The Sanctity of Life: Truth or ‘Preference’?


From the 180 Movie Facebook page, this sobering statistic:

Annually Abortions KILL more Children than the entire population of Texas, New York, and Colorado COMBINED.

Almost as disturbing, to me, was this statement:

According to Wikipedia, in the USA an estimated 95% – 98% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted when the condition is detected from a screening.   

Hitler also killed Down Syndrome children.

Right after I read that Facebook post, I picked up Eric MetaxasSocrates in the City (and if you don’t know who he is–check out his website, AND the Socrates in the City website; it’s a treasure trove of thought-provoking material).  This book is a set of transcripts of talks by some of the most important and influential guests to appear at these events held in Manhattan over the past 12 years or so. I’d been reading it, slowly–there is a lot to digest here.  (Try skimming a lecture by Sir John Polkinghorne or Richard John Neuhaus.)  I started the transcript of a talk by Jean Bethke Elshtain, entitled “Who Are We?  C.S. Lewis and the Question of Man,” which she gave in September 2005.  I had no idea who Elshtain is, but I’m a huge C.S. Lewis fan, so I figured it was worth tackling.  Turns out, Dr. Elshtain is a professor of political and social ethics at the University of Chicago.  Her resume is rather impressive (you can click on the link later…your head will spin).

Almost the first thing she said was to reference an issue of New York Times Magazine from June of that year, which printed an article entitled “Euthanasia for babies: is this humane or barbaric?”   Naturally, she had my attention.  On the next page I read the following paragraph, which eerily echoed that Facebook post I mentioned earlier:

For example, so overwhelming is our current animus against the less than perfect that nearly 90 percent of pregnancies that test (positive) for Down Syndrome are aborted in the United States today.

She went on to reference C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man, which appeared in 1944.  Its premise is that there is a “doctrine of objective value–the belief that certain attitudes are really true and others are really false to the kind of things the universe is and the kinds of things we are.” This understanding of universal values is found, says Lewis, in Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and some Eastern religions.

By contrast, Lewis saw a logical positivism at work in his generation which classified all values as sentiment or emotion, and therefore irrelevant.  This “ghastly simplicity” (as he put it) has reappeared in this generation in the social sciences.  Elshtain tells us that it is called rational choice theory, and that it

trivializes all statements of values.  They have no truth warrant or claim…within this world, everything, in principle, can be commodified.  Everything, in principle, has a price rather than a value.  Any restrictions societies draw on where human preference might take us are really arbitrary–there are no intrinsic goods or evils. Nothing is valued for its own sake.

We’ve come a long, long way from the group of men who could all sign their names to a document which asserted that certain truths are “self-evident”, notably…

“…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In a world where everything is a commodity, including life, and is evaluated based on its utility and on personal preference, rather than objective truth claims…then infanticide, mandatory sterilization, selective abortion for any reason, and euthanasia of the elderly are all possible.

No, not possible.  Let’s not mince words.  All these barbarisms are probable.

Please watch this movie, if you haven’t already.

In fact, even if you’ve already seen it, watch it again. It’s Sunday.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!” says the Lord.  (Isaiah 49:15 NIV)

7 responses to “The Sanctity of Life: Truth or ‘Preference’?

  1. I’d say it has to be both truth and preference.

    By the way, I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for 2 blog awards over on Biltrix. Thanks for the wonderful Pro-Life blogging!

    • godsbooklover

      Lewis’s contention is that Truth is truth, whether people prefer it or not. The zeitgeist would say that whatever you prefer is true for you, since nothing is objectively true. Sanctity of life would require a unity of truth and the preference for it, regardless of whether it’s easy or difficult. So you are absolutely right, Biltrix.

      Thank you for the nomination!

  2. Hello there. Thanks for following my blog and liking Euthanasia: It’s Not Enough To Say No. From your terrific post, infanticide, mandatory sterilization, selective abortion and euthanasia are no longer probable…..they’re all reality. Following you too.

    • godsbooklover

      Thanks for your comment. The final paragraph of my post was not ignoring that these things are reality; the point was a bit more subtle than that: contrasting “possible” and “probable”…i.e., in a world where there is no objective truth and therefore no ultimate belief in the sanctity of all life, then not only do all these horrors become “thinkable”…they become “what is to be expected.”

  3. I’m not sure which one of my pregnancies, but doctor told me that during one of my checkups, they had noticed ‘abnormalities’ and they wanted to do further testing (long needle in belly to draw fluid) to make sure there was nothing wrong… I said “nope, no need, not gonna happen”. They treated me like I was an abuser! Like I was some sort of terrible person for not wanting to know if my baby was ‘healthy’ or not. I am not one to shy away, so I was like, “excuse me! And IF you found something ‘wrong’, then what?” Of course, I was informed I would then have ‘choices’ to terminate and ‘save’ it, me and others from future problems, etc… yeah, I’m getting pretty PO’d just thinking about it. Anyway, I walked out and found another doc.

    • godsbooklover

      Yup…I turned down testing, too, for the same reason: so WHAT if I know (or suspect–there’s a high rate of false positive with those tests) ahead of time that something is wrong. If you can’t treat it in utero, then the whole exercise is pointless. Fortunately, my OB was a believer and didn’t mind at all–but in California they were obligated to offer the test.

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