|"God is dead" - Nietzsche|
Today though The Problem is taking on a new tone. In the last two centuries we in Western culture have moved from a general belief in God to a general belief that it's possible not to believe in God and are now moving into a world where it is considered impossible to believe in God. Indeed within academic and other elite circles the idea of a belief in God is considered bizarre and dangerous.
With the rise of Nietzsche, Freud, Darwin, and Marx the Western world (and much of the rest of the world as well) has come to believe that God is not there at all and not necessary either. When these philosophies from these Four Horsemen of Atheism are blended together we end up with a new philosophy that has so infected our culture and so changed the world we live in that we as Christians are virtually unaware that not only has something changed, but that everything has changed. For a while the United States has been the last bastion of theism in the West, but that is coming to a very rapid end.
So what is the authority and view that is ruling the day and where is it headed? In a word the fundamental philosophy of today is Scientism. This is not a word that is often used on television or in the press, but it is everywhere in our culture. PBS actually has one of the best definitions of scientism from the program Faith and Reason. In fact, their definition puts it into the exact context in which we are concerned. It draws a sharp line between scientism and Protestant fundamentalism.
Unlike the use of the scientific method as only one mode of reaching knowledge, scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. Scientism's single-minded adherence to only the empirical, or testable, makes it a strictly scientifc [sic] worldview, in much the same way that a Protestant fundamentalism that rejects science can be seen as a strictly religious worldview. Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.
Now, note what is being said here. The authority which is being appealed to is science and only science "as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth". Moreover the definition flatly states that Christians deny science. So what is the authority? Science. Who tells us what science says? Scientists. What are we to do with what they say? Follow along until they discover something better. Note too that the definition properly defines Scientism in terms that clearly indicate that it is philosophical and ultimately religious.
Along with these claims comes a world view and it's a worldview we dare not miss. Within Scientism the only hope for mankind is scientific progress. Anything that stands in opposition to what the scientists say is therefore not only wrong (heresy) but dangerously wrong. To deny any point of Scientism is to deny science and is therefore irrational. This is why we hear so often that we Christians are part of a group that "rejects science". We are considered backwards, idiotic, and, particularly after 9/11, extremely dangerous.
For the adherent of Scientism any appeal to any authority other than science is totally and irredeemably idiotic. This is why the modern new atheists (such as Dawkins, Hitchens, etc.) are so vitriolically opposed to anything that disagrees with them. To them it is the height of stupidity to think anything other than what has been declared by "science" is true.
We'll unpack this more in upcoming posts, but for the moment there are a couple points I want to make. First, science cannot prove the claims of Scientism which are inherently based on materialism and naturalism. Science is a field of study designed to observe nature and the material world. Materialism and naturalism are philosophical claims that the material natural world is all there is. What is offered as proof? Science hasn't shown that there isn't anything other than the material natural world. Think about that for a moment. It is pure circular reasoning.
Second, Christians need to consider how much of Scientism we may have swallowed. The new atheists rightly ridicule "Christians" who argue that we can have Christ and evolution too. They lambast liberal theologians as intellectually dishonest hacks who know nothing about the Christianity they claim to follow. The is no longer room for religious tolerance because tolerating religion is, again, considered dangerous.
What about us though? Do we truly believe that the Word of God is the word of God? Do we truly believe that all of our hope is in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Or do we hold onto some idea that Jesus saves our souls but science is really what has the answers to the problems of the world? Does the Bible really properly define not only what we should do about people doing bad things, but also why people do bad things? Or do we believe that people do bad things and Freud has told us the real reason why people do bad things? Is morality defined by a Holy God or is it defined by the latest survey of what is "normal" within our society?
These are critical questions and they all come back to authority. What is your ultimate authority when it comes to truth? Science is a wonderful tool. In fact, it was a tool invented by people who believed in God and from that belief came to the conclusion that the world was orderly and knowable. However, science is not a tool that solves problems of the human heart, of the soul. It cannot do that any more than a screwdriver can be used to take an x-ray. It's not designed to do that.
However, in Scientism there is a growing belief that not only can it do that, but that it is doing that. Scientism holds that everything that we are is reducible to chemical interactions acting within a Darwinian framework. Every study about human behavior ends with a Darwinian just-so story about how the results of the story must have come about. What's concerning is that we as Christians find ourselves buying into the narrative even when that narrative is completely in contradiction to what the Bible has said.
The Bible states that God's word is Truth. Scientism claims that scientific conclusions are Truth (not just facts but Truth with a capital T meaning philosophical truth). These two views simply cannot coexist. Christians can and do use science all the time. However, Christians cannot buy into Scientism without throwing out the Bible and what it says.
The time is rapidly approaching when Christians will no longer have a choice to play both sides of the line. The new atheists will no longer allow that. In academic circles that time has already come and gone. In business it has also come and gone. All that is left is what you believe in your private world and how that might affect which candidate you pick in the voting booth. And it is exactly there that the Scientists find the most danger. It is in your private world that they believe you will halt the progress of humanity, destroy science, and condemn the world to a backward idiotic superstition. And they will simply not allow that.
This is not to say which candidate to pick. It is to say, you had better decide which authority you are picking right now because the stakes just got astronomically higher for Bible believing Christians in the United States. We are now the enemy and the opposition knows it and is determined to wipe it out. We have already seen how this has begun with attacks on Christians who hold to Biblical morality. It will only get worse and if we are not firm in our faith and ready for these attacks we are in danger of faltering when it most matters.