Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Thursday, April 26, 2007

    The Christian Attention and Response to the Secular Humanism Agenda

    Paul Kurtz, Editor in Chief of Free Inquiry (the Secular Humanist Bulletin), has written an article entitled “’Yes’ to Naturalism, Secularism, and Humanism” in order to define what the “illustrious FREE INQUIRY contributors” are for, but in doing so he also provides indirectly a clear and articulate agenda for the Secular Humanists. This agenda seeks not only to mirror, but to replace everything that Christianity (and/or theists) consider not only important but essential in life and practice. In effect...

    to replace God by becoming God themselves(wishing to “realize the goodness of life” apart from God for themselves and others, and to “create a better world”);

    to replace God as the author, sustainer and taker of life (by providing “abundant opportunities for achieving the good life),

    to replace the Spirit (by using their own “method of inquiry” along with an open mind and applying the best methods of objectivity, corroboration, and replication to work out explanations of what we find in nature.”),

    to replace God’s eternal law as the basis for morality and ethnic (by “seeking the realization of autonomous human values, independent of theology), but

    to replace both the church and the comfort it brings (by providing “new sources of community and comfort that can provide the aesthetic and moral dimensions for new forms of ‘spirituality’ realized in naturalistic terms”).

    Secular Humanists even seek:
    to replace Christ and the redemption offered through him (by asserting “new and useful recommendations concerning the human condition”).

    Were it not for natural intuition; the reasonable comfort and appeal which is discovered and experienced through faith findings and solutions; the witness and testimony of those who know and enjoy God through more wholistic methods of inquiry (Christianity); and the lack of real solutions along with comfort and appeal that secular humanism offers ..this might serve more of a threat than it is!

    ... but evenso, I believe it important that both Christians and non-Christians alike, both theists and non-theists alike need to sit up and take notice of what is not only being offered and suggested, but what is being pursued!

    ...for while the average Christian in America sees at times the Bible come under attack, or the Ten Commandments or the laws of our land come under attack, or even the church come under attack, I do not believe the average Christian today recognizes the sum and totality and integrated nature of the attack leveled against both our faith and our way of life. If so, many more would wake up and not only show more concern for what is taking place, but take a more active role and voice in protecting, preserving and promoting the faith we now enjoy and benefit so greatly from.

    I’d like to address this article and agenda by looking at several issues:

    Let it be clear that the aim of the secular humanists (or scientific naturalists, or humanist ethicists, or atheists or agnostics, or whatever other label or name they call themselves by, whether they are full secularists or affiliated only in part) is not to simply sit back and propose their principles and propositions, but to actively seek to remove God and any way, manner, expression or communication related to the supernatural from society and from being propagated to persons or future generations. In Paul Kurtz’ own words, “scientific critics of theism are to be applauded for making it clear why they cannot accept the God hypothesis and why they reject the theistic tales and parables of the past”; “supernaturalism was thus replaced by naturalism”; they “reject the ancient mind’s simple invocation of hidden deities who reward or punish human behavior”; “What matters is that we begin by opening the ‘Book of Nature,’ not ancient books of scripture, such as the Bible or the Qur’an”; they seek “the realization of autonomous human values, independent of theology”; they are “committed to the separation of the church … and state” and “consider political liberties so vital and theocracy so dangerous”, they “deplore supernaturalists’ attempts to flee from reason and freedom”, and they seek “to supplant the God hypothesis”.

    While the secular humanists speak of being able to provide exactly those things that most recognize now that only God can provide, is it really so, or are there shortcoming and pitfalls to their approach?

    First, one must recognize the inherent inadequacies of a method of inquiry which for the most part is limited simply to science. Any reasonable person will recognize that there’s more to life, more to personhood, more to man’s psyche, more to man’s experience than just the physical, or than just the study of the physical can either detect or explain. As many have pointed out, such things as love, and beauty, and passion pass beyond the measuring of a laboratory instrument.

    Second, one of the greatest weakness of the secular humanist position is it’s failure to address the human condition. While it states that it must assert “new and useful recommendations concerning the human condition”, it fails to do so. While it speaks of its wishes for a “better world”, for “enhancing human freedom in a just world”, for “the possibilities of achieving the fullness of life”, for being committed to truth”, for “…developing a critical understanding of how nature works and why”, and while it acknowledges “the power of affection and love in enriching our lives”, and its challenge to “create alternative institutions that satisfy the hunger for meaning, that satisfy our ideals, that support sympathetic communities, that are able to provide comfort in times of stress”, and it’s desire to its determination … to bring about a more creatively joyful life for ourselves and others in the new planetary civilization that is emerging”, along with its need to “cultivate ethical wisdom and to appreciate the intrinsic value of life”… it fails to acknowledge, address or deal with the problem of SIN. What’s true in experience is that when it comes to the sinful nature of man, which is exactly as the Scripture defines it, man is forced to either deny sin, redefine sin, cover up sin, suppress sin, etc. However, when man does this, he ends up only masking it, hiding it, setting a façade in front of it, mistreating it (such as through anti-depressants, etc.), etc.

    Third, what alternative are secular humanists going to provide in order to replace the laws of nature (the laws of God, not only defined in the Scripture, but known to all as evidenced by the testimony of the man throughout the world throughout the ages (who on the whole have agreed to all of them, though they have not always individually agreed on all of them). Can you really improve on them? Not only that, but has not experience shown that apart from absolute law, that man even though he may claim wisdom, progress, modernity, etc., that what’s called right today is either called wrong by another person or group, or will be replaced as wrong tomorrow in the name of that same wisdom, progress, and modernity. Who are you trying to fool? Who is going to make these decisions? What if what you declare right for you is not right for others? What will you do with the inconsistencies? What will you do when people struggle because your systems ultimately must be left to say there is no ultimate justice?

    Fourth, while secular humanists claim to either have all the answers, or to be capable in time of achieving them, do they not overestimate the capabilities of man? While they claim they have come to understand the laws that govern the universe such that they are confident there is no God, can they violate these laws without consequence? While they claim to be able to provide the comfort that individuals need, does their counsel satisfy when it comes to death? While they wish for a good, new world, what is going to remove the selfishness, greed, and hatred of man? Can you really have and provide community among those whose ultimate goal is to provide for themselves? Is it enough just to provide “our best resources to cope with” “the disappointments, adversities, and infirmities of life” and when they occur to “endure’ in spite of them? Can humanist provide so that we can endure in spite of all of them? If man could have done these things, and found these answers on his own, would he not have done it long ago, or are we to assume the progress made is that significant that it can now be done? Who are you trying to fool?

    Fifth, can secular humanists really replace the church? Can it really extend sympathy and altruism beyond our ethnic and racial groupings – and ultimately to all human beings on the planet earth? If so, then why has it not done it in the past? Do you really care?

    Sixth, is life to be found in the things secular humanists are looking for? While we all appreciate health, possessions, etc., is this where life is ultimately found? Or, can life be experience even apart from all these things?

    Seventh, can secular humanists provide the euphoria, the ecstasy, and the eutopia that they suggest? Just look to those who now experience the lifestyles of the rich and famous, who have all this world has to offer. Do you find it there? I’ll let you decide.

    1. Recognize that the agenda of the secular humanists (and all other religions, positions, etc.) is not to simply introduce a principle or practice, but to eradicate everything about God and our way of life.
    2. Respond not only personally but by helping others see and understand what’s at stake.
    3. Resolve to not allow these agendas to advance either in your lifetimes, your children’s, or in the ages to come, as far as it depends upon you (in God’s providence and grace).
    4. Recommit yourself to living and propagating the faith inaccordance with the truth and redemption.


    jazzycat said...

    The secular humanists, liberals, and socialists miss the mark because of the SIN of man that you correctly pointed out. They may deny and not understand it, but they will always be frustrated. Why? Because there will always be too many people riding in the wagon and not enough pushing the wagon in their "perfect" societies.

    Romans 1:22 fits them like a glove. There I go again...... I will be on that verse in about a week on my photo devotionals on my blog. You can be certain that I will not sugar coat that verse one bit.


    Swordbearer said...

    I hope all our readers will take a look.