God Created Humanism: The Christian Basis of Secular Values

By Theo Hobson, SPCK, £16.99

Theo Hobson wants to get a couple of things straight about secular humanism. First, the creed of the modern West is mankind’s best hope. It surpasses frail, fallible benevolence with a desire for authentic universalism.

Second, secular humanism is paradoxical. It is post-religious, yet incoherent when separated from its roots, which, Hobson argues, are entirely Christian. Humanitarianism springs from “the story of a God taking the side, even the form, of the powerless victim.”

A large part of this passionate, intelligent, prickly book is devoted to digging up these roots and holding them up for inspection, especially for the benefit of those who would doubt, deny or decry them.

Hobson’s story takes in the Old Testament prophets; Christ himself, of course; the Church’s dogged insistence on the equality of souls; and much else. All of this would eventually breed a desire to see religious truth expressed in “lay rather than churchy forms”, the “mother of revolutions”, according to Charles Taylor.

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