My problem with humanism is that it’s like putting up a wall around existence. It acknowledges different facets of human experience as true, and then it discards all the rest, blatantly and with prejudice.
It says, “We can do just fine without God—without any religious beliefs.”
True. That’s actually true (if we limit things to this realm of existence). It’s true. You, in this Western, industrialized world, with your reasonably balanced family and your semi-stable income, with your balanced legal system and reliable (for all the bad rep they get) police system and military system. With your world-power government that keeps your life stable (and if you manage to live your life without any major social catastrophes). You effectively do not need God.
I need God, but you might not. I am too weak to make it through this life without God. With all of your support systems, God is almost irrelevant.
THAT is the problem I have with humanism: the basis is not truth. The basis is whether this fact or that fact is relevant to making my life better. It’s an utterly self-focused system. A caring-for-others self-focused system. The only truths it is willing to acknowledge are those that seem relevant to it.
The truth is not always relevant. It didn’t actually matter to the majority of people’s lives that the Sun was the center of our universe—but we claim it as a HUGE, wonderful scientific fact. Most facts and truths don’t matter. There are billions of them. Books around the world are filled with them.
Humanism bothers me because it takes our privileged lifestyles one step further. We already ignore everything we don’t want to see. Life is too hard, so we ignore the TV commercials of the starving children and beaten animals. The Salvation Army will be asking for money again next Christmas, so I’ll save the ten bucks I have to buy a better present for my nephew. We ignore the homeless people sitting on the side of the street.
But humanists don’t do that! Part of the belief system is that we should all take care of each other—sort of like what socialism/communism was actually supposed to be like according to Marx.
But I am one of those unloveable truths that could easily be ignored. Truth is all that keeps my head on straight in this gray gray world.
Belief systems make people comfortable. They give people a way of framing and interacting with the world. Cool. Great.
But religion should not be your belief system. We shouldn’t even care about religion. We should care about truth. Religion has made truth too easy. But truth is not put in black and white in its entirety by any religion. Almost out of disgust for religion—and perhaps for the elusiveness of truth—humanism just discards it all. It discards the many truths humanity has learned and put into canon format in religion.
Actually, humanism summarizes them all—which is the same as discarding them. By looking at a religion through the lens of someone who doesn’t believe, it is extremely easy to miss the actually significant sections of the belief system. For example, Erich Fromm wrote about how Christianity (along with a few other belief systems/ideologies) supports the “being” mode of existence that is the ideal. In it, people simply exist and are satisfied with their selves, not needing possessions to feel secure in their existence (that is a lame summary, but my thoughts aren’t together right this moment).
As a Christian, I say: why, yes, that is true. Christians can just simply exist without need for extra possessions, able to give to others without fear of loss. But we can’t do it because of the desire to be that way. Or, we don’t do it because of a desire to be that way alone. We are able to simply exist and be satisfied with our existence because God exists. Because he is fighting for us, taking care of us, being present with us. THAT is what all of it hinges on. When Fromm removed or ignored that section from his consideration of the common themes that unite religions/the themes that create a solid, human life, he missed the entire point. The motivation of the Christian. The mindset of the Christian. It’s like trying to watch a movie in a language you don’t know and without subtitles. You can’t understand the words, but you understand body language and the general flow of the storyline. And you miss all of the jokes and human connections. You miss all of the details that make the movie unique and worth watching.
Then again, Fromm’s entire point was that humans can do it all in their own power. Sure, maybe we can do a lot of it. But that is when we miss the little details that make life so much more worth living—whether alone or as a member of a group.
Truth gives meaning. Pleasure and security also give meaning. Of these three, one is very dangerous to live without. Then again, there can be pleasure without truth, but there can only be the illusion of security. The whole basis of security is knowledge.
Once again, this was a semi-disjointed essay. It isn’t formally written; I just sat down and spat it all out when my thoughts started going. I am aware that it all doesn’t flow well and that there are likely holes in my argument. It isn’t actually an argument, really; I just want to present these ideas to the public. I think a lot of people don’t consider them. I’m also guilty of the crime of not having a super extensive background in humanism (a crime that I do despise; excuse me). Perhaps I will qualify my statements here: the humanism I reference in this “essay” is the humanism Fromm advocates in his books—the humanism that I assumed was the same or much the same as the humanism currently trending—as he is one of the founding thinkers of the movement.