On June 6, 1997, Melissa Drexler killed her baby. The Aberdeen, N.J., teenager was at her high school prom when the pains of her contractions became strong enough to force her into the ladies' bathroom, where she gave birth to a son. She took her child, wrapped him in a garbage bag, and tossed him aside. Returning to the dance floor, she picked up where she left off. Her case is not unique: The number of murders of children less than one week old has increased by 92 percent over the past 25 years. Making sense of this horror is not easy. Many point to the American abortion culture that devalues the life of the unborn child. Liberal commentator Michael Kelly writes in The Washington Post, "Of all the arguments advanced against the legalization of abortion, the one that struck me as the most questionable is the most consequential: that the widespread acceptance of abortion would lead to a profound moral shift in our culture, a great devaluing of human life." But the issues are much deeper than the legality of abortion. The devaluation of human life is the most obvious consequence of a Naturalistic worldview. The intellectual founders of modern society-Darwin, Freud, and Nietzsche-drank deeply at the well of Naturalism, a view that deprives creation of its divine origin and relegates religion to psychological pathologies or a desire for power. This was the true battle behind the Scopes trial in1925. William Jennings Bryan admitted that he was no expert on the technical issues involved in the origins debate, but his writings revealed a deep concern for the social and spiritual implications of Darwinism, implications already present at the time in the new Soviet Empire. Bryan's fears have become reality. James Rachels, professor of philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, claims, "After Darwin, we can no longer think of ourselves as occupying a special place in creation-instead, we must realize that we are products of the same evolutionary forces, working blindly and without purpose, that shaped the rest of the animal kingdom." The consequences of Naturalism, if carried to their honest conclusions, are chilling. Mr. Rachels chides atheists who try to hold on to a moral system in the face of the truth of Naturalism. "What becomes of traditional morality," he asks, "if man is but a modified ape?" When the transcendent value of human life is removed, the criteria for judging life become arbitrary. Unfortunately, the depravity of the human heart sinks to the lowest levels and the means for judging the value of others is obscured by our own desires and goals. "Hell is other people" Sartre tells us. Whereas Naturalism was intended to free humanity from the shackles of superstitions and oppression, the result is bondage to a growing culture of killing. Killing has become an acceptable way to take care of problems, enhance personal convenience, or provide entertainment. Abortion and infanticide are the most obvious examples of the culture of killing. Entertainment is replete with the glorification of killing, from video games (a Mortal Kombat ad asked, "Have you ever killed anyone with a chain saw? Would you like to?") to movies and television (the average adult in America has seen 100,000 murders) to music (Marilyn Manson's plea, "kill yourself" or Eric Clapton's warning, "I may have to blow your brains out, baby"). And separating truth from reality is increasingly difficult. When the high school students in Jonesboro, Ark., were told of the shootings at the nearby middle school, some of them laughed. Only the biblical worldview sees each person created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Man is of more value than animals (Matthew 10:31), and the worth of the human soul exceeds the value of the entire material world (Mark 8:36-37). Even the lowliest of society are not despised (Matthew 18:10). Through God's eyes, the only proper lens for viewing the world, every person has infinite value. As C.S. Lewis affirms, "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal." Melissa Drexler's trash was God's treasure.
Bill Brown is president of Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn.