Secular Humanists Have a Problem: Humans

The Humanist movement in America first moved to officially define itself in 1933 with the Humanist Manifesto. Signed by prominent academics, liberal theologians, Unitarian ministers, and philosophers (John Dewey arguably being the most well-known), it described in glowing terms what man could do if only old religions would get out of the way. Among the affirmations was the expression of humanism’s goal of “a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good.”[1]

Of course, then came the humans doing what humans do. The German Nazi regime murdered an estimated 20 million people in their camps and ghettos.[2] The Empire of Japan murdered nearly six million civilians.[3] The Soviet Communists claimed nearly 50 million of its citizens’ lives by 1954 (this figure excludes WW II casualties).[4] It is perhaps easier for us to swallow these inhumane numbers by ascribing them to individual actors: Hitler, Hirohito, and Stalin. But each of these leaders led a portion of their population to murder a large number of other populations in search of the good life for themselves. They didn’t act alone and their death tolls are the true face of secular humanism writ large.

After the upheavals of world war, regional conflicts, and cold war dampened the progressive idealism of the early 1930s, American humanists decided it was time to update their manifesto. And so was birthed Humanist Manifesto II (HM II). It begins in this way:

“It is forty years since Humanist Manifesto I (1933) appeared. Events since then make that earlier statement seem far too optimistic.”[5]

So far, so good. It sounds almost humble if not contrite. But then the humanists march boldly forward:

“We have virtually conquered the planet, explored the moon, overcome the natural limits of travel and communication; we stand at the dawn of a new age, ready to move farther into space and perhaps inhabit other planets. Using technology wisely, we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our life-span, significantly modify our behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life.”[6]

The first manifesto was overly optimistic? We had virtually conquered the planet by 1973? Really? We can control our environment? Has a more ridiculous phrase ever been penned by supposedly intelligent people? These are the same folks who ridicule the faithful that pray in the face of a hurricane. Control the environment indeed! But wait, folks, we have more:

“We believe in the peaceful adjudication of differences by international courts and by the development of the arts of negotiation and compromise. War is obsolete.”

At best, the expression of the obsolescence of war has to be seen as high idealism. At worst, it is simple delusion. But then, HM II seems to specialize in delusion and internal inconsistencies. One has to work hard to miss the Marxist rhetoric in its affirmations and the continual drum beat for a one-world government. In their desire to rectify their predecessors’ optimism, they embrace the same answers and approaches heedless of the human selfishness that had claimed millions of innocent lives in the four decades between the documents.

Among all the shining language about human potential, freedom, and rights we find this little jewel:

“The preciousness and dignity of the individual person is a central humanist value.”[7]

Followed shortly thereafter by:

“The right to…abortion should be recognized.”[8]

I am certain that this philosophical inconsistency is sidestepped by the humanist denial of the dualism of mind and brain, spirit and body. The pregnant woman, of course, is an individual person. The fetus is simply an inconvenience to her freedom and self-actualization. The humanist must assert the woman’s right to murder.

There have been nearly 57 million abortions in the United States since 1973. That is more than twice the number of civilians murdered by the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese combined. Planned Parenthood has carried out over 6.8 million abortions since 1970.[9] That is comparable to the Holocaust casualties. I doubt we’ll see a mass vilification of Margaret Sanger anytime soon. Even so, I lay the dissected, chemically burned, and medically miscarried corpses of innocent babies at the feet of the secular humanists as evidence that they have a primary problem with their first precept. Mankind is not intrinsically altruistic or cooperative.

The humanist disavowal of the Savior won’t turn humans into saints. We’ve proven our capacity to grievously sin for millennia. I don’t expect us to be able to change that on our own.

[1], accessed 7/6/14.
[2], accessed 7/6/14.
[3], accessed 7/6/14.
[4], accessed 7/6/14.
[5], accessed 7/6/14.
[6] ibid.
[7] ibid., Fifth affirmation.
[8] ibid., Sixth affirmation. And then the Seventh affirmation claims an individual right to euthanasia and suicide. It is the nihilistic personal liberty of death to others and self. One murder breeds another.
[9], accessed 7/6/14.

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