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Posts Tagged ‘Eugenics’

caduceus

This letter is addressed to every physician, scientist, and genetic counselor who believes in a eugenic agenda that targets the unborn specifically because of diagnosed genetic anomalies. It asks a series of penetrating questions that invite thoughtful response, and are not meant to be rhetorical.

The first question is: WHO?

Who taught you in medical school or graduate school that we doctors of science and medicine are the custodians of the human gene pool? Who was it that told you it was your job to keep that pool “clean?” They are serious questions, as I never encountered this philosophy, let alone mandate, in my premed studies at Columbia University, grad studies at St. John’s University, or post-doctoral studies at the City University of New York. Neither in the Ivies, Catholic, or Public universities did I ever encounter this mandate that has seized hold in our hospitals. Whence comes this thinking?

In my undergraduate studies in the 70’s and 80’s liberal arts professors taught extensively about the corruption of the Third Reich, and the eugenic agenda in Hitler’s camps. What we were never taught was that this agenda predated Hitler and arose within the medical community of the 1920’s in Germany. Regardless, the properly educated man or woman in American universities in the 70’s and 80’s was taught that eugenics was repugnant, Master Race and all of that stuff… It leads to the next question:

HOW?

How have we progressed from that understanding to where we are today? How is it that we have come to view genetic anomalies as so terrifyingly painful that those who bear them are deemed “incompatible with life,” which is strikingly similar to Hitler’s, “Life unworthy of Life?” On what basis do you make such an assessment, especially in the case of Down Syndrome? Is this rooted in firsthand clinical experience? It can’t be, as these children and adults are some of the most beautiful and happy individuals among us. How is it that we celebrate “diversity’ with near-fanaticism in society while we shoot for genetic homogeneity with similar near-fanaticism? That of course leads to the question:

WHAT?

What is it that you believe you have been entrusted with that leads to this neo-eugenics? When I went to graduate school, we were entrusted with great knowledge of biology across the spectrum of life, and in my course of studies, great knowledge of human and microbial physiology. We were entrusted with the knowledge and training in molecular biology, techniques so powerful that they have equal ability to destroy life on earth as well as advance the cause for life on earth. What we did not receive enough of was training in ethics, and not the sort of algorithm flow chart-based policy crap devoid of any training in metaphysics and human anthropology. I received all of that in undergrad, thank God. It was expected of us that we would use this great knowledge and power only for good, but therein lies the problem.

How do we define the good? Who defines the good? What is the good?

It’s easy for those of us who were obviously born with all of the genetic capability to earn doctorates to look down upon the disenfranchised with disdain. It comes from an insecurity within that says, “I can’t imagine living like that,” which is precisely the soil in which a eugenic mentality takes root. A little guilt added in to spice up the toxic brew, and here we are. But ask yourself this question.

If you rise above the genetics and epigenetics and consider the quality of life to which you appeal in your headlong pursuit of stamping out the unfit, what training do you have in anthropology, psychology, sociology, comparative religion, transcultural psychology, aesthetics, philosophy? How well did you apply yourself to these studies when you were in pre-med, or were these the B.S. courses you needed to endure on the way to medical or graduate school?

I would submit that most physicians and scientists I have met who are pro-choice are severely deficient in these areas, and as such cannot render an informed opinion as regards quality of life, and only speak from their very narrow and cramped worldview.

The new colonialism.

Of course, this all begs the further question:

When?

When was it that we stopped looking for cures and enhanced therapies, and started taking the cheap way out? When did death and non-existence become the answer, rather than healing and wholeness? When did we receive a mandate to kill every baby we could in order to aid the patient in avoidance of suffering?

I would submit that the answers reside in the radicalization of the liberal arts over the past thirty years, and in the watering down of the college curriculum in that time. It’s a formation issue, from my perspective, one that has left many of our finest and brightest physicians and scientists impoverished and without the necessary spiritual and intellectual protections against the power of our biotechnology to twist and distort its practitioners.

Do you disagree?

I’m open to feedback and answers to the questions

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Recently, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dropped her guard and gave the American people a good insight into how it is that Obamacare will ultimately stay solvent: The nonexistence of patients who, not being alive, cannot make claims upon the system.

From CNSNews.com

During the subcommittee hearing, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said that contraception provided by insurance companies to people employed by religious organizations under the future form of the rule Sebelius described would not be was not free.

“Who pays for it? There’s no such thing as a free service,” Murphy asked.

Sebelius responded that that is not the case with insurance.

“The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for cost of contraception,” Sebelius answered.

Murphy expressed surprise by the answer.

“So you are saying, by not having babies born, we are going to save money on health care?” Murphy asked.

Sebelius replied, “Providing contraception is a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children.”

Murphy again sought clarification.

“Not having babies born is a critical benefit. This is absolutely amazing to me. I yield back,” he said.

Sebelius responded, “Family planning is a critical health benefit in this country, according to the Institute of Medicine.”

See and hear Sebelius in her own words:

Now this week comes word that the Congessional Budget Office estimates Obamacare will cost twice its originally promised cost. News also comes of the return of what Sarah Palin dubbed, “Death Panels” for healthcare rationing. Far from right wing flights of fancy, these realities already exist in chilling bureaucratic routine across the nation in hospital committees who decide when patients have used too many resources, and in Oregon’s health care system where the government decides when a patient’s remaining quality of life justifies the expense of keeping them alive.

Here is the ABC News article about one such patient, Barbara Wagner. It is a portal into the national future.

Adding fuel to the fire is the issue of states increasingly strained by the growing number of civil service pensioners who do their 20 years and retire on full pensions.

Add to that the Social Security insolvency.

It becomes clear that Sebelius has not so much committed a gaffe as she has revealed the solution her fellow travelers see to our insolvency issues: decreasing the number of claimants on the system decreases the system’s expenditures. Nonexistence of humans on the front end of the life spectrum will fund the cost of the HHS contraception mandate through the offsetting of the non-conceived human’s non-claims on the system. Applying the same thinking on the other end of the life spectrum will realize a bumper crop of savings for local, state, and the federal government when civil service pensioners are denied life-saving services, or have them delayed long enough in rationing lines in the hopes that the patient will be overtaken by the disease while waiting.

Being a Pacific Northwestern Governor, Sarah Palin looked to one of her closest neighbors, Oregon, and saw clearly the future of the pro-abortion, anti-life, rabidly eugenic left wing. It is far easier to cull the herd than grow the economy, especially in a political party that is opposed to all known and practical sources of energy; to a political party that has made a central plank of their platform the reduction of the world’s population.

We are a nation in serious, serious trouble.

To only blame the Obama administration or the Democrat Party is to miss the fact that sufficient numbers of Americans agree with these people. Far too many uphold the right for someone else to slaughter their child, even though they are personally opposed to doing so.

So many uphold he right of others to force doctors to perform manslaughter through physician-assisted suicide, even if it violates the doctor’s conscience.

So many uphold the forcing of all medical students to perform abortions against their consciences.

So many uphold the forcing of religious institutions and private businesses to purchase contraceptives against their consciences.

90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted, with costs to the parents and the ‘system’ cited by physicians and genetic counselors in a coercive campaign to rid the world of these “defectives”.

Far too many in this nation support the coercion of physicians and private citizens to do the government’s bidding when doing so violates consciences formed by thousands of years of civilized precepts. Now we have established that private and institutional conscience is the property of the state, the state is taking full advantage of the opportunity to advance its agenda.

Hitler never could have accomplished his malignant agenda without the support of the German people in sufficient numbers. It takes more than a village, it takes a nation to be good or evil. Today, our nation balances on a razor’s edge.

It will take more than the November elections to turn things around. It’s going to take the realization of what is at stake. It’s no longer someone else’s ox getting gored.

We’re all in peril.

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Ite ad Joseph

Ite ad Joseph! (Go to Joseph!)

It’s the great Latin admonition of the Church, to seek the intercession of the Patron Saint of the Church, and a powerful intercessor at that. Against the backdrop of the new aggressive eugenics that has taken solid root in American medicine, and against the war on the Catholic Church declared by the Obama administration, this Feast Day of Joseph requires some contemplation of his life and example.

Being engaged to Mary was probably a safe, peaceful, and hopeful period in the life of the holy older man whose betrothal to the holy younger woman was suddenly upended when she announced to him her pregnancy, and that it was God’s baby. Such obvious infidelity compounded by blasphemy could have merited Mary death, but Joseph chose to divorce her quietly, that was until things really became interesting.

Joseph heard from Heaven, as Matthew recounts:

20 He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’
22 Now all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:
23 Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.
24 When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home;
25 he had not had intercourse with her when she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.

If that weren’t enough, there would be the shepherds coming after the birth and describing the great Theophany, when Heaven opened and the Angels sang. There would be the Magi who journeyed quite a distance bearing their great treasures for this newborn King.

And then there was Herod.

Another dream with an angelic message, and the flight into Egypt to avoid the wholesale slaughter of the innocents. As the scriptures note, there was no intercourse. Joseph was Mary’s chaste spouse through it all, and a fearless adoptive father to her child.

That’s virtue, and an example for our time.

Joseph was called upon to make extraordinary sacrifices in his life in order to ensure the unfolding of God’s plan. If tradition that holds Joseph to have been an older widower is true, his plans for uneventful domesticity with a holy young woman were shattered. As the father of an autistic child, who was on a very different trajectory professionally until our Joseph was given five major diagnoses, I can relate to Saint Joseph.

Our life with our son Joseph has reordered my priorities in ways unimaginable. From seeming tragedy emerges hope, and hope is realized in triumphs great and small. In the eight years since his diagnoses, I thought that I was the one who was in the lead, and indeed I have been through orchestrating and executing Joseph’s therapeutic regimen. In a larger sense, it is Joseph who has been the one leading as his autism has been the portal into the new eugenics claiming countless lives of handicapped children through abortion.

It is inspiring seeing the possibilities for children with autism as Joseph continues to excel in bowling at the competitive level with ‘typical’ kids his own age; as he continues to advance in rank, skill, and socialization in Boy Scouts, as he continues to excel in Irish Step and Street Tap dancing; as he continues to thrill his teammates in baseball; as he continues to inspire his peers in altar serving; as his academics continue to improve. Hope transformed into joy.

But there is a price to be paid for that transformation. It requires death to self, in much the same manner as the successful parenting of typical children. The nuclear fuel for the eugenic engine is the misperception on the part of parents, and the outright lie told by obstetricians and genetic counselors, that life with the child will be a living hell for all concerned, that the parents will lose themselves, their identities, their futures, in the needs of this child.

In truth, the problem of the past thirty years is that all too many parents are unwilling to spend themselves for their children’s health, education, and welfare.

Ite ad Joseph!

Joseph did all that he had to do to secure the safety of his adopted son, including leaving the promised land and returning to the land of his people’s former slavery. He left his business, his friends, family, neighbors, and took the young woman who became pregnant apart from Joseph’s embrace; so Joseph also left behind his good name.

Some might be tempted to suggest that Joseph’s was an extraordinary case, as he was instructed by angels in dreams. A good counter would be to suggest that we don’t need angelic visions when we have the Dei Verbum which spells it out for us.

Joseph is the model of masculine virtue for all fathers. Perhaps we don’t read much about him in scripture because those virtues are supposed to be ordinary. We men plead all sorts of romantic-sounding promises when we court our wives. Jimmy Stewart lassoing the moon for Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life.

Today it’s considered heroic virtue to keep the child of our marital embrace if it is less than perfect, if that child will make demands on our time and resources. Regina and I aren’t heroic for embracing Joseph in all of his frailty and doing all within our power to lift him up. That’s just our job, the fulfillment of vows we made to accept children willingly and lovingly from God, and to raise them in the faith.

Ite ad Joseph!

We need to contemplate the life of Joseph, the ordinary virtues he lived that today make him seem superhuman. We need to offer our lives as witnesses to the power of God’s grace to take the weaknesses of our children in stride, and to make them part of the ordinariness of our day-to-day lives. We need to make people understand that authentic freedom consists in having the ability to do what we must, and not what we want. It’s the only escape from the narcissism and hedonism that have overtaken and enslaved so many, and which fuel the growing eugenic wildfire.

Ite ad Joseph!

I took his name for Confirmation, in no small measure because of the great example of my grandfather, Joseph, who was the living embodiment of Mary’s husband; and gave it to the baby boy who has led me to a place I resisted going for decades before his birth. It is the place we must all work to bring our nation before the eugenic fire overtakes us all.

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Hot on the heels of our medical conference last Saturday, Therapeutic Advances in Poor Prenatal Diagnoses, comes this letter from Archbishop Chaput to the people of his archdiocese. Opposition to this new eugenics is swelling all over the nation. Here is a bishop who makes me proud of my Church.

Earlier this week local media covered the story of Amelia Rivera, a young girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome reportedly denied a kidney transplant by a local hospital. Amelia’s syndrome results in serious developmental delays, and according to her parents, the hospital declined a transplant due to her diminished mental ability and shortened lifespan.

It’s unwise to assume that news media get all the details of a story like this right, or that the motives of an entire hospital’s leadership and staff are as unfeeling as an individual doctor might seem. Nonetheless, a couple of things are worth noting. First, Amelia’s parents are persons who love their daughter zealously for who she is, and who know the beauty and dignity of her life despite her disability. Second, the habit of treating genetically disabled children as somehow less worthy of life is growing across the country.

A number of my friends have children with disabilities. Their problems range from cerebral palsy to Turner’s syndrome to Trisomy 18, which is extremely serious. Prenatal testing can now detect a high percentage of pregnancies with a risk of genetic problems.

The tests often aren’t conclusive. But they’re pretty good. And the results of those tests are brutally practical. Studies show that more than 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome, for example, now get terminated in the womb. They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes – a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious, but merely undesirable.

The older a woman gets, the higher her risk of bearing a child with special needs. And so, in medical offices around the country, pregnant women now hear from doctors or genetic counselors that their baby has “an increased likelihood” of a genetic flaw based on one or more prenatal tests. Some doctors deliver this information with sensitivity and great support for the woman. But, as my friends know from experience, too many others seem more concerned about avoiding lawsuits, or managing costs, or even, in a few ugly cases, cleaning up the gene pool.

In practice, medical professionals can now steer an expectant mother toward abortion simply by hinting at a list of the child’s possible defects. And the most debased thing about that kind of pressure is that doctors know better than anyone else how vulnerable a woman can be in hearing potentially tragic news about her unborn baby.

I’m not suggesting that doctors should hold back vital knowledge from parents. Nor should they paint an implausibly upbeat picture of life with a child who has a disability. Facts and resources are crucial in helping adult persons prepare themselves for difficult challenges. But doctors, genetic counselors and medical school professors should have on staff – or at least on speed dial – experts of a different sort.

Parents of children with special needs, special education teachers and therapists, and pediatricians who have treated children with disabilities often have a hugely life-affirming perspective.

Unlike prenatal caregivers, these professionals have direct knowledge of persons with special needs. They know their potential. They’ve seen their accomplishments. They can testify to the benefits – often miraculous – of parental love and faith.

Expectant parents deserve to know that a child with special needs can love, laugh, learn, work, feel hope and excitement, make friends and create joy for others. These things are beautiful precisely because they transcend what we expect. They witness to the truth that every child with special needs has a value that matters eternally.

Raising a child with special needs can be demanding. It always involves some degree of suffering. Parents grow up very fast. None of my friends who has a daughter or son with a serious disability is melodramatic, or self-conscious, or even especially pious about it. They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism.

It’s a realism flowing out of love – real love, the kind that forces its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their heart and trust in the goodness of God. And that decision to trust, of course, demands not just real love, but also real courage.

The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. None of us is perfect. No child is perfect. The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is between love and unlove; between courage and cowardice; between trust and fear.

That’s the choice we face when it happens in our personal experience. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not.

This Sunday, January 22, marks the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legitimized permissive abortion around the country. More than 45 million abortions later, the damage of that decision continues to grow — undermining our reverence for the life not just of unborn children but of the mentally and physically disabled as well.

We need to understand that if some lives are regarded as unworthy, respect for all life is at risk. We should pray that Amelia Rivera gets the help she needs, and that God surrounds her parents with the support they need.

And especially this week, more than ever, we should recommit ourselves to defending the dignity of all human life, no matter how “flawed” it may seem in the eyes of the world.

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When Regina was pregnant with our three children, people would ask if it was a boy or a girl. When I responded with, “We don’t know,” I was met with the ubiquitous, iniquitous, mindless, and moronic refrain:

“As long as it’s healthy.”

I would challenge this well-intentioned, ill-thought well-wish with:

“If it isn’t, we’ll love the child all the same, and even more.”

That shook people out of their torpor and made them realize exactly what they were saying. It usually left most pretty angry with me.

“Can’t you just accept a good wish and leave it at that?” was the reply of one associate.

It’s a valid point, but one that fails to own up to what was being said. “As long as it’s healthy,” is a world apart from, “I wish your child health and happiness.” Even in the absence of health, one can have happiness, fulfillment and contentment. In an age of increasing reliance on pre-natal technology to murder the pre-born for the crimes of being female, male, having cleft palate, clubbed foot, spina bifida, Down syndrome, trisomy 18, etc…, “As long as it’s healthy,” rings deadly ominous. It needs to be confronted.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the antidote to our eugenic mentality in a letter to his daughter, Patsy. It stands for all time as the most eloquent reproach to the intolerance of imperfection:

Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for; for none of us, no, not one, is perfect; and were we to love none who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love.

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My article in today’s HeadlineBistro.

Yahoo News recently carried a story that reports from the proceedings of the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Stockholm, where a recent study was discussed linking in vitro fertilization (IVF) with an increased incidence in Down Syndrome.

The language in the story is a mess, and care must be taken to vet the verbal engineering contained therein so that the true moral and bioethical implications may be brought into sharp relief. The story may be read here.

First, a summation of the science involved. Investigators analyzed the DNA strands (chromosomes) produced by the divisions of human eggs and counted the chromosome numbers using a new technique (Array Comparative Genomic Hybridisation.) that is highly sensitive to not only differences in chromosome numbers, but also changes in the size and composition of the chromosomes.

Now, just a tiny bit of biology before the analysis.

Recall that all of the instructions for making a human body are contained within the DNA, and a normal human has 46 DNA chromosomes. There are 23 pairs of these chromosomes. One member of each pair comes from the sperm cell and one member of each pair from the egg cell. In persons with Down syndrome, there is an extra copy of the twenty-first chromosome. For this reason, we describe the three copies of chromosome #21 as “Trisomy 21.”

During the development of the egg, or ovum, the chromosomes are replicated, so that there is twice the normal number. It isn’t important to get into all of the why’s here. Suffice it to say that before a sperm cell can successfully fertilize the egg, the egg must jettison its extra copies of the chromosomes, leaving one member of each pair to pair with their partner from the sperm. The jettisoned chromosomes are contained in little pods called “polar bodies.”

The study in question analyzed the number of chromosomes in the polar bodies to determine how successfully the DNA divided in the eggs. This was done after the fertilization of the eggs by the sperm. If all went according to plan, there should have been the same number of chromosomes in the polar bodies as in the eggs. If not, then unequal division is responsible.

To make a long story short, in a study of 34 women’s (average age of 40) polar bodies it was found that there was a significant incidence of chromosomal abnormality. It is being hypothesized that the powerful hormones given to women in order to stimulate release of several eggs may very well loosen the molecular glue that holds chromosome pairs together prior to cell division, and that is the factor responsible for the unequal distribution of chromosomes.

Now for the verbal engineering.

“After IVF hormone stimulation, fertilised eggs bore patterns of chromosome abnormalities that were quite distinct from abnormalities in eggs that had been harvested naturally,” said Alan Handyside, the research team’s leader.

The article continues:

The new test helps pinpoint healthy eggs and damaged eggs, enabling doctors to advise a woman whether it is worth the emotional and financial investment to try for a pregnancy, said Handyside.

… “But for another group we will be able to say, ‘actually it’s good news, only about half of your eggs were abnormal, so you have a good likelihood of getting pregnant.’ And at the same time we can screen and reduce the possibility of having a Down’s child.”

First, it should be noted that the popular literature is saturated with the term, “fertilized eggs.” This is another dehumanizing and developmentally misleading term. The truth is that there is no such thing as a fertilized egg, unless one is willing to claim that there are over 6 billion fertilized human eggs walking the planet today. The truth is that the act of fertilization brings about an immediate end to the sperm and egg cells as such, and causes a human embryo to come into existence. The human embryo in its single-celled stage is called a zygote, not a “fertilized egg.”

Next, note how the clinician will approach the woman in the third quote. Note how the woman will be told that half of her eggs were abnormal. This can only be ascertained by analyzing the polar bodies, which are jettisoned AFTER fertilization. Thus, what is being said is that half of the woman’s offspring are headed for the trash can in the lab. These aren’t defective eggs. These are handicapped humans in their earliest stages of development.

Welcome to Twenty-first Century eugenics, the intolerance of imperfection in other human beings. In fairness to the parents undergoing IVF, nobody aspires to conceiving children who will be handicapped. It certainly wasn’t the aspiration my wife and I shared nineteen years ago when we married. However, God saw fit to permit us the privilege of having a son with autism, and our lives were forever changed for the better in the process.

We’ve learned an invaluable lesson raising Joseph. He has no imperfections, only additional needs. His additional needs have placed demands on us that have uncovered every selfish and self-centered appetite in us and challenged us to grow. In a narcissistic and hedonistic culture such as ours, such demands are intolerable to most, and those making them are being dispatched with increasing ruthlessness and efficiency.

The eugenics of the early Twentieth Century did not begin with Hitler’s Third Reich. It began decades before in the medical community. At the culmination in 1945 of those terrible events the world vowed, “Never again!”

It is a distant echo that is ringing increasingly hollow.

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My column in today’s Headline Bistro

Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer, who famously advocates the ethical right of parents to kill their newborn children for any reason, recently has written an article in The New York Times proposing a mass self-extinction of humanity through collective sterilization. (Read it here).

Citing the increasingly discredited global warming/climate change movement, Singer postulates an environmental future filled with senseless suffering for future generations. He then postulates that it is unethical to inflict such suffering on persons not yet born, with the only ethically acceptable solution being nonexistence.

That has been the end-point of the Culture of Death all along. This cultic competitor of Christianity distorts human freedom by enlarging it to the point where the order of creation, both physical and spiritual, is eclipsed. In other words, arrogating to the self the power and authority in determining life and death, while simultaneously rejecting faith in God and a created order beyond that which we can immediately see. Such radicalized autonomy clouds the very human reason necessary to discover that order of creation, creating the implosion that is narcissistic nihilism.

Pan-Gnosticism and animism are the grotesque spiritual distortions remaining, as evidenced by the comments after Singer’s article, affirming a healthy, healing benefit to the earth that would result from humanity’s extinction. It is the return to offering human sacrifice to the gods of nature.

Singer’s latest screed is the final surrender of an intellect bereft of hope or love. It is the logical end toward which the Culture of Death has been lurching ever since the early twentieth century’s eugenics movement and World War II. Singer’s full-throated nihilist roar that it is better to have never existed than to exist and suffer is reflective of a life that has never learned suffering’s role in teaching love.

The greatest of all paradoxes has been the ascendance of this loveless Culture of Death at precisely the moment in humanity when science and technology have been putting to flight humanity’s greatest scourges: famine and disease.

Beginning with the Germ Theory of Disease in the 1870s and the antiseptic/hygienic practices that have followed, the discovery of antibiotics beginning in the 1920s, the explosion of vaccine development since the 1950s, surgery and cancer therapies, we have far exceeded all of the prior hopes and dreams of humanity.

Smallpox, responsible for almost 500 million deaths in the twentieth century alone, has been eradicated from the earth. Not a single case for over thirty years. The same antibiotics in a matter of months cure tuberculosis and leprosy. Polio has been brought closer and closer to eradication by aggressive vaccination.

Advances in genetic engineering of crops and agricultural technology have boosted food production to unprecedented levels. So great has the technology been that our greatest problems are the health issues resulting from the consumption of an overabundance of inexpensive food.

If life is not worth living in this time for fear of suffering, when humans have never had it better, then logically Singer must admit that we never should have existed at all. This assiduous avoidance of suffering is the very heart of neurotic disorder.

Having turned the order of creation on its head through radicalized autonomy, hope also suffers mightily, along with love. There is blindness in Singer from staring into this eclipse, which cannot let him see the progress of the last one hundred years. Nor can he see how utterly impoverished he looks in the eyes of most in the scientific community. Indeed, we are very different people.

The process of becoming a scientist is one that selects for a high degree of optimism. In order to become a Ph.D. one must make a discovery that adds a substantial body of information to one’s chosen field. It is an arduous journey that is neither undertaken nor completed by the faint of heart. From the outset, and through the periodic data droughts, one is sustained by both the example of the mentor and the certain belief that for all our knowledge, we know very little of the world. An abundance of discovery awaits the patient, persistent, prepared mind.

There is simply no room in science for the defeatist, the nihilist. Such a one has no vision, no hope, no soul; the three indispensible qualities of the scientist.

The world has never been advanced so much as a millimeter by nihilists such as Singer. Civilization has been advanced by the theologians, the vitalist philosophers, the scientists, the industrialists, the artists, the poets, and the great mass of humanity who have simply, unremarkably embraced life and shaped it, each in their own small way.

In his monumental play Our Town, Thornton Wilder took a look at life and concluded differently than Singer. The main character Emily Webb dies in childbirth, and being a restless spirit newly arrived in the town cemetery is permitted to see her life objectively by returning to an ordinary day. The stage manager takes her back to her twelfth birthday. The fullness, the bustle and beauty of daily life, a beauty we fail to capture along the way, proves more than Emily can bear.

Emily: Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama! Fourteen years have gone by! I’m dead! You’re a grandmother, Mama… Wally’s dead, too, Mama! His appendix burst on a camping trip to Crawford Notch. We felt just terrible about it – don’t you remember? But, just for a moment now we’re all together- Mama, just for a moment let’s be happy- Let’s look at one another!

I can’t! I can’t go on! It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed! Take me back – up the hill – to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look! Goodbye! Goodbye world! Goodbye, Grover’s Corners-Mama and Papa. Goodbye to clocks ticking-and my butternut tree!-and Mama’s sunflowers- and food and coffee- and new ironed dresses and hot baths-and sleeping and waking up! Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you! Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it – every, every minute?

Stage Manager: (Quietly) No – Saints and poets maybe –they do some.

Emily: I’m ready to go back.

Moving beyond Singer, even beyond Wilder, we know that this good earth, this good life with all of its joys, sorrows and suffering, have been given to us by God to teach us love and its demands. It has been given to us in order to ready us for “what eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,”

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