James Woods is running for Congress in Arizona’s Congressional District 5. If successful, he would be the first blind member of Congress in nearly 100 years. And he would be the first person elected who campaigned openly as an atheist. (Other atheists have been elected, but none made their religious views public during their campaign.)
Woods lost his vision to a MRSA infection seven years ago. His courage in dealing with his physical challenges is commendable. And his atheistic views do not disqualify him for public office in America. The U.S. Constitution, in Article VI paragraph 3, clearly states: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Woods is running on a non-theist platform he calls “Humanist.” His credo: “Humanism requires that we treat everyone with dignity and respect. That we stand up for equality. That we govern compassionately. That we listen to what people need. We need to shift toward progressive Humanist values to address human suffering.”
I have two questions. First, how his Woods’s “Humanism” different from Jesus’ ministry? If you substitute “Jesus” for “Humanism” in Woods’ platform, you would describe perfectly our Lord’s ethic and movement. His ministry to lepers and tax collectors, demoniacs and prostitutes embodied “dignity and respect,” “equality,” and “values to address human suffering.”
Second, from what source does Woods derive his “Humanist” values? If there is no Creator, life as we know it is the product of random coincidence and people possess no intrinsic worth.
This is the position of atheist Peter Singer, who claims that human beings are not inherently more valuable than any other species. He argues further that preferences, not objective values, should be the basis for our decisions. Since, therefore, a fetus cannot express preferences, its life or death should be determined solely by the preferences of its mother. Singer applies the same logic to babies: “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.” Singer is convinced that the notion of the sanctity of life should be discarded as outdated and unscientific.
Without ethical standards derived from a Source outside the world of human experience, how is Singer wrong and Woods right?
James Woods’s “Humanism” illustrates this fact: When Christians meet felt need, we earn the privilege of meeting spiritual need. Jesus fed hungry bodies so he could feed hungry souls. He calls us to show that our faith is right by showing it is relevant. A friend and mentor often reminds me: “You have no right to preach the gospel to a hungry person.”
Will you earn the right to preach the gospel today?