On February 11th, Ken Ham posted a two-minute audio snippet entitled "What Causes Birth Pains". Labor pain is a result of sin rather than evolution, he claimed.
"The Smithsonian Institute launched a human evolution traveling exhibit last year visited libraries across America. At one library, they had a lecture on why women have pain in childbirth when chimpanzees and bonobos don't. They claim it's due to our evolutionary heritage of walking upright and having bigger heads, but the Bible gives us the real answer. God originally created everything very good. There wasn't any suffering, pain, or death in the original creation, but Adam and Eve's sin changed everything. One consequence of sin was pain in childbirth. Women have a difficult time giving birth today because of sin and the curse, not because of some evolutionary story."As always, Ham is interpreting Genesis 3:16 as a literal account of history rather than a just-so story written by ancient men. To my surprise, other fundamentalist Christians agree with his claim that labor pain for women was God's response to Eve's transgression.
Even though Ham sees labor pains as a punishment inflicted on women for Eve's sin, his organization condoned the use of anesthesia during labor. A 2011 Answers in Genesis commentary piece argues that anesthesia is permissible during childbirth. The author, Elizabeth Mitchell, encourages communication and trust between a pregnant woman and her obstetrician regarding pain management during childbirth and supports patient empowerment.
The claim that labor pain is a punishment for Eve's sin is ridiculous for several reasons. First, there is no evidence that the Garden of Eden story in Genesis is historically accurate, and copious evidence that humans came about through evolution instead. Second, if a supreme being truly wanted women to suffer during childbirth, that being wouldn't have made labor pain so easy to circumvent through anesthesia and other medical interventions. Third, if God wanted to punish all women for Eve's sin, using labor pains as punishment excludes significant numbers of women who never give birth. Fourth, it would be unfair and pointless for God to punish billions of women for one woman's actions. Finally, women experience vastly different levels of severity of labor pain and postpartum pain, so why would the Almighty arbitrarily punish some women more than others?
Ham's labor pain argument is yet another example of the absurdities that result when one takes a collection of ancient stories literally.