Humanism Offer Hope?
In 1973, over 200 world leaders endorsed Humanist Manifesto II, which includes the following excerpts: "We have virtually conquered the planet, explored the moon, overcome the natural limits of travel and communication: we stand at the dawn of a new age; ready to move farther into space and perhaps inhabit other planets... Traditional moral codes and newer irrational cults both fail to meet the pressing needs of today and tomorrow. False 'theologies of hope' and messianic ideologies... separate rather than unite peoples... We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of the survival and fulfillment of the human race... we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know. humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves."
One of man's highest aims is to unravel the mysteries of the universe. Humanism, a non-theistic religion affirming that man is capable of such achievements as self-fulfillment and ethical conduct without recourse to supernaturalism, has, through the centuries—in its various forms ignored, suppressed, and disdained the written and Living Word of God.
Believers aren't exempt from the subtly-attractive influences of Humanism; many of us came from its ranks. One of the main reasons a number of us defected is that it offers little hope for the present, and no hope for the future.
Psalm 118 reflects the outcome of what must have been an intense struggle to overcome the influences of Humanism. One key to the writer's background is the phrase, "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." Did this blunt statement come because he'd failed to solve his problems by using his own strength, knowledge, and intelligence, or that of others? How far down the Road of Independence had he gone before he knew in Whom was his salvation?
Throughout this psalm revealing God's grace and power, the writer repeatedly, Iovingly, and creatively sings God's highest praises. He challenges the reader to call on God in times of trial, to trust Him when tormented by mental, physical, and spiritual attack, and to know that when he's pushed down, the Lord will pull him up: through depression, despair, and desperation. Did he learn this, as do so many of us, the hard way?
"All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I will surely cut them off." Here the psalmist reaches out beyond his humanity, willing to affirm God's omnipotence. Are we, perhaps, to understand from this that while many humans have legitimate positions of power and authority, there is not one whose might can begin to compare with the power in the name of the Lord, when used by a Believer in a time of crisis?
"The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation." The Hebrew and Greek words for salvation are yeshuah, yesha, moshaoth, soteria, and soterion. Their meanings: safety, deliverance, soundness, ease, and welfare. Many good people have been instrumental in seeing that others had safety, deliverance, soundness, ease, and welfare, but no human other than Jesus has ever been safety, deliverance, soundness, ease, and welfare. Some have tried. All have failed. Only the Lord, declares the writer, is yeshuah.
Finally, he declares that the Lord is God, drawing to a dynamic conclusion by using the same phrase with which he began this revealing psalm: "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting."
While Psalm 118 points to the Christian's hope, in what can the average Humanist hope? Humanist Manifesto 11 encourages people to strive for "the good life, here and now." It asserts that critical intelligence, infused with a sense of human caring, is the best method humanity has for resolving problems. Humanist Manifesto 11, while clearly written by people concerned about the human condition, doesn't offer any hope for life after death. Rather, it states that there is "no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body. We continue to exist in our progeny and in the ways that our lives have influenced others in our culture."
Conversely, the Scriptures offer humanity not only Someone to walk with, through tough and tranquil times, but a creative, fulfilling, spectacular eternity with the Creator.
Praise the Lord for a psalmist who lived to proclaim the nature and ways of Almighty God, and what He has done for us now and in the future. The Humanist has little to hope for beyond achievement, high intelligence, and good connections. For the Christian, there is a future without end. For this reason we treasure the hope given us: a priceless gift from a gracious Heavenly Father, one who patiently calls all people, including Humanists, to take the free gift of the water of life: Jesus.