The Terrorist Who Came in from the Cold (Part 2)

This is a serialized adaptation of my Easter sermon in article form. This isn’t a traditional Easter message. Instead of simply presenting the resurrection, I challenge visitors to think about the bankruptcy of their secular worldviews, as compared to the Christian faith and message. This appeal culminates in a brief explanation of the resurrection, its place in the Christian story, and an appeal to “come in from the cold” (so to speak) and join God’s family.1  

We finished the first installment by asking you to consider the kind of evidence you rely on in everyday life. You don’t require absolute certainty and exhaustive knowledge for everything in your life. For example, you don’t know precisely how your phone works, but you know it does work, and that’s good enough for you to trust it. There is plenty of this kind of evidence for the Christian faith and message; more specifically, for the Christian way of looking at and interpreting reality. There’s more evidence for the Christian worldview than any alternative.

Where do you find the evidence

Christians and non-Christians have different sources of authority. There are all kinds of non-Christians (that’s a pretty big category!) but I’ll focus here on the religion of secular humanism (“secularism”), which is the dominant worldview in the Pacific Northwest.1 Secularism is a worldview that rejects all supernaturalism and finds hope in human self-realization and reason (e.g. Psalm 2)

Secular humanism’s sources of authority

  1. Scientism: a belief that hard (and soft) sciences are the only real source of knowledge about anything. This view typically denigrates “religious faith” as a “leap in the dark” or willful suspension of intellect.2
  2. Sociology: the study of human civilization, societies and relationships
  3. Psychology: the study of the human mind and behavior
  4. The new high priests: this mindset puts scientists and psychologists as the new high priests in a secular society. If you want answers, you turn to the scientists, to the American Psychological Association, and to the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (now in its 5th ed.)

Christianity’s source of authority

The Scriptures are the Christian’s only infallible source for faith and practice. Christians believe the Scriptures are God’s message to us, given by God to 40 men over 1500 years, preserved from error and from destruction and loss so we can have them today.

The Christian worldview isn’t against the hard sciences. It simply sees science as beholden to God’s account of the story of reality from the Scriptures. True science is done in light of God as creator, sustainer, and life-giver in the same way, secularists interpret reality through the lens of their own high priests and their own presuppositions.

So everyone has different sources of authority for their worldviews – how do you decide one is right?

Weighing the evidence

Let’s return to those big questions of life:

  1. where did we come from and why are we here?
  2. why does evil exist?
  3. is there any hope?
  4. how can it all be fixed?
  5. how will everything end?

Consider one way to weigh the evidence:

  1. which source of authority can answer these questions better?
  2. as a normal, reasonable person – which worldview gives you more logical, reasonable, coherent answers?

The Christian argument against the secular worldview is that it doesn’t actually give answers at all. Hard science (geology, astronomy, physics, chemistry) observes and describes reality, but it can’t explain reality itself. It can describe and observe stars and planets, the elements of minute substances, rock formations, how matter and energy interact, and how living organisms function and work – but it can’t go deeper than that.

Secular answers have no warrant or foundation

What are the logical implications of the secularist worldview?

Where did you come from?

You’re an evolved animal, an ever-evolving beast who’s just the latest model in a chain of random accidents. You’ll go extinct one day, and your evolved descendants will dig your bones up and write papers about how primitive you were.

Why are you here?

No reason! You’re an accident, your life has no meaning, no purpose, no point, no goal and no value. You might not live that way; you might not realize the logical implications of your secular worldview. But this is it – you’re a meaningless accident, and your life has no purpose.

Why does evil exist?

There is no such thing as evil, there is no Creator, so there are no absolute moral standards, so “good” and “evil” are social constructs that vary by society. This means that, even though you recognize that “good” and “bad” do exist, and you act as though they do, and you want to hold people accountable for breaking these moral codes, your worldview actually has no basis for absolute moral judgments at all, and you’re a walking contradiction.

Is there any hope?

There is no hope, because there is no future, because there is no point to life, because you’re not a special, unique, created person, because you’re just an evolving animal, and all you have to look forward to is the blackness of eternal nothingness one day. You’re like a candle winking out after a long night; there one moment, gone the next, and you’re just as disposable and interchangeable as that old, burnt-out candle. You’ll be tossed into the ground in the same way that candle is pitched into the garbage; gone, forgotten and irrelevant as soon as you’ve run your course.

You may go through the rituals of memorials, wakes and “remembrances of life,” but your worldview actually gives you no reason to hope and nothing to look forward to. Any joy or hope you do find in the future is actually a self-delusion to cover the bleakness of eternal nothingness, because your worldview has no basis for any hope at all.

How can it all be fixed?

Well, all you can hope is that people bond together, overcome challenges, and strive to “move forward” (whatever that means) and create a better future – probably while playing John Lennon’s “Imagine” at top volume. But, you have no reason to believe that will actually happen.

The 20th century was the bloodiest century in human history. You might hope people will “move society forward,” but you have no shared basis to define what “forward” even means. If you try to define “progress,” you have no basis for saying your version is more authentic than anyone else’s. You’re actually caught in a vicious circle of delusional hope against hope that somehow, in some ill-defined way, human beings will “move forward” to eliminate “evil” and let “good” triumph in society, even though you have no basis to even define those things, let alone impose them on other people. 

How will everything end?

It’ll end with your insignificant death. It’ll end with the gradual evolution of humans to a higher plane, to the next step. The world is a mindless machine of evolving matter, and you’re just a blank and faceless widget on an endless assembly line.

You’re as disposable as toilet paper, and about as unique, and your only purpose is to exist and then be flushed away. You don’t know how anything will end, and you don’t know where anything is going – all you know is that you’re an animal who’s there one minute, gone the next, and forgotten a half-second after

The great contradiction

The truth is that nobody lives like this; it’s suicidal and depressing to live like this – and that’s the point! Does your worldview give you any reason to have hope? Any reason to find meaning in life? Any meaningful reason to look forward to anything but the eternal blackness of nothingness? Can your worldview answer these “big questions,” or do you find answers despite your worldview?

If your worldview is contradictory; if it can’t answer these questions, if your way of looking at the world is a clashing, incoherent casserole of contradictory beliefs that don’t gel, then you have a problem. That means you ought to consider a message that makes sense of the evidence, which means it makes sense of the world as it is, of you as you are, and of reality as it actually is.

That message is the Christian faith and message.

Notes

1 Perhaps the most concise expression of humanism is the latest manifesto from the American Humanist Association, entitled Humanist Manifesto III. It broadly reflects the secular worldview of many individuals in the Pacific Northwest.

2 See the excellent book by J.P. Moreland, Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018; Kindle ed.), KL 263 – 273. “Roughly, scientism is the view that the hard sciences—like chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy—provide the only genuine knowledge of reality. At the very least, this scientific knowledge is vastly superior to what we can know from any other discipline. Ethics and religion may be acceptable, but only if they are understood to be inherently subjective and regarded as private matters of opinion. According to scientism, the claim that ethical and religious conclusions can be just as factual as science, and therefore ought to be affirmed like scientific truths, may be a sign of bigotry and intolerance.”

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