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Are people worthwhile or disgusting and evil?

September 17, 2013

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.


From → Ethics, Philosophy

One Comment
  1. “To assert meaning in a meaningless universe is contradictory.”

    Not necessarily contradictory, but it certainly is delusional. To claim meaning when the universe is meaningless is a comforting delusion.

    The reason is may not be contradictory is that in a materialist universe, where everything boils down to physics and chemistry, we can’t even claim to have access to a foundation for rational thought. If our brains are conditioned for any purpose it is to reproduce and nurture the next generation. Those activities don’t require us to have brains that are fit to determine meaning.

    The fact that we wonder, ponder, and enrich our lives with meaning, doesn’t help us reproduce or nurture. On the other the delusion of meaning inspires us to nurture our children in those things we find meaningful. Perhaps “meaning” is a delusion that prevents us simply squandering our lives on temporary pleasures.

    The person who objected to the idea of God judging sin perhaps should reflect on what that means: that God takes us seriously. If God takes us seriously, and judges us, then what we do is meaningful.

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