Humanism and Christianity

June 18, 2008



At first glance, religion and Humanism appear to be working toward the same end. That is, they both desire to create a world in which social justice is the norm and people voluntarily cooperate for the common good.[i] However, the stated goals of Humanism reveal a deeply rooted animosity toward religion.[ii] This distaste for the religious can be clearly seen when discussing their thoughts on Christopher Columbus, the Puritans and Christianity. This hostility toward Christianity is not so much an attack on our shared objective of promoting justice,  as it is a hostility toward anything which promotes moral purity as defined by a transcendent source. In other words, Humanists desire to see the same world that we do, but they do not want to be held morally accountable to God for their actions.


To lay the framework for this discussion, let’s look to the Humanists themselves for a definition of Humanism.


Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. . . Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. [iii]


It is worthy to note at this point that even Humanists agree with most of what God has revealed to us about His law. For instance, when was the last time that you overheard a Humanist rant against the intolerant prohibitions against such things as lying, stealing and murdering? The fact of the matter is, the prohibitions which infuriate the Humanists are generally prohibitions which interfere with their sensual desires. Specifically, prohibitions on our sexual behavior and intoxication.


In his Essay, The Promise of Humanism, Frederick Edwords[iv] ridicules the Christian promise of eternal life as being insufficient to fulfill the pleasures of the here and now. In comparing the promises of the major world religions to that of Humanism, he says “the promise of Humanism is a good life here and now”[v]


He goes on to say:


The people, ideas, things, and actions we love do not depend for their worth on how long they last or their supposed cosmic significance. They are things in themselves to be enjoyed for their own sakes. Life is an art, not a task. Life is for us, not for the universe. And life is for now, not for eternity.[vi]


It’s no wonder than, that the Humanist finds himself at odds with the Christian worldview. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul has this to say about gratifying the desires of the flesh:


Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.[vii]


To the Humanist, evidence for God must be discarded. He must oppose God at all costs. While often under the guise of an intellectual argument against the existence of God, the truth is that it  is a desperate attempt to keep their sensual desires from being exposed by the light of Christ. The bible makes it clear that there is ample evidence to believe in God. Paul says that God’s “eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made”.[viii]


John the apostle also makes it clear that the problem is not intellectual but spiritual. In other words, it’s not that there isn’t enough evidence to believe in God, but rather than people love darkness rather than light. Consider the following passage and post your comments on how it relates to the Humanist hatred of Christianity.


And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. [ix]




[i]The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently   cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world”. – Bragg, Raymon B. Humanist Manifesto, 1933 Affirmation Fourteen, Copyright © 1973 by the American Humanist Association


[ii] “We appreciate the need to preserve the best ethical teachings in the religious traditions of humankind, many of which we share in common. But we reject those features of traditional religious morality that deny humans a full appreciation of their own potentialities and responsibilities.”. – Kurtz, Paul and Wilson, Edwin H. Humanist Manifesto II, 1973, First Affirmation on Religion,  Copyright © 1973 by the American Humanist Association


[iii]  Humanism And Its Aspirations (Humanist manifesto III), 2003, Copyright © 2003 by the American Humanist Association


[iv] Frederick Edwords is a leading spokesperson for Humanism. In addition to many other posts, he served as the executive director of the American Humanist Association (AHA) from 1984 – 1999, and editor of the Humanist magazine from 1994-2006. He is currently serving as the  director of communications for the AHA.


[v] Edwords, Frederick. “The Promise Of Humanism.” http://www.americanhumanist.org (1989),  American Humanist Association http://www.americanhumanist.org/humanism/promise.php

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Galatians 5.16-18 NRSV

[viii] Romans 1.20 NRSV

[ix] John 3.19-20 NRSV


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