Recently, a good friend of mine read my essay on Pluralism & Relativism, and asked the question if I could comment on Secular Humanism. As I had started a series of moral arguments, it seemed practical that the next one may as well be on such an “ism”.
I also have to note, with great emphasis, that this essay quickly became a satire and a screed, and for that, I apologize. It just became so ridiculous examining the humanist point of view and then dealing with it in a mature and educated fashion. So I took the gutter. And while the gutter is smelly, dirty, and offensive, it still leads us to where we need to go; to the understanding of the very dangerous nature of Humanism.
In taking a hard look at Humanism, it became efficient to deal with the primary doctrines of this movement of man, and for accuracy’s sake I went to the source: The American Humanist Association (AHA). Within their website I found the three, basic humanist manifestos; generated in 1933, 1973, and 2003. Though there are other affirmations of their common goals to be found, and well worth the read, I am going to concentrate my discourse on the three manifestos as noted in order to contain the content of this essay. Yes, the devil is in the details – in this case the applications of Humanism into our American society – and I do believe it is the Devil who writes any doctrine that attempts to usurp the authority of God.
First above all, Humanism is nothing more than another belief system; predicated upon acceptance over understanding. This is a common condition for all social structures that hope to guide mankind through his communal existence; whether they be theological or philosophical in nature. I hate saying this, but all theologies and philosophies not only do not require its adherents to understand them well, they actually prefer and inhibit their understanding. While a Bermudian friend of mine at prep school would routinely recite “Ignorance is bliss’, he had scant knowledge of the depth and breadth of that statement to the social well-being of humanity. It can be crucial. Frankly, there is little data that denies my premise that a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. In fact, the scientific method that Humanism so proudly hails as the primary method of achieving happiness and contentment, would suggest the position that knowledge is fatal to mankind. I guess mankind is about to find out.
Second, I hate saying this one also, I have to admit that I agree a lot with Humanism’s affirmations of the human condition and its desires for a better life. Let me go down the list and see if I can remain Catholic.
Starting with the first manifesto of 1933, I would agree that, “Religions have always been means for realizing the highest values of life.” And as such, “Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious.” Religion, especially Christianity, reflects the center and boundaries of human experience. It fully promotes good over evil, and as such cherishes the concepts of human dignity.
Further, Humanism and Christianity both endorse the fulfillment of man’s “personality”. For the humanist, it is the society as being substantially cooperative to healthy human interaction. For Christianity, it is the purification of man and his return to a right relationship with God. Both look for this in the “here and now”. Both believe firmly in the proselytization of their beliefs and continuous ministry to those in need; whether they want it or not.
I agree with Humanism that Christianity needs to reflect deeply on its current “religious institutions, their ritualistic forms, ecclesiastical methods, and communal activities”, and promote change within those areas, and those areas only, “in order to function effectively in the modern world”.
And of course, we both believe in the goal of “a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good”.
In regards to life, Christianity agrees with Humanism that both “will: (a) affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from them; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few.”
In the second manifesto from 1973, I can concur on several matters:
“Faith, commensurate with advancing knowledge, is also necessary.”
Boy, I can think of few things more critical to man’s proper development. I have no idea why humanists have placed such a statement in this manifesto because it faces the direct opposition to those creeds that humanists have put in practice in our American society.
In regards to technology; without a doubt, things are speeding up fast and “dramatic scientific, technological, and ever-accelerating social and political changes crowd our awareness”. “Using technology wisely, we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our life-span, significantly modify our behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life.” I fell asleep, but I do agree.
I certainly can agree that a technology has proven to be just as evil as it is good; contributing greatly to political and ecological carnage, as well as significant harm done to our developed societies through the proliferation of meaningless tools and toys of personal interest that have supplanted man’s normal venue of human interaction.
Could not agree more with their statement that, “This world community must renounce the resort to violence and force as a method of solving international disputes. We believe in the peaceful adjudication of differences by international courts and by the development of the arts of negotiation and compromise”. With technology abound, we had best enact the writing on the wall; you know, the one written in blood.
“Technology must, however, be carefully judged by the consequences of its use; harmful and destructive changes should be avoided. We are particularly disturbed when technology and bureaucracy control, manipulate, or modify human beings without their consent. Technological feasibility does not imply social or cultural desirability.” Could not agree more.
Freedom and dignity? I pretty much agree with the basic rights of freedom and dignity due each man and woman as they have outlined them; however certainly not with the distortions created through their redefinition of freedom and dignity to cutaway a new layer of minorities – the unborn being one of them – from those freedoms and dignities so well outlined by them. I am also a little confused about their insistence upon freedom of religion when a humanist, by definition, rejects any form of theism.
In terms of social condition, we agree that, “Institutions should be responsive to expressed desires and needs. The conditions of work, education, devotion, and play should be humanized.”
In addition, “The principle of moral equality must be furthered through elimination of all discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age, or national origin. This means equality of opportunity and recognition of talent and merit. Individuals should be encouraged to contribute to their own betterment. If unable, then society should provide means to satisfy their basic economic, health, and cultural needs, including, wherever resources make possible, a minimum guaranteed annual income.”
No, I’m not in league with socialism, but rather with Jesus and Pope Francis.
And finally, I do assert that, “The world community must engage in cooperative planning concerning the use of rapidly depleting resources. The planet earth must be considered a single ecosystem”. I have no idea of the veracity of global warming, but I do know that, as a Christian, we have been called to tend the garden – to shepherd the flock – and we must.
Little new can possibly be left in the third manifesto, but let’s give it a try.
“Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life….” Agreed. I’ll deal with this at the end of this essay.
“Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.” Duh.
So let’s talk about what I find controversial.
The primary principle of Humanism entails the rejection of any form of theism that promotes the idea of any spiritual element, divine being or cosmic, sentient force. All other matters of Humanism is dependent upon this assertion.
From my point of view, this assertion does not necessitate any immediate defense, as my argument is structured to demonstrate that to the degree that mankind has evolved at all towards some good end, it has come about through man’s submission to a theistic will; God. Man, left to his own devices, is a terrible and terminal animal.
Humanism: “The future is, however, filled with dangers. In learning to apply the scientific method to nature and human life, we have opened the door to ecological damage, over-population, dehumanizing institutions, totalitarian repression, and nuclear and bio-chemical disaster.”
All true, and I might say all brought about by Humanism. You see, going into this essay I am going to take the position that all evil is brought about by humanist intent. No doubt, they will disagree with me, but as we move through this essay, please note that every evil discussed has some value to it that comes from humans asserting their own authorities and not God’s; the basic principle behind Humanism. Their authority is themselves.
To note, “institutions” do not cause evil, rather the men and women who comprise them. In matters of the ecology of this world, it has been man who devastated the forests, polluted the skies and waters, made extinct flora and fauna species, and killed one another off by the millions.
No God did all of this; only mankind. And if the humanist is going to point to Judaistic scripture to refute this assertion of mine, forget it. In your rejection of theism, you have also rejected the validity of the Old Testament. That’s right, you can’t argue that God destroyed the world and mankind when He brought the flood because you not only do not believe He did it, but that He doesn’t even exist. And any thought that, “Well, mankind did man’s evil in the name of a God” still leaves the fact that it is man doing the evil, and thus I can still contend that man only does evil to satisfy his own desires. We’re back to Humanism.
Humanism: “Some forms of political doctrine, for instance, function religiously, reflecting the worst features of orthodoxy and authoritarianism, especially when they sacrifice individuals on the altar of Utopian promises. Purely economic and political viewpoints, whether capitalist or communist, often function as religious and ideological dogma.”
I have little problem, actually, with what is being said here, but I want to make clear two things:
One, there is an incorrect word – a deceptive word – fitted sweetly into this quotation, and that word is “function”. The proper rewrite would be as follows:
“Some forms of political doctrine, for instance, are disguised as religious, reflecting the worst features of orthodoxy and authoritarianism, especially when they sacrifice individuals on the altar of Utopian promises.”
“Purely economic and political viewpoints, whether capitalist or communist, are often disguised as religious and ideological dogma.””
Nice try, Humanism. Instead, you should simply read the words that Jesus spoke, and then tell us how He promotes any agenda other than the best aspects of your own.
Two, there will never be a separation between the passions of mankind and his ability to use reason as a primary force for the good and evil of a society. As such, man will always use all the institutions about him to promote his own agenda; good and evil.
Humanism: “Decision-making must be decentralized to include widespread involvement of people at all levels – social, political, and economic.”
This is the oddest thing I came across in their manifestos. They wish to return to the commune – no doubt the result of their days as hippies in California – and yet they also propose a one world community; one without borders. Unfortunately, I must conclude that they have no intent to follow such a mandate of decentralization; leaving it hanging out there as a slight-of-hand.
Actually, science has demonstrated that men and women do not have the capacity to effectively bond with other people at numbers beyond a couple of hundred. After that, we pretty much don’t care whether one is alive or dead. The evidence is abundant and robust. Few American are willing to do anything about the slaughter of hundreds of Africans by terrorists, yet are happy to overturn the cart in America when a person is killed by police forces.
Here’s the interesting thing that Humanism is counting on when they describe the world community:
Humanism: “We must expand communication and transportation across frontiers. Travel restrictions must cease. The world must be open to diverse political, ideological, and moral viewpoints and evolve a worldwide system of television and radio for information and education.”
What was discovered with the advent of printing, then the telegraph, then radio and recording devices, then television, and now the internet, is that these forms of media have the ability to extend that “sense” of the small community to a vastly greater population. As we see, however, the media is an institution, and as I noted earlier, men and women comprise these institutions…. I’ll not bother to go on.
Humanism: “The state should encourage maximum freedom for different moral, political, religious, and social values in society.”
Humanism: “The separation of church and state and the separation of ideology and state are imperatives.”
Wait a second… in one hand there should be a “maximum freedom for different moral, political, religious, and social values in society”, and then in the other hand we must have a “separation of church and state and the separation of ideology and state”. How does one accomplish both at the same time?
I do believe this is exactly what Europe is currently crumbling under; pluralism. The problem with pluralism is that it can only work where everyone is of a singular expression – absolutely homogenous – therefore no pluralism. Where there is no homogeneity, there naturally, genetically, scientifically, rises competition for the limited resources of any society. By the very nature of man, preferring the familiar to the unfamiliar, and existing as but another element of Nature, by the creed of Humanism, this competition must take place; not because of some religious doctrine, but because of the genetic decree of being just another animal in the forest; as the humanist would assert. I have always said that the disease of stupidity knows no boundaries; it infects the intelligent as easily as it does the ignorant.
Humanism: “The world cannot wait for a reconciliation of competing political or economic systems to solve its problems.”
I suspect they are just going to have to wait a little longer.
Democracy and Economics
Humanism: “The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted.”
Humanism: “Humane societies should evaluate economic systems not by rhetoric or ideology, but by whether or not they increase economic well-being for all individuals and groups, minimize poverty and hardship, increase the sum of human satisfaction, and enhance the quality of life.”
Humanism: “Hence the door is open to alternative economic systems. We need to democratize the economy and judge it by its responsiveness to human needs, testing results in terms of the common good.”
Humanism: “Hence extreme disproportions in wealth, income, and economic growth should be reduced on a worldwide basis.”
Sounds like Humanism isn’t cozy with capitalism, which pretty much means you can toss out democracy. The Constitutional provision of “one person, one vote”, is currently being negated by Humanism in favor of the “one group, one vote” provision. Unfortunately for the humanists, they are against gun control (though they do favor Iran gaining the nuclear bomb). When push comes to shove, the capitalists have the guns.
Humanism: “Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses. There is no substitute: neither faith nor passion suffices in itself.”
These four aspects, despite what the humanist believes, all work in a continuous and unbreakable symbiosis. No action or intent cannot be explained fully without the inclusion of more than one of these four aspects.
In difference to the humanist assertion of the superiority of reason and intelligence, I contend that the passions are by far the dominant force of mankind. If for no other reason, because they are immediate; essentially giving form to the steps of reason, intelligence, and faith. It’s one of the things that Humanism basically ignores, and thus does not address the passions other than to give it lip service. One of the problems with the overly-educated is their tendency to push the passions into the back of the mind. Sounds sensible but it invariable opens the door to abuse of power and a negation of all of the principles that, in this case, Humanism supposedly stands for.
I’m not arguing that our passions should lead the way. Heaven, no! Reason should be our basic control, but reason – again I disagree with the humanist assertion that there only exists man in nature – is nothing more than the reflection of God’s will in our world. When reason falls outside of that will, it is not reason, but simply man’s attempt at doing what God does better; and always shall.
As to intelligence; beyond a certain point it is fatal for it corrupts the truth of good reason, moderate passion, and consistent faith.
Faith? Good; only when in the pursuit of truth. I’ll leave it at that, and I don’t mean to short-change faith in this essay, but faith is not really what this essay is about.
Humanism: “But reason must be tempered by humility, since no group has a monopoly of wisdom or virtue.”
Humanism: “Reason should be balanced with compassion and empathy and the whole person fulfilled.”
This is all a fascinating, humanistic dance with four protagonists: reason, intelligence, faith, and passion. Reason is obviously Humanism’s lead, with intelligence’s influence to know not to attempt to dance through a wall, and where faith and passion beguiles reason to a crescendo, but not to a climax. After all, the world is over-populated as it is. With all that spinning and leaping, I’m dizzy, and so is the rest of the world.
The Scientific Method
Humanism: “Any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence; in our judgment, the dogmas and myths of traditional religions do not do so.”
Humanism: “The controlled use of scientific methods, which have transformed the natural and social sciences since the Renaissance, must be extended further in the solution of human problems.”
These are relatively clear statements that asserts the primacy of empiricism, or the scientific method over any and all accounts of nature. There is also a presumption built into this assertion, which cannot be proven by the scientific method; that mankind is, and will continue to be, better off because of the scientific method. Evidence has shown that the free rein of any methodology leads invariably to corruption. The scientific method needs more than a temperate watch, as Humanism suggests, and it needs more than its adjudication to be managed by its primary ally.
What is an interesting extension though, that clearly lies outside the boundaries of the scientific method is the blunt timing of the rejection of all things that have not been proven by the scientific method.
“It is a polite egotism that stinketh the land”, I say. Why is it now, the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that man has decided that the scientific method should rise to some supremacy? Is it because of its truth, or because of its provision to those who would seek power before they lose grasp of it?
And why is it that humanists, while admitting to their lack of knowledge, move on with this creed despite their ignorance?
Humanism: “We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; (therefore) it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of survival and fulfillment of the human race.”
Humanism: “As far as we know (?), the total personality is a function of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context.”
It is the very essence of Humanism that the scientific method be employed in the organization of a society, and yet it is well understood that empiricism functions, and must so, outside the realm of the human elements of passion and faith. Humanism promotes the arts, and yet I can think of no great art that has ever been created by reason or intelligence. Humanism promotes technology, and yet no creator will suggest that it was solely his or her reasoning capacity and intelligence that brought their creation to fruition. And as to what is created by man, is it not passion and faith that always point to the target, while reason and intelligence only make the bow?
I suggest that Humanism promotes the dehumanization of human life as it hopes to minimalize passion and faith through paternalistic means. Is not life an existence where the passions motivate and our faith is what keeps us motivated?
Humanism: “Even at this late date in human history, certain elementary facts based upon the critical use of scientific reason have to be restated.”
Apparently the humanists know something the rest of us don’t. “…late date…”?
Moral & Ethics
Humanism: “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience.”
Humanism: “Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest. To deny this distorts the whole basis of life.”
Well if that’s so, then let’s move on to Life & Human Dignity.
Life & Human Dignity
Humanism: “The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized.”
Wow, where to go with this? So many opportunities. Regarding abortion, let me just note that the humanist asserts, in their Humanist Manifesto I of 1933, that:
Humanism: “We assert that humanism will: (a) affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from them; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few.”
They also state in their Human Manifesto II form 1973, that:
Humanism: “The preciousness and dignity of the individual person is a central humanist value.”
After saying all of that, they have managed to convince themselves that certain humans are not “persons” and therefore do not enjoy the rights they so dearly uphold, and so they may be murdered because they are not “persons”.
In the Humanist Manifesto II, Affirmation 11, there is a reference to the unborn as being “invidious”. For those without a dictionary, “invidious” means: calculated to create ill will or resentment of offense; unfairly discriminating, injurious; to cause animosity or envy.
Humanism: “We are concerned for the welfare of the aged, the infirm, the disadvantaged, and also for the outcasts – the mentally retarded, abandoned, or abused children, the handicapped, prisoners, and addicts – for all who are neglected or ignored by society.”
I told ya…. The unborn aren’t even on the list. They have been reclassified into a new minority, and as with all new minorities who have not sufficiently petitioned their cause yet, they can have no expectation of equal treatment.
If morals and ethics come solely from man, I want nothing to do with them.
Love & Sexuality
Humanism: “While we do not approve of exploitive, denigrating forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit, by law or social sanction, sexual behavior between consenting adults. The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered ‘evil.’”
First, how can Humanism acknowledge that some forms of sexual behavior is exploitive or denigrating, while others are not, and what does “consenting” really mean? To assert that morals and ethics comes from within man is to also assert that morals and ethics are relative. This is an easy one to defend.
Reaching no further than their own manifestos, their argument that abortion should be legal, whereas abortion was traditionally considered an immoral act, therefore requires the argument that morals are relative. If one is, then they all are. Now, they could assert some morals to be absolute and others relative, but who is doing the choosing? Them? Why not the Southern Poverty Law Center of the KKK?
If sodomy is to be the foundation of the loving union between two, consenting men or women, and if we are to respect the loving desires of all men and women, then what is wrong with bestiality? After all, humanists are active in advancing the cause of chimpanzees and gorillas as being “persons”, and therefore entitled to all the rights of their brethren, the Homo sapiens. Should I not respect a loving relationship between a chimpanzee and my brother? If my brother was a Mormon, could he not have a harem of alluring chimps?
And what is wrong with a thruple? And what is wrong with nudity in public, and what is wrong with performing sexual acts in public? I find it more than humorous that relativists and humanists can always find a balance of what is proper and improper, and it always just seems to match their own inclinations; at the moment. They do not have to look back to the clear, historical path of man to understand morals. Mankind before them were idiots and bigots.
And as to consenting….. Their beloved Sigmund Freud could lecture them for weeks on end as to the lack of consent in consent. I can’t think of anyone at any time who actually gave consent to anything using clear reason unencumbered by the trials of life that leaves us all wounded in one form or another. People engage in sexual activities for very complex, deeply-rooted reasons and purposes; many of them seriously flawed and harmful. Just because someone consents to sex does not mean there is no ill intent or repercussion involved by either party(s). The divorce rate of 50% of all marriages is certainly based more upon those wounds than merely the, “I’m moving on to better things, dear; have a nice day” progressiveness. So where does it all wash out? Perhaps humanists can write another manifesto on what consent means.
And, above all else, I wonder at the hypocrisy of humanists in regards to sexuality. They applaud natural selection and evolution, which clearly asserts heterogeneity – a man and a woman – as normal and necessary for the procreation of the species. Natural selection, by its very genetic nature, deals with the preference of those genetic characteristics that encourages the continued existence of a species over those characteristics that contribute to the demise of a species. Can someone please tell me how homosexual activity contributes to the procreation of man?
By “normal” I mean those things that conform to some standard; as being usual, common, regular, and natural. Things not normal are statistically marginal. They can be on the way up or the way out in terms of evolution, but a Darwinian application would lead one to conclude that any trait that does not promote procreation is not normal, nor advantageous.
And so the humanist is left – stubborn in their corner for a lot longer than a ten minute timeout – with the dogma that temporal pleasures trumps their beloved scientific methodology and Darwinian doctrine. Putting aside the God aspect of man’s creation – as a humanist asserts there is no God – Humanism would have you believe that there really were no naturally-selective forces of evolution in play that led mankind to evolve as a species comprised of two sexes for any primary purpose other than pleasure. Sex, as a tool for procreation, is but the by product.
At the end of the humanist quotation on sexuality, there laid the word “evil”. Evil is a reference to something that has gained legendary significance because experience dictated it. Humanism cannot assert that morals and ethics are solely a standardized response to experience, and then deny one’s genetic right to distrust actions not deemed normal. Let’s face the truth, “normal” is a statistic, and not a right. Certain sexual activities are not statistically normal, and when it becomes publicly known that someone engages in not normal behavior, then there are justifiable reactions that separate normal from not normal. That’s reality. Look, forget the God-stuff once again. Somewhere in man’s experience, by the way humanists would assert it, certain sexual behaviors were deemed deviant or evil because experience led man to such a conclusion. What evidence is there today that states we are to revise such a position?
The humanist argument would have to be that there was a time in man’s history when natural selection dictated that certain sexual activities were harmful to society. However, in this time of man, they no longer pose any threat to society and so they should therefore no longer be stigmatized. This argument would then make out Humanism to be nothing more than temporal, societal fashion; hardly a worthy ideology to go forward with for man’s eternity. If society in those days was correctly asserting the deviance of such acts as harmful, then that would be a humanist act, and therefore right. Yet now the humanists are arguing the other side of the coin. Sounds like Relativism, which sounds a lot like the crying baby.
Well, I blabbed on way to long on a small point. What is far more interesting is the following:
In reviewing all three manifestos – that comprise the foundational principles of Humanism – there are only three times where the word “love” is used. Let’s look at the quotations with some scrutiny.
Humanism: “The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new — the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with the promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of ‘love thy neighbor’ will finally be achieved.””
Alleluia! True love will finally be achieved through the promise of Humanism. Of course, it will take place on the “rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all of its adjacent evils and misery”. Nothing sounds sweeter to the ears than angels out for a massacre. I would have thought that humanists would have had some secular quote to use in this particular case other than that of the Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor”. After all, were talking about artists and poets here.
Our second quote:
Humanism: “Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation – all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying human living.”
To take this seriously for a moment, it is telling that humanists managed to get the word love into this equation of “satisfying human living”. While labor, art, science, philosophy, friendship, and recreation certainly are satisfying endeavors, love is far, far more than merely satisfying, and yet this is what Humanism wants you to believe. Humanism wants to redefine love as recreation, and it must. To hold intact the traditional reality of true love is to limit the influence that Humanism can insinuate into the American society. True love is an absolute that reveals human dignity, and to know this is to reject Humanism.
Our third quote:
Humanism: “Reason should be balanced with compassion and empathy and the whole person fulfilled. Thus, we are not advocating the use of scientific intelligence independent of or in opposition to emotion, for we believe in the cultivation of feeling and love”
I have noticed how humanist principles are tempered or backed out a bit in these manifestos when it seems these doctrines have perhaps overstepped their purpose. And in all of those cases, what is clearly not done is to render definitions in a clear and concise manner. Here, we see the two words, “feeling” and “love” as synonymous. This would lead me to believe that humanists don’t know the difference between the sting of a sunburn from a tanning table and the incomparable, euphoric experience of the sacrifice of one’s good for another over a life time. To read the three manifestos is to learn nothing about true love.
Humanism: “We believe in the right to universal education. Everyone has a right to the cultural opportunity to fulfill his or her unique capacities and talents. The schools should foster satisfying and productive living.”
It’s a well-intended quotation, I’m sure. And this is an arena where humanists know more about the subject than perhaps any other group. The humanist agenda has not been borne on the backs of carpenters or architects, cooks or restauranteurs, seamstresses or shopkeepers. Humanism is historically found in those people who have too much time on their hands, and like to diddle too much with their minds; their educators, administrators, social engineers, politicians, and artists. They’re intellectuals and ideologues, and they have been running America’s educational system for the past century. And so, what is the fruit of their reign over our educational system?
Starting with costs of a college education, it is now pretty much out of the realm of middle-class American citizens. As of 2013, the average cost of tuition, room and board at a typical four-year college rested at $22,261.00, or $89,044.00 for a four-year degree. The typical debt incurred by a college student, seven in ten, is $29,400.00, with graduate students borrowing considerably more; 35% borrow over $100,000.00, in order to complete their post-graduate degrees. Education is very expensive.
As of 2014, the United States ranked twentieth in the world in reading, thirtieth in mathematics, and twenty-third in science. These are the results of the testing of 15 year-olds globally; those soon to enter our very expensive educational system. Further, while America has remained static in the progress of improving our educational system and its results, many nations have improved theirs over the past five years; accounting for, to some degree, the marked decline of America’s results worldwide.
Our response to these statistics is to push for more government intervention and funding. Let’s not bother to control costs and raise the quality of our teachers and administration, let’s just multiply the bureaucracy and let the underperformers receive a free, financial ride.
The intellectual humanist is the first to turn traitor and the last to become a martyr. And lest Christians get on their high horse here, it must be pointed out that intellectualism has greatly infected their faith also; most of all within my own kind, Catholicism. At least I can count on the Evangelicals to recognize the pitfalls of intellectualism. Few of them will confess to such a diversion.
And as for myself, if you’ve read a few of my posts, you will clearly see that I almost always build an intellectual argument, rather than a spiritual one. Francis Schaeffer, I am not. This condition of mine I hold no pride in, yet there is another side of me; one found in the journal posts of my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. Thank God for my spirit within. It is the only thing that has saved me, and the only thing that moves me forward. I will also note that to launch a religious argument based upon faith and the spirit would be like speaking Greek to a Mayan; it’s going nowhere. I am thus forced into an intellectual and reasoning format.
By the way, an interesting note…. Barnard College – the golden-girl of liberal, progressive Humanism – is considering the removal of requirements like the sciences and foreign-languages in favor of diversity training. I can see it now…. Our American students understanding the reasoning and intellect of a Sudanese woman, while lacking any real empathy, any ability to speak Arabic, and any ability to advance their culture through the sciences. Terrific; a Theodore Cleaver practicing the Socratic Method.
Humanism sees technology as the fruit of the scientific method. Well, humanist technology – providing abundant provision – has enabled man to change his determination of the necessity for the preservation of one’s children and other individuals, into a preference. The need of children has been subjugated to a greater need for personal acquisition, wealth, and liberties that far exceeds their necessity.
And with the advent of transient lifestyles demanded by an ever increasing domination of self-enrichment well beyond necessary means, interpersonal relationships have no more attachment to them than the economic entanglements brought about by such desires.
Before one concludes I want us all to return to the cave, that is not my position at all. Rather, I see clearly the two sides of technology; its good and its evil, and I propose that technology borne from absolute moralities yield good for society, and those technologies borne from relative moralities yield evil for society. Whatever we are today, we could be that much better if we could see the differences between the two.
Humanism: “As science pushes back the boundary of the known, humankind’s sense of wonder is continually renewed, and art, poetry, and music find their places, along with religion and ethics.”
Actually, it is an easy argument to mount that art, poetry, and music all reached a zenith when religion and ethics played a pivotal role in society. In fact, this might well be the low point in all of these arts. The crass commercialization and dehumanization of the arts has rendered it impotent to the cause of human dignity and pertinent to human degradation and defilement.
Nothing more to say here. Move on, move on. Quit looking at Art’s dead body.
Humanism: “Faith, commensurate with advancing knowledge, is also necessary.”
Humanism: “Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses. There is no substitute: neither faith nor passion suffices in itself.”
Yeah, it’s good to put these two quotes side-by-side. How does one use reason or intelligence to justify the inherent contradiction between the two?
Humanism: “As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.”
Using the scientific method of observation, one might look for alternatives to religion as a force for good. Are there any? None to date. Statistics bear out this conclusion. So, Humanism can assert they are the alternative to religion, and they do. Unfortunately, such an assertion lacks any scientific data that can conclude such a position with any real truth and authority. Quite simply, humanists screw up things as well as any “rotting Christian”. This is certainly redundant as it is much in the news and verifiable, but the twentieth century managed to kill off well over 100 million people in the name of secular humanism. Can anyone please tell me where religion, in any one century, managed to do as much destruction?
Humanism: “We believe, however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species.”
So polite; “disservice”. Remind me to renew my Humanist Membership Card; that cute one with the logo of a person smelling their raised armpits.
And here is a revelation…. While Humanism employs the word “religion”, for all practical matters, it is referring to Christianity simply because it is rejecting the society it grew from; the rebellious child once again asserting its independence and primal authority. Only from a successful culture comes snobbery, petulance, and rebellion; in that order.
And as the child, Humanism is nothing more than Christianity without Christ as the authority; replacing Him with a new authority, themselves. And being a poor “form” of Christ, humanist mankind has proceeded to create a society that is devolving any structure of universal morals and real consideration of human dignity, as it rapidly evolves towards a divine and authoritarian, utopian consumerism. It believes, like all failed ideologies, that the deconstruction of what works as the stabilizing factors of any society must undergo redefinition and thus procurement of stated goals.
Look, humanists are nothing more than what Judaism refers to as the “fallen man”; self-absorbed with their own desires. Sin is an admission that Humanism is alive and kicking; no matter the title – peasant or pope. Everything the humanists write about as the sins of the religions, are merely references to themselves.
I noted the principle of redefinition as a necessity of ideologues like humanists. We see it played out in the redefinition of “marriage”, and more seriously in the revised standards of what it is to be a “person”. Humanists are extending the olive branch of personhood to the lower primates, while denying it to our own unborn. Here’s another example; one that redefines all religions:
Recently, a judge in the State of Washington ruled that while one is permitted to have religious beliefs in America by the grace of our American government, it does not extend as a right to the practice of those same beliefs in our American society. The first amendment to the Constitution states the following:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Our judicial system is increasingly ignoring the traditional meaning of the single word in this amendment that empowers religion in America: “exercise”. “Exercise” does not mean “belief”; it means practice, an implementation, a putting into action, an operation, an effect. There is nothing in this amendment that directs this right only to a specific and limited location within America, and it certainly demonstrates a proclivity to interpersonal, social activities; where one is affected by another and one group affected by another group through the free practice of religion. And yet this judge, now some two-hundred twenty-four years after the 1st Amendment was incorporated into an evolving Bill of Rights, now finds himself capable and of necessary authority to void all precepts of this amendment in favor of his own rewrite. Astonishingly humanist!
Even our President of the United States believes that Christianity is nothing more than a faith and not a practice; and that any social expression, beyond the four walls of one’s own church, like a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, is a secular effort and no longer one of faith or religion. In our President’s mind, the teachings of Christ are sacred until they are actually performed; then they fall under the jurisdiction of his own judgment.
The Pace of Things
Humanism: “We believe that humankind has the potential, intelligence, goodwill, and cooperative skill to implement this commitment in the decades ahead.”
That fast, huh? Well, humanists wrote this in 1973; forty-two years ago. Are we about there, or have things gotten worse?
This one is just silly. To teach Humanism on the timeline Humanists desire – after all it was them who stated that “The next century can be and should be the humanistic century” – then it follows that an intensive top-down approach to inculcating Humanism into the cultural language of modern society must be under taken. They know this, we know this. And they have been doing just that through our educational system, and the enlargement of your American government; to preach a unified message to the itinerant public. Planned Parenthood comes to mind here. Their goal – the eugenic eradication of humans not quite “persons” – led to the legalization of abortion. Our government has for the past few decades granted Planned Parenthood the funding to pursue this task. That’s Humanism. While centralization take place under the noses of the typical American, they compassionately call for personal involvement at the lowest levels. Oh, cry me a river.
Humanists always, like all “isms”, believe their goals can be attained in one to two generations. Few would admit to such, but the applications of their ideals into the American & World society are both immediate and directed towards the full attainment of that ideal. It’s always like that. Mankind is so impatient and selfish when it comes to the egotistical mandates that are mulled and concocted behind the closed doors of their minds.
This is ultimately a battle for which form of theology or philosophy is to be put in place over the human race; an external, absolute form, or an internal, relative form. What will this mean to a species going forward that has evolved naturally in the direction of the external, absolute form – evidenced by the fact of its complete domination historically – and what assurances are there that relativism will not simply be marked by unending cycles of totalitarianism or dictatorship?
Remember revolution, dictatorship, totalitarianism, fascism, and all ideologies have consistently embraced the condition of imposing immediate corrections to multi-generational conditions. For humanism’s desire for the scientific method and evolution, in practice, they reject the pace of natural selection and evolution – the label of genetic coding – and choose to impose “laws” that simply create new minorities that justify the discrimination permitted against them.
Reading their manifestos leaves me with the feeling that I’ve heard this all before, like in the movie The Matrix, where Morpheus, in the training room with Neo, asks him, “You think that’s air you’re breathing now?” The humanist seems to be unaware that they are subject to the same genetic conditions as the rest of us slobs. They have attired themselves in the belief that the intellectualization of basic human conditions somehow renders them unaffected by the heat and cold of our human condition, when in truth, it only numbs them to certain absolute conditions and tunes them to only relative ones. It’s the frog in the hotpot scenario. Dinner is served.
Endorsement vs Commitment
Humanism: “We, the undersigned, while not necessarily endorsing every detail of the above, pledge our general support to Humanist Manifesto II for the future of humankind.”
After all those formal, strong imperatives, it comes down to you guys not necessarily agreeing with one another on these matters within. I wonder if the American Constitution had that same “out” in the final paragraph?
Christianity – Static or Progressive
Coming now, back to an early statement of the progressive nature of Humanism….
The real argument here for Western, modern and cultivated mankind, a species rooted in its past much more firmly than in its future, is whether Christianity is static or progressive. I liked how the Humanist Manifesto I, of 1933, put it:
Humanism: “Religions have always been means for realizing the highest values of life. Their end has been accomplished through the interpretation of the total environing situation (theology or world view), the sense of values resulting therefrom (goal or ideal), and the technique (cult), established for realizing the satisfactory life.” (Somehow love is just satisfactory now.)
As with much of the unseen, Christianity’s theology and ideals are absolute, and they should be so, for they represent the very basis of human life and the imperative necessity of human dignity for all. God set these natural conditions and laws into place in His act of creation; whether it took place in six days or 4.54 billion years. Love is the constitution of Christianity – its goal or ideal – and God’s grace is our opportunity to fulfill the ideals of that constitution.
As with much of the seen, Christianity’s cult or practice is relative. Syncretism, the merging of diverse cultural practices, was a natural development of early Christianity, and much of today’s liturgical and ministerial processes, as well as our holidays, are the outcome of such mergences. Early Christianity was progressive and it still is today; except for the humanist.
So, are we – the Church – moving or evolving towards the reconciliation with God that Christianity talks so much about? That’s the question. Are we progressing? Few sit in a train that does not leave the station; usually preferring to board one that seems to have a destination. Humanism is basing its argument upon the assertion that they offer a progressive alternative to Christianity; an alternative mode of transportation to happiness. They are offering us all a train that they believe has a destination, a purpose, and a methodology that is current with how modern men and women breathe and live and seek and find.
I consider this humanist argument to be a valid challenge to Christianity. Not valid in the sense that it offers an alternative that can be successfully implemented and become a norm for societal behaviors, but valid in the sense that it represents a recurring wake-up call to Christianity that it must never entangle and confuse what is the absolute theology and goal of God’s will with man’s ritualistic expressions. When the cart gets in front of the horse, man’s inclination is to go further down the darkened path. When the horse’s eyes are blinded by the back side of the cart, what hope is there to be known?
God Bless – Reese