I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Today we’ll see the persistence of truth in an age of untruth, we’ll ask is the truth really more important than ever before, we’ll see the cultural rift between California and Washington D.C., we’ll look at the battle for our eyeballs in modern television programming, and we’ll ask what we can learn from those constant drug ads.
The most noteworthy aspect of yesterday’s edition of the New York Timeswasn’t a news story, it was an advertisement. An ad placed by the New York Times about the New York Times about truth. Yesterday’s edition included a full page with these few words,
“The truth has power. The truth will not be threatened. The truth has a voice.”
At the bottom of the page, the simple iconic masthead the New York Times.But just the day before in Sunday’s edition of the paper, timed for that evening’s Golden Globes Awards program, the New York Times on the first of these pages had the words,
“He said. She said.
He said. She said.
He said. She said.”
And then 144 more times, an unbroken,
Very clearly was the New York Times signaling its own virtue associating with the #metoo campaign and the political messaging sent at the Golden Globes concerning the issues of sexual harassment. It was a pretty unnuanced message. Again,
“He said. She said.
He said. She said.
He said. She said.”
And then 144 times,
The second full page in the New York Times about the New York Timessimply had the words,
“The truth has a voice.”
At the bottom of the page, again, the iconic masthead of the New York Times.Now it’s really clear what’s going on here, the New York Times is signaling by means of these ads that it is the authoritative voice for truth in the culture, that it cares deeply about truth, that it — perhaps alone — is committed to finding the truth and giving the truth a voice. This follows last year’s first effort in this series by the New York Times, that time it was scheduled to coincide with the Academy Awards presentation. The messaging back then in 2017, I quote,
“The truth is hard. The truth is hard to know. The truth is more important than ever.”
That last line is the most important of the claims made by the New York Times, and in accordance with this particular advertising campaign it actually draped those words around its building.
“The truth is more important than ever,”
claims the Times.
Well, before looking further and more deeply at the issue of truth in our contemporary moment, it is really important for us to recognize that from a biblical perspective it simply is not true that the truth has never been more important. It is true to say that it’s never been more important and it’s never been less important. For Christians, according to a biblical worldview, truth is always the paramount question. It has never been less important. It’s actually a fairly ludicrous claim on the part of the New York Times, are they really suggesting that going back to that paper’s own history, if you look at the last decades of the 19th century, the truth wasn’t so important? When you look at two cataclysmic world wars during the 20th century, the truth wasn’t so important. When you look at the depression, the Cold War, and everything that followed, the truth was less important then than it is now. Of course, that’s not a serious claim that they would make. It is, however, the background impulse to their current advertising campaign. We know what’s going on here, it’s very similar to the kind of campaign and posturing undertaken by the major newspaper in the nation’s capital, the Washington Post. Just several months ago that paper began printing under its own masthead the words,
“Democracy dies in darkness.”
In both cases you have two major newspapers, two of the most influential newspapers in the world, claiming their priority in terms of the business of truth telling, and in the words of the Washington Post implicitly, saving democracy. Saving democracy from what or from whom? Defending truth against what? Well of course the most immediate challenge that is reflected in these campaigns is what is referred to as fake news, it’s the destabilization of the entire truth and information and media universe. But this is where Christians really do need to think a bit more deeply about this than the New York Times and the Washington Post. Is it because we are less invested in truth? No, to the contrary; it is because we are far more invested in truth. It’s also because we understand that the New York Times really does pride itself, along with the Washington Post and other major media, in being very concerned about the truth; they have entire journalistic teams of reporters and writers and editors and levels of editors and then publishers and all the rest, all supposedly working together in order to reveal and to report the truth. And of course when it comes to a story, let’s just take a routine story like a break-in in a neighborhood, if we’re looking for report on that break-in, we want to know the factual answers to who, what, when, and where, of course, why would help also. But as we’re looking at that we recognize that the very secular reporters and editors and publishers of the news media, they really do believe in the facts, they want to get to those facts when it comes to a break-in in a home. But when it comes to bigger and more complex questions, well at that point, the editors and the reporters and others tend to mix up their own categories. The New York Times when they’re claiming to be the voice of truth, they’re not just speaking about what they take pride in in terms of their rather objective reporting about major events. No, they’re implying that also about their analysis; they’re claiming truth for their own worldview. This is where Christians also have to understand that one of the hallmarks of the modern age as we know it is the denial of certain forms of truth, the existence of objective truth when it comes to morality, and, furthermore, when it came to the movement known as postmodernism, the denial of objective truth at all.
Now as we’re looking at this, we understand that no society can actually operate in any same way while denying all objective truth. So what you have in the contemporary world are two rival visions of truth, sometimes in the very same mind. You have a level of objective truth, and that’s understood to be, well to go back to our story about a break-in in a home or the robbery of a store, there are facts and those facts are merely be taken as facts, they’re facts because they are true because they correspond with reality. But when it comes to a question of morality, well, there’s a second dimension of truth, and that’s often hand-in-hand with the rejection of the fact that there can be any moral facts there are only moral opinions. The Christian thinker Francis Schaeffer pointed to this in his most important book, that book was written in 1968, the title, Escape from Reason. Schaefer famously argued that in the modern secular mind there was actually a two-story picture of truth; a lower story that consisted of facts and an upper story that merely contained opinions. The lower story was cognitive, the upper story was noncognitive. As Schaefer indicated, the denial of objective truth in matters of morality was the modern age’s way of putting all those questions, that it wanted to answer in a very different way, beyond the cognitive level of facts into the noncognitive level of mere opinion.
So we have to recognize that the modern age has been trying to argue that there are some facts, those facts are understood to be true, true in the sense that they correspond with reality. In the modern cultural moment you see this especially affirmed amongst persons who reduce all matters of fact to what’s often limited to science, fact-based research they say. But when it comes to questions of morality such as whether or not an unborn human life is actually human, whether or not abortion is right or wrong, whether we can know that abortion is either right or wrong as moral facts, well at that stage everything’s simply kicked up into the second story into a matter of opinion, then it’s just a matter of which opinion gains majority status and support. We need to understand that that is the essence of modern politics and cultural conversation. We need to understand that that is the worldview that drives those identified as the cultural creatives, those who are the producers and the directors and the storytellers in Hollywood and beyond. We need to understand what Francis Schaeffer warned about as this two-story picture of truth, it is being drilled through every level of the culture, it is being drilled especially through every level of education, particularly higher education, but there’s plenty of evidence these days that it is also being drilled down even into kindergarten and grade school in terms of much of the official curriculum.
It is encouraging, in one sense, that the New York Times is so interested in truth, even if it comes in the form of a self advertisement, but when it states that the truth has never been more important, Christians agree with every single word so long as it’s followed by the fact that the truth has never been less important either. For Christians, the truth is not just important, it is ultimate.
Next, I turn to looking at that deep cultural divide we see an America, we’re not the only ones who see it, the New York Times and others see it as well, sometimes referring to not just one America but two Americas speaking of that very deep moral and cultural divide. Recently, the New York Times ran a front-page article by Tim Arango, the headline,
“One America Fights Another As Rift Widens.”
The subhead is interesting,
“California pushes back against White House.”
Now it’s not just California and the White House, but that particular dynamic is the initiating catalyst of the story. It’s really about that great worldview divide that separates Americans, and when it comes the state of California there is no doubt where the majority of the political leaders in that state stand, almost all of them are California Democrats. But when it comes to the rest of America, is California now foreign country? Arango writes,
“In many ways it feels like that these days, as the growing divide between California and the Trump administration erupted this past week over a dizzying range of flash points, from immigration to taxes to recreational marijuana use.”
I think in many ways it’s that last issue that has the front place attention here. Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government would be reversing a few Obama era executive orders that it indicated that the Department of Justice would not pursue investigations and prosecutions of federal marijuana laws. There are now about eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana, and the Obama administration had announced that where the states had done so, the feds would not prosecute even though in all 50 states and in all American territories the use, the possession, the distribution, and the sale of marijuana remains a federal crime. So you now have a dynamic between those states that have legalized marijuana and the federal government, but what’s really interesting is what this shows us about how, in a moral Civil War, people or states for that matter can change sides and change arguments pretty quickly. Back during the 1950s and 1960s it was largely southern states using a state’s rights argument who sought to defend segregation laws and the larger nation, especially led by those who were ardently anti-segregation, argued that the states had no right to violate federal laws or federal decrees. That was a major dynamic, on the one hand you had an argument about states rights, on the other hand you had a prevailing argument about federal supremacy on such questions, but when it comes to marijuana all of a sudden California is singing a very different tune. California has learned to sing the anthem of state’s rights over the issue particularly of legalized marijuana.
We have often observed that the closer you get to one of the oceanic coasts the more liberal the society becomes on many moral and cultural issues. That’s true on the East Coast, but particularly in the Northeast, but it is true on the entirety of the West Coast, the United States Pacific Coast. Just consider this political profile,
“In California, every state leader is a Democrat, including the governor and the leaders of the State Senate and Assembly. Of the state’s 53 members in Congress, only 14 are Republicans, and,”
the article in the Times goes on to say,
“analysts believe several of them are in [serious political] jeopardy [in the 2018 midterm elections].”
One of the interesting dimensions of this article in the Times is that it identifies a certain impulse in this liberal direction in the state of California and traces it back to the Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had begun to use the language of California being
“an almost nation-state. And,”
Then, as the paper goes on to say,
“many Californians feel that way.”
The most important issue for us is to understand that the worldview distinction is real and that eventually it becomes tangible in politics, in laws, legislation, and policies. California knows that; frankly, we all know that, but what you’re looking at in this article is the recognition of a very deep divide that seems only to be getting wider and deeper at the cultural moment. Interestingly, with many other issues also on the table, marijuana has emerged as one of the key issues of contention leading even a state like California all of a sudden to begin talking about state’s rights reversing the very kind of arguments it had made decades ago. But that really goes both ways when you consider the fact that the current US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was making many of the same arguments in terms of very different issues also a matter of decades ago. What makes the story even more interesting to Christians is our understanding, just as we were discussing on the previous story, that that divide is actually deeper than the secular mind can understand.
Meanwhile, as we’re the thinking about the media programming and advertising, a story in yesterday’s edition of the Times indicated that more TV shows are now vying for our eyeballs than in any previous time in history. Last year, John Koblin tells us, there were 487 original scripted programs, that’s a record breaker that follows last year’s record breaker of 455. Koblin explains,
“The staggering growth largely comes from the seemingly endless budget lines that help produce new shows for streaming services.”
Now one of the things we need to note is that we are looking here at streaming services primarily. The big three producers of scripted programs on television now are FX, HBO, and Netflix. Now just remember that that’s contrasted with what we would’ve understood even a matter of just a decade ago. Where are CBS and NBC and ABC, not to mention the major cable networks of yore. But from a Christian perspective, one of the most interesting aspects here is what this underlines in terms of the continued influence of television programming, it’s not going away, it’s not going away in terms of influence in the culture, it’s also not going away in terms of the competition for our eyeballs because this is where we always need to remind ourselves that programming is not really to entertain us, it is to entertain us in order to send advertising to us. That’s what pays the bills. Make the mistake, Hollywood does want to send moral messages in its entertainment but it can only do so successfully if it gets advertisers to foot the bill, and it’s a big bill. We are told in this news article that Netflix is going to spend over $8 billion in terms of production for this programming in just the next 12 months; $8 billion. I also found it interesting to find embedded in this article that just about every one of these individual programs cost on average $3 million. Somebody’s got to pay for a lot of advertising to make that commercially worthwhile.
Meanwhile our advertising does reveal a great deal about ourselves, that’s why I was drawn to another article this time in the advertising column of theNew York Times. Joanne Kaufman writes that if you think you’re seeing more drug ads on television, you actually are. Koplin tells us that
“According to Kantar Media, a firm that tracks multimedia advertising, 771,368 [drug] ads were shown in [the last year documented, which is] 2016.”
There is every reason to believe there were more in 2017 and will be more in 2018. That number again over, 770,000 drug ads. She goes on to report by means of citing John Swallen,
“TV ad spending by pharmaceutical companies has more than doubled in the past four years, making it the second-fastest-growing category on television during that time.”
Now one of the interesting things is what’s documented in this article about this shift in these drug ads. It’s no longer primarily driven by pharmaceuticals for what would be called minor health problems, it’s now for major and massive health problems. Why? Well the article the Times argues it is because the television audience is trending older and because we are living longer, and as we do so more serious health problems represent themselves and the drug companies are battling amongst themselves in the war for our health and more urgently for our health dollars.
It’s also perhaps interesting to note that these health advertisements, drug ads, are directed primarily at television viewers for dramas and news shows. Speaking of the newly more serious drugs addressed in these ads, we are told by Thomas Lom, a consultant,
“In the old days, it was allergies and acid reflux and whatnot. … Now, it’s cardiology issues. It’s cancer.”
Now if you’ve been looking at these ads you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking, how would anyone want to take these drugs once they have to tell us what the FDA requires, which is about the potential side effects, some of them truly horrifying, some potentially clarifying, others, admittedly, mystifying. But one of the interesting dimensions of what’s reported in this story is that all of those dreaded side effects the FDA requires to be cited don’t seem to have much of an effect upon the impact of the advertising. Part of this is because, authorities say in the article, that drugs that are to have a dramatic effect, well, are understood to sometimes come with dramatic other effects. But there’s something else in the article about the confusion that comes with white noise. That is to say we find ourselves tuning out what we’re not really interested to hear, and it tells us something about human nature, that we are more interested to hear the benefits of the drug than what might be the unavoidable side effects. But authorities in the article also say that the advertising might actually appear to be more credible and more truthful if the side effects are listed along with the primary benefit, but that takes us back to where we started on the issue of truth. It turns out that even a society in a modern age that wants to escape the question of truth simply can’t.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information, go to my website AlbertMohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to @albertmohler.For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College just go to boycecollege.com.
(This podcast is by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
An article in the New York Times discusses “fake news” and how it relates to Evangelical Christianity
KEVIN HARRIS: Dr. Craig, there is a New York Times article that has recently come out that has garnered a lot of response. From Molly Worthen. Dr. Worthen teaches at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She titles this article, “The Evangelical Roots of our Post-Truth Society.” She begins this:
The arrival of the “post-truth” political climate came as a shock to many Americans. But to the Christian writer Rachel Held Evans, charges of “fake news” are nothing new. “The deep distrust of the media, of scientific consensus — those were prevalent narratives growing up,” she told me.
First of all, this post-truth society – I’ve been hearing that that is now a phrase being coined because of all the “fake news” that is out there.
DR. WILLIAM LANE CRAIG: Right. When I saw this headline, I thought she was talking about some sort of post-modernism according to which there is no objective truth about the world – that there is only truth for me or truth for you. But according to the opening paragraph that is not what she means. She is just talking about distrust of the media and those who are typically held in positions of authority to tell us the political news. As you know, people denounce fake news. They come to distrust what the media says. That seems to be what she means by a post-truth political climate. It seems to me to be a mislabeling. It is more just a kind of deep suspiciousness of authorities, particularly news media outlets.
KEVIN HARRIS: There are whole books being published on how to spot fake news and how to tell whether something is true or false on social media. I guess it is becoming a problem. You see something on your Facebook page and everybody passes it around and forwards to you and so on, and you wonder if it is true. Sometimes it is not. Well, you just have – what? There is no easy answer to this. You have to do the hard work of digging into it and seeing if it is true.
DR. CRAIG:Yes, it seems to me that’s right.
Although Ms. Evans, 35, no longer calls herself an evangelical, she attended Bryan College, an evangelical school in Dayton, Tenn. She was taught to distrust information coming from the scientific or media elite because these sources did not hold a “biblical worldview.”
“It was presented as a cohesive worldview that you could maintain if you studied the Bible,” she told me. “Part of that was that climate change isn’t real, that evolution is a myth made up by scientists who hate God, and capitalism is God’s ideal for society.”
You see where she is going here – there is already been such a distrust of media elite and scientific elite among millions of evangelicals that – what? – that it could foster a post-truth type society?
DR. CRAIG:She doesn’t say that, though that is what the headline suggests. I think that would be way out of proportion with the size of the evangelical subculture to think that dissatisfaction with the media and fake news is the result of the evangelical subculture’s suspicion of the current scientific Darwinian paradigm in biology and things of that sort. But I think she is right in observing a phenomenon that within the evangelical subculture there is, I think, a deep suspicion and distrust of the sort of standard paradigm or scientific worldview that is conveyed to us.
KEVIN HARRIS: She says that this has provoked deep conflict among evangelicals themselves.
Conservative evangelicals are not the only ones who think that an authority trusted by the other side is probably lying. But they believe that their own authority — the inerrant Bible — is both supernatural and scientifically sound, and this conviction gives that natural human aversion to unwelcome facts a special power on the right. This religious tradition of fact denial long predates the rise of the culture wars, social media or President Trump, but it has provoked deep conflict among evangelicals themselves.
That innocuous phrase — “biblical worldview” or “Christian worldview” — is everywhere in the evangelical world. The radio show founded by Chuck Colson, “BreakPoint,” helps listeners “get informed and equipped to live out the Christian worldview.” Focus on the Family devotes a webpage to the implications of a worldview “based on the infallible Word of God.”
O.K. The phrase (a “biblical or Christian worldview”) whether it is true or not doesn’t seem to be the issue. It is not what is the true worldview.
DR. CRAIG:Except that she says it leads to fact denial which already begs the question that the biblical worldview is false and that the worldview against which it arranges itself is true. There is a kind of undercurrent throughout this whole article that these Christians are deluded. I even wonder whether she believes in worldview thinking at all. She seems to think of this almost as a kind of sinister phrase, but to think in terms of worldview is just to think of having a kind of philosophy of life, if you will – a world and life view. It would be to have a position on whether God exists, on the nature of human beings, do we have a soul? Are we just material entities? Is there life after death? Are there objective moral values and duties or is everything relative to one’s evolutionary and social conditioning? There are just all sorts of big questions in life that would go to make up a worldview. It seems to me that the encouragement of worldview thinking on the part of these various Christian ministries is a very positive thing. It is asking people not to live fragmented lives in which their faith is irrelevant to other parts of what they believe, but to have an overarching philosophy of life that will include the deliverances of the sciences, of literature, of history, psychology, the Bible, and all these other facets of knowledge. The idea of worldview thinking, I think, is very positive and indeed unavoidable. Those who emphasize the importance of worldview will often insist that those who claim not to have a worldview in fact really do but it will be a worldview of which they are unaware, one which they have just absorbed uncritically while studying, for example, at the university. These are the persons that are most in danger of being misled by their worldview in the way they interpret the facts.
KEVIN HARRIS: It is really pretty unavoidable isn’t it? Whether to have a worldview or to say, I don’t have a worldview. I’m a free-thinker . . . Isn’t this what the German theologians meant by Weltanschauung?
DR. CRAIG:Right! Yeah, when I was in college, that was the word that they used to encourage this type of synoptic thinking – to have aWeltanschauung, a way of looking at the world. A world and life view. As a Christian philosopher, it seems to me that this is what Socrates talked about when he said the unexamined life is not worth living. You ask the big questions in life and try to develop a framework or interpretation of reality that makes the best sense of the evidence.
KEVIN HARRIS: She has kind of given away her hand here by saying, There are facts and then there is the biblical worldview that can inoculate you from the facts.
DR. CRAIG:Yes, I think she is.
KEVIN HARRIS:It sets up a shield against mainstream science, politics, and all things secular and this bubble called a Christian worldview will keep the facts from you and you will live in it. Would you say a lot of question-begging going on here in a sense?
DR. CRAIG:It is question-begging insofar as she simply assumes the other worldview is correct. I noticed with interest on the last page of the article she says, “the worldview that has propelled mainstream Western intellectual life and made modern civilization possible is a kind of pragmatism.” She seems not to be saying that we should have no worldview but that we should have a worldview of pragmatism! That in itself needs to be critically examined and thought of. Pragmatism, classically, means that whatever works is true. So if it works then that makes it true. That is very scary when you think about it.Maybe national socialism might have worked very well in Germany, especially if they had won the war. But does that make it true? Does it make it acceptable? I tremble when I hear her saying, This is the worldview that has helped to make modern civilization possible – this sort of pragmatism. On the other hand, she goes on to describe it as an empirical outlook that revises its conclusion based on evidence. I don’t think that that is inimical to a biblical worldview. A biblical worldview should want to take account of what the deliverances of modern science are. When I read theologians, they will very typically say that in light of the deliverances of science one might need to change one’s interpretation of some biblical passage. They are quite open to revision in light of the evidence. But what they are skeptical about is unexamined assumptions. For example, the truth of naturalism that tends to undergird Darwinian theory. They will be skeptical of that, and they will want to demand good evidence in favor of it. I don’t see anything the matter with that.
KEVIN HARRIS: She says,
Ever since the scientific revolution, two compulsions have guided conservative Protestant intellectual life: the impulse to defend the Bible as a reliable scientific authority and the impulse to place the Bible beyond the claims of science entirely.
Do you see a conflict there?
DR. CRAIG:No, I don’t see any conflict. That is not to endorse these impulses, but I don’t see any conflict. She seems to be saying that within the evangelical subculture people wanted to treat the Bible as reliable on matters of science. The Bible is not just reliable when it speaks to matters of faith and theology and ethics, but whenever it touches on scientific matters it also is reliable. I think that is an assumption that has been widespread in the evangelical subculture. I think it is increasingly called into question today. I think a good many evangelicals today would say that the purpose of the Bible is not to serve as a scientific textbook and that it was written within the scientific understanding of the world as was the case when the authors wrote and that we shouldn’t turn to the Bible to find scientific information. But nevertheless, she is right. I think that this has been an assumption of the evangelical subculture. I think what she means by “the impulse to place the Bible beyond the claims of science” is you take the Bible to be authoritatively true and that it cannot be overthrown by scientific findings. You cannot falsify the Bible through scientific findings. What she doesn’t realize, though, is that evangelicals have shown a real openness to revise their interpretation of the Bible on the basis of scientific findings. They wouldn’t say the Bible has been falsified, but they might say,Well, it showed that my interpretation of the Bible was false, and I need to rethink what it really is teaching here. There can be openness to revision in light of scientific facts.
KEVIN HARRIS: I did notice that one of the respondents to The New York Times wrote that much of what she is talking about in evangelicalism is actually extinct – nobody holds to those.
DR. CRAIG:Oh, that is clearly false. Look at all the young Earth creationists.
KEVIN HARRIS: Which she brings up.
DR. CRAIG:Yeah, it seems to me that they very clearly hold the Bible to be a reliable scientific authority and that the Bible’s teachings about the creation of the world a few thousand years ago in six consecutive 24-hour days cannot be falsified by modern science. I don’t see where that person would come off saying that this view is extinct. This is very much alive today.
KEVIN HARRIS: She says,
The second impulse, the one that rejects scientists’ standing to challenge the Bible, evolved by the early 20th century into a school of thought called presuppositionalism.
KEVIN HARRIS: She says Cornelius Van Til . . . what, Bill? Most point to him as kind of like the main guy on presup?
DR. CRAIG:Yes, I think that would be fair to say.
KEVIN HARRIS: He said, “We really do not grant that you see any fact in any dimension of life truly,”
DR. CRAIG:That sentence is obviously taken out of context. We want to know what the context was. If we understand presuppositionalism, I think what Van Til would be saying there is that apart from Christian presuppositions we do not grant that you see any fact in life truly. It is only within the presuppositions of Christianity that facts can be truly and accurately seen. She would obviously disagree, I think, with Van Til.
KEVIN HARRIS: She goes to the Nazarene Church.
DR. CRAIG:Yeah, that is very interesting.
KEVIN HARRIS: She says that in their churches and in their universities there seems to be a kind of a conflict right now between mainstream . . . like the quote here, “how you can teach ‘Christian journalism’ any more than you can teach ‘Christian mathematics.’” There is not a Christian journalism any more than there is a Christian mathematics.
DR. CRAIG:This is sort of a repudiation of worldview thinking in a sense. I am more inclined to agree with Reformed thinkers that all knowledge needs to be seen within the context of a worldview and that being a Christian can make a difference even for mathematics. My work on God and abstract objects illustrates that so well, I think. How you view mathematical entities is going to depend upon your metaphysical worldview. For Christian journalism, it would seem to me obvious that your ethics on how you do journalism would be guided by whether or not you believe there are objective moral values and duties in carrying out your journalism. I am worried by what she reports. I have to say in my own experience I have been troubled by some of the things that I’ve heard said by professors in Nazarene colleges or universities. In my mind, I tend to associate the Church of the Nazarene with ultra-conservative – almost Mennonite – sort of subculture. No makeup. Very, very simple. But, honestly, when you look at what some of their professors are saying – and they quote some in this article – some of these folks have come to be detached, I think, from orthodox Christianity. This is, I think, one of the dangers of pietism and the holiness movement out of which the Church of the Nazarene springs – a downplaying of doctrinal accuracy and of the importance of doctrine in favor of considerations of lifestyle and experience. In Germany, pietism was followed by theological liberalism.
KEVIN HARRIS: Then she goes to the example of Answers in Genesis and one of the staff there who has a PhD in cell and developmental biology from Harvard, but goes on and uses this as an example of obviously saying that what Answers in Genesis teaches and believes is wrong and at odds but there is a protective bubble around them. They’ve learned to work by going to these secular institutions themselves.
DR. CRAIG:I found this part of the article to be bewildering, frankly. She is referring to Nathaniel Jeanson who is a research biologist with, as you say, a PhD in cell biology from Harvard. The man sounds eminently qualified, and yet he is a Creationist. She even gives an example in the article of where he revised his ideas about cancer based on the evidence. He gave up his old ideas. He said, “This is the way science works.” It caused him to revise his views. Then she says,
when his colleagues refuse to read his creationist papers and data sets, he takes their snub as proof that they can find no flaws in his research. “If people who devote their lives to it can’t point anything out, then I think I may be on to something,” he said.
I see nothing objectionable about that. If the man submits his creationist papers to colleagues and so forth and they can’t show him any errors in them, why shouldn’t he suspect that he may be on to something? She has such an attitude of condescension toward this man who sounds like a qualified cell biologist. I haven’t seen his papers, but why shouldn’t they be given an open-minded reading to see what he says?
KEVIN HARRIS: He says when his colleagues refuse to read – to even read – his papers and data sets that he takes that snub as, Well, that’s because you can’t answer.
DR. CRAIG:Let me just draw attention to one thing in the article that I found again odd. She says,
the worldview based on biblical inerrancy gets tangled up in the contradiction between its claims on universalist science and insistence on an exclusive faith.
What is the contradiction supposed to be? The contradiction is between “its claims on universalist science and insistence on an exclusive faith.” I don’t see the contradiction there. They think that on the basis of their biblical worldview they have the correct scientific view of the world, and they think that this is exclusively true and the views that disagree with this are wrong. That is what everybody thinks who holds to a particular view. Those who are Darwinian evolutionists think that non-Darwinian theories are false. Where is the contradiction? It is bewildering to me exactly what her point is.
KEVIN HARRIS: She said that we are all divided into tribes these days and you protect your tribes. Tribalism. I hear a lot of conservative talk show hosts talking about this – this problem of tribes. Wrong or right, I hang with my tribe, and your tribe insulates you from the truth or allegedly the truth.
DR. CRAIG:If that is her point, maybe this is her point – one ought to question one’s own assumptions and be ready to revise one’s worldview in light of countervailing evidence. I think that is fine. That is right. The same would be true for those who hold to a secular worldview – those who hold to a naturalistic worldview need to also be ready to examine their assumptions and presuppositions and revise when necessary based upon the evidence. I do think that there is objective evidence that can cause one to revise one’s worldview. I don’t buy into this sort of relativism that she says presuppositionalism is uncomfortably close to where your worldview is so all-determining that it insulates you against contrary evidence. It seems to me that that is simply false. Evidence can accumulate to such a degree that the anomalies in one’s worldview are so extreme that they can cause you to revise that worldview. That is true regardless of whether it is a theistic worldview or a secular worldview.
(This podcast is by Reasonable Faith / William Lane Craig. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)