Sunday, July 11, 2010

Humanism vs. Christianity

Last evening while working on a book chapter I needed to find out a little more about Humanism. In my view, most of the politicians, politics, and enacted policies in day-to-day politics are based upon a humanistic view of the world.
Humanism does not wear a single face but is understood within the context of its focus. Here is a short summary:
The word "humanism" has a number of meanings, and because authors and speakers often don't clarify which meaning they intend, those trying to explain humanism can easily become a source of confusion. Fortunately, each meaning of the word constitutes a different type of humanism -- the different types being easily separated and defined by the use of appropriate adjectives. So, let me summarize the different varieties of humanism in this way.

Literary Humanism is a devotion to the humanities or literary culture.
Renaissance Humanism is the spirit of learning that developed at the end of the middle ages with the revival of classical letters and a renewed confidence in the ability of human beings to determine for themselves truth and falsehood.
Cultural Humanism is the rational and empirical tradition that originated largely in ancient Greece and Rome, evolved throughout European history, and now constitutes a basic part of the Western approach to science, political theory, ethics, and law.
Philosphical Humanism is any outlook or way of life centered on human need and interest. Sub-categories of this type include Christian Humanism and Modern Humanism.
Christian Humanism is defined by Webster's Third New International Dictionary as "a philosophy advocating the self- fulfillment of man within the framework of Christian principles." This more human-oriented faith is largely a product of the Renaissance and is a part of what made up Renaissance humanism.
Modern Humanism, also called Naturalistic Humanism, Scientific Humanism, Ethical Humanism and Democratic Humanism is defined by one of its leading proponents, Corliss Lamont, as "a naturalistic philosophy that rejects all supernaturalism and relies primarily upon reason and science, democracy and human compassion." Modern Humanism has a dual origin, both secular and religious, and these constitute its sub-categories.
Secular Humanism is an outgrowth of 18th century enlightenment rationalism and 19th century freethought. Many secular groups, such as the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism and the American Rationalist Federation, and many otherwise unaffiliated academic philosophers and scientists, advocate this philosophy.
Religious Humanism emerged out of Ethical Culture, Unitarianism, and Universalism. Today, many Unitarian- Universalist congregations and all Ethical Culture societies describe themselves as humanist in the modern sense. [source]
What follows are a few quotes taken from an official site: Frederick Edwords Executive Director, American Humanist Association
Religious Humanism is "faith in action." In his essay "The Faith of a Humanist," UU Minister Kenneth Phifer declares -- "Humanism teaches us that it is immoral to wait for God to act for us. We must act to stop the wars and the crimes and the brutality of this and future ages. We have powers of a remarkable kind. We have a high degree of freedom in choosing what we will do. Humanism tells us that whatever our philosophy of the universe may be, ultimately the responsibility for the kind of world in which we live rests with us."
And a final one just to make certain the nail is driven home:
Secular Humanists often refer to Unitarian Universalists as "Humanists not yet out of the church habit." But Unitarian- Universalists sometimes counter that a secular Humanist is simply an "unchurched Unitarian."

Probably the most popular example of the Secular Humanist world view in recent years was the controversial author Salman Rushdie. Here is what he said on ABC's "Nightline" on February 13, 1989, in regard to his novel The Satanic Verses.  [My book says] that there is an old, old conflict between the secular view of the world and the religious view of the world, and particularly between texts which claim to be divinely inspired and texts which are imaginatively inspired. . . . I distrust people who claim to know the whole truth and who seek to orchestrate the world in line with that one true truth. I think that's a very dangerous position in the world. It needs to be challenged. It needs to be challenged constantly in all sorts of ways, and that's what I tried to do 
So, that is a small sample of the devotion and direction of just one aspect of Humanism. Emphasis is placed on the wisdom, knowledge, and technical skills of mankind. God is either removed from the equation entirely or footnoted in an 8 point font...which is this..e.c.
Though you may not have particularly wanted to know, now you know the thinking of much of the world Seventh-day Adventists are seeking to engage in dialogue about Jesus Christ.

No comments: