Gary North – November 04, 2021
History is a fragment of biology: the life of man is a portion of the vicissitudes of organisms on land and sea. . . . Therefore the laws of biology are the fundamental lessons of history. We are subject to the processes and trials of evolution, to the struggle for existence in the survival of the fittest to survive. If some of us seem to escape the strife or the trials is because our group protects us; but that group itself must meet the tests of survival. So the first biological lesson in of history is that life is competition. . . . The second biological lesson of history is that life is selection. In the competition for food or mates or power some organisms succeed and some fail. In the struggle for existence some individuals are better equipped than others to meet the tests of survival. Will and Ariel Durant, 1968.
A. Covenant Model, Point 1
Point 1 of the biblical covenant model is God’s transcendence. This includes His presence with the creation.
Point 1 of the biblical covenant model for social theory is the sovereignty of God.
Point 1 of the humanist covenant model is evolution. The theory of cosmic evolution is the humanists’ explanation of coherence. They deny that a personal God created the universe. They deny that He sustains it providentially. They identify a purposeless universe as the source of its own coherence. The universe is autonomous. It is not providential. It is impersonal. They offer no theory of the origin of matter-energy. They offer only a theory of the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago (give or take). I ask: “Where did the stuff that blew up come from?” Here is the cosmologists’ answer, paraphrasing Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin: “The universe just growed.” Big! Humanism announces retroactively: “Despise not the day of infinitesimal beginnings.”
Point 1 of humanist social theory is sovereignty. Humanists initially identify the universe as sovereign. This eliminates the sovereignty of God. But then they offer the doctrine of man. Life evolved out of a lifeless cosmos about 4.5 billion years ago. Man evolved out of purposeless life about 2.5 million years ago. Man has purpose. He is the only known (by man) source of purpose. Man thereby became sovereign. He can plan. He manipulates portions of the universe. He exercises dominion over nature. For now. Not forever. (See Chapter 10.)
I focus on the Durants in this chapter because they invoked the doctrine of evolution as the basis of historical development. Most historians remain silent on cosmic origins. As humanists, they assume that the cosmos is governed by laws of evolution, but they remain silent on the implications of this faith for their philosophy of history. They have no self-conscious philosophy of history.
B. Denying Fixed Morality
1. A Mass Audience
The Durants were the most successful historians in history, if book sales are the criteria of success. Will Durant wrote the first six volumes, The Story of Civilization. Together, they wrote the final five volumes. The first volume came out in 1935. The eleventh volume came out in 1975. Each volume was over 1,000 pages long. Each book was heavily footnoted. The public bought these books by the millions. At the time of the authors’ separate, unrelated deaths in late 1981, books in the series had sold at least two million copies in nine languages. The books have remained in print ever since. The series was legendary for its finely crafted prose. The Durants could tell stories as few historians ever have, and no historian has ever told more stories than they told.
By training, Will Durant was a philosopher. He received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1917. Sales of his 1926 book, The Story of Philosophy, helped make Simon & Schuster a major publisher. The book sold so well that book royalties enabled the Durants to spend the rest of their days working on their series.
In 1968, before they completed the series, they wrote a short book, The Lessons of History. The brief chapters include these: “Biology and History,” “Race and History,” “Character and History,” “Morals and History,” “Religion and History,” “Economics and history,” and several more. In these brief chapters, the authors provided nothing resembling a theory of comprehensive cause and effect in history.
Today, the Durants would be considered politically incorrect. In their chapter, “Biology and History,” which provides the citation with which I began this chapter, they argued that inequality spreads as civilization progresses. It is a natural process. Problem: there are no natural processes for societies, according to the vast majority of historians.
Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. Hereditary inequalities breed social and artificial inequalities; every invention or discovery is made or seized by the exceptional individual, and makes the strong stronger, the week relatively weaker, than before. Economic development specializes functions, differentiates abilities, and makes men unequally valuable to their group. If we knew our fellow men thoroughly we could select thirty percent of them whose combined ability would equal that of all the rest. Life in history does precisely that, with a sublime injustice reminiscent of Calvin’s God (p. 20).
It is clear from this paragraph who their real enemy was: Calvin’s God. They correctly identified this enemy by name. Calvin’s God is the God of providence and predestination. They did not believe in either providence or predestination. They believed wholeheartedly in this phrase: the survival of the fittest. This was not Darwin’s phrase originally. It was Herbert Spencer’s phrase, but Darwin incorporated it in later editions of The Origin of Species.
2. Philosophy of History
In the first volume, Durant made it clear that he had a philosophy of history. In this regard, he was different from professional historians in the twentieth century. He believed that historical change, and ultimately historical progress, is based on constant conflicts between supernatural religion and men’s attempt to escape from the confines of traditional religion. This was the outlook of the Enlightenment.
Hence a certain tension between religion and society marks the higher stages of every civilization. Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men; it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; it ends by fighting suicidally in the lost cause of the past. For as knowledge grows or alters continually, it clashes with mythology and theology, which change with geological leisureliness. Priestly control of arts and letters is then felt as a galling shackle or hateful barrier, and intellectual history takes on the character of a “conflict between science and religion.” Institutions which were at first in the hands of the clergy, like law and punishment, education and morals, marriage and divorce, tend to escape from ecclesiastical control, and become secular, perhaps profane. The intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and—after some hesitation—the moral code allied with it; literature and philosophy become anticlerical. The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In the end a society and its religion tend to fall together, like body and soul, in a harmonious death. Meanwhile, among the oppressed another myth arises, gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort, and after centuries of chaos builds another civilization (The Story of Civilization, Vol. 1, p. 71).
There is no resolution to this conflict, he believed. There are no permanent ethical standards that would tell anyone whether a traditional religion is right or wrong, or whether a secular development is right or wrong. Society will go on warring between traditional religion and secular libertarianism. This, it seemed to Durant, is a law of history. Its outcome is problematic.
In 1968, they perceived an increase in moral laxity. This was in the midst of the student revolution that was sweeping the United States and the West, including Japan. They wrote this: “So we cannot be sure that the moral laxity of our times is a herald of decay rather than a powerful or delightful transition between a moral code that has lost its agricultural basis in another that are industrial civilization has yet to forge into social order and normality.” They remained cautiously optimistic: “Meanwhile history assures us that civilizations decay quite leisurely” (p. 41).
They were atheists. “Does history support a belief in God? If by God we mean not the creative vitality of nature but a supreme being intelligent and benevolent, the answer must be a reluctant negative. Like other departments of biology, history remains at bottom a natural selection of the fittest individuals and groups in the struggle wherein goodness receives no favors, misfortunes abound, and the final test is the ability to survive” (p. 46).
They adopted one of the favorite arguments of humanists. Man, they said, is a mere speck in the cosmos. There has always been a subversive strategy behind this argument. If humanists could reduce man to a speck, they could make God cosmically irrelevant. Man is made in the image of God, Christianity teaches. So, if man is a mere speck, then God is irrelevant: barely a pebble. The Durants were aware of this logical sequence. They wrote:
The growing awareness of man’s minuscule place in the cosmos has furthered the impairment of religious belief. In Christendom we may date the beginning of the decline from Copernicus (1543). The process was slow, but by 1611, John Donne was morning that the earth had become a mere “suburb” in the world, and that “new philosophy calls all in doubt”; and Francis Bacon, while tipping his hat occasionally to the bishops, was proclaiming science as a religion of modern emancipated man. In that generation began the death of God as an external deity (pp. 46–47).
They understood that there are limits to the development of atheism. For them, there were no absolutes. But there was a pattern: “Puritanism and paganism—the repression and the expression of the senses and desires—alternate in mutual reaction in history.” When the state is weak, religion and Puritanism prevail, they said. “. . . laws are feeble, and morals must bear the burden of maintaining social order.” In contrast, skepticism and paganism advance “as the rising power of law government permits the decline of the church, the family, and morality without basically endangering the stability of the state. In our time the strength of the state is united with the several forces listed above to relax faith and morals, and to allow paganism to resume its natural sway.” They warned: “Probably our excesses will bring another reaction; moral disorder may generate a religious revival; atheists may again (as in France after the debacle of 1870) send their children to Catholic schools to give them the discipline of religious belief” (p. 50). They spoke in terms similar to those that Robert Nisbet surveyed a dozen years later in his book, History of the Idea of Progress. (See Chapter 10.)
Did they represent the outlook of professional historians generally? Their presentation of something resembling a theory of historical development in terms of the conflict between religion and secularism was not characteristic of professional historians after World War I. But their hostility to supernatural religion, and especially towards Christianity, has been characteristic of the professoriate since at least 1900. This includes historians.
They refused to pursue the implications of cosmic evolution. They did not discuss the second law of thermodynamics. They did not discuss entropy. They did not discuss the heat death of the universe in which all life will end. (See Chapter 10.) Their silence reflects the silence of historians generally. Modern man says that evolution began with the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Life did not appear on the scene until about 4.5 billion years ago. All of it was purposeless. There was no purpose in the universe prior to the evolution of man, perhaps 2.5 million years ago. There will be no purpose after entropy has killed all life on earth. Man’s reign will come to an end. Humanists are generally silent about this. They prefer to ignore it.
The Durants reached millions of readers by means of the quality of their prose. They told wonderful stories. But they refused to carry the story of man into the distant future. Evolution will not favor mankind indefinitely. (See Chapter 10.)
The Durants’ remains are buried in Westwood Memorial Park, located in West Los Angeles. So is Marilyn Monroe. So is Hugh Hefner, who anonymously launched Playboy magazine in 1953 with a nude photograph of Monroe. It is one of those oddities of history that R. J. Rushdoony began preaching in that mortuary every Sunday morning, beginning in 1965, and did so for the next decade. He left before the Durants’ remains arrived, but Marilyn’s remains were there.
C. Denying Natural Law
In his 1967 book, The Biblical Philosophy of History, Rushdoony commented on the impact of Charles Darwin’s concept of biological evolution through impersonal natural selection. It undermined the concept of natural law, which had been dominant in Western thought for two millennia.
When, however, Nature was subjected to evolutionary theory, the concept of an infallible nature, natural law, and a divine decree within nature, was shattered. Nature represented simply, in Darwinism, chance and natural selection. Darwin tried to read a decree into this operation, but the damage was done. Another locale for the divine decree was necessary: nature was another dead God gone down the drain.
In terms of the new perspective of evolution, truth and meaning do not exist in the universe. In other words, there is no decree inherent in the universe or behind the universe. Man is alone, an accident of being, in a cold an alien universe which is the product of the fortuitous concourse of atoms. In this situation, man feels that he must do two things to survive. First, he must renounce the luxury and insanity of assuming that a God or gods exist. He must face the universe of brute factuality coldly and starkly. Second, truth and meaning are purely human categories of thought. They are man’s creations and must be imposed on the universe. Man must now control and guide evolution; he must use the universe and master himself as well. A decree is necessary, and it does not exist in or behind the universe: man must therefore promulgate his own divine decree and impose on human society and upon all creation (pp. 46–47).
By the early twentieth century, faith in natural law had generally departed from the academic community. Darwinism by the late 1880’s had steadily begun selecting against those scholars who still maintained the old Roman Stoic doctrine of universal natural law, which had buttressed the multi-ethnic Roman Empire. This doctrine did not exist in pre-empire Greek philosophy.
Rushdoony understood what humanists have always ignored: the concept of cosmic evolution by way of random astronomical events and random biological mutations is an extension of the chaos cult thinking of ancient paganism. It is an extension of paganism’s religion of revolution. He wrote this in booklet, The Religion of Revolution, which was published in 1965.
A sophisticated modern development of the ancient chaos cult is the theory of evolution, which is the religion of modern scientists. All things supposedly developed out of an original chaos of being, and the process of evolution is the assumption of a continuous act of chaos against present order. The current idea of evolution by mutations is held in the face of the known fact that mutations are at the least almost all deleterious and destructive. More basic, the evolutionist sees nature and man and all being as one continuous whole; there is no supernatural and no distinction between created being, and uncreated being, God. Evolutionists speak of their universe as open, i.e., evolving, but their universe is actually closed and self-sufficient. The closed universe means that the life of man is wholly comprehended, as are all things, within the order of nature, since nothing transcends nature.
As a result, ultimate authority and proximate authority are made one. There is no law beyond man and nature, and, since man and nature are both evolving, there is no fixed or eternal law, no absolute right and wrong. There is thus for the evolutionist no supreme court of appeal to God against evil, no power in law or in righteousness, no unchanging revelation on which to stand. There is simply evolution, and evolution means change. Change thus becomes man’s hope and salvation. Earlier evolutionists saw change as slow and gradual, but, gradually, it came to be “recognized” that man could himself promote change and thus he could further evolution. This guided change is, in every area, revolutionary action, a deliberate disruption of order designed to produce a superior order.
It is the ancient use of chaos as the means to true order. The evolutionist looks to chaos as the Christian looks to God. Since the evolutionist, as scientific planner, does not believe in any absolute right or wrong, there is nothing except old “prejudices” to prevent him from using man experimentally and without restraint as a test animal in creating or evolving his scientific social order. Man is thus his guinea pig and tool towards the “brave new world” of science. The more remote men of such science become from Christian faith and morality, the bolder they will be in their “scientific socialism.” And it is this freedom from God and morality and this evolutionary belief which constitutes the “science” of Marx’s “scientific socialism.”
I took this insight seriously. Almost immediately, I began my research for Marx’s Religion of Revolution (1968).
D. Denying Purpose
I published the following section in Chapter 2 of my book, Sovereignty and Dominion (2012) . That book was first published as The Dominion Covenant: Genesis (1982).
The heart of the Bible’s account of the creation is God and His purposeful word, while the heart of modern evolution is the denial of purpose, whichever of the secular cosmologies a man decides to accept: entropy, steady state, or oscillating universe. This fact has not been understood by those conservative Bible expositors who have chosen to rewrite Genesis 1. We must bear in mind that it was Darwin’s insistence on the unplanned, purposeless nature of geological and biological change that won him instant success in the world of secular humanism. Darwin denied all the old arguments for divine purpose as a cause of the orderliness of nature. Natural order proves no such thing, he insisted; natural selection of randomly produced biological changes, not supernatural design, accounts for nature’s orderliness. Evolutionary scientists accepted Darwin’s denial of cosmic purpose long before there was any idea that the universe might be 13 billion years old. The heart of the Darwinian intellectual revolution was not evolution. The heart of the Darwinian intellectual revolution was Darwin’s explanation of undesigned order. It was his denial of final purpose, of the universe’s ends-orientation, of teleology.
Teleology had served Christian apologists ever since the days of Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) as a major pillar of the five supposedly irrefutable proofs of God. Teleological arguments assert that the order of the universe reflects the orderly God who created it. Not only does this order reflect God, as Paul had argued (Rom. 1:18–20), it supposedly also demonstrates logically that such a God must exist. The universe can only be explained in terms of supernatural design. William Paley, writing in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, convinced the majority of his English and American audiences of the logic of the argument from design.
Consider the perspective of a book produced by faculty members of Princeton University in 1945 for students enrolled in a course on American civilization. This book was published five years later by Yale University Press. It is indicative of the outlook of the best universities in he United States, then and today. It is a description of pre-Darwin explanations of nature’s regularities, which Christian theologians and social thinkers accepted in the name of the Bible.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, orthodox Protestant Christian thinkers, both in England and in America, absorbed the Deist argument in its rationalistic aspects by harmonizing natural religion with revelation. The one was found to strengthen and confirm the other. . . . Out of this fusion of natural and revealed religion came one of the great arguments for the support of the orthodox faith. This was the doctrine of design. Just as Paley’s famous watch bore its own testimony to the activity of the watch-maker, so the universe in all of its marvelous detail sang the praises of its Creator. In an age in which theories of natural law came to permeate social thought, and in which the achievements of applied science were already lending prestige to a rationalistic and materialistic view of things, the argument from design became one of the most useful and widely used defences for Christianity. Natural religion must of course be supplemented by revealed religion, for each plumbed distinctly incommensurable dimensions. Nevertheless, natural law, as then conceived, was, like the revealed word of God, fixed, absolute, and immutable. The one was clearly apprehended by the intelligence, and the other by the study of Holy Writ (Stow Persons, “Evolution and Theology in America,” in Persons [ed.], Evolutionary Thought in America , pp. 422–23).
The concept of a mechanistic, self-sufficient system of natural law had not been recognized as a threat to Christian orthodoxy—a denial of cosmic personalism. Nineteenth- century Christians did not recognize the danger of constructing a systematic theology that rested simultaneously on a biblical pillar and a pillar of secular autonomy. The logic of design seemed so sure, so unanswerable. How else could men explain the extraordinary “fit” among all the parts of creation? Does not such an integrated, coherent environment demand men’s faith in a cosmic Designer? And is not this Designer the God of the Bible? If the universe was designed, then it has a purpose assigned to it by God. Even the ungodly must acknowledge the logic from design, Christian defenders of the faith insisted. The logic seemed inescapable: order implies design; design implies a Designer; a Designer implies purpose. What could be more logical? Christian apologists gave little or no thought to the intellectual vulnerability of this two-pillar defense. What if the secular pillar collapsed?
Modern secular science, from Darwin to the present, has as its operating presupposition this premise: all causation is autonomous in nature, and no causation is purposive—until the advent of man. The origin of order must be sought in purposeless randomness—the basis of unbreakable scientific law in the nineteenth century, and the acknowledged sovereign in the twentieth—and not in God’s purpose and design.
To overcome the logic of Paley, late-nineteenth-century scientists took the first crucial step: to ascribe the origin of perceived order to random change. This hypothesis was the major intellectual revolution of the nineteenth century. The importance of this scientific presupposition cannot be overestimated: it served to free secular science from critics, potential and actual, who might have succeeded in redirecting the work of scientists along biblical lines. But there was a more fundamental aspect of this affirmation of randomness: to shove God out of the universe, once and for all. Man wanted to escape the threat of control by a supernatural Creator.
Once that step had been taken, scientists took a second step: to assert the sovereignty of man. Since there is no cosmic purpose in the universe, secularists concluded, man is left free to make his autonomous decisions in terms of his own autonomous plans. Man becomes the source of cosmic purpose. The purposeless forces of random evolutionary change have at long last produced a new, purposeful sovereign—man—and man now asserts his sovereignty over creation. He takes control, by means of science, over the formerly purposeless laws of evolutionary development. The universe needs a god, and man is now this god. (See Chapter 7.)
E. Kant’s Defunct Grand Narrative
Immanuel Kant changed Western philosophy. Humanist philosophy since Kant has been a series of debates over the issues he raised. He replaced the Greeks in the thinking of humanists. He created a new dualism: the science-personality dualism, also known as the nature-freedom dualism. He abandoned the concept of metaphysical forms that exist separately from history (transcendence) or embedded in history (immanence).
In 1784, Kant published a short essay: “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View.” This was three years after the publication of his Critique of Pure Reason, and four years prior to the publication of his Critique of Practical Reason. It was a product of his mature thinking. In this essay, he argued that nature has a plan for mankind: the creation of a one-world state. This is the grand narrative of mankind. This was his replacement of the Christian doctrine of God’s decree, which governed God’s creation of the cosmos out of nothing. In 1755, he had written a defense of cosmic evolution: Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens. He concluded that “the sphere of developed nature is always but an infinitely small part of that totality which has the seed of future worlds in itself, which strives to involve itself out of the crude state of chaos through longer or shorter periods. The creation is never finished or complete. It has indeed once begun, but it will never cease. It is always busy producing new scenes of nature, new objects, and new worlds” (University of Michigan edition, 1969, pp. 145–46). Kant began his essay with a statement of faith. It was a statement of faith regarding the legitimacy of human freedom, which is somehow determined by universal laws. These are not laws of God. They are laws of nature.
Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concerning the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions, like every other natural event are determined by universal laws. However obscure their causes, history, which is concerned with narrating these appearances, permits us to hope that if we attend to the play of freedom of the human will in the large, we may be able to discern a regular movement in it, and that what seems complex and chaotic in the single individual may be seen from the standpoint of the human race as a whole to be a steady and progressive though slow evolution of its original endowment.
We see here in the perpetual tension between universal human laws and specific events, in this case actual human actions. These actions are a matter of free will, yet in the aggregate, and in the long run, they move in terms of a grand narrative. This grand narrative is unknown to the masses. “. . . each individual and people, as if following some guiding thread, go toward a natural but to each of them unknown goals; all work toward furthering it, even if they would set a little store by if they did know it.”
Kant’s theory of the grand narrative rested on a concept of nature which was teleological. Nature is future-oriented, Kant argued. It has purposes. In today’s language, this theory would be known as intelligent design. It denied the fundamental principle of Darwinism: evolution through purposeless natural selection. Kant presented nine theses in defense of his system. Every one of them is denied by today’s Darwinian cosmologists.
(1) All natural capacities of a creature are destined to evolve completely to their natural end.
(2) In man (as the only rational creature on earth) those natural capacities which are directed to the use of his reason or to be fully developed only in the race, not in the individual.
(3) Nature has willed that man should, by himself, produce everything that goes beyond the mechanical ordering of his animal existence, and that he should partake of no other happiness or perfection and that which he himself, independently of instinct, has created by his own reason.
(4) The means employed by Nature to bring about the development of all of the capacities of men is there antagonism in society, so far as this is, in the end, the cause of a lawful order among men.
(5) The greatest problem for the human race, to the solution of which Nature, drives man, is the achievement of a universal civic society which administers law among men.
(6) This problem is the most difficult and the last to be solved by mankind.
(7) The problem of establishing a perfect civic constitution is dependent upon the problem of a lawful external relation among states and cannot be solved without a solution of the latter problem.
(8) The history of mankind can be seen, in the large, as the realization of Nature’s secret plan to bring forth a perfectly constituted state as the only condition in which the capacities of mankind can be fully developed, and also bring forth that external relation among states which is perfectly adequate to this end.
(9) A philosophical attempt to work out a universal history according to a natural plan directed to achieving the civic union of the human race must be regarded as possible and, indeed, as contributing to this end of Nature.
His comment on the third thesis is especially revealing. “Nature does nothing in vain, and in the use of means to her goals she is not prodigal. Her giving to man reason and the freedom of the will which depends upon it is clear indication of her purpose. Man accordingly was not to be guided by instinct, not nurtured and instructed with ready-made knowledge; rather, he should bring forth everything out of his own resources.” This is a theory of intelligent design.
In the next to the last paragraph in the essay, he invoked the language of Christianity in order to defend his evolutionary thesis of intelligent design.
Such a justification of nature—or, better, of Providence—is no unimportant reason for choosing a standpoint toward world history. For what is the good of esteeming the majesty and wisdom of Creation in the realm of brute nature and of recommending that we contemplated, if that part of the great stage of supreme wisdom which contains the purpose of all the others—the history of mankind—must remain an unceasing reproach to it? If we are forced to turn our eyes from it in disgust, doubting that we can ever find a perfectly rational purpose in it and hoping for that only in another world? (https://bit.ly/KantUniversal)
This was the historical outlook of the most important modern philosopher. His worldview rested on both the direction and the purpose of history as determined by the intelligent design of autonomous nature. This outlook was overturned by Darwin and Darwinism after 1859. Darwinism denies natural law theory. It denies intelligent design. It therefore denies the possibility of a universal history of mankind that is governed by general laws that make history predictable. Today, there are no defenders of anything resembling the grand historical narrative that Kant offered in 1784. The only grand narrative that is consistent with Darwinism and with modern cosmic evolution is the grand narrative of entropy. It is a narrative of the future, not the past. Everything will eventually wind down. Everything is dying. (See Chapter 10).
Every civilization has a theory of origins. This theory is the source of the civilization’s connected theory of law and sanctions. Ever since Darwin, humanists have offered the doctrine of evolution through natural selection as their substitute for the doctrine of God’s creation of the universe out of nothing. They have thereby substituted the metaphysics of cosmic impersonalism for cosmic personalism. But they do not hold to this for long.
They adopt a strategy of deception. They use vast quantities of time—13.7 billion years since the Big Bang—to proclaim the vastness of the universe. They argue that man is a speck in this vast universe. This seems to relegate man to the fringes of significance. But then they insist that man alone has purposes. Purpose is an attribute of God. Man thereby becomes humanism’s god—a god by default. (I described this strategy in detail in Appendix A of my 2012 economic commentary on the Book of Genesis, Sovereignty and Dominion: “From Cosmic Purposelessness to Humanistic Sovereignty.” It was in the original edition, The Dominion Covenant: Genesis, 1982.)
Humanists have a supreme pedagogical problem. To gain disciples, they must conceal their worldview regarding the direction of history toward a cosmic grave. Man can maintain his purposes for only as long as the species exists. Modern cosmology insists that all species will die in a process called the heat death of the universe. This final state of existence is an implication of the second law of thermodynamics. Life will end sometime in the future. Even time will end. The vast purposelessness of a dead universe will engulf everything that mankind has dreamed of and built. Humanists do not discuss this in their textbooks and monographs. They rarely talk about it at all. But those few who think about cosmology believe it. They believe that cosmic purposelessness prevailed until about 2.5 million years ago: the advent of man. It will prevail again in the death of the universe. (See Chapter 10.)
At the heart of humanism is cosmic purposelessness. There is no permanent meaning. This worldview is the result of the humanists’ alternative to the New Testament’s doctrine of the lake of fire. It is no doubt comforting in comparison with the doctrine of the lake of fire if your covenantal commitment places you in the disinherited family of man, heading toward the lake of fire. Better the heat death of the universe than the eternal heat of the lake of fire. But, by affirming the heat death of the universe, the humanist destroys the concept of purpose. Humanism places cosmic purposelessness on the throne of cosmic sovereignty. Man is merely a temporary usurper.
Because humanists rarely write about this aspect of their doctrine of cosmic evolution, they have succeeded in maintaining the illusion of man as the only purposeful sovereign agent in the cosmos. They do not discuss the inescapable moral implications of their theory of impersonal origins and their theory of impersonal entropy. But the pessimism of their worldview is inescapable. They prefer not to think about it. They prefer not to teach their students about it. But this pessimism steadily undermines their temporary optimism. This creates a recruiting problem for them. People do not want to commit to a philosophy of life that announces their inevitable defeat in history and beyond the grave.