Though my initial reaction is to retch at the ideas of Peter Singer as discussed in the October issue of Touchstone magazine (“Livestock Exchange”), I must admit I have grown to appreciate his writing for one reason: the tactical and strategic advantage he gives to our side. Singer is a rare commodity. He is an articulate, consistent, coherent spokesman for the materialist worldview. Unlike many of his ilk, he is forthright in taking his philosophical presuppositions to their logical conclusions. Many who hear his views tend to dismiss them as being extreme, grotesque, or absurd.
I offer a sampling of some of those views for consideration:
Singer proposes, in his tome, "Practical Ethics," that the abortion debate does not hinge on the ethical considerations surrounding the status of the unborn as being valuable in virtue of the kind of thing they are. Instead, the worth of a human in Singer's view rests on its instrumental usefulness -- its functionality.
Singer comes to this conclusion because he holds that "that the right to physical integrity is grounded in a being's ability to suffer and ... among other things, the ability to plan and anticipate one's future." Attacking the common syllogism …
It is wrong to kill an innocent human being;Singer challenges the second premise, on the grounds that an unborn baby is not rational or self-conscious, is owed no moral protection, and therefore has no intrinsic value.
a human fetus is an innocent human being;
therefore it is wrong to kill a human fetus.
Following this reasoning, Singer avoids even the most universally accepted squeamishness most of us feel when discussing partial-birth abortion. Singer argues that it is not only non-controversial for the attending physician to kill a newborn on the spot, but that it is also ethically acceptable to do so for 30 days after birth.
Precious, isn't it? But that's not all ...
Singer also believes that there should be no ethical concern regarding "mutually satisfying activities" of a sexual nature between humans and animals and that such activity should remain legal unless it involves what he sees as "cruelty." (Here one has to wonder how Singer could establish the definition of such a thing as "cruelty"). Though he admits that sex between species is not normal or natural, he insists that it should not be objectionable because humans are not different in kind from animals. We are only different in degree to which we have evolved.
There is plenty more where this comes from, but all of Singer's views are based on the underlying presupposition that naturalism is true; That only the physical world exists; That there are no such things as abstract ideas about values and morals, and that only materialistic processes define us. Most hard-core naturalists are not so bold or consistent in following their philosophical views to their logical ends. Most people, because they cannot escape the fact that they are made in God's image, have an inherent, inescapable intuition that Singer's ideas are grotesque. Even if they can't describe why, they know that there is something horribly wrong with accepting such notions. Singer seems to repress these natural inclinations, either for the notoriety it gains him or because he honestly doesn't feel them. Either explanation is sad but the result is that he offers us a bold proclamation of what we should expect from a worldview devoid of deity.
He is the lead Singer on the naturalistic bandwagon many are blindly following to their own destruction. For that reason, I think Peter Singer has unwittingly become one of our most powerful allies in the culture war. He provides us a perfect example of where, if left uncontested, naturalism will lead us. We should pray for him, show him respect and kindness – and quote him loudly and often.