Secular Humanists Are Humans (part III)

While it is important to reassure a potential convert that becoming a Christian does not require one to check reason at the door, one should remember that secular humanists are humans. To share Christianity with a secular humanist one does not necessarily have to have a command of these rather complex scientific and philosophical arguments. Atheism is counter intuitive to nearly everyone. Even an anti-theist like Sam Harris concedes that, “there is clearly a sacred dimension to our existence, and coming to terms with it could well be the highest purpose of human life.”[1] Like all people they suffer from the devastating results of sin. The bible tells us that “men suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). If we can help them to address their unrighteousness by pointing to Christ’s redemptive work, often their truth suppression is mitigated. They need forgiveness yet do not acknowledge it. We can offer them help dealing with addictions where secular methods fail. They struggle for love and acceptance like all other humans. It is important to share the love and unique message of Jesus Christ as many secular humanists have only a sardonic caricature of Christianity in mind. An ardent atheist will likely be suspicious that Christians view their conversion as a trophy. It is important to develop a relationship and to demonstrate genuine care before making an evangelistic appeal.

Once there is trust, a particularly useful approach is the moral argument along the lines of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Evolutionary explanations fail to adequately account for objective moral values. Given Darwinism, anything that provides for the survival of one’s own genetic material is deemed beneficial. So why is rape or murder evil, if you can get away with it?  After all, it reduces the competition and spreads your DNA. Yet we seemingly know that it is wrong. Furthermore, relativism amounts to mob rule. For instance, there is no objective basis to judge that the holocaust was truly evil. As long as the majority of Germans agreed with what Hitler was doing, then it was moral-relatively speaking. Of course this is repugnant to most everyone and indeed it is here that secular humanism has failed most miserably. Unparalleled scientific progress has not delivered a secular utopia. It has led to a human nightmare. The twentieth century world total is 262,000,000 murdered by government and largely outside of war in the pursuit of the secular humanist ideal of Marxism.[2] The problem of evil is actually a much bigger problem for the atheist than the Christian. The bible provides a coherent explanation for evil and most of all it offers a real hope (Rev. 21:4).

[1] Sam Harris. The End of Faith. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005), 14.

[2] R.J. Rummel “20th Century Democide.” Freedom, Democracy, Peace; Power, Democide, and War. 11 23, 2002. (accessed 10 26, 2010).

Secular Humanism’s Inadequate Creation Myth (part II)

The secular humanist’s insistence on naturalism also poses a problem when it comes to cosmology. That the natural world had an ultimate beginning has now been firmly established by the big bang cosmology. Yet for naturalism to be coherent, the universe should be static and eternal.[1] Because our space time reality is contingent, the principle of sufficient reason or the scientific method would lead one to look for a sufficient cause. An infinite regress is irrational. Thus, a self-existent necessary first cause is clearly the best explanation. The only possible alternatives are irrational appeals to self-creation or that something comes into being without a cause. Unfortunately, this is exactly where secular humanism arrives. The famously brilliant physicist, Stephen Hawking, has recently argued, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”[2] In other words, to create itself, the universe had to exist, before it existed. This is nonsense. Fortunately for theists, the law of non-contradiction is still a necessary corollary for real science. It seems far more reasonable to assert that that which caused nature is indeed supernatural.

Secular humanists are particularly entrenched when it comes to the sacred cow of Darwinism. There are very good scientific reasons to doubt Darwinian orthodoxy but the majority of humanists are practiced in this debate.  It might be wise to address a more ultimate question like the origin of life. Evolution cannot explain the origin of life and Darwin never really tried. There can be no Darwinian evolution without reproducing life and to date there are no feasible theories as to how this occurred. But even if we grant evolution, it does not equate to naturalism. There are many theistic evolutionists like human genome project director, Francis Collins, who argue that the evolutionary process itself is evidence of God’s design. For instance, William Paley’s classic argument from a watch to watchmaker still holds. Far from being a defeater, evolutionary theory leads one to believe that we have found a self-replicating watch that makes improvements on itself in response to its environment.[3] That demands not only a skillful design but one with foresight. When viewed through this lens, evolution actually refutes naturalism. This effectively demonstrates that naturalism and scientism are inadequate.

[1]Geisler and Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004,72.

[2] Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design. (New York: Bantam  Books, 2010), 14.

[3] Dinesh D’Souza. What’s So Great About Christianity. (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007), 98 .

Secular Humanism’s Self Refuting Theory of Knowledge (part I)

Secular humanists are largely the product of the enlightenment and modern scientific rationalism yet their roots run deep. The bible speaks of God’s displeasure during the days when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:6). The fifth century BC Sophist Protagoras famously declared “Of all things the measure is man,”[1] and this still seems a suitable credo for today’s humanists.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth. [2] A major problem for the secular humanist is their theory of knowledge. The secular humanist will invariably assert scientific consensus as the final word. According to Webster’s scientism is “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation.”[3] For example, Bertrand Russell wrote:

While it is true that science cannot decide questions of value, that is because they cannot be intellectually decided at all, and lie outside the realm of truth and falsehood. Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.[4]

Yet this precept is self-refuting in that it is not itself established by science via data from controlled repeatable experiment. Science is limited. For instance, the scientific method cannot even discover why I baked brownies yesterday. Perhaps I made them for a party or a church social?  There is a truth to be known, yet short of me telling, science is impotent. God is a person, well actually three persons… much like the reason why I baked brownies, there is truth to be known about God, but it is up to him to reveal it.

Furthermore, science simply presupposes the rules of mathematics and logic, the uniformity of nature and the rational intelligibility of the universe. In fact, science is dependent on them as articles of faith. Yet given atheism, there are no epistemological grounds to assume a rational universe. Albert Einstein once marveled, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” However, theists believe that reality can be described with humanly derived equations because our minds are the product of the ultimately rational God who set reality into motion. Science is dependent on the theistic interpretation of an orderly cosmos.[5] Thus, there is a profound logical incoherence that undermines all of naturalism’s attempts to answer ultimate questions.

…to be continued

[1] Carol Poster. “Protagoras (fl. 5th C. BCE).” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. April 27, 2005. (accessed 10 26, 2010).

[2]C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 39.

[3] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed., s.v.”scientism.”

[4] Bertrand Russell. Religion and Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 243.

[5] Nancy Pearcey. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity. (Wheaton,Il: Crossway Books, 2004), 43.

Stephen Hawking’s Descent Into Futility

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlondinow’s latest book The Grand Design has astounded the philosophical community by making the audacious claim that “Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.” [i] Dr. William Lane Craig begs to differ, please refer to this.

Demise of philosophy aside, Hawking necessarily robs its grave as his book is a case in point, material reductionist philosophical treatise – not hard science.  He sets forth the preposterous idea that the mere existence of the law of gravity allows that the universe could spontaneously create itself out of nothing. He argues that the entire universe is the product of an arbitrary quantum fluctuation, an unintentional cosmic coincidence that has no spiritual significance.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”  [i]

Ok let me get this straight… In other words, to create itself, the universe had to exist, before it existed.  Now that is futile thinking! I guess Hawking’s Grand Design is actually no design… but how grand is that? Yet he still must acknowledge that we find an astonishingly well suited set of conditions for life. This transcends credulity and he knows it.  To explain away the inconceivable precision design we encounter. Hawking asserts,

But just as Darwin and Wallace explained how the apparently miraculous design of living forms could appear without intervention by a supreme being, the multiverse concept can explain the fine-tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator who made the universe for our benefit.[ii]

Multiple universes? Where did they come from?

“Bodies such as stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can.”[iii]

Wow! This sounds like magic!  Wait a minute… seriously, how can “nothing” fluctuate?  Nothing literally means “no thing” and it can not do anything. But Hawking believes that nothing did something which made everything. That is futile thinking. For many more detailed rebuttal’s please follow this link as this has been demonstrated as nonsense on a number of levels.

Even his research partner Sir Roger Penrose, who won the Wolf prize for physics with Hawking for their paper which proved that time had a beginning, has spoken out against his unwarranted atheistic assertions. It seems as if a famously brilliant scientist is exhibiting embarrassingly futile thinking. I think I know why…

I have been reading A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy which is a book about the attributes of God and how many modern Christians have lost the proper sense of God’s awesome majesty. I highly recommend it and hope that you might read it, as the above hyperlink links to a free electronic copy. In light of Hawking’s nonsense, a few sections really stood out to me. So much so, I feel compelled to post them. First, Tozer speaks to the fact that modern man has lost his proper sense of awe and wonder for creation. Remarking on how much,

Still we do not know. Secularism, materialism, and the intrusive presence of things have put out the light in our souls and turned us into a generation of zombies. We cover our deep ignorance with words, but we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper “mystery.”  [iv]

I think this indeed the case. One’s belief in God is inextricably related to one’s sense of awe and wonder with creation. The arrogance of some scientists is rather astounding considering that we actually know so very little. Tozer’s words “that we still do not know what it is” were penned decades ago. Has science proved him wrong? Hasn’t science now unlocked reality? Actually quite the opposite, in fact, we have actually learned that we know a lot less than we thought we did in 1961. David Spergel leader of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe space mission reveals,

“From our experiments, the periodic table which comprises the atoms or normal matter that are said to make up the entire universe actually covers only 4.5 percent of the whole,” lead theorist Spergel said. “Students are learning just a tiny part of the universe from their textbooks. It would be dark matter and dark energy that comprise the next 22 percent and 73.5 percent of the universe.”[v]

As Dr John Lennox so astutely rebutted Hawking,  “What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine.” [vi] Dr. Lennox is indeed correct and this is where my current reading of Tozer connected serendipitously. I had just heard Lennox’s rebuttal when I read this section by Tozer:

One cannot long read the Scriptures sympathetically without noticing the radical
disparity between the outlook of men of the Bible and that of modern men. We are
today suffering from a secularized mentality. Where the sacred writers saw God, we see
the laws of nature. Their world was fully populated; ours is all but empty. Their world
was alive and personal; ours is impersonal and dead. God ruled their world; ours is
ruled by the laws of nature and we are always once removed from the presence of God.

And what are these laws of nature that have displaced God in the minds of millions?
Law has two meanings. One is all external rule enforced by authority, such as the
common rule against robbery and assault. The word is also used to denote the uniform
way things act in the universe, but this second use of the word is erroneous. What we
see in nature is simply the paths God’s power and wisdom take through creation.
Properly these are phenomena, not laws, but we call them laws by analogy with the
arbitrary laws of society.

Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern
somewhere and fixes it as a “law.” The uniformity of God’s activities in His creation
enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of
God’s behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth. Upon it the scientist
rests his faith and from there he goes on to achieve great and useful things in such fields
as those of navigation, chemistry, agriculture, and the medical arts. [vii]

When I consider Lennox’s observation of the category error coupled with Tozer’s prescient theological analysis. I think Hawking’s descent comes into sharp focus. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking invoked God and the “mind of God” as an overarching rationality governing the Universe. How can we account for an otherwise brilliant man’s descent into self-refuting nonsense? The Old Testament is crystal clear on atheism (Ps. 53:1). But Romans chapter one actually prescribes specific consequences that aptly characterize Hawking’s latest effort,

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Futile thinking indeed…

[i] Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design. New York: Bantam Books, 2010, 14.

[ii] Hawking, Design, 259.

[iii] Hawking, Design, 281.

[iv] Tozer, A.W. “The Knowledge of the Holy.” 1961. (accessed 10 6, 2010). p. 14-15.

[v] Serinah Ho, “Scientists uncover secrets of universe” (accessed 10-5-2010)

[vi]John Lennox, ”Stephen Hawking is Wrong” (accessed 10-5-2010)

[vii] Tozer, Knowledge, p.47-48

The Skeptic’s Problem of Coherence

co·her·ence (k-hîrns, -hr-)


1. The quality or state of cohering, especially a logical, orderly, and aesthetically consistent relationship of parts.
2. Physics The property of being coherent, as of waves.

i.e. Consistency and accordance with the facts; antonym: incoherent “a rambling argument that lacked any consistency”

It’s easy for skeptics to offer various explanations for each point of the minimal facts argument for Jesus resurrection. But for their account to be feasible, each answer must be coherent with the others and the totality of the evidence. For instance, crazypills2 wants to offer that Jesus body was stolen as an answer for the empty tomb. Yet the disciples belief in Jesus resurrection was based on appearances not the empty tomb. In fact, Mary Magdalene’s first offering was that, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (Jn. 20:2b)  No one assumed or expected resurrection,  they believed because they saw Jesus. When one looks at the empty tomb in light of the disciples sincere belief that Jesus physically appeared to them, theft of the body is rendered inconsistent. So can hallucinations account for the appearances?

While it is true that distraught individuals may hallucinate, the disciples describe touching Jesus and group hallucinations are not feasible on naturalistic grounds. Offering appearances of the alleged virgin Mary (likely a deception) actually backfires by evidencing the supernatural more than it does hallucination. Either way, his asserting Mairan apparitions to evidence group hallucination is merely an assumption at best. Furthermore, Paul was not psychologically predisposed to see Jesus and neither was James (Mk. 3:21). In fact they were biased in the opposite direction. So expectation bias/bereavement causing hallucination fails to account for the appearances. Additionally, the claim that Paul merely had a vision is not consistent with Paul’s stated beliefs. Paul wrote of a physical material resurrection body and Jesus “in the flesh” in many places (Rom. 1:3, 2 Cor. 5:16, Rom 9:5) and he describes the resurrection body as the lowly earthly body in a transformed state (Phil. 3:21). It is incoherent to claim Paul did not believe in a solid physical resurrected Jesus.

What are the odds that the disciples all shared hallucinations, including multi-sensory experiences of touching, seeing, and hearing combined with the improbability of a skeptic like James and an enemy in Paul having visions of the same Jesus? These “hallucinations” would have to be so convincing as to prompt such a radical shift in world view that Paul and James would give their very lives… now that would take a miracle!