The other day I wrote a short review of the movie 2012. I mentioned that there was a theme–having compassion for human beings just because they are human, not due to any accomplishments or instrumental value they possess–that was very out of place given the naturalistic/humanistic plot.
One commenter wrote the following:
Isn’t theism merely one of the ways we “might ascribe a higher meaning on all this to make ourselves feel better”? Theists utilize a belief there is a god giving humans higher intrinsic value (through the concepts of “soul” or “relationship” or “similarity”—all familiar themes) but that doesn’t make it actual reality.
It is as if you are so close to the answer. You realize humans want to give our own species greater “value” (a loaded term, of course) and go to great lengths to manufacture reasons to do so. Where you fall just shy is the failure to realize theism—the belief there is a God who “values” humans—is just one of those manufactured reasons.
I’m glad he brought this point up, for it gives me a chance to add further clarity to my thoughts.
Of course, if theism is false, Dagood’s comment is a good point. Just because something helps you live life (in this case, a way to ascribe value and meaning to life) doesn’t mean its true. In that case, theism, just like humanism, is a way for humans to manufacture value.
However, I have excellent reason to hold that theism is true. In the war of the worldviews, it easily stands on its own two feet. That makes all the difference. Given the evidence backing it up, its ascriptions of value are actually describing reality. If I didn’t think this is the case, I wouldn’t be a theist!
The reason why I made the point in the movie review is to give humanists pause. Many I’ve met don’t get that if naturalism is true, life is absurd, yet they continue to live “as if.” As I mentioned in the review, if naturalism is true, every attempt at meaning is an effort in shuffling chairs on the Titanic. That doesn’t make naturalism false and theism true, but it sure should give one pause in blithely jumping on the bandwagon.
Taken one way, though, all this *is* a sort of evidence for theism. Human beings have intrinsic value, and we know this deep down. It’s why we recoil at gassing babies but don’t think twice about gassing termites. We know this by intuition, the same way we know “one should not torture babies for fun” is true. What worldview makes the best sense of that knowledge we possess? Theism. Humanity’s intrinsic value is quite at home in a theistic worldview, but it fits very oddly in any naturalistic worldview (many atheistic philosophers, like J.L Mackie, made a career out of arguing as such.).