Infanticide and Peter Singer

Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say. Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are "morally irrelevant" and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.

This is the beginning of a recent article in the Daily Telegraph.

Arthur Jones and I have repeatedly argued that Christian discipleship must include 'worldview awareness'. This story can help us to see why this is the case.

Let's probe behind the story.

Peter Singer is a famous and influential Australian philosopher. He is a committed atheist. Perhaps he is most famous for his book Animal Liberation.

Singer completely dismisses the biblical teaching that we are made in the image and likeness of God. He asserts that this view is guilty of 'species bigotry'. For a secular thinker like Singer it is arrogant and false to assert that humans are better than 'other animals'. In the light of Darwinian evolution we must embrace species egalitarianism. At the end of the day there is nothing special about human beings. We are just one of many species thrown up by the evolutionary process.

Singer distinguishes human beings in the biological sense from persons who are rational and self conscious beings. In his secular worldview he has no basis for seeing human beings in a different category from other animals. In general, humans have more intelligence and greater self-awareness but some humans lack these faculties.

In the newborn they are undeveloped; in the severely brain damaged they are lost; and in the dementing they are fading day by day. They are humans but not persons. Some adult animals, however, are remarkably intelligent. They are persons, though not human.

For Singer any creature that is not sentient, capable of experiencing pleasure and pain, has no ethical value: it has no interests to consider.

So what follows from this? In simple terms some humans are not persons and some animals are persons. For example an adult pig is a person for Singer but a newborn baby is not. The pig, according to Singer, has many preferences; the baby has hardly any! Monkeys are persons but some senile and dementing humans are not persons!

So Singer is happy for us to kill off both babies and old people because their lives are worthless. And now his views are becoming very fashionable.

Why don't more churches disciple their congregations to think Christianly about such issues?


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Nice one Mark.

A paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics is causing quite a stir – they are not too far from Singer.

The abstract reads:
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call 'after-birth abortion' (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Jonathan Swift made some similar comments – but satirically:

A Modest Proposal: For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public

Thanks for this link Steve. I will look into it.

nice reference to swift's A modest proposal.

Cheers Mark

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