April 18, 2006

The Influence of the Secular Humanist Worldview

Secular Humanism (SH) is a well-defined worldview. The Humanist Manifestos of 1933, 1973, and 2000 explain the details of their beliefs. Topping the list is their belief that God does not exist, or at least there is insufficient evidence for the existence of God. From that theological foundation, Secular Humanists have developed a comprehensive view on various issues, including the nature of man, moral values, the role of the state, plus other areas.

Over the past 75 years, Secular Humanists have exerted significance influence over a wide range of culture shaping arenas, including education, the media (TV, advertising, and mainstream news outlets), film, music. Take education. If you consider most of the disciplines of study and compare what is taught with the tenets of a SH worldview, you find that in almost every case, the SH view predominates, and in many instances, a Biblical view is barred from the classroom.

For example, the biological sciences are taught with an assumption of naturalism, which is the acknowledged starting point for evolution. Therefore, the theory of evolution from “amoeba to man” is not a scientific theory so much as it is a philosophical belief that only nature exists. Then, all scientific observations are straight-jacketed into this philosophical constraint. If another philosophical starting point is offered, such as the idea that an Intelligent Designer might be involved in the origin of life, the scientific evidence supporting this idea is fought tooth and nail from being presented in the classroom.

Most religion classes at the university also are taught from a naturalistic perspective, denying the possibility of miracles, since a miracle is by definition an event with a supernatural cause. In psychology, students learn human beings is reducible to a combination of chemicals and electrical firings in the brain. The only version of law that is presented is positive law. In sociology, the traditional family is shunned for a more “inclusive” approach. Each of there perspectives corresponds with a Secular Humanist view on these subjects.

Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion is that students are exposed with primarily a Secular Humanist indoctrination. This is not to say that other worldviews do not have an influence. For example, most colleges literature departments have been taken over by deconstruction, a Postmodern view on language. Many history departments are run by Neo-Marxists, with their emphasis on class, race, and gender. And in some curriculum designed for elementary schools, there is a strong “New Age” flavor. But in almost no case is a Biblical Christian view presented, except for the occasional Christian professor or teacher who is willing to present how a Biblical view relates to his subject. But those instances are few and far between.

The same evaluation could be detailed for each of the other areas mentioned above. The bottom line is that SH does have an influence in the U.S.

Can Secular Humanism be stopped?

It depends on what you mean by “stopped.” Citizens of the United States are free to believe any religious preference of their choosing. Since SH is a religious faithóan atheist cannot “prove” God does not exist, therefore, atheism is an assumption, i.e., a faith position — then people are free to embrace it. From that perspective, belief in atheism cannot be “stopped.”

On the other hand, the Untied States were originally founded on a different set of beliefs, including the assumption that God exists. This was the predominant view of the founders and most citizens of our early republic. Christianity was the organizing worldview responsible for instituting each of the first 100 universities started on American soil. It was the predominant view of most poets and novelists up until around the mid-1800s. A Biblical worldview could become the predominant view again if citizens who believe in God make the connection between what they believe and what they do, whether as a politician, educator, business executive, artist, or news broadcaster. In that way, the SH worldview would be diminished, but not stopped.

What is the greatest threat of Secular Humanism to a Christian?

Secular Humanists claim to be moral individuals who have good intentions. However, good intentions are not enough. To illustrate, the intention of the “Great Society” was to eradicate poverty in the U. S., and the state welfare system was instituted to that end. These are good intentions. Yet the result has actually been an increase in people living under the poverty level with several generations of people who now find they are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Why? Because they have become wholly dependent on the welfare state to provide for their needs or they have learned to “work” the system, even when they are able to work. In other words, the system promotes laziness and dependency. I suggest these are immoral results.

The threat to a Christian is when a SH idea, no matter how well intended, has a negative result in the larger society. For example, Secular Humanists have promoted the idea of “separation of church and state.” This has been the battle-cry for removing the Ten Commandments from public view, whether in a courtroom on the lawn of a state capitol. The result has been that any and all vestiges of a Biblical view are systemically being erased from our national consciousness.

Yet, the idea of “separation” has been misconstrued. The founders of the United States were clear concerning their intention of separating the organization of the church from the organization of the state, but they were equally clear that it is impossible to separate religious ideas from political ideas. Secular Humanists are in the forefront in seeking to remove Biblical ideas from the political arena, and this is a danger to Christians because, under the guise of “separation,” it would remove their voice from political discussion. When this happens, then the only voice heard will be that of the SH, and Christians will have been effectively denied their place in a constitutional republic.

Is Secular Humanism’s threat to American society the same as its threat to Christianity?

The threat to American society is different in this sense. The SH view of what constitutes a human person was instituted into law in 1973 with the Supreme Court’s decision of Roe v Wade. The threat to society has been obvious, with now over 40 millions babies sacrificed to the whims — the SH term is “choice” — of their mothers. The point is this: when a SH moral view is taken to its logical conclusion, people die. I suggest this is not good for a civil society.

But it does not stop there. The current discussion is over end-of-life issues. If the SH perspective — and recall that theirs is a religious viewóif this religious view of who is a person and who is not, is allowed to prevail, than we will soon find the devaluing of the life of older citizens, and their untimely deaths at the hands of willing doctors, or themselves.

But that is not the end of the cycle, because once human life is devalued, than we can anticipate an increase in child abuse and every other kind of abuseóin general, a coarsening of human relations, because the emphasis will be on personal desires and not the greater good of society. Why? Because given a SH worldview there is no adequate basis for valuing another human being. The SH manifestoes claim to value others, but this is an empty claim with no foundation other than sentimentality. If no God exists, there is no ultimate accountability for one’s actions and no ultimate meaning in life. Once people embrace those ideas, it is a short step to only looking out for #1, the self, and seeking to grab as much pleasure as possible in this one and only life. Barbarism ensues.

How do I know this is the end result? Physician and psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple lived among and studied the poor of London, England for 15 years. In Life at the Bottom, he reaches a conclusion concerning why people are poor: they have believed the worldview presented to them by the intellectual elite! Dalrymple witnessed what SH ethics (moral relativism) does when applied to society’s underclass. He explains:

Intellectuals in the twentieth century sought to free our sexual relations of all social, contractual, or moral obligations and meaning whatsoever, so that henceforth only raw sexual desire itself would count in our decision making . . .  But their ideas were adopted both literally and wholesale in the lowest and most vulnerable social class. If anyone wants to see what sexual relations are like, freed of contractual and social obligations, let him look at the chaos of the personal lives of members of the underclass. [1]

Dalrymple details in his book the drug addiction, violence, poverty, and death that follows people who embrace the humanist view that one’s identity is solely the result of social pressures. This “victimhood” mentality erases all sense of personal responsibility and allows many to wallow in despair, and ultimately their own destruction.

The SH vision for a positive world filled with responsible people sharing our planet in harmony is an exulted vision, but sadly one that cannot live up to it’s goal. History is replete with the failures of mankind to usher in utopia. The biblical response is that the history of man details a fallen nature, estranged from the love of their Creator. The SH story is that man has not yet evolved to the place of universal harmony. These two visions are diametrically opposed to one another. For that reason, there will continue to be open skirmishes as well as major battles in this ongoing war over ideas. And because ideas have consequences, we can easily trace the end results of whichever worldview becomes the victor.

  1. Dalrymple, Theodore, Life at the Bottom: the Worldview That Makes the Underclass (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publishers, 2001), p. xi.

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