The Not So Miraculous Miracle of Birth

Miracles happen every day! Or in the case of childbirth, 4.3 times per second

Meme courtesy of http://www.quickmeme.com/

So, one pervasive feature of our child-worshiping culture is this notion of “The Miracle of Birth” which quickly transitions into children themselves being miracles. I’m kind of a stickler for defining terms and then not letting people redefine them for their own purposes. Ask Amy how asshole-ish I can be about this.

Miracle Defined

As I was saying, more or less, words are pretty much useless if everyone gets to define them however they want. So let’s see how an authority on words – in this case Merriam-Webster – defines our term of the day:

mir·a·cle noun \ˈmir-i-kəl\

1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs

2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

3: Christian Science : a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law

Analysis: The Miracle of Birth & Children as Miracles

1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs

This definition is all about intervention in the natural order by a higher power; a “Moses parting the Red Sea” kind of miracle. Now, as an atheist, I don’t buy into this kind of miracle except in comic books and fantasy novels. I don’t think god stopped the sun and the moon so that Joshua could finish smiting his enemies in good light anymore than I think Gandalf whipped a Balrog’s ass.

Now that I think about it, I have actually seen Gandalf whip a Balrog’s ass. 2 points for Gandalf, 0 for Moses.

Anyway, I don’t think it really matters whether you’re religious or not. It seems to me that we can safely say that God/Yahweh/Allah/Parvati/Priapus/Frigg is not behind the 4.3 births per second. If s/he is, s/he’s a busy beaver.

I do like picturing god as a beaver…or beaver as a god.

2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

Moving on, the second definition is the secularized version of a miracle. This definition speaks only to rarity and/or unlikeliness; It does not invoke the supernatural. This is getting closer, however, childbirth and children fail on the whole rarity/unlikeliness thing. As mentioned above, there are 4.3 births per second. That’s 134,028,000 per year.

Let’s put this in perspective. You’ve got a friend that’s really excited about an event that we’ll call “x“. Your friend calls you up, super excited, and says:

“You’ve got to see x! You really don’t want to miss x! If you miss x, you’ll only have 134,027,999 chances to see x again…this year! 

In the time it took your friend to enunciate this information x has occurred approximately 34-35 times. If you missed all of those instances of x, you will then be forced to wait a whopping less than a 1/4 second for another instance.

3: Christian Science : a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law

The third definition… hmmm. I think we’re in the realm of “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin” here. “Christian Science” is an oxymoron, isn’t it? I mean, check out this guy! Humans and dinosaurs, living in peace and harmony! Velociraptors and Tyranosaurs eating grass and fruit with all those sharp teeth!

I know, I know… Ken Ham is not a Christian Scientist but actual Christian Scientists are equally bonkers. They believe things like illness and death are just a state of mind. Their anti-vaccination stance leads to the crippling and death of their own children, not to mention the threat this holds for the rest of us. These beliefs would be funny if they weren’t so dangerous.

Anyway, this definition can just be thrown out by anyone not a Christian Scientist which, statistically speaking, is everyone.

Conclusion: Childbirth/Children NOT Miracles

So definition 1 and 3 can be tossed as irrelevant and it’s pretty clear, at least to me, that childbirth and having children does not meet the one remaining definition.

The Miracle of Roach Birth! From buzzfeed.com http://bit.ly/1ch5NGv

There are other reasons to rid ourselves of the miracle of birth notion. I mean the act of conception, birth, and the resulting offspring are in no way different for humans than they are for most other animals on the planet. In spite of that, very few people – other than an entomologist I know – would point at a newly born pile of cockroaches and exclaim “What a miracle!” They’d be too busy rummaging under the kitchen sink for that bottle of Raid.

I am not saying that (human) children aren’t special. I think they are very special. They deserve loving homes, appropriate care, and the chance to thrive.

Just like every other human on the planet.

Now, for your moment of zen, a song about a real miracle…me. 🙂 Cheers!

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8 Responses to The Not So Miraculous Miracle of Birth

  1. Cecilly October 2, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Exactly! All they are doing is changing the meaning of the word which does happen sometimes. But then miracle will come to mean something quite common and a new word will have to be made to replace it. In the meantime, I think it’s a miracle that I am going to have spaghetti for dinner tonight!

  2. Banner September 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Glad I’m not alone!

  3. KD August 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    I will never forgive you for the roach birth photo. I shall have nightmares.

    • Lance August 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

      Sorry bout that! 😛

  4. Sylvia D. Lucas August 30, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Along these lines, people say, “Don’t you want to contribute something (a child) to the world? Someone who can be a positive force?” My response to that is, “If people have children to contribute something positive, that must be what my parents did when they had me. So, I’m being that positive force they brought into the world. That is my contribution.”

    • Lance August 30, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      Isn’t the implication that you need to have children that will be a positive force in order to offset the negative force which, presumably, came from someone else’s children?

      I guess no one thinks their little Anakin will turn into a Sith Lord.

      • Ann July 8, 2015 at 11:26 am #

        I love you.

    • Banner September 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      I find that to be an annoying view too. Everyone seems to think THEIR child is going to be the one to “change the world.” It’s ridiculous because statistically, your child is more likely to end up being in jail than being a Nobel Prize winner.

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