RE: Darwinism/Compassion

From: James Taggart (
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 15:10:03 EST

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    Much as it is unpleasant, much of what Lucy says is true. Furthermore,
    the "compassion" shown by the government isn't even Biblical. In the
    parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus didn't say that you should take
    every needy person into your house and feed them indefinitely. The
    Samaritan did what he could, and then left the injured person to recover
    on his own.
    "Government" intervention, as Lucy notes, makes the problem worse, in
    many cases because:
    1. Nobody "owns" the problem, so fixes just pile up, instead of
    2. Government programs never go away, even if they don't work. They just
    get bigger
    3. Government programs can be redirected away from their original
    intentions, for political reasons.
    Christians should (must) engage in assisting those in trouble and need,
    especially those in their own communities. But it should be done
    through people "on the scene" who can best judge the effects of the aid,
    and act accordingly. The government should stay out of it.

     -----Original Message-----
    From: Lucy Masters []
    Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2002 2:54 PM
    Subject: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE: [Fwd: RE:

    Adrian said:

    but in Lucy's case, what are the

    alternatives when people are starving to death? So, in the absence of

    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

    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:
    Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 08:57:31 -0800
    From: Adrian Teo <> <>
    To: "'D. F. Siemens, Jr.'" <>

    Hello Dave,

    -----Original Message-----

    From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. []

    Sent: Monday, February 25, 2002 11:52 AM



    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


    Let me clarify. Your example of prostate cancer patients seems to me to

    quite different in character from Lucy's. In both cases, I agree that

    underlying principle (which is consequentialist) is to do the lesser


     treat this as the single basic moral principle, often

    without consideration for other principles that may be significant also.

    your case, not treating is preferred because it minimizes the risk of

    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

    the risk of the side/unintended effects of intervention also, but the

    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

    evil to bring about good (or to minimize a greater evil).

    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

    to intervene when I see a child being attacked a knife-wielding person

    because I decide that the consequence would be that both I and the child

    would get stabbed. Sure, in this case, I c

    ould look for alternative

    interventions (like running to get help), but in Lucy's case, what are

    alternatives when people are starving to death? So, in the absence of

    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

    befalling anyone (within our capactity of course). I can never do evil

    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

    Lucy was over the issue of whether human death is evil. If it is (as I

    argued), then we need to work to prevent it from occurring (if

    Of course, Lucy has argued that death is not evil, which I think is

    inconsistent with orthodox Christian understanding (but that is not to

    that Lucy is not a Christian).

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