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ss nucleus - autumn 1996,  Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (Book Review)

Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (Book Review)

Whatever happened to the human race? - Schaeffer and Koop - Crossway Books USA - £7.50 Pb 176pp

What's as readable as a 'Boys Own Annual', as gripping as a nervous rock climber and as stirring as Mark Anthony's speech in Julius Caesar? Answers on a postcard please to: The Secure Unit, Aberdeen Asylum for the Criminally Insane, Scotland. (hint- see above)

With the possible exception of C S Lewis, Francis Schaeffer has to be one of the most accessible, relevant and inspiring Christian philosophers this century. In this brief (six chapter, 176 page, print-like-a-billboard) discussion, Koop (previously USA Surgeon-General) and Schaeffer address the ethical issues concerning the medical ending of life.

Abortion, infanticide and euthanasia are all covered in a study whose awesome power lies not in strong language but in the sheer clarity of an argument that leaves your mind reeling and your blood boiling. The first three chapters are devoted to the three issues and explore the foundations underlying the world view which permits and even encourages such practices, the arguments used to justify them and the implications for future society. Be prepared to be stunned.

Watson (as in '... and Crick,' Nobel Laureates for discovering the structure of DNA) states:

'If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth then all parents could be allowed the choice only a few have today. I believe this is the only rational, compassionate view to have.' (emphasis mine)

If you've a couple of ventricles and a matching pair of atria in your thorax you won't fail to be moved - a dry and dusty tome it definitely isn't. In the final three chapters Schaeffer and Koop go on to examine the biblical perspective including the basis for a definitive Christian viewpoint and discuss the practicalities intrinsic to a philosophy such as ours.

As an incredibly readable yet thorough book I'd recommend it for any Christian; how much more so then for all of us who will at some time be called to make a stand on one side of the fence or the other. Whether for private reflection or preparing a presentation 'Whatever happened to the human race?' has to be the fundamental guide. Let me put it this way, if you didn't cite 'Whatever happened...' in an essay on these topics I'd only give you a 'C'. Comparable books such as SPUC's 'Love your unborn neighbour' while far more comprehensive are, to my mind, weakened by the sheer volume included. They also tend to be substantially more emotive in language which leaves me feeling almost brow-beaten rather than informed. Their forte however is the coverage given to interesting theological issues such as the apparent low value placed on the foetus in Exodus 21 which Schaeffer and Koop do not even attempt.

As well as reading this book, I'd encourage you to invest in the five-volume 'Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer'- available for £39.99 and published by Solway (Paternoster). 'Whatever happened...' appears in Volume five.

Reviews by:
Scott Farmery
Clinical Medical Student
Aberdeen

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