Most people in America consider themselves to be Christians. But, the Catholic worldview is declining and is under attack from what most call secular humanism. We must be very careful to define what we mean by humanism. By humanism we are not talking about humanitarianism. Humanitarianism means being kind to people. Secular humanists are atheists. To many this is a hard statement but let us look at what they believe. They reject any concept of a Creator in favour of evolution. They believe that in the universe there is nothing above and beyond the universe. Therefore man, as the highest form of evolution, is responsible to: create his own law and morality and to save himself. Man is the secular humanists' god. SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY AND HUMANISM
Let us now turn to a consideration of those elements of the Christian world-view that are shared in varying ways by all major forms of modem humanism, but here confining our attention to the Christian humanism in the Renaissance and the type of modern humanism represented by Irving Babbitt. What are the principal similarities between Christianity and this tradition of modern humanism deriving primarily from the so-called Christian humanism of the Renaissance.
2. Christianity and Humanism
Delivered at The University of Iowa in 1937
The world of scientific thought and speculation presents today a remarkable spectacle. After four hundred years of vaunted promising to bring in the kingdom of man through the knowledge that is power, we now find that the sovereignty of man that lieth hid in knowledge, to use a phrase of Francis Bacon, is being threatened by the relentless and brutal application of sheer racial and national power. The blind Samson of power has stalked into the temple of man and is now recklessly tumbling it to the ground. In the face of impending disaster, heresy hunters are rising on all sides and attempting to identify the demon that is taking us down the Gadarene slope. Mr. Mortimer Adler says it is the professors who are to blame, and especially the scientists; Mr. Archibald MacLeish blames the irresponsibles among the novelists and poets; John Haynes Holmes blames governmental leaders who do not carry out the wishes of the populace; Mr. Earl Browder says it is the capitalists; M. Ortega y Gasset says it is the revolt of the masses; and the Pope says it is the refusal of modern man to accept the guidance of Rome.
Whatever the cause for the present debacle, we are all rapidly coming to fear that civilization today possesses more of memory than of promise. As we approach the abyss, the feared eclipse of all that is dear to civilized man, we echo the words of the prophet, “Watchman, tell us of the night.” But whatever the outcome, we are all being forced to ask the question as to what it is that we would have. Like Macbeth we appreciate the dignity of man only when we have become aware that we are losing it, only when we realize that we are in the twilight that may precede death’s dateless night.
In such a situation as this, a discussion of the subject “Christianity and Humanism” acquires a more than academic significance, for there are not a few people who, like Abraham pleading for Sodom, will say that if only two good things, Christianity and humanism, can be shown to be still alive among us, our modern Sodom is still worth saving. Even the news commentators of the radio, men who run as they read, are occasionally to be heard appealing to the enduring values of both Christianity and...