Not too long ago, medical and European ethics entered the global spotlight when a boy named Charlie was denied experimental treatment that had a possible chance to cure him. Since the boy was too little to decide for himself, the parents were attempting to take action. However, the state denied their request for treatment and even went so far as to deny them the opportunity to see their child.
Whether or not the state acted in a manner for the well-being of the child isn’t even the prime consideration. The real question is whether or not the state even should have such a right to make this decision. (I’ve explained elsewhere that there is no such thing as rights, and reading that article would be a good precursor to this one.) In order to understand this, we must first look at European history over the centuries and human nature.
But before this, let us first consider whether or not it was even reasonable. I was given very few details about the nature of the treatment, and perhaps it would have been ineffective. However, I highly doubt that the judge who denied the parents’ requests was a doctor. He was probably told a very biased opinion – be it true or false – about the treatment and advised to deny the parents’ request. However, considering that the treatment was the only chance of cure for the child, the question becomes whether or not to even make an attempt to save this child. Many Europeans believe in the “right” to “die with dignity”, even though most of them don’t believe in any life after death. Inasmuch as they may seem in agreement, these two dogmas are contradictory on a number of levels, but such is not the focus of this article. I leave it to the reader to make the analysis.
The European ideal of “dying with dignity” contrasts greatly with both the (USA) American “right to choose” and the American “right to life”. For once, both the liberal and conservative perspectives in America can be united in this issue. Individualism – the supreme ideal of America – stood directly in contrast with the Heirarchicalism – the supreme ideal of Europe. In America, the individual is to be valued. In Europe, it is the state.
The question over treatment was left to the state. For many Americans, this seemed preposterous. The state was overruling the individual’s right to choose how their child was treated. Or prehaps, for some Americas, the true offense was that the state was disregarding the only “right” the child could exercise: his “right to life”.
This does not mean, of course, that there weren’t many people in America arguing for the opposite. They too share a European mentality to some extent. I could say that this is the American “left”, but even those I whom I consider the “rational leftist types” of America are skeptical of the trustworthiness of the government, as evidenced by the great nark of 2013. Such an incident would have never happened in Europe.
This is because European mentality is obedience to a kind of Heirarchicalism. This mentality centers on supremacy of the state. In America, power supposedly derives from the people. In Europe, power comes from the state. The formation of these mentalities is no accident. Nor is it merely a direct result of history. Instead, it is a direct result of the beliefs each has embraced.
Long ago, nations had a god or gods. God was recognized as a necessity for society. If a man did not have a god, he sought one out. While this seems absurd to modernists, this fact has never changed about man even to this day. Man needs a god for security, for comfort, for direction and guidance, for meaning and purpose of his life, and – from both a personal and national perspective – for order of society. In ancient nations, all power and authority came from God or the gods. It is engraved into these cultures just as the mentality is engraved into their descendants. It is evident in both Western and Eastern nations. While the form of god has been different for various nations, the roles god takes in society have been filled by a god or gods in the past. The most fundamental role of god was that he was an explanation for the universe: why it existed, what it was doing, and what it would become. The ancient explanations for what God did were very primitive, especially in light of science. As more and more things were explained by scientific analysis, it seemed that God was an unnecessary addition. What role would god fulfill if all could be explained by science? Unfortunately, many people – including otherwise intelligent people – made the mistake of assuming science would eventually have all of the answers, even though the reality is that science only ever creates more questions. But their propagation of these ideas did something else for more dramatic than anticipated. It was not science itself that would be the only casualty: it was society itself.
When electricity and magnetism had been discovered, Europe had just been through many wars. It had finished most of its religious wars, but the bitterness of religious dissention was and still is in its mouth. In a national sense, Europe hated God and what the idea of Him had done to it. When Darwin then offered an entirely naturalistic explanation – though science was pitifully lacking in its understanding of a living cell at the time – Europe jumped at the opportunity to cast off the reins of religion and embrace this new ideal.
Supposedly, reason itself replaced god and became the guide. After all, reason seemed to replace the critical need for god: explaining the existence of the universe. Man trusted his mind rather than “mythical tales” as though somehow myths did not contain even the slightest bit of truth. But reason itself is not a complete substitute for god. The reality is that god fulfilled many roles that reason does not nor cannot on its own. This is because reason is directed. It must have an aim, it must have an end. God provided such an end, but reason alone does not. Therefore, the end becomes whatever you choose it to be.
However, man is not as independent as he thinks. The only men who are truly independent are anarchist. But anarchy is unstable. Therein lies one of the many psychological needs of mankind. One of the roles of God was to provide stability to society by setting a standard of law, establishing kingdoms and governments, and offering protection over households and travellers. Without these things, society collapses. It is as if God Himself designed an inherent need for Himself in society so that it would fail without Him.
Something was needed to replace God in these other areas. For example, man’s need for purpose is fulfilled by his own invention. What purpose does he want to have? For many people, this is unsatisfactory. We seek something outside of ourselves to make as happy. It is as if God intentionally designed us to be unhappy with our own invented purpose. Hence, some people attempt to instill meaning in the abstraction of society. By better “serving” “society” – however ambiguous those terms are – a man could at least to some extent divert his longing for living a fulfilling life away from divinity.
Built into the mind of man is a desire for order. He needs order around him in order to live a happy life. Without it, he suffers. Such a desire for order may not be recognized until after it is gone, as in the case of wartime, but it is still present in man. Order in society is most often maintained by a single, orderly structure: the government. In ancient times, the power of the government was supposedly fettered by a god or the gods. Kings often sought the will of their god or gods before making edicts, going to war, or making alliances. While modern philosophers could criticise this structure as being identical to an ordinary government ruled by an oligarchy of priests, the reality was that the “laws of god” or the commands of religion were often far more stable and reliable than government law today.
When the idea of God was removed from the European worldview, it left enormous holes in two dimensions. The first dimension was that of a human’s value. Human value is derived from some supreme, unchangeable authority. Without God, a person is no longer considered the pawn of god to be used and disposed of in accordance with his will. But that person cannot have infinite value. If physicalism is true, then all value must be derived from something physical. Something is only valuable if it is useful to a particular end. The consequences of this have also been seen in America as America shifts away from religion. Without God, the value of women must come from somewhere else. Some women choose to be valuable to men. Some women detest this and choose to be valuable to society, perhaps by seeking fame or public office. In any case, their value is external. Some people choose to consider themselves valuable for their own sake, but they find it difficult to get society to accept this because society does not see them as valuable to the rest of society.
The second dimension where God left a hole was that of authority. Man seeks authority to maintain order in society, but without God, the only institution that remains is that of the government. The government becomes supreme authority by virtue of simply having still been there when God was ousted. Had government been the source of contention and a viewed skeptically, Europe would have ended up more like the United States. If the role of supremacy falls upon the individual, then without God, the individual is responsible for giving themselves “rights” and dignity and power.
While it is true that Europe has many republics, it has no democracy. Power is not believed to derive itself from the people, even though the fact is that such power does in fact stem entirely from the mentality of the European people.
Being without a real God, Europe is left with the state. And in cooperation with its true role, the state promotes – at least superficially – the very religion that put it in power: the religion of “reason”. It does so by continuously educating students year after year in its school systems that there is no god, only reason. It seems to know, even if subconsciously, that those children under its care need and long for a god and will seek it out, only to be taught that the source of all of their worth and dignity is the state.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Europe considers it entirely justified in saying the parents do not have rights over children. If, instead, value of the human being were truly imperative – instead of the authority of the state being imperative – then it would be far more rational to let a single couple dictate the life of their child, with this possibility only causing isolated damage to society (the loss of a single child), than letting the state set the precedence, with this possibly causing broad damage to society (a single ruling affecting a great number of children, many of whom may have otherwise been saved). Furthermore, parents are far more likely to care for their child than a random judge would. No matter how well-intentioned a judge might be, the child is not his own, and therefore, he is not as likely to care for the child. Therefore, it is far more reasonable to let the parents seek the well-being of the child and allow the doctors to inform them, not merely a judge.
However, once the state made a decision, it could not step back. Such a recanting of its position was not merely a question of reason, it was a question of authority, and everyone could see that. But even moreso, the question of authority ran deeper, as has been shown: all the way to the fact that the state itself considers itself as the god of society, and all of its people – who don’t see themselves as victims of it – consider it as well.
In ancient times, people served their gods by doing many things for them, even sacrificing their children on altars to please the god. Today, we still have child sacrifice, but it is more commonly given under the blanket yet still disturbing term “population control”. Nevertheless, the reasoning is the same: obedience to the whims of the authority.
In its long history, Europe never relinquished its ancient mentality. Europe never gave up its desire for god. It merely took the royal robes and clothed its institution with them. But instead of giving authority to a loving, caring, compassionate being that demands equality for all under the law, Europe enthroned fickle, backstabbing, self-seeking, corrupt organizations as god. And if I may be frank, it’s a very crappy god to have.
It should make sense why the Europe has sought a European Union and why Brexit was such a huge deal. For the rest of Europe, the question was over the authority of Europe itself. Never had it crossed their minds – upon writing the laws governing the union – that any of the nations involved would invoke the laws of separation. It is easy to see why. Europe was on its way to being united under one religion, the Great Religion of the State, a humanist religion, if it be called that. However, the British people were suffering from poor economics, and their livelihood took precedence. They were victims of the massive government, and they did not approve of it. The god known as the State faced its very own adopted child, whom it had fostered for countless ages: Money. The god of Money appealed to the hole that God Himself had left and which the State had failed to satisfy: livelihood. It was in failing to fulfill this role that the state had lost the battle.
In the Soviet Union, the state had done everything to relieve dependence on both God and Money. But when the doors were eventually opened, the State had only fostered belief in the very thing it had tried to replace: God. The State failed, and it failed miserably.
All “first-world” countries except Russia – European, American (US and Canada), Japan – and some non-“first-world” countries, such as China, are attempting this same mistake of having the government play the role of god. However, the progression has been rather slow thanks to Russia revealing to the world the immeasurable suffering under government power. At the same time, because it has not been instantaneous, we are already witnessing the effects of severing man’s ties to the universe and to ultimate purpose as found in god. For example, in Japan, the supremacy of the state led to world war, and now the decline of religion has led to population decline via the loss of value in the family – an ideal heavily supported by religion. In Europe, euthanasia is on the rise. Despite humans living longer lives than ever – and even a number of humans investing in technology to help them live longer lives – becoming older has now opens the doors to being murdered. Life itself has no value. While the value of life has been diminished on both ends of the spectrum – birth and old-age – the history of the Soviet Union clearly shows us that all human life, without inherent value from god, only has value in regards to its utility to the State.
You cannot go to a person on a street in Europe and speak to them about the State being god. They don’t like “god”, and they certainly will not call the state “god”. They despise the term “god”. It’s “not modern”, it’s “antiquated”, it was something only supposedly primitive people needed. And yet, the world does not realize just how well it has disguised the entrances to those deep, unfilled holes that God left behind.
The need for God in society is certainly not a “rational” reason to begin believing in God, but it is of such pressing concern that it is foolish to say man can live without God.
Many atheists turn the argument on its head and believe that God was invented for the sake of an answer to life and a means of social control, rather than God being the original source of these things. Such is a modern view making excuses and completely ignoring the fact that people have these psychological holes to begin with and that government is such an awkward fit that it clearly could not have been the origin for this need (for example, man needs purpose in life, but government cannot give him a consistent, meaningful one). A better explanation is that man already had these holes and that government stepped in to fill the role, which is exactly what I’ve said in this article. But this still leaves us with the question: Why does man need these things? Why does man need to feel secure? For peace and happiness? Why does he need peace and happiness? These are questions for another time.
What matters now is that human mentality has never really changed. It is not as “progressive” as it believes itself to be. It has only spun itself in circles. Russia has already completed a cycle, and it’s now waiting for the rest of the world to rejoin it. As the saying goes, “We’ve been here before.”