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Why is it that the supposedly smart people in our society are so whacked out? I'm serious. There seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of advanced degrees and the embrace of some really bizarre, freaky, and deadly ideas. I'm not condemning education, of course. I've got one, I try to help others get one, and I believe in it. But maybe this is more a commentary on the state of advanced levels of education, what we're training people to think rather than training them on how to think.
And this isn't necessarily even a comment about governing. That's certainly true too - remember the Buckley quote about how he'd rather be governed by people plucked out of the phone book than the faculty at a major Ivy League university. I totally agree with that, by the way. But I just mean culturally, scientifically, it seems that the more education a person has at some of our leading institutions of learning, the more apt they are to being totally off the rails.
Now certainly there are plenty of smart people that have escaped the grips of this intellectual black hole. But observing the state of intelligentsia today, you definitely begin to understand the Biblical axiom from Romans that "professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Wesley J. Smith of Discovery Institute recently wrote about a prime example of what I'm referring to:
Case in point: ¡°What Makes Killing Wrong?¡± an article published in the January 19, 2012 edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics. The authors argue that death and total disability are morally indistinguishable, and therefore harvesting organs from living disabled patients is not morally wrong. Bioethicists Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, of Duke University, and Franklin G. Miller, from the National Institutes of Health¡¯s Department of Bioethics (which should really get the alarm bells ringing!) arrive at their shocking (for most of us) conclusion by claiming that murdering the hypothetical ¡°Betty¡± isn¡¯t wrong because it kills her, but rather, because it ¡°makes her unable to do anything, including walking, talking, and even thinking and feeling.¡±
How do they get from deconstructing the definition of death to harvesting the disabled? First, they change the scenario so that Betty is not killed but severely brain damaged to the point that she is ¡°totally disabled.¡± But their definition of that term encompasses hundreds of thousands of living Americans who are our mothers, fathers, children, aunts and siblings, uncles, friends and cousins ¡ª people with profound disabilities like that experienced by Terri Schiavo and my late Uncle Bruno as he lived through the late stages of his Alzheimer¡¯s disease:
Betty has mental states, at least intermittently and temporarily, so she is not dead by any standard or plausible criterion. Still, she is universally disabled because she has no control over anything that goes on in her body or mind.
Since Betty ¡°is no worse off being dead than totally disabled,¡± they opine, it is no worse ¡°to kill Betty than to totally disable her.¡± Not only that, but according to the authors, ¡°there is nothing bad about death or killing other than disability or disabling,¡± and since she is already so debilitated, then nothing wrong is done by harvesting her organs and thus ending her biological existence. And thus, in the space of not quite five pages, killing the innocent ceases to be wrong and the intrinsic dignity of human life is thrown out the window, transforming vulnerable human beings into objectified and exploitable human resources.
This is the logical progression of a mind that has left the tracks of rationality. It¡¯s what happens when you begin at the wrong train station ¨C the one that has no Moral Authority beyond your own mind. Many people operate on those tracks, but they don¡¯t push their train beyond the day-to-day activities and interactions that never delve deep into the realm of the philosophical or societal. But there is an increasing amount of God-deniers who are coming to hold positions of authority within our culture ¨C most worrisome in government and education fields.
And in case you are tempted to believe that these are just two random, left-wing nuts I've picked out of the left field of academia, falsely misrepresenting them as indicative of the emerging mindset of their brethren, Wesley Smith ticks off an incredible list of supposedly "professional journals" saying the exact same stuff:
¡ñ Bioethics: ¡°If a patient opts for VAE [voluntary active euthanasia] in a society that permits it, and then chooses termination via RVO [removing vital organs], it seems clear that no more harm is done to others than if he were terminated by any other means.¡±
¡ñ Journal of Medical Ethics: ¡°In the longer run, the medical profession and society ¡ should be prepared to accept the reality and justifiability of life terminating acts in medicine in the context of stopping life sustaining treatment and performing vital organ transplantation.¡±
¡ñ Nature: ¡°Few things are as sensitive as death. But concerns about the legal details of declaring death in someone who will never again be the person he or she was should be weighed against the value of giving a full and healthy life to someone who will die without a transplant.¡±
¡ñ New England Journal of Medicine: ¡°Whether death occurs as the result of ventilator withdrawal or organ procurement, the ethically relevant precondition is valid consent by the patient or surrogate. With such consent, there is no harm or wrong done in retrieving vital organs before death, provided that anesthesia is administered.¡±
¡ñ The Lancet: ¡°If the legal definition of death were to be changed to include comprehensive irreversible loss of higher brain function, it would be possible to take the life of a patient (or more accurately stop the heart since the patient would be defined as dead) by a lethal injection and then to remove the organs for transplantation ¡¡±
¡ñ Critical Care Medicine: ¡°We propose that individuals who desire to donate their organs and who are either neurologically devastated or imminently dying should be able to donate their organs without first being declared dead.¡±
This is the kind of thinking they embrace and perpetuate: one that judges the worth of humanity for what it can do rather than for what it is. It doesn't take a genius to figure out where that train's last stop is: the ovens of Auschwitz, the killing fields of Cambodia and trash bins of Planned Parenthood.
Smart? Wise? Think again.