Recently I had the privilege of speaking to faculty members at a major University in Maryland. At the end of our scheduled conversation, questions from the faculty followed. One of the questions in particular I would like to dialogue upon further.
The question was brought to me by a Theist who was having a conversation with a friend that is of a Materialist persuasion. The Materialist made the claim that science will be able to recreate life from nothing at some point. Not a recreation of preexisting materials but able to create a simple single cell life from nothing. From that, a discussion ensued about what constitutes life. So the Theist gave this question to me; what constitute life according to the theistic belief? What form of physical compilation of material according to theism institutes life? Does this single cell need to reproduce, rationalize… to be determined life?
Although a worthy discussion, I would like to draw your attention to something different. It is here where we can see the Christian Church needs to be discipling better participants. The Theist, like most, was taking the claim as stated, “science will be able to produce life from nothing” and then proceeded to develop an argument for a theistic position on life. Let me expose a damaging epistemic disposition, that is, one who believes they have the correct worldview, feels obligated to assume the responsibility of the “burden of proof“. I said to the theist that I believe first the Materialist must create something from nothing. Once this claim or burden of proof has been accomplished by the Materialist, discussion can begin in validating the definition of life. The burden of proof is still that of the Materialist to create something out of nothing, this has not yet happened. Philosophically, nothing comes from nothing, something does not come from nothing; it is logically impossibility.
My aim is not to single out the theist that I spoke with; but I am using the above scenario to raise a larger point. My concern is with the Christian Church finding itself faced with certain character issues that this above example perpetuates.
A study called Six Megethemes Emerge in 2010 by the Barna Group¹ revealed that “The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate“. It indicates that certain common, universally-known Christian truths have become mystery to a majority factor of Americans. The Christian church has disengaged itself from discipleship for other self nurturing and promotional initiatives. Not focusing on intellectual rigor within a belief system gives no justification for holding that belief; one simply exists for pragmatic happiness. With no surprise, pragmatism
replacing spiritual principles was also one of the revealed megethemes.
Another disposition of concern is postmodernism and its rejection of meta-narratives and focuses on micro-narratives. When it comes to conversations like those above, rejecting the importance of understanding and contextualizing your worldview, ejects you from intellectually engaging reality. Isolation from society or even everyday pragmatism denies you existential admission. If a worldview exists that does not emphasize reasons for analytical thinking, rationale and logical consistency it’s extinction is almost inevitable. Currently the Church is not concerned about making claims because critical thinking is not a priority but rather the replaced concern is for being tolerant. In the Christian belief faith seeks understanding not tolerance. First hand from our think tank, rationalizing is the last concern of the American mind.
This mentality or social characteristic can only welcome ignorance. The burden of proof is also a fallacy referred to as the “burden of ignorance”. This burden of ignorance is not because people in general are mentally inefficient but simply uneducated. It is a sign of an anti-intellectual society or culture fueled by a mindless philosophy of postmodernism. As a society in general and for the Christian church, the current epistemic outlook does not look promising for social unity.
Note this: Whether the Church wants to participate or not, it takes on the burden of proof because it continues to make claims and have opinions. The question is not about participation but of what value is your participation. Exampling the Theist in the above explanation of pursuing answers seems a necessary social obligation. Reclaiming discipleship in worldviews, allows rational contextualization creating Better Participants.
1. Barna Group – Six Megethemes Emerge in 2010. /