Read the series so far.
Last time I drew attention to some fallacious ideas which circulate on the airwaves and in popular culture. There are many more. In fact, even Christians have manufactured some pretty misleading mottoes and aphorisms which they use as watchwords instead of Scripture. Perhaps I’ll come back to that later, but right now I want to press on with the subject of worldviews.
As we have seen, a worldview is essentially an interpretation and outlook on life and its meaning. This outlook often lies behind the basic beliefs of people, although it must be added that people very often let their worldviews go unexamined. Let’s illustrate this with an example:
Many people will go to well known burger franchises and buy a cheeseburger even while knowing the ingredients are less than healthful. It’s the same with chicken nuggets, which are often made from gizzards and other unmentionables. If we gave critical thought to what we’re eating perhaps we would go for something else? In a similar way, if people tried a bit of critical reflection on their underlying beliefs, perhaps many of them would realize that these worldviews fail to provide healthy support for day to day experience or the societal values they deem important.
But just here we hit upon a common problem. The majority of people do not want to give much thought to where their worldviews eventually lead. They don’t wish to consider the consequences of their beliefs. How many evolutionists are prepared to conclude that their existence is just accidental, with no meaning and no values other than the ones they may choose to adopt? How many of them will agree with Richard Dawkins that all their thoughts are reducible to their particular brain-chemistry, which lines up with his interpretation of the cosmos:
The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.
Now surely it follows from this that what we like to call “wicked people” people aren’t actually wicked? (Dawkins says there is no evil or good). Their neurons just function in a way which make them commit acts against others which we don’t like? Dawkins himself (along with Christopher Hitchens and others) have branded Christianity as an evil. But he has also called it “a virus of the mind.” In other words, Christians are sick in the head. Well, if we suffer from some sort of sickness, and there is no evil, how can we be evil? This interpretation of Dawkins even manages to contradict some of his most cherished dogmas.
Likewise, we get men like Daniel Dennett, who believes “ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate.” From such a position other questions naturally arise: Have Dennett’s genes also fobbed off on him the belief that ethics is an illusion? What is “good and evil” and who is to decide the definition? If my mind cannot help but think the way it thinks, then surely the same must be said of Dennett’s mind (or Dawkins’ mind)? And who is to say Dawkins’s brain activity is superior to Hitler’s, or Jeffrey Dahmer’s, or the wildest eccentric out there, or yours and mine?
Nowadays the homosexual agenda has gained so much momentum that to gainsay it is to bring public opprobrium upon oneself. The received wisdom is that because they are “made” that way, so we cannot say they are in the wrong. The Christian will say that although homosexual urges are not necessarily evil (if they are thought of as temptations), homosexual fantasies or behavior are wrong. In this regard they are the same as temptations to steal, or to get angry, or to be promiscuous. Just because there may be physical manifestations which accompany these temptations does not mean it is alright to pursue them! If we allow such things then where will we draw the line? Already pedophiles are using the very same arguments as gay activists to condone their activity. These are worldview issues, and so they are apologetic issues!
One of the best definitions of apologetics is this one:
Apologetics is the vindication of the Christian philosophy of life against the various forms of the non-Christian philosophy of life. (Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics. 2nd ed., 17.)
From this definition it is easy to see that we need to train our kids to think critically about Christian belief and non-Christian belief. Simply “knowing that Jesus died for me” is not enough. It has never been enough. In former days this was clearly understood. But for several generations believers have been lulled into the cozy but perilous reverie that “the gospel” (and sometimes a watered-down version of it) is enough to protect us and our children. But the Bible contains a great deal more than the plan of salvation!
Paul Martin Henebury is a native of Manchester, England and a graduate of London Theological Seminary and Tyndale Theological Seminary (MDiv, PhD). He has been a Church-planter, pastor and a professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics. He was also editor of the Conservative Theological Journal (suggesting its new name, Journal of Dispensational Theology, prior to leaving that post). He is now the President of Telos School of Theology.