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The Humanist Manifesto II, Revisited (Part 1)

Humanism, the hatred for God, spews a never-ending stream of cultural sewage out of our media and entertainment industries

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon
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Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. —Romans 1:22

The heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things. We can redefine the family, control the earth’s climate, abolish inequality by redistributing wealth, and achieve bodily perfection via embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and genetic engineering.

The collective term for all these vanities is humanism, and it has always been with us. In the Garden of Eden the serpent produced the original Humanist Manifesto. It was a declaration of autonomy from God, and it led to Adam and Eve’s immediate eviction from paradise.

Fast-forward to today, and we find the humanists calling louder than ever for a man-made utopia. Rejecting God, they embrace the state, looking to bureaucratic institutions — employing either coercion or persuasion, or some mixture of the two — to redeem man from his self-destructive ways. In the Western world especially, a growing statism seeks to erode Christian liberty. As the state increases, liberty must decrease.

Humanism, the hatred for God, spews a never-ending stream of cultural sewage out of our media and entertainment industries. Our justice system mocks God’s justice by sympathizing with criminals and showing contempt for the innocent. This is truly perversion — a distortion of the purpose for which man was created, an attempt to turn God’s order upside-down.

Much that seems perverse in our culture is really only the secular humanist philosophy being put into action, affecting people’s attitudes and behavior. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1961, in Torcaso v. Watkins, declared humanism to be a religion: “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others” (http://members.aol.com/Patriarchy/definitions/humanism_religion.htm).

R. J. Rushdoony calls humanism “[t]he religion of humanity” and describes it thus: “The religion of humanity looks to the perfection of man in paradise on earth … The future depends, not on God, but entirely on man.”[1]

In no single document is the philosophy so clearly expressed as in the Humanist Manifesto II (for the full text and source of all quotations used from here on, see http://www.americanhumanist.org/about/manifesto2.html). In this series of articles, we will revisit the Humanist Manifesto II and analyze it point by point.

What Is HM II?

Published in 1973 as the successor to the Humanist Manifesto I of 1933, HM II sets out the ideology of secular humanists and their utopian vision for the world: “Using technology wisely, we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our life-span, significantly modify our behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for achieving abundant and meaningful life.” In other words, as Rushdoony notes, “[T]he perfection of man in paradise on earth.”

The authors of this breathtaking prose are Paul Kurtz and the late Edwin H. Wilson. Kurtz, a professor emeritus of philosophy with the State University of New York at Buffalo, is chairman of the Council for Secular Humanism and the author of 45 books and 800 articles on humanism. Wilson, who died in 1993, was a Unitarian minister and a cofounder of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. There is a Humanist Manifesto III (2003), but it’s only a brief addendum to HM II.

The manifesto’s selling point is the thousands of supporting signatures attached to it, by a dazzling assortment of Nobel laureates, scientists, academics, and pundits. The multitude of signatures is presented as an intellectual A-list, as if to proclaim, “The smartest people in the world are with us!”

The signatories include many who profess to be “liberal Christians” and clergy. HM II makes no bones about denying the validity of any religion: “[T]raditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith.” We are left to conclude that the Christians who signed this have denied Christ.

It’s Funny, But …

If you thought Kurtz and Wilson were over the top in their claims for the potential of technology, guided by humanist wisdom, to create an earthly paradise, be assured that such balderdash is par for the course for humanists. Here is another hilarious example.

In his 1967 book, The Mythology of Science, R. J. Rushdoony cites a 1957 magazine article by an eminent British astronomer proposing the construction of an artificial sun to replace the real one when it wears out:

“Still another possibility would be to construct our own sun … which might be suspended in the sky [does Home Depot carry hooks that size?] and hold the hovering demons of cold and darkness at bay. This artificial sun would operate by subatomic energy” and so on.[2]

So while we establish paradise on earth, we ought to make ready to replace the sun — and maybe the moon and stars, too, while we’re at it.

As ludicrous as this is, it does illustrate a very important feature of humanism: humanists recognize no limit to their ability to shape reality. They have swallowed the serpent’s bait — hook, line, and sinker: “[Y]e shall be as gods” (Gen. 3:5).

Such arrogance may be profoundly silly, but it has lodged firmly in the heads and hearts of many persons whose actions affect us all.

Why Fight It?

Why is it important for Christians to be familiar with the Humanist Manifesto and know how to refute it?

First, because the philosophy and worldview embedded in HM II are diametrically opposed to ours: atheism instead of faith, arrogance instead of humility, and death instead of life. Humanism powerfully influences the operations of our major political, cultural, and economic institutions. It’s no accident that so many of our intellectual elite have signed on to it.

Humanism is the prevailing ideology for many leaders in government and politics, education, journalism, entertainment, and even in the church itself. Their ideology dictates the way they carry out their functions. Whether we like it or not, we all have to deal with these institutions. They have an inescapable impact not only on our daily lives, but on the life of the nation.

If we hope to reconstruct American life along Biblical lines, we must first understand what it is that must be reconstructed.

Second, the signers of HM II promote themselves as the brains of the human race, and the media present them as such.

These brains have produced a document remarkable for its utter lack of common sense, its boundless faith in human “reason,” its total inability to fathom human nature, wishful thinking on an epic scale, and a gigantic arrogance. The intellectual eminence of HM II’s signers is mere camouflage for the poverty of its content.

Nevertheless, its arguments are presumed to have authority, largely owing to the reputation of those who make them. To some, it might be intimidating to stand up against the men and women who represent the choicest wisdom of the world.

But don’t be intimidated. We’ll expose the fatuousness of the manifesto’s argument.

Third, Christians should not be cowed by these sophomoric intellectuals, but should instead devote themselves to using the Word of God — and the plain common sense God gave them — to tear down humanism’s strongholds, which are by no means as strong as advertised.

Their strength is the strength of inertia. Humanism has been in civilization’s driver’s seat since at least the 1930s, and the public has lost the habit of questioning it. In the field of public education, for example, humanist ideas have dominated for 150 years. It’s had time to put down deep roots.

The “liberation” of man from God and God’s laws has led to the most sanguinary mischief the world has ever seen. It would be depressing, and use up too much space, to recite the outrages and crimes committed in its name in the 20th century alone. Humanism’s roots are not only deep, but lethal.

Our task is to uproot it. The manifesto’s thoroughgoing atheism is reason alone to discredit it. If the signers are at all serious in their protestations — and there is no reason to believe otherwise — then they are dedicated to shaping a human future without God, without hope of salvation, and with nothing to look forward to in the end, but death.

In subsequent articles, we’ll look at what HM II actually says, and omits to say, and equip readers with answers to its false assertions.


[1] R. J. Rushdoony, The Nature of the American System (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1965, 2001 edition), 93.

[2] R. J. Rushdoony, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2001 edition), 7.


Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.

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