A Rebuttal to the Humanist Manifestos
Several publications exist through which a select group of humanists have chosen to communicate their religion to the masses. The most familiar are probably The Humanist Manifesto (1933), the Humanist Manifesto II (1973) and A Secular Humanist Declaration. All of these writings are strictly anti-God, which is the most visible theme one can find running throughout all of the texts.
A manifesto is defined by Random House as a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives or motives... It may seem a moot point, then, to create a rebuttal to a manifesto, since such a reply could simply represent an argument as to why one person disagrees with the philosophy of another. In writing these Manifestos, however, the humanist thinkers of our day have declared war on values which are based upon the providence of a loving God, the Creator of the cosmos, who is intimately involved with the universe and especially with the beings He has created. Such dogmatic humanistic statements about universal truths demand a rebuttal from the side of Truth, since the statements themselves are fraught with misinformation and, most egregiously, poor logic and wholly inadequate reasoning.
I hope that this rebuttal will be read and discussed at length by: (1) self-avowed humanists, who practice the religion outlined in the Manifestos and actively advance such an agenda, (2) non-Christians who may or may not identify themselves as humanists, but who practice the non-religious lifestyle described by the Manifestos, (3) religious people of all faiths who desire to learn more about the irreligious views of humanism, and (4) bible-believing Christians who want to actively confront the errors presented by the humanist paradigm in a way which is at once full of knowledge and wisdom, and manifested through true love and concern for those caught in the trap of a God-less theology.
The typical humanist layperson may not have a clue as to the contents of the Humanist Manifestos, but nevertheless lives in such a way as to support the dogma presented therein. In fact, this layperson probably will not even recognize or identify himself as a humanist. Nevertheless, much of the human race (at least in modern western civilizations) fall into this category and embrace these ideologies to some extent, having been raised in a society becoming more materialistic and less godly by the day. I am convinced that a majority of those who believe in Darwinian naturalistic evolution, who do not believe in a Creator God, and who espouse many of the beliefs in the Manifestos do not practice the religion of humanism overtly or consciously, but are simply living the life they have been programmed to live by the secular society which engulfs them. Therefore, as in nearly every issue or endeavor confronting human societies, it is the minority with an agenda which appears to be creating the official policy of what often becomes the silent majority.
In a series of dogmatic statements concerning the status of human thought, the universe, and other such lofty subjects, these humanistic sermons are actually quite full of truth. Many Christians may not want to hear me say that, but it is true. The humanists certainly recognize this:
"Many religious believers will no doubt share with us a belief in many secular humanist and democratic values, and we welcome their joining with us in the defense of these ideals." (A Secular Humanist Declaration)
Christians and humanists have many opinions and goals in common, and a close reading of their materials will prove that many of the humanist complaints against religion do not apply to biblical Christianity as Christ portrayed it, but instead to the manifold corrupted religions deriving from human thought rather than from God's truth.
Yet many of the humanist arguments herein betray poor thought processes that have contributed to this best effort produced by the humanist camp. If those who reject such humanist philosophies can simply become aware of and understand what comprises humanist theology, then we can put aside our unfounded fears and confront them with confidence in the arenas of religious, political, social, philosophical, scientific and cultural thought. Many humanists are now in fact advising their fellows to avoid debates with Christian thinkers and philosophers, since they cannot win such debates. The excellent and true idea always wins. This is why the reader will probably never see or hear a debate between a thorough, atheistic humanist and a skilled Christian apologist. As we confront humanist ideology, we must be careful to separate the common ground from the disagreements. If Christians expect to achieve social change in the world around them, we may advance our own agenda by cooperating in those arenas of thought where we agree. Of course, we must also remain careful to rationally and intelligently refute the untruth, the poor logic and the false accusations presented by the humanists against Christianity.
As beneficial as certain isolated parts of the humanist ideal may be to the advancement of peace and comfort on earth, it remains a wrong idea. There can be no true peace without the God who created matter and thought. There can be no correct idea about ethics, about the proper direction for society, about the advancement of human knowledge, without the God who created wisdom and understanding. The purpose of this article then, is to confront the illogical rhetoric which is woven throughout the Manifestos. We will simply explore the material presented in these publications, in the same words used by the authors and in the context intended by the authors, and identify why such arguments fail to provide a rational, believable, workable and usable belief system by which to live the human life in all its complex glory and mystery.
Our intention is not only to provide arguments with which believers in an omniscient God may intelligently confront the surrounding humanistic culture, but also to identify a faulty belief system for what it is, providing an escape for those now in bondage to this dangerous ideology into the freedom which is enjoyed by many who have put their faith in the God of the bible and His son, Jesus Christ.
The quoted passages at the beginning of each section are taken from the Humanist Manifesto II.
I use the same organization as that in the Humanist Manifesto II, which makes the following divisions: Religion, Ethics, The Individual, Democratic Society, World Community, and Humanity As A Whole. Since the topics are presented according to the same structure and in the same order, it is easy to compare the rebuttals to the arguments made in Humanist Manifesto II. Other material and arguments from Humanist Manifesto I and A Secular Humanist Declaration are quoted when appropriate.
Care has been taken to maintain the original intent of the authors and the original context of the arguments. I ask those who read this to keep me accountable. Complete copies of the Manifestos can be obtained at: http://www.humanist.net and specifically the Humanist Manifesto II at: http://www.humanist.net/documents/manifesto2.html I encourage all readers to check that my arguments are based on valid interpretations of the material. Most rebuttals consist first of a quotation from one of the humanist publications, followed by an answer which will define how and why the statement was either fallacious, illogical or otherwise wrong or harmful.
It is forty years since Humanist Manifesto I (1933) appeared. Events since then make that earlier statement seem far too optimistic. Thus begins the Humanist Manifesto II, the sequel to the first edition, published in 1933. Immediately, the lack of an absolute basis of thought and theory is established, since the 1973 edition is apparently meant as a substitute for and an update of the original. The overly optimistic interpretation of the earlier humanists were obviously not robust enough to survive the times. Predictably, their "absolutes" change as times change, a sign of a faulty belief system. If the theses which support a belief system are changed from time to time, then what is the truth, and who is it who defines such truth?
They admit that the humanist ideal has not been precisely stated, and that all humanists may not agree with everything which appears in the Manifestos:
"Secular humanism is not a dogma or a creed. There are wide differences of opinion among secular humanists on many issues. Nevertheless, there is a loose consensus with respect to several propositions. (A Secular Humanist Declaration)
These "several propositions" for which a loose consensus exists will be discussed at length later. We must now simply recognize that the humanist ideal is far from representing a firmly established, well thought-out belief system. Since a humanist creed cannot or will not be developed, the manifestos become indicative of an emotional response rather than a statement about a particular belief system. Humanism comes across, then, as a wish list for the way society ought to be, but not as a concise statement about how we might achieve those ends. In fact it is quite revealing to notice, as we work through the humanist arguments to follow, that there truly are no solutions or methods suggested to bring about the change humanists hope for. The manifestos simply make statements about the way they want life to be, about the danger of certain religious ideologies, and about a utopia in which all human beings live in complete harmony and without material want.
The stated goals and ideals of humanists seem noble and upright enough at first glance, and I believe their intentions truly are pure. Their preface decries, for example, wars, police states, government espionage, abuses of power, and racism. The potential of technology to both help and to injure humanity and the environment is discussed briefly, with an appeal for a new vision of hope, a direction for satisfying survival. There is nothing at all wrong with harboring such desires, and I hope that some of these things for which the humanists hope and strive come true, for the good of the whole human race.
Whatever their means of attaining this vision, it is clear that traditional Christian convictions must not be part of it: "...messianic ideologies, substituting new dogmas for old, cannot cope with existing world realities." They separate rather than unite peoples. Statements such as the possibilities of human progress, humanism is an ethical process, moral devotion and personal meaning and significance are used frequently, with a nearly religious tone. Such words as moral, progress, ethical, and meaning must be further defined if they are not to be construed as religious in nature. Possibly the religious tone is intentional. The Humanist Manifesto I states that, since existing religions are not shaped for the needs of this age, the humanists must create one that is. The need to establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a responsibility which rests upon this generation. They then present their manifesto, in which they identify themselves with the appellation religious humanists.
Modern humanists, however, seem to take issue with the religious connotations presented by their forebears. In Humanist Manifesto II they state that Some humanists believe we should reinterpret traditional religions and reinvest them with meanings appropriate to the current situation. Such redefinitions, however, often perpetuate old dependencies and escapisms; they easily become obscurantist, impeding the free use of the intellect. We need, instead, radically new human purposes and goals.
This statement betrays a couple of problems with their religion. First, the lack of consensus among humanists is obvious. The term some humanists portrays division in the opinion of what humanism fundamentally is. Although the same argument can be made about various manifestations of Christendom, true Christians at least have the bible as a last authority. The Church may not present the most glorious image to a lost world, but we ask that the world judge us not by the perfection of our behavior - since the bible stresses that we are simply sinners being saved by grace - but by the ideal for which we strive. We are far from perfect as individuals, nevertheless a clear definition exists of what a Christian is; apparently the same cannot be said of humanism. If they indeed have a corner on the truth, it ought to be something which can be forthrightly stated in writing...thats what truth is about, after all.
I continue by addressing each of the items which appear in the Humanist Manifesto II, in the order they are presented to us. I will first provide a quote directly from the document itself, then present comments which I feel are consistent with the worldview of biblical Christianity, or at least should be. I eagerly look forward to feedback from both the humanist and Christian camp, and honestly expect criticism from both. In fact, I trust that I will receive criticism from both, since only then will I be sure I am stating the truth.