The odd thing is that dignity seems to go hand in hand with humility. Only when people discovered that they were not gods were they able to reach their full stature as human beings. Finding God, humanity found itself. Losing God, it is at risk of losing itself. For the biblical view of the human person – free, responsible, lonely yet capable of redeeming his or her loneliness through the moralisation of love – is what gave Western humanism its singular glory. For once, the human person confronted God in a realm of freedom and was lifted to the heights.
When human beings lose faith in God they lose faith in human beings. They abandon their moral qualms about abortion. Some, like the biologist Francis Crick, have no problem with infanticide. They favour voluntary euthanasia, death on demand. They give their support to eugenics and “designer children”. For what, after all, are we but a random concatenation of genes, a handful of dust?
Faith does not disagree; “From the dust you came and to the dust you will return.” It merely adds one detail. There is within us the breath of God. We have immortal longings. Lose this and we will lose all else. We will have knowledge without wisdom, technology without reticence, choice without conscience, power without restraint.