I see no reason for attributing to a man a significance different in kind from that which belongs to a baboon or to a grain of sand.
– Supreme Court Justice [1902–1932] Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Some have pointed out the inevitable endpoint of a godless evolutionary view of humanity: purposelessness. Not only that, but it becomes nearly impossible, then, to build any foolproof foundation for why we should look out for the weak among us. We are left alone to construct a framework of our compassion and significance upon questionable underpinnings. Those of us left with the question “who am I” get mixed messages: “You are valuable, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!” But also, “You are the lucky result of millions of years of accidents.”
Where do you get your sense of self? Your sense of worth? Your sense of identity? I think Bridget Jones put it well: “Wednesday 5 March, ‘7:08 p.m. Am assured, receptive, responsive woman of substance. My sense of self comes not from other people but from… from… myself? That can’t be right.’” (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding,1998)
Is there a purposeful identity to be found, or are we left to construct our own? If left to our own, I’m afraid I don’t have the energy or the reserves to build the framework. For my part, I’m continuing to gamble on the lofty old words of Psalm 8: “You made them a little lower than the gods, and you crowned them with glory and honor.” Sure, if this is true, then we may have to admit we bungled up the plan and haven’t lived up to the “glory and honor” part. Sure, the story requires God himself to intervene again to bring things back on line. But the lofty idea rings truer to my soul than the one full of millions upon millions of breath-taking accidents that all lead to space dust.