Nihilistic Eschatology and Soteriology

A Sept. 18, 2022 ,New York Times article reported some Canadian experts worrying whether Canada’s legal assisted suicide is too permissive. From 2016 through December of 2021, 31,664 Canadians have received assisted deaths. Of those, 224 who died last year were not terminally ill, taking advantage of last year’s amendment. It is a typical in depth New York Times article with opinions form several points of view. There were serious concerns about gradually permitting elimination of the disabled and frail elderly. I did not detect any explicit objection that it is categorically wrong. But one clear “take away” is that there is strong support for assisted suicide in Canada, the United States and Europe. I am not entering the debate on the morality of various conditions for permitting legal assisted suicide. For there is no moral thinking about assisted suicide beyond pointing out that it is intrinsically evil. The opinions in the article have a tone of moral seriousness which is undercut by the topic about which they speak so seriously.

I have argued that suicide is categorically forbidden.

Trying to think morally about the permissibility of assisted suicide leads to thinking that there is no morality. It leads to thinking that nothing is good and nothing matters: Nihilism. This line of thought develops because thinking about suicide leads to thinking about death, obviously. Thinking of any death as a good because death is annihilation is a poison pill for moral thought. Thinking about death leads to thinking about the point, if any to human life. If there is no point to human life, then there is no point to morality. Pointless morality is no morality at all.

Consider the following line of thought in which I generalize what I think is good for me.

If I think that suicide is permissible for me, then I think that my total annihilation is ultimately a good for me. If I think that total annihilations is ultimately a good for me, then I think that for every human total annihilation is a good. Think about it; ultimately there is a time in any life in which life has gone on too long for any natural satisfactions. There are no obligations to produce human good because ultimately the good for any human is not to have any good.

In theological language the line of thought is as follows. Permissibility of suicide presupposes an eschatology of death as non-being. This eschatology leads to a soteriology as salvation is non-being. No morality is required for this salvation since “All men are mortal” entails that all are saved.

None of this shows that humans ought not be morally serious about alleviating human suffering. It notes only that one of the remedies from a genuinely moral point of view for alleviating misery should not be directly taking human life.

One thought on “

Nihilistic Eschatology and Soteriology

Comments are closed.