Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Worldview Class #2 – Part 4 – Secular Humanist Philosophy

While teaching a Sunday morning class at church on the topic of various worldviews, I plan to share some of the more significant findings which our class is learning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

Philosophy is defined as the “rational investigation of the principles of knowledge.” Put more clearly – How do we know what we know?

The secular humanist views all parts of philosophy through the lens of naturalism – the theory that everything in the world is made up only of natural elements and forces. From this viewpoint there is no possibility that anything spiritual or supernatural can exist. This follows the same line of thought as that of organicism – where society and individuals are thought to behave much the same as a biological organism. In essence, the secular humanist may not regard mankind as much more than a fancy paramecium.

Indeed, the Humanist Manifesto II (1973) states, “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. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we now know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of the natural.” The humanist relies on science as the foundation for all discoveries and knowledge – and science, to them, may only reveal things that are of the natural world. The supernatural cannot be measured, and thus, cannot exist to a humanist.

Yet, even in this worldview, the act of faith seems to be required. Take, for example, the Higg’s boson particle. I’ve written about this scientific experiment before, with the Large Hadron Collider being built in Europe for the express purpose of discovering a particle which has never been observed. But, scientists are so sure that it does exist that they’ve invested $4.5 billion into a huge particle accelerator to prove the theory. Isn’t this a faith of sorts? Can science be termed a religion of its own?

Even the humanist will admit to this. Corliss Lamont, the twentieth-century socialist philosopher, said, “Faith in the methods and findings of science, it is said, is just as much a faith as faith in the methods and findings of religion. In answer to this we can only say that the history of thought seems to show that reliance on science has been more fruitful in the progress and extension of the truth than reliance on religion.” Is such a statement true, though? Hasn’t science been guilty of “changing its mind” over periods of time, as theory and knowledge changes? I can think of the flat-earth theory, naming atoms as the smallest particles of matter, and the global-cooling-wait-global-warming-wait-global-cooling-again debates as examples of science’s inability to get at the truth.

Further, secular humanist philosophy is embodied in the concept of monism – the idea that the mind (or personality, or soul) is nothing more than a physical phenomenon. It’s all neurons firing, chemicals reacting, and flesh decaying – nothing more. Monistic theory gives man no hope for anything beyond death. It also postulates that the human mind is just one step along an infinitely long evolutionary change. To many humanists, the human mind may soon be replaced by something better – the computer. Victor J. Stenger has said, “Future computers will not only be superior to people in every task, mental or physical, but will also be immortal…”

Clarence Darrow, famed American lawyer, summed up the secular humanist viewpoint in this short paragraph:

“The purpose of man is like the purpose of the pollywog – to wiggle along as far as he can without dying; or, to hang to life until death takes him.”
What a sad view of life. By denying God and his supreme existence, the humanist not only lives a life of hopelessness, but exchanges an eternal promise of life praising the Creator for an everlasting condemnation. And science cannot save him from that.

Next: Worldview #2 - Part 5 – Marxist/Leninist Philosophy
-- or –
Back to the
start of this series
-- or --
Back to
Worldview Series #1

No comments: