Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Folly and Irrationality of American Pop-Philosophy




I will get back to hermeneutics part II within a few days. But for now, I rant!
By the term “pop-philosophy” I mean popular philosophy, that is, the prevailing philosophy that seems more common than not in American pop-culture. In case you missed it, two major atheist groups (as major as a group within a community as tiny as that as the atheist community can be) have decided to compete with the day of prayer by announcing an annual day of reason. The implication is that reason and prayer are antithetical in nature. This kind of thinking seems to be gaining rather than diminishing in popularity. It would be helpful and encouraging to see Christians better equipped to respond to this kind of pop-philosophy.

The continuous dripping of a view through the use of media is highly effective in American culture. This culture uses the drip method with a variety of issues. One issue is the intelligence level of Christians and the supposed irrationality of faith. Christians are depicted is superstitious crack-pops in movies and on sitcoms at just about ever given opportunity. The national news media only calls attention to a “Christian” when they engage in the most reprehensible behavior or stir up the most extreme controversy. This, however, is to be expected. It should come as no surprise to the Christian community that the world hates biblical Christianity. Yet, for some reason, it seems to. We are shocked that the world would portrait us in such light. We are even offended when the world falsely accuses Christianity of things which it is not guilty. We should remind ourselves that Jesus Christ Himself talk us in no uncertain terms, unambiguously, and emphatically that the world would hate us because it hated Him before us. The world is an enemy of the faith, hostile to God, and views the message of Christianity as offensive, scandalous, and foolish. It is not as though we have not been warned! We have been warned by Christ, and by the writers of the NT Scripture. Therefore, it is a fruitless endeavor for genuine Christianity to pursue friendship with the world. They are natural enemies and the only way that will change is if the world changes or if Christianity changes.

It is critical that we understand this naturally hostile relationship between Christianity and the world if we are to maintain a healthy attitude toward the actions of God’s enemies. It is true that some of these enemies are elect and will be called out of that condition just as we were. Nevertheless, they are the enemies of God, the cross, and of the society of Christ. These enemies will sometimes organize their efforts to de-thrown God and replace Him with themselves. They are natural born idolaters after all. Idolatry comes as natural to them as eating and breathing. Recently, two groups of God-hating atheists have decided they will opt for an annual day of reason in competition with religion’s national day of prayer. How should we react? We should welcome a national day of reason, confessing that simple logic and rational thinking have been misplaced in recent times. We should welcome this move as an opportunity to explain the relationship that exists between human reason and faith. We should take the time to explain that Christians are not opposed to reason. In fact, we are very reasonable in our beliefs. Human reason is not ipso facto opposed to religious beliefs or faith. It is the effects of sin on human reason that creates the problem.

The crux of the problem with reason is that we attempt to set it up as the magisterium over all things, including faith. This kind of reason is autonomous in nature, seeking and insisting on independence from the Creator. This kind of reason, in the end, eventually reduces to irrationalism, which is the very thing it seeks to avoid. Human beings are rational beings for a reason (no pun intended of course). A rational God created us in His own image according to His own likeness. Therefore, we are by nature rational. This, of course does not mean that we always act or think rationally. We do not. Sin has had many horrific consequences, one of which is on the human thought process. I would like to interact with some philosophies in pop-culture to illustrate this phenomenon.

Take, for instance the homosexual argument that modern pop-culture makes every day ad nauseum. Sex is actually an act of love and two people should be able to love whoever they want regardless of their gender. At the same time, most people that make this argument, out of the other side of their mouth argue for the wholesale acceptance of evolutionary theory as if it were an irresistible, established fact of science. This reduces morality to a meaningless system of rules enforced on others by people who possess the power. In other words, evolutionay theory produces the illusion of morality at best. In addition, most of these same people, when polled on the subject of adultery, or pedophilia strongly disapprove of those behaviors. This kind of thinking is irrational at its foundation.

If it is true that all sex acts are acts of love and people should be able to love whomever they want, why cannot a man love a woman other than his wife? Perhaps one would argue that he made a promise and now he is breaking it. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But who says that breaking that promise is wrong! Why is it wrong to break a promise to begin with? Autonomous human reason leaves itself without a rational and coherent basis for genuine morality.

Why is homosexual behavior being normalized and rape and pedophilia are not? Well, the answer comes that rape and pedophilia is harmful. But harmful to whom? Who says the rapist should not be allowed to express his love toward others by forcing himself on them? Why deprive him of that pleasure? Are there not a plethora of studies documenting the harmful behavior of homosexual intercourse both medically and psychologically? Why is it acceptable to reject these facts and sweep them under the rug while using the same argument to condemn other sexual behaviors?

Recently, my son found himself in the unenviable position of being in a physical altercation at school. It turns out a kid twice his size (my youngest son is the smallest of my litter) decided he would push him around and my son being twelve years old, and being my son, he reacted like most normal twelve-year old boys would and like my other sons would (not sure where they got that from). He defended himself. However, it does not matter what circumstances led to the scrap, my son was expelled automatically without question. There was nothing I could do about it. I did not ask this question of the administration at the time for various reasons. But here is my point: a twelve year-old male is wired, engineered, built to react to physical threats by physically defending himself. That is definitely in his DNA. Yet, the school policy is to expel boys for behaving in a way that is totally natural. It is a basic human instinct to protect oneself under those conditions. At the same time, the same school will teach children that homosexual behavior is normal and instruct our children not to reject such behavior because some people are born this way. It is part of their genetic code! In one instance, the school denies what is scientifically documented as natural human instinct while at the very same time accepting as scientific fact what science has given up trying to prove!

Reason serves as faith’s minister, not her magistrate. Christians have nothing to fear from reason except reason alone! We do not have a reasonable faith. Rather, we faithful reason. I use these types of events to introduce people to the gospel by asking questions that I know the unbeliever cannot answer. But I do no in a way that is not demeaning or condescending. Once we agree that they cannot answer these questions, we move to the next question: would you like to hear some alternatives? Then I share the gospel with them. At best, we have a great conversation and I get to publish the gospel. What a blessing! At worse, however, even if they do not engage far into the conversation, they realize that Christians are not ipso facto irrational, uncritical people willing to believe anything anyone puts in front of them.


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