St. Hilary continues his discussion of the sinner vs. the undutiful:
There is no doubt then that, as this instance proves, the undutiful (or ungodly) must be distinguished from the sinner. And, indeed, general opinion agrees to call those men ungodly who scorn to search for the knowledge of God, who in their irreverent mind take for granted that there is no Creator of the world, who assert that it arrived at the order and beauty which we see by chance movements, who, in order to deprive their Creator of all power to pass judgment on a life lived rightly or in sin, will have it that man comes into being and passes out of it again by the simple operation of a law of nature.
It is passages like these that have convinced me of the importance of reading and becoming familiar with the Fathers of the Church. Modern man has accomplished and progressed so much and in terms of technology that we live under the illusion that we have made the same kind of progress in terms of our thinking. St. Hilary, whose description of the undutiful could as easily apply to 21st century atheists as it does 4th century pagans, dispels this delusion.
One of the consequences (for good or ill) of our technological prowess is the ability to affect huge populations very quickly. This requires a great deal of responsibility and care as to how this technology is applied. For example, one of the more intriguing, but troubling, scientific frontiers is stem cell research.
If we (correctly) see identical twins as unique and unrepeatable human persons, than any research that impregnates a human egg with the genetic material acquired from stem cells creates a unique and unrepeatable human person. Should that impregnated egg then be used to re-grow someone’s organ in order to replace it we have created a slave for the express purpose of benefitting someone else. It would be akin to one identical twin killing their sibling in order to harvest their organs in order to save their own life.
What St. Hilary has to say about the ungodly is just as relevant today as it was in the 4th century. The ungodly mind would have no real issue with enslaving a whole class of human beings (fertilized eggs) because they are merely a group of cells that operate under the laws of nature. Human life in and of itself has no real intrinsic value. We saw this writ large during the communist regimes of the 20th century, which had no qualms about murdering tens if not hundreds of millions of people.
One of the main ways modern atheists like to dismiss Christianity and Christian thought is by labeling it as old-fashioned and out of step with modern reality. St. Hilary demonstrates that their thinking is no less old-fashioned.