Secular Politics – Introduction
Secular politics is a global concept summed-up by Lucile W. Green, “All those who share the vision of the human community as part of one world should be willing to take any measures that will awaken world opinion to bring it about.”1
Secular Humanists embrace democracy as the most acceptable form of government. Paul Kurtz declares, “The Humanist is also committed to democracy, particularly in the present epoch, as an ideal and a method for maximizing happiness and achieving the good society.”2 Rudolf Dreikurs concurs, saying, “We believe sincerely in democracy.”3
However, the Humanist conception of democracy differs significantly from more commonly held attitudes. For Secular Humanists, democracy extends far beyond the realm of government. In fact, Secular Humanists believe democracy should color every aspect of life. Corliss Lamont explains, “Humanist principles demand the widest possible extension of democracy to all relevant aspects of human living.”4 Secular Humanists’ motivation for the application of democracy to all of life is to change human relationships. Dreikurs explains the rationale, “In an autocratic order all relations between individuals and between groups are those of superiors and inferiors. One is dominant, the other submissive. In contrast, the process of democratization entails a process of equalization.”5 This concept of equalization influences much of Secular Humanist political theory.
Liberalism is a term often associated with a Secular Humanist approach to politics.6 Liberalism is a political tradition based on a secular ethic and a high degree of government control. Specific policies include moral issues such as a woman’s right to an abortion and promotion of same-sex marriage, as well as equality issues like equal rights for women, redistribution of wealth to help the poor, heavy regulation of business, and affirmative action.7
Secular Politics – Our Role in Evolution
The key to understanding secular politics is to understand that secular humanists believe we are evolving animals, continually progressing onward and upward toward some form of biological and social perfection. Julian Huxley believes that “all reality is a single process of evolution.”8 Secular Humanists believe that we are capable of controlling our own evolutionary development. Huxley writes, “Today, in twentieth-century man, the evolutionary process is at last becoming conscious of itself and is beginning to study itself with a view to directing its future course.”9
If we are truly capable of controlling our own evolution, and the possibilities of this evolution seem virtually limitless, then this is the most important task we face. For Humanists, then, the political arena becomes very significant, because government is one of our most powerful agents for effecting the changes necessary to further our evolution. Walt Anderson believes the evolutionary perspective “urges us to see political development itself as an advance for biological evolution, to look at humanity not as a cog in a vast social machine but rather as (in Julian Huxley’s phrase) evolution becomes conscious of itself.”10
Secular Politics – Secular World Government
Humans, according to Secular Humanists, are the highest form of evolved animals, yet we are still just one among many aspects of the world’s single ecosystem. When we attempt to divide the world into states and nations, we are violating our place in nature. Timothy J. Madigan says, “Humanism holds that the planet Earth must be considered a single ecosystem, which is to say it is no longer feasible to arbitrarily divide it into separate states and hope that each one can satisfactorily manage itself.”11
The notion that humanity is one part of a single ecosystem has concrete ramifications for Secular Humanist concepts of community. They believe that everyone should live in one community, without national borders and differing state policies.
Secular Humanists believe that a world community necessitates a secular world government. Systems of national government are destined to fail; thus world government is an inevitable step forward in the evolutionary process. Kurtz says that “today there are powerful forces moving us toward a new ethical global consciousness.”12 To no one’s surprise, the worldview that will most encourage the creation of this world community (according to the Humanist) is Secular Humanism. Kurtz says, “Humanism, we believe, can play a significant role in helping to foster the development of a genuine world community.”13
We are perfectible, and Humanism provides a framework for channeling our inherent goodness in the right direction. Humanist Manifesto II proclaims, “What more daring a goal for humankind than for each person to become, in ideal as well as practice, a citizen of a world community. It is a classical vision; we can now give it new vitality. Humanism thus interpreted is a moral force that has time on its side. We believe that humankind has the potential intelligence, good will, and cooperative skill to implement this commitment in the decades ahead.”14 Thus, peaceful world government is inevitable in the Secular Humanist worldview.
Secular Politics – Conclusion
Secular politics, biology, economics, ethics, and law are linked to the belief that human beings are the highest rung on the evolutionary ladder and that the establishment of world politics is necessary to advance to the next evolutionary stage. In this perspective, humans are part of one ecosystem—the world—and should be working toward a democratic world government. Universal disarmament and increased power for the United Nations are two intermediate steps crucial to the advancement of a global government.
A Secular Humanist world government is problematic for Christians. In the United States alone, such a world government would seek to eradicate Christian symbols and content from the public square by removing the Ten Commandments from public schools, removing “under God” from the nation’s Pledge of Allegiance, replacing Christian ethics with values clarification, replacing divine law with legal positivism, replacing the celebration of Christmas with winter holiday, standardizing sex education and alternative lifestyles into the public school curriculum, and disregarding references in the Declaration of Independence to God-given rights.
The Secular Humanist concept of equalization precludes the Christian belief that God created human beings in His image, subject to His laws and commands that take precedence when human authority conflicts with it. Equalization strives for a democracy that supports moral relativism rather than absolute moral standards. Kurtz unwittingly summarizes the Secular Humanist dilemma in equalization and democratic world government when he says, “The essential ingredient in this new world of planetary humanism depends on the cultivation of ethical wisdom.”15
C.S. Lewis was prophetic in this regard. In his book, The Abolition of Man, he refers to “the Conditioners” who have a utopian vision for recreating society. He writes, “Man’s conquest of himself means simply the rule of the Conditioners over the conditioned human material, the world of post-humanity which, some knowingly and some unknowingly, nearly all men in all nations are at present labouring to produce.”16 He develops this theme further, writing, “But the man-molders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they please.”17
We stand at a crossroads, with one path leading to individual liberty and the other to a future lived under the rule of the Conditioners. Which path our society takes depends on the choices we make today and whether those choices are based on God’s principles of life, or that of secular man.