I wrote this for my RMPS extended essay, and would like to hear what you think of it. I am aware that it is biased, and I respect that you may have opinions different from my own. I don't mind you sharing those opinions, but I would ask that you do so in a civilised manner, as I'm not out to pick a fight. Thank you.
"Secular Humanism offers more hope for future generations than Christianity" – A Discussion
"Hope", as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is "A feeling of expectation and a desire for something to happen." Throughout history, humans have searched for hope in many forms and by many ways, and two very different schools of thought that have emerged are Secular Humanism and Christianity.
Secular Humanism is a belief system which is concerned only with the physical world. It rejects any notion of a deity or afterlife; as such things are scientifically improvable. For Secular Humanists, morality is all relative, and up to the individual's personal choice. They see life on earth as the only one people have, and so believe it should be lived to the full the way each individual wishes to live, not following out-dated and irrelevant religious texts. Since seeking guidance and knowledge from sources such as the Bible or Q'ran is therefore rejected outright, Secular Humanism turns to science for knowledge of the world. Scientists such as Newton, Galileo and Darwin are all held in high regard, and seen as contributing more to society than any religious figures in history.
Christianity, on the other hand, is a faith which believes in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God who created the earth and humans with a great plan. Unfortunately, humans disobeyed God and so were separated from him (The Bible calls this "The Fall", and it can be found in Genesis 2 & 3). However, Christians also believe that God sent His son, Jesus, to earth in human form and then to the cross as a sacrifice for humanity's evil, allowing man to be reconciled with God and achieve salvation, so that they would not die but live eternally in Heaven.
Since Secular Humanists look to science for guidance, and Christians to God and the Bible, there has understandably been conflict. Recently in particular, a great war has begun over the "Evolution Vs. Creation" debate, with arguments, hatred and closed-mindedness on both sides. Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and scientific fundamentalist, is one who has engaged in this War of the Words. He recently starred in a two part documentary on channel 4 called "The Root Of All Evil", where he described religion as a "virus" and a "poison" which needs to be destroyed.
On the other side of the battle field, some Christians have started up a school of thought called Intelligent Design, attempting to combat the theory of Evolution. Intelligent Design, as described by the Intelligent Design Network, is a theory which:
"holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection."
The outcome of this in a good number of cases is an attempt to disprove evolution and prove God through science. Most people would probably agree that this is flawed thinking. Science and religion are two completely different beasts; to pretend either one is the other is complete fallacy.
In Physics World Magazine last October, a Mr. David Eaton wrote:
"Intelligent Design is not only bad theology, but thinly veiled manipulation…advocating religious and philosophical presumptions in science. However…In many schools the theory of evolution is taught as fact, which should surely cause as much dismay in the scientific community as any other assertions that distort the nature of the scientific method. Let us not muddy the waters of human experience by asserting that science is the only way to understand our world."
Secular Humanists look to science for hope and knowledge, but science itself is far from having all the answers. It was recently discovered that everything we can see around us is in fact only 5 of the totally mass of the universe. "Dark Matter" takes up another 23, but the remaining 72 of the universe is a complete mystery to scientists and has been dubbed "Dark Energy". Despite all the great leaps forward, science is still like a small child in a dark room, fumbling for a light switch. It is relatively clueless about the real underlying nature of the enormously gigantic universe.
Even at the other end of the molecular scale, down at sub-atomic level, science hasn't quite figured everything out yet. We know that everything is made of atoms, and that atoms themselves are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. Even these break down further, into quarks, but this is where science's knowledge peters out. The thing is, quarks have only ever been found already attached to other quarks, or other particles, never by themselves, and scientists don't know why this is the case.
For that matter, can science explain why oxygen burns in air? It can explain how, going into greater and greater detail, but not really why. Eventually the answer given will be "Because it just does", a singularly unsatisfying conclusion.
This is the problem with only looking to science for guidance. Science is a subject of "can", and "how" – not "why should". It is cold and analytical, and can only ever experience a small part of everything that makes up life. It can only say what can be done, not what should be done. It can clone a man, but cannot give him a purpose. Science on it's own cannot provide humanity with hope.
Say, for example, Darwin's theory of evolution was proven to be a fact. What then? Are we nothing but hairless apes that simply happened to evolve moral values and the ability to think in abstract merely by chance as we crawled out from the primordial soup? Are we any more than tiny little glitches of DNA clinging to a small planet in the corner of the universe? Anything more than the feeblest, minute blip in reality, existing without a purpose, goal, or meaning for our fleeting, unimportant lives?
If this was the case, what hope would it bring? What would be the point of even getting out of bed in the morning? To work – why? No-one will remember you after your death, and why does having money help if you have no hope? To provide for a family? If evolution is true then all love is, is lust mixed with a need to carry on the species, but if life has no purpose, what is even the point of helping humanity survive? So it can live in an endless cycle of meaningless, purposeless misery and suffering? The moment one simply stops and thinks, reality hits like a ton of bricks.
King Solomon wrote in his book of Ecclesiastes: "Meaningless, meaningless…everything is meaningless!", and when life is viewed from a purely scientific viewpoint then yes, it certainly is.
Christianity, however, views the world differently. This religion believes that every single person is created unique and for a special purpose. No-one and nothing is an accident, it is all part of God's plan. In fact, Romans 8:28 says:
"In all things God works for the good of those who love Him."
Everyone is important to God, and if someone is forgiven of their sins through the death of Jesus then, once they die, they will exist forever with God. However, Christianity doesn't just give hope for after death, it gives hope in the here and now in everyday life. Jeremiah 29:11 states:
""For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.""
Psalm 139 talks about how God thinks about each individual more than there are grains of sand on the seashore, and that even before anyone was born, God knew them.
Christianity is full of hope: hope for today, hope for eternity, hope for us and for others, hope for forgiveness, and hope for a life of purpose and meaning.
Bertrand Russel, an atheist philosopher, once stated that "Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose becomes meaningless.", and so this essay closes with the conclusion that Christianity offers more hope for future generations than Secular Humanism. After all, without a purpose, does not hope itself become meaningless?