Let me start by saying please do not confuse humanism with humanitarianism. Humanitarianism means caring for people, and as Christians, we are fans of that.
Humanism is something different. It is, ultimately, a worldview painfully out of sync with reality.
What is Humanism?
Humanism is a philosophy of life that puts humans at the pinnacle of existence.
There is an organization called the American Humanist Association. Their motto is “Good without a god.” Humanists say that Reason and Science are all we need to create a just and good society. In fact, they say, it is religion that gets in the way. This is because religion always leads to superstition, and superstition always brings us backwards. Humanism almost always goes hand in hand with atheism.
If humans are at the top of existence, they are either higher than God, or there is no God. We humans—with our philosophies and values—occupy the top rung of the existential ladder. You might hear the term, secular humanism, because secular means the opposite of sacred. It means a world without reference to God, or faith, or the supernatural. Secular humanism stands against anything that rises above matter and energy and science and reason and the space-time continuum. Secular humanism is atheism organizing itself into an “unreligion” and working to evangelize the world.
Since 1933 there has been a humanist “manifesto.” You can find it online. It’s now in its third edition. Here is what humanists say about themselves:
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Don’t miss the operative words: “without supernaturalism.”
Here are some famous humanists. If you enjoy science fiction, you’ll know the names Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gene Roddenberry (created Star Trek). For astronomy, there’s Carl Sagan, author of The Cosmos. For political activists, there is Jack Kevorkian (aka Dr. Death), Gloria Steinem, Karl Marx, and Barney Frank. In the media, Oliver Stone… it’s a long list of accomplished people.
Let’s break down humanism’s essence point by point.
Some Features of Humanism
EVOLUTION. Humans are the products of evolution.
Humanists don’t just apply the theory of evolution to our biology, they also apply it to our sociology and psychology. Perhaps this is because they see a material (i.e., made of matter) cause for basically everything — even our passions and loves.
As we continue to evolve, the world and society will keep getting better and better, or so the humanist idea goes.
One huge sticking point is that it simply isn’t happening. Violence isn’t going away. Corruption isn’t going away. Man’s inhumanity to man isn’t going away. Humanism’s core proposition is manifestly unreal.
Furthermore, think of humanism this way: to make evolution the driving principle of your cultural system is to create a whole society based on survival of the fittest.
How is survival of the fittest as a core philosophy going to make the world a more compassionate place? Isn’t compassion for the vulnerable and weak the opposite of survival of the fittest? Shouldn’t we just take out the weak, and help evolution along?
That is exactly where dedicated humanists go in their thinking. The elderly. The infirm. Those with certain handicaps. Infants. The unborn. They are pulling down the species so they just have to go.
In Iceland recently there has been a movement to abort all Down Syndrome babies. What is this, but humans making the world a colder, crueler place in the name of improving the gene pool.
It isn’t humanism; it’s in-humanism.
Evolution is making the world a better place, they say. But it isn’t. So how do humanists answer that?
They answer by pointing to the people who might be reading this book. They blame you. Christians. God-oriented, superstitious, backward, narrow-minded, bigots.
The only thing holding society back is religious people, gods, and superstition.
Religious people are anti-evolution, and so we want to bring the world backwards into things like faith in God and the Bible.
We’re the problem, from the humanist perspective.
PROGRESS. Faith in human nature and in human progress.
Humanism maintain we can create a just and beautiful world without God.
Humanists are very optimistic about what humans can achieve. We can create utopia. We just need to “come together.” “Onward and upward” is the humanist slogan.
Never forget that “we just need to come together” is code for “we must eradicate the opposing view.”
There is a humanist hymn — a massively long poem by Charles Swinburne — from the late 1800s. Here are the closing lines:
Thou art smitten, thou God, thou art smitten;
Thy death is upon thee, O Lord.
And the love-song of earth as thou diest
Resounds through the wind of her wings—
Glory to Man in the highest!
For Man is the master of things.
No amen from me! They hate it when we say this, but humanism is a religion, and it is worshipping a corrupt deity.
TEMPORARINESS. We have only one life, and after this life is over, there is nothing.
No heaven, no hell, no prayer, no special meaning, nothing at all. It’s over.
No hope, no love, no peace. Just biological imperatives.
According to the humanist mindset, for Christians to teach salvation is to give people a false hope. We’re messing with people’s minds. It’s so much better to just tell the truth, and to say that there is no heaven, and there is no hell.
Which is another way of saying that all the bad guys get away with it, and evil wins in the end, but that’s for another talk. Humanists call Christianity harmful and dangerous for speaking of an afterlife.
MORAL CONVENIENCE. Humans decide what is morally right and morally wrong for themselves.
Right and wrong are based on consensus. We all agree something is right and wrong, and that’s it.
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6)
However humanists also say that people should think for themselves, because humans rule.
And that makes humanists very open and permissive when it comes to morality. Pretty much anything is okay between consenting people. Humanists are very tolerant, except for the free expression of religion, and except for situations when people have a moral opinion against their own. Then, they run to the courts to sue the opposition out of business.
Right and wrong are based on what humans agree is right or wrong.
But what if humans agree that killing Jews is right, or that slavery is right, or that racism is right? What if human consensus is wrong? Under humanism, there is no higher court of appeal because humans are the highest court of all. So the consensus always becomes tyranny. This is inevitable. It always becomes the violent overthrow of human institutions, and brother against brother, sister against sister, and everyone against God.
There is no God above, and no law of God, and nobody to answer to in the end.
This is the death of human kindness. There is no rational basis for compassion. There is no rational basis for morality, for right and wrong, other than survival of the fittest, and might makes right, under humanism.
SCIENCE. Science and reason will solve the world’s problems.
Humanists say that the world will keep getting better because knowledge keeps on increasing.
The Humanist Manifesto 2 proclaims:
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.
No need for faith, hope, or love. No need for God. No need for prayer. No need for anything but test tubes and scientists in lab coats and programmers.
Never mind that a century of humanist ideology hasn’t made a bit of difference.
This is humanism. It is what your kids hear when they go to college and high school. It is what you see on the Internet and on TV. It is the underlying premise to music, arts, entertainment, movies, you name it.
But if Jesus is right, to build your life on humanist ideals is to build a life on sinking sand.
How Can We Answer Humanism?
1. We agree that human life should be HONORED, but you don’t honor human life enough.
Humanists say that humans are to be honored because of our development. We are the apex predator, the most highly evolved species, so far at least. So there is our honor. It is because of our development.
But Christians say we possess our honor for a higher and more glorious reason.
Christians say that humans possess honor and dignity and value and worth, not because of our developmental stage, but because of our identity. And that identity is amazing.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
We are not just the top of a natural food chain.
We are created with a supernatural origin. We are sacred. We are special to God in a way that no other species is special to God. We reflect his personhood. We reflect his intelligence. We reflect his free will.
Personhood is something granted by God at the moment life begins, i.e., at conception. It is not something granted by the collective, or given by the government, or bestowed by the elites, or justified by our usefulness to the group. Humanism makes the poor, the unfortunate, the disabled into something less than persons. It calls them a drain on society. And the Christian cries NO!
God gave us our personhood, and no one at any time has any right to take it away.
Human Life is sacred and belongs to God. Don’t mess with it.
Humans are far more important and glorious than humanism gives them credit for.
2. We agree that human life should be FREE, but we don’t think you recognize our freedom enough.
Humanists say that we should be free to make our own choices. Especially our own moral choices. Christians agree.
But, from the Christian perspective, humanists don’t recognize how vast and enormous human freedom really is.
For the humanist, the little machine inside that drives all our choices is some kind of biological imperative. The humanist philosophy makes us slaves of our DNA, slaves of our hormones, slaves of our addiction, and slaves of our environment.
But when we act in ways that are contrary to the beautiful truth of God, that isn’t freedom. That is bondage. That is slavery. Addiction isn’t freedom, it is bondage.
Unrestrained sexuality isn’t freedom, it is bondage, and heartbreak, and a frustrating quest for a sense of self.
But that sense of self will never be found outside of a relationship with the Creator of Self, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no freedom in following the dictates of a biological machine of the human being.
True freedom is stepping into the vast playground called God’s salvation, and realizing that the chains are off, and you are free to do everything that brings the human heart real joy.
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)
3. We agree that humans possess GLORY, but you don’t recognize that glory enough.
If the humanist story is correct, I am organized matter and energy. If we had the technology, we could reproduce ME, in a lab. My ideas. My individuality. My thoughts. My memories. My loves. My relationships. Just chemicals and energy bouncing around in the test tube of my brain, if the humanist story is correct.
If the biblical story is correct, I am a body, soul, and spirit. I am a convergence of three essences, built by God, and held together by him.
According to the Bible, I am glorious. I will one day be a spectacle to dazzle the angels. Right now, my glory is hidden. But one day, it will be revealed.
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:4,5)
The basic disagreement I have with humanism is simple.
As a human being, I am much closer to an angel than I am to an ape.
And that definition makes all the difference in the world.
4. We agree that human life should be PROLONGED by science and other means, but we don’t think you make it long enough.
Humanism imprisons every individual life within the bonds of time. You are born. You live. You die. The end.
The natural result of humanism is despair. Always. Depression. Hopelessness. Giving up. After all you’ve lived and loved and dreamed and served, there’s nothing in the end. You suffer. You die. And that’s it.
It’s so depressing because for the humanist, your life means nothing.
Or, if you think it means something, it’s only because you’ve made it up.
But Christians know that death is not the end. There’s another realm. Another cosmos. Another life after this life. And it is a continuation, but not a continuation. It is beautiful and perfect and good for those who are prepared. And it is sadness and brokenness and pain for those who are not.
I am going to heaven. That fact shapes the purpose of everyday I live. And gives meaning to every thought I think.
I am a human created in the image of God. I have a destiny. And that destiny is not dust.
I am destined for a realm so magnificent that words can’t do it justice. It can only be described in terms of streets of gold and gates of jewels and flowing rivers and robes of light. In that place, I will meet, face to face, the Ultimate Human, the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will embrace me. Instantly, every single moment of heartbreak and trial I dealt with on earth will be given eternal significance and meaning in heaven. This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.
Knowing that is me and you and all of us, escaping the matrix.
This is an except from the book Illusions, available here on Amazon.