A few years ago The Daily Mail ran an op-ed concerning how the world is better off without autistic children and people with disabilities. The reasoning isn’t because such people lower the utility of a society or dilute the gene pool – both of which are horrendous arguments to begin with – but rather because they just make life tough on the parents and caretakers. And that’s the entirety of the reasoning right there; “They hurt me, so I should kill them.” The focus is on the individual and value simply isn’t extended beyond the individual.
Of course, with modern arguments for infanticide, it’s no stretch to believe that toddlers who are discovered to have autism or some other handicap could easily be murdered. What if a child is born healthy, but due to an accident or disease, is left crippled? Well, then the child becomes a burden on the parents, so we should kill him. The child can’t walk? Kill him. Your 17 year old son is in a car accident and placed in a coma? You should kill him, because there’s no promise that he’ll come out of it functioning normally. After all, why should you suffer through the burden of helping someone else?
Sadly, Hitler was far nobler than these people. Hitler’s argument wasn’t about the individual, but rather for society; in order to better society, Hitler argued that those who were disabled and undesirable simply had to be killed. As sick as Hitler was in what he did, at least his goal was better than what we are arguing for now! And that’s not to defend Hitler; what he did was disgusting and we rightfully revile him for it. Rather, I’m saying the people who argue for killing the disabled simply because the disabled are an “inconvenience” are worse than Hitler, they’re more evil than him, they are more twisted than he is.
That’s not an emotional outburst either, it’s objectively true. Hitler killed the disabled and sterilized them, things that we rightfully condemn today. Yet, here we have people making the exact same case, only for a much darker purpose; rather than trying to help society, they just care about themselves and say you should too.
The Western-World is becoming more and more “post-Christian,” which is really nothing more than the world was when it was “pre-Christian;” a place where tyranny reigned freely and the oppressed had no hope beyond death. The ancient Spartans had no qualms about killing infants they deemed unworthy. The Romans thought nothing of leaving children in the wilderness to die if the child was viewed as potentially weak. They also had no problem killing slaves or those deemed as inhuman.
While many in the Western-World continue to dance on God’s grave, the one that Nietzsche made, they blissfully ignorant of Nietzsche’s proclamation. “God is dead” they say with glee, yet they forget what comes with that. Nietzsche writes in the parable of the madman (found in The Gay Science):
“Whither is God” he [the madman] cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now?Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as though an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? What was holiest and most powerful of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must not we ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever will be born after us – for the sake of this deed he will be part of a higher history than all history hitherto.” (from Walter Kaufmann’s translation)
Nietzsche points out that if we are truly going to kill God, we must live with the fact that we cannot act as though He is alive. Thus, the idea of humans having rights, having innate value, of not killing someone just because they annoy us, and the like have absolutely no meaning in light of God’s death. Nietzsche saw this and any atheist who is honest with himself recognizes this as well. It’s not that atheism lacks an ethos (it can develop one quite well enough), but simply that it cannot piggy-back on Christian morality.
So we approach this issue of murdering children because they become a burden to us. We look at the original article and the reasoning given is, “Autistic children are difficult to deal with, so why let them live?” The same question could be asked of any two-year-old. A child draws on the wall and keeps doing so, after not being told. To the gas chamber with her! But we find this deplorable, but why? If God’s funeral is over and spoken of how natural He looked in repose, we must fling ourselves away from this Christian morality. In doing so, we end up with the arguments from egoism, stating that I should look out for myself first. We end up with arbitrary lines on what is and isn’t human.
Within Christianity, however, all humans are equal for all humans are made in the image of God. The more I must sacrifice for a child, the more I must show I love him. Why do I sacrifice? Because in Christianity, to show love one must sacrifice. The less likely someone is to pay me back for my kind deed, the more sacrifice I have made; the less likely I am to be repaid, the more I have loved.
Thus, in comparison we have the world sans God and the world with God. Post-God’s dead, we have no way to really give value to humans beyond, “We give value to humans.” Humans become nothing more than currency; a piece of cloth with a dead president on it only means something because we say it means something. If we drop $1 million in $100 bills to a culture who knows nothing about the US, the paper will be kindle for a fire. It has no value. In a world without God, man becomes the currency. We only have value because we say we have value and should a majority of us determine that this type of man has no value, then we can rob him of value. In the world with God, however, man has value because he is made in the image of God. To kill him is to commit a crime against God.
Thus, one must realize that to say “God is dead” (that is, God doesn’t exist) is to reject the Judeo-Christian ethic. One simply can’t embrace it because one has rejected its foundation. How absurd to request a mushroom sauce, but demand the cook remove the mushrooms because you find them so distasteful. How absurd to request a Christian ethic, but demand the ethicist remove God because you find Him so distasteful. Therefore, if you be bold enough, abandon Judeo-Christian morality if you’re going to abandon God. However, if you find that you cannot live in such a world, then from an existential perspective, perhaps you should begin to realize that God is very much alive, regardless of your objections.