The Humanist Faith
In Psalm 144, David tells us that the nation is blessed whose God is the Lord. But he also recognized that there were those who were a threat to Israel – that society where God is the Lord. For him, it came from other nations around Israel – “from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.” He prays for deliverance from those who were trying to destroy the Covenant Community of Israel.
The situation hasn’t changed much since David’s day. There are still those seeking to destroy the Covenant Community. They are “strangers and foreigners,” because they come from another country, but because they do not share the faith of the People of God. They have a different faith, a different law, and a different lifestyle.
Today this faith is most consistently expressed in Humanism. It sums up non-Christian belief – whether in its ancient or modern form. I was once teaching a class on “Comparative Religions” in High School and we were dealing with Humanism. As one student read through the notes, he said, “You know, these people teach the exact opposite to what you do.” He was right! Humanism is the “exact opposite” of what Christians believe. Its Paganism pure and simple. And our thanks must go to the Humanists for summing up their faith so well in “The Humanist Manifesto II” which they produced in 1973. In it, they articulate what is the faith, not only of many intellectuals today, and probably the majority of teachers, but also the faith of many ordinary people. Indeed, Humanism goes right back to the Garden of Eden and to Adam and Eve when they listened to the Devil rather than to God. What do Humanists believe and teach?
They don’t believe in the God of the Bible
First of all, they don't believe in God. And after making a statement like that, you would expect them to say that all religions are harmful. But they don't. Only some religions are harmful. And if you ask which ones, the answer is not hard to find. It’s those that believe in a God who reveals himself to humankind – a religion based on Revelation. And that's very logical. If you believe in a god who never says anything, you can think anything you like about him, and what he wants you to do. It’s a religion that let's you be your own “god.” But if you believe in a God who not only exists, but reveals himself, and what he wants, immediately our self rule is challenged. Here is a competing authority. And that’s something no self – respecting Humanist can stand – a challenge to his or her ultimate authority. As long as you don't bring along your revelation you can have your god. He's powerless anyway – a projection of your mind. But a God who speaks with authority is a different story.
A favourite question with some people is “Who made God.” The answer is, “No one.” A god that had a beginning is not worth believing in. He can just as easily cease to be! The God we must be concerned about is the God who always existed and will always exist! And he has revealed himself to us in his word. He hasn't left us to make up all sorts of ideas about him.
The Hebrew idea about God was absolutely unique in the ancient world and perceptive non Christian writers recognize this. One of them says this:
“When we read in Psalm 19 that “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork,” we hear a voice which mocks the beliefs of Egyptians and Babylonians…
The God of the Hebrews is pure being, unqualified, ineffable. He is holy… Every finite reality shrivelled to nothingness before the absolute value which was God… Nowhere else do we meet this fanatical devaluation of the phenomena of nature and the achievements of man.” Frankfort, Before Philosophy, pp 237, 242-243
David’s enemies – The Philistines – believed in Dagon and Baal – gods they had made up. Those gods are gone. The Humanists have no quarrel with them! The only God they don't like is an eternally existing God speaking in his Word.
The self as supreme
And when you get rid of the Authority of God, who becomes King in the Universe? The individual self or the state! In the add on TV there's nice music and then it says, “Its all for the most important person in the world: You.” That's Humanism in a nutshell. In the Humanist world the Individual is Supreme. The Humanist, rejecting the authority of God, not only says we must depend on human reason and science for information, but goes on to assert the supreme authority of the person over his or her life. They say, “The right to Birth Control, Abortion, and Divorce should be recognized.” And then they say: “Neither do we wish to prohibit, by law or social sanction, sexual behaviour between consenting adults … individuals should be permitted to express the sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire.” Furthermore, the freedom and dignity of the individual includes the “right to die with dignity, euthanasia, and the right to suicide.”
As we read their policy document, it seems that we’re listening to many people talking today. And if we continue on the humanist road, we're heading for trouble. The French Revolution began in 1789 with the noble Humanist cry of “Liberty, Fraternity and Equality.” It also had another humanist cry, “No God, No Master.” But it all ended after a few years in a Reign of Terror, followed by the Dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. And if we go further back into humanistic societies, like Rome and ancient Canaanite culture – the story is just the same. Life was cheap; children were exposed; old people were left to die; and children were offered as sacrifices to manipulate the “gods.” If that's what we want then Humanism is the policy and the program that will deliver it. No wonder David was so worked up about his nation being defended from such enemy as this.
What are those who pose a threat to the Covenant Community like? David says, “their mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.” Put bluntly it amounts to Deception and Fraud.
For example, it can't be trusted in what it says. They speak about the dignity of the individual: “The preciousness and dignity of the individual person is a central humanist value.” But how can you have dignity, when the world is a product of chance, where the self is supreme and life is basically meaningless. They say that “the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces.” They say “value derives from human experience.” They say “Human life has meaning because we create and develop our futures.” There is no heaven and hell. There is no ultimate justice in the world. Death is the end for everybody. How can one inject any value into that sort of world? We may have our own – but so may Adolf Hitler. And if there is no absolute value, what right have we to impose our value on anybody else or say someone else is wrong.
And then they talk about Toleration and Love. But there's not much toleration for some things:
“Intolerant attitudes have been cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures.”
“Traditional dogmatic and authoritarian religions … do a disservice to the human species.”
“Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal dam-nation are both illusory and harmful.”
It seems that there are some things that are not tolerated. Rome tolerated all sorts of things too – but it didn't tolerate Christians. It threw them to the Lions!
They talk, too, about Freedom and decentralization. And then they go on to say that the world situation now demands a world government. They say, “The best option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty.” We need “a system of world law and a world order based on transnational federal government … Human progress … can no longer be achieved by focusing on one section of the world.” World poverty must cease, and to achieve this, “extreme disproportions in wealth, income, and economic growth should be reduced on a worldwide basis.” All people are equal, but in the new world order, some are more equal than others. The experts will tell us all what to do! David wasn't wrong when he said they say one thing and do another.
But they’re also deceitful in what they do. One writer said that the phrase “whose right hands are deceitful” refers to either the hand being raised as a sign of obedience and friendship, or of a deal being struck. The idea is that the person pretends to be a friend and agree, but they don't. And that's what Humanism does. It pretends to be the friend of Humanity, and the friend of humans. It pretends to be engaged for our good and the good of society. But we've heard that voice before! We hear it in the Garden of Eden. Its the voice of the Devil, saying, “I'm really on your side. God is selfish, hard and cruel. He wants to keep the best from you. I'm your true friend.”
God is man’s best friend
We must settle in our minds today that the only real friend – and the only true friend – of Humanity is God. He’s the only one who has no secret agenda, and no sweet promises that have terrible stings in them. He tells us the truth about the world, about life and about ourselves. But not only does he talk straight. In the gift of his Son to be our Saviour he has given the greatest demonstration of his love and concern. He has shown conclusively that he’s our friend and not our foe. And if anyone tells us that they are our friend – and then tries to tell us that God does not exist, or that he's not to be trusted and obeyed, and that Jesus is not the Saviour – they’re not our true friend. They are acting for our hurt. God is man's Best Friend – not the Devil or the Humanist.