Victor Chininin Buele
One of the most common assumptions behind nearly every argument being made today is the idea that secularism is free of religion and that its arguments are rational (if not the definition of true rational thought) and thus devoid of metaphysical assumptions and blind spots.
Allow me to illustrate: If a person says that abortion on demand should not be permitted, that is immediately considered a religious and metaphysical argument in our public square. If a person says that a woman has a fundamental right to choose abortion on demand, that is not considered to be a religious argument. It is accepted even in the academic world to be a rational argument.
Since a rational argument is clearly considered to be superior to a religious argument in our public square, this assumption ought to be carefully considered and probed.
I don’t write this to argue. I write it because I want everyone to have joy.
My thesis is that all arguments are religious: that everyone has an authoritative, divine, inspired source for right and wrong; that everyone is a theologian; that everyone worships; and that everyone believes a gospel that he is passionate to proclaim to a lost world in desperate need for light.
All our stories are a flavor of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. And all arguments are circular–they do and must reference the higher authority ruling our thinking.
I keep finding that in many conversations, my challenges to this prevalent assumption keep causing unbelief to my beloved atheist, humanist, agnostic, secular friends. When I say or infer that they are just as religious as I am, my statement is often considered to be nonsensical.
“I don’t believe in God, I believe in Science” is Esqueleto’s response to Nacho’s call to baptism in the highly sophisticated film Nacho Libre. Since one post would never get us close to reaching our goal, this will be a series of posts where we discuss:
- The Christian and Secular Account of Creation
- The Christian and Secular Concept of Sin
- The Christian and Secular View of Redemption
- The Christian and Secular Gospel of Restoration
- The Christian and Secular Understanding of Choice
- The Christian and Secular Call to Repentance
- The Christian and Secular Desire for Reconciliation
- The Christian and Secular Future
Allow me to explain myself.
In arguing that secularism is a religion, my goal is very simple. Allow me to quote from An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, Virginia, 1777:
That therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right,
And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them: […] that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.
I believe it is essential that you understand that you are a worshiper, not only because that will be miles closer to a place of understanding your need for Jesus (which is my ultimate goal), but in a selfish way (for you), it will help you to actually get on the path towards becoming the rational person you are already convinced that you are.
For both of us, it will help us to truly enjoy, celebrate, and practice religious freedom as we finally stop snubbing each other’s arguments and engage in serious, truly equal discussion in the public square for the good of all rather than just for seeking our own interests.
I choose to be transparent. I want you to see Jesus. But that shouldn’t keep you from reading on. Please, don’t let it keep you from reading on. And I welcome all the discussion necessary to refine the arguments brought forth. Do not write me off as being “unworthy [of] the public confidence.”
I am often mocked for believing that God created the World in six days and rested on the seventh day. I am often mocked for believing what the Bible tells me. I have read countless books on every position on creation: biblical and unbiblical, old earth and young earth, scientific-sounding and propaganda-sounding. My point in bringing this up is this: I believe that God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) created the world and all that is in it ex nihilo (out of nothing). I believe that because of the testimony of the Bible (and we can write another post about why the Bible is a trustworthy text), the testimony of natural revelation, and because of the conviction given to me by the Holy Spirit. Faith and reason intersected. Biological evidence and metaphysics. Scientific observation and theological rigor. This is not a position I have just swallowed whole without an ounce of thinking. If you have questions about how a Christian could believe this, I would invite you to consider the work of Dr. Vern Poythress, a mathematician and a theologian with degrees from California Institute of Technology, Harvard, Westminster, the University of Cambridge and others. I would recommend to you specifically (all free to download): Redeeming Science and Chance and the Sovereignty of God. Both of these works do a far better job than I ever will showing the serious, rigorous academic work of a scholar.
You can totally disagree with what I have said in the previous paragraph. That’s the whole point of this. But I don’t want you to walk away thinking that your creation story is superior to mine on the grounds of being the only explanation that is completely rational and admissible in the public square. It is not. There are gaps. I can write about that some other time, and Dr. Stephen Meyer does a far better job than I ever will addressing the Cambrian explosion in his work Darwin’s Doubt. I have considered these gaps seriously. I am a thinker and a scientist. Every Christian is called to good science. We are to be good stewards and rulers of a beautiful world. There are things for which a purely naturalistic evolutionary perspective cannot account. Often the answer is, “Not yet.” And that’s fine. You can have that opinion. You can bank on technology. But let’s be honest and call it what it is, “By faith you choose to believe.” You are placing your faith in natural evolution or a subset of scientific principles that are cataloged under the word “evolution.” While many of my friends are distinguished scientists, what I find most frustrating is the number of evolution-defenders who have not even read Darwin’s work themselves. Ultimately I don’t want anyone to parrot what others say. The same feeling you have when you feel that I’m parroting whatever I’ve been told by “religious leaders” I feel when you parrot whatever you’ve been told.
I want us to move beyond indoctrination. We both believe an account of how the world came to be. We believe so by faith. We hold the canon of the works that prove our point to be sacred and unquestionable. We look past the gaps in faith.
And this is just the start of our worldview. Everything hinges upon that.