Some religious believers think that a fertilized egg is a person. At the instant an egg is fertilized, God is apparently watching, and he slips a soul into it. Like putting a CD in the hi-fi, it brings it to life.
It’s too bad that God doesn’t wait a bit to see if the egg survives. It must implant in the uterus, or it will be flushed out and excreted with the rest of the body wastes…or worse yet, it could implant in the Fallopian tube, causing an Ectopic, or “Tubal” pregnancy, which is almost always fatal to the fetus, and often to the woman carrying it. There are lots of other things that can go wrong during a pregnancy that can cause spontaneous abortion. The uterus is a dangerous place for a fetus. According to medical experts, less than 70% of fertilized eggs implant, and only about 30% will make it to term and be born.[i]
As a design, the human reproductive system is not very efficient. But believers say that God has His reasons for everything he does, or doesn’t do. We mere mortals dare not question his “plan”.
The late George Carlin put it this way:
So basically what these anti-abortion people are telling us is that any woman who’s had more than one period is a serial killer!
Carlin apparently did not consider the possibility that God is the serial killer. He inserted that soul into the egg, making it a person. If He had waited until the fetus completed development and was born, he could have saved a bunch of souls. Seems a shame to waste them. But, it’s His plan and His design, so isn’t He responsible for the egg’s failure to make it through the obstacle course he constructed in the woman’s body? Once an interventionist deity is introduced, shouldn’t it get the credit or blame for the results?
Now consider a problem of far vaster scale. It can be stated simply as a set of three mysteries that science has not successfully solved:
- The origin of the Universe
- The origin of life
- The origin of human consciousness
Christians claim that God did them all. First, He created a Universe that is huge and mostly hostile to human occupation…no atmosphere, or where we find it on other worlds, it is toxic, often accompanied by intense radiation and no means of sustenance for humans. We find the proper conditions to support human life only on our planet, a speck so small on the scale of the Cosmos that it is almost laughable. That he created all of that for the occupants of this little speck is as ludicrous as Elon’s Model S-P90D.
The origin of life is a puzzle that nobody has solved. The various scientific theories that address this are, at this stage of our knowledge, tentative at best. The assertion that GodDidIt has no basis in evidence, and can only be supported by the argument from ignorance.
In 1802, William Haley published a book titled, “Natural Theology, or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity collected from the Appearances of Nature.” Here is his main argument:
In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. … There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. … Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.
— William Paley, Natural Theology (1802)
Paley posited an interventionist deity to explain things that science could not…still cannot…explain. Again, saying that GodDidIt is not really an explanation. It is an opinion, with no factual basis. But I find other flaws in his reasoning. His hypothetical individual who finds the watch is certainly aware of current watchmaking technology, so the argument that he finds “design” in it is specious. Suppose that watch had been found by a Neanderthal, a hundred thousand years ago. What would they have thought of it? With their primitive superstitions, they might have considered it some kind of magical device. They might have been afraid to even touch it. If they worked up the courage to pick it up, it could have been used as a religious icon provided by some deity. Mysterious things tend to do that…like the three mysteries posed above.
Paley was an early advocate of design in nature being evidence of a deity. The Discovery Institute, and their widely discredited “theory” of Intelligent Design, is a dressed-up, pseudo-scientific version of Paley’s ideas.
Both Intelligent Design, and fetal personhood posit an interventionist god that monitors and controls everything in the Universe…except for human Free Will. That was apparently part of the “soul program” that God inserted into that egg. It is a necessary exception to make the guilt trip of Sin and Salvation work. Without that, who would be afraid of the Big Bad Wolf…er…God?