Cannibalism is not something people want to think about a few days after Thanksgiving, but it’s in the news again. “A German police officer has been arrested on suspicion of killing and chopping up a man he met on the Internet who had long fantasized about being killed and eaten.” Authorities have not been able to determine if the killer had eaten any of his victim, but the intent was there.
But is it morally wrong to kill and eat someone if the person who wants to be killed and eaten agrees to be killed and eaten? This question was asked before in the famous German cannibal case. Was is it about Germans who want to be killed and eaten?
Armin Meiwes, another German and a real-life cannibal who ate Bernd Jürgen Brandes who had responded to the following advertisement posted by Meiwes, “looking for a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed.”
This was described as a “tricky case” for the German justice system “because Cannibalism is not a recognised offence under German law” and the defense argued that “since the victim volunteered,” it was not murder.
In his defense, Meiwes had long-held fantasies about eating people. He invented an imaginary brother named Franky:
“Meiwes dreamt of binding Franky to himself in perpetuity by the simple act of consuming him. This fantasy, he told a packed courtroom years later, had developed in the years after his father’s departure [when Meiwes was only eight years old]. ‘And in the end I fulfilled it,’ he concluded.”1
We shudder in disgust and horror as Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (1991) tells how he ate a man’s “liver with some fava beans and a nice Chi-an-ti.” Even the story of the Uruguayan Rugby team’s cannibalism high in the Andes in 1972, forever immortalized in the movie Alive (1993), makes us uncomfortable. The same is true of the Donner Party (1846–1847), survivors who many claim ate the remains of their dead.
Given materialistic presuppositions, can cannibalism be morally wrong? If we’re animals there should be no aversion to killing and eating human flesh since we are — according to evolutionists — animals who evolved by killing off and eating our less fortunate evolutionary neighbors.
What is wrong, given evolutionary assumptions, that the stronger man dominated the weaker man? That’s how we got here. In the distant evolutionary past, our ancestors killed and ate competing organisms to stay alive. The organisms that got eaten did not survive.
It happens every day in the wild, as the saying goes, “Nature, red in tooth and claw.” Homo sapiens are the result of our long ago superior animal ancestors forcing their will on inferior animals. We got here, say the evolutionists, because of millions of years of bloody struggle.
Michael Dowd, a minister and author of the book Thank God for Evolution!: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World, writes the following in his recently published article “Thank God for the New Atheists”: “Let the story of evolution be told in ways that engender familial love and gratitude, that we are related to everything — not just monkeys, but jellyfish and zucchini, too.”
If we’re related to zucchini, and it’s OK to eat zucchini, then, given evolutionary assumptions, why was it wrong for one man to kill, chop up, and eat another man?
- Nathan Constantine, A History of Cannibalism: From Ancient Cultures to Survival Stories and Modern Psychopaths (Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc., 2006), 188. [↩]