Humanitarianism is a parody of Christianity, reducing it to a “social justice” program that is merely concerned with the alleviation of suffering and poverty. To achieve “social justice” the objectivity of reality and morality are denied, replaced instead with relativism and moralism. Relativism is the assertion that everything in life is malleable, that morality, culture and beliefs are equal; what’s true for you might not be true for me. This is most clearly expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: the ego has the right to define the nature “of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life.” Moralism is manifested in the cancel culture and phrases such as, “silence is violence.” Rather than seeing freedom as the power to flourish as we were made to be, force is employed to ensure compliance with a capricious vision held by misguided souls.
Having repudiated the supernatural dimensions of religion and not trusting God’s promises, humanitarianism has an unnatural emphasis on the present moment, which negatively affects the integrity of individual and collective life. It has no capacity for the common good and the kind of collective action that respects the moral integrity of human beings. Everything is always in flux. “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana).
The antidote to humanitarianism is religion, properly understood. We can understand religion generally to mean a relationship to what is divine. A religious person acknowledges something divine as the power that created him and the world, on which he is dependent and to which he is ordered. He wants to please and honor the divinity by his way of life. Religion makes humans and society whole, reconciling as it does the sacred and the mundane, the freedom of persons and the requirements of civilized order. The Christian notion of the human person affirms on the one hand our liberty and dignity while on the other hand avoiding the illusion of a thoroughgoing autonomy. Our dignity depends on affirming the sovereignty of God and the primacy of the good.
While our collective self-deification to avoid suffering of any kind might seem freeing on its face, it results in a desperation within that makes us slaves to passing things and easily susceptible to a totalitarian order (for how could competing concepts of what is right and good ever be reconciled if God is not the referent point? You’re left with power as the only arbiter between competing visions). Ironically, suffering becomes our prison.
“Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).
David J. Conrad