One of the things that have always nagged at me was the subject of birth defects. I remember a few years ago that my eldest sister and I had a discussion regarding the existence of God. She said that the miracle of birth was evidence of the existence of God, and I responded by stating that it was not a miracle and that it was just a natural and very normal occurrence.
When I was a believer people attributed birth defects to several causes and quite frankly none of them made any sense to me. Some said it was demons interfering with the pregnancy while others stated that it was God either testing the parents to be or punishing them for some hidden sin that they have not yet confessed. The bible does in fact teach that God punishes the rebellious or sinful man, but it does not get into the subject of birth defects specifically.
In the book of Deuteronomy 5:9 it states: … “I punish the parents' fault in the children, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren, among those who hate me;”(NJB) or as it says in the KJV to the third and fourth generation. Could this punishment aside from misfortune in life refer to birth defects as well? Children are born with missing limbs, all sorts of congenital disorders, heart disease, mental illnesses and even conjoined. Does a belief in God provide sufficient explanation to account for all these different types of phenomenon? I don’t think so.
I think that genetics explains the many causes of these issues a lot better than the bible ever could. Although those of us that are familiar with the scriptures know that God has no problem with killing children 2 Kings 2:23-24. He killed King David’s son for his father’s transgression against Bathsheba’s husband. Demons and God’s wrath are silly superstitions invented by men who during a pre-scientific age could not explain these things in any other way. Myths are important because they give us a peek into the mind of post modern man. As a result of this fact when you read the bible with this in mind the beliefs of these people are better understood and do not seem so preposterous.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control state in their website that there are several causes for birth defects but the most common are listed as follows:
- Women who take certain drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol during pregnancy.
- Women with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or obesity.
- Women who take certain medications that are known to cause birth defects, such as isotretinoin (a drug used to treat severe acne).
- Women who have someone in their family with a birth defect. To learn more about your risk of having a baby with a birth defect, you can talk with a clinical geneticist or a genetic counselor.
- Women over the age of 35 years.
Considering these facts we begin to see a clearer cause for birth defects and even some possible ways of prevention when that option is available. The site goes on to break down these cause to the following mixture of factors: Most birth defects are thought to be caused by a complex mix of factors. These factors include our genes, our behaviors, and things in the environment. For some birth defects, we know the cause. But for most, we don’t.
Another issue that I think is related to this one is that of fertility, if there was a God then why would he allow women who He Knows would be unfit mothers to have children? The hospitals are filled with abused children, crack babies, and children who have been found abandoned and left for dead. It seems that also in third world countries the women are very fertile as well. One woman having ten children in the middle of the goddamn desert with no means of supporting them is a very common occurrence, while there are couples all over the world who for whatever reason can’t have children and have to resort to adoption.
In the book of Genesis 20:18 we read in that God closed the wombs of all the women in that town because Abraham had lied to Abimelech by telling him that his wife Sarah was actually his sister. As a result of this lie Abimelech was going to take Sarah to himself. Now if God could do this to an entire town, then why doesn’t he do this to unfit mothers, crack heads, or abusive parents? I mean what is the sense of a child being born only to die at the hands of the neglect and abuse of their parents? The bible has no answer for these questions.