July 9, 2006


Choice: the current mask of nihilism (Peter Sellick, 7 July 2006, Online Opinion)

We kill our unborn babies under the rubric of choice. Never mind the closure of a future that the new born will bring with it or the haunted mothers and grandparents who wonder about that future. Never mind the sexual and emotional disorder that has brought about the pregnancy in the first case. Never mind the wishes of the potential father. Never mind the fact that we are teetering on the brink of demographic extinction. No, the only thing that is important is the choice of the mother, hence to be pro-abortion is to be pro-choice.

I first knew that the notion of choice could be used to cover up a moral abyss when attending a conference on religious education in Uniting Church schools I overheard a besuited principle tell his colleague that the admirable thing about church schools was that they provided choice. This set me wondering what his sponsoring denomination would have thought of such a weak excuse for running a school.

The celebration of choice is a mask covering the underlying nihilism that our quest for ultimate freedom has brought us. In the absence of God and a seminal story of identity and purpose, the only thing we have to turn to is the desire of the self, epitomised by the notion of the free individual who may choose. [...]

Choice has become a word that signifies that we believe in nothing. The theologian David Hart makes the point that Christianity, in its spread through the ancient world, emptied the shrines of all the old gods and adopted and transformed what was useful in the ancient philosophies. In short, it overcame the ancient world, leaving nothing left that still invoked the old authorities.

The thoroughness with which the Christian tradition swept the world of impossible belief left us with nowhere to go but to Christ. As Simon Peter declares, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68 NRSV). Hart concludes that Christianity set the stage for modern nihilism simply by emptying the world of all viable alternatives. So when Christianity is rejected even the old baptised authorities of the ancient world must also be rejected.

There is no one else to go to except to the self, which must then be the autonomous self, the totally free self, but alas the self floating free and directed by whim and fleeting desire. This is the nihilism that is masked by our distortion of the word choice.

Multiculturalism or Toleration is nihilistic precisely because it insists that we are incapable of making moral judgements about various choices.

Life vs. Death: The religion of the 'Right to Choose.': a review of The Party of Death
The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life by Ramesh Ponnuru (Wesley J. Smith, 07/03/2006, Weekly Standard)

Does human life have intrinsic value simply because it is human? Answering in the affirmative is crucial to achieving universal human rights. Otherwise, who matters more and who matters less--who lives and who dies--depends on who has the power to decide. Moreover, Ponnuru demonstrates that the wrong answer is the key that opens the door to various killing practices beyond abortion. These include euthanasia, treating nascent and cognitively disabled humans as mere natural resources (embryonic stem cell research, cloned fetal farming, organ harvesting from patients in a persistent vegetative state, etc.), and resurrecting eugenics policies that would not only wipe out people with Down Syndrome, which is already happening, but also potentially lead to genetic engineering aimed at creating a "post-human" race of superbeings.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 9, 2006 8:52 PM

Interesting. A few years ago the NRA sort of floated a trial balloon around using the "choice" concept as applied to "choosing" whether to own, use, or carry guns.

I didn't go down right, coming as it did from the wrong side of the cultural divide, and the campaign has long since been dropped.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 10, 2006 12:46 PM

Any child knows that abortion is killing (Just in the past week or so I've seen this point made by Nat Hentoff and a certain Russian movie director). It takes a lot of hard work ("education") to convince one that it is a "choice" that should be tolerated/celebrated.

Posted by: b at July 10, 2006 2:21 PM