Sanctity refers to the quality or state of holiness, sacred-ness, or
inviolability that something possesses.
Here the something is life, as in "the sanctity of
life." This phrase is
more meaningful to monotheists (theme #8A) and those who believe in
"Vitalism" (theme #5B). They
may conceive of God the Creator breathing life into inanimate matter, or
supplying the vital spark. In
contrast, scientific materialists (theme #5A)
conceive of creating life in the lab!
By itself, "sanctity of life" implies all life. Consider two groups of people—one real, the other
imaginary—who fervently believe in the sanctity of life: Jainist monks
and progressive bakers.
The former walk barefoot and take precautions to avoid killing
insects or microscopic life; the latter have formed "The Anaerobe
Liberation Front" with motto "Defend all life, from greatest
to least, from human to yeast!"
The Jainist monks eat a vegetarian diet and typically boil water
and cool it before drinking; the bakers use leavening agents other than
yeast. Sadly, despite their
efforts to not hurt any living thing, neither have succeeded.
The Jainists routinely kill many species of bacteria that live in
water when they boil it; the high temperatures the bakers use kill those
bacteria, an occasional airborne wild yeast microorganism, etc.
Such experience suggests it is not practically possible to be
human and never kill at least some microscopic living thing.
Those who value life must practically decide what it is they
value. Adding the term
"dignity"—meaning a quality or state of being worthy—adds
a "worthiness qualifier" to the life being considered.
So those who embrace "Sanctity and Dignity of Life"
draw lines and make distinctions as to what life is deserving of their
protection. Many who
respect this theme (see Figures #44b, 44c) draw the line at protecting
innocent human life from the moment of conception: when egg and sperm
unite. They see all
abortion as morally wrong: a crime.
Yet many of them do not view capital punishment—the government legitimized killing of a (not so innocent)
criminal—in this way. In
fact, many who oppose abortion in any form support capital punishment.
Others show a consistent valuing of human life and oppose ending
it in any way: whether by abortion, capital punishment, suicide,
euthanasia, etc. Those who
extend this to birth control efforts to prevent conception and oppose
contraception often do so from a religious viewpoint. Thus the Catholic
Church argues that contraception is contrary to human nature and natural
law. Church fathers and
others typically oppose anything humans do that resembles "playing
God" in matters of life and death.
In their list of morally reprehensible technologies many such
people would include eugenics, human cloning, and genetic engineering,
gene therapy or stem cell therapy involving human genes or cells.
Others consistently value human life—not from a religious
viewpoint—but from a human rights viewpoint.
they point to the rights of unborn children (see Figure #44b).
Pro-lifers argue that such rights—the most fundamental being
the right to life—begin with the beginning of life.
Some equate that with the moment of conception.
Others argue that fetuses eight weeks or older (when major body
organs have formed) have rights; some won’t grant those rights until
fetuses develop enough to be viable outside the uterus—after
twenty-five weeks or so.
Some with environmental concerns—associated more with the
pro-choice than pro-life movement—value quality of human life
in the future. They
ask, "Is it morally right to bring more
children—especially unwanted children—into an increasingly crowded
world?" They advocate population and family planning. (See Figure
#44B: While some extend their respect for life to include
animals—the majority who buy into theme #44A do not value theme #44B.
One can hypothesize that those who do, also embrace
"Belonging to Nature" (theme #27), while those who
don't—limiting their sanctity concerns to human life—go with
"Anthropocentrism" (theme #25).
While there are deep ecology reasons to support animal rights
(Figure #44a) or be a vegetarian, there are also ethical and practical
environmental considerations. With
respect to ethics, if we link morally wrong to evil, evil to pain, pain
to certain behavioral reactions we see in higher animals, then it's
wrong to fail to extend ethical treatment to animals.
As for the latter, raising cattle for human consumption is
inefficient protein production!
#44b: View of Pro-Life Woman
back to worldview theme(s) #44