What Is the Basis for Human Worth?

What Is the Basis for Human Worth?

A couple of nights ago, my husband and I were perusing our favorite YouTube channels and caught an insightful animated clip explaining the reasons for video game compulsion. The narrator suggests that many gamers turn to their favorite RPGs or other games in order to feel valued and find purpose. In other words, video games help fill an emotional—and dare I say, spiritual—void within people.

My instinctive reaction to the video was a desire to reach through the screen and tell these people that the Creator of the universe places immense value on them, that He made them in His own image, that His Son died a painful, humiliating death in order to redeem them.

This experience recalled to my mind one of the reasons I believe RTB’s work is so important. By promoting a creation model explanation for the universe, life, and humanity, RTB’s scholars uphold the gospel message, including the biblical teaching that God made human beings, both male and female, in His own image. This is a worldview of hope; it imparts value and purpose to all human life.

The theory of evolution, on the other hand, says that humanity—and the rest of organic life—came into existence by happenstance and unguided natural processes. Similarly, naturalists such as Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss assert that the universe as a whole “came from nothing.” According to the naturalistic view, human death results in extinction—no “afterlife” of any sort. Where, then, is value and purpose?

Secularists have proposed answers to this question. Many atheists will argue that we don’t need God to justify the value we place on human life or as a foundation for morality. And, indeed, I don’t believe nontheists are inherently less morally upright than Christians. People can behave with kindness and goodness without acknowledging the existence of a Creator.

Other naturalists suggest we simply choose (arbitrarily) to endow our lives with value and purpose. Some also suggest that our morality developed as a part of human evolution. However, I find naturalism an insufficient explanation or foundation for human value. Without God in the picture, it seems that we are under no obligation to assign any value to human life. Sure, our society’s laws may obligate us to do so—but views on human rights vary radically from culture to culture. Even in the United States, Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer advocates lowering human rights to the level we currently assign to animals.

In his book Is God a Moral Monster? Christian philosopher Paul Copan observes, “The more fundamental question that atheism seems unable to answer is: How did they [humans] come to be rights-bearing, valuable persons?” He goes on to say that secular ethical systems, even if they overlap with the biblical system, remain “incomplete because they don’t offer a basis for human dignity and worth.”

In a discussion of this topic, RTB philosopher-theologian Kenneth Samples pointed out to me that naturalists tend to borrow ethical capital from the Judeo-Christian worldview because “the biblical view of humans is very powerful and very attractive.”

In 7 Truths That Changed the World, Ken describes in detail the biblical view of humans as God’s image bearers. For example, he writes, “Similar to God they [humans] are volitional, relational, immortal, and powerful—unlike any other creatures.” This image serves as the Judeo-Christian basis for human dignity and worth.

— Maureen

Resources: Listen in to Ken’s multi-part interview with Paul Copan on Straight Thinking.