The Details: Nature vs. nature

Nature vs. nature

As we have discussed in the previous two posts, it is the job of Christians to first educate themselves on the worldviews of today so secondly, they can educate their own generation and those to follow. We must identify and question the secular, naturalistic worldview that is abundant in literature, music, movies, and all areas of study so that we can teach and proliferate the Christian, biblical worldview bestowed by God. In so doing, we will further the gospel movement and thus the great commission (Matthew 28:20)

What does this look like in everyday circumstances? I have written previous apologetic posts that I think would help to explain such methods (here and here), but I feel a recent example is profitable.

I deeply love classic literature. Texts rich in vocabulary and bursting with the arts are part of everyday blessings that I desire to give my children. A well-written book, be it fiction or non-fiction, is inspiring to the psyche, it enriches our lives, and shapes the culture.

One such gem of children’s literature is Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale, The Wind in the Willows. Prior to reading this text with my children, I had only read portions of this story; never the full text.

Aside from the rich vocabulary, the artistic descriptions of scenery, character, and plot, I began to notice an underlying belief system of the author. In the infamous chapter seven, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, two of the main characters, Mole and the River Rat, have a religious experience filled with worship for, Pan, the Greek god of the wild…nature. As I was reading this chapter to my children–keep in mind I had no idea this was approaching as this was my first read–I recognized immediately that significant nature worship was being depicted. Not only that, but the word nature itself is capitalized throughout the text thereby attributing anthropomorphic, human qualities, to a non-human concept. To capitalize nature is to equate nature with a god-like being responsible for the world we see today. It is to equate nature to God and His creation.

wind in the willows

…then in the utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fullness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, (The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, emphasis mine)

Immediately, I used this as a teachable moment.

I reinforced the idea that people worship the created rather than the creator. Just as we talk about evolution as one way to help explain the world around us to the exclusion of God, they can in turn attribute deity to Nature. I explained that this doesn’t mean we can’t read this book or other books like it simply because of a different worldview. However, in reading such texts we should be aware of the underlying worldview and values from which the author is writing.

Making this chapter, or other literature with conflicting worldview narratives,  taboo may heighten such texts to forbidden fruit. Conversely, openly discussing worldviews and other religious beliefs with our children in an environment where questions are welcomed and answers provided or looked up together, equips our children to handle future questions independently.

The saying, the devil is in the details applies here. We can equip ourselves, our children, and peers to recognize worldviews in the details so that we can sharpen our understanding of worldviews held by others and speak the truth of the Bible and a Christian worldview into the everyday situations of life.

More to come on Friday!

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Questioning Evolution

Complexity Speaks to a Creator

They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. (Romans 1:25)

You may or may not be familiar with the term, worldview. Your worldview is the lens through which you view life. Your worldview constitutes all that you believe about the origin of the cosmos and man, moral right and wrong, the purpose and end aim of life, and what happens to man after he dies.

I have studied worldviews for the past three years. There are debatable divisions of worldview, but I have come to believe that we can narrow these divisions down to two umbrella groupings: Christian and naturalism.

A Christian worldview postulates that the world is created by God to be ruled by man. Further, that man should live within the boundaries of God’s laws and moral standards in order to bring God glory and live in freedom from sin. Finally, that man will die and face the judgment of God. Those who trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord will live eternally in Heaven and those who rejected Him will live in eternal separation from God in Hell.

Naturalism proposes that the earth and all life within happened by chance. It is a molecules-to-man mystery. In essence, everything evolved from simple amino acids that appeared out of nowhere and were created by no one. Further, that they became more complex organisms over time. Finally, after death man is no more. We live, we die and then we are gone—there is no eternity or none which we know of with any certainty.

Many scientists and Ph.D.’s with far greater knowledge of the workings of microbiology, zoology, biology, botany, and genetics than I possess, lean toward the naturalistic or evolutionary worldview. However, it seems that the naturalistic worldview goes against the observable laws that science holds to today. Even someone with an elementary grasp of science knows that something cannot be created from nothing and that the world tends toward chaos and away from order. Therefore, it seems that not only Christians profess belief requiring an amount of faith, but naturalists require a great deal of faith to explain the origin of life as well.

Naturalists and Christians/Creationists possess the same scientific and observational data; yet we interpret the data differently due to our worldview and presuppositions. However, modern science testifies that the complexity of observable life speaks to a Creator. Further, the microbiological workings of man, which can now be observed by modern technology, resound with the news: Chance and time cannot explain the specificity and complexity which abound within the workings of the cells of man.

So, without reading a scientific publication, or skipping over to Amazon to buy an expensive coffee table accessory, I invite you today to consider a few complex functions of everyday life that I propose point to a Creator rather than a natural notion to worship the created. Those who reject God in the name of science are really rejecting God in the name of worshiping the Universe which demands no account to a higher moral law. Naturalism is more palatable to sinful man.

No one is neutral. People know instinctively that if Christianity is true they will lose control and not be able to live any way they wish. (Timothy Keller via Twitter: @timkellernyc 3/3/2014)

Let’s consider the implications of evolution on the following everyday tasks:

  • Language: If today’s complex and diverse languages evolved over time–rather than were given to us by God at the Tower of Babel– why did man not retain one language to the next as the languages evolved over time?  Why is language study necessary? Why is there no one language? Does this mean that we can distinguish one language as better as or more viable than the next?
  • Pollination: If evolution explains the vast creatures that we see today then how do we account for plant-life reproduction prior to the evolution of bees? Plants would not be able to reproduce without pollination and most animals require vegetation to survive–if not vegetation then meat from animals that are plant eaters. How does evolution account for this?
  • Reproduction: If evolution explains the origins of animals and man, then how would reproduction change from animals over time (e.g. animals that lay eggs as opposed to live-birthing mammals)? How can evolution support this change in kind in an observable manner? Where is the evidence to support such claims in the fossil record or within the animal kingdom we observe today?

Creation, as outlined in the book of Genesis (creation and a worldwide flood), explains the world we see today. The creation account provides the Who, where, when, why, and how to the questions of the origins of man, the created world, and the topography we observe post-flood. Likewise, creationism functions within the findings and observations of modern day science in a manner that does not require going against the laws of science. Conversely, naturalism is a worldview which does not offer an answer to who, where, why, how, and when man came to be. The claims of evolution and naturalism cannot be tested and verified but must be accepted on faith.

Those who worship God and hold a biblical worldview have the responsibility to question the claims—taunted as fact–of naturalists rampant in the academic and social circles of our day. Further, we must be ready with a logical defense to the questions of skeptics.

What questions do you have to ask of evolution? In what ways are you prepared to give an account for the worldview that you adhere to?

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Cracking Creation: Why it Matters and What It Means to Your Faith

Typically I would initiate a spiritual conversation with a question similar to this, “What do you believe happens to you when you die?”

However, I am questioning this tactic after reading the following from Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey:

In today’s post-Christian world, many people no longer even understand the meaning of crucial biblical terms. For example, the basic term sin makes no sense to people if they have no concept of a holy God who created us and who therefore has a right to require certain things of us. And if people don’t understand sin, they certainly don’t comprehend the need for salvation.

Consequently, in today’s world, beginning evangelism with the message of salvation is like starting a book at the middle–you don’t know the characters, and you can’t make sense of the plot. Instead, we must begin with Genesis, where the main character, God establishes himself as the Creator, and the “plot” of human history unfolds its first crucial episodes. And the scientific evidence supporting these episodes is powerful.

~p. 98, How Now Shall We Live? 

It was three years ago that I began to pay attention to the science of the Bible. After studying the Noetic Flood and considering the true implications of such  a world-wide catastrophic event, I realized I was scratching at the surface of the science within the Bible and creation.

Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey was the next step in opening my eyes to the necessity for Christians to understand and defend creation. This book identified and equipped me with a source which enables Christians to articulate the differences between creation and Darwinian evolution. For evolution is a tool, oddly enough, created from a staunch philosophy of naturalism: that all which exists comes from natural causes and laws in the known universe apart from any supernatural being.

The whole point of his (Darwin’s) theory was to identify a natural process that would mimic intelligent design, thus making design superfluous. ~ p. 94

It is nearly impossible to see the need for salvation apart from believing the evidence of intelligent design. Apart from knowing there is a God who created us, there is no need to build a relationship, or more accurately reconcile a relationship, between said God and man. 

Most people sense instinctively that there is much more at stake here than a scientific theory–that a link exists between the material order and the moral order…Our origin determines our destiny. It tells us who we are, why we are here, and how we should order our lives together in society.  Our view of origins shapes our understanding of ethics, law, education–and yes, even sexuality. ~p. 92

The Christian community of our day must equip itself to answer the tough questions and challenge the status quo which is: man is not above the animals but derived from them.

If you are willing to take the initial, or next sequenced step, toward the study of creation and developing a Christian world-view, then I highly recommend reading How Now Shall We Live? by Nancy Pearcey and the late Chuck Colson.

That is what I am reading this Wednesday. Thank you for joining me.

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