While even secular sources give credit to the early Christian Church for inventing the word "foundling" modern criticisms of Christianity rarely mention that it was that institution that first sensitized the world to such a problem where as standards now would make child abandonment something that would make the six o'clock news rather than merely an uneventful, everyday occurance. The economist Adam Smith gives us insight in his landmark, 1776 epic The Wealth of Nations of what life would be in a land that is absent the Gospel of Jesus Christ...
"In all great towns, infants are every night exposed in the street, or drowned like puppies in the water. The performance of this horrid office is even said to be the business by which some people earn their subsistence."
In a recent article by David Brog, we are again reminded of how cheap life was before the influence of Christianity took hold upon Western Civilization...
"Recently it was reported that archeologists had arrived at some startling conclusions regarding the fossils of 97 human babies found buried around a Roman ruin in southern England. After examining the skeletons, they observed that, “The infants almost all died around the time of birth, suggesting this may be an example of deliberate infanticide.”
It seems that this site was once a Roman brothel, and unwanted pregnancies a hazard of the trade.
The fact that mass infanticide was committed at this site should surprise no one. The Romans were proud practitioners of infanticide. So were the Greeks before them. Both Plato and Aristotle recommended that the state embrace a policy of killing deformed infants....
These ancient bones should help debunk a deeply flawed conventional wisdom about the West. We tend to view our culture as the direct heir of that of the Romans. In between, it is often claimed, there was a centuries-long “dark age” when Christianity stunted European development...
These infant bones should also help debunk a deeply flawed conventional wisdom about ourselves. Intelligent adults increasingly maintain that they have little use for Judeo-Christian morality because they happen to be “good people” all on their own. The assumption is that they were born good or that they reasoned their way to goodness.
Yet this begs the question: If so many of us are inherently good, then were generation after generation of Romans inherently bad? And what of generations of Fijian cannibals or Southern slave-holders? Were these and so many other millions throughout history missing our gene for goodness? Or is it our moral genius that they lacked?
Let’s stop flattering ourselves. We are not genetically or intellectually superior to other peoples. We share the same equipment. And just like them, we learn our morality from the culture that surrounds us. Whether there are absolute truths written on our hearts or inherent in nature, we come to knowledge of such truths – to the extent we do so at all – through the culture in which we’re raised...
Yes, recent studies have demonstrated, rather convincingly, that we humans enter this world with a shared set of moral instincts. No matter what our background, we all tend to have similar reactions when confronted with certain basic moral dilemmas.
Yet there is widespread consensus that these moral instincts provide little more than a structure devoid of specifics. Culture comes in to fill in the blanks.
Experts make an illuminating analogy between our moral instincts and our linguistic ones. Linguists have long observed that all humans are born with the same set of linguistic predispositions. This is why all languages tend to share the same basic structure and logic. Yet despite these similarities, the actual languages we humans have developed are dramatically different from one another.
In a similar fashion, our shared moral predispositions are overwhelmed by the actual moral codes we have developed. As a result, we can be repulsed by what other cultures accept as admirable. As evolutionary biologist Marc Hauser has put it, “Once an individual acquires his specific moral grammar, other moral grammars may be as incomprehensible to him as Chinese is to a native English speaker.”
It is thus time we got over ourselves and our “new atheists” such as English imports Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. The problem with such religion bashers is not just that they’re wrong; it’s that their fundamental premise is laughable.
These men had the benefit of being raised in the heart of Judeo-Christian culture. They have drunk in Judeo-Christian morality and ethics their entire lives. And now they use the language and ideals of the Judeo-Christian tradition to sit in judgment of that tradition and find it wanting...
We can certainly debate Western morality, and even seek to improve it. But denying and ridiculing its source is an exercise in hubris, not humanity.
It turns out that a pile of ancient bones from England can teach us much more than some of that island’s more contemporary relics."
Mr Brog is absolutely right. Dawkins and Hitchins criticize the moral code of the society they were brought up in while all the time they never make a comparison between the Christianized West and the commonly accepted societal ills and practices in areas of the world in which the Gospel has not taken hold. Such myopia could could only be selective as they appear to be otherwise intelligent men.
Does anyone doubt that as the West becomes increasingly secular, that the most vulnerable members of humanity, at both ends of life, will subsequently be at greater risk of being snuffed out like a candle due to a perceived convenience on somebody's part or some, heartless cost-benefit analysis? To doubt as much would be to fly in the face of established human history and experience in a pre-Christian world.