Now behold, a man of God came from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, while Jeroboam was standing at the altar to burn incense. And he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, “Altar, altar, this is what the LORD says: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall burn on you.’” Then he gave a sign on the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the LORD has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn to pieces and the ashes which are on it shall be poured out.’” Now when the king heard the statement of the man of God which he cried out against the altar in Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him!” But his hand which he had stretched out toward him dried up, and he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn to pieces and the ashes were poured out from the altar, in accordance with the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king responded and said to the man of God, “Please appease the LORD your God and pray for me, so that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God appeased the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and it became as it was before…. After this [and a following] event, Jeroboam did not abandon his evil way, but he again appointed priests of the high places from all the people; anyone who wanted, he ordained, and he became one of the priests of the high places. This event also became a sin of the house of Jeroboam, even to wipe it out and eliminate it from the face of the earth (1 Kings 13:1–6, 33–34).

Many Christians believe that we can reason and “miracle” people into the kingdom. Pharaoh saw a lot of miracles, and he remained unconvinced at the heart level. He did not deny what he saw, but he did reject what was behind the signs and wonders. King Jeroboam witnessed a miracle, and begged for the curse to be reversed, and even after what he experienced, he still apostatized.

A friend often comments on some of my posts regarding America’s Christian history. He claims that if those who produced the Constitution had acknowledged the God of the Bible and His law, we would not have the type of nation we have today. That’s possible, and maybe even likely, but we should keep in mind that Israel had direct revelation from God, a direct pipeline to God, and an extensive law-word order to live by. The people still rebelled. Sin is the key ingredient that rationalists and empiricists seem to leave out when defending the Christian worldview.

Thinking Straight in a Crooked World

Thinking Straight in a Crooked World

The nursery rhyme ‘There Was a Crooked Man’ is an appropriate description of how sin affects us and our world. We live in a crooked world of ideas evaluated by crooked people. Left to our crooked nature, we can never fully understand what God has planned for us and His world. God has not left us without a corrective solution. He has given us a reliable reference point in the Bible so we can identify the crookedness and straighten it.

Buy Now

Unbelievers may seem irrational to us when it comes to abortion, homosexuality, and transgenderism, but within the confines of their man-centered hewn-out worldview, they are being rational because rebellion against a Sovereign God impacts and influences everything they assess as information. The following might help you to better understand this principle.

Who Came In First?

A story is told that during the days of the Cold War a two-car automobile race took place between the United States and the former Soviet Union. An American newspaper reporter described the result of the race this way: “American car beats out Soviet competitor.” The Russian newspaper reported the same race from a slightly different perspective: “Soviet car finishes second; American car is next-to-last.”

Both papers reported the same event. Both accounts were factually true, up to a point. To put the best face on Soviet technology, the facts were positioned in a pre-determined way to obtain a certain result. The outcome for the Soviets was inevitable to create the illusion that atheistic Communism is better than Christian capitalism. The lesson is obvious: “It’s not that two bits of data contradict one another; it’s that the same bit of data can be read in (at least) two ways.”[1]

No Interpretation Tags

Many Christians and most secularists argue as if facts are self-interpreting, that any reasonable person will come to the same reasonable conclusion when presented with a reasonable argument based on a fair and reasonable presentation of the facts. This rarely happens. As William Watkins writes, “Facts do not come with interpretation tags, telling us how to view them…. Both sides haggle over the facts. Both sides search for new facts to add to their arsenals. Both sides raise accusations, yet it’s a rare day indeed when both sides acknowledge that their differences stem from something much more basic than facts. Their differences are rooted in opposing worldviews, which in turn are permeated with philosophical assumptions and commitments.”[2] For example, Jim Clarke, a meteorologist living in Fort Myers, Florida, describes the debate over global warming, not as a dispute over facts but how the facts are gathered and interpreted:

For the past 10 years, proponents of man-made global warming have been “cooking the books” to further their agenda. They use selective data sources to support their claims while ignoring data from the same sources that would prove them wrong. In short, the whole global warming issue is a global scam.[3]

Facts that don’t fit a pre-conceived global warming model are not considered legitimate scientific evidence. Once again, the same facts are present for both sides, but the presuppositions that are brought to the facts make all the difference when the time comes for interpretation. Since global warming or “climate change” claims are based on computer models, we should not be surprised if those who create the models might have a predisposition toward global warming assumptions since their jobs are dependent on government funding to fight global warming. An increase in temperature over forty years does not mean that such increases will continue at the same rate for the next forty years. Such extrapolations are speculative since we have no way of knowing what temperatures were like even 500 years ago. In a similar way, if the stock market rises fifteen percent one year does not mean that it will rise fifteen percent each year for the next ten years. Stockbrokers might want to convince buyers that this is the case, but as history shows, stocks always adjust over time to more realistic levels. In each of these cases, presuppositions and the intent of the fact gatherer make the difference.

Looking for “Inner Logic”

Joy Browne, looking at things from a psychologist’s perspective, tells us that most people assume that “the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who think logically and those who are nincompoops….” She informs her readers that this is not at all the case. “Believe it or not, there is no such thing as human action without reason. When we look at someone else’s behavior and deem it nutty, we are simply unaware of the link between that person’s thoughts and actions, but a link does exist. Once you accept that you and everyone else act on the basis of interior logic, then you simply look for the clues, assemble the pieces, and ask for explanations.”[4] Finding a person’s “inner logic” is the key to discerning how facts and experiences are interpreted.

The coldly objective, rationalistic, and materialistic field of science claims to be immune from presuppositional bias. At least that’s what scientists who hold any one of these positions want us to believe. Science is not an objective field of study, and it doesn’t operate independent of certain non-empirical starting assumptions, as Paul Davies, Professor of Mathematical Physics, points out:

However successful our scientific explanations may be, they always have certain starting assumptions built in. For example, an explanation of some phenomenon in terms of physics presupposes the validity of the laws of physics, which are taken as given. But one may ask where these laws come from in the first place. One could even question the origin of logic upon which all scientific reasoning is founded. Sooner or later we all have to accept something as given, whether is God, or logic, or a set of laws, or some other foundation for existence. Thus “ultimate” questions will always lie beyond the scope of empirical science as it is usually defined.[5]

Beyond these “ultimate” questions, there are certain presuppositions that prevail among materialist philosophers and scientists that color the facts. How is it possible to reason with Lawrence Lerner, professor emeritus at California State University in Long Beach, when he claims that “There are no alternatives to evolution that are science,” and that all the “alternatives are religious”?[6] Any piece of evidence that is put forth that might contradict the evolutionary model will be dismissed out of hand as non-factual, creating a veritable interpretive “Catch-22.” At the same time, Lerner and other evolutionists will claim that they are being scientifically objective when they evaluate the facts. R. J. Rushdoony relates the following story which dispels the widely held belief that science is coldly objective:

Louis Leakey, director of Kenya’s Centre for Prehistory and Palaeontology in Nairobi, described his discovery, together with his wife Mary, of a bit of skull and two teeth, in these words: “We knelt together to examine the treasure . . . and almost cried with sheer joy. For years people had been telling us that we’d better stop looking, but I felt deep down that it had to be there. You must be patient about these things.” The time was July 17, 1959. This scene is a curious one on two accounts. First, the scientist Leakey knew what he had found before he examined it: he worked by faith, and viewed his findings by faith. He was finding “proof” for a theory already accepted, and he accepted his finding as “proof” on sight. Second, the intense emotionalism and joy sound more like a revival experience than a scientific analysis.[7]

Phillip E. Johnson, an advocate for the intelligent design theory of origins, makes a similar point: “If, for example, there is some process by which animals became human beings—apes or whatever—no one knows how this happened. And such documentation as there is for it is found only by people who are already completely convinced that the process happened and go looking for confirming evidence.”[8]

Blind to the Facts

We can never assume that “facts alone” will be enough to confirm the validity of the Christian faith to someone whose interior logic begins with naturalistic presuppositions. Jesus performed miracles before eyewitnesses, and still they did not believe. For example, the Sadducees, “who say there is no resurrection” (Matt. 22:23), heard every reasoned claim of a resurrection but filtered the information through an anti-supernatural hearing device. Why did those in Athens “sneer” (Acts 17:32) when Paul spoke of the resurrection before they heard his account of it? The very idea of a resurrection did not fit their naturalistic worldview. All talk about the “facts” of resurrection would be discarded because an anti-supernatural worldview cannot (will not) account for or make room for any supernatural claim.

Suppressing the Truth

There is an active discounting of certain evidence to maintain the structure of an operating worldview. With the evidence of God’s existence all around them, some “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). Ultimately, unbelieving thought is a problem of the heart that affects the mind. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes, “This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (4:17–18). The mind must be “renewed” (Rom. 12:1–2) for the truth of the gospel to make sense. “Jews ask for signs” (1 Cor. 1:22), and when they see them, many still don’t believe. “Greeks search for wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:22), and when they hear it, some sneer (Acts 17:32) and others attempt to dispute it (1 Cor. 1:20; cf. Col. 2:8).

The Impossibility of the Contrary

The Impossibility of the Contrary

Those who deny God have no way to account for the uniformity of nature and its laws. Natural man does have knowledge, but it is borrowed knowledge, stolen from the Christian-theistic pasture or range, yet natural man has no knowledge, because in terms of his principle the ultimacy of his thinking, he can have none, and the knowledge he possesses is not truly his own… The natural man has valid knowledge only as a thief possesses goods.

Buy Now

It’s not that the facts about God’s existence and miracles aren’t compelling, it’s that they do not fit within the parameters of a naturalistic worldview. That’s what makes them unintelligible to the naturalist. In fact, to believe in supernatural events is irrational given naturalistic presuppositions. “For a naturalist, the universe is analogous to a sealed box. Everything that happens inside the box (natural order) is caused by or is explicable in terms of other things that exist within the box. Nothing (including God) exists outside the box; therefore, nothing outside the box that we call the universe or nature can have any causal effect within the box.”[9] It’s only within the context of a Christian worldview that so-called supernatural events are reasonable. (In reality, nothing is supernatural for God.) If as a naturalist I get to define the limitations of my worldview, then anything is possible or impossible as determined by me. But who gets to draw the lines? That’s the question. As Douglas Groothuis observes:

If one presupposes naturalism metaphysically, then one will rule out all miracles a priori. Any naturalistic explanation will trump any supernatural explanation; no evidence for the supernatural will even be considered.[10]

A similar point is made by Louis A. Markos. He points out that by treating facts as “neutral” and “self-interpreting” Christians end up “fighting our battles on ‘their’ turf.” We must “shift the playing field from the theories to the competing assumptions that underlie those theories.”[11]

Does this mean that we should never investigate the facts? Not at all. Notice the appeal to the senses: hearing and seeing. The promises made in the Old Testament had to be investigated and verified (Luke 1:1–4). Jesus isn’t a lofty principle, a phantasm, or a myth (1 Tim. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:4; Titus 1:14) but the promised redeemer. Consider John’s empirical standards:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of Life–and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us–what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1–3).

The Bible begs to be investigated empirically. All the criteria for proper historical inquiry are present. Jesus demands that He be judged by His works. Put the evidence to the test within the parameters of the Christian worldview, and you will find coherence. It will all make sense. Outside of the Christian worldview, nothing makes sense. For any part of the natural (creational) world to work, biblical presuppositions must be adopted.

[1] David Murray, Joel Schwartz, and S. Robert Lichter, It Ain’t Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1001), 86.

[2] William D. Watkins, “Whose Facts Anyway?,” Christian Research Journal (24:2), 60.

[3] Jim Clarke, “Fear-mongering a greater threat,” Readers Opinion, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (July 18, 2002), A19.

[4] Joy Browne, The Nine Fantasies that Will Ruin Your Life (and the eight realities that will save you) (New York: Crown Publishers, 1998), 228.

[5] Paul Davies, The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 15.

[6] Mary MacDonald, “A textbook case in Cobb County,” Atlanta-Journal Constitution (April 14, 2002), F1.

[7] Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Mythology of Science (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1967), 85.

[8] Interview with Phillip E. Johnson, “Intelligent Design: ‘Natural selection has no creative power at all,’” Atlanta Journal-Constitution (April 14, 2002), F3.

[9] Ronald H. Nash, “Miracles and Conceptual Systems, In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God’s Action in History, eds. R. Douglas Geivett and Gary R. Habermas (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 121.

[10] Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003), 93

[11] Louis A. Markos, “Myth Matters,” Christianity Today (April 23, 2001), 32.