If we want to affirm the human values, rights, dignity, and equality that we in the West so esteem, we must also affirm the existence of God. Consequently, if we reject God, we also reject these values. Here’s why:
- Each human has dignity, equality, and unalienable value.
- Without God, there can be no human dignity, equality, or unalienable value.
- God exists.
Premise #1: This is a premise almost universally accepted in the West. We believe that all should have equal protections under the law, despite the surpassing wealth and influence of some. The Bill of Rights had been based upon this assumption of equality. Our Declaration of Independence provided this assumption - that all are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights. We also intuitively believe that humans deserve to be treated with respect and accorded rights consistent with our humanity. The denial of these truths leads to regarding and treating our fellow humans as animals.
Premise #2: This Declaration emphasized the fact that these unalienable rights find their basis in a God who had created humanity to be like Him. Therefore, are value is somewhat commensurate with God’s, and we must treat each other accordingly! Instead, if government granted our unalienable rights, government could easily terminate them.
Our human dignity is based upon the fact that we are god-like even if we have corrupted ourselves. We therefore have an obligation to treat our fellow humans with dignity, even if they have acted in undignified ways. Consistent with this, psychotherapeutic practice requires that we treat the clients with unconditional-positive-regard, as if they possess an unalienable dignity. If they don't, they will lose their client, since they too have an intuition that they must be treated with dignity.
Pragmatic concerns alone cannot suffice to retain these concepts of dignity and equality:
- When we regard our fellow humans materially (rather than god-like), we cannot perceive any equality or even dignity. Instead, we observe differences - that some are better, nicer, more educated, and contribute to our welfare. Meanwhile, others present society with a high cost. Therefore, from a materialistic point of view, there can be no equality. Instead, some deserve respect and others do not.
- It is not enough to treat others with respect and equality for merely pragmatic reasons. It will make us schizoid. Imagine the therapist who knows he must treat his client with dignity, while he doesn’t believe that client has any dignity. It would therefore be nothing less than manipulative and hypocritical to treat him with respect.
- Human history provides overwhelming testimony that pragmatism alone will not create the better society. Instead, self-interest will reign.
Besides, if we are just another member of the animal kingdom, albeit advanced, any belief in human exceptionalism will eventually erode. Can we raid our neighbors frig at will as we pluck an apple from a tree or extract milk from a cow? Of course not! Should eating other life forms – lettuce and radishes - be criminalized? If so, it would lead to the death of humanity. Must we maintain human exceptionalism? If not, we cannot maintain humanity.
There is only one way to preserve the dignity, equality and unalienable value of all humanity - by recognizing that we are the special creation and the children of God! If human exceptionalism exists, so too must God!