Blue-state philosopher

"Blue-state philosopher" Continued...

Issue: "Iraq: Fallujah's fallen," Nov. 27, 2004

How can Christians and others combat Singerism? Some have tried to run him out of town or silence him in other ways, but that is ethically troublesome in our American liberty theme park and practically unrealistic, given the support his ideas already have among leaders in media and academia.

Besides, his flat-out statements push students who flock to his courses and others who hear him to ask on what basis they might disagree with him: Aesthetic repugnance? Social science data? Other methods of reasoning? Natural law? Biblical revelation? A combination of the above?

Christians should not shy away from such debates, especially since, under questioning, Mr. Singer reveals that he lives in an ivory tower. Since he has resided in the United States for only five years after a lifetime in Australia, he shows little understanding of American culture. He writes about U.S. poverty but acknowledges that he has spent little time talking with the poor. He approves of polyamory in the abstract but in his own life, to his credit, he has been married for 35 years to one woman, Renata Singer. (He notes that they have three daughters in their 20s, all vegetarians.)

Beyond even an inherent selfishness disguised as altruism, Mr. Singer's proposals for consensuality suffer from a lack of realism. While even the voluntary standards he proposes sound beastly enough, he does not recognize that bullies would soon give them preferred status or make them compulsory. If "voluntary euthanasia" became common, the pressure would grow on the elderly or the disabled to get out of the way rather than use up resources. If infanticide under "strict" conditions were legalized, the conditions would soon be loosened, reporters would discover inequities where it was allowed in some circumstances and not others, and soon infanticide on parental demand would become standard. That's what happened with abortion.

Mr. Singer's "consensuality" seems like a far cry stylistically from the social engineering of N.I.C.E., but the social revolution in Lewis's work also begins relatively nicely, with press articles ridiculing the opposition. Mr. Singer purposefully wants to use persuasion and debate to substitute his own ethics for biblical ones, but the debate is hardly a fair one given that leading universities typically have Singeristic "ethics programs" funded by big corporate and alumni donors.

Those programs assume that man without God is a wonderful brain, not a beast, and their academic authority receives bulwarking from media allies who quote academic ethicists liberally and lambast other ways of arriving at decisions. Few university funders have taken the stand Steve Forbes did in 1999, when he pledged that he would not send money into his alma mater's coffers "so long as Peter Singer remains a tenured professor there."

Mr. Forbes's stand was right under the circumstances, but if the Princeton administrators were willing to have ideological diversity, it would be better to facilitate a real debate. Funders could pressure Princeton to appoint a professor with biblical values to teach a parallel course in Practical Ethics, so that students would have the opportunity to hear the major alternative to Singerism.

A good but small program in "American Ideals and Institutions" has gained a foothold at Princeton, but no course directly opposes Mr. Singer's, and for many students the melody of this Pied Piper remains undisturbed in their brains, influencing their votes on same-sex marriage and the startling issues to come.

This is important not only for Princeton and similar institutions but for all of American society. In the absence of debate at our leading universities, each election is an attempt by people connected to biblical ethics to hold off an onslaught by those who have imbibed Singerism and try to win by ridicule what they cannot achieve by honest reporting of reality.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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