7 Truths from a Christian Worldview PART 3
by Dan Tsouloufis
Having concluded my seven fundamental truth claims, I will now dig much deeper and examine the incoherent and irrational worldview of those who doubt the existence of God or who outright reject the existence of God. First, I will present my thoughts on modern science and “scientism” and the growing secular-progressive worldview. Second, and primarily, I will present a stern critique of the dogmatic worldview of naturalistic evolution.
Some Thoughts on Modern Science and “Scientism” (Including a Critique of the Dogmatic Worldview of Naturalistic Evolution)
(Part 3 of 3)
Undoubtedly, we’re living in a technologically advanced age, an age of unprecedented scientific breakthrough and discovery. Yet, we’re living in an age of scientific hubris and unrestrained confidence that science can solve all our problems and that science is the ultimate hope of mankind. Moreover, we’re seeing a tendency by many prominent physicists to elevate science beyond its traditional categories into the realm of metaphysics, in order to create a so-called “theory of everything.” Let us be clear: science, and the scientific method, have little to say about metaphysical reality; and any such “theory of everything” is at heart primarily a philosophical theory, not a scientific one. Thus, this is not science, it is “scientism.” It is simply not in the realm of the physical sciences to explain everything, let alone things beyond the material world. It is both troubling and disheartening to observe the lengths man will go to explain away God and postulate speculative theories about how the universe (and everything in it) got here, and then draw further conclusions about what lies ahead. And all this in the name of “science.” It is long past time that an overawed public reject this foolishness and see through the façade of speculative, metaphysical philosophy masquerading as science.
Not surprising, in the modern, secular-progressive view of much of the culture, one of the common themes is their unwavering belief in science and a skeptical (and often elitist) attitude toward religion, especially organized religion. To secular-progressives, science is not compatible with religion, and in fact religion is what ultimately holds “progress” back. Interestingly, secular-progressives put a lot of faith in science, which is quite paradoxical in itself. But they truly believe that science can enlighten us on many fronts, such as climate change, embryonic stem cells, genetic engineering, cloning, gender identity, etc., and that science can solve our problems, provided they’re embedded in progressive policies. It is this fervent hope of progressive policies aided by science that will bring about transformation in our world, as well as remedy many of the structural problems in society.
Strangely, there is irony in their worldview. The way the secular science-lovers in our culture talk about science, you’d think science was a kind of belief system that requires total faith and conviction, as if it’s something to put one’s hope and trust in. Well, science, unlike God, really doesn’t care if you believe in it. As the late Austrian philosopher Eric Voegelin once pointed out, “When God is invisible behind the world, the contents of the world will become new gods. When the symbols of transcendent religiosity are banned, new symbols develop from the inner-worldly language of science to take their place.” We see this in our current cultural context as well. The bold and confident “You don’t believe in evolution!” crowd doesn’t merely believe in science; what they are really after is dethroning God in favor of their own gods of the material world. And in our current, hyper-secular age of scientism, we should feel compelled to provide them a cogent response. And I believe we can.
We’ve heard their arguments before: There is no God. We merely evolved naturally through an impersonal, chance-plus-time mechanism. The cosmos is all there is, and all there has even been. The basis for naturalistic evolution, this is known as the philosophy of uniformitarianism, the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. This was the foundation upon which Darwin built his famous thesis of Natural Selection. The universe is not, nor can ever be, subjected to supernatural or external forces; nor have the natural laws and processes operating today ever been modified. This view fundamentally excludes any notion of a transcendent, divine Creator and certainly any possibility of miracles.
However much this philosophy appeals to the empirical, scientific mind, it has some glaring weaknesses. For one, any notion of either an infinite universe or a self-generating universe remains quite dubious, as there is just too much evidence of intelligent design and complexity embedded in nature. And two, it remains unexplained how living organisms arose in the first place. How on earth (pun intended) did living cells come from non-living matter? This is no small thing. In fact, it’s a crushing earthquake in the foundation of naturalistic evolution. Even if we posited that such a worldview were true, let’s ponder the implications. As human beings, we are the accidental products of random natural selection. This not only reduces humanity to the status of just a higher animal species, but further complicates things by its logical conclusion that man is a deterministic animal or a machine. For if everything is the result of blind, random chance forces, then we as humans have zero basis for meaning, purpose, values, or ethics. And all of our choices and actions are merely illusory, because we are determined machines bound to the strict cause and effect laws of nature.
There are also the problems of morality and justice. If there is no God, and if there is no ultimate justice in the afterlife, then what is the basis for justice in this life? What is the rational foundation for justice and morality if there is no transcendent, moral reference point to undergird them? Yet what we know and observe is that humans do have a moral intuition and a moral conscience; that humans do have a strong sense of justice and purpose. But if we all evolved by blind, random chance forces, then how are we more valuable than a frog or an insect? Could it be that we’re created in the image of God, and therefore we appeal to an objective reality that transcends us? To be sure, without a transcendent Lawgiver, there’d be no basis for moral law in this life. Without a transcendent Judge, there’d be no basis for justice in this life. Yet if one holds that there is true justice in this life, but without God and without an afterlife, then what is the rational justification for it? The only coherent answer is silence. Or, we can abandon all rationality and instead choose subjective moral feelings or moral sentiment. But moral sentiment is not binding on anyone, nor should it be. Nor will it satisfy the human heart’s longing for justice.
Thus, any secular morality that’s rooted in mere subjective feelings, or in utilitarianism (i.e. the greatest good for the greatest number), or in pragmatism (i.e. what works), is really an abdication of morality, not an embrace of it. It may not be the intention of the people holding these moral viewpoints, but it’s the end result nonetheless. If there is no God, and consequently no divine Moral Governor, from where do we derive our inherent fundamental worth and dignity? In a random, purposeless, materialist universe, any notion of morality would simply be an organic development within a particular community, with its rules and precepts being upheld by whoever has the most clout or the most power. And this must be the case in a universe governed by survival of the fittest, where the only law is that “might makes right.” There would be no moral sense or moral intuition within us, but only amoral instincts protecting and promoting our own survival. In such a world, there is no right or wrong, there just is. Thus, even our deeds of altruism would be mere accidents with no justification for being a good and noble thing. For there would be no such thing as a good and noble thing, since whatever happens just happens, without any transcendent, spiritual reality imposing itself on us and compelling us to act in a way that we ought to act. On the contrary, we firmly believe it is this sense of “oughtness” that is woven into the fabric of the universe that God created, and for which we are all held accountable. We call this God’s natural law, or His moral law. This law entails the possibility of disobedience, and therefore culpability.
Deep down, we all know that some things are morally right or wrong. Additionally, we all know, at least on some level, that we are guilty before God. This is because we are all accountable to God. The committed atheist assumes he is accountable only to himself, yet his conscience will convict him nonetheless when he does wrong. He may not admit it, but he knows it, and he suppresses it.
This is the heart of what Paul is describing in Romans 1:18-32 where he sets out to explain the universal guilt of mankind before God. Because God exists, we not only can know something about nature, but we can know something about the God who created nature. More importantly, we have no excuse for denying it. Paul here is appealing to the general revelation which all of mankind is endowed with but which many suppress the truth in their unrighteousness. Thus, for those who willingly dismiss or reject God, they are still accountable to God their Creator since He has made His existence known to them. Moreover, since we are created in His image, we therefore bear His likeness and we have His law written on our hearts, to which our consciences also bear witness (Romans 2:14-15). As theologian R.C. Sproul Jr. explains, all men everywhere know who God is, yet they reject that knowledge. “Before we have done anything, we stand guilty, if only because our eyes tell us there is a God and our hearts hate that truth.”
It should not surprise us that many of the proponents of secular morality are clearly borrowing from some aspects of the Judeo-Christian heritage, yet they are unwilling to acknowledge it. It’s ironic that those who deny God, who deny absolute truth, who deny any transcendent law or Lawgiver, can’t help themselves from moralizing the rest of us. Yet even in their moralizing, they demonstrate the law that’s written on their hearts, while at the same time dismissing or rejecting the Lawgiver. They are overlooking the fact that for morality to be inherently meaningful as well as binding, there must be a rational, objective standard by which we can know and judge something to be true, right, just, and good. The various secular views of morality simply do not offer that, yet the secularists persist in building their own moral framework into them, even though philosophically they have no rational ground for doing so.
Thus, we need to expose the many gaping holes in this godless worldview. In the atheist, materialist worldview, the unguided evolution of the species is a dogmatic theory promoted by those who believe they are composed merely of a collision of atoms. If that’s the case, then our first question should be: How could such a collision of atoms produce a theory at all, let alone an immaterial philosophical theory? Our second question should be: Why do evolutionary materialists adhere to an immaterial philosophical theory in order to maintain their materialism? Ironically, as philosopher Thomas Nagel observed, “Whereas materialism suggests that matter came first and then mind, Theism is the polar opposite, in that mind – God’s mind – preceded matter. On the one hand, mind is a consequence of physical law; on the other, physical law is a consequence of mind.” In light of this, it’s quite puzzling and somewhat irrational that many of our prominent physicists hold that our minds are the mere products of matter.
For the sake of argument, even if evolution does occur, no one can scientifically prove that it is always unguided. Nor can one scientifically prove that evolution precludes a metaphysical, immaterial reality. These are merely philosophical assumptions, not empirically verifiable deductions. Naturally, if one holds to an atheist, materialist worldview, the net result will only be materialist conclusions. That should be obvious to everyone. But such is the dilemma of the materialist. To establish their worldview, they must fashion a metaphysical theory while at the same time denying any metaphysical reality. Thus, they must forgo coherence and live with their inconsistency. In our age of non-reason, such incoherence is nonetheless called science. It isn’t science, of course, but rather a gaping hole in their worldview.
But we are not done yet; there are three more holes in their worldview that need to be exposed. First, in our theistic worldview, we accept the premise that God is the ultimate foundation of reality, order, and rationality, which enables us to discover the laws of nature (or laws of physics). However, many secular-minded scientists and philosophers blindly trust the laws of physics to function in an orderly, consistent way without ever explaining why this is so in the first place. Hence, it is a gap in their worldview.
Second, in a naturalist, evolutionary framework, one can assert that there is some activity, that there is matter in motion. But one cannot rationally claim that matter in motion necessarily leads to order, or that it necessarily leads to progress. Yet in the evolutionary worldview there’s an unfounded assumption that order and progress are somehow inevitable. But this is a philosophical assumption, not a scientifically derived conclusion. Why must there be order instead of chaos? Why must there be progress instead of regress? Why must simple organisms become more complex, especially in a universe unguided and undirected by anything other than some chance-plus-time mechanism of natural selection? As we can see, it’s not hard to detect that there’s a philosophical assumption of progress that undergirds the evolutionary worldview. Thus, by presupposing naturalism and by presupposing progress, it’s further evidence that the evolutionary worldview has a metaphysical starting point, not a scientific one.
Third, if everything “evolved” as many scientists insist, then so did the laws of physics. If the laws of physics did not evolve, then they must be eternal, which of course contradicts the theory of evolution. Therein lies their philosophical dilemma. This is because a universe that was at one time absent of the laws of physics would be a universe of mere chaos and disorder, which is hardly a foundation upon which to produce a coherent, rational, and orderly world.
Therefore, the only rational explanation is that there must be a self-existent and intelligent Designer of the universe, which we believe is God, who created the universe and sustains it in an orderly consistent fashion. In reality, there can be no relevant science without this foundation, since the laws of physics would otherwise be incoherent and unobservable. Nevertheless, whether the secular-minded scientist believes the laws of physics are eternal, or that they evolved, either way it is his “faith” and not his “science” which compels him to do so, since neither conclusion is based on empirical evidence and is thus beyond the realm of science. Therefore, the secular-minded scientist must make a metaphysical assumption – a leap of faith – which becomes the basis of his naturalistic worldview. He is now free to deny God and justify his unbelief in the name of science, all the while deceiving himself, as well as others who would follow in his path.
I’ve always subscribed to the maxim that ideas have consequences, and bad ideas can have bad consequences. Unfortunately, the false and seductive worldview of Darwinian Evolutionism is one of the most harmful ideas that has plagued the West. Darwin’s grand idea provided the intellectual justification for agnosticism and atheism, since God was explained away as being unnecessary for creation. Thus, Darwin’s theory has done more harm to Christianity than almost any other philosopher I can think of. Darwin, and Thomas Huxley after him, made it easier, and more fashionable, to take God out of the creation business. Thus, one may ask: If God didn’t create all this, and if God doesn’t sustain all this, then what does God do? Well, to tens of millions of people, God became either expendable or irrelevant. As a consequence, Darwin’s grand idea has contributed significantly to the secularization of the Western, Judeo-Christian heritage.
Moreover, it’s not a coincidence that Darwin’s theory in the late 1850s gave Karl Marx the philosophical justification for Marx’s own atheism. Marx was already an atheist, but Darwin provided the intellectual justification for it, since God was explained away as being unnecessary for creation. At one point when Marx had migrated to London, he fervently studied the writings of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. This naturalistic theory was ideal enough for Marx to explain away God and religion, of which he was already highly cynical. Further, evolutionary thinking seemed to make sensible, and scientific, the realities of struggle and survival in nature and in history. In 1861 Marx began his monumental atheistic work, “Das Kapital” in which he criticized British capitalism. With gratitude, he sent a copy of the first volume to Darwin.
Though Karl Marx will forever be remembered as an atheist philosopher and communist revolutionary who viewed the classless society as the necessary means for social reform, his work would inspire at least one obsessed admirer, the mad Bolshevik, Vladimir Lenin. “Man is the supreme being for man,” Marx once boldly proclaimed. Yet, the history of the 20th century has little to be thankful for whenever Marxist-Leninist communism was wedded to Darwin’s theory of evolution; or when Hitler’s Final Solution was wedded to the Darwinian notion of survival of the fittest. It’s also not a coincidence that the eugenics movement was influenced by a strand of social Darwinism, with one of its ideas being that some races are superior to other races. I certainly don’t blame Darwin or Marx for the destructive use (or misuse) of their theories by others long after they were gone, but just making the point that ideas have consequences, and bad ideas can have bad consequences. Such is the pride and foolishness of man, when he turns away from God and seeks his own path and his own truth.
Lastly in order to preserve and advance our Judeo-Christian heritage, the current intellectual battle with the secular academy and many science-related media outlets over naturalistic evolution, is really a battle over the nature of man and man’s place in the universe. As Jonah Goldberg of National Review rightly described it, “If we are nothing but a few bucks worth of chemicals connected by water and electricity, then there’s really nothing holding us back from elevating ‘science’ to divine status, and in turn, anointing those who claim to be its champions as our priests.” As we often observe in the culture, true religion, religion that expresses a firm allegiance to God, must first be marginalized before it can be dethroned. Thus, the secular academy and those in the secular-progressive arena will continue their assault on religion, and they will use science as their weapon of choice to undermine it. As Karl Marx once said, “Criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticisms,” then he proceeded to create his own secular religion.
In our day, it is an unwavering belief and trust in science, and scientism, that have become idols. Science is a very good thing; in fact it’s an essential thing. But it is not everything, and it is not the ultimate thing. Science is merely a tool, a methodology. Unfortunately in our day, the tool has become the master, the new god of secular-progressivism. Man has convinced himself that he doesn’t need God; he only needs more science and technology to solve all his problems. But this is a grave self-delusion. Idolatry is nothing new, of course. This tendency of mankind is one of the reasons why every time Moses turned his back on the Hebrews, they started worshipping golden calves. Throughout our history, idolatry has always been at the heart of man’s sin and rebellion against God.
In conclusion, I will end with a quote from the astute Christian apologist, Michael Robinson: “We see evidence of God’s fingerprints in every known corner of the universe…We do not think He probably exists; our faith is not just reasonable or plausible. It is impossible for the true and living God not to exist, because without Him, in principle, we can know nothing at all.”