How is it that a country like America can change from having a tremendous Christian influence in its foundation to the ten commandments being banned from the schools? How can it be that the country which protects liberty and freedom for all can slaughter over 60-million innocent lives in the womb? What is it that makes the country which claims it is “one nation under God” turn around and smile upon homosexuality which is an offense to God Himself? When speaking in America, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn aptly summarizes the problem in the West as a whole:
This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very foundation of thought in modern times. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world in modern times. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was born in the Renaissance and has found political expression since the Age of Enlightenment. It became the basis for political and social doctrine and could be called rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the pro-claimed and practiced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of all.1
We no longer live in a society that views God as the ultimate authority, rather, mankind is seen as the ultimate authority. There is a pivotal distinction between “One nation under God” and “One nation under humanity.” Not only does humanity believe it holds the ultimate position, it also believes it can define its own morality. Once each individual man defines his own morality, then there is no ultimate standard. If God is taken out of the equation, then everyone believes they are free to do what is right in their own eyes.
The Worldview With No Absolute Morality
Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.2
Humanism can have no absolute morality. The above statement by The Humanist Manifesto implicitly admits to this fact. It says it “grounds values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond.” Circumstances change, interests change, concerns change, and so if values are grounded in human welfare which is grounded in these changeable areas, then morality will continually change. Additionally, the manifesto explicitly says ethics are derived from the need and interests of humans as tested by experience. Who’s experience? If one man believes he had a good experience by raping a woman, then who are we to tell him he is wrong under this system? We would be asserting our experience on top of his, who are we to take such an action?
Of course, you will notice how the humanists borrow from the Christian worldview in the last portion of this paragraph. They say each person is born with “inherent worth and dignity.” I very much agree with that statement, every Christian and every human should affirm that view. However, how is it even coherent under a pure materialist humanistic worldview? Under the humanistic worldview, everything is just matter, mankind is a part of nature just like every other animal or plant, or stone, though humanity is more complex they are not more unique.3 Yet, The Humanist Manifesto does not argue for the inherent worth or dignity of a rock, but why? Under their worldview, human beings simply matter, a rock is simply matter, so why do we have inherent worth and dignity? Why do we have any more ethical duty than a rock? I am not saying humanists do not believe in right and wrong, good and evil, many if not most of them do. Rather, I am saying they have no good reason to do so within the scope of their worldview.
Morality Grounded in God
“But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” -1 Peter 1:15-16
True morality, is grounded in God. It is not a standard imposed upon God. Rather morality is grounded in the very character of God. Bearing false witness is wrong because God Himself does not bear false witness (see Exodus 20:16 and Titus 1:2). The duty of humanity is determined by God. Scripture is sufficient for all we need to live glorifying to God (2 Timothy 3:17-17). We are to live glorifying to God because we are created in His image and it is our duty to know Him and to praise Him forever. We have inherent worth and dignity because God created us in His image. Therefore, the grounds of morality is not human reasoning, experiences, or circumstances, but God and His revelation to us in His Word!
This truth shows yet again that the humanistic worldview cannot account for reality. It borrows from the Christian worldview in order to present concepts such as human beings having inherent worthy. The dignity and worth of men and women is a Christian concept grounded in the biblical worldview, not a humanistic one. Pure materialism, as held by many in our culture cannot account for basic reality. They are trying to ground their moral duty in their experience, and as such they have no final standard. The calling upon all creation is to lay down our own man-made inferior standards, and bow before the throne of Almighty God!
3 Francis Schaeffer, Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer Volume 5: Whatever Happened To The Human Race?, p. 355.