There’s a great little video on the Onion News Network. A satirical sportscast has the captain of an NFL team having an “existentialist epiphany” during the coin toss; his angst over the perceived randomness of life snowballs to the point where the team just can’t play anymore and the game is forfeited.

It’s a hoot, but it actually raises an important point. If it’s all meaningless, why carry on? If, as the video says, we are all just “random blades of grass tossed to the uncaring wind”, what hope is there for us?

We lose ourselves in busyness, hoping the noise will drown out the dark thoughts that hover around the fringes of our consciousness. “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. We push the big questions to the back burner; we’ll deal with them later. And if you and I don’t matter, that’s just fine.

But if we are valuable, then a host of Big Questions comes flooding in. Is this all there is? What will happen when I die? Fifty years from now, who will care? Why shouldn’t I just look out for Number One?

Why do you matter?

A little while ago, my daughter wrote me a poem for Father’s Day. It’s just some ink on paper, but it’s precious to me; and the fact that I value it is what makes it important. Things are special because they are valued.

So who values you? Perhaps your wife or husband, your children or friends. Without them, will you still matter? Maybe your job defines you; your sense of usefulness. But all these things are transitory; relationships change, we retire from jobs or are laid off. If our sense of worth is tied to these things, then we’re in for some big changes. And in fact, many people don’t live that long after they retire; kids raised, and job gone, they feel they’ve outlived their usefulness – and just give up.

You are valuable because God made you; He values you, and He cares when someone hurts you. If this seems a little pat to you, that’s fine for now. But let’s examine it a bit further.

First of all, we have to examine morality. The moral Law common to most religions and belief systems, posits that things like theft, murder, lying and such are wrong; and the reason they are wrong (if you think about it) is that any wilful act done to another against their will constitutes a devaluation, a marginalizing of that person’s worth. My need, I have decided, is more important than yours. So I will gossip, or steal, or kill – whatever it takes to get what I want done. I will look out for myself first, and at your expense if you get in my way.

The moral law is an important indicator that people matter, and like it or not, we just can’t get that notion out of our heads. We rightly feel outrage when a child is abused, a spouse is betrayed, an innocent is wrongly killed. It doesn’t matter if the victim is a hero or a down-and-out drug addict; we feel the wrongness of it all when any person’s essential dignity as a human is violated.

Where does this dignity come from? Where does the morality that affirms our worth come from? Materialists will tell us it’s all just evolved instinct, developed because of its survival value for the species. But again, that says absolutely nothing about intrinsic worth, but merely its usefulness to us as a species.

And – I can’t stress this enough – if that’s the case, then it follows this moral sense could be jettisoned if it is not real truth. If and when we don’t need it anymore, we can dispense with it. Philosophers like Nietzsche believed this, and with it its corollary: God is Dead. Germany in the 1930’s was a modern, technological society with a government that likewise accepted this; and following Nietzsche’s dictum, all that mattered was the Will To Power. And it had (and has) some very worrisome consequences – some of which we are seeing in this very day.

If there is no real truth, than the only thing that matters is who’s the strongest. By removing the idea of a universal morality against which actions of people or nations can be judged, all that is left is brute strength. The mild mannered, politically correct are, at the heart of things, not that far removed from Hitler’s coarse regime. He/she has decided we “mustn’t impose our morality on others”, be they small-town bullies or governments given to military adventures. We say people are important, but won’t go far enough to judge an action when their dignity is abused. We’re too busy not judging the acts of the perpetrators.

Truth, we are told, is relative to individuals and cultures. How for this sort of thinking has filtered down to regular folks was illustrated to me a few months back. I was talking to the parent of one of my daughters’ acquaintances. This girl – a decent, loyal friend – was being bullied by some of her schoolmates. When I expressed dismay at this, the parent said it was indeed wrong – for her, at any rate. I pressed the issue further, and was surprised to hear her say that maybe it wasn’t wrong for the bullies, and (reading between the lines) we shouldn’t judge their reality.

I was aghast. How can there be any moral sense unless we accept that bullying is just wrong, will always be wrong, and that there was no excuse for these girls to have their cruel fun at her daughter’s expense?

With what standard are we to judge the behaviour of these bullies? If real value isn’t just something we made up in our heads, this moral sense had to come from somewhere. And this is where most religions concur; moral truth is essentially transcendent. It suggests another reality, one that is separate than the raw, physical world.

And this moral sense is unique to humans. We do not judge a bear when it mauls somebody, and if we kill it, we do so the same way we would fell a tree that was threatening a building. It’s not a question of justice, but of community safety.

Humans understand this; the observable fact is that we keep this imperative rather imperfectly. We know the moral law; we break it. As C.S. Lewis says, this is the basis for all clear thinking about the universe we live in.

The existence of a real morality is good evidence that everyone matters, because the One who made us values us and is not pleased when someone else makes light of this worth, be it by stealing a car, a spouse, or a life.