Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

William Lane Craig discusses naturalism and secular humanism in the Washington Post

Dr. William Lane Craig in the liberal Washington Post – explaining his arguments and evidence to an audience that has probably never heard them before.

Excerpt:

The American Humanist Association is promoting a new Web site that is designed to furnish children with a naturalistic or atheistic perspective on science, sexuality, and other topics. The stated goal of the Web site is laudatory: “to encourage curiosity, critical thinking, and tolerance among young people, as well as to provide accurate information regarding a wide range of issues related to humanism, science, culture, and history.”

The problem is that those values have no inherent connection with naturalism, which is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that there is nothing beyond the physical contents of the universe. One doesn’t need to be a naturalist in order to endorse curiosity, critical thinking, tolerance, and the pursuit of accurate information on a wide range of topics.

Ironically, the AHA has been remarkably uncritical in thinking about the truth of naturalism and of humanism in particular.

[...]The problem for the humanist is even worse, however. For humanism is just one form of naturalism. It is a version of naturalism that affirms the objective value of human beings. But why think that if naturalism were true, human beings would have objective moral value? There are three options before us:

  • The theist maintains that objective moral values are grounded in God.
  • The humanist maintains that objective moral values are grounded in human beings.
  • The nihilist maintains that moral values are ungrounded and therefore ultimately subjective and illusory.

The humanist is thus engaged in a struggle on two fronts: on the one side against the theists and on the other side against the nihilists. This is important because it underlines the fact that humanism is not a default position. That is to say, even if the theist were wrong, that would not mean that the humanist is right. For if God does not exist, maybe it is the nihilist who is right. The humanist needs to defeat both the theist and the nihilist. In particular, he must show that in the absence of God, nihilism would not be true.

This is a must-read and a must-forward. Share this far and wide, please.

Dr. Craig has had to debate against secular humanism before. You can see him debate a secular humanist leader named Paul Kurtz on this issue.

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2 Responses

  1. bbrown1 says:

    Gotta love Dr. Craig for his refreshingly independent thinking, remarkably uninfluenced by modern fads and fashions.

  2. BillT says:

    “The new humanist Web site never encourages kids to think critically about the tough questions concerning the justification of humanism itself.”

    This, of course, is the key. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” say those who encourage unbelief. It may be that the Gnus have done us all a big favor in their shallowness. Many will be unconvinced.

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