Tuesday, July 28, 2015
We've talked often, over the years, here at MOJ about the basis or ground for "human dignity." (And, several of us -- including Michael Perry, Robby George, Tom Berg, and others -- have written important works about this question.) In this reflection, Fr. Robert Barron (the new Auxiliary for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles!) takes on the "Death of God and the Loss of Human Dignity." He captures really well, I think, the importance of "moral anthropology," which has been on the front burner for us at MOJ from the very first week.
Here's Fr. Barron:
. . . In the classical Western perspective, the dignity of the human person is a consequence and function of his or her status as a creature of God. Precisely because the human being is made in the image and likeness of the Creator and destined, finally, for eternal life on high with God, he is a subject of inalienable rights. I use Jefferson’s language from the Declaration of Independence on purpose here, for the great founding father knew that the absolute nature of the rights he was describing follows from their derivation from God: “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” When God is removed from the picture, human rights rather rapidly evanesce, which can be seen with clarity in both ancient times and modern. For Cicero, Aristotle, and Plato, a cultural elite enjoyed rights, privileges, and dignity, while the vast majority of people were legitimately relegated to inferior status, some even to the condition of slavery. In the totalitarianisms of the last century—marked in every case by an aggressive dismissal of God—untold millions of human beings were treated as little more than vermin.
I realize that many philosophers and social theorists have tried to ground a sense of human dignity in something other than God, but these attempts have all proven fruitless. . . .