Homo Deus and the worship of man
Recovering Genesis is crucial1
Ever since Eve was beguiled by the serpent in the Garden of Eden,2 people have continued to fall for Satan’s seductive words, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). The particular temptation may vary but the ploy is always the same: we are urged to be as gods, masters of our own destiny.3
This is the very marrow of secular humanism, the worldview of today’s movers and shakers in education, the news media and entertainment industries. Some, like Israeli historian and author Yuval Noah Harari, happily preach it:
“Humanism has taught us that something can be bad only if it causes somebody to feel bad. Murder is wrong not because some god said, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Rather, murder is wrong because it causes terrible suffering to the victim, to his family members, and to his friends and acquaintances. Theft is wrong not because some ancient text says, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ Rather, theft is wrong because when you lose your property, you feel bad about it. And if an action does not cause anyone to feel bad, there can be nothing wrong with it.”4
There is a lot that is wrong with these arguments. For one thing, God-deniers have no logical case for their assertion that hurting people’s feelings or causing suffering is wrong. It is a case of sawing off the branch you’re sitting on. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and other dictators had no compunction in these matters and each had a secular worldview similar to Harari’s. The key point, however, is that he explicitly rejects Scripture’s moral teaching. But more than that, he brazenly elevates man in the place of God:
“The humanist religion worships humanity, and expects humanity to play the part that God played in Christianity and Islam.”5
Accordingly, his above-quoted book is titled Homo Deus (‘Man-God’). Such is the inevitable fruit of a worldview undergirded by the secular origins myth of evolution. Man as God’s image-bearer, thus answerable to Him, is replaced with man as a soul-less biological entity, just one of the humanistic deceits bedeviling academia today. Unsurprisingly, Harari shamelessly borrows his ‘moral principles’ not from Islam but Christianity—indeed Jesus Himself (see Matthew 7:12). Tragically, however, such shameless peddling of humanism ‘hits the spot’ for many in our self-obsessed, self-gratification culture.6 How, then, should Christians respond?
Morality without history?
Can we jettison Genesis as history (Adam as our ancestor) but keep its spiritual and theological teaching, as most theistic evolutionists claim? Certainly not.7 In any case, the arbitrary idea that God created moral human beings by ‘ensouling’ a select pair of humanoid animals impresses few non-Christians, who reject such neo-Christian philosophy as crass and irrelevant. And no wonder because it is a message that is alien both to the Bible and to evolutionary theory. Harari insists:
“Darwin has deprived us of our souls. If you really understand the theory of evolution, you understand that there is no soul.”8
And this means that notions of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ are meaningless for morality is what we make it to be. People who ‘play the part of God’ are only concerned with whether or not an action feels right and doesn’t negatively impact others.9 Rejecting the Bible, they reject their Creator’s teaching about sin and judgement (Hebrews 9:27) as a pernicious delusion that threatens their autonomy.10
Advocates of theistic evolution, since they also deny mankind’s supernatural creation and subsequent Fall, often ‘confess’ that the Bible errs scientifically. But such compromise is wholly impotent against the tide of evolutionary humanism, something that is not lost on Harari:
“ … in many countries around the world, including the USA and the UK, witnesses in courts put their hand on the bible when swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It’s ironic that they swear to tell the truth on a book brimming with so many fictions, myths and errors.”11
Society may be spiraling down into greater moral decadence but praise God, there is a remedy!
Bible to the rescue
It is crucial that we recover the relevance of Genesis and repent of any compromise (or apathy) on these issues. Humanistic indoctrination has greater currency now than ever before. Where churched young people are ill-prepared to counter these deceits, it is little wonder that they believe Christianity is irrelevant. American author Natasha Crain notes that:
- They come to see belief in God as an emotional crutch and reject the Bible as a reliable source about reality.
- They see their parents’ belief in God as a motive for modifying behaviour, rather than seeing Him as their loving Creator.
- They fail properly to understand how faith and historical science connect.
- They are not given the chance to develop critical thinking.
- They come to believe that their parents, pastors and other spiritual influencers can’t answer the secular challenges.12
Her assessment is spot on and the antidote equally obvious. Uphold the Bible and “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). We must ground all our thinking in Scripture and teach others to do the same, making full use of biblical and scientific apologetics information (e.g. Creation magazine). Our best efforts are otherwise doomed to fail. The very apposite words of American theologian J Gresham Machen desperately need to be heeded today:
“We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.”13
References and notes
- This article was first published in CreationExtra, CMI-UK/Europe, March 2019. Return to text.
- See 2 Corinthians 11:3. Return to text.
- This is to idolise self, contravening Exodus 20:3. Return to text.
- Harari, Y.N., Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow, Vintage (Penguin Random House), UK, pp. 263–264, 2017. Return to text.
- Ref. 4, p. 259. Return to text.
- By June 2018, Harari’s Sapiens and Homo Deus had together sold 12 million copies. Return to text.
- See why in chapter 6 of Philip Bell, Evolution and the Christian Faith, Day One Publications, 2018, pp. 118–144. Return to text.
- Ref. 4. pp. 120–121. Return to text.
- But even this is arbitrary: Why is murder morally ‘wrong’ if humans are not God’s image bearers? Return to text.
- In other words, their self-appointed right to set their own laws. Return to text.
- Ref. 4, p. 203. Return to text.
- These points are modified after: Crain, N., 5 terrible reasons your kids may think they can outgrow Christianity, christianmomthoughts.com, 28 August 2018. Return to text.
- Machen, J. G., What is Christianity, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 162, 1951. Return to text.