To illustrate how this ideological worldview requires more faith than most religions, we will begin with the preamble of the Secular Humanist Manifesto. Strait off it declares that, “Humanism is an ethical, scientific, and philosophical outlook that has changed the world.” It is true that it, or at least the movement overall, has changed the world in a number of respects, but what is not true is that it is scientific.
For as opposed to the adherence to scientific rationalism that is the focus of the modernism that defined the core European Enlightenment, secular humanism derives from the postmodernist conception that humankind has gone beyond or risen above modernism; as humankind has, or at least soon will have, the intelligence and technological aptitude that allows any rules defined by scientific determinations to be altered or transcended—thus effectively nullifying any rules of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, or economics that could be perceived as constraining of human societal preferences. This position is exemplified by the claim in Part V of the Secular Humanist Manifesto (see previous post) that there is “no impenetrable law between fact and value.”
It is thus this claim that allows the justification for a pursuit of a new “Planetary Humanism—one that seeks to preserve human rights and enhance human freedom and dignity, but also emphasizes our commitment to humanity as a whole.” No scientific basis for this pursuit is expressed, and for good reason; for the evolutionary reality that secular humanists like Dawkins tend to maintain loyalty to does not allow for the planetary altruism that this model advocates in practice.
No Past in Altruism
Indeed, in Dawkins’ own groundbreaking work, The Selfish Gene, he describes how all genes within all species are specifically attuned to tending to their own perpetuation, without exception—as a result of natural selection. In other words, there are no exceptions to be found because any other life-defining information-transfer systems that have ever existed through the ages have been driven to extinction. In short, the two positions proposed here simply are not compatible, with “selfishness,” or more precisely the pursuit of self-interest, amounting to a biological imperative, or law, while altruism stands as diametrically opposed to it. At the same time, it is important not to confuse and/or conflate “altruism” that has been strongly selected against with “cooperation” that has been strongly selected for in the evolutionary realm.