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Since human life is sacred and inviolable, it must be respected. Ultimately, decisions about life and death are not ours, precluding abortion, euthanasia and suicide. But such interpretations are not compatible with a secular world view. The idea of an untouchable natural order is rejected. Increasing significance is given to the conscience of the individuals who distance themselves from the authority of the church and religion. Doctrinal truths no longer have relevance for daily life. Instead, the humanistic view gains prominence that life and death are natural phenomena whose meaning is created by humans.

30 A survivor of the war, Salomon’s concerns are clearly motivated by the horrendous lessons learned from World War II. Confidence in the medical profession had been shaken severely by the atrocities revealed during the Nuremberg trials in 1945 and 1946. Medical organizations discerned an urgent need to explicate the norms of medical ethics and specifically to underline the principle of respect for human life. The experiences of World War II also instigated international cooperation. In 1947, physicians from 27 countries founded the World Medical Association (WMA), an international, independent confederation of professional medical associations.

These methods also focus on intervention, control and manipulation, introducing the technical point of view that is characteristic of the engineer into the domain of disease and suffering. Note that causal thinking and the technical approach of the natural sciences are not rejected outright. On the contrary, their value and usefulness are readily acknowledged. But medical thinking and practising should not restrict itself to these scientific methods. These methods have only relative value for medicine, for they can never grasp the essence of being human.

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