By Dr., D.L. Cuddy
There has been a great deal of controversy in the press lately regarding whether secular humanism is in our nation’s schools, with Barbara Parker of People for the American Way indicating that trying to define secular humanism was like “trying to nail Jello to a tree.”
On the contrary, historically, Karl Marx in his economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 wrote that “Communism begins from the outset with atheism. . . Communism as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism.”
Today, Webster’s New International Dictionary defines humanism as “a contemporary cult or belief calling itself religious but substituting faith in man for faith in God . . . (or) faith in the supreme value and self-perfectibility of human personality.”
And in his first press conference (Feb. 11, 1985), Secretary of Education William Bennett said in answer to a query on the subject that “there is something called secular humanism – it’s not mysterious, it’s not something that one has to wonder about its meaning . . . read the Humanist Manifesto.”
NOT ONLY DID John Dewey, “the father of progressive education,” sign the manifesto, but so did C.F. Potter, who wrote Humanism, A New Religion (1930), in which he wrote that “Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism and every American public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday schools, meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?”
The title of Potter’s book is appropriate, because in Torcaso vs. Watkins the Supreme Court listed secular humanism as a non-theistic religion. Furthermore, the American Humanist Association’s (AHA) own description in the Encyclopedia of Associations says the AHA “certifies Humanist counselors, who enjoy the legal status of ordained pastors, priests and rabbis.”
Is there a battle occurring in the public schools between the religion of secular humanism and the Judeo-Christian ethic? In the AHA magazine The Humanist (Jan.-Feb. 1983) is an essay (which won a third place in their North American Essay Contest) by John Dunphy, in which he proclaims that “the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom . . . between the rotting corpse of Christianity . . . and the new faith of humanism . . . (and) humanism will emerge triumphant.” (The Humanist tried to distance itself from the essay after Phyllis Schlafy criticized it.)
Likewise, in The Humanist (Mar .Apr. 1976), leading secular humanist Paul Blanshard pronounced: “I think the most important factor leading us to a secular society has been the educational factor. Our schools may not teach Johnny to read properly, but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is 16 tends to lead toward the elimination of religious superstition. The average child now acquires a high school education, and this militates against Adam and Eve and all other myths of alleged history.”
We often hear that there are only a few secular humanists, but the International Humanist and Ethical Union has at least 4 million members; and a founder of the organization, H.J. Blackham, stated in The Humanist (Sept.-Oct. 1981) that if schools teach dependence on one’s self, “they are more revolutionary than any conspiracy to overthrow the government.”
We also hem that there are not many secular humanists in our schools, but the director of the ARA from 1975 to 1980, Morris Storer, declared in his book, Humanist Ethics (1980), that “a large majority of the educators of American colleges and universities are predominantly humanists, and a majority of the teachers who go out from their studies in colleges to responsibilities in primary and secondary schools are basically humanists, no matter that many maintain a nominal. attachment to church or synagogue for good personal, social or practical reasons.”
At this point, you are probably wondering where secular humanism is in our schools, and the fact of the matter is that it appears in many subject areas. Concerning sex education, not too long ago, for example, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction “Sex Education Policy Statement” stated: “At one time, sex education was based . . . on innocence, ideals and moral codes . . . but . . . we are now moving toward a more humanistic approach.”
And regarding the adolescent literature movement (including themes of homosexuality, rebellion, etc.) in secondary schools, Prof. Sheila Schwartz in The Humanist (Jan.-Feb. 1976) expressed her thankfulness “the crazies” (e.g., fundamentalists) “don’t do all that much reading. If they did, they’d find that they have already been defeated.”
HOWEVER, IF you want to see for yourself whether secular humanism is in your own local schools, there is one very simple thing you might do. Since renowned secular humanist Sir Julian Huxley said humanism’s “keynote, the central concept to which all its details are related, is evolution,” go to your own local scoot and ask to look at the textbooks dealing with life’s origins. See if both the scientific evidence for and against evolution is presented. In a new book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler & Adler Publishers, Inc.), molecular biologist Dr. Michael Denton details in scholarly form numerous scientific evidences against evolution (e.g., evolution violates the required immediate functionality of specialized organs – the eye could not have simply “evolved,” since it has no survival value in its initial developmental stages).
You will probably find that the scientific evidence against evolution has been covered up or censored out of your school textbooks, and this will objectively demonstrate that secular humanism is being promoted in the schools of this nation.
Dr. D.L. Cuddy is a senior associate with the National Council on Educational Research. The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the NCER. (Reprinted from The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, p. A-7, 5 Aug. 1986).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 18, pp. 550, 567
September 18, 1986