Bioethics @ TIU

Why People Matter

Posted July 10th, 2017 by Janie Valentine

This time last year, I had the opportunity to index the new book Why People Matter: A Christian Engagement with Rival Views of Human Significance, edited by John F. Kilner. Released in January 2017, Why People Matter explores how five competing philosophical perspectives explain human significance.  Almost everyone understands that people are important, and this book delves into different ways that people outside the faith have defended what they intuitively know to be true about human dignity.  The authors point out the weaknesses inherent in each outlook and defend the superiority of the Christian view of human dignity.

Seven Christian ethicists contribute to the work.   First, Gilbert C. Meilaender provides a critical discussion of a utilitarian understanding of human significance. Next, Amy Laura Hall gives an account of the collectivist outlook.  Russell DiSilvestro tackles individualism, Scott B. Rae covers naturalism, and Patrick T. Smith discusses transhumanism.  Following the exploration of these five perspectives, Kilner and David P. Gushee explain and defend the theological and biblical foundations of the Christian understanding of human significance.

Why People Matter is a helpful volume that winsomely and convincingly defends the Christian perspective that human dignity is grounded in God, rather than in ourselves.  Notably, one of Kilner’s chapters, “Special Connection and Intended Reflection” is an accessible distillation of his recent book Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God, which won the Christianity Today Book Award for Theology/Ethics in 2016.  This chapter should prove useful for busy Christians who desire to articulate what it means to be made in the image of God, and why it matters. Overall, this book has the potential to help Christians better understand and appreciate why a Christian anthropology truly is the best defense of human significance.

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