On May 8, 1945 the German government officially surrendered to the Allied Forces, thus ending the War in Europe (the War in the Pacific would continue another three months). The Nazis was a horrible government that aside from its treatment of the Jewish people and other “unwanted,” regularly practiced infanticide. Their justification for such an action was they believed the perfect human (read: healthiest human) was the Aryan human; all other babies of unwanted races or that were not healthy at birth were killed off.
63 years later we are faced with a Nazi-like mentality once again – this time, however, the threat is occurring in the nations that defeated Nazism in the first place. The London Times has reported that parents are on the verge of having an easy, non-invasive procedure done to determine if their child has Down’s Syndrome. If so, the parents are then left with the choice to abort the pregnancy or prepare for a child with special needs.
I must ask, how is this way of thinking any different from the Nazi mentality of killing off weaker children in order to have a better society? I know that such a question will automatically get people to accuse me of downplaying the Holocaust, attempting to compare a medical procedure to the horrors of the Holocaust, and that somehow I’m an anti-Semite for bringing this issue up (event though I’m an ethnic Jew), but I believe it is a very legitimate question. How is the mentality that it’s okay to abort a child with Down’s Syndrome – because he won’t lead a productive life, is weak, and will be “inadequate” according to our definition of normal – any different from the Nazi way of thinking?
The chilling answer is simple: there is no difference. By choosing and allowing parents to abort unwanted children due to a “weakness” in the child (a physical or mental abnormality) we, as a society, are saying that such people actually do harm society and therefore really don’t deserve to live. If the parents want to keep the child, mazel tov to them, but as a society we could care less if parents want to kill handicapped children in the womb.
My question is, why stop in the womb? There is no logical justification for this (see my post, “A Philosophical Argument Against Abortion” to see how the lines are very blurry when attempting to define the beginning of human life if “conception” is not the base definition). As a society we’ve devalued life so much that if an individual life does not aid in furthering society, or contribute to the evolution of the community, then that life is looked upon with disdain. Why not begin killing life outside of the womb once it has lost its capability to produce or evolve society?
Is grandmother costing you too much and not making any money? Put her to sleep like a dog. Did your child fall three stories and now has severe brain damage, unable to feed herself? Take her to the doctor, get an injection, and be done with this weight on society. Just found out your son has severe Autism? No worries, we can just kill him.
This brings me to my bigger point; this may not be the end result of Naturalism, but it is literally impossible for someone with a Naturalistic mindset to argue adequately and logically against this ethical system. In fact, such an ethical system is far more logical within Naturalism than one that attempts to protect the weak and feeble minded.
There was a big stink over Expelled bringing up the Holocaust, but I think there is a valuable question in all of this: How does Naturalism adequately argue against genocide, eugenics, and euthanasia? When the value of life is determined by its usefulness to society, what is to stop us from killing those that cannot contribute?
Naturalism does not allow for any intrinsic value to exist within humans, outside of their positive functionality within the community. I know that many Naturalists argue that all life is valuable because it is life, but this is merely a smoke screen (whether they realize it or not). Either they have a hierarchy of ontology, where certain beings are more important than others, or they don’t. If they don’t, then they shouldn’t shower because they are washing various bacteria off their skin every time they shower, indicating they think they are more important than those bacteria. Thus, unless such a person chooses not to eat, drink, shower, or do anything else that would place his life above some other organic form of life, this person inherently believes in a hierarchy of life.
If this is true, does Naturalism place humans – regardless of mental or physical condition – higher than all other animals? The simple answer is that Naturalism cannot do this. Humans are still subject to death by other animals, thus in the hierarchy only the most adaptable of humans are allowed to go on (according to the theory of Evolution). What am I getting at?
If we see it fit to kill other animals for food, kill plants for consumption, wash bacteria off of us, and so on all because we see our life and progression as more valuable than their life and progression (because of what we contribute), what is to stop us from killing off the non-productive humans in our own societies?
The London Times article already showed us that we are more than willing to do this before birth, so what will prevent us from using this Nazi-like mentality on those outside of the womb?