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Debunking Humanism, Responding to the Naysayers – Part 3 of a three-part series
by Daryl E. Witmer
In the current series, AIIA is responding to three contemporary challenges leveled at the truth-claims of Christianity. This month we critique the doctrine of humanism and freethinking, as articulated by (and in) three of humanism’s own defining documents.
One major proponent of humanist thinking today is the Council for Secular Humanism (CSH). According to its chairman, Paul Kurtz, CSH is the largest humanist organization in all of North America, operating under the auspices of the Center for Inquiry (CFI), which Kurtz claims is the largest freethought movement in the history of America. Over 100,000 people read and support the publications and activities of the CFI, according to Kurtz.
For over 20 years CSH has published a quarterly journal, Free Inquiry, and has more recently played a key role in the issuance of Humanist Manifesto 2000 (HM2000), an impressive 12,000+ word document that follows on the heels of four previous manifestos. Two other major publishers of humanist literature are Prometheus Books of Amherst NY (over 1000 titles in print), and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF).
Humanism is actually a system of thought, or worldview – although it quite often chooses to refer to itself as merely a viewpoint or an “outlook.” In corroboration with freethinking (which tends to impulsively reject authority and all traditionally religious dogma), humanism promotes the potential and glory of humankind. It claims to offer hope and “fresh thinking” to the campaign for solving humanity’s problems. But is it really the viable and coherent life-philosophy that it makes itself out to be? Is freethought a truly consistent thoughtform? Consider the following:
An FFRF brochure, reprinted in Dan Barker’s book, Losing Faith in Faith, says: “Freethought is truly free. Freethought allows you to do your own thinking.” However, just a bit later in the exact same document, we read: “To the freethinker revelation is invalid… Freethinkers are naturalistic. Arguments based on faith… are unacceptable.” So – rather than being truly free, freethinking as a movement is actually quite prescriptive, exclusivist and, therefore, self-contradictory.
HM2000 (section III) cites thinking that is anything but “fresh” when it says: “The unique message of humanism… is its commitment to scientific naturalism. It is inadmissible to introduce… transcendental explanations.” In so positioning itself, humanism deliberately rules out much of the very latest in scientific thinking, i.e. the Intelligent Design movement – in the process also ignorantly labeling such irrefutable evidence as specified/irreducible complexity as “insufficient.”
HM2000 (section III) conjures up the rationale and images of Dr. Josef Mengele (Auschwitz’s Angel of Death), and other worst case genetic-food-engineering scenarios gone awry, when it states: “Humanists maintain that…there should be no restrictions on scientific research, unless the research infringes on the rights of persons.” We are only left to wonder about exactly who will define what constitutes “infringement.”
HM2000 portrays a picture of radical, rampant, and totally ruthless globalism when it advocates such ideas as “the autonomy of choice,” a system of international taxation, “membership in the planetary community,” and the transfer of national sovereignty to transnational authority, i.e. a World Parliament.
HM2000 reveals the Romans 1:25 arrogance of depraved and sinful man when it says, “…we urge today, as in the past, that humans not look beyond themselves for salvation.”
HM2000 (section V) demonstrates blatant naivetÅ½ when it says, “We believe that the state should allow a wide plurality of moral values to coexist.” Talk about square circles!
HM2000 (section V) displays humanism’s vacuous base for morality when it states, “…humanists recognize our responsibilities and duties to others.” The word ‘should’ appears 125 times in this manifesto, and the word ‘ought’ eight times. But on what ground? And who says we “should?”
CSH’s The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles also states: “We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence. We believe in moral decencies. There are normative standards that we discover…” But again, on what basis? The late Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, in The God Who Is There, wrote: “Nobody has ever discovered a way of having real morals without a moral absolute. If there is no moral absolute we are left with hedonism…or some form of social contract theory… However, neither of these alternatives corresponds to the moral notions that men have, nor to what men mean when they speak of morals. Without absolutes, morals as morals cease to exist, and humanistic man starting from himself has failed to find the absolute. But because the God of the Bible is there, real morals exist. Within this framework I can say one action is right and another wrong, without talking nonsense.”