by: Gary L. Hutchens
What elevates man above the animals? Some would say, “Intellect, superior intellect is what elevates man above the animals.” Others would say “Self-awareness. Man has a sense of self-awareness that translates into meaning and purpose in life that animals do not possess.” Pretty good, thoughtful answers, but incorrect. Man is above the animals because God created man, and not the animals, in God’s own image, and He subsequently put the animals under the dominion of man (Gen. 1:26-28; 5:1; 9:1-2).
Man is a moral being, animals are not. Man’s morality is a direct result of having been created in God’s image. It is not an accident or coincidental. It did not develop through some evolutionary process. God created man with a spiritual essence, instilling within him a soul, the basis of his morality. That is what separates man from the animals. Intellect and self-awareness, without morality, would simply make man a smarter animal. Man’s soul marks his superiority over the animals.
What about people who do not believe in God? They live a life of utter hopelessness. If God is not our creator, then we have no spiritual essence, no soul, and we’re not moral beings. We’re just smart animals. Our life has no real, inherit meaning or purpose.
Some disbelievers would protest that humanity can exhibit morality without God. But such a notion is invalid. For morality to exist there must be a standard of morality. The basis of that standard has to be hard and fast, its foundation universally true. Otherwise, it’s simply a personally subjective matter, changeable at the whims and wishes and mood swings of each individual, which means it is not real morality.
Morality cannot be defined without God. Attempting to do so is an exercise in futility. Each individual would be left to determine what is moral in their own mind, and that determination would change as their mind changed. Each person would come to different conclusions, and each one would be equally moral, for no universal standard would exist. So, helping an old crippled lady across the street would be no more moral than putting a bullet in her head.
Shocking? That’s the reality of atheism. Without God nothing matters but self gratification and survival, and survival would belong to those most fit to survive. There again is the reality of being just animals! The Psalmist put it succinctly: “The fool has said in his heart, ’There is not God.’” (Ps. 14:1). Life would have no meaning, no purpose, no direction, no real hope. Whatever could be grasped in this lifetime would be all there is.
When someone who does not believe in God comes to his last breath, he can look back on a life that was, in essence, meaningless. He can look forward to nothing, for, according to his own philosophy of life, there is nothing waiting for him after he breathes that last breath. That, my friends, is a life of utter hopelessness and despair. Such is the reality of life without God…
Gary L. Hutchens