Do Atheists Have a Low View of Humanity?

“Atheism certainly promotes a low view of humanity- how much lower can you get than thinking yourself an accidental by-product of a series of even larger accidents!”

John Dickson, Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership

Do Atheists Have a Low View of Humanity?

Wait. Um. What?

Most atheists and agnostics believe humans are made of star stuff. As Carl Sagan so famously said, "We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff." Bits of the universe were essentially required for humanity to evolve over billions of years under all the right circumstances and that’s a “low view of humanity”? We believe humans are responsible for their decisions and the consequences of those decisions and that we can do amazing, wonderful, spectacular, generous, kind things to make the world a better place using our compassion and intelligence and that’s “a low version of humanity”?

Let’s take a look at what most Christians think of humanity. (caveat: There are many branches of Christianity that take a different position on the matter of “original sin” and have a different view of salvation. I am going to present the Bible verses used by a dominant view of the religion.)

Ok, bear with me, the Bible has a lot to say about how horrible we all are.

Humans were Born Sinful, it is our Nature.

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Christians don’t just believe humans sin because of what we do but that we are sinners because of who we ARE. Because Adam and Eve sinned, all humans since have been born sinners.

Psalm 51:5 "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me."

Ephesians 2:2-3 says that all people who are not in Christ are "sons of disobedience" and we are all "by nature children of wrath."

Genesis 8:21 declares, "...the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth."

We are all Wicked

In Psalm 14:2, 3 we read that we are all corrupt and not one of us is good.

Job 15:14 declares that wickedness is a property of humanity: "What is man, that he should be pure, or he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?" Verse 16 says that humans are "detestable and corrupt" and that we "drink iniquity like water!"

Jeremiah 17:9 says that "the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.

Ecclesiastes 9:3 tells us that all humans are wicked.

These texts make clear, then, that according to the Bible, not only do humans have the capacity for great evil (very true) but our very nature FROM BIRTH is completely corrupt and wicked. This belief, coupled with a belief in an eternal spirit is why humans need a supernatural saviour. From birth, we are all headed toward eternal damnation.

Not only that, Titus 1:15-16 says, "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed." In other words, no matter what an “unbeliever” does, every deed is worthless.

As hard as it might be to believe, I could actually keep going.

I think it’s safe to say there is actually more ingrained in Christianity to inspire a low view of humanity than there is in atheism. It’s not hard to see how this kind of indoctrination could make the right kind of person justify discrimination and even violence against another.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) put it well. “Christianity has such a contemptible opinion of human nature that it does not believe a man can tell the truth unless frightened by a belief in God. No lower opinion of the human race has ever been expressed.”

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