How Secular Humanism Was Born

Zach —  February 11, 2013 — 2 Comments

I love the part of the country that I work and live in!  I just returned from a brisk walk in nothing but blue jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.  A slight breeze was blowing but not enough wind to require a jacket or coat!  Looking at other parts of the country, I was almost feeling smug when it dawned on me that humility is the better attitude.

I gave thanks to God for the weather that I was experiencing and repented for that moment of self!  Ahhh, what a country though!  Walking in February without a jacket!  An in the mountains to boot!

As I was walking, I began to think of the many worldviews that people see the world through.

“I wonder how I would see this beautiful day if I was looking at it through the eyes of someone with a secular humanistic worldview lens?”  I thought as I walked through the beautiful scenery while smelling the scents of nature and looking at what I believe to be God’s creation.

These thoughts continued to entertain my thinking as I walked along.  These thoughts continued to challenge my thinking as I returned home and began preparing to write this new post.  I prepared my cup of coffee and headed for my office.  As I sat down and opened my laptop, I could not but help think about the historical origin of secular humanism.

Secular humanism, once confined to a small group of philosophical thinkers until around the middle of the 19th century, when some intellectuals began to declare that religion was not a viable belief system and was born from ignorance or by self-serving priests.

 “Insofar as men have now lost their belief in a heavenly king…”

— Lippmann

These thinkers believed that religion was the enemy of scientific thinking and that more reasonable substitutes needed to replace such archaic thinking.  Auguste Comte in the first half of the 19th century introduced what he coined a Religion of Humanity which was a combining of ideas from Roman Catholic religion and atheism (a belief that there is no such thing as God).  The key factor to consider is that this Religion of Humanity was Comte’s subjective belief.

The term humanism to define an atheist worldview was first used in the first decade of the 20th century.  A Unitarian minister by the name John H. Dietrich in 1913 but the term was put into mass usage by Walter Lippmann in 1929 in his best-selling book, A Preface to Morals.  The following is a direct quote from Lippmann’s book:

“Insofar as men have now lost their belief in a heavenly king, they have to find some other ground for their moral choices than the revelation of his will. It follows necessarily that they must find the tests of righteousness wholly within human experience.”

The usage of the term humanism as it is used today to denote belief in man rather than a transcendent God the creator was established in The Humanist Manifesto in 1933

 In the next post, we will continue examining secular humanism.  Please give your comments to the question below as this adds to the value of this blog and helps me to focus the direction of the book and allows you the opportunity to become a part of it all!

Until next time!



Question: Please give your thoughts on the topic of secular humanism?



First off, I am a family man. My wife Rhonda and I have 5 grown children, four boys (Shane, Brian, Brent, and Billie) and one girl (Melanie). We have three grandchildren (Kaylin - 6, Olivia - 8, and Bellevae - 3 mo.). Family is a top priority for Rhonda and I. My interests center around my faith, my family, the church I pastor (Mescalero Baptist Church - Mescelaro, New Mexico on the Mescalero Apache reservation), my hobbies ( walking and jogging, hiking, Bible study, pastoring and mentoring, disciple making, and writing). My professional interests are performing my duties as an ordained minister (SBC), certified life coach, certified pasttoral counselor, author, public speaker, and Christian apologist. My education consists of a BS in religion (Liberty University), currently finishing my MA in professional counseling (Liberty University), planning my Doctorate in Counselimg Psychology. I am presently concluding my studies at Biola University in Christian apologetics and NAMB as a nationally Certified Apologetics Instructor (CAI). My career goals are aimed towards helping others and towards the coming of the kingdom of God.
  • Dallas Swoager

    I find it interesting how close some atheistic worldviews come to agreeing with scripture. They take an observers view of humanity, and describe us very much the way that the bible does. The secular humanist believes that all mankind can basically agree on a moral baseline, and Genesis 3 says, ‘Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”’. The secular humanist says that there is no god and that all that exists is the natural world and that science and human intellect will be our savior, while Romans 1 says,

    “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

    I would say that secular humanism does a pretty good job of describing fallen man. It just fails to see that he is fallen. They can say that we as a species can agree on a moral baseline, but they don’t seem to be overly interested in why we as a species aren’t all that interested in living moral lives.

    • Pastor Zach Malott

      Hi Dallas,

      Yes, secular humanism, having made its inroads into the masses around the turn of the 20th century, has covered some territory. Humanism makes the mistaken proposition that mankind is basically good; whereas, God plainly claims that we are fallen and basically bad.

      Anything that comes from humanism is flawed in the eyes of theism and cannot be trusted. Humanism believes that a standard, an agreed upon benchmark of acceptable behavior can be established by mankind without the existence of God. This faulty thinking (Fallen thinking) blinds them as described in your Scripture quotation of Romans 1, thus actually proving through the scriptures that mankind is flawed.

      As you mention in your last sentence above, they feel its possible to establish agreeable moral boundaries without a need for a spiritual, salvific intervention of Divine intent. The fallen nature presented by the secular humanist is seen to play out in the Scripture verses found in Romans 1 as you suggest above. Of course, the very nature of falseness and its biblical description in Romans theistically reveals why no secular humanist would desire to admit that.

      As a worldview, there are scientific facts, as well as some philosophical findings that align with God’s truth as revealed in both general and special revelation. The great chasm between the objective and divine benchmark of God’s truth and the subjective interpretation of humanistic philosophy and science speaks for itself when consistency is the desired goal.

      Thank your for your thoughts!