Dear Secular Humanist

Dear Secular Humanist,

Since the early nineteenth century, there has been a steady increase in the number of people worldwide who claim no religious affiliation[1]. The academic world would certainly appear to embrace the secular humanist view and the prominence of scientific thought since the Enlightenment would lead many people to believe not only that there is no God, but even to suggest such a thing is absurd and ridiculous. Indeed, for much of my life I have held the very same views that you profess but for theological, logical and experiential reasons, I must tell you that in my opinion, I truly believe that the Christian faith presents the most compelling case for truth over all other views. In the following post I will look to present what I feel is a solid argument against the increasingly popular secular humanist view, as well as why the Christian belief system is not based simply on fideism but has much merit to be found in logic and critical thinking.

We will begin with the commitments that are generally attributed to Secular Humanism according to H. Wayne House in “Charts of World Religions”. Of the ten key commitments stated, one asserts that evolution is assumed as fact and another, crucially, professes “scepticism concerning supernatural claims and traditional views of God…” and the “conviction that the physical universe can be properly understood only by means of scientific inquiry”[2].

Evolution

Though the concept of evolution – the “process by which different kinds of living organism are believed to have developed from earlier forms during the history of the earth”[3] – was revolutionary in Victorian England, the ideas can be traced back all the way to the materialistic philosophies of Empedocles, Democritus and Epicurus as far back as the fifth century BC[4]. Clearly, the theory has floated in the ether for a considerable period of time but it is important to make a distinction between macro- and micro evolution. Since Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’ was published in 1859, a “vast amount of evidence has accumulated which has thoroughly substantiated Darwin’s views as far as micro evolutionary phenomena are concerned”[5]. Micro evolution, or evolution by natural selection, has been clearly observed; but it is crucial that macro evolution as a general concept is not flippantly presumed fact also. In fact, Denton writes that neither “the idea of a functional continuum of all life forms linking all species together and ultimately leading back to a primeval cell, [or] the belief that all the adapted design of life has resulted from a blind random process – have been validated by one single empirical discovery or scientific advance since 1959”[6]. Even Darwin himself was well aware that not only were the conclusions he was making controversial but that the evidence was in many ways insufficient.[7] It is clear that the theory of evolution is just that – a theory. I hope that you would recognise that whilst at face value, there would appear to be a general acceptance that empirical evidence would strongly support the case for evolution as a whole, the reality is that it takes at least as much faith to believe in macro evolution as in the existence of a designer. This is an idea that can be further explored in addressing the assertion that the physical universe can be understood only by means of scientific inquiry.

Beginnings

There can be no better way of properly understanding the physical universe than understanding its beginnings. According to the National Geographic, the “most popular theory of our universe’s origin centres on a cosmic cataclysm unmatched in all history – the big bang”[8]. As a theory it is certainly reasonable, but of course, as with evolution, is just a theory; and is not without a number of questions surrounding it. The theory as it stands is clearly inadequate as a proposition on the grounds that, assuming its accuracy, it still fails to paint a full picture. What was the catalyst for such an event? How can such a critical event form out of nothing? British theologian Andrew Wilson explains this well:

“If I come into work with a black eye and people ask how I got it, it is perfectly reasonable to give a purely physical explanation, and say, ‘because the blood vessels in my ocular area are working overtime to repair damaged tissue.’ But they might feel a bit short-changed with that reply, because physical explanations don’t remove the need for personal explanations. They will probably find a different type of answer (‘because I stared too long at this guy’s girlfriend in the pub last night’) rather more satisfying. And they certainly won’t think that the former removes the possibility of the latter.”[9]

It is clear that the big bang theory falls short in this cosmological argument. An explanation of the scientific processes, if accurate, does not account for the ‘why’ of the big bang. Once again, it is often considered acceptable and reasonable to criticize a Christian for their belief in a Divine Creator, but to believe in a design without a designer is clearly an illogical step of faith in itself. William Paley (1743-1805) makes the following teleological argument for God’s existence:

  • All designs imply a designer
  • There is great design in the universe
  • Therefore, there must have been a Great Designer of the universe.[10]

This appears to be the most logical explanation for the beginnings of the universe. Of the ten key commitments previously mentioned, I would suggest that the both the idea that humans evolved by means of macro evolution and the religious scepticism stemming in part from the conviction that the physical universe can be properly understood are rendered illogical. Whilst “science and technology”, another commitment of the secular humanist, is obviously called into question at this point, perhaps more importantly, the seventh commitment, to “reason”, must also be called into question. If the “only rational modes of inquiry are ones that rely solely on logic, evidence, and empirical questioning”, three out of ten commitments are therefore brought into question due to their significant insufficiency in this area[11].

Morality

The foundations on which secular humanism is built on are suddenly beginning to show their cracks; perhaps even more so when we address yet another of the ten commitments: the secular humanist’s commitment to moral education. The secular humanist argues that moral education is essential to society. But in a world of natural selection, why should it matter? Nevertheless, a moral law exists; the argument put forward by Geisler is as follows:

  • Moral law implies a Moral Lawgiver
  • There is an objective moral law.
  • Therefore, there is an objective moral Lawgiver.[12]

The objectivity of moral law certainly seems to point to a Lawgiver. Indeed, moral law without a Lawgiver seems rather pointless. How is good moral character measured without subjectivity if there is not a Lawgiver to set such lofty standards? Surely morality can only be subjective without God? In my opinion, the logic of at least half of the commitments made by secular humanists according to H. Wayne House are certainly appearing rather precarious. I believe it is clear that there must be a Creator, and that the previous arguments affirm this. Perhaps it would be beneficial at this juncture to turn our attention to the Bible and the cornerstone of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ.

The Accuracy of the Bible

Our first discussion surrounds the historical accuracy of the Bible. This is (as I am sure you are aware) hotly contested by secular thinkers. However, the Bible comes primarily from eyewitness accounts and was recorded with extreme care. The Old Testament copyists followed very specific rules and policed its copying with incredible specificity[13]. Many copies were preserved throughout history since the Bible’s origins and there is extraordinarily little deviation between the copies. Geisler writes that “the degree of accuracy is greater than that of any other book from the ancient world, exceeding 99 percent. The reasons for this amazing accuracy are:

  • We have many more manuscripts of the Bible than for other books from the ancient world.
  • The manuscripts date more closely to the originals.
  • They were copied accurately.”[14]

The Bible is therefore incredibly accurate to its original writings, but its truth is also proved by archaeology. For example, the Pool of Siloam where the blind man was healed, portions of Herod’s temple and other such discoveries prove that the Bible is historically accurate. The renowned archaeologist Nelson Glueck put it like this: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which conform in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible”[15]. If it is logical that a God exists and the Bible is accurate in its transcription over the centuries as well as congruent with history, could the God of the Bible indeed be the Creator of the universe? In my opinion, it is an unequivocal “yes”; the Bible goes yet further to suggest this. Grudem writes that the Bible “is internally consistent, that it contains prophecies that have been fulfilled hundreds of years later, that it has influenced the course of human history more than any other book…and that it claims hundreds of times over to be God’s very words”. Despite the fact that the Bible is comprised of sixty-six books and written by many different authors over an almost incomprehensible span of time in three languages, it is remarkably consistent. It is quite something for a book with the size and scope of the Bible to be so consistent with history, archaeology and within itself after such a long period of time, which as a Christian, leads me to what I believe is the only natural conclusion: that the Bible is divinely inspired by God. Therefore, it seems only logical that we must consider what it has to say about Jesus Christ extremely important; in fact, He is the centre of the Christian faith.

Jesus Christ, Cornerstone of the Faith

As we have discussed, if the Bible is as accurate as it indeed would seem, it is not unreasonable to believe that Jesus Christ did indeed exist; furthermore, that he was born of a virgin, both fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life and died on the cross as a propitiation for our sins in order that our sinfulness would be reconciled with a holy God and made righteous so that we may have eternal life in heaven. However, we can also look to history to see the remarkable evidence that Jesus Christ truly existed. There are over 42 sources within 150 years after Jesus’ death which mention his existence and record many events of his life[16]. His legacy laid the foundation for much of Europe and the Western world; his teachings have become moral standard and the cross on which he was crucified has become one of the most recognised symbols on the earth:

According to historian Michael Grant “the most potent figure, not only in the history of religion, but in world history as a whole, is Jesus Christ, the maker of one of the few revolutions which have lasted. Millions of men and women for century after century have found his life overwhelmingly significant and moving.”[17]

The calendar as the Western world knows it is even based on the life and death of Jesus Christ: “BC” meaning “Before Christ” and AD meaning “Anno Domini”; latin for “In the year of the Lord”. It is quite an astounding impact for any man; particularly for a man who lived as a practically nomadic pauper and who was only teaching and preaching for three years of ministry before being brutally crucified as a criminal. There is an almost overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that Jesus lived on earth as a man. The most significant question is, of course, was Jesus Christ also God?

Retracing Our Steps

We must briefly retrace our steps before moving into this discussion. If it is logical that some sort of deity exists, and the fact that the Bible is (despite efforts to disprove it) considered accurate, it is reasonable to consider that such a deity is the God of the Bible. The Bible in its original form claims to be the very words of a God who cannot lie (2 Timothy 3:16; Titus 1:2). If this true, it would be reasonable to suggest that, along with its consistency and prophecy throughout the rest of the Bible, Jesus is indeed God. Furthermore, there are “multiple, literarily independent, first century historical sources that attest to the empty tomb and/or the resurrection appearances of Jesus of Nazareth”[18]. The evidence surrounding the deity of Jesus is compelling, but there seems to be one more argument that would lead me to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord. That is that in response to his claims, according to C.S. Lewis, he must be a liar, a lunatic or Lord:

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman, or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”[19]

Jesus was either a mad man, a bad man or he was truly God. But how could a man with such deeply profound teaching; a man who has quite literally transformed the world as we know it be a mad or bad man? The only logical conclusion I can arrive at is that Jesus Christ of Nazareth really was the Son of God and that our salvation rests with belief in Him.

Final Thoughts

Throughout this letter I have taken great pains to provide you with a coherent argument for the Christian faith. I hope that I will have revealed to you the frailty of the secular humanist commitments on which you place your faith; and that, indeed, it is just that – faith. Having established that, I have presented to you the case for a divine Creator, for every design must be formed by a designer. The consistency, accuracy and overwhelming lack of evidence against the Bible leads me to believe that the God that it describes is indeed the Creator of the universe; the one that deserves our worship. That Jesus was really a man that lived around two thousand years ago is hardly in question; nor was his profound impact on the earth. However, I choose to believe that based on the evidence and what the Bible tells its readers, Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died and was brought back to life and raised to the right hand of God. I thoroughly believe that my faith in Him will lead me to eternal life.

There is a huge amount of logic and evidence to support much of the assertions in this letter. However, there is of course a final step of faith that must be taken. We cannot see God, nor observe and explain His miracles; indeed, if we could, they would not be miracles at all. The prerequisite for the Christian believer is to do just that – to believe in Jesus. The bottom line is that I could form the most airtight defence of God, the Bible and the deity of Jesus, but if you have resolved in your mind not to believe, you will not. It requires a step of faith and I can only hope that it is a step you choose to take at some point, as regardless of your viewpoint, the God that I serve loves you unconditionally and is longing to have a relationship with you. I must again stress that once I stood in the very position you did; as an unbeliever I encountered this living God and it transformed my life forever. I can only hope that you will do the same.

Kind Regards,

Dave Betts

[1] H. Wayne House. Charts of World Religions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), Chart 54

[2] H. Wayne House. Charts of World Religions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), Chart 54

[3] “Oxford Dictionaries”, accessed March 22, 2016, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/evolution

[4] Michael Denton. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler & Adler, 1996), 37

[5] Michael Denton. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler & Adler, 1996), 344

[6] Michael Denton. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler & Adler, 1996), 344

[7] Michael Denton. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler & Adler, 1996), 55

[8] “National Geographic”, accessed March 22, 2016 http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/universe/origins-universe-article/

[9] “Think Theology”, accessed March 22, 2016, http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/a-grand-design

[10] Norman L. Geisler. Systematic Theology (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2011), 26

[11] H. Wayne House. Charts of World Religions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), Chart 54

[12] Norman L. Geisler. Systematic Theology (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2011), 29

[13] “Rick Warren”, accessed March 22, 2016

http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/the-bible-is-historically-accurate_101

[14] Norman L. Geisler. Systematic Theology (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2011), 190

[15] Glueck, Nelson (1959), Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Cudahy).

[16] Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004, p. 233

[17] Page 155 Who is this man?

[18]http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/why_accept_the_authority_of_the_bible_a_twelve_step_argument

[19] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/6979-i-am-trying-here-to-prevent-anyone-saying-the-really

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One thought on “Dear Secular Humanist

  1. Brilliant, Dave, great compilation of the defense of the Christian faith, very well done, thanks for writing and sharing.

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