By Harold Fite
David asked the question, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psa. 8:4). This is an age-old question, the answer to which answers other perplexing questions, such as, “Where did man come from?”; “What is his purpose?”; and “Where is he going.”
The Humanist conception of man is expressed in their Manifesto in the following fashion:
Article 2: “Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process.
Article 3: “Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
Article 8: “Religious Humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man’s life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now.
Article 2: “Promises of immortal salvation or fear of damnation are both illusory and harmful . . . . Modem science discredits such historic concepts as the ‘ghost in the machine’ and ‘separable soul.’ Rather, science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces . . . There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.
Article 5: “We believe in maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility.”
According to the humanist, man is the product of the evolutionary process and his total personality bears the imprint of the social and cultural society surrounding him. His origin was an organic accident. His purpose looks no higher than this earth, and when he dies he ceases to exist. The totality of what constitutes man is placed in the grave.
The humanistic philosophy is atheistic in nature and materialistic in application. When one denies the reality of God, he removes that which makes a man a man. There can be no “manhood” without “Godhood.”
If there is no God, man is not a created being; he does not possess an immortal spirit; he has no moral responsibility and no eternal purpose. He does not bear the image of God, but only the mark of “natural evolutionary forces.”
The humanist begin “with humans, not God; nature, not deity.” The humanist’s man is stripped of the spiritual and stands as a physical, earthbound, materialistic being.
Since humanists begin with man, they attribute to him the exalted position of the highest being. God is dethroned and man is deified. Basically, humanism is the worship of man. As the highest being, his thoughts and actions are always right. They are but the means through which he seeks the “creative realization of human needs and desires.”
The Humanists advocate “maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility.” While some may be fooled by autonomy consistent with social responsibility, what the humanist are advocating is unbridled freedom – the removal of all restraints. The man that demands absolute freedom is the same man that determines social responsibility. As man enlarges his area of expression, he will bring “social responsibility” up to approve it. Humanism is a self-serving, self-centered, religion. Denying self is completely foreign to humanistic philosophy.
Biblical View of Man
What does the Bible say about man? It begins with God. Man’s origin, nature, purpose and destiny relate to Him. The Bible teaches that man is a creation of God: “And God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). He was formed from the “dust of the ground.” He is God’s crowning creation. He is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God then breathed into him the breath of life and he became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). Man Is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). He possesses mental faculties by which he can know and understand the things of God, and the intelligence to choose between right and wrong. This speaks of the moral responsibility of man.
Contrary to humanist doctrine, the Bible affirms the reality of the soul and its immortality. Jesus said, “And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Man is a dual being. Distinction is made throughout the Bible between the flesh and the spirit (soul) of man. Physical death is the separation of the two (James 2:26). The “dust returns to the earth and the spirit to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7).
The apostle Paul wrote of the spirit of man being “clothed’ with flesh. He shows that if his spirit were separated from his body, he would be “present with the Lord.” But if his spirit remained in his body, he would be “absent from the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:1-8).
Jesus said, “I am the God of Abraham,” then affirms that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:32). Abraham had been dead for hundreds of years, yet there was a part of Abraham then living. Death is not the cessation of existence. Being made in the image of God, man has within him that which is immortal.
Man has a purpose for living. He is to glorify God in all that he does (1 Cor. 10:32). He does so by fearing God and keeping His commandments (Eccl. 12:13).
Not only does man have a purpose on earth, but one which far transcends this earth. The nature of man presupposes an eternal purpose. God has set eternity in his heart (Eccl. 3:11). Some day Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout and all who are in the grave will be raised and brought before God in judgment. “And these (disobedient, H.F.) shall go away into eternal punishment- but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). To realize this purpose is to realize the very best that there is in man. It is a gross perversion of purpose to serve self and to be consumed with the “here” and “now.”
While man enjoys freedom and liberty, he doesn’t make license out of liberty. There are restrictions on freedom; limitations on liberty (Gal. 5:13). Freedom is enjoyed as we live within the confines of God’s law. Man does not have the freedom to do as he pleases. Freedom is not a question of doing what we like but doing what we should! The ideal life is a life of denial (Matt. 16:24-26).
The humanist man is no man at all. He has been robbed of his virtues and values which produce greatness. There remains the twisted, grotesque shell which faintly and fleetingly remind us what he was and what he could become.
“The fool has said in his heart, there is no God” (Psa. 14:1).
|God’s Man||Humanist’s Man|
|1. Created by God.||1. Product of evolutionary process.|
|2. Image of God.||2. Image of natural environment and social heritage.|
|3. Has immortal soul.||3. Has no soul.|
|4. Has eternal purpose.||4. Has no eternal purpose.|
|5. Purpose on earth is to glorify God.||5. Purpose on earth is to glorify man.|
|6. Life after death.||6. No life after death.|
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 13, pp. 388-389
July 5, 1984