This is what the fight is over. In order to have a meaningful existence, you must have the complete freedom to form yourself according to your will and your will alone. So a threat to, say, the freedom of choosing your gender is a threat to the society that has embraced naturalism and needs to manufacture meaning and value through unfettered freedom of choice. For if you remove the ability to form your essence through choice, you remove any hope of a meaningful life.
Do you have a hard time understanding how rational people can really think that genderless bathrooms are a good idea? Are you confused about what is happening culturally? Does it make any sense to you that corporations are applying political and economic pressure to reform our social sexuality? Well, here’s what’s going on.
The cultural battle over sexuality and gender comes down to one thing: a meaningful life. That is what all of the fighting is about, and it is why the battle contains such fury and vitriol. Each fight is part of a larger fight: How does one have a meaningful life? And this is what you must understand, the answer to the previous question is determined by your worldview.
A worldview is a set of beliefs that cause you to view life a certain way. We all have one. You cannot escape it. We each have beliefs that affect how we see life, form conclusions, and interpret our experiences.
I have a Christian worldview. I possess beliefs about reality. Among other things, I believe that God exists, the world is rational (i.e. knowable), and life has objective meaning and inherent value. My existence is the source of my meaning and value. Because I am made in God’s image, I have inestimable worth.
I live in a society, though, where nearly everyone else has a naturalistic worldview. Naturalism is a set of beliefs about reality. Naturalism holds, among other things, that God does not exist, the world is rational (though they cannot justify its rationality), and life has no inherent meaning or value. And that is a big deal. Did you catch it? Life has no inherent meaning or value. So what makes you and your life worth anything? That’s the big problem for the naturalist.
Naturalists have long recognized the consequences and problems that stem from their worldview. George Orwell noted this some time ago in his essay Notes on the Way. In it he writes about the necessity of cutting away the soul. You see according to naturalism, the self or soul does not exist. Put simply, you do not exist. “Man is not an individual, he is only a cell in an everlasting body” as Orwell says. The problem, though, is when you cut away the soul you find yourself in a very desolate world: existence void of meaning and value. Orwell saw this.
“For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseen, our efforts were rewarded, and down we came. But unfortunately there had been a little mistake. The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all, it was a cesspool full of barbed wire.”
So how do Naturalists rescue themselves from this bleak dystopia? How do they find meaning in life? They manufacture it. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was a pioneer in helping the naturalist out of their predicament. He espoused that existence preceded essence. This basically means that you are a blank slate, so make your life whatever you want. Because your existence has no inherent meaning or value, you can do whatever you want with it. Be a dragon. Become a woman. Marry your mother or computer. Define your life as you see fit. Your autonomous will is what gives your existence value and meaning. It is your dignity.