Jesus, Why Can’t I Be A Secular Humanist?

[Word count: 877. Approximate read time: 4 minutes]

“I visited a church in the suburbs, and there was this blowhard preacher talking about how television rots your brain. He said that when we are watching television our minds are working no harder than when we are sleeping. I thought that sounded heavenly. I bought one that afternoon.” —Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Wading through currents of social media recently, I came upon a Christian preacher declaring we only pray to God, not the universe. He said, “If you want to address God, don’t talk to his handiwork. Talk to him.”

I felt inclined to counter. (I usually always feel inclined to counter, really.) So I offered, “If God IS all and is in all, then how can anybody but God be The Universe? If instead of calling the name of Jesus, someone calls Yeshua or Emmanuel instead, does God ignore them? ‘The Universe’ is not one of your names for him. But it could be someone else’s for the same God you worship.”

The man responded, “Those are his names: Yeshua, Emmanuel. But God never called himself the universe. Humanists did that. Research Secular Humanism and you’ll see this is not semantics. It’s a human attempt to eliminate GOD.

And so, I did. And the next day, when he asked me what I found in my study, I told him, “What I found was surprising. The surprise was, I think I want to be one!”

One manifesto that defined the Secular Humanism ascribed to the following principles:

  • Need to test beliefs – A conviction that beliefs must be weighed and tested, not simply accepted by faith.
  • Reason, evidence, scientific method – A commitment to using reason in seeking solutions to problems and answers to important questions.
  • Fulfillment, growth, creativity – A primary concern with 3 things for all people.
  • Search for truth – A constant search for truth.
  • This life – A concern for the here-and-now and a commitment to making it meaningful through understanding ourselves and those who differ from us.
  • Ethics – A search for principles of conduct that enhance human well-being.
  • Justice and fairness – an interest in eliminating discrimination and intolerance.
  • Building a better world – With reason, an open exchange of ideas, good will, and tolerance, we can make a better world.

These are all things I’m passionate about! I immediately got jealous and thought, “That sounds heavenly. It’s not fair, Jesus. Why do they get to do that? How come we can’t do that in church?

You might have noticed I’ve grown very weary of believing what I’m told without question. Right now, it is critical that I test my beliefs, because if I suspect they aren’t real, I will never act upon them. The more people discourage me from testing them, the more I want to ask, “What’s the matter? Are you afraid that if mine aren’t real, yours might not be either?”

And for the love of God, I wish we used more reason in the church! Some Biblical traditions we continue because they’ve always been done, not because they are particularly helpful or functional.

Sometimes, people get strong-armed into serving in ministries out of guilt or obligation, even when they are no longer fulfilled or growing in the arena.

The theme of my blog is a search for truth. This became necessary when I discovered principles in my faith that have seemed to not hold true.

I’m fascinated by the wonder of an afterlife with Jesus, but right now matters. African-Americans were often constrained to lower class society, while being promised a reward in the sweet by-and-by. Since I walk now as a free man, my forefathers clearly decided, “I want some of that reward right now.

Moreover, I don’t want to establish some sterile world of laws and social customs where Christians are the only ones who are happy. We’re only about 33% of the world, and I’d really rather not have the other 4.7 billion people on the planet resenting me for making them miserable. Why can’t we spend more time working toward a world that benefits more than just those who claim Jesus as savior? Isn’t that just a little selfish?

I don’t want to eliminate God. I want to do more things that matter! Can we not embrace some of the same positives that secular humanism offers without losing Jesus? Are the things I listed above ungodly?

I believe we can do them without eliminating God, and we must. Frankly, they just need to be done. But moreover, humanity as a whole just doesn’t have the solutions to all of our problems, and I believe we need to reserve room for God to supply the enormous void of all that we simply do not know.

So be honest. If you could accomplish with it without going to Hell… would you want to be a secular humanist?


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11 thoughts on “Jesus, Why Can’t I Be A Secular Humanist?

  1. The problem with secular humanists is that they try to use science to disprove God. The scientific theory is made to prove theories, therefore it can’t disprove; i.e. you can’t prove a negative. They shoot themselves in the foot with their own reasoning.

    As far as ‘reason,’ I think human reason is one of God’s greatest gifts. Without reason we wouldn’t be able to have faith. I don’t claim to have all the answers, it’s a journey most of us spend our entire lives on.

    Great post!

    • Secular humanism does NOT try to disprove God with science. Oh sure some random cranks on the Internet might, but that has no more to do with Secular Humanism then other cranks on the Internet have to do Christianity.

      Mostly secular humanists point out the bad science when people attempt to prove God’s existence with science. And it is most often wrapped up around issues where believers want to codify their religious belief into law and policy and therefore attempt to use science as evidence of how their beliefs are fact. (i.e. creationism, young earth geology, etc.).

  2. God tends to go by alot of name for example…
    I AM (Jehovah)…Peace, Health, Provision, Protection, Right Standing.

    Jesus says “I AM” the…Way, Truth, Life, Light, Bread of Heaven, Water of Life, The Word, and on and on.

    So I’m under the assumption that that When I’m addressing any of those aforementioned, I am addressing “God”.

    I think the issue that the person may have had is immanence vs transcendance. As Humans (of any race or religion) we tend to be dualistic in our thinking (ex. Tree of Good and Evil) and because of that we have a tendency to put things in boxes. For many in Christianity we (myself included) weren’t taught the immanence of God. God being all in all like you stated. We are use to the idea of God’s transcendance (God being outside, beyond, past) all creation. The truth lies in the middle way as Buddha would say. God is both inside all of creation and transcendes it simultanously. Crazy right?

    Don’t agree? Jesus says “The kingdom of heaven is within you” Luke 17: 21 so how do we reconcile that with Jesus teaching us to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? They are both true. They are BOTH AND statements. Jesus says “The hour is coming and now is” it is a both and statement. Once We collectively start understanding that it isn’t either or, we’ll be better off.

    Further more I’m a secular humanist and christian. I even celebrate humanlight day (google it).

    I’ll end it with this quote:

    ‘I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them”-Galileo

    Sorry for rambling.

  3. Good luck in your journey my friend, the best advice I can give you is that you can! of course as a man that heils to no god, it may not count for as much. As you know I do consider myself spiritual in some sense, This is the first I’ve heard of this secular humanist business, and IMO it’s a step in the right direction. It seems, to me at least, with the recent discoveries out of Britain, that its just a matter of time until we can prove that the universe itself, is seeding planets with the ingredients for life. Whether it be through comet impacts releasing the energy required to form simple molecules like amino acids, or the recent work showing that during meteor showers living organisms can be found at heights 15-30 miles above the surface of the earth. Either way, when that day comes, those who call the universe “god”, may not be so far off…

    • I read a book called How to Know God Exists by Ray Comfort and it did a lot to debunk the idea of life spontaneously coming about by chance. So I can go for belief in an intelligent design. I’m still quite indifferent on referring to God as “the universe” — it neither bothers me nor does it turn me on. But as for some of the beliefs that many religions blindly teach? Ehhhh. I don’t know if I can sign off on all of that!

  4. I appreciate you putting the “…without going to Hell” disclaimer in there. Ideally, yes, the aspects of secular humanism listed are ones that I’d like to promote, as well as have present in my own life. I think I have a mental hangup when hearing “humanism” however, because it in my mind, I hear atheism.

  5. Mr. Chappelle.

    secular humanism is as much a belief and a way of life as Christianity is. However, I will say that most of there attributes can be adopted by a Christian without much of any hiccup. The bottom six things you mentioned are certainly a decent worldview. There is, however, great complications with testing all things with the scientific method, tolerance, and perhaps testing all beliefs.

    God was never meant to be an answer to all things that we don’t understand. God is a concept completely accepted based on faith. believing in something we cannot physically see, but know that He exists. We accept things on faith everyday – like things from history that we haven’t personally seen.

    You cannot prove God with science and you cannot prove a lot of things in the bible due to many things literally breaking the laws of physics (such as miracles). However, as far as creation goes, all things in our universe operate based on certain rigid laws – such as gravity.

    you CAN prove certain events that happened in the bible WITH science. Four of which that have great evidence are Noah’s flood, The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with burning balls of sulfur, The crossing of the Red Sea, and the burnt top of Mount Sinai.

    So, if the God of the bible is supernatural, then there will be many things that cannot be tested and proven by science. HOWEVER, there are certainly other political and creative problems that MUST be solved with science and through thorough testing. Then again, there are certain subjects where the bible offers a lot of wisdom that can at least point you in the right direction.

    lastly, tolerance. I’m not one to shout to the world everything that I don’t like about what they do. However, there are things that I would tell people that I love and care about that they should stay away from. For instance, I know first hand the destruction that pornography and adultery can have on a family. Therefore, if I knew a friend that was indulging in these things or was thinking about it, then I would tell them that its going to hurt them and that it’s not worth it and help them out of their situation. I would do the same for any friend and any situation that contradicted the truth of the bible. I don’t believe the Bible just because its the bible. I believe the Bible because I know its true from experience and because there are great reasons why the bible says that it does for every circumstance.

    In conclusion, a secular humanist is doing everything that they can to disprove the bible and create a way of life that doesn’t need God. They may have some worthy attributes that you can certainly apply to your life, but just make sure all the attributes that you chose line up with the Truth of the Bible.

    I hope that I offered some insight.

  6. Thanks for your powerful article. There are several points I would like to touch in my commentary.

    1) I believe that secular humanism is getting more attention with the current pope Francis. He is inclined to use all modern methods to be able to work with facts, and publish them in public. His last elaboration on the pedophile priests is a shining example of Roman Catholic Church rebirth under less conservative and more realistic base.
    2) The majority of the world religion is still plagued by superstition (trying to explain the unexplainable), which harms views held by the moderate+more educated minority, who still maintains religion as their moral base.
    3) Loosely formed world atheist organizations have a big number of powerful and respectable speakers, who are often discussing with religious people, who just cannot cope with their argumentation, which further harms religion. There should be more facts (as for example the recent study which points out that every person – even atheist – is holding religious beliefs in their mind), and less gibberish about God.
    4) Argumentation against the positivism and dominance of science (which turned itself into a religion) should be based on the real shortcomings in the current research – for example in the dispute about the neverending dispute about the climate change or impact of gas mining on the quality of the water, which was highly underestimated, and now produces a lot of health problems to the people living in the area.

    • 1) I keep hearing great things about Pope Francis. I’m not Catholic, but I’m having to pay more attention to him the more often he does things that reminds me of… Jesus.

      2) I’ve been working on a piece that examines separating faith from superstition, but that’s as messy as trying to separate a screwdriver into orange juice and vodka.

      3) The religious dialoguing with the irreligious sounds like a tiring conversation, but I hope something brilliant comes of it. Sometimes the two are not so different. A friend told me “knowledge absolutely sure of its infallibility, is faith.”

      4) Whether fact or faith, I suppose a lot of arguments could be ended if all sides could admit that neither knows everything.

  7. You may be interested to learn that “secular humanism” is so called because not all humanists are secular about it. I do not know if Christian humanism is for you, but if you are a Christian who likes humanist principles, then it may be 🙂

    • Actually, I only recently started connecting those dots when a Universalist Unitarian friend of mine mentioned something similar. I didn’t know about humanism apart from it being secular though. So thank you for shedding some light on that!

      Cheers 2 U!
      Mark C.

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