I’ve been on a bit of a secularism kick of late, and as you may know I’m not a fan. I thought of secularism, and its discontents, as I heard of the latest American mass shooting in our new home state of Florida. Seventeen people killed in the prime of life, not by a gun, but by a wicked person bent on destruction. People go off to school or work one morning, like every other morning before, and don’t come home, ever. A tragedy that we hope never touches us, our loved ones or friends, but which we can’t help but wonder if it may some day. Such is life in secular 21st century America.
Do I blame secularism for the carnage that has become a staple of the latter part of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries? You bet I do! And of course I blame sin and the fall, so we always have and always will deal with evil in all of its distorted manifestations of God’s good creation. But there is something unique about the senseless nature of killing and mayhem in our time. I would argue that what we are experiencing in American culture is a cumulative case of thoughts and ideas and actions that have been brewing for centuries. There are no simple causal links one can definitively point to, but rather a rushing river of existence away from God that has brought us to this point.
When I finished up my last post on secularism and the Berlin wall, I came across an article at Evolution News & Science Today that takes on an atheist scientist Sean Carroll, who asserts that the universe is a “brute fact,” a concept I discussed in that post. If you are interested in learning just how weak naturalism/materialism (atheism) is, as I argued, you might want to become familiar with the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR).
The author, Michael Egnor, shreds the scientist, making him look like the fool he is, biblically speaking. In it he explains the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), which simply defined says that everything must have a reason, cause, or ground. The atheist (naturalist/materialist) being committed to his worldview would agree that while everything created by human beings obviously has a reason for its existence, the universe and the world we inhabit doesn’t. It’s just a “brute fact,” no explanation required. That’s a tough sell to rational human beings because the complexity of the natural world through the science that has helped us discover it, doesn’t look like an accident or product of chance. Engor, obviously a very bright man, lays out the argument for the existence of God that supports PSR based on what is known as the Rationalist proof: (more…)
As I’ve argued in these posts, secularism as the fundamental worldview (religion) of Western cultural elites is as weak as the Berlin Wall proved to be. For the time being it appears as durable as the Wall circa 1970s, but as I contend, it’s every bit the paper tiger the Wall turned out to be. In my last post I pointed out that, “The philosophical foundation of secularism is naturalism, or materialism, the view of existence that the material is all there is.” This foundation upon which secularism rests is what makes it so weak, and gives it zero explanatory power. What exactly does this phrase mean?
Simply put, what best explains X, Y, or Z. For example, is a Creator or chance a better explanation for the bumble bee? In science it often comes down to probability, or what the likelihood is of one thing being the case versus another. In logic this is known as “Abduction or, as it is also often called, Inference to the Best Explanation, a type of inference that assigns special status to explanatory considerations.” We can find this type of reasoning used in many different sciences, as well as in courts of law where evidence is presented, and the better explanation will often determine innocence or guilt.
In my previous post I dealt with why secularism might be appealing in our modern context. I argued that it’s not anything inherent in secularism that makes it more appealing than Christianity, but the cultural messaging machine that promotes it. That’s why it’s a paper tiger and can be no more enduring than was the Berlin Wall. Remember that for those of us who lived through the Cold War from the 60s through the 80s, the Berlin Wall appeared like an unalterable fact of existence we’d just have to live with for the foreseeable future. It certainly didn’t seem like a paper tiger, until Ronald Reagan came along. But now we know it was as brittle as the worldview that upheld it. Secularism is, I contend, no different. Why? Tomes have been written about what secularism is, why it will or will not endure, and why it is or is not a credible worldview. A measly little blog post can’t do any of that justice, but a few thoughts about the weakness of secularism as a worldview will have to suffice, and why it doesn’t ever have to appeal to our children.
The philosophical foundation of secularism is naturalism, or materialism, the view of existence that the material is all there is. The good news for Christians, and their children, is that such a view of reality is logically, rationally, and philosophically absurd. The cool kids, culturally speaking the secularist/naturalists as I wrote about in my last post, want to make us think that naturalism is the most obvious thing in the world, that only a religious obscurantist would think there might be some spiritual reality beyond what our five senses experience. But the more scientific knowledge advances, the less cool these kids become.
I ended my last post claiming that secularism is no less a paper tiger than the Berlin Wall. That’s quite an assertion in the face of a secular cultural hegemony that seems to approach absolute. Everywhere we look, people who claim the name of Christ are on the defensive. Many (most?) Christian parents feel insecure against the onslaught. It seems for many (most?) Christian parents that keeping their kids Christians in the face of such hostility is a challenge they might not be up to. The goal of my book and this blog is to convince them that this is not the case, at all. That we can have confidence is what inspired me to write the book. I finished the book where I began:
The conclusion I come to at the end is the conviction I started with at the beginning: Christianity is so powerfully credible that my children should never ever want to leave it, or even be slightly tempted to do so. God has revealed himself in so many compelling ways that it is inconceivable that a secular Western culture would be more appealing to our children than Christianity. God has provided us an over-abundance of resources to make the Christian Faith winsome, appealing, attractive, and compelling to our children. Thus, we should have every confidence that we can keep our kids Christian.