Devoutly religious people sometimes criticize “humanism”–i.e., the philosophical premise that man is the center of the world, or possibly of the universe–because they believe it denies the existence of God by its very premise. I believe this is a misunderstanding. Logically, true humanism raises “humanity” (man’s value) and neither argues nor challenges the conception of man as God’s creation. In any logical analysis, reasonable people must agree that man is the most highly evolved sentient creature to inhabit the earth. This is demonstrable by virtue of man’s conceptual faculty. No other creature is capable of comprehending and explaining the normative concepts of goodness, truth and beauty, for example, which in philosophy are absolutes–although it is assumed that human beings can never achieve them absolutely.
Because they are the highest peak on the moral, ethical and aesthetic landscape, striving toward them should be at the core of man’s life purpose–not abstractly as floating, unattainable ideals, but as factors in the things he does and in the goals he seeks to achieve. While other animals are driven by instinct, man is driven by intuition, a product of knowledge and reasoning. To celebrate this great gift is not to denigrate its source.
True humanism is the codified philosophy of being human and of enforming [] man’s practical nature, at its best. It is the embodiment of man’s greatest asset, the faculty of reason. To declare that humanism is bad is to say that man is worthless in this life, and can only approach those great peaks if God enables him. If man is endowed by his creator with the ability to define these concepts, he must be endowed as well with the ability to strive toward them. That is the true definition of Humanism, not secular or spiritual, but holistic.
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Some people believe that a person who is not overtly religious, but who strives toward those norms, possesses a natural undiscovered religious conviction. But it is also possible that religion itself is a primitive version of philosophy that seeks to explain the workings of the universe without the benefit of sophisticated reasoning. To define how humans should live is as old as man himself, predating any recognizable existing religion. But Humanism per se, which is defined by the process of reason and not faith, is not a primitive concept. It is modern, consequently, as open to interpretation as religion; and in some cases, its definition is as easily perverted.
If Humanism defines man at his best, it is dangerous to misdefine the concept of humanism. The term “secular humanism,” for example, is used without religious connotation, equating “secular” with “atheist” and behaviors that are considered repugnant under religious tenets, even though these behaviors and actions are also repugnant in the greater “human” sense. Thus, excuses are offered, such as “it is human to be jealous,” or “it is human to lust” or “it is human to be greedy.” These are presented as normal, whether or not they are desirable; and the resultant dilution of the ideals of not being envious, lustful or greedy causes a concomitant acceptance of a more permissive, less ideal standard that is easier to justify. This defies the term “norm,” which does not represent “average” but is the highest attainable standard. Those who deconstruct the meaning of “norm” do not elevate man. They tear man down by implying that he cannot achieve their standard. In this way, the excuses of Secular Humanism turn the very concept of humanity upside down because, whether or not it is human to be tempted by lust or envy, to give in to the temptation degrades man. Thus, Secular Humanism is not humanistic.
Secular Humanism is also equated with Atheism; but, while Secular Humanism is presented as a purely philosophic proposition, Atheism is in reality an anti-God religion that carries with it the same irrational fundamentalism of which atheists accuse zealous Christians. In fact, they take the First Commandment literally and apply it to No-God as it is already applied to God. This is NOT true Humanism. In fact, it is Anti-Humanism.
Enter the concept of “collectivism” disguised as “humanism.” The very idea of applying collective concepts to human nature is abhorrent because there are no collectives applicable to human beings. Each and every human being is unique in genetics and in existence. No two people can occupy the same space or the same existence. No two people have the same brain with which to think because each and every brain develops from its own unique origins and through its own unique experiences. No two people see with the same pair of eyes or from the same perspective because no two people can occupy the same space or time. Even destruction by a massive bomb which kills hundreds of people has a different specific cause and effect on each and every individual among them. This also applies to the concept of “feeding the people.” There is no collective stomach any more than there is collective need. Everyone possesses a unique stomach which must be fed its own food and process its own nutrition. Every person has his or her own needs; and although those needs may be similar, they are never the same because each person possesses his own life processes. No greater expression of true humanism is there than the recognition that each and every person is endowed by his creator with the inalienable rights of life and liberty.
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Groups do exist, but groups are not collectives. Groups consist of individuals who come together for a common purpose. Redefining human beings as incomplete parts of a collective whole dehumanizes them; thus, it is the opposite of humanism. Joseph Stalin, who understood how to dehumanize people, once said that while one death is a tragedy, a million deaths are merely a statistic. Each member of a society, a nation, a tribe or a family is a unique person who lives a unique, individual life. True Humanists recognize this fact, while collectivists do not. Theirs is a false definition of humanism that is corrupt at its root. Every human is a person; collectives are always merely a statistic.
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