Creationism vs. Humanism
Why do Christians have a problem with humanists when theoretically the humanist belief is fundamentally similar to that of Christianity in terms of morality? Christians believe that man alone cannot know or decide for themselves what is right or wrong, good or bad. They believe that only God can give us the answers and that God has already done so through his written word, The Bible. Therefore, they claim that any man who does not believe in God but claims to be a moral and just person perceives themselves to be of the highest power, or as the Greek philosopher Protagoras put it, “Man is the measure of all things”. I believe being a humanist evokes a sense of spirituality in its own way and can be just as much if not more fulfilling and ideal way of being. Christians however do not feel this way. They see humanists as placing themselves (Bartz) “at the center of human values and thinking”. Evolution is at the center of their arguments as they believe in the argument of design, that God created all and therefore only God can instruct us in how to live our lives. Humanists on the other hand believe that humanism is a (Sommer) “philosophy of life that considers the welfare of humankind”, without theism or other supernatural beliefs. So if the Bible teaches us to love our neighbor and Humanists fundamentally believe in caring for other humans without being told to do so, why would Christians choose to look down on their inherent belief system?
I have chosen an article written by Paul A. Bartz and published on the Creation Moments website titled “The Biblical Measure of Man”. Bartz argues that the reason humanists are able to get away with placing themselves above all else is because of the theory of evolution. With evolution there is no room for the belief in God as scientists cannot account for his or her existence. Bartz’ attitude conveys distaste in the perceived moral superiority of mankind without religion. It is clear that Bartz believes that God and Jesus are who we are to shape our morality around, but since God is not here to teach us, what he really means is the moral teachings of the bible. Bartz states that many Christians are enticed by some positive aspects of the humanistic view citing Genesis 1:27 teachings that “man was created in God’s image.” He then argues that most Christians forget that the children of Adam are not described in the bible as being “created in the image of God”, but born in the image of “sinful Adam”. He goes on to quote another verse, Psalm 17:15, noting that the Psalmist seeks the restoration of the image of God, but taking the verse out of context to further drive the point home that man was made in the image of God and not in the image of Adam, man. Bartz states, “Since man was made in the image of God and Christ, any man who repents and comes to faith can be made in his image once again. Psalm 17 is actually a poem written by David who was seeking Gods help from persecution from his enemies. The scripture reads, “As for me, I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness”, meaning when he dies (awakes) and sees the face of god in the afterlife. This sentiment is mentioned in other scriptures that only after death will we be in his likeness. Bartz takes this verse out of context to reinforce the point that because the bible says we were made in his image, there must be a God and therefore the theory of evolution is not real. It is a weak argument even for scripture as of course it’s predicated on the complete belief in all things taught in the bible. But even the most devout Christian does not follow the entire bible’s, sometimes barbaric, teachings.
Bartz eludes to the belief that humanism or the theory of evolution puts man in a position to have no real guidance for good or bad, right or wrong. So then where do those who are not religious get their moral compass? Is a humanist’s capability in determining their own morality taught or learned? There are studies that show babies having a sense of morality or empathy as early as three months of age. Could it be that morality is inherent? Could it be then if God does exist, he established the ability to determine right or wrong, good from bad, from birth? One study in particular determined that 80-90% of babies up to 3 months of age could determine good vs. bad. They began by doing a puppet show showing a gray cat attempting to open a big plastic box, in one scenario a bunny in a green t-shirt helps the cat open the box, in the second scenario a bunny in an orange shirt comes along and slams the box shut then runs away. They then present the two bunnies to the babies and gauge how long the baby stares at the good or bad bunny. The majority of the babies will look at the good bunny the longest. A similar study was done to determine if babies would display surprise at seeing someone being helpful towards the “bad toy”, and determined that the majority do. So if we are born with an innate sense of morality, right vs. wrong, how does that make the morality of humanists so different from that of Christians?
I was raised Catholic and Christian early on in life, I think in some way I was always a humanist, meaning that I always had a sense of doing good towards others and being a good person in general. It seems though that with religion comes guilt in making mistakes, in being human. You must repent, confess your sins to god and he will forgive you. But does that not give me an incentive to keep doing wrong if I am taught that I can just go to confession or pray and be absolved of all my sins? Humanists fundamentally try to make the best decisions for everyone involved without being told or taught to do so. This doesn’t absolve us of our selfishness at times or having to make complicated choices that have no positive outcomes either way. Christians are against abortion because the bible says “though shall not kill”, but why are they so quiet in terms of war? Humanists generally believe that it’s in the best interest to let individuals decide for themselves whether they should have an abortion or not. I myself am personally pro-life, but pro-choice. I cannot foresee the good in banning women from deciding for themselves and having hundreds of thousands of children floating around in the system because their parents weren’t ready for them yet.
The fundamental difference between the arguments for creationism vs. humanism is in the name of God and the belief that we were designed in his image and not a product of evolution. Humanists do not believe in God, Christians believe that God is the highest entity on earth and that he must be worshipped. Humanists don’t believe in absolute right or wrong, everything depends on the individual’s situation, whereas Christians believe that God has established some things as absolutely right or absolutely wrong and that we cannot decide for ourselves if that behavior is actually right.
I am pretty open minded in that I believe in the possibility of all things. I have contemplated the idea that the argument of design and evolution are both correct. What if the so called Big Bang is how we got our start and a higher being is what caused it to happen in the first place. Time would not exist for God as it does for us. Perhaps what we consider evolution was his work in progress as he fine-tuned his creations. Humanists as well as atheists are capable of experiencing spiritualism. I think spiritualism goes beyond religion and is what allows us to feel connected not only to others, but to nature and our higher selves. Being a humanist should not be vilified by Christians but embraced, as humanists are driven without religion to the desire to do what is right by their fellow man, to love their neighbor and using their God given ability to choose right from wrong.
“Definition of Humanism.” American Humanist Association, americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/definition-of-humanism/.
Cook, Gareth. “The Moral Life of Babies.” Scientific American, 12 Nov. 2013, www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-moral-life-of-babies/.
“The Biblical Measure Of Man.” Creation Moments, 12 Apr. 2018, www.creationmoments.com/article/the-biblical-measure-of-man/.
“Christian? Or Secular Humanist.” Christian Terminology For New Christians, www.aboundingjoy.com/humanism_chart.htm.