Metaphysics & Absurdity

It is not always clear why metaphysical problems such as those revolving about the notions of cause, substance, the subject-object gap,body-mind interaction, etc., need to be discussed. The practical man has little interest in such matters, and, it may appear, can conduct his economics or politics or family life equally well without having to bother his mind about them.

That, I think, is not the case. Whether or not they are explicitly elaborated, every culture has presuppositions on these matters upon which it relies for its understanding of how to conduct just such affairs as economics, politics, and family life. These presuppositions are working in the background, unconsciously to most of us most of the time.

The Broken Image by Floyd Matson portrays this fact with respect to the earth-moving adjustments that have come about in the shift from l9th to 20th century views on such metaphysical matters.

Regardless of whether one metaphysical view can be proven over another, which one a person believes does make a difference in how he lives and relates to other persons. Cultures, like individuals, have their “unconscious” minds, that is, the generally accepted assumptions about the universe which are relied upon (hence not always consciously focused upon) in order to conduct the ordinary affairs of life (upon which we focus)[1].

The task of the theologian and philosopher, like that of the psychotherapist, is to be sensitive to these largely unaware-beliefs of the culture and bring them into light for critical examination. Few question that our culture is sick and in need of therapy and, some of us would add, repentance. As with psychotherapy, it sometimes helps to rehearse the historical development of the disease.

As I think can be shown, and as we intend to help show here, a healthy culture is one whose relied-upon images of reality are those of the Biblical doctrine of creation[2]. Any culture  which departs from these images is liable to serious distortion and disablement of its human relationships, whether economic, political, or romantic. The point of this introduction is to trace the philosophical undergirding (or dis-undergirding) of these disablements.

The name of the disease is “radical contingency”, that is, lacking self-sufficiency, yet inability to discover from where one’s sufficiency does come, or even whether there is a source for it at all. This disease of culture, from a Biblical point of view, is none other than the “death of God.” Since the late Middle Ages, Western culture has found itself increasingly unable to take consistently and seriously as a basic relied-upon belief the Biblical doctrine of creation.

The death of God is (in one of its aspects) the death of the Creator, for God in the Bible is above all else the creator of heaven and earth. Medieval man, insofar as he was Christian, perceived his essential relation with God to be that of creaturehood. The legacy of meaning, sense of fulfillment, direction in history, and morality which were founded on that vision of God began to die the moment the doctrine of creation began to give way by the late Middle Ages, slowly and incrementally, as the ultimate foundation stone of Western culture. Christian thought and practice became increasingly atonement rather than creation centered, leaving atonement only an impartial explanation.

It is believed by many and perhaps most people today that the development of science and technology has been more than anything else responsible for the “death” of God. Man now appeals to technology to do that for which he once prayed. The “God of the gaps” charge against believers relies upon the apparent steady devouring by the natural sciences of the ground previously occupied by religion as an explanation for the way things are. God, it is felt, remains only in those gaps not yet explained by science.

And it is felt, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, that man is coming of age, or, as per Freud, that man has abandoned the pleasure/comfort principle upon which religion was allegedly founded for the (for him) mechanistic, “drive” oriented reality principle upon which science he thought to be founded.

There is a curious contradiction, however, seldom noticed, between on one hand, the assertion that man is coming of age, which suggests that man is becoming more and more self-sufficient, and, on the other hand, the notion elaborated by the empirical tradition from David Hume to A. J. Ayer, and notably, by existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, that man is a radically contingent being. The first asserts that man is learning to get along by himself, the latter that man is inherently incomplete and inexplicable by himself. Absurd, as Camus says.

Furthermore, one asks just what “coming of age” might mean, having just finished the century in which we “mature” human beings, by the 1950’s, only half way through, savagely destroyed a greater percentage of the human race than any other whole century. And further, by the end of the century, we had destroyed more persons than had previously ex-isted in all prior centuries. This was done in almost every case by avowedly atheist/secular forces, and stopped by societies which still had at least a modicum of Biblical morality in their blood streams.

Bonhoeffer’s view is partly true. We were, in a sense, coming of age. The rise of science and the democratization of education and literacy had led to a kind of teen-age time of the human race, a leaving behind of the “parental” authority structures of State and Church to strike out on our own.

But though it progressed with confidant predictions of human triumph over the troubles of life, peaking around the end of the 19th century, it ran aground in the unparalleled human carnage of the 20th century. And, contra Freud, Western culture has embraced again the pleasure principle –with (what used to be called) “gay abandon”, and is steadily deteriorating in its scientific prowess.

The Church has, in large measure, lost it intellectual, moral, and spiritual way, and the power- and control-minded have gravitated toward the State to exert control over We, the People. The more we have “taken over” from God, the more we are losing control of our own freedom.

Hence the increasingly devastating absurd world of Albert Camus[3]:

I said that the world is absurd, but I was too hasty. The world in itself is only not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world.

Intellectual, moral, and spiritual clarity are gone. There is little remaining public consensus in the West, intellectual, moral, or spiritual, and we are cast onto our waning personal resources.

So, the world may be indeed be inherently unreasonable. But in any case, it is certainly worth discovering what has made so many people like Camus think so, and whether that view might not after all be a tragic mistake. Maybe it is we ourselves who are unreasonable, rejecting our Biblical roots and consensus.

The collapse of the Biblical worldview in the West signaled retreat from our march into human adulthood. It is a principle of spiritual growth in Biblical religion that one can be an adult in the world only to the degree that he is first a child in God[4]. But we are (wrongly) convinced that childhood is something we grow out of, not into. We do not like being dependent and/or obedient, not even, maybe especially, on God.

Augustine replied to the pagans who blamed Christianity for the fall of Rome, that not so, that any nation which refused to submit to the purposes of God would sooner or later go under. It cannot perdure[5].

So we are discovering, yet once again, that ideas have consequences. What one believes on the metaphysical and cosmic level has enormous personal and social consequences in ordinary daily life.

If it is true that the smallest particles and the most primitive forces de-fine the nature of the cosmos in which we live (as contemporary secularized science is telling us), or if it is true rather that the nature of God defines the boundaries of our lives and meaning of our existence (as Judeo-Christians are telling us), then, either way, it would be good for us to know which of the two might be the truth, and just what those boundaries and rules might be.

Is there a way of making a rational decision between the two?

 


 

[1] For an explanation of the “unconscious” and how it functions, see Bibliography for Biblical Inner Healing, Chapter IV, The Warp in the Unconscious.

[2] More on this in Volume II, Yahweh or the Great Mother?

[3] Albert Camus, Myth of Sisyphus, p. 16. Vintage paperback.

[4] That I take to be the meaning of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John 3:1-11 about being “born again”.

[5] In Augustine’s The City of God, arguably the first philosophy of history written.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article is an extract from Chapter 1 (section A) of Dr. Fox’s book A Personalist Cosmology in Imago Dei: Personality, Empiricism & God, Vol. I. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

On a Level Playing Field

One hopes that secular and pagan people will rejoice, not fear, that Christians are beginning to recover their intellectual credibility. Truth-seekers will always rejoice when others become truth-seekers also, whether or not they agree on other specific issues. Truth-seekers of all persuasions will make common cause in the defense of the mutually supportive pursuit of truth (i.e., of science) on a level playing field. If parties differing on even deep and fundamental issues, such as religion and politics, can form that first and fundamental common cause—pursuit of truth on a level playing field—then, and then only, is there hope of peaceful co-existence, i.e., an honest pluralism. Legislatures, governments, and international peace organizations fail because that initial covenant is rarely made—and most often subverted in the name of control.

So, our primary aim in working together ought to be to preserve and enhance the arena of open, honest public discussion of the great issues of life, not to shut it down with coercion, mind-control, or delusionary “relative” truth and pseudo-pluralism. Only the powers of darkness profit from our fear of discussing “religion” and “politics” among ourselves. It is time we grew up. Objective truth is the only possible level playing field on which any two persons can communicate. Any other ground means the subversion of truth and therefore of communication and communion.

Jews and Christians believe (or should believe) that God Himself has created this level playing field and is inviting His creatures onto it, as in “Come, let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18)

The contest is vigorous. Secular materialism, or naturalism, wants the world to believe that it has both a moral and ontological foundation, an order discoverable by unaided reason. But, I think it can be shown, secular materialism has no capacity to explain the original beginnings of all things, and thus no capacity to explain why inductive reasoning, the very foundation of empirical science, works—a fatal flaw.

The secular world, in short, cannot deal with singularities and contingencies (which is what the empirical world is all about) to make them orderly. When it is not busy denying, it must assume, because it cannot explain, all the metaphysical realities of life in order to get on with its chosen business of discovering the truth about the empirical world.

By singularities, I mean things which just seem to be there on their own, not logically necessary and not necessarily deducible from other things or conditions.

And contingencies are, similarly, those things which have no ontological stability of their own, and thus require ontological explanation. They could have been other than they are because their very being (the Greek ontos) comes from something outside of themselves.

A world full of singularities and contingencies which have no ontological basis is an irrational world, a world in which no predictions can be made, a world in which no explanations can be made about why things are the way they are. And thus, as Stark so starkly points out, no science.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article is an extract from the Preface (section A-3-c) of Dr. Fox’s book A Personalist Cosmology in Imago Dei: Personality, Empiricism & God, Vol. I. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Western & Christian Civilization

Western Civilization is identified by the three major elements unique in world history:  (1) the rise of the freemarket of ideas and the empirical sciences, (2) the development of due process, equality before the law, and ordered freedom in civil government, a Godly republic (which generally, but very mistakenly, goes under the name of “liberal democracy”), and (3) the rise of economic freedom, i.e., freemarket capitalism, in which the rich can no longer commandeer the coercive force of civil government to plunder the poor — bottom-up capitalism[1].

But since at least the late 1700’s, all three have been spiced with an increasingly secular flavor so that the Biblical worldview has been all but chased from the public arena in the West, and secular interests have laid claim to these three crown jewels of Western Civ., science, politics, and economics.  Christians participate in all three, but only rarely as Christians. And when they do, they are thought to be very much out of place — and by some, dangerous.

Nevertheless, that which ordered our freedom and gave rise to Western civil law was precisely the moral law of God, as stated in the American Declaration of Independence, and symbolized, for example, by the Decalogue posted in the American Supreme Court, and by celebration of the Biblical themes in American history all through the capitol building in Washington, D. C.

And, more to the point for our present purposes, that which ordered the cosmos, making the rise of empirical science almost inevitable, was the natural law of God — which alone gave rational order to the world.  No cosmology other than the Biblical offers such a foundation, so that what we call science today could have arisen only in a culture such as that of the Biblical Middle Ages, that supposedly benighted era from which “enlightened” secularism claims to have saved us.  No cosmology other than the Biblical asserts that the cosmos is orderly, morally good, and designed to be human-friendly — three essentials for the rise of science.

The secular worldview wants to claim the crown jewels of Western Civilization as its own production, but that worldview could not have produced those jewels.  It got them from the Biblical view, now in such bad repair and repute (when one can find it at all).

The Middle Ages was hardly perfect, and was only beginning to explore some of the wider possibilities of Biblical culture.  It failed to provide the intellectual, moral, and spiritual leadership which could have averted the schisms of the Reformation, the resulting religious wars, and the devastating secular response to the mess that Christians (not Christ) had made.  But those failures do not change at all the fact that without the Biblical base, empirical science as we know it could never have arisen. Rodney Stark writes in his conclusion to The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Let to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success:

Christianity created Western Civilization. Had the followers of Jesus remained an obscure Jewish sect, most of you would not have learned to read and the rest of you would be reading from hand-copied scrolls.  Without a theology committed to reason, progress, and moral equality, today the entire world would be about where non-European societies were, say, in 1800:  A world with many astrologers and alchemists but no scientists.  A world of despots, lacking universities, banks, factories, eyeglasses, chimneys, and pianos.  A world where most infants do not live to the age of five and many women die in childbirth — a world truly living in “dark ages”.

The modern world arose only in Christian societies.  Not in Islam.  Not in Asia.  Not in a “secular” society — there having been none.  And all the modernization that has since occurred outside Christendom was imported from the West, often brought by colonizers and missionaries[2].

If that seems absurd and pluralistically challenged, consider the following:

One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.  We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective.  At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had.  Then we thought it was because you had the best political system.  Next we focused on your economic system.  But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.  That is why the West is so powerful.  The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.

And who would write such outrageous prose?  Stark introduces that paragraph as a recent statement by one of Communist China’s leading scholars”.  Perhaps the same Chinese communist leader who said that if he had his choice of a national religion, it would be Christianity — because it was the Christians, he said, who were taking care of the social problems, reaching out to the poor and needy[3].

Making Christianity a “national religion” (if that means enforced) would, of course, effectively destroy its power of redemption.  Judeo-Christianity is built on freedom, not coercion.

The secular and the pagan worlds are deficient in both ontological and moral substance[4].  That is a bold counter-cultural claim, for which this present volume and those to follow are part of my attempt to help establish the point.  As Stark peers into the sociological and cultural reasons for the (to most contemporary Westerners) astonishing Biblical foundations of science, economics, and a freedom-promoting government, likewise we are here peering into the metaphysical reasons for it being so.

As Stark and others document, to almost all of the early scientists it was not astonishing, it was just ordinary fact, the way things were.  They were discovering God’s laws after Him.  And, despite the blunders and crimes of an all too-often power-oriented Church, it was also standard teaching among both catholic and protestant Christians up through the colonial period.  The sovereignty of God over all things was part of English common law, as recorded by William Blackstone, the preeminent English jurist at the time of the American Revolution, and as understood by our founding fathers[5].   God was understood to be sovereign precisely because He was creator.  The ontological and moral foundations are logically wedded[6].

Among others aiming to get Christians back into the fray are some in the Intelligent Design movement, about which these volumes will have much to say[7].  The 21st century promises to be quite different from the previous two, as Christians, with painful slowness, regain their intellectual, moral, and spiritual credibility.

 


 

[1] Democracy was universally despised by the American founding fathers, who saw it (rightly) as mob rule, the tyranny of the majority.  In practice, it turns into a tyranny of the elite who learn how to manipulate the levers of government over that now hapless and atomized majority, to their own advantage. What the Constitution gave us, as Ben Franklin noted, was a republic.  America is a democratic republic under God.  There is, of course, a democratic element (the people chose their own rulers, and are thus the primary officers of the state).  America is a republic in that the laws are made not by the people directly, but by their elected representatives.  And, it is all under the law of God, as stated by the Declaration of Independence. Only under the law of God can either rights or obligations be objective, let alone inalienable. See Bibliography for Defining ‘Oughtness’ and “Love” on the case for the law of God being the only foundation for objective ethics. Freemarket capitalism set the common man free from the plundering of the rich and powerful (and hence fostered the rise of a middle class), but it could happen only under the growing political freedom provided by the emerging Biblical political structure which rested on the notion that all men are created in the image of God. The powerful became less and less able to plunder the poor.  Rodney Stark makes this case in The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. Capitalism, the boogie man of socialism and communism, becomes dangerous only when it colludes with government, whether communist or fascist.  It tries to enlist the coercive power of government to secure its profits against competition.  Government then becomes a player in the commercial game and can no longer be an honest referee.

[2] The Victory of Reason, p. 233.

[3] Ibid., p. 235.

[4] These claims against secularism and paganism will be given some substance here in Personality, Empiricism, & God, but will receive further explanation in Yahweh or the Great Mother?

[5] See William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Vol. 1, Section the Second, “Of the Nature of Laws in General” ISBN 0-226-05538-8.

[6] See Bibliography for my article, Defining ‘Oughtness’ & ‘Love’.

[7] See Chapter XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article is an extract from the Preface (section A-3-b) of Dr. Fox’s book A Personalist Cosmology in Imago Dei: Personality, Empiricism & God, Vol. I. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Mind-Control vs. Education

In the late 1800’s, a new weapon was discovered for gaining control over those freedoms inspired by the three crown jewels—mind-control[1]. It is a much more effective way to subdue a people, and destroys much less of the infrastructure of the targeted society than does physical warfare. You persuade the gullible to like being controlled; you sell it to them as a necessity for their own protection, survival, and comfort.

Mind-control was begun by German psychologists in the late 1800’s with their new “behaviorist” psychology, largely at the University of Leipzig under Wilhelm Wundt, advanced by Pavlov under Stalin, and perfected (so to speak) by the Chinese and North Koreans in the 1950’s[2]. This absolute antithesis of honest commerce, politics, and education is now routinely being used by advertisers, politicians, and (especially government-controlled) educational institutions all over the world[3]. It is a staple of globalist-oriented politicians, and of their flagship institution, the United Nations.

It thus took no time at all for the control-minded to seize the opportunity to subjugate the population “peaceably” (as in Brave New World, or 1984, or Animal Farm), to render us all slaves on their government plantation. Brainwashing is effective precisely because ideas have consequences. Change a people’s ideas, and you change their goals and loyalties.

Once you have made the Church irrelevant by divide and conquer, it is an easy matter to control the mind of the public through coercive government education. A secure renewal of freedom will not come until there is a dispersion of power and authority such that the family is the center of both education (not the State) and religion (not the Church). The role of the State is to be the referee for society, and of the Church to be the conscience and worship leader. And all this to be done with a freemarket of ideas, not a market of ideas controlled by either Church or State. That, on the Biblical view, is God’s way of doing things.

A neo-pagan society, on the other hand, which openly advertises relative truth and relative morality has nothing in its worldview to deny that might makes right, that the powerful should rule the weak, and that survival of the fittest (where fittest means whoever gets the levers of control) is the rule of life. Control, then, not truth or freedom, is the way of life.

This new Dark Age (secular “Enlightenment”) was caused more by Judeo-Christian ignorance, incompetence, and cowardice than by the strengths of secularism. It led to the most brutal century in human history (the 20th), to the manipulative, deceitful destruction of truth and morality, to depersonalization of the human soul, and more recently, to impending total centralization of civil government, i.e., global tyranny. All three crown jewels are being subverted because the pagan worldview (including a secularized/paganized Church) cannot sustain any one of them.

The Christian community has only recently (late 20th and early 21st centuries) shown signs of recovering its intellectual integrity, with almost all of that recovery being well outside of the mostly oblivious institutional Church.

Most people do not think philosophically, let alone metaphysically. But ideas nevertheless have consequences, especially metaphysical ideas. The rejection of metaphysics for behaviorism was at least in part deliberate by those who wanted to get rid of God. As one philosopher candidly admitted, he did not want God to exist because God would get in the way of his sexual and political aspirations.

Those who do not think philosophically nevertheless most often look to those whom they consider experts at doing so. Christianity lost the war for the 19th century and following because they were perceived to have lost the intellectual war to the secular experts. They were incompetent to give good answers to Marx, Freud, Darwin, Dewey, and others.

They were perceived most of all to have lost the moral high ground. “Moral high ground” resonates with almost all persons. People will support that group which appears to hold the moral high ground. And everyone considers himself an expert on morality. They think they know right and wrong when they see them.

Either the Church will recover that moral high ground, or it will continue to fail. It will not recover moral credibility unless it also recovers its intellectual credibility. And that means an adequate response to Darwin and evolution as the explanation of why things are the way they are.

 


 

[1] For a history of mind-control, read Brainwashing: the Story of the Men Who Defied It, by Edward Hunter.The “three crown jewels” of western civilization are intellectual freedom (free market of ideas, science), political freedom (limited government for a free people), and economic freedom (freemarket economy).

[2] The Leipzig Connection, by Paolo Lionni gives an excellent introduction to the enormous (and devastating) effects of Wundt and his new behaviorism on American education.

[3] Read, for example, John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education; Thomas Sowell, Inside American Education; B. K.Eakman, Educating for the New World Order, and Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality through Education; Jill Carson, What are Your Kids Reading?; Samuel Blumenfeld, NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education, and Is Public Education Necessary?

 

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article is an extract from the Preface (section A-2-g) of Dr. Fox’s book A Personalist Cosmology in Imago Dei: Personality, Empiricism & God, Vol. I. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

The Globalization of American Education

Read the Education Advocate, put out by the Commonwealth Education Organization in Pennsylvania.  The issue for January/February 2007 tells the story of the globalization of American education—a process which began in the 1830’s with Horace Mann, who got his inspiration from the most militaristic nation in the world, Prussia, ruled by the elite Junker class.  They had a state-controlled, tax supported, mandatory school system which kept tight control over their people.  That was what Horace Mann thought America needed.  (Read two books by Samuel Blumenfeld—Is Public Education Necessary? and  NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education.)

Mann was a Unitarian, and hostile to the Christian education system.  It was no “system”.  If you wanted your children educated, go ahead and educate them.  Build your own schools, hire your teachers, design your curriculum.  It was your business.  Freemarket education.  Little or no government control.

When we did it that way, America had the best educated populace in the world.  People marveled that the tradesman and the farmer could read newspapers—published at a higher level than today’s papers (read de’Toqueville’s Democracy in America, written about the same time as Horace Mann).  The Federalist Papers were newspaper fare, and read by nearly everyone.  College students of today’s education often have trouble reading them.

Since government has gotten control of education, beginning in earnest about the 1850’s, the literacy level has steadily and progressively descended, until 1962 when it took an 18-year plunge.

Mann was linked with the New England industrialists who did not want a free and educated people, they wanted a population fit for factory work, and thought enforced public education (which is neither public nor education) would produce such a population.  The so-called “progressive” educators, such as John Dewey, were quite clear that they favored an elitist system in which less than 20% of students would be allowed to go on to higher education.  That could happen only if enforced by government.  No parent would willingly do that to their child.

Everything government does it does at gunpoint.  We seldom see the gun because we agree with the laws.  But if you do not send your child to an approved school, you will see the gun at your doorstep in the guise of a truant officer.  There are some things which government should never, never, never regulate:  Such as religion and education.  Both form the minds and hearts of the people.  And both are thus the target of tyrants.  They want to educate us to vote them back into power.  Government controlled education will always (as in ALWAYS) sooner or later, become a mind-control system.

The January/February issue of Education Advocate is warning America that before Congress are two bills to submit our nationalized education system to the UN, to put it under the control of the thugs and criminals who manipulate the UN for their own power and glory.

Dear reader, control of education is the most dangerous side of the globalist movement, their strategy to control the thinking of America (and everyone else), worse than UN military control.  Globalists have successfully sidelined religion (Church and State, you know…), and have a lock on education.  They are effectively in control of the thinking of most Americans.  And Americans are either are oblivious, too cowardly to stand against it, or on the side of tyranny.

The one thing tyrants fear most is a Biblical spiritual renewal.  They know that if that happens, their days are numbered.  The ONLY way we will turn this back is through a spiritual renewal in the West, and to do what we should have been doing for several centuries—developing the Biblical view of politics, economics, education, etc.  It might just begin in America.  We seem to be the only even slightly “religious” nation in the West.

But our spiritual leaders (and followers) are, so far, incapable of mounting an offensive to recover the West for Jesus Christ.  Most of them, stoutly apathetic, resist any suggestion that they get involved in a reasonable discourse of public policy issues (they do not know how), or that there is a Biblical form of politics and government.  Very few Christians know how to say out loud that “Jesus is Lord”.

A part of the offensive that might turn things around is learning to reason in public again.  Christians once led Western Civilization in public reasoning.  No longer.  We must learn what the Biblical worldview is, and how to promote it in public.  We must learn how to use the Bible in public with reason and grace.  All that should be a major part of Christian education, the education of Christians from cradle on up.  But we have given our children over to atheists and others hostile to Biblical faith.  And, as a result, Christians are losing their children at the rate of about 85%.  Their children trust the spiritual, moral, and intellectual judgement of their atheist and pagan teachers over that of their parents.

85%.  That is a prescription for spiritual suicide.

We MUST get our children out of government-controlled education —home school, rebuild our church schools, hire tutors, whatever we can do to rescue our children from the mind-control program of the globalists.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Definition of ‘Science’

The word ‘science’ comes from the Latin, ‘sciere’ = ‘to know’.  The thrust of science is not that we discover the truth about things, but rather that we discover HOW to discover the truth about things.  Learning how we discover truth is itself the science of epistemology – the science of sciences.

How do we know when we have a science?  What is the definition of the word?

Some definitions seem politically oriented to exclude folks someone does not like.  Dictionary definitions seem to focus on “systematized” knowledge, but do little to specify what kind of systematizing.   The secular folks have stolen a march on us by redefining ‘science’ to mean secular.   That is illegitimate, and we should say so out loud — which is what the Intelligent Design folks are doing.

Science is just common sense honed to a fine edge, common sense paying attention to the details.  One can define ‘science’ on the street level, as: “a way of telling it like it is”; or, “a way of getting the truth”.  Everyone knows what truth is.  They may not know the truth about a lot of things, but they know what you are asking for when you say, “Tell the truth, Johnny.  Did you have your hand in the cookie jar?”  People, almost universally, are enough in touch with reality to know what you are asking for when you ask for reality or truth, or “like it is…”

My definition of ‘truth’ is simply two words:  “what is”.  As in “tell it like it is”.  (Tell that to Pontius Pilate.)  Everyone knows what you mean.  Only philosophers and politicians have trouble with it.

My formal (but open to improvement) definition of ‘science’:

A science is a set of rules for evidence gathering and testing claims against fact and logic, rules which are publicly usable, neutrally applied to all participants, and which can reasonably be said to lead to the truth of that particular area.

Science is applied epistemology.  If epistemology is the general study of “how we know what we know”, then a science is a particular application of epistemology to a specific area, such as physics, history, jurisprudence, theology, chemistry, etc.  Epistemology, then, is the most general of all sciences.  A particular science (physics, history, chemistry, theology) is a specific application of epistemology to that area.  It tells how we know truth in that area.

That leaves the question open as to “which rules?” in that arena in which the rules are gathered:  physics, chemistry, history, psychology, theology, etc.  It leaves each area free to define its own rules, rather than having secular folks in the “hard” sciences impose theirs on everyone else in the world.

Science does not tell us such things as whether water freezes at 32 degrees.  Scientists  tell us such things, but not science itself.    What science tells us is how to find out whether water freezes at 32.  Science, in its generic form is the practical and specific answer to the epistemological question:  How do we know what we know?  not to the question: What do we know?

When people say you do not have a science unless you can do repeatable experiments, we should reply that that might be one of the rules in a physics rulebook, but not (at least, in the manner of physics or chemistry) in history, jurisprudence, or theology, or several other sciences (explanations of how we know what we know) one could mention.  Each area has to set its own rules.

I was discussing this with some friends at dinner, and used the analogy of football rules.  Any group of persons can form a team for the league, the rules are applied neutrally (equally) to all teams, and there are neutral referees in each case, to enforce the rules.  The referees in either case are not allowed to enter the argument (or play in the game) or to force a victory for one side or the other.   The outcome, in other words, cannot be forced or manipulated, it has to come naturally by the outworking of the rules.

One person replied, “Well, then, is the football rule book a science?”  I was a bit surprised at the idea, but then responded, “Yes, it is the science for finding out which is the best team in the league.”  The rule book itself does not tell you which is the best team, but it tells you how to find out.   It was a good example of the meaning of ‘science’, how it is a very flexible term which should not be coopted by one or another science and redefined to make it seem as though they have the truth automatically.  We want a level playing field.  Secularists have tilted the playing field so as to define themselves into the winning position.

We can break the stranglehold of secularized versions of science on the public mind if we insist on such a more flexible model for science.

It also leaves the metaphysical questions open to discussion.  It does not limit “fact” to physical facts or to facts of the five senses.   As others have pointed out, energy and information are also factual but non-physical.  So are ideas.  So, I would say, are moral standards.  Either we have obligations or we do not.  If I am obligated not to lie, then that is a fact of life.  Ethics is a science.

The definition of ‘science’ implies the public nature of science.  Science has a communal side to it.  It is valuable because it can provide expert opinions on a given subject of public importance.  Of course, one can nevertheless always have his own private science, and may do a good job at it.

If this is a valid definition of ‘science’, then we are constrained only by the words of the definition.  It says nothing about the philosophies or religions of the participants, only that the participants be willing to follow the rules in any given field.

It might be that a given philosophy or religion has built-in such standards or principles such as either get in the way of, or open the way for, candid sharing of ideas.  The public ought to take note of such conditions.  If a religion or philosophy is inherently contrary to the rules of science, it would be right to exclude that philosophy or religion from debate on public policy.  It would be a philosophy or religion hostile to truth-seeking.  Being hostile to truth-seeking is the only legitimate reason for in principle excluding some person or group from public policy debate.  Truth-seeking in the realm of legislation is the purpose for the American constitution, and for the British parliamentary system and development of common law.  They embody some of the rules for determining the truth about how to administer civil government.

Indeed, failure in truth-seeking is precisely what happened to Christianity during the 19th and 20th centuries.  We showed ourselves (for the most part) unwilling or unable to engage in open debate because we were scared to death that we might be proven wrong by the evidence.  So we trashed our own intellectual credibility and thereby lost the battle for the 19th and 20th centuries — leading to the 20th as the most brutal and debauched century of human history.  Ideas have consequences.

But intellectual cowardice is not the nature of Biblical religion.  Truth-seeking is fundamental to Biblical religion.  Both history and logic tell us that science arose, and could only have arisen, out of the Biblical worldview.  But Christians were (and are still, as of 2006 AD) generally too ignorant and too cowed to discover that and say so out loud.  Things are changing, however….   Visit the Intelligent Design & Apologetics libraries.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was oiginally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.