By: Luis Dizon
Different worldviews have different approaches to the overall nature of humanity. How they view humanity determines important questions about human dignity and worth. To show how important it is to consider how worldviews affect our perception of humanity, I would like to invite you to answer the following questions based on your personal beliefs and principles:
- Does human life have inherent moral value? If so, what gives human life inherent value?
- Are all human beings persons? Are all persons human beings?
- Where do we get our rights from? Is it from human institutions or from a higher authority? Are there such things as “inalienable rights”?
- Is there anything that makes the lives of human beings more valuable than those of plants or animals? If so, what is it?
- Are all human beings equally valuable? If not, what makes some human beings more valuable than others?
- Is it ever permissible to take another human being’s life? If so, under what circumstances?
Whether you are a Christian, an Atheist or the adherent of one of many world religions out there, your worldview will drastically affect how you answer these questions. For the Christian, however, our view of humanity is grounded upon one central truth: that human beings are created by God according to His own image. The belief that we are God’s image-bearers shapes the Christian’s entire view of humanity, especially with regards to the sanctity of human life and the existence of human rights. This concept is derived chiefly from the Creation account in Genesis 1:26-28:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'”
This passage presents man as the most significant of God’s creations. According to its literal meaning, man is set apart from the rest of creation as having been made in the “image of God” (Imago Dei). This fact is central to the biblical view of humanity, and yet for hundreds of years theologians have pondered over its true meaning. Over the next few days, we will be looking at Genesis 1:26-28 (along with related passages) to examine its true Scriptural meaning, and how it has been understood by both historic and contemporary commentators. Different non-Christian perspectives will also be delineated in contradistinction to the Christian worldview. Hopefully, this will help highlight for the significance of the Biblical creation account as to how we view ourselves and our fellow human beings.