I attended a small Evangelical high school that emhasized the differences between the secular and the sacred. Things belonging to the secular realm could not be considered holy – no matter what the thing was – music, books, and movies. If we were caught with certain albums, we would be given a lunchtime detention. The school seemed bent on building a hedge around its students to prevent possible contamination by the secular.
The same hedge applied to colleges and careers. Students were occasionally discouraged from pursuing any scientific career beyond that of medicine. Medicine could be useful in missions, but science, especially basic science, was a doorway to atheism.
According to Nancy Pearcey, my high school was the offspring a long philosophical and historical tradition of sequestering Christians to arenas strictly designated as religious and silencing them in all other forums. The process of separating religion and the material world began with Aristotle, but was eventually embraced by Evangelicals as a means of protecting themselves and furthering their messages. But in exchange for increasing the number of adherers, Evangelicals lost their relevance to the daily lives of their members. Pearcey’s book, Total Truth, aims to do “nothing less than to liberate Christianity for its cultural captivity, unleashing its power to transform the world,” she writes.
Nancy Pearcey writes in the tradition of her former teacher and prominent Christian philosopher, Francis Schaeffer. As her predecessor did, Pearcey addresses the artificial gap between reason and faith. Modern people have divided their world into two categories: the tangible world, which they consider to be real and reasonable, and the world of emotions, faith and the supernatural, which is considered to be fantasy and unreasonable. All things is separated into the quantifiable and the qualitative. The quantifiable is unarguably true, but the qualitative depends on preference and experience.
In his books, Schaeffer shows how the chasm between the material and immaterial began in philosophy and then spread into the arts until it finally became absorbed into modern thought. Pearcey also address the philosophical roots of the divide, but once she has established the roots of the divide, Pearcey’s book branches into new territory — science and the history of the church.
The most interesting portion of Pearcey’s book was the three chapters on Darwinism and naturalism. Pearcey argues that whoever defines the Creation story also defines humanity. Thus, according to the Darwinist view, humans are solely the products of competition and natural selection. A human’s primary goal in life should be to procreate and to outmaneuver all other humans. Any altruistic actions arise from his selfish desires to ensure the survival of his own species. Emotions, also interpreted in the light of Darwinism, take on a bleak appearance. Feelings are strictly biochemical reactions developed to ensure survival. Love is the desire to reproduce and to have a companion in trials. Religion is simply an adaptation humans developed to give themselves meaning and to provide a foundation for morals.
Today’s overwhelming emphasis on religious tolerance is derived from the Darwinian perspective. Religion has no meaning outside of what the worshiper ascribes to it. Thus, any argument over religion is fruitless, because religion itself is void of purpose.
However, the Darwinist mindset cannot be applied practically. No one truly believes that the emotion he feels for his wife is simply a desire to procreate and the security derived from having a companion. Something deeper, richer than lust is occurring. When a woman is raped, or a man brutally murdered, we know something wrong has happened — something greater than our societal norms has been violated. When we encounter beauty, we sense the sublime and we stand awed and worshipful.
Humans have innate desire to worship and a longing for meaning beyond that of survival. I once lived with a girl who intellectually subscribed to evolution as the beginning of life, but when something disrupting occurred to her, she would recite, “There’s a reason for everything.” Reason implies a reasoner. When confronted with difficulty, my atheist roommate became a deist.
Darwinism fails, in part, because it cannot be lived out. In the Bible, God says He has written his law on our hearts (Romans 2). While modern man has tried to diminish the effect of this internal law by calling morals a matter of preference and societal training, in times of crisis, man knows this to be a lie.
Rather than a lure away for the Creator, I have found science to be a window into God’s mind. The intricacy and harmony of the material world points to an intelligent and powerful Creator. The cell buzzes with tiny machines that each work in unison to support life. Each machine relies on the others and on the parts that constitute it in order to operate. When viewing a collection of blood cells, my ex-Catholic art professors exclaimed, “How can you deny there is a God?” It’s beautiful. But that beauty does not enhance its survival, nor does it seem to obey the laws of natural selection.
There is no true answer, but that it was designed to praise God.
If the tangible world speaks to God’s glory, why should not God have something to say about interpreting that world?