August 18, 2004
Secular humanism is that philosophy of life that emphasizes a worldview based on naturalism: the belief that the physical world is all that is real. It rejects theistic morality and supposedly defers to scientific inquiry. To a secular humanist, there is no divine purpose being worked out in the universe by Deity. Life has value and meaning only as we create and develop it. Being free from supernaturalism, the secular humanist opposes any absolute standards. Ethics are entirely situational and individualistic.
Save for a few instances where Christian influence still prevails, secular humanism has practically replaced the Judeo-Christian religious premise of American jurisprudence, government, and education. Consistent with the tenants of secular humanism, today U.S. courts have generally moved from a substantive definition of religion (where the religion must affirm a transcendent deity) to a functional definition of religion that denies the existence of God. Lawmakers largely insist on keeping God and pubic policy separate. And the public school system is the main vehicle for the promotion of humanism via evolutionary teaching.
Recorded in Daniel, Chapter 4, is the story of the great Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar didn't want to acknowledge God any more than today's secular humanist. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar epitomizes secular humanistic objectives. He wanted to run his own life, achieve his own goals and then claim the glory for himself. But one day -- as he was viewing Babylon from the rooftop of his palace and proudly proclaiming, "Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built by my vast power to be a royal residence and to display my majestic glory?" -- a voice from heaven interjected, saying: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared that the kingdom has departed from you. You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on the grass like cattle for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, and He gives it to anyone he wants" (Dan. 4:30-31).
God is not arbitrary in His judgments. Everything He does is significant and for a particular reason. God lowered Nebuchadnezzar from the pinnacle of pride to the baseness of insanity to demonstrate that whenever humanity denies Him and makes man the measure of all things, the ultimate end of this approach to life is not upward, but downward. It ends in bestial behavior, where men and women become like and live like animals!
Most recently, I've noticed something very interesting about our culture. Much of human behavior today is justified or explained in bestial terms. In other words, in various articles submitted by scientists, man is described as merely an animal. His perversions, so it's contended, are not really moral failures, but instinctual and natural responses. For instance, one article I read said that bottle-nosed dolphins are known to gang rape dolphin females, and adult dolphins sometimes take their young in their beaks and whack them to death. The implication of this article was quite clear: Given humanity's animal ancestry, gang rape among human beings is at least understandable and infanticide in certain situations is justified.
Similar arguments that refer to animals are often used to justify homosexuality. Brian McNaught in his video On Being Gay, states, "In every species of mammal, from the sea horse to the baboon, there is homosexual behavior, whether in captivity or in the wild." Such a statement is sheer nonsense and cannot be scientifically demonstrated. Nevertheless, it goes to show this line of thinking, which assumes the way of the animal kingdom is a proper model for human behavior.
Such assertions are nothing less than a form of madness -- moral insanity -- the inevitable result of a totally naturalistic approach to life. Either man looks up to God or he looks down like the animals. Like Nebuchadnezzar, without an acknowledgement of God, humanity becomes beastlike in its behaviors. One might even rightly argue that unless mankind recognizes the Divine, he actually becomes worse than animals.
Dr. John Gerstner, professor emeritus of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, was once teaching on the depravity of man, and to make his point he compared men and women to rats. After he finished his address, there was time for questions, and a member of the audience who was offended by his comparison asked the distinguished professor to apologize. "I do apologize," said Dr. Gerstner. "I apologize profusely. The comparison was terribly unfair ... to the rats." He then went on to say that what a rat does, it does completely out of instinct. But human beings have the unique capability of choice. We can deny our various passions and impulses to do things that glorify God and aid our fellowman. Too often, however, we make a conscious decision to do just the opposite and behave worse than "the beasts of the field."
I realize some will say my remarks are overreaching -- an exaggeration. But it is true, nonetheless, the rejection of God in our culture has left us looking to the beasts and becoming increasingly like them. Indeed, in our denial of the Creator and His ways, we have suppressed the truth and worshipped the creature. In some respects, we are even worse than animals. And left to ourselves there can be no end to our grim descent into the abyss of moral chaos.
Matters can be turned around for us, however, just as they were for King Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible says that after Nebuchadnezzar had suffered a long bout with insanity, he looked up to heaven and his sanity returned. No longer was he animal-like in his ways, but his advisors and nobles sought him out. He was reestablished over his kingdom, and even more greatness came to him. Nebuchadnezzar concluded: "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of heaven, because all of His works are true and His ways are just. And He is able to humble those who walk in pride" (Dan. 4:36,37).
America's current moral insanity is the direct result of its embrace of secular humanism. Many may be tempted to believe our lot is a hopeless one. But it is not. If God could save Nebuchadnezzar, he can save us. John Newton, a man who at one time had been a despicable slave trader, said, "I have never despaired for any man's salvation, since God saved me." We should not despair either. What God can do for the individual, he can also do for the nation. The consequences of the secular humanistic approach to life are dreadful at best. But they alone, if nothing else, should compel us forward as agents of God's grace and reconciliation.
Rev. Mark H. Creech ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. (ChristianActionLeague.net), based in Raleigh.