Signing off for good,


Grover Furr