History of Humanism
Author: Ian Taylor
1. From Genesis 4:3-5 we see that Abel [the second born] was a keeper of the sheep while Cain [the first born] was a tiller of the ground. God required a sacrifice and to Christian readers it might be thought that the first-born would be the priest and offer the blood sacrifice. However, Cain had evidently proven not to be a God-fearing man and, rather than trade with his brother, thought that a fruit offering as a sacrifice was good enough. But the Lord had evidently given instructions that that the offering was to be a blood sacrifice – a life for a life. While this is not clearly spelled out in those early chapters of Genesis, Cain’s attitude becomes perfectly evident throughout the rest of Scripture. From Genesis 3:21 God made coats of skin for Adam and Eve, therefore an animal must have been sacrificed and blood shed. Although unstated in this context, God had shown by example that shed blood was necessary for the sin offering so that Cain’s unbloody offering was fundamentally unacceptable. God did not respect Cain’s offering causing Cain to be angry. These words tell us that the real problem was Cain’s attitude towards God. Cain gave God mere lip service essentially rejecting Him and declaring in his mind that Man will be the master of his own destiny. These words, later penned by the Greek, Protagoras, state succintly what is meant by humanism.
2. The names of the Greek philosophers living in the classical period, 3rd to 4th centuries BC, are familiar to many people and, while none of them could have been Christians, most had a belief in a non-material spirit world; others were atheist materialists. According to their writings, they have been divided into left-wing and right wing depending upon their belief system. Leucippus, Protagorus, Democritas, Epicurus and the Roman poet, Lucretius, were all materialists thus had no belief in anything of an immaterial nature. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, in his earlier years, all believed in an immortal afterlife. Plato (427-347 BC) especially wrote extensively on the reincarnation of souls and influenced Church thinking on the destiny of the soul through Augustine (AD 354-430) who was a follower of Plato and an early Church Father. Plato is known for his utopian work The Republic in which he argued that for the perfect government we should select the wisest men of the land under a philosopher king and pay them well to rule over the people. This has been the humanist dream ever since and Republican governments have been introduced with every socialist revolution. The problem is that a Republic is a one-party system inevitably becoming filled with unbridled corruption. Aristotle (394-322 BC) was Plato’s disciple and argued that all our knowledge of the world comes through our five senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. The painting by Jan Van Bylert is called The Five Senses and we may be reminded that every one of our senses can be deceived but there is a sixth sense by which truth may be known; it is called God’s revelation. The issue of seeking knowledge and wisdom by appeal to God rather than Man has divided mankind for thousands of years. The wars of medieval Europe were fought over this issue. While many, if not most, of the great inventions that benefit mankind have come from God-fearing men, all the worst atrocities have been done in the name of humanism masquerading under the banners of Fascism, Communism etc.
3. From 1 Corinthians 2:6-7 and 3:18-20 it will be seen that there are two kinds of wisdom and they are 180 degrees apart. Man’s wisdom is received through his intellect and God’s wisdom is received from the Holy Spirit. It has always been those with God’s wisdom who have suffered persecution from those with man’s wisdom; this has been the root cause of human conflict throughout history. Galatians 4:28-30 makes it clear that those who receive God’s wisdom will be persecuted by those who rely on man’s wisdom. Acts chapter 17, Paul tells of his two-fold opposition: Epicurians who were the materialists and Stoics who were the pantheists. These belief systems today are Atheism and the New Age philosophy.
4. France in the 14th century. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) combined the writings of Aristotle with the Scriptures to produce his Sumna Theologia. This was not accepted by the Church at the time of Aquinas but was later by the Council of Trent (1545-1563). This is the foundation for what we know today as the Roman Catholic Church.
5. The Age of Enlightenment. Galileo (1564-1642) upset the Church of the day by pointing out publicly what the Church had long known to be true. The public view of the cosmos was thus turned from earth-centered to sun-centered. The discovery in England of the circulation of the blood by Dr. William Harvey (1578-1657), the advances in physiology in France by René Descartes (1596-1650) and the work of Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) in Italy who discovered that the nervous system operated by electrical impulses all led to the belief that living things, including man, were mere machines consisting of plumbing, a pump and electrical circuits.
6. Ever since the 11th and 12th century Crusades there had been wars of religion in Europe: 1561-1577 saw the Huguenots (French Protestants) persecuted; 1568 saw the Protestants revolt against the pope in the Netherlands; 1618-1648 was the Thirty Years War in Germany where the Protestants revolted against the pope etc, etc. All this bloodshed in the name of religion gave cause for a small group of humanist intellectuals in England led by Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) to lay the foundation for the introduction of republican governments as described by Plato. Recognizing that the Church had forbidden all secret societies except one — the masons who built the cathedrals. These men declared themselves to be “free” and the humanist idealists infiltrated the Freemason’s lodges. Thus, the Masonic brotherhood, at first Protestant Christian, was formally organized in 1717 and networked around the world through the old British Empire. Francis Bacon had written his New Atlantis promoting Plato’s utopian theme but died before this work was finished; nevertheless, it was published posthumously in 1627 and spells out the Masonic organization and its objectives. The closely allied Royal Society was founded in 1662 to provide “the wisest men” as rulers in the hoped-for, one-world, Republic.
7. Further humanist attack on revealed truth given to believers came from England. Philosopher, Thomas Hobbs (1588-1679), rationalized away every New Testament miracle in his book Leviathan published in 1651. This book is still required reading for liberal arts courses today. Isaac Newton, a physicist and Bible scholar felt that references to miracles in Scripture were “corruptions,” turned the universe into a giant “clockwork” mechanism. His Principia Mathematica (1687) had the effect of removing God further from His creation. Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) mathematician, pointed out that due to the difference in the rates of population increase on the one hand (geometric increase: 2, 4, 8, etc) and that of arable land to sustain that population on the other (arithmetic increase: 1, 2, 3, etc), warned that England, and eventually the world itself, would be overpopulated. He published this in 1798 in his Essay on Population, long before there had been any census to actually determine any figures! Planned Parenthood today promotes Malthusian thinking.
8. Ever since the invention of the printing press in 1448, bibles became more readily available to the common man. However, the Greek philosphical works also issued from the same presses and introduced Plato to Christianity. With the discovery of Greek antiquities in the eighteenth century, there were now images to supplement those writings. Until this time, art had been dominated by Christian themes but now scenes from Greek and Roman mythology began to appear. Later, the architectural style of buildings copied that of classical Greece.
9. Prior to its Revolution France was dominated by the Catholic Church and while it exercised a certain paternalism upon the people, there was also much corruption. Jean J. Rousseau (1712-1778), the French philosopher wrote a number of works that laid the foundation for modern socialism. His essay Discourse sur les Arts et Sciences (1750) argued that “primitive” people live in a state of innocence and are thus superior to the civilized state. He attacked private property in his Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inegalite parmi les hommes (1755) and in his work, Emile, ou Traite de l’education (1762) claimed that children are inherently pure and if raised apart from others and allowed to experiment will become ideal citizens uncorrupted by society. This entire thesis flatly denies the Fall of Man, nevertheless, this has greatly influenced modern educational methods. Interestingly, Rouseau left all five of his illegitimate children on the steps of the Paris foundling hospital!
10. America in 1776 saw humanist idealists such as Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) attempt to introduce Plato’s Republic to their new colony far away from the religious bigotry of Europe. Fellow Freemason, Thomas Paine (1737-1809), was brought over from England by Franklin to write his 47-page pamphlet Common Sense (1776) and incite the expatriate population to revolt against the motherland and King George III. Seizing an opportunity, the fledgling colony broke away to become the Federalist States in 1776. The intention was to elect the wisest men etc. but there were too many Christians who pointed out that with a one-party system this would invite corruption — there must be an opposition party for checks and balances. Thus was formed the Democratic Party while the Federalist Party changed its name to the Republican and both Parties have since moved steadily to the left. Plato’s republic did not get a successful start in America. Note however, the Great Seal of America designed in 1778 with its Latin inscription: Annuit Coeptis novus ordo seculorum MDCCLXXVI … In this year began the new world order, 1776. This design was placed on the back of the US dollar bill in 1933 by Franklin Delano Rooseveldt (1882-1945), who was himself a 32nd degree Freemason. The use of the pyramid is typically Masonic and we recall Psalm 118:22 “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” The black capstone for the Cheops pyramid is in the Egyptian museum in Cario. The Masonic “capstone” is the final order(s), beyond the 33rd degree, that is, all-seeing but is itself unseen. Jesus is the true capstone (Revelation 21:22).
11. The French Revolution of 1789. This was engineered by the same idealists behind the American Revolution thirteen years earlier. It was a far more successful revolution in that the churches were closed, the priests de-frocked and the Bibles publicly burned. France went from corrupt Roman Catholicism to atheism overnight. Within a year it became a pantheistic state where the empty churches were turned over to nature worship. A popular dancing girl was installed as the Goddess of Reason upon the high altar of Notre Dame Cathedral. The French Declaration of the Justice of Man reads very much like the American Constitution except that there is no reference to God. Note the all-seeing eye symbolism on this document. For several years France was completely dechristianized then, under the failure of atheism, a much watered down version introduced under Napoleon. France has never fully recovered and boasts of being a secular nation. It was the Revolution that introduced the metric system while every socialist revolution since 1789 has been based upon the ideals of a republic. Communist governments demonstrate how corrupt a State can become under the rule of “wise men.”
12. At the age of 26, Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) was elected head of all scientific endeavor in Paris and introduced the idea of multiple local floods to account for all the strata he observed beneath the streets of Paris. His Essay on the Theory of the Earth was published in 1797. Unfortunately, from the English translation this was perceived by many evangelicals to support Scripture. It has had quite the opposite effect and has cast doubt upon a single global flood as described in Scripture i.e. the Genesis Flood, as having been responsible for the earth’s multiple strata. Among the geologists, this led to the belief that the earth was millions of years old while this in turn laid the foundation for Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is just because of these vast eras of time that the theory of evolution can neither be proven nor disproven. In this sense it does not fall within the purview or definition of science yet, in the name of science, has been responsible for the most concerted attack upon Christianity in the twentieth century.
13. The theory of evolution, in all its variant forms, denies God the Creator and has been used by those with humanist aspirations to justify Communism (denial of private property permitting despotic rule by an elite minority), Fascism (survival of the fittest and rule by elite minority), the Femininist Movement (the mothers-in–the-cave theory), abortion and euthenasia (both deny the existence of the soul). Scripture warns us that such things will occur in the last days (Matthew 24:37-39 and 2 Peter 2:4-9) and compares this with the Flood in Noah’s day in which sexual licence was totally unbound and little regard given to human life among those pre-flood people That totally rebellious civilization was destroyed!