Can we argue from human value to God’s existence?

Someone submitted an argument for God’s existence that they had formulated for critique.

My response is below:

I think you’re definitely on track, but we may want to make a few adjustments.  You want to make the case from human value to God’s existence, and I certainly agree with you that if human beings have value then God exists.  There is an argument to be formulated there.

Your arguments are below:

1) [A human being’s] value has been given to [him] from an external source.
2) God is the only true external source.
3) [A human being’s] value has been given to [him] by God.

You present the following argument in support of premise 1:

1.1) Physical objects have a value given to them from an external source.
1.2) [Human beings] are physical objects that have value.
1.3) [A human being’s] value has been given to [him] from an external source.

These seem like valid arguments, so great work!  I understand your premise 2) to be equivalent with the statement, “If a human being’s value has been given to him from an external source, then his value was given him by God.”

One of the first challenges seems to be that the conception here is that our value is assigned to us by God (much like the value of gold is assigned by human beings).  This does not result in objective value but rather arbitrary and subjective value.  God may have just as easily assigned us zero value, and then humanity would not be valuable.  Rather the Christian conception is that humanity is the type of being which has intrinsic and objective value.  This is because we are made in the image of God.  Thus the conclusion that a human being’s value is given to him by God may cause confusion as it isn’t assigned to him in the way that value is assigned to physical objects.  Rather, God has made us the type of beings who are valuable by virtue of our connection to God as his image bearers.

Additionally, we may not want to agree with premise 1.2.  We would want to say that human beings are immaterial souls which are embodied in physical objects (our bodies).  Affirming 1.2 seems to entail that the value is derived from our physical bodies, but this seems inconsistent with our moral experience.  Do we think, for example, that people with smaller bodies are less valuable in the way that a smaller gold bar is less valuable than a large gold bar?

So how might we modify your argument?  We’ll want to make clear that, in order to be consistent, the atheist will need to deny human value.  Perhaps something like the formulation below will work:

1) If God does not exist, then human beings do not have objective value.
2) Human beings have objective value.
3) Therefore, God exists.

In support of premise 1 we may construct the following supporting argument:

1.1) If God does not exist, then human beings are an accidental byproduct of an un-directed process of evolution.
1.2) If human beings are an accidental byproduct of an un-directed process of evolution, then human beings do not have objective value.
1.3) Therefore, if God does not exist, then human beings do not have objective value.

At this point it seems like the atheist, in order to reject the conclusion 3), must deny 2) Human beings have objective value.  Thus the argument is successful because it raises the intellectual price tag of atheism, that the atheist must deny what seems obvious: that human beings have objective value.

Sincerely,
Matt Bilyeu


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