CHILLICOTHE, Oh. (BNC) — Preacher and elder Ron Thomas of the Sunrise congregation provides an exclusive book review of Mac Deaver’s most recent book published by Warren Christian Apologetics Center.
Book Review: The Hopelessness of Humanism by Mac Deaver; Published by Warren Christian Apologetics Center, Parkersburg, WV, 2016 (82 pages).
Dedication: Roy Deaver and Tom Warren
My review of this book is nothing more than impressions left with me after reading. I tried to read fairly and with a strong sense of being accurate in properly understanding the issue and issues being addressed. Brother Deaver’s style of writing is different than mine, so I read slowly and more than twice. With this in mind, I offer the following.
Publisher’s Preface: 4 pages in length, 3 pages of complete text. Charles Pugh, Director of Warren Christian Apologetics Center sets forth the thrust of the book, which is a review of James A. Haught’s secular humanism, how Mac Deaver “shows with unanswerable logic the utter failure of secular humanism” (p. 7). There is no Table of Contents. The book is sectioned off into two parts. The first part is a critique of James Haught’s position, with part two giving attention to further considerations.
Part I: A Critique of Haught’s Position (pp. 9-56). Introduction (pp. 9-10). Mac sets forth who James Haught is, along with his credentials and persuasions. He was once the editor of the newspaper The Charleston Gazette in Charleston, West Virginia, but more than that, he submitted three books to the public on his delight in the failings and fading of religion fading in America. Haught does not identify himself as an atheist, but between atheism and agnosticism, he leans toward the former without commitment.
Chapter 1: Haught’s Detestation (pp. 11-14). The chapter title gives a good overview of James Haught’s lament with regard to religion and its compulsion in human tragedies. Since “history is riddled with religious slaughter” how can religion be good for any community? Mac takes note of the same but makes a distinction between man’s use of religion and true biblical Christianity.
Chapter 2: Haught’s Desire (pp. 15-24). Rather than Christianity being the standard bearer of what is right in this world, Haught desires a modified religious approach associated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, which is a way of thinking that says religion is okay, but religion after the order of what is known as “free thinkers.” This is a way of thinking connected with humanism, a philosophy that does not require anything associated with God to give meaning in one’s life. Brother Deaver points out that if humanism is the way of thinking that is to be accepted, on what basis is it to be obligated on others, since it is merely a subjective approach to life.
Continuing along that line of thinking, in Chapter 3: Haught’s Dilemma (pp. 25-38), brother Deaver poses a difficulty that simply can’t be avoided. He states it this way: “Haught needs to come to intellectual grips with the fact that if there is no God, then what he thinks he understands with regard to the distinction between moral good and moral evil can be nothing more than an intellectual and emotional urge comparable to the biological urge for physical food” (p. 27). It’s in this chapter that brother Deaver presents brother Warren’s Moral Argument from the Warren-Flew Debate, an argument the well-known and well-schooled atheist was never able to address. Haught realizes this, so he says, in effect, there are no moral absolutes (p. 33).
Because Haught laments the religious violence in human history, he is dedicated (Chapter 4: Haught’s Dedication; pp. 39-44) to maintain a separation between church and state, but as Deaver points out, this poses its own problem because if there is a separation, what is the source of authority a society is to use to maintain order? Is it humanism, or something else (pp. 43-44)?
Chapter 5: Haught’s Determination (pp. 45-50) gives attention to the moral failings of religious violence, but as brother Deaver points out, Haught is ascribing the violence to those of Christianity in general, but not to true New Testament Christianity (though Haught does not understand the distinction). Deaver offers an argument on religious violence, which says the home and government can perpetuate themselves with carnal weapons, but Christianity is to do so by profession and persuasion. Thus, those who perpetuate violence in the name of Christianity have a distorted view of Christianity, not the Christianity revealed in the New Testament.
James Haught is a materialist and, in Chapter 6 Deaver deals with Haught’s Destiny (pp. 51-55). In this chapter Haught demonstrates his failure to understand anything outside the realm of the physical; he calls it all “fairy-tale stuff” (p. 51). Haught believes the moral dilemma posed in one of Plato’s dialogues is impossible to overcome, but has already admitted that morality is a subjective matter, nothing transcendent of man. Deaver illustrates this he is factually incorrect the Euthyphro Dilemma is insolvable, because Warren did so with much success in his debate with Anthony Flew in 1976 (pp. 52-53).
Part II: Further Considerations (pp. 57-79). In the second portion of the book, Mac Deaver gives some serious consideration to the failure of humanism and worldview. While Haught thought humanism to be a matter of human progress, it is in truth a matter of “cultural damage” (p. 57). I think Deaver intellectually and morally destroys the fundamental planks of humanism, illustrated in Humanist Manifestos I and II. He does so, in my view, with the chart by Thomas B. Warren used in his debate with Anthony Flew (p. 61). Analyzing the substance of this chart is worth all that Deaver wrote.
Works Cited (p. 81).
Closing thoughts. I have had several written discussions through the years with humanists or “wannabe humanists.” All speak better of an ideology they can’t sustain in critical examination. In analyzing the works and ideas of James A. Haught (87 years of age at this writing), Deaver shows how Haught, as an intellectual, had shown himself to be ignorant of matters greater than him. In his book, Religious Is Dying, speaking ill of the supernatural, Haught arrogantly states there is no Hades, no Paradise and that soon enough he will find out (pp. 51-52). Yes, he will.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three married children and five grandchildren. He enjoys his new home office. http://randal.us