Nick Spencer explains how many of the things we take for granted are built on one revolutionary idea.
I think probably the most important, identifiable, recognisable thing that people can be grateful for Christianity is when they look in the mirror in the morning. What are you seeing there? It is by no means self-evident. You don’t have a barcode on you that tells you how much you’re worth. You don’t have a barcode on you that tells you anything about your intrinsic identity.
The idea of who the human is – a someone rather than a something, a someone irrespective of the fact they may not be able to afford a mirror to look into in the morning – they are not self-evident ideas. And it was the incursion of Christianity into what we call now the classical world that brought about ideas that, in engaging with human beings, you are in some way engaging with a bit of God, with an image of God. And from that basic argument you can slowly build up ideas of rights, or democracy, or rule of law; and from those and from attendant ideas, you can pick up ideas of science and the proper role of the state, all of which – most of which – we take for granted today. But they weren’t self-generating. And ultimately, I think they can be traced back to this Christian idea that the human is of inalienable worth.