Subject: America’s Battleground Part 4: Objective Morality and Peoples’ Intrinsic Value
Habakkuk 2:13 ”You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness.”
If you have watched the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), it is clear that Planned Parenthood is selling aborted babies’ organs to private research firms. While critics of abortion are citing the illegality of selling baby organs for profit, this is not the main reason to defund Planned Parenthood.
In his July article for ‘Powerline’, attorney John Hinderaker puts it this way: “What we are dealing with here is not an accounting issue. The videos are, if not horrifying, certainly troubling… Just about anyone not immersed in the world of abortion on demand would be appalled by the callousness on display, which is why Planned Parenthood, the New York Times and their allies are anxious to denounce and suppress the videos. What seems obvious, though, is that we are paying a price for our abortion culture…It was recently reported that among African-Americans in New York City, there are more abortions than births. Surely this is both a symptom and a cause of a pervasive disrespect for human life. If anyone doubts that the abortion industry contributes to the coarseness of American culture, all I can say is: watch the videos.”
How did we as a culture end up in a place where the objective value human life, as Hinderaker says, is so disrespected? Richard Dawkins, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and one of the world’s most recognized atheists, gave this reply when asked about whether objective moral values exist: ‘There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference… we are machines for propagating DNA…it is every living object’s sole reason for being.’ Dawkins is being coldly honest: without an objective standard to tell evil from good, Planned Parenthood is right to assert that they are doing nothing ‘wrong’.
But it is nonsense to claim we don’t know evil when we see it. In many of his Q&A sessions at universities around the country, Ravi Zacharias is often asked “If God exists, why does He allow evil and suffering?” Zacharias turns the issue back to the real question: “Does the reality of evil in our world serve as evidence that God does not exist?” Only after examining this question, and determining that in fact God does exist, can we ask the second question of why God allows evil and suffering in the world.
Zacharias’s argument centers on the fact that you need a moral law giver to have a moral law because human life is intrinsically valuable: “One may wonder why do you need a moral law giver if you have a moral law? The answer is because the questioner and the issue he or she questions always involve the essential value of a person. Persons are implicit to the question and the object of the question. So you cannot have a moral law unless the moral law itself is intrinsically woven into personhood, which means it demands an intrinsically worthy person if the moral law itself is valued. And that person can only be God.”
Issues of morality are uniquely human – they are centered around the INTRINSIC VALUE of a person. We only say it is evil for God to allow “bad” things to happen to people because we consider people intrinsically valuable. For example, children are not like our pets. Our pets are not as valuable as people. To illustrate further, if someone’s dog were to savagely bite a 2-year old in the face, most of us would think it right that we put down the dog. But if a 2-year old savagely bites a dog in the face, no one would suggest we should put down the 2-year old. What’s the difference? We all know our pets are property, but children have intrinsic value, whether they are part of our family or not. They are persons, not property.
And this intrinsic value of a person is the foundation of Moral Laws. But the concept of “value” is subjective, based on the one who decides to call something or someone valuable. So the question becomes: is the value of each person objectively recognized as binding on all people everywhere, regardless of time, culture or situation? It’s back to the definition of “ethics (“ought)”, the “application of a moral system”. We hopefully all recognize that all people, including babies in the womb, *ought* to be intrinsically valuable. So where does this sense of the “oughtness” of value of a person come from?
Read again our verse for this week, from the book of Habakkuk. The intrinsic value of a person demands the existence of God. If the moral law is based on the intrinsic value of all persons everywhere and at all times and in every situation, it cannot be arrived at subjectively. We would we end up with multiple ideas of how to apply the moral law based on the situation or the people involved. An absolute standard for the worthiness of all persons demands an intrinsically worthy person. This “person” must be, by their essence, worthy of high value. There is only one real candidate for such a person – the personal God of the Bible.