The Happy Human

Call me depressed about the current state of humanity or nostalgic for the past if you will, but I have to say part of me longs for the return of the old style secular humanists. For those grand old days when Kurt Vonnegut was the spokesman for the American Humanists Association and Isaac Asimov was churning out his brilliant science fiction.

These guys were open and honest about their distain for the supernatural, they not only told you what they didn’t believe, they actually had clear doctrinal statements of their own. What’s more they were prepared to argue philosophically why they believed in them. So if you asked Kurt what a humanist was, he’d tell you; “being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”

The symbol of the American Humanist Association was the happy human and its members, which included John Kenneth Galbraith, Julian Huxley, Carl Rogers and Albert Einstein were mostly intellectuals who sought the betterment of society. By denouncing the desire for reward in the afterlife, they set out to prove they could out-Christian the Christians.

These guys were easy to test. Could they live up to their ideals? Could they really solve the world’s problems? Could they explain why many of their ideals and philosophies were so similar to those of the Bible when they claimed not to believe in it? Could they explain why they were prepared to forgo reward in the afterlife, yet clamour after it so passionately in this life?

The old style humanist gave you stuff you could sink your teeth into because they were prepared to pin their theses the to the wall and allow you to examine them critically. That made them vulnerable to good theology and well explained truth. After all who can beat God at logic?

These days people don’t believe in anything. In fact they don’t even believe in believing. Its not just that they aren’t prepared to hang their flag to the mast, they don’t have a flag and they don’t even know where the mast is.

The further we move from God and his truth, the further down the human-animal, spiritual- physical, intellectual-instinctual continua we move. Animals who respond to physical instinct do what’s best for themselves in the present time and space. Don’t confuse me with facts, who cares if it is right or wrong, forget the consequences, what matters is “does it work for me right now?”.

This makes it tougher to be a Christian because I can no longer hope to win the lost by simply explaining the gospel, then darting back to the luxury of my comfort zone. I have to love them as well. I have to engage with them, live among them, reach out to them, put up with them, spend time with them and be frustrated by them.

They won’t even guess what they are missing until they see evidence of it in your lives. God’s people are meant to evoke suppressed memories of Eden, hidden in the deep recesses of the non-believer’s heart. We are meant to make them nostalgic for something they have lost but cannot remember when or why. We are to bring them to a place where it is safe to expose their deepest desires, ask their biggest questions and admit their greatest faults. Truth is essential but they won’t know that, nor will they want it unless you give them proof that its worked for you.

Are you living proof of a loving God?