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 Perhaps Christianity in America has been replaced by Scientism?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.
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.
I have heard and read several arguments from the new atheists about why it does not make sense to be a Christian. But, based on the evidence, I have found their reasons to be unconvincing.
I think it is always important to keep an open mind and look at the evidence.
Reasons New Atheists give:
Science proves God is unnecessary.
. Genesis creation story contradicts our scientific knowledge, therefor Christianity is invalid.
The archeological evidence does not match the Exodus story in the Bible, therefor the Bible is a fraud.
Moses could not have written the Torah, therefor the Bible is a fraud.
The Resurrection did not happen.
David Hume has shown that Miracles do not occur.
The physical world is all that exists.
Christianity is too violent.
REASON # 1, SCIENCE PROVES GOD IS UNNECESSARY.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. What if as scientists say, the beginning of creation (Big Bang) happened 13.7 billion years ago?
I have read a few books concerning the history of the universe and the history of life, including “Evolution, The Whole Story” by Steve Parker, “Saving Darwin, How to be a Christian and Believe in Darwin,” by Karl W. Giberson, “Darwin’s Doubt,” by Stephen Meyer, “Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism,” Edited by Andrew Petto, “Undeniable,” by Douglas Axe and “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME BY STEPHEN HAWKING
About 25 years ago I read “A Brief History of Time,” by Stephen Hawking. As I read, I kept thinking that the universe God created was so amazing. Then Hawking began discussing the theory he had developed to avoid the Big Bang and a beginning of the universe. He claimed his theory proved that there was no need for God, I was amazed. I thought to myself, how could Hawking know what he knows and not be amazed with the universe and see God?
I’ve read other scientists who claim that Hawking’s theory fails to prove that the universe does not have a beginning.
Perhaps Hawking developed his theory to avoid a beginning for the universe because he thought the Kalam Cosmological argument is valid if the universe has a beginning?
“EVOLUTION, THE WHOLE STORY” BY STEVE PARKER
In the book “Evolution,” as I read, I saw the history of God creating life. I had feelings similar feelings as I felt when I read Stephen Hawking. How could someone know all these wonderful things about nature and the history of life on earth and not be amazed by God.
Alice Roberts wrote the forward for “Evolution”. She said, “The concept of humans as a special creation made by an intelligent designer, stands in direct opposition to the idea we are a product of unthinking natural selection.” In this statement Roberts is making untenable claims.
Roberts untenable claims:
“Unthinking natural selection:”
Roberts claims unthinking natural selection. I did not see anywhere in the book where Parker claims to be demonstrating unthinking natural selection. Parker’s book in no way proves unthinking natural selection. God can use natural selection to create animals if he so desires. He could guide each step of evolution and we would not be able to prove scientifically that he did or did not.
“Creation by an intelligent designer is in opposition to natural selection.”
If God is God, he can create however he wants even if he uses natural selection to create. God could use natural selection to create animals if he so desires. If God guided natural selection, then natural selection is not unthinking. Perhaps God planned each step and each step is a miracle. Humans could very easily be very special to God.
What if all animals ever created are special to God?
What if we will find all animals that ever lived in heaven when we get there because God wants to enjoy his wonderful creation forever?
As I read the book, I felt Parker was simply showing the history of life. He was not attempting to make a statement about God. If as Roberts contended, Parker was attempting to prove that God is unnecessary, Parker failed miserably.
SCIENTISTS CONFRONT INTELLIGENT DESIGN AND CREATIONISM, EDITED BY ANDREW PETTO
The authors of the book made many excellent points. They helped me understand better the science behind paleontology. I felt they did demonstrate the great age of the earth, (4.5 billion years) and age of the universe, (13.7 billion years) by using current standards for measuring time. I felt they did demonstrate that young earth creationism is questionable. However, many young earth creationists claim that God created the earth 6,000 years ago but made it appear to be much older. They are not arguing from a scientific point view at that point.
The authors of Petto’s book failed to deliver on their promise to Confront Intelligent Design as a failed theory. These authors failed to prove that life was not created by God and they failed to prove that natural selection is not guided by God.
The authors of Petto’s book try to demonstrate that Meyer and Axe are not defending a valid scientific theory of “Intelligent Design” and they failed.
This book was extremely interesting, and I learned a great amount about paleontology.
“DARWIN’S DOUBT,” BY STEPHEN MEYER AND “UNDENIABLE,” BY DOUGLAS AXE
In these books Meyer and Axe argue for the theory of Intelligent Design.
Meyer successfully shows some of the problems of current theories in paleontology concerning the Cambrian Explosion.
These certainly made a good case demonstrating problems of evolution creating life without a God. I think they demonstrated that it is quite reasonable to study the history of life and believe in God.
It appears to me that Intelligent Design is a logical and valid, but still unproven theory.
Atheists are incorrect, science has not proven that God is unnecessary.
REASON #2, GENESIS CREATION STORY CONTRADICTS OUR SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE, THEREFOR CHRISTIANITY IS INVALID
Genesis was written by Moses in about 1450 BC. Paleo-Hebrew written alphabet was developed at about the time of Joseph 400 years earlier. Any scientific claims made by Moses would align with the scientific knowledge of his time. He was raised and educated in the palace of the Pharaoh of Egypt therefor his scientific knowledge would come from Egyptian science.
Moses may have had written sources from the time of Joseph to include in Genesis.
However, stories before Joseph are word of mouth stories.
Some of these stories are based on fact. The Stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob appear to be based on stories of those who lived the experiences.
We can see in the story of Adam and Eve that man turned to sin and violence. In the story Noah we see that God hates evil. We also see God began revealing himself to man before Abraham.
Genesis is about the history God reaching out to man and is not a scientific text.
If Genesis does not conform to scientific knowledge today, that does not make Christianity invalid.
REASON #3, MOSES AND THE EXODUS
We have archeological evidence in Egypt, the Saini Peninsula, Midian and Israel which show that the exodus, the wandering of the Israelites in the desert, and the conquest of Canaan occurred as recorded in the Bible.
Many archeologists claim that the exodus took place about 1250 BC. In the “Patterns of Evidence, The Exodus” documentary by Tim Mahoney, Mahoney demonstrates that the archeological evidence shows that the exodus place about 1450 BC. When the timeline is corrected, the evidence in Egypt and Palestine line up perfectly with the Bible stories. Mohoney’s Documentary Series includes “The Exodus,” The Moses Controversy’,” “The Red Sea Miracle,” Part 1, and “The Red Sea Miracle,” Part 2.
Archeologist David Rohl studied Egyptian history timeline extensively and has shown how Egyptian archeological evidence relates to the Biblical story. See David Rohl’s book “Exodus, Myth or History.”
Atheist’s such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have used the lack of evidence for the Exodus as part of the foundation for their atheism. We can see from the Mahoney films and Rohl’s book that this is no longer a valid argument supporting their position.
REASON #4, JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD
Many authors have demonstrated very convincingly that Jesus has risen from the dead. If he has risen from the dead, then it is reasonable to believe that Jesus is God. Several authors that have demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt from the evidence that Jesus is risen from the dead. Books include “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” by Josh MacDowell, The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel.
In reading these and other similar books, I conclude that the new atheists have a lot of work to do to defend their position against this evidence.
REASON #5, DAVID HUME AND MIRACLES
Some atheists base their position on the writings of David Hume. Lee Strobel in “A Case for Miracles,” discusses David Hume’s arguments. Mr. Strobel conducted a survey about miracles in the US. About 94,000,000 Americans believe they have experienced miracles. This contradicts the claims of Hume. Strobel demonstrates that Hume’s arguments are based on presuppositions and circular reasoning.
REASON #6, SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE OF A NON-MATERIAL WORLD.
Probably the argument I have heard the most often in favor of atheism is the lack of scientific evidence for a non-material world. I recently read John Burke’s “Imagine Heaven.”
Many blind people when they have near death experience describe colors they have never seen before.
One girl during a near death experience observed a tennis shoe on the outside windowsill of a hospital window. The girl had no previous knowledge of the tennis shoe. Later the doctor who heard her story, went from window to window around the hospital until he found the tennis shoe.
Many other stories include facts verifiable by a third party, that cannot be explained by physical knowledge of the person experiencing the near-death experience.
Burke’s book does not scientifically prove the existence of heaven or hell described in near death experiences, but it does convincingly demonstrate a spiritual world or parallel spiritual universe to our material world.
Once again, atheists have some explaining to do to defend their position.
REASON #8, CHRISTIANITY IS TOO VIOLENT
Many Atheists claim Christianity is invalid because Christians are too violent.
In a discussion with one atheist, I mentioned that Lenin, and Mao as atheists killed more people than any two Christians ever killed. He rightly pointed out it is against his own personal standards to kill people.
Many of the people killed by these regimes died of unnecessary starvation, caused by Socialist central planners following the guidelines of atheist Karl Marx. “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism.” By Kevin D. Williamson.
Today atheist leaders still impoverish and use violence against their own people in such places as North Korea, China and Cuba.
My friend’s claim that Christians are the most violent and pro-war people in the USA may be true. However, Jesus taught and demonstrated non-violence as the best way to live as a Christian. It is impossible for my atheist friend to claim that because many Christians are violent, then Christianity is invalid.
Many Christians fail to follow the teachings of Jesus concerning violence. That does not prove that God does not exist.
My friend’s case that Lenin and Mao do not represent atheist philosophy is very weak. The violence of Lenin and Mao certainly show one valid possible outcome for following atheism where it logically leads.
Atheists also appear to be more prone to violent suicide than people with a religious affiliation.
Recently a study of “Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt “was undertaken. The study was published December 1, 2004 in “The American Journal of Psychiatry.” RESULT: “Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.”CONCLUSION:“Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients.”
Based on the facts, with violence as a criterion for a valid belief system, atheism fails.
I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH TO BE AN ATHEIST
Faith is belief that something is true based on the best evidence we have. With that definition of faith, then I would say in agreement with Frank Turek, “I don’t have enough Faith to be an Atheist.”
JESUS CAME TO SAVE
One atheist asked sarcastically, “What did Jesus save us from?” He does have an excellent question. Who did Jesus come to save?
“On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
Who are these healthy people who do not need the healing of Jesus?
Anyone who is righteous and is not a sinner.
Anyone who can avoid illness and death.
Anyone who can feed all the hungry.
Anyone who can prevent all homelessness.
Anyone who can cause human flourishing without damaging the environment.
Anyone who can prevent all alcoholism and drug addiction.
Anyone who can change the heart of a human so that he no longer kills and steals but loves his neighbor and turns the other check.
Anyone who does not need to experience the rebirth as explained in John 3.
Anyone who can prevent all child abuse.
Anyone who can prevent all spousal abuse.
Anyone who can prevent all child slavery.
Anyone who can prevent all child sexual abuse.
Anyone who can take away the fear of death.
Anyone who can prevent all wars and conflicts.
Anyone who can bring friendship between God and man.
Anyone who can heal the death and violence in the environment so that Lions eat grass and wolves lie down with the lambs.
Anyone who can heal the universe, so it never dies.
Jesus has promised to heal people and the earth. If he can raise himself from the dead, I think he can fulfill his other promises also.
19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8:19-21
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10
To us humans, this healing that Jesus is giving us seems to be taking a long time. But if the universe is 13.7 billion years old and God is eternal, then the healing Jesus is giving us is taking only the blink of an eye.