Why the confusion? Why the mounting problems? Why can't human beings achieve universal cooperation and good will? What is man's burgeoning volume of knowledge really producing in the way of tangible answers?
THE VERY GOD who created our minds with the capacity to reason says that He must be the basis of knowledge. "The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge — that is, it's starting point and its essence" (Prov. 1:7, The Amplified Bible). Facts and information can be gleaned by man, but only with God's way as the foundation on which to use those facts can man achieve the happiness, goodness, cooperation and benefits that he desires. Once God is divorced from knowledge, it becomes an instrument of destruction in the hands of men. Whether that knowledge be scientific, medical, sociological, psychological, political or religious, man is inherently limited in his ability to wisely and satisfactorily direct that knowledge toward desired goals. God says that there is a limiting factor within man preventing him from achieving his cherished desires by himself. "O thou Eternal, well thou knowest that man's course lies not in his own hands; it is not in a man to have control over his actions" (Jer. 10:23, Moffatt translation).
This places vast segments of today's society on very shaky ground. The humanistic tradition runs deep in the development of Western society. By this I mean the miscellany of ideas which assume that man is completely alone and will admit to no solutions to man's progress other than man finding his own happiness his own way. H. J. Blackham begins & book Humanism by stating: Humanism proceeds from an assumption that man is on his own and this life is all and an assumption of responsibility for one's own life and for the life of mankind" (page: 13). Humanism is therefore materialistic in approach. This way of looking at man and his world assumes that all recourse to supernatural forces — to the belief in a God — to an existence beyond our present physico-chemical life — can be replaced by the latest enlightened scholarship concerning man and his nature. Revelation, as a source of knowing what man is and how it is in his best interests to act, is viewed as unnecessary and indeed obstructive to further progress. Of course, it is natural for man to want to go his own way. Restrictions, laws, rules, dogmas all limit him and prevent the openness and freedom sought for. As Mr. Blackham says, "...all rules ultimately are justified in an open society only by the purpose of enabling all individuals and groups to do what they want to do, as far as this is possible.... All rules are ultimately for the sake of enabling people to get what they want and do what they want..." (page 54).
This very attitude of wanting to do things our way, to pursue our own course in satisfying our own wants and happiness, is exactly what God warns us against — for our own good. In fact we are told we cannot afford to trust in ourselves. "Rely with all your heart on the Eternal, and never lean on your own insight... Never pride yourself on your own wisdom, revere the Eternal and draw back from sin: that will mean health for your body and fresh life to your frame" (Prov. 3:5-7, Moffatt translation). God knows the minds we have, and that human nature distorts our thinking. He says of that nature: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?" (Jer. 17:9, The Amplified Bible.) We have been made subject to vanity whether we admit it or not (Rom. 8:20) — and this bondage is something from which we must be delivered, not by and through ourselves, but by the mighty hand of God (Rom. 8:21). The "wisdom" which man uses to navigate his own way through life is nothing more than abject foolishness. "Where is the wise man — the philosopher? Where is the scribe — the scholar? Where is the investigator — the logician, the debater — of this present time and age? Has not God shown up the nonsense and the folly of this world's wisdom?" (I Cor. 1:20, The Amplified Bible.) If we are committed to the assumption that we can achieve our individual and sociological desires by complete trust in human endeavor, goodness, reason and capacity to solve all problems — then God says we are fools. But men continue, for six millennia of frustration, to provide their own reasoned guidelines to a better world. As Kingsley Martin says in Objections to Humanism, "Humanism is an attitude of mind...and provides a working theory of life which is consistent with current scientific knowledge. It becomes a duty, not only a sensible line of conduct, to work for a world society and dedicate our lives to the still rational hope of progress. The future depends on ourselves, not on any doctrine" (page 102). The achievement of a world society with unified cooperation is indeed a desirable thought, an admirable goal. But it is also a vain hope if based solely on faith in man. Man is, and always will be, his own worst enemy, until not only his behavior, but his very nature is changed. The entire history of man does anything but justify absolute faith in man. But, undaunted, the humanist looks for the humanly unattainable. "We look... to the evolution of a society based not only on reason but on love" says Ian Edwards in A Humanist View (page xv). "... Life here can be happier for our children and successors if we learn and practice the laws of well-being" says Kingsley Martin, Objections to Humanism (page 90). But the very love that can, and will be, the foundation for a Utopian society, is the love the humanist rejects (I John 5:3). These laws of well-being that are designed to free us from the burdens of misery and bondage of our own carnality, are the very laws that the humanist rejects. The humanist refuses to allow his "humanity" or dignity to be lowered to the extent that an all-powerful God should rule his life. As H. J. Blackham notes in his book Humanism, "... the Christian must remain concentrated upon and bound by the example of Christ as the supreme model for human living.... He is the archetype of unqualified submission and obedience to the will of God.... It is impossible to follow Christ on any other terms, and the humanist finds acceptance of these terms a violation of himself and his whole experience" (pg. 17-18). The thorough humanist is not about to be ruled — his own way must prevail.
God Is the Only Hope
To those relying upon the progress of scientific knowledge, of human philosophy and democratic welfare principles alone, the outlook is dismal. The only hope such a person can fulfill is to have personally contributed to some achievement in this temporal life, a goal too few of us are capable of satisfying to any great extent. But the final goal after all the effort, heartache, toil and labor can never be anything more than the inexorable extinction of an all-too-fleeting life. How deep and meaningful can values and achievements be when they are fatalistically confronted with the inevitable? God, however, is a God of hope. He says we were made subject to vanity in hope (Rom. 8:20). All are going to finally learn of this hope, and know it to be a reality. Whether they accept it or not is the free choice offered to them — God is not going to force anybody into an eternity which they are not willing to accept. But one thing is certain: God is not going to give eternal life in His Kingdom to anyone He cannot rule. That means a drastic change of attitude on the part of those who refuse to accede to a ruling power external to themselves and their independent desires. Every person, humanist or religionist, is going to have to acknowledge what Paul had to confess in Romans 7:18-23. There is a law of sin which captivates us, and from whose clutches we cannot escape, unless it is through the one door which is available and open to us — Christ! The freedom every human being wants can be found by this method only. God's way frees us from that which hurts, and instead of the certain specter of death hanging over us, "death is swallowed up in victory" (I Cor. 15:54). That one cooperative society is a reality, but not the humanist way. It will only come when all the earth is filled with the worthwhile, productive knowledge of God (Isa. 11:9). The way that will receive priority then will be the revealed knowledge of the best way, rather than man's meanderings through the labyrinthine realm of imaginative trial and error, with all of its reformulations, modifications, dead ends and hopelessness. Man will no longer be a prisoner of his own philosophical idealism, but will at last have the freedom to be truly happy.