Life Unworthy of Life: Part 3

In the last couple of episodes I demonstrated how using the same logic used to justify abortion, even early term abortion, can be used to justify infanticide.  In Part 1 it became clear that our reasons for justifying abortion are merely our own personal opinions.  People already choose to end pregnancies because of financial or personal hardship type reasons.  Even in cases where a couple would like a baby, it’s clear they’re ending pregnancies because they’re not the right kind of baby.  We tell ourselves it’s okay to end these pregnancies because fetuses may be human, but they aren’t persons.

In Part 2 it was obvious that this same line of reasoning can be used to justify infanticide, that is, killing babies that have already been born.  A recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics uses a well-reasoned argument that if fetuses are not persons, that newborn babies are not persons either.  Personally, I believe the same logic that allows killing of newborns in this article, also easily extends to places like Alzheimer’s patients.  Moreover, our self-granted philosophy of defining personhood however we please essentially grants us the permission to destroy or save whatever life we see fit.  Absent of the recognition of the intrinsic value of human life, it’s up to society to decide which life is most worth keeping.  One might say, for instance, a newborn baby is just a burden, while no expense must be spared to save a dolphin.  PETA will be thrilled with the implications!  Actually, they already are.

Last month, around the same time as the publishing of the JME article, some philosophers were meeting in Canada to gauge support for a “Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans“.   Essentially, they’d like to get the same rights for dolphins and whales as humans.  The line of reasoning that gets them there is that since cetaceans have critical thinking skills and self-awareness, just like people, that they should be treated like people.  Rightly so, based on what we’ve witnessed in the last two posts.  If you believe that people have no intrinsic value, granted them by their Creator, then there is no reason that you should think a dolphin, a dog, or a salamander should have any more value than a human being.  On that worldview, that’s just a form of racism known a speciesism.  Without a soul, you’re no better or valuable than the family cat.

This sickens me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love animals.  Quite honestly I find nature to be one of the best evidences for an intelligent Creator, and as such the Creation of such a Being ought to be protected.  In fact, God gave man dominion over every living thing (Genesis 1:26), but David tells us that it is all just on loan to us and rightly belongs to God (Psalm 24:1).  It is, therefore, my responsibility to protect animal life to the best of my ability which may, indeed, mean supporting some laws that protect non-human life.  Animals are here for the enjoyment of people, but needlessly killing or abusing animals is morally perverse.

However, where we’ve come to as a society, is madness upon madness.  For us to accept the killing of newborn human babies because they don’t qualify as persons, and at the same time lobby for granting non-human animals personhood, is ludicrous.  People are people, and animals are animals.  We must realize the error of this logic, or we’re doomed to destroy both ourselves and the rest of nature with our stupidity.  My only hope is that once we decide the dolphins and whales have the right to vote, that they’ll make better judgements.

I leave you with the following statement that I heard somewhere to sum up this series of posts (emphasis mine).  Please keep in mind, that without the “Creator” part, the “unalienable rights” are not possible.  For it is only in the context of a Giver of Rights existing beyond space and time, that unalienable rights become possible.  If I’m simply a product of time and chance, I have no rights, nor does any other animal.  Forced into that context, we’re all just accidental nature coming from nowhere, going to nowhere, with no purpose, and certainly no rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Life Unworthy of Life: Part 2

The other day I laid out my objection to the ruling in Oregon which gave $3 million to a couple who sued a hospital because they weren’t given a proper opportunity to abort the daughter who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.  This sort of case is known as a “wrongful birth” lawsuit.  Further, I drew the appalling conclusion that this is headed toward the same thinking that led Adolf Hitler to began euthanizing mentally and physically handicapped people in the late 1930’s.  We define what we think valuable human life is, and what useless human life is, and we surgically remove the useless.  Dramatic comparison?  No.  It’s not.

Now for the horrifying part.  Last month in the Journal of Medical Ethics an article was published by a pair of ethicists who argued for something called “after-birth” abortion.  Before getting into their conclusions and the implications, let’s understand what an ethicist is.  As defined by Wikipedia, the ethicist is, “one whose judgment on ethics and ethical codes has come to be trusted by a specific community, and (importantly) is expressed in some way that makes it possible for others to mimic or approximate that judgement.”  Basically, these are supposedly the folks in the medical community that are evaluating society and deciding what is right and wrong, and then making recommendations to us as to how we ought to live morally.

With that established, let’s look at some of what they have to say.  The article begins with the abstract which basically lays out the conclusion that fetuses and newborns have no moral status, it doesn’t matter that fetuses and newborns are “potential” persons, and therefore it is permissible to kill both fetuses and newborns in any situation where abortion is valid.  See the scope creep from abortion to infanticide?

How could a sane person even arrive at this conclusion you might ask.  Surely they must have stringent guidelines on what would make killing newborns permissible, right?  Wrong!  The authors trudge their way through euthanasia of infants because of “severe abnormalities”, risk both psychological and physical to the mother, and on into simple social distress and monetary concerns.  All of these things, they argue, are reasons for having an abortion, and are therefore sound reason for killing babies.  They reason as follows, “the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion. Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”  Concluding, “If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.”

I personally cannot even fathom how this kind of thinking can occur outside of a mental institution or prison, but there you have it, folks.  Moral relativity at its finest.  In the absence of an objective moral Law Giver, we become the creators of morality as it suits us.  We’re gradually using Hitler’s logic to conclude that if people get in our way, we have the right to kill them.  Sadly, I think we have one up on the Third Reich here.  Hitler carried out his murders of societies most vulnerable individuals systematically, carefully, and quietly under the fog of war, with the knowledge and support of only a few.  However, we’re coming right out and justifying it in academic journals!  Using the only logic that subjective morality provides, we have no reason not to kill anybody that is lowering our perceived quality of life based on our own materialism:  children, mentally handicapped people, physically disabled people, and elderly people will all be expendable.

I don’t care if you lean left, right, center, up, or down:  Open your eyes to the obvious.  This is madness!  Understand it is the logic of allowing ourselves to be the ones to define what a “person” is that does not prevent us from proceeding down these perilous roads.  We’re taking away the special intrinsic value of being human.  I will say it again.  If we are simple nature, there’s no reason the conclusion that it is okay to kill babies to save a few bucks is not perfectly sound reasoning.  Nor should I have any reason not to kill my neighbor and steal his stuff if I can do it without getting caught.  Nature commits similar tragedies all the time, and on what grounds is it any different for humans if we’re just nature?  It is only if there is an objective moral foundation designed into the universe by something outside of the universe that there can be any limit to the exercising of our own twisted opinions or desires.

Please think long and hard about where this line of reasoning is taking us.  Is anything grounding your current system of morality?  Is there anything off-limits besides what society says is off limits, or what you yourself say is off-limits?  If it is legal in the eyes of the courts, does that by its very nature make something morally acceptable?  If that is the case, then nothing is off-limits.

You can read the entire article from the Journal of Medical Ethics called “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” if you want all the horrific reasoning.

It won’t be long before we place higher value on animals than we do on people.  Think I’m wrong about that too?  I’m not done yet.

Life Unworthy of Life: Part 1

Honestly, I’m not even sure where to start with this one, so I’ll start this way…Adolf Hitler would be proud.  “Pffft,” you might say, “quit being so overly dramatic!”  I wish I were.  The fact is though, that the objective morality that gives intrinsic value to humanity is being rapidly and systematically suppressed.  Understand that, on my view of morality, you can never get rid of it because it is, in fact, objective.  Moral Law is as built into the universe by the hand of God every bit as much as other abstract laws such as math and physics are.  I get ahead of myself though.  To understand where I’m going with this, let’s begin with a brief history lesson.

Sometime around 1939 Adolf Hitler began the “Action T4” program.  The T4 program called for the euthenasia of people deemed in German “lebensunwertes Leben”.  In English, “life unworthy of life”.  According to Hitler’s brand of morality, it was better for society to be rid of any human being that was sub-standard.  Who would decide the standard?  Well, the Third Reich of course.  It started with physically and mentally handicapped people and eventually led to the mass extermination of the Jews.  Along the way it included torture of some individuals in the name of science.  The Nazi’s wanted to know things such as how long a person could survive in sub-freezing temperatures before they would die, or how long a baby could go without eating before it would die.  It was Hitler’s practice of social Darwinism that allowed the Nazis to value some human beings as refuse, and not people.

What does that have to do with us today?  In 1973 with Roe Vs Wade the Supreme Court ruled that the existing state bans on abortion were unconstitutional, because we aren’t in a position to decide when life begins.  This, I believe, is intellectually dishonest.  Everybody knows that “life”, all the way down to the most basic organism, is life.  In fact, evolutionary biologists would say that all of “life” began as a single-celled organism.  Going by that definition of “life”, there’s no doubt that even the earliest embryo is life.  What the court has really allowed is the freedom for us to make our own determination of what is a human being and what is not.  They effectively said that we the people have the right to decide which life is a person, and so it is of value, and which is not.  We get to decide which is “life unworthy of life”.

Now, this part is critical.  This logic allows us, unquestionably fallible human beings, to decide which other life is considered a person, and which is not.  On what will we base this decision?  I say what defines a person, literally, is the information contained in their DNA.  It not only says what a person is, it says who a person is.  It says I am not only a human being, but that I am a different human being from you.  This new DNA that is the program for a new unique human person, is created at conception.  Perhaps you disagree.  Perhaps you say, DNA is not enough.  You think there ought to be a heart beat.  But wait, somebody else thinks that until that mass of “life” reaches some other arbitrary stage of development prior to birth, it isn’t a person yet.  Maybe you even think that it isn’t a person until such time as it draws its first breath, so as long as you extinguish it prior to that time, you’ve not killed a person.  I can’t understand why we can’t all see this logical slippery slope.

This is essentially the same logical moral quagmire that led to the mass extermination of handicapped people and Jews in Nazi Germany.  It’s seems shocking, but I’ve decided it’s shock makes it no less true.  What keeps me from saying that I don’t think a mentally handicapped human being is a real person?  What about a physically handicapped person?  Moreover, for what reasons am I allowed to choose to end it’s life, whether it be a person or not.  It seems we do it mostly for our own convenience.  That’s why Hitler did it.  He wanted a stronger society.  Why shouldn’t he?  What if a human being is born that I simply find inconvenient.  Why can’t I kill it if I get to decide which person has value, or which person is even a person at all.  In our self-proclaimed infinite wisdom, which we’ve stolen from God, where do we draw the line?

You think this is overly dramatic?  You may have heard that last Friday an Oregon couple was awarded a $2.9 million dollar “wrongful birth” lawsuit against the hospital where their daughter was born.  The crime?  The hospital had done genetic testing and ensured the couple the baby was healthy.  Unfortunately though, the hospital made a mistake, and the baby was born with Down syndrome.  The couple’s complaint was that they would have aborted the baby had they known its condition.  We’ve previously decided we’re qualified to make the decision to end life at various stages when it is inconvenient to us in general.  We’ve now decided that one of those good reasons is that a mentally handicapped human being is the one encoded in the womb.  Further, we’ve decided that if we don’t like the hand we’ve been dealt, it is valid to forcibly hold somebody else financially responsible.  I just hope this child is mentally handicapped enough that she will never understand how, from her conception, she isn’t able to meet her expectations of what a human person ought to be according to her parents.

Where does it end?  I guarantee you this isn’t going anywhere good.  How long before we decide we don’t want to pay for the Down syndrome baby when there is a mistake in the testing?  Why should our healthcare costs be driven up by these litigious people?  Shouldn’t we make it legal for parents to terminate that life without prejudice as soon as they find out a child is mentally or physically handicapped after birth since it isn’t a real person anyway?  Perhaps we’ll lobby for a law that the state demand it so society doesn’t have to bear the cost?  This is the relativistic morality of scientific naturalism at its finest.  We’ve decided to pitch God from the equation and use science and politics to replace Him because we fancy ourselves so much better off as pure nature.

Please wake up.  I know I’ve already said this, but in the absence of a foundation for objective morality, there is no right and there is no wrong.  They don’t exist.  We create them as we please.  Hitler was just nature doing what nature does, which is fend for itself.  Survival of the fittest.  Just like Nietzsche said, the strong should dominate the weak.  That’s just the way nature works.  We have no grounds to claim anything anybody does is wrong.  I think we all know this is false inside of us, but we’ve decided to quit listening to our pesky conscience.  Suppressing morality does not make it go away.  However, the more we do wrong, the easier it becomes, and the easier it is to do things even more wrong.  Still though, objective evil is reamains no matter how self-deluded we become!  We must all start looking for it soon.  If we don’t, will it be long before we proceed with the unjustified killing of any person that we consider sub-standard, or any child that simply cramps our style, regardless of age?  The current line of naturalistic logic won’t disallow it.  In fact, it’s already taken the next step.

Think I’m wrong?  I haven’t even come to the most horrifying part yet. (Part 2)

Do I Know What I Barf?

I sit in a chair at Peace Portal Alliance Church in Surrey, BC. I know this chair won’t collapse and leave me on the ground. Can I prove it? No. I can’t. Does this mean I can’t know it, and trust it to be a true description of reality? Absolutely not. I can know all sorts of things I cannot “prove”.

Last night I listened to philosopher Dr JP Moreland speak on the subject of knowledge and worldviews. He made some excellent points about what constitutes sound knowledge. He started by pointing out what truth and belief are. Truth, he says is the relationship of correspondence between a belief and reality. Belief, he says, is something that you take to be true with between 51% and 100% certainty.

This makes perfect sense. Notice that I live my daily life mostly on belief of things that I may not take to be 100% true. For instance, I can’t believe with 100% certainty that this chair won’t collapse on me, but I here I sit anyway, because I don’t need to remove every potential empirical obstacle to believing it will hold me before I believe it with enough truth to live my life as if my belief corresponds with reality.

This is how we make most decisions in our lives. To require absolute empirical “proof” prior to asserting something as true, that is I believe I’ve discovered the affirmative relationship of my belief to reality with reasonable certainty, is absurd. Nobody lives that way.

I believe with reasonable certainty that this chair will hold me throughout the day, and so I will live my life as if my belief corresponds with reality.

Mitt Romney Makes Me Barf

I’m currently reading a book called Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air. In it, Greg Koukl and Frank Beckwith offer a discussion of how we seem to have nothing grounding our morality anymore.  One of the ways this has manifest itself, is the public school system and universities teaching something called “values clarification” (which I’ll have to barf up another day).  So this morning I ask my 7th grade daughter if she’s ever heard this sort of terminology pop-up.  I figure it would probably work its way into politically correct discussions in “wellness” class or something.  “No,” says my daughter, “but my social studies teacher told us that Mormons are Christians yesterday.”  I nearly had a conniption.  Apparently somebody is getting their view of religious differences from mass media, secularists, and relativists who essentially take the position that all religions are the same.  Nonsense.

Historically, a “Christian” is somebody who believes Jesus was God incarnate, and who is assumed to be the Messiah predicted in the pages of the Old Testament.  Further, the Christian hopes to model his life after the teachings set forth by Jesus and his apostles.  A “Christian” is not just somebody who believes there was a guy named Jesus.  Even a lot of secularists will concede the historical point that a man named Jesus existed, but they most certainly won’t claim to be Christians.  For the below, we’ll assume that a Christian could be described as a “follower of Christ”.  Mormons do not fit this description.  Rather than sticking with orthodox Christian theology, they follow a line of false prophets who have amended doctrine on a whim as it has suited them through history.  Now, Mormons may claim Christianity for themselves, but I can call myself the King of England and that doesn’t make it so.  If I were to make that claim, one ought to look into what it means to be a King of England.  Even just a surface examination shows Mormon theology does not match Christian theology.

To begin with though, Mormonism is destroyed by its history before you ever even get to its theology, and this is relatively modern history so you don’t have to go back very far.  Jesus is spoken highly of by ancient historians like Josephus, the biblical record itself, and you can find no account to the contrary.  Unlike Jesus though, the “prophet” Joseph Smith Jr was a man of ill repute.  Before Smith supposedly began having visions around 1820 and translating his alleged golden tablets in 1827, he had a habit of digging for buried treasure by means of “peep stones” or “divining rods”.  However, the God of the Judeo-Christian texts takes a very dim view of this sort of practice (Deut 18:10).  Joseph Smith later denied his involvement in such practices, but cannot escape it as historical fact.  Even Smith’s own mother explains a story of how a fellow, “came for Joseph on account of having heard that he possessed certain means by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye”.

A gentleman named E.D. Howe, who researched Joseph Smith’s past while he was still alive, acquired a statement that was signed by sixty-two residents of Palmyra, New York where Smith grew up.  It is interesting to note that there does not exist any testimony by people who knew the Smith family well which opposes the below characterization.

“We, the undersigned, have been acquainted with the Smith family for a number of years, while they resided near this place, and we have no hesitation in saying that we consider them destitute of that moral character which ought to entitle them to the confidence of any community. They were particularly famous for visionary projects; spent much of their time in digging for money which they pretended was hid in the earth, and to this day large excavations may be seen in the earth, not far from their residence, where they used to spend their time in digging for hidden treasures. Joseph Smith, Sr., and his son Joseph were, in particular, considered entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.” (E.D. Howe, Mormonism Unveiled, p.261)

Further, Joseph Smith claims in his book “The Pearl of Great Price” that his colleague, Martin Harris, took partial copies of his “golden tablets” to a professor at Columbia University, Charles Anthon, who supposedly authenticated the Egyptian hieroglyphic characters.  However, when Professor Anthon was contacted to confirm this story, he wrote back the following (E.D. Howe, Mormonism Unveiled):

New York, Feb. 17, 1834

Dear Sir:

I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant, and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics” is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain, and apparently simple-hearted farmer, called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to decypher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax. When I asked the person, who brought it, how he obtained the writing, he gave me, as far as I can now recollect, the following account: A “gold book,” consisting of a number of plates of gold, fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and along with the book an enormous pair of “gold spectacles“! These spectacles were so large, that, if a person attempted to look through them, his two eyes would have to be turned towards one of the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the plates through the spectacles, was enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge, however, was confined at that time to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm house, and, being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses, decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain, to those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the plates having been decyphered “by the gift of God.” Every thing, in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the “golden book,” the contents of which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned, I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him. This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calender given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember that the paper contained any thing else but “Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” Some time after, the same farmer paid me a second visit. He brought with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale. I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery which had been in my opinion practised upon him, and asked him what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go to a magistrate and have the trunk examined. He said the “curse of God” would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he told me that he would open the trunk, if I would take the “curse of God” upon myself. I replied that I would do so with the greatest willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature, provided I could only extricate him from the grasp of rogues. He then left me.

I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics.

Yours respectfully, Charles Anthon

We could talk about how the tablets were supposedly translated by Smith who heard directly from God, repeated by his various assistants, and then finally copied down to ensure the accuracy of God’s words being recorded, yet future revisions were made by the LDS church to remove or correct various untenable parts (I guess God must have been mistaken on some parts of the translation in the first go-round).  We could talk about how Joseph Smith could never get his story straight, doing things like mixing up the seemingly important name of the angel that supposedly visited him (Moroni or Nephi) in separate publications.  We could talk about numerous crazy quotations by Smith like, “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.”  We could talk about how the Book of Mormon plagiarizes the Book of Isaiah word for word, or how Mormonism can’t decide between monotheism and polytheism let alone monogamy and polygamy.  However, we don’t need to talk about those things, even though there’s so much more that can be said, but perhaps another day.

The fact is the Mormon church is built on occult practices (Deut 18:10), lies (Col 3:9-10), false prophecy (Matt 7:15), and the pursuit of money and power (2 Peter 2:1-3).  In order to subscribe to Mormon theology you have to be 1) intellectually dishonest and in it for the fame and fortune, or 2) uneducated and willing to let somebody else do all your thinking for you (in all fairness, I think a lot of Christians fall into this category too).  I can’t vote for a guy like Mitt Romney because I think he falls in camp number one and therefore he can’t be trusted (really, which politician can though).  I feel honestly bad for the people in camp 2, which is probably most Mormons.  I think they’re just being taken advantage of.  I can say that, for the most part, the Mormons I’ve met are super friendly, family oriented people with whom I have a lot in common.  I’ve recently had conversations with LDS missionaries on the street and they are, for the most part, nice kids that have just been trained not to think for themselves and move on when they get challenged.

Not only is Mormonism historically bankrupt, and although Mormons I’ve known tend to be upstanding folks, they do not embrace the doctrine set forth by the teaching of Jesus and/or the early church. Instead, Mormons make up their own as they go by following the teachings of demonstratively fallible modern men (aka “prophets”), therefore, they are not Christians.  I offered my daughter $5 to go back in and challenge her teacher on this ridiculous statement that was made as fact in a 7th grade social studies class.  She accepted the challenge which made her teacher turn to Wikipedia for an education on the basics of historical Christianity and Mormonism.  Maybe she’ll be properly informed the next time she decides to make such a bold claim.

Now I just have to come up with $5.