Bob Branden: A wake-up call
Vail CO, Colorado
Picking up the threads of the recent discussion on the editorial pages regarding the competing worldviews of naturalism (Richard Carnes) and Christianity (response letters) compels me to issue a wake-up call to the common man.
The movement from empty-headedness to gullibility to foolishness to scorn happens naturally if not arrested. The end result is the smug mental sloth who fails to see the logical results of a position.
Richard has fairly well presented the worldview called naturalism. Missing amongst all the fanfare concerning how empirical, mature, and logical naturalism is, especially over against Christianity, however, is the end result. Since Richard fails to present this let’s hear from Bertrand Russell, a holder of the naturalist worldview, who actually thought this through:
“That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins ” all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”
” from “A Free Man’s Worship,” in the book “Why I Am Not a Christian,” edited by Paul Edwards.
Nice, don’t you think? How empirical, mature, and logical it is to understand that the only thing you can rest on is unyielding despair. But, if the world is entirely and exclusively material ” the key tenet of naturalism ” there is nothing in Russell’s statement or conclusion that is illogical.
There is another figure who took naturalism to its logical conclusion in our culture. A more chilling figure because there was no hypocrisy in him. His actions matched the logic of his worldview.
Remember the televised interview with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer just before he was murdered in prison? Remember how he described becoming an atheist as a teenager and concluding that we all have basic desires that we will seek satisfaction of unless there is an overriding reason not to? Since, he went on to explain, we evolved from slime and there is no God, no reason why we are here, no afterlife, and no ultimate judgment for what we have done, our laws are merely social conventions without the power to curb our appetites. The rest is history.
Before your knee jerks up too fast and you go get on your computer to write in, please consider that what I’m looking for is the illogic in getting from “we evolved from slime” to “there is no God” to “no ultimate judgment for what we do.”
You see, one of the things the smug naturalist in our culture is failing to recognize is that we are living on borrowed capital. That’s called debt. The debt is payable to the Christian worldview. For this country was founded upon a Christian worldview with a strong sense of morality and right and wrong. We did not evolve. We were created by God who is real. And, there is an ultimate judgment. Beware before you smugly jump off this life raft into a sea of chaos.
And here is a wake-up call to the common Christian who sits idle in their own mental lethargy and watches naturalism claim sleeping victim after sleeping victim. False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel.
If we let the world slip into the thought control of empty philosophies we will scarcely see a soul who opens their eyes and finds the truth of the matter. Christianity will remain what many perceive it to be: a harmless delusion, safe as long as it’s practiced at no higher level than a hobby.
Bob Branden, Ph.D. in New Testament studies, is the pastor of the newly founded Eagle Bible Church, which meets Sunday mornings in the Eagle Valley High School auditorium. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.