Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Illusion of Secularism

Too many people I care about have pulled away from their Christian beliefs. I’ve heard them referred to as god-free thinkers or just free thinkers, and this freedom is one that they want to share with others. I have been proselytized by these converts, who I have no doubt are genuine in their new faith and who I know to be completely misguided.

I’ve heard it said that if you can argue someone into the Kingdom, then someone can argue them out of it. So I earnestly try to introduce people to Jesus, knowing that a relationship with Him is really the best thing for them rather than being a disciple of my teachings or a follower of any other person’s doctrine. But as I’ve given it some further thought, I believe that even this approach isn’t enough. Oh, it’s not that Jesus isn’t enough or that I don’t trust Him to complete the good work that He begins in us. I believe that mankind is weak and easily fooled, and I believe that we each need to work out our salvation by guarding our minds, training our thoughts, leaning not on our own understanding but trusting in God – leaning on Him to prove Himself worthy again and again.

I came across a blog post a few years ago from someone who slid away from Christianity. She wrote: “Losing Jesus, someone I talked to both hunched over in prayer groups and in the darkness of my bedroom, felt like losing a friend, even if he was an imaginary one all along.” Being convinced that a relationship with Jesus isn’t possible, this woman now believes that it was all imagined. It reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ “Silver Chair” where the witch queen tries to enchant the imperfect heroes to believe there is no world other than the dark caverns she rules. Her spell persuades them that they imagined a better world. However, one of the characters makes a bold argument that belief in something better is preferable to the darkness and oppression of the witch queen, and that hope alone is enough for him to find the strength to break free of her spell.

Without realizing it, we have been trained to think and converse like secularists. Our culture tries to limit our arguments to secular boundaries and provides artificial rules by which we can assert truth. If we allow our mind’s ability to be constrained by these thought patterns, we are more likely to fall under the misguided illusion that a relationship with Jesus is all “imagined”. The secular illusion appeals to our intellectual pride, often portraying the believer as childishly imagining a reality without credible evidence. These free-thinkers limit the rules and definition of evidence to what can be proven by science, thus throwing out personal experiences as inadmissible, no matter how compelling or consistent a collection of diverse experiences may be. This illusory thinking can sound so rational. After all we’ve been trained to put our faith in the scientific method. Saying “it must be repeatable to be proven” seems to make sense within that narrow context. But being provable and being real are separate things. 

Reality exists beyond what we can prove. Oh, the secularist may argue that science just hasn’t evolved to that point yet (which sounds like a lot like a faith statement to me). But if we constrain our understanding to the rules secular culture imposes, then why do we admit the testimony of witnesses in a court of law? Well, maybe it’s because you can’t reproduce the crime in a way that proves who did it. Even if you can show how the crime was committed, it still might not link it to the perpetrator. So we accept the statement of witnesses. We listen to the nuances in their respective testimonies and seek to discern between contradictory accounts. We understand the bigger picture by piecing together supplementary information in the different testimonies to gain a greater understanding of the truth with minds that can comprehend more than what science has been able to prove. Science can only take us so far.

I am not knocking the scientific method, but it is just a tool in the toolbox for us to grow in our knowledge and understanding. There are other tools as well, and it’s blindly foolish to limit ourselves to just one. Reality exists beyond what science can prove and limiting both our beliefs and methods of understanding to just one method is brilliantly deceptive (as well as demonic). Ironically, the scientific method came from a desire to better understand the Creator from the world He created, but it’s now revered as deity by a people and a culture who have put their focus on the created thing rather than the Author of all creation. 

I have never met an atheist who wasn’t disappointed in God. Every person I know who has allowed themselves to walk down this dark path began with a tragic life event: the death of a father, the affliction of a child, or a dream that was destroyed. The suffering is great enough to create a shift in thought patterns. I understand that pain, and it’s easy to get mad at God, deciding to not look in that direction again. But God fully understands our hurts, and He can bring greater good from that pain than you can imagine… if you only let Him.

copyright ©2018 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

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