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Principle #3: “Secular Leaps of Faith”

Dr. Nancy Pearcey devotes this particular chapter to investigating the consequences of holding to a non-Christian worldview. She suggests that the best way to test a worldview is to discover whether it fits, so to speak, with our everyday experiences. In other words, “If a worldview contradicts our fundamental experience of the world… that is a good sign that it should be scrapped.”[1] Since all idol-centered worldviews are reductionistic (see Principle #2), they will fail to account for certain stubborn facts about the world.

Principle #3: Test the Idol: Does It Contradict What We Know About the World? Pearcey begins with the notion of free will since it has “become a stand-in for the whole range of human qualities that depend on it,”[2] including creativity, problem-solving, love and relationships, even rationality.[3] Materialists that deny human free will often contradict the philosophies they profess in practice. Pearcey proves this via several examples of materialists who contradict themselves, likely because they “stop short of working out the full implications of their worldview.”[4] This once again proves Paul’s point about those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” in Romans 1:18.

Paul also warns that idol worship leads to destructive behaviors, i.e. moral and social deterioration. Some materialists, like Richard Dawkins, openly acknowledge the truth of Paul’s words calling free will a necessary illusion or useful fiction. Pearcey argues that this kind of language signals a worldview that cannot fit with the world as humans experience it. To hold to a useful fiction when one’s worldview cannot account for it is, to say the least, irrational. Pearcey even argues that it is a form of secular mysticism: “It is ironic that many thinkers who pride themselves on being champions of rationality have accepted a form of mysticism—driven to that extreme position by the impulse to suppress the facts that contradict their preferred worldview.”[5]

Most people live fragmented lives, sometimes acting as modernists who hold to the objective truth of facts, and sometimes acting as postmodernists who hold to relative truths, particularly in the area of morality and religion. Therefore our Christian message must be explained (to skeptics) as an integrated notion of truth, an overarching Truth that fits with all aspects of reality.

*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 #4: Secular Leaps of Faith

[1] Nancy Pearcey, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes (Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2015), 143.

[2] Ibid, 147.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 153.

[5] Ibid, 161.

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