Friday, February 22, 2008

The Lust For Blood: The Culture of Death and Infanticide

I have said several times before that our culture of death doesn't stop at abortion or even at euthanasia. As we all know, many seek to add ways to increase the rate of abortion and euthanasia and describe such acts as acts of compassion and mercy. Well, now, there is a growing trend in infanticide. That is, the killing of infants after they are born. The main reasons to kill such an infant is simple: they are life not worthy of life.

Sounds like Hitler. Of course, we're more sophisticated. How dare I say such a thing? The difference is that we don't want people living who might be a burden upon us (...maybe not so different after all). Read the following article concerning this trend towards infanticide. And our culture will not stop here. We thirst for blood, and now we are seeking our young ones.

Support for infanticide is becoming positively trendy. Where once support for killing babies born with birth defects was a fringe belief, it became respectable—even mainstream—after doctors from Groningen University Medical Center in the Netherlands admitted in 2004 that they euthanized dying and profoundly disabled babies under the terms of what has come to be called the "Groningen Protocol." The Protocol permits doctors to lethally inject three categories of sick or disabled newborn infants:

  • The baby has no chance of survival (which is sometimes misdiagnosed)
  • The baby "may survive after a period of intensive treatment but expectation for their future are very grim" or,
  • The baby does "not depend on technology for physiologic stability" but whose "suffering is severe, sustained, and cannot be alleviated."

This means that not only are dying babies lethally injected, but also babies with serious disabilities who do not need intensive care. When news of the Protocol broke into the American newspaper, some of the most prestigious newspapers and professional journals leapt to its defense. Unsurprisingly, the charge was led by Princeton University's utilitarian bioethicist Peter Singer, who defended the Protocol in the Los Angeles Times, equating lethally injecting babies with withdrawing life-sustaining treatment—even though some of the babies killed under Groningen did not require intensive care.

On March 19, 2005, The New York Times carried a highly sympathetic report about the Protocol, A Crusade Born of a Suffering Infant's Cry, a puff profile of one of the leaders of the Dutch infanticide movement, Dr. Eduard Verhagen, "a father of three who spent years tending to sick children in underdeveloped countries." The article laments, "For his efforts to end what he calls their unbearable and incurable suffering, Dr. Verhagen has been called Dr. Death, a second Hitler and worse — mostly by American opponents of euthanasia." Poor baby.

On March 10, 2005, the New England Journal of Medicine lent its prestige to two Dutch doctors, allowing them to explain dispassionately to Journal readers how the Groningen Protocol seeks "to develop norms" for infanticide. Contrast this travesty with "Medical Science Under Dictatorship", a 1949 NEJM article by Dr. Leo Alexander, who investigated the medical crimes of the Holocaust at Nuremberg and who warned presciently:

Whatever proportions these crimes [euthanasia of the disabled in Germany] finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitudes of physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude basic to the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived.

And now in "Ending the Life of a Newborn," the Hastings Center Report —the most important bioethics journal in the world—has just published another pro Groningen Protocol article, granting even greater support for Dutch infanticide among the bioethics intelligentsia. Not only do the authors, a Dutch and an American bioethicist, support lethally injecting dying babies, but also those who are disabled, writing, "Critics charge that the protocol does not successfully identify which babies will die. But it is precisely those babies who could continue to live, but whose lives would be wretched in the extreme, who stand in most need of the interventions for which the protocol offers guidance."

The article assumes that guidelines will protect against abuse, but infanticide is by definition abuse. Moreover, even if undertaken in good faith, Dutch euthanasia guidelines for adults and teenagers have continually been violated without legal consequence for decades, and so why would any rational observer expect anything different from infanticide regulations? Even the authors understand that mistakes will happen and, typical of the mindset, assume that if murder of the helpless is committed in front of an open window it is somehow more acceptable:

Determining in an instant case whether the protocol is applicable will always require judgment, and because the stakes are inordinately high no matter what is decided, the judgment must be made with fear and trembling. That said, however, we believe that transparency in the deliberations concerning the ending of an infant's life--which is just as important as it is in the deliberations concerning euthanasia in adults--is adequately promoted by the protocol's requirements.

It wasn't many years ago that almost everyone accepted that infanticide is intrinsically and inherently wrong. Clearly, this is no longer true. With growth of personhood theory that denies the intrinsic value of human life, and with the invidiously discriminatory "quality of life" ethic permeating the highest levels of the medical and bioethical thinking, we are moving toward a medical system in which babies are put down like dogs and killing is redefined as a caring act.

But bigotry is bigotry and murder is murder—even if you spell it c.o.m.p.a.s.s.i.o.n.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Colson: Wiring and Switches

Here is a great commentary by Chuck Colson, head of Prison Fellowship, concerning evolution and morality.

Ten years ago, evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker offered a Darwinian explanation for infanticide. Pinker wrote, “A new mother will first coolly assess the infant and her situation and only in the next few days begin to see it as a unique and wonderful individual.”

This nonsense prompted the late journalist Michael Kelly to reply, “Yes, that was my wife all over: cool as a cucumber as she assessed whether to keep her first-born child or toss him out the window.”

Pinker, the celebrated Harvard professor and science popularizer, is still at it, and the results are no less nonsensical.

In a recent New York Times Magazine article titled, “The Moral Instinct,” he gave a Darwinian account for what Nietzsche called the “genealogy of morals.”

Pinker characterized both the “content” of our “moral judgments” and the “way we arrive at them” as “often questionable.” Far from being the product of reason, much less divine revelation, morality is an “an abstract spec sheet” that has been hardwired into our brains by evolution, as if senses could be hardwired by a random process.

But according to Pinker, this “spec sheet” is the source of such universal human moral concerns as not doing harm, being fair, and altruism. Somewhere in what is called the “environment of original adaptation,” these behaviors gave our ancestors an advantage in the struggle for survival.

This leads Pinker, like other Darwinians, to redefine altruism and fairness as little more than enlightened “self-interest.” We are generous toward others because evolution has “taught” us that this is the best way to ensure their generosity toward us. What we call “fairness” is really an unwritten pact not to cheat each other and, thus, promote social harmony and community.

The problem with these superficially plausible explanations is that real human beings, as opposed to theoretical ones, do not live this way. If altruism is “hardwired,” many people are poorly wired, indeed: They are stingy and cheat their neighbors with regularity.

Other people are profoundly generous, not only to their friends and family, but also to complete strangers. They are willing to make do with less and even go without, to help others in need. And they would much rather suffer an injustice than commit one.

It is not that these people are unaware of the advantages to be gained from being selfish and unfair—it is that their morality is rooted in something that enables them to be good, even when being good comes at a cost.

Because Pinker fails to describe people as they really are, he does not answer the question, “Why be good?” Why be generous or honest when all the incentives point the other way? Why give your life for someone else? His utilitarianism can neither compel nor inspire people to go beyond self-interest.

To do that, you need the Christian account. What Pinker calls “hardwiring” is what we call being created in the image of God. Since we know that this life is not all there is, we can transcend self-interest.

Without these, we have only morality as a “spec sheet” and humans as moral calculators. As Kelly put it, quoting Orwell, “You have to be an intellectual to believe such nonsense. No ordinary man could be such a fool.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obsess Much?: Understanding Our Cultures Obsession With Sex

In his remarkable book, "What's So Great About Christianity?" Dinesh D'Souza argues that like Protestant Christians, secularism has two sacraments. The first is the orgasm. The culture will do everything it can to hold on to this sacred ornament. To challenge it is to challenge their greatest desires and identity. This explains much of what is going on in our culture now. Almost every major debate taking place is concerning the issue of sex.

The orgasm means liberation, in terms of our culture. Secularist define freedom as liberation from orthodoxy, not freedom from tyranny. In fact, by viewing the track record of liberals in the West, it seems that they believe it takes tyranny in order to bring about liberation. Thus, Christians are shunned, no one is allowed to be against homosexuality in the public square, and orthodoxy is quited.

The second ornament is the result of the first: abortion. One cannot truly be liberated unless they are free from consequences. Therefore, abortion on demand, with or without parental consent, is imperative. It doesn't matter whether or not it is a human life being lost, what is important is that the consequences and dangers of the first sacrament are removed.

This is why our culture is likewise vehement against anyone who challenges the ethics of abortion. To the pro-deather (as I like to call them), abortion isn't about ethics or right and wrong, but rather about liberation from consequences.

This helps explain the article from the Telegraph where the government (in Britian) is proposing to teach "safe" sex to 9 years olds! Britian has also sought to give 5 years olds in sex education! This should not surprise us. Liberation from consequences and the ograsm means that even our young ones should be exposed to such freedom. This should not be controversial, they argue, but should be expected. We must prepare our young ones for the culture they live in (rather, we created), they argue.

This also explains why the proposed teaching abstinence along with safe sex is rejected. It goes against the very religion of secularism. This is essentially the equilavent of our culture telling us not to observe baptism. We would likewise be outraged. To teach young one's not to have sex is outrageous and must be rejected. So, though our culture prides itself on teaching students various theories and ideas and letting them pick, they are quick to ban the teaching of abstinence and intelligent design. Why? Because it challenges everything they believe. It is an assault on their faith.
Take Yale University for example. This week marks "sex week" on campus. During this week, students will be exposed to pornogaphy, tips on better sex, how to have safe sex, the importance of sex, homosexuality, alternative sexual lifestyles, etc. This is a celebration in their eyes. Though it seems grotesque to us, it is the natural outflow of the secularist lifestyle.

Here is my problem with sex education: it should be the parents job. Why? Because school should be about education of facts, not theories, and should have nothing to do with morality. Why is it that parents wouldn't want some stranger to teach their children about sex and other moral issues, and yet they hand such responsibility over to the goverment.

John Dewey's hope of creating a secular society apart from a childs "brainwashing" of their parents is quickly being realized. Dewey wanted to take children out of the control of their parents and train them to be secular. The medium for such secularization of children was the public school.

This is exactly what we should expect from a secular society running a public school system. A secular organization will teach and proclaim a secular message.

So, parents of 9 year olds, sex education may be coming to a school near you. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to simply let such a secular organization brainwash your children and let the cultural norm shape their sexuality, or are you going to do something about it? God has given such a role of education, morality, and sexuality to the parents, not culture, not society, not government, and certainly not pagan secularist!

Colson: In Praise of PETA

This is an excellent commentary by Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, concerning PETA, Darwin Day, and evolution. I highly recommend everyone read it. Colson makes some good points that explains why PETA even exists and why they believe what they believe. We have pointed some of these things out before, but it is important to hear them again.

It has taken me a long time to get to this point, but I am finally ready to praise People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or as they are more commonly known, PETA. This organization really gets it when it comes to worldview. In fact, PETA accepts and follows the logical consequences of a worldview better than almost any other group I can think of.

Let me explain.

Today is Darwin Day, the 199th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. The Darwin Day Celebration website explains that Darwin Day “is an international celebration of science and humanity.” The site suggests that we hold “civic ceremonies with official proclamations, educational symposia, birthday parties, art shows, book discussions, lobby days, games, protests, and dinner parties.”

If you think that sounds a little excessive, you ain’t seen nothing yet. As Regis Nicoll wrote on our blog, The Point, next year will be proclaimed “the year of Darwin” to celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday. British organizations are planning an “Evolution Megalab” to teach visitors of all ages how to “see evolution at work in the natural world around them.” And that will be just one of “an unequalled spate of high-profile broadcasting and public events throughout the world.”

Here’s where PETA comes in. PETA was celebrating Darwin Day long before there was an official Darwin Day. You can see it in everything it does—from its ads comparing the slaughter of animals to the Holocaust, to PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk’s famous statement that “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”

What does that have to do with Darwinism? Everything. To a Darwinist, you see, there is no distinction between human beings and animals. We all came about by chance; we are made of the same “stuff,” and we all end up as nothing more than dust. Instead of recognizing humans as bearers of God’s image, Darwinism sees us as nothing more than competitively successful bipeds with opposable thumbs. Forget any talk of human dignity.

And that is exactly the worldview that PETA lives by. If Darwinism—which we teach in the schools—is true, then they are right: Slaughtering and eating animals is just as bad as the Holocaust. It is cannibalism. If Darwinism is true, then PETA was correct when it recently compared the American Kennel Club to the Ku Klux Klan for trying to create a “master race” of dogs. Charles Darwin and Ingrid Newkirk are so much on the same page that without Darwin, there could be no PETA. It is a perfect example of following a worldview to its logical conclusion.

You have gathered by now, I hope, that the first part of this commentary was satirical. But it is no joke that the kind of thinking I am describing is exactly what the Darwinian worldview can lead to. Darwin Day is not really about parties and science fairs; it is about a total loss of moral transcendence and the loss of dignity of human life.

And the real tragedy is that people like PETA are more faithful in following their worldview than many Christians are in following ours. Christians who buy into Darwinian evolution need to understand what they are really saying: that their God considers them of no more value than a rat, or a pig, or a dog.