FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 124 Will Provine, Killer of the myth of Optimistic Humanism Part B (Featured artist is JUDITH GODWIN )

Last week I started this series of posts dealing with Will Provine who Francis Schaeffer cited in his book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? I noted:

I was sad to learn of Dr. Provine’s death. William Ball “Will” Provine (February 19, 1942 – September 1, 2015) He grew up an evangelical in Tennessee which is the state that I grew up in, but when confronted by evolution he gave up his former beliefs in the Bible and embraced his new secular worldview. I was introduced to his work by the book WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop in 1979. I contacted Dr. Provine twice and one time I included a link to this post below that I did on him on June 12, 2014.

Dr Provine is a very honest believer in Darwinism. He rightly draws the right conclusions about the implications of Darwinism. I have attacked optimistic humanism many times in the past and it seems that he has confirmed all I have said about it.


This week I explore further the weakness of OPTIMISTIC HUMANISM!!!

Remembering William Provine (1942–2015)

William B. Provine, HSS 2008.jpg

William B. Provine, HSS 2008/Ragesoss

Further to the recent announcement of philosopher of biology Will Provine’spassinghere were many fields to which he contributed.

With a colleague, he did a most interesting study of evolutionary biologists, 78%of whom he described as pure naturalist atheists like himself.

Some of his many reflections on the true meaning of the Darwinism he espoused:

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either. (Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy April 30 1994)

Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent. “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life” (1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address)

As the creationists claim, belief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism. No Free Will (1999) p.123

In a world where many consider it their duty to lie for Jesus about Darwin, he was a refreshing voice for honesty. The ID theorists respected him for that. Though he didn’t believe in free will himself, he gave others the opportunity to make fact-based choices about what to believe about the world of life.

Some may remember his debates with Phillip E. Johnson in 1994:

Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy (1 of 11)


Uploaded on May 23, 2008

A debate between William B. Provine and Phillip E. Johnson at Stanford University, April 30, 1994

Study Guide:…


Readers may wish to contribute their own memorabilia below.

(Visited 453 times, 1 visits today)

Very sad. Of we didn’t agree with Provine, but at least he was honest and logical about Darwinism and its implications. I respected him a lot from the fragments that I understood of him.


Let me jump on this last comment above:  “Of we didn’t agree with Provine, but at least he was honest and logical about Darwinism and its implications.”

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF DARWINISM AND IS THERE SUCH A THING AS “OPTIMISTIC HUMANISM?” One such scholar who believes in OPTIMISTIC HUMANISM is Stuart Kauffman who I have correspond with before.


Wikipedia noted about Kauffman:

Stuart Alan Kauffman (born September 28, 1939) is an American theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher who studies the origin of life on Earth.

In 1971, Kauffman proposed the self-organized emergence of collectively autocatalytic sets of polymers, specifically peptides, for the origin of molecular reproduction.[1][2] Reproducing peptide, DNA, and RNA collectively autocatalytic sets have now been made experimentally.[3][4] He is best known for arguing that the complexity of biological systems and organisms might result as much from self-organization and far-from-equilibrium dynamics as from Darwinian natural selection, as well as for applying models of Boolean networks to simplified genetic circuits. His hypotheses stating that cell types are attractors of such networks, and that genetic regulatory networks are “critical”, have found experimental support.[5][6]

Kauffman graduated from Dartmouth in 1960, was awarded the BA (Hons) by Oxford University (where he was a Marshall Scholar) in 1963, and completed a medical degree (M.D.) at the University of California, San Francisco in 1968. After completing his residency in Emergency Medicine, he moved into developmental genetics of the fruitfly, holding appointments first at the University of Chicago, then at the University of Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1995, where he rose to Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Kauffman held a MacArthur Fellowship, 1987–1992.

Kauffman rose to prominence through his association with the Santa Fe Institute (a non-profit research institute dedicated to the study of complex systems), where he was faculty in residence from 1986 to 1997, and through his work on models in various areas of biology. These included autocatalytic sets in origin of life research, gene regulatory networks in developmental biology, and fitness landscapes in evolutionary biology. Kauffman holds the founding broad biotechnology patents in combinatorial chemistry and applied molecular evolution.[7]

In today’s post I will be responding to the following quote by Dr. Kauffman:

“The response of this particular group to religious fundamentalism is to say “Look religion is really stupid!” I want to say it is too strong. I want to say we have to be careful. It can be too divisive. We need to be building bridges, not defending our own tribal turf. None of us believes in God, but we still have to create a spiritual space, a value space that can stretch across the globe and I hope we will reach out and try to do that.”

This is in my view what I call OPTIMISTIC HUMANISM  at work.Professor Kauffman says, “None of us believes in God, but we still have to create a spiritual space, a value space that can stretch across the globe…” Kauffman wants to try and put a positive spiritual spin on his secular humanist views.  Kaufffman like all others across the world still have a longing in their heart to have a relationship with God. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (Amplified Bible) puts it this way:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Skeptics discount this but yet Kauffman realizes that many out there experience these feelings that tell them that God exists and that God wants to have a relationship with them. HOWEVER, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR HOPE FOR THE SECULAR HUMANIST THAT DOESN’T BELIEVE IN AN AFTERLIFE. NEVERTHELESS KAUFFMAN USES TERMS SUCH AS VALUES AND SPIRITUAL SPACE EVEN THOUGH HE HAS NO BASIS FOR THOSE THINGS IN A SECULAR WORLDVIEW.


Charles Darwin also tried to put a positive spin on his evolutionary views.  Darwin wrote, “Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is…” 

Francis Schaeffer commented:

Now you have now the birth of Julian Huxley’s evolutionary optimistic humanism already stated by Darwin. Darwin now has a theory that man is going to be better. If you had lived at 1860 or 1890 and you said to Darwin, “By 1970 will man be better?” He certainly would have the hope that man would be better as Julian Huxley does today. Of course, I wonder what he would say if he lived in our day and saw what has been made of his own views in the direction of (the mass murder) Richard Speck (and deterministic thinking of today’s philosophers). I wonder what he would say. So you have the factor, already the dilemma in Darwin that I pointed out in Julian Huxley and that is evolutionary optimistic humanism rests always on tomorrow. You never have an argument from the present or the past for evolutionary optimistic humanism.

You can have evolutionary nihilism on the basis of the present and the past. Every time you have someone bringing in evolutionary optimistic humanism it is always based on what is going to be produced tomorrow. When is it coming? The years pass and is it coming? Arthur Koestler doesn’t think it is coming. He sees lots of problems here and puts forth for another solution.

Darwin wrote, “…it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful…”

Francis Schaeffer commented:

Here you feel Marcel Proust and the dust of death is on everything today because the dust of death is on everything tomorrow. Here you have the dilemma of Nevil Shute’s ON THE BEACH. If it is true that all we have left is biological continuity and biological complexity, which is all we have left in Darwinism here, or in many of the modern philosophies, then you can’t stand Shute’s ON THE BEACH. Maybe tomorrow at noon human life may be wiped out. Darwin already feels the tension, because if human life is going to be wiped out tomorrow, what is it worth today? Darwin can’t stand the thought of death of all men. Charlie Chaplin when he heard there was no life on Mars said, “I’m lonely.”

You think of the Swedish Opera (ANIARA) that is pictured inside a spaceship. There was a group of men and women going into outer space and they had come to another planet and the singing inside the spaceship was normal opera music. Suddenly there was a big explosion and the world had blown up and these were the last people left, the only conscious people left, and the last scene is the spaceship is off course and it will never land, but will just sail out into outer space. They say when it was shown in Stockholm the first time, the tough Swedes with all their modern  mannishness, came out (after the opera was over) with hardly a word said, just complete silence.

Darwin already with his own position says he CAN’T STAND IT!! You can say, “Why can’t you stand it?” We would say to Darwin, “You were not made for this kind of thing. Man was made in the image of God. Your CAN’T- STAND- IT- NESS is screaming at you that your position is wrong. Why can’t you listen to yourself?”

You find all he is left here is biological continuity, and thus his feeling as well as his reason now is against his own theory, yet he holds it against the conclusions of his reason. Reason doesn’t make it hard to be a Christian. Darwin shows us the other way. He is holding his position against his reason.


Dr. Kauffman reminds me of the humanist Professor Louis Levy from Woody Allen’s film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. Levy tries to grasp how humans can get a hold of meaning and values without God in the picture but he keeps coming up empty in his searches. Basically the question is this: IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE AN OPTIMISTIC SECULAR HUMANIST THAT DOES NOT BELIEVE IN GOD OR AN AFTERLIFE? Professor Levy’s conclusion can be seen in a clip from the documentary footage in which Levy states:But we must always remember that when we are born we need a great deal of love to persuade us to stay in life. Once we get that love, it usually lasts us. But the universe is a pretty cold place. It’s we who invest it with our feelings. And under certain conditions, we feel that the thing isn’t worth it anymore.”

I just don’t see how any secular humanist can be optimistic and avoid Professor Levy’s nihilism. First, let me tell you what prompted me to do this post today.

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto


There are 3 videos in this series and they have statements by 150 academics and scientists and I hope to respond to all of them. In  this third video below the 134th  clip is of the Dr. Stuart Kauffman and it is there that I got the quote I highlighted above and  I respond to it.

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)


I grew up at Bellevue Baptist Church under the leadership of our pastor Adrian Rogers and I read many books by the Evangelical Philosopher Francis Schaeffer and have had the opportunity to contact many of the evolutionists or humanistic academics that they have mentioned in their works. Many of these scholars have taken the time to respond back to me in the last 20 years and some of the names  included are  Ernest Mayr (1904-2005), George Wald (1906-1997), Carl Sagan (1934-1996),  Robert Shapiro (1935-2011), Nicolaas Bloembergen (1920-),  Brian Charlesworth (1945-),  Francisco J. Ayala (1934-) Elliott Sober (1948-), Kevin Padian (1951-), Matt Cartmill (1943-) , Milton Fingerman (1928-), John J. Shea (1969-), , Michael A. Crawford (1938-), Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), Sol Gordon (1923-2008), Albert Ellis (1913-2007), Barbara Marie Tabler (1915-1996), Renate Vambery (1916-2005), Archie J. Bahm (1907-1996), Aron S “Gil” Martin ( 1910-1997), Matthew I. Spetter (1921-2012), H. J. Eysenck (1916-1997), Robert L. Erdmann (1929-2006), Mary Morain (1911-1999), Lloyd Morain (1917-2010),  Warren Allen Smith (1921-), Bette Chambers (1930-),  Gordon Stein (1941-1996) , Milton Friedman (1912-2006), John Hospers (1918-2011), Michael Martin (1932-).Harry Kroto (1939-), Marty E. Martin (1928-), Richard Rubenstein (1924-), James Terry McCollum (1936-), Edward O. WIlson (1929-), Lewis Wolpert (1929), Gerald Holton (1922-),  and  Ray T. Cragun (1976-).


Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1



Woody Allen’s Professor Levy represents the best of secular philosophy, but still is lacking in the end and Levy jumps out the window to end his life!!! Let’s look at some of his thought processes.

Professor Levy seen below:

Crimes e Pecados

Two worldviews are presented by Woody Allen in this film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and the first one is my view and that is the view that God exists and created the world with a moral structure for a purpose and the other one is there is no reason why things happen and there will be is no God there and the Hitlers of the world will never be punished.

Below is a portion of a short review of CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. Notice below especially the contrast between the worldview of the secularist Judah Rosenthal and the Rabbi Ben:


PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES: Ethical objectism/relativism

CHARACTERS: Judah Rosenthal (ophthalmologist, adulterer), Jack Rosenthal (Judah’s mobster brother), Miriam Rosenthal (Judah’s wife), Dolores (Anjelica Huston, Judah’s mistress), Lester (Alan Alda, TV personality), Cliff Stern (Woody Allen, unsuccessful film director), Ben (Sam Waterston, Rabbi), Halley Reed (Mia Farrow, TV producer)

OTHER FILMS BY DIRECTOR WOODY ALLEN: Sleeper (1973), Annie Hall (1977), Hannah and her Sisters (1986), Bullets over Broadway (1994), Deconstructing Harry (1997), Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

SYNOPSIS: Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” intertwines two stories. The first involves Judah, a wealthy ophthalmologist and family man, who has had a several-year affair with Dolores. Dolores threatens to go public regarding the affair and Judah’s shady financial dealings unless Judah leaves his wife. Judah calls on his mobster brother to kill Dolores, which he does. The second storyline involves Cliff, a nerdy and unsuccessful documentary filmmaker, who is in an unhappy marriage. While working on a documentary about a TV personality named Lester, Cliff falls in love with Halley, a network producer. Halley rebuffs Cliff because he is married. When Cliff finally gets divorced, Halley has become engaged to Lester. Throughout both storylines discussions arise about God’s role in establishing ethical values, and whether the world would be valueless if God didn’t exist. Judah and Cliff meet up at the end of the film, and Judah presents an anonymous version of the murder – as though it might be a plot for a movie. It becomes clear that Judah got away with the murder, and suffered no long-term guilt. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards, including best screenplay and best director…

According to the DVD commentary, Allen views his film as “revisiting the themes he examined 15 years earlier in the farce Love and Death, [and] ideas such as God, faith, and justice. ‘Existential subjects to me,’ says the filmmaker, ‘are still the only subjects worth dealing with.’”

Speaking to Judah, Rabbi Ben states the two key moral positions of the movie: “It’s a fundamental difference in the way we view the world. You see it as harsh and empty of values and pitiless. And I couldn’t go on living if I didn’t feel it with all my heart a moral structure, with real meaning, and forgiveness, and a higher power, otherwise there’s no basis to live.” [RABBI BEN HAS THE SAME WORLDVIEW THAT I DO]

Rabbi Ben tells Judah that “without the law it’s all darkness.” Judah retorts, “What good is the law if it prevents me from receiving justice? Is what she’s doing to me just? Is this what I deserve?” Judah’s situations is caused directly or indirectly by choices he’s made, even though he may not have understood at the time he made them their full implications for the future…

In Cliff’s documentary footage on Louis Levy, Levy states “Now the unique thing that happened to the early Israelites was that they conceived a God that cares. He cares, but at the same time he also demands that you behave morally. But here comes the paradox. What’s one of the first things that that God asks: that God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, his beloved son to him. In other words, in spite of millennia of efforts we have not succeeded to create a really and entirely loving image of God. This was beyond our capacity to imagine.”

In the documentary footage, Levy comments on the nature of love. “You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that when we fall in love we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand we ask of our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted on us. So that love contains in it a contradiction, the attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.”

Visiting his childhood house, Judah imagines his family celebrating the Passover dinner. He asks what happens if a man kills. The image of his father answers, “then one way or another he’ll be punished.” “If he’s caught, Saul,” interjects an uncle. The father continues, “If he’s not caught that which originates from a black deed will blossom in a foul manner.” His aunt “And I say if he can do it and get away with it, and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he’s home free. Remember, history is written by the winners. And if the Nazis had won, future generations would understand the story of World War II quite differently.”

AFTER LEVY COMMITTED SUICIDE, Cliff reviewed a clip from the documentary footage in which Levy states:But we must always remember that when we are born we need a great deal of love to persuade us to stay in life. Once we get that love, it usually lasts us. But the universe is a pretty cold place. It’s we who invest it with our feelings. And under certain conditions, we feel that the thing isn’t worth it anymore.”

Hearing the news of Levy’s death, Halley says, “No matter how elaborate a philosophical system you work out, in the end it’s got to be incomplete.”

Near the end of the film Judah explains his murder story as though it might be a plot to a movie. Cliff responds, “I would have him turn himself in. Then your movie assumes tragic proportions, because in the absence of a God he is forced to assume that responsibility himself. Then you have tragedy.”At the close of the movie, Levy has the final word in a voice over narration: “It is only we, with out capacity to love, that give meaning to an indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and find joy from simple things – from their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more.”


IS THERE SUCH A THING AS OPTIMISTIC HUMANISM? Halley sums it best up with these words from her secular point of view,“No matter how elaborate a philosophical system you work out, in the end it’s got to be incomplete.”  She doesn’t have a satisfactory answer because she does not believe in God or an afterlife. Francis Schaeffer points out in the beginning of the episode “Age of Non-reason.”


Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism(from Part 4 of Whatever happened to human race?)

Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” , episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted,Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not aphilosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplifiedintellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pillbecause Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art andculture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about thembecause they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not that of acautious academic who labors for exhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts andthey have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where ourwestern society was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youthenthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decadesbecause of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true asSchaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? There is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This linkshows how to do that.

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.” 

Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chanceplus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTSARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULTOF MINDLESS CHANCE.

Woody Allen directing the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS seen below:



crimes & misdemeanors

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 2


Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 3

Uploaded on Sep 23, 2007

Part 3 of 3: ‘Is Woody Allen A Romantic Or A Realist?’
A discussion of Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, Crimes and Misdemeanors, perhaps his finest.
By Anton Scamvougeras.

woody allen on life

Woody Allen about meaning and truth of life on Earth


Is a optimistic humanism possible?

Here below is the song DUST IN THE WIND performed by the rock group KANSAS and was written by Kerry Ligren in 1978. I challenge anyone to  read these words of that song given below and refute the idea that accepting naturalistic evolution with the exclusion of God must lead to the nihilistic message of the song!


I close my eyes only for a moment, and the moment’s gone

All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea

All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind

Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky

It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy


Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Uploaded on Nov 7, 2009

Music video by Kansas performing Dust In The Wind. (c) 2004 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.


Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life…life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA…life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference. —Richard Dawkins


Francis Schaeffer noted::

The vast majority of people believe there is a design or force in the universe; that it works outside the ordinary mechanics of cause and effect; that it is somehow responsible for both the visible and the moral order of the world. Modern biology has undermined this assumption…But beginning with Darwin, biology has undermined that tradition. Darwin in effect asserted that all living organisms had been created by a combination of chance and necessity–natural selection… First, God has no role in the physical world…Second, except for the laws of probability and cause and effect, there is no organizing principle in the world, and no purpose.  (William B. Provine, “The End of Ethics?” in HARD CHOICES ( a magazine companion to the television series HARD CHOICES, Seattle: KCTS-TV, channel 9, University of Washington, 1980, pp. 2-3).


Take a look at this quote:

That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; …that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Bertrand Russell

The British humanist H. J. Blackham (1903-2009) put it very plainly: On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

In the 1986 debate on the John Ankerberg show between Paul Kurtz (1925-2012) and Norman Geisler, Kurtz reacted to the point Blackham was making by asserting:

I think you may be quoting Blackham out of context because I’ve heard Blackham speak, and read much of what he said, but Blackham has argued continuously that life is full of meaning; that there are points. The fact that one doesn’t believe in God does not deaden the appetite or the lust for living. On the contrary; great artists and scientists and poets and writers have affirmed the opposite.

I read the book FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Paul Kurtz and I had the opportunity to correspond with him but I still reject his view that optimistic humanism can withstand the view of nihilism if one accepts there is no God. Christian philosopher R.C. Sproul put it best:

Nihilism has two traditional enemies–Theism and Naive Humanism. The theist contradicts the nihilist because the existence of God guarantees that ultimate meaning and significance of personal life and history. Naive Humanism is considered naive by the nihilist because it rhapsodizes–with no rational foundation–the dignity and significance of human life. The humanist declares that man is a cosmic accident whose origin was fortuitous and entrenched in meaningless insignificance. Yet in between the humanist mindlessly crusades for, defends, and celebrates the chimera of human dignity…Herein is the dilemma: Nihilism declares that nothing really matters ultimately…In my judgment, no philosophical treatise has ever surpassed or equaled the penetrating analysis of the ultimate question of meaning versus vanity that is found in the Book of Ecclesiastes. 


Francis Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look in Ecclesiastes at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.” 

Kerry Livgren is the writer of the song “Dust in the Wind” and he said concerning that song in 1981 and then in 2006:

 1981: “When I wrote “Dust in the Wind” I was  writing about a yearning emptiness that I felt which millions of people identified with because the song was very popular.” 2006:“Dust In the Wind” was certainly the most well-known song, and the message was out of Ecclesiastes. I never ceased to be amazed at how the message resonates with people, from the time it came out through now. The message is true and we have to deal with it, plus the melody is memorable and very powerful. It disturbs me that there’s only part of the [Christian] story told in that song. It’s about someone yearning for some solution, but if you look at the entire body of my work, there’s a solution to the dilemma.”

Ecclesiastes reasons that chance and time have determined the past and will determine the future (9:11-13), and power reigns in this life and the scales are not balanced(4:1). Is that how you see the world? Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment.”

You can hear DAVE HOPE and Kerry Livgren’s stories from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.


by Walter Robinson


Some critics think that some curators need to put more women in the mix when they do their big modernist shows, especially for the earlier decades of the century prior to the feminist movement. Museums don’t like to be held to a quota, of course, and besides, they glance around and claim not to see the talent. Or so it seems. And nothing changes.

Well, if the critics or curators visit Spanierman Modern on East 58th Street, they can take a look at Judith Godwin’sEchoes, No. 2 (1954), a smallish and dense abstraction of bold red and blue strokes whose movements could well echo those of Martha Graham, a friend and mentor to the artist since their meeting in New York in the 1950s. The slow-moving museum, perhaps less avid to fill the lacunae in its collection than one might wish, would be too late in any case, however, since the picture is already sold.

Godwin does not have a painting in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, but perhaps she has other paintings from this period in her Greenwich Village studio.

A Virginia blueblood, Godwin has been living and working in the Village since 1953, when her parents dropped her off at the Barbizon Hotel, a genteel residence for young ladies, from which she promptly absented herself in favor of the bohemian life downtown. She was part of it all, studying with Hans Hofmann, sharing a studio with Franz Kline, showing with the Stable Gallery and Betty Parsons. Period photographs (in the Spanierman catalogue) show a tough, handsome lady — Godwin is gay — who could be the real-life version of beatnik characters played by Audrey or Katherine Hepburn.

It’s been years since she last showed in New York, though in 2009 she did have an exhibition of her abstractions from the 1950s and ‘60s at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. The pictures at Spanierman carry the spirit of the New York School through to the present. They have the muscularity of Kline and Hofmann, as well as the color wingspan of Helen Frankenthaler, the jagged-edged voids ofClyfford Still and the stately architectonics of Robert Motherwell.

Godwin’s canvases have a quality of rupture and brutality, too, that seems very contemporary. They shed the chains of what Hedda Sterne called the “logo” style, and resist that Ab-Ex period Zen design that has now turned into kitsch. It breaks apart, and it holds together. It’s the whole of an artist’s life, a world of the studio that is easily seen but only rarely lived.

Judith Godwin, “Paintings 1954-2002,” Nov. 30-Dec. 30, 2010, at Spanierman Modern, 53 East 58th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022. The paintings are selling fast; prices range from $12,000 to $70,000.

WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.

A Tribute to Artist Judith Godwin

Judith Godwin (C’52) is one of Mary Baldwin College’s most prominent alumnae. After studying at Mary Baldwin for two years, she transferred to VCU where she completed her degree in 1952. She then moved to New York City in 1953 where, as a painter, she became associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement. Since then she has established herself and been recognized as a significant contemporary painter. Her work is in many prominent public and private collections, including The Museum of Modern Art (New York City), The Art Institute of Chicago, The Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, D.C.), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), among many others.

Visit Judith Godwin’s web site for more information and images of her


by Paul Ryan

(This article originally appeared in the Fall 1998 issue of The Mary Baldwin College Magazine.)

The creative artist must work and always work — on himself and on his craft — that he may develop to the point where he can say what he has to say, and that he says this in his own language. This language is of course not always at once understood. It makes people furious when you speak your own language.
–Hans Hofmann (from his lecture of February 16, 1941 at the Riverside Museum, New York)

Judith GodwinInstalled prominently in the entrance hall of the Deming Fine Arts Building at Mary Baldwin College is a large-scale, abstract painting by New York artist and MBC alumna Judith Godwin (’52). Titled “Oriental Circus,” it was given as a gift by the artist to the college’s Department of Art and Art History in 1992, following its exhibition in Hunt Gallery as part of a group show of work by alumnae that same year. Measuring 50 inches in height and 126 inches wide, the oil painting is a triptych consisting of three equal-sized panels of stretched canvas. Its overall composition is a structured flurry of shapes, textures, and lines which are organized in such a way that the viewer’s eye is pulled from the left side of the painting to the right.

Articulated by certain forms that suggest the paraphernalia of jugglers and acrobats, this sense of energy and directed movement evokes the pleasure, anticipation, and constant flow of activity characteristic of a circus — although, this is not to say that the painting exists as a mere signifier for a particular event. Its pictorial identity is too complex to function at this level: it contains a space that is expansive yet enclosed, and a sense of form that simultaneously suggests restriction by and freedom from the influence of gravity — all operating within a field of lyrical, Matisse-like playfulness. Like much abstract painting which is based on direct and specific experience, Godwin’s “Oriental Circus” is a synthesis of personal impressions given permanent form through the raw materials of paint and canvas, and the creative processes of formal analysis and intuition. As such, it conjoins common perceptions of the viewer and artist, yet it exists simultaneously as an object of mystery evading any absolute or definitive translation.

As all serious abstraction in the modernist tradition has emerged out of particular movements and ideas in art history and/or the culture of the artist’s own time, Godwin’s work and style as a painter is grounded in Abstract Expressionism — an epoch in the visual arts which many critics and artists regard as the last great movement in Western painting. Embodying both the serious desire for stylistic advancement in the context of modernism’s linear progression, and a heroic approach to painting that embraced the philosophical notion of the “inward turn,” the originators of Abstract Expressionism constituted the avant-garde of the 1940s and 50s. Most of the significant work of this period reflected two points of view. The first was formalist theory which emphasized the importance of the physical materials and elements of art – the use of shape, scale, space, color, value, texture, etc. The leading critic of this approach was the formalist theorist Clement Greenberg who promoted the idea of a progressive historical narrative in culture which would culminate in works of art that were complete in their formal purity. The second important influence was a more emotionally charged artistic response to the dilemmas of the nuclear era immediately following World War II. This also had its roots in existentialism and what another prominent critic, Harold Rosenberg, referred to as “crisis content.” The result was a surge of new painting and sculpture in America that was staggering in its originality and sense of urgency.

Judith Godwin, Oriental Circus, 1986, 50�x126�, oil on canvas
Judith Godwin, Oriental Circus, 1986, 50″x126″, oil on canvas

A noteworthy aspect of Godwin’s connection to Abstract Expressionism, or the New York School (a more generalized description that some prefer to use because of the actual aesthetic diversity within this group of artists), is the personal association she had with several of its prominent practitioners, particularly Hans Hofmann and Franz Kline (whose Greenwich Village townhouse she acquired in 1963 and resided in until 2005). Having moved from Virginia to New York City in 1953 to study painting, Godwin was able to experience first-hand the excitement ushered in by the work and presence of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, a wave of aesthetic innovation that helped to establish New York as the international art center, thereby shifting the creative and intellectual focus from Paris to Manhattan. Simultaneously, as a student and young artist she participated in the second generation’s task of building on and sometimes transforming the aesthetic practices of the New York School that had relatively quickly become canonized by the art world.

Prior to her move to New York, Godwin, a native of Suffolk, Virginia, attended Mary Baldwin College for two years. She studied art with Elizabeth Nottingham Day and Horace Day, who shared their interest in contemporary art and developments in New York with their students. Godwin left the college in 1950, and in 1951 enrolled at Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William and Mary (now Virginia Commonwealth University) where she was influenced by artists Theresa Pollak and Jewett Campbell. Pollak, who founded the School of the Arts at VCU, practiced and taught an aesthetic that was anchored in 20th century European modernism and the formalist theory and sense of pictorial integrity that guided American painting during the 1940s and ’50s. Campbell had studied with the Abstract Expressionist painter and influential teacher Hans Hofmann (Pollak, too, would eventually do so) and he encouraged serious students to do the same – hence, Godwin’s transition to New York.

Judith Godwin, Oriental Circus, 1986, 50"x126", oil on canvas
Judith Godwin, Red Flurry, 1994, 36”x24”, oil on canvas

After a brief period of study at the Art Students’ League in New York in 1953, Godwin enrolled in Hofmann’s school in Provincetown, Massachusetts that summer. She continued to study with him at his New York school in the fall, and did so again in 1954. The impact of Hofmann on Godwin’s development as a painter perhaps cannot be emphasized enough. As a teacher, Hofmann was legendary for his ability to drive students to stretch their potential, but also for remaining as an authoritative influence in their work. For example, in discussing Hofmann’s teaching with me a number of years ago, Theresa Pollak, who studied with him in 1958 (the year he closed his school after 43 consecutive years of teaching), mentioned that it took her several years to emerge from his strong presence and opinionated voice. Yet, she, like Judith Godwin, adhered to some of his tenets throughout her painting career.

Strong-minded and vigorous in spirit, Hofmann believed in the profundity of the creative life. Indeed, he regarded painting as a metaphor for the forces at work in the universe and the existential struggles that spring from the human experience. Born in Germany in 1880 and later emigrating to the United States in 1931, Hofmann’s early years in Europe afforded a clear understanding of the important issues generated in the early 20th century by Fauvism (with its innovations in color) and Cubism (with its fracturing and distortion of space and form). His articulation of these matters provided a strong theoretical and practical foundation for the artistic development of his American students.

In an essay that accompanied a major retrospective exhibition of Hofmann’s work in 1990, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the prominent art historian and critic Irving Sandler states that Hofmann “was the greatest art teacher of the twentieth century, that is, if a teacher’s stature is measured by the number of students who achieve national and international renown in their own right.” Sandler goes on to say that Hofmann “had the strongest influence on two generations of advanced American artists, the geometric abstractionists of the 1930s and the younger painters of the New York School who matured in the 1950s.”

Recognizing Godwin’s significant, though quiet, role in American art since 1950, in the fall of 1997 the Art Museum of Western Virginia (located in Roanoke) mounted a retrospective exhibition that spanned Godwin’s life as a painter. Co-curated by Mark Scala, then chief curator at the Museum, and Ann Gibson, associate professor of art at Stony Brook University in New York, the retrospective not only reflected a renewed interest by art historians in the artists of Godwin’s generation working in New York during the 1950s, but, it is also an acknowledgment of the depth of intellect and feeling contained in her work. Consisting of 24 paintings, the show included representative work from different phases of her career. The early paintings from the years she studied with Hofmann display an intense physicality that shortly would dissolve into forms and spaces of a more ephemeral nature. Work from 1955 through the mid-sixties reveals the achievement of a distinct language by Godwin marked by the dialectical elements of openness/spontaneity and structure/definition — a language which also demonstrates the dependence of genuine innovation upon tradition. Finally, several paintings from the mid-seventies through 1995 sometimes reflect slight stylistic shifts (especially regarding her palette), but never succumb to fashionableness and always assert the relevance of sincerity and meaning in an era of increasing cynicism and doubt.

In his article “Talking at Pomona,” the poet and critic David Antin discusses how the importance of a work of art is determined. He asserts that, assuming aesthetic integrity is a given, importance is mostly a matter of the quality of ideas, or of an idea, that the work embraces. That is to say, that the critical value of a work of art is in proportion to “…the degree that it is a modification [or advance] of the preceding [important] work…” For example, briefly put, one of the reasons Jackson Pollock is considered an important painter resides in the fact that his all-over poured paintings of the 1940s and ‘50s played a major role in removing Modernist painting from the constraints of Cubist space. Pollock’s work is considered an “advance” in the lineage of Modernist painting, and has become an icon for American-type painting of the 20th century. In the context of this type of art historical and critical criteria for determining importance as it relates to the work of Judith Godwin, it can be said that her significance largely, though not completely, lies in her success in moving beyond what had become conventions of Abstract Expressionist painting. In the catalog essay, “Judith Godwin: Style and Grace,” Ann Gibson outlines Godwin’s path in this achievement, describing how the artist “mined [Abstract Expressionism] as a language whose rich potential had only begun to be tapped — if only one could avoid its clichés and renovate the presuppositions entwined with its conventions.”

To build on what has come before, yet to avoid the clichés, has always been a major task and goal for the artist. And at mid-century in New York City the notion of originality was an ideal – an integral component of the avant-garde in its self-established mission to keep culture moving forward. The first generation of Abstract Expressionists had succeeded in moving beyond European modernism; Godwin’s teacher, Hans Hofmann, in an original language of expressionistic urgency and jubilance had combined the color theories of Cezanne and the Fauves with Cubist drawing (eventually escaping the grips of Cubist space); and Godwin, as represented by her paintings from 1955-1960, began to speak relatively early in her own voice. A synthesis of multiple aesthetic and personal influences, her paintings stylistically embrace a sense of pictorial structure achieved by Franz Kline, Hofmann’s theories regarding pictorial epth and the inherent flatness of the medium, and the Zen-like approach to space and form of the painter Kenzo Okada. Following the dictum of Hofmann that the artist say what she has to say in her own language, Judith Godwin has distinguished herself within the tradition of the New York School.

Paul Ryan is a painter and Professor of Art at Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia. He is also an art critic and contributing editor for Art PapersMagazine .

Works Cited:
David Antin, “Talking at Pomona,” Art Forum

Ann Gibson, “Judith Godwin: Style and Grace,” Judith Godwin: Style and Grace (catalog for the exhibition; The Art Museum of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia, 1997).

Irving Sandler, “Hans Hofmann: The Dialectical Master,” Hans Hofmann (catalog for the exhibition, Hans Hofmann; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1990).

Mark Scala, “Judith Godwin and the New York School,” Judith Godwin: Style and Grace

Judith Godwin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Judith Godwin (born 1930 Suffolk, Virginia) is an American abstract painter, associated with the Expressionist movement.


Judith Godwin attended Mary Baldwin College for two year before transferring to Richmond Professional Institute, now Virginia Commonwealth University, where she completed her degree in 1952. She moved to New York City in 1953, where she attended the Art Students League. She also studied with Hans Hofmann and Will Barnet. She shared a studio with Franz Kline.[1] Godwin is considered a second-generation abstract expressionist. Her work is influenced by gardening, modern dance, and Zen.

She lives in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, but as a native Virginian, remains a member of the Jamestowne Society. Her papers are held at the Archives of American Art.[2]



  • 2003 Holtzman Art Gallery, Towson University[5]
  • 2009 Tobin Theatre Arts Gallery[6]
  • 2010 Spanierman Gallery[7][8]
  • 2011 Spanierman Gallery[9]
  • 2012 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Anderson Gallery of Virginia Commonwealth University

Further reading[edit]

  • Scala, Mark (ed.), Judith Godwin: Style and Grace. University of Washington Press, 1998. ISBN 0-295-97686-1
  • Lowery Stokes Sims and David Ebony, Judith Godwin: Early Abstractions. San Antonio, TX: McNay Art Museum, 2008. ISBN 0-916677-52-4


  1. Jump up^ “Walter Robinson on Judith Godwin – artnet Magazine”. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  2. Jump up^ Archives of American Art. “Summary of the Judith Godwin printed material, 1992-1996 | Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution”. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  3. Jump up^ “The Collection | Judith Godwin (American, born 1930)”. MoMA. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  4. Jump up^ “A Tribute to Judith Godwin – Studio Art”. 1941-02-16. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  5. Jump up^ “Judith Godwin: Paintings | Baltimore City Paper”. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  6. Jump up^ “Judith Godwin Early Abstractions”. The Blind Swimmer. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  7. Jump up^ Spanierman Gallery. “Judith Godwin Biography – Abstract Expressionist Painter”. Spanierman Modern. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  8. Jump up^ “Judith Godwin | City Arts | City Arts”. 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  9. Jump up^ McCarthy, Gerard (2012-09-05). “Judith Godwin – Reviews – Art in America”. Retrieved 2013-02-01.

External links[edit]



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