07 August 2006

Morality Without God?

Edward Feser argues that outside the Judeo-Christian worldview, people become tools:

"...The idea that a human being per se has an inherent dignity began with the Jews. It is well-known that the ancient Israelites were unique in insisting that their God was not merely one tribal deity among others, but was the very Creator of the universe in whose image all men were made.

What is perhaps less widely realized is that this distinctive metaphysical conception of God served as the foundation of a distinctive moral outlook. For given that every human being reflects the image of God Himself, it follows that every human being has a worth that surpasses that of anything else in creation, and that every human being is, in this respect, of equal worth. Moreover, this God—being an omniscient Lawgiver—commands all men to act in a manner consistent with their unique status, and will hold those accountable who fail to do so. The Jewish conception of God has, accordingly, often been described as an “ethical monotheism”: No arid philosophical abstraction, it calls on men to change their behavior toward each other as well as their opinions about the nature of the divine.

Christianity inherited this universal moral interpretation of monotheism from the Jews and carried it further. So important are human beings in God's plan that God Himself condescended to become one of them in the person of Jesus Christ, suffered the indignity of death on the cross to pay the penalty for their sins, and was raised from the dead to guarantee for them the possibility of eternal life. These doctrines of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection elevated human dignity to the greatest conceivable limit, as evidenced by the manner in which the Church worked out their implications over the centuries..."

See also J. Budziszewski's essay, "The Second Tablet Project."
 

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