“This, then, is the ‘striptease of humanism,’ a gathering crisis of optimism, an escape from reason, a surfacing of subterranean pessimism.”
Os Guiness goes on to pinpoint the salient features of secular humanism in his seminal work, “The Dust of Death”. First, there is surprise. As Camus has said, man has cast off the fetters of religion and there is surprise at the wake of destruction this has left.
Second, there is the “irreversibility of the exposure of humanism”. This isn’t a cycle. Like the irreversible scars a cancer leaves, it is here to stay. “God is dead. God remains dead, and all that for which God was once held responsible must disappear too, and this terrible game is played out until the last throw of the dice.”
Man is now “overwhelmingly responsible”. And we contemplate an event in Connecticut without the necessary knowledge, perspective and depth of understanding required. Watch the rush now to explain this – to fill the awful gap left by our triumph over religion and our need of a God. Watch the volumes pile up and the sages of the age pontificate over genetics, sociopathic behaviour, yes even blame RELIGION for the atrocity. The explanations will be legion as they try to fill this terrible vacuum that only true theology can explain.
In the mean time, however, something must be done as the forces of academia rally to accommodate the sheer inexplicability of this phenomenon. And I don’t castigate the president’s tear and his heartfelt condolences. He is, after all, human – all too human. He must grieve. But, one must feel a pang of real perplexity here as he and his leadership face a trend of growing momentum – a society going mad, it seems. There is reference to “prayer”and “God”, but this is a god who is impersonal, contradictory (he must, inevitably, fill the space we feel in our hearts for something “other”, but also accommodate all beliefs, systems, world views and ideologies – even the atheists) and therefore there are tears. One senses, however, that these are tears of anxiety and perplexity as well as compassion.
And then there is that lingering contradiction in the back of our minds… Does this order (let’s not personalise it) not expound the freedom to CHOOSE the death of a child in the womb, but does not LAMENT such a death? As the adolescents of our day say…”How does that work?”
This is the overwhelming responsibility of secular humanism. Like the law book that has now tried to codify every single eventuality, every single situational ethic and every single law and code for life, it has taken its eye off the source and is now burdened with the impossible – meaning in life without a God to explain it.