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Humanism

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An example of secular humanist doctrine.

Humanism is a worldview, religion, and philosophical belief system that worships man or in moderate forms holds man to be greater than God. It may be defined as the world's oldest religion, which arguably began with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. The book of Genesis details the temptation of Eve to eat of the forbidden tree and receive the knowledge of good and evil.[1] Following this simple act, humankind began to view itself as an autonomous, self-directed, god-like person.[2] A person upholds humanism whenever they place their own views or opinions above the Word of God.

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:4-5

The Greek philosopher Protagoras (c.490–c.421 B.C.) summed-up the philosophical stance of humanism with the maxim Man is the measure of all things. He held that each man is the standard of what is true to himself, and that all truth is relative to the individual who holds it. Protagoras was also a well-known agnostic, which some sources claim led to him being tried for impiety in Athens and his books burned. None of his writings have survived.[3]

Humanism is a religious philosophical worldview with beliefs based on atheism or agnosticism, Naturalism, Materialism, and Secularism. Although the name Religious Humanism was favored in the first Humanist Manifesto,[4] advocates have also strategically adopted the names "Secular Humanism" to separate themselves from theism, and "Scientific Humanism" to draw support from evolutionary naturalism. Currently, humanism is the only religious worldview allowed in the U.S. public school system where it permeates every facet of curricula. Whether discussing world history or some field of science, Biblical truths are nowhere to be found in modern schools. In contrast, the humanistic concepts of morality, naturalism, and the theory of evolution are treated as dogma.

Contents

Tenets

The tenets or religious doctrine of humanism are expressed within the Humanist Manifesto. The Manifesto was first published in 1933 and revised subsequently in 1971 and 2003. The purpose of the document is to outline in detail the official position of humanists including their beliefs, values, and goals. The original version and its revisions all uphold the following tenets: atheism, evolutionism, moral relativism, human autonomy, and world government advocacy.(LaHaye, p70-88)

Affirmations expressed in the Humanist Manifesto II:

  • Humanist regard humans as supreme.
  • Humanist do not believe in a personal God, supernatural beings (such as angels, demons, Satan, Holy Spirit), heaven, hell, or life after death.
  • Humanist reject the concept of a created universe in favor of the theory of evolution and a universe that obeys natural laws.
  • Humanist reject divinely inspired ethical and moral codes.
  • Humanist believe the full responsibility for the future of the world rests with humans.
  • Humanist value knowledge based on reason and hard evidence rather than on faith.
  • Humanist feel that "promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful."
  • Humanist are energetic supporters of the separation of church and state.
  • Humanist tend to have very liberal beliefs about controversial ethical topics, like abortion, corporal punishment, death penalty, homosexuality, physician-assisted suicide, etc.
  • Humanist believe that "moral values derive their source from human experience."[1]

Atheism

American Humanist Association logo.jpg

Atheism (the belief that there is no God) is the foundation of humanist thought. The definition of Humanism put forth by the American Humanist Association affirms this assertion: Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. [2]

Humanist Maniesto: As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter.[3]

Affirmations of atheism can be found within all three of the Humanist Manifestos.

  • The first Humanist Manifesto published in 1933 lists atheism as first among their affirmations. We therefore affirm the following: FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.[4]
  • The second Humanist Manifesto, published in 1973 makes an even more definitive statement, specifically denying the existence of God and instead placing humankind first. We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of survival and fulfillment of the human race. As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.[4]

Evolution

From Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863)

Humanists uniformly believe in the general theory of evolution, and are committed to teaching it in public schools as what critics allege is an indoctrinational strategy. Historically, disbelief in God and belief in the theory of evolution occur concurrently as philosophical dogma. When human beings deny the creative act of God, they must explain the existence of Earth through other mechanisms. And almost by default, naturalism and the theory of evolution has served this religious belief since the time of Babylon - 2000 years before Christ.(LaHaye, p 73)

Corliss Lamont, who was a famous humanist Marxist philosopher, acknowledged naturalism as pivotal among the beliefs of humanists in his book The Philosophy of Humanism.[5]

First, Humanism believes in a naturalistic metaphysics or attitude toward the universe that considers all forms of supernatural as myth; and that regards Nature as the totality of being and as a constantly changing system of matter and energy which exists independently of any mind or consciousness.(Lamont, p 13)

All three Manifestos list belief in human evolution as foremost in their affirmation.

  • Manifesto I: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.[4]
  • Manifesto II: Rather, science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces.[6]
  • Manifesto III: Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. [7]

Sir Julian Huxley, a founder of the American Humanist Association defined humanism in a membership brochure in these words.

"I use the word 'humanist' to mean someone who believes that man is just as much a natural phenomenon as an animal or plant; that his body, mind and soul were not supernaturally created but are products of evolution, and that he is not under the control or guidance of any supernatural being or beings, but has to rely on himself and his own powers."(LaHaye, p 74)

Amorality

Main Article: Morality

The word moral or its derivatives can be found 15 times in the 1973 Humanist Manifesto, but with the singular intent to redefine morality to the humanist standard. Humanists believe that traditional moral codes fail to meet the pressing needs of today and tomorrow.[8] They reject the existence of absolute moral laws or standards, and instead accept situation ethics and promote permissiveness.(LaHaye p. 76) The leaders of the sexual revolution of the 70s were overwhelmingly humanists as are those who today advocate homosexuality as an optional lifestyle. Both sex education in schools and the homosexual movement are designed to destroy Christian morality.(LaHaye p. 78)

In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized.(Humanist Manifesto II)[9]

The Humanists, like all who accept of the doctrine of evolution, reject theological moral standards that distinguish humans from animals. In 1964, The Humanist magazine states that "Darwin's discovery of the principle of evolution sounded the death knell of religious and moral values. It removed the ground under the feet of tradition religion."(Chawla p.151)

The following are moral affirmation from the Humanist Manifesto II.

  • But we reject those features of traditional religious morality that deny humans a full appreciation of their own potentialities and responsibilities.
  • We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience.
  • We reject all religious, ideological, or moral codes that denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect, dehumanize personality.[10]

Autonomy

Humanists believe in maximum individual autonomy and self-direction, and view humankind as a god-like being with unlimited goodness and potential. To a humanist, one of the worst sins imaginable is inhibiting the freedom of others to express themselves.(LaHaye p. 80)

The following affirmations are from the Humanist Manifesto II.

  • Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction.
  • We believe in maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility.[11]

This view that man is inherently good is based on unbiblical and unscientific principles and wishful thinking. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 ). The empirical evidence for this claim is also woefully lacking. One only has to read the headlines to see that humankind is far from the god-like creature the humanists once imagined. In an interview published in the San Diego Tribune, the director of the California chapter of the American Humanist Association (Fredrick E. Edwards) said: Humanists no longer have the extravagant faith they had in the 17th and 18th century Age of Enlightenment in man's ability to create a perfect world. I think cold, hard reality has thrown cold water on some of those naive illusions. We may be finding that our powers are limited and that we're not such perfectly wonderful creatures after all.(LaHaye p. 150)

Globalism

Worldview.jpg

Humanists have long advocated for big government. They are worldists first and nationalists second. Furthermore, many of the ideas and beliefs of communism are similar or identical to those of humanism. Today their motivation toward government is nothing short of zealous for a one-world order.(LaHaye p. 83-84)

The following quote from the Humanist Manifesto II attests to their one-world-order aspirations.

We deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty and to move toward the building of a world community in which all sectors of the human family can participate. Thus we look to the development of a system of world law and a world order based upon transnational federal government.[12]

Humanists discovered long ago that the United Nations offered a tremendous opportunity for a one-world government with a socialistic economic system.(LaHaye p. 83) The American Humanist Association's New York City office is strategically located on UN Plaza at First Avenue, directly across the street from the United Nations.[13] Many of the American leaders of the UN legion organizations are committed humanists. For example, Julian Huxley, Brock Chisholm, and Lloyd Boyd who were director-general of key UN organizations are also leading members of the American Humanism Association. It is the intent of humanism to supersede national boundaries in favor of a worldwide organization with international sovereignty.(LaHaye p. 83-84)

Religious Identification

Humanism is arguably the oldest religion in the world, although many modern humanists attempt to deny the fact. Their religious status is not contested on philosophical grounds, but is almost certainly due to other motivations, such as avoiding separation of Church and state restrictions and perhaps for fear of awakenings the Christian masses to their demoralizing influence. An American Humanist Association promotional brochure states: Humanism is the belief that man shapes his own destiny. It is a constructive philosophy, a nontheistic religion, a way of life. The first version of the Humanist Manifesto, published in 1933, also explicitly identifies itself as religious humanism and describes humanism as a nontheistic religion.

Today man's larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfactions may appear to many people as a complete break with the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a responsibility which rests upon this generation.[4]
Conference on Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard. April 2007.

Humanist Chaplains have been employed for decades, and their missionary activities have been perhaps most significant on college campuses. In April 2007, an international humanist conference was held to celebrate three decades of Chaplaincy at Harvard University.[14] The ultimate purpose of the conference was to promote “Dialogue Among Religions, Cultures, and Civilizations?,” and, lay out a bold new vision for the future of Humanism at Harvard and universities across the US. The conference was organized by the Secular Student Alliance (a high school and college student organization), and was held in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of The Humanist Institute.[15] The conference boasts of nearly 600 registrants and 1100 attendees.[16]

It is also very noteworthy that the U.S. government defines Secular Humanism as a religion in the following IRS definition of religious belief.[17]

7.25.3.6.5 (02-23-1999) Religious Belief Defined
  1. The term "religious" as used in IRC 501(c)(3) is not subject to precise definition. The leading interpretation of the term was made by the Supreme Court in United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965), in which the Court interpreted the phrase "religious training and belief" as used in the Universal Military Training and Service Act, 50 U.S.C. section 456 (j), in determining an individual's eligibility for exemption from military service on religious grounds. The Court formulated the following definition: "A sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption comes within the statutory definition."
  2. The Court elaborated upon the Seeger definition in Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 33 (1970), stating that "[i]f an individual deeply and sincerely holds beliefs that are purely ethical or moral in source and content but that nevertheless impose upon him a duty of conscience to refrain from participating in any war at any time, those beliefs certainly occupy in the life of that individual a place parallel to that filled by... God in the lives of traditionally religious persons." Thus, religious beliefs include many beliefs (for example, Taoism, Buddhism, and Secular Humanism) that do not posit the existence of a Supreme Being in the conventional sense.

However, in recent years, many have begun to claim that Humanism is not a religion, and instead refer to their belief system as "Scientific humanism". Later versions of the Manifesto backed away from the explicitly religious language of the first. This is explained by some as the maturation of their belief system, and by others as a desire to downplay the obvious religious nature of their beliefs and instead portray themselves as "objective" and "scientific". The ultimate purpose can be seen as two fold - to distance themselves from theistic groups and circumvent restriction imposed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

By allowing their position to be redefined, humanism has been allowed to reap the protections of the Establishment Clause by preventing evangelism by other religions while themselves being able to promote religious secular humanism in schools through evolutionism. Paul Kurtz, a noted Secular Humanist today, wrote: They [the religious] claim that secular humanism is the "established" religion of the United States and wish to extirpate its influence from public life. We reply that secular humanism is not a religion; it is a philosophical, scientific, and ethical eupraxsophy (good wisdom in conduct).[18]

History

Italian Renaissance

The great intellectual movement of Italian Renaissance was based on humanism. The humanists believed that the Greek and Latin classics contained all the lessons one needed to lead a moral and effective life. They developed a new, rigorous kind of classical scholarship, with which they corrected and tried to understand the works of the Greeks and Romans, which seemed so vital to them.[19]

Both the republican elites of Florence and Venice and the ruling families of Milan, Ferrara, and Urbino hired humanists to teach their children classical morality. In the course of the fifteenth century, the humanists also convinced most of the popes that the papacy needed their skills. Humanist scholars were hired to write official correspondence and propaganda. The relation between popes and these scholars was never simple, for the humanists evolved their own views on theology. Some argued that pagan philosophers like Plato basically agreed with Christian revelation. Others criticized important Church doctrines or institutions that lacked biblical or historical support. Some even seemed in danger of becoming pagans. The real confrontation came in the later sixteenth century, as the church faced the radical challenge of Protestantism. Some Roman scholars used the methods of humanist scholarship to defend the Church against Protestant attacks, but others collaborated in the imposition of censorship. Humanist scholars, in the end, could not reform the Church which it both supported and challenged.[20]

Islamic Humanism

Notable Humanists

Sponsoring Organizations

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References

  1. LaHaye, T., Noebel, D. Mind Siege. Nashville: Word Publishing. 2000. p. 69
  2. LaHaye, p. 79
  3. Protagoras (c. 490 - c. 420 BCE) The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Humanist Manifesto I by Raymond B. Bragg. 1933

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