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Man Made Does Not Imply Poorly Made

Implying that something is flawed by stating it is man made does not compute. At least not to a humanist.

Over the holidays, my wife got into a small theological discussion with a family friend. Actually, it was more like a theological side bar. She qualified a passing remark with the fact that she and I aren’t religious. I don’t remember what we were talking about exactly, but it had little to do with religion. Little enough in fact, that I was surprised when our friend appeared to latch onto this part of her statement and go into a tangent about how religion is man made.

I couldn’t tell at first if this was to support what my wife said about our lack of religion or not, but after going on for a little while, I realized our friend was defending their own spirituality with the classic “religion is bad because it is man made, but God is good” apologetic. I used to use this one to defend my faith in front of my atheist friends when I was a Christian. I don’t think I have encountered it directly since upgrading to humanism.

I was really taken aback by this. Partly because of the common jibe among atheists that God and religion are man made, and I didn’t know what our friend’s religious background was. But the more I think about it, I think it might be that I have embraced humanism so fully that the argument that something being man made automatically implies that it is flawed is a totally foreign concept to me now.

Neil Carter often talks about the obsession evangelical and fundamentalist Christians have with self loathing, and that humans are inherently broken. It’s ironic how the “religion is bad because it is man made, but God is good” argument is used by liberal Christians to differentiate themselves from fundamentalists, when at its root it is the same argument that is the cornerstone of fundamentalist Christianity: that mankind is flawed.

I guess that’s what makes it Christianity; besides all of the human sacrifice drama, of course.

Well I got sour news for you, jack. Man-made things are not inherently flawed. In fact, man-made things are some of the most remarkably impressive things we know of in the universe. Sure, humans make messed up things, too. Humans even cause major catastrophes from time to time, but we humans are likely the most remarkable anomalies of the known universe.

Humans are the only creatures we know of so far who were able to leave our planet and set foot on another world using our own cognitive faculties. That is a big fucking deal. I would argue that that simple fact embodies the pinnacle of achievements to date—not merely for humanity, but of all life on our planet (the only life we know for sure to exist in the universe). Every bacterial ancestor, every predatory cousin, every weaker species that gave way to human kind so that we could take root, develop self awareness, and comprehend the nature of our surroundings enough to leave our world—even for a moment—is the ultimate humbling and rarest of privileges. A privilege we must fight to pass on to our ancestors, our predatory cousins, and the countless species that will take hold after our own extinction.

Humanity is the universe’s most amazing achievement we know of to date. Through trial and error, we do great things. To say otherwise is offensive and crass.