Refuting Watchtarded Reasoning - 1. "If a doctor tells you to abstain from alcohol, you wouldn't inject it..."
I'm hoping to start a series of posts refuting common, fallacious JW reasoning that they repeat to support their teachings or defend their organization. In this first installment I will be tackling the common fallacious analogy used by them to equate eating blood with receiving a transfusion. Feel free to share your own refutations on each thread.
"If a doctor tells you to abstain from alcohol you wouldn't go injecting it into your veins, would you?"
This is a false analogy that amounts to comparing apples with oranges. Blood and alcohol are two completely different substances that behave differently from each other, depending on whether they're ingested orally or injected.
The body treats alcohol the same way whether it is ingested orally or injected intravenously because alcohol (pure ethanol) does not need digesting. Taken orally, the digestive tract sucks it in whole just as if it had been injected. So a doctor's instruction to abstain from drinking alcohol would naturally also apply to injecting it - because of the body's consistent treatment of the substance, regardless of how it is taken in.
By contrast, blood is treated differently when it is taken orally as opposed to being injected. Taken orally, it is digested like any other food and absorbed as basic food nutrients. But taken intravenously, it behaves like blood - like getting an organ transplant, not as food. Because of this, eating blood is not the same as getting a transfusion. Your doctor can tell you to abstain from eating blood and still recommend you get a blood transfusion, because your body might not be able to handle one method of processing blood but may be ok with the other. It would be like your doctor telling you to abstain from eating meat while recommending you get an organ transplant.
But even comparing the differing effects on the body of each substance depending on whether they're injected or eaten, is actually a moot point because the fact is, the reason the bible says to abstain from blood has nothing to do with its effect on the body but is owing to the effect that eating blood has on blood's - and by extension, life's - sanctity and hence the spiritual integrity of the sacrificial system. (Leviticus 17)
Eating blood devalues life as common food. But getting a blood transfusion means using blood as blood - for the very reason it was supposedly created - and hence valuing blood as blood. Transfused blood is being used for the same purpose as the body's own naturally produced blood, so it goes without saying that that use of blood must be approved since God is the one who created blood to flow in the veins even while forbidding the eating of it.
That is a really nice explanation. I was actually searching a long time for a logic reasoning like this against that JW doctrine.
Great idea for a series.
On this one I would go a different way. I would agree that Acts 15 is unequivocal that christians must abstain from blood. I would focus on context to establish how early christians would understand that decree.
1 - Acts 15 was about a dispute in the early church. Did gentile christians have to get circumcised and keep the law?
2 - The final decision was that they did not but in order for gentile and Jewish christians to enjoy fellowship - and not hinder the good news - there were a few "necessary things" to be observed.
3 - These necessary things were the same things non-Israelites had to observe when sojourning in Israel in OT times. Fornication (especially forbidden marriages), Idolatry and blood
4 - If we examine the Law on blood in the OT we find that it only related to killing an animal for food. If a beast was found "already dead" it could be eaten unbled with impunity. Moses even encouraged Israelites to sell such beasts to non-Jews. Blood represented the life that had been taken and which had to be returned to the life-giver. Since nobody gives their life to donate blood the decree to abstain from blood does not apply.
This also explains why the "necessary things" do not include murder, rape and theft. Jews and non-Jews share a taboo regarding these things.
I fully agree that the analogy is comparing apples with oranges - two completely different things.
When I was in my early twenties and started really thinking about getting serious with JWdom, I raised that exact argument you mentioned in the OP. I told the JWs studying with me that eating blood and taking a blood transfusion are entirely different; the end result is vastly different.
I used the example of rattlesnake venom; I sad that drinking rattlesnake venom and injecting it into the body are vastly different. Rattlesnake venom, if ingested, would simply be digested and the resulting nutrients absorbed and used constructively by the body (could be dangerous, though, if one has ulcers or open wounds in his digestive tract that would allow for the venom to be absorbed before it was digested). However, injecting the venom into the body would be vastly different.
So, again, drinking blood and drinking alcohol are two completely different concepts that are not analogous (as you mentioned). In fact, I think a blood transfusion could be considered a tissue transplant because the blood remains intact (again, as you said), whereas when ingested, it would not remain intact, but would be digested and the body would use it as food.
Good job Island Man. It is a false analogy.
"If a doctor told you to abstain from meat, would you have an organ transplant in order to save your life?"
I've used this before and it literally just kills the discussion dead.
thanks Island Man,...I like it.
And what about the general advice to abstain from using drugs? One would not use drugs for fun. However, suppose you receive a prescription for drugs, for a specific purpose? I do believe, under washtowel theology, you are allowed to use those drugs under those circumstances. Even controlled substances such as morphine and cocaine (and yes, cocaine is used as a local anesthetic).
Under the LIE-ble doctrine, blood is more comparable to drugs. One would not eat blood, if one wanted to obey this doctrine. However, a transfusion is comparable to getting a prescription. You are "prescribed" this "drug"--this means its use is justified in this situation. No more would one be going against the LIE-ble by taking a prescribed blood transfusion than if one received a prescribed narcotic at the doctors office.
And yes, I do not advise a frivolous blood transfusion. Using blood transfusions where other, safer options are reasonably available, exposes one to needless risks and incompatibility. Plus, it wastes blood for those that legitimately need it for a critical situation. Practicing safety (such as not going out in field circus when it is too dangerous) might prevent you from needing a blood transfusion at all. But, if you are in a crisis where blood transfusions are the only reasonably available treatment (or the safest), you should not have to worry about what joke-hova or its congregation of witlesses might think.
I also thought that when Paul penned the words "Keep abstaining from blood" the word "blood" was the same word as "murder". In other words - Refrain from murder (being blood guilty).
I've always liked this simple analogy:
If eating is the same as intravenous injection, would a blood transfusion stop a starving man from dying?