Monday, June 23, 2008

The Value of Human Life in the Evolution/Creation Debate

In consideration of the value of human life and how this issue relates to both an evolutionary and creationistic worldview, we come to the case of Carrie Buck. Becoming pregnant at the age of 17, Carrie was committed by her foster parents to the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded on the grounds of feeblemindedness, incorrigible behavior and promiscuity (although her pregnancy occurred after having been raped by her own foster parent’s nephew). Carrie’s mother, Emma, had likewise been committed to the Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and the Feeble-minded after being accused of immorality, prostitution, and having syphilis. It seems apparent that the sexual deviancy so commonplace in our contemporary society was grounds in the early 20th century to label one as insane, mentally retarded, or “feeble-minded”, regardless of if this deviancy was a forced act by another. Sadly, to make certain the family did not reproduce, Carrie’s younger sister Doris was secretly sterilized after being hospitalized for appendicitis. Doris was unaware of this procedure having occurred, until the 1980’s, after many years of attempted child-bearing with her husband. Amazingly, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. had this to say in 1927 regarding Carrie Buck:

“We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Later in life, and after actual investigation, there was an obvious consensus that Carrie was a woman of normal intelligence. Additionally, her daughter Vivian (the child she bore from the rape) was an average student who excelled in deportment (behavior).

Looking at this background from the practice of sterilization in support of eugenics, it seems Justice Holmes gives a common response from those in favor of evolutionary thought: That it is “better for all” if we prevent those we deem “unfit from continuing their kind” from ever giving birth at all. We see this in the racist sentiments of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, who said, “It is said that a fish as large as a man has a brain no larger than the kernel of an almond. In all fish and reptiles where there is no great brain development, there is also no conscious sexual control. The lower down in the scale of human development we go the less sexual control we find. It is said that the aboriginal Australian, the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development, has so little sexual control that police authority alone prevents him from obtaining sexual satisfaction on the streets.” Interestingly, the placement of Planned Parenthood clinics in poor, ethnic minority neighborhoods and the comparable ratios of abortions amongst ethnic minorities (particularly blacks) to those of whites only serve to further support the racist hatred of such individuals as Sanger. We also see the common response of Justice Holmes in the tens of millions of abortions performed in the United States since the US Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade in 1973, especially with regard to the higher percentages of abortions performed upon children with debilitating disease and mental/physical disabilities. Considering all these things, when our presupposition is that all life originated through random mutation, natural selection, and other evolutionary processes, our conclusion can only necessitate a eugenic of sterilization for the weak, the destruction of human life at will (to include abortion, euthanasia, and genocide), and any other means to promote the survival of the fittest.

Opposing all these points, the Biblical view of Creation gives value to human life and necessary order in the world. First, we must understand that there is a hierarchy to Creation. This hierarchy includes human relationships in the family and Church (Genesis 2:21-23, Genesis 3:16, 1 Corinthians 11:7-9, 1 Timothy 2:11-14) as well as the distinguishing of man above the rest of Creation for the purpose of dominion and fruitful multiplication of the human race (Genesis 1:26-28). In light of these Scripture passages, we can also understand that human life has value because murder is a direct assault against the image of God, hence God Himself. This is supported by the existence of the sixth commandment in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17. If human life has value as the express image of God, if our existence has a hierarchical order in which we relate to one another and the rest of the created world, and if the destruction of human life is always a sin (whether by means of abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, etc.), than that value which is inherent in human life only comes from a Creator. This view must therefore be diametrically opposed to a meaningless existence grounded in random chance, making certain that the evolutionary and creationistic views of the value of human life are, just as their theory of origins, mutually exclusive from one another.

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