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(This originally appeared in the Winter 2000 edition of the MCOI Journal)

By Sarah Flashing & Joy A. Veinot

humbug manifesto paradise

Many people faced the new Millennium with a sense of dread and apprehension. What would happen to the world in our new century? War? Famine? Economic collapse? Armageddon? We have now survived Y2K, so perhaps millennial fever will cool down for a time. Perhaps the rosy optimists will have the upper hand for a time-at least until another war or famine or something comes along and dashes their Utopian hopes. One thing is sure: Only God knows what the future will bring. The pessimists and the optimists have been overtaken and embarrassed by REALITY time and time again.

One group of optimists in particular, those known as Secular Humanists, presumes to offer the alternative to the doomsday predictions that have marked the end of the twentieth century. By insinuating that they exercise a level of thought and reason not available to lesser humans, they seek to address the real and imagined perils of the next thousand years of history and offer “reasonable” solutions.

By bringing alleged “fresh thinking” to bear upon the human condition,1Drafted by Paul Kurtz, “Humanist Manifest 2000: A Plan for Peace, Dignity, and Freedom in the Global Human Family,” Free Inquiry, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Fall 1999), p4. Free Inquiry is a quarterly published by the Council for Secular Humanism, a non-profit educational corporation. the latest version of the Humanist Manifesto suggests a plan “to cope with the global society that is now emerging.”2Ibid., p 4 But let the reader beware: Close examination of the Humanist Manifesto 2000 shows itself to be just another “humbug manifesto” in matter of fact. Even their preposterous boast that Humanism represents “fresh thinking” is absurd in light of the fact that, in the very first paragraph of the preamble, they trace their Humanistic heritage back to “the philosophers and poets of ancient Greece and Rome, Confucian China, and the Carvaka movement in classical India.”3Ibid., p4 They stress the fact that “humanist artists, writers, scientists, and thinkers have been shaping the modern era for over half a millennium.”4bid., p4 If a rehash of outdated pagan philosophy represents “fresh thinking,” what, we ask, is “stale old thinking?” It is no surprise to us that Humbug 2000 blames “fundamentalist” religions for saddling mankind with “old ideas and traditions” that are “no longer relevant to current realities and future opportunities.”5Ibid., p4

These fundamentalist religions are not identified by name-I suppose the Humanists figured that we would know who we are!! The only requirement to be labeled a “fundamentalist” today, by liberals and Atheists alike, is to be one who believes one’s religion is actually TRUE, which would include followers of biblical Christianity, Islam, Orthodox Judaism, and other religions.

Why Humanistic ideas are “fresh and new,” while Christian beliefs are “old and irrelevant” is not spelled out here … we are just supposed to accept their unsupported assertion on good, old-fashioned faith, I guess. !

This revised manifesto is divided into several sections. The preamble provides a very helpful historical review of previous (failed) manifestos. Exuberantly they assert,

“… humanist ideas and values express a renewed confidence in the power of human beings to solve their own problems and conquer uncharted frontiers.”6Ibid., p4

Such blarney! What does their confidence have to do with anything? The Heaven’s Gate folks had great confidence a spaceship was coming to pick them up-such great confidence that they laid down their lives for that belief. Their confidence, however, did not make it so. Confidence is just faith, folks, nothing more or less.

Anyone who takes a serious look at human history cannot have much reason to believe human beings are going to solve their own problems. Therefore, upon what is such sanguine confidence based?

We have pointed out that there have been numerous formerly ballyhooed manifestos that have utterly failed to achieve their objectives. So, the Humanist’s “renewed confidence” in this latest offering (HM2000) does nothing to convince us they finally got it right this time! Didn’t earlier Humanists have complete confidence in Humanist Manifesto I, which appeared in 1933 and advocated “national economic and social planning?” I suppose they did until 1973, when Manifesto II appeared and “no longer defended a planned economy, but left the question open to alternative economic systems.”7Ibid., p5

Why did they lose confidence in the boldly offered social solutions offered in Manifesto I? Well, here is how they explain it-STUFF HAPPENED-stuff like the rise of fascism, World War II, Communism’s ascendance on the world scene, the Cold War, the decolonialization (their word) of the third world, the creation of the United Nations, and on, and on.

We Have Zealous Faith In Our
Non-Religion …

So, what happened that derailed Manifesto II? MORE STUFF HAPPENED, that’s what. In particular, some mean, old, nasty critics labeled Secular Humanism a religion- that dirty word!!! So in 1980, in response to attacks “particularly from fundamentalist religious and rightwing political forces in the United States”8Ibid, p5 a.k.a. the Big Bad Wolf, a.k.a. You-know-who-you-are, A Secular Humanist Declaration was boldly and confidently issued in 1980. Their condensed response to the critics who insisted Secular Humanism is a religion was as follows: No we’re not! The Declaration declared that, unlike religion, Secular Humanism expresses “… a set of moral values and a non-theistic philosophical and scientific viewpoint that could not be equated with religious faith.”9Ibid., p5

So is Secular Humanism a religion? You bet it is! You don’t need a deity to have a religion. Everyone would agree that Buddhism is a religion, yet many sects of Buddhism claim no deity. Webster defines “religion,” in part, as “any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy (the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion, etc.) b) Any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values, etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system (humanism as a religion).”10Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 3d ed., s.v. “religion.” Bingo.

So, the Humanists are operating on faith the same as any other religion; and they are quite open about where their faith is placed-in the most unreliable and untrustworthy of sources-mankind!

Okay, back to the inspiring tale … After 1980, MORE STUFF HAPPENED, so A Declaration of Interdependence was boldly, confidently, and ardently issued in 1988 “calling for a new global ethics and the building of a world community.”11HM2000, p5

Planetary Humanism

Well, all that sounds very well and good, so why do we need Humbug 2000? You guessed it-MORE STUFF HAS HAPPENED! It’s discouraging, isn’t it? More stuff keeps happening all the time! And, since Humanism has not solved our problems so far, it is obvious more Humanism is needed. So now they make a fervent, ardent, zealous case for planetary humanism.

First, we are treated to what, in their opinion, is evidence that mankind is on the road to paradise. The section of HM2000 entitled “Prospects for a Better Future” takes a look at how the world has benefited from science and technology. (We have to admire how the Humanists manage to imply that science and technologies are the exclusive domain of Secularists, as if

Christians are not well-represented in the sciences and among inventors-both historically and currently.) From the discovery of antibiotics and the development of vaccines, to increased crop yields impacting starvation and new modes of transportation,12Ibid, p6 HM2000 looks to the accomplishments of our past to predict a rosy future for mankind. The authors boast happily that “human inquiry is now able to advance … while the metaphysical and theological speculations of the past have made little or no progress.”13Ibid., p6 Our prospects for a better future, they assert, rest in the hands of the human species equipped with confidence and rationale combined with science and technology. One might wonder why the Humanists have not solved all of humanity’s problems already. After all, by their own reckoning, they have been working at it for half a millennium now.

As it turns out, the Humanists probably could have solved the world’s problems by now if only the religionists and other wackos had gotten out of their way and let them make all the rules! Even now, it seems these religious dinosaurs are standing in the way of progress.

And so, HM2000 reveals some insecurity about where our race may be headed, and what bad stuff may befall us in the future, if we do not heed this warning and follow their well-reasoned plan. They are, they say, “… especially concerned about antiscientific, anti-modern trends …” Some of these trends are identified as “the emergence of shrill fundamental voices, and the persistence of bigotry and intolerance, whether religious, political, or tribal in origin.”14Ibid., p8 They accuse these reactionary fundamentalists of “opposing efforts to resolve social problems or to ameliorate the human condition …”15Ibid, p8

At this point, it is fair to ask just what the Humanists have done (besides writing endless manifestos, that is) to “resolve social problems or ameliorate the human condition.” How many hospitals and universities have Atheists established? How many prison ministries have they founded? How many food pantries have they set up? It seems they are more talk than action. Yet, Christians-who did found many of our universities, hospitals, food pantries, homeless shelters, and all manner of compassionate organizations-are scorned by the Humanists as having done nothing to ameliorate human suffering.

Moreover, they hold “theists and transcendentalists” responsible for all of the atrocities committed throughout history. From slavery and capital punishment, to wars inspired by “intransigent dogma,” it is implied that Atheists would never take part in such atrocities. Humbug. It is true; of course, that religious people, including Christians, have persecuted and even killed people in the name of God. And, yes, Christians have held slaves and even upheld slavery as an institution at one time. These are terrible things. There is no denying that Christians have often transgressed God’s law and have not displayed His love.

And, indisputably, pagan and mystical religions have also been responsible for much unpleasantness-what with human slavery and sacrifice, persecutions, and wars from the pre-Christian era to the present. But, the old charge that religion (in general) and Christianity (in particular) is to blame for all or even most of man’s inhumanity to man is patently false. In our twentieth century, Atheism has been a very deadly philosophy, indeed. Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Chairman Mao-there’s not a Christian or theist in the bunch! Millions upon millions in the twentieth century alone have died at the hands of Atheistic Utopian schemers in their attempt to recreate paradise without God.

The Rocks on The Roadway

Not only are people of faith responsible (in the Humanist’s view) for all of the bad stuff that has happened in history, but, as we have previously alluded to, they now prevent a lot of good stuff from happening. Faith-based worldviews are the biggest obstacle to progress in the Humanistic worldview. HM2000 states that economic development and the reduction in poverty are repressed because certain religious and political groups refuse to fund programs that are “designed to reduce fertility and stabilize population growth.”16Ibid., p8

Have you ever noticed Christians can be blamed for almost anything? On the fiftieth anniversary of the Holocaust in Europe, our local newspaper took the opportunity to blast European Christians for not preventing that atrocity. Yet, this same paper, on another page, branded Christians in America as “right wing extremists” for their attempts to stop our modern-day holocaust of abortion on demand! Should Christians live according to their consciences or not? But we digress …New Age adherents, with their “spiritual/paranormal views of reality,”17bid, p6 cause great consternation to the Humanists as well. This is in spite of the fact New Agers generally agree with the Humanists that there is no such thing as absolute truth in the religious realm. The problem the Humanists have with New Agers is the NA’s tendency to reject all absolutes including those of the Humanist’s vaunted scientific and technological variety. For example,

New Agers believe all spiritual paths are equally valid and lead to salvation however one chooses to define it. Unfortunately, from the Humanist’s standpoint, many New Agers also believe that Mother earth (Gaia) is a living being and find some benefit in communing with trees. This is pure nonsense from the rationally minded Humanist point of view. And they are even more upset by the NA’s tendency to reject proven, scientific, medical techniques, etc., in favor of touchy-feely, unscientific, or even anti-scientific therapies of various kinds.

Humanists are distressed at the appearance and even ascendancy of Postmodernism in our universities, decrying Postmodernist’s “questioning [of] the basic premise of modernity and humanism, attacking science and technology, and questioning humanistic ideals and values.”18Ibid., p6

This seems strange to us. Christians, it should be noted, share the Humanist’s concern with the rejection of objective truth that manifests itself in the New Age and Postmodernist worldview, because Christianity strongly holds to absolute truth and rejects moral, spiritual, and scientific relativism. (We believe adultery is wrong, God is ONE, and 1+1=2, for example.) But, on what basis can the Humanists deny Postmodernist’s right to question Humanist values and ideals-after all, Humanists have made a career out of questioning Christianity’s values and ideals.

And, shouldn’t the right of human inquiry, so highly praised in this very document when it applies to the religious goose, include the right to question the Atheist gander’s faith as well? Nope. The Humanists defend their beliefs with a religious fervor unmatched by many “religious fundamentalists,” which only proves religious hypocrisy comes in all stripes.

Whose “Morality” Is “Right?”

What are the Humanists “values and ideals?” The following is a condensation of some of the key principles of the ethics of Humanism:19Ibid, pp12-14

– Moral responsibility
– Humane treatment of all persons (A fetus, of course is not one of the “favored” persons-we can abuse them all we please.)
– Moral education for young people
– Reflective inquiry regarding ethical judgements
– An openness to the modification of ethical principles
– Autonomy of choice

These principles sound really great until you realize no definitions are given. What does “moral” or “ethical” mean?” Who decides what it means to act “responsibly?” “Humane treatment of all persons” sounds great, but people disagree strongly about just what that expression entails. For example, some people believe it is “humane” to euthanize the disabled, the physically or mentally ill, or even those who are merely unwanted. Christians, for one group, would most certainly disagree with that definition. Whose definition rules? Also, although they presumably would mandate humane treatment for all persons, they elsewhere in this document advocate very inhumane, indeed brutal, treatment of those they deem to be non-persons-the unborn.

In addition, what do they mean by suggesting we maintain “an openness to the modification of ethical principles.”20Ibid., p11 Whose outdated, inferior, ethical principles will have to be “modified” to suit whose superior, rational, modern principles? Dear Reader- can you hazard a guess? We would, of course, welcome any modification of their supposed “ethical principles” (to allow for the protection of the unborn, for example), but I really cannot see that happening, can you? In fact, the modification they seek is to “the moral absolutes of the past” in order to promote greater “autonomy of choice.” In other words, our moral ideals must give way to their superior ones. They state:

“We should be prepared to select rationally the new reproductive powers made possible by scientific research-such as in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, genetic engineering, organ transplantation, and cloning. We cannot look back to the moral absolutes of the past for guidance here. We need to respect autonomy of choice.”21Ibid., p6

Anyone hearing any alarm bells about now? Of course, to be consistent with their worldview, the Humanists could not claim that their opinion on any disputed issue was “right.” There can be no “right” or “wrong” on philosophical issues from the Humanist standpoint, because philosophical issues are non-material and cannot be tested or proven by scientific examination. They would have to resort to New Age subjectivism (How does this idea “feel” to me?) to justify their moral position.

The Humanists realize this is a major dilemma for them; so in HM2000, they attempt to answer this objection, but their effort falls short. The authors state:

“Humanists have been unfairly accused of being unable to provide viable foundations for ethical responsibilities … Throughout the centuries, philosophers have provided solid secular foundations for humanistic moral action.”22Ibid, p10

To credit mere human philosophers for one’s moral understanding is not reasonable or rational. It just pushes the problem back in time. After all, where did these ancient philosophers get their views of morality? How can any philosophical viewpoint, however ancient, be evaluated scientifically and proven to be technologically viable. And, no matter how much the Humanist may agree with these ancient thinkers, what gives them the authority to force the rest of humanity to accept the reasoning of these men. Are they gods that we must listen to them?

Now they switch gears and offer another, equally lame and irrational argument to resolve this dilemma:

“Moreover, countless millions of humanists have led exemplary lives, been responsible citizens, raised their children with loving care, and contributed significantly to the moral enhancement of society.”23Ibid., p10

It’s the old “sun is yellow” excuse. Yes, the sun is yellow, but how does that prove your point, Bub? I’m sure that “countless humanists have led exemplary lives” (if there is such a thing as “exemplary” that can be proven scientifically) but WHY? Why are they moral, responsible, loving, etc., and why is that way of life any better than immorality, irresponsibility, and hatred? Again, what is the foundation? What IS “morality,” exactly? Christian morality has always been tied to God and His law, but Humanists deny His existence and reject His law. So, to get back to the issue-why shouldn’t Postmodernists or others reject Humanistic morality? After all, one man’s idea of an “exemplary life” may be another man’s idea of squandered opportunity. How could one viewpoint be scientifically proven to be any better than the other is? Why are Hitler’s values any worse than yours or mine are? Hitler was extremely scientifically and technologically advanced for his time. His eugenic theories were very scientifically fashionable in his day. University professors taught the “scientific” theory of eugenics,24Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: from euthanasia to the final solution, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), p4. “The term ‘eugenics’ was coined in 1881 by the British naturalist and mathematician Francis Galton and described by the leading American eugenicist, Charles B. Davenport, as ‘the science of the improvement of the human race by better breeding.’ Eugenics developed within the larger movement of Social Darwinism, which applied Darwin’s ‘struggle for survival’ to human affairs. Recruited from the biological and social sciences, or what today might be called the life sciences, eugenicists firmly believed that just as the Mendelian laws governed the hereditary transmission of human traits like color blindness or particular blood group, these laws also determined the inheritance of social traits.” and doctors were the first to carry out Hitler’s orders to kill (humanely, of course), long before the less educated grunts in the military started herding people into ditches and shooting them. The Holocaust was only a natural outgrowth of Hitler’s philosophical Darwinian beliefs. And very evil philosophical ideas can be no more scientifically repudiated than good ones can be scientifically validated. Hitler rejected Christianity as a religion for weaklings-all that “love your neighbor” stuff was, to use the Humanists own words, “no longer relevant to current realities and future opportunities.”25HM2000, Preamble, p4

Intolerant of Intolerance-
Those Wackos Have Got To Go

“We should be tolerant of cultural diversity except where those cultures are intolerant or repressive.”26Ibid., p11

There they go again. Whose standard will be used to determine which cultures are “intolerant or repressive?” Will the Secular Humanists remember to include themselves in this list, considering how intolerant they seem to be of those dastardly fundamentalists and transcendentalists? Seems doubtful to us. Whose freedoms will have to be squashed to eliminate “intolerance and repression?” And whose intolerance will be praised and even institutionalized?

That should not be too difficult to determine, since HM2000 harshly criticizes any worldview that doesn’t rely on man for absolutely everything. Under the heading “Scientific Naturalism,”

HM2000 exhibits a clear intolerance toward spirituality of any kind. How long before such “backward” views will be repressed by the enlightened elite, who are, after all, the only ones who can be relied upon to apply rational thinking and reason to man’s plight? Don’t think that will ever happen? It certainly will happen if the Humanists get their way.

A New Bill of Rights … and Responsibilities

In the section titled “A Planetary Bill of Rights and Responsibilities,” it is stated that:

“Parents should provide a secure and loving environment for their children.”27Ibid., p13

As humane and benign as this statement may initially sound, it ominously adds:

“Parents should not deny their children access to education, cultural enrichment, and intellectual stimulation. Although parental moral guidance is vital, parents should not simply impose their own religious outlook or moral values on their children or indoctrinate them.”28Ibid., p13

Do you catch what they are saying? To “indoctrinate” is to “imbue with principles, doctrines, beliefs,” or “to teach or instruct.”29The Pocket Webster School and Office Dictionary, 3d ed., s.v. “indoctrinate” Huh? One of our great new principles is that parents cannot teach principles to their young? Parents are not to instruct their own children? What kind of nonsense is this? Good-bye sweet American freedom: hello gulag … (a gulag is a Soviet labor camp). Humanists would indoctrinate our young to be “tolerant” instead of teaching them there is indisputable truth regarding morality or faith. The only indisputable truth that Humanists adhere to in the spiritual realm is that there is NO indisputable truth! While we believe it is ultimately up to each person to choose what he or she will believe in adulthood, it would be illogical for a parent of any persuasion to present their young child with a “salad bar” of opposing ideas to choose from. No loving parent would allow a small child to choose what the parent believed would be the cause of much grief- nor would they introduce them to ideas and practices they felt would be harmful in this life or eternally destructive.

In keeping with their obvious intention to indoctrinate all children without parental interference, HM2000 promotes sexual education at an early age. This teaching, they believe, should include “responsible sexual behavior, family planning, and contraceptive techniques.”30Ibid., p 13 The Humanists claim to believe in freedom of religion, yet, how committed can they be when goals such as these are even conceived? Responsible sexual behavior, family planning, and contraception are “religious issues” for billions of us on this small planet. What gives Atheists any authority over us in these issues? Why should we follow their plan over our deeply held religious convictions?

How shall we be governed in our new great society? Globally, of course! Forget your cherished citizenship, baby; you’ll be pledging your allegiance to the planet!

“We need more than ever a world body that represents the people of the world rather than nation-states … the world needs at some point in the future to establish an effective World Parliament-and elections to it based on population-which will represent the people, not their governments.”31Ibid., p16

We realize Humanists truly believe their plan will result in a better world for all of mankind. We do not impugn their motives. But, it must be said the Humanist’s Planetary Bill of Rights, if some “world body” ever enacts it, will only take our cherished rights from us! Historically, Utopian schemers have meant well, but their plans have always resulted in the loss of precious freedom … freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom to raise our children as we see fit. If the drafters of this manifesto get their way, we could enter another long, dark night of despotism as we experienced so often in the twentieth century.

William Pfaff, syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times, recently wrote an excellent article that powerfully speaks to this issue. Looking back on the twentieth century, about to pass into history, he writes:

“… The West today no longer acknowledges the existence of an external rule-giver or moral authority. It regards mankind as totally autonomous, existing within a moral framework entirely of its own creation, responsible only to itself. Until the 20th century, religion was central to Western civilization. It originally defined that civilization … Since the 19th century; however, the Western consensus of belief in an external moral universe, to which men owe obedience, has very widely broken down. Western thinkers have attempted to construct a rational secular alternative to this moral structure … The record of this period is one of secular political and scientific Utopias substituted for religion’s expectation of a salvation located outside of time and history. The result of making this Utopia a matter of political organization and action in this world has thus far included totalitarianism … and Faustian scientific adventure, eugenic in purpose but nihilistic in practice …”32Columnist William Pfaff, “With No External Ruler, the West Must Come to Terms With its Moral Autonomy,” Chicago Tribune, (Tuesday, December 28, 1999), sec. 1, p25

Pfaff concludes rather chillingly:

“No one can say what will happen in the new century and the new Millennium. My concern in writing this is simply to note that we in the West enter not only a new Millennium on Jan. 1, but truly a New Age, when man has declared his radical autonomy, his absolute freedom to do whatever he chooses-alone in the universe.”33Ibid

We affirm, as Pfaff states, that no one can say what will happen in the new century. Will the Humanists prevail in society and remake our culture in their image? Or, will the Secular Humanists, who are essentially Modernists, be swept away by the tidal wave of Postmodernism currently engulfing our culture? Or will some entirely new ideology/worldview rise up to conquer both of these? Certainly, the Humanists have been exceedingly confident each and every time they offered up their idealistic plans for human progress, and each and every time their vaunted plans have come to naught because stuff happened beyond their ability to foresee or control. This only proves the old familiar adage originally penned by Scottish poet Robert Burns:

“The best-laid plans o’ mice an’ men
Gang [going] aft [afterward] a-gley,
An’ leave us nought but grief an’ pain
For promised joy.”34Robert Burns (1759-1796), To a Mouse. Burn’s phrase was also used by American writer John Steinbeck (1902-1968) in his 1937 novella Of Mice and Men

What does “aft a-gley” mean? Loosely translated into twenty first century American English, the expression means-STUFF HAPPENS.

Contrary to what both the Humanists and the Postmodernist’s believe, there is an absolute spiritual reality that everyone needs to know. Man is not “alone in the universe.” God is still here, and He is in control. There is absolute truth and “right” and “wrong.” Salvation is not found in man as professed in the manifesto.35HM2000, Preamble, p18 In fact, with the evidence given in this document alone, it should be apparent to all that this world is broken and we can‘t fix it! Someday all the wrongs will be set right-by God. And through the long dark nights of human folly, as man has striven to recreate the Paradise lost by our first human parents, God has been there for his own. We can trust in Him to see us through-whatever may come. We watch and pray and wait on our God. Ω

© 2015, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

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