“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”1 John 1:1–4, ESV
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.”1 John 2:15–18, ESV
I came across something, quite by accident, that made me pause and think. It was an article about the service held for someone who had died and his friends and family, called a Humanist Funeral. I had never heard of this, so I began to search for what a humanist funeral is.
Humanist funerals and memorials are non-religious ceremonies supporting family and friends to mourn and celebrate the person who has died. They focus on the life they led, the relationships they forged, and the legacy they left. They are based on the humanist perspective that every life is individual and valuable.https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/non-religious-funerals/
What caught my attention was that this funeral service is supposed to be non-religious, but the structure closely follows a traditional religious funeral and even ends with “the Committal.” To what or to who is the dead person committed since, for most Humanists, there is no afterlife (yes, there are exceptions, but those who think there may be an afterlife are religious to some degree). Additionally, the service is often aided in preparation and performance by a Humanist Celebrant, trained and certified to undertake the task. Aside from the attempted avoidance of religion and a god, this sounds similar to the Clergy.
Questions began to enter my mind. I know I have read about humanism before, but I never took the time to look into precisely what it is. To do so, I had to go to some authoritative source. Here is what I found on the American Humanist Association web site:
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good.American Humanist Association
Humanism is a democratic and ethical lifestance (sic) which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.Humanists International
With a bit more research, I discovered that Humanists pitch is that religion is acceptable if you want it, but you are wrong to believe it. You can talk about a god if you like, but there is no God. The emphasis is logic and empirical evidence. There is nothing beyond that, including a morality based on societal needs and rational thought.
“Non-believers” do, of course, have many beliefs, though not religious ones. For example, they typically believe that moral feelings are based on treating others as they would wish to be treated (the ‘golden rule’ which antedates all the major world religions)… “Humanist” is used today to mean those who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. (https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/non-religious-beliefs/) A humanist may embrace all or most of the other approaches introduced here, and in addition humanists believe that moral values follow on from human nature and experience in some way. Humanists base their moral principles on reason (which leads them to reject the idea of any supernatural agency), on shared human values and respect for others. They believe that people should work together to improve the quality of life for all and make it more equitable. Humanism is a full philosophy, “life stance” or worldview, rather than being about one aspect of religion, knowledge, or politics.
Hold on there. The ‘golden rule’? I have to challenge that there is no evidence that the golden rule “antedates all the major world religions.” This is quite a statement made with no rational or scientific support. The Golden Rule is religious. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, ESV). “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8–10, ESV)
The Golden Rule is not pure logic. Without the authority of God the Creator, thus Owner of the universe, there cannot be a morality of the Golden Rule. “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18, ESV, emphasis mine) Logically, without God, everything gets turned on its head. Why love my neighbor if cheating, stealing, or even killing him is to my advantage? What is to say that the morality of a serial killer is less moral than that of the Humanist?
The Humanist, the Agnostic, the Atheist, the Secularist, the Rationalist, and the Skeptic are all the most illogical people. Let’s start with the need for empirical evidence as the foundation for morality. Some things exist that cannot be empirically proved. No one can see or hear the thoughts I have unless I speak or write them or find another way to express them, such as art and music. Nevertheless, those thoughts are as real as I am. Therefore, to exclude things that are not empirical and not existing is not logical.
Then, there is the rational attempt to enforce any morality upon others without some basis for doing so. What the Humanist thinks is reasonable, there can be a multitude that thinks it is unreasonable. Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin thought genocide was reasonable and forced their morality upon whole nations. When they tried to spread their moral righteousness throughout the world, they discovered how many others disagreed. Ultimately, there cannot be any moral judgment apart from a universal foundation and source for morality. In that case, the Humanist can claim to be logical, but there is no logic to their worldview.
No system of morality can be based upon anything other than the order that the one God created. Any attempt to do so is like Eve, who, deceived by the serpent, reached out for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, which is only God’s right. God has revealed what he wants his created humans to know and to do. So, God is good, and evil is anything that would set itself against God by claiming his goodness is ours to declare by fiat.
Then there is John. He was known as the one beloved by Christ Jesus. The Apostle answers the humanist in so few words. First, the evidence for the existence of God was seen, felt, and heard by all of the Apostles and many of the disciples of Christ. That God was the one who put on his creation and came to live in it. Second, some have and will arise in opposition to Christ, those that John calls antichrist. Any thought, system, worldview that would deny Christ is antichrist. It is evident that Humanists love the world and the things of the world. While so many Humanists celebrate the life and accomplishments of one who has died, I grieve because Humanists are dead already.
There is hope, though. The Gospel is available to them. If only they could see that their worldview keeps them from the promise of life that the God they deny offers them.