This ministry is designed to reach out to the common man, not the intellectual giants of our time. By “common man” I mean men and women who work every day, raise families, and live from paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have a Nobel prize or a Ph.D., but they pay taxes and vote, and they don’t fall for self-defeating materialism.
One of the intellectual giants of our day is Dr. John Lennox, and he has something important to say. Dr. Lennox is an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford. He has written several books on the compatibility of science and religious belief. A recent quote from Dr. Lennox was a response to atheist writer Peter Atkins. Atkins had claimed that “there is no reason to suppose that science cannot deal with every aspect of existence.”
Lennox referred to this as “a self-defeating materialism.” Here is his explanation:
“The scientist’s confidence in reason ultimately depends on the existence of a rational and purposeful Creator. Otherwise, our thoughts are nothing more than electro-chemical events, the chattering of soul-less synapses. If you take the atheistic, naturalistic, materialistic view, you’re going to invalidate the reasoning process, because, in the end, you’re going to say that the brain is simply the end product of a blind, unguided process. If that’s the case, why should you trust it? The materialist view inevitably gives birth to a form of determinism that appears to mock our essential humanity. Biological determinism robs human beings of any claim to dignity and freedom. Free will, we are told, is an illusion.”
You don’t need a Ph.D. to understand the point Dr. Lennox is making about self-defeating materialism. If you want more wisdom from John Lennox, we recommend that you read his book God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?
We recently presented a public lectureship in Chester, California. Some preachers who attended all lamented the number of young adults who no longer attended their congregations. We have also received emails from church leaders complaining about the loss of young people and worrying that their congregations are “graying” with most of the members being senior citizens. Fifty years ago DOES GOD EXIST? predicted this crisis with atheism winning the day in the media and on our college campuses. Unfortunately, the Church has done nothing to counteract this trend. We still have congregations where the leaders present no lessons of any kind on how we know God exists, how we know the Bible is His Word, and how we can answer the challenges of secular humanism, evolutionism, modernism, and materialism. The Church needs practical apologetics.
The apostle Peter wrote, “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is within you…”(1 Peter 3:15). Because we have refused to do what Peter told us to do, our young people assume that we have no answer to the major challenges they face each day. Many of our preacher-training schools teach their students that they should believe, and if God says it that settles it. Neither Jesus, the apostles, nor the early Church practiced that mentality. Romans 1:18-25 explains the progress of modern atheism, and in Acts 17:16-34 Paul addressed the kind of challenges today’s Church faces.
Young people today need to know why we believe what we believe. Many of us are not prepared to answer the questions that kids have. While kids may stay “in church” while they are at home, their reason for staying, in their words which I regularly hear, “It’s a small price to pay for peace at home.” The Church seems to think that entertaining kids will answer their questions, but the truth is that we can not out-entertain Disney. When kids return from a trip to Gatlinburg or Six Flags, they have the same questions they had before. When kids leave home and no longer have to appease their parents, they no longer attend any congregation of the Church. The university or the armed services will not push them to attend. Even kids who attend a Christian college frequently do not attend any congregation of the Lord’s Church.
We urge adults to pray about how to bring practical apologetics into the thinking of their young people. There are many good books and studies out there, but there are also some really bad ones. Ninety-percent of all printed apologetic material in the United States is written by denominational speakers who are supporting their denomination’s doctrine (according to Ronald Numbers in his book The Creationists). This includes all of Ken Ham’s material as well as Henry Morris and the Institute for Creation Research.
Many articles that we have posted on the “Does God Exist?” websites have revolved around definitions. Let us attempt to clarify some definitions.
EVOLUTION means different things to different people. Evolution essentially means change over time. We can see evidence of that in dogs and cattle and roses. Some would call those changes within plant and animal types as microevolution. There is also evolution of one type of animal into something completely different. That is sometimes called macroevolution, and it is something we don’t see. When someone says “you can’t believe in evolution and believe in God,” there will be different understandings of what that statement means. There are leading evolutionists like Dr. Francis Collins who are also prominent Christian leaders. Theistic evolution is evolution designed or guided by God. Naturalistic evolution is totally different.
NATURALISM asserts that natural laws are the only rules that govern the structure and behavior of the universe and that the universe at every stage of change is a product of those laws. Naturalism leaves out God and offers a purely materialistic cause and understanding of the universe.
MATERIALISM is the belief that physical “stuff” is the only thing that is real. Anything that is not physical in nature is deemed to be of no value in determining answers to the choices of life. Anything that cannot be measured or tested by science does not exist.
SCIENTISM is the belief that science is the only reliable source of truth. Years ago science was defined simply as knowledge. The modern definition of science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Scientism goes beyond science to make science a god.
DEISM is belief in the existence of a supreme being–a creator who started the universe but does not intervene or show any interest in it. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind.
THEISM is belief in the existence of a deity or deities, but not necessarily the God of the Bible.