Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

2/28/2012 (3 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 (3 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 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.


More Lent / Easter

Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Take our Lent quiz! See how much you know about the tradition of Lent! Take our Lent quiz, then challenge your friends. See how much you know about this special season in the Liturgical year. The quiz has just a few questions, but will certainly provide a quick ... continue reading

Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How familiar are you with the Stations of the Cross? Take the Catholic Online survey now to share your answers to our questions. Your responses will help us serve you better by tailoring content that suits your needs. The survey is short and should take just 1 minute ... continue reading

10 important things to consider during Lent Watch

Image of What are our options during Lent? (Shutterstock)


Every year we give something up for Lent. Sometimes picking what to give up is hard and other times we consider doing something extra to really immerse ourselves in what God has for us - but what are our options? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lent isn't just ... continue reading

5 little-known facts about Lent you need to learn this Ash Wednesday Watch

Image of Lent is more than just fasting (Rhoy Cobilla,


Everyone knows that Mardi Gras kicks off the upcoming 40-day Lent, which honors the time Jesus fasted in the wilderness, but did you know there is more to it? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Recently the Independent released their list of "5 things you might not ... continue reading

Ash Wednesday: 'Seek To Experience God's Presence Within' Watch

Image of

By F. K. Bartels

"You may ask me: 'But, does God exist? And if he exists does he really concern himself with us? Can we reach him?' It is, indeed, true that we cannot place God on the table, we cannot touch him or pick him up like an ordinary object. We must rediscover our capacity to ... continue reading

POPE'S MASS: Ash Wednesday (FULL TEXT: English) Watch

Image of

By Pope Francis, Libreria Editrice Vaticana

The unofficial English translation to Pope Francis' prepared homily for the 2016 Ash Wednesday Mass: The Word of God, the beginning of the Lenten journey, addressed to the Church and to each of us invitations.The first is that of St. Paul: " Be reconciled to God " ( ... continue reading

Pope Francis' special Ash Wednesday message for 'Keep Lent' initiative Watch

Image of


Pope Francis sent out his first audio message for "Keep Lent" over social media. 'Keep Lent' is an initiative of the Prelature of the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii's youth ministry office. According to the Vatican Radio, "The initiative begins on Ash ... continue reading

Fat Tuesday - Mardi Gras Meant to Be More than a Party Watch

Image of Some have tried to argue that this term meant that people should discard their moral faith commitments and for the night and just

By Fr. Randy Sly

One could call this celebration the last gasp of Ordinary time as the Church anticipates the penitential Season of the forty days of Lent. Rich foods are consumed as pilgrims prepare for times of fasting, abstinence, confession and penance. Ironically, carnival ... continue reading

Missing The Point of Easter Watch

Image of Alex Basile 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

The Happy Priest on Easter: He Has Truly Risen, We Are Free From Fear Watch

Image of

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

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

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Deuteronomy 30:15-20
15 'Look, today I am offering you life and prosperity, death and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and does not ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:22-25
22 He said, 'The Son of man is destined to suffer grievously, to be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 11th, 2016 Image

St. Paschal
February 11: Paschal was the son of Bonosus, a Roman. He ... Read More