Let’s step back from the hysteria and think about the fiasco in New Orleans from a different angle – that of worldview.
I think we have an example here of the fact that very few people really live as Naturalists.
New Orleans and Naturalism
Briefly, the Naturalist believes that matter is all that exists – the stuff of the physical universe is all there is. In the famous words of the late Carl Sagan, “The universe is all there is, ever was, and ever wll be.” Darwinian evolution provides the mechanism for explaining the origin of life (the creation narrative, if you will).
One problem with such a view is what implications it holds for humanity. No longer do human beings hold any special intrinsic value, no longer can they be viewed as anything more than complicated conglomerations of matter, the result of random forces at work over eons of time. For the Darwinian Naturalist the theme of history is “survival of the fittest.” Life is nothing more than a struggle for your genes to perpetuate themselves. (So you have people equating people and animals. Despite the behavior of some in New Orleans, most of us know intuitively that humans are different.)
Now flash forward to flood-ravaged New Orleans. Nature is doing what nature does, and a lot of human beings have come up losers in the game of Russian roulette that is the universe.
Too bad. The human race is certainly not threatened. Why, then, the sudden outpouring of concern and humanitarian relief on the part of many who have no stake in what happens to New Orleans or its residents?
Why care – especially about those who are old and sick? That doesn’t sound like natural selection.
The opposite of Naturalism
Why, indeed. In contrast to Naturalism, the biblical worldview (philosophers call it “Christian Theism”) affords a place of utmost dignity and respect to humanity. Human beings have intrinsic worth because they are made in God’s image, have been made stewards of creation, and are particularly called into relationship with the Creator. Obviously that image is marred by sin, but nonetheless it is there. That’s why every life is valuable, even that of the sick, the poor, and the handicapped.
Deep within we recognize that human life is significant – this intuition is one result of the divine imprinateur on each of us. Without the influence of the Christian worldview, we wouldn’t be complaining about how long the rescue was taking.
If we were consistent naturalists, we wouldn’t really care.