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Principle #2: “How Nietzsche Wins”

Dr. Nancy Pearcey notes an important characterization that Paul makes in Romans 1:23, that folks “exchanged” the glory of God for idols. Pearcey writes, “When a worldview exchanges the Creator for something in creation, it will also exchange a high view of humans made in God’s image for a lower view of humans made in the image of something in creation.”[1] This notion is referred to, in philosophical circles, as reductionism, i.e. the act of reducing something from a higher level to a lower level.

Principle #2: Identify the Idol’s Reductionism. Pearcey argues that, “No matter what your idol is, you will feel pressure to measure every part of life by that yardstick.”[2] And if you replace God with something else then that something else becomes your yardstick. More than simply measuring life, your actions follow from the philosophy or worldview that you espouse. For example, several studies show that believing in the materialist notion that humans have no free will inevitably leads to immoral and/or destructive behavior. Because of the truth evident in reality (according to Paul in Romans), people must deny one or more dimensions of human nature; thus affirming Paul’s comment that men “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

This suppression can lead to a denial of objective morality, free will, even consciousness, which, in turn, leads to contradictions and self-refutation. For example, Cambridge psychologist Nicholas Humphrey believes that consciousness is simply an illusion, since the only things that exist in the world are matter. Pearcey writes, “But if consciousness is an illusion, then how is Humphrey conscious of that fact?”[3] In other words, if there is no such thing as consciousness then what can be having the illusion in the first place?

Pearcey spends ample time carefully pinpointing the inherent reductionism (and its particular consequences) in other various worldviews, including pantheism, idealism, postmodernism, historicism, multiculturalism, even Islam. Pearcey then looks ahead to the next principle, which utilizes Romans 1 as a worldview test.

*Dr. Nancy Pearcey is a professor of Christian Worldview and Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, a fellow at the Discovery Institute, and editor of The Pearcey Report. Please do yourself a favor and buy her excellent book here!

Check back next week for Principle #3: Secular Leaps of Faith

[1] Nancy Pearcey, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes (Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2015), 98.

[2] Ibid, 99.

[3] Ibid, 105.