Let’s break down the story of Creation into a few short phrases:
- God created the Universe
- God created man and woman in His image
- God said that it was good
In the first two installations in this series I have dealt with #1. Denying that God created the universe leads to materialism and its associated implications. The last two will examine #3. Today, I want to examine the effects of denying #2. What happens when we deny (or just plain ignore) the reality that humans are created in God’s image?
No one, anywhere, has value, meaning, or purpose:
The most obvious and consistent consequence to a purely materialistic system is nihilism, the notion that life is without any objected meaning, purpose, or value. Nihilism may be logically consistent, but it’s not really possible to live it out.
Our value, meaning, and purpose is self-defined:
So, if we have no intrinsic value, as nihilism states, perhaps we have some kind of self-defined value. Since we are beings who actually do have value, we’ll look for it wherever we can, even if that means looking in the wrong place. Instead of saying, as the story of Creation says, that we are made in God’s image, with the value, meaning, and purpose that that entails, we look for meaning within ourselves or our subjective experiences. We attempt to answer the question – if my value doesn’t come from God, where does it come from? If we simply say, “from being human?” it just begs the question. What about being human gives value? Where does value come from? Does it come from being smart? Strong? Rich? Independent? Autonomous? Able to feel pain? Come from a “superior” race? What if someone else doesn’t fit that criteria?
Only some people have value, purpose, and meaning:
Perhaps a more insidious and subtle form of this is to believe (even subconsciously) that only some people have value and others (like the ones we don’t like or can’t see) don’t. Not really anyway. If they really did have value it would mean we would have to treat them like they have value. We don’t really want to do that, do we? But the reality is that we all do have value, meaning, and purpose.
Babies (including the unborn) have value.
Handicapped people have value.
The elderly have value.
Muslims have value.
Jews have value.
Christians have value.
Republicans have value.
Democrats have value.
Socialists have value.
Homosexuals have value.
My wealthy neighbor has value.
That impoverished child in the Third-World has value.
I have value.
You have value.
The ones that are hardest to write… Kermit Gosnell and Peter Singer have value – even though they deny it for other people.
And, this value, meaning, and purpose doesn’t come from some subjective experience, but because we are created in God’s image. He gives it to us, and that makes it all the more valuable.
Value not perfection:
Don’t misunderstand me. We have value but we aren’t perfect. In fact, we’re all deaply flawed, broken, and rebellious. If we stop at Creation and fail to consider our sin, we err. Most people are comfortable with saying we all have value, but conclude that that means we’re perfect, that we’re superstars, that all of our preferences and ideologies and behaviors are perfectly justified. But that is a discussion for another day.