Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Value of Human Life Comes from Its Source

My wife and I recently had the privilege of attending the National Right to Life Convention in Kansas City. Wesley J. Smith explained some of the common lies and deceptions used to support embryonic experimentation, including embryonic stem cell research. (Read his blog to stay informed on these issues.)

Smith said that whenever pro-life people debate life issues, we always reach an irreconcilable difference with our opponents over the core question of what makes a human life valuable.

Does a human life have the same worth while a blastocyst (young embryo) as it does during later stages of development or in childhood? Does that human life deserve the same protection in a test tube or incubator as in its mother's womb. Is human life as precious when an injury prevents swallowing, requiring the person to be fed through a feeding tube?

In short, what is valuable about human life?

Although there may be pro-life atheists, the pro-life movement bases its view of human worth and dignity on the Bible's account of creation. God made humans as a unique creation, distinct from animals. He later gave commandments concerning the importance of human life--anyone who takes another's life forfeits his own. From the biblical perspective, all human life is sacred and worthy of protection from the moment of fertilization until natural death. This foundation unites Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims on the issue of life.

The anti-life crowd has no such standard. Life is worth protecting if it meets a certain level of "quality." The minimal quality of life is, of course, never defined, which suits moral relativists fine. To some, human worth depends on physical ability. A person who is substantially disabled consumes more than he produces, so he is expendable.

To others the quality of a person's life depends on his reasoning ability. Smart people are more valuable than dumb ones, and those below a certain IQ should be discarded.

To those who deny God, there is nothing better about human life than animal life. In a written debate on this subject, the person I debated wrote:
It is perfectly fine to terminate the life of a being without self-awareness. If the being had self-awareness beforehand, and is likely to attain it again then it is most ethical to keep the body alive until the self-awareness is reattained.
After further questioning he wrote:
I'm not versed enough in cognitive science or developmental science to determine at what point a human's mind is turned on.
So the value of a life depends on its mental abilities, whether human or animal. We've seen where this arbitrary valuation of life leads in the state-sponsored eugenic horrors of the twentieth century. But for centuries disabled and retarded people faced neglect and cruel abuse until Christians took them in and cared for them. Not surprisingly, the same people often took in abandoned infants.

We will never agree with our opponents on what makes life valuable. We have a consistent unwavering position. Theirs is subjective.

In the debate on the value of life, let's not get pulled into debating quality of life. If we abandon the sanctity of life and fight on their terms, we lose, because our arguments are not based on absolute truth.

Let's never be ashamed to declare that the value of human life comes from its Creator.

Wesley Wilson

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Blogger said...

The Christian Medical And Dental Association adopted an ethics statement on "Human Worth" this week, affirming exactly what you've said. The language is elegant and succinct. I've posted an excerpt at my blog,

June 23, 2007 at 4:10 PM  

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