The Corner

Does Darwinism Lead to Infanticide Acceptance?

The evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne, writes a blog entitled, “Why Evolution is True.”

One would think that by choosing that title, Coyne should restrict his discussions to questions of science that touch on questions and explanations about how and why life changes over time. 

But Coyne — as many Darwinists do — takes the question beyond science, and extrapolates evolutionary theory into questions of morality, philosophy, and ethics.

And now, he is promoting the propriety of infanticide. From, “Should One be Allowed to Euthanize Severely Deformed or Doomed Newborns?”:

If you are allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on, then why aren’t you able to euthanize that same fetus just after it’s born?

 I see no substantive difference that would make the former act moral and the latter immoral.

After all, newborn babies aren’t aware of death, aren’t nearly as sentient as an older child or adult, and have no rational faculties to make judgments (and if there’s severe mental disability, would never develop such faculties). It makes little sense to keep alive a suffering child who is doomed to die or suffer life in a vegetative or horribly painful state.

Coyne makes the boringly predictable claim that since we euthanize our sick pets, we should also kill seriously ill and disabled babies. He then explains why he thinks the reasons we resist that meme are wrong, and indeed, irrational. From his blog:

The reason we don’t allow euthanasia of newborns is because humans are seen as special, and I think this comes from religion—in particular, the view that humans, unlike animals, are endowed with a soul.

It’s the same mindset that, in many places, won’t allow abortion of fetuses that have severe deformities. When religion vanishes, as it will, so will much of the opposition to both adult and newborn euthanasia.

Well, no. As I have written repeatedly, human exceptionalism can include religious views, but it definitely does not require them. As Coyne’s advocacy proves, once we reject human exceptionalism, universal human rights becomes unsustainable, and we move toward the manufacture of killable and exploitable castes of people, determined by the moral views of those with the power to decide. 

Moreover, some of the most vociferous opponents of infanticide are disability rights activists — who are generally secular in outlook, liberal politically, and not pro-life on abortion. But they see the euthanasia and infanticide agendas as targeting people with disabilities. The advocacy of Coyne, Peter Singer (see below), and others of their materialistic ilk proves they are correct.

Besides, if allowable abortion is the lodestar, then any baby could be killed. At the very least, the killable categories of infants would include babies with Down syndrome, dwarfism, and even cleft palate — all reasons given for late-term abortion.

Adding heft to that argument, Coyne cites the advocacy of Singer to validate his own position. Singer believes all babies are killable as so-called human “non-persons,” and moreover, he has infamously used Down babies and newborns with hemophilia as examples of acceptable infanticide subjects.

Coyne concludes with the belief that contemporary times will be looked down upon as “brutal” for not allowing infanticide:

 In the future we’ll look back on our present society and say, “How brutal not to have been allowed to do that.”

Coyne’s odious advocacy is the logical outcome of accepting the following premises:

  • That human life does not have unique value simply and merely because it is human, and;

  • That eliminating suffering is the overriding purpose of society — allowing the elimination of the sufferer.

Many scientists bemoan the fact that so many people refuse to accept evolution as a fact. Without getting into that controversy, perhaps they would be better off ruing the fact that ever since Darwin published The Origin of Species, so many of the promoters of that view also couple it with anti-humanism and a moral philosophy that was judged a crime against humanity at Nuremberg.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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