Secular Humanists Are Humans (part III)

While it is important to reassure a potential convert that becoming a Christian does not require one to check reason at the door, one should remember that secular humanists are humans. To share Christianity with a secular humanist one does not necessarily have to have a command of these rather complex scientific and philosophical arguments. Atheism is counter intuitive to nearly everyone. Even an anti-theist like Sam Harris concedes that, “there is clearly a sacred dimension to our existence, and coming to terms with it could well be the highest purpose of human life.”[1] Like all people they suffer from the devastating results of sin. The bible tells us that “men suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). If we can help them to address their unrighteousness by pointing to Christ’s redemptive work, often their truth suppression is mitigated. They need forgiveness yet do not acknowledge it. We can offer them help dealing with addictions where secular methods fail. They struggle for love and acceptance like all other humans. It is important to share the love and unique message of Jesus Christ as many secular humanists have only a sardonic caricature of Christianity in mind. An ardent atheist will likely be suspicious that Christians view their conversion as a trophy. It is important to develop a relationship and to demonstrate genuine care before making an evangelistic appeal.

Once there is trust, a particularly useful approach is the moral argument along the lines of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Evolutionary explanations fail to adequately account for objective moral values. Given Darwinism, anything that provides for the survival of one’s own genetic material is deemed beneficial. So why is rape or murder evil, if you can get away with it?  After all, it reduces the competition and spreads your DNA. Yet we seemingly know that it is wrong. Furthermore, relativism amounts to mob rule. For instance, there is no objective basis to judge that the holocaust was truly evil. As long as the majority of Germans agreed with what Hitler was doing, then it was moral-relatively speaking. Of course this is repugnant to most everyone and indeed it is here that secular humanism has failed most miserably. Unparalleled scientific progress has not delivered a secular utopia. It has led to a human nightmare. The twentieth century world total is 262,000,000 murdered by government and largely outside of war in the pursuit of the secular humanist ideal of Marxism.[2] The problem of evil is actually a much bigger problem for the atheist than the Christian. The bible provides a coherent explanation for evil and most of all it offers a real hope (Rev. 21:4).

[1] Sam Harris. The End of Faith. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005), 14.

[2] R.J. Rummel “20th Century Democide.” Freedom, Democracy, Peace; Power, Democide, and War. 11 23, 2002. (accessed 10 26, 2010).

Secular Humanism’s Inadequate Creation Myth (part II)

The secular humanist’s insistence on naturalism also poses a problem when it comes to cosmology. That the natural world had an ultimate beginning has now been firmly established by the big bang cosmology. Yet for naturalism to be coherent, the universe should be static and eternal.[1] Because our space time reality is contingent, the principle of sufficient reason or the scientific method would lead one to look for a sufficient cause. An infinite regress is irrational. Thus, a self-existent necessary first cause is clearly the best explanation. The only possible alternatives are irrational appeals to self-creation or that something comes into being without a cause. Unfortunately, this is exactly where secular humanism arrives. The famously brilliant physicist, Stephen Hawking, has recently argued, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”[2] In other words, to create itself, the universe had to exist, before it existed. This is nonsense. Fortunately for theists, the law of non-contradiction is still a necessary corollary for real science. It seems far more reasonable to assert that that which caused nature is indeed supernatural.

Secular humanists are particularly entrenched when it comes to the sacred cow of Darwinism. There are very good scientific reasons to doubt Darwinian orthodoxy but the majority of humanists are practiced in this debate.  It might be wise to address a more ultimate question like the origin of life. Evolution cannot explain the origin of life and Darwin never really tried. There can be no Darwinian evolution without reproducing life and to date there are no feasible theories as to how this occurred. But even if we grant evolution, it does not equate to naturalism. There are many theistic evolutionists like human genome project director, Francis Collins, who argue that the evolutionary process itself is evidence of God’s design. For instance, William Paley’s classic argument from a watch to watchmaker still holds. Far from being a defeater, evolutionary theory leads one to believe that we have found a self-replicating watch that makes improvements on itself in response to its environment.[3] That demands not only a skillful design but one with foresight. When viewed through this lens, evolution actually refutes naturalism. This effectively demonstrates that naturalism and scientism are inadequate.

[1]Geisler and Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004,72.

[2] Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design. (New York: Bantam  Books, 2010), 14.

[3] Dinesh D’Souza. What’s So Great About Christianity. (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007), 98 .

Secular Humanism’s Self Refuting Theory of Knowledge (part I)

Secular humanists are largely the product of the enlightenment and modern scientific rationalism yet their roots run deep. The bible speaks of God’s displeasure during the days when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:6). The fifth century BC Sophist Protagoras famously declared “Of all things the measure is man,”[1] and this still seems a suitable credo for today’s humanists.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth. [2] A major problem for the secular humanist is their theory of knowledge. The secular humanist will invariably assert scientific consensus as the final word. According to Webster’s scientism is “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation.”[3] For example, Bertrand Russell wrote:

While it is true that science cannot decide questions of value, that is because they cannot be intellectually decided at all, and lie outside the realm of truth and falsehood. Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.[4]

Yet this precept is self-refuting in that it is not itself established by science via data from controlled repeatable experiment. Science is limited. For instance, the scientific method cannot even discover why I baked brownies yesterday. Perhaps I made them for a party or a church social?  There is a truth to be known, yet short of me telling, science is impotent. God is a person, well actually three persons… much like the reason why I baked brownies, there is truth to be known about God, but it is up to him to reveal it.

Furthermore, science simply presupposes the rules of mathematics and logic, the uniformity of nature and the rational intelligibility of the universe. In fact, science is dependent on them as articles of faith. Yet given atheism, there are no epistemological grounds to assume a rational universe. Albert Einstein once marveled, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” However, theists believe that reality can be described with humanly derived equations because our minds are the product of the ultimately rational God who set reality into motion. Science is dependent on the theistic interpretation of an orderly cosmos.[5] Thus, there is a profound logical incoherence that undermines all of naturalism’s attempts to answer ultimate questions.

…to be continued

[1] Carol Poster. “Protagoras (fl. 5th C. BCE).” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. April 27, 2005. (accessed 10 26, 2010).

[2]C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 39.

[3] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed., s.v.”scientism.”

[4] Bertrand Russell. Religion and Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 243.

[5] Nancy Pearcey. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity. (Wheaton,Il: Crossway Books, 2004), 43.