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Secular Humanism vs. Christianity


The intention of this work is to demonstrate the superiority of Christianity over the inferior worldview of Secular Humanism. Christianity is a consistent belief system that deals with all aspects of the human existence and elements within the world. Conversely, Secular Humanism is a loosely ever-changing system that inadequately deals with some of the most important question in relation to the world and humans. To illustrate the necessity of taking an in depth look into secular humanism it should be noted that it permeates every facet of society. And it is expanding as it gradually wins over individuals that are giving up religion and turning over to it. Therefore, it is important and relevant to look into secular humanism and demonstrate the importance and superiority of Christianity. To facilitate the examination and comparison of secular humanism and Christianity Groothuis’ criteria for worldview evaluation will be utilized. (Groothuis 2011, 52-60).

Summary of Secular Humanism

            First off, it might be helpful to determine what the words “secular humanism” mean. In Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews, Abdu H. Murray provides an explanation of the word, “Secular is merely a word, not a worldview per se. It is just an adjective to describe certain kinds of concepts. Something is secular if it is neutral as to different religious or nonreligious beliefs. Something is secular if it is devoid of any religious or supernatural considerations while at the same time not being hostile to them or favoring antireligious ideas” (Murray 2014, 47). He goes on to state that “Somewhere between the idea of secularism and secularizationism lies the worldview of secular humanism” (Murray 2014, 50). Now having a definition in mind for secular humanism, attention will be turned to the comparison between secular humanism and Christianity. One needs to first look at the beliefs and views of secular humanism. There are five criteria that will be utilized when looking at secular humanism. They are ultimate reality, source of ultimate authority, epistemology, human beings, and source of morality. The following is a summary of secular humanism using the five criteria.

  1. ULTIMATE REALITY: Secular humanism sees man as the ultimate reality. They themselves and their senses are all that they need for understanding reality. For humanists they depend on science and what it discovers. They believe in only what can be empirically proven. Richard Norman, in On Humanism, while recapping the history of secular humanism, paints a picture that belief is placed in man as opposed to being place in God. God is presented as being an alien being or imagined divine being (Norman 2014, 12).

  2. SOURCE OF ULTIMATE AUTHORITY (For the worldview you selected above, what is ultimately authoritative?): Man, himself is the final authority. According to humanists, there should be no type of ethical or moral restraints placed on man. Thus, they are saying there is no need to defer or recognize a higher power. They see religion as shackles that need to be removed because it restrains them.

  3. EPISTEMOLOGY: Humanists lean on themselves and what they are able to gain on their own intellectually. They cite the scientific method as a viable way to accomplish this. This connects with how they understand ultimate reality. They need the assistance of science to inform them of what is and is not in their universe. If science has not yet proven it, then they will not believe it. As stated on in their Humanist Manifesto III, “Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience – each subject to analysis by critical intelligence” ( Likewise, Copson states, “Humanism begins with the human being and asserts straight away that the active deployment of his or her senses is the way to gain knowledge (albeit provisional)” (Copson 2015, 7).

  4. HUMAN BEINGS (For the worldview you selected above, what are human beings?): Human beings are in control of their own destiny. For a humanist, since they do not believe in God or any other higher power, they only have themselves to rely on. In essence they are their own god.

  5. SOURCE OF MORALITY (For the worldview you selected above, where does morality come from and what is its nature?): For humanists, morality is situational, and they determine what morals they will follow, if any. They do not want to be inhibited in any way. Since there is no external objectivity for morality it then becomes a subjective endeavor where the humanist decides what is right or wrong. The following quotes illustrate how subjective a secular humanists sense of right and wrong is:

Fully ethical beings are those able to direct their conduct by judgments about what they believe to be good or right or virtuous or valuable.[1]

Secularists can thus rehabilitate a notion of ethical truth. They can defend a set of core ethical truths, rough generalizations corresponding to the good advice learned at parental knees. “Lying is wrong” is “true for the most part,” or (in a more modern idiom) is a good default policy, undermined only when answering truthfully would exemplify an even greater failure of responsiveness: for responsiveness to others can occasionally be expressed in concealing the truth— when the audience intends to use the information to cause great harm, or when the questioner’s deepest purposes would be subverted by a candid response.[2]

Evaluation of Secular Humanism

Now that the beliefs and views of secular humanism have been examined the next step is to evaluate secular humanism. During the evaluation the following will be addressed: (1) explains what it ought to explain, (2) existential viability, (3) intellectual and cultural fecundity, and (4) radical ad hoc adjustment.

  1. Explains what it ought to explain – Humanism fails to deal with some very important aspects of life. As is universal with all people, there is a spiritual dimension to everybody. Humanists do not discuss this aspect of life very much other than to say that religion is a crutch. Therefore, they do not get into the issue of life after death, or the eternal resting place of the soul. They seem to have no answers for death and the afterlife. In reading Phillip Kitcher’s Life after Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism, one gets the impression that all that a humanist has is this life. Once they die they are annihilated. There is no heaven or hell in their worldview. All they have are philosophical contemplations and discussions to address the issue until they die. The following quotes from the aforementioned book by Kitcher give one a look into the mind of a humanist on the issue of mortality.

Mortality and meaning raise connected challenges for secular humanism. On matters of life and death, however, religion offers less, and secularism provides more, than is usually assumed.[3]

Fear of being dead is misplaced, fear of decaying and dying belongs to the anxieties of life, to be addressed with sympathy by whatever techniques of amelioration medical practice can provide.[4]

Those, like Christianity and Islam, that promise an eternal continuation to which mundane human life is a prelude, seem especially adept at coping with the last transition: death is supposedly easier for the devout to bear. Part of the relief comes from prospects of personal continuation and hopes for reunion with others who have been loved and lost. Consoling too is the faith that each finite human existence connects to something transcendent, and thereby gains an eternal significance. For the non-believer, however, there is no hope of future survival or of reclaiming the dead. Individual human lives are thoroughly finite, their effects evanescent. All human life will eventually cease. Our finitude leaves nothing to celebrate in the wake of a life. What use is Darwin at a funeral?[5]

The above quotes make it profoundly evident that for a secular humanist there is no hope of any afterlife for them. In addition to having no hope of an afterlife humanists also do not deal with the problem of evil. It is as if they just ignore the concept all together and move onto a discussion of how people need to work together for the common good and other thoughts along these lines.

  1. Existential viability – It would be impossible to have any kind of moral, ethical, philosophical consistency in humanism. At its core, if you would call it that, they believe in the individual and their ability to direct their life however they want. This means that the individual may do whatever they feel like doing in any given situation. For humanists, morality and ethics are relative and based on situations.

  2. Intellectual and cultural Fecundity – In line with the inconsistencies in humanism’s way for dealing with the issues of morality and ethics, it would be difficult to see how this view would lead to productivity by its adherents. While it champions man and what he is able to accomplish without a higher power, this very same trait is what will hold it back. Humans innately tend to be selfish and look out for number one. To accentuate the point, Cragun in his book How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps: A Toolkit for Secular Activists while discussing how promoting sexual liberation can help accelerate the secularization of the culture, he admits “while this book is primarily about defeating religion, I have to admit that I have other concerns as well related to our present culture. One of them is a growing trend toward a specific type of hedonism” (Cragun 2015, 133). He is not opposed to hedonism he is just concerned how it is being manifested by people in destructive ways. This is just a sample to illustrate how secular humanism is void of intellectual or cultural fecundity. The thing they champion, man, due to his innate sinful nature, will on his own destroy himself and those around him.

  3. Radical ad hoc adjustment – It is abundantly clear that this worldview has failed this test due to the fact that at different times they had needed to add on or readjust their statements in their manifestos. Humanists themselves concede the fact that they need to do this. Their thinking, and belief, if you can call it that, is that modifications are needed due to the continuous discoveries and advancement of science. And their understanding of the world is based on naturalism. Since science and naturalism go hand in hand, humanists need to keep readjusting their views. “This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe” (

Evaluation of Christianity

            The next step in the comparison of secular humanism and Christianity, now that secular humanism’s beliefs have been explored and it has been evaluated, is to now evaluate Christianity. With the same criteria that were applied to secular humanism they will be applied to Christianity. Again, they are (1) explains what it ought to explain, (2) existential viability, (3) intellectual and cultural fecundity, (4) and radical ad hoc adjustment.

  1. Explains what it ought to explain – Christianity deals with every monumentally important aspect of life. In parts of the Old Testament, for instance, it dealt with the some very pragmatic elements of life like cleanliness (Leviticus 11-18). It illustrates how one is to live in relation with others, how to have a relationship with God, it deals with death and the afterlife, etc. Christianity, the Bible, covers everything. Most importantly it goes into great depth about the spiritual dimension of man and the spiritual realm as a whole. A complete reading of the Bible will make all of this plainly obvious. And because the Word of God is inerrant complete confidence can be placed in it (Erickson 2001, 75).

  2. Existential viability – Christianity deals with very real issues in the world and the human experience, such as marriage, death, afterlife, interpersonal relationships, family, work, etc. It provides answers for all of them. Since Christianity is internally consistent there is no philosophical hypocrisy. Therefore, it does not need to redefine or adjust its message, meaning adherents beliefs are consistent, set, and relevant for our current world. The following verses and passages are a sampling of how the Bible touches on many important aspects of the human experience.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35).

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6).

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives believing in me will never die: Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you… (Matt. 7:12)

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (I Pet. 1:15-16).

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (Eph. 5:22)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… (Eph. 5:25)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Eph. 6:1)

  1. Intellectual and cultural fecundity – Christianity, and its precursor Judaism, have influenced the world over in many positive ways. Through adherents of these faiths many advances for humanity have come. In early America alone Christians created hospitals and public schools, among other contributions to society.

  2. Radical ad hoc adjustment – From a secular non-believer standpoint, the Bible is rigid. It has not changed for the past 2,000 years (Walton 2005, chart 17). They might see the Bible as outdated and irrelevant for the modern times. However, even though, the Bible was written in a much different time then the present time, its relevance has not diminished. Christianity is a complete worldview that addresses every aspect of the human existence and shows how to live a consistent life for God.

Defense of Christianity

Now that both of the worldviews, secular humanism and Christianity, have been evaluated a defense of Christianity will now be presented. It will demonstrate that Christianity is superior in every way to its challenger. The issues that will be explored are (1) the problem of evil, (2) arguments for God’s existence, (3) defense of objective truth and moral values.

  1. Christianity’s answer to the problem of evil – The problem of evil may be split into two types. One is moral evil and the other is natural evil. Moral evil can be traced back to the autonomy of moral agents, while natural evil is not directly linked to human will but is an aspect of nature (Erickson 2001, 148). The problem of evil is not a result of an indifferent, absent, or nonexistent God. Evil is a result of the sinful nature of man. It is this sinful nature that is within every person born on this earth. Along with the sinful nature there is also the consideration of the free will of man (Groothuis 2011, 625-632). Every individual may choose on their own whether they will do good or evil at any given time and any given situation. God is the one that has given man free will and will not violate it by forcing man to do any particular thing. However, God is able to limit or prevent the execution or spread of evil through other means. Though, this is solely His choice. Even if He allows evil to occur, He sees the entirety of time and can see what will transpire from the occurrence of evil. While initially the evil act is hard to fathom from the human perspective, from God’s perspective it may bring about a greater good later in time. However, in relation to how God relates to man’s sinful acts, there are three ways that He can respond. He may: (1) restrain man from carrying out the sin that they intend to do (preventive providence), (2) allow sin to run its course (permissive providence), and (3) determine the extent to which the effects of the sin will go by placing limits (restrictive providence).[6]

  2. Arguments for God’s existence – There are five well-known and used arguments for the existence of God. They are the cosmological argument, teleological argument, ontological argument, the moral argument, and the argument for congruity.[7] In addition to this, there is the abductive argument that may be considered in proof of God’s existence.  The cosmological argument, simply put, states that “Everything that begun must have an adequate cause.”[8] The teleological argument states that “Order and useful arrangement in a system imply intelligence and purpose in the organizing cause.”[9] The ontological argument can be summarized this way, “It holds that all men have intuitively the idea of God, and then tries to find proof of his existence in the idea itself.”[10] The moral argument, as its name implies, invokes the concept of right and wrong. The argument is stated thus: “Every man has a sense of obligation, of what is right and wrong, together with the undeniable feeling of responsibility to do what is right and a sense of self-condemnation when he commits evil.”[11]The final argument for the existence of God is the argument for congruity. It is stated as follows: “the belief in the existence of God best explains the facts of our moral, mental, and religious nature, as well as the facts of the universe; therefore, God exists.”[12]

  3. Defense of objective truth and moral values – Objective truth and morals are connected with God. Otherwise, if one is not adhering to God and His morals and truth, then they are adhering to their own subjective morals and truth. God is always the source for objective morality and truth. In reference to morality, Erickson connects it to the sanctification of the believer to being holy like God (Erickson 2001, 325). Truth, like morality, is connected to the nature of God. He is truth, is the source of all truth, and ultimate truth and reality is God.[13]


            After a thorough examination of secular humanism using Groothuis’ criteria for worldview evaluation, it is abundantly evident that Christianity is superior in every way. Secular humanism is unable to satisfactorily answer the things that matter most in life, it proves to be unstable, unreliable, and lack intellectual and cultural fecundity. Conversely, Christianity provides answers on everything that matters most in life. It is internally consistent and reliable in all ways. Adherents to Christianity have throughout the ages sought to be a blessing to others through humanitarian efforts and social advancements, such as the establishment of a public educational system, hospitals, orphanages, humanitarian organizations, etc. Secular humanism cannot claim any of these contributions to the betterment of the human race, nor can any other world religion.


Copson, Andrew, and Grayling, A. C., eds. The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism.      Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2015. Accessed April 24, 2018. ProQuest           Ebook Central.

Cragun, Ryan T. How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps: A Toolkit for Secular Activists.         Durham: Pitchstone Publishing, 2015. Accessed May 16, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Erickson, Millard. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers          Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

Kitcher, Philip. Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism. New Haven: Yale University       Press, 2014. Accessed April 26, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Murray, Abdu H. Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major  Worldviews. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014. Accessed April 9, 2018. ProQuest           Ebook Central.

Norman, Richard. On Humanism. Florence: Taylor & Francis Group, 2014. Accessed April 12, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Thiessen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1979.

Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. Grand Rapids:            Zondervan, 2005.

[1]. Phillip Kitcher, Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 28.

[2]. Ibid., 47.

[3]. Ibid., 96.

[4]. Ibid., 97.

[5]. Ibid., 95-96.

[6]. Thiessen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1979), 124-125.

[7]. Ibid., 27-31.

[8]. Ibid., 27.

[9]. Ibid., 28.

[10]. Ibid., 29-30.

[11]. Ibid., 30.

[12]. Ibid., 31.

[13]. Ibid., 87.

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