From Francis Schaeffer’s Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Exposing our rapid yet subtle loss of human rights, p 21-24:
In 1968 Dr Edmund R Leach, Provost of Kings College, Cambridge, wrote in the London Times:
Today when the molecular biologists are rapidly unravelling the genetic chemistry of all living things – while the radio astronomers are deciphering the programme of an evolving cosmos – all the marvels of creation are seen to be mechanisms rather than mysteries. Since even the human brain is nothing more than an immensely complicated computer, it is no longer necessary to invoke metaphysics to explain how it works. In the resulting mechanistic universe all that remains of the divine will is the moral consciousness of man himself.
How unsatisfactory this evaluation is can be seen in the fact that a decade later every point Edmund Leach made is still in question.
Nonetheless, even though the years pass and men like Leach do not prove their points, the idea of a purely mechanistic universe with people as only complicated machines infiltrates the thinking of many. By constant repetition, the idea that man is nothing more than a machine has captured the popular mind. This idea keeps being presented year after year in the schools and in the media, however unfounded and unproven the hypothesis. Gradually, after being generally unquestioned, it is blindly accepted – just as, after many years of teaching that the earth was flat, the notion was believed because of its sheer pervasiveness. Flawed and erroneous teachings about mankind, however, have far more serious effects.
After all, they are talking about us.
For a while, Western culture – from sheer inertia – continued to live by the old Christian ethics while increasingly embracing the mechanistic, time-plus-chance view of people. People came more and more to hold that the universe is intrinsically and originally impersonal – as a stone is impersonal. Thus, by chance, life began on the earth and then, through long, long periods of time, by chance, life became more complex, until man with his special brain came into existence. By “chance” is meant that there was no reason for these things to occur; they just happened that way.
No matter how loftily it is phrased, this view drastically reduces our view of self-worth as well as our estimation of the worth of others, for we are viewing ourselves as mere accidents of the universe.