Where's the birth certificate

Free and Strong America

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On Atheism and Infanticide


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.






16 comments:

Gregg said...

No doubt as we growing increasingly secular the infants and aged will be in danger. We see this now.

Froggie said...

JD,

Suffice to say that you have no clue to the plight of the elderly, young and poor throughout the 18th, 19th and early twentieth century before the advent of government social programs.
The tatment of those classes were absolutely deplorable before social and legal programs were set up by the governmet, which are the citizens of the USA.



If I find some time later I will educate you.

Froggie said...

PS The church was totally ineffectual about meeting the basic needs of people.

Jquip said...

Froggie: "If I find some time later I will educate you."

Indeed? I have more than a wayward interest in this topic and I should very much like to be educated on this subject.

Froggie said...

Jq,
I am sure that a man of your intelligence would have no problem researching this, however I snapped some notes from my journal to give you a starting point:

The first general laws against child labor, the Factory Acts, were passed in Britain in the first half of the 19th century. Children younger than nine were not allowed to work and the work day of youth under the age of 18 was limited to twelve hours. USA did not pass laws until much later. Kids were worked sometimes to death and the good factory owners would pray for them on Sundays.

Here are sixty-nine extraordinary photographs of children at work from 1908-12, taken by Lewis W. Hine.
http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor/

Bertrand Russell wrote that:
"The industrial revolution caused unspeakable misery both in England and in America. ... In the Lancashire cotton mills (from which Marx and Engels derived their livelihood), children worked from 12 to 16 hours a day; they often began working at the age of six or seven. Children had to be beaten to keep them from falling asleep while at work; in spite of this, many failed to keep awake and were mutilated or killed. Parents had to submit to the infliction of these atrocities upon their children, because they themselves were in a desperate plight."

In 1832 New England unions condemn child labor, not the Church.
The New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics and Other Workingmen resolved that “Children should not be allowed to labor in the factories from morning till night, without any time for healthy recreation and mental culture,” for it “endangers their . . . well-being and health”

Treatment of the elderly was no better in that time that some people want to "return to."

The 1930 census, for example, found 58 percent of men over 65 still in the workforce; the others that age were dead. The average age was 59 years old.

As late as the 1930s most people lived on small farms. Many elderly were starving and many survived on potatoes gleaned from neighbors gardens and lived in filth.

Extreme poverty in the cities resulted in prportionately more (home)abortions than we see today often resulting in the death of the mother and child.

Unumerable babies were born and left at churches only to be adopted by abusive parents looking to put them to work.
Many of the dark secrets of those times are yet to be told.

Many Christians are fond of saying they want to return to the time when we were a Christian nation, but those times never were.
They are watching too much "little house on the prairie."

JD Curtis said...

Child labor laws?

So it would have been preferable to just kill them at birth? What the heck does this have to do with infanticide?

The 1930 census, for example, found 58 percent of men over 65 still in the workforce

The entire concept of "retirement" is a relatively recent phenomenon and usually only found in the Christianized West.

the others that age were dead

I'm over 20 years younger than that and people my age are found dead on a daily basis. WTH?

Unumerable babies were born and left at churches only to be adopted by abusive parents looking to put them to work.
Many of the dark secrets of those times are yet to be told


So for every baby left at the church doorstep that had an abusive upbringing, what percentage did not? (Insert idle speculation here)

Christ Follower (no longer) said...

The entire concept of "retirement" is a relatively recent phenomenon and usually only found in the Christianized West.

Citation needed.

Jquip said...

Froggie: You are aware that those preaching the social gospel were instrumental in the progressive movement and the passage of child labor laws? Now certainly there were some on all sides of the equation.

But we're talking about the differences between voluntary religious charity and mandatory wealth redistribution. Perhaps you could give me a notion of the distinct lack of private charity then and the improvement that has occurred now.

Froggie said...

JD,

It was you who said:
"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?"

I merely pointed out that it was the secular society that took up the plight of the elderly and young. The Church was innefectual.

I am sorry tht you were unable to muster a coherent response.

Jquip said...

Froggie, an addenda, of which you're probably quite unaware. I spent the better part of last year in a tent city; and have lost the better part of that community to the recent floods in Nashville.

So an attempt at sourcing your arguments will be appreciated; if nothing else to see how it jives with the very personal research I had to undertake on this very modern and pressing issue.

Froggie said...

Jq,

The church does not have a corner on empathy.
Our charity is represented as social programs that protect the young and the elderly.

Jquip said...

Froggie: Charity at gunpoint is hardly an issue of empathy; however correct or incorrect it may be. But please, educate me about the relative efficacies of private and public programs.

JD Curtis said...

The entire concept of "retirement" is a relatively recent phenomenon and usually only found in the Christianized West

You know what? I should probably include Japan in that catagory and possibly S. Korea (Although it is a majority Christian) in recent decades.

What other parts of the planet enjoy retirement like the West?

Froggie said...

Jq,

"Froggie: Charity at gunpoint is hardly an issue of empathy; however correct or incorrect it may be."

Gunpoint, eh? Teaparty much? hehe

You are totally free to organize your political party, vote them into office and repeal all the social programs you want to. That is your right.

Jquip said...

Froggie: Come come, I'm still waiting my education on these issues. Surely your continued evasions aren't keeping you from actual argumentation are they?

JD Curtis said...

Ahh, here we are. From the BBC...

"Germany was the country that first introduced old age pensions - as a bulwark against socialism - under Bismarck in the 1880s."

I can't think of anyone before that.