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SECULAR HUMANISM: A FALSE RELIGION? A CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICAL EVALUATION


Introduction

Secular humanism is the worldview “pursued without reference to God or religion” which produces a naturalistic, worldly lifestyle “oriented to the profane rather than the sacred, the natural rather than the supernatural”.[1] It is a reductionist philosophy which seeks to remove all external and formal religious authority from the postmodern, globalized world and replace it with mankind as the absolute, or supreme being.[2] Secular humanists cite evolutionary theories, naturalism, and the scientific method as an argumentative basis which the Christian apologist must refute in addition to exposing the moral fallacies which undergird the atheistic movement and threaten cultural and socio-political contexts. This paper will argue that secular humanism is a false religion, riddled with philosophical inconsistency and moral inadequacy, which fails the test of reason in light of the Christian worldview.

Summary of Secular Humanism

A worldview “is forged out of beliefs that have the most consequence for a comprehensive vision of reality.”[3] Secular humanism poses significant limitations on belief and vision in the areas of: ultimate reality; ultimate authority; epistemology; human beings; morality; and salvation.[4] The ultimate reality is the natural world and scientific or technological thought. Humankind is the supreme being, as opposed to any transcendent God, and all reality must be proven factual to the senses. The Council for Secular Humanism (Council) declares, “Secular humanism is nonreligious, espousing no belief in a realm or beings imagined to transcend ordinary experience.”[5] Secular humanism is based firmly in atheism, with man being the source of ultimate authority, where the individual is “freed” from “traditional controls by family, church and state, [where] each [person is] to set the terms of his or her own life.”[6] Democracy, or majority rule, is considered the highest collective or social authority.

Knowledge or justifiable belief is gained strictly through natural rather than supernatural means. Epistemology is heavily contingent upon advancements in the sciences, technology, pluralism, and democracy with a distinct departure from religious tradition and faith-based beliefs. Human beings are “undesigned, unintended beings who arose through evolution, possessing unique attributes of self-awareness and moral agency.”[7] Humans are accidental, formed from nothing and they exist for no lasting or higher purpose. Humans are set above any deity, but this “value” is temporal and subjective. There is no intelligent design, no afterlife, nor any eternal consequences to actions. Secular ethics continually “drift toward superficiality.”[8] The universe is one of chaos progressing only through the abilities of a Godless mankind and atheistic science.

“[S]upernatural entities like God do not exist,” and the Council warns “…knowledge gained without appeal to the natural world and without impartial review by multiple observers is unreliable.”[9] Secular humanists seek to develop morality through the application of the scientific method regarding behavioral or ethical results. The source of morality is solely irreligious, human kind.

[Secular] ethics [are] consequential, to be judged by results. This is in contrast to so-called command ethics, in which right and wrong are defined in advance and attributed to divine authority.[10]

In this view, “normative standards [and] moral principles are tested by consequences.”[11] “God cannot be the source of morality” rather, human morality “is a human institution” which operates under a code of obligation and societal circumstance.[12] Morality based upon the unpredictability of human nature is at the splintered foundation of an ironic atheistic salvation. The Humanist Manifesto II states, “No god will save us…we must save ourselves.”[13]

Evaluation of Secular Humanism

This section will assess: internal logical consistency; existential viability; factual adequacy; and intellectual and cultural fecundity.[14] “[I]nternal inconsistency…is a sufficient indicator that a worldview is false,”[15] and there are several internal, logical inconsistencies. It is contradictory for the individual to be “freed” from “traditional controls”[16] while holding that “ethics [are] consequential, to be judged by results,”[17] or what Kurtz labels, “normative standards.”[18] While the individual may be freed from “traditional” controls (which entail the theistic, pre-commanded code of objective morality typified by the Christian church and condemned by the Council), he or she is certainly not freed from societal norms deemed by the ungodly majority rule considered the “judge” of results. Humans cannot be both “freed from control,”[19] and “judged by a normative standard” deemed by another human or human group.[20] In addition, there is a marked intolerance, specifically for Christianity or theology, which is both an internal, logical inconsistency and incoherence with professed “individualism” and so called “freedom.”[21] The Council states, “Secular humanism is nonreligious, espousing no belief in a realm or beings imagined to transcend ordinary experience,” yet ordinary experience is a collective, imposed term contrary to and limiting toward individual experience, so is again societally defined which internally conflicts “freedom from others.”[22]

Regarding existential viability, secular humanists commit “philosophical hypocrisy”[23] in that they can live out their ideals, including rejection of God and philosophical religious intolerance, within a Christian society and legal system in place to both protect their individual freedoms and to restrict their practice of a “Godless” form of morality. The laws of the land are derived from God’s moral law. There is a Christian presence in governmental politics and policy (both Democrat and Republican, and in countries outside of the United States). Philosophical hypocrisy is committed when secular humanists reap the benefits and protections of a free society built and sustained upon God’s law (Exod 20).[24]

Regarding factual adequacy, a philosophy which is naturalistic (nature is all there is) asserts that God cannot then exist. This philosophy must completely eliminate the historical Christ, the plethora of corresponding Christological manuscripts with variant authors, and the prophetic patterns of the Bible which have emerged as historical truths. Regarding cultural and intellectual fecundity, secular humanism proclaims a veneer of advancing science, technology, democracy and individual rights, but as the movement is explored more deeply, proponents advocate for new scientific and technological “morals,” such as abortion, in the overturning of traditional religious “systems.”[25] Cimino and Smith state:

Humanist Manifesto II predicted that the twenty-first century would be the “humanist century,” as new strides in morals, ethics, and technology replaced older religious systems. Such changes as greater availability of birth control, abortion, and divorce were thought to signal a social revolution that would overturn religious values. …[T]he summer 2002 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, with the cover story, “Anywhere but Here,” laments how the United States stands as an exception to the way “the developed world is becoming more secular.”[26]

This movement is not moral or ethical whatever, but an erosion of traditional family units and the relational security and well-being which comes from such units, as well as the systematic degradation of a cultural identity and traditional, national heritage.

Evaluation of Christianity

Christianity is internally, logically consistent in that it names Christ as judge, as well as the provider and maintainer of true freedom (John 8:16, 36, 50; 2 Tim 4:1). The two (judge/freedom) are not mutually exclusive, but are derived from the same source—Jesus Christ—and are, therefore, not in conflict. Christian morality includes biblical instruction (via religious tradition, church attendance, bible study) but it is intrinsically gifted through the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 10:14-15; 1 John 2:27). The internal state of morality and the exterior moral code are derived from the same source and are, therefore, not in conflict. While a free society in a fallen world requires laws (i.e., Ten Commandments), the fruit of the Spirit motivates persons to self-govern, to be willingly accountable to a higher authority than self or man (Gal 5:22-23). The Christian normative standard is God’s will, objective and written in the Bible for the full, true purpose of each individual. Believers do not seek freedom from “church and state” but seek to be positive members to work for the good within them.

Christianity maintains existential viability, committing no philosophical hypocrisy between itself and an honorable government or individual freedoms. The liberties enjoyed in Christianity are ethical and moral freedoms based in truth rather than deception and bondage rooted in rebellion against biblical or civil authority. The general precept of Christianity is salvation from oppression (Is 61:1; Luke 4:18). Further, there is no philosophical hypocrisy between creation and natural science. Where secular humanists must limit beliefs and divide science from religion, Christianity has contributed to many scientific advancements (i.e., hospitals, universities) with the inclusion of morality and ethical standards within the sciences. Where secularism senselessly maintains that humans are “unintended beings”[27] the Bible demonstrates that life has purpose and an eternal destiny. This view influences both moral conduct and individual productivity while the person is in the natural world. For individual rights to be maintained, life is to be respected and valued via an eternal mindset. Loving one’s neighbor as oneself ensures against acts of hatred (Luke 10:27). Love is the insurance policy on true individual value, as well as respect, rights and freedoms for all. Christianity does not deplore any segment of persons and warns against hate (1 John 3:15) or strife and division (Phil 2:3; 2 Tim 2:23). Christianity is inclusive in the sense that all are welcome (Gal 3:28), yet it is exclusive in the realm of postmodern pluralism. Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). This is not inconsistent, but the avenue of one sense of truth rather than many (which negates “truth”).

Christianity is historically validated as factually adequate with numerous manuscripts to support the early church and Christ’s teachings have been carefully and consistently preserved in a manner unparalleled in history. There is historical evidence, church tradition, prophetic revelations and individual testimonies which testify to the individual and societal benefits of Christianity as a true and viable religion. The Christian church continues to grow as it has since its inception with the incarnate Christ. Secular humanism is a reductionist worldview; Christianity is an expansive worldview. Cultural and intellectual fecundity is limited in secularism as it restricts an entire field of intellectual study (theology) and excludes mass groups of the population (religion/culture)—this is not an intellectually progressive nor multicultural worldview. Secularism shuns all persons of religious faith of any kind, which negates the individualism and humanism the view claims to proponent. Gill states:

From the perspective of biblical Christian theology, secularism is guilty of having ‘exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator’ (Rom 1:25). Having excluded the transcendent God as the absolute and the object of worship, the secularist inexorably makes the world of man and nature absolute and the object of worship.[28]

To so restrict religious populations would inhibit cross-cultural growth and omit fields of intellectual philosophy which have been part of the cultural chemistry of the world for centuries. It would put a significant dent in world history and contemporary communications. In contrast, the Christian worldview is incorporated into and supports world history, as well as all fields of modern academic thought and study. Christian universities and churches are growing around the globe, as well as Christianity in general, proving the religion to proponent intellectual fecundity, scientific progression and cultural development.

Defense of Christianity

“If a worldview is…internally consistent…factually adequate and existentially viable, then it should inspire cultural and intellectual discovery, creativity and productivity.”[29] This paper has argued that secular humanism meets none of these contingencies of viability, while Christianity does. In a Statement of Principles (Statement), secular humanism claims to respect “[the] protecting [of ] human rights…securing…fairness in society…eliminating discrimination and intolerance” while it “deplores [seeking] to explain the world in supernatural terms and to look outside nature for salvation.”[30] The professed principle to “eliminate discrimination and intolerance” does not support deploring the act of a person or group seeking salvation outside of nature.[31] “Beliefs” are held in the secular worldview while refuting “blind faith” in preference of atheistically-limited reason.[32] Secularists call for “moral excellence, nobility and hope” while identifying “theologies” directly with “despair.”[33] The Statement presents numerous irreconcilable divisions and internal, nonsensical conflicts in its briefly outlined mission. Calling for “truth instead of ignorance,” the Statement employs ignorance with regard to theology in the areas of truth, hope, morality, justice and goodness.[34]

Secular humanism ascribes to no objective moral code other than societal obligation, yet obligation and secular, societal imposition are as subjective as individualism—the two rule each other out as authoritative. Democracy or majority rule may be considered the highest collective authority, yet this internally contradicts the individualistic authority secularists employ in allurement. Behaviors are “controlled” by behavioral sciences, rather than the church or state. Atheistic “morality” slides into oblivion as there is no authoritative standard. Secularism becomes its own parasitic idol, feeding on the humanism it attempts to elevate. It is a form of external imposition governed by secular idealists—this is a belief system ascribed to, putting one’s faith in man. It is a pseudo-religion, a philosophy, with no scientific integrity, which violates the precepts of strict naturalism, contradicts its own goal of supreme individualism, and rejects millions of individuals who ascribe to transcendent belief systems around the world.

Secular humanism aligns itself with naturalism. However, to rely completely upon science in the natural world would mean that man, through science alone, should be able to create a replicated natural universe, with planets in orbit, a sun, water, plant life, living beings and the like. Secular humanism would be able to answer for the source of energy at the core of an atom, with the material world being “an illusion of substantiality;” the unaccountable gaps of missing species in the Darwinian theory; the mathematical and statistical improbability of happenstance genetic codes and “spontaneous biogenesis;” and the exactness of the earth’s axis tilt, speed of revolution, law of gravity, and oxygen supply.[35] There is no way to naturally prove that God is not sustaining the universe and life as Creator. Further, naturalism asserts that God is not “natural.” While God is a Spirit, he has also spoken audible words decipherable to a human’s natural senses and interacted with the world in the incarnated Christ and other means (Acts 9:4; John 1:1-2, 3:16; Luke 2; Gen 1). A strict naturalist cannot solve the supernatural dilemma of their own continuing heartbeat.

Reductionism does not account for the vastness of creation as the God of the Bible does. Einstein’s failure to connect electromagnetism and gravity reveals the life force tension which exists from subparticle analysis to the vast universal balance.[36] “Unity in diversity” is metaphysically represented by the triune God and this notion is imparted to created mankind in that each can have his or her own distinct personality, own divine purpose, and yet be connected via relationship and love that has eternal consequences to behavior and treatment of each other.[37] Bonhoeffer suggests the “Christian concept of person” begins with an “interpersonal encounter” with Christ, but then is worked out and developed amidst communities, in that, “a self-conscious and willing being…is a socio-ethical being living in relationship to others.”[38] Christianity proponents a moral compass divinely designed for relationship and love rather than a social construct of mere obligation. Love for God’s creation fosters a motivated will for collective and individual good, making the impersonal, personal.

One’s “final worth of existence” is a soul motivator which influences relationships, behaviors, morality and ethics.[39] Secularism is “self-stultifying” which makes life that of a “metaphysical orphan” with no reason to live well.[40] Revelation, Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10, give an eternal perspective on human actions, guiding morality toward an everlasting outcome and making behaviors meaningful. Ethics and values are intrinsic if they are authentic. A biblical education and society fosters ethical authenticity, whereas a secularized approach rooted solely in behavioral science is one of imposition.

Ironically, secular humanism would likely not work beneath a communist (secular) government which might restrict printed materials, individual freedoms or scientific advancements. American secularists operate from presupposed concepts of traditionally established morality, what is just and good, framed by Christian civil liberties. God’s general grace and his allowance of free will allows secular humanists to (seemingly) cast him out and the Word of God protects their individual choice to do so. America’s Christian-based freedoms allow secular humanists the ability to choose atheism. Historically, anti-biblical (biblical in the sense of balanced and accurate Christian theology) cultures with a majority rule “morality,” such as Nazism, have already proven divisive, marginalizing and dangerous.

Conclusion

Secular humanism endeavors to dismantle religious authority from society, institutions and government, replacing the same with alternatives founded in realism and individual rights.[41] It is a self-refuting philosophy,[42] a false religion that believes in unbelief, which must be ascribed to in spite of scientific improbability, historical failure, and interior contradictions.[43] Secularism is ultra-confining and oppressive to the human being. Its chief opponent is Christianity on the basis of morality.[44] Ravi Zacharias states:

…[T]here was always that sense of a moral impetus within humanity. People could not act as if there were no moral oughtness. …[Naturalists] could not escape the moral argument. …It is amusing that they never went to the Quran or the Gita to look for moral flaws… Instead, they attacked the Christ of the Scriptures…[45]

Christian freedoms have been viably lived out for centuries resulting in improvements to humanity. Mankind has historically been a being of religious ascension. The postmodern atheistic attempt to remove religion from the public sector doesn’t produce a viable worldview. Christianity has existed for over two thousand years and the Word of God harkens back to the beginning (Gen 1:1). Secular humanism is a worldview which is inadequate to stand the test of reason and morality in comparison to Christianity.

Bibliography

Beilby, James K. Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011.

Bush, L. Russ. The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age. Nashville: B&H, 2003.

Cimino, Richard and Christopher Smith. Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America. New York: Oxford University, 2014.

________. “Secular Humanism and Atheism beyond Progressive Secularism.” Sociology of Religion 68, no. 4 (Winter 2007): 407+. Accessed July 17, 2018. http://www.liberty.edu.

Clowney, Edmund P. “Secularism and the Christian Mission.” Westminster Theological Journal 21, no. 1 (November 1958): 19-57. Accessed July 30, 2018. http://www.liberty.edu.

Council for Secular Humanism. “What is Secular Humanism?” Secularhumanism.org. Accessed July 17, 2018. https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/3260.

Gill, D. W. “Secularism, Secular Humanism.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 1085-1086. Edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Truth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011.

Kurtz, Paul. “The Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles.” Australian Humanist, no. 121 (Autumn 2016): 27. Accessed July 17, 2018. http://www.liberty.edu.

Lindsay, Ronald A. “How Morality has the Objectivity that Matters—Without God.” Secularhumanism.org. Accessed July 30, 2018. https://www.secularhumanism. org/index.php/articles/5640.

Pinnock, Clark H. “The Living God and the Secular Experience.” Bibliotheca Sacra 129, no. 516 (October 1972): 316-320. Accessed July 30, 2018. http://www.liberty.edu.

Schaeffer, Francis A. “He is There and He is Not Silent Part 1: Philosophy’s Metaphysical Problem is Answered in the Existence of the Infinite-Personal, Triune God.” Bibliotheca Sacra 128, no. 510 (April 1971): 99-108. Accessed July 30, 2018. http://www.liberty.edu.

Scriven, Charles. “Grace and Good: A Kierkegaardian Response to Secular Humanism.” Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 29, no. 1-2 (Summer-Autumn 2017): 159+. Accessed July 17, 2018. http://www.liberty.edu.

Zacharias, Ravi. “Defending Christianity in a Secular Culture.” Rzim.org. Accessed August 20, 2018. https://rzim.org/just-thinking/defending-christianity-in-a-secular-culture/.

Zimmermann, Jens and Brian Gregor. Being Human, Becoming Human: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Social Thought. Cambridge: Witf & Stock, 2012.

_____________________

[1] D. W. Gill, “Secularism, Secular Humanism,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 1085-1086.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Truth (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011), 74. (Author’s note: emphasis, mine.)

[4] Ibid., 75-90. (Author’s note: this list of evaluative categories is based upon the Groothuis text.)

[5] Council for Secular Humanism, “What is Secular Humanism?” Secularhumanism.org, accessed July 17, 2018, https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/3260.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Charles Scriven, “Grace and Good: A Kierkegaardian Response to Secular Humanism,” Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 29, no. 1-2 (Summer-Autumn 2017): 159+, accessed July 17, 2018, http://www.liberty.edu.

[9] Council for Secular Humanism, “What is Secular Humanism?” Secularhumanism.org.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Paul Kurtz, “The Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles,” Australian Humanist, no. 121 (Autumn 2016): 27, accessed July 17, 2018, http://www.liberty.edu.

[12] Ronald A. Lindsay, “How Morality has the Objectivity that Matters—Without God,” Secularhumanism.org, accessed July 30, 2018, https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/articles/5640.

[13] Council for Secular Humanism, “What is Secular Humanism?” Secularhumanism.org.

[14] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 52-58. (Author’s note: this list of evaluative categories is based upon the Groothuis text.)

[15] Ibid., 53.

[16] Council for Secular Humanism, “What is Secular Humanism?” Secularhumanism.org.

[17] Ibid. (Author’s note: emphasis, mine.)

[18] Kurtz, “The Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles,” 27.

[19] Council for Secular Humanism, “What is Secular Humanism?” Secularhumanism.org.

[20] Kurtz, “The Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles,” 27.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Council for Secular Humanism, “What is Secular Humanism?” Secularhumanism.org.

[23] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 55-56.

[24] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 55-56.

[25] Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith, “Secular Humanism and Atheism beyond Progressive Secularism,” Sociology of Religion 68, no. 4 (Winter 2007): 407+, accessed July 17, 2018, http://www.liberty.edu.

[26] Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith, Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America (New York: Oxford University, 2014), 23-24.

[27] Council for Secular Humanism, “What is Secular Humanism?” Secularhumanism.org.

[28] Gill, “Secularism, Secular Humanism,” 1085-1086.

[29] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 56.

[30] Kurtz, “The Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles,” 27. (Author’s note: emphasis, mine.)

[31] Kurtz, “The Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles,” 27.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Russ Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age (Nashville: B&H, 2003), 53-69.

[36] Francis A. Schaeffer, “He is There and He is Not Silent Part 1: Philosophy’s Metaphysical Problem is Answered in the Existence of the Infinite-Personal, Triune God,” Bibliotheca Sacra 128, no. 510 (April 1971): 99-108, accessed July 30, 2018, http://www.liberty.edu.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Jens Zimmermann and Brian Gregor, Being Human, Becoming Human: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Social Thought (Cambridge: Witf & Stock, 2012), 73.

[39] Clark H. Pinnock, “The Living God and the Secular Experience,” Bibliotheca Sacra 129, no. 516 (October 1972): 316-320, accessed July 30, 2018, http://www.liberty.edu.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Cimino and Smith, Atheist Awakening.

[42] Russ Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age (Nashville: B&H, 2003), 65-84.

[43] Edmund P. Clowney, “Secularism and the Christian Mission,” Westminster Theological Journal 21, no. 1 (November 1958): 19-57, accessed July 30, 2018, http://www.liberty.edu.

[44] Cimino and Smith, Atheist Awakening.

[45] Ravi Zacharias, “Defending Christianity in a Secular Culture,” Rzim.org, accessed August 20, 2018, https://rzim.org/just-thinking/defending-christianity-in-a-secular-culture/.

#religion #Christianity #Christianapologetics #Biblestudy #JesusChrist #Modernworldview

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