JIS XV 2003
TOWARD A CULTURE OF LIFE:
Restoring Human Felicity
JIS XV 2003: 3-22
THE INTRINSIC WORTH OF PERSONS:
REVISITING PETER SINGER AND HIS CRITICS
Peter J. Colosi
Franciscan University, Austria
This essay examines various sources of worth intrinsic to persons, and offers an overview of Peter Singer’s ethical thought. Critics of Singer’s ethical philosophy admit that there is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to a definitive critique of his views. The “Singer Problem” is the notion that there are no facts intrinsic to persons capable of grounding their dignity and equality. Yet these are not so much critics as thinkers who do not like the conclusions that follow from unquestioned premises which they share with Singer: an overly rationalistic approach to reality, and the view that goodness is not an objective property of things. By exploring the uniqueness of persons, John Crosby shows a deep source of worth intrinsic to persons, which grounds dignity and equality. Based exclusively on traits common to all persons, Singer’s notion of personhood excludes love from ethics; but love has a place in ethics.
JIS XV 2003: 23-42
CHARLES DARWIN AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Denis O. Lamoureux
St. Joseph’s College, Canada
Many assume that Charles Darwin rejected outright the notion of intelligent design. As a consequence, the term “Darwinism” has evolved to become conflated with a dysteleological interpretation of evolution. The primary historical literature reveals that Darwin’s conceptualization of design was cast within the categories of William Paley’s natural theology, featuring static and perfect adaptability. Once Darwin discovered the mechanism of natural selection and the dynamic process of biological evolution, he rejected the “old argument from design in Nature” proposed by Paley. However, he was never able to ignore the powerful experience of the creation’s revelatory activity. Darwin’s encounter with the beauty and complexity of the world affirms a Biblical understanding of intelligent design and argues for the reality of a non-verbal revelation through nature. In a postmodern culture with epistemological foundations adrift, natural revelation provides a mooring for human felicity.
JIS XV 2003: 43-60
THE EDUCATIONAL DEBATE
OVER DARWINISM *
John Angus Campbell
University of Memphis
The debate over teaching Darwin’s theory in public schools has been a feature of American public life since at least the Scopes trial of 1925. Drawing on the liberal arts tradition centered in rhetoric and civic argument, this essay argues that science education should not merely prepare tomorrow’s scientists, but also educate scientifically articulate citizens. It offers the Origin of Species as a model for educational strategies that would protect the integrity of science, while addressing the objections of students and their parents to Darwin’s ideas. Darwin’s work belongs in the great tradition of two-sided humanistic argument central to Western education since antiquity, and exemplified in John Milton and John Stuart Mill. Debate between Darwin’s theory and its alternatives, whether young earth creationism or Intelligent Design, is recommended as a means to teach Darwin’s theory and train students in the central role of critique and argument in scientific reasoning.
* Oleg Zinam Award for Best Essay in JIS, 2003.
JIS XV 2003: 61-78
SCIENCE, RELIGION AND
A CULTURE OF LIFE
Stephen Craig Dilley
For those who wish to affirm a culture that values human life, the relationship between science and religion continues to be of import. Some, like Edward O. Wilson, think that naturalistic science will eventually account for all phenomena, even religious experience itself. This essay considers Wilson’s hypothesis by surveying three classic explanations of universal religious belief: Sigmund Freud’s projection theory, Charles Darwin’s evolutionary paradigm, and John Calvin’s sensus divinitatis. Both Freud’s and Darwin’s views suffer from self-referential and evidential problems. In contrast, Calvin’s model handles well major objections of religious pluralism and atheism. Of these three, Calvin’s view is superior. Religion may not be reducible to a naturalistic explanation, and those who wish to promote a culture of life ought to view the relations between science and religion in a non-Wilsonian fashion, eschewing reductionism.
JIS XV 2003: 79-98
ABORTION POLICY AND THE MARKET
John M. Cobin
North Greenville College
The only true scarce resource is the human mind. Yet abortion is perhaps the most potent enemy of the human mind, since it destroys the one thing in life that cannot be replaced. Economic analysis suggests that abortion policy will fail to serve the public interest due to public choice and knowledge problems, and it will adversely distort beneficial market phenomena like adoption services. Even if markets fail to produce zero unwanted pregnancies, it is not clear that abortion policy has avoided more tragic government failures. Theologians argue that killing innocent human beings is moral turpitude, since an irreplaceable soul is lost. But abortion is also a huge social loss in an economic sense. Society loses from legalized abortion by losing a mind and from the social costs that devolve from destroying that mind. Hence, classical liberals should embrace the recent pro-life momentum.
JIS XV 2003: 99-118
PHYSICIAN – ASSISTED SUICIDE
Raymond L. Dennehy
University of San Francisco
Apologists for physician-assisted suicide maintain that democracy’s commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness entitles any rational adult to decide when to end one’s life. Yet the procedure nullifies freedom and the right to life, and is thus anti-democratic. Both on the practical and theoretical levels, assisted suicide leads to involuntary euthanasia. On the theoretical level, the distinction between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia is clear, but on the practical level it becomes blurry. Both pre-Nazi Germany and contemporary Holland offer ample evidence for the slippery slope that leads from voluntary to involuntary euthanasia. While advocates of assisted suicide regard the transition to the involuntary as an “abuse,” that transition is, however, necessarily implied, and hence justified by assisted suicide. For the putative “right” to kill oneself implies that one has rights of disposal over one’s life. But what is in principle disposable may be disposed of by others. Any argument for voluntary euthanasia implies the justification of involuntary euthanasia. Therefore, physician-assisted suicide nullifies the right to life and with it the democratic charter.
JIS XV 2003: 119-136
THE ENIGMA OF SUFFERING:
A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
Canadian Indian Schools
The postmodern age considers suffering as the greatest evil and an indictment of God. Yet a Biblical perspective on suffering reveals it as part of the human condition and a test of discipleship. Both the Old and the New Testaments view suffering through the lens of God’s faithfulness, grace, transcendence, redemption, and salvation for all who believe in Him. This essay explores what we may discern from Scripture regarding suffering and its role in spiritual growth, self-discipline, character formation, and the Christian vocation of witness in the world. Crucially, we ourselves consciously decide our attitude towards suffering, whether it is our own or the suffering of others. Yet suffering only truly becomes that when we suffer unjustly for matters that we have not knowingly brought upon ourselves, in contrast to suffering due to our own mistakes or misbehavior. Ultimately, only God can answer difficult problems in the realm of justice. For the believer, God’s promises are the foundation for life which fill the heart, mind, and soul.
JIS XV 2003: 139-164
THE CHACOBO INDIANS OF THE AMAZON:
DISCOVERING A META – CULTURE
OF MEANING AND LIFE*
Gilbert R. Prost
Summer Institute of Linguistics
This essay is about a life-affirming social revolution grounded in what theologians call Natural Law or the Orders of Creation, that innate universal Ground Plan within us which informs men everywhere how to live. It is about a social experiment in communicating a meta-culture of meaning and life to a dying monolingual, semi- nomadic Amazonian tribe living on the edge of extinction. As the Bolivian command culture slowly impinged on every aspect of the Chácobo lifestyle, this primitive, egalitarian, command-less, duty-based structured society, like so many other tribes before them, would eventually disappear into the fabric of the dominant culture within a generation. The Chácobo would cease to exist as a tribal people. To prevent this, the society had to restructure itself from a defensive culture designed to reduce anxiety over existence in isolation to a pro-active culture designed to maximize human freedom within a universal moral order. Following the Plan of the Maker, Chácobo society, within a span of twenty-five years, moved from the edge of extinction to vigor and health, and from day-to-day existence to long-range planning, while experiencing a five to six-fold increase in population growth.
* David Morsey Award for Best Biblical Exegesis in JIS, 2003.
JIS XV 2003: 165-182
THE PROTEAN FACES OF MATERIALISM
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research
After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State. By Paul E. Gottfried. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001. Reprint. 176 p. Cloth. $27.95.
Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy. By Paul E. Gottfried. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2002. 149 p. Cloth. $29.95.
Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism. By Joshua Muravchik. San Francisco, CA: Encounter Books, 2002. 400 p. Cloth. $27.95.