How to respond to "Secular Humanism"?


#1

I do not know if this belongs in here, but I need help. My 21 year old son has told us he no longer believes in God and has caused my wife and I some serious soul searching to find out what caused his change. He emailed me a site with the title of
"What Is Secular Humanism?"

secularhumanism.org/intro/what.html
What are some ways to combat this? What is this? Has anyone any ideas? I have read a small amount from this and it scares me. I have prayed and I am giving it up to the Holy Spirit to bring him back,:angel1: but I want to fight this with the rest of my children. Please, pray for him and if anyone has any answers, let me know.:banghead:


#2

The phrase “Secular Humanism” can refer to a lot of things. Their magazines have even had discussions about it–for example, could a secular humanist believe in some higher power? I would suggest that you find out what attracted him to it. (I have lots of these kinds of students in my philosophy classes.)

  1. If it is an excuse for sex, drugs, and so on, there is not much you can do but pray. It is a problem of will.
  2. He might be attracted to science. Then you can show how science and religion can be related in a positive way. Stephen Gould, a non-believer, thinks science and religion have Non-Overlapping Magisteria and don’t conflict in their teachings. John Polkinghorne, a Cambridge physicist and Anglican proest, and Stanley Jaki, a physicist and Catholic priest, among others, have a lot to say in response to hard-line atheist/scientists like Richard Dawkins.
  3. Perhaps he is troubled by the problem of evil. C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain is pretty good, as are works by Alvin Plantinga, John Hick, and others.
  4. If there are philosophical problems (like faith and reason, proofs for God’s existence, universal truth or moral values, etc.), then any number of Christian philosophers could help (Catholic and Protestant).
  5. It might be a case of dispair. School, girls, work, etc.

Hope it helps. I will pray for you. On the good side, it is in my experience quite common that people of his age question the beliefs they were raised in, so have hope. Try to find out what is motivating/attracting him.

David


#3

Secular humanism also tries to sell the Relativism bill of goods.

Unfortunately for them, relativism is self-refuting, using elementary logic.

Premise: Relativism says there is no absolute truth.
Premise: Relativism is an absolute truth.
Premise: Something that contradicts itself cannot be true. Truth cannot contradict itself.
Conclusion#1: Relativism contradicts itself.
Conclusion#2: Relativism cannot be true.

Done.

Now, that the existence of Truth is there, how can he find it through secular humanism which denies this truth?

He can’t.


#4

Sigh. No. What you presented is not a sound argument, because the premises are already self-contradictory.

A relativist will state that not everything is relative, but the only absolute is that everything is a relative. They will thus deny premise 1 and the contradiction goes away.


#5

wolpertinger

A relativist will state that not everything is relative, but the only absolute is that everything is a relative. They will thus deny premise 1 and the contradiction goes away.

Sigh again.

Where does the relativist get the authority to say that everything is relative? How does he know this?

And if he allows one absolute (that everything is relative) how does he know there is only one absolute?

So the contradiction most definitely *does not * go away.


#6

menardsguy

Ask your son what is the single most important thing about secular humanism that attracts him.

If you can get his king to fall, the other pieces may fall in time.

In other words, stop the strong artillary in its tracks instead of just wandering through the mine field of secular humanism, because that game will never end.

My guesss is that he has become an atheist/agnostic. Above all, work on that. How does he know there is no God, or that God is unknowable? Another guess … he will give you a feeble answer. In which case there is a good chance he is following someone else’s lead instead of thinking for himself … perhaps someone he admires?

Many of us have flirted with humanism and sooner or later come to our senses.

Deo gratias.


#7

[quote=Carl]menardsguy

Ask your son what is the single most important thing about secular humanism that attracts him.

If you can get his king to fall, the other pieces may fall in time.

In other words, stop the strong artillary in its tracks instead of just wandering through the mine field of secular humanism, because that game will never end.

My guesss is that he has become an atheist/agnostic. Above all, work on that. How does he know there is no God, or that God is unknowable? Another guess … he will give you a feeble answer. In which case there is a good chance he is following someone else’s lead instead of thinking for himself … perhaps someone he admires?

Many of us have flirted with humanism and sooner or later come to our senses.

Deo gratias.
[/quote]

I think this is great advice.

Also, 21 is one of those ages where people get crazy. When I was 21 I was too busy going nuts to worry about God. If someone would have asked I would have say,“ya, whatever…waitress! Another beer please!” Live a vivacious Catholic-Christian life yourselves and be a good example, pray for him, talk with, not at him, about his beliefs. A little age and experience will do wonders too.


#8

[quote=wolpertinger]A relativist will state that not everything is relative, but the only absolute is that everything is a relative. They will thus deny premise 1 and the contradiction goes away.
[/quote]

The contradiction indeed does NOT go away, it is merely simplified.

  1. There is only one absolute
  2. The one absolute is that EVERYTHING is relative.

…hmmm, if there is an absolute, then EVERYTHING most assuredly is not Relative. There is an exception to the EVERYTHING in the argument itself. That’s called a contradiction.

Let me state it again…
If there is one absolute, then EVERYTHING is not relative.

You may want to try again, but there really is no way around it.


#9

I told my parents something like this once when I was a few years younger when I joined the service and moved away from home (I’m 25 now). Your son is going through some rough times in this misguided world. I still have absoultely no idea what exactly brought me back to the Catholic church other than someone’s prayers, though I don’t know who. No one evangelized me or anything like that…something just made me go back to church. I think in my youth I was more of the nihilist type attitude. But I am happy to be back to the church!
My advice…pray…pray until your knees bleed and then pray some more…make sure to get the rosary involved in this and pray at Mass most importantly…if you love your son, no amount of prayer is too much, and if you are peristant, maybe God will open the door to him.
Right now in your son’s head he probably thinks that he knows more than you and is “so wise” now that he is “all grown up”. Arguing with him is not going to get very far unless you can somehow do it without making him get defensive.
Here is another thing that may work, but be careful:
Usually, we never listen to the people who love us the most (our parents) I have NO idea why, but I think it is because we find it “dorky” as young adults. See if you can get someone to talk to him about it that he looks up to or is on an equal level with. For some reason, I always listened to my drinking buddies advice (which usually got me into trouble)…but don’t let him catch on to you having someone to do this…just tell this peer what you are worried about and try to see if they would be up being supportive of him as a person, but not supportive of his beliefs. If you don’t like that idea or want to take a different approach, you may have friends that have a son that is fairly set in his Catholic faith Pardon my expression, but he can’t be “dorky” and then introduce them (but it has to look like an accidental meeting like a company picnic where they will both hate the picnic and wonder off on their own) if they have something in common…who knows, maybe the Catholic kid will pass his attitude on to your son.
Just some thoughts since I’ve been there…
God bless you and your son!


#10

I am a convert to the church myself and one of the many reasons is the fact that we are a family in Christ. Bless each one of you who read my post and bless each one who responded. Often times, we let the poison of evil wash across our souls but that is when the healing love of God wipes us dry. Thanks for all the great knowledge, but even more for the prayers. God be with all of those who wish to help.

Mark Meyers
Grateful father

" Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." John 8:58 :clapping:


#11

[quote=menardsguy]. My 21 year old son has told us he no longer believes in God and has caused my wife and I some serious soul searching to find out what caused his change.

[/quote]

There is a couple possibilities:

[list]
*]He never believed, and has just been playing the part for a long time and has now grown tired of playing pretend.
*]He questioned himself why he believes what he believes. Many atheists I know have been people who decided to strengthen their faith through study and learned a little too much.
*]He is unable to get past an article of faith that seems unjust. I know this is one of the reasons I am an atheist.
[/list] Just a question though. What specificaly on the What is Secular Humanism page disturbs you?


#12

[quote=Carl]wolpertinger

A relativist will state that not everything is relative, but the only absolute is that everything is a relative. They will thus deny premise 1 and the contradiction goes away.

Sigh again.

Where does the relativist get the authority to say that everything is relative? How does he know this?

And if he allows one absolute (that everything is relative) how does he know there is only one absolute?

So the contradiction most definitely *does not * go away.
[/quote]

Sigh yet again.

It is a philosophical position to take and it is the prerogative of whoever holds it to define it. The contradiction is most definitely resolved in the manner indicated, although it results in a slightly weakened form of relativism. Rather than trying to misrepresent somebody else’s position, you should try answer it on its own merits or demerits.

I have not fully considered where I stand regarding relativism, so there’s no point for me in debating it. The impression I get is that in this forum, relativism is not a well-regarded philosophical position, because one ramification is the rejection of Christianity’s claim to the one true absolute moral truth and demands such claim to be supported rather than just asserted.


#13

Hi Menardsguy,

Be glad that your son is open with you about what he does and doesn’t believe. There are way worse things in the world than not believing in God.

If he’s a morally decent person, you probably did a great job as a parent. You’ve helped to reinforce the natural goodness that God gave him in his soul. Ask him about what secular humanism means to him in his life. Keep an open dialogue. Love him.


#14

[quote=SteveG]The contradiction indeed does NOT go away, it is merely simplified.

  1. There is only one absolute
  2. The one absolute is that EVERYTHING is relative.

…hmmm, if there is an absolute, then EVERYTHING most assuredly is not Relative. There is an exception to the EVERYTHING in the argument itself. That’s called a contradiction.

Let me state it again…
If there is one absolute, then EVERYTHING is not relative.

You may want to try again, but there really is no way around it.
[/quote]

From Wikipedia:

Not all statements are relative, but the only statement that is not relative is a statement “The only thing that is absolute is that all things are relative.”

I don’t consider myself a relativist and I don’t want to engage in too much nitpicking about this. If there is one here, he or she may do so. Relativism is prone to an internal contradiction, but it can be resolved for all practical purposes.

The problem isn’t really the philosophical details, is it?


#15

I would suggest reading Peter Kreeft’s books Handbook of Christian apologetics and A refutation of Moral Relativism. You can also go to his website, peterkreeft.com, and down load an audio file on moral relativism. This will arm you with all of the arguments you need, and is worthwhile material for all of us.


#16

He questioned himself why he believes what he believes. Many atheists I know have been people who decided to strengthen their faith through study and learned a little too much.

This is positivist nonsense, secularism is a profound *closing *of the mind - the inability or unwillingness to look beyond the natural world. It rejects 1500 years of scholarship by the finest minds in human history.


#17

[quote=kjvail]This is positivist nonsense, secularism is a profound *closing *of the mind - the inability or unwillingness to look beyond the natural world. It rejects 1500 years of scholarship by the finest minds in human history.
[/quote]

No amount of belief makes something true. Until such time as extraordinary proof is forthcoming for extraordinary claims, a lack of belief in the supernatural is justified.


#18

wolpertinger

The impression I get is that in this forum, relativism is not a well-regarded philosophical position, because one ramification is the rejection of Christianity’s claim to the one true absolute moral truth and demands such claim to be supported rather than just asserted.

O.K., let’s put our thinking caps on.

Relativism has its merits within certain contexts. God’s truth is not one of those contexts. God did not give us the ten suggestions, but rather the ten commandments. Those commandments are not going to go away and be replaced by other commandments relative to other times and places and cultures. Jesus gave us the one great commandment to love God and each other. That commandment is not relative to time and place and culture. So on and so forth.

If you want to pursue this matter further, I could recommend the thread on Cultural Relativism. The discussion there has stalled recently because AnAtheist appears to be busy or on vacation.

When he returns, I think there will be some interesting fireworks.


#19

[quote=wolpertinger]No amount of belief makes something true. Until such time as extraordinary proof is forthcoming for extraordinary claims, a lack of belief in the supernatural is justified.
[/quote]

Read the references in my prior post. Kreeft pretty well shreds your position and explores virtually every argument and counter argument in his book Handbook of Christian Apologetics. If something is true than it is not an extraordinary claim to proclaim it. Your difficulty is in the level of proof that you require. Absolute, total, unequivocal scientific proof is not possible; but neither is it necessary. Every argument against the existence of God can be “logically” refuted. This is not a proof that God exists, but it is interesting data in that direction. While some logical arguments for the existence of God can be “logically” refuted, some of them cannot be.

Try getting Kreeft’s book; it is very persuasive. Also, try seriously to approach the subject of God’s existence with an open mind. I am not suggesting that you are closed minded. I only know that from my own experience, that I and others have sometimes made up our minds without all of the data, and we are sometimes not always willing to further explore the depths of truth.


#20

[quote=Carl]wolpertinger

The impression I get is that in this forum, relativism is not a well-regarded philosophical position, because one ramification is the rejection of Christianity’s claim to the one true absolute moral truth and demands such claim to be supported rather than just asserted.

O.K., let’s put our thinking caps on.

Relativism has its merits within certain contexts. God’s truth is not one of those contexts. God did not give us the ten suggestions, but rather the ten commandments. Those commandments are not going to go away and be replaced by other commandments relative to other times and places and cultures. Jesus gave us the one great commandment to love God and each other. That commandment is not relative to time and place and culture. So on and so forth.

If you want to pursue this matter further, I could recommend the thread on Cultural Relativism. The discussion there has stalled recently because AnAtheist appears to be busy or on vacation.

When he returns, I think there will be some interesting fireworks.
[/quote]

I lack belief in gods in general and the Christian religion in particular, so everything that flows from such a presupposition is not persuasive to me. I’m aware of the other thread, but I don’t plan to revisit it. Upon reflection, both absolutists and relativists have something right, and something wrong. Given that both sides are firmly entrenched and I’m not a proponent of either, I probably have already said too much.

Regarding the opening post, I’ll side with squirt. If a particular religious belief is more important than the person as such, then there’s nothing else I could add.


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