God bless you for coming back here for something new.
Today we continue with the last of the worldview series…
The Secular Worldview – Mankind at the Center.
Read on the Christian and Islamic worldviews if you missed it.
The Secular Worldview is a religious worldview in which “man is the measure” — mankind is the ultimate norm by which truth and values are to be determined. According to Secular Humanism, all reality and life center upon human beings. In fact, we act as God.
Our friends at Summit Ministries have helped us explain the basics of the Secular Worldview across ten major categories. This is a brief description of the categories.
Secular Worldview – The Individual Elements
The Secular Worldview is a comprehensive view of the world from a materialistic, naturalistic standpoint. Therefore, the Secular Humanist sees no place for the supernatural or immaterial. There is no place in the Humanist worldview for either immortality or God in the valid meanings of those terms.
Humanism contends that instead of the gods creating the cosmos, the cosmos in the individualized form of human beings giving rein to their imagination, created the gods. The following elements of the Secular Worldview naturally flow from this core foundation:
Secular Theology – Atheism
Secular Humanists believe that there is no God, that science and the scientific process have made God obsolete. Humanists believe that only matter – things we can touch, feel, prove, or study – exists and has always existed. Man is only matter (no soul or spirit). No supernatural explanation is needed for the existence of this matter.
Secular Philosophy – Naturalism
Naturalism says that only matter exists – things you can touch, feel, and study. The Humanist trusts the scientific method as the only sure way of knowing anything, so if something cannot be observed, tested, and experimented on, it doesn’t exist. Since you can’t observe God, hell, the human mind or spirit, or conduct experiments on them they can’t – and don’t – exist.
Secular Ethics – Moral Relativism
Since the Secular Worldview rejects the existence of God, human beings get to decide on standards and values. Humanists believe that science, reason, and historical experience are sufficient guides for figuring out what is right or wrong in any situation. These standards will not always be the same, as each person has a different background and reasoning. Therefore, the standards and values – ethics – are relative. The Humanist Manifesto II states, “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing not theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest.”
Secular Science – Neo-Darwinian Evolution
The theory of Neo-Darwinism purports that natural selection acts on genetic variations within individuals in populations and that mutations (especially random copying errors in DNA) provide the main source of these variations. Because positive mutations seem to be rare, Neo-Darwinism contends that evolution will be a slow, gradual process. Without naturalistic evolution, there is no Secular Worldview.
Anything else would demand a Creator, which would mean that man is not the source of all things. Secular Humanists believe that science has proven the theory of evolution to the extent that it is no longer a theory but a scientific fact. According to this “fact”, man is the most highly evolved of all creatures, and is now responsible for directing and aiding the evolutionary process.
Humanist Psychology – Monism (Self-Actualization)
The Secular Worldview focuses on man’s inherent goodness and predicts that every individual can achieve mental health through the fulfillment of physical or material needs. This is the psychology of self-actualization. Monism means that man is only body – no soul, mind, or conscience exists. If man is only matter, then his actions are simply the result of mechanical impulses. This notion, called behaviorism, is inconsistent because it directly contradicts the Humanist’s atheistic theology and naturalistic philosophy, which claim that man is the master of his fate.
Humanist Sociology – Non-Traditional Family, Church, and State
Humanists use sociology to explain the huge gulf between their view that man is capable of perfection and the real world of evil. They say civilization and culture shape the individual. Thus, man is evil primarily because his cultural and social environments are evil, not through any fault of his own – society and culture have influenced man’s actions and have therefore stifled this inherent goodness. One of the most stifling of human institutions is the family. Government sponsored education provides the most desirable method for abolishing outdated social institutions and ensuring the development of a free society.
Secular Law – Positive Law
In Secular Humanism, the state is given sovereignty, which is entirely rational because there is no higher power to be taken into consideration. Just as man is seen as the final world in ethics, the world state is seen as the only source for legal “truth.” The Humanist believes that crime is more the fault of the social order than an inherent flaw in the criminal.
Secular Politics – Liberalism, Progressivism, Secular World Government
According to the Secular Worldview, Humanists believe that the world government is the next logical step on man’s evolutionary road to utopia, as man is now conscious of his evolution and is responsible to direct it. Also, a goal of Humanism is world peace, and a global state can best achieve it. The state, directed properly, plays a central role in guiding man. As Julian Huxley said, “To have any success in fulfilling his destiny as the controller or agent of future evolution on earth, [man] must become one single inter-thinking group with one general framework of ideas…”
Secular Economics – Interventionism
Most Humanists believe in some type of interventionist economy because this is more consistent with their belief that man is an evolving creature who will become capable of planning the perfect economy. Man, who must “save himself,” must be in absolute control of all aspects of his universe. Thus, the world’s economic system must be strictly controlled through central planning – that is, government must be granted authority over man’s economic affairs.
Secular History – Historical Evolution
The Secular Worldview sees earth’s history from a strictly naturalistic vantage point, meaning there has been no supernatural influence. The history of man and the universe is the history of evolutionary activity. Propelled without design by “blind natural selection,” history has moved in an upward direction from simplicity to complexity. Some Humanists view Artificial Intelligence – the computer – as the next step in historical evolution.
Secular Worldview – Conclusion
The Secular Worldview is a comprehensive conception of the world from a naturalistic standpoint. The ultimate failure of Secular Humanism is in the fact that of its very nature it promises what it cannot fulfill.
By encouraging people to put their trust in earthly happiness it programs them for disillusionment. This is in large measure the reason why the history of the modern world has been characterized, intellectually, by philosophies of pessimism like Existentialism and by often-rancorous bitterness over various plans for worldly improvement. In the twentieth century, mass slaughter has been perpetrated not by religious believers in opposition to heresy but by secularists convinced that their plan for a worldly utopia is the only possible one.
Thanks for passing by…
Let’s met again nextweek Godwilling. Enjoy your weekend.
Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.
1 Paul Kurtz, ed., The Humanist Alternative (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973), 177.
2 Robert E. Egner and Lester E. Denonn, The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1961), 40.