Bioethics @ TIU

The inconsistency of many who reject human dignity

Posted January 4th, 2017 by Steve Phillips

I just finished reading Richard Weikart’s new book, The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life. Weikart is a professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus and has presented several papers at CBHD summer conferences. His latest book looks at how western culture has lost an understanding of the concept of human dignity and the value of human life. He details the historical development of alternate worldviews beginning in the Enlightenment which have supplanted the Christian worldview that was the foundation of Western culture it was the basis for Western concepts of morality, human dignity, the value of human life, and human rights. He shows how the adoption of a materialist worldview that has no place for the supernatural and the acceptance of unguided evolution of human beings led to Western belief systems that have no place for human dignity or the value of human life and have led to the widespread destruction of human life. This destruction of human life has manifested itself through political systems such as the Germany of Hitler or the Russia of Lenin and Stalin, but also through cultural acceptance of practices such as abortion and euthanasia.

One of the insights that I find most interesting is that when some, like Nietzsche, have applied these materialist and evolutionary worldviews consistently they have come to the conclusion that there is no foundation for morality and that those who have power reign without limits. However, many in modern Western culture hold to a worldview that provides no foundation for morality, but still take strong moral stands for the things that they believe in. One issue that illustrates this is euthanasia. Strong supporters of euthanasia insist that people have a right to make their own decisions about how and when they will die while rejecting the concept of human dignity which would say that human life has value and should not be intentionally ended. They fail to recognize that the rejection of human dignity undermines the concept of human beings having any rights at all. Along with Weikart I am glad that most people who reject human dignity based on materialist and evolutionary foundational beliefs are not consistent enough to go all the way to nihilism, but it is important that those of us who believe in moral truth continue to point out that without the source of moral truth who is himself good and who has created human beings in his image with inherent dignity there is no reason to believe that any moral values are valid.

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