August 7, 2012

Humanist Themes in Fiction

Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to the way in which the religion of Secular Humanism is pervading our culture - specifically, books and movies. Secular Humanism, you'll recall, is the belief that man is the ultimate authority (God, essentially), and when it comes to books and movies, I've found that it usually manifests itself using one of two themes:
The Believe-in-Yourself theme
The Follow-Your-Heart theme
In this post, I'm going to talk a little bit about both of these.

First, the Believe-in-Yourself theme. This theme most often appears in movies geared towards children, no doubt with the intent of filling them with confidence and self-esteem. If you're a secular humanist (and can overlook the fact that the Believe-in-Yourself concept makes absolutely no logical sense), that's just great.
Speaking first from a purely artistic standpoint, who wants to cheer for a hero whose abilities and strength are all the result of a belief in his own epicness? I mean, really? That's hardly inspiring. In fact it seems pretty vain to me.
But furthermore, as Christians, we are called to believe not in ourselves ("...lean not on your own understanding...") but in Someone infinitely greater and higher than we. The Bible repeatedly emphasizes human weakness and fallibility, thereby emphasizing our need for that higher Someone. The Believe-in-Yourself theme stands in clear opposition to this.

Second, the Follow-Your-Heart theme. This one is as rampant in children's literature and movies as the Believe-in-Yourself theme, but it also spills over into adult-oriented entertainment too. And while it's slightly more romantic-sounding than the Believe-in-Yourself theme, it still has problems.
Christians, if there is one thing we know from Scripture about the human heart, it is what? "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked..."
Only humanist doctrine has that kind of faith in the idea of man being basically good. Following your heart is not a Christian concept in any sense. Rather, we are called to follow the One who has redeemed our hearts to His own purposes.

As Christians, we have to be alert, focused, and committed to standing against this kind of humanist doctrine. We have to be vigilant in protecting our children from these cleverly disguised lies. Remember, the enemy is subtle and will exploit any and every weak point he finds.
As Christian writers, we need to be aware of humanist concepts (the ones I've discussed here as well as others) and take careful steps to avoid incorporating them into the stories we craft.
As Christian readers, we need to be staying alert, watching for concepts like these and taking care to see them for the lies they are.

What are your thoughts?


  1. True. But I also think that the reason this doesn't bother me in small doses is that we do need to have a certain amount of confidence (example: test time jitters when you've studied thoroughly are going to hinder you, not help you) and a certain allowance of our God-given emotions. Unfortunately, most people aren't coming at it from the right place.

  2. I appreciate that you took the time to analyze and write about those ideas. I often do that myself, but sometimes I feel like I am the only one. Sometimes I get told I think too deeply, but that's just the way God made me.

    In my mind, the more dangerous form of educating people a certain way is the subtle brainwashing method, especially if it is sugarcoated. As Mary Poppins said, "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down". These subtle attacks to our faith and worldview must be guarded against and pointed out.

    1. You're not the only one. There aren't many of us, but you're not alone. Stay strong!


What are your thoughts on this post? I'd love to hear your comments, questions, or ideas, even if you don't agree with me. Please be aware that I reserve the right to delete comments that are uncivil or vulgar, however.