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Why are People Important

What is Man?

How scientists value humans impacts what they choose to study, improve, or change through their work. Many people pursue scientific careers because they desire to help others and because they believe that human life must be valued and protected. But why do most people share this innate sense that human life is precious and valuable? Modern thinking, shaped by evolutionary theories, has turned the question about humankind’s dignity into a materialistic discussion, which denies the existence of anything beyond physical matter. But a materialistic worldview actually devalues the body and rejects the inherent dignity of every human life. It does not explain why we believe that human life must be valued. Because materialism, through the field of science, has shaped modern thinking, science class is an important avenue for showing students how worldview impacts an understanding of human dignity.

The Value of Man from an Evolutionary Perspective

Evolutionary theories are the foundation for the dominant view of human worth. Because evolutionary theories are pervasive, students in a Christian classroom should know the evolutionary theories about the origin of humans. These theories teach that since all living things are related to each other through a long process of evolution, humans are nothing more than evolved animals. An evolutionary worldview puts undue attention on the material world. Without some fundamental difference between animals and humans, why should we value humans more than animals? Ethical questions about eugenics, abortion, and genocide become difficult to answer. If humans developed as the result of millions of years of death, why should we think that we are more important than the rest of creation?

A result of these theories is an unnatural view of the human body. Because evolution sees the material world as random and meaningless, it separates personhood from the human body. Personhood means that a human is conscious, self-aware, rational, etc. But if a human does not display the marks of personhood, they have no inherent value. By separating the person from the material body, these theories remove any significance from the body. This worldview is evident in popular opinion about abortion. If a baby in the womb is a human (as scientific research indicates) but is not yet a person, then the materialistic worldview determines whether that baby’s life is worth keeping. Only those who are advanced enough or who will contribute enough to society deserve to live.

The Value of Man from a Biblical Perspective

Students will encounter difficult ethical questions about humanity and personhood. They must be equipped with a biblical worldview that upholds the sanctity of every human life. A biblical worldview believes in the dignity and value of every human, regardless of that person’s ability to benefit society. The most profound difference between humans and the rest of creation is that God made humans in His own image (Genesis 1:26–27). A human being is the masterpiece of a loving God and reflects characteristics of God’s being. The image of God is not something that is earned. Every human (from the moment of conception and for the rest of his or her life) is an image bearer of God.

God affirmed humanity’s worth above every other living thing by taking on a man’s flesh permanently through the Incarnation. Jesus became a man while remaining fully God. The Incarnation is a permanent reminder of the value God places on humans. One of the reasons sin is devastating is because humans have so much value. Sickness, death, and other effects of sin were never designed to be a part of the human experience. Jesus came to reverse the effects of sin and restore us to our intended existence. Jesus valued humanity enough to not only become one of us but to die for us to save us.

Applying a Biblical Perspective of Man to Science

In a world marred by sin, science can be used to exercise dominion in a way that denies the image of God in humans. Sometimes, people use science to benefit only themselves or to hurt the world we are to care for. For example, the atrocities of the Holocaust resulted in scientific advancements. In contrast, a biblical understanding of humans as image bearers of God allows scientists to see the world as God intended. Throughout the history of science many people, such as Isaac Newton and Galileo, pursued science because they believed in God and wanted to understand His creation better. These examples encourage students to view science as a tool for living out their beliefs. They can be inspired to invent and imagine things that benefit the world and to stand boldly against people who seek to harm others. Students should be inspired by technological advancements such as cochlear implants or prosthetic limbs that improve the quality of life for people with physical impairments. Using science to bring glory to God and to affirm the image of God in others is living out the image of God in us.

This proper understanding of the view of humans does not lead us to arrogance. Students should not see scientific advancements as proof that humans are worthy of worship. Instead, they should learn to be humble and to worship the one who created us with the intellect and capability to use science. In Psalm 8:4, David asks a question to God with wonder, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” In the previous verses, David marvels at the glory of God and the wonders of His creation, but then he wonders even more at how God chooses to consider humans. If God desires to commune with us, even when we’ve rejected Him, we must work to uphold and protect the sanctity of every human life.

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Category: Philosophy