Essay / Culture

Why Secularism is Doomed

How do you know when a world-view is doomed? Slipping systems begin to resort to raw power and anger to maintain control. Secularism has had a lock on “smart culture” (the elite media and university systems). Now new technology and rising conservative intellectual groups are putting such control in doubt.Phillip E. Johnson is a law professor at University of California, Berkeley. He examined the arguments used in favor of naturalistic evolution and discovered that a scientific theory, weakly supported by the evidence, had assumed the status of dogma in science. There is nothing wrong with dogma, but this doctrine was not supported by the evidence. It had become a creation myth for secular culture. Here is the sort of response people like Johnson get. (The article is in blue. My comments are in black.)Creationism’s strange evolutionTuesday, November 30, 2004By Tony NormanA long time ago, while mulling over the insanity of becoming a Christian, I attended a Bible study deep in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. It was early spring 1979, and I wasn’t eager to throw in my lot with the crew of perky believers who wandered around campus perpetually turning the other cheek.For some reason, the philosophy of Jesus Christ offends this man. Even more offensive to him are “perky” people who are Christians. Mr. Norman must live in dread of Katie Couric. What is harder to fathom is how forgiveness (“turning the other cheek”) is offensive. Either Mr. Norman has never needed forgiveness or believes he has never needed forgiveness. A classmate invited me to attend the Bible study off campus because he suspected my faith was wavering even before it got off the ground. “You have a lot of questions,” he said as we drove through a generic Southern California suburb at dusk looking for his friend’s house. “Let’s see if we can get a few of them answered so you can make a decision for the Lord.” Here is a good thing. Christians are using reason to make decisions. His Christian friend wants him to find evidence and answers for his questions. Christian people spend a great deal of time thinking, working hard to understand one of the greatest books ever written. We were the last to arrive. Every square inch of living room was filled with righteous virgins who wore gingham dresses or polo shirts that smelled of apple pie and soap. Evidently in addition to a horror of Couric, the author fears: chastity, American food, and cleanliness. Until my secular friends stop giving a platform to this sort of bigotry, they will never carry a red state. Why does he despise these folk? How tolerant is that? I stood in the dining room near the kitchen with other stragglers feeling alienated from the whole thing. Looking around, it wasn’t hard to figure out that whatever happened between me and God wasn’t going to involve these people, that was for damn sure. Deciding that a group’s ideas are bad based on their physical characteristics is not sound reasoning. However, an amazing number of secularists I have met are simply snobs. They don’t like people who wear print dresses. Listen to the wrong music or read the wrong books and it does not matter what the truth is. They prefer people who look like they look, who are “hip” or “cool” or whatever term of the moment. Of course when religious people are this way, it is equally bad. I have never heard a religious person defend this sort of snobbery.Standing in the center of the room was the evening’s guest speaker, a middle-aged academic from the local creationist think-tank. Lanky and professorial, he regaled us with stories about how he decimated evolutionists in debates across the country. Occasionally he punctuated his monologue with “Darwinism is a lie” and “Carbon-14 dating is scientifically untenable.” He insisted that no one was obligated to believe anything as intellectually shoddy as evolution in 1979. The world was a little over 10,000 years old if it was a day, a proposition he was willing to prove with chalk and a blackboard if necessary.What is wrong with this? Is it that the author simply does not think people should be allowed to make these arguments? During the question-and-answer period, mine was the only hand that shot up. I asked him about the dinosaurs, imagining that it was probably the first time anyone ever bothered asking such an obvious question.”Dinosaurs? What about them?” he said, as if expecting me to fill in the geological record in the dim recesses of my own brain. “Isn’t it obvious that humans and dinosaurs co-existed until Noah’s flood swept them away? Secular science is in denial about human footprints found side-by-side with dinosaur tracks on ancient river beds in Texas. Evolution can’t explain it. Creationism can.”Having spoken to hundreds of evangelical group, I can assure Norman that his question is a standard one. Assuming that this is an accurate account of the evening the response of the speaker was fine for the time. Part of it was good. He points out that evolutionism is an attempt to explain facts using ideas. Creationism is also an idea that attempts to explain facts using ideas. Creationism (of the young earth variety) believes that a global flood can explain the fossil record. Thoughtful scientists like Leonard Brand investigate the natural world and try to explain it using their own ideas. The speaker at the time, used evidence (Texas prints) that turned out to be wrong. Creationists changed their mind about the evidence after investigation by both secular people and creationists. Being wrong about a detail of your theory and changing your mind is not a sign of a bad theory, but a healthy one. Hugh Ross is an interesting scientist and thinker. He is an example of a thinking Christian. I have never heard Ross (an astrophysicist) or Brand (biologist) do anything but reason as careful as they could from the evidence. Before rejecting a religious system that produced Aquinas and Augustine, Norman might have wanted to do a little deeper reading. Norman relies on the assumption that Christians are simple thinkers. He needs us all to march in lock stop. It is just not true. I smiled wanly and looked at my watch. Several outrageous leaps of faith are part of the package when one becomes a believer — the most preposterous being the odd business of Jesus rising from the dead — but there was no way I would consider “The Flintstones” closer to truth than Charles Darwin. Ridicule is not an argument. If God did become man, then why is it “preposterous” for Him to defeat death? I suspect that Norman believes all miracles are impossible as a matter of blind faith. Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead based on best evidence, not blind faith.The Bible is a great book, one of the most interesting and complex ever written. Even secularists admit this. Darwin was thoughtful, a great writer, and a sple
ndid naturalist. Darwinism is an ideology that is powerful, but I think compared to Platonism and the concept of creation found in the Bible it is weak. No one I know studies the Flintstones to form their world view, but after all I should not judge an idea by its source!Dino going for walks with Fred 8,000 years B.C. is a miracle even more staggering than the Resurrection. This idea may be wrong from a secular point of view, but dinosaurs surviving until 8,00 B.C. and living with humans would require no miracle at all. Perhaps it did not happen, but it could have without resorting to even a single miracle. Norman is just wrong. My friend wasn’t in a hurry to leave, though. He didn’t need much convincing that the Earth was barely older than one of the ancient fruitcakes that circulate uneaten during the holidays. Still, I give the creationist from 25 years ago more credit for intellectual honesty than proponents of “intelligent design” theory who are attempting to smuggle creationism into public schools by questioning the viability of evolution.There was a time when creationists readily conceded that their “theory” was based on a literal reading of Scripture that traces the origin of mankind back to the chronology found in Genesis. There was none of this semantic hoohah about evolution being a “theory and not a fact” that impresses so many good Christian folk today. Semantic “hoohah” is Norman’s term for clarifying an argument. Intelligent Design hides nothing. Some of its members, I am one, are young earth and are very open about it. Some base some of their thinking on ideas drawn from the Bible as I do. Others are “old earth” and reject my reading of Scripture and the evidence. A good number are not Christians at all. Norman has simply confused many groups with each other. Intelligent Design is a big tent that covers them all. These days, neo-creationists obscure the religious roots of intelligent design even though they know their “science” couldn’t stand apart from biblical revelation. This is just wrong. I could derive every idea necessary for Intelligent Design from Plato’s Laws. Others find the ideas from a careful examination of nature. Many people support design in science because they believe it to be true for many different reasons. Christians find it also supports their religious position, as I do. However, I was once a Christian who did not believe in design. I was a theistic evolutionist. Norman must know that an idea is not wrong just because it indirectly aids a religion he does not like. Presenting intelligent design as a religiously neutral theory is a bigger lie than any so-called inconsistency found in Darwinism.Intelligent design need not advance religion, since it cannot identify the creator(s), who need not be God, especially the God of the Bible. However, the question is not: who is helped by an idea, but is it true? Truth is truth. Students should be exposed to the truth no matter what group it helps or harms. Providing support to an idea is not endorsing it. Intelligent design is compatible with many religions and even no religious belief at all. At the root of this shell game is an embarrassment about God’s ability to work through nature using the evolutionary process. God could have. Of course. Did he? No one wants to answer that question. I have no problem with Darwinism, per se. I just want to know if it is true. I examine the evidence and it is not. God could have, but did not. Will someone explain why a 15 billion-year-old universe is any less miraculous than the one conjured up in biblical poetry? As Jimmy Fallon once cracked on “Saturday Night Live,” the only compromise between the two will be an eventual agreement to start calling dinosaurs “Jesus Horses.” Can you tell Phillip Johnson is winning?

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