Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

2/28/2012 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (

In the Face of Secularism, What is needed is a Defense of the ancient yet ever new faith which sets people and Nations free

The Obama administration's unconstitutional mandate regarding birth control coverage reminds us that we live in the age of secular humanism, when many people no longer believe religious faith is reasonable or important. Yet, it appears that secular humanism is littered with logical inconsistencies and not truly humanitarian. Nor does it offer valid reasons for the rejection of Christianity.

Defending the faith

Defending the faith


By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (

2/28/2012 (4 years ago)

Published in Lent / Easter

Keywords: Faith, Lent, Christianity, Secular humanism, Anti-Christian, HHS, Birth control, Michael Terheyden

KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - The Obama administration's unconstitutional mandate regarding birth control coverage reminds us that we live in the age of secular humanism, when many people no longer believe religious faith is reasonable or important.

The message this administration sends to Christians is that our faith is bad for modern society, and we will no longer be allowed to live according to our beliefs in this nation. Therefore, as we prepare to enter into the deepest mysteries of our faith this Lenten season, perhaps it would be helpful if we compare the reasonableness of our faith with secular humanism. The renowned Catholic theologian Germain Grisez provides us with excellent information on this subject in Volume 2 of his book, Living A Christian Life. This article was inspired by the excerpts in the section on faith which focus on secular humanism's claim that Christianity is not rational, scientific or tolerant. But before I proceed, I want to be clear about how I use the term "secular humanism." When we hear the word "secular," we usually think of something that does not pertain to religion or is neutral toward religion. When we hear the word "humanism," we might think of concern for the needs and welfare of people or compassion for their suffering. However, "secular humanism" is not the sum of these two words. It has a different meaning: It is a nonreligious world view, a belief system, an ideology. The values of this ideology seem largely influenced by atheism, materialism, pragmatism, relativism, and subjectivism. Marxism, communism and socialism are expressions of a secular humanistic ideology. So are modern Western liberalism and the secular state. This helps explain why Western secular governments are seen as particularly anti-Christian. This basically describes how I use the term "secular humanism," although I will use the term "secularism" for the sake of brevity. Now we can proceed with the subject matter inspired by Grisez. Secularism has married itself to a materialistic world view, yet our very nature reaches beyond the material universe in search of God; but not just any God, the Christian God. It seems the only real solution to the human condition is a God of infinite love and mercy who would become one of us, die for us, and raise us up to a life of supernatural love in this world and in eternity. This is the Christian God. But secularists claim that it is irrational to believe in that which is "neither obvious nor shown to be true" (23). However, Grisez points out that our faith is not irrational. God can reasonably be shown to exist, and even if we cannot understand the great mysteries of our faith, we can see that they logically flow from God's attributes. For instance, although we cannot understand or prove the existence of the Trinity, we can logically see that an all-powerful, infinitely perfect intellect and will could be triune. Secularists try to debunk such reasoning by claiming that science offers the only legitimate knowledge of reality. But Grisez tells us that all such claims are self-defeating since they cannot be established by any science. Faith and science do not deal with the same subject matter. They ask different questions. Consequently, their answers do not conflict with each other; they compliment each other. Grisez says, "It is a sign of harmony between faith and science that some able scientists are devout believers" (24). Another argument used against Christianity concerns religious wars. Christianity is not a pacifist religion. Sometimes, the right and loving thing to do is to defend oneself, one's family, or one's country. The Church spells out conditions for legitimate defense in paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, when viewed within a historical context, it seems Christians have generally held to a much higher standard than the norm. It also seems that most of the condemnation against Christians is based on distorted information. However, Christians have given great scandal at times, even waged unjust wars. This was terribly wrong. Having said that, let us be clear. It is not Christians who have waged the bloodiest, most devastating wars in human history. That disgrace belongs to the devotees of atheistic, materialistic, relativistic, and pragmatic philosophies, and their children: Nazism, fascism, Marxism, and communism. Today's most immediate threats to peace are radical secular humanism and radical Islamism. Christianity is not the problem in the world; it is the world's hope. Secularists also claim that Christians are intolerant because they "affirm dogmas and hold objective moral norms rather than acquiescing in religious indifferentism and moral subjectivism" (28). But Grisez reminds us that "every world view and way of life logically excludes alternatives" (28). Relativists and subjectivists also "reject every position incompatible with their own" (28). He says, "true tolerance is not indifferentism and subjectivism, but respect for those who hold another world view and way of life" (28). Grisez also says that secularists "constantly talk about civility and moderation, but they are not immune from intolerance and fanaticism. Indeed, they are especially tempted to be arbitrary and self-righteous, precisely because they do not acknowledge a higher reality" (29) or an objective moral standard to which all reasonable people must submit. And since they are "unable to call on their opponents to submit to [objective] principles. . . , relativists and subjectivists inevitably will be tempted to use nonrational methods--manipulation and even suppression--in order to prevail" (29). For Grisez, then, secularism leads to moral irresponsibility. He says it often results in lying, manipulative behavior, brutal competition, and exploitation of the weak by the strong. Neither does it respect the dignity of human persons or believe that people are endowed with inalienable rights. Given Grisez's analysis, we might wonder if the real reason secularists reject Christianity is because they simply refuse to "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1:15). Thus, it appears that secularism is littered with logical inconsistencies and not truly humanitarian. Nor does it offer valid reasons for the rejection of Christianity. So let us not be confused by secularists' irrational talk or cowered by their aggression. Devout Christians are the hope of America and the world! But before we can transform either, we must allow the Holy Spirit to purify us and transform us into the likeness of Jesus. May we have a fruitful and grace-filled Lent.
----- Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for SEPTEMBER 2016
Centrality of the Human Person: That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.
Evangelization: Mission to Evangelize: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.


More Lent / Easter

Did you know the Catholic Church has a birthday? Watch

Image of Pentecost is widely considered the birthday of the Catholic Church.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Happy birthday to the Catholic Church! Happy birthday to you, who are the body of the Church! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We're all familiar with our own birthdays, and we celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. ... continue reading

8 thought-provoking Easter quotes to inspire Watch

Image of Easter is more than eggs and bunnies.


We all love to celebrate Easter with brightly colored hard boiled eggs, candy, cute pictures of bunnies and chicks and we all love to gather together to party! Regardless of how you celebrate Easter, don't forget the real reason for the holiday. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

The surprising origins of the Easter Bunny -- it's not what you think! Watch

Image of Rejoice! The beloved Easter Bunny has very Christian origins.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Easter that is popular in western culture, especially with children. According to folklore, the Easter Bunny hides Easter eggs for children to find on Easter morning. However, the association between a rabbit and the resurrection of ... continue reading

'The Easter message of the risen Christ': Listen to Pope Francis' Easter Mass Watch

Image of Pope Francis celebrated the Easter Mass and focused on Christ and refugees (Reuters).


On Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, Pope Francis stood before pilgrims gathered at St. Peter's Square for the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, the pontiff stood before the packed square to speak of Jesus ... continue reading

Missing The Point of Easter Watch

Image of Alex Basile [not pictured] is the Religion Department chair at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, NY. He has written nine books for Saint Pauls/Alba House.

By Alex Basile

Author Alex Basile reflects of the true meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and how many Christians overlook the real joy of Easter. In the haziness of the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene made her way to tomb of her friend and teacher. Fighting back tears and ... continue reading

He Has Truly Risen, We Are Free From Fear Watch

Image of The Tomb is empty!

By Fr. James Farfaglia

With the resurrection of Jesus, the physical is exalted.  When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled ... continue reading

HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

Image of The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all ... continue reading

Holy Saturday: 'Make Sure He's Dead' Watch

Image of God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear

By Fr. Randy Sly

Just as the Chief Priests and Pharisees gathered with Pilate to plan on keeping the tomb sealed and guarded with Christ inside, many today want to place a stone in the entrance of the Church, to keep him inside again. On Holy Saturday we remember that no matter how ... continue reading

Good Friday Reflection on the Logic of the Cross Watch

Image of Benedict says,

By Michael Terheyden

Pope Francis said something during his first general audience that inspired me to reflect on the suffering Jesus endured during his Passion for the sake of our redemption. He said, "Living Holy Week means increasingly entering into God's logic, the logic of the Cross. ... continue reading

Good Friday: The Church Born From the Wounded Side of Christ Pauses at the Cross Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty, he sends a spring of living water from the wound, which the spear opened in His Side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His Bride. ... continue reading

All Lent / Easter News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
12 for the Lord is a judge who is utterly impartial.13 He ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23
2 I will praise Yahweh from my heart; let the humble hear and ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 18:9-14
9 He spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on ... Read More

Reading 2, Second Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
6 As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 23rd, 2016 Image

St. John of Capistrano
October 23: St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, ... Read More