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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!

~Zach

 

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