Beware the “Secular Objectivity Double Standard”: There is no such thing as belief and unbelief

One of my great frustrations in our secular age is how the concepts of “faith” and “belief” are communicated and understood. Too many Christians unknowingly acquiesce in using these terms that bias the cultural conversation against Christianity. What do I mean?

An article at The Veritas Forum is a great example. The title tells the tale: “The Dilemma of Faith in a Secular Age.” What does this assume? That “faith” and secularism are two separate concepts and have nothing to do with one another. The writer of the piece, unfortunately, accepts the dichotomy of “faith” and secularism as if they had nothing to do with one another—they do. She gives only one indication that all people struggle with what they believe when she says that “believers and non-believers alike struggle with doubt about whether our beliefs are indeed the right ones.” But using the terms “believers” and “non-believers” assumes that some people believe and others don’t, which plays into secularist hands.

The author writes about a poet who “has frequently written about this sense of being caught between belief and unbelief.” Again, the assumption is that such a thing “unbelief” exists—it doesn’t. In fact, every human being, regardless of whether they are “religious” or not, is fundamentally religious, i.e., they live by faith. It is crucial that we as Christians, and Christian parents, realize this.

Our secular Western culture tries to convince us that only “religious” people need faith—this is simply not true. At the level of presuppositions, all human beings are equal. Everyone has limited knowledge, therefore everyone lives by faith to one degree or another. The question is, which “faith” makes the most sense of reality as we find it, and which has the best evidence to make a claim on our allegiance. These questions must be at the forefront of raising kids in the 21st century West.

Thus the “the secular objectivity double standard.” The culture teaches in ways large and small, overtly and covertly, that those who are “believers,” i.e., religious folk, need “faith” and thus can’t be objective about things. Those who are “non-believers” it is assumed don’t need “faith,” and thus can be objective about things. To put it in technical terms, that’s a bunch of hooey!

The question on a level cultural playing field isn’t who has faith and who doesn’t, but who has the best justification for the faith that they have. Christians so easily buy into the notion that we’re the ones who must defend our beliefs, while the atheist, agnostic, or apathetic (the “triple A’s”) don’t have anything to defend—they do. As I’ve taught my children, if you learn how to skillfully ask questions, you’ll find that most of the triple A’s have no idea why they believe what they believe, or even what they believe. You’ll find that they can’t reason themselves out of a box, and yet they demand faultless evidence and logic from Christians, and when we provide it, they deny what it plainly says.

The implication of this double standard is that it allows people to move from one faith, Christianity, to another, all the while deluding themselves that they are moving from religion to non-religion. Technically they may not be “religious” in that they don’t go to church, but they still have a worldview based on faith commitments. The young lady, Lindsay, who inspired me to write the book is a great example. Leaving Christianity for agnosticism doesn’t means she left religion, or “faith” for some view of reality that doesn’t require faith. Every view of reality requires faith.

Nabeel Qureshi, RIP

Death is ugly. Jesus himself agreed, as we can surmise from his response to the death of his friend Lazarus. Standing before the tomb where his dead friend had been buried four days Scripture says, “Jesus wept.” Why in the world would Jesus cry when in moments he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead? Because he saw, powerfully, what he created as good (Col. 1:15-17) experiencing the horrific effects of the Fall: Death. Paul says that “the wages of sin is death,” and the Lord God says to Adam in the Garden of Eden (Eve had not yet been created) that if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would surely die. This is why we cry. Death is . . . . wrong!

I felt emotions of despair this morning when I learned that Nabeel Qureshi, all of 34 years old, had finally had succumbed to the cancer that had begun to ravage his body a bit over a year ago. Part of the reason the death of this stranger effected me is because I’ve been praying for him since I learned of his diagnosis. Yet he experienced all too soon the wages of sin that we will all experience one day. There is nothing in life so as inevitable as death, and something we need to reflect on more.

Gratitude, God, Fear and Hurricanes

Having moved to Florida a few months ago, I wasn’t exactly expecting to experience a hurricane so soon, especially given that where we moved (the Tampa area) hasn’t had a direct hit since 1921. I guess we’re just good luck! Of course I don’t believe in luck, but in the sovereign, providential hand of Almighty God. But we didn’t get to experience the hurricane because we chickened out and left the state to environs well north to stay with family for a few days.

The word gratitude is a strange one to associate a “natural” disaster, unless the disaster was somehow escaped. I put the word natural in quotes because the basic assumption of people who live in the 21st century secular West is that the universe, and nature, is a closed system. In other words, even if they admit a God into the picture, he/she/it is a God similar to what Enlightenment Deists believed about God. He was to them an all-powerful Creator who built the machine, got it up and running, and let it do it’s thing based on “natural” laws. Orthodox, Bible-believing Christians know of no such God.

Notable Quotation

I signed the Nashville Statement because I stand with Biblical orthodoxy, which is inseparable from God’s creation mandate and definition of gendered personhood found in Genesis 1:27:  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female, he created them”.  The soul is God’s fingerprint on humanity, but the gendered body—essentially and ontologically male or female—will also, for the believer in Jesus Christ,  be glorified and resurrected in the New Jerusalem.

I signed the Nashville Statement because my conscience compels me so, because the promises of liberty on the world’s terms are false and deceptive, and because many who currently claim to have Christ’s forgiveness and salvation must be called to account for leading good people astray with false promises and filthy lies.

I signed the Nashville Statement because the wolves are prowling, and the lions are roaring, and because they are bold and proud of their heresy, and because you must be warned.

By God through the merit and power of Jesus Christ, here I stand.

—Rosaria Butterfield: “Why I Signed the Nashville Statement”

Burning Man Festival: Woodstock on Post-Modern Steroids

In case you’re not familiar with the Burning Man Festival, it happens in the Nevada desert every year for nine days around Labor Day. And what a nine days it is.

I initially thought the title was a bit retrograde, a  pre-feminist name for an event so post-modern that it goes full circle to become totally pagan. Look at the pictures and you’ll see what I mean: Woodstock on post-modern steroids. But shouldn’t it be called Burning Person Festival? My daughter quipped that maybe it is totally feminist after all because feminists want to burn men. I’ll confess, I hadn’t thought of that. But I think more is going on with the name, as I’ll conjecture below.

No, America Is Not a Racist Country!

By now most Americans are familiar with “Charlottesville.” I understand there was a protest in that city that had something to do with race. A group of people called “white nationalists,” which I gather is not a good thing, and some Nazis, never a good thing, we’re protesting something. It’s not important. There was a ruckus, people were hurt, and one young woman was killed by a car driven by one of those “white nationalist” people. Ugliness all around. That another group of people was there who were not “white nationalists” doesn’t seem to have been an important part of the equation, so we were told.

As usually happens around events like these, the secular, liberal media always uses the occasion to affirm what a rotten racist country America is. We’re never allowed to put behind us that slavery was part of our history; white people will bear the guilt of America’s original sin forever. Those of the left are also consistent in their affirmation that America still suffers a race problem, and that white people need to admit it, and . . . . well, I’m not quite sure what comes after the guilt and shame of admitting I’m a racist, even if I don’t know it or think I am. Something about dialogue, and caring and . . . like I said, I’m not quite sure.

Notable Quotation

This is the third way. A belief in objectivity—in Beauty, Truth, and Goodness—requires neither a rejection of the complexities of the world nor a rejection of those who think differently. In fact, it requires more work. It requires a willingness to enter into the mess of a seemingly contradictory reality with a hope and a trust that there is something worth fighting for.

And thus, the sincerity of Wonder Woman and her Lasso of Truth arrive as a brief but necessary respite from the cycle of deception and disillusionment that plagues our cultural landscape. It unearths a newly repressed desire for wholehearted sincerity, even Truth, that we forgot we could believe in.

The critical and financial success of Wonder Woman proves audiences are ready for a strong female superhero. We might also be ready to face the Truth.

—Caleb Gotthardt, “Why Wonder Woman is the Best Lie Detector of 2017”

The True, The Good, and the Beautiful

I learned about this phrase when my daughter went to the great Hillsdale College in 2010. I’m sure I’d come across it in the past, but its significance as a pointer to the power and glory of our almighty Creator God has been impressed upon me continually in new ways since then.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the concepts, while not the exact phrase, go back to the ancient Greeks. Over time the phrase stuck, and the three always seemed to be mentioned together. The reason is that each depends on the other, and each implies the other. Most importantly, they depend on and assume God, a God of truth, goodness, and beauty, to which the Scriptures everywhere attest.

Queens of the Stone Age – The Vampyre Of Time And Memory -Searching But Never Finding . . .

My teenage music obsessed son shared this song from Queens of the Stone Age with me, and I was haunted by the lyrics. Human beings are really good at rejecting any ultimate meaning in the universe, but spending their life searching for it. Never finding. The lyrics of this song capture that futility, perfectly. The melancholy of the melody also captures that futility, perfectly. See if you agree:

Of Course the Solar Eclipse is an Act of God, But So Is Everything Else!

In case you’ve been in a cave somewhere without this Internet thing, or access to any TV, Radio, the regular or short wave kind, you likely know there is going to be a total solar eclipse tomorrow across much of America. This doesn’t happen very often so it’s kind of a big deal. It’s also awe inspiring for reasons that don’t need explanation, and that makes it a big deal too. I’ve seen several headlines in previous weeks similar to this one in the Washington Post: “The first solar eclipse to cross America in 99 years is coming. To some, it’s an act of God.”

Such a headline is indicative of the naturalism and its assumptions that pervade secular Western culture. Naturalism simply means that whether there is a God or not, the universe was set in motion, and natural laws are what keep it going, no God required. The Deism popular around the decades of America’s Founding was a form of naturalism. God’s a clock maker, he made the clock, and now it runs on its own.