Project Genesis

Basics of Judaism

G-d and Torah

Euthanasia and Cultural Ethics

Question: I am currently preparing a debate on Euthanasia and would like a point of view on this subject from your religious principles. I am arguing against euthanasia. I think I would be better to argue the point of social standards of worldwide cultures in that all religions are against euthanasia. Any insights you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: We believe that euthanasia = murder and is a great evil.

However, we do not believe that the social standards of worldwide cultures has any bearing on morality. Our moral standards are defined as: what does God want? While most religions may agree on the broad definition of murder (“killing another human being intentionally and not in self-defense) there are many definitions of “human being” and “self-defense”. There were times in history when Christians defined “human” as “Christian” and therefore it was not murder to kill a Jew or pagan. There are Moslems today who consider non-Moslems fair-game. The real question for debate is “How can we ascertain which book or books are the true revealed word of God?”

Otherwise, any debate you have on a topic such as euthanasia with a secular person will end in stalemate. The secularist and the rabbi have one thing in common: he is similarly not impressed by an argument such as “all religions are against euthanasia.” He is an agnostic or atheist and so arguments from religious dogma are irrelevant to him. He assumes that there is no true word of God and therefore he is only interested in what is rationally better for society. How is it helpful for society to maintain an elderly comatose person on life-support? The only argument that will work with him is if you can show him that its immoral from God’s perspective. And the only way to do that is to find a rational basis for belief in at least one of the religious systems that disagrees with euthanasia.

Hope this is helpful and not more than you wanted to hear!

Rabbi Seinfeld

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