Worldviews and Baby Killing

Do worldviews matter? You bet they do. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences. Bad worldviews lead to some very bad outcomes. Take but one example: infanticide. The ancients practiced it with impunity, but Jews and Christians strongly opposed the practice.

So much so that the practice was made illegal in the fourth century. That was because Christian influence had by then thoroughly permeated the Roman Empire. And yet our secularist buddies keep telling us how terrible it is when religion gets mixed with politics. There are millions of people who were spared infanticide who would very much disagree with this secularist nonsense.

So the old adage about bad trees and bad fruit is worth keeping in mind here. Some of the more consistent atheists such as Nietzsche recognised that Christian morality springs from Christian teaching. He knew that if you kill the beliefs, the ethics will soon give way as well. One commentator writing back in 1996 for First Things put it this way:

“In the nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzsche denounced the Victorians and ‘little moralistic females a la [George] Eliot’ as ‘English flatheads’ for thinking that they could preserve Christian morality without God. Nietzsche was no proponent of a Christian ethics, but he saw clearly that such ethics relies on the publicly held proposition of God’s existence. Neither Jews nor Christians have always lived up to their ethical systems, but the notion of reverence for individual lives is born (in the West at least) solely from a Judeo-Christian impulse.”

Dinesh D’Sousa picks up this idea in his 2007 volume, What’s So Great About Christianity?: “As secularism continues, Nietzsche forecasts that new values radically inconsistent with the Christian ones – the restoration of infanticide, demands for the radical redefinition of the family, the revival of eugenics theories of human superiority – will begin to emerge. These, too, are evident in our day. And they are some of the motives for attacking Christianity and insisting that its values are outmoded and should be replaced.”

So worldviews matter, and the consequences of bad worldviews are clearly evident. One overseas commentator has recently picked up this theme of infanticide and lousy worldviews. Wesley Smith notes that infanticide was quite common in pagan societies, with both Aristotle and Plato advocating the practice. But Jewish and Christian beliefs led to its demise in the West.

While we should all be grateful that the Judeo-Christian worldview helped put an end to this barbarism, unfortunately it is making a comeback in a largely secularised West. Says Smith:

“As the West loses some of its Biblical moral footing there is a new effort to decriminalize infanticide. In ancient Rome, babies born with disabilities or serious illnesses were often exposed on hills, a barbaric practice that was eventually stopped when (and because) Christianity became the Empire’s official religion. Alas, killing babies born with birth defects is making a comeback in our Post Christian times. Indeed, support for infanticide is not only gaining respectability among the bioethics and medical intelligentsia – it is becoming positively trendy.”

And of course a leading proponent of infanticide today is philosopher Peter Singer. The former Melbourne-based academic now lectures at Princeton in the US. He is a leading figure in the new movement to once again make infanticide acceptable. Indeed, “Singer deserves much of the blame for this change. Back when infanticide support was still an anathema, Singer began advocating for the right of parents to kill unwanted newborns. He didn’t put it that starkly, of course. He always used the example of babies born with serious disabilities such as Down syndrome.”

Notice the chilling, dehumanised way Singer advocated infanticide back in 1994: “Both for the sake of ‘our children,’ then, and for our own sake, we may not want a child to start life’s uncertain voyage if the prospects are clouded. When this is known at a very early stage of the voyage we may still have a chance to make a fresh start. This means detaching ourselves from the infant who has been born, cutting ourselves free before the ties that have already begun to bind us to our child have become irresistible. Instead of going forward and putting all our efforts into making the best of the situation, we can still say no, and start again from the beginning.”

Remarks Smith, “Singer is a master of using passive language and euphemisms to mask the brutality of what he advocates. But make no mistake, his phrases, ‘detaching ourselves,’ and choosing to ‘start again from the beginning,’ refer to baby killing.”

All this is not mere theory. Holland is a good case in point where horrible worldviews lead to horrible outcomes: “After doctors from Groningen University Medical Center in the Netherlands admitted in 2004 that they euthanized dying and profoundly disabled babies under what has come to be called the ‘Groningen Protocol,’ support for infanticide appeared in some of this country’s most prestigious professional journals and newspapers. Unsurprisingly, the charge was led by Singer, who defended the Protocol in the Los Angeles Times (‘Pulling Back the Curtain on the Mercy Killing of Newborns,’ March 11, 2005).”

Smith quotes from a number of prestigious medical journals that are now actually suggesting that infanticide should be viewed as a legitimate option. He continues:

“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.’

But as Smith notes, 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?”

Concludes Smith: “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’ utilitarian 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.”

Exactly. Secularists can talk all they like about compassion and such things. But without a solid worldview that makes sense of, and gives moral warrant for, human dignity, then in the end, infanticide is as good an option as any. Worldviews matter. Bad worldviews bear bad fruit. That is why we need to keep hammering away at bad worldviews.

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20 Replies to “Worldviews and Baby Killing”

  1. Even though Britain still uses the Bible for oath swearing and the Queens Coronation promises to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, almost all the Ten Commandments no longer have any relevance to British Law. Britain is on the verge of getting rid of the blasphemy laws – simply with the stroke of a pen. In so doing we get rid of any reason for believing in the sanctity of human life. This belief can only be underwritten upon on keeping the second commandment. It is only the belief that we are made in God’s image that we believe in the sanctity of human life.
    The government has something called a Surestart programme which is to supposedly to give children a good start in life. In Britain, each year, for 200,000 babies that Surestart means to be aborted. The obvious success of this programme needs to be extended to children and after that to the mentally handicapped and after that to all who cannot wave a human rights card that has not expired.
    David Skinner, UK

  2. David Skinner says,

    Britain is on the verge of getting rid of the blasphemy laws…

    That’s already happened in Tasmania, though no doubt, I’d still be arrested under some “equality” law for closing this post with “for Buddha’s sake”.

    Michael Watts

  3. The world is truly becoming crazy when murdering innocent children becomes acceptable. What are the qualifications to become a bioethicist? How can they support killing children whilst talking about ethics?

    Let me not mince my words here, Singer is dangerous! There exists a level of humanity that he is clearly incapable of attaining. I put him and his brigade of followers at the same level as Josef Mengele, the Nazi “angel of death”. Mengele would meet trains arriving at Auschwitz to screen the arriving prisoners and determine who would be kept for work and who would be sent to the gas chambers. He gave himself the power to determine who was worthy of life and who must die. Singer is no different, but he has skilfully used academia to give his death theory a cloak of respectability. I find it abhorrent that many of the things for which the Nazi’s were condemned are now legitimate “scientific research”.

    The term “quality of life” is really just a euphemism for “quality of a person”. But who are we to judge the quality of a person? Who are we to say that the quality of a person is measured by their abilities? Who are we to determine who is worthy of life?

    I am always moved when I recall the weeping parent of a disabled child who said to me “we do not love our children because of what they can do, we love them because they are our children”.

    Frank Norros

  4. Not an easy one, is it? I know of some who would call (indeed have called) the acts of doctors in the Children’s Hospital in Sydney “ego-trips” and “torture”.

    Is there a point to prolonging the suffering of the innocent & powerless to assuage the distress of we who should, by now, have lived?

    Dean Ransevycz. Syd, NSW

  5. Frank,

    The term “quality of life” is really just a euphemism for “quality of a person”.

    How so?

    Dean Ransevycz. Syd, NSW

  6. Dean,
    What are you saying in this rather oblique statement:
    “Is there a point to prolonging the suffering of the innocent & powerless to assuage the distress of we who should, by now, have lived?”
    Is it merely a veiled way of assuaging, not our distress, but your own conscience (or what is left of it)?

    To anyone who supports abortion let me say simply this:
    I have a joie de vivre; I enjoy life; I am glad to be here. So I am profoundly grateful that I did not have a potential abortionist for a father or mother!
    To any euthanasia supporter I say similarly, when I am in hospital facing the end of life, I don’t want you anywhere around!

    Murray Adamthwaite

  7. Thanks Bill for your perceptive analysis of the impact of bad ideas. Thanks too, Murray, for reminding us of the stand we should have been taking many decades ago against abortion.
    I stand condemned as much as any who knew abortion was wrong and dehumanising but did little to oppose it. The almost universal acceptance of abortion has desensitised us to the horror of taking the life of the innocent and powerless who bear the image of God. But I think I can understand Dean’s concern about artificially prolonging the life of a dying child or a child so handicapped that they are in constant suffering. Is it an unbiblical obsession with life that makes death so hard to deal with?
    David Esdaile

  8. I think I probably agree with Dean R., although I’m not quite sure where he is coming from…

    There is a recognised issue among doctors of failing to identify the line between extending life and prolonging death. Whilst a Christian doctor views life as valuable and worthy of being saved, a doctor with secular, humanistic ideas would more naturally have a view death that compels him/her to save and/or prolong life at any cost.

    This is much easier said than done, but if we as Christians have a biblical (realistic) view of life and death, we need to be prepared to recognise a point at which we must commit a critically ill loved one (even an infant) to the providence of almighty God, and ourselves to His mercy when we say “no” to further medical intervention.

    Which, by the way, I think is related to but not the real issue that Bill is addressing above.

    Damien Carson, Wynnum, QLD

  9. The differences between the two worldviews can be distilled down to this – a Christian view of the value of life requires a very narrow set of criteria to remove it because innate preciousness is the default position, whereas the abortion/euthanasia supporter approach requires a life to prove its ‘worthiness’ before it qualifies. Anyone can see, regardless of the protestations about ‘strict guidelines’ or the best legal minds, that the latter is open to abuse because the basic approach comes from 180 degrees the wrong direction.

    Does anybody else find it ironic that some want to fight so hard against a worldview that effectively protects the innate worth of their very own lives?

    Mark Rabich

  10. what’s wrong with this world? non-christians find no true values and love in their lives and they think they can kill innocent little newborns- which who knows can make a difference and give value to other people’s lives!? what an evil secular world!
    Jia Yek

  11. Dean, the term “quality of life” is used by the proponents of infanticide in the context of determining whether the child is worthy of life. If a doctor determines that a child’s prospects for their life ahead is so poor (ie, that their “quality of life” will be low) then the decision is really being made on what we deem are the person’s qualities (which in tern is determined by their physical ability) to enjoy what life has to offer. Therefore my statement that ‘the term “quality of life” is really just a euphemism for “quality of a person”’.

    However, a person’s physical ability is seperate to a person’s spirituality, a realm in which we are all equal. Of course, if you do not believe that we have a soul, then you will disregard this point.

    But ulimately the real issue is whether we, who have life, should deny it to others based on an assessment of the value of life restricted by our own paradigm and “world view”. One of the core differences between us and the animal world is our very humanity and ability for mercy. Should we not care for the most vulnerable and the weakest among us? Should we not share with them what life and the world has to offer or should reap everything for ourselves simply because we think that we have the greatest capacity to enjoy it?

    Your statement that to “prolonging the suffering of the innocent & powerless to assuage (our) distress” is a simplistic generalisation that many of us would not agree to. It also shows a lack of humanity and mercy because at the same time as recognising the innocence and powerlessness of such children you suggest they should be killed for the very fact that they will remain innocent and powerless if left to live. Looks like a contradiction to me.

    Frank Norros

  12. First of all I’d like to make the statement that I am not yet sure as to which side is ultimately “right.” So concerning my world view, I believe in the value of the human life, but there were a few things that stood out to me.

    I noticed the use of the term, “mercy killing,” in the title of the article by Singer, but the argument for infanticide does not seem to benefit the child. “Both for the sake of ‘our children,’ then, and for our own sake, we may not want a child to start life’s uncertain voyage if the prospects are clouded…” In this quote, assuming that the child is killed taking him/her out of the equation, the only person standing to benefit are the parents and everyone else who is alive. This paves the way for the engineering of the human race. How will this affect humanity, and the emerging global culture?

    Now, as others pointed out, if we didn’t “prolong the suffering” of the helpless, as Dean Ransevycz said, then where would any of us be? Though the only time I see the possibility for reason is when there is an accidental birth in the extreme, and the mother (or parents) are completely without the ability to look after the child, so the question is: Is it more humane to abort these children, or to leave them “exposed on hills?” Secondly, if you answered the question above as neither, would people do it anyway?

    Jesse Smyth

  13. Murray,

    I would think that the one person you would want around on your deathbead would be a supporter of voluntary death with dignity: at least they would respect your wishes!

    Apologies for rather purple phrase “we who should, by now, have lived”. What i mean is that we who are here on this forum, our peers & elders ought to have lived long enough & had enough of an experience of life to know that life is not just living: it is birth, living and death. And we should also know that these experiences are not the same for all beings that come and go from this world.

    Dean Ransevycz

  14. Jia,

    I’m not sure that you can argue that non-christans have no love of life: in fact i’m certain that there are Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Jains, Zoroatrians, Wicca, Deists, Agnostics, Gnostics, Muslims, Taoists… who love life & this world.

    I also question your assertion that one should prolong suffering because of the value the sufferer can add to a third party’s life. That seems to me the height of selfishness.

    Dean Ransevycz

  15. Frank & Jesse,

    It seems we’re arguing at crossed purposes here. As I read your responses i note that you seem to think that I equate “suffering” with “anguish” & that I was arguing a wholesale slaughter of infants whose social prospects are bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor do I believe that Singer’s thought experiments should be read in that way. One of the reasons Singer writes about taboos like infanticide is that there are logical & moral inconsistencies in our moral & legal codes and that there because there are disagreements over the definitions of life, child, suffering & other words freely thrown about in these debates: in the end each side debates using its own definitions or, more dishonestly, shibboleths, hence the need to follow of the threads to their respective conclusions.

    Dean Ransevycz

  16. Dean,
    What I am saying is about TRUE LOVE. Only true followers of Jesus Christ who know the creator of heaven and earth will know what is true LOVE, as GOD is LOVE (eternal LOVE that will never fail). And God loves everyone of us, no matter how poor, how bad, how small, how disobedient, how sinful, how disabled a person is. Every human’s life is valuable and should be loved.
    if you love someone, you will not want to kill that person, will you? And now you think it is reasonable to kill a baby just because the baby is doing you no good and is disabled? Aren’t you the one who is selfish and loveless? What do you think an infant is? Do you think a disabled baby is worth no more than a happy healthy dog? Think about it…
    So many disabled child are caused by their parents’ fault – eg smoking, heavy alcholics, drug addicts, having sexually transmitted disease, etc. Don’t you think you haveto be responsible for your actions, and not kill a baby just becuase you CAN, and he/she is your property/object?

    Don’t pretend to be God.

    Jia Yek

  17. Dean,

    “I would think that the one person you would want around on your deathbead would be a supporter of voluntary death with dignity: at least they would respect your wishes!”

    No. I agree with Murray here because experience throughout human history has told us that we are inherently bad at wielding the power of life and death. The reason I would want people who thought that way far away from me is because I could not trust them not to kill me. The human heart is inherently selfish and evil, and I am deeply suspicious of laws that create opportunities for abuse. What I’ve read about so-called “voluntary” euthanasia in the Netherlands – despite strict guidelines – seems to support my wariness.

    Mark Rabich

  18. I have said it before but I think it needs to be said again – Moloch has been revived by his new worshipers and is alive and well in our era.

    Progress is no protection from superstition and brutality. Only Christianity has historically proven time and again to be a panacea to barbarism and a shield to the weak and defenseless.

    Michael Mifsud

  19. Jesse

    Now, as others pointed out, if we didn’t “prolong the suffering” of the helpless, as Dean Ransevycz said, then where would any of us be? Though the only time I see the possibility for reason is when there is an accidental birth in the extreme, and the mother (or parents) are completely without the ability to look after the child, so the question is: Is it more humane to abort these children, or to leave them “exposed on hills?” Secondly, if you answered the question above as neither, would people do it anyway?

    From a Christian perspective the only question that matters in this debate is the unborn a human being or not. If it isn’t then there is no reason not to agree with Singer. However if they are human beings then no situation (bar one) justifies their death – technology levels don’t matter, parents material wealth doesn’t matter, nor does the parents outlooks, moods or the child’s abilities/disabilities. The child should be protected just like an adult is protected. Replace the word unborn in any pro-choice argument you may think of with “2 year old” and you will see how fallacious these arguments are.

    Of course, now the west has accepted abortion it’s now pushing for full blown infanticide. Abortion was just the thin edge of the wedge.

    Michael Mifsud

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