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The Challenge to Evolution from Abortion

Cornelius Hunter

abortion

While much has been said about the link between evolution and abortion, and how the former sanctions the latter, little has been said about the reverse. If evolution supports abortion, what does abortion say about evolution?

To appreciate fully what we can learn about evolution from abortion, we first need to understand the evolution of behavior. In the past half century evolutionists have elucidated how complex behaviors, such as altruism, evolved. A key concept is kin selection, and much of the early theoretical work was done by William Hamilton in the early 1960s.

For our purposes here, what is important is that studies in the evolution of behavior have been forced to resort to enormous levels of complexity, nuance, and precision. Somehow unguided genetic modifications must have resulted in genes for a wide range of attitudes and behaviors. The list is staggering. There are of course the obvious behaviors such as love, hate, guilt, retribution, social tendencies and habits, friendship, empathy, gratitude, trustworthiness, a sense of fulfillment at giving aid and guilt at not giving aid, high and low self-esteem, competition, and so forth.

These behaviors are supposed to have evolved according to the kin selection criteria, along with many more nuanced behaviors. For instance, love not only evolved, but in varying degrees depending on the degree of shared genes. It is weaker within the extended family than within the family. Low self-esteem behavior not only evolved, but the art of not hiding it can be advantageous and so also evolved. Sibling rivalries evolved, but only to a limited degree. In wealthy families, it is more advantageous for siblings to favor sisters while in poor families siblings ought to favor brothers. So those behaviors evolved. Mothers in poor physical condition ought to treat daughters as more valuable than sons. Likewise, socially or materially disadvantaged parents ought to treat daughters as more valuable than sons.

We’ll stop here but the list of incredibly detailed, subtle behaviors that evolution must have precisely crafted goes on and on. Evolution must have an incredible ability to produce finely tuned and highly specific behaviors.

With that understanding, we are now ready to consider abortion. The question is: How and why did evolution produce such a behavior? What fitness calculation is satisfied by terminating the life of your own child?

I can just imagine evolutionist’s contriving just-so stories to justify such an absurdity. Killing your child would, after all, allow one to avoid the costly physical and emotional investment of raising a child. One would be better off, and so better prepared to … To do what?

To have another child.

The whole point of “fitness,” in an evolutionary context, is reproduction. One has higher “fitness” if one can have more offspring. Fitness does not refer to physical fitness in the colloquial sense. It does not refer to financial fitness. It refers to having babies. Lots of babies.

That’s what evolutionary theory is based on. Reproductive advantage. Not physical, spiritual, emotional, or financial advantage, but reproductive advantage.

Abortion as a behavior is a flat contradiction and falsification of evolutionary expectations. It makes no sense.

If I can’t run very fast for some reason, then that indirectly reduces my fitness as it may impact my survivability or otherwise my reproductive abilities (or it may not). But if I kill my child, that directly deducts from my evolutionary fitness. Abortion is a much bigger, more direct, fitness penalty.

Indeed, abortion is the ultimate fitness penalty. All the positive fitness attributes I may have are instantly and completely wiped out if I engage in abortion. Selection would weed it out immediately.

Under evolution abortion would be rapidly eliminated. Remember, in the past half century evolutionists have insisted that evolution must have crafted our many nuanced behaviors with incredible precision and specificity. Abortion would not have accidentally evolved.

Photo credit: Rachelle, via Flickr.

Cross-posted at Darwin’s God.