Gorillas and the Image of God

The internet has been ablaze this past week over the tragic death of Harambe the gorilla after he had to be killed to protect the life of a three-year-old child who fell into his enclosure. Based on some of the comments that have been made, many people believe that the gorilla had as much as a right to live as the child. Some even suggested that if the child had been killed by the gorilla, he deserved it. Even conservative media outlets ran headlines saying that Harambe had been “murdered.” The irony is that this took place on Memorial Day, the day when we remember the sacrifices of our veterans who died so that we might have freedom. But instead of focusing on them, the media’s attention was on a gorilla and Eric Holder who said that Edward Snowden did our nation a public service by leaking classified information to our enemies.

The world’s reaction to this story is a reflection of their worldview. Without the God of the Bible, there can be no image of God. And without the image of God, there is no basis for human dignity. If gorillas and humans share a common ancestor, then there is no way humans could have a unique dignity which is distinct from that of the animals. The truth that we are made in the image of God is revealed to us in the early chapters of Genesis. But without a literal Genesis, there is no literal image of God or objective human dignity which distinguishes us from the animals.

If evolution is true, then humans are just animals who by chance happen to be more highly evolved. The atheist Richard Dawkins expresses this belief when he says, “With respect to those meanings of ‘human’ that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig.” A pig has more dignity and value than an unborn child in this worldview because an adult pig is more developed. If man is not made in God’s image, then someone could argue that Harambe had more of a right to life than this child because the gorilla was more fully developed. But at what stage of development do humans begin to have dignity and value?

Without God and his Word, our feet are firmly planted in thin air. Without God, we have no basis for human dignity, objective morality that is binding on all people for all time, or the uniformity of nature. If we are just more highly evolved animals, then why not live like an animal since this life is all there is? If there is no future day of judgment or God to whom I must give an account, then I can live however I want. The real reason people deny the existence of God is not because of overwhelming evidence, but so that they can be comfortable in their sin. But once God is gone, human dignity goes as well. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Therefore, atheists borrow from the Christian worldview when it suits them to make up for what atheism fails to provide. Atheism apes Christianity to make up for the implications of the atheist worldview which leave us without purpose and meaning in life.


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