Thursday, February 21, 2013

Viktor Frankl and the Modern View of Man

James M. Tour, world famous chemist and professor at Rice university, quotes Victor Frankl on where the modern view of man leads: Viktor Frankl, a former Auschwitz inmate wrote in The Doctor and the Soul, that the source for much of the 20th Century’s inhumanity has come from the [view of man promoted by modern materialism]:
“If we present a man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instinct, heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone.

“I became acquainted with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment; or as the Nazi liked to say, ‘of Blood and Soil.’ I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers [emphasis added].”
When men cease to see other men as having transcendent worth because of their status as beings created in the image of God by a God who cares about each of them individually, when they deny that there's any overarching purpose to human existence, deny that there's any objective ground for moral value, deny that there's any such thing as a soul, free will, or human dignity, when they come to view other men and themselves as the products of eons of natural accidents and coincidences that have serendipitously resulted in a human animal only slightly different than a cow, then human stockyards like Auschwitz become a logical, a rational, inevitability.

That's where the modern view of man leads, and it is, as Frankl notes, materialistic, naturalistic philosophers and scientists who have in the 19th and 20th centuries cleared the theoretical ground upon which those who wield political power build their abattoirs.

Take just three representative examples to illustrate what many modern scientists, philosophers, and legal scholars believe and ask where such thinking will lead us if it were ever to become the consensus view among our political class:

First a quote from evolutionary biologist Will Provine of Cornell: "Let me summarize my view on what evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear: There are no Gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death .... There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no meaning in life, and no free will."

Here's atheistic philosopher Richard Rorty: "For the secular man [like himself] there's no answer to the question, 'Why not be cruel'?"

And one more from early 20th century Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes: "When one thinks coldly I see no reason for attributing to man a significance different in kind from that which belongs to a baboon or a grain of sand."

When people en masse come to think this way what reason would they have not to build another Auschwitz or Treblinka?