Created and developed far from Europe and the Americas, and conceived in a country where less than 1% of the populace is Christian, manga could hardly be called out for inaccurately portraying Christianity. It would be silly for calling out mangaka for getting the story of Christ wrong or for presenting the Bible as “just another religion.” Still, manga is full of religious references to God and gods, which presents a great opportunity to discuss matters of spirituality. And that’s the idea behind this new series of posts, Fact Check, in which I’ll investigate some of the claims of anime and manga characters and weigh them against the truth of scripture.
Warning: Today’s post contains massive spoilers for the ending of Heaven’s Feel, the third arc of Fate/Stay Night. Also note that this is taken from Fate/Stay Night: Realta Nua, the all ages adaptation of the visual novel Fate/Stay Night.
The following is a conversation between Shirou and Kirei in the final showdown of Heaven’s Feel, English translation courtesy of Beast’s Lair.
Kotomine: “What is good and evil? Are you saying murder is an absolute evil?
…There is no answer from the start. That’s what humans are like. There is no clear answer, and they accept a changing truth. We have no absolute truth from the very beginning.
Humans have both good and evil, and it’s up to you to decide which is which. The start is at zero, and there is no crime in being born. I thought I’d already told you.”
Shirou: “—-Yeah. You said there’s no crime in the baby even if it’s evil.”
Kotomine: “Correct. Humans become good or evil through learning.
A certain scripture mentions that humans are superior beings to angels. Why? Because there are people who know of evil, but do not become evil. It’s different from angels, who only know of good since birth. Humans have evil, but can live as good, so they are superior to angels, who only know of good.
—-And at the same time.
There are rare moments of goodwill shown by evil men. There are bad intentions shown on a whim by saints. The contradiction. The coexistence of good and evil is the Holy Grail that makes people human. Living is a crime by itself, and there are punishments because one is alive. Good exists with life, and evil exists with life.
—-You cannot inquire about the crime of one who has not yet been born.
There is no existence that is born as evil, that is unwanted by everyone.
It has no reason to be punished until it is born.”
Kotomine Kirei’s claim is this: the unborn are innocent of any evil and can only be confirmed of evil after their birth by considering their thoughts and deeds.
Kotomine’s claim is, at the surface level, quite simple. Yet, as simple as it appears, it is but a drop in a sea of subjective context. First of all, Kotomine is a clear proponent for the idea of moral subjectivity, which is made clear throughout the Fate series. As a corrupt priest, taken in by an apparently quite upright and moral one, he grew up chasing objective morality to discover, to his displeasure, that he could not understand nor feel the purpose of it. Though it seemed to pain him, his only pleasure came from what the world deemed objectively evil, which turned his view of morals completely upside-down.
Additionally, the unborn life Kotomine is talking about in this case is Angra Mainyu, the manifestation of all of the world’s evils. Thus, Angra Mainyu’s rebirth practically guarantees an onslaught of evil upon the world, particularly the death and destruction that Shirou argued outside of the quoted passage above.
With that context ignored, however, what is the legitimacy of Kotomine’s claim? There are some respectable pro-life claims that could be made using Kotomine’s support. Who are we to judge the life of the unborn worthy of being terminated, for example? If we are all creatures made in the image of God, as stated in Genesis 1, who are we to judge a fellow image bearer who has, as Kotomine stated, not had the right to prove his or her righteousness? Of course, according to Christianity, that “proof” does not come in the shape of living a righteous life, but of trusting Jesus Christ as the savior for removing all of our sins and allowing us to re-enter the presence of God.
On the other hand, however, the Bible also makes clear references to the concept of “original sin”: that ever since the first sin of Adam, we are all brought into sin. Psalm 51:5 explicitly states that David (as the presumed writer) was “conceived” in sin. This seems to indicate that, even before we are born, we are inherently sinful creatures.
With Kotomine’s context un-ignored, Angra Mainyu is not the same kind of life as that of an unborn child. As a “Heroic Spirit” (in effect, at least), he lived out a full human life before. He also exists with pure intent to perpetrate evil, unlike an unborn child who cannot be judged at all.
Kotomine’s claim receives a 3 out of 10.
Kotomine hits on some points relevant to the question of judging others, particularly in the case of the unborn, that reflects the Christian idea of grace. However, the rest of his statements ignore the fallen nature of humanity and the concept of God’s moral standards, passing off his perverse nature as permissible instead of in need of help.
Read other posts in our Fact Check column.