One day I observed two toddlers, girl cousins both beloved only children of their parents and well doted on by grandpas and grandmas. On this occasion Grandpa was sitting on a chair and the one girl had climbed up on his knee. Along came the other, also wanting to sit on Grandpa’s knee. Obviously jealous, she gave the first one a few good pushes to shove her off. Grandpa quickly solved the problem by holding one on each knee, and the two girls were happy.
I had to smile as I thought of the lofty ideals of humanism. The Bible is wrong, this teaching contends; there is no such thing as a “sinful, selfish heart.” Infants start out pure. Raising well-behaved children to be good citizens is like baking cakes: if you put all the right ingredients in, you’ll always have a successful result. If people have all the right examples put in, they will automatically behave with kindness, patience, self-discipline, etc. (“Children Learn as They Live,” etc.)
It then follows that if everyone were raised right and taught right, you wouldn’t need any laws because people would automatically do the right thing. Love would rule. A child never would push her rival off Grandpa’s lap.
As in baking, if you have a flop it’s your fault. If the raw ingredients are completely pure, a lack of success must be the fault of whoever did the mixing. This girl who tried to push her cousin off Grandpa’s knee must have been taught jealousy by her parents. Siblings at home getting more attention, etc. (None of which was the case here.)
Humanism so easily boils down to an “It’s never my fault” mentality. If my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc,. had always showed a good example, I’d have no choice; I’d be perfect now. If I rob a bank because I need money to pay my debts, it’s because my forebears didn’t teach me properly. Or Society has failed me by not providing me with legitimate opportunities of earning money. (Thank you Clarence Darrow, for so eloquently expounding on this in the courtroom.)
Yes, there is a lot of merit in good example coupled with loving discipline. But I’ve seen some self-centered rebels come out of homes where parents tried hard to put in only the best examples. Maybe several of their children turned out well and have led successful lives and one was a renegade. (And this one may excuse himself with, “It wasn’t my fault; I got in with a bad crowd and they led me astray.”) I’ve also seen some remarkable individuals come out of the very poorest homes. I’ve seen some poor finished products miraculously transformed after baking.
Throughout my lifetime I’ve seen enough examples turn the theory of humanism on its head. Perhaps this is why it’s so popular amongst younger folks; once you get older you must be pretty determined to still believe it in the face of all the evidence you’ve seen to the contrary.
Here’s a post from “Antiquarian Anabaptist” that has more to say on the subject of why we need laws to govern our behaviour — because human nature isn’t as self-sacrificing as some folks would wish it to be: