What are the philosophical beliefs of secular humanism?
Secular humanism is a branch of philosophy that grew out of late eighteenth / early nineteenth century Enlightenment thinking. It is also called Humanism. It embraces human reason, instead of religion or revelation, as primary in determining morality and ethics. It favors the rational over the metaphysical, and the natural over the supernatural, especially as a means of finding knowledge about mankind and the world around him. Secular humanism believes that man is fully capable of being ethical and moral without the help of a deity. Furthermore, secular humanism claims that man can achieve his own happiness. In fact, the mascot of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is called the "Happy Human."
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Secular humanism is partly a reaction to the existence of superstition and irrationality in religion. Christians are not opposed to this. In fact, believers are commanded to "test everything" and "hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Bereans were a good example of right Christian conduct in regard to information—they compared what Paul told them to the Scriptures, to see if it was correct, investigating the facts they had been given (Acts 17:11). Christians do not condone ignorance or blind belief. But every idea we encounter is to be tested against the standard of truth that is God's word (2 Corinthians 10:5). We do not want to be ruled by superstitious nonsense and false ideas, and clearly God does not want this for His creatures. The difference between Christian thought and secular humanism is that Christians believe the answers to life's questions are in the Bible, while secular humanism teaches people to rely on their senses and perceptions to discover truth.
Intellectual believers struggle with philosophies such as this one. We are fascinated by the ideas, and intrigued by some of the arguments humanists propose. But, in the end, secular humanism seeks to explain man's existence without God, and like all false messages, set man up in God's place. For followers of Christ, there is a recognition that the human mind and will must submit to the mind and will of God—even when we cannot understand His ways (John 6:60–69).
The main message of Christianity is God's desire to save humanity through repentance and faith (John 3:16–18; 1:12). Secular humanism rejects this message and embraces the idea that man can save himself, heal the world, and eventually evolve beyond his sin. This is a nice idea, in theory, but it will never happen. We simply do not have the power to accomplish our own salvation (Romans 3:10–12). Secular humanism does not offer a viable solution to man's dilemma. Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said, "If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature." And C.S. Lewis once said, "Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind." This is very true. This world is riddled with disease and war and other ravages of sin, and it is not meant to last. Our mortal lives are temporary, but our souls are not—true happiness is waiting for us beyond this world, if we trust Christ to save us and bring us safely into His kingdom (Luke 23:42).
Every person who accepts Christ (Revelation 3:20) will come into a better country, one which God has prepared for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Hebrew 11:16; cf. Matthew 25:34; John 14:2).
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