Generally, I feel psychologically quite safe and secure. This is because my security, significance and identity does not depend upon my performance, comparative abilities or deteriorating physical condition. It depends on one thing alone – the omnipotent, immutable God who loves me and gave His life for me. In fact, His Word assures me that He loves me with a love that goes beyond anything I can conceive (Eph. 3:16-20).
I didn’t always feel this way, but rather the opposite. I would feel creepy and self-conscious around others, because my self-concept depended upon me and their assessment of me. In Transactional Analysis terms, they were OK but I wasn’t. I was always on probation.
This is the materialistic, earth-bound, people-bound perspective. Being human requires that we have a self-concept as much as it does that we have a name. However, when this self-concept is defined materialistically and socially, our psychological well-being is always in the balance. Consequently, we value ourselves in the way we perceive society values us. Without God, this is inevitable!
The evolutionist Richard Dawkins is a materialist. Value must consequently be derived socially and not Transcendentally. Recently, he tweeted:
- With respect to the meanings of “human” that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig.
From where does Dawkins derive the criteria by which he can make such an assessment? He also tweeted:
- Human features relevant to the morality of abortion include ability to feel pain, fear etc. & to be mourned by others. (Salvo, Summer 2013, 45)
In other words, we are worth more than a pig because we experience more pain, fear and mourning than do pigs. Consequently, if we are fetuses and don’t have these feelings to the same extent that adults have them, we are worth less – less than adult pigs.
We are left wondering how Dawkins can possibly know that humans suffer, fear, and are mourned more than adult pigs. Dawkins’ proposal also raises many questions:
- Would sufferers from PTSD therefore have more value than those who don’t since they are experiencing more fear?
- Are we of less value when we are sleeping, since we experience these feelings less intensely? (Dawkins can avoid this dilemma by tweaking his ideas by talking about the potential of experiencing these feelings. However, if he did that, he would undermine his case in favor of abortion!)
- As we age and our mental and emotional capacities begin to fail us, do we then become as expendable as pigs?
- If the fetus doesn’t have the value of an adult pig, why then the elderly? Should we just get rid of them because they are wasting scarce resources?
These are only a few of the many troubling questions that can be raised if society becomes supreme in assigning human worth. Such thinking is opening the door to a fearful “New World,” one in which the “golden years” may turn tragically into the bloody years.
I am surprised that Dawkins didn’t mention “education, productivity and intelligence,” as others have suggested, as criteria for assigning value. I would guess that he is silent about these because they are rightly associated with repugnant elitism. They suggest that the elite have more of a reason to live than do others, who are consequently more expendable.
However, whichever set of criteria society might adopt, it still remains that society assigns our value according to their own needs and whims. Therefore, if you are deemed to be one for whom others will mourn, you have more value than one who is less popular.
Such ideas can only engender distrust and insecurity and perhaps even the breakdown of society. If the adult pig is more valuable than the fetus or the infirmed or mentally ill, then our laws should be adjusted to protect the more valuable members.
What a horror – extending more rights to those socially deemed to be more valuable! Talk about co-dependency! Such ideas will reduce us to mere dependents upon the Big Brother Society, which not only can then hurt us physically but also deprive us of our sense of self. If this reconfiguration doesn’t engender bitterness, it will certainly make us fearful.
With the proliferation of such materialistic thinking, the elderly are now afraid to go to the hospital in certain Western countries, fearful lest their doctor or hospital deems them unworthy of life. Even worse, our grandmother will wonder whether we value her enough to keep her around.
Our Lord gives us something incalculably necessary for a robust human existence – His love and gracious valuation. Before Him, we are sacred and require, not only legal protection, but also the highest regards. We therefore can bask in the assurance of His estimation, no matter what others might think of us.
Interestingly, this assurance frees us up to sincerely love others. When we don’t need their opinions and valuation of us, we are then free to take our eyes off of our dependent self and to place them upon their needs!
Does Dawkins have any idea of this new world that he is inviting in? I think that he does. However, he needs to be consistent with his materialistic model, even if it leads to a hell on earth. As the Bible promises, we reap the fruit of our own doing. When we reject God, we also reject life!