The value of anything must always be set by something outside of that object. A coin is no more valuable than a pebble except by common agreement that it can be exchanged for something else. Humans are unique in their ability to assign abstract values to inherently non-functional and otherwise useless objects. A diamond ring, a thousand dollar bill, or a gold bar have no more value to an animal than a smooth pebble, shiny rock, or fuzzy leaf. Animals cannot even assign value to their own lives. Apart from survival instincts and some mutually beneficial biological relationships, animals either ignore or eat one another. Tears are never shed as one group of animals seeks to destroy another in its quest for survival. Animals make no judgments concerning the value of biological life. Only man is capable of recognizing the value of animal life and seeking to protect it. But who is capable of assigning value to human life?
If human value is set by the mutual consent of other humans, it is subject to change at any time. This has happened countless times throughout history. Many ancient cultures sacrificed living children either to appease their pagan gods or to request favors from them. Not all that long ago the U.S. Supreme Court declared slavery legal, effectively removing human status from Negroes. Aborigines in Australia were shot and skinned less than 200 years ago because they were not considered to be human. In the last 3 decades the abortion industry has profited from the destruction of 35 million unborn children whose rights, value, and lives were eliminated by the Supreme Court.
The founding fathers of our country clearly understood both human nature and the sordid history
of mankind. They realized that only a source outside of mankind’s existence could assign a lasting value to human life. That is why the Declaration of Independence has, as its most basic assumption, the existence of certain inalienable rights such as: “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Inalienable rights must be granted by someone greater than the authors of the documents, otherwise those rights could be changed by the next group of people to come into power. However, this does not imply that all forms of life are of equal value. Man has special value because he has free will and is not controlled by instincts. Man has special value because he is the only creature created in God’s image. Most importantly, man has special value because his Creator has demonstrated His love for him through natural revelation (creation); special revelation (the Bible and the earthly visitation of Jesus Christ); and personal revelation (the personal knowledge and peace which come with accepting Him as Savior).
There is a war of values raging in America. Most of us are aware of the surface skirmishes, but all too few are aware that the root cause of the war is a deep philosophical difference about reality. The basis of America’s cultural war is the question of man’s relationship to God. Either life’s value is based on God’s personal existence (meaning absolute values do exist) or man sets the standards. There are no other possibilities. The consequence of 150 years of indoctrination with evolutionary principles is the acceptance that man is part of the natural forces which shaped us. The inevitable result of this line of reasoning is the removal of an objective basis for determining the value of anything. Thus, mankind either arbitrarily assigns value to things (including people) or all life becomes of equal value. In the case of the former, atrocities such as human sacrifice or passive acceptance of abortion occur. In the case of the latter, absurdities occur such as animal rights groups equating the murder and mutilation of humans with the slaughter of chickens1. Both of these responses are inevitable outcomes of following the evolutionary humanist philosophy to its logical conclusion.
Christianity is rooted in the fact that a personal God exists. Thus, life is inherently valuable. Furthermore, we have no right to do with life as we arbitrarily please. There is something special about all humans and no one has the right to remove their value by murder, abortion, or euthanasia.
1. Charles Nicoll & Sharon Russell,”Animal Rights Literature“, Science 244:903 (May 26, 1989).