Saturday, December 24, 2011

Secular Humanism ... Or Not?

Recently I was asked for my thoughts on an article about the goal of secular humanism (transhumanism in particular, though the points I brought up are common to secular humanism). You can find the article here if you are interested in reading it for yourself. My thoughts are *somewhat* extensive on the topic, but the lack of backing on the philosophy may surprise you.

Because most atheists I talk to will call themselves humanists, I found it rather interesting to see the overall strategy of secular humanism. I did find a number of fatal flaws with their arguments, however. First, they stated that humanism rejects "deities, faith, and worship, instead basing a view of values and meaningfulness on the nature and potentials of humans within a rational and scientific framework." All throughout the entire article, it speaks of abandoning faith. I found that rather interesting, considering that humanism is based in the philosophy of evolution (referred to as "scientific framework" in the quoted section above), which is at its core rooted entirely in faith. Humanism assumes no God exists, since it's purpose is a world without the belief in God. Any atheist today will freely tell you that they cannot prove that God does not exist (they would have to be everywhere at the same time in order to prove this). Therefore, this atheistic quality of humanism is entirely founded in faith. It doesn't even have truths from which to go by to determine the nature of God's nonexistence. It is a baseless assumption. So, in essence, humanism is simply another philosophy that is based only in faith, and blind faith at that. It rests on atheism and evolution, both of which have no evidence supporting them. For evolution, I'll give an example from a book called Darwin's Demise:

"Distinguished chemist and physicist Dr. John Grebe explains how remote is the possibility that functional DNA itself — let alone a functioning cell — could randomly come together on its own: 'The 15,000 or more atoms of the individual sub-assemblies of a single DNA molecule, if left to chance as required by the evolutionary theory, would go together in any of 1087 (1 in 10 to the 87th power) different ways.' In other words, there are trillions times trillions times trillions of different ways that a single gene could have come together. Yet only one way would lead to a functional DNA molecule. Evolutionists claim the universe is about five billion years old. There are less than 1017 seconds in 20 billion years. Therefore, even if a trial and error combination occurred every second from the beginning of time until today, the odds still appear hopelessly high against the natural assembly of even this single molecule.…the remaining 'odds' are 1 in 9,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,900,000,000,000,000,000. This means that the odds of a single functional DNA molecule coming together at random are about the same odds that you could fill a billion universes with golf balls and put a small red dot on the bottom of one ball and somehow a blindfolded baby could find that ball while rummaging through the hundred billion galaxies on the very first try."

(Photo courtesy of Answers in Genesis)

It's pretty incredible, especially when it is considered that this is just the DNA molecule, let alone all the other complex machines of a "simple" cell. There are so many things that these odds don't include, yet just the atoms of DNA coming to be by chance are vanishingly small odds, to the point where it is not even logical to assume that it did under favorable conditions. This is why I say humanism sits on top of faith rather than "rational and scientific framework" as the article stated.

In quoting the statement again, "Humanism is a eupraxophy or philosophy of life that rejects deities, faith, and worship, instead basing a view of values and meaningfulness on the nature and potentials of humans within a rational and scientific framework." I found that to be incredibly interesting, since humanism has not provided a substitutional standard with which to judge what meaningfulness is at all. For example, if we are the result of complex chemicals coming to be by natural means, and are all in a struggle for existence by means of natural selection, what good would helping out a fellow human do? In fact, it would hinder evolutionary progress if anything, since it doesn't allow natural selection to act as effectively. What I also found interesting with this statement is that humanism (along with other "non-religious" philosophies of life) "is concerned to create or increase meaningfulness through a philosophical framework," but the standard with which they judge meaningfulness is not provided. What let anyone know that humans have intrinsic value and that helping another one was "meaningful"? Since evolution is based on natural selection, meaningfulness would seem to be the opposite of helping out a fellow human. It would seem to be letting the weaker suffer in order for natural selection to weed them out of the gene pool and for the stronger to remain and reproduce. Instead, this standard seems to have been "borrowed" from Christian morality, which states that all humans are intrinsically valuable since they were made in the image of God (they scratch off the last part though, because it has to do with religion, which they doesn't fit into their worldview). Scripture also teaches that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, which sounds a lot like the "reasoning" of the humanist movement. Humanism is said to embrace human reasoning, but consider this: some tribes that have no communication with outside civilization engage in the practice of cannibalism. Why do they eat other human beings? Perhaps because they don't see the value of human life, or that they see the need for food greater than the value of human life. This, I would like to point out, is based on their own reasoning, for why would they do it unless they had a reason to? Thus, cannibalism is based on some mode of human reasoning. Humanism is also based on human reasoning, for which they say no God or supernatural entity is needed. However, those who state this have been exposed to some form of Christian morals and happen to include such into their philosophy. So basically, while they claim to have no need of the supernatural, they borrow the standards of Christianity in order to justify their position.

(Photo courtesy of Answers in Genesis. )
This cartoon shows how atheists attempt to create arguments based on their own misunderstanding of Christianity, thus attacking a straw-man. This is called the straw-man fallacy.

The article asks the question, "Why does religion persist?" and provides this answer: "Religion is (a) a pre-scientific system of explanation and technology; (b) a source of meaning, direction and emotional expression in life; (c) a means of social control; (d) a means of coping with uncertainty and death." To say that religion is pre-scientific is rooted in ignorance of what the Scriptures teach. Though the Bible is not a science textbook per say, it is accurate in scientific matters whenever it refers to such. It has been proven time and time again, and has yet to be proven false. Things the Bible said thousands of years ago are just beginning to be uncovered by the scientific community. And, what people ridiculed about the Bible has almost all so far been shown to be perfectly accurate in terms of history and scientific matters. I believe the reason why so many assume it to be anti-science is because it is not compatible with the evolution theory, which has been labelled as science, when it is no more than an unproven (and even disproven) hypothesis. While the Bible was written before science made much of any progress, it cannot be labelled as a system of explanation and technology before science brought the "correct" explanation. This shows how much people are willing to deny the Bible without even reading it to find out if the popular accusations are true or not. The explanations put forth in the Bible are found true by science (science as in true science, and not the hypothesis of the evolutionary ideas). Perhaps religion still exists because it has been proven true and provides the most logical explanation to the origin of life and the universe. After all, when we mention anything about God being responsible for such, they assert that we are inserting God into the gap. By this, they verify that even science has a gap in its knowledge. Perhaps the reason why God fits so nicely into the gap is because He was there in the first place! Without God, we are left with nothing but blind chance. But chance is not a process nor a force. It is merely a measurement mathematical probability. Chance cannot account for producing everything we see today because chance has no power.

Pertaining to point (b), I would like to ask why humans search for meaning, direction, and emotional expression in life at all if we are the by-product of evolution? Who, of all human beings, hasn't asked themselves what their purpose is on this earth, what happens when they die, and what the meaning of life is at all? Instead, it appears that this is programmed into humans to ask these questions. Everyone arrives at the answers they most feel gratifies what they are searching for, some to religion (or belief in God) and others to meaninglessness and atheism. Everyone thinks these questions are rational, since all attempt to answer them. To then say that the answer to these meaningful questions is meaninglessness is to simply evade the issue. Those who find meaningfulness in a higher power are merely providing the most rational answer to these questions that is the most logical. Specified complexity such as the universe and life itself is clearly a design, thus must have had a Designer. This Designer then must have had a purpose in His design, and likely set some boundaries for those whom He created, since we clearly have the freedom of will, whether to choose between good and evil. And, as His creation, we would be expected to obey these rules. Clearly, Christianity does not exist because humans seek meaningfulness, but because it is the only meaningful explanation to the questions that we already ask.

Point (c) is quite interesting to me, because it doesn't seem even rational to think that Christianity is a means of social control. While we are to submit to authorities put over us, we are to "obey God rather than men," as the apostles stated when questioned by the authorities for not obeying their command to not share the gospel (Acts 5:29). If religion works so well for social control, why did Stalin and Hitler follow an entirely different route for getting control (Stalin was an atheist, and Hitler was a Nazi)? Why did they use force when they could have used Christianity to get the people in subjection? The reason is that Christians recognize that they have freedom in Christ and will not be servants of the state if it means going against the teachings of God's Word. However, I think the author may be referring to the fact that Christians, because of their faith in Christ, are less likely to commit crimes against the laws of the state. While this is true, this doesn't account for why religion persists. What motive would anyone have of keeping around a teaching that, if humanism is true, has no backing and merely prevents humans from gratifying fleshly pleasure? It seems that it would be the first out the door instead, since it limits mankind to only doing that which is good, without always receiving recompense on earth for their deeds (if Christianity were false, there would be no recompense in heaven either). The motive for Christianity would then seem to be pure selflessness rather than selfishness. This then doesn't explain why it persists, but provides more of a problem for its persistence.

Another point I would like to make is that, why would humans even have an uncertainty and fear of death if they were merely the result of natural selection? It would seem that this is a preset mode of thinking that would fit nicely into the fact that God created all humans and wants all to trust Him before death so that they can abide with Him forever, rather than spending eternity in hell. If evolution is true, your death means more chance of the stronger surviving and your death is merely as the result of natural selection. So then, why wouldn't death be looked forward to since it aids in the development of life? Perhaps because what is programmed into our DNA is not a love for the furtherance of natural selection, but the concern for being made right with God before we stand before Him. It simply makes the most sense.

Then why does religion persist if these objections provide no answer to its persistence? Perhaps because it has some truth to it. While there are definitely false religions, the existence of God cannot be overlooked as a filling in of a gap, because everything in life points to such a One's existence. The article afterwards states that, "faith, in the pertinent sense, means a fixed belief which persists in the face of contrary evidence." I could not disagree more. The only reason the unbelieving world came to the conclusion that faith is the belief in something without evidence is because they do not believe that the existence of God has evidence. The assumption is baseless and is coming from the standpoint of one who argues that God does not exist, for which no evidence is available. This then, must be what *blind* faith really is. Faith is, according to Scripture, the "substance of things confidently expected, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). It is not believing in that which has no evidence, but believing that God will act just as He has said He will *because of* the evidence and because of the knowledge that He has never contradicted His Word. I believe based on the evidence, and where I don't yet see the evidence of Him working, I believe that He is *because of* the evidence that He has never contradicted His Word. Faith must be employed in every aspect of life. When we turn on our faucet, do we have faith that water will come out? Do scientists have faith that their training was one based on facts and not that of assumptions? Of course they do, and that's based on the evidence, not on the lack of it (with reserve to certain aspects of scientific reasoning such as the evolutionary hypothesis).

One last think I want to point out, is that while it is good to find out how others believe and what backing they use to further their ideas, we should always keep that in perspective of the truth that we are searching for. For example, humanism is based on the idea that religion was merely an invention of primitive people before science came along. This is, of course, the idea of atheism, which is maintained by those who say they "don't have enough evidence to believe in God." Therefore, if we see proof of God's existence, these arguments from a lack of knowing the facts hold no rationality over the evidence that points toward His existence. Suppose someone wrote a book denying the existence of gravity. I might be curious to see how they reached that conclusion, but it will never detract from the evidence in support of gravity that I have already experienced or seen. All it takes is one look at the facts of one's existence to be able to throw away all the arguments denying the existence of it based on a lack of evidence. A brilliant professional debater I came across sometime ago, named William Lane Craig, stated concerning those who attempt to argue that there isn't evidence for God's existence, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." How true that is! And, to go a step further, he explained the evidence there is for His existence. Once this has been brought up, the argument for lack of evidence falls.


  1. Wow...what a great post. Very extensive and worth reading more than once, probably more than thrice! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for reading my long post! I appreciate it. :)


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