…perhaps atheism has found an able advocate. But unbelievers may want to think twice before lining up behind Singer, who argues in favor of infanticide, euthanasia and (this is not a joke) animal rights! One of Singer’s interesting proposals concerns what may be called “fourth trimester” abortions, i.e. the right to kill one’s offspring even after birth!
Here are some choice Singer quotations on the subject which I get from his books Rethinking Life and Death and Writings on an Ethical Life.
On how mothers should be permitted to kill their offspring until the age of 28 days: “My colleague Helga Kuhse and I suggest that a period of twenty-eight days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others.”
On why abortion is less morally significant than killing a rat: “Rats are indisputably more aware of their surroundings, and more able to respond in purposeful and complex ways to things they like or dislike, than a fetus at ten or even thirty-two weeks gestation.”
On why pigs, chickens and fish have more rights to life than unborn humans: “The calf, the pig, and the much-derided chicken come out well ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy, while if we make the comparison with a fetus of less than three months, a fish would show more signs of consciousness.”
On why infants aren’t normal human beings with rights to life and liberty: “Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness…make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings.”
He contends that God is dead and we should recognize ourselves as Darwinian primates who enjoy no special status compared to the other animals. In the animal kingdom, after all, parents sometimes kill and even devour their offpsring. Singer argues that the West can learn from the other cultures like the Kalahari where children are routinely killed when they are unwanted, even when they are several years old.
Given the connection that Singer draws between atheism and child murder, using the former as his premise to recommend the latter, I wonder if our atheist friends are going to rush to embrace this guy as one of their heroes. Is Singer showing us where the road to complete secularism actually leads?