This article on humanism was written by Brother Graham Edwards. It is founded on a presentation he gave at the  Manila ecclesia on the 16th of February, 2014. It is very informative and will help readers appreciate how pervasive humanism is, and why our world has drifted so far from biblical principles. Ed.

Today’s bookstores and movie theatres abound with films and best-sellers whose plots revolve around fantastically improbable ‘conspiracy theories’ about events being orchestrated by those in seats of power. The tragic events of 9/11 and even the moon landings have been subject to such conspiracy theory speculations.

Aspects of what we are going to look at briefly now (humanism) might sound improbable, bordering on a conspiracy theory in today’s terms, but as I hope to show, humanism is no conspiracy theory. Humanism is one of the most powerful threats facing believers today and, I believe, lies at the heart of many of the resignations from the Truth that we are witnessing as prophesied would happen in the last days.

What is humanism?

When researching humanism one quickly realises that there is no single definition, partly because there are different forms of humanism.

One simple definition is provided by Linus Carl Pauling, an American Nobel Prize-winning scientist, peace activist, author and educator. He was also a famous humanist: “Humanism is a philosophy of joyous service for the greater good of all humanity.”   If we were to end our research there we could   be forgiven for thinking Humanism, far from being at odds with Christianity, seems complementary to it.

Let’s try another: “Humanism is the effort of men and women to think, to feel, and to act for themselves and to abide by the logic of the results”.

Now perhaps we start to feel a hint of uneasiness, do we not?

Cutting to the chase, humanism in essence holds that:

  • Humans are basically good.
  • Humans are capable of improving quality of life by reason and scientific progress
  •  Moral values (right and wrong) come from learned human experience.
  •  Humanism requires social agreement: what the majority want must be right and acceptable for all.

Put in that light we definitely start to see red flags waving and alarm bells ringing, don’t we?

The emphasis placed on knowledge, science, reason and man’s ability to solve problems will be seen as recurring dominant themes in humanistic dogma.

Let’s put this on pause for a second and take a short trip back in history to track the rise and development of humanism.

A short history of humanism

(1) In ancient Greece, philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle and Democritus debated concepts such as good and evil, the existence of a god/gods, and whether man alone was the centre of everything in the universe. A growing number favoured the latter.

(2) Philosophy, an early form of humanism, spread as the Greek empire expanded, and   was prevalent in the time of Christ and the early Church. It was eventually eclipsed by   the explosive emergence and rapid spread of Christianity and was suppressed by the Catholic Church down through the centuries.

(3) As the Dark Ages gave way to the Middle Ages, the pursuit of knowledge and the study of ancient Greek philosophies gained popularity again – ironically, amongst monks and religious scholars.

(4) These developments gave birth to the religious period known as the “Reformation” in the 16th and 17th centuries, when scholars were emboldened to challenge the might of the Papacy for doctrinal reform. Martin Luther was a leading Christian reformer, although he was no humanist.

(5) Man’s new focus increasingly became reason, logic and scientific discovery. The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge was founded in 1660, and was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II. Wikipedia records that “The Society’s motto, Nullius in verba, is Latin for ‘Take nobody’s word for it’. It was adopted to signify the Fellows’ determination to establish facts via experiments”.

(6) The elevation of the study of science over the study of Scripture led directly to the humanistic theory of evolution as postulated by the naturalist Charles Darwin. Wikipedia records of him: “In Darwin’s second year he joined the Plinian Society, a student natural history group whose debates strayed into radical materialism”.

(7) Materialism is a humanistic teaching founded in ancient Greek philosophies and leaves no room for the Creator.

(8) Humanistic teachings about the rights of individuals to spread political views gave rise to the French Revolution, the challenge to monarchies and the (re)birth of Democracy (founded in ancient Greece).

That brings us back to today, when humanism has spread globally and its roots and doctrines are so deeply embedded in our society that most people do not even recognise a humanistic doctrine, nor do they care.

Humanism in the first century

Remember from point 2 (above) that humanistic doctrine was already a threat to Christianity in the 1st century? Let’s quickly look at this before we move on.

In Acts 17:18–19 we read: “A group of   Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign gods.’ They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?’” (NIV)

These early humanists, always searching for new teachings to debate, viewed the new Christian gospel as a curiosity and were not directly hostile to it (but this has changed over time).

Stoicism

“Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason. A primary aspect of   Stoicism involves improving the individual’s ethical   and moral well-being: ‘Virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature’” (http://en.wikipedia.   org/wiki/Stoicism).

Stoicism, on the surface, does not seem that bad, until you realise that God has no part in the equation. We can see the common humanistic theme of using reason and logic to achieve knowledge and enlightenment.

Epicureanism

“Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Epicurus believed that what he called ‘pleasure’ is the greatest good, but the way to attain such pleasure is to live modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one’s desires” (http://en.wikipedia.org/   wiki/Epicureanism).

Epicureanism was more blatantly at odds with Christian beliefs, focusing entirely on earthly and personal fulfilment and not on service to God.

Now, having an understanding of these philosophical roots, we are better positioned to recognise humanism today in its most prevalent and virulent form: secular humanism, the belief that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfilment without belief in God. This is defined as “Humanism, with regard in particular to the belief that humanity is   capable of morality and self-fulfilment without belief in God”.

So, whilst the humanists who debated with Paul in Athens were not hostile to Christianity, humanists today, especially secular humanists, clearly are. Let’s look at two quotes:

“Reason, decency, tolerance, empathy, and hope are human traits that we should aspire to, not because we seek reward of eternal life or because we fear the punishment of a supernatural being,   but because they define our humanity”–Professor Jim Al-Khalili, President of the British Humanist Association.

  • “I am an atheist and humanist, I believe in secular humanitarian values. We should always make a really careful analysis of the evidence on which certain claims are made. Children should not be educated in faith-based schools and I think young people deserve to be taught to recognise what is true and what is false. If they are not taught that way they will be misled and that is mostly the case at present. Most of them are misled on the basis of dogma and religious belief. I think this is dangerous and we see every day the danger caused in some part of the world in the name of religious dogma” –   Harold Kroto.

We need to recognise humanism for what it is today: a movement that is aggressively anti-   Christian, even anti-religion in general. Humanistic teachings can be recognised by a few recurring key themes.

  •  Religion/God is to blame for the problems in the world.
  •  Man can solve these problems because we are innately good.
  •  Science and knowledge will help us solve these problems.