By Christopher M. Reilly
The pro-life effort is about defending the intrinsic value of each and every human life.
We often portray our struggle as a simple battle between life and death. We aim to defeat a culture of death. We celebrate and defend life. But the pro-life challenge is not simply to counter abhorrent practices like abortion, euthanasia, or eugenics along with the social systems and cultures that favor them. Our challenge is to define and uphold humanity for a world that has forgotten the sanctity of a truly human life.
The enemies of human life are well aware that their target for destruction is not life per se, but humanity. Most geneticists, for example, want us to think that they have identified the building blocks of life in DNA. For every living being’s DNA, there are identifiable codes and rules that, once understood, supposedly allow for precise chemical restructuring, alteration, and combination of these primary building blocks. To the enemies of humanity, human life is just a unique—and soon-to-be obsolete—category of existence built upon a predictable arrangement of chemicals in our DNA.
Consider where this leads us. If humanity is just a historically doomed species, then it is well within our rights to pick and choose among which humans are worth discarding now. Preborn babies succumb to abortion, and the elderly and disabled succumb to the medical institution’s systematic pressure toward euthanasia or cost-based restrictions on health care (i.e., Obamacare).
Genetic reductionism—the illusion that all human traits can be traced to identifiable genetic sources—leads doctors and parents to the conclusion that creating multiple human beings through in vitro fertilization and then discarding all but the one with the most-preferred genetic profile is quite okay to do. New genetic tests will make this process more and more efficient as time goes on.
To a parent who only perceives a sterile, genetic definition for each embryo, murder of genetically inferior human beings is just one by-product of exercising scientific control over our lives. It is especially easy to do when the parents strenuously ignore the personal, soulful individuality of the beings that they will never come to know.
If humanity is defined only by biology, as has been argued since the European Enlightenment, it is then logical to “discover” the basis for a “person’s” moral status in his capacity for rational thinking. Go figure: John Locke and Immanuel Kant are held up as philosophical giants for using instrumental rationality to conclude that a person’s intrinsic value derives from his or her capacity for instrumental rationality. Most children at about age six can predict that kind of pattern!
Clever theorists like Peter Singer spout a lot of Lockean and Kantian nonsense in order to sound brilliant when they suggest that an orangutan has higher moral status than a disabled human child. Bioethicists and secular moral philosophers, who have long ago discarded the notion of truth as a distraction from fun mental games, praise Singer when he declares that some humans should be killed both in and out of the womb.
How is it that clever philosophers can’t see the horrible error in such statements, even after volumes have been written with advanced vocabularies and superficial arguments, and yet any person with a well-formed conscience can dismiss the statements in just one word as obviously “dumb”?
Copernicus turned the world on its head when he recognized that our solar system is heliocentric rather than geocentric. Today’s secular philosophers think they have achieved some sort of Copernican revolution by demonstrating that humans who recognize each other as human are committing a logical error of showing “speciesist” favoritism toward humans.
Just plain dumb. Like the secular philosopher trying to un-define humanity, my dog sometimes chases his tail—and sometimes he even “catches” it in his teeth. Success at such an endeavor doesn’t make it any less dumb.
Reducing the definition of humanity to its capacities is another way to essentially eliminate humanity altogether. Transhumanists celebrate in anticipation of genetic, chemical, mechanical, and digital transformation of human beings into super-capable organisms. With such manipulation of the human body, we can make a human organism faster, smarter, stronger, more moral, less racist, more politically progressive, more perfect, and more likely to be the only person NOT invited to the neighborhood barbecue.
You see, aside from tons of really unforgivable intellectual errors, there is a common blindness that afflicts the transhumanists, the secular moral philosophers, and the overreaching geneticists. These human-hating sociopaths refuse to accept that humans are, by definition, imperfect. Humans are vulnerable. Humans are irreducible individuals who crave social interaction as much as they thirst for water. Humans are frequently bizarre, stupid, inexplicable, and error-prone. In fact, humans seem to make more mistakes the harder they try to avoid them. We thrive when we are relaxed, humble, and in tune with the vibe of the universe.
Humans are prideful. We want to usurp God’s controlling grip on a world that plagues us with suffering and humiliation.
Unfortunately, some humans have embraced evil. These persons hate everything that makes us human. They hate everything that identifies us as created in the image of God.
Fortunately, many of us respond with a pro-life defense. We want to defend that little child in the womb from those who wish passionately to kill him. We want that child to live to express every ounce of her humanity. Crying, smiling, growing, resting, celebrating, suffering, and dying only when called by our Lord. We want this child to live—and to live a very human life.
How very human of us to want that.
Christopher Reilly is the very human Director of External Relations at American Life League.