Humanism is a philosophy that looks at life from a strictly human point of view. The goal of humanism is to promote the preservation and well-being of the human race by defining humanistic values and working toward their implementation. In 1933 a group of 34 humanists met together to discuss and define humanist ideals. Forty years later, humanists again got together to broaden their horizons and improve on their definitions. Each of those meetings produced a document. Those documents are circulated today as “Humanist Manifestos I and II”. They include statements about religion, ethics, individual rights, democratic society, and world community. I do not think I am out of context in quoting a few statements from these manifestos that I think will give a true impression of some of their philosophy and goals. From Humanist Manifesto I, the first two, of fifteen values which they affirm, are: (1) “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.” And (2) “Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process.” The second manifesto is expanded in its wording and I share the following quotes: (1) Regarding religion – “…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 non-theists, we begin with humans, not God, nature, not deity…humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves…Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful…science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces…There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body…Traditional religions are among many obstacles to human progress.” (2) Regarding ethics – “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction…Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses…The controlled use of scientific methods…must be extended further in the solution of human problems.” (3) Regarding the individual – “…a civilized society should be a tolerant one. Short of harming others… individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their life-styles as they desire…Moral education for children and adults is an important way of developing awareness and sexual maturity.” (4) Regarding democratic society – “We are committed to an open and democratic society…All persons should have a voice in developing the values and goals that determine their lives…The separation of church and state and the separation of ideology and state are imperatives. The state should encourage maximum freedom for different moral, political, religious, and social values in society.” (5) Regarding world community – “We deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best option is to…move toward the building of a world community…the development of a system of world law and a world order based on transnational federal government…This world community must renounce the resort to violence and force as a method of solving international disputes…War is obsolete…The world must engage in cooperative planning…The problems of economic growth and development can no longer be resolved by one nation alone; they are worldwide in scope…Technology is a vital key to human progress and development…We must expand communication and transportation across frontiers…We believe that humankind has the potential intelligence, good will, and cooperative skill to implement this commitment (to human good) in the decades ahead.”
Humanists have admirable goals that Christians agree with. It is good to want to see a world where we can communicate about our problems and hope to rid ourselves of war. It is good to want to see the growth of technology for the benefit of all people. It is good to desire to teach a morality that would make for good behavior and help prevent people from hurting themselves and others. It is good to be properly tolerant of one another. It is good for the human race to take responsibility and work together toward a better world. There is much in humanism that God also prescribed when He created us. If there is much in common, why then does humanism object to Christianity? As Christians, we must confess that believers have not always lived the peace-loving teachings as prescribed by Jesus in the Scriptures. Thus, we are lumped together with other religions that have given the world just cause to criticize and believe that religion is harmful to human progress. However, humanism misunderstands true Christianity, and wrongly lumps Christianity together with other world religions.
One problem with humanism is its belief that mankind has what it takes to achieve all of these ideals and aims, without God. (Psalm 118:8) Humanism fails to take into account the words of Jesus when He said that humans are corrupted by sinful natures. (John 8:23-24; Mark 7:20-23) Human goodness cannot overcome this corruption. Without God, and His supernatural interventions, there can be no guarantee that our world will reach a utopian state. On the contrary, the Bible predicts just the opposite. In the last days we will be just as corrupt as ever, if not more so. Difficult times will come because people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, unloving, disobedient to parents, irreconcilable, ungrateful, malicious gossips, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, without self-control, and haters of good. (2 Timothy 3:1-3) Jesus Himself said that wars and rumors of wars will be in effect right up to the end. (Matthew 24:6-8) No! Man will not achieve a lasting good society. It is the Lord Jesus who will establish a peaceful, loving, and evil-free world. (Isaiah 2:2-4)
I began this letter with the views of humanism because when I take a close look at what is happening in our world today, humanistic ideals are what I see? I am wondering if others also see them. These ideals and beliefs can be seen in the teachings of materialism, naturalism, atheism, Darwinian evolution, liberalism, one world order, separation of church and state, secularism, and tolerance. Such humanistic ideals are being wide-spread through universities, grade schools, TV, movies, printed media, political agendas, government programs, and churches. Yes, I said churches because a large segment of the church has rejected the supernatural elements of the Bible and has adopted the position that many parts of the Bible are outdated and must be changed to fit the needs of the modern age. Such beliefs, while seeking to promote human good, are trying to do it without God’s wisdom and power. (Proverbs 24:19-20) Humanistic effort has been put forth to eliminate God-talk and the Bible from schools and other government places. We hear things like removing God’s commandments from public view, eliminating Christ from Christmas, and removing “In God we trust” from our money. In a pluralistic society, there are certainly valid reasons for these actions, but as humanism downplays the supernatural work of God in our daily lives, such as the need for new birth by His Spirit, we will continue to see a decline in Godly morality and healthy human behaviors. American people are sensing that their nation is becoming more and more immoral and problematic. Drugs, school shootings, and declining standards are part of today’s school problems. Families are in disarray, people are more disrespectful of authority, there is more dishonesty and unethical practice in business; and it is difficult to find good workers in the job market. Our prisons are filled to overflowing. Tolerance allows any and all sexual preferences. People do what is right for them with no right or wrong that applies to everyone the same. There is no absolute truth to which we are held accountable, but truth is of our own making. Christianity is becoming very unpopular because it is perceived as authoritarian and repressive; a dogmatic religion that hinders human development. Science, not God, has become our hope for the future. Evolution is the acceptable view of life’s origins and the means of progress. Governments are the “go to” as our chief problem solvers and need suppliers.
People are sensing that the world is getting worse, and many are wondering what the world is coming to. What do you sense? Even though many are open to spiritual things, and a supernatural Christian faith keeps growing in the midst of it, do you see that humanism is increasingly becoming our world’s belief system and way of life?
Humanists, naturalists, and many others, including church people and leaders, do not believe in the supernatural. A humanistic society avoids God’s authority and Lordship, believing that the supernatural is non-existent. To them there is no evidence to support the supernatural. The supernatural events of the Bible are seen as mythical or made-up stories which are only meant to teach certain spiritual truths, or to convince people to submit to the Bible’s teachings and lifestyle. Supporting humanists is philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) who argued that all of life’s experiences tell us that supernatural events like those in the Bible do not happen because no one ever witnesses them. Our uniform experience of not seeing miracles means that there is no supernatural. Therefore, if someone says they did witness a miracle, like someone rising from the dead, it is more likely that they are telling a story than that the event really happened. The supernatural was nothing more than mythical god language that was used in the past to explain things people did not understand. Humanists can dismiss a need for God by arguing that science can, or someday will, provide a natural explanation for all things, showing that there is no need for supernatural explanations.
How do Christians define supernaturalism? Supernaturalism is the belief in a God who can and does intervene in human history with acts that are above or beyond nature as we normally experience it. J. Gresham Machen, in his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”, wrote that supernatural events “presuppose two things: (1) the existence of a personal God, and (2) the existence of a real order of nature. Without the existence of and order of nature there could be no distinction between natural events and those that are above nature.” Wilbur M. Smith in his book, “The Supernaturalness of Christ; Can we still believe in it?”, states that a supernatural event “requires for its cause the intervention of a supernatural being, that is, an event that man himself cannot duplicate, and which cannot be accounted for by any naturalistic cause.” By denying supernatural elements, much of the church, as well as the world, now experiences what the Bible means by having a “form of godliness, while denying its power”. (2 Timothy 3:5) We end up with man-made religion, but not true Christianity.
The Bible is full of witnessed supernatural events. God exists and created the universe from nothing (Hebrews 11:3), waters are parted so people can cross a sea (Exodus 14:21-22), an iron tool floats on water (2 Kings 6:5-7), and the birth of a child occurs without involvement from a human father. (Matthew 1:18-21) Jesus Christ, unlike leaders of other religions, was seen to perform supernatural acts such as walking on water, stopping a raging storm by telling it to stop, instantly healing persons of diseases and defects, feeding thousands of people with a handful of food, and raising dead people back to life. Supernatural events were seen to have happened to Jesus. His body is transfigured, His body is raised from the dead, and His body is visibly beamed up into the sky. (Acts 1:9-11) A common miracle witnessed by many today is a person’s supernatural conversion by God’s Spirit. (John 3:3-6) No other religion today claims such a witnessed plethora of supernatural events. These events gave validity to the teachings of Christianity and to the God of the Bible, (Hebrews 2:3-4) and they served to verify the apostles’ message of salvation in Christ. (Acts 2:43)
Humanism, seemingly, would like to see every religion but its own eliminated. Religions are seen, often justifiably so, as a cause of our world’s problems. However, since most people believe in God or gods, humanists are smart not to forbid religion, nor risk offending believers, but rather to promote keeping your religion private and silent. Let religion help make us into nice people, but don’t use it to try and influence or convert society. Humanistic values are the proposed answer for the future survival of the world. We, as humans, will make the world into the good and moral and progressive world that we want it to be.
What is the world coming to? The necessity of God’s miracle of new birth to change people and provide hope, (John 3:3,6; 1 Peter 1:3-5, 22-25) and also accepting the Bible for what it says, is being ignored, even by many professing Christians. The Bible is clear about what the world will look like when it approaches the end of history as we know it. The supernatural God will be denied and ignored in favor of the rise of the power of man. The idea that Jesus will one day return to earth to rule His people will be mocked. (Matthew 24:29-31; 2 Peter 3:3-4) Already Darwinian evolution, human reasoning, secular education, government, and trust in the natural sciences, have become the hope and the way of life for an overwhelming majority. Those who believe in the supernatural Christ and the Bible are seen as backward and out of touch with the real world. But this should be no surprise to those who know the predictions of the Bible. The Bible, containing the words of an all-knowing God, foresees the rise of world leadership that persecutes believers and promotes human beings as God. The prophet Daniel tells of a coming latter-day king who will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god. He will honor those who acknowledge him and cause them to rule over the many. He will go forth to destroy and annihilate many. (Daniel 11:36-45) The apostle Paul informs us that just before the coming of Jesus there will be increase in lawlessness which will require the rise of a person who will be humanity’s hopeful savior. He will exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship, displaying himself as being God. He will have Satanic powers to perform false wonders and deceive many people into following him. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12) The apostle John, in the last book of the Bible, conveys a vision of a future world government which will have great authority and whose leader will amaze the peoples. He will be followed by the whole earth. This world leader will speak arrogant words against God and will make war against God’s saints. He and his government will exert considerable control over the world. (Revelation 13:1-18) All of these Biblical descriptions are exactly where humanism leads. Humanism’s belief in the need for a world community will come into being. It will do so in light of perceived threats to the well-being of the human race. After all, humankind does not want to see itself destroyed and will do all it can for self preservation. Humanism wants to create a utopian society, but because of its godless nature, human efforts will not succeed, and according to the Bible, the people of God, in the end, will rule the world with Christ as the head. (Revelation 19:11-21; 20:4; Daniel 7:13-14, 18, 27; 2 Timothy 2:7-12; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 2:25-28) Of course, the world does not like to hear this, because like King Herod of old, they do not want Christ to rule over them. (Matthew 2:1-13) They prefer to rule their own lives. But all who try will find that in the end it does not work. Without making Jesus the center of our lives, life eventually fails us. As an aside, something else to watch for as a sign that the end is near is Jerusalem constantly being endangered; finally surrounded and attacked. (Zechariah 14:2-4)
I have attempted in a general overview to help us understand what is happening in the world today, and to show from the Bible what is to be expected. Understandably, many will not like this Biblical scenario and will find ways to explain away these revelations of Scripture. Believers must be ready to face greater persecution in the future and to stand firm in their faith unto the end. (Matthew 24:13; Revelation 2:25-27) God does not want us to be surprised by things that will take place, but to be prepared. That is why He has let us know in His word what the world is coming to. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) We have nothing to fear, for God is with us and nothing will be able to separate us from His love and His plan for our lives. (Romans 8:31-39) God’s plan for His Son, Jesus, is made clear in Psalm 2. The lines are being drawn. God and His people are clearly loved or hated. There will be no middle ground. We would all be wise to take heed and line up on His side, for the truth of Psalm 2 is what the world is coming to.