Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Fruit of Secular Humanism

On February 17, 1981 Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a BYU devotional address called, The Three Pillars of Eternity. In it he expounds upon the doctrine of the three pillars, the creation, the fall and the atonement. He also beautifully connects three persons who are involved in all aspects of the three as Elohim, Michael, and Jehovah. These three are interconnected in a way that will ultimately “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Leaving one part of the equation, or one of the three participants out, would thwart the plan of the Father. There is an additional one, we are taught of, who eternally will oppose the plan, although he has become an active participant through his opposition of it, for “he knows not the mind of God.”

According to the LDS Bible dictionary this slanderer, demon, adversary, and spoiler is the “enemy of righteousness and of those who seek to do the will of God.” “Latter-day revelation confirms the biblical teaching that the devil is a reality and that he does strive to lead men and women from the work of God. One of the major techniques of the devil is to cause human beings to think they are following God’s ways, when in reality they are deceived by the devil to follow other paths.”

I believe that one on the other paths that has been introduced to the world is that of Secular Humanism. Secular Humanism is a philosophy of man defined as “a way of thinking and living that aims to bring out the best in people so that all people can have the best in life. Secular humanists reject supernatural and authoritarian beliefs. They affirm that we must take responsibility for our own lives and the communities and world in which we live. Secular humanism emphasizes reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation.”

Upon the surface the “fruit” of Secular Humanism looks, “good for food” and “becomes pleasant to the eyes” and comes from a “tree to be desired to make one wise” so that it might be easy enough to swallow, but the satisfaction given from partaking can only be temporal. This fruit has part of the ingredients for lasting sustenance missing and one will soon hunger again. The surface philosophies of tolerance, good will, and building a better world for our selves and our children are exactly what any “faithful” LDS member should desire. These are the truths that are mixed in with the errors, making the appearance desirable. But if we bite a little deeper we see the following teachings come to view about Secular Humanists:

They hold a world view which centers upon human concerns.

Secular humanists are generally nontheists.

They feel that many religious believers will no doubt share with us a belief in many secular humanist and democratic values, and we welcome their joining with us in the defense of these ideals.

Human beings are responsible for their own destinies.

They hold a conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.

They advocate a commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith.

They have a primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.

Secular humanists reject supernatural and authoritarian beliefs. They affirm that we must take responsibility for our own lives and the communities and world in which we live. Secular humanism emphasizes reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation.

I believe that there is a vital ingredient missing in all these “visually appealing” ideals, and that is the presence of the Father. This way of thinking has also sought to usurp the place of the Son, requiring the honor for any achievement to be given solely to mankind. The story is the same and may sound familiar.

Moses 4:1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.

Again, the Father is left out of the equation, the desire for the elevated spot removes the Son from His place in the equation, and the “I” or “Me” mentality ascribes to the glory.

In the Garden Lucifer used “deductive reasoning” on Eve, suggesting for her to leave Father out of the whole decision regarding the partaking of the fruit. Eve then being taught the art of “deductive reasoning” from Lucifer used it on Adam. Adam acting on his own, in disobedience to the commands of the Father then partook of the fruit which facilitated the Fall.

The Atonement was the plan that the Father had in place “if they yielded to temptation” and the Son sustained that plan. The process of the Atonement has saved us from both spiritual deaths and physical death, placing us back in the Garden where we belong. We individually are now being offered the fruit. Will we partake?

Doctrine and Covenants 29:40 Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation.

41 Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.

42 But, behold, I say unto you that I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son.

43 And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation—that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe;

I am thankful for our great leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who encourage us to remember the three pillars of eternity, and the three main players. All of the elements must be present to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” If we choose to leave out any part of these three then we are simply choosing to oppose the plan the Father has for us and our eternal happiness. It is a scary thought to ponder that by opposing the plan we fall in to a crowd of individuals who made that same mistake before, and we know their fate.

“The Devil is miserable in his situation, and “stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness” (2 Ne. 9: 9). He tries to imitate the work of God by transforming himself nigh unto an angel of light (2 Cor. 11: 12-15; 2 Ne. 9: 9; D&C 128: 20). He is also a worker of miracles, by which he deceives many upon the earth (Rev. 13: 1-15). In fact, the scripture says he deceives the whole world (Rev. 12: 9). He can cite scripture to make his point seem plausible (Matt. 4: 1-11). All of this is his scheme to make man miserable like himself. Protection against the influence of the devil is found by obedience to the commandments and laws of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The message of all the prophets and apostles is that truth, righteousness, and peace shall in the end prevail over error, sin, and war; the faithful shall triumph over all their afflictions and enemies, and shall triumph over the devil. There shall be a complete and lasting victory of righteousness over wickedness on this earth, which will be done by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.” LDS Bible Dictionary

For myself, I am waiting for Father to give me further instructions.


Anthony E. Larson said...

Well said. I wish more Latter-day Saints understood the fallacy that is Secular Humanism. I also wish they recognized the flaws in Progressivism. Congratulations for having the insight sufficient to see these counterfeits for what they are.

The Faithful Dissident said...

A lof of Mormons are able to see truths and goodness in religions and philosophies outside of Mormonism. I think that Humanism contains some of these truths and goodness.

Leaders of the Church have invited others to come to the LDS Church and to add onto the truths which they already possess. Sometimes, I think, it can also go the other way around. I don't believe that we have a monopoly on truth and we are told to seek after anything that is good or praiseworthy. (13th Article of Faith)

As with anything, there is always the potential for extreme interpretations and applications. Such is the case with Humanism, and such is the case with Mormonism. Unfortuantely, anything "secular" is regarded as "evil" or "dangerous" by some Mormons, when in fact it may contain good and praiseworthy elements of truth upon closer investigation.

I would invite anyone who wonders how any Latter-day Saint can combine their faith with a humanist philosophy to read this post on the subject.

In The Doghouse said...

Anthony E. Larson,
Secular Humanism is packaged in such a way that many will be deceived by the appearance of truth. Embracing Secular Humanism seems to be a frightening trend among some of the LDS community too. I simply felt compelled to write this post and bear testimony of the real Plan of Happiness.

On a side note, I am honored by your visit to my Blog. I have read many of your works and find them very insightful.

In The Doghouse said...

First, I must admit that I couldn’t agree more with the statement you made that many LDS people can find truths and goodness contained in other religions and philosophies. Although many others teach truths, they lack the full understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ gives.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explains, “Our quest for truth should be as broad as our life’s activities and as deep as our circumstances permit. A learned Latter-day Saint should seek to understand the important religious, physical, social, and political problems of the day. The more knowledge we have of heavenly laws and earthly things, the greater influence we can exert for good on those around us and the safer we will be from scurrilous and evil influences that may confuse and destroy us.

In our quest for truth, we need to seek the help of our loving Heavenly Father. His Spirit can direct and intensify our efforts to learn and magnify our ability to assimilate truth. This learning with the Spirit is not confined to classrooms or preparation for school examinations. It applies to everything we do in life and every place we do it—at home, at work, and at church.

As we seek to receive and apply the guidance of the Spirit in a world driven by the trends and issues of the day, we are confronted by an avalanche of often erroneous and trivial information served up by modern technology. We risk becoming what one observer called “‘pancake people’—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.”

We are also bombarded by popular talk show hosts, television psychologists, fashion magazines, and media commentators, whose skewed values and questionable practices can drive our opinions and influence our behavior. For example, President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said, ‘There has never been a time in the world when the role of [women and men] has been more confused.’

In this circumstance, confusion, discouragement, or self-doubt may begin to erode our faith and turn us away from the Savior and from building His kingdom on earth. If we focus our decisions on trends and worldly directions, we will be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”

Not influenced by popular opinion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches principles. The difference is profound. Trends, fashion, and pop ideology are fleeting and ephemeral. Principles serve as anchors of security, direction, and truth. If we fix our ideals and direction on doctrine and principles, such as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and following the prophet, we will have a totally reliable, unchanging guide for our life’s decisions.”

I am honored by your visit to my Blog. Reading your post motivated me to share my opinion on Secular Humanism like you did on my own Blog. Thank you for adding your link.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thank-you, Doghouse. I know that we probably look differently on a few things, but I think we can hopefully respect each other's views.

I want to address something that Anthony said:

"I also wish they recognized the flaws in Progressivism. Congratulations for having the insight sufficient to see these counterfeits for what they are."

I think it's sad that so many American Mormons see Progressivism as "counterfeit." I've come across many Mormons, mostly in America, who use the terms "progressive" or "liberal" as a pejorative. I was once one of those Mormons myself, until I got a wider perspective on things and discovered that people who had "progressive" views were not so bad afterall.

Just this morning, a fellow Mormon called me and some other liberal, progressive Mormon friends, "an odd bunch and a burden to the Church." He ended his comment by saying that "liberalism goes hand and hand with accepting sin" and that he was "shocked and saddened" at the fact that there are liberal, progressive Mormons and then called us to repentence. Certainly not reflective of the message of diversity that the Church wishes to spread.

Anthony said that there are "flaws" in Progressivism. I couldn't agree more. There are flaws in all ideologies, religions, and philosophies. Yes, there are even flaws in the LDS Church and the prophet. Only God Himself is flawless.

Understanding that the vast majority of the world will never hear of or be able to accept Mormonism, I see tremendous value in the tenets of Humanism which, with its flaws, is leaps and bounds above the religious tensions, sectarian violence, political bickering, and general ugliness in this world. I sometimes find it ironic that it's my atheist or non-religious friends that are most concerned with humanitarian causes and stamping out cruelty towards humans and animals alike -- probably oblivious to their Christlike qualities -- while my Mormon friends seem to be most concerned about whether or not Obama is a socialist and whether or not two guys can call themselves "married." I've learned a lot from my "secular" friends and they've taught me a great deal about human worth and compassion. Some of the negative things that have happened in our own church, such as racist teachings and electroshock treatment of homosexuals at BYU, could not have taken root if members of the Church had made human worth and compassion paramount.

So, although I'm not an atheist and do have faith in God and in the Afterlife, I can appreciate the desire by atheists and non-religious to put human interests up front and centre, and to make the most of this life, realizing that today is the only guarantee any of us have.

The Faithful Dissident said...

By the way, how did you get lumped into the "Liberal/Fring Elements" category of Mormon Blogosphere? I find that interesting. :)

In The Doghouse said...

Not to ignore your first comment, which I will address when more time permits, but I am laughing at your second one.

I did not even know there was a "Mormon Blogosphere" until you mentioned it and I went to check it out. I guess my name IntheDoghouse must have put me in the Liberal/Fringe category...who ever placed me there most certainly could not have read any of my posts. lol lol lol

I am looking forward to a continued conversation in which we may share ideas in a respectful manner. After all, we are in this whole mess together my friend, you know what the Master Teacher said about a "house divided." lol

More later...

Larilyn said...

In The Doghouse, thank you for your insight and thoughts on this subject. A great blog, as always!

A thought that popped into my said in your post "This fruit has part of the ingredients for lasting sustenance missing and one will soon hunger again." Made me think, I'm sure glad that we can rely on the Bread of Life....He really is always there for us, a "rearward" as we talked about in Institute tonight, and we can't chance taking Him out of the equation!!

The Faithful Dissident said...

"I did not even know there was a "Mormon Blogosphere" until you mentioned it and I went to check it out."

Mormon Blogosphere is actually how I found your blog. It's strange that your blog was added, because I thought that was only done by request.

"After all, we are in this whole mess together my friend, you know what the Master Teacher said about a "house divided." lol"

Very true. :)

I have to apologize in advance if I'm not able to follow the conversation. I'm going to be very busy at work the next few days and probably won't have much internet time. Thanks for your testimony. I respect it and appreciate it. I know I'm a bit unorthodox in my faith and certain views, but I think the Lord created us all differently for a purpose.

In The Doghouse said...

Our differences, IMHO, are what help us to become perfected as a whole. By introducing differences of opinion in the form of “reasoning together” a healthy format for discussion can be achieved. Believe it or not, many find me “quirky” and a bit of a nerd because of my love for the gospel and my hunger in studying the word. I have had so many thoughts flow to my mind regarding your post on progressivism, I have decided just to write another post to address it. I hope you don’t mind that I have taken that liberty.

Thanks for your ideas and opinions, they have caused me to learn and grow.

In The Doghouse said...

I love your addition of sustenance by adding the reference of Jesus Christ as the “Bread of Life. You are very insightful and have been given the gift of great wisdom at an early age.

“Behold, I say unto you, go forth as I have commanded you; repent of all your sins; ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you. Behold, I will go before you and be your rearward; and I will be in your midst, and you shall not be confounded.”

You will make a great missionary.