Monday, August 5, 2013

God is not pro-life

Every time I discuss abortion, it's always the always gets back to God, and how he ostensibly hates abortion. Nevermind that such belief has no business being legislated. To many folks, if God says it, it's true; and if God says it, well, to hell with the constitution. One of several significant problems with that line of thinking is simply that “God” (by which it's meant, of course, the Christian God) didn't “say” anything of the sort anywhere in the Bible.

The Christian God's holy book doesn't mention abortion. Or feticide. There are a (very) few instances where a reading sounds something like the pro-life concept that fertilized eggs are people (the same kind of anthropomorphic descriptions also exist for sperm, by the way...still waiting for the bills regulating how and when men can dispose of their sperm-children). But such interpretations always depend on dropping all context, and completely ignoring that figurative language is employed heavily throughout the ensconcing verses (for a further discussion, click here). But what's more, not only does the Bible not bolster God's cred as a pro-life champ, it seems to do rather the opposite. Combined with our understanding of biology, a religious vision of God as a “pro-life warrior” seems downright laughable.

1. If God designed and created human beings, and fertilized human eggs are people, God has personally orchestrated the largest, ongoing slaughter of human beings, ever.
Does that sound ridiculous? It should. Because the whole concept is ridiculous. But, as the pro-life crowd would have us believe, a fertilized human egg, a zygote, is a full human being. (This is, among a slew of bad arguments, often the justification for opposition to birth control, on the mistaken premise that birth control prevents the “preembryo” from implanting in the uterine lining). Of course, as anyone who knows anything about human reproduction knows (and now you, pro-lifers reading this), one third to one half of those never implant. In other words, up to half of all those “egg babies” simply get flushed out of a woman's body, naturally. As God designed it to happen, if you so believe.

Let me reiterate. If you believe God designed and made us all, and that a zygote is a human being, God specifically designed women's bodies to destroy their own offspring. We women are natural born killers, and God is the engineer of the largest, ongoing slaughter of human beings (egg “people” being no different, as pro-lifers would have us believe. than people people) ever imagined, a massacre that started with Adam and Eve, and that will only end with...well, Ragnarok? Armageddon? Alien invasion? Zombie uprising? (As these are all infinitely more likely to occur than that men and women, even pro-life ones, will stop having sex to save the egg people). All of which brings me to my point: either, the idea of “egg people” is a ludicrous bunch of fantasy, or God is the king of abortionists.

2. If God considered a fetus to be a human being, it follows that there would be no need for superficial divisions between human beings in utero and born.
This is always a fun one. For a minute, let's forget that God has killed one third to half of all the egg babies ever made. Let's look at how God's laws and protections apply to fetuses. Presumably, since there is no difference (“it's just another stage of development, as a geriatric is different than an infant,” as the line goes), and a fertilized egg is the same as an embryo is the same as a fetus is the same as an infant, there should be no difference in how God sees and protects fetuses and born humans: life is life.
Here again, it's a bad day for pro-lifers. There are a few interesting examples of this, where born people are held in a different light than fetuses, but my favorite is in Exodus 21. The chapter deals with all manner of fun topics, from slavery to murder. The verses of import to this discussion, however, describe the punishments for murder and accidental death and injury. Here's what it has to say about murder:

12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.
14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.

If you murder someone, you must die. If you kill them but without murderous intent, you depart to the “safe city”. Let's consider what happens when a fetus is killed, though.

22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Got that? If a pregnant woman is harmed, whatever harm, up to and including death, that befell her shall befall the one who harmed her. If a fetus is killed, however, pecuniary retribution is in order; the husband is reimbursed for his disappointment, and that's that.

Now, “life being life”, a fetus having the same intrinsic value as “any other” person, indeed, being nothing more or less than a person at another life stage, this seems completely illogical. Completely.

3. If God gave a dang about zygotes, embryos or fetuses, he wouldn't have massacred them.
Nope, this isn't a repeat of point #1. I'm not talking about the “egg people” that are routinely massacred by the sinful bodies of wayward women. I'm talking about all the “egg people”, embryos and fetuses that – I'm sorry, “who” – died during God's many purges, attacks and genocides.
I'm going to run off a list, from the top of my head (had to look up verse references, but otherwise you witness the effects of my parents' insistence on Bible study, now put to good use).

God flooded the world, and killed everyone on earth but Noah and his family. That includes pregnant women, fetuses, embryos and zygotes. (Genesis 6 - 9)
God oversaw massacres of entire populations while ordering his people into new lands (Numbers 31: only virgins were spared, meaning any and all pregnant women died [as well as anyone else]; Deuteronomy 3: all the men, women [pregnant and otherwise] and children were massacred in multiple cities; etc.)
And then, of course, we have the city of Soddom and Gomorrah, which God wiped out – any pregnant people and accompanying fetuses included (Genesis 19).
Miscarriages. Punish guilty life by taking innocent life. Pro-life, Level: God. (Hosea 9)

All of these places, and so many more, would have included fetal life. And while rationalizations are often made for the killings depicted in the Bible, anyone having had the privilege to debate pro-lifers will be able to recall one of their favorite lines: this is innocent, the most innocent, life we're talking about, life that has committed no sin. Surely a pro-life God would have found some way, short of wholesale massacre, to spare these innocent cherubs, these perfect egg babies?

4. If God was pro-life, you'd think he'd be a little less keen on killing kids.
This one's more a gut feeling than anything else...but doesn't it seem that, if you love fetuses, because, life!, you're going to take care of kids too? I'm not even talking about the “problem of evil” question, where, as an all powerful entity you'd look out for the defenseless. No, I'm aiming for the low hanging, how about you just don't drown them, send your followers to butcher them, enslave them, etc.? Or maybe he's more like modern Republicans and pro-lifers than I give him credit (is that the right word?) for being: love the fetus, drown/maul/butcher/starve the child. It doesn't seem to follow, though, that you'd want a woman to die because there's a detectable heartbeat in that dying 14 week old fetus whose presence is killing her, while you also do charming things like:

Flood the entire world. Killing everyone, innocent babies included.
Send bears to maul kids who call your prophet “baldy”. Forty-two kids, in fact. Because that really fits the crime. (2 Kings 2:23 – 24. No, I didn't make that up)
Kill every first born child in Egypt, to make your point (Exodus 12)
The genocides mentioned above, where entire populations, infants and children included, were annihilated
Did I mention, flood the entire freaking world, killing everyone??

Of course, there are more, but these are the ones that come to mind right off the bat. Ultimately, the point is this: God had no problem massacring children – not sitting back and letting massacres happen, but personally ordering or executing massacres. Have we really stepped through the looking glass, where a mass child killer is somehow also the paragon of what it means to be “pro-life”?

In fact, that really sums up my entire point: God is not pro-life. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” or so says Matthew 7:20; and by such a standard, it is impossible to paint God as pro-life. Not from the “moment of conception” outlook, not from a more moderate standpoint. The best that can be offered for the argument that God is “pro-life” are a few cherry-picked phrases; but any examination beyond select half-verses puts the lie to the idea that the Bible gives any weight to anti-abortion arguments. Indeed, an honest reading of the Bible and examination of human reproduction indicates that not only does God not regard the zygote, embryo or fetus as much, he has designed the human body to dispose of as many as half of these before they ever amount to anything; and he has himself, according to the Bible, committed feticide on an astonishing scale. So I'll say it again: God is not pro-life.

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