A Note from Our Editor: "Secularism and Stupidity in the Fast Lane"

Secularism has been around for a long time; though (pace Francis Shaeffer) it did not become dominant during the Renaissance, it certainly became mainline ideology in the western world beginning with the 18th century (misdesignated) Enlightenment. As for stupidity, that has been around even longer—ever since our first parents in the Garden of Eden believed the lies of the serpent.

But, unless my imagination is running wild, during the last few decades the incremental rates of both stupidity and secularity have been rising at an unprecedented rate. [1] Here are just a few examples:

      (1) The wide acceptance of evolutionary arguments à la Dawkins that, given enough time, one can explain developmental change without resorting to intelligent design. The problem here is that time    contains no causal element. A birdhouse can sit for an infinite period of time and will still be a birdhouse; it will not change into a castle.[2]

      (2) In the Union of South Africa, public holidays of ecclesiastical significance such as Ascension Day have been scrapped in favour of humanistic festivals (“Women’s Day,” “Worker’s Day,” “Youth Day,” etc.).

      (3) When I read for the English bar, the most influential figures on the English legal scene were serious, practicing Christians: Lord Chancellor Hailsham, whose first autobiography, The Door Wherein I Went, contains an important legal apologetic for Christian faith[3]; Lord Diplock, who worshipped regularly at the barristers’ Temple Church; and Lord Denning, president of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship. Now the atmosphere has radically changed: an English judge recently denied the appeal of a Christian relationships counselor who was fired for refusing to provide sex counseling to a homosexual couple, stating that religious justifications were “irrational”[4]; and two civil servants have been told not to wear crosses to work—the English courts agreeing and the government taking the same position before the European Court of Human Rights.

      (4) In the 2012 French presidential race, Sarkozy, the experienced president, lost to Hollande, a man with zero experience in running a government and even less experience in foreign affairs. This occurred against the background of the desperate need for financial austerity as promoted by Sarkozy—whilst the departement headed by Hollande had the biggest financial deficit in the entire country. The more committed to Christianity one was, the more he or she voted for Sarkozy, whilst Hollande was heavily favoured in the national election by those with no religion—and by the Muslims. Here are the statistics of the percentage of each religious category voting for Sarkozy, as reported by Le Figaro (8 May 2012):
                    Regularly practicing Roman Catholics 73%
                    Protestants 61%
                    Occasionally practicing Roman Catholics 58%
                    Non-practicing Roman Catholics 51%
                    No religion 34%
                    Muslims 7%

Hollande received 52% of the total national vote, becoming the first divorced French president with an unmarried “partner.”

      (5) Meanwhile, evangelicals are engaged in systematic dumbing down—charismatic emotionalism, pabulum theologies, and mega-church populism (focused on the overhead projector rather than the cross) substituting for the serious theologies of the Reformation past. Even the graduates of respected theological seminaries have trouble understanding the writings of professionals in their field.[5]

So what can be done? Perhaps nothing; history moves in cycles and we may be experiencing another Dark Age. But a classical education, with a strong dose of formal logic, would certainly help—as would serious study of the writings of the great theologians of the past: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, B. B. Warfield, C. F. W. Walther, Herman Sasse. At very minimum, they might teach us how to think.[6]

*  *  *

Global Journal’s Associate Editor, Dr Edward N. Martin—doubtless out of humility—rarely offers his scholarly articles to us. (Readers must go back to archived issue Vol. 1, No. 1 and Vol. 4., No. 1 for previous contributions—followed over the years by several valuable reviews.) But the present issue features his important apologetic contribution to the philosophical Problem of Evil: “On the Impossibility of Omnimalevolence: Plantinga on Tooley’s New Evidential Argument from Evil.” This article is especially timely--treating, as it does, a recent scholarly interchange between secularist Michael Tooley and Reformed epistemologist Alvin Plantinga. Two other papers of apologetic significance also appear in this issue: Nicole Frazer’s critique of Marcus Borg’s “Jesus Seminar” approach to the Gospels and James Barta’s analysis of Paul Kurtz’s secular humanism.

John Warwick Montgomery

[1] P. T. Barnum remarked that “there’s a fool born every minute.” To be sure, the birthrate was lower during his time than it is in ours . . .
[2] Cf. Montgomery, Global Journal of Classical Theology, Vol. 6, No. 1 (May, 2007):
[3] Reprinted in Vol. 4 (1984-1985) of The Simon Greenleaf Law Review, under my editorship.
[4] See Montgomery, “Religious ‘Irrationality’ and Civil Liberties,” Amicus Curiae: Journal of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies [U.K.], Summer, 2010.
[5] The reader will forgive a personal example. One anonymous net review of the author’s book, Suicide of Christian Theology reads as follows: “I found the writing so complicated that I had difficulty following the intricately woven arguments. I actually had to take some of his sentences and rewrite them in simpler terms before I understood what he meant. . . . PS. I am no dummy either. I have a 3.96 GPA at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.” Other reviewers—who had nothing but praise for the book--did not seem to have this problem.
[6] It was Sasse who said that the modern Christian has lost the ability to “think theologically.”


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