Man the Measure: An Essay on Humanism as Religion

Man the Measure: An Essay on Humanism as Religion

Man the Measure: An Essay on Humanism as Religion

Man the Measure: An Essay on Humanism as Religion

Excerpt

Religious humanism," or simply "humanism," indicates, if not a theoretical denial, at least a neglect or a practical denial, of theism, for the sake of substituting as a religion a would-be scientific and ethical absorption in human affairs without reference to God. So well established has this use of the word now become that it appears in the unabridged second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary, where it is defined as "A contemporary cult or belief calling itself religious but substituting faith in man for faith in God." The dictionary then cites a sentence of Dr. C. F. Potter's:' "Humanism is faith in the supreme value and self-perfectibility of human personality."

Traditional theism, specifically Christianity, strikes most humanists as intellectually, socially, morally, and spiritually bankrupt. They would drop sentimental alliances with the past and present connections with hypocrisy and reaction. Free and fresh would they pursue truth. Supplementing their logic with charms like a clear eye, a sure hand, and a head unbowed by fear, pretence, or cloudy devotion, they seek the renewal of man's soul and civilization.

Though more spectacular kinds of atheism appear in certain totalitarian countries, and the worship of mammon we have with us always, nevertheless humanism offers a fairly promising field in which to observe some current, popular, and honest objections to belief in God. Whether humanism as an organized movement is alive, dying, or dead, matters little compared with the influence and the prevalence in English-speaking countries of the ideas it celebrates. The insistent ubiquity of those ideas has already evoked a large literature for their analysis, of which this essay is a tardy fragment.

Because it is interested primarily in humanistic ideas in relation to God rather than in humanism for its own sake, this study presents a somewhat arbitrary account of only that side of humanism and of humanists. A brief outline of a group as a whole, especially an outline inspired by such a definite and narrow interest, can hardly treat each member of the group and the subtleties of his thought with the nuances they merit. As humanism is largely a popular mood, it expresses itself quite as much in publications that the discriminating shun as in those that they enjoy. To have concentrated on only the ablest humanists, to have banned citation from "cheap and vulgar" documents, would have meant ignoring an important part of humanistic propaganda.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.