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Why People Matter

A Christian Engagement with Rival Views of Human Significance

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In the face of current arguments over issues related to human life and dignity, Christians need to be clear about how their faith speaks to such concerns and what other outlooks have to say. John Kilner, who has taught in the fields of ethics and bioethics for over forty years, brings together noted ethicists to make a Christian case for human dignity. This timely engagement with a topic of great cultural and societal importance offers a robust critique of five highly influential alternative positions, showing how a Christian view supports the crucial idea that people matter in a way that other outlooks cannot.


1. Why This Book Matters
The Need for Common Ground in Debates Today
John F. Kilner
Part 1: Grounding Significance in Humanity
2. Persons Are Not Interchangeable
Utilitarianism and Human Significance
Gilbert C. Meilaender
3. His Eye Is on the Sparrow
Collectivism and Human Significance
Amy Laura Hall
4. My Life Is Not My Own
Individualism and Human Significance
Russell DiSilvestro
Part 2: Grounding Significance in Science
5. More Than Meets the Eye
Naturalism and Human Significance
Scott B. Rae
6. The Privilege of Being Human
Transhumanism and Human Significance
Patrick T. Smith
Part 3: Grounding Significance in God
7. Special Connection and Intended Reflection
Creation in God's Image and Human Significance
John F. Kilner
8. Nothing Human Is Merely Human
Various Biblical Bases for Human Significance
David P. Gushee
9. Why a Christian Outlook Matters
Comparing Grounds for Human Significance
John F. Kilner


"A richly substantive yet accessible discussion of the philosophical, moral, and theological frameworks that undermine or support our nearly universal intuition that 'people matter.' In consistently excellent essays, the authors provide crucial insights into the basis for our assumptions about human significance."

Christine D. Pohl, professor of Christian social ethics, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Why People Matter convincingly demonstrates that worldviews make a major difference in ethics. In contrast to utilitarianism, collectivism, individualism, naturalism, and transhumanism, the Christian view of reality presented in this volume both critiques the claims of competing views and is shown to ground and sustain an ethic in which people truly matter."

Dennis P. Hollinger, president and Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

"Christian anthropology is both a timeless and a timely topic, requiring ongoing theological reflection. This collection is a learned and insightful contribution to this task, one that is immediately pertinent and will stand the test of time."

Brent Waters, Jerre and Mary Joy Stead Professor of Christian Social Ethics, director of the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Center for Ethics and Values, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. John F. Kilner

    John F. Kilner

    John F. Kilner (PhD, Harvard University) is the Franklin and Dorothy Forman Chair of Christian Ethics and Theology, professor of bioethics and contemporary culture, and director of bioethics programs at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois....

    Continue reading about John F. Kilner


"This text would make an excellent introductory book for an undergraduate course, perhaps even in an ethics course for science majors if such a thing exists. Ecclesial reading groups would also benefit from reading this text for its excellent introduction to aspects of modern philosophy, business, and science that may be unfamiliar to them."

Thomas Isaac Collins,

Reading Religion

"Why People Matter is a helpful volume that winsomely and convincingly defends the Christian perspective that human dignity is grounded in God, rather than in ourselves. . . . This book has the potential to help Christians better understand and appreciate why a Christian anthropology truly is the best defense of human significance."

Janie Valentine,

Bioethics @ TIU blog (Trinity International University)

"The book is highly recommended for its potential to stimulate discussion on a matter that matters."

Chris Emerick,