googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Killing Weeds, Killing People – Same Thing?!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Killing Weeds, Killing People – Same Thing?!

A Few weeks ago, BioEdge published an incredible article discussing the ethics of organ harvesting. In the article, two bioethicists made the astonishing claim that killing by itself is not morally wrong.” They tried to justify their position with the following reasoning:
[I]f killing were wrong just because it is causing death or the loss of life, then the same principle would apply with the same strength to pulling weeds out of a garden. If it is not immoral to weed a garden, then life as such cannot really be sacred, and killing as such cannot be morally wrong.
Do I really need to comment? Their flawed reasoning is plain for all to see. Well, maybe it's not so plain. Rather than soundly condemning the claims of these so called, “bioethicists,” the author of this article, Michael Cook, actually seems to defend them. He writes:
This radical conclusion may shock some readers, but the authors are not murderers. They want to bring greater precision to what we mean by killing. Rendering someone totally and permanently incapacitated is just as bad as taking a life, or so they contend. Killing totally disabled patients does them no harm.
That last line is a hoot! “Killing totally disabled patients does them no harm”? In what universe does killing a person do them no harm? I suggest that there is no interest in bringing a greater precision to the term “killing” but rather this is an attempt to blur the meaning.

What would prevent Mr. Cook from immediately denouncing these absurd ideas? I'll tell you. If scientists practice a secular brand of science, one where there is no absolute standard of right and wrong, then moral decisions are driven by what is expedient. He can see the point the bioethicists are trying to make: namely, we have people who are vegetables and we have people who need organ transplants. To him, this is a worthwhile discussion.

This highlights the dangers of moral relativism.

In the Christian worldview, we know that all people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). There is value in human life. We are not like the animals and we are certainly not like the plants. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and even the most pathetic human is infinitely more valuable than a weed. Questions about the “quality of life” are relative and subjective and certainly do not supersede the fundamental “right to life” which has been endowed upon us by our Creator and protected by our Constitution. Truth is absolute and the Bible specifically condemns the taking of innocent human life.

These bioethicists have made several flawed assumption in reaching their conclusion. Foremost is the overt assumption that there is no qualitative difference between human and plant life (I suppose they also treat animal life with equal regard). They make no attempt to defend this idea but seem to rely on a fundamental understanding that a clinical definition of “life” applies equally to all “living” things. “Life is life,” if you will. If we start with that assumption, then the bioethicists are correct. If all things are equally alive, then there really is no difference between a human and a plant.

Once we cross that bridge and equate humans and plants, then we can rationalize the taking of certain lives for the sake of others. It's the same reason we pluck weeds so other plants can grow. If a person is only alive in a persistent, vegetative state, then why not harvest his organs to help someone who can recover and contribute to society? It's a sort of evolution – a societal “survival of the fittest.” The lion eats the zebra in order to survive. Is that “wrong”? It's nature's way for the strong to exploit the weak and if we can “weed out” the unfit members of our society to benefit the more fit, on what grounds can anyone say it's wrong?

Of course, why stop with the persistent vegetative? What about the permanently disabled? People who are victims of something like downs syndrome will always be dependent on others and thus will always be a drain on the resources of those who help them. Why not harvest their organs for the benefit of people who can become productive if they could only receive transplants? You can see this is a slippery slope where might makes right. Even so, the problem remains – on what grounds can we say it's “wrong”? If it's only wrong because the majority says it's wrong, then eugenics could prevail if its proponents can only persuade enough people to their view. Then suddenly what we believe is “wrong” now will become “right.”

As I've said many times before, atheists are not rational people. More specifically, anyone who rejects the absolute truth of the Bible is irrational. Even though they have no objective standard by which they can judge right and wrong, they still act like such a standard exists. These same people who claim that plant life is the same as human life will devote themselves to taking care of their families and also cut their grass. They will tell their children it's “wrong” to lie even though their own worldview is silent on the subject. They call Christians “evil” and say creationists are lying yet there is no scientific standard which identifies anything as “evil” or makes lying “wrong.” In instance after instance, these people conduct their lives in direct contradiction to their own worldview.

Fortunately, Christians are not confused and can see the difference between humans and weeds.


Steven J. said...

I would not be so certain that the bioethicists quoted treat animal life and plant life with equal regard. What they are arguing for is that sentience is morally relevant, not metabolic activity or particular genes or organs. A healthy dog or cat is considerably more aware of its surroundings, able to respond to them in more complex ways, and vastly more able to feel and suffer, than is a dandelion. It's not clear where the authors stand on animal rights, but their position would be immediately obvious to, say, Peter Singer.

They are not arguing that there is no absolute right and wrong, though they may indeed believe that. Their arguments are consistent with the view that there is an absolute right and wrong, but that we are mistaken in basing it on biological humanity rather than on the capacity to feel, perceive, and reason (the claim that killing totally disabled patients does them no harm assumes that if they are unable to think, feel, or respond to their environment, they have already been harmed as much as they can be).

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

Oh, I am absolutely sure that these bioethicists consider the sentience of the being in their argument. Plants, of course, aren't sentient and they assume neither are people in a persistent, vegetative state. So, killing a plant and killing a person isn't “wrong” since both are unaware. Of course, we can never be sure of how aware people are if they can't communicate, can we?

But even if they aren't aware, the idea of sentience fails. You said dogs and cats are sentient. If sentience is the criterion, then killing a sentient person is no worse (or better) than killing a dog.

You said, “They are not arguing that there is no absolute right and wrong, though they may indeed believe that.”

That ignores the bigger question of where morals come from. If there is no ultimate Judge, what makes anything wrong? No one has the authority to call something wrong. Is it wrong for an apple to fall from a tree? It is wrong for a wolf to eat a rabbit? Is it wrong to murder another person? If we are nothing more than the product of purposeless mutations then any idea of morality is nothing more than chemical reactions in our brains.

The hypocrisy of atheists lies in the fact that they sometimes act as though some absolute morality exists. For example, why does Richard Dawkins call Christians “evil”? For evil to exist, there must be some absolute standard of right and wrong. Such a standard only exists in the Bible. So Dawkins can only call Christians evil if he first assumes the Bible is true.

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!