Wesley Smith on Peter Singer

From First Thoughts by Wesley J. Smith:

Peter Singer Sympathetic to Human Extinction as Way of Avoiding Suffering

Wesley J. Smith

Wesley J. Smith

Peter Singer blogs at the New York Times about a new book (Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence, by David Benetar) that apparently advocates human extinction as a way of preventing human suffering. Singer doesn’t agree, but is clearly sympathetic. From Singer’s post:

I do think it would be wrong to choose the non-sentient universe. In my judgment, for most people, life is worth living. Even if that is not yet the case, I am enough of an optimist to believe that, should humans survive for another century or two, we will learn from our past mistakes and bring about a world in which there is far less suffering than there is now. But justifying that choice forces us to reconsider the deep issues with which I began. Is life worth living? Are the interests of a future child a reason for bringing that child into existence? And is the continuance of our species justifiable in the face of our knowledge that it will certainly bring suffering to innocent future human beings?

We have to “justify” continuing the species? Good grief. Under the influence of anti-human advocates like Peter Singer, we have gone in the West from seeking to “secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity,” to seriously questioning whether there should be any posterity at all. This is not healthy. But it is the natural consequence of rejecting human exceptionalism.

If you are interested, I have a more detailed analysis over at Secondhand Smoke.


  1. This is not only the natural consequence of rejecting human exceptionalism. It is the logical consequence of a life lived without God. A life lived without God is the outcome of a the decision to replace God with the man. It may have started about one thousands years ago when some decided to bestow on one of themselves infallible authority.

    Such anti-human advocates speak out for the devil. This is not real concern for the sufferings of innocents in the future. They still have the chance to turn to God. They are to one who can pray for their parents, grandparents, for all.
    Life After Death
    by St. John Maximovitch

    O relatives and close ones of the dead! Do for them what is needful for them and within your power. Use your money not for outward adornment of the coffin and grave, but in order to help those in need, in memory of your close ones who have died, for churches, where prayers for them are offered. Show mercy to the dead, take care of their souls. [8]

    Before us all stands the same path, and how we shall then wish that we would be remembered in prayer! Let us therefore be ourselves merciful to the dead.

    As soon as someone has reposed, immediately call or inform a priest, so he can read the Prayers appointed to be read over all Orthodox Christians after death.

    Elder Cleopa of Romania (1912-1998)

    The Church carries out incessant intercession for Her members. The angels and apostles, martyrs and patriarchs and most especially our Lady the Theotokos, pray for us all. And this union is the life of the Church. The Saviour Himself assures us that our prayers will not pass unnoticed- above all those that we make from love for our neighbor. He tells us:’Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.'(Mk.11:24) Consequently, prayer for the reposed is not only a sign and strengthening of the love we share between us, but also a proof of our faith. Thus the Saviour says, ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth’ (Mk.9:23).

  2. cynthia curran :

    Well, I think generally treatment of animals has improved over the course of history but sometimes human existance will conflict with the preservation of some animal species. In fact, it wasn’t until the 20th century people care enough to try to protect some species from extinction. For example, many years ago I read in translation Julius Caesar’s Wars in Gaul and of course about the anicent auroch which existed in Europe for centuries and behind extinct in medieval Europe. The early byzanines still had some wild beast hunts but they seem to dropped off in the 6th century and empress Theodora
    s father was known as a bearkeeper which might have involved some bear baiting. Also, chariot races were a dangerious sport to men and animals but by the middle part of the medieval ages the chariot races had dropped out of Constantinople. Orthodox like to talk about the glory days of the Byzantine Empire and the Empire built structures like Aquaeducts, Cisterns and roads and forts and defense walls that made people’s lives better but it might have involved the death of some animals or insects.

    • Cynthia, the subject here is Human Extinction as Way of Avoiding Suffering. Human extinction may lead to the extinction of some animal species.

      There are serious symptoms of depression. “I want to die , I don’t want to live like this its not worth it” is the cry of the lonely being in meaningless universe.

  3. Michael Bauman :

    Since man is the focal point of God’s grace and order for the creation, a lot more than a few species would die if we committed suicide. However, even if we did, Jesus Christ would still be fully human.

    Its not going to happen. However, it does show quite graphically the end result when one separates from God. Satan himself is refuting his own original lie: “surely you will not die!”

    Now the lie has shifted as he wispers in the ears of all who will listen…”everyone will be better off if you were dead”

    That is the suicidal temptation. Satan is such a good liar, he makes it sound as if it is your own thoughts. He appeals to our innate function to care for others; to dress and keep the earth, then twists it into a horror.

    “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered….”

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      One of my favorite essays: The Great Liberal Death Wish.

    • Unbelievable how many bad seeds satan has sown. His schemes are more subtle now: adding a little truth to the lie, trying to convince us that our sin is “justifiable”, that life is not worth living, things will never get better.
      We know that he has already lost… big time!

      “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

      • Michael Bauman :

        Yes, just look at the time, effort and energy expended on this blog alone on personalities within the Church and Church polity while far more substantial issues go without much comment.

        Peter Singer and his ilk represent an all out assualt on our humanity and we are distracted by our own circus. The assualt is nothing new, the current version has been going on for almost 200 years. Singer and his fellow travelers are a newer wave though.

        The Christian faith and the Orthodox Church in particular has the weapons to fight these battles. Instead we are not unlike the Union army during much of the Civil War, we sit around looking great on the drill field in great spit and polish. Meanwhile the rank and file soldiers on both sides are being slaughtered. Not until Lincoln found an uncouth, sloppy, alcoholic, cigar-smoking fighter in Gen. Grant, did the war begin to turn for the Union.

        • Singer and his fellow travelers are a newer wave though.

          Michael, now that we pointed this out … I recall I’ve read somewhere that the time will come when people committing suicide won’t impress much anyone anymore. It will become something common.

          Singes’ & all activism may very well build up such a devastating mindset. People will become more and more ready to receive satan’s suggestions and to do his bidding.

          Our salvation is God, the One who loves us. The world has become so much full of “oasis mirages”, that it has become difficult to find the easy path through Christ.
          Lord have mercy on us and save us!

  4. Yes, just look at the time, effort and energy expended on this blog alone …

    I’ve been wondering about it too. Looking through 6 feet of comments one can find about 1.75 feet inspirational stuff. I gave up … sort of. I read only trusted contributors.

    The Fathers use to sealed their lips, so that no unnecessary word passed them. Maybe things will change if we don’t jump up to write down every time an idea flies through mind. What about a “Lord have mercy on me a sinner” every 5 minutes at least?

  5. Michael Bauman :

    Satan whispers in all of our ears, we hear what we want to hear. The distraction of the bishops failure to lead is just another one with which we all have to contend. It seems to be quite popular does it not?

  6. St Nicholas the Serb (Bishop Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Zhicha ) contemporary Church Father, described in a few words the spiritual and moral decadence of contemporary mankind : ‘Life without aim and death without hope’.

    Mankind discovered zoology and biology and rejected the Gospel.

    Now we know that we are descendants of orang-outangs and gorillas – monkeys, we are not yours and not of your Heavenly Father. Now we are perfecting ourselves in order to become gods, for we do not recognize any gods other than ourselves.

  7. Michael Bauman :


    Not any different than the temptation in the garden is it? We become increasingly non-human despite the saving work or our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Our humanity is revealed only in prayer is it not? The proper inter-realtionships revealed only in prayer and repentance, are then not?

    If we had communities of prayer our humanity would be so visible in the darkness of non-humanity that….well I don’t really know what, but we’d be really busy carrying one another’s burdens.

    Interesting that in the accounts of the EA, other than scheduled liturgical events, I have found no references to the bishops praying together. Lots of history, politics, reasons for not doing anything. Lots of “Wow, its good for us to be here” (like Peter on Mt. Tabor).

    We seek knowledge that feeds our self-importance rather than knowledge that humbles and saves, at least I do. I have itching ears. God forgive me.

    • Yes, prayer is the way to keep in touch with our Creator and Savior. The more you love Him the more you want to be in touch with Him.

      I really do not know how bishops pray. In a monastery people are also paying in their cells not only together. One can pray even when talking to others … this is what I’ve read.

      Quite true … “we seek knowledge that feeds our self-importance rather than knowledge that humbles and saves”
      St Nicholas the Serb:

      A timid faith is a vain faith. A timid word is an empty sound. Christ spoke as one who had authority, not timidly, like the pharisees and the sinners. Every word of Christ shines like a candle kindled in the darkness of this world. All the words of philosophers have either already gone out or else will go out. Even a light breeze is able to put them out, but there is no whirlwind either on earth or in the whole universe able to put out the candles of Christ. Precisely because He was able to say that which not a single mortal would dare say: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away (Matt. 24, 35).

  8. Scott Pennington :

    Just in case anyone doesn’t know who this monster is:

    “In 1993, ethicist Peter Singer shocked many Americans by suggesting that no newborn should be considered a person until 30 days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot. Five years later, his appointment as Decamp Professor of Bio-Ethics at Princeton University ignited a firestorm of controversy, though his ideas about abortion and infanticide were hardly new. In 1979 he wrote, “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

    – from Christian Research Institute – http://www.equip.org/articles/peter-singer-s-bold-defense-of-infanticide

Care to Comment?