Humanism is the now the dominant world religion, according to Yuval Noah Harari in his book “Homo Deus”.
How do you define humanism?
According to “The Free Dictionary by Farlex”:
1) “Our knowledge of all things in the world comes from human observation and reflection, and thus it is inherently subjective…
2) “The only thing of absolute value or authority in the universe is man itself.”
How do you know you are an adherent of humanism? You can tell by agreeing with the following beliefs:“Humanist Politics: the voter knows best.
Humanist Economics: the customer is always right.
Humanist Aesthetics: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Humanist Ethics: if it feels good—do it!
Humanist Education: think for yourself!”
What happened to God? Here’s Harari’s answer:
“Accordingly, the central religious revolution of modernity was not losing faith in God; rather it was gaining faith in humanity. It took centuries of hard work. Thinkers composed poems and symphonies, politicians struck deals—and together they convince humanity that it can imbue the universe with meaning.”
Just like the world’s major religions, humanism developed splits over time. Harari noted there are three major sects. These sects or branches fought each other for world domination between 1914 to 1989. During World War II, liberal humanists (the western democracies) and socialist humanists (the Soviets) ganged up on the evolutionary humanists (the fascists), only to turn on each other after the war. During the Cold War the liberal humanists won.
Liberal humanism focuses on individualism. Russia has challenged that individualistic dogma with its invasion of Ukraine, emphasizing the fight for supremacy by the evolutionary humanists (Russia) who returned to imperialism with its invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, China’s Xi Jinping has reasserted social humanism in his return to Marxist dogma. His threat to invade and conquer Taiwan, his ending of democratic freedom in Hong Kong, and his attempt to dominate the South China Sea are examples.
According to Harari, technology will enable humans to evolve to a new age, the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans, where humans will gain immortality, bliss, and divinity. (Unless, of course, we destroy ourselves and the planet in the meantime.)
How do we become immortal? Through new medical breakthroughs such as heart, liver, kidney transplants, cures for diseases through genetic engineering as scientists dramatically demonstrated through development of genetic vaccines against COVID-19, and through connecting our brains to computers, allowing us to save our memories, create artificial limbs, and thus gain immortality while at the same time becoming human gods — Homo Deus.
Harari’s theory is flawed, because he made the mistake of classifying the human brain as a computer, which it isn’t, as I explained in an earlier column. Humans do have free will, and do not act solely because of life experiences and chemical reactions as Harari asserts.
Harari did accurately describe the three major secular religions of our times, though. It began with the rise of science and exploration beginning in the 15th and 16th centuries. It came to be called the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason in the 18th century. Humanism is still the dominant religion of the 21st century.
Those of you who believe in the Bible or the Quran, or some other religious text, may not agree that “Man is the measure of all things”, but I can guarantee that you have been deeply affected by the religion of humanism in all its forms in our era. Not understanding the “Spirit of Our Times” — the Zeitgeist — means you are being swept along by its strong currents. It’s time to look around you and face reality and the world’s secular religion.
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”