Rebuttal to Humanist Manifesto
Part One: Religion
The following quote is from the Humanist Manifesto II:
FIRST: In the best sense, religion may inspire dedication to the highest ethical ideals. The cultivation of moral devotion and creative imagination is an expression of genuine “spiritual” experience and aspiration.
We believe, however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species. Any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence; in our judgment, the dogmas and myths of traditional religions do not do so. Even at this late date in human history, certain elementary facts based upon the critical use of scientific reason have to be restated. 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. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we now know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of the natural.
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.
We appreciate the need to preserve the best ethical teachings in the religious traditions of humankind, many of which we share in common. But we reject those features of traditional religious morality that deny humans a full appreciation of their own potentialities and responsibilities. Traditional religions often offer solace to humans, but, as often, they inhibit humans from helping themselves or experiencing their full potentialities. Such institutions, creeds, and rituals often impede the will to serve others. Too often traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than independence, obedience rather than affirmation, fear rather than courage. More recently they have generated concerned social action, with many signs of relevance appearing in the wake of the “God Is Dead” theologies. But we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.
Is There a God?
“No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” This statement perhaps best sums up the humanists opinion of the need for Divinity and of the God of Christianity. Although they generally paint all religion with a broad brush, the Christian faith is very much under attack. The humanists state that they believe “...that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species.” This quote is accurate inasmuch as Christians do, indeed, recognize that Gods will has authority over all human needs and human experience:
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
Why, however, should we assume that such a faith as Christianity does a disservice to humanity? Christianity, after all, assumes that it is precisely because God is able to call the shots more effectively than we can that we choose to obey His will above our own. And it is because God is actively, lovingly involved with his creation and the people he has created that he vows to take such good care of them.
The reason offered by humanism that such obedience is a disservice to humanity is that any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence, and since God cannot be proven by scientific evidence, then He must not exist. The logical flaw in such an argument is the insistence that scientific evidence is all-encompassing. First, it is clear that while Gods existence cannot be empirically proven, neither can it be dis-proven. Many scientific facts are accepted for which no solid proof exists. Lack of physical proof does not stop the scientific process as it relates to physical sciences, so neither should it prohibit supernaturalism on the same grounds. If a hypothesis is established (arrived at by the scientific method of first studying the evidence), and evidence exists which implies that a supernatural source is required for a particular phenomenon, this hypothesis - being based on as flimsy a foundation as many hypotheses in the physical sciences are - ought to be accorded the same validity. The theory of evolution is an excellent case in point, and will be discussed in more detail later.
Second, it is crucial to understand that scientific reasoning excludes religious or supernatural intervention of any sort by its own definition. Phillip Johnsons excellent book Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (InterVarsity Press, 1997) establishes the fact that the secular scientific community has defined the language and methods of debate applicable to science, excluding religion from the argument at the start. By stating that religion lies outside the realm of scientific reason is a convenient way of avoiding the issue altogether. The inherent problem with such an argument is that there is no logical reason to believe that the supernatural is completely detached from the natural; humanists have simply decided randomly that this will be assumed.
Third, I find a very interesting contradiction in the arguments humanists themselves use against the existence of a personable God. First, consider the following four quotations from the Manifestos:
(A) Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we now know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of the natural...there is much that we do not know... (Manifesto II, FIRST, emphasis mine).
(B) Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs (Manifesto I, FIFTH, emphasis mine).
(C) We believe...that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species. Any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence; in our judgment, the dogmas and myths of traditional religions do not do so...as nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity. (Manifesto II, PREFACE).
(D) ...we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species... No deity will save us; we must save ourselves (Manifesto II, FIRST).
These represent a serious incongruity in humanisms there is no God argument. In (C) above, humanists explain the reason why religions that place God...above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species: it is because God cannot be empirically proven to exist, since any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence. (D) reiterates that since we can discover no divine purpose there must be no God. They intimately tie the idea and existence of God (if there is a God) to nature. If there is a God, they expect Him to be evident in nature and discoverable by science, but since He isnt discoverable in nature, they feel He must not exist. However, quotes (A) and (B) state emphatically that we dont know everything about nature, while quotes (C) and (D) state that there is no God in nature. This is contradictory. Within that part of knowledge we do not yet have, there just may be a God lurking.
Item (B) is particularly interesting. Humanists do not merely claim that we as a human race do not yet know everything about nature; they state that they do not deny the possibility of realities yet undiscovered. Even if some new reality is discovered which lies outside of science, they feel that the way to authenticate it is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs. Christianity happens to believe that intelligent inquiry and an assessment of their relations to human needs are excellent ways to discuss and validate the claims of Christ and the gospel. What if science some day presents the reality of an intelligent and loving God to humanity? According to their own philosophy, they must then recant much of what is stated in the Manifestos.
Now consider two more quotations:
(E) There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body (Manifesto II, SECOND).
(F) Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected (Manifesto I, THIRD).
In the previous argument, humanists state that there is no God because He cannot be scientifically proven. In the same way, they state in (E) above, in spite of their admittance that we do not know everything, that there is no human soul. Admitting that we do not know everything, yet stating that the mind cannot be distinct from the body, is again a contradiction. In addition, by separating nature from God, the natural from the supernatural, the body from the spirit and mind, humanism creates a circular argument against God which is meaningless. It is a tautology to state that a supernatural human spirit does not exist because science - which does not allow the admittance of supernatural evidence does not detect it. This is identical to the following argument:
When it is cloudy at night, I cannot see the stars. Since I cannot detect the stars by my physical senses, they must not exist.
I want to entertain rational explanations from the thinkers in the humanist camp about the contradictions identified above and throughout this publication. If I do indeed receive such arguments, I will try to make them available for the benefit of our readers. I extend my invitation for humanists to rationally and intelligently rebut the points I make. This is not an attempt to embarrass, ridicule or denigrate those who consider themselves humanists. I want to make it clear that humanisms ideals, even to the extent that they have virtually defined what life is in this country and in most of westernized civilization, do not affect my outlook or my quality of life. I have friends who would be classified as humanistic at least by their worldview and thought processes and I care for them deeply. There are obviously many intelligent and talented people who are strongly humanistic. This is not about belittling people. I am merely trying to point out what I interpret as serious flaws, both in the logic and reasoning used in the humanist ideal, and I unabashedly hope to turn some humanistic thinkers around to the pure logic and razor-edged truth which is Christ and His message.
What Is Religion?
The following quote is from the Humanist Manifesto II:
False theologies of hope and messianic ideologies, substituting new dogmas for old, cannot cope with existing world realities. They separate rather than unite peoples.
The assumption that there is no God is a common thought running throughout the manifestos. It is such a strong assumption that no one seems to have bothered telling the reader why there is no God. I will try to present here what I see as humanisms best arguments in the manifestos against God.
The quote above is taken from Manifesto II, PREFACE. It is a very incomplete argument to put it nicely. I believe humanism owes it to society to describe exactly whymessianic ideologies cannot cope with existing world realities. What, exactly, are these existing world realities? Humanism states that all of the realities out there are not yet known by mankind (see Manifesto I, FIFTH, or quote (B) above). If they some day discover a “reality” to which messianic ideologies would apply, then humanism has prematurely closed the door. Nor do they explain exactly how these ideologies separate rather than unite peoples. Perhaps they speak of the fact that religion has caused more war and strife than perhaps any other factor. If so, they are correct. But I am not defending religion here. The burr under the saddle of humanism is caused by religion, something Jesus Christ himself decried while he walked this earth; the Christian God of the bible does not fit into the descriptions of many humanist complaints about religion. Let it be known from this point on that, unequivocally, religion is not one of my sacred cows. When the body of Christians on this earth realize that religion is primarily what Christ came to destroy, we will get a clue as to how to approach humanists with a meaningful message.
I believe that humanists have mistaken biblical Christianity with modern religion, a serious mistake. Although the humanist ideal is still strictly atheistic in nature, I believe that many humanists would reconsider Christianity if they only understood the difference between religion and belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. As we continue with the humanist definition of religion, bear in mind the changes that must take place in the humanist philosophy if they separate biblical Christianity from religion.
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.
Let me digress for a moment by stating that here is an unfortunate indictment against modern Christianity. Many atheists may find it strange that I agree with them on some issues. This is just one of those issues; that many Christians are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. If our faith in a heaven hereafter so effectively diverts us from our duties as citizens, neighbors, friends, parents and employees that the writers of the Manifesto have taken note of it, then something is seriously wrong.
Following are some serious problems with the part of humanist philosophy which rejects salvationism and faith, and the belief in life beyond these mortal bodies of ours:
1. Exactly why do humanists feel that salvationism is harmful? How has faith in God been unproved? In what way is it outmoded? The word “outmoded” implies that the subject at one time in the past held value, but in the present it does not. This suggestion again betrays the lack of an absolute frame or moral reference in the humanist faith. As mentioned earlier, they have changed their statements of faith as times progressed, so they apparently believe that religious faiths have done the same, and as a result are no longer relevant. I believe that this is indicative of their misunderstanding of the Christian faith. A correct interpretation of biblical faith will reveal that the standards have not changed since God revealed Himself to mankind.
2. The assumption that faith and “salvationism” is patently untrue or harmful is also a result of a misunderstanding. Consider the following statement from Manifesto II, FIRST: “Traditional religions often offer solace to humans, but, as often, they inhibit humans from helping themselves or experiencing their full potentialities.” Again, how do traditional religions inhibit our full potential? How do they inhibit us from helping ourselves? These are very vague and consequently very weak arguments against religion, based on a complete misunderstanding of the tenets of Christian faith, especially in light of the very strong arguments to the contrary to be found in the bible.
In fact, the Christian faith insists that one of God's purposes is to cause us to reach our full potential as human beings. Christians have in them the mind of Christ, the Creator of the cosmos. We are to strive to attain Christ-likeness, meaning that more and more we are to think like Christ, understand the universe and human nature like Christ, to love others sacrificially as Christ loved. Christ urges us all to...
live in harmony with all other human beings:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ”It is mine to avenge; I will repay,“ says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 18-20)
to exhort and encourage one another at all times:
“...encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing...Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-15)
to give and to help:
“Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” (Romans 13:7-8)
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42)
(Also read Luke 10:30-37 about the good Samaritan.)
to care for orphans and widows:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
to work hard and be productive members of society:
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:10,16,17,18,20,24,25,26)
If the above passages from the bible are construed as limiting human potential, then the humanists are sorely mistaken in their interpretation of what Christianity provides for human beings and society at large.
3. “We reject all religious, ideological, or moral codes that denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect, dehumanize personality (Manifesto II, FIFTH).” Once again, the world ought to look at the bible to decide an accurate definition of Christianity. Freedom, intellect, personality and uniqueness are common themes in the bible. I would agree with their statement above. If indeed there are religions that denigrate the individual I should reject them right alongside my atheist friends. But such accusations must not be made against the Christian faith. On the contrary:
Christ gives us freedom:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ”Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:1,13,14)
He gives us wisdom, knowledge and understanding:
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7)
“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.” (Proverbs 5:1-2)
“To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness...” (Ecclesiastes 2:26)
He emphasizes the worth of the individual:
“The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:21-27, emphasis mine)
It should be clear by now that it cannot logically be stated that the Christian faith, properly defined, should “denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect, dehumanize personality.” Even if there is no God - an assumption which forms the cornerstone of the humanist faith - the bible and its principles could still never be rightly accused of promoting the things humanists accuse it of. They simply don't understand what true Christianity is.
4. “Such institutions, creeds, and rituals [found in traditional religions] often impede the will to serve others. Too often traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than independence, obedience rather than affirmation, fear rather than courage.”
First, it is precisely because human nature does not naturally contain the desire to serve others that the Christian bible is full of commands to do precisely that. If ever an inaccurate accusation was leveled against Christianity, that of “impeding the will to serve others” is foremost, consisting simply of a lie. Christ's entire life and ministry was an example of how we ought to serve others, putting their needs before our own.
As to the complaint that traditional religions encourage “obedience rather than affirmation,” it is precisely obedience to a greater law that causes us to do things like serve others, give generously, and to volunteer our time, money and energy to worthy causes with no thought to recompense. Obedience is a crucial part of human society, without which there could be no law, no order, no means of punishing criminals, or deciding civil and legal issues. Affirmation is, of course, important, but I believe it is a logical flaw to use obedience and affirmation as opposite sides of an argument. The two are not opposed to, but rather complimentary of each other. In obeying the law and the desires of others, we affirm in ourselves the value of that individual, and therefore our own value as members of the human race.
Finally, regarding the argument that traditional religions encourage “fear rather than courage,” simply consider these scriptural admonitions:
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-7)
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
“...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
If these admonitions are not enough, then some of the accounts of Christian martyrs and the suffering they have gone through in the name of Christ will convince others that Christians have courage. Far from promoting fear rather than courage, the Christian faith has produced the most courageous human beings ever to have tread this soil.
The Feasibility of Salvation
The following quote is from the Humanist Manifesto II:
SECOND: Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices. Modern science discredits such historic concepts as the “ghost in the machine” and the “separable soul.” Rather, science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces. As far as we know, the total personality is a function of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context. There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body. We continue to exist in our progeny and in the way that our lives have influenced others in our culture.
Traditional religions are surely not the only obstacles to human progress. Other ideologies also impede human advance. Some forms of political doctrine, for instance, function religiously, reflecting the worst features of orthodoxy and authoritarianism, especially when they sacrifice individuals on the altar of Utopian promises. Purely economic and political viewpoints, whether capitalist or communist, often function as religious and ideological dogma. Although humans undoubtedly need economic and political goals, they also need creative values by which to live.
It causes me grave concern to say this, but with the second sentence quoted above I must agree. Many Christians are indeed so preoccupied with their “religion” that they are of no good to society or to the body of Christ. To be so overly concerned with our own salvation that we neglect the needs and concerns of others, of our society, of the world at large is to act in a manner completely incongruous with our biblical mandate. However, this does not change the fact that, as discussed earlier, the standard by which Christianity as a belief system ought to be judged is the biblical standard, not necessarily the standard observed in the lives of those who claim to be Christians. First, there seems to be a significant gulf between those who proclaim to be Christians and those who actually are - that is, those who bear the fruit that only a true Christian can produce through a healthy and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, even confessed and proven Christians are not sinless, and can at certain times be observed to act inconsistently with the lifestyle described in scripture as pleasing to God. Christians are all in the process of sanctification, and will not be perfect until after the death of our corrupted physical bodies. Nevertheless, we are called on to be Christ's hands and feet until His return, so I must here urge all Christians to fight the good fight, utilize the armor of God, and realize that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual authorities that seek to defeat God and His people.
The argument that “science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces” is completely unfounded. Not a single true transitional fossil has ever been observed, and not a shred of hard, physical evidence exists to establish naturalistic Darwinian evolution as having actually happened. Such a surfeit of information exists to refute naturalistic evolution that I can't address the issue here, but I can recommend a very good book with which the reader may begin to understand the entire evolution/creation debate. Philip Johnson's Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds is excellent in that it describes in easily understandable terms the lack of merit in the Darwinist system, and addresses its logical fallacies and philosophical weaknesses. We will simply state here that not only has science failed to produce one speck of proof for Darwinian evolution, but as time progresses, more evidence surfaces in nature for Divine design which insists on the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient Designer.
What humanism is trying to clarify here is the opinion that the human being is merely physical, with no spiritual component: “There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.” If naturalistic evolution is assumed to be true, then we truly are simply a mass of tissue, with no more significance than a toadstool. We have no immortal soul so therefore - and this is the crux of the humanist religion - we have no Greater Being to which we must be accountable. We can pursue our own selfish desires with no fear of retribution, because no higher law exists, since no higher Lawgiver exists to establish it. This is the heart of humanism; I am in control of my own destiny and am accountable to no one else. Self-aggrandizement is my chief goal in life, and my own self gratification should not be interfered with by others or by some spiritual standard. “As far as we know, the total personality is a function of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context.” If it is true that the human being is simply a bag of hormones, chemicals, organs, sinews and bones, we are no different than the beasts of the field.
The argument that humans are merely physical cannot, of course, be true, and this represents one of the weakest and most poorly presented arguments in the humanist ideal. As C.S. Lewis put it so succinctly:
If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry on the meaningless flux of atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind.
Similarly, in a radio interview of Dr. Robert Morey by Dr. D. James Kennedy, valuable light was shed on the utter lack of logic used in the humanists arguments. Upon being challenged at a lecture by the idea that since we evolved from lower life forms, human beings have no soul, so all ideas must come from physiological chemical reactions in the brain, Dr. Morey replied,
The idea he [the challenger] just gave...is itself a product of non-rational psychological forces...and must be rejected as well.
Indeed, simple logic applied to their arguments will easily refute the humanist ideal without having to resort to spiritual arguments at all. Dr. Morey made another excellent case for logic in this debate:
Materialism [humanism], then, is self-refuting, because if everything is simply the result of hormones or chemical changes released by the brain, then the thought of materialism itself is just the release of somebodys hormones, and is not any truer than anybody elses hormones. So if my hormones tell me there is a God, and the materialists hormones tell him there is no God, well then neither is true. Materialism...cuts its own throat.
This conclusion must be applied equally to the thoughts of humanists themselves. If indeed we are merely biological in nature, then it would be true that the Christian faith and thoughts of an eternal soul are meaningless, but so too are the arguments of the humanists. All logic and reason would fail the test of sanity based on the fact that a purely physical and mechanical means of existence can have no moral basis:
It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. If you are merely a skeptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, Why should anything go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape. (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy)
Humanists simply do not have the right, based on their own interpretations of truth and thinking, to deny the existence of God. When they try, they end up in a hopeless contradiction from which there is no escape.
The further assertion that “traditional religions are surely not the only obstacles to human progress” places Christianity firmly in the category of those cultural abnormalities which inhibit the advancement of the human race. This is nonsensical due to the lack of a definition of the word “progress” in this context. To casually dismiss a belief system because it hinders progress without an accompanying statement about the definition of progress in the immediate context is meaningless. To address this issue, I need to know exactly why they believe that traditional religion impedes progress; this information is missing from the Manifesto.
Possibly it can be surmised from a quotation in the item entitled “TWELFTH” what the humanist definition of progress might be:
Human progress, however, can no longer be achieved by focusing on one section of the world, Western or Eastern, developed or underdeveloped. For the first time in human history, no part of humankind can be isolated from any other. Each person's future is in some way linked to all. We thus reaffirm a commitment to the building of world community, at the same time recognizing that this commits us to some hard choices.
If the humanist definition of “progress” focuses on world community, peace among nations, one nation helping others as they have the means, and indigent nations helping themselves to the extent that their natural resources would allow, then as a Christian I will be first in line to shout “When do we begin?” How does Christianity stand in the way of such goals? It is not clear at all how traditional religions inhibit this type of progress, since most religions preach some form of peace and harmony in their dogma. World community is a common theme among many religions. In fact, Christianity looks forward to the day when Christ will reign and all the world will live in harmony.
Conclusion to Section 1, “Religion”
The creed and the arguments from the humanist camp stated in the section of the manifesto entitled “Religion” are clearly based first on poor logical conclusions about the lack of proof for the existence of God, and second on a complete ignorance of the true meaning of Christianity and what it expects of its adherents. Limited to robust rules of argumentation and a to true biblical definition of what Christianity is - as opposed to what passes for Christianity or religion in western culture today - the humanists may learn the fallacies of their own faith, and begin to understand the unique, empowering and eternally meaningful and fulfilling purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Christianity is poorly manifested in today's church, at least in the westernized version of Christianity prevalent in America today. A feel-good sensationalism has replaced true worship; activities and programs have replaced true piety and devotion to God; freakish and silly manifestations of the flesh have replaced true spiritual renewal, which ought to take the form of repentance and sorrow due to our former selfish nature. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). I see no command here or anywhere else in the bible for holy laughter, for attending church every Sunday, for mega-churches or for church services which entertain. I dearly wish that humanists everywhere would understand what the true Church is, and what God has in mind for those who truly seek his face above all else, who truly desire a personal relationship with the awesome Creator of the universe. If they could, although many of their arguments against religion would remain intact, every argument set forth in the Manifestos against biblical Christianity would vanish.
Part Two: Ethics
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