Francis Schaeffer discusses Edward O. Wilson


Sociological Law and Personal Cruelty

Recently a generation has arisen that has taken these
theories out of the lab and classroom and into the
streets.  Its members have carried the reduction of
the value of human beings into everyday life.
Suddenly we find ourselves in a more consistent but
uglier world– more consistent because people are
taking their low view of man to its natural
conclusion, and uglier because humanity is
drastically dehumanized.

To illustrate what it means to practice this low view
of man, let us consider some present realities that
only a few years ago would have been unthinkable–
even on the base provided by a memory of the
Christian consensus, let alone within the Christian
consensus itself.  The Christian consensus gave a
basis and a framework for our society to have
freedoms without those freedoms leading to chaos.
There was an emphasis on the value of the
individual person– whose moral choices proceed
from judgments about man and society on the basis
of the existence of the infinite-personal God and His
teaching in the Bible.

The Bible teaches that man is made in the image of
God and therefore is unique.  Remove that teaching,
as humanism has done
on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and there is no
adequate basis for treating people well.  Let us now
look at some of those related unthinkable realities.
The loss of the Christian consensus has led to a long
list of inhuman actions and attitudes which may
seem unrelated but actually are not.  They are the
direct result of the loss of the Christian consensus.

First, the whole concept of law has changed.  When
a Christian consensus existed, it gave a base for law.
Instead of this, we now live under arbitrary, or
sociological, law.  Supreme Court Justice Oliver
Wendell Holmes took a big step in the change
toward sociological law.  Holmes said, “Truth is the
majority vote of that nation that could lick all
others.”  In other words, law is only what most of
the people think at that moment of history, and there
is no higher law.  It follows, of course, that the law
can be changed at any moment to reflect what the
majority currently thinks.

More accurately, the law becomes what a few people
in some branch of the government think will
promote the present sociological and economic
good.  In reality the will and moral judgments of the
majority are now influenced by or even overruled by
the opinions of a small group of men and women.
This means that vast changes can be made in the
whole concept of what should and what should not
be done.  Values can be altered overnight and at
almost unbelievable speed.

Consider the influence of the United States Supreme
Court.  Ralph Winter, reviewing _The Memoirs of
Earl Warren_, said in the _Wall Street Journal_ of
July 27, 1977, that a large body of academic
criticism has argued that the Warren Court was
essentially antidemocratic because it paid little heed
to traditional legal criteria and procedures and
rewrote law according to the personal values of its

members.  Winter summed up Supreme Court
Justice Douglas’s concept as, “If the Supreme Court
does it, it’s all right.”  The late Alexander M. Bickel
of Yale said that the Supreme Court was undertaking
“to bespeak the people’s general will when the vote
comes out wrong.”  And Bickel caustically summed
the matter up by saying, “In effect, we must now
amend the Constitution to make it mean what the
Supreme Court says it means.”4

The shift to _sociological law_ can affect everything
in life, including who should live and who should

Those taking the lead in the changes involving who
should live and who should die increasingly rely on
litigation (the courts) rather than legislation and the
election process.  They do this because they can
often accomplish through the courts changes they
could not achieve by the will of the majority, using
the more representative institutions of government.

The Christian consensus held that neither the
majority nor an elite is absolute.  God gives the
standards of value, and His absolutes are binding on
both the ordinary person and those in all places of

Second, because the Christian consensus has been
put aside, we are faced today with a flood of
personal cruelty.  As we have noted, the Christian
consensus gave great freedoms without leading to
chaos– because society in general functioned within
the values given in the Bible, especially the unique
value of human life.  Now that humanism has taken
over, the former freedoms run riot, and individuals,

acting on what they are taught, increasingly practice
their cruelties without restraint.  And why shouldn’t
they?  If the modern humanistic view of man is
correct and man is only a product of chance in a
universe that has no ultimate values, why should an
individual refrain from being cruel to another
person, if that person seems to be standing in his or
her way?


Abusing Genetic Knowledge

Beyond the individual’s cruelty to other individuals,
why should society not make over humanity into
something different if it can do so– even if it results
in the loss of those factors which make human life
worth living?  New genetic knowledge could be
used in a helpful way and undoubtedly will bring
forth many things which are beneficial, but– once
the uniqueness of people as created by God is
removed and mankind is viewed as only one of the
gene patterns which came forth on the earth by
chance– there is no reason not to treat people as

things to be experimented on and to make over the
whole of humanity according to the decisions of a
relatively few individuals.  If people are not unique,
as made in the image of God, the barrier is gone.
Once this barrier is gone there is no reason not to
experiment genetically with humanity to make it into
what someone thinks to be an improvement socially
and economically.  The cost here is overwhelming.
Should the genetic changes once be made in the
individual, these changes will be passed down to his
or her children, and they cannot ever [too strong
-df] be reversed.

Modern humanism has an inherent need to
manipulate and tinker with the natural processes,
including human nature, because humanism:

1.  Rejects the doctrine of Creation.
2.  Therefore rejects the idea that there is anything
stable or “given” about human nature.
3.  Sees human nature as part of a long, unfolding
process of development in which everything is
4.  Casts around for some solution to the problem of
despair that this determinist-evolutionist vision
5.  Can only find a solution in the activity of the
human will, which– in opposition to its own
system– it hopes can transcend the inexorable flow
of nature and act upon nature.
6.  Therefore encourages manipulation of nature,
including tinkering with people, as the only way of
escaping from nature’s bondage.  But this
manipulation cannot have any certain criteria to
guide it because, with God abolished, the only
remaining criterion is Nature (which is precisely
what humanist man wants to escape from) and
Nature is both noncruel and cruel.

This explains why humanism is fascinated with the
manipulation of human nature.

It is not only Christians who are opposed to the
forms of genetic engineering which tinker with the
structure of humanity.  Others such as Theodore
Roszak and Jeremy Rifkin of the People’s Business
Commission rightly see this genetic engineering as
incompatible with democracy.  Christians and other
such people can raise their voices together against
this threat.  That does not, however, change the
realization that the democracy such people are trying
to save is a product of Reformation Christianity, and
without Reformation Christianity the base for that
democracy and its freedom is gone.


6. Edward O. Wilson pages 289-291 (ft note 6 0n page 504)

In sociological law, with the Christian consensus
gone, the courts or some other part of government
arbitrarily make the law.  In the concept of genetic
engineering, with the uniqueness of people as made
in the image of God thrown away, mankind itself is
in danger of being made over arbitrarily into the
image of what some people think mankind ought to
be.  This will overwhelmingly be the case if such
concepts as what has been called “sociobiology” are
widely accepted.

According to these concepts, people do what they do
because of the makeup of the genes, and the genes
(in some mysterious way) know what is best for
keeping the gene pool of the species flourishing.
Regardless of what you think your reasons are for
unselfishness, say the sociobiologists, in reality you
are only doing what your genes know is best to keep
your gene configuration alive and flourishing into

the future.  This happens because evolution has
produced organisms that automatically follow a
mathematical logic:  they calculate the genetic costs
or benefits of helping those who bear many of the
same genes and act to preserve their own image.
Thus, the reason why parents help their children live
is that the genes of the parents make them act to
preserve the future existence of like genetic forms.5

No one tells us how the genes got started doing this.
The how is not known.  And even if the _how_ were
demonstrated, the _why_ would still be in total
darkness.  Yet with neither the _how_ nor the _why_
known, everything human is abandoned.  Maternal
love, friendships, law, and morals are all explained
away.  Those who hold the sociobiological view
believe that conflict both in the family and with
outsiders is the essence of life.  This serves as a
chilling reminder of Hitler’s Germany, which was
built on the social conclusions logically drawn from
the Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest.

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Harvard zoologist Edward O. Wilson, who wrote
_Sociobiology:  The New Synthesis_, says on page
562:  “We may find that there is an overestimation
of the nature of our deepest yearnings.”  He calls for
“ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of
the philosophers and biologized.”6

The humanistic philosophers tried to make ethics
independent of biblical teaching; the present tragic
result is the loss of humanness on every level.  Now,
Wilson argues, ethics and behavior patterns should
be made independent of these humanistic
philosophers and put into the realm of the purely
mechanical, where ethics reflect only genes fighting
for survival.  This makes ethics equal no ethics.

Time said of sociobiology, “Indeed, few academic
theories have spread so fast with so little hard
proof.”  Why has it spread so fast with no hard
proof?  That is easy to explain:  We have been
prepared for it by all the humanistic materialism of
past years.  A constant barrage of authoritative,
though unproven, statements comes from every side,
and gradually people accept themselves and others
as only machinelike things.  If man is only a product
of chance in an impersonal universe, and that is all
there is, this teaching is a logical extension of that

To summarize:  On the one hand, the idea that
mankind is only a collection of the genes which
make up the DNA patterns has naturally led to the
concept of remaking all of humanity with the use of
genetic engineering.  On the other hand, it has led to
the crime and cruelty that now disturb the very
people whose teaching produces the crime and
cruelty in the first place.  Many of these people do

not face the conclusion of their own teaching.  With
nothing higher than human opinion upon which to
base judgments and with ethics equaling no ethics,
the justification for seeing crime and cruelty as
disturbing is destroyed.  The very word _crime_ and
even the word _cruelty_ lose meaning.  There is no
final reason on which to forbid anything– “If
nothing is forbidden, then anything is possible.”

If man is not made in the image of God, nothing then
stands in the way of inhumanity.  There is no good
reason why mankind should be perceived as special.
Human life is cheapened.  We can see this in many
of the major issues being debated in our society
today:  abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the increase
of child abuse and violence of all kinds,
pornography (and its particular kinds of violence as
evidenced in sadomasochism), the routine torture of
political prisoners in many parts of the world, the
crime explosion, and the random violence which
surrounds us.

In Communist countries, where materialism and
humanistic thinking have been dominant for over
several generations, a low view of people has been
standard for years.  This is apparent not only in the
early legislation about abortion but also in the
thousands of political prisoners who have been
systematically oppressed, tortured, and killed as part
of the very fabric of Communism.  Now, however,
as humanism dominates the West, we have a low
view of mankind in the West as well.

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