Last week, The New York Times published an an op ed piece written by Eric Kaplan. Kaplan suggests that we are living in an age of contradiction, and yet there seem to be no other options available to us except to accept that is our situation. While the article is full of individual points worthy of attention from a Christian worldview, it is the overall topic that should first capture readers’ attentions, because without a dissection of it, the other pieces themselves cannot be dissected.
Throughout the article the author asserts that there is a contradiction between two ideas: people are meaningful and people have causes and therefore are things. His final conclusion is quite simply that these two concepts cannot be reconciled. Therefore, the conclusion is that both statements, while supposedly in contradiction, are both true. However, such a view fails to consider God’s sovereign creation, which in reality can reconcile both points.
When we look at the creation account of Genesis, we learn that man (and woman) were created by God (Genesis 1:26-31). Therefore, indeed people have a cause. The tendency in the philosophy being discussed by Kaplan is to reduce anything created to a thing. However, we would do well to learn from the Psalmist who looks upon creation and created things, as wondrous works of God that bring the Psalmist to wonder, awe, and adoration. I would urge you to take a moment and read Psalm 8, and consider how the psalmist, with less technology and science than we have today, found himself drawn to God. It is a contradiction to today in which the technology we have should cause us to marvel at God’s creation and compel us to a deeper relationship with him, yet instead we are repulsed further away from him. The point is this, there is great value in created things because they manifest God’s glory (again read Psalm 8). Therefore, while created, humans are more than things.
In fact, they are meaningful as the philosopher has suggested here. What makes a person meaningful? It’s that man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). This sets us apart from any other thing created by God. What we see then is that man is meaningful because he is created. More specifically, because he is created by God.
Two lessons can be learned from this theoretical philosophizing that Eric Kaplan has engaged in. First, such a concept transforms our relationships with our fellow man then because it indicates the respect and relationship we should have with one another. By the mere notion that all people are created in the image of God, they should be treated as such.
There also exists a great danger in reducing people to mere ‘things.’ To categorize our fellow man as a ‘thing’ is to indicate that they are replaceable and thus we place less value on anything that is replaceable. Yet, this can hardly be true, just ask any person who lost a love one how easily they were replaced. You cannot replace meaningful relationships.
Unfortunately this type of philosophizing is indicative of the conclusions that the world engages in. They have systematically replaced God with self, and in doing so fail to grasp the implications of such notions. However, a biblical worldview can reconcile supposed conflicts because no contradictions can or do exist in the truth.
To read Can We Live In Contradiction? referenced in this article, click here.
Photo “Contradiction” courtesy of user tanakwho and Flickr.