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Darwinism, Infanticide, and Human Exceptionalism


Writing at Why Evolution Is True, biologist Jerry Coyne praises infanticide for newborn babies that are “severely deformed or doomed.” Our colleagues Michael Egnor and Wesley Smith put their finger on the same adjective to describe this bit of advocacy: it is “odious.” And they both point out the connection with deeds that Western civilization renounced at Nuremberg.

Writing at National Review Online, Wesley asks, “Does Darwinism Lead to Infanticide Acceptance?” That is a good question. Read the rest at NRO, but Wesley makes excellent points. Knocking down the exceptional status of human beings is one of Darwinism’s corollaries:

As Coyne’s advocacy proves, once we reject human exceptionalism, universal human rights becomes unsustainable, and we move toward the manufacture of killable and exploitable castes of people, determined by the moral views of those with the power to decide.

Moreover, some of the most vociferous opponents of infanticide are disability rights activists — who are generally secular in outlook, liberal politically, and not pro-life on abortion. But they see the euthanasia and infanticide agendas as targeting people with disabilities. The advocacy of Coyne, Peter Singer, and others of their materialistic ilk proves they are correct.

Besides, if allowable abortion is the lodestar, then any baby could be killed. At the very least, the killable categories of infants would include babies with Down syndrome, dwarfism, and even, cleft palate — all reasons given for late term abortion.

Wesley concludes, noting an inconvenient truth.

Many scientists bemoan the fact that so many people refuse to accept evolution as a fact. Without getting into that controversy, perhaps they would be better off ruing the fact that ever since Darwin published The Origin of Species, so many of the promoters of that view also couple it with anti-humanism and a moral philosophy that was judged a crime against humanity at Nuremberg.

Coyne, an emeritus professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago, does a valuable service in his way. Many Darwinists backpedal on the implications of their way of thinking about the nature of life and its origins. They avoid gaffes like this — a gaffe being defined as what happens when someone tells the truth about what he believes in a way that is devastating to his own credibility, or the credibility of his allies.

Coyne is a font of such gaffes, which I imagine make his allies cringe. Calling it “brutal” NOT to permit infanticide, as he does in this post, would be a case in point.

Photo: Defendants at the Nuremberg trials, via National Archives/Flickr.