Chuck Colson, like many other people yesterday, decided to celebrate the 199th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday. Unlike most of the other celebrants, however, Colson observed Darwin Day not by praising him, but by lying about him.
To a Darwinist, you see, there is no distinction between human beings and animals. We all came about by chance; we are made of the same “stuff,” and we all end up as nothing more than dust. Instead of recognizing humans as bearers of God’s image, Darwinism sees us as nothing more than competitively successful bipeds with opposable thumbs. Forget any talk of human dignity.
Oops, little slip there: it wasn’t Darwin who said man was made of the dust of the earth. That was Genesis 1. But that’s not the Big Lie.
Colson claims that Darwinists see no distinction between human beings and animals. Lie number one. Did Colson actually research what “Darwinists” claim about the distinctiveness of the human species? Of course not. There are indeed some people who see humans as being worth no more than any other animal, and yes, usually they do believe in evolution (just like they believe in gravity and atoms and other well-documented scientific conclusions). Such people, however, are not in the majority, and in fact most evolutionists have no problem at all with the idea that man is more significant than other animals.
If you check up on who’s actually making what claims, you’ll find that it is creationists, and not evolutionists, who are the most vocal and insistent about claiming that evolution implies an inferior view of human value. And that’s not too surprising, because if you look at what the creationists say, and what it implies, you can see that they do indeed have an inferior view of human worth.
Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians, for instance, will pay lip service to the idea of human worth, as Colson does, based on “bearing God’s image.” In other words, we aren’t valuable in and of ourselves, we’re simply assigned a value based on someone else’s worth. And what does this assigned value count for? Not much, since according to conservative Christian teaching, the great majority of those who “bear God’s image” are going to bear it all the way down to Hell, where that image will be subjected to cruel, relentless, and unceasing torture. So much for human dignity!
There’s nothing undignified or disrespectful about embracing the truth concerning ourselves, nor does it in any way diminish the worth of man to say that his dignity and worth are intrinsic rather than being arbitrarily loaned to him by Someone else. Indeed, the theistic view of man is the one that sees less value in a person, because it always holds out the caveat that God loaned you your human worth, and He can withdraw it at any time if you fail to live up to His standards of faith and obedience.
In conservative Christian theology, the ideal role (and thus the inherent value) of man is that of a slave. “Freedom doesn’t mean doing what you want, it means doing what God wants,” as many a New-Speaking pastor has proclaimed. But more than just being a slave, man is called to be a joyful slave—not only is he bound to serve with “all his heart, all his mind, all his soul and all his strength,” he is bound to enjoy his servitude!
We don’t treat our animals that way. Hopefully we treat them humanely, and if we put them to work, at least we keep them well-fed and healthy as a reward for their contribution. But we don’t demand that they must always enjoy obeying us. So please don’t lecture me about how understanding evolution puts man into a role that’s worse than what theists imagine man is worth relative to God. It does not dignify man to make him a slave in both mind and body.