Several weeks ago I attended a small presentation on atheism by a philosophy professor at University of Florida. After watching it, I was made uneasy by a memory of a certain event and the implications of it, in the light of the presentation. The event was me driving a car and running over a pigeon in the street. The bird literally walked out in front of my car’s right tire and was smashed instantly. I was disturbed by the event, but in couple minutes I almost forgot about it, until now.
Consider this: let us assume (hypothetically) that G-d does not exist. If that is true, that means that human race is not “created in the image” of G-d, since humans can’t be in the image of something that does not exist. Therefore, human species are just like any other species. If that is true, then there should be no moral difference between killing a human or any other animal. If G-d does not exist, and humankind is not divine in nature, then it must be animal. But if that is true, what makes killing a human being any different from killing a pigeon?
The Ten Commandments, in my opinion, are necessitated by inherent divinity of every human being. While humans are obviously allowed to kill other animals for whatever reason, to kill a human being – an inherently divine creature, made in the image of G-d – is a totally different proposition. Yet, removing G-d from existence immediately denies any special status to humans. If humans are not divine, then they are animals who do not deserve any special treatment at all.
I think this particular inconsistency is the Achilles heel of the Atheism, making it a very dubious philosophical position. Consistent Atheists must agree that humans are just like any other animals, and do not deserve any special rights or protections against random acts of violence. Only belief in G-d makes humankind divine, deserving a special treatment, not reserved for other species.