[Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: Darwinism/Compassion]]]]

From: Lucy Masters (masters@cox-internet.com)
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 14:53:36 EST

  • Next message: Lucy Masters: "[Fwd: RE: [Fwd:RE: Darwinism/Compassion]]]]]"

    Adrian said:


    but in Lucy's case, what are the
    alternatives when people are starving to death? So, in the absence of viable
    alternative intervention options, I am obligated to work to prevent

    Lucy responds:

    But there are alternatives...and we seem unwilling to deal with them.
     For example, when food programs first began back in the 1950s, we only
    provided aid to those countries where the people agreed to participate
    in birth control. I don't have the data in front of me, but if my
    memory serves me correctly, we provided food aid to families where the
    father agreed to a vasectomy if he had already fathered three children.
     This took lots of negotiating because these families were used to
    having 9-13 children (with the expectation that 75% of them would die in
    childhood - a common expectation in Africa in those days). We had to
    convince them that our antibiotics, water treatment systems, and food
    programs would keep those three children alive (which is just about the
    normal number that stayed alive in a typical family). After winning
    that negotiating and setting up the quid pro quo, the whole deal only
    lasted a couple of years before conservative religious groups stepped in
    screaming about interference in religious practices (i.e. birth control
    is a sin). And so the U.S. and the United Nations both gave in and
    continued the food programs without the quid pro quo. Viola! Fifth
    years later we have many millions of more starving people than we would
    have had with the quid pro quo.

    Further, we must understand that in many cases these people are not
    literally starving to death. Yes - we do see those really horrible
    cases on CNN, but in most cases the people are not starving TO DEATH.
     They are malnourished. Now let's look at the blessing God gives to
    malnourished women...they don't get pregnant because they don't ovulate.
     (This is also why well nourished female athletes often don't ovulate -
    they use up more calories than they take in). So God creates a natural
    system that basically works on the principle that if there isn't enough
    food to go around (as determined by the woman's caloric intake), then
    the woman will not have more children. Pretty bright, huh? A well
    reasoned solution offered by God.

    As soon as the caloric intake increases with our food programs, these
    women get pregnant - like right away. And then we have millions of
    pregnant women with enough calories to get pregnant but not enough
    calories to produce a really healthy and intelligent baby (because so
    much of the brain mass develops in the womb). And then we also send
    baby formula over which discourages women from breast feeding. And
    women who don't breast feed get pregnant MUCH FASTER than women who do.
     So we increase the birth rate again. And fifty years later we end up
    with a country overrun with malnourished people - many of whom are
    pretty low on the IQ scale as a result of poor nutrition during pregnancy.

    And we expect them to improve their educational systems? Fix their
    economies? You must be kidding. Most of these people don't have the
    physical health or the mental stamina to even begin to compete and
    survive in this century. WE have created a monster - not God. If we
    had followed the natural systems that God created - the scale of this
    crisis would never have developed. Through natural selection, this
    population would have stood a much, much greater chance of surviving

    It's one giant mess created in the name of religion. Sorry - I just
    cannot reconcile knee-jerk solutions with righteous Christianity.
     Something is very, very wrong in the science/religion debate here.


    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: Darwinism/Compassion]]]
    Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 08:57:31 -0800
    From: Adrian Teo <ateo@whitworth.edu>
    To: "'D. F. Siemens, Jr.'" <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
    CC: asa@calvin.edu

    Hello Dave,

    -----Original Message-----
    From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. [mailto:dfsiemensjr@juno.com]
    Sent: Monday, February 25, 2002 11:52 AM
    To: ateo@whitworth.edu
    Cc: masters@cox-internet.com; asa@calvin.edu
    Subject: Re: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: Darwinism/Compassion]]]

    On Mon, 25 Feb 2002 10:30:22 -0800 Adrian Teo writes:

    AT: I recognize that I may be misunderstanding Lucy, but as far as I can
    tell, she has never accused me of that, which leads me to assume that I am

    Let me clarify. Your example of prostate cancer patients seems to me to be
    quite different in character from Lucy's. In both cases, I agree that the
    underlying principle (which is consequentialist) is to do the lesser evil.
    Consequentialists treat this as the single basic moral principle, often
    without consideration for other principles that may be significant also. In
    your case, not treating is preferred because it minimizes the risk of side
    effects of treatment, and the patient in not in any immediate danger of
    dying. In Lucy's case, not providing food is preferred because it minimizes
    the risk of the side/unintended effects of intervention also, but the people
    in question are in dire need, or they will actually die of starvation.

    My approach is to apply another important principle, that one can never do
    evil to bring about good (or to minimize a greater evil). Non-intervention
    may not be inherently evil, but it is evil when one is well aware that
    non-intervention leads to immediate, preventable harm. I cannot choose not
    to intervene when I see a child being attacked a knife-wielding person just
    because I decide that the consequence would be that both I and the child
    would get stabbed. Sure, in this case, I could look for alternative
    interventions (like running to get help), but in Lucy's case, what are the
    alternatives when people are starving to death? So, in the absence of viable
    alternative intervention options, I am obligated to work to prevent


    AT: I agree with your basic principle of applying reasoned foresight and
    planning ahead. But we are also required to prevent any immediate harm from
    befalling anyone (within our capactity of course). I can never do evil (or
    allow preventable evil) to fulfill the moral law.


    AT: I don't think I am advocating sentimentalism. My principle is not
    avoidance of pain at all cost, but avoidance of evil. My disagreement with
    Lucy was over the issue of whether human death is evil. If it is (as I have
    argued), then we need to work to prevent it from occurring (if preventable).
    Of course, Lucy has argued that death is not evil, which I think is
    inconsistent with orthodox Christian understanding (but that is not to say
    that Lucy is not a Christian).

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