Secular Science – Introduction
The core of Secular Science is well-summarized by George Gaylord Simpson, “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material.”1
Belief in evolution is as crucial to Humanism’s worldview as are its atheistic theology and naturalistic philosophy. In fact, the Humanist’s ideas about the origin of life can be considered a special dimension of these disciplines. Without the theory of evolution, the Humanist would have to rely on God as the explanation for life, which would necessarily destroy his atheism. Therefore, every Secular Humanist embraces the theory of evolution.
The Humanist Manifesto I states, “Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process.”2 This belief is echoed in the Humanist Manifesto II, which claims that “science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces.”3 And in Humanist Manifesto 2000 Kurtz says, “The theory of evolution and the standards of ecology should also be studied.”4
For the Humanist, atheistic evolution is not one option among many, but rather the only option compatible with their worldview. Creationism, or Intelligent Design, is considered an enemy of science.
Secular Science – The Role of Science
Humanists rely on secular science as the basic source of knowledge. They claim that a true definition of science excludes any supernatural explanation for any event occurring in nature, including the origin of life. For Humanists, the scientist must only study what takes place in nature and arrive at naturalistic explanations for all events. In this way, the supernatural is ruled out of bounds.
Obviously, when one assumes that science is the best method of obtaining knowledge and that science must exclude the supernatural, one cannot accept supernatural explanations for the origin of life. Julian Huxley sums it up: “Modern science must rule out special creation or divine guidance.”5
Why must “modern” science rule out creation? Because, as we have noted, science cannot observe or measure the supernatural and therefore is incapable of obtaining any knowledge about it. But by this definition science cannot render judgment on the theory of evolution, either. That is because one-time-only historical events, such as the origin of life, fall outside the parameters of the scientific method. The reason: such events cannot be repeated, observed, tested, or falsified.6 Accordingly, neither creationism nor evolution is strictly “scientific.”
Still, Humanists insist that evolutionary theory is scientific and the idea of a Grand Designer is not. Just how closed-minded the Humanists are toward creation is summed up by Isaac Asimov: “To those who are trained in science, creationism seems like a bad dream, a sudden reliving of a nightmare, a renewed march of an army of the night risen to challenge free thought and enlightenment.”7
Secular Science – Evolution as “Fact”
Secular Science is grounded in Darwinian Evolution. Carl Sagan states simply, “Evolution is a fact, not a theory.”8 Huxley claims, “The first point to make about Darwin’s theory is that it is no longer a theory, but a fact...Darwinianism has come of age so to speak. We do no longer have to bother about establishing the fact of evolution.”9 Antony Flew is scandalized by the notion that there was a time, “unbelievably,” when the Vatican questioned “the fact of the evolutionary origin of the species.”10
Thus, Humanists claim that the fact of evolution relates to changes within a species (microevolution) as well as macroevolution, or the transmutation of species. In other words, Humanists are not just claiming that science has proven that dogs can evolve into faster or bigger breeds; they also are claiming that all dogs, indeed all mammals, evolved from reptiles, and reptiles evolved from amphibians, amphibians evolved from fish, and so on back to the first speck of life. They wholeheartedly believe Darwin’s conclusion that because microevolutionary changes occur among species, these changes can accumulate over time to produce macro-changes.
Secular Science – Conclusion
Secular Science rests its case for evolution on six specific planks: spontaneous generation, natural selection, struggle for existence, beneficial mutations, adaptations, and the fossil record (see “Related Articles” in the right sidebar). However, over the past thirty years, the fossil record has only hindered attempts to prove macroevolution. Therefore, some evolutionists have been forced to abandon Darwin’s original theory of gradual change and postulate punctuated equilibrium in order to salvage the last plank of their theory.
Humanism relies on evolution for much more than a theory about the origin of life. The theory of evolution has significant implications for ethics, sociology, law, and politics. Humanists consider evolution the correct foundation for every individual’s worldview and believe that a proper understanding of the world comes only from this perspective.
For this reason, Humanists encourage teaching evolution as “fact” throughout our educational system—thereby relegating the supernatural, especially God, to the world of literary mythology. Humanists do not just expect evolution to be taught as fact in the biology classroom, but rather believe, in the words of Julian Huxley, that “it is essential for evolution to become the central core of any educational system, because it is evolution, in the broad sense, that links inorganic nature with life, and the stars with earth, and matter with mind, and animals with man. Human history is a continuation of biological evolution in a different form.”11
Since Huxley, however, a lot of discussion in the scientific community has been unfavorable for Darwin. As Stephen Meyer writes,
In the last decade a host of scientific essays and books have questioned the efficacy of [natural] selection and [genetic] mutation as a mechanism for generating morphological novelty, as even a brief literature survey will establish. Thomson (1992:107) expressed doubt that large-scale morphological changes could accumulate via minor phenotypic changes at the population genetic level. Miklos (1993:29) argued that neo-Darwinism fails to provide a mechanism that can produce large-scale innovations in form and complexity. Gilbert et. al. (1996) attempted to develop a new theory of evolutionary mechanisms to supplement classical neo-Darwinism, which, they argued, could not adequately explain macroevolution.12
Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Todays Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.
1 George Gaylord Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1971), 345.
2 Humanist Manifesto I (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books,  1980), 8.
3 Humanist Manifesto II (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books,  1980), 17.
4 Paul Kurtz, Humanist Manifesto 2000 (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000), 43.
5 Julian Huxley, Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (New York, NY: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1942), 457.
6 However, Humanists accept both the Big Bang, a one-time event, and spontaneous generation as science.
7 Ashley Montagu, ed., Science and Creationism (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1984), 183. For an in-depth study on the politicization of science and how Humanists use science to stifle dissent see Tom Bethel’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2005).
8 Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York, NY: Random House, 1980), 27.
9 Julian Huxley, “At Random,” a television preview on Nov. 21, 1959. Also, Sol Tax, Evolution of Life (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1960), 1.
10 Paul Kurtz, ed., The Humanist Alternative (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973), 110. Two interesting developments since Flew made these remarks: (a) Dr. Flew has left his atheistic position for some form of Deism, (b) the Roman Catholic Church since the death of Pope John Paul II has staked out a more creationist position.
11 Julian Huxley, “At Random,” a television preview on Nov. 21, 1959.
12 Stephen C. Meyer, “Intelligent Design: The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington vol. 117, no. 2 (November 30, 2005): 213–239. Available online at http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2177.
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