Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If the World is so Dangerous Why Have Children?

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Peter Singer's Swan Song
Bioethicist asks: 'Why don't we make ourselves the last generation on earth?'

Peter Singer is a bioethicist I love to argue with. Even though we do not agree in many areas, I find his provocative thinking challenging. His latest is that since we all agree that the world is so bad and destructive, why have children? Why bring them into such a dangerous world?

Writing June 6 for The New York Times, Singer asks a characteristically provocative question: "How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world?" He wonders whether even the comparatively high Western standard of living is suitable for a fulfilling time on earth...

Singer offers climate change as one threat to the Western way of life. And he pulls no punches while offering one possible response to this potential crisis that he says threatens future generations. "[W]hy don't we make ourselves the last generation on earth? If we would all agree to have ourselves sterilized then no sacrifices would be required—we could party our way into extinction!" Whether he realizes it or not, Singer cites an ethic attested and condemned in Scripture (Isaiah 39:8; 1 Corinthians 15:32). If there is no hope for tomorrow, this dystopian ethic says, at least we don't have to worry about tomorrow. We can live it up today...

Still, Singer prompts us to reflect on why Christians nevertheless enthusiastically bring children into this world. We harbor no false hope about eradicating suffering through evolution. We understand these children to be stained with sin from the beginning. We groan along with a creation subjected to futility, currently awaiting redemption (Rom. 8:19-23). What reason do we have, then, to bring new children into this world?

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