Humanism at Work
There are many people who believe that we should push to establish a humanist society in America. I do believe that that sentiment is strong enough so that you and I ought to talk about it. Yes indeed, the humanists of America have even published a humanist manifesto. The fact is that they have published two of them because the principles have apparently changed from the 1930s until now. Nevertheless, there is a growing group of people in America who speak well of humanism and who believe that this should be the prevailing philosophy in America, indeed in Western civilization.
What many people forget is that humanism has been tried before. In fact, there was a time in which it came to total power. That time was a most interesting period called The Napoleonic Era. The French Revolution which started in 1789 was built on the totally humanist, atheist, socialist principles of Jean Jacques Rousseau. It looked very good for a couple of years and then began the reign of terror. The leaders of revolutionary France finally decided that those who opposed their humanist principles should be dispatched from humanity. In order to do this, they mustered a ghastly instrument called the guillotine. Thousands of lives later, the world which had hitherto looked on with approval, now stood aghast as to the terrible results of the French Revolution. The revolutionaries cut off the head of their benign ruler, Louis XVI. Then, as a further offense to the sensibilities of the world, they cut off the head of Marie Antoinette, his queen. Robespierre, one of the big pushers of the Revolution at the beginning, lost his own head in the melee. This happened to almost all of the early leaders of the Revolution. The guillotine claimed most of these as the humanist revolution turned upon its own and began to consume itself in one of the terrible bloodbaths in world history.
The result was the escalation to power of Napoleon Bonaparte. The leadership of Bonaparte did many things in the world and one of the things that it did was it left 1,250,000 young French soldiers dead on the battlefields of the world. In all probability, 3 million died in the agony of the Napoleonic Wars. Before it was all done, the world saw the awful insanity of denying the existence of God and depending upon autonomous man and human reason to be the stable foundation of society. The thinkers of that time, shocked into wakefulness out of the tragedy of it all, rejected humanism and decided that it was impossible to think straight, be true or govern a nation without a constant reminder and trust in the existence of God.
The lesson, of course, should be very clear to each of us. Thomas Jefferson was correct when he said there is a just God who presides above the destinies of nations. Let us hope, in fact let us pray, let us earnestly work that America will never have to go through anything that resembles the French Revolution in order to discover that it simply cannot exist without the God who created us, each and every one of us, and who requires that we be obedient to His laws in order to make it as a nation. The humanist revolution is a development against which we all must pray and trust that it will peter out of its own dead weight before too long. That should be the prayer of each of us!