Creating and Killing

In a scene in The Two Towers, the second in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, the traitor Saruman is torturing the noble wizard Gandalf. "What," the evil wizard asks Gandalf, "is the greatest power?" "Life," Gandalf replies. "You fool," says Saruman. "Life can be destroyed. Did I teach you nothing?" Trying again, Gandalf says, "Creation." "Yes," answers Saruman, "the power to create life." This passage comes to mind when we consider that this month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the start of the modern holocaust: the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. Some 50 million babies have died since that ruling was handed down. Terrible as Roe was, we are now facing an even worse horror. In Roe, we took life -- which was bad enough -- but at least we were not pretending to be God. But now, with cloning, humans will play God, the Author of life: We will create life for our own purposes. In fact, if reports are true, we already have. The Raelians, a religious group that believes humans are the clones of extraterrestrials, claim that a cloned child, a baby girl named Eve, was born on December 26. This is not some science-fiction story -- it's an immediate concern. Sadly, just as most Christians were asleep when Roe was decided, we are in danger of sleeping through the alarm of this latest moral catastrophe. Nearly the only people who opposed abortion-on-demand in 1973 were our Catholic brethren. Many said, "It's just a Catholic issue." Hard as it is to believe today, Southern Baptists -- my own denomination -- were in favor of abortion. And now, on an issue of even greater moment, we may do the same thing. We're not talking about taking the lives of 50 million kids, as horrible as that is. We're talking about creating the lives of 50 million kids -- and then killing them, ostensibly for the good of humanity. Where will all this lead us? C. S. Lewis offered a prophetic warning half a century before human cloning became a potential reality. "If any one age," he wrote, "really attains, by eugenics and scientific education, the power to make its descendents what it pleases, all men who live after are the patients of that power," slaves to the "dead hand of the great planners and conditioners." Just as Lewis foresaw, the biotech revolution is moving like a steamroller, crushing everything in its path -- including ethical questions. The reason is that secular ethics have been drained of moral content. In the political debate, the utilitarians -- those who demand the "greatest good for the greatest number" -- have seized the high ground, offering dazzling promises of cures to come. As Christians, it's our duty to raise even bigger moral questions. The worst atrocities are performed in the name of humanitarian causes. And sacrificing one to benefit all soon makes all vulnerable. This month I'll be devoting quite a bit of time to life issues and the social forces that have driven the demand for legal abortion and how they lead to the demand for euthanasia and assisted suicide. I'll also describe the challenges for Christians in this "brave new world." You'll learn what specific things you can do to wake up your neighbors -- before the abolition of man triumphs over the human race. For further reading: C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001). Charles Colson, "Can We Prevent the Abolition of Man?", an address to U.S. Congress members and staff, BreakPoint Online, 2001. Peter Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis (InterVarsity, 2002). Visit the Council for Biotechnology Policy website for more information on bioethics and biotechnology issues.


Chuck Colson


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