Category Archives: Humanism

The Ghost in the Machine, Modern Psychology & Managing Our Behavior

The Ghost in the Machine, Modern Psychology & Managing Our Behavior “Humanism’s basic view of humankind is that man is a mere “matter machine.”

by Bill Lockwood

Americans seem to be out of control. From the halls of Congress where Democrats continually shriek about President Trump to the kindergarten classroom where children are over-dosed with chemicals to restrain undesirable behavior, managing our behavior seems to be the challenge that we are unable to meet.

Information flowing from psychology demonstrates the same ungovernable behavioral problems Americans are witnessing in the news cycle on a daily basis. “Why Our Kids Are Out of Control”; “Anger Management”; “Sexual Addictions”; “Black People are Out of Control”; “Safe Spaces” on College Campuses are “Creating Intolerance”—fill the headlines. “Rude, whiny, arrogant and violent” mark our actions—from early childhood to college campuses to Congressional Caucuses.

On a personal level, behavioral problems include impulsive self-destructive acts, reckless driving, over-spending, shoplifting, binge drinking, substance abuse, sexual perversions, self-mutilation, lying, street violence, suicide, and more. These increasing patterns of action plague our society.

What kind of coping mechanism is advised by our culture? Since modern psychology largely explains these problems on the sole basis of chemical imbalances remedy is sought by medication, either prescribed or self-prescribed. All of this ignores the the real problem. Our society has long ago rejected any biblical explanation of behavior or a God-given prescription to set our lives on a peaceful course. This repudiation of any ultimate value is overtly announced within the field of modern psychology.

Modern Psychology

Psychology may actually be defined in two different ways. There is a biblical framework and there is a humanistic framework. Most of psychiatry today operates from a humanistic framework. As a matter of fact, the modern “science” of psychology openly repudiates any biblical model of mankind, opting instead to view man from the standpoint of atheism. And, as in any endeavor, beginning at a wrong point cannot lead to success.

Humanism’s basic view of humankind is that man is a mere “matter machine.” This is the materialistic explanation. The infamous statement from the original Humanist Manifesto (1933) explained man as nothing but matter in motion and the “Christian concept” that man has a “soul” or “spirit” is nonsensical—no such thing as “the ghost in the machine.”

Modern psychiatry is squarely grounded upon this concept—the “biological/chemical model” as opposed to a “moral/spiritual model.” It sees man as wholly and completely a physical machine, a mere mixture of chemicals. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV, 2004) classifies all mental illnesses in this model while openly ridiculing Christianity. That a person has a spirit that returns to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7), is answerable to God, and is distinct from the physical body the DSM calls “foolish and obsolete.” It declares that it is a “misleading dichotomy.”

Since all “mental illnesses” are biologically based, they are chemically cured. The vast majority of psychologists aggressively teach this (see bible.ca). Steve Rudd, the founder of this website, has collected dozens of statements from noted and leading psychiatrists that adequately demonstrate these assertions.
For example, Dean Hamer, director of Gene Structure and Regulation Unit at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, in an article Is God in Our Genes? (Time, 10.25.2004): “I think we follow the basic law of nature, which is that we’re a bunch of chemical reactions running around in a bag.”

The University of Montreal’s leading neuroscientist researcher, Dr. Mario Beauregard, in his 2007 book, The Spiritual Brain, argued that there is more to man than the dominant materialistic doctrine allows. Beauregard asserted that on that model “humans are biological automatons (‘meat puppets’) controlled by their genes and neurons.”

From atheist Daniel Dennett we hear that “a brain was always going to do what it was caused to do by local mechanical disturbances” (1994). And clinical psychologist Ty Colbert says that in order to adopt psychiatry’s biological model, one must “believe in a materialistic, non-spiritual world … the medical model claims there is no mental activity that is due to the spiritual dimension. All activity, even one’s religious beliefs or the belief in God, are nothing more than the workings of the brain” (Rape of the Soul, How the Chemical Imbalance Model of Modern Psychiatry Has Faded Its Patients, 2001).

If the above be the true explanation of humankind, that man is nothing more than a physical collection of chemicals and neurons, then not only does man have no legitimate realistic hope beyond this earth but his very mind is the creation of physics. Freewill must be considered a myth and every action we exhibit is not the result of rational thinking but the bumping together of various atoms in our brains. Responsibility for misbehavior is not personal, for there is no such thing as “mis” behavior—only behavior. Everything can be fixed with drugs to change the chemical imbalances.

Free Thinkers or Christians: Who are the Real “Idol Worshippers?”

Free Thinkers or Christians: Who are the Real “Idol Worshippers?”

by Bill Lockwood

According to Greg M. Epstein, humanist “chaplain” at Harvard University, those who believe in God worship idols. At least, this is the essence of his position. This must be the case since Epstein says that “belief in God is … a by-product—of two of the most important architectural features of our minds: archways of our brains that produce the spandrel of faith–what cognitive scientists call ‘causal reasoning’ and ‘theory of the mind.’” In other words, God is merely the product of our imagination.

This is consistently the atheist position. Humanist Manifesto II asserted that modern science “affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces” and that the “total personality is a function of biological organism.” The reason, per Secular Humanism, that “no deity will save us” is because there is no deity. And since idolatry is “to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25)—that which man has created—Christians must be the idol-worshippers for having “created” God in our minds! Thomas Altizer of Emory University popularized the “God is Dead” “theology” in the 1960’s in which he asserted the same in so many words. To Altizer all religion was the by-product of man’s imagination which was is nothing less than humanity “grasping for power.” Idolatry.

Richard Dawkins, who has sensationalized the theory of evolution, tries to get more creatively sophisticated with the entire scenario. Still committed to the belief that religion itself is the creation of the human mind, Dawkins suggests that “religious behavior may be a misfiring, an unfortunate by-product of an underlying psychological propensity which in other circumstances is, or once was, useful” (The God Delusion). This would be, he proposes, like the analogue of steering by the light of the moon for a moth, which produces slavish gullibility. “Religion can be seen,” he concludes, “as a by-product of the misfiring of several of these modules …” of the brain, “equivalent of the moths’ celestial navigation, vulnerable to misfiring in the same kind of way …” (209).

Religion: A Creation of Man?

All of the above proposals are merely variations of the same concept: that religion and belief in God is the product of mechanical pressures in our minds. Two things must here be noted.

First, if all thought, including religious belief, is nothing more than matter in motion–mere mechanical functions– there can be no blame for any product of the mind. If “nature” is all there is, as Humanists maintain, then the thought processes of my brain are merely the haphazard product of purposeless impulses. What is blameworthy about any conclusion that it draws? Thinking itself would be the result of random energy. Dawkins may call it a “misfiring” of brain modules, but who is to be blamed for physical malfunction? There can be no responsibility where there is no free will. Yet, secular humanists refer to themselves as “free-thinkers!” They themselves are not even “free vibrators” if their position is right!

Is Dawkins controlling the “firing mechanisms” in his brain and I am not? This position empties itself of any possibility of value judgment. And how is “misfiring” of brain modules to be remedied? A good clunk on the head? Perhaps placing of chemicals into the cerebral system. An electric shock? Isn’t it strange how evolutionists from Epstein to Dawkins and beyond write books as if to educate and inform the mind while all the while insisting that beliefs are the result of physical electrical impulses of random energy.

Second, if, as the Humanist Manifesto II states, “the total personality is a function of the biological organism,” this must include any product that flows from my mind, including Secular Humanism itself! Upon what basis would “belief in God” be labeled as “idolatry” while atheism is proclaimed logical? Both positions are the result of random vibrations. Perhaps it is the Humanists and evolutionists who need a jolt or two of electricity. Or, in Dawkins’ terms, who is to say that religion and belief in God is not the proper firing of brain modules in the brain and evolution is the misfire? Interesting it is that humanists can never seem to apply with equal force criticisms against their own position. How can they level the charge of “idolatry” against anyone?

Idolatry is the worship of one’s own creation, yet if humanism be true, humanism itself is the creation of mankind. Or, in the words of Greg Epstein, “belief in Secular Humanism is the by-product of two of the most important architectural features of our minds: archways of our brains that produce the spandrel of faith—what cognitive scientists call ‘causal reasoning’ and ‘theory of the mind.’” Secular Humanism thus becomes idolatry.

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Will Humanism Save the Planet?

Will Humanism Save the Planet?

by Bill Lockwood

Laws are always theologically based, whether or not they are so acknowledged,” observes Herbert Schlossberg (Idols for Destruction). This is why in the societies of the ancient Near East, laws were always associated with deity. The famous Hammurabi stele, for example, shows the sun god Shemash giving the Babylonian laws to the king. This illustrates the fact that humanity recognizes that law must have ultimacy—be recognized as the ultimate standard—if it is to give any conviction that it must be followed.

Conversely, when people lose the conviction that law must be followed as an ultimate standard, then we have societies degenerating into pragmatism—everyone does that which is right in “his own eyes” (Judges 21:25) — and the breakdown of society itself is near. Right and wrong are only questions of risk and reward and morality is only a matter of personal reflection. As atheist Richard Dawkins put it, “Absolutist moral discrimination is devastatingly undermined by the fact of evolution” (The God Delusion, 2006, p. 301).

This is why people who reject the first commandments of the Decalogue (Exodus 20) [“thou shalt have no other gods before me, etc. …] can not be expected to recognize any ultimate significance in the last six [“honor thy father and mother; thou shalt not kill …]. At a society level, when God is erased from a culture, as our political and intellectual leaders are feverishly seeking to do, chaos between people is the predicted result. This is exactly what is occurring in America.

Humanism

Humanism removes God from public or private consideration. “No god will save us,” says the Humanist Manifesto. But that leaves man without any basis upon which to assess any action as ultimately right or wrong. “Ethics are situational and autonomous.” No ultimate savior and no purpose in life. However, people instinctively need a moral base and a purpose for living which cannot be supplied by Humanism itself. Therefore, from the Christian world-view, humanists bootleg some type of value into their system. Not the saving of souls, for the Manifesto boasts that there is no damnation to fear. But we must have “planetary salvation.” What is this?

Greg Epstein, who serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University and is Executive Director of the Humanist Hub on that campus, a place where atheists, agnostics and other unbelievers connect with each other, authored Good without God. In it (p. 148) he quoted another with approval:  “This [ecological crisis] is a different kind of issue than Christians (or any other humans) have ever faced, and continuing to worship a God thought of as the omnipotent savior from all the evils of life may even impair our ability to see clearly its depths and significance … What is now needed is a reordering of the whole of human life around the globe in an ecologically sustainable manner – something heretofore never contemplated by any of our great religious (or secular) traditions.”

Whatever else might be said regarding Epstein’s sounding of the ecological alarm, it is a purposeful call to arms. His ecological “crisis” demands concerted action and he has proposals to accomplish it. He is seeking to re-infuse into a vacuous world-view some sort of ultimacy—a standard which should be followed with conviction. The words SHOULD and OUGHT are written all throughout Epstein’s manifesto. What of this?

First, this is precisely what his world-view disallows. If there is no god, and ethics are completely and truly “situational” and “autonomous”—arising solely within each individual—then Epstein’s should and ought have no more value than for him to say “I itch.” When he says “What is needed …” we must remember that his convictions on the subject are nothing more than the combination of atoms bumping into one another. Only physical sensations brought about by physical chemical reactions. There is no real value in this.

Second, as all atheists, Epstein criticizes religion and specifically a God-centered world view. Religion is somehow to blame in what he calls our current “ecological crisis.” But if Epstein is correct in his basic world-view then my religious belief is produced solely by matter in motion, just as his world belief is produced. Whatever we believe and do cannot be the fault of religion since religion is only the product of matter in motion. No moral fault can be laid at the feet of those who “continue to worship a God thought of as the omnipotent savior from all the evils of life …”

Where did his matter get the right to criticize my matter or even to speak about the earth being treated justly? Why blame Christianity? Why even speak about “global injustice?” There can be no such thing as injustice unless man is more than matter in motion. Of course, the particular arrangement of matter in motion known as Greg Epstein cannot help making these judgments since he is not a rational being but only matter responding to the brute force of matter.

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