The counter faith to Christianity in America is Secular Humanism. Secular Humanism exalts mankind and the achievements of mankind over everything. It is the modern equivalent of the Greek and Roman gods. While the modern American would not fall down and actually worship a statue of Zeus or Jupiter, he is capable of holding the human race in reverence so highly that it amounts to worship. Nevertheless, Secular Humanism although it often partners with Christianity will not prevail either. Here is why.
In the religion of Humanism people believe that they have no need for gods because they are in themselves gods. Until Greece and Rome people worshiped gods in the shape of strange beings that were models of reptilian or animal life or a mixture of human and animal. Ra, the principal Egyptian god, was the god of the Sun. He was human from the neck down with the head of a great bird or falcon. Others had the heads of a crocodile or a jackal or a wolf. The gods of ancient Babylon had bodies like a lion or a bull or a snake. Some animals had wings like a bird.
Ancient Greece is the great head of humanism. All of the Greek gods appeared as men and women and Rome merely adopted and renamed the Greek gods. This was the final exaltation of humanity. In today’s western world view characteristics of these particular gods of the Greek pantheon have merely been morphed into the god of mankind himself.
In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” That is the great western mindset; it is humanism. Communism has bowed to it. Christianity resists it continually, sometimes more successfully than others, but in the end Christianity will prevail. Islam will wear itself out hammering on it. The hammer wears out before the anvil. Neither Humanism nor Christianity will accept Islam.
Secular Humanism is a prominent world view. Included in it are certain beliefs and convictions. Humanism requires that all beliefs be tested. Nothing is to be accepted by faith. Each person must consider any and all beliefs and traditions no matter what area of life they involve. After due consideration the individual decides which beliefs are the most logical and which ones will work for the good of humanity in general.
In Humanism the answers to human problems and challenges must be sought by critically examining each problem. Firm factual evidence and scientific methods must be used in these examinations. Also, every person and human beings as a group must be offered the opportunity to grow as individuals. They all need to be fulfilled and their creativity must be given room to grow.
Ethics are important in humanism. However, the principles of ethical conduct must be developed in the light of how much they will enhance the well being of all.
In humanism the concept of truth is constantly changing. There are no objective, permanent truths, no absolute truth. Only new knowledge can help humans to grow collectively and thus recognize the ever emerging new truths by which we live.
For the secular humanist only this life is important. The afterlife, if it exists at all, is not to be the concern of the humanist. We must strive to make this life better for everybody by growing in our understanding of the past and striving to live in concert with those who disagree. The final goal of Secular Humanism is to build a better world for all by the open exchange of ideas and tolerance. The good of all and tolerance are watchwords of Secular Humanism.
The European Enlightenment of the 1700’s brought the concepts of Secular Humanism to the forefront and magnified them greatly. The entire American system is built on the beliefs of the Puritans and the Enlightenment. Some may ask how these two systems of thought could work together to produce the historical American experience. The answer is not very complicated. In many ways the two systems have the same goals but for very different reasons.
Perhaps the most important example would be, why do they both agree on the historical system of checks and balances in government? In the American Constitution the legislative, judicial and executive branches are designed to check the power of each other. The Enlightenment taught that power corrupts humans. The Puritans believe that original sin has corrupted all people. The result is the same for two entirely different reasons. Yet, the conclusions and the actions based on the different presuppositions worked out exactly the same.
This is clearly more than a philosophical position. Secular Humanism in itself is a religion whether or not its adherents call it a religion. Furthermore, it is a religion without God. It is a religion with no admission of an afterlife. It is a religion with no final, absolute standards of right and wrong.
Since man is made in God’s image, humanism is the logical religion of mankind if they are to reject the revelation of The God-Man, Jesus Christ. Natural man is not aware that God’s image within them has been drastically altered by the fall. Only the Spirit of Christ can reveal and restore the fallen image. However, the awareness of the image itself is still there. The desire to improve is also still there. The human psyche will not bow to a lesser god than itself if it perpetuates a continual losing game of self improvement.
Humanism believes in progressive self improvement but it has no desire to consider deity. Only Jesus Christ can ultimately satisfy. Islam, like Judaism, may tear through a field of brush in the flash of a hot fire but when it finds no really solid fuel, it will bow again to humanism.
Any religion, whether it is Secular Humanism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam which relies on the determination of the human will to carry out its goals for self improvement, cannot compare to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God which is found in Jesus Christ.
Islam cannot win even if Christianity does not refresh or awaken in America. However, Christianity will awaken and an awesome awakening it will be. Nevertheless, Islam will always run a poor second to humanism.
American culture is a tension between the Christian culture and the culture of the Enlightenment which brought forth Secular Humanism. The usual reaction of far right Christianity is that secular humanism is the sworn enemy of the Christian faith and of American freedom. For a patriot this is not entirely true and is the result of a deep misunderstanding by the Christian far right as to the nature of the American culture.
American culture is also a unique blend of Puritan Christianity and the Secular Humanism of the Enlightenment. Our very freedom and stubbornness is the product of this blend. It is what has made Americanism possible. Americans are by nature independent. They are also very inventive and are not afraid of hard work. These characteristics all work together in our quest of the American dream.
The entire concept of liberty itself is embraced by both the Christian and the humanist for different reasons. The Christians believe that the Bible teaches that we are entitled to freedom at every level of our beings. When the colonists revolted against King George III, they took as a standard the passage, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)
The super spiritual among the Christians of today would tell you that this passage refers only to freedom from the Jewish ceremonial law or sin. The American fathers saw it as all-inclusive. The humanist sees freedom as an “inalienable right” of human beings and the only way that mankind can truly prosper. Again, the same conclusions for different reasons.
Neither Christianity nor Secular Humanism trust politicians and both of them want to see the democratic system working. This requires free elections and a series of checks and balances in government. The Christians do not trust politicians because they believe that sin lurks in every person. The Secular Humanists do not trust politicians because they believe that power corrupts otherwise naturally good people.
The biggest hindrance to continued liberty in the American melting pot is “Entitlement thinking” because it produces a meaningless existence where people cannot affirm their identity by honest labor.
The strongest meeting places for the Christian and the Secular Humanist lies in their love of liberty, their distrust of people with power, and their desire for the common good even though they agree for different underlying reasons.
The places of friction between the Christian and the Secular Humanist lies in the Christian belief in a supreme Creator God and the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ as the God-Man and only Savior. They also disagree on the concept of absolute values. In these, Christians must continually be assertive, confrontational and bold. Christians should form patriotic alliances where possible and absolutely insist on their religious freedoms when necessary. Pseudo Liberals are only liberal if you agree with them.
A sense of values may be a good place to begin. Both the Humanist and the Christian believe in values for different reasons. The Humanists want values for the “good of all,” and the Christians want values because it is pleasing to God and values help in practicing the Golden Rule. Therefore, some identity can be formed here.
There is a primitive intuition in mankind that tends to allow a belief in a creator God. It may be known as Creation theology or as Intelligent Design. Sometimes this is a starting place to enter into dialogue with a Humanist.
The most difficult gap for a Christian to bridge with a Humanist is regarding the exclusive claims of Jesus as the God-Man and only Savior. This requires supernatural help. To expect this help the Christian must be Evangelical enough to believe in the convincing power of a supernatural God, the Holy Spirit. Overall, the power to change which is supplied to the Christian believer by the Holy Spirit is the Christian advantage.
© Copyright 2012 David J Keyser PhD All Rights Reserved.
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