“Mind Siege” a Secular Humanist Review

Mind Siege is at the root a political book. It creates a bogey man (Humanism) and tries to scare the reader. The timing of the book (in 2000, an election year) and some nasty words about the just past administration of former President Clinton, make the intention clear.

cover of the book Mind Siege by Tim LaHaye and David Noebel
Mind Siege by Tim LaHaye and David Noebel (2000)

Mind Siege is a book by Tim LaHaye and David Noebel which was published in 2000. It claims to be an update of LaHaye’s Battle for the Mind(1980) that sparked, according to him, the rise of the Evangelical Christian movement we had to deal with in the 1980s to the present. I had the chance to read the book when I found out a co-worker had bought it and was reading it at work. He thought I was interested in the topic so he let me borrow it. It is an attack on Secular Humanism. While LaHaye and Noebel get some of the names and dates correct, they come to some wild and false conclusions about Humanism. In the end, Mind Siege is a political book in a religious disguise and its anti-American call to action should scare the crap out of any citizen who supports liberty and democracy.

“Unless the 80 million evangelical Christians in our nation wake up to whom the enemy really is, humanists will soon accomplish their goal of world domination” – p. 35

Tim LaHaye is a leader in the Christians Evangelical movement and is the author of the Left Behind fiction series about the “end times” of Bible prophesies. He also helped found the Institute of Creation Research. He has never been a friend of Humanism.

David Noebel is the founder and head of Summit Ministries and has written many books about the conflict between Christianity and Atheism/Humanism/Marxism/New Age.

They describe the history of Humanism and the leaders of the Humanist movement including naming many of them like Corliss Lamont, Paul Kurtz, and even Ted Turner.

What they then do is attempt to connect Humanism with Communism, the fall of morals, globalism, and control of all the media, the government, and the schools. It is kind of like a huge logic fallacy. ex. Red equals blue and one plus one equals four.

The call to action is for evangelicals to rise up and stop Humanism from taking over the world. Through most of the book, they offer scripture as proof of their argument.

The book is set up into 5 parts starting with the conflict and ending with a call to arms.

Part One: The Conflict

LaHaye and Noebel (shortened in this article to “L & N”) describe the parts of the mind as the intellect, emotion, and the will. They explain that what you absorb into your mind affects your actions. They make the claim that “How you think will determine the way you live.” and that it is a myth that feelings are spontaneous. They conclude that if one “surrenders control of his life (the will) to God, he will enjoy a life of fulfillment and oneness with both God and his fellow man”.

L & N say that man can never know good and evil without God. For proof they offer Acts 17:16-34 where Paul showed the Greeks that man’s wisdom was inherently wrong. This bit foreshadows one of their arguments against Humanism.

They then list what they call Secular Humanist Buzzwords. What they seem to be saying is that when Humanists say these words we don’t mean what they think the words mean. Among the list is “living Constitution”, “participatory democracy”, “power to the people”, and “tolerance”. Those words are what makes are country the free space that it is, and here are Christians complaining about those words. It sent a chill down my spine.

Next is a list of life’s questions that I admit people do ask. These questions include “Why are we here?” and “What is the solution?”. L & N state that there are no answers among men, then they go into the usual argument that since God is the cause of everything, that only God can provide the answers.. blah blah blah….

Next comes the usual complaints about “moral relativism” which L & N claims Secular Humanism follows. They define relativism as the belief that there are no moral absolutes. There follows a list of actions that L & N claims Humanists can’t do because of their relativism. The list includes such statements that Relativists can’t accuse others of wrong doing or can’t place blame or accept praise. They offer no proof that their list is true or even that Humanists are relativists as they define it.

L & N then explain that morals come from God, that Biblical morals come from 6 of the 10 commandments and then they make their first claim about Government. “Government should be responsible to maintain a legal climate conducive to this kind [Biblical] of moral behavior.”

They attempt to explain that as “servants of God” Christians have always been the great humanitarians of the world and they have a two fold compassionate world view which includes the Temporal, as ambassadors of Christ, and the Eternal, the eternal life in Heaven.

In Chapter 3, L & N talk about the Wisdom of Man as supported by Secular Humanists. They call Humanism the world’s oldest religion that started with the serpent in the Garden of Eden tempting Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. I would like to point out that in the story of Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit is Knowledge. Of course such a statement is the standard for religious conservatives. They are constantly anti-intellectual, anti-science, and anti-reason.

L & N claim about Humanism being the serpent is telling and also foreshadows another one of their arguments against Humanism, that Humanism is a religion.

L & N claim that Humanism has 5 basic tenets: Atheism, Evolution, Amorality, Autonomous Man and Globalism. They also name some of the leaders of the Humanist “religion” based on the positions of a baseball team.

“Pitching is John Dewey, catching is Isaac Asimov, first base is Paul Kurtz, second base is Corliss Lamont, third base is Bertrand Russell, shortstop is Julian Huxley, left fielder is Richard Dawkins, center fielder is Margaret Sanger, right fielder is Carl Rogers, the manager is ‘Christianity is for Losers’ Ted Turner, and the designated hitter is Mary Calderone…” – p. 70

They then list just about every liberal and other organizations that conflict with Evangelical ideals like the American Humanist Association, US Department of State, and the United Nations and several elite colleges such as Harvard and Yale, University of Minnesota, and UC Berkeley.

Next comes some basic arguments of the 5 tenets. None of the arguments are new so I won’t go into details. What they do differently is quote extensively from current and past Humanists like Lamont, Kurtz, and Russell to prove Humanism follows the 5 tenets they listed and they offer some basic rebuttals. The more detailed “proof” is held for later chapters.

Toward the end of Chapter 3, L & N makes the charge that Humanists are unamerican because they claim we are for a one world government, that Humanists should be kept from government jobs, and that high taxes will fund our take over:

“No humanist is qualified to hold any governmental office in America – United States senator, congressman, cabinet member, State Department employee, Department of Defense employee, or any other position that requires him to think in the best interest of America. He is a socialist one-worlder first, an American second. . . We forget so soon that every tax increase is a move toward bigger government and more humanist trained bureaucrats dedicated to dragging us, kicking and screaming, into a New World Order.” – p. 86

L & N then make their next big argument, that Humanists have taken over everything and as Christians they need to rise up and take back America.

Part Two: The Situation

Chapter 4 starts another line of the old Evangelical argument, that the US is a Christian nation founded on the principles of the Bible and that it should be ruled by Biblical law.

L & N claim that Christianity and Liberty are intertwined and offer as proof that of the 250 founding fathers (p. 95) 95% were Christians. The Founding Fathers were also graduates of the elite colleges like Harvard and Yale which were founded and run by Christians. L & N claims that the schools purposes were to spread Christianity by instilling it into its graduates.

They then make the usual legal opinion argument by mentioning 1892 Supreme Court decision calling America a Christian nation, comments from a Justice in a 1931 case that we are a Christian people, and a comment from William O. Douglas in 1952 that said ‘we are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.’ They don’t give any legal citations so one could look them up.

L & N even reach by claiming our checks and balances form of government comes from the Bible as noted in Isaiah 33:22. They also make the claim that:

“Today’s secularists ridicule the Puritan’s God, Bible, work ethic, free enterprise, private ownership of land, and capitalism – even though these concepts, which emanated from Biblical teaching, have produced the greatest good for the largest number of people in history.” – p.100

Worshiping in private and keeping the money changers out of the church is also in the Bible and that doesn’t stop religious conservatives like L & N from their nice homes and trying to force their religion on everyone.

I think that L & N’s interpretation is colored by the tradition we now enjoy and it makes their argument pretty weak. I am also sure that other Biblical scholars would disagree with their conclusion.

The last part of Chapter 4 explains that our educational system was Bible based and was never intended to be godless without offering any evidence. They just make statements about it.

Chapter 5, Secularizing America, lays out the charges against Humanists although now L & N change to the term to secularist in an effort to paint everyone who doesn’t agree with the Evangelical position with a broad brush. This change is deliberate in order to mislead the reader and seriously collapses their entire argument.

A secularist is not necessarily a secular humanist and vise versa. A believer can be a secularist especially when it comes to the relationship between church and state.

L & N complain about the media and how almost every major magazine, newspaper, television network, secular book publisher, and movie producer surround themselves with editors or newscasters who seldom permit anything to be presented that contradicts their viewpoint (p. 105).

They fail to note that every analysis of the news media has shown that conservative viewpoints get more print and air time than opposite view points. Talk radio is dominated by conservative hosts complaining about all things liberal and those topics also include religion and the views expressed on those shows are overwhelming pro-religion.

They then list the usual ‘Bad Cultural Indicators’ like the abortion rate and crime and they attempt to link it to Humanism and secularists. They claim that when prayer was in the schools and Christians controlled the media back in the “good old days”, those bad cultural indicators didn’t exist. Many sociologists and historians dispute those kind of claims.

Next they talk about the roots of humanism which they said came from the dead philosophy of the Greeks. They claim the dead Greek philosophy had been replaced by the Christian philosophy insinuating that the Christian philosophy is better.

Then they mention the influence of the French skeptics like Voltaire and Rousseau and how Humanism permeated the European educational system.

“The colleges and universities of Europe, supported by taxes seized from the working man, became the ideal source of transmission for ‘enlightened’ humanism. Universal education was unknown and thus only bright young people, the sons of politicians or the rich, could gain a higher education.” – p. 111

L & N fail to note that Harvard and Yale, schools they lauded earlier in the book were also only open to the elite of America like children of the politicians and the rich.

L & N then mention the major thorn of current Evangelical complaints – our education system. They point the finger at state supported schools, professors who went to Europe and brought back Humanism, and removing religion from the schools. They also claim that the US Department of Education is full of Humanists. Of course they offer no proof of those claims.

Part Three: The Truth

L & N open Chapter 6, The Humanist Bible, by talking about the Humanist Manifestoes. They claim that the Manifestoes represent the official position of Humanism. One of the biggest debates in current Humanist circles is signing onto any of the Manifestoes. They are not an official position on anything. L & N make the mistake of claiming that Humanism follows the standard model of religion with a hierarchy and official texts that we must follow. There is no such thing in the Humanist movement although some have tried. Trying to get Humanists to agree on more than core principles is like herding cats. Humanism is a self selected philosophy.

L & N note that Paul Kurtz was more careful in Humanist Manifesto 2000 then his predecessors in using term ‘scientific naturalism’ instead of the word Atheism but that Christians shouldn’t be fooled because the word means the same thing as Atheism. L & N make an obvious goof because Kurtz also co-wrote Manifesto II in 1973.

Chapter 7 is devoted to offering “proofs” that Humanism is unscientific.

“Ironically, humanism is completely unscientific. As we shall see, not one humanist doctrine stands up to scientific investigation. It is all a zealously defended fraud, funded by US Taxpayers.” – p.135

I’m glad they set us all straight on that. Humanism supports science as a rational way to explain our world. Humanism is a philosophy. Philosophy generally isn’t scientifically investigated like we do to find new medicines or predicting hurricanes. Basically their statement means nothing.

Besides Christianity is completely unscientific too.

L & N then attempt to disprove the 5 tenets of Humanism they made up earlier in one huge strawman argument.

For Atheism they bring up the Designer argument, for evolution they mention that evolution is based on faith not hard scientific evidence, for amorality L & N say that Humans are not animals and that sex is bad, for autonomous man they claim we believe that man is basically good and link that to Communism of the old USSR, and they mention the USSR again to refute Globalism.

None of their “proofs” are proofs at all but political statements. Their arguments are the ones that are not scientific and based on a definition of Humanism they themselves made up.

Chapter 8 lays out the “Humanism is a Religion” argument. L & N use our words against us as they offer quote after quote from Religious Humanists claiming Humanism is a religion and they use quotes from Humanist Manifesto I from 1933.

Next they mention the footnote in the 1961 Torasco v. Watkins US Supreme Court decision that mentioned Humanism as being religious. Of course they don’t mention that it is in fact a footnote and holds no legal weight.

L & N then include this quote from the Texas Tech Law Review:

“The Seeger decision defined religion as all sincere beliefs based upon which all else is ultimately dependent.”

And they offered a definition of religion, attributed to Thomas Jefferson, that included “all believers or unbelievers of the Bible.”

L & N define religion so broadly that any deeply held belief is a religion but that fits into the next chapter.

Chapter 9, “Humanists Control America”, details all the areas and groups controlled by Humanists.

L & N claim that Humanists founded the NAACP and we founded the UN to exclude God and support our agenda of Globalism.

They detail that the ACLU was founded by Humanists and that it is:

“The most effective humanist organization for destroying the laws, morals, and traditional rights of Americans . . .” – p. 187

And they claim the ACLU is a socialist front.

Humanists did help in the founding of the NAACP and the ACLU, however it was in concert with other people, including Jews and Christians, who had the same concerns that are addressed by those groups.

The United Nations was formed by the major nations in 1945 in the hopes that diplomacy would replace war as a way of settling differences. L & N’s statement about the UN excluding God is a cheap shot against those who see religion as divisive and not important for diplomacy. While God isn’t a priority in the UN, many member countries have state established religions and the Vatican has official observer status – much to the dislike of Humanists like me since they have worked to subvert any effort at population control or efforts to support the rights of women.

L & N’s statement about the UN is just false.

Next they mention the AHA and The Council for Secular Humanism (CSH). L & N attribute the founding of the Friends of Religious Humanism (FRH) to CSH when in fact it is a division of the AHA. They also claim that FRH is an outreach to Protestant ministers and that the National Council of Churches (NCC) is a communist front organization. The NCC is not even affiliated with the AHA or CSH.

L & N then say:

“These organizations and scores like them . . . exert a profound influence on education, government, and the media.” – p. 191

Don’t I wish. Any check of Humanist sources would prove we don’t have as much influence as a group as the Evangelicals would like for their bogeyman argument. 90% of the US say they believe in God. To believe L & N’s argument one would have to believe that 10% of the people control everything. That is just false logic.

Chapter 10, “The Big Lie”, details the old arguments against the separation of church and state, how the 1st Amendment was never intended to keep religion out of the government but to keep the government from establishing a national church.

“Our forefathers never intended government to be isolated from God or the recognition of His existence. Yet with a false interpretation or separation, the humanists have rendered our government almost as secular as Communist China and the former Soviet Union.” – p. 201

There is a simple answer to this charge. If what L & N said was true, then God would be written in the Constitution. Instead we get no mention of God and a couple of rules prohibiting the government from becoming entangled with religion. The Founders knew that for religion to flourish in a democracy, it needed to be separate from the government and the government separate from religion. L & N are doing the false interpretation of the Founder’s intent.

Part Four: The Challenge

The last five chapters detail the call to action that L & N believe will save us from the Humanist menace.

Besides the obvious action of praying and spreading the Christian message, L & N also offer some chilling actions they would like to see: the outlaw of abortion, censorship of the media and the arts, school vouchers, removing women and gays from the military, return of religion to the schools, creationism should be taught in science class, adding an amendment to the constitution recognizing we are one nation under God, abolishing the Department of Education, choosing judges that uphold the law and who don’t impose Secular Humanism, a Supreme Court that would interpret the law as the founding fathers intended, that Christians and other morally upright citizens would be represented in our government in proportion to their actual numbers in the general population, returning more power to the states, stopping the rewriting of history and instead let the “facts” speak for themselves, an end to the drug culture, and teaching children the role and importance of Christians in the founding of this country. (p. 242 – 243)

I had to take a shower after slogging through their ideal world.

My Conclusion:

Mind Siege is at the root a political book. It creates a bogey man (Humanism) and tries to scare the reader. The timing of the book (in 2000, an election year) and some nasty words about the just past administration of former President Clinton, make the intention clear.

It got some of the players and history of Humanism correct but came to some wild conclusions about what Humanists believe, how Humanists believe, and the amount of influence Humanists in fact have.

The Humanism detailed in the book is not the Humanism I know. L & N paint any and all liberal ideas and groups as Secular Humanism and makes some tired arguments that have been refuted each time.

I will say that Tim LaHaye is good at fiction and Mind Siege is good fiction.

Originally written in April 12, 2001 and revised on September 9, 2005 to fix some old spelling and grammar issues and to add some comments to the text that were missing when published the first time.

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