Some parishioners have recently expressed distress over an Ad campaign of the American Humanist Association. Rather provocative Ads are appearing on buses and subways here in the Nation’s Capitol and I suspect elsewhere as well.

As Christmas draws near, the “Humanists” have made it a practice in recent years to tweak Christians (as well as Jews and Muslims) and attempt to make the concept of faith look ridiculous. They generally do this by quoting a sacred text and interpreting it in a mechanistic, fundamentalist and literalistic  manner. The notion of quoting any other text that might balance it or perhaps make distinctions does not fit their scheme so they don’t do it. They claim to be thinkers but little thought is really evident in their attacks for they “think” that one-liners can represent a faith tradition thousands of years old.

Clearly too, they seem to violate their own “humanist” notions, for  it seems in that they show no real human respect for their believing opponents. They claim to be the decent folks in the discussion but their disrespectful treatment of ancient faith traditions belies their self described decency and open-mindedness. In effect their charges against believers is that we are, homophobic, misogynistic, genocidal, homicidal, and generally unthinking. They of course show no bigotry at all in these charges and their simplistic use of our Scriptures. No they are the enlightened ones, kind and noble. They are “humanists” after all, and the rest of us are, well, “unenlightened” and responsible for just about everything bad there is on the planet. Or,  so it would seem, based on their “kindly” assessment of us.

It will be noted that each Ad has the following format: “Some people believe…… We think…….” The implication being of course that they think and we do not. They do not see faith as a way of thinking. I am not sure what part of the human person they think faith resides in but they surely do not think it can be in the intellect. But of course faith IS a way of knowing. In know certain things and can think on them because God has revealed them. I know them by faith, but I do KNOW them.

Further, the secular humanist cannot claim he knows nothing by faith. In fact most of what we know, whether we are atheist or religious, we know by faith. It is simply not possible for most of us to personally verify everything we know. I cannot get on a plane and personally go to a foreign country and observe some event. I usually just trust what I read or hear on the news. I cannot get in a time machine and personally verify that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Neither can I personally verify that Paul Revere said, “The British are coming.” Yes, such things are in history books. But what if some folks were lying? Maybe the facts in the history books are wrong. So in the end I know these sorts of things by a human kind of faith. I trust that previous generations have largely handed the true facts. Faith isa fundamental human disposition. Without it we could not really claim to know much.

So what the humanists claim to “think” or know, is also largely based on beliefs and values that cannot simply be scientifically verified. For example, that men and women are equal is a fine value which I share. But it not really something that can be scientifically proved. Rather, it is based on values and a personal decision to regard the differences of men and women as of no significance in terms of what we mean by “equality.”  But this is a belief.  Another example, they claim that homosexual behavior is validly equal to heterosexual behavior. But this too is a belief, not a pure scientific thought. So even as they ridicule my belief and values they engage in belief and values of theirown. Even as they claim to “think” independent of faith, their thought, like mine is steeped in presuppositions rooted in faith and values.

So let’s take a look at some of their ads and videos.

Here’s the first ad.
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Well of course the first thing to note of the Ad is the rather crude use of Scripture. It is not an authentic use of Scripture to simply quote one verse and think that you have captured all that Scripture has to say on that subject. Frequently, one verse will clarify another, or make distinctions. Sometimes one passage of scripture will balance another or tell the “other side” of the story.

Yet Another factor in this Ad is that it seems to treat all Christians alike in their interpretation of this passage. The fact is that a passage like this has a number of different interpretations and applications. If you were to walk into any Christian Church you would not find in most of them, women silent and having no practical authority. Women exercise great authority in churches and denominations. Even in the Catholic Church with a male only priesthood, woman have a lot of leadership. Hence this verse has not been read by most Christians in the absolute or literal sense that our Ad author wants us to think. St. Paul who wrote this passage elsewhere commends women who are catechists (e.g. Rom 16:1)and deaconesses (those who assisted in baptisms) . He speaks with great respect of many women who were patrons of the early Church (e.g. Lydia, Dorcas et al.) What Paul is probably saying here is that a woman was not to preside over liturgical functions or give the homily, reserved to priests and deacons. It is probably a liturgical context that Paul has in mind. This may still not please everyone but it is far from the extreme our Ad wants us to see.

As for marriage, Scripture does teach male headship. But that headship is rooted in love and service, not power. A husband is to love his wife (cf  Eph5:19ff). The humanists are free to assert that they favor what they call “perfect partnership” (which seems to want to deny any form of headship). But that too is a belief. Notice that their response uses the word “should.” It is a belief, not a scientific fact,  that equality can only exist in the absence of headship. Christians believe that authority exists, but it is exercised among equals. The Pope has authority in the Church but he is no more a Child of God than you or I. Before God we are equal but we do have some different roles among ourselves. But different does not mean unequal. Humanists have different beliefs in this regard but it is a belief, no less than ours. More on headship and equality here: http://blog.adw.org/2009/08/an-unpopular-teaching-on-marriage/

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When the Ad says “some” believe this, I’d like to know who. In quoting the Old Testament the Humanists are not seriously contending that some Christians or Jews hold slaves today or beat them are they? Here too their real goal is probably more to ridicule Scripture. It is an undeniable fact that slavery was a feature of the Biblical world. However, slavery was not exclusive to the Biblical world. Further, the slavery of the ancient world was different in many respects from the slavery of more recent times. In the ancient world slavery usually the alternative to death or jail. People were enslaved for three usual reasons. Either they had debts they could not pay. Or, they had committed certain crimes. Or, they had been soldiers in a war wherein they lost. Instead of killing the soldiers or merely imprisoning debtors or criminals they might be permanently or temporarily enslaved. This history helps explain why the Scriptures did not condemn this practice. It was an alternative to things that may have been far worse.  and, frankly our modern prisons aren’t shining examples of humanism either. These historical differences did not make slavery a wonderful thing but it is not the same as the slavery of the 16th Century wherein people were enslaved who had committed no crimes, waged no war, and owed no debts. It went by the name of slavery but it was different reality and as people woke up to this it was ended. Christians, Jews and non believers were all part of the battle to end slavery. The “humanists” cannot claim some sort of credit  for ending slavery. Many of different backgrounds including Christians and Jews fought powerfully to end slavery. As for you humanists who are committed to treating each person as having inherent dignity, welcome to the crowd. You cannot claim this for yourself alone.

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Here too, to say that “some believe” that homosexuals should be stoned is simply a hateful caricature of Christians and the “humanist” author of this Ad knows it. No Christian or Jewish creed calls for the death penalty in this matter. In ancient Biblical times many punishments were severe as considered by today’s standards. Adulterers were also to be stoned. Children could also be put to death for dishonoring parents. But these severe punishments were largely set aside by the Jewish people as they came forth from the desert and settled in the Promised Land. The punishments were ameliorated but the moral teaching on these matters were not. It is a consistent Biblical teaching from the early to the last passages of  Scripture that Homosexual activity is sinful. So is illicit sexual union between heterosexuals (fornication and adultery). This is our principled belief as Catholics rooted in consistent Scriptural teaching. Now the Humanists are free to disagree but they too are expressing a belief. They cannot scientifically prove what the ad calls the “validity of  sexual equality.” In fact any scientific study would seem to point away from it. Homosexual unions are not fertile and any scientific look at the the body parts in question will indicate that the man is made for the woman and the woman for the man. Further the preponderance of disease related to homosexual activity and other forms of promiscuity among heterosexuals backs the biblical prohibitions more that the “humanist” permissiveness. Perhaps our humanist “thinker” should think through the evidence a bit more. Have “considered” humanism in this matter I find it wanting. More on Biblical teaching on Homosexuality here: http://blog.adw.org/2009/10/biblical-teaching-on-homosexual-activity/

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Here we see our “humanist” interlocutor ridiculing what he or she does not understand. Christian tradition distinguishes  between servile fear and filial fear. Now servile fear is not commended and should be conquered. Filial Fear however is based in love and consists in a deep reverence for God whom I dread to offend on account of my love and deep respect for him. Now my reverence for God is surely based on the fact that he will one day judge me, and Jesus who is quoted here, reminds us that it is better to fear him than to fear man. For, ultimately a man can only kill my body, but the Lord has authority over my soul and eternal destiny. Hence our reverence for God should be higher than for man. Here too one verse of Scripture is not the whole of Scripture and the crude use of Scripture made by our “thinking” humanist should also include other scriptures that balance the notion of servile fear. For example, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). This particular text goes on to say that the love of God drives out sin in us and hence we no longer fear punishment as sin is increasingly driven away. Hence while the Lord speaks of the fear of punishment by God as more necessary than fear of man, Scripture elsewhere distinguishes that this sort of fear is something that should give way over time as we grow in love and faith.  

Finally, the quote by Bertrand Russell also needs some additions or distinctions. I cannot imagine that he or humanists really argue that all fear is bad. There are some things of course that are rightly feared. For example, I ought to fear dangerous or reckless behavior. I ought to fear genuinely harmful things. I need not be in a panic but rather, an appropriate, reverential fear of things that can harm me is often called for and reasonable. Surely a “thinking” humanist would concur with this.

I sometimes wonder too if humanists fear us who believe. I say this because of the “over the top” quality of some of these Ads. They seem so rooted in a kind of bigoted fear that simplifies and tries to ridicule us. I sense fear fear in this.

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Well now,  this is the silliest Ad of all. Had our thinking humanist bothered to consult even the most basic Scriptural commentary he or she would have discovered that this verse employs Jewish hyperbole. This is not a call to hate. It is a Jewish way of speaking that emerges from the fact that the Hebrew language does not contain many comparative words such as more, less, greater, fewer and so forth. Hence if I prefer Chocolate ice cream to vanilla I would say in the Hebrew or Aramaic idiom, “I love Chocolate and hate vanilla.” But what I mean is that I prefer Chocolate, not that I really hate vanilla. Hence the Lord teaches us here that we must love God above all things and people and that he must have priority in our life. The humanist may reject this notion but it is still wrong for them to misrepresent our Scripture. Since all humanists are fair, loving and kind, according to this Ad,  they really should check with us about what our Scriptures mean before presuming such terrible things about them or us. This Scripture is not saying what they claim it says. It seems once again that the real purpose here is to ridicule what they do not understand. This is rooted more in bigotry than kindness. There is nothing “kind” about this Ad and the humanist author might consider that his creed (pardon the expression) that he “BE KIND” does not seem to apply to Christians.

Well there are three videos I will post tomorrow that are also part of this campaign.

In summary, having considered the humanism on display in these ads, I have found it wanting. There is little in them that is any way considerate or humanist. All the kindness and moral high ground these Ads claim that humanist have seem to give way to condemnation rooted in ignorance, simplifications, and erroneous understanding of basic doctrines of faith. Indeed, I would call these ads amateurish at many levels. Even simple fact checking was not done. In the end these Ads are not rooted in critical “thinking” at all. They seem far more expressive of the kind of bigotry and fear based ignorance they claim to condemn.

59 Responses

  1. BHG says:

    And you haven’t even touched on the idea that the ads portray humanists as a monolithic group believing all that the leaders of Considerhumanism.org have laid out, which is, of course, absurd. Another rosary from me today for the conversion of souls and a reminder to be a better translated walking version of the Gospel than I am most days. Thanks for an excellent post.

    • Yes, this is an excellent point. THey are not a monolith and debating “them” is hard because “they” are hard to define. There are a few things out there like the manifesto that many of them sign on to but other than that, discovering “who speaks for them” is pretty difficult

      • Ismael says:

        I’d add that it is hard to debate them also due to their irrationality.

        Humanists like the ones who created these ads (not all atheists are like that) refute logic and facts a priori, dismissing religion as ‘stupid and backwards’ without any (relevant) argument.

        Then it’s like debating evolution with someone who takes Genesis 1-3 literally and refutes scientific evidence (ah the irony!)

        ————

        For example one of the humanist ‘fanboys’ on YouTube wrote something like:

        “every time a humanists quotes the bible you Christians say it’s out of context. It sounds fishy”

        This sums up the whole blindness of many humanists.
        They do not realize that the ads just take *ONE* sentence out of context and out of its true meaning.

        That is *exaclty* what “yourg-earth creationists” do whan they criticize evolution. They take one thing out of context as a proof that evolution is false.

        Of course a argument based on false premeses or ignorance is fully invalid.

        Again… the irony!.

        The pattern is clear. These ‘humanists’ are just fundamentalists who base their thinking on ignorance, bigotry and fear (yes, fear… people who go such great lengths to smear another group fro their beliefs must be afraid of something).

      • Eddie Van Helsing says:

        As an atheist and an anarchist, I do not permit anybody to speak for me. I have my own voice. I can speak for myself.

      • Barbara says:

        Their methodology reminds me of the proof-texting done by Protestant fundamentalists to “prove” their interpretation of the Bible or disprove anyone else’s.
        Strange how they ignore the horror of left-wing humanism. Concentration camps, gas ovens, purges, the atomic bomb, ethnic cleansings.

  2. Matthew says:

    I have always been puzzled by references to marriage as a “perfect partnership”. Now, I am single so maybe I just don’t get it but in any committee of two SOMEONE must have the deciding vote. Who will it be?

  3. Bill says:

    Msgr:
    Well done! Your charitable dismissal of these claims is a true testimony to the meaning of human kindness. In the Speckhardt video clip the interview ends with a question to him about whether he is worried about his own soul given his attack on Holy Scripture. Speckhardt responds, “I’m afraid not.” The irony of his response was most reassuring to me. Of course, a true humanist would not “fear” a baseless unscientific claim like those made in Scripture. Yes, Mr. Speckhardt should fear the fact that he has no regard for the general judgment—and I pray that he finds his way back to the Truth and finds comfort and hope in His mercy. As we all know, Mr. Speckhardt’s “kindness” will not lead him to salvation.

  4. Ismael says:

    “”They claim to be thinkers but little thought is really evident in their attacks for they “think” that one-liners can represent a faith tradition thousands of years old.”"

    So true… Also: they are so smug thinking they are just better than anyone else.

    .

    • Yes there is a smugness in their ads and kind of superiority and a self declaration they are the enlightened ones, the ones who are kind and tolerant. etc. We Christians do claim to have enlightenment but the difference is that the light is outside of ourselves and revealed to us. The humanists et al claim that they themsleves are the light. It is also true that we who are Christians can have our share of smugness but it is foreign to the faith which summons us to humility.

      • Ismael says:

        Well smugness is an inherent human flaw, unfortunately. There is also a share of bad Christians out there, as there are bad apples in any barrel.

        Yet a good Christian who follows the Gospel will not be smug, since the Gospel teaches humility.

        Humanism, it seems to me, it based upon ‘smugness’.

        We see it in the writings of Nietzsche, who asserts that a ‘super-man’ (ubermensch) is someone ‘free from religious though and morals’ (and in particular Christianity).
        We see it in Russell’s writings, where he also comes forward with (often ignorant) arguments against Christianity trying to undermine it by belittling the followers of Christ.
        The same we see in modern atheist philosophers (eg Dennet or Harris)… who often criticize Aquinas’ arguments without even understanding them.

        Humanism, apparently, is based on a fairytale: the idea that intelligence and knowledge presuppose atheism.

        Truly, when one realizes this, the whole humanist philosphy falls apart.

  5. J says:

    The reason why the American Humanist Association can rightly be called fundamentalist and hateful in this ad campaign is because it expresses no positive positions, only repudiations of religions targeted for negative feeling.

    It would be impossible for a secular humanist to have a positive ad campaign. Hence the black and white. The humanist position only appears in the spaces not smeared over with black hate.

    • Interesting. I too had wondered as to the color scheme they chose for their Ad.

    • Eddie Van Helsing says:

      After two thousand years of tyranny at the hands of men in the name of God, I would say that hatred is your rightful due.

      • Ismael says:

        And I though you humanists believed in being kind… I guess you are showing now your true colors ;)

        FYI: in the past 2-3 thousand years less than 7% of wars and conflicts had religious motivation as a prime cause. The other 93% was primarily caused by greed and desire of personal power: what humanists stand for, ironically.

      • J says:

        Whether hatred is anyone’s rightful due, Mr. Van Helsing, you may be right, however missing the point of what I said.

        In this country even those who deserve hate are afforded a hearing to convict them as such, and the right of others to purchase a place of hatred in the popular imagination towards associations or religious institutions is nowhere guaranteed in its written and unwritten constitutions.

        Beware what hatreds you permit yourself, however justified you may be in your freedom to have them.

  6. Jan says:

    What I find ironic is the use of the word ‘sacred’ – I’m wondering what sort of deity the humanists attribute these pithy statements to? Sanctity doesn’t just exist for or because of it’s own sake.

    Generally, with the exception of the sexual equality thing, these are simply Christian ethics being hijacked and rehashed, don’t you think?

    • Ismael says:

      Oh yes… that is very true. They are blind to see that their morals have their roots in Christianity (or Judaism).

      For example St. Paul also implies an equal and perfect partnership in marriage… but the Humanists are either to ignorant or too smug to realize that.

      Or the bible says several times that we have nothing to fear (fear intended in the common sens) if the Lord is with us and that fear is something for the wicked, because they know that their evil will be the cause of their undoing.
      (John 3:20: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for FEAR that their deeds will be exposed.”)
      Very different thing is the “Fear of the Lord”, of course (Aquinas explains it well: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3019.htm#article1). Also Fear is also a sign of wisdom. There is good fear and bad fear. Fear of getting burnt will prevent a wise person to put his hand into the fire. Fear of the superior strenght of an opponent will make us use our wits and not simple force, etc, etc…

      “Freedom consonant with responsibility” is what the BIBLE teaches. The humanists THINK they teach that… but they do not. They teach irresponsible freedom.

      I guess one could go on and on… but the message is clear: Humanists have taken Judeo-Christian values, stripped them down of their higher value and resold them as theirs.
      Not really what you’d expect ‘humane’ and ‘intelligent’ people to do.

  7. Ruth Ann says:

    Thank you for you clear refutations of the humanist’s assertions. What you wrote makes complete sense to me. Maybe that means we both are “thinking!”

    I am so happy you and others with your background and talent are standing up for believers and “fighting” back. Or maybe I should say standing for truth. A lot of us don’t have such competency. So thank you, and keep at it, please.

    When it comes to humanism, I think there is a Christian form of humanism that was espoused by such people as Jacques Maritain. Is that so? Are you familiar with Christian humanism? Anyway, it’s another way of saying humanists are not a monolithic group.

  8. Patt says:

    That last quote was the late Katherine Hepburn: “I’m an atheist.” Well, she isn’t an atheist anymore.
    I hope she changed her mind on that—before departure.

  9. Grandpa Tom says:

    Merry Christmas vs. Seasons Greetings. The atheist greeting vs. the Christian greeting. The power of words can be magical. The elements of argument require cleverly constructed words. The one line cliches are effective. Remember the ad from 7up? “Your like it, it likes you!” The Humanist crane text from the bible, and use it out of context, which results in pretext. Someone with a nickles worth of knowledge knows that there are other sentences before and after the verse from 1 Tim. 2.

    The Humanist attack on Christianity is proof that they do fear the believers. The disdain and dour they harbor for the believer is unmasked. We simply have to remain steadfast, and face their attack with moxey, with spirit. In the war for the spirit and soul, Satan is cunning, however we must have faith that we are on the right side of this great war. The truth is on our side. “If God be for us, who can be against us; Rom. 8:31.”

    The atheist most certainly has a form of religious faith in believing humans came from the ape. The believe in the evolution theory even though there are no fossil records to support or provide evidence for their belief.

    To the atheist, our belief is based on a myth. To us, the atheist walks in the dark. Any light they claim to have as ‘Thinkers’ is the light of the moon, simply a reflection of the true light, but not the source of true light (we are children of the light – 1 Thess. 5:4-5). Paul in his letter to the Corinthians encountered ‘fools’ where he went, so he reminded the Corinthians: “For the preachng of the cross is to them that perish is foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. God who sits in heaven laughs at the unbeliever; Psalm 2:4; “The fool said in his heart, There is no God above….God looks down from heaven on the sons of men, to see if any are wise, if any seek God; Psalm 53:1-2.”

    This Christmas, remember to send cards with a Nativity scene, or other images of the Advent of the Savior. Greet people with a “Merry Christmas.” And most of all, remember to teach the young, the fear of the Lord. Taste and see that the Lord is good. For a portion of God’s goodness is on fire with love. Love that gives joy throughout the Christmas season, and the whole year.

  10. Paul Rimmer says:

    I wish these campaigns would be more subtle, and more focused on what matters.

    I’m a humanist. I don’t believe in God. I see the Bible as irrelevant. It’s a good story, great literature, but it’s like the Iliad. It’s not important for our lives anymore.

    But if that’s true, why spend so much money putting out so many advertisements “discrediting” it? Why care so much about an ancient irrelevant document if it really is so irrelevant? Do they think this is going to convince anyone?

    I’m a live-and-let-live sort of guy. If you want to believe in God and the Bible go ahead. If you don’t, that’s fine too.

    Advertise for humanism on its positive points: we want to help humanity. Forget about all this Bible bashing. It’s a waste of time and makes people angry.

    • Grandpa Tom says:

      iliad by Homer, is more comparable to Dante’s Comedy, a fiction, than the Holy Bible. Of course, we all take a different path through life. But to compare the pagan gods in the Homer’s poem to the the True God, is ludicrous. The reason the “Humanist” spend so much time discrediting the Bible, is because like Satan, they tremble at the name of Jesus Christ. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. It is the knowledge and wisdom that is feared. That is why the Bible, unlike iliad, is still relevant today, because it is a true message. A message to be feared by God’s enemies and outlaws.

      Josephus, a pagan author lived during the time of Jesus (Yeshua), and in the “Antquities of the Jews,” acknowledged that this person “Jesus” was condemmed by a real person named Pilate, to death on a cross. Josephus further says: “He (Jesus) appeared to them alive again the third day, as divine prophets had foretold. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” History in this matter has been proven. The Humanist should know we will never be extinct. We boast of the Cross, and of Christ Crucified. Jesus was not like Zeus, Thor, or other pagan gods. Jesus is King of the Universe. And at the name of Jesus, every knee in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, should bend.

      • Paul Rimmer says:

        I compare the Bible to the Iliad only in terms of how relevant the two works are in my life.

        Other than that comparison, I have no interest in discussing the Bible.

        I do not accept that the quote you give of Josephus is genuine.

        I do think Christianity will die out, but it will long outlive me. With what I know about the universe, it must die out because of entropy. Everything falls apart eventually. As early as the death of the sun to as late as the extinction of the last star, will mark the end to humanity (as far as I know), if we don’t blow ourselves up first.

        It might be a good bet to say that Christianity will survive as long as there are humans.

  11. Vijaya says:

    I’ve always thought that social evolution takes care of people like atheists. They don’t like children, they don’t even like themselves, so their ideas have to be re-rooted in every generation … when they die, they will have to meet their Creator and answer to Him.

    It took me a loooong time to understand this whole business about “Blessed are the poor in Spirit …” I do not want to be poor in spirit, but it finally dawned upon me that I have to become less so that Jesus can be more in me. The humanists are still too full of themselves. Lord, have mercy, for they do not know.

  12. Telemachus says:

    Ah, the “humanists.” Who are they? By what authority do they justify their religious beliefs? Why should I listen to them? They offer us nothing but empty platitudes: “Be Good,” “Be Nice,” “Be Kind.” They are united only by their hatred of God: if there were no believers left, they would be killing and eating one another like so many pagan tribes of old.

    One thing I’d like to note about these ads is that while each one is presented as an invitation (“Consider Humanism”) these billboards are more intended to (a) trick the ignorant masses who don’t understand the Christian faith, and (b) shore up the True Believers in their disdain for a faith of which they have only a cartoonish understanding. I “considered humanism” a while ago: when I was an ignorant and narcissistic college student. Then I grew up and actually learned what the Catholic faith was about. And now I’m a Catholic. Consider Catholicism!

    Etc. Etc. Etc. I could go on and on with this. These folks baffle me. They put across an image of great thought, but all evidence points to an extreme lack of introspection. Apparently, to them, we Christians are the one last road-block to an unbridled materialist Utopia. As the gas chambers and gulags surface again, I can’t help but wonder if they will even bat an eye. You can make just about anything look like “progress” if you put the right spin on it.

  13. Ye Olde Statistician says:

    Most Late Modern and Early Post-modern “humanists” are no such thing at all. How many have read Montaigne? Plutarch? Ersamus? Tacitus? Or any of the great classics of humanism? In their search to understand the human condition, they would never have been satisfied with sound-bite thinking or proof-texting.

    No, the Late Moderns only use the term as a lazy euphemism for “atheist” (in just the same way they misuse the term “secular.” The first secular state in post-Roman Europe was the Church.)

  14. Ned says:

    To Paul Rimmer – thank you for your honesty. However, I would like to point out that although the Bible was written a very long time ago, it’s been alive and well ever since. It isn’t as though someone found it recently and developed a religion around it. The religion and the Bible have been present – since before the Bible was written, actually, in the case of the religion. After all, the church came first – not the Bible. And the Bible must be interpreted in the same breath as Tradition and the Church and natural law and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It all goes together. My point is simply that the Word of God dwelt among us a long time ago but has remained with us throughout the centuries to the present day. God bless.

  15. Andy says:

    Did you hear the WOOOOSH as the point of these ads flew over your head?

  16. Nick O'dEmmus says:

    It is interesting how language expresses the limitations of their arguments as well. This campaign uses the English language words “believe” and “think” as if they are mutually exclusive. A look at other European languages, e.g. German and French, would show that the words “glauben” and “croire” (respectively) can be translated by both the English words “believe” AND “think”. They also have other words, “denken” and “penser”, which mean ‘think’ in the connotation of ‘cogitate’ – but “we think… (plus statement)” as used in their ad campaigns definitely expresses the “believe” connotation of thinking and would be translated into German and French with the words “glauben” and “croire”. i believe (think!) the same is true of other languages (Italian: credere/pensare, Swedish: tro/tycka, Russian: vjerijt/dumat). And, of course, language is extremely important in the context of the Bible which was originally written in different languages, times and contexts. Their facile dismissiveness is appalling and just plain ignorant!

  17. Nick O'dEmmus says:

    And, of course, the word “human” in “humanism” is most probably derived from the Latin word “humus” (earth/soil), analogous to the Hebrew word “Adam” – the dust/earth from which Man was first taken. Therefore the word “human” itself linguistically contains a Biblical revelation from Genesis! And, ironically, it is a cognate of the word “humility” – something which the humanists are sadly lacking in with their smug, self-righteous campaign.

  18. Piotr says:

    HUMANISTS? I thought they were bipedal apes; after all this is all you get from darwinian evolution.

  19. Kent Ham says:

    “… people like atheists. They don’t like children, they don’t even like themselves ….”

  20. Mary says:

    Thanks Msgr. Pope,

    As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, your voice shines like a light in the darkness.
    Truth will always triumph and the the darkness will be destroyed. Perhaps our best response upon seeing these ads is to Pray for those who walk in darkness and Praise God for the best gift of all- Faith!

  21. Cody says:

    “In fact most of what we know, whether we are atheist or religious, we know by faith. It is simply not possible for most of us to personally verify everything we know.”

    Sorry to cherry pick your argument, but this point is weak. Although we cannot personally verify historical or scientific facts, as a society we certainly can know things. We know certain historical events happen from their plenitude of physical and literary evidence; we can repeat experiments to prove that a theorem is not un-true. These facts that humans attain from observation and study differ significantly from the facts that we trust in on faith. The revelations from God that compose our mysteries have a different origin and are therefore of a different nature than ‘ordinary’ facts. To attempt to equate the two to prove your point is fallacious.

    • Well, OK, but my point Cody is that faith is a way of knowing. I am referring here to human faith, not theological faith. And most of what I know I know by the fact that people, or organizations that I trust testify to the veracity of these events or fact. I do not attempt to persoanlly verify most of what I know, there just isn’t time. I doubt you do either. Even when we do, we consult what we consider to be credible (i.e. believeable) sources, sources we trust. Now even where there is physical evidence of historical events, the interpretation of that data is not always clear. So, here too, I consult people and sources I trust to give that interpretation. And here too, major interpretations and theories can and do come and go. So I would reiterate, much of what I know, I do not know from direct evidence that I have personally verified and can perfectly interpret. I know a few things in that manner. But many more things I know based merely on what I have been told and there is a dimension of trust, and (human) faith at work in this way of knowing.

      • Bender says:

        We know certain historical events happen from their plenitude of physical and literary evidence

        Prove that George Washington ever existed, much less was ever president. Have you ever seen him, did you personally observe him being president?

        In the end, the only way to prove the existence of George Washington is to believe and trust in what other people have said about him. And they, in turn, only know what they know because others have said things about him. All those artifacts, including that house down at Mount Vernon, none of those are self-verifying or self-proving. We only believe that that was his house because people say it was his house.

        Can you personally verify that mankind ever set foot on the moon? What is the scientific test for that? Again, the only proof is the testimony of others and our reasoned response to that testimony.

        It really is not all that different in matters of Christian faith. We trust these things to be true based on the testimony of others and on the application of reason.

      • Paul Rimmer says:

        Bender: But I don’t believe the testimony.

        If someone said “George Washington walked along such-and-such a road”, so long as it agreed with the rest of what we know about him (the road better not be the George Bush Turnpike, for example), I’d believe it.

        But if someone said “George Washington on this day levitated over this house.” I wouldn’t believe it. The problem isn’t that I’m cherry-picking testimonies. The problem is I don’t believe levitation is possible.

        I don’t think people can come back from the dead. I hold to this view so strongly that no testimony or historical evidence alone would be sufficient to change my mind.

    • Ismael says:

      “These facts that humans attain from observation and study differ significantly from the facts that we trust in on faith. The revelations from God that compose our mysteries have a different origin and are therefore of a different nature than ‘ordinary’ facts. To attempt to equate the two to prove your point is fallacious.”

      Although what you say a true think your conclusion is not.

      Faith and Reason are two roads to knowledge. They are not equal because they are indeed different, but one is no less important than the other.

      After all this is what atheists also believe: Hawking made an atheist statement some time ago based NOT on proof but on his faith the certain theories were true (such as M-theory, much of the present scientific work is based on the faith that General Relativity is correct, although there are other theories that explain the phenomena explained by relativity, although less popular than G.R.).

      The knowledge of the ‘masses’ is *particularly* based on faith. Faith on the trustworthiness of information services (papers, TV, books, websites, etc…).Unless you are a scientist (or historian for that matter) in a particular area… you really can only take their word for it and assume they did not lie and tamper with the experiments. Also you must assume their interpretation of the data is correct.
      Moreover most knowledge we have comes from second and third hand sources, and often distorted (popular media often distorts scientific news, which, as a physicist, it grinds my gear.)

      Actually knowledge starts by faith FIRST. The faith that what we see and touch is real, even if several thinkers in the past and the present have often question if we can truly know what is real, if our world is real or just a product of our mind (see the school of philosophy called ‘Idealism’).

  22. Greg Walek says:

    Msgr. Pope,
    I read this blog often and truly enjoy it. This is my first time commenting to you, so here I go;

    WHAT SOME BELIEVE
    For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than Men.

    WHAT HUMANISTS THINK
    There is no God. Be kind to each other.

    Knowing that we should love each other as Jesus loved us – PRICELESS

    Actually, if the Humanists really wanted to be kind and do what we can for each other, they would of taken the money for the ad campaign and donate it to a local charity to help those in need.

      • Joseph Nirmal says:

        Dear Greg Walek
        Rightly said, its pure ignorance of them, Hurting the Christians ( as Humans) and on the other hand its a pity they talk of humanity this make me laugh .Christianity is not a religion, but its a way of life to the whole world

        the very existence of them in this world still, is the grace and love from The Lord and the prayers from the ones who they hate & hurt how . when St Paul was struck on ground on his way to Damascus for hurting the church. Christ spoke out asking why does he hurt him He made St Paul understand that Christ and Christians ( Church) are not 2 but 1 you can see this in (John 15 )
        satan has no offspring’s but as 1st John says in Chap 3 Ver 8 you are either for Christ or the opposite Many trade their living for food and clothing by using bible i only see this as a new way for living The bible very clearly says anything under the sky is forgiven but not the blasphemy of the HOLY SPIRIT May the Lord Forgive them and may they get the power to ”conquer FEAR” is The beginning of Wisdom (according to their add) conquer what Fear against who and what only Bible Has the Authority to say and only the key to heaven is the Holy Living word of Lord Christ Gospel Preacher

  23. Ann Schneider says:

    Looking at the humanist’s campaign, the thought that strikes me is that, in every discipline life by sound bite is an unsound way to go unless you don’t mind being ignorant or purposely obtuse. If you are not so bothered, then carry on.

  24. Don says:

    Actually, I am interested in the inferred claim in the ads from the American Humanist Association that the AHA “knows” what humanists think. Their ads say “some believe….” and “humanists think….”. So, did they conduct a poll of all humanists (and really, the AHA seems to confuse humanist with atheist) and find that 100% of humanists concur with their statements in the ads? Plus, their ads are such a dour black & white – is that really a great marketing strategy?
    Lastly, the AHA ads state that humanists think that we should be kind to each other, that all humans have an inherent dignity etc.. Why do they think (believe) this? Is it kind to ridicule in advertisements? Are you truly looking at the inherent dignity in others by only mocking them in ads?

  25. Geoffrey says:

    How about we do a little ad campaign of our own? I bet Ingersoll et. all. have some great tidbits we can seize upon.

  26. Brian says:

    I’m a proud humanist. I may not agree with everything some humanist says or humanist group does, but that can be said of any group. I’m a humanist because I think it is the correct way of seeing the world. I don’t believe in the Christian god or that Jesus died for my sins. I don’t believe there is a heaven or hell. I think we die, and that’s it. The fact that the Msgr. has authored such a long post tells me that humanism is beginning to be taken seriously, and I’m glad for that. I do think secular groups should educate others about our beliefs and promote our causes. We are still figuring out how to do this, and I think we’ll get better at it when we are less defensive. We don’t get enough respect — I’ve read that Americans would elect a Muslim to public office before an atheist. I hope that perception will change over time. I’m a decent, loving, charitable person. I’m also honest — I don’t pretend to be religious just because it might be socially expedient.

    This may be a rude campaign, but telling a non-believer they are going to hell is pretty rude too. I hope that the secular movement in America can progress towards a positive rhetoric, but the church is the last group that should be complaining about getting their feelings hurt. More than anything else, I hope we can find common causes and work together to make this a better world.

    Brian in Houston

  27. Cage says:

    When did the name “humanism” get co-opted as well? Humanism was the philosophy of people like Erasmus of Rotterdam and Georgius Agricola- both of whom stayed Catholic during the Reformation (it is said that the latter died of a stroke suffered while arguing theology with a Lutheran)- that differed from that of the Scholastics. Roughly, they advocated the humanities part of the modern liberal arts core. There is certainly no necessity for humanism (as classically understood) to imply atheism. It certainly doesn’t call for open hostility to faith.

    If you’re an atheist, call yourself one. “Humanist” is already taken. (I suppose you could call yourselves “post-humanist.” Some of your more outspoken fellows have really earned that title.)

  28. Maria says:

    Humanism explains everything using the mind and it is good to put reason at work in knowing things. However; reason is a limited tool, we are not our minds and truth is more than what we can measure with the rule of reason. Life and love conform the human reality but these cannot be explained by reason, they come outside from reason and belong to what we believe in faith, the supreme existent and principle cause that is God.

    True humanism is the one subordinated to God in the model of Christ, the real man and true God.

    Maria in Miami

    • Merlyn Magdalen says:

      Reason is not a limited tool, it is just underdeveloped. The problem is not the concept, it is the individuals abilities. We should not lump one individuals failure of reason into the greater whole. There are plenty of individuals whose reason was exemplary. Try to follow their notions through to the end and discover the path to a better existence, without neglecting the views of any. The process should not be carried out ad hominem, but through rationalizing out the ineffective, and acceptance of the effective. Try Ludwig von Mises.

  29. Paul says:

    I’m tired of Catholics (& Christians) being a punching bag for these “humanists” (atheists).

    Why is there a campaign against just Christians? Shouldn’t these humanists be against all other beliefs? They should bring up their opposition to Islam and Hinduism. If they are going to be consistent with their “faith”, they should put everything on the table.

    I thank God that He teaches me humility, patience, and a mind to speak up against this.

  30. Charlotte says:

    In response Paul, Humanism birthed in Western Society, where before any seperation of Church and State occurred, Judeo-Christian faiths were the primary enforced doctrines. It is natural for Humanists to use what is more familiar to make a point. I have to say that it is funny to read how these ads offend, when considering the reverse perspective, as a person of no religious denomination, who has been offended for decades as Judeo-Christian teachings have been force-fed to me through my whole life. I do not want to acknowledge “God” or have to keep hearing this nonsense, as much as you people of faith do not want to honor Thor or Zeuss or whoever as deity. This is an example to explain how silly faith sounds to us….
    In Isis we trust.
    I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me tooth fairy!

  31. Merlyn Magdalen says:

    As neither a humanist nor a believer, I would like to state that ad hominem attacks against each other, which was certainly happening long before these ads, (and might I add that the religious upbringing I received was as equally slanderous of humanists as the new humanist ads are of religion) were the stepping stone for me finding my own way. Humanists and believers alike are attempting different means to achieve the same end. In fact, this is the case with all of mankind. We are attempting to alleviate our discomfort and thereby increase our comfort, in such a global world this means improving the quality of life of our neighbors as well, but it is still for our own selfish reasons. We participate in charity because it satisfies our own need to feel we are good or righteous. The basic problem with both of these institutions is their lack of education in how to achieve maximum utility for all. Charity and protection only reduce the resources available for real progressive measures. Charity does not improve the situation of those it benefits, it only temporarily alleviates their strain. The goal is standard of living improvements, which is only accomplished by eliminating scarcity, through wealth creation. A profitable production company moving its production to a poor underdeveloped nation provides the indigenous peoples with a means to survive. Contrary to notions of exploitation – not to say that the company isn’t performing the act for their own benefit, as I stated above this is all we are capable of – the indigenous peoples are the real beneficiary, and contrary to job protectionists at home, this move to foreign shores allows those people to enter into the category of world economy consumers – a standard of living increase for them – and thus creates more demand for our own services, therefore creating more skilled jobs on our own shores, meaning that by shipping off jobs that already exist to foreign shores we have created a demand for more desirable jobs that did not exist on our own shores. The act also lowers the costs of production – which was the point, to make the product cheaper in order to improve the businesses competitiveness – which benefits the consumers (which is EVERYONE of us). By making goods and services cheaper businesses only improve their competitiveness in the market – a demand which must be met in order to stay in business – but the real benefactors are the consumers, who eventually experience such increased standards of living that the middle class live in the standards of the old nobility.

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