The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

The Philosophy of Origins

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Last week, we discussed the religious nature and social implications of the idea of biological evolution. This week I would like to take this discussion one step further. We can’t just point the finger at the evolutionists as the enemy, without first dealing with the monster in our own backyard.

The Bible never once attempts to “prove” God’s existence—it is always presumed. Genesis 1:1 states emphatically: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Romans 1:20 continues this line of thought: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…” Paul doesn’t try to prove that God exists, he simply points out the obvious—a Creation needs a Creator. We can see and experience the “visible” attributes of God via Creation, and this leads us to understand the “invisible” attributes of the Creator because he has written it into his Creation, including mankind. This being so, Paul continues, they (men who suppress this truth) are “without excuse.”

What this “suppression” of the truth written on their hearts leads to is an elevation of the “visible” attributes detached from the “invisible.” The Creation becomes ultimate. They begin to exchange “the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Rom. 1:23). This is what we discovered last week—if God is not your sovereign, His Creation will be. By logical necessity, either Naturalism or Theism becomes your only options. Mountains of material have been written in an attempt to harmonize these two beliefs and gloss over the antithesis, but, in reality, you are faced with two diametrically opposed, unprovable assumptions for your ultimate starting point.

This gets me to today’s topic. Last week I argued that evolutionism should not be taught in science classrooms because it is a belief, not an established “fact,” such as, water boils at 212°F. However, most Americans agree that teaching both evolution and creation in the science classroom would be fair. [1] But this completely misses the point that neither should be there in the first place. Evolutionism and creationism are both worldview philosophies that help make sense of the “facts.” The evolutionist interprets data in the light of his philosophy and the creationist in the light of his. This is uncomfortable for most Christians though. They understand this to mean that God has no place in the science classroom. This is right…and wrong. Science by definition must be naturalistic, and so Richard Lewontin is absolutely correct when he says,

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.[2]

What he’s saying is that science is naturalistic, so God is not invited. And he’s right, if we would let God become a factor in our science classrooms, everything would be a miracle and it wouldn’t cause us to look deeper (more on this next week.) But notice what he’s admitting. They (materialistic scientists) are forced into this by their “a priori adherence to material causes.” He candidly says that it’s not science itself that causes them to think this way, but it’s their primary assumption about science that causes them to think this way. In other words, science is naturalistic because science is naturalistic. Even if God created, He is ruled out at the outset, so truth cannot be achieved, due to their ultimate presupposition.

But, this cuts both ways. If their a priori adherence to natural causes is an untestable, philosophical assumption, then our a priori adherence to supernatural causes is an untestable, philosophical assumption as well. By this token, neither creation nor evolution belongs in the science classroom; they belong in the philosophy classroom. Most public schools don’t bother to teach philosophy anymore.[3] Philosophy doesn’t matter—“facts” are what are really important. Nonetheless, a philosophy undergirds the entire public school system. Evolutionism isn’t just in the science classroom; it’s in the Anthropology class, the Health class, the English class and every other class that is taught throughout the day. And because it’s “scientific” it goes unquestioned…but this simply begs the question. The academic elite defiantly refuse to subject their own assumptions to the same test that they apply to creationism.

Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education says, “I just think we need a better-educated public so they can recognize that this [creationism] is not good science.” [4] I agree. But isn’t evolution the sole theory being taught in public school classrooms? She wants a “better-educated public,” but she has nobody to blame but her fellow evolutionists for the poorly educated public we apparently already have. A “better-educated public” would also recognize that evolution is not good science either, so she better be careful what she wishes for…she just may get it. We, as Christians, need to stop fighting the evolution and creation battle on the terms of the evolutionist. Stop worrying about who controls the science classrooms and start worrying about the underlying philosophy that your children are being taught, whether publicly stated or not. Better yet, teach them yourself. At the very least, get them a copy of Gary’s book Thinking Straight in a Crooked Worldand help them to understand how to think critically—our future depends on it.

Endnotes:

[1] http://www.trueorigin.org/edupolls.asp http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_school.htm
[2] Richard Lewontin, “Billions and billions of demons,” The New York Review, (January 9, 1997), 31.
[3] http://www.apa.udel.edu/apa/archive/newsletters/v97n1/teaching/pre.asp
[4] http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050522/NEWS01/505220398/0/BACK

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