Wednesday, 9 May 2007

A Difficult Reconciliation

So here's a little something I've been pondering lately:

Statement 1) All human beings are of equal worth and value.
Statement 2) Evolution is true.

How are these two statements reconcilable?

If the place human beings have arrived at truly is due to the evolutionary process and natural selection, then wouldn't some races of human beings be intellectually and physically superior to others? And if they're superior intellectually and physically, then why are they not worth more? Wouldn't they be more valuable? Survival of the fittest.

The only ways that I can see the two statements being reconcilable to each other are to say that a) all people have souls, which are all of equal worth at all times. This would mitigate all other differences, since the value of the soul would trump all other determiners.

Or b) say that souls have nothing to do with it, and absolutely everything is equal in value, regardless of disparity in abilities. This would equate houseflies and dirt to human beings.

Option one has a problem, in that how do you draw a distinction between a human and a chimpanzee well enough to ascertain that one should have a soul, and the other not? If Evolution happened, then why would one thing receive a soul, and not the next? You have to draw the line somewhere, but it's difficult to do without being arbitrary. If you don't draw a line, then really, you're just restating option number two.

Option number two may be logically sound, but most people like to think they're worth a little more than pond scum.

Let me repeat, I believe God created human beings are equal, regardless of race, intellect, and physical ability. And while I'm not glued to believing in Evolution, I'm not throwing out the process, either. And I definitely believe that I'm worth more than the dirt. So then... how does that work? I guess God drew the line somewhere.... Hmmm...I'll have to think on that.

"All the evolution we know of proceeds from the vague to the definite." Charles Sanders Pierce.


Art said...

Interesting blog. I think my comment will be a long one. We know that people are diverse and that not all people are created physically and intellectually equal. Mexicans are generally smaller than Dutch people. Orientals are usually shorter than Caucasians. Look around schools, not everyone is an "A" student. Not everyone is an "F" student either. I don't think the Bible even states that all men are created equal (Does it?) I know the Bible says (Romans 10:12) the Lord does not discriminate between people - but that is not to say they were created equal. The Bible says the more a person has, the more that is required of him - implying inequalities do exist. Does the Bible say that God loves everyone equally? I don't think so according to Romans 9:13. Perhaps neither Statement 1) nor Statement 2) are true....

I think the motive behind your blog was not to discuss the equality of humans as much as it was to discuss the equality of humans verses chimpanzees and other animals. The Bible definitely puts humans ahead of animals. We know that Jesus died for humans because he loves humans. Do animals have souls? Do animals go to heaven? Some say yes, others say no.

I remember reading a report (when I was the office help to the vice president at Briercrest) from a missionary that used to work (I think it was northern Saskatchewan with the natives) in a place full of witchcraft. The missionary reported that one day a dog talked to him and told him to leave or die. The missionary obediently obeyed the dog. He stopped preaching and left the community. I find this story difficult to believe. First, how many people have heard of talking dogs? Also, how many Christian missionaries would back down to a demon-possessed dog? On the other hand though, how many Christians are strong enough in their faith to stand up against a demon if they were actually confronted? Also, I have heard similar stories from people I have trusted that have been or were directly involved with dealing with demons. Anyway, the point of the story is, if animals do not have souls, could they be possessed?

If a person is born via a cloning process, will God love him as much as a naturally born person? If a person has 3% beaver DNA inserted at birth, will God still love him too? If a hybrid human is one day created that has 4 arms and no feet, will he need salvation? What about a chimpanzee that has human DNA inserted into it?

We are created in the image of God. This makes us special. I think (open to debate) what being created in the image of God means is that we can love, talk, think, plot, scheme, have faith, have hope, create, organize and such things. The Bible says that God is Spirit so I don't think being created in his image is talking about physical characteristics. I am not sure it is even talking about human spirit because when we believe, we are "born again" anyway. Perhaps there is bigger difference between a believer and a non-believer then there is between a non-believer and a chimpanzee. We should not underestimate the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit in one's life.

Maybe I should have my own blog :) I guess I am saying everything I need to in these comments anyway. Do you have comments to my comment? I think this is quite interesting.

Carla said...

Wow! That is long!

I'm wondering... if God does love one person more than another, does that change their worth under His law? If you murder a Jew or murder an Iraqi, He may be more upset by one than the other, but would that affect how He punishes the murderer?

Interesting point to bring up with the animals and souls. I remember that story Auntie Gloria told us about the talking owls. Who did that one happen to? But still, it's one thing to imagine a dog with a soul and another to imagine a jellyfish with a soul...

I guess the confusing thing is, if Evolution is the way it happened, then where is line for being able to "love, talk, think, plot, scheme, have faith, have hope, create, organize and such things" get drawn? Babies can't, so are they "made in the image of God"? And when do they become so? Can someone be "made partially in the image of God"? Or what about brain damaged people, then, like Sam? Is he only human by current biology, and not made in the image of God?

It's kind of hard to organize my thoughts on this. They come flit by so fast that I can't quite catch them all.

SHARON said...

HEY carla that was a mind boggiling blog ahah i don't know what to say to it but i am sayyin HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIi

Art said...

I do think that God will deal more harshly with one who murders a Jew than the one who murders a heathen. Deuteronomy 7:6 says that the Jews are his treasured possession. Genesis 12:3 says anyone who curses them will be cursed and those who bless them will be blessed. That does not sound like equal treatment to me. I am not sure how the punishment thing works but I don't think punishment for the same crimes are necessarily equal for different people. I Timothy 5:8 says that someone who does not provide for his immediate family is worse than an unbeliever. II Peter 2:20 mentions that backsliders are worse off then they were in a pre-Christian state. Matthew 11:23 says judgment will be easier for Sodom than it was for Capernaum. I believe God loves all people and that he is just, but if we are created differently, his expectations for each of us are different to.

I do not think that just because a baby does not know how to properly express itself, that it is not created in God's image. The baby will grow and mature to become the person that (hopefully) God wants. God sees the potential in the person. As the baby grows though, the expectations on the baby also grows. No one will ever expect a tadpole will one day make the world a better and more loving place to live. I think the human race is the only animal species on earth that is capable to knowingly accept or reject God's love.

Regarding brain damaged people, I think we can put them in the same category as babies and fetuses. Where do babies go when they die? Lots of theories on that. If God treats babies as true spiritual equals to mature adults, then babies must also die a similar death as a non-believing adult. If God has an "Age of Innocence" clause, then by definition, the heaven/hell judgment is tied to the evolving intellectual capacity of the human being in question. John 3:18 says whoever does not believe stands condemned. If babies and fetuses do go to heaven, then that means for every "believer" in heaven there would be at least 100000 non-believing babies and fetuses that got there on the innocence clause. If the fetuses get to be in heaven at an "adult" age, that means Christians would be in vast minority of the saved people. That does not seem to make much sense to me, especially when you consider that lots of those people would have likely chosen an evil lifestyle. Matthew 7:14 says narrow is the road that leads to life and only a few find it. John 3:5 says no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit. These verses do not make much sense to me if every child, fetus, mentally disabled person ever conceived since creation is in heaven. I am not an expert on this though and if they are up there, then great for them.

Carla said...

And yet, babies and awfully brain-damaged people really don't have the capability to believe, so how does that work? Maybe they just cease to exist... or God knows whether they would have accepting Him if they had had the chance to live properly. Except then even Christians could end up in hell, because perhaps had they lived another 10 years, then they would have lost their faith.

And if a brain damaged person doesn't have the ability, ever, to mature, then does that make them not human in a spiritual sense?

I still am bugged in not knowing where the line is drawn, because ability to think develops, and doesn't just "poof" exist one day. So if the little tot is just developing the ability to think, but dies, then what happens?

Boy, this is confusing.

Art said...

The "Age of Accountability" as far as I know is not a Biblical concept yet is fairly widely accepted amongst Christians. This thinking in my opinion is very close to the idea of Universalism where Jesus died for everybody so therefore everybody is saved. My thinking is that if a person can justify breaking the doctrine in Hebrew 9:27 where it says "man is destined to die once and face judgment" and other places where it says stuff like "all have sinned and fall short", "and that "we are justified by faith" then why not also make another newer, better doctrine that says these people are just terminated, like your average everyday expired housefly. They go to neither heaven nor hell and besides, they wouldn't know what is going on anyway. Actually, this doctrine would not violate Hebrews because their judgment would be termination rather than eternal punishment - they are still facing judgment.

Perhaps there is even a better option than the one I presented. What do you think?

Carla said...

I'm thinking that's probably about where my line of thought was going, too. It still bothers me, though, because if a person is incapable of going to either heaven or hell, then is that person really human, or just a blob of flesh? And would there be anything wrong with aborting it? Because I definitely still have a problem with that.

And to think my blog post was originally on equality and Evolution!

Art said...

Even from a total secular point of view, I believe one could argue that abortion is evil. For a society to function properly, certain rules need to be in place or chaos will ensue. For a society to operate at peak efficiency (however you define that), all members must agree and abide by these rules which thereby make them global rules. (eg, Do not murder.) Race based slavery was acceptable to many people in the old days because they did not feel that Blacks were human and therefore not part of society. Today we know that Blacks are every bit as human as we are and Whites and Blacks can marry and have common offspring. In the same vein today, Abortionists generally claim that a fetus is not human and therefore not members of society. Biologically, we know that they are human and alive because we can watch them grow to full adults. The organism can be scientifically inspected and determined to have human DNA. The abortionist's definition of human life is merely the relative position of the fetus to the mother's womb. Basically, they state human life is not dependent on the organism itself, but primarily on its location relative to some arbitrary, convenient location of their choosing. However, if we believe the organism is human, we need to do our part to uphold the tiny human's rights and defend their life against self-centered unloving people and convict those murderers.

Human life does not happen at a specific point of time with regards to an organism. During the whole process, a human is a human.

Carla said...

The thing is, even if it's human biologically, is it anything more than a common animal if it doesn't have a soul? If it's just terminated upon death, does it matter if it's aborted? Especially if it's dreadfully brain-damaged, and therefore has no soul to worry about? We don't get over upset about killing gophers. If a baby has no more soul, and no chance at getting a soul, than a gopher, does it matter? Just because you're human based on DNA is enough to call killing something a murder or not? I thought it had to do with whether you had a soul that could go to either heaven or hell.

*I'm playing devil's advocate, here. I know abortion is very wrong, I'm just trying to figure out how to reconcile these, now. Another "difficult reconciliation".

Art said...

This topic touches on many hotly debated issues. For example, if a person is on life support for years with next to no brain activity, is it murder to disconnect the person from the machine? If a baby is born with no brain (anencephalic baby), is it ethical to harvest the baby's other organs to give them to other needy children?

Which is worse in God's eyes: to murder a Christian or a non-Christian. A Christian will go to heaven and will be "promoted" to a better life. A non-Christian though, will go to hell and have no chance of repenting. I would think that the death of a non-Christian is much more tragic than the death of a Christian. I don't believe though from a society point of view, that it means that one should receive a harsher punishment or penalty for killing a non-Christian. All human life is important to God because he says that it is. (2 Peter 3:9)

I think it is the same for babies. Regardless of how God deals with judging the baby or a brain dead person, from a society point of view, we must treat all human life as special to God.