Brannon Howse Copyright 2007
Thanks largely to Communism and its related philosophical systems, Secular Humanism has been a dominate (and domineering) worldview in the 20th century, responsible for the deaths of uncounted millions—usually those who opposed it. I believe, however, that the predominant worldview of the 21st century will be Cosmic Humanism—the New Spirituality—an insidious worldview capable of bringing spiritual death to many more.
A Natural Distinction
Secular Humanism proclaims that nothing exists other than the material world. There is no such thing as the spiritual or supernatural. Secular Humanism says there is no God, that man has no soul or free will, and that there is no such thing as absolute truth.
Much to the contrary, the New Spirituality believes that only the spiritual world is real. The natural, material world is simply an illusion. Cosmic Humanism claims that people have souls and must tap into their “unconscious mind” to understand they are divine, that god resides within. Through this enlightenment, a person’s soul merges into the spirit world through his or her good deeds, also known as good Karma.
For years, most political conservatives and conservative Christians have believed the secularism that grows out of Secular Humanism is the greatest threat to America. It is becoming clear, though, that America is quickly leaving the era of secularism and becoming increasingly spiritual. The same is true for much of Europe.
A December 2006 BBC poll of young people aged 16 to 19 in ten major cities throughout the world revealed that 89% believe in God or some higher power. More recently, the title of an article in the March 31, 2008 issue of USA Today posed the question “Is God Silenced on College Campuses? Conditioned as we’ve become by secularism, you might at first be tempted to answer, “Yes, of course.” The astute writer, however, recognized the rapidly growing ascent given to the New Spirituality and answered with a resounding “NO!” The article observes:
[quote] Students open to a conversation about Christianity, even on a campus with an ultra secular reputation? Such is the state of affairs at the nation’s colleges and universities, where religion is experiencing something of a renaissance, although not necessarily in the shapes and forms older generations are used to seeing….
From the pollsters come recent data showing that religion and spirituality are alive and well at colleges and universities. A recent study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA finds that more than half of college juniors say “integrating spirituality” into their lives is very important. Today’s juniors also tend to pray (67% according to the UCLA study) and 41% believe it’s important, even essential, to “follow religious teachings” in everyday life. [end quote]
PBS television aired a similar viewpoint from Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson, the chaplain of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. In a November 2007 interview, Nelson explained:
"If you took a group of Brown students and did what we call a force choice exercise—go to one end of the room if you are religious, go to the other end of the room if you are spiritual—two-thirds of the students would be on the spiritual end."
One Vacant Claim Deserves Another
So what is contributing to the demise of Secular Humanism and the rise of its Cosmic kin? Author and expert on pagan spirituality Dr. Peter Jones points out:
[quote] People are beginning to realize that, far from creating a humanistic utopia, secularism has produced two devastating world wars. The west has begun to loose its faith, not in religion, but in human reason….in the belief that reason could deliver objective truth. [end quote]
Finding its loudest voice in Karl Marx, Secular Humanism has claimed that man could establish truth through his own reasoning. New Age thinking, though, takes a different route to the same dead end street. Postmodern spirituality also says truth and reality are created by man, but the source is nothing so substantial as human reasoning. Its standard is the subjective experience of the individual embodied in the phrase “if it works for you, it must be true.”
An outgrowth of this works-for-you/works-for-me truth is the quest for experience to back up personal perception. Thus, many seek through occult practices to enter a state or mindset through which “hidden truth” is revealed directly to them.
Where the previous generation of humanists groped in the dark recesses of their own intellects to find truth, today’s humanists grope the darkness of Occultic, pagan spirituality. They hear voices, encounter spirits, and assimilate the doctrine of demons. Peter Jones notes:
[quote] So the real conflict is between two forms of spirituality, one inspired by the spirit of God who gives life, the other by unholy spirits from the dominion of death. And make no mistake about it, that unholy spirituality, though counterfeit, is powerful—like the powers of darkness who inspire it. Pagan ideas are backed up by power-packed religious experiences that captivate and eventually take captive those who choose to come under its spell. [end quote]
Fredrich Neitzsche’s statement “God is dead” reflected the popular belief system of the 20th century. The 21st century will be represented by Shirley MacLaine’s “kneel and pray to yourself; God resides within you as YOU.”
So when author Alistair McGrath asks “What will replace atheism?” I think I know the answer. Atheism will step aside for pantheism. It’s no more substantive than the secularism that preceded it, but it’s vastly more alluring to the individualistic, self-serving orientation prevalent in 21st century America.