Christianity and Scientific Concerns
Henry: Others say that the real problem facing us is not solely technology: man himself is the problem. The thought of the population explosion provides an opportunity to invite Dr. Koop to speak.
Dr. Koop: The population explosion is certainly an overwhelming problem and a Christian concern; we cannot turn our backs on it. I am convinced that abortion is not the answer. I have spent more than twenty-five years of my life preserving the lives of newborn babies, many of whom are defective, and since I have found this to be a rewarding scientific and Christian endeavor, I am not likely to succumb easily to propaganda that the way to stop producing too many people is to kill some just before they are born. From cover to cover the Word of God seems to me to say that life is precious to God. Now, we can argue about when life begins; I do not think it can be settled. Neither a sperm nor an egg can reproduce itself, but once an egg and a sperm have united and there is the proper number of chromosomes, it seems to me that there will be a human being with God-consciousness unless somebody interferes with that developing zygote. Now, I would not think of killing a baby that was born horribly defective, because it is murder, even if it is but one minute old. If I were to go back just one minute, to the actual moment of birth, I would not kill it then. If I were to go back one minute before that, I would not kill it then or one minute before that, or before that, or before that, right on back to the fertilized egg. Looking at life as though it were a cheap commodity will infiltrate other aspects of our attitude toward people, and eventually we might get to the point where we try to evaluate life on the basis of quality. There are a number of people in this audience who have a quality of life that other people would not consider up to their standard. If the day comes when we do not have enough food, you might be eliminated. If abortion had been practiced when your mothers were pregnant the way it is advocated now, at least 25 percent of you would not be here.
Henry: This distinguished panel has no need of me as a midwife to help deliver its contributions, but I shall prod it a little more. We may win the battle for human values over against technology, and perhaps win the battle for the survival of the fetus in the face of threats against human life in its earliest hours, and yet find ourselves on a planet—the only planet we know capable of supporting human life—in which man may gasp out his last hours amid poisonous environmental pollution. That is a strategic point at which to involve Dr. Anderson in a discussion of environmental concerns.
Dr. Anderson: Our concern over the environment and over environmental pollution flows in part from population growth. In this country we might feel that no population problem exists were it not for the environmental crisis. But there are two other dimensions. A second is affluence, and a third is the misuse of technology. I think that Christians should be concerned about all three. It is charged that a Christian point of view is the cause of the environmental crisis. I consider that a misreading of the evidence. God did command that man should be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth on two occasions—at the beginning and after the flood. I am inclined to wonder if we may not already have fulfilled that command. The Scriptures speak very much about affluence, and affluence should be subject to Christian concern. We must somehow learn to hold back our demands for energy and for things that we call a part of "the good life." Then, too, it has been pointed out that our faith in technology leads to a misuse. To illustrate, Minnesota, the land of snow—where this morning the temperature reading was -25—is also the land of snowmobiles. I fear a "population explosion" of snowmobiles that, if misused, will do a lot of harm to the environment. This illustrates, then, why population, affluence, and the misuse of technology are legitimate concerns for Christians and others alike.