Secular Humanism

Introduction

i-am-300x243As technology advances and cultural identities slowly fade, the supernatural worldview finds itself becoming increasingly unpopular as secularism encroaches onto every aspect of global society.  With naturalism at the forefront throughout the spectrum of academic institutions, humankind being made in the image of God and the Biblical worldview is losing its place amongst existentialism’s pragmatic philosophies.  This growing plague has not only caused a paradigm shift in human behavior, but it has likewise enabled humankind to make every attempt to drive the last intellectual nail into God’s coffin.  While Christianity is founded on objective truths, it struggles to find relevance amongst subjective axioms which demand tolerance and evangelistic censorship.  As the universal church continues to reclaim the nations once scattered,[1] it must look for creative and coherent solutions to the inconsistencies surrounding secular humanism’s worldview.

The Question of Origin

Like other worldviews, secular humanism attempts to answer the question of origins from a naturalist perspective.  “Secularists assert that the existence and complexity of the universe can be sufficiently explained through naturalistic principles set forth in the theory of evolution.”[2] The humanist claims God “did not make man in His image; instead, man made God in his image.”[3]  Secularists are a sensate culture “in which people only believe in the reality of the physical universe capable of being experienced with the five senses.  A sensate culture is secular, worldly, and empirical.”[4]

In comparison to secular humanism, theistic evolution is one paradigmatic view within Christendom that has seemingly compromised itself with it regarding the origins of the universe and humankind.  This view asserts that God initially used the evolutionary process to foment creation in various levels and periods since the beginning of time.  Although there are different forms of theistic evolution, they nonetheless follow the same framework in which naturalism is the result of God’s interactive process.  However, there is tension between the Biblical data and this view, and they assume “scientists have proven the age of the creation to be billions of years and the age of mankind to be many tens or hundreds of thousands of years.”[5]  Essentially, this type of viewpoint in the Christian faith is concluded to be an “intellectual pacifism that lulls people to sleep while the barbarians are at the gates.”[6]

Scripture opens with “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,”[7] asserting “God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”[8]  This presupposes He created the universe and human beings instantaneously. Genesis 1-3 reveal God “created the first animate and inanimate things supernaturally and virtually instantly.”[9]  Secular evolutionists often chastise Christians for believing in a creation-from-nothing by a supernatural Creator, yet ironically, they too employ their own version of “philosophical naturalism,”[10] claiming that “nonliving things can produce life and all that exists in the universe today is a result of nothing more than chance process.”[11]

The Question of Identity

The purpose of mankind within a secular humanism seeks “to find solutions for its problems and hope for its future, people must look inward, not toward God.”[12]  Because humankind is a more advanced animal, it “should not be viewed or valued as superior in species.”[13] Primordial man “started out culturally and technologically primitive and unintelligent.”[14]  Christians who adopt views that coincide with naturalistic and evolutionary paradigms do so because they claim to “observe the harmony between God’s revelation in the words of the Bible and the facts of nature.”[15]  God’s use of pre-existing material to create animals throughout the animal kingdom seem to find relevance in lieu of man’s development, making him special since “people bear the image of God.”[16]

Terry Mortenson summarizes therefore “man is categorically different from apes is seen in his anatomy, in his bearing the image of God, and in the evidence that man was highly intelligent right from the start as witnessed in the archeological evidence that has survived from the past.”[17]  Dr. Hindson corroborates this position saying God “distinguished humans from every other living creature. People had the breath of life in them and were created in the image of God.”[18]  In the end, naturalism doesn’t account for humankind’s consciousness because “if you start with matter and simply rearrange it according to natural law, you will end up with increasingly complex arrangements of brute matter.”  Consciousness, the ability to be an imager of God, and have dominion over all creation would be impossible if humankind was just another unimportant animal.

The Question of Meaning and Purpose

Secular humanism consistently acknowledges that “life is meaningless,”[19] and “each individual determines his or her own purpose in life.”[20]  Essentially, for the humanist who has been enveloped in a naturalistic philosophy, there “is no ultimate purpose.”[21] The secular humanist cannot give a credible defense for the meaning of humankind’s existence, let alone each person’s individual purpose in life.  If one does make that attempt, they do so inconsistently and at their own paradigmatic peril.  “If mankind is a product of evolutionary forces and not a special creation of God, then man’s real purpose is ambiguous at best.”[22]

If naturalism employs the concept that humankind’s purpose is for the technological advancement of the species, and reaches into its own existential meaning to define one’s existence, then the Biblical worldview counters this philosophy on grounds that the human capacity to draw from his own intellect alongside the ability to cognitively understand his purpose and meaning had been given to him by God in the first place.  Comparatively, theistic evolutionists will compromise and claim that human intelligence has evolved over a long process, while at the same time asserting that process was either directly or indirectly accompanied by God’s supernatural (or natural) assistance.  But this is a contradiction because the purpose and meaning of life in the eyes of God is completely foreign since “man is a machine and ultimately not in control of what happens, life cannot have any real value or significance. Any notion of such is simply an illusion.”[23]  Ever since Charles Darwin’s theories began to flood the shelves of academia, the conclusion regarding “humanity possessed no meaning, no purpose, no value.”[24]   Dr. Hindson summarizes, that God “has given us the gift of life that we might be used by him to make a difference in the world in which we live.”[25]

The Question of Morality

When it comes to the subject of morality, secular humanists “deny that there is an absolute moral reference point beyond man.”[26]  The contention is that for humankind, there simply is no need for “an absolute moral standard beyond itself to have a sufficient foundation and motivation for moral behavior.”[27]  The plight for morality is founded in learning institutions and not the houses of God.  The availability of college educations simply became “the impartation of a vague ‘scientific attitude,’ of the mental discipline to ‘think for oneself,’ of a spirit of open inquiry, and of an attitude of tolerance for various viewpoints.”[28]  Christian monotheists were “intimidated into silence, ignored or occasionally ridiculed.”[29]

Often is the case that secularism will claim that morality is relative, or subjective, based on one’s own perceptions of what is right and wrong, good and evil.  However, this also collapses on its own merit, because if that were the case, as in ethical subjectivism, sociopathic serial killers like Ted Bundy were acting according to what they felt was right to do.  Likewise, conventionalism would allow governments like Nazi Germany “when they declared Jews to be sub-human and deserving of death”[30] as a form of moral relativism.  Scripture claims that the goodness of man is ultimately sourced in God, and “whoever does good is from God,”[31] because apart from the Jewish people, who had the law which helped them to know right from wrong, the “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.”[32]

The Question of Destiny

The secular humanist would say at “death, the individual ceases to exist in any cohesive form.”[33]  The humanist’s manifesto states there “is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.”[34]  Because mankind is destined to die and “the process of decomposition begins to take place,”[35] it only makes sense that the purpose and meaning of life is decided on an individual basis.  Although this is their rally cry, nevertheless the humanist makes every attempt to fabricate a pseudo-purpose to create meaning out of one’s life.  The assertion that “community service, philanthropy, environmentalism and other types of meaningful activity become the naturalist’s heritage in which the planet and people will be impacted after they are gone.”[36]  For some humanists, who adopt a more consistent nihilistic philosophy, do so at their own anthropological peril.  Often people who take on this view, can’t “handle their concept of reality and attempt to mask the pain through pain killers, cutting, drugs, sex, alcohol and other addictive behaviors.”[37]

Although many Christians attempt to reconcile the Biblical data with their naturalistic worldview, they often negate the most important characteristic in claiming that death occurred before the fall.  The eisegesis Christians employ to juxtapose this philosophy against the objective truths regarding humankind’s destiny causes the entire framework of hamartiology to become ineffective, thus rendering Jesus Christ’s efficacy on the cross ineffective.  The apostle Paul cleared up any philosophical construct that created tension regarding death before the fall by stating, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”[38]  If theistic evolutionists and secular humanists assert that mankind evolved gradually through death and progressive changes, then one’s destiny becomes arbitrarily inconsistent when compared with the Biblical text.  Because secular humanists claim that there “is no personal survival after death,”[39] they perilously gamble with their own eternal existence.  However, what is strikingly apparent is that leaders of secular humanism like Albert Camus understood that “death is philosophy’s only problem,”[40] while H.G. Wells, “saw at the very end of his life all his humanistic optimism crash in disaster.”[41]  Dr. Zacharias concludes, regardless of viewpoint, that the totality of our “fiber within us cries out that there must be more than this.”[42]  The Biblical text clearly shows in the end, the reality of a life surrounded from living life to its fullest, and determining one’s own purpose is folly at best.  King Solomon said, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”[43]  We fundamentally know and realize there is life after death, and the choices we make in this life, will have eternal consequences for better, or for worse.  Our destiny depends on those choices.

The secular humanist ensures a life that appears to be free and careless, yet at the same time philanthropic and dutiful to the common good.  However, the caveats lurk behind the veil of pseudo-intellectualism.  Purpose is unnecessary, meaning is void of balance, loss of identity facetiously transparent, morality a non-sequitur, and one’s ultimate destiny carelessly ignored.  Not holding back, King David charged those who hold this type of philosophy, taking them to task.  He said, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.”[44]  The apostle Paul reiterated King David by saying, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”[45]  These words ring true forever, and must be transmitted throughout every age until our Lord comes.

[1] Deuteronomy 32:8; cf. Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8.

[2] Dean Halverson, “Secularism: A Religion Profile,” International Students Inc., 1996, pg. 2, Accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.isionline.org/Portals/0/Religion%20Profiles/Secularism%202004.pdf

[3] Ibid., 2.

[4] J.P. Moreland, The Kingdom Triangle, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2007), 21.

[5] Terry Mortenson, Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth About Man’s Origin, (Green Forest, Master Books, 2016), 139.

[6] J.P. Moreland, The Kingdom Triangle, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2007), 46.

[7] Genesis 1:1, ESV.

[8] Genesis 2:7. cf. Genesis 1:26, ESV.

[9] Terry Mortenson, Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth About Man’s Origin, (Green Forest, Master Books, 2016), 146.

[10] Ed Hindson, Everyday Biblical Worldview, (Nashville, B&H Academic, 2016), 21.

[11] Ibid., 21.

[12] Dean Halverson, “Secularism: A Religion Profile,” International Students Inc., 1996, pg. 2, Accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.isionline.org/Portals/0/Religion%20Profiles/Secularism%202004.pdf

[13] Lew Weider & Ben Gutierrez, Finding Your Worldview: Thinking Christianly about the World, (Nashville, B&H Academic, 2014), 66.

[14] Terry Mortenson, Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth About Man’s Origin, (Green Forest, Master Books, 2016), 415.

[15] Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross, Who was Adam? (Colorado Springs, NavPress, 2005), 13.

[16] Ibid., 247.

[17] Terry Mortenson, Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth About Man’s Origin, (Green Forest, Master Books, 2016), 460.

[18] Ed Hindson, Everyday Biblical Worldview, (Nashville, B&H Academic, 2016), 47.

[19] Dean Halverson, “Secularism: A Religion Profile,” International Students Inc., 1996, pg. 2, Accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.isionline.org/Portals/0/Religion%20Profiles/Secularism%202004.pdf

[20] Ibid., 5.

[21] Ibid., 5.

[22]Lew Weider & Ben Gutierrez, Finding Your Worldview: Thinking Christianly about the World, (Nashville, B&H Academic, 2014), 68.

[23] Lew Weider & Ben Gutierrez, Finding Your Worldview: Thinking Christianly about the World, (Nashville, B&H Academic, 2014), 68.

[24] Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross, Who was Adam? (Colorado Springs, NavPress, 2005), 245.

[25] Ed Hindson, Everyday Biblical Worldview, (Nashville, B&H Academic, 2016), 24.

[26] Dean Halverson, “Secularism: A Religion Profile,” International Students Inc., 1996, pg. 3, Accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.isionline.org/Portals/0/Religion%20Profiles/Secularism%202004.pdf

[27] Ibid., 5.

[28] J.P. Moreland, The Kingdom Triangle, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2007), 70.

[29] Ibid., 68.

[30] Doug Powell, Holman’s Quick Source Guide to Christian Apologetics, (Nashville, Holman Reference, 2006), 76.

[31] 3 John 1:11, ESV.

[32] Romans 2:15, ESV.

[33] Dean Halverson, “Secularism: A Religion Profile,” International Students Inc., 1996, pg. 3, Accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.isionline.org/Portals/0/Religion%20Profiles/Secularism%202004.pdf

[34] Ibid., 3.

[35] Lew Weider & Ben Gutierrez, Finding Your Worldview: Thinking Christianly about the World, (Nashville, B&H Academic, 2014), 73.

[36] Ibid., 73.

[37] Ibid., 73.

[38] Romans 5:12, ESV.

[39] Dean Halverson, “Secularism: A Religion Profile,” International Students Inc., 1996, pg. 3, Accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.isionline.org/Portals/0/Religion%20Profiles/Secularism%202004.pdf

[40] Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism, (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2004), 90.

[41] Ibid., 92.

[42] Ibid., 92.

[43] Ecclesiastes 3:11, ESV.

[44] Psalm 14:1, ESV.

[45] Romans 3:10-11, ESV.