Did God know of future suffering and do nothing? By David Quintero

By David Quintero

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you came to birth I consecrated you.” — Jeremiah 1:5

Many people opposed to abortion and stem cell research quote this biblical passage from Jeremiah to defend their positions. Their goal is to convince people that God is referring to you and me — indeed, to everyone! They reason that because God knew everyone even before they were formed in the womb, it is wrong to prevent the further development of an embryo of someone whom God already knew as a fully developed human being, and who made that person sacred.

But the biblical passage continues: “I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
After this verse, it seems obvious that it isn’t you and me and everyone else whom God “knew” before he formed us in the womb. It was the prophet Jeremiah. It was he whom God knew and consecrated before he came to birth.

Even if the biblical explanation of those who favor unlimited births were true for everyone, not just Jeremiah, it would cast a shadow on God’s benevolence and omnipotence. Take into account, for instance, all the sadistic mass murderers who have tormented humanity. Did God know Attila the Hun, Nero, Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin before he formed them in the womb? Did he know Charles Manson? Did he know every serial murderer before they were born? If so, it seems perverse that he allowed such evildoers to come into the world.

The “pro-lifers” will remind me that my argument is faulty because God gave everyone the free will to choose good or evil. I will, in turn, remind them that since God knows everything, he knew beforehand that the evil ones would choose to be evil with their free will.

Consider also that millions of individuals are born blind, deaf, armless, legless, deformed, paralyzed or in other ways deprived of normal faculties. Sure, many of these people have heroically overcome their disabilities — Helen Keller is probably the foremost example of such an extraordinary triumph.

Nevertheless, would we choose to have children so severely deprived only so they could surmount their handicaps? Would we ourselves choose to be severely deprived so that we could have the opportunity to overcome our misfortune?

I don’t think we need to ponder that very long. I do believe, however, that God is sadistic if he “knew” those embryos in the womb and was aware of their future suffering and did nothing about it.

Those who believe in God’s perfect goodness will condemn my sacrilege for writing this, and remind me that we worthless humans can never come close to understanding his mysterious ways.

Why then, if I can never come close to understanding God’s mysterious ways, should I waste time and energy to even try? It’s far better that I try to understand what is within the reach of my intelligence.

Therefore, I choose reason, not faith, to guide my thinking and my actions. If, as a result of this choice, God condemns me to eternal damnation, he will have to bear the blame. After all, before he formed me in the womb, he knew me.

FFRF member David Quintero earned an undergraduate degree at Cal State and has had more than 300 of his opinions printed in various publications.

Freedom From Religion Foundation