Anglican Samizdat

March 18, 2009

A consistent atheist

Peter Singer is a bioethicist at Princeton University; he favours infanticide, euthanasia and animal rights:

Singer is a mild-mannered fellow who speaks calmly and lucidly. Yet you wouldn’t have to read his work too long to find his extreme positions. He cheerfully advocates infanticide and euthanasia and, in almost the same breath, favors animal rights. Even most liberals would have qualms about third-trimester abortions; Singer does not hesitate to advocate what may be termed fourth-trimester abortions, i.e., the killing of infants after they are born.

Singer writes, “My colleague Helga Kuhse and I suggest that a period of 28 days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others.” Singer argues that even pigs, chickens, and fish have more signs of consciousness and rationality-and, consequently, a greater claim to rights-than do fetuses, newborn infants, and people with mental disabilities. “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 10- or even 32-weeks gestation. … The calf, the pig, and the much-derided chicken come out well ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy.”

To his credit, Singer does exhibit more consistency than other popular atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens, both of whom wish to largely retain the ethical framework of Christianity while denying its truth.

Of course, Singer is still holding back somewhat since he isn’t yet advocating the use of discarded humanity for food; I expect that is coming.

Cuddly atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens are determined to demonstrate that there is no God; it is ironic, then, that one of their number has gone a long way to proving that there is a devil.



  1. It seems as though you wish to judge atheists by their worst member. What if we did the same and judged you by the worst Christian? Doesn’t make sense does it? There are anti-abortion atheists just as there are pro-choice Christians. There is diversity in all groups.

    The ethical framework you speak of is also present in many world religions, some of which existed long before Christ walked the earth.

    Comment by Sisyphus Fragment — March 18, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

  2. By whose standards is Singer a bad example of an atheist?. There are some who seem to think he is a pretty good bloke.

    Comment by David — March 18, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  3. Everyone can have good ideas, even people who are otherwise detestable. That being said, to be an example of what an atheist is all you have to do is have a lack of belief in a god. Any other views held are not reflective of their atheism. Atheism has no moral tenets, which I think is why many Christians flail about when trying to categorize atheism in their mind. To them atheism is on par with Islam, Buddhism, or Scientology. That is simply not the case, our category involves a one line definition “A person who does not believe that deities exist or lacks belief in gods”. We have no moral tenets, atheism isn’t supposed to give those out. It is a philosophical position more than a religious one.

    However, Singer is a bad example of a human by my standards. Which are the only standards with which I have to go by. Same as you.

    Comment by Sisyphus Fragment — March 18, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

  4. However, Singer is a bad example of a human by my standards. Which are the only standards with which I have to go by. Same as you.

    Not quite the same as me, since I believe there is a universal moral law that we all perceive with varying degrees of accuracy.

    If you truly believe that your standards are the only possible frame of reference, you can’t rationally claim that they are better than Singer’s – I am assuming that you do think they are better than Singer’s, otherwise this discussion wouldn’t make much sense.

    Comment by David — March 18, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  5. Thanks for this, I have added your site to my list of favourites.
    I think I will post on Mr Singer on the “Evangelicals for Darwin” weblog. Not really the subject, but deserves a mention.

    Comment by Brother Gregor — March 19, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

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