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Rebutting a Humanist Rebuttal

Humanism Home | Humanist Manifesto I | Humanist Manifesto II | Humanist Manifesto 2000 | Humanism in our Schools

 By Ben Rast

 Contender Ministries

 Posted June 27, 2004

Quite some time has passed since I wrote Humanism – The Established State Religion.  So I was surprised recently to find a four-part rebuttal to that article on an atheism website.  The author (who didn’t give his/her name, so will hereafter be known as “Anonymous”) seemed to have too much misinformation, distortions, and inaccuracies to fit in a one-part response, so he managed to spread it out over four days in February.  People write rebuttals to our articles with some regularity, and we normally don’t feel led to rebut the rebuttal, but I’m making an exception in this case.


Rebutting a rebuttal can make for awkward and cumbersome writing.  I have to let you, the reader, know what the original rebutter was rebutting before I can rebut his rebuttal.  If you can make sense out of the preceding sentence, you’re ready to read on.  I’ll try to make this flow as smoothly as I can.


Starting his rebuttal, Anonymous cites the following from my original article:

“Godless political forces in the United States fight tirelessly to rid the public school system of anything that seems remotely Christian. Darwinian evolution is now taught to the exclusion of even the scientific support for creationism. Displays of the Ten Commandments have been ripped from the walls, and lawsuit after lawsuit has sought to eliminate prayer, Bible reading, and evangelism - even when those actions are thought of and conducted by the students as opposed to the school itself.”

In reply, Anonymous writes, “To begin with, we find the common premise that all of the problems described stem from the actions of the "godless." Now, while it is certainly true that "godless" people are active in the defense of the separation of church and state, it is little more than ignorance or deliberate deception to imply or claim that they are the only ones involved. On the contrary, there are many Christians and many members of other religions who have fought long and had to preserve the separation of church and state.”  First, let me point out that nowhere in my article did I state that the godless ones are the only people involved in the separation of church and state battle.  I said “Godless political forces…fight tirelessly to rid the school system of anything that seems remotely Christian.”  I stand by that statement, and I challenge Anonymous to refute my actual statement, rather than what he read into it.  While I do concede that Christians work to “preserve the separation of church and state,” they typically do so as Jefferson intended – protecting matters of faith from government intrusion.  While I don’t like labeling individuals, I must say that the “Reverend” Barry Lynn (Americans United for Separation of Church and State) is among the “Godless political forces” attempting to expunge Christianity from the public square. 


Moving on, let me address a theme common to each of the four-part rebuttal.  Anonymous falls into the trap of ignorance that his public school laid before him by asserting that Christians are backward, anti-science, half-wits who are barely literate enough to read the Bible.  He does so by pointing out my opposition to the exclusive teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools.  Let’s take a look at a few of his statements before I respond:


Next, we see the common allegation that teaching about evolution is somehow tantamount to opposing Christianity…. The fact that there are some Christians who are unable to deal with the reality of evolution in the biological world does not mean that teaching biology is suddenly anti-Christian - no more so than teaching the world is round is "anti-Christian" simply because a few fringe groups believe the world is flat on account of how they read the Bible. Contrary to what Ban [sic] Rast claims, there is no such thing as ‘scientific support for creationism.’”


Let me pause briefly to address this.  There’s more on this topic that we’ll get to, including his last sentence here, but I must interject.  First, notice how Anonymous paints creationists as people who are “unable to deal with the reality of evolution.”  Spoken like someone who swallowed everything in high school biology class without ever studying anything further, or subjecting his pet theory to critical analysis.  Yet he implies that I’m a simpleton?  Anonymous goes further by citing some unnamed fringe groups who believe the earth is flat based on the Bible.  What he doesn’t seem to realize is that when the Bible spoke of the “four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1), it was a colloquialism – one that is still used today by educated people.  It might surprise Anonymous to find out that the Bible was ahead of its time in pointing out that the earth was round.  Isaiah 40:22 starts off, “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…” [emphasis added].  With that said, let’s get back to the rest of his comments on the issue of origins:


Creationism isn't a science and it isn't scientific - no more so than astrology, at least…. If people like Rast wish to teach their own children to ignore science in favor of comforting beliefs, they are welcome to do so - but they don't have any cause to expect the public schools to do the dirty deed for them…. People like Rast may have difficulty accepting the conclusions of science because of their religious beliefs, but that isn't a good enough reason for science teachers to just start ignoring large and important parts of science…. Currently public schools do not exclude "the scientific evidence for divine creation" because, quite frankly, there is no such thing. Hence, there is nothing at all to exclude. If you look through the peer-reviewed scientific journals dedicated to biology and the development of life on earth, you won't find a single article presenting evidence for the proposition that life is here because of an act of divine creation. You also won't find any accredited biology departments actively researching the divine creation of life.  Why? Because you'll only find such activities in theology departments - which is appropriate because it is all based upon religious beliefs rather than scientific research. Creationism is not science and it is not scientific - the more honest creationists are willing to admit this, sort of.”


Of all the erroneous information packed into the excerpts above, I want to address the last issue first – Anonymous’ contention that creation by a higher intelligence is espoused only in college theology departments, and that scientists will not support such a theory as creation.  One thing Anonymous didn’t do in his rebuttal, and I didn’t either in my initial article, is to differentiate between creationism and intelligent design (I.D.).  I.D. proponents believe that the scientific evidence does not support evolution, but rather supports the theory that we have been designed by a creator greater than the natural laws that we observe around us.  I.D. proponents differ from creationists in that they do not take the last step of faith past the end of the scientific trail to identify the Creator or the mode of creation.  I.D. advocates may be Christian, but they may also be Jewish, Mormon, or even agnostic.  In short, creationists, who do identify the Creator as the God of the Bible, are all I.D. proponents; but not all I.D. proponents are creationists.  Now if we were to take Anonymous at his word, we would believe that all scientists believe in evolution and reject the notion of a Creator.  [Insert a pregnant pause here, letting the suspense build up before I drop the bomb that shatters Anonymous’ erroneous belief.]  Unfortunately, Anonymous didn’t check with Henry F. Schaefer, Nobel Nominee, and Director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia.  Nor did he check with Fred Sigworth, Professor of Cellular & Molecular Physiology, Yale Graduate School.  Perhaps he should have checked with Robert Kaita of the Plasma Physics Lab at Princeton University.  Or Michael Behe, Professor of Biological Science, Lehigh University.  Or Richard Sternberg, specialist in Invertebrate Zoology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute.  Or Joseph Atkinson, PhD Organic Chemistry-M.I.T., American Chemical Society member.  These scientists, along with 94 others, signed “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.”  If one hundred renowned scientists with impeccable academic credentials were willing to sign a public proclamation that they could not accept Darwinian evolution, it stands to reason that they are a tip of the iceberg in academia. 


The mistake Anonymous made was one of ignorance.  He incorrectly assumed that because the theory of evolution is taught to the exclusion of all other theories on origins, that it is the only theory with scientific support, and no scientist could conceivably think otherwise.  If Anonymous could talk with some of these scientist about the evidence for design evident in cosmology, physics, molecular chemistry, and microbiology, he would be surprised at where the evidence points.  He would have to, if he were intellectually honest, retract his statement about there being no scientific support for creation.  I freely admit that one cannot provide empirical, scientific proof for the existence of a Creator God.  However, one can show scientifically that the probability for such a Creator is greater than the probability supporting Darwinian evolution.  If this scientific evidence were not discriminatorily barred from the classroom, then people like Anonymous would not be so ignorant of the facts as to erroneously assume that creationism has no scientific support.  He would rather place his faith in a theory of descent with modification.  A theory, that if true, would be easily supported in the fossil record by the discovery of a plethora of transitional forms.  However, Dr. David Raup, curator of geology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, stated that the “250,000 species of plants and animals recorded and deposited in museums throughout the world did not support the gradual unfolding hoped for by Darwin.”  Anonymous’ problem is one shared by scientists who choose to believe in evolution.  That problem is that evolution has become a religious doctrine on which they will not compromise.  Evolutionary scientist L.T. More stated their position best when he said, “The more one studies paleontology, the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone; exactly the same sort of faith which is necessary to have when one encounters the great mysteries of religion…the only alternative is the doctrine of special creation, which may be true, but is irrational.”  Special creation IS irrational, but only if you study the evidence after excluding the possibility of a divine creator.  Such a bias is necessary to deem creation as “irrational.”


Another error Anonymous makes is when he says, “A curious feature of Ben Rast’s article, repeated multiple times, is the implication that Christianity should be taught and endorsed in public schools by government officials.  This is implied above quite clearly…”  Let’s take a look at the excerpt to which he refers:


Christianity is kept out of the schools due to a faulty understanding of the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause.”  The separationists claim that any religion taught or tolerated within the school (except for historic instruction) constitutes an intolerable government endorsement of religion.”


Anonymous clearly misunderstood me here, and perhaps the fault lies with me for not being clear enough.  When I speak of Christianity being kept out of the schools, I am referring to student-led and student-organized activities.  Even though these are perfectly legal under the first amendment, school administrators too often show a lack of tolerance for these activities.  Students who have elected to have a prayer said at graduation ceremonies or at athletic events have been prevented from doing so – even if school administration is not to be involved in that prayer!  I am not suggesting that public schools be turned into Sunday schools by school officials.  In another section, I describe as “misguided” the idea that scientific evidence for creation must not be taught lest the establishment clause be violated.  Yet Anonymous claims that what I call misguided is “the principle that there should be ‘no government endorsement of religion or religious doctrine.’”  Such a position is found nowhere in my article, neither explicitly nor implicitly.  Anonymous has reached new lows here in attributing statements to me that I didn’t make. 


He also alleges that I am confused between religious humanism and cultural humanism.  He writes, “What Ben Rast refers to as ‘the religion of humanism’ is, ultimately, just the cultural humanism that dates back to Greece and Rome and which has been transmitted throughout the course of Western culture.  That is the humanism which exists in public schools today – indeed public educations is itself a part of the humanist tradition.”  Regarding his last line, perhaps that’s why public school students in the United States are being increasingly “dumbed down” to the point where very few can answer standardized test questions regarding the most fundamental aspects of history, language, and science.  Anonymous fails to realize that of the first 119 colleges built in America, fully 87 percent were established by Christians to educate the youth in their faith – among them are Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia.  The initial charter of Harvard College declares, “Everyone shall consider the main end of his life and studies to know Jesus Christ which is eternal life.”  His humanist arrogance aside, Anonymous and his ilk don’t have the corner on the education of our children. 


I do recognize the differences between secular humanism, cultural humanism, and religious humanism.  However, these distinctions are practically irrelevant, as all humanist movements are intertwined in a belief in the supremacy of man, and the rejection of God.  As such, all are religious in nature.  Anonymous takes me to task for quoting old sources that describe humanism as a religion.  In truth, most of the quotes in my article were from the first half of the twentieth century.  However, I can show him recent headlines (from 2004) that show the UK adding humanism to its religious education curriculum.  By rejecting the existence of a supernatural God, and clinging dogmatically to a flawed theory of origins, humanism IS a religion – a godless religion.  This is the religion that the public school system has deemed is okay to teach.  I try to be an intellectually honest person.  I believe in the first amendment to the United States Constitution the way it was written and intended. I believe in the establishment clause and the free exercise clause, the way they were originally intended.  In my article, I am not calling for public school teachers to teach Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or any other religion to our school children.  I AM calling for the government educators to be intellectually honest and realize that they are violating the establishment clause by indoctrinating our children into the religion of humanism, with no opposing views allowed to be taught.  Perhaps if Anonymous had the intellectual honesty to realize this, then this rebuttal would not have been necessary.  Yet anonymous and his humanist brethren are not going to be intellectually honest about this issue.  They have the government resources to indoctrinate America’s youth into their godless religion.  They don’t want to rock the boat.  They have no reason to challenge the status quo.  Christians do.