Evolution and Abortion

by Stephen Lawwell on July 21, 2014

One of the greatest travesties in American history occurred in 1973 when the United States Supreme Court decided that it is our fundamental human right to murder the weakest and most defenseless among us - the unborn child. Since that abhorrent ruling nearly 40 years ago, over 47 million babies have been denied their first breath in the United States. Even more appalling is the fact that nearly as many are slaughtered worldwide each year (approximately 115,000 each day). 1

Proponents of abortion have gone to great lengths to defend their position - pointing to rape, incest, or potential health problems as justification for keeping this murderous practice legal. Some feel it is their moral duty to keep children from being born into a world of starvation, poverty, or abuse. Many pro-abortion organizations even go so far as to promote themselves as being the family-oriented defenders of society's future. In reality, the abortion movement is anything but family-friendly. Very few abortions occur for the reasons publicized by the procedure's advocates. In reality, over 93% of abortions occur because the child is simply unwanted or considered inconvenient. 2 What this shocking statistic reveals is that from a social standpoint, many people have chosen murder over being inconvenienced.

How could a civilized society get to the point that it could make such an appalling choice? Some feel it is financially motivated. It is true that abortion has become a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide, but this is simply the economical by-product of society's demand for the murderous procedure. The foundation upon which the abortion movement rests is not financial, but philosophical. The act of abortion can be conceptually boiled down to one simple idea - that the life of an unborn child has no intrinsic value. The value placed on the unborn is determined solely by the perception of others. If the parents or the authority in control values life, born and unborn, then abortion will not be considered an option. On the other hand, if the life of the unborn child is valued less than that of one that has already been born, then abortion may be considered.

No thought or idea has done more to devalue human life than evolution. Woven throughout its philosophical tapestry is the idea that man is just an evolutionary anomaly - the intelligent product of a mindless process. Our society is bombarded daily with the message that man is nothing more than an animal. The impact of such thinking is far-reaching and highly influential, for if humans truly are a product of evolution then they must be treated the same as any other product of this process. Journalist Joseph Sobran summarized as follows: "Our civilization, until recently, agreed in imagining the unborn child on the pattern of the incarnation, which maximizes his dignity; but many people now imagine him on the pattern of evolution, as popularly understood, which minimizes his dignity." 3 Just think about it. If evolution is true, what is the moral justification for valuing a human life above that of any other animal? Would we even have moral absolutes to guide us in our decision-making process? The bottom line is that if evolution is true, moral absolutes would be non-existent and human life would only have value if someone is willing to place value on it.

Thomas Malthus
Unfortunately, this murderous philosophy is not a recently developed idea that can be easily uprooted from our society. It is grounded in centuries of evolutionary thought and supported by some very influential members of the scientific community. One of the earliest authors to make an attempt at justifying the destruction of children was Thomas Malthus (1766-1834). In 1798, Malthus wrote his Essay on the Principles of Population, in which he theorized that a food shortage was imminent, in light of his belief that human population would soon outgrow the world's food supply. To remedy the situation, Malthus suggested that the poor should be allowed to live in unhealthy conditions, be denied certain types of medical treatment, and be discouraged to procreate. He proposed that children would need to be killed as a means of maintaining population at its "appropriate" level. He wrote, "All children beyond what would be required to keep up the population to this level, must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the deaths of grown persons." 4 Over two hundred years later, Malthus is still considered one of the most influential men in history. 5 His theories on population growth are still used by many to justify the hideous practice of abortion and euthanasia.

Herbert Spencer
Influenced greatly by the theories of Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) became convinced that ethics and morals had evolved along with man's physical characteristics and that they were driven by a competition for resources. Spencer, who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" in 1864, believed that society could achieve a balance of peace, freedom, and harmony, but that this perfection could only be achieved through a "weeding-out" process that would target, either naturally or artificially, individuals that were deemed a hindrance to society's utopian goal. He was greatly concerned by mankind's willingness to support and protect those that he felt would be otherwise eliminated by natural selection. Spencer strongly opposed humanitarian efforts that would allow the "weak" to survive and procreate. He wrote, "If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die." 6 Spencer is now considered one of the first sociologists and the "father of social Darwinism" - the application of evolutionary principles to human society. Although he is not known to have proactively lobbied for the destruction of the unborn, there is no doubt that his writings and social theories have played a major role in the development of the modern abortion movement and its campaign to eliminate those that are deemed "unwanted."

It is true that Malthus' population theory and Spencer's social-Darwinism have helped provide a philosophical foundation for the abortion movement, but no single person has done more to devalue the life of the unborn child than the famed German evolutionist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919). Consolidating the earlier work of Johann Meckel, Karl von Baer, and Fritz Muller, Haeckel theorized that each animal retraces its evolutionary history during its embryonic development. This theory is known by several names, including "biogenetic law," "the law of recapitulation" and "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny."

Ernst Haeckel

With regards to the human embryo, the biogenetic law teaches the following:

  1. It starts as a single cell, like a paramecium.
  2. At eight days, it grows into a hollow sphere (blastula) like a sponge.
  3. It then grows into a two-layered, cup-like structure (gastrula) like a jellyfish.
  4. Within 30 days it then passes through stages of having gills, a tail, and finlike limbs typical of fish and amphibians.
  5. It then becomes a mammal, with a tail like a monkey, after two months. 7

To provide "proof" for his theory, Haeckel created a series of drawings that showed the embryonic development of several animals, including a fish, salamander, turtle, chicken, rabbit, and human. Charles Darwin was greatly encouraged by Haeckel's work and considered the biogenetic law as the most important evidence of common descent. He wrote in Descent of Man, "The [human] embryo itself at a very early period can hardly be distinguished from that of other members of the vertebrate kingdom." 8 He went on to declare it "the strongest single class of facts." 9

In 1874, it was discovered that Ernst Haeckel's biogenetic law was a complete fraud. His famous drawings were not created from direct scientific observation, but by doctoring up T.L.W. Bischoff's drawing of a four-week old dog embryo (1845) and A. Ecker's drawing of a four-week old human embryo (1851-1859). During his trial at the University of Jena, Haeckel admitted that "A small percent of my embryonic drawings are forgeries; those namely, for which the observed material is so incomplete or insufficient as to fill in and reconstruct the missing links by hypothesis and comparative synthesis…I should feel utterly condemned…were it not that hundreds of the best observers, and biologists lie under the same charge." 10 He reiterated his guilt in a letter to Munchenei Allegemeine Zeitung, where he admitted that he "falsified" some of the drawings. 11 Haeckel's fraudulent ways were also brought to the attention of the public in 1911 in a book called Haeckel's Frauds and Forgeries, which was written by J. Asmuth and Ernest J. Hull.

The fraudulent claims of embryonic similarities have been documented in more recent years as well. In 1997, British embryologist Michael Richardson published an article in Anatomy and Embryology in which he compared Haeckel's drawings with actual embryos. 12 In an interview with Science magazine Richardson said, "It looks like it's turning out to be one of the most famous fakes in biology."13

One would think that such exposure would utterly wipe the biogenetic law from the thoughts and minds of the scientific world. W.R. Thomson wrote in the forward to the 1956 edition of Origin of Species, "The 'biogenetic law' as a proof for evolution is valueless." Yale biologist Keith Thompson said, "Surely the biogenetic law is as dead as a doornail. It was finally exorcised from biology textbooks in the fifties. As a topic of serious theoretical inquiry, it was extinct in the twenties." 14 Unfortunately this is not the case. Despite what should be obvious to anyone who looks at the facts, Haeckel's biogenetic law remains entrenched in modern evolutionary teachings. Walter Bock, a biologist from Columbia University, says that, "the biogenetic law has become so deeply rooted in biological thought that it cannot be weeded out in spite of its having been demonstrated to be wrong by numerous subsequent scholars"15 As shameful as this sounds, Dr. Bock is correct. A simple skim through most high school or college biology textbooks will verify the continued acceptance of Haeckel's biogenetic law as proof that the unborn child is less than human - mythical gill slits and all.

One must ask why something fraudulent would still be allowed in the science textbook. Is it simply because the theory of evolution is so anemic that it must be propped-up by fraudulent evidence? This is undoubtedly one of the reasons Haeckel's biogenetic law is still around, but definitely not the only one. We must assume that it is needed to indoctrinate society into believing that the unborn child is less than human - simply a fish, an amphibian, a reptile, or a mammal, depending upon the stage it is at in its embryological development. If the life of the unborn can be devalued, then it can be eliminated beyond the need of any moral justification. Haeckel even went so far as to extend this line of thinking to a period shortly after birth. He wrote, "the destruction of abnormal new born infants cannot rationally be classed as murder…redemption from this evil should be accomplished by a dose of some painless and rapid poison… under the control of an authoritative commission." 16

The indoctrination of Malthus, Spencer, and Haeckel has indeed taken its toll on our society. It has permeated nearly every culture in the world and produced two generations of intellectuals that have little regard for the life of the unborn. Even the famed author Benjamin Spock, who is considered an expert on childcare, wrote in his book Baby and Child Care that "each child as he develops is retracing the whole history of mankind, physically and spiritually, step by step. A baby starts off in the womb as a single tiny cell, just the way the first living thing appeared in the ocean. Weeks later, as he lies in the amniotic fluid of the womb, he has gills like a fish."17

Following the path of evolutionary dogma, Peter Singer published the following shocking statement in the magazine Pediatrics: "We can no longer base our ethics on the idea that human beings are a special form of creation.... Our better understanding of our own nature has bridged the gulf that was once thought to lie between ourselves and other species, so why should we believe that the mere fact that a being is a member of the species Homo sapiens endows its life with some unique, almost infinite, value?... If we compare a severely defective human infant with a nonhuman animal, a dog or a pig, for example, we will often find the nonhuman to have superior capacities, both actual and potential, for rationality, self-consciousness, communication, and anything else that can plausibly be considered morally significant. Only the fact that the defective infant is a member of the species Homo sapiens leads it to be treated differently from the dog or pig. Species membership alone, however, is not morally relevant.... If we can put aside the obsolete and erroneous notion of the sanctity of all human life, we may start to look at human life as it really is: at the quality of life that each human being has or can achieve." 18 Singer went on to say that, "Nevertheless the main point is clear: killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all." 19

The famed atheist Richard Dawkins wrote the following in his book The God Delusion: "Notice now that 'pro-life' doesn't exactly mean pro-life at all. It means pro-human-life. The granting of uniquely special rights to cells of the species Homo sapiens is hard to reconcile with the fact of evolution.... The humanness of an embryo's cells cannot confer upon it any absolutely discontinuous moral status." 20

Self-proclaimed Darwinian James Rachels states the following with regards to the true moral implications of evolution: "human life will no longer be regarded with the kind of superstitious awe which it is accorded in traditional thought, and the lives of non-humans will no longer be a matter of indifference. This means that human life will, in a sense, be devalued, while the value granted to non-human life will be increased. A revised view of such matters as suicide and euthanasia, as well as a revised view of how we should treat animals, will result." 21 He further notes that, "The big issue in all this is the value of human life.... The difficulty is that Darwinism leaves us with fewer resources from which to construct an account of the value of life." 22

In April of 1990, Parade Magazine published an article entitled "Is It Possible To Be Pro-Life And Pro-Choice?" The authors of this article, evolutionist Carl Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan, contended that the abortion of a human fetus was ethically permissible on the grounds that it is not a human being until several months after conception. What was the basis of their assertion? Their belief that the unborn child is "a kind of parasite" that goes through stages of looking like a "segmented worm," having "the gill arches of a fish or an amphibian," and a face that eventually becomes "reptilian" then "somewhat pig-like."23 Only after the uniquely human qualities emerge can the fetus be considered truly human. It is clear that while Carl Sagan was writing his own science fiction novels, he was reading the science fiction of Ernst Haeckel as well.

As you can see, evolution is not just a dumb theory. It is an acid that will destroy the moral fabric of any society that it touches. It is a philosophy that ignores moral accountability. It is a philosophy that eliminates any reason for condemning Adolf Hitler or applauding a Good Samaritan. It is a philosophy that has been used to justify the deaths of millions of unborn babies.

The battle lines have been drawn, but the battle is not just about being pro-life or pro-choice (pro-death). The true battle is between creation and evolution, for it is at this fundamental level that the questions of life and death are answered. God's people must not allow the evolution movement to go unchallenged. We must fight this murderous philosophy on all fronts - in the state and federal legislatures, in the courts, in the classrooms, and in our prayer closets (II Chronicles 7:14). Only then will we be able to turn the tide and bring an end to the slaughter of the unborn. Prayerfully consider what role you can play in this battle.


1. "Abortion", Guttmacher Institute, http://www.guttmacher.org/sections/abortion.php

2. "Abortion Facts", The Center for Bio-ethical Reform, http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html

3. Joseph Sobran, "The Averted Grace," Human Life Review (Spring 1984), p. 6.

4. George Grant, Killer Angel (Franklin, Tennessee: Ars Vitae Press, 1995), p. 50, quoting Thomas Malthus, Essay on the Principles of Population (1798).

5. Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History (New York: Carol Publishing Group/Citadel Press, 1978).

6. Herbert Spencer, Social Statics: or, The Conditions essential to Happiness specified, and the First of them Developed (London, John Chapman, 1851).

7. Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia (2006).

8. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (Prometheus Books, New York, 1998), p. 9.

9. Charles Darwin, letter to Asa Gray, September 10, 1860, in Francis Darwin (editor), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. II (D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1896), p. 131.

10. Malcolm Bowden, Ape-Men: Fact or Fallacy? (1977), p. 128.

11. This letter was published on January 9, 1909 in an international weekly for Science, Art, and Technology.

12. Richardson, M.K., Hanken, J., Gooneratne, M.L., Pieau, C., Raynaud. A., Selwood, L. and Wright, G.M.: There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in the vertebrates: implications for current theories of evolution and development. Anatomy and Embryology 196(2): 91-106.

13. Elizabeth Pennisi, "Haeckel's Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered," Science (September 5, 1997).

14. Keith Thompson, "Ontogeny and Phylogeny Recapitulated," American Scientist 76 (1988), p. 273.

15. Walter Bock, "Evolution by Orderly Law," Science (May 9, 1969), p. 684-685.

16. Ernst Haeckel, The Wonders of Life (1904), p. 21.

17. Benjamin Spock, Baby and Child Care (1957), p. 223

18. Peter Singer, "Sanctity of Life, Quality of Life," Pediatrics (1983), Vol. 72(1), p. 128-129.

19. Peter Singer, Writings on an Ethical Life (New York: Harper Collins, 2000), p. 193.

20. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), p. 300.

21. James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 5.

22. Ibid., p. 197.

23. Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, "Is It Possible To Be Pro-Life And Pro-Choice?" Parade Magazine (April 22, 1990), pp. 5-7.