You or the Dog? Who Would the Postmodern Save if Given a Cho
Paul Dean Dr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog
- 2005 May 19
In a postmodern culture, values and convictions are up-side-down on every front. To add insult to injury, far too many Christians have no understanding as to why these issues are so important. As one fellow believer asked recently, "What is the big deal about evolution? Why do you have such a problem with it being taught in school?" Those questions were in response to objections brought by concerned parents that evolution was being taught as truth in a Christian school. Creationism is not taught in that same school nor is Intelligent Design. The evolutionary worldview is propagated as the truth along with its attending implications and Christian educators are asking, "What's the problem?" What's the problem indeed?
Dennis Prager asks the question, "Would you first save the dog you love or a stranger if both were drowning?" He answers that question by saying it depends on your value system.
Secular humanism, grounded in evolutionary theory, is the worldview of choice these days and is diametrically opposed to the Christian worldview. That worldview obliterates the notion that man is created in the image of God and that man has essential dignity that mere animals do not have. The fact that a question should be posed in this culture regarding whether nor not one would save his dog or a fellow human being if both were drowning should alarm us all. That fact that people have to think about the answer should frighten us all. The fact that many would opt for the dog should compel us all to say, "Wait just a minute, in what kind of society do we live?"
When most people see a wounded or dead squirrel on the side of the road, they keep driving. If they were to see a wounded or dead woman on the side of the road, they would stop and help. The humanist, evolutionary worldview will cause some to drive past the squirrel and the woman, while causing some to stop for both, while causing some to stop for the squirrel and drive past the woman, depending upon time constraints or some other arbitrary consideration. Without a commitment to human dignity and worth over against the animals, each of us can increasingly experience the dog eat dog, or should I say, man eat man, mentality that corresponds to survival of the fittest.
Prager notes, "One of the great ironies of secular humanism is that it devalues the worth of human beings. As ironic as it may sound, the God-based Judeo-Christian value system renders man infinitely more valuable and significant than any humanistic value system." In other words, while one would think that the philosophy of humanism elevates human worth, in reality, it destroys human worth. Indeed, it vaunts notions of autonomy and perhaps self-deification. But god is in everything and everything is bound together by this cosmic deity so that there is no difference between humans and trees or rocks. All is one and one is all.
Of course, the irony of the Christian worldview rendering man infinitely more valuable than the humanistic worldview is grounded in the fact that the Scriptures teach that human beings are created in the image of God. In a postmodern world committed to an evolutionary worldview, humans and animals are no different from one another and have no more or less worth than the other. As one scientist quipped in sum, a dog is a rat is a bug is a human being.
Prager contends that the secularized Western society of today has rendered human beings less significant than at any time in history. In this society, humans are increasingly equated with animals. Shockingly, when asked if they would attempt to save their dog or a stranger first, two-thirds of high-school seniors voted against the person by saying they either did not know or that they would actually opt for the dog. A large number of adults vote the same way.
Consider an illustrative case in point. According to The Observer, Parkinson's victim, Mike Robins, was given new life by the grace of God through a newly developed medical procedure, and, at the same time, was called a Nazi by animal rights activists. In his words, "hundreds shouted at me, roll over and die."
With the flip of a switch, Robins can turn off the uncontrollable tremors that formerly kept him from getting to sleep, having a social life, and maintaining a job. He benefited from a new surgical procedure that is done while the patient remains conscious. The individual's brain is opened up and an electrode is inserted into the cortex. When it touches the nucleus, the tremors instantly stop. A panel is sown into the individual's chest by which electric current can be switched on or off. In Robins' case, when he flips the switch, his right hand no longer waves and his right leg no longer shakes.
Robins was asked to attend a meeting to discuss a proposed animal research center in Oxford. His goal was to demonstrate the blessings animal research had brought to him. The surgeon who operated on Robins, and at the same time had invited him to the discussion, Tipu Aziz, had the same goal in speaking at the debate himself. However, the meeting did not go well. "'I was bayed at,' said Robins, a retired naval engineer from Southampton.' Several hundred people were shouting. Some called out 'Nazi!', 'b_____!' and 'Why don't you roll over and die!' I tried to speak, but was shouted down. It was utterly terrifying.'"
Aziz commented, "I am now very sorry I put him through that horrible ordeal. To these people, Mike's existence is a refutation of their core beliefs. They say animal experiments do no good. Then Mike stands up, switches his tremors on and off, and their arguments are blown away. That's why they shouted him down."
Indeed, their worldview was coming under attack. In the evolutionary mind, we humans have no right to medically benefit at the expense of animals. One wonders how these individuals actually bring themselves to eat meat. Of course, many do not. Yet, it is scientific fact that strict vegetarianism or veganism is far less healthy than a balanced diet with meat. As one doctor retorted, "I've never seen a healthy vegetarian."
The debate concerning vivisection is intense to say the least. Vivisection is defined as "the act or practice of performing experiments on living animals. The term is used to refer to several categories of scientific or medical procedures performed on animals including: drug or chemical testing, biomedical research, and raising and killing animals for parts (such as heart valves) or organs."
Parents and students were outraged recently when Utah Biology teacher Doug Bjerregaard, subbing at Gunnison Valley High School, arranged to perform a vivisection on a dog while it was alive but under anesthesia. The dog was actually scheduled to be euthanized because it "was vicious and couldn't be kept." It had been taken to an animal clinic and declared not adoptable. It was determined the dog had to be euthanized. The advanced biology class at Gunnison High, after receiving permission from parents, traveled to the clinic where the dog was anesthetized under sterile conditions. "Students observed the digestive system of the dog. There was no dissection, nor did the teacher or students have any contact with the animal." Yet, "after news reports, the high school and district administrators were flooded with telephone calls alleging 'animal cruelty' and saying the incident was 'sending a terrible message' to young people," according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The school apologized while at the same time affirmed that "both the teacher and veterinarian are kind, gentle people and advocates of animals."
Joe Pursch rightly laments the reaction, but on greater philosophical grounds related to issues of human dignity, worth, and the sanctity of human life. "So they're all outraged in Utah about the [High School] biology teacher who dissected a live dog in class. Big deal. We're giddy about doing exactly the same thing to live HUMANS in California…I don't get it. What's the difference between what this guy did and what these same people would support overwhelmingly, according to MSM polls, namely human embryonic stem cell research? After all...the dog was sedated, and wouldn't feel pain. The human embryos are "embryonic" and wouldn't feel pain. (Uhh, until 14 days of age, anyway. After that, we're not too sure of anything. So when they reach that point, we stop experimenting on them and do the only decent thing: we kill them. We do have ethics, you know. But hey, if we could figure out a way to sedate something as small as an embryo, wouldn't that be great? Then we could keep on experimenting with them until there's nothing left, conscience free.) The dog was going to be euthanized anyway. The human embryos are going to be euthanized too (even though there are many human adults willing to adopt them through existing embryo adoption-implantation programs). It was just a dog. Dogs aren't persons, they don't have souls or civil rights. They are laboratory material. The human embryos are just that: human embryos. They're not persons, we've decided. They have no souls (we hope). They have no civil rights (we think). It was the only way to give these students the "quantum leap in learning" that they needed. It was a reasonable and visionary act. Just like pulling apart the human embryos in petri dishes is. Really. But he pulled the organs out of an innocent, defenseless living thing and ended it's life just to give some people a chance to learn something in a lab experiment!!!! How could he? No. How could you?"
In his engaging way, Pursch has highlighted the primary issue. How can we kill human beings in a cavalier fashion for so-called medical advancement, while at the same time protest animal experimentation for that same medical advancement? Only those who hold to an evolutionary and humanist worldview could get it so reversed. Need we say any more to answer our Christian friend's question regarding the teaching of evolution in school, particularly in Christian schools? In addition to much needed ink regarding the atrocities of killing babies for research, more should be said on other fronts as well.
Even some Christians are prone to criticize this biology teacher despite the circumstances that the dog was not adoptable, scheduled to be euthanized, and felt no pain. But what about Mike Robins, the human patient with Parkinson's?The attack on Robins was worse than normal in vivisection debates according to Simon Festing, director of the Research Defense Society, which defends the scientific use of animals. "I have seen many unpleasant things at these debates, but to scream at a middle-aged man with Parkinson's disease and then tell him he deserved to die is the worst I have observed."
"The attack on Robins reveals the gulf now separating scientists who carry out animal experiments and opponents who believe they are immoral, an entrenchment that forms the background to the publication next week of a Nuffield Council for Bioethics report on animal experiments. Its authors, made up of supporters and opponents of the experiments, [attempt to establish] that both sides have legitimate ethical grounds for their beliefs. Their report will also attempt to highlight methods that might help each side understand the other's arguments. The attack on Robins demonstrates how difficult that task will be."
Robins wasn't sure about animal research before his illness. As his condition worsened after his diagnosis, Robins, married with four children, was given medication that had no effect upon the disease. His speech slurred and his tremors worsened. "It was difficult to walk. I couldn't go to the pub or restaurant. My right hand was bouncing all over the place. I got very depressed. Even my family found it hard to be with me." It was then that Robins heard about research in which Parkinson's had been induced in macaque monkeys and controlled through the above prescribed procedure.
Robins had hoped to demonstrate how his implant worked and applaud the advances in medical technology made possible through animal research, but was unsuccessful. The meeting was full of anti-vivisectionists. "I wanted to show them what had been done for me but found myself in a room full of 250 people who were baying for my blood. The venom was horrific...a handful of middle-aged women...started hissing in my ear: 'You Nazi b_____. That's what they did in concentration camps.'"
According to Festing, "Women like these form the core of the animal rights campaign. They are often well-ressed and middle-class, but are religious in their fanaticism... Accusing opponents of being Nazis is also a common tactic."
One question must be posed here. What do Jews think about using animals for medical research being compared to the genocide of millions of their brothers and sisters as the result of pure evil? What do they think about comparing those who are trying to help their fellow human beings to those who simply wanted the Jews wiped from the face of the earth? Regardless of how they feel about animal rights, what do Jews think about the casual usage of the term Nazi which necessarily tends to remove the horrific truth of what Nazism was? What do you think? Of course, in a postmodern world, that view must be given the highest validity and those who think otherwise are bigoted and deserve no hearing. How's that for turning truth on its head?
Prager pointed to an incident in Tuscon, Ariz, where "a woman last year screamed to firefighters that her 'babies' were in her burning house. Thinking that the woman's children were trapped inside, the firemen risked their lives to save the woman's three cats." That type of worldview and hysteria is criminal. These men risked their lives and the very future of their precious families to save cats at the behest of a woman gone mad. We are not without compassion, but in this case, let the cats burn. That's the only Christian thing to do.
Prager gets it right when he attributes this type of thinking to a denial of authority and a lack of commitment to biblical values. In a postmodern world, people make decisions based upon their own truth claim, random thought process, or bare feelings. No coherent philosophy is appealed to, much less a biblical worldview. Because people feel more for their dog than they do a stranger, in a postmodern world where truth is relative and humans and animals are equal, the choice is easy: save the dog.
Because persons today deny the image of God in man and vaunt the worth of animals to the same if not a higher level of worth, they "support programs such as "Holocaust on Your Plate," the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) campaign that teaches that there is no difference between the slaughtering of chickens and the slaughtering of the Jews in the Holocaust." What a tragedy that Colonel Sanders has not been viewed as one of the worst tyrants the world has ever known. Let him take his place beside Hitler in a postmodern cultural mindset.
Sadly, as Prager points out, animal rights activists would agree with PETA that it would be wrong to experiment on animals even if a cure for cancer or AIDS could be had. Killing a pig for a heart valve to save a human life is out of the question. "Belief in human-animal equivalence inevitably follows the death of Judeo-Christian values, and it serves not so much to elevate animal worth as to reduce human worth."
Further, Prager notes, “Kindness to animals has no effect on a person's treatment of people. The Nazis, the cruelest group in modern history, were also the most pro-animal-rights group prior to the contemporary period. They outlawed experimentation on animals and made legal experimentation on human beings."
The parallels between the philosophical commitments in WWII Nazi Germany and the prevailing contemporary mindset in America, and indeed the rest of the West, are absolutely and frighteningly staggering. In this evolutionary society, if a motorist about to be hit head on by an oncoming vehicle has a choice to go right or left to safety, but is confronted with hitting a dog on the left or hitting you bicycling on the right, you better peddle with all your might or brace for impact. And after being hit and then being transported to the hospital, when they come to harvest your organs before you're actually dead, rest assured that the dog is safe. Rest assured that no pig will die to give your neighbor a new heart valve when he can easily and without any qualms of conscience have your heart. After all, you're just a human. You're just a meaningless product of random chance. You're just matter in motion.
Give your life for that dog? On an evolutionary worldview in a postmodern, humanist culture, you won't mind, because you don't matter.