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"Worldview in Conflict
Pt. 7"


In previous articles, considering the development of western world-views from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment, we found that, whereas the Renaissance dislodged God from the center of the Western worldview, the Enlightenment focused humanity’s attention on itself. Faith in the power of human reason and technological advancement eventually gave rise to a secularism in which religious convictions were relegated to the fringes and personal experience became the measure of truth. The relativism of secular humanism insists that one’s religious life is separate from his secular life. This has profound implications for a person’s view of God, the church, her mission, and ourselves.

The World Today

This acute dichotomy between a person’s religious and secular life is one reason we have a difficult time detecting the influence of the culture upon our thinking. We live in a society that functions under the assumption that everyone holds secular beliefs in common. We can all see the “real world,” i.e., the natural world around us. We all breath the same air, drive the same automobiles, shop at the same stores, live in the same houses, conduct business at the same banks, listen to the same news, work within the same economic system, connect through the same social networks, and so on. However, since religion is a private matter and differs from person to person, we are told that religious belief has no place in the public square. The world demands that we hold two distinct sets of beliefs – one set that is applicable to our natural lives and one that informs our spiritual experience. This call for extreme separation of personal, private belief from public life is perhaps most evident in the political realm. Political activists insist that a candidate’s religious convictions must not affect his public policy. Such a position is simply not possible. A person’s religious convictions will most definitely affect his public policy. Anything less would be disingenuous. Anyone who claims that his private convictions will not affect his public policy either has no convictions worth holding or has no integrity.

Nonetheless, this is the world in which we live. Modern American society grooms its citizens to live as practical secular humanists. One may believe in God as long as that conviction has no bearing on the way one interacts with society. In secular humanism, truth is determined by pragmatism. It is assumed that one’s faith has no practical benefit for society at large and that allowing one’s policies to be informed by such convictions will simply impede interaction with others. Thus we are told, “If you want to believe in God in your own home or church, feel free to do so. However, it is absolutely intolerable for you to believe that your religion has any bearing on or relevance to society and the world.” According to secular humanism, one’s belief in God is strictly internal and existential. It must not be permitted to interfere with the issues of the “real world.”

The Dilemma of Secular Humanism

Since the secular humanist cannot “know” anything beyond the realm of his perception, his view is far more narrow and isolated than that of his forefathers. Man can never know if God really exists outside of his own personal perceptions. The secular humanist believes human beings can only access the way nature and others “appear” to him. He will never be able enjoy anything more than “relative certainty.” Thus, the secular humanist is alienated from everything outside the realm of his own perception, including the things that he is unable to see about himself.


The dilemma of secular humanism should be obvious. Once a person resigns himself to the world of the existential, he finds himself without moorings. If he is consistent, he cannot escape a quagmire of agnosticism that must, of necessity, put the acquisition of truth beyond his reach. Man is a contingent creature that cannot find answers within himself.

Next month, we will contrast Secular Humanism and Christianity, considering how the two worldviews are diametrically opposed.

- Stan McGehee Jr