Richard Dawkins Should Be Anti-Abortion

If you’re atheist or agnostic, you should be anti-abortion. That’s because from your perspective, the chance of any single person ever existing – including a pre-born person – was infinitely remote. Being conceived is a monumental achievement in beating the odds.

Abortion is akin to someone having a one in trillion trillion trillion chance of winning the ultimate lottery, then winning it, and then being put to death before he or she can claim the prize money.

“Before you were conceived, the chance of your existing was all but zero,” said renown atheist Richard Dawkins in a live-streamed discussion with physicist Brian Greene.

“All of us owe our existence to the happenstance of one particular sperm hitting one particular egg on a particular day, not only in our parents’ generation (but) our grandparents’ generation (and) our great-grandparents’ generation.”

He continued, “All of us are incredibly lucky to be here. And once you’ve been born – once you’ve been conceived indeed – the probability that you’re going to go on becomes much, much higher.”

Wow. That’s a powerful argument for the extraordinary specialness of each and every person, born and pre-born.

You’re infinitely lucky not only because your parents happened to meet each other of all the potential mates, not only because they happened to conceive you during the brief two- or three-day window when the spermazoa from which you originated were alive, not only because the two unique cells providing your genetic code connected with each other rather than the billions of other possible combinations of cells, but also because those same improbabilities applied to your parents and grandparents going back many generations.

Start from a point 200 years before you were born. What were the chances you would grace the scene two centuries later? Two-hundred years works out to about eight generations and 256 great (x8) grandparents. (Four grandparents, eight great grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents, etc.) Had none of those 256 been born, you wouldn’t have either. Assume each had a one-in-a-billion chance of being born. To calculate the probability of you being here, multiply a billion by a billion 256 times. That’s about 1 in a billion to the power of 256. Essentially, it’s infinitely remote.

You and everyone else are truly exceptional; you’re the only one among trillions of potential humans who ended up being conceived.

The next time you see a newborn, appreciate that this is “The One”. He or she beat out billions of other wanna-be humans vying to become one of us. Likewise, the next time you see an ultrasound image of a human fetus – or indeed become aware of any human fetus – appreciate that this also is “The One”.

Can you imagine beating infinite odds to make it that far – so close to being able to experience the world outside of the womb – only to have your life unceremoniously snuffed out?

There are many reasons why abortion is cruel and immoral, but this reason takes the cake. It is sad, outrageous, and terrifying that someone would kill a pre-born person who had overcome such odds. We should be showering them with praise and honor, not killing them.

With a declared appreciation for such long odds of being conceived, Richard Dawkins of all people should be ardently pro-life, right?

Preposterously, no. On Twitter a few years ago, he boasted of his “strong pro-abortion views”.

There’s a strong disconnect between what Dr. Dawkins says regarding the specialness of a life including pre-born ones, and what he advocates regarding abortion.

To be sure, he tweeted that “Unlike many pro-choice friends, I think fetal pain could outweigh woman’s (sic) right to control her own body,” implying that he may be against abortion in certain circumstances. But that certainly has nothing to do with the killing-the-ultimate-lottery-winner argument.

Meanwhile, a theist may or may not believe that a person had an infinitely remote chance of being conceived. The Creator may have planned you all along. In the Bible, Jeremiah 1:5 states, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

Had your parents not conceived you, you may have been born to other parents or to your existing parents at another time. This is because your consciousness – i.e. your soul – is primary and your physical body is secondary. (Even quantum physics implies that your brain is derived from your consciousness rather than the other way around. Quantum physics pioneer Max Planck said, “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.”)

Under the theist position each person born and pre-born is exquisitely special as well, because God personally created him or her.

So whether you’re an atheist, agnostic, theist or deist, abortion means killing an incredibly remarkable arrival on the world scene, making it morally wrong from anyone’s perspective. Richard Dawkins, of all people, should grasp that.


(Originally published in

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