Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Humanism needs God

A recent email from one of our recently qualified teachers from Maryvale Institute posed this question:

The Pope in Caritas in Veritate says A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism.  I wonder what I would say to children about humanists who just will not have it that there is a God.  We really cannot judge these people, that is up to God.  These people are not inhuman at all; if you have any views on this I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Here is my rather brief reply.

Ok, The argument runs in this way:

Human beings are spiritual beings, not only material. To ignore the spiritual dimension of humanity is to ignore an entire aspect of human life and is therefore incomplete. A full humanism must include consideration of spirituality.

Now, put this in a Christian context and we exchange 'spiritual dimension' for something like a yearning for God - as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it in its first section, all human beings yearn for God (even if it is not always expressed in this way).

Pope Benedict's writing is typically very accurate and also very challenging. To atheistic humanists (who often don't understand that there is any other kind of humanism) the statement may be perplexing and may infuriate them. They in any case may want to argue that they do have some idea of the spiritual dimension of the human being (like the Ofsted understanding of spirituality) but this is not the same as a belief in an objective God.

For the Christian/Catholic the point I think is this: you cannot understand humanity and exclude religion, and to exclude religion from an understanding of humanity actually de-humanises humanity as it reduces man merely to a physical being, an animal, a machine.

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