I’d like to start this post by explaining what I understand the term, ‘secular humanism,’ to mean. As I understand the idea (from reading the works of self-described secular humanists), the theory encapsulates a body of thinkers who embrace human reason and mankind’s ability to perfect himself — especially society — through reason, especially through scientific experimentation and application. At the same time, secular humanists reject what they call ‘religious dogma’ and ‘pseudoscience.’ They also reject the notion that any belief should be accepted solely on faith, arguing instead that any belief must first be carefully and thoroughly evaluated by the individual. All combined, the secular humanist believes that morality can be based on science.
Now, if I might, please allow me to point out a small problem with the fundamental assumption upon which ‘secular humanism’ is founded:
Secular Humanism denies the very definition upon which its entire ideology is predicated.
Yes, I am arguing that the theory of secular humanism is self-defeating because it rejects a definition upon which the theory rests. The contradiction is found in the definition of ‘science.’ All secular humanist thinking is predicated on the use of science as a means by which morality and ethics can be devised. Therefore, if the secular humanist rejects the definition of science, they reject their own argument. This then means that the theory of secular humanism is self-defeating.
Let’s start by looking at the definition of ‘scientific method:’
[ sahy– uhns]NOUN1.a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.2.systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.4.systematized knowledge in general.5.knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
Notice how the notion of ‘science’ is based on the existence of ‘laws’ If there are no laws governing whatever is being studied, then the notion of ‘science’ cannot apply to that thing. This is because ‘science’ has to have predictability. Predictability is inherent in the ideas of study and testing. Why study something that is truly lawless? You cannot know what it will do from one moment to the next. And, if you have no idea as to what it will do, you cannot test it. This is because you cannot be sure whether the thing you are studying actually responded to your test, or just responded according to its natural lawlessness — or both! And, unless these things can be known, the notion of testing becomes an absurdity. Therefore, ‘science’ is predicated upon the existence of some sort of law which governs the thing being studied.
Therefore, let’s look at the definition of ‘law:’
[law]NOUN1.the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision.2.any written or positive rule or collection of rules prescribed under the authority of the state or nation, as by the people in its constitution.3.the controlling influence of such rules; the condition of society brought about by their observance: maintaining law and order.4.a system or collection of such rules.5.the department of knowledge concerned with these rules; jurisprudence: to study law.
Notice that the definition of ‘law’ rests upon the existence of an authority to create and administer the law. By definition, this ‘authority’ cannot be man! If we assume man makes the laws governing any area of science, then studying something man controls becomes an absurdity — at least in terms of ‘science,’ anyway. This is because, if man made it, whatever the subject being studied, that thing will be subject to the whims of an ‘authority’ that is not, itself, controlled by law. This means man is lawless, and, therefore, anything he designs that remains subject to his will must be lawless, as well. Therefore, man cannot make the laws governing morality because those laws will forever be subject to the ungoverned whim of a lawless creator.
However, if we assume that there are pre-existing laws which can be discovered through observation and testing — and we do, as evidenced by the studies of anthropology, philosophy, sociology, biology, psychology, etc — then we must assume there is an authority that created those laws. Since we have already demonstrated that this authority cannot be man, then what remains? The universe, itself?
The universe cannot be the source of any governing law over itself. This is because a thing cannot define itself. Notice that the definition of ‘law’ does not say that the law can be defined by the law. By definition, a law must be defined by something over or above it; something that has control and authority over that law. If the universe is governed by the same laws we propose to study through science, then we are actually saying that the universe — an inanimate thing — not only created itself in an ordered form, but it did so by an act of will. This is by logical extension. In order to create (in this case a law or system of laws), a thing must have will. Therefore, if we are saying the universe created the laws we propose to study to create a ‘scientific morality,’ we are saying the universe is conscious. But the universe is inanimate, therefore — by definition — it cannot be conscious. Which means, it cannot have created itself to operate by a set order (i.e. laws). Which then begs the question: how can the laws we propose to study have been created by themselves? They cannot have been, therefore, whatever laws we assume are governing the behaviors of man, they cannot have come from the universe.
Well, if the laws the secular humanists propose to study in order to design a ‘scientific morality’ cannot come from man, and they cannot come from the universe, then from where do they come? Ultimately, we are left with two choices:
Either there are no set laws governing human behavior, in which case, we cannot create a ‘scientific morality’ because there is nothing to study or test (remember, science cannot be applied to a thing that is without some sort of governing law or order). In fact, by logical extension, we would be forced to question whether or not science is possible at all. If there are no laws governing the behavior of man, then there can be no certainty as to anything man does — to include reasoning. Which leads to the final choice:
There is a Law-Giver in the Universe: a Law-Giver Who is conscious and acts with purpose and design. And, if this is the case, then the notion of secular humanism then becomes lawlessness as the entire theory is predicated upon man being the law-giver over himself. Therefore, anything man tries to do that goes against the laws of the Law-Giver would constitute and illegal action on the part of man. This means man cannot use ‘science’ to create a ‘scientific morality.’ He can only use science to determine what the existing laws are and how they work. The moment man steps outside of this effort, he throws away any pretense of ‘science’ because he is acting lawlessly. This, then, makes the theory of secular humanism a self-defeating theory — and all because their ideology forces them to reject the very concepts upon which it is built: the notion of ‘science.’
[NOTE: The root of the secular humanist problem is actually the fact that their theory is not based on true science, but on pseudoscience — one of the things they claim to reject. And this is because they do not understand that science is the study of what already is, and if a law already exists, then there is a Law-Giver and any attempt to change that Law-Giver’s laws is lawlessness. It is also man trying to claim to be the law-giver or, in other words, man claiming to be god.]