Are people worthwhile or disgusting and evil?
Yesterday the Atheist Foundation of Australia shared the following photo on Facebook.
It was the front page of a Gideon’s Bible in which someone was attempting to anticipate and usurp an overarching theme of the Bible. The inscriber has taken the biblical doctrine of humanity in sin and attempted to say that the biblical message is wrong and people are not ‘disgusting, fallen’ and worthy of ‘punishment’.
I read and pondered this, I was left a little puzzled for a few reasons.
1. It overlooks the fact that humans are indeed corrupt. Even the late great atheist Christopher Hitchens agreed. He was once asked the question, ‘Is man intrinsically good or bad?’ He responded emphatically, ‘Man is unquestionably evil’. Why do we lock our houses? Why is there road rage? We are all corrupt. It’s an uncomfortable truth. But it’s a reality nonetheless. This is the problem with us all. We are selfish and ultimately evil. The Bible calls this condition: sin – rebellion against the right and the good. The Bible also asserts that there is punishment for continued rebellion.
2. The Bible asserts that though we are corrupted, we are intrinsically valuable and worthwhile. Humans are created in the ‘image of God’. We are made with dignity and value. In fact this is the very reason that Jesus came to earth. He lived as a human, died and was raised again to save humanity from it’s own corruption. This is good news.
3. An atheist worldview actually suggests we are not worthwhile at all. Certainly an atheist can assert that humans are valuable, Yet without any overarching theological claim to value, one claim to human worth is as good as a another claim where of human worthlessness – how can we arbitrate? I’ve written elsewhere to suggest that an atheist worldview actualkly undermines human dignity and equality. Indeed in an atheist worldview we are ultimately DNA and molecules. We have no inherent ‘value’. We are as valuable to the universe as dust, rocks or fluff. To assert meaning in a meaningless universe is contradictory.
It’s great that this person recognises the inherent dignity and value of humans, however atheism isn’t really the best way of justifying it.