Jesus Christ was a humanist in the literal meaning of the word humanist. The focus of the teachings of Jesus were on how to improve the condition of mankind. His teachings went beyond man's needs and condition here on the earth, however, and dealt with man's eternal well being . Over the centuries a different kind of humanism has evolved. This belief system is called secular humanism. Dr. Paul Kurtz, a philosophy professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo has been the primary promoter of secular humanism in modern times, but secular humanism goes back to the turn of the century and was the basis of much of theteachings of John Dewey. In a nutshell, modern secular humanism teaches that the only solution to all of man's problems is man himself. Any religious belief or applica-tion is viewed as destructive at the worst and irrelevant at the least.
The creed of secular humanism has been a document titled Humanist Manifesto. The first was written in 1933 and the last in 1973. A companion piece titled the Humanist Declaration has also been issued by secular humanist to promote their belief system. By being opposed to belief in God, promoters of the Humanist Manifestos and Declarations have been able to get them into public schools and colleges when opposing views would not be allowed.
This latest Manifesto written for the new millennium is less abrasive and more philosophical than its predecessors. It promotes not just a totally scientific agenda for the future, but also espouses political and economic solutions to problems of this planet-all dependent on man and man's technology and ability. Religion is systematically attacked and ridiculed and scientific naturalism is touted as the way to solve man's problems. An attempt at ethics is made using universalism and total tolerance as the basis of moral decisions.
This is a document that will get positive attention because it promotes things everyone is in favor of-equality, peace, tolerance, honesty, etc. Secular humanism's greatest weakness is that it provides no real motivation for individuals to sacrifice anything for the well being of anyone else, and that weakness is not resolved by the smoothness and polished nature of the writings of Kurtz. We recommend this book to those who want to know what atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists will be arguing in the months ahead. It is a clear statement of what educated atheists believe.
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