Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Jerry Coyne on infanticide

Jerry Coyne is a leading atheist popularizer. Without religious restraint, there are no moral boundaries. It comes down to who has more power. This reveals the dark side of atheism, when you strip away the hortatory rhetoric about emancipation: 

After all, newborn babies aren’t aware of death, aren’t nearly as sentient as an older child or adult, and have no rational faculties to make judgments (and if there’s severe mental disability, would never develop such faculties).

Our pain at making such a decision is lessened knowing that dogs and cats, like newborns, don’t know about death and thus don’t fear it.) The reason we don’t allow euthanasia of newborns is because humans are seen as special, and I think this comes from religion—in particular, the view that humans, unlike animals, are endowed with a soul. It’s the same mindset that, in many places, won’t allow abortion of fetuses that have severe deformities. When religion vanishes, as it will, so will much of the opposition to both adult and newborn euthanasia.


  1. Coyne:

    "If you are allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on, then why aren’t you able to euthanize that same fetus just after it’s born? I see no substantive difference that would make the former act moral and the latter immoral."

    Is Coyne really so daft that he's unaware that there are children with microcephaly who have normal intelligence, who grow up to live normal happy lives? See what (arguably the best pediatric hospital in the United States) the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has said here for instance: "Children with microcephaly often have developmental delays or intellectual disabilities. There are some children with small heads, however, who do not have any related neurologic or developmental problems."

    Is Coyne really so daft that he's unaware that there are children with spina bifida who are otherwise normal and can live normal happy lives? In fact, I once knew a woman who was born with spina bifida - today she's a physician. Given her interests, it's possible she entered pediatrics. Who knows? Perhaps she even helps kids with spina bifida!

    There are multiple examples of kids with other genetic conditions who grow up to live happy lives. Take a look at Frank Stephens for example.

  2. I wonder if Coyne would care to ask dwarves, spinada bífida patients, Downs people and so forth if they would all like to die as long as they don’t feel it.