So, You Think Someone's View on Origins Has No Bearing on Questions About "Meaning and Value"?
Adding to Wesley Smith's excellent comments about Jason Rosenhouse on assisted suicide, I would only call attention to Jason's startling insistence that one's views on origins have no bearing on the value we place specifically on human life, whether it's to be considered exceptionally precious, of unique dignity, or not.
Whether the context is biology or cosmology, the ultimate issue at stake in the controversy over origins is the picture we carry around in our mind of what a human being is, what a human life is worth. There are two paradigms. They are mutually exclusive and separated by a vast gulf.
Rosenhouse protests that that's "pretty stupid" not to mention "callous":
In fact, it's just a clear-cut illustration of the genetic fallacy.
A reader of Jason's post points out that he doesn't seem to know what "genetic fallacy" means. Rosenhouse continues:
Answers about our origins have no implications at all for questions of meaning and value. Arising through blind, uncaring forces in no way implies that life is not awesomely precious, and being made in the image of a transcendent designer in no way implies that it is.
Now this I find very strange. Jason Rosenhouse wrote a book called Among the Creationists which I didn't read but that is evidently an account of his experiences meeting and talking with people who doubt Darwinian theory, sloppily classed together as "creationists." I wonder, has he not noticed even the sociological reality that very different values, on the exceptional preciousness of a human life, are widely upheld among Darwin skeptics as compared to among Darwin defenders?
If you polled his colleagues in the Darwin-defending community, you don't think you would find broad agreement with his stance in favor of assisted suicide, and probably significant disagreement if you talked to folks inclined to sympathize with intelligent design?
Obviously, that doesn't tell you anything about whether either view, upholding the sacredness of life or not, is valid.
Jason also wrote a good post recently on Israel, along the lines of fellow atheist Sam Harris's, expressing common-sense support for self-defense by the Jewish state -- an inflammatory stance in the New Atheist community. Sam and Jason were brave to say what they did precisely because the chatter in their crowd can tend to sympathy for Hamas.
Speaking of values, I would ask Rosenhouse the same hypothetical question, derived from Dennis Prager, that I proposed yesterday to ask of scientific-atheist honchos Sam Harris, PZ Myers, or Jerry Coyne:
Thought experiment: You're transported back in time to Poland seventy year ago where you are a Jew on the run from the Nazis. In a Warsaw street, two doors lie ahead of you. You have just enough time to knock on one, seeking aid, as the scuff of pursuing boots draws closer. One door belongs to a Catholic priest or nun. The other to a biologist -- better yet, an atheist evolutionary biologist. On whose door do you knock?
Or alternatively, updated:
Say you're a Jew today in a European city, on the run from an anti-Semitic mob that is marching to support Hamas. Two doors lie ahead of you. Seeking safety, you can knock on one and only one. One belongs to a biologist inclined to doubt Darwinism in favor of intelligent design. The other to a New Atheist acolyte and Darwin supremacist.
Which door do you choose? You have 5 seconds to decide. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Go.