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« Are All Sins Equal to God? | Main | The Line between Rule of Law and Civil Disobedience »

September 04, 2015


I don't really see the secular argument for intrinsic human value here. Peter Kreeft, that you link to, argues that functionalism doesn't make sense of our moral judgments. But if atheism is true then it may also be that essentialism (or whatever you want to call it) doesn't have any basis either. Kreeft takes it for granted that it's wrong to kill an innocent human being.

Smith says a belief in human exceptionalism doesn't depend on religious faith, but then he points to accomplishments (functions) to illustrate his point. But Kreeft has already told us that these accomplishments can't be the grounds of our value. They are signs of the type of things we are. And there is no doubt that humans are different than animals. But there is doubt that they are of any more value than animals.

Nevertheless, I'm happy to let a secularist be inconsistent at this point. If an atheist is willing to take the premise "human beings have intrinsic worth" for granted in an argument over abortion then I'm not going to argue him out of that.

Anyone can witness a murder and have the moral vision to "see" the wrongness of that act and, thereby, correctly identify the act as wrong. But this doesn't mean the wrongness of the event can stand on its own. Likewise, we can see human exceptionalism just by our experience of being humans and examining human history. But that doesn't mean human exceptionalism stands on its own regardless of one's broader philosophy/theology.

I'm with Coca-cola. I don't see any argument for intrinsic human value in secular atheistic worldview that is based on methodological naturalism. If the universe has no ultimate need to exist and if everything we observe is simply a matter of chance and serendipity, to claim that an artifact found in this universe as intrinsic, i.e., innate value is preposterous.

This is certainly a very important topic. The reason being that Americans understand the value of a dollar, but human value is more difficult for them.

Where this argument for intrinsic human value without God breaks down is that if there is no perfect, infallible higher being to lay a foundation of law, then how do we know whose "morals" are the right ones? This leads to situational ethics, morals that are open to personal interpretation and preference or the rulings of a governing body composed of individuals vulnerable to corruption, perversion, selfishness and lust for power.

Also, if a human being is incapable of traditional contributions to society or of certain achievements due to disability, age or health issues, a value without God leads all too quickly to abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide--no matter how much we decry these "practices" as an affront against human beings.

Additionally, being made in the image of God gives us a much higher value than just achievement and being the most highly evolved "mammal.". It's kind of like those cheap plastic beads you buy to decorate at Christmas in comparison to the highest quality pearls money can buy.

Finally, Smith's basis for human value barely gives hope for this life, let alone anything beyond death.

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