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A Review of The World Without Us

By Lee Duigon
October 26, 2007

[A]ll they that hate me love death. —Proverbs 8:36

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

—Proverbs 14:12

The modern state is dying. Its humanist faith is collapsing. Science and education have not been substitutes for grace, and their efficacy and integrity is now questionable.

—R. J. Rushdoony[1]

Here, at last, is the book that articulates the death wish that lurks at the core of humanism.

On the surface, Weisman is only describing what would happen to man’s works if the human race were to disappear suddenly. Obviously our homes, cities, farms, factories, etc., would sooner or later deteriorate without people to maintain them. We hardly needed anyone to tell us this. That this book conveys such information can’t account for its appearance on the New York Times bestseller list.

As interesting as some of that might be, what makes this book go is sheer morbidity. It is, from cover to cover, a death fantasy—not just your death, or mine, or the author’s, but everybody’s. All six billion of us: pffft!

The result is one of the most intensely anti-Christian, evil, and perverted books I’ve ever read.

The Fruits of Humanism

Shortly after the December 26, 2004, tsunami killed some 150,000 people living along the shores of the Indian Ocean, the Associated Press reported that some “environmentalists” on the scene thought the outcome was … well, kinda nice. All those grubby people gone, nothing left but pristine beaches. It is this attitude that informs Weisman’s reflections on “the Eden before we were here” (p. 4) and “pre-industrial purity” (p. 40). Not to mention such remarks as “the living planet is suffering from a high fever, and … we are the virus” (p. 168).

Weisman can’t help seeing us as germs. Here is his worldview in a nutshell: “Back when the primordial goo of the planet’s surface was being pelted with unimpeded UV radiation from the sun, at some primeval instant—perhaps sparked by a jolt of lightning—the first biological mix of molecules jelled” (p. 203). This led eventually to “the divergence of humans from other primates” (p. 33): “human evolution … through transcendent stages that led to hominids from Australopithecus to Homo habilis, erectus, and finally sapiens” (p. 43).

There is no God here, no Creator: just a chain of fortuitous events, of which we are one of many products.

Let’s speak plainly. If Weisman’s worldview is right, then there is no God, the Bible is a lie, and we are “of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19) for believing in any of it.

Our Lord advises us to judge men—and ideas—by their fruits: “[B]y their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20). “But the fruit of the Spirit,” St. Paul says, “is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22–23).

As Mr. Weisman’s book so forcefully, if unintentionally, proclaims, the fruit of the secularist worldview is despair, misanthropy, and death.

Get Over It!

We’re all familiar with the kind of romanticism that finds its fascination in images of ruin and decay. It blossomed early in the 19th century with poems and paintings about ruined abbeys and crumbling palaces, and came to full flower in the 20th with end-of-the-world movies like The Last Man on Earth and novels like Stephen King’s The Stand. By now it has saturated our popular culture.

Many of us, especially when young, have indulged such fantasies. What would it be like if I had all of New York City to myself? These fantasies are especially compelling during bouts of self-pity or petulance: when one is stuck in a traffic jam, for instance, or bombarded by a neighbor’s rap music.

We grow out of it, we get over it—unless we’re hard-core humanists who really do think the world would be “Eden” without us.

“[W]here despair with respect to history sets in,” R. J. Rushdoony writes, “a culture sickens of its achievements and despises its maturity.”[2]

They can’t help it. You’d sicken and fall into self-loathing, too, if you sincerely believed you were a mere accident of nature, worms’ meat on the hoof, doomed, with no hope of salvation, no way to appeal for divine mercy or justice, of no more worth than the bugs spattered against your car’s windshield. Meanwhile, you can feel indignant and guilty about such things as “animal genocide” and “the Pleistocene mega-massacre” (p. 66), pollution, and “the sheer number of human bodies” now burdening the earth (p. 189).

There’s no God in this worldview, and precious little logic, either. If all living things, including us, are equally the product of a cosmic accident, why should it matter whether one species hunts another to extinction? Secular morality is based on consensus and opinion—which is to say it has no real basis at all.

What we really have here is a literary tantrum. If radical environmentalists can’t have the kind of world they want, they’d just as soon see the whole human race go up in smoke.

Voluntary Extinction?

Scratch a humanist, find a misanthrope. How else can we explain the humanist love affair with such things as abortion, euthanasia, the “right” to suicide, sodomy—all of them centered on death? But if you hate God, you will hate His creation: especially man, made in God’s image. Humanists hate God because He sits where they long to sit, because only He owns the absolute autonomy that they covet and that He will never allow them.

The World Without Us is packed with evidence proving the humanists’ hatred of humanity. The heart of this darkness is laid bare in Chapter 17, “Where Do We Go from Here?”

Weisman opens with a discourse on what happens to embalmed and buried human bodies. It seems the best efforts of mortuary science can’t stop the bodies from degrading into “human soup” (p. 238). This goes on for four pages, telling us more than we would ever want to know about the subject. You be the judge as to why anyone would want to write such things.

It leads him to ask what would cause a total human extinction. After all, even the worst plagues and the worst wars leave survivors.

Here we are introduced to Les Knight, founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. If you can stand it, visit their website, www.vhemt.org.

This is misanthropy with a vengeance. “We have too many active breeders,” Knight says (p. 242). The motto of his organization is, “May we live long and die out.” “VHEMT proposes gently laying the human race to rest,” Weisman explains (p. 242).

The way to do this, say these arch-humanists, is simply to put a stop to reproduction: no more babies, ever. Knight and Weisman see this as a kind of retirement package, a very nice one. Says Knight, “The last humans could enjoy their final sunsets peacefully, knowing that they have returned the planet as close as possible to the Garden of Eden” (p. 243).

Am I missing something, or is this mere selfishness, taken to the nth degree? Knight and Weisman rhapsodize about how wonderful it will be for the survivors to enjoy a greater and greater share of the earth’s beauty and resources as the “competition”—that is, the human race—dwindles into extinction. The assumption is we’re all going to be poets and philosophers, pottering away in our gardens as we quietly die out. But to me it sounds like this would be a really good time to be the last of the Hell’s Angels. And heaven help you if you get a toothache after everybody else has died!

Logic, Please

Why should people who don’t believe in God or the Bible keep coming back to the Garden of Eden motif? Don’t they know that Adam and Eve were in the Garden, too? But we must stop expecting logic from these people.

Weisman’s intellectual shortcomings are most visible when he waxes evolutionary. Of course, he’s mostly quoting other evolutionists, which only means he has a lot of company in his folly.

Worse, these characters don’t even seem to understand the theory they so enthusiastically espouse.

To make their theory work, they have to imagine an animal that hasn’t turned up yet in the fossil record: “Pan prior,” a proto-chimpanzee that “lived” three million years ago. Having imagined this creature, they go on to discuss it as if it were real. This is like children drawing up a map giving the directions to a buried treasure, and then going out with shovels expecting to dig it up.

“After one million years of walking on two feet,” Weisman writes of the imaginary chimp, “its legs had lengthened and its opposable big toes had shortened.”

Whoa! Did somebody sleep through his high school course in general science? What’s there in the genetic blueprint is what you get. Generation after generation of human beings can flap their arms in vain: those arms will never “evolve” into wings.

Weisman speaks glibly of the linear, progressive evolution of various human types, one model succeeding another, always with improvements: “… as Australopithecus was begetting Homo” (p. 48), and so on. Does he not know that Homo erectus, in the fossil record, has been found to overlap both Homo habilis, which supposedly begot it, and Homo sapiens, which it supposedly begot? But we mustn’t let a few discoveries get in the way of a good theory. Besides, we’d have to throw out all those nifty wall charts showing the evolutionary procession of assorted cavemen.

Weisman’s Solution

By the end of the book, Weisman finally gets around to recommending what we should do to avoid extinction: “The intelligent solution … would henceforth limit every human female on Earth capable of bearing children to one” (p. 272). This would reduce the world’s population by 50 percent with each succeeding generation. As an added inducement, the remnant of humanity would know “the growing joy of watching the world daily become more wonderful” (p. 273).

Left out of the discussion is the means by which such a program might be carried out. How do we enforce this on “every human female on Earth capable of bearing children”? What would be the penalty for a second pregnancy—a forced abortion? Or would these hundreds of millions of women be sterilized after bearing one child? How would this be paid for, and by whom? What about dissenters, critics, and objectors? And how would the law be enforced uniformly in almost 200 different countries?

Weisman doesn’t say so, but he doesn’t have to. The only way to realize his vision would be through coercion such as the world has never known before—administered by the humanists’ false god, the state. In this case, a world state would be necessary.

But as someone else once said, it seems a small price to pay for pristine beaches.

Conclusion

It need hardly be said that we’re not trying to defend pollution, overfishing, the release of toxic wastes into the water supply, or any of a hundred other environmental misdeeds universally conceded to be wrong. These are serious matters which must be, and are being, addressed.

But we object to environmental alarmism, based on atheism, warped science, and a deep-seated hatred of mankind being used to stampede people into submitting to a global tyranny. This is precisely what humanists are after, and always have been after. Having rejected the true God, they would replace Him with an all-powerful state micromanaged by self-anointed elites: to wit, themselves.

And what do they have to offer us in place of God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s perfect wisdom, God’s law, salvation, and His promise to us of eternal life?

Eternal death! If not the extinction of the entire human race, then at least individual extinction for each and every one of us.

Far from being a burden to the earth, spiritually regenerated human beings are part of God’s plan to regenerate His whole creation, as Paul explains in Romans 8:18–22:

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

“For the earnest expectation of the creature [Creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

“Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (emphasis added).

God created us, and we are important to Him: so important, that He sent His only begotten Son to earth in the flesh, to be born as one of us, to live as one of us, to fulfill the law for us, and to atone for our sins by dying on the cross. To say, as Weisman and his voluntary extinction cronies say, that the world will be “Eden” without us, is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches us. God means to use us, not discard us.

Let us hope that the success of Weisman’s book has more to do with morbid curiosity than any real and abiding receptivity to its message. Nevertheless, it’s probably a good thing it was published.

As long as it’s in print, you’ll never have to take our word for it that humanists despise the human race.


[1] R. J. Rushdoony, Sovereignty (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2007), 402.

[2] R. J. Rushdoony, Nobel Savages (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2005), 8.


Topics: R. J. Rushdoony, Philosophy

Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.

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