On Evolution and Abortion

Wandering through my archives I found this particularly … assertive… post about Evolution and abortion from 2007.  I hope you enjoy it. 

One of the many things that annoyed me last week was one of those ‘This or That’ questions on the mega-popular cox-tv.com website. The question this time was ‘Evolution or Abortion’. The question itself was perfectly apropos but I did wonder exactly in what context this was conceived (no pun intended). Anyway, what got me was the first response/comment:

“I’ll take a lie over a murder anyday[sic]…”

It’s not very often that a person manages to irritate me so completely in so few words. Let’s start with the more obvious implication in the poster’s statement: “Evolution is a lie.”

Anyone who denies the mechanism of evolution is either a fool or vastly under informed. Typically, evolution’s detractors labor under the deluded belief that evolution states that monkeys wandering through the jungle suddenly just gave birth to humans one day. This, of course, is a vast oversimplification of the processes involved and fails to relate the real heart of what evolution says about organisms on this planet (or any other for that matter). Let’s review from high school biology…

Premise #1: Animals within a population vary from each other.

If one has doubts of the correctness of this then one need only look as far as the next available human. People, animals, plants, bacteria… anything that reproduces by combining its own genetic material with another of the same species displays variation. Every single one of us is different from the next. Some of us can run faster than others; some are taller; some are shorter; some have dark complexions; some have light complexions. We’re all physically unique from each other. Even twins have distinct physical differences that make them very subtly unique. Even if we can’t see it, we all display variation.

Premise #2: Animals and plants that are better suited to survive in their environments live to have more offspring.

Frankly, this is just common sense. Why are antelope so fast? Because all the slow ones were eaten. Why do giraffes have long necks? Because the ones with shorter necks starved as they couldn’t reach anything to eat. From Darwin to Adam Smith, the strong survive and prosper while the weak die.

That’s it. That’s all the premises there are. Sorry if you thought there was going to be something about monkeys or apes driving Volvos. That’s all there is to it: two simple indisputable premises. To defy those premises is to defy all reasonable logic. The funny thing is that everyone blames Darwin for evolution but it actually existed as an idea long before he came along. He just formalized the idea and put it on firmer scientific ground by citing examples from the world around him. It was the religious zealots of the time who denied anything ever changed because it implied imperfection in God. See, God made everything and he made it perfect the first time. If an animal has to evolve then it wasn’t perfect the first time and therefore God screwed up. At least that’s how the argument went.

Now of course we’re much more sophisticated in our thinking. We see the obvious examples around us such as when man exploited the mechanisms of evolution and turned wolves into poodles over the course of several thousand years of selective breeding. It’s universally acknowledged that bacteria evolve defenses against our medicines making antibiotics of yesteryear ineffective against modern bacteria.  If we can actually see any evidence of evolution whatsoever in the tiny span of time we’ve been watching for it (200 years) then what must those same mechanisms have been able to do in the 5 billion years the Earth has been around when we weren’t watching?

Even my daughter who is only 25 years removed from me is significantly different. In the 500,000,000 years of life on this planet that means even if life only changed as much as my daughter did then it would still show 25,000,000 times more differences than I do from my eldest offspring. Creationists argue that we don’t see any monkeys evolving into humans nowadays but that completely misses the vastness of previous history. A lot can happen in 5 billion years.

Now that we’ve gotten that all out of our system, let’s move on to abortion. Let me start by saying that abortion is a nasty business. It’s very sad to me any time any organism dies but what makes me festeringly and profusely angry is the pedestal on which people place humans and it all begins at the moment of conception. As I’ve said before though, all I ask is that you be consistent. You can happily believe that the sky is green if you like as long as you do so all the times even when it’s to your detriment.

If you draw the line of human life at conception, there are a few of things you should keep in mind.

* If you take birth control pills, you are murdering your children. See, birth control pills don’t stop you from ovulating. Your body is happily pumping out eggs and if you’re having sex then those eggs are still being happily fertilized. However, the egg can’t implant because the pills have caused your uterus to be unable to support the baby. So your delightful little child just goes straight out your cervix with your period and dies. You killed your children with birth control pills.

* Also, just because you don’t want the child doesn’t mean you get to abort it. It’s really easy to point at other people and say, “You shouldn’t have an abortion” but it’s not quite as easy to say that when, for example, your 12-year-old daughter is raped and becomes pregnant by the rapist. Now suddenly the terror of being raped isn’t enough torment for your daughter; because of your beliefs she gets to be reminded of it for 10 months, be removed from regular classes at her school and generally ostracized by her peers. To cap it off, she’ll have the joy of childbirth. Isn’t that nice? Oh, and this also doesn’t change just because it’ll be embarrassing for you to walk into your church with an obviously pregnant pre-teen for six months.

* Finally, remember that you don’t get to decide to kill your baby just because it will save your life. If you’re the victim of an Ectopic Pregnancy then you get to make the supreme sacrifice. As the pregnancy grows and grows within your Fallopian tube you’ll experience months of excruciating pain. The good news is that eventually you’ll pass into oblivion as the tissues of your abdomen rupture and you slowly bleed to death. Now, it may be tempting to try to take matters into your own hands but let’s remember that the fertilized human egg is a life and tampering with it is murder. Anyway, it’s God’s will so don’t feel too bad.

29 Comments

Filed under blogging, religion

29 responses to “On Evolution and Abortion

  1. I have to say, I really like your take on this either/or look at evolution and abortion. I learned some things too. I never knew that is how the pill worked, nor did I know what a ectopic pregnancy was and what it did to the female body. Good thoughts and post.

    • Rob Slaven

      Thanks! Though I have to admit it feels a bit odd to be a bit odd being a guy disseminating such information. 🙂

    • Great post, and I agree with a lot of what you said but I do want to make sure you have your facts straight because that is actually NOT how birth control pills work primarily. Their primary purpose actually does prevent ovulation. There are secondary purposes that back up what you said about preventing fertilization and implantation, but the main reason they work is by governing the hormones that stimulate and release egg follicles. Believe me, as someone currently trying to get pregnant with my husband, I have done my research and any inquiry into Google will lead you the same result. But here is a particularly good link:

      http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/how-do-birth-control-pills-work

      But again, great post, and you certainly make some excellent points!

      • Rob Slaven

        Yes, point taken. Strictly speaking it should have indicate that there’s a CHANCE the fertilized fetus could be aborted. So yes, thanks for the clarification.

  2. I really like this balanced view. I certainly hpe you realise that thise who initially annoyed you, would already have their mind made up, so such a clear discussion and listing of common facts and arguments would be wasted n them.

    But I liked it.

    • Rob Slaven

      Yeah, I know, and I’m honestly just bracing myself for the onslaught.

      My only real point here is to say that if one is going to stand up and demand that life begins at conception, thenone better be prepared to take ALL the consequences. Not just the ones that are convenient. *shrug*

      Anyway, thanks for the encouragement. When the babbling hoards arrive I’ll try to remember whatever glow of positivity remains afterwards. 🙂

  3. Wait a gosh-darn minute . . . are you telling me the world wasn’t created in six days?

  4. Well said, I couldn’t agree more. Like you, it is the beliefs of convenience that turn on and then off that makes the ‘faithful’ so less convincing.

  5. ymkbird

    I think you’d be surprised at how many ‘faithful’ actually agree with what you said. They believe abortion is wrong in all cases (including incest and abortion) and know that the pill actually causes abortion – which makes it just as wrong. The ectopic thing is a little different because the child cannot survive an ectopic pregnancy. There is a 100% fatality rate for both the child and the mother. The procedure to save the mother isn’t intended to kill the child, that just ends up being a side effect which is different from a traditional abortion – the circumstance do not result in a 100% fatality rate for both, and the procedure is intended to kill the baby.

    In fact, I know of numerous women who have had funerals for their miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies – because they definitely value the life of that child.

    Any way – long story short – I totally agree with you…either we are pro-life or we aren’t. Either we value the inherent dignity of all human life or we don’t. The circumstances surrounding which the child was conceived do not make it any less of a child. Thanks for challenging all the pro-lifers to greater consistency!

  6. Janelle

    Awesome post.

    One thing to add about evolution, though–I think some people are so outspoken against it because they think the idea of us coming from monkey is somehow gross or something.

  7. Great, timely post (reflective of a few of my own)!
    I am one of the non-believers out there, yet i am totally against abortion (well, except for health reasons, forced pregnancies or rape victims). I believe that there is no supreme deity, and that evolution is real. But, what confounds me, is that since the Universe is ever expanding, where or what is it expanding into?

    • Rob Slaven

      Well, it doesn’t expand into anything… the universe is all that is. The rules of physics don’t exactly apply as our brains are wired to think of them when whole universes are involved. 🙂

  8. Thank you for posting about this

    It’s so weird to me (having grown up in Germany), that evolution would even still be discussed as a serious topic – it’s so wildly accepted in most to all protestant countries (maybe also catholic, but I’m not sure about that), that I never realize that that’s not the case for a lot of other countries.

    Also the abortion topic is very, very close to my heart. Firstly because I had two abortions myself (and also posted about my decisions here:

    http://30yearsofgrowingpains.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/i-need-to-tell-you-about-solveig-marie-and-the-nameless-one/)

    and also, because I’m always extremly irritated by people, who think they have the moral purity to judge others – vastly irritating!

    Thank you – sincerly: This post was like a breath of fresh air for me!

    • Rob Slaven

      Thanks! And thanks for stopping. Yes, I too have trouble believing that evolution is still an issue for debate in this country.

  9. This is a great post! I agree with the sentiments of kianys. I myself live in part of the “Bible Belt” and I wonder if those morally pious people I come across every single day really have given much deep thought along the line of the arguments you detail beyond the fact that “it’s god’s will.”

  10. The Talmid Rebbe

    I liked this a lot. I’d like to offer some points.

    The evolution debate, you’ve touched on the differences between proponents of the Watchmaker God and the Blind Watchmaker, as Richard Dawkins puts it. The Watchmaker God analogy comes from William Paley’s book Natural Theology (c. 1802). Paley argues that if you find a watch in the desert, you must conclude that someone put it there. How can an object as intricate as a watch, a perfect exercise in precision and tension in balance, not be made by some watchmaker? Is an eyeball not infinitely more intricate than a watch? Therefore, man must be “made”, not “evolved”, and God is the watchmaker. Dawkins turns this on its head, saying how can anyone know how to make something so intricate as a watch sight unseen, much less a human eyeball? How many watches fell apart on the inexorable path of discovery to making the first working, beautiful watch? Where did they come from? Talmud asserts that 974 generations of people existed before God made Adam and Eve. Thus, evolution, the grandest example of trial and error, is the blind watchmaker.

    You’re right to say that some creationists take this to refute the claim that God is perfect, to admit that any flaw in God is to say that God is imperfect. Frankly, I think more are more concerned with “God made Man in His image” and “take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape.”

    Many biblical commentators look at that Torah phrase and ask “His image? What image is that? In God’s own image, or in man’s image that God made?” Rashi, one of the greatest commentators, compares man’s mold to a coin die. So, one phrase. Two (+) meanings. If we’re honest, “God’s plan” leaves out neither, meaning evolution could be holy! What does that tell you?

    On to abortion, the question is when does ensoulment occur? Torah says God created man from dust, gave man the breath of life, and then man became a living soul. Thus, Judaism and the Stoics hold that life begins when the doctor spanks the baby, or the baby first breaths on its own. Before that, the fetus is “potential life”, but otherwise a part of the mother’s body. We should not throw away potential life, but we must always preserve “actual life” first. The idea that ensoulment occurs earlier, that potential life is actual life at conception or somewhere in-between is taken from Septuagint translations of the prophetic books (Jeremiah 1.5, Job 10.8-12, Psalms 22.10-11, 139.5) and more modern. Most arguments I hear against abortion are designed to inspire fear and guilt than understanding.

    For a summary of the evolution (ha ha) of the Catholic view on abortion, see http://faculty.cua.edu/Pennington/Law111/CatholicHistory.htm

    I won’t go further with that. Suffice it to say, when quoting Torah, context is key. I will cite an episode in Exodus that we read recently in the yearly cycle of readings, when Pharoah goes to the midwives and says “When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women…if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.” The midwives disobey and God rewards them. Now, what were they rewarded for? Protecting human life, or protecting women’s reproductive freedom from man? Torah does not say. Perhaps both!

    Man, I should just write these up and post links, huh?

  11. I thought you where going to talk about how abortion was evolution, not spending time to point out the ignorance of Christians. Ok, not all are ignorant, anyway thanks for the post.

  12. I really enjoyed this article; thanks! I share your views on both evolution and abortion, and am a strong advocate for women’s rights and the pro-choice movement. It’s very refreshing to hear a pro-choice argument from a man these days.

    • Rob Slaven

      Thanks. It’s always been amazing to me that men feel gutsy enough to chime in on the pro-life side of things. How can a man state a dogmatic opinion about what a woman should do with her body when he can’t possibly experience that situation? It’s completely inane.

      • THANK YOU. I hate to sound bigoted (because some people take it that way), but if you don’t have a uterus, I just don’t think you should get to make the decision.

  13. First let me start by stating that when I read the title I wanted time to sit and read the post in full. It’s sad we still need to have this debate but refreshing that we can! As a domestic violence counselor I wish evolution would hurry up and a few more people would consider abortions! God knows we need them!

  14. “It’s very sad to me any time any organism dies but what makes me festeringly and profusely angry is the pedestal on which people place humans and it all begins at the moment of conception. As I’ve said before though, all I ask is that you be consistent.” Why is it so sad when an organism dies, then? Actually, the death of a cell is an evolutionary adaptation. Cells that kept on replicating (like cancer cells) began to create a disadvantage and so eventually, cells began to have a kind of “coding” that tells them that it’s time to die off. Death is quite natural and beneficial, even human death. Really. I agree that we have serious “pedestal” issues about human life. We can kill bacteria, plants, insects, fish and small mammals without a backward glance, but if it contains human DNA, we freak. Is that consistent?

    • Rob Slaven

      I’d say you’re taking my statement a tad too literally. 🙂 Sure, cells can die all the time and should. Once those cells constitute a whole puppy though, then that becomes sad. 🙂

      And no, it’s not consistent and that’s my objection.

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