It’s strange isn’t it? The same people that teach children in school that they are nothing more than the products of blind time and chance reverse course and speak of dignity, rights, and justice when it’s convenient.
The materialist view that is foisted upon us at every turn—in popular culture, in education, and in jurisprudence—is conveniently set aside when a sufficiently concerning social ill needs to be addressed. This is not to criticize those who reject God and fight for justice, but rather to point out that their sensitivities are rather arbitrary.
It is nothing short of negligent inconsistency at best and intellectual dishonesty at worst.
The atheistic, materialistic view of human beings has no grounds for talking about dehumanization or dignity, justice or injustice. Why? Because of its views on both man and all metaphysical values, such as morality and ethics. Look at its leading spokesmen.
Bertrand Russell, a giant in atheistic philosophy in the early 20th century reminds us of the implications of a world without God: “That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the débris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” (A Free Man’s Worship)
Think about that. In a materialistic world there is no design or purpose and all beliefs are accidents of nature. All noble efforts and genius will be snuffed out. Only when we embrace despair can we live.
Richard Dawkins gives us no more hope. “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” (River out of Eden)
Physicist Sean Carroll: “We humans are blobs are organized mud, which through the impersonal workings of nature’s patterns have developed the capacity to contemplate and cherish and engage with the intimidating complexity of the world around us…The meaning we find in life is not transcendent.” (The Big Picture)
Genomist Tomàs Marquès-Bonet: “Natural selection will always be there, with greater or less force…Selection is a blind process in which mutations are generated and those individuals that are most adapted are the ones that most disseminate their mutations…No matter how clever we are, humans will disappear. We are just a minor accident in the great evolutionary scale of the Earth.”
Francis Crick, Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of DNA: “‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll might have phrased it, ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons’.” (The Astonishing Hypothesis)
And finally, an anonymous Facebook post informs human beings, “You’re a ghost driving a meat coated skeleton made from stardust.”
This is the message of the Western, “scientific” mind. I won’t take the time to explore the Eastern mindset here but suffice it to say that in most of its expressions the body is a prison and the goal is to escape the body, which is essentially evil. Therefore the body is inconsequential. Everything is part of the divine, including evil, racists, and injustice, so how do we condemn what is divine on any more of a basis than that we don’t prefer those things? The Eastern mindset has no more rational basis for promoting dignity and justice than does the West.
For anyone arguing for justice in this present time of national agony over race, taking a Western view undermines any rational basis. How can lives matter if we are accidents of nature, mudballs, the sum total of our DNA, an assembly of nerve cells and molecules, and meat skeletons? A bigger question is, “Why care?” If all these things are true, why not go with the flow of natural selection and practice cruelty and aggression instead of empathy and kindness? The former are working out quite well for many people all around the world, as they always have.
Only the Christian third way with its belief in the inherent dignity of man and woman made in the image of God provides a consistent basis for saying that any life matters. At the same time, it acknowledges that we live in a world under the curse of sin and manifesting brokenness in a trillion different ways. Only the Christian worldview sees man as possessing both dignity and depravity in a way that explains the world the way it is.
Some may object, “What about the failure of the Church and Christians to live up to this standard of dignity and to defend and protect it for all people?” Sadly, that is a legitimate observation. But it poses no real objection against Christianity because it represents a clear violation of the teachings of Jesus. To be cruel and aggressive and to prefer my own kind is the heart and soul of natural selection. When it is done in the name of Christ it is clearly a departure. Christians who practice injustice and fail to care about such heinous sins as racism betray their name. And even the best intentions and efforts of Christians will fall short because we are never promised perfection in this life. The problem is so great in our world that only a Messiah can fix it. And he will.
Only Christianity has the God-man entering our existence and showing us what perfect obedience to God’s law looks like, then dying for our failure to live as we should. Jesus offers us forgiveness and redemption through his perfect sacrifice. The Holy Spirit transforms us progressively throughout life by means of the Word of God to make us more like Christ. Part of that is to develop the heart of the heavenly Father, to grieve what He grieves, to hate what He hates, and to love what He loves.
Christians and the Church at large will never be perfect in promoting justice and righteousness in the many, many issues that we encounter in this life, but at least we have a consistent basis, a perfect example, and an empowerment from on high.
So, the questions is, “Are we doing what we can to promote real justice in our world?”