Gilbert Meilaender is one of the most intelligent and influential bioethicists of our age, and it is reassuring to know that he is a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Meilaender holds the Richard and Phyllis Duesenberg Chair in Theological Ethics at Valparaiso University, and his numerous writings in philosophy and bioethics are must-reads for intelligent Christians.
America has been involved in an intense and culture-shaking debate over abortion that has now lasted into its fourth decade. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court did not settle the issue at all. Far from it. That landmark exercise in judicial activism has led to the death of millions of unborn babies and left a scar across the nation’s soul that will not heal until America regains its moral sense and defends the unborn.
Are you ready for the posthuman future? That is the frightening question posed by Wesley J. Smith in his new book, Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World. Smith, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture, has written another book that demands the attention of every thoughtful Christian.
“First, do no harm.” That most basic principle of the Hippocratic Oath has formed the foundation for medical ethics for over 2,000 years. Nevertheless, that principle is now routinely redefined or ignored, and the field of medical ethics is filled with compromises, conflicts, and worse.
In the flood of words published each year, relatively few are worthy of notice, and even fewer deserve lasting attention. Regrettably, some of the more worthy books, essays, and articles are simply lost in the tidal flow of literary output. From time to time, a work comes to new life and renewed relevance. Such is the case with “Marriage and the Illusion of Moral Neutrality,” an essay by Princeton University professor Robert P. George.
A mixture of often contradictory ideas frames the popular imagination and, to a great extent, the contours of the American mind. One of the most cherished of these ideas is of fairly recent vintage, though its philosophical roots go far back into the American experience. This idea can be called simply the “self-esteem myth”–the idea that an individual’s self-esteem is central to success, happiness, performance, and behavior.
From our vantage point in the year 2005, we can now see that the twentieth century was a time of tremendous contrasts. Great advances were made in the fight for freedom. The century ended with millions liberated from enslavement to communism, fascism, and other ideologies of terror that marked the last one hundred years. Yet, at the same time, we recognize that the twentieth century was among the most barbaric epochs in human history. Millions were slaughtered in two world wars, in the ovens of death camps, in the killing fields of genocide, and on the altar of convenience.
Just before the end of the year, headlines across the nation announced that a Texas woman had received delivery of a newly cloned kitten–an exact replica of the pet she had cherished for 17 years. The woman, identified only by her first name in press reports, declared herself ecstatic about the kitten and pleased to have paid the $50,000 required for the carbon copy of her beloved dead cat, “Nicky.”
Have we now reached a stage of social evolution that is “beyond honesty?” That fascinating question is raised by author Ralph Keyes in his new book, The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life. “I think it’s fair to say that honesty is on the ropes,” Keyes observes. “Deception has become commonplace at all levels of contemporary life.”
Civilization is an achievement, not a fact of nature. In order for civilization to exist, certain convictions, structures, traditions, and patterns of life are necessary. As a matter of fact, civilization cannot exist without trust, an affirmation of human dignity, honesty, order, and a high view of human life and its value.
“Indifference in questions of importance is no amiable quality,” observed the inimitable Samuel Johnson. Always given to eloquent understatement, Johnson understood the deadly danger of moral indifference. Sharing his concern, we should now ask: Have Americans grown indifferent to abortion?
As “partial-birth abortion” emerged into America’s consciousness, an Oregon woman named Jenny Westberg made a series of simple pen-and-ink drawings of the procedure. Those pictures–striking in their simplicity and devastating in their clarity–would change the trajectory of America’s abortion debate. Evil flourishes in the darkness, and Westberg’s drawings brought the murderous abortion procedure to light.
In the beginning was the Word. Christians rightly cherish the declaration that our Savior, the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, is first known as…
We must speak the truth in love and seek to be good neighbors to all, but we cannot abandon the faith just because we are told that we are now on the wrong side of history.