Why are American Churches Growing Smaller?

Peace Dove

By Jon Kauffman

In the June 18, 2021 addition of “Anabaptist World,” Professor John D. Roth in “The Courage to Admit Failure,” page 32 explored the difference between the Amish and Mennonite concepts of failure to grow churches. Roth tells us the membership of the Mennonite Church USA has been reduced by nearly half in the last two decades.

Falling church membership is also a problem in other church denominations across the United States. What is the root cause of the shrinking church in America? Perhaps Christianity in America has been replaced by Scientism?

I recently read the book, “Scientism and Secularism,” by J. P. Moreland. What is scientism?

According to philosopher of science Tom Sorell, “Scientism is the belief that science, especially natural science, is . . . the most valuable part of human learning . . . because it is much the most [sic] authoritative, or serious, or beneficial. Other beliefs related to this one may also be regarded as scientistic, e.g., the belief that science is the only valuable part of human learning. . . .”1.

Would you agree with the statement below?

“Only what is testable by science can be true.”2.

If we agree with this statement, we may have accepted the philosophy of scientism that is permeating America at this time.

Moreland explains that this statement is self-refuting. He says:

Let’s check it against the three criteria we saw for a self-refuting statement.

1. Does this statement establish a requirement of acceptability? Yes: it says that something must be testable to be true.

2. Does this statement place itself in subjection to the requirement? Yes: it purports to convey truth.

3. Does this statement fall short of satisfying its own requirement? Yes: this is a philosophical statement about science that cannot itself be tested by science.

So, not only is strong scientism false, but it is self-refuting. In addition, nothing will ever be discovered that can change this. No amount of future research or blockbuster discoveries can show that a self-refuting statement was true after all. Since the statement “Only what is testable by science can be true” will never itself be testable by science, a skeptic cannot respond by saying, “There may be no current evidence for its truth, but someday science will advance to the point of proving that it is true after all.” In other words, it is not only false and self-refuting, but it is necessarily so. No further scientific discoveries could make the statement true, so the skeptic’s response expresses a misunderstanding that the statement and others like it (see above) are necessarily false.3.

Moreland gives a few examples of truth that science cannot explain.

Examples: science cannot explain the origin of the universe; the origin of the fundamental laws of nature; the fine-tuning of the universe; the origin of consciousness; and the existence of moral, rational, and aesthetic objective laws and intrinsically valuable properties. And these are all topics that theism can adequately address.4.

After reading “Scientism and Secularism,” I see three valuable tools available for us in the search for truth. Science, Philosophy and Theology.

If I think about the resurrection of Jesus, I can see that science can help us explore the evidence that the resurrection of Jesus occurred. Philosophy can help us understand the importance of following the teachings of Jesus. Theology can help us explore the truth of God reaching into our universe and can help us understand how to apply the teaching of Jesus to our lives.

J. P. Morland’s book “Scientism and Secularism” may be purchased at Amazon. Click here.

1. Moreland, J. P.. Scientism and Secularism (p. 29). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

2. Ibid., (p. 51).

3. Ibid., (pp. 51-52).

4. Ibid., (pp. 16-18).

Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Debate, Atheism and Love

Peace Dove

By Jon Kauffman

I follow the blog of an atheist. I and the atheist have attempted to hold on-line conversations from time to time.

I think this atheist blog is wonderful.2 I like to read the writing of those with whom I disagree from time to time. It helps sharpen my thinking and sometimes I find holes in my own logic.

Recently I told this young lady that I had read some Bertrand Russell about 40 years ago and at that time I had found him quite persuasive.  She shared Russell’s analogy of the teapot.

Bertrand Russell

“If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.” Bertrand Russell

I admit, that when I was young and naive, I found this analogy somewhat persuasive. But when I read it now it seems almost silly.

According to many scholars, the Hyksos seized power in Egypt around 1638 BC without war.1

David Rohl has written an excellent book suggesting that Egypt’s timeline as understood by most archeologists today should be moved forward 200 years and Israel’s timeline should be moved back to match the Bible.

The current paradigm in Archeology is against Rohl’s timeline. Sometimes it takes a many years for scientific paradigms to shift even when the evidence is irrefutable. Rohl has some very strong evidence. I will be watching with great interest as other archeologists analyze his theories.

God is dripping out of Russell’s teapot.

Until 5 years ago I thought that no evidence existed in Egypt to support the story of Moses. I was pleasantly surprised to find Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus by Tim Mahoney.

The dripping of God from Russell’s teapot has quickened.

Lee Strobel tells us that many people have experienced miracles and life changing experiences as a result of their faith in God. “Among well-educated medical doctors 75% believe miracles are possible. 55% of US physicians have seen results in their patients that they would consider miraculous.” Page 31. See my review of Strobel’s book, The Case for Miracles.

God is pouring from Russell’s teapot.

We have a strong argument for the existence of God with the Kalam cosmological argument. William Lane Craig is an able defender of this argument. The leak in Russell’s teapot is becoming a strong steady stream.

Many scholars have written of the excellent evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus.

God is flooding from Russell’s teapot.

Bertrand Russell was once asked why he did not believe in God. He said, “Not enough evidence.” I wonder, is there any evidence that could have convinced Russell?

Van Lake acting as a mirror #MontanaMoment Copyright © 2021 by Leon Kauffman

Atheists Argue

In addition to logical reasoning, I have sometimes heard atheists arguing using methods of argumentation such as 1. Ad Hominem. 2. Contradiction. 3. Ridicule. 4. Diversion.

When someone argues with me using these logical fallacies, my first thought is what are they afraid of? Then I think, are their arguments so weak that they cannot stand on the facts?

One atheist used the red herring argument. He suggested that one should not be a Christian or believe in God because Christians were involved in the Crusades against the Middle East. I told him that Lenin and Mao both atheists, killed more people.

Because Lenin and Mao killed many people does not prove atheists are killers and because some Christians participated in the crusades does not prove Christians killers.

Another atheist uses the ad hominem logical fallacy and often calls anyone disagreeing with the atheist position a liar.

The Creationist Argues

Unfortunately sometimes Christians use some of the same logical fallacies.

One time I contacted a gentleman who held to the theory of creation occurring 6,000 year ago. I was curious to learn the scientific basis for his position. I asked him why it appears that we can see stars more than 6,000 light years away if the earth was created 6,000 years ago. The gentleman used an ad hominem argument and told me that I had no faith. He did not give me an answer to my question. I saw no reason to question him further.

Using logical fallacies by Christians to put others in their place seems contrary to the love of Jesus to me. If the creationist gentleman had given me reasons for his belief instead of only attacking me, then I would have had some facts to consider.

Intelligent Design

I find intelligent design theories intriguing. I am not an expert in biology or paleontology.  The current paradigm among scientists does not accept intelligent design. I have done some reading and the intelligent design theories appear to me to have merit.

J.P. Moreland tells us about a time when he was giving lectures at UCLA:

“William Dembski had given a lecture defending intelligent design theory. The biology faculty of the university instructed their students to boycott Dembski’s lecture. There was a lot of mocking and ridicule of him among the biologists—despite the fact that Dembski has a master’s degree in science, a master’s degree in statistics, a master’s degree in divinity, a PhD in philosophy, and a PhD in mathematics—along with postdoctoral work in mathematics at MIT, in physics at the University of Chicago, and in computer science at Princeton. But if Dembski is so stupid and his proposals on intelligent design are so patently ridiculous, why wouldn’t the professors simply send their students to the lecture and have them tear his arguments apart? That should be easy. Of what were the biology faculty afraid?

Around that time, while giving some lectures at UCLA, I met a doctoral student in microbiology. He pulled me aside and said that his dissertation supervisor admitted to him in confidence that his dissertation proposal was excellent. It was a proposal to provide empirical verification or falsification for intelligent design theory. But the supervisor told him to stay far away from intelligent design. If he insisted on this topic for his dissertation, he would not only flunk, but he would have his funding withdrawn and would be kicked out of the doctoral program.” Moreland, J. P. Scientism and Secularism (pp. 192-193). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

I too question the fear of professors of Biology at ULCA. Perhaps they cannot argue conclusively against intelligent design? Certainly, intelligent design does not conform to their paradigm.

As the debate among biologists continues, I will watch with great interest to see if the paradigm changes.

The Love of Jesus

Love is action. When asked about the most important commandment Jesus said, 29 “The most important one is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31.

How do we show the love of Jesus when we debate with those with whom we disagree?

How do we show love to the homeless man on the street?

How do we show love to the student experiencing transgender feelings?

How do we love the poor, the helpless and the prisoner?

How do we love Muslims from the Middle East? How do we love our enemies? Jesus and the Roman Centurion, Matthew 8:5-13

I plan to write more posts about my conversation with the atheist young lady.

  1. New Research Reveals Surprising Origins of Egypt’s Hyksos Dynasty, by Theresa Machemer
  2. Club Schadenfreude

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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Copyright © 2021 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Edited: 9/21/2021
Edited: 7/13/2021