A 23 Theses Critique of Secular Humanism from a Christian Perspective

by | Oct 19, 2023

Below are 23 theses I offer in criticism of modern Western Liberal Secular Humanist culture. I offer them because Christians need to arm themselves, to evangelise the religion of the West; that of Liberal Secular Humanism. I offer them to Secular Humanists to try and point them out of the shackles of Liberal Secular Humanism and as topics of discussion to both parties. I encourage Christians to learn around each of the Thesis to build their case against the religion of our time which is that embodied in the Humanist Manifestos.

Thesis One

Human flourishing should be grounded in the organising of man by his nature. Man is a habitual creature, and thus his moral education should build upon his habitual nature. The Habits of man are governed best by an appreciation of vices and virtues. Thus virtue ethics are the most innate and natural form of moral education. Secular Humanism does not recognise this reality in its manifestos and could be improved by it – if it did.

Thesis Two

Man’s vision should be directed to goals above mere self-interest or material concerns; values such as justice, and virtues such as temperance; for example should be elevated above questions of ‘material ownership’ or ‘career’ as the defining qualities of man; to bring the best out of man, & man out of himself, and away from a selfish perspective; he therefore should be directed to a higher plane; which is concerned with matters of truth and virtue. Secular Humanism is committed to a materialistic world view; and an endorsement of a selfish perspective through its emphasis on the importance of individual autonomy. These may not be explicitly stated but are a natural outflowing of the Secular Humanist perspective.

Thesis Three

Personal freedom is an essential element of the Secular Humanist worldview. Freedom however is not innate to the nature of man but is a condition of his circumstances: id est how much power he has over the world around him; we can see this when we compare the lives of the rich and the poor throughout history. Therefore, to build a society around the belief in the individual autonomous agent is flawed; if it is a weak reality; a weak instantiation of real freedom, then most people have limited power over their own lives; it follows therefore that a different foundation stone for society should be sought.

Thesis Four

Families are an obviously better foundation for building society as they contain more wealth and power; they communicate; values, traditions, customs, beliefs, and habits that guide the life of the individual; which strengthen their buffer against other forces; they provide to society its first line in education, policing, counseling, health provision, social benefits, social care; and such the state should focus on the family: as defined by the Church; and guided by its teachings.

Thesis Five

Secular Humanism is an abuse of freedom: it frames freedom as a private concern, connected to private property, used to a private end; in contrast, the Christian understanding of the use of freedom is as a fruit of knowledge; knowledge allows you to see reality; from which you can then begin to make ‘free choices’; not in a Lockean sense as being as an act of free will grounded in the autonomous agent. When someone is free – it is that they are thinking rightly – and thus their will will be directed to a proper end; which is expressed in pursuit of the common good.

Thesis Six

If as suggested the individual is a weak locus of ‘liberty’ and ‘power’, it follows he is easily manipulated and formed in a myriad of ways by outside pressures and forces, such as commercialism, the dictate of the state, peer pressure; social structures; as well as internal forces, expectations of himself, his passions and physical needs; observation and self-reflection strongly suggest this is true – it follows there, that subjective claims based on this individual ‘self’ are therefore weak grounds upon which to order a society. Thus one can not reorder society around the idea that one who is a man claims to be a woman; or that all forms of sexual desire are equally valid; or that; each person should pursue their own subjective goals in life – even if those goals do not harm others directly.

Thesis Seven

Progressive hyperindividualism undermines the humanitarian ethic and thus shows the contradiction of ideas that pervade this worldview; progressive thought on race and gender critical studies cuts away at the coherence of the common narrative that binds us together and thus increases the fault lines of conflict leading to an increase in pain and suffering. In short, heterogeneity undermines the basis for securing the universality of human rights. The more we push the boat out – on the idea of the individual the less we have a common basis upon which to build – either a society in common or even ideas like common rights.

Thesis Eight

Secular government is a Christian hangover from the medieval period. It is not established as rationally better – but emerged as a reaction to the traumas of Religious wars; it does not follow that we make society better by having a state devoid of religious content. Christians believe in a government that is secular; in that the state should concern itself with the ordering of the world; this is a Christian scaffold used and not understood as being used by Secular Humanists. Showing that humanists are as the historian Tom Holland put it, ‘goldfish in a Christian bowl.’

Thesis Nine

‘Religious freedom’ signified the death of the Roman idea, that: ‘the peace of a society rests on its peace with the gods’; an idea that carried over into the church and medieval Christendom. Religious freedom is a fruit of religious diversity, but such diversity has largely been cosmetic as Christians hold essentially to the same worldview. We’ve genuinely only experienced real religious diversity for the last 80 years in Europe, and it has brought blood to our streets and is the source of strife and conflict in our society. Religious pluralism is a delegitimising force against the secular state; as a truly secular government has no legitimacy – because it represents no one; nobody’s values or beliefs would be embodied in it; and all would ultimately resent it.

Thesis Ten

The state devoid of religious content has to take its own side, and fill itself with an ideology to suit; known as nationalism, and therefore is not neutral; or one ruling party (like in communism or one family as dictatorship). A truly neutral state would lead to insipid values; that are as inoffensive as they are ineffective; and would result in a state with no bearing to deal with challenges that require more than management.

Thesis Eleven

Modern secular states not committed strongly to any ideologies of substance have replaced ideas and values with consumerism; a consumer attitude is prevailing over all aspects of life, because the story is, this life is all you have: – so enjoy it! This creates an ambiguous relationship to values and to cultural traditions which is responsible for the weakness of secularist societies and the malaise of the West; as our lives are defined by nothing of substance beyond possession and experience.

Thesis Twelve

The claims of the secular humanists to want a neutral government are Machiavellian; they desire sole control over the national curriculum; the secularist wishes his humanist religion to rule over all. The calls for an absence of religion from the state – are calls for the establishment and embodiment of Secular humanist values and beliefs within the state.

Thesis Thirteen

Secular Humanist governments cannot resist Islamisation. The political commentator Douglass Murray has argued that the Enlightenment has failed to go deep or far in Europe. Humanism is an idea that is dying due to a lack of children from that community; as it does not value the family and encourages behaviour contrary to family creation. Emphasising the use of reason for individual ends is acidic to the idea of family creation. Resultantly, the less rational, familial expectations of the Muslim community, result in them having more children. The sociologist Peter L. Berger argued that beliefs become normalised in society immaterial of whether they are true; that is a supporting community to the beliefs. Since Muslims have more children than Humanists; it will follow that Islam will follow Secular Humanism as its replacement. Secular states, can not prevent Islamisation; as they have no rationale to counter it; whereas Islamisation follows from an increased Muslim population.

Thesis Fourteen

The concept of humanity is unsustainable from a materialist perspective we can only speak of Homo Sapiens based on genetics; not the values or beliefs and therefore ‘rights’ based on Humanity; such ideas only exist because of a Christian scaffold of metaphysics; and when this is denied such claims as ‘humanity’ collapses; the rights that emerge from this concept was culturally defined by certain elite groups to the exclusion of others in Europe; take for example the development of voting rights. We find secular humanists whilst rejecting past inconsistencies as objectionable continue to do this and are wholly inconsistent, around the rights of the unborn child who are genetically Homo Sapiens; or children born in surrogacy.

Thesis Fifteen

Rationality leads to tyranny as the ordering of society along rational lines leads to a restriction on thought and practice; if we govern society and life by reason; it follows we should curb irrational behaviour. However, if this is desirable, rationally speaking; everything becomes measured by a cost-benefit matrix; if we ground this in the individual then everyone else is seen as an end to a means. When grounded in the state it give rise to Fascism; in business the ‘production line’ approach to work. Functionality and advantage trump all other considerations such as value, truth, aesthetics, honour, and dignity, as these are not rational considerations; but metaphysical nonempirical values; that often incur costs; that could otherwise be avoided. Rationality strips man of his dignity and turns him into a cog in a machine; the tool of a rationally ordered society. The tyranny of rational consensus follows in the footsteps of the priests of reason.

Thesis Sixteen

The secular study of religion as given by the Sociologist Roderick Ninian Smart holds that a religion should be studied for its content and practice in the following fields: Doctrinal; Experiential; Mythological; Ethical; Ritual; Historical; Social; Material; the application of this study suggests that Humanism is an epicurean religion. We can see that secular humanism is taking on all the trappings of a religion; and has done so before – see August Compte. Humanism as religion is bigotry against Christianity; which it is constantly defining itself against and contending with historically as a matter of fact. Therefore; Christians can not take lectures about bigotry on the grounds of religion from religious bigots.

Thesis Seventeen

Humanists accept an ordering of being, and place humans on top; however, on what basis can they accept any order of being to do so; why is a man more important than an Ape; why save your neighbour’s baby from a burning building rather than your neighbour’s cat? A truly materialistic world view; offers no sense of values; and thus no basis for any ordering of being; science can not offer a sense of priority over which ordering of atoms is better. The dignity of man is innate within the Christian narrative due to him being made in the image of GOD. Christianity raises man’s dignity to that of a little below the angels, that just above the ape.

Thesis Eighteen

Humanism devalues nature’s intrinsic dignity as a mere resource and tool for man’s achievement and betterment; nature has no intrinsic value, but it approaches the concerns and needs of man. Christianity by contrast teaches that nature has an intrinsic dignity independent of man; to which man is responsible in his role as GOD’s priest, in GOD’s world; a world declared ‘good’ in and of itself; before man was created. A doctrine that certainly needs full expression in the world now given our current challenges.

Thesis Nineteen

Truth narratives influence how we perceive data: There is no epistemic neutrality that is possible; the evidence is always interpreted via narrative. One who truly believes no GOD exists will seek alternate explanations to even a personal appearance of GOD. Since there is no neutrality, it follows: we assert our truth within our paradigm (for all kinds of reasons). The paradigm we think in sets the limits of the horizon of what we can see and believe is possible; it does not, therefore, represent which horizons are real. For example, physicists bemused by the ‘apparent’ design and order of nature have concluded that there must be a multiverse in order to explain how we ‘happen’ to live in the one that is organized and ordered to the nth degree. They do this because they are ‘committed’ to the belief that everyone must be explained materially. This is an unrecognised or even denied truth by many secular humanists.

Thesis Twenty

Secular Humanists are stuck in a materialist prison that epistemically preference ‘parts’ over ‘purpose’ in their discourse of nature. This is because they place epistemology before metaphysics in their worldview. However, Christians contend that metaphysics comes before epistemology; as the narrative is used to frame the evidence. Therefore, if Esse (to be) is the principle using which things are not nothing, it follows that, without this Esse, there is nothing. However, there is something, in which case Esse is subject to nothing, including epistemology. Therefore – since being comes before knowledge, metaphysics comes before epistemology. We can only defend a theory of knowledge in light of the knowledge we have already attained and thus, knowledge of anything flows out of being. Again, metaphysics is before epistemology.

Thesis Twenty-one

The supernatural is beyond falsification it stands above nature; miracles therefore can only be experienced and witnessed – that is it. The absence of empirical proof of miracles, cannot be proof that a miracle does not occur; the creator does not value this kind of faith; as it would be a ‘forced’ belief and trust; through an overwhelming display; this is not the economy He values; therefore protests to the contrary are to be disregarded as poor thinking at every level.

Thesis Twenty-two

Non-material realities do exist; such as laws of logic, consciousness, mathematics, meaning, values, and emotions; they exist and yet are non-material realities. Therefore, we can believe in something based on effects, or experience alone; without direct observation of the thing itself: emergent properties like gravity (depressions in space-time into which objects fall); wind (excited atoms in moving); & the mind (the sense of self arising from brain biochemistry) are other examples.

These examples show the use of the thing is not the subject of the empirical study, but the effects; or the source of its origin, and is yet phenomenologically present, and remains part of the real world experience. Therefore, we can say the ‘non-material world’ exists; and does interact with the material world e.g.: ‘dying of a broken heart’; ‘ending of addictions because of mystical visions’.  Building on these layers to reality; can we not offer an argument that, if minds are an emergent property of bodies; could not the knowledge of the supernatural be an emergent property of minds; a nonmaterial connection to a supernatural reality: verified by countless experiences.

Thesis Twenty-three

Thomas Khun demonstrated that science is based on assumptions about nature, rather than mere facts. These assumptions constitute a paradigm – a narrative – made up of beliefs, and values which lead to techniques that are used by scientists, these set the limits of their horizons of inquiry. I would add this narrative is another scaffold of the Christian worldview for example ‘Secularism’ and ‘Humanity’.

  • That there is an objective reality shared by all rational observers. (is dependent on the world being real – an idea that is Judeo-Christian)
  • This objective reality is governed by natural laws that are consistent and repetitive (based on the Christian idea of a Creator that is rational)
  • That reality can be discovered by means of systematic observation and experimentation (GOD as creator is the source of all truth and only truth flows from Him – and thus is discoverable)
  • Nature has uniformity of laws, and most, if not all, things in nature must have at least a natural cause. (GOD as the first cause, bringing about a chain of other causes)
  • Those experimental procedures will be done satisfactorily without any deliberate or unintentional mistakes that will influence the results (Christian integrity)
  • That experimenters will not be significantly biased by their presumptions (The desire for truth – a Christian value)
  • That random sampling is representative of the entire population. (Fr Roger Bacon, Doctor of Mirabilis)

Since the world has moved away from these underpinnings, we are seeing that science is becoming more politicised and increasingly subject to commercial concerns. Certain questions in science are now off-limits due to political expectations.