If abortion is so evil, why has omnipotent God failed to stop it?

If abortion is so evil, why has omnipotent God failed to stop it? April 15, 2021

(Thanks to Bold Atheism)

Take a moment to consider this partial quote above regarding “spontaneous abortion” from academic and atheist Sam Harris’ 2006 book, Letter to a Christian Nation (pages 13-14).

You may want to think about it again. It’s an important idea.

Below is the full quote:

“It has been estimated that 50 percent of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion, usually without a woman even realizing she was pregnant. In fact, 20 percent of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. There’s an obvious truth here that calls out for acknowledgement: If God exists, He is the most prolific abortionist of all.”

The point is, the idea that God condemns abortion makes zero sense, in that if He is all-powerful and could easily by divine fiat cause no abortions whatsoever to occur anywhere in any time — spontaneous or otherwise — why wouldn’t He? Why leave such a decision up to the human beings, whom as he created them to be, are broadly incapable of adhering to this edict? Would you, a mere mortal?

In the meantime, over the long history of the world, it’s fair to say God has presided over — arguably caused — each and all of the billions of spontaneous, purposeful and even accidental abortions that have occurred. In a divinely administered universe, scripture tells us, nothing just happens.

So, what, are we to believe that God gives himself special dispensation to be immune from his own judgment in violating moral imperatives He himself created? But humans must be shamed, killed and shunned for the same behavior on a far lesser scale? What about His own personal responsibility to the moral order he made?

As I said (and Harris’ quote underscores), it makes no sense.

This is one of the endless instances where the divine is allowed to escape accountability for things humans are ruthlessly (and irrationally) punished for in His name.

If you take God out of the equation, the moral and ethical questions surrounding abortion find themselves in a completely different, material (which is to say not divine) context. The decisions on what is right or wrong would need to be completely based on real-world contexts — the stage of development of the fetus, any threats a fetus might pose to the health of its mother, secular laws in place for abortion in various cultures, etc. — not what may be written in ancient texts arbitrarily deemed “holy.”

Some of those considerations exist today, such as in some states’ laws allowing abortions in the case of fetal danger to a mother’s health, pregnancy via rape and incest, etc., but the overarching value seems to be the idea that all life (at all stages) is sacrosanct.

It’s similar to how experimental vaccinations against smallpox in colonial America were viewed: as a blasphemous usurpation of the will and jurisdiction of God. But when one Boston physician, Zabdiel Boylston, vaccinated himself and his family and 180 others, the vast majority of them survived the city’s 1721 smallpox epidemic that sickened 5,889 Bostonians and killed 844.

Rev. Cotton Mather, a prominent Boston clergyman, unpopularly supported innoculations despite most Christian leaders’ vehement opposition. According to an article in the Harvard Library’s Curiosity Collection online, many Christians found themselves at opposite ends of the debate:

“The religious debate was also important. Mather, who had lost his wife and three youngest children in a measles epidemic, argued that inoculation was a gift from God. Those opposed to inoculation argued that epidemic diseases afflicted the people for a divine reason, and that to attempt to prevent them was to oppose God’s will. Others argued that inoculation, with its roots in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, was a heathen practice not suitable for Christians.”

But the point is, God, as far as anyone can verify, had nothing to do either with smallpox or vaccinations back in the day, or with unwanted pregnancies and abortion in the present.

And even if God were involved, He continues to do a very poor job of limiting the number of abortions worldwide. The opposite, in fact.

 Buy either book on Amazon, here (paperback or ebook editions)
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