"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Self vs. Savior -- Conversation with a Humanist

My e-mail address is public so, as you can imagine, I get plenty. Mostly just advertisements for Mexican banks, Canadian drugs, or items of an extremely personal nature. Extremely personal. Between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. I will receive around 100 messages. The first 30 minutes of my weekday morning is spent clicking through e-mails and deleting 90% of them without even looking past the subject line. And, because of the nature of my work -- and the fact that I am somewhat opinionated -- I get my share of detractors.

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from a young college student named Clark who was upset with me for several reasons. He started out by saying that our country's founding fathers were not Christians, but rather deists. When I pointed out to him that deism says that God is not active in the affairs of men and that America's founding fathers -- even Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin -- believed in divine providence and prayer, he changed the subject. His other problem with me was the fact that I am against same-sex marriage. He said it was people like me who were fostering hatred towards homosexuals. Said that the American Family Association was made up of a bunch of fools. He later made some other less-than-positive comments, but that was the essence of it.

I told Clark I was a Christian and that I believe in the Holy Bible as the Word of God, and that is where I got my value system. I cited the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. He told me my "moral compass" was "broken." I asked him what he believes in. He told me he is a "humanist" and believes in the "innate" goodness of man. I told Clark that was great, but I wanted to know what that meant exactly. How does a humanist define "good," for instance? Clark didn't really have an answer.

A humanist is someone who basically believes that man is god. Not in a New Age spiritual sense, but rather the humanist does not believe God exists, and therefore he sees life though a purely secular prism. Any form of religion, to the humanist, is man-invented superstition. It is unprovable. And in America, humanists find Christianity particularly bothersome.

Humanism teaches that there is no such thing as moral absolutes. While the Christian and the Jew would say the Ten Commandments are given to mankind by Almighty God as rules by which we should conduct ourselves, humanists do not believe there is such a "rule book" for life. Whereas the Christian believes that to violate a commandment is to sin against God (which then requires repentance and forgiveness), there is no such concept of "sin" to the humanist.

While one might not agree with the Christian view of morality (and even Christians sometimes disagree on context and definitions), at least we have something to point to (the Bible) and a logical reason why it then affects our thinking and our behavior so strongly. However, as I found out with Clark, while a humanist finds fault with Christianity, there is nothing for him to fall back on as a superior moral value system. They have no moral value system other than the one each man makes up for himself which, in the end, comes down to being a matter of personal opinion. And personal opinions, like noses, are something we all have.

To the Christian, morality is objective truth given to us by God. To the humanist, morality is subjective opinion given to them by ... well ... themselves.

What I found with Clark, as I have with other humanists, atheists and agnostics, is that they revel in pointing out hypocrisy among Christians. And while hypocrisy is a bad thing, it does not negate the truth of the Christian message. It merely means that Christians are exactly what the Bible teaches all human beings are -- sinful creatures in need of help from God. We need to be saved from our sin that separates us from God (salvation) and we need the power of God to live the life He desires us to live.

Clark and I went several rounds back and forth with each other. Each time I asked him for some resource outside himself to prove the validity of his beliefs, he would change the subject, usually with another criticism of Christians.

I challenged Clark that if the Christian value system is such a bad one, name a better one. He has not done that to date. But if you think about it, when Clark tells me my moral compass is broken, isn't he passing judgment on me? And that is precisely why he wrote me in the first place, telling me (with respect to homosexual marriage) I had no right to judge other people. Clark, you are confusing me, man.

Tim Wildmon
March 1, 2006



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