Failures in human attempts

 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. Ps 94:11

 Ethic of humanism – what is good?

Greg M. Epstein attempts to answer to the question of good in good without God. He quotes the third humanist manifesto:1

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond.

By this definition, ethical values come from needs and interests. Good is then in receiving, regardless of the way.

Another one to draw attention to this topic of discussion is A. C. Grayling. He seeks to address the question in What is Good? In this book Grayling comes to a conclusion which is on the same lines. Good is in every desired fulfilment in life.2

The humanist stand is further confirmed by Kai Nielsen, professor emeritus of Calgary university. Ethics without God is another attempt at understanding good. He gives the following definition:3

What is good is determined by what answers to human interests, what satisfies human needs, and what furthers human self-realization.

What is mentioned above does offer enough evidence to come to a conclusion. Humanistic "good" is in receiving something of interest. That is a great failure of understanding real Good. Every action and every instant can be characterized as involving someone’s interest in one way or another. Therefore, these definitions make everything good, and fail to see that there might be such a thing as evil. Thereby intermixing the two.

In fact, humanism has this way turned the whole concept of good around, claiming that good is that which you can get for yourself.


1 Epstein, Greg M. good without God. New York: Harper, 2009, 34.

2 Grayling, A. C. What is Good? London: Phoenix, 2003, 249.

3 Nielsen, Kai. Ethics without God. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1990, 206.