In a godless world we see distorted values played out in many ways. If there is no Creator to praise and treasure then inevitably the wonders he has created are not valued as they ought to be.
Take that truly magnificent beast, the mighty elephant. Between 2010 and 2012 around 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa because of the illegal poaching trade, especially to meet the demand for ivory in China. Last year it is estimated 20,000 elephants were killed in Africa. More elephants are killed than those which are born. They are almost all wiped out in West and Central Africa (National Geographic).
Those who crave ivory in China and the poachers who kill these elephants do not treat the elephants themselves as significant, important and valuable creatures. Only the ivory has value.
In a world which does not honour and thank the Creator this should come as no surprise. But in such a world is human life any more significant than that of an elephant?
No precise figures are kept on the number of abortions carried out in Australia. There are an estimated 80,000 surgical abortions carried out every year. The true figure is much higher than this, for we must add all the abortions that are effected using chemicals such as RU-486. Less than 1% of all these abortions are carried out on women who are victims of rape and less than 3% are performed because it is expected the child would be born with a disability (Support Our Babies – Australia). Clearly, the human foetus is regarded by vast numbers of Australians as insignificant, unimportant and having little to no value.
Of course, we regard our own lives as significant, important and valuable. None of us, or very few of us, want to die. But all through history people just like us have treated the lives of other human beings as insignificant, unimportant and lacking in value. If you were captured by ISIS you would be treated as if you were subhuman.
What is man if God is not mindful of him, what is the son of man if God does not care for him? What are people if God does not love them? Can we expect that people will be loved and treasured in a world where the Creator is not loved and treasured?
Rev Lancelot Edward Threlkeld was sent to Australia by the London Missionary Society to work with Aborigines. In 1837 he reported some of the atrocities against the Aborigines. He describes “the ripping open of the bellies of the blacks alive; the roasting of them in that state in triangularly made log fires, made for that very purpose; the dashing of infants upon the stones; the confining of a party in a hut and letting them out singly through the doorway, to be butchered as they endeavoured to escape, together with many other atrocious acts of cruelty which are but the sports of monsters boasting of superior intellect to that possessed of the wretched blacks!" (Brantlinger, Dark Vanishing, 131)
In the Wellington area, between Mudgee and Dubbo, served two missionaries, William Watson and Johann Handt. They reported on the sexual abuse of young Aboriginal girls by white settlers and the resulting horrifying incidence of venereal diseases. They said that there was scarcely a settler's hut in the district where white men, whether “master, overseer or convict”, did not retain Aboriginal women. An eight-year-old girl who came to the mission suffering from venereal disease was one of four such children kept by one stockman (Thielemans, “God still acts” in Australian Presbyterian, 10).
During WW2 the Japanese butchered far more people than the Nazis. Their doctors and scientists, like the Nazis, also performed horrific surgery on living and unanaesthetised patients. The Japanese took over 300,000 women from occupied countries such as Korea, China and the Philippines and forced them to serve as prostitutes or “comfort women” as they called them (Blumenthal).
There is a direct link between such an atrocious regard for the value of human life and people’s failure to honour and give thanks to their Creator (Romans 1:21). Modern atheists in their folly add to this human tragedy when they say that the immensity of the universe spells the insignificance of human life.