Evaluation And Critique Of Humanist Manifestos I, II, And III
The Humanist Manifestos I, II, and III are publications that lay out a Humanist worldview. Humanist Manifesto I was first published in 1933, the second in 1973, and the third in 2003. The Manifestos focus on a philosophy and ethical worldview without belief in the supernatural or God.
Secular humanism can be defined as: A non-theistic world view based on the belief that humanity is of ultimate importance. Humanism usually refers to a philosophy that emphasizes the importance of humanity in this life… Secular humanism is distinguished from these views in its atheism or agnosticism, hence leaving the development of humanity as the ultimate value.……A central premise of the new secular world view was a thoroughgoing evolutionary naturalism, that is, a belief that reality can be explained only by understanding developing natural forces.1
Interestingly, Secular humanism can be viewed as a belief accepted by faith. It makes many assertions without evidence. In Section 1 I have a list of 11 foundational propositions of Humanism which stand in opposition to the basic philosophical beliefs of Christianity, specifically as set forth in the Bible. I will contrast each set of opposing beliefs. Then in Section II I review 10 flaws contained within these Manifestos. In Section III I have five questions for the humanist that are based off of what I consider to be fallacious arguments in the Manifestos. Section IV contains three well-constructed arguments against the main premises of Humanist thought. Lastly, Section V lays out my overall impression of the Manifestos.
1. (HM1, para. 2) “Religion… (is) powerless to solve the problems of human living in the Twentieth Century.” Christianity is essentially about how God through Jesus Christ can solve mankind’s two biggest problems, sin and death. This is accomplished through repentance and faith in Jesus the Son of God.
2. (HM1, affirm. 1) “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.” The Word of God begins with Genesis 1:1, which states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God created the universe out of nothing through His Word.
3. (HM1, affirm. 3) “Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.” Jesus clearly believed in dualism when he stated in Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
4. (HM1, affirm. 13) “Religious humanism maintains that all associations and institutions exist for the fulfillment of human life.” This is in stark contrast to Christianity, as the main goal in life for a Christian is to have a restored relationship with God while enjoying and glorifying Him (Colossians 3:17).
5. (HM2, para. 9) “Humanism can provide the purpose and inspiration that so many seek; it can give personal meaning and inspiration to human life.” The Bible continually asserts that the world has nothing to offer compared to Christ (Colossians 2:8). Only through a relationship with God can someone experience eternal joy and hope.
6. (HM2, affirm 1.) “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” The entire Bible is about how man is a desperate sinner and in need of a savior (Romans 3:21-24). It is only through the Incarnation of God through Jesus Christ can man be saved from sin and death.
7. (HM2, affirm 2.) “Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful.” The New Testament and Jesus himself continually state that if you choose God in this life and make him Lord while repenting of your sins, you may receive eternal life. However, those who reject God will be eternally separated from Him eternally.
8. (HM2, affirm. 3) “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience.” God is seen in the Bible as the objective moral Lawgiver, that is why there are objective moral laws. Humans have not created these laws, but rather, God has ingrained them in their conscience (Romans 2:15).
9. (HM2, affirm. 7) “(Freedom) includes a recognition of an individual’s right to die with dignity, euthanasia, and the right to suicide.” In Christianity, God is seen as both the life-giver and taker (1 Samuel 2:6). Only He has the prerogative to decide who lives because He is the Owner of all things.
10. (HM2, conclusion) “We believe that humankind has the potential intelligence, good will, and cooperative skill to implement this commitment in the decades ahead.” The Bible portrays man as a fallen, evil creature. All of humankind has a sin nature and generally does wrong in the sight of God, that is why He has offered salvation through His Son.
11. (HM3, affirm. 2) “Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.” The Bible clearly states that man has been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Humans are specifically created to glorify and enjoy God and are the result of careful design by their Creator.
1. (HM1, affirm.1) “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.” This is simply a scientific error and a bald assertion. Cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking and Alexander Vilenkin have concluded that our universe had a beginning. Simply put, there was nothing, and then there was something. This is essentially universally accepted in the scientific community. The only reasonable explanation for the cause of the universe is a Creator. If everything that begins to exist has a cause, and the universe began to exist, then the universe must have a cause. That cause is the God the Creator.
2. (HM1, affirm. 5) “Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values.” This is simply being ignorant of the evidence as moral objective values do exist. For example, if a group of people witnessed a murder, there would immediately be a call for justice and expressions of horror. Everyone would know that murder is wrong, because it is objectively wrong. Objective moral values come from an objective moral Lawgiver (God).
3. (HM2, affirm. 1) “We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of the survival and fulfilment of the human race.” This is an ad lapidem, as the supernatural is being dismissed as being absurd without providing reason. Also, it is an argumentum ad ignorantiam. Asserting that there is no supernatural (which is a universal claim) would require universal knowledge, and to say that there is nothing supernatural just because at your tiny section of the universe you can’t see it is fallacious and ignorant.
4. (HM2, affirm. 2) “Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful… “Modern science discredits such historic concepts as the “ghost in the machine” and the “separable soul.” Also, it is stated, “There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.” Here, the secular humanist is throwing a blind Hail Mary pass. This is another argument from silence. Only if you have interviewed people who came back from the dead or received some kind of outside revelation (which Christians believe they have) could you make such a claim. The secular humanist is also ignoring the evidence readily available in the Bible that asserts that there is an afterlife.
5. (HM2, affirm.2) …“Science affirms that the humans species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces.” The humanists commit the fallacy of making a bald assertion by not explaining how such an important event occurred. If this truly occurred as a biological process, one would expect to see massive amounts of evidence but none is provided.
6. (HM2, affirm. 3) “Human life has meaning because we create and develop our futures.” This is a non-sequitur. The creation and development of our futures does not mean that it has meaning. Meaning can be subjective if created personally or can be objective if ascribed by a transcendent source, but the future has nothing to do with meaning of one’s life. If the meaning is created subjectively, then the meaning is essentially illusory and has no objective truth to it.
7. (HM2, affirm. 11) “We are critical of sexism or sexual chauvinism- male or female. We believe in equal rights for both women and men to fulfill their unique careers and potentialities as they see fit, free of invidious discrimination.” This is an inconsistent assertion that is contradictory. How can you express your sexuality if you are not allowed to differ or disagree with other views? If a straight male thinks that homosexuality is wrong, then how can he express his sexuality if he cannot disagree with other lifestyles?
8. (HM2, affirm. 16). “We deplore any neo-romantic efforts to condemn indiscriminately all technology and science or to counsel retreat from its further extension and use for the good of humankind.” This is both a straw man and ad hoc. During the 1800’s, many great scientific advancements were made through scientists such as Michael Faraday, William Herschel, John Fleming, William Thomson, and numerous other Christian scientists who were not persecuted or retarded in their experiments by religious authorities.
9. (HM1, para. 1) “Science and economic change have disrupted the old beliefs (of religion).” This is a faulty causal generalization based on misinformation. Christianity has actually been empowered through scientific discoveries (the Big Bang, the Anthropic Principle) and economic ones as well (capitalism). So this claim actually works in favor for the Christian.
10. (HM1, para.1) “In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the direction of candid and explicit humanism.” This is a generalization based on subverted support. Worldwide, research from the Pew Research Center shows that “as a share of all the people in the world, those with no religious affiliation are projected to decline from 16% in 2010 to 13% by the middle of this century.”2
HM3, affirm. 2 states that, “Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.” On what basis do you affirm that humans are the result of unguided evolutionary change that humans came into being through a primordial soup cell? The reason for this question is to show that saying a warm pond was struck by lightning and somehow produced the extremely complex cell is scientifically and rationally preposterous. Why do the secular humanists affirm this if there is no evidence for it and evolutionary scientists reject this claim?
HM3, affirm. 2 also asserts that, “…nature (is) self-existing.” Are secular humanists denying that the universe (which is all of nature), had a beginning? Are Stephen Hawking (who happens to be an atheist) and Alexander Vilenkin (the top cosmologist of the 21st century) completely wrong when they both assert that our universe had a beginning? The reason for this question is that it shows how the humanist is simply ignoring the evidence that our universe did, in fact, have a beginning and that almost no cosmologist or physicist would argue otherwise.
HM3, affirm. 3 states that, “Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.” This is a whopping non-sequitur. Ethical values do not derive from experience, because everyone’s experience is different. Objective ethical values do not derive from subjective feelings, because it is a universal truth that telling the truth is right, saving a dying live is good, murdering is wrong, all despite what people may feel. The assertion that objective moral values exist is easy to conceive of when one looks at the legal system or witnesses a crime. If these objective ethical values do not come from an objective moral Lawgiver (i.e. God) where do they come from? This question exposes how the atheist is unable to account for objective moral values and duties without God.
As stated in HM3, affirm. 2, humans are a result of unguided evolutionary change, and in HM2, para. 9, Humanism is said to be able to provide purpose, inspiration, personal meaning, and significance to the human life. Furthermore, in HM2, affirm. 8, humanists are said to be committed to “an open and democratic society,” and “people are more important than decalogues, rules, proscriptions, or regulations.” Also, in HM2, affirm. 7, humanists would, “…safeguard, extend, and implement the principles of human freedom evolved from the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights.” My question is simple, why would the humanist have any regard for human life if we are simply all evolved primates and matter in motion? If we truly are the result of unguided evolutionary change, are not all areas of life simply a free-for all in which we are just trying to survive and transfer our genes safely without dying? I ask this because I believe it exposes how the secular humanists tries to use Christian principles while throwing out Christianity. This simply does not work because metaphysical Darwinism fails to account for every area of life, and if you take away the pillars (Christian values) the whole structure (society) will fall.
In HM2, affirm. 2, the humanist states that, “Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful.” This bald assertion was provided no evidence to back it up. The only ways that someone could know this is either by: experiencing the afterlife, or through some kind of revelation from the eternal realm. The secular humanist has none of this evidence. So, then, on what grounds does the secular humanist make this claim? Have any of them interviewed dead people? I ask this because it is quite obvious that the atheist is shooting in the dark. The Christian, on the other hand, has received both direct revelation from the eternal realm and has the evidence of Jesus Christ rising from the dead to back up the affirmative claim that there is an eternal afterlife.
1. The secular humanist regards the universe as self-existing and uncreated (HM1, affirm. 1). However, recent scientific discoveries have found that the universe did, indeed, have a beginning. This scientific discovery (based on cosmic background radiation, the second law of thermodynamics, and the expansion of the universe) has been confirmed by top cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking and Alexander Vilenkin. The theistic implications of this are huge. If everything that begins to exist has a cause, and the universe began to exist, it must have a cause. The cause can be either supernatural or natural. However, since the universe is all of nature, it cannot create itself (there is no empirical evidence of anything creating itself). Therefore, its cause must be supernatural (outside of nature). The most rational inference, then, is that the cause is the intelligent, powerful, Creator God who is outside of nature.
2. In the first Humanist Manifesto, affirmation five, it is stated that, “Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values.” First of all, science has nothing to say whether something is morally right or wrong. Science can simply explain the how questions not the why ones. However, there is strong evidence that objective moral values do exist. For example, if someone beats you up and robs you in the middle of a park, there would be immediate cries for justice from not only yourself but also from the people around you. Once the criminal is caught, he cannot simply get away with the crimes by saying, “I felt that this was the right thing to do.” Not only will no one believe him, but he will be thrown in jail. The sense of these objective ethical standards which are ingrained in all of us aren’t merely subjective, but come from God, who is the transcendent objective moral Lawgiver.
3. The third Humanist Manifesto in affirmation two states that, “Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.” First off, if someone is part of a random process and quite literally an accident, why write a paper dedicated to an unguided evolved animal? Secondly, scientists such as Richard Dawkins have no idea how life began.3 This metaphysically grounded Darwinism is not only out of date, but also fallacious in accounting for human origin and development. The most reasonable solution to the human origin question is that there was a Designer and Creator. The beginning of Genesis seems most probable as God is seen as the Maker of all things, including humans. Considering the cell is an extremely complex and fine-tuned machine, let alone the whole human body with all of its precise functions and regulations, a Designer God makes much more sense and is much more rational to believe in than metaphysical Darwinism.
All in all, the three Humanist Manifestos have utterly unimpressed me. Instead of providing facts to support their premises and conclusions, I have read numerous bald assertions and non-sequiturs. If the secular humanists are supposed to be champions of reason and science, they have failed miserably. Instead, based on their assertions, they seem to be champions of wishful thinking and mischaracterizing religion.
I personally have felt no real threat to my Christian faith after reading these Manifestos, but rather, feel as if my faith is even more reasonable than ever. The Christian faith seems to me the most scientific, reasonable, and logical conclusion one can come to when presented with the evidence. God and Christianity gives the best account for: the cosmos, answering life’s big questions, and morality.
Although atheists often complain that God has not given them enough evidence for His existence, I believe that He has through His creation and through ingraining the message of His existence on the hearts of men. However, I believe that the secular humanist has completely ignored the fact that God Himself actually has come to Earth through the Person of Jesus Christ. Also, God reveals Himself through the love of Christians everywhere and promises to come and live in the hearts of all who repent and trust in Him.
I fear that many secular humanists have simply decided to reject God because of traumatizing past life experiences. Instead of ignoring and rejecting him, they should come to Him so that they may find rest and peace as well as eternal life.
In conclusion, the three Humanist Manifestos have not been convincing to me and my faith has actually been strengthened after reading them. Bald assertions and fancy rhetoric are not enough to convince me to become a secular humanist, that would take too much faith for me. Instead, I prefer to believe things based on reasonable and factual assertions, and I believe that Christianity has accomplished this perfectly.
Click below to read the Human Manifesto I, II, and III
G. Reid et al., Dictionary of
Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990: Logos
 Pew Research Center website. The Future of
World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050. Accessed May 30,
2016 at http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/
 Dailygalaxy.com website. Richard Dawkins on the “Origin of Life in the Universe”, June 21, 2014. Accessed May 30, 2016 at http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2014/06/richard-dawkins-on-the-origin-of-life-in-the-universe.html