A THEOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF A SECULAR HUMANIST DECLARATIONPosted: September 9, 2008
Recently I have read a article at the following site. I decided to write a review of the following section that quite disturbed me, extremely! The article was written by Paul Kurtz on, A Secular Humanist Declaration, namely section 4, Ethics Based On Critical Intelligence. You can read below;
“The moral views of secular humanism have been subjected to criticism by religious fundamentalist theists. The secular humanist recognizes the central role of morality in human life; indeed, ethics was developed as a branch of human knowledge long before religionists proclaimed their moral systems based upon divine authority. The field of ethics has had a distinguished list of thinkers contributing to its development: from Socrates, Democritus, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Epictetus, to Spinoza, Erasmus, Hume, Voltaire, Kant, Bentham, Mill, G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, John Dewey, and others. There is an influential philosophical tradition that maintains that ethics is an autonomous field of inquiry, that ethical judgments can be formulated independently of revealed religion, and that human beings can cultivate practical reason and wisdom and, by its application, achieve lives of virtue and excellence. Moreover, philosophers have emphasized the need to cultivate an appreciation for the requirements of social justice and for an individual’s obligations and responsibilities toward others. Thus, secularists deny that morality needs to be deduced from religious belief or that those who do not espouse a religious doctrine are immoral. For secular humanists, ethical conduct is, or should be, judged by critical reason, and their goal is to develop autonomous and responsible individuals, capable of making their own choices in life based upon an understanding of human behavior. Morality that is not God-based need not be antisocial, subjective, or promiscuous, nor need it lead to the breakdown of moral standards. Although we believe in tolerating diverse lifestyles and social manners, we do not think they are immune to criticism. Nor do we believe that any one church should impose its views of moral virtue and sin, sexual conduct, marriage, divorce, birth control, or abortion, or legislate them for the rest of society. As secular humanists we believe in the central importance of the value of human happiness here and now. We are opposed to absolutist morality, yet we maintain that objective standards emerge, and ethical values and principles may be discovered, in the course of ethical deliberation. Secular humanist ethics maintains that it is possible for human beings to lead meaningful and wholesome lives for themselves and in service to their fellow human beings without the need of religious commandments or the benefit of clergy. There have been any number of distinguished secularists and humanists who have demonstrated moral principles in their personal lives and works: Protagoras, Lucretius, Epicurus, Spinoza, Hume, Thomas Paine, Diderot, Mark Twain, George Eliot, John Stuart Mill, Ernest Renan, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Clarence Darrow, Robert Ingersoll, Gilbert Murray, Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein, Max Born, Margaret Sanger, and Bertrand Russell, among others.”
Here is my personal response on this section, please be sure to read his article fully…
In the section entitled Ethics Based On Critical Intelligence, Paul Kurtz’s theological errors begin from the very first sentence. Regardless of whether or not Kurtz is a believer, one day he (and the entire human race) will indisputably be held accountable for the entirety of everything in his life, including his beliefs; no matter if an individual believes in a higher power or not, they will be judged (Rev. 20:11-15). Therefore, notwithstanding if Mr. Kurtz is a Christian or if he believes in any absolute truth, he still ought to be – and will be – held accountable for the theology he presents. However, there is much difficulty in revealing theological error to one’s writing and views on life when they have no personal knowledge of Christ, absolute truth, or the gospel. With this said, it is Kurtz’s first sentence in section four that stands out in a way that immediately places him on the defensive side. Kurtz says, “The moral views of secular humanism have been subjected to criticism by religious fundamentalist theists.” This may be the case at times in history – that is true – however, historically/theologically speaking, Christianity has been attacked from the beginning when man thought that they had a better plan of intelligence by partaking from the tree of knowledge (Gen. 3:1-7). Here is the first time that man thought for themselves alone and not for the glory of God. Historically, this is the first time that man went out on his own, so-to-speak, and with the intelligence obtained, began a fatality that all of humanity would be consumed by: the power of pride. This pride is that which critical intelligence is based and founded upon – it is man trying to find happiness in himself and not enjoying God completely. Adam’s intent was nothing less than trying to find intelligence in himself, and not the One who made him.
Next, Kurtz’s second sentence states, “The secular humanist recognizes the central role of morality in human life; indeed, ethics was developed as a branch of human knowledge long before religionists proclaimed their moral systems based upon divine authority.” If secular humanists recognize the central role of morality, then their systems such as detention centers, jails, prisons, and mental health hospitals would be able to fix the problem of humanity’s sin. But this is not the case, is it? No – they need men of God that live by a moral standard of absolute truth from the Word of God to come in and preach, pray, and teach biblical morals, because even the secular systems and men see something different about the Christian faith and Christian ministry. As a matter of fact, in a recent political forum moderated by Rick Warren between Senators Obama and McCain, Warren brought up the issue of faith-based ministries. The astounding result was that well over 70% of individuals would rather be in a ministry that deals with biblical morals and ethics than what the State, the nation, and mankind – such as secular humanists – have to offer. Theologically, Kurtz’s crucial problem is that he sees it as important to place the created above its Creator. This particular outlook is always at the very root of sin and is the cause of man’s failure in glorifying God to the utmost. The theological error in it is that man sees his own morals as his commandments rather than seeing and obeying what God has given to man to live by. Once again, this can be linked back to the fall with Adam, when he placed his moral values before that which God had ordained.
Further on in Kurtz’s fourth section he states another theological inaccuracy that is quite upsetting. When a person does not know the Lord, errors like this are in every way understandable due to a lack of basing ethics upon something that reasons as it ought to, but rather bases ethics upon something that reasons to get what is wanted, when it is wanted. This is seen when Kurtz says, “For secular humanists, ethical conduct is, or should be, judged by critical reason, and their goal is to develop autonomous and responsible individuals, capable of making their own choices in life based upon an understanding of human behavior.” Here Kurtz makes another theological error as he suggests that the correct way of reasoning is for individuals to make their own choices based on the understanding of human behavior. However, the real truth is that man was not created for the sake of his own name or for his own glorification; he did not have a will that made him aim to lift his name above the Lord’s; he was not made so that he may reason at any time to get his personal desires and wants. When the Lord created mankind He did not ask man what he thought about it; He did not ask man his opinion when He created them. Rather, in perfect wisdom and will, He made man to glorify Himself first and foremost above all else.
Lastly, there was one more sentence that stood out most of all in the later part of A Secular Humanist Declaration when Kurtz says, “As secular humanists we believe in the central importance of the value of human happiness here and now. We are opposed to absolutist morality, yet we maintain that objective standards emerge, and ethical values and principles may be discovered, in the course of ethical deliberation.” How can anyone find happiness in change? How does mankind find joy in what they do not know? This may give a temporary high or a season of getting a boost or taste of happiness, but only truth that never changes brings an everlasting happiness that results in morals that humans live by and that are joys to the human heart. Although ethical values may be found or may emerge, as Kurtz says, they only derive from the evil and sin of mankind. Therefore, this is why man must not look at his own fallen state to see what morals and ethical values to stand on, but rather he must look upon the perfect, blameless, and spotless Christ. This is the answer to every fallen need, every fallen want, and every fallen man that may think his mind is greater or thinks he has all the answers, and yet inevitably falls short in his needs. Christ is the answer to the secular humanist; He alone (and through the gospel) has a way of piercing the heart and humbling man before Himself.
In all, theological errors come as men try to be their own saviors – a mind savior, a moral savior, an ethical savior, a humanist savior – but in the end not one of these will save man from hell. There are even those who may know theology and the gospel, and yet rely on their own morals and ethics instead of acknowledging their need for the source of morality – Jesus Christ Himself. Why look for things that will fade away or fall in time? Why try to find answers in the mind that can change at any time? The answer is simple: because man wants to be their own savior and their own personal religion, and they do not want to give themselves up to a personal Christ – a Christ who has never changed, who perfectly lived by His own law, who was morally and ethically spotless, and who continues to be entirely perfect today as He rules from His throne until His return.
Even though my review may be barely read, thanks for reading if you have done so.