Every false worldview, since it puts something that is less than God (an idol) in the place of God (as the ultimate reality and source of all things), will have an understanding of the human person that is less than the image of God. And as Nancy Pearcey demonstrates throughout this chapter, “When we reduce people to anything less than fully human, we will treat them as less than fully human.” So in order to think through the implications of a worldview, we need to identify how the idol of that worldview reduces the human being. For example:
What the dominant classes hold as true tends to shape social and political practice. If the elites hold a materialism that reduces humans to computers, then they will treat people like computers. Thinking will be reduced to computing: the neuroelectrophysiology of the brain. People will be judged solely by how well they perform their assigned functions. And when they stop functioning, they will be tossed in the garbage heap with the other electronic trash.
Do you recognize in that quote the idea that human value is instrumental (i.e., based on what a person can do) rather than intrinsic (based on the kind of being the person is)—the very understanding of human value that leads people to reject the unborn human being’s right to life?
Pearcey’s explanation of Enlightenment and Romantic worldviews—where they come from and what they lead to—clarifies the reason why there are such harsh political divisions in this country. The difference is deeper than politics. The divide on contentious issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and marriage goes all the way down to the person’s worldview. (For one example of this, see the worldview differences that led atheist commenters on this blog to argue against universal human rights.)
This tells me two things: 1) It will take more to resolve this nation’s differences than merely settling specific political issues (which may, in fact, not even be possible in light of the worldview divide), and 2) making disciples of Christ is a more revolutionary act than any kind of political work.
A while back, I posted “The True Story of Christian Missionaries,” reporting on a researcher’s discovery that in nations where missionaries stressed conversion, salvation by grace through faith, and the importance of Bible reading, the eventual result was democracy, religious liberty, literacy, lower infant mortality, economic growth, and more: “The work of missionaries . . . turns out to be the single largest factor in insuring the health of nations.” (See also what happened in 18th century England when a million people became Christians.)
This isn’t to say we should seek to bring others to Christ because this will change the world. Rather, it means that those who think direct attempts to change the world are a better use of resources than the Great Commission are not only mistaken about the value of the Great Commission (which both addresses our greatest human need and glorifies God in the greatest possible way), they’re also mistaken about the most effective means of changing the world!
Yes, God may call you to social action—perhaps even as a politician, as He did William Wilberforce. But when you see the tragedy of all that’s happening in this world, I don’t want you to be deceived into thinking your efforts as an apologist to bring people to Christ are less valuable than social action. Since worldviews drive all societal policies, what’s at stake in your work is not only the eternal souls of human beings, but also an increased acceptance of the only worldview that recognizes the fullness of our personhood (unlike views based on a non-personal ultimate reality) and calls us to treat human beings in a manner worthy of that understanding.
After discussing how both Enlightenment and Romantic worldviews devalue our personhood, Pearcey makes an important observation:
The puzzling question is why these worldviews are at all popular. After all, what we long for most of all is to be known and loved for who we are as unique persons—a longing that can be met only if the divine is a person.
As Christians, we have the advantage in worldview discussions because not only do we have the truth, we also have what people are yearning for. They’re waiting to hear!
And now it’s your turn to continue the discussion. Any ideas from the chapter you’d like to comment on? If you have your own blog (or Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.), I’d love to see you write your own posts on this chapter and link to them below, along with your comments (hat tip to Tim Challies for this idea). I can only talk about so much in a single blog post, but we can expand our discussion through your posts. I want to give you the chance to bounce your ideas off each other.
Next Friday, we’re on to Principle #3 in “Secular Leaps of Faith” to test the worldview idols to see if they contradict reality.
The End of Neurononsense – A researcher “found that people who hold the reductionist view—who deny the special status of the human species in nature, who believe behavior is determined by physical processes alone—were far more likely to agree with the maltreatment of humans.”
Charles Babbage was born in London in 1791 and is considered the father of the computer and one of the most influential scientists in history. He was an Anglican Christian who believed science and the Bible are compatible. He believed we should use our best knowledge and imagination to know God as best we can. He believed the authenticity of Scripture and used his scientific endeavors to demonstrate its reliability and to understand it better. He understood that theology is a knowledge-based study and that science has limits of what it can prove or disprove.
Babbage’s scientific expertise spanned a variety of fields. He invented the first mechanical computer. In 1821, Babbage was asked to evaluate the accuracy of the astronomical tables. He formulated his idea for mechanical computation, though his machines were never completed. He later developed designs for a machine capable of broader computations and programming, using punch cards. His plans were used to build a functioning difference engine in 1991, proving that his theories were workable.
He also analyzed the efficiency of the British postal system and proposed the idea of standard postage, which was adopted. He published a book on the economy of manufacturing and proposed what came to be known as the Babbage principle – the idea of division of labor. Having workers specialize instead of doing a variety of tasks, some of which involve activities below their skill level, results in more efficient productivity and profitability. Babbage was a pioneer in absolute measurement, and worked on a project to tabulate all the constants of nature. His work in measurements was essential in building the machinery for manufacturing in the industrial revolution. He studied railways and showed the superiority of the broad gauge for railways; and he invented the cowcatcher.
Babbage wrote books exploring his religious convictions. He acknowledged three sources of knowledge: a priori, general revelation from creation, and special revelation from God. He wrote about the design argument and the works of the Creator that are open to our examination, which provide a firm basis for Christianity. He wrote in support of miracles, responding to David Hume’s objections: "We must not measure the credibility or incredibility of an event by the narrow sphere of our own experience, nor forget that there is a Divine energy which overrides what we familiarly call the laws of nature.”
After his death, Babbage’s son used his father’s designs to create six small demonstration pieces of the difference engine. One was sent to Harvard where Howard Aiken later discovered it. It influenced his design of the Mark 1 electro-mechanical computer, which was built by IBM and used during WW2.
Brett’s and Alan’s April newsletters are now posted on the website:
God and Morality by Brett Kunkle: “[W]e don’t want to claim unbelievers cannot know moral truth. Instead, we need to demonstrate that without God, there is no ontological foundation for the existence of morality. Here’s an analogy to illustrate this distinction. Does a person have to believe in the existence of mailmen in order to read the mail they find in their mailbox everyday? No. But what best explains the existence of mail in their mailbox everyday? A mailman. In the same way, unbelievers can affirm moral values and live moral lives, even if they don’t believe in God. However, if they think there are real objective moral truths that exist, they must offer an adequate explanation for the existence of such things. This is the ontological question, and here we can demonstrate the unbeliever does not have a satisfactory answer.” (Read more)
Every Idea Has Consequences by Alan Shlemon: “Christianity has a history of surviving – even thriving – amidst persecution. For the first few hundred years after its inception, following Christ was illegal and believers were hunted, burned, and fed to lions. Despite the opposition, Christianity experienced explosive growth. I fear that in the upcoming era of hostility, we won’t see growth. Instead, we’ll see decline through two means: cleansing and compromise. Nominal Christians – believers in name only – will abandon Christianity. Since they aren’t firmly rooted in the faith, it will be too costly for them to retain the title “Christian.” Instead, they’ll be cleansed from the Church (John 15:2). Others will compromise. They’ll continue to claim Christ, but will abandon orthodoxy in favor of a more palatable and politically-correct Christianity. By approving of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, they’ll remove themselves as targets.” (Read more)
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From the atheist's perspective, it seems too coincidental that religions just happen to dominate certain geographic locations and culture….
[I]t is hard not to dismiss a religious person's claim that their religion is the truth when it certainly seems, from my point of view, that that same person would be pushing another religion had they been born in a different part of the world….
[I]t is not unreasonable for us to conclude that religions are products of culture and geography, not products of "truth" and "falsehood."
How would you respond to this one? Tell us what you think, and then check back on Thursday to hear Brett’s answer.
This week, Alan Shlemon and Amy Hall will be guest hosting the show. Call them with your question or comment at (855) 243-9975, outside the U.S. (562) 424-8229. Today 4-6 p.m. PT (only two hours this week).