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Wesley Smith on Materialism's "Deep Misanthropy"

The evolution debate takes the outward form of a historical question -- By what means did life assume the shapes it did over the course of billions of years? Does the process reflect purpose and care or not? -- but ultimately the significance of Darwinian materialism lies in the self-image it offers to man.

If we owe our existence merely to blind churning of physical stuff, then there's nothing special about us. Our lives hardly deserve more reverence or awe than do the lives of vermin. In the end, we are vermin.

And so as our friend and colleague Wesley Smith writes at First Things, you see this tendency to a "deep misanthropy" in that part of the culture which drinks most deeply from the well of materialism. John West and Michael Flannery alluded to this too in the past few days, reflecting on David Attenborough's remarks on humanity as a "plague on the Earth." Such self-loathing makes sense under Darwinism.

Wesley writes powerfully about the danger posed by an "ongoing convergence of deep misanthropy, radical Malthusianism, and renewed advocacy for wealth redistribution." It's all of a piece, and forever tempted to reach for means of coercion to actualize its dark vision. After all, we would not hesitate to deal forcibly with animal pests:

In recent years, deep misanthropy has seeped into the popular culture. For example, the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still starred Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, an alien come to earth to commit total genocide to "save the earth." At the end, he shows "mercy" by stripping us of our technology -- an event which, were it actually to occur, would result in billions of human deaths. Illustrating how times have changed, the 1951 original version had Klaatu on earth to save humans, not wipe us out.

This deep misanthropy has found its way into curricula. A few years ago, for example, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website carried a children's feature called Planet Slayer, featuring "Dr. Schpinkee's Greenhouse Calculator," with which kids added up their carbon score. The game ended with a "carbon hog" bloodily exploding. Data then told children how much longer they could live until they used up their respective "share of the planet" -- strongly implying a duty to die thereafter in order not to be a plague on the earth.

Deep misanthropy has helped renew the Malthusian drive to radically depopulate the planet of people as a remedy for environmental ills and human deprivation. Population Matters, for example, would have us voluntarily reduce our current population of seven billion by about half to save the planet. Another Population Matters patron, Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, says the optimal human count would be much lower, around 1.5 billion.

Like The Day the Earth Stood Still, such advocacy has distinct genocidal overtones. But the Malthusians always assure us that they only support "non-coercive" measures, such as legally mandated access to "reproductive health" -- which means, in part, contraception and universal abortion-on-demand.

But actual population reduction to the extent for which the Malthusians yearn can't be accomplished voluntarily. Consider China's infamous "one child" policy. Despite more than forty years of forced abortion, ubiquitous female infanticide, eugenics, and other draconian population control policies, the population in China continues to grow. Indeed, while China's tyrannical policies have succeeded in slowing of the rate of growth, today the country has a larger population than any time in its history.

Massive depopulation would also require mass euthanasia of the aging and infirm -- in part in order to balance the population pyramid. In this regard, the Japanese Finance Minister recently opined that his country's elderly should "hurry up and die," and yet, he retains his position.

Read the rest at First Things.