Episode 2-3: From Heat to Light: Worldviews in Conflict

Episode 3 April 25, 2021 00:25:08
Episode 2-3: From Heat to Light: Worldviews in Conflict
Thinking Christian
Episode 2-3: From Heat to Light: Worldviews in Conflict

Apr 25 2021 | 00:25:08


Show Notes

You want to help move people from conflict to understanding, but here’s the problem you run into: Everyone on one side of the issue thinks everyone else has gone nuts. There’s a reason for that: From their perspective, they’d have to be crazy to believe what they believe. And that in turn traces back to serious, difficult divisions in our worldviews. We don’t just see parts of reality differently, we see almost all of it differently.

Today’s episode of the Thinking Christian Podcast helps explain how that happens, and points in a direction toward improved understanding. It’s just one step in moving from heat to light, but it’s really helpful, in fact crucial. That’s why we’re encouraging you to pass it along to a friend, along with the blog post that accompanies it. Please follow it on your podcast app of choice, too, and give it a 5-star rating. It’ll help us all move from the heat of cultural conflict to the light of spiritual transformation, in this crazy season in the history of our world.

And be sure, too, to check out your free preview chapter of Too Good to be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality, available for free from here.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:08 Welcome to the thinking Christian podcast, your weekly guide to solid Christian thinking on culture science, faith, and Christian confidence hosted by Tom Gilson. Hello, I'm Tom Gilson here with episode three of season two of the thinking Christian podcast, Speaker 1 00:00:29 The season in which I'm concentrating on exploring how we can transform the Speaker 0 00:00:34 Sheet of cultural conflict to the light of spiritual Speaker 1 00:00:39 Transformation. This is the heat to light season of the thinking Christian podcast and here today. And in episode three, I'm going to be taking a very high level, big picture, kind of a helicopter view, maybe even a U2 reconnaissance plane view of the causes of the conflict in our culture. These days, we weren't always liked this. Of course, American culture has always been divided in many ways, racial divisions, for sure, especially slavery leading to a horrible civil war and different politics and so on, but something seems different now and cultural conflict doesn't just come out of nowhere. Ours has been building for a while. The intensity of it now comes out of growing diversity in Westerners worldviews, and our way of seeing reality. You see for much of European history, most people shared a more or less common worldview, and the same has been true, especially for Americans of European descent and influence, uh, people who were either from Europe in their descent or whose lives were largely influenced by that European descent. Speaker 1 00:01:55 And because that one dominant worldview was so strongly powerful, it was also unifying. We got along as well as we did certainly better than we seem to be. Now, at least we got along because we agreed on the basics. And I'm speaking of course of Judeo Christian theism, which as everyone knows no longer holds that same central position in Western culture, rising up powerfully against it in this century, especially have been the strongly competing, worldviews scientific materialism and Marxist slash post-modern critical theory. I could include a couple of others, but although they exist in, in our, and have representatives in our culture, they're not the focus of so much conflict. So I'll stick with those two for now. And I have to keep this down to length anyway, the scientific materialism and Marxist slash postmodern critical theory in this podcast, I'm going to compare them to Christian theism and do so from a very high altitude, as I've already said, by examining their answers to several of the most basic questions. Speaker 1 00:03:06 Every person must answer regarding a life and reality on this earth. Now this isn't the time for me to define either scientific, materialism or critical theory in any depth that'll come later in this season, I'll stick for now with simplified versions, first scientific materialism, which is neither scientific nor materialist in the way those words are often commonly used. That is it's not materialism in the form of, you know, stocking up material goods in this world. And it's not scientific as in using the scientific method. Rather, it's the belief that reality consists in nothing but matter and energy material stuff that is interacting according to natural law. And it's the sorts of things that science can study at least in principle. And that's what makes it quote scientific. It denies God angels, the human soul and all spiritual reality, really. And it's the most common form of atheism in Western culture. Speaker 1 00:04:10 It also, by the way, it goes commonly by the nearly synonymous name of naturalism taken from the idea that everything that is his nature, and there is no super nature. That's a really quick overview of the meaning of scientific materialism. The second competing worldview is critical theory, which in future episodes, I'll talk about the Marxist and post-modern roots of it. It's really considerably more complicated. It's newer, it's more unfamiliar to most of us. It's the worldview that's driving the LGBTQ et cetera movement and black lives matter along with other prominent race-based conversations. And it's connected with other movements. Although those are the main ones, it's a totalizing view of human interactions that holds that the main issue of interest between persons is their power relationships in particular, that quote cis-gender heterosexual, white male culture has held so much power for so long. The effect has been oppressive to members of any other identity group. Speaker 1 00:05:17 Now those are definitions. Now I'm going to launch into a comparison and I have an accompanying blog post with this that puts us all in a table. So you can look at it if you want to, after the fact and see it laid out for you in tabular form, this is going to be necessarily over simplified my purpose here, isn't to provide a fully accurate description, but to illustrate the magnitude of the distance, separating each worldview from every other. And it's all going to lead in the end to an important question and a very crucial observation. I'm going to have for you with an unusual sort of takeaway that I'm going to suggest you, but this is a good point in the podcast dimension, a giveaway that I have for you. I've written a book called too good to be false. How Jesus' incomparable character reveals his reality and knowledgeable observers have said that it's surprising how much new that they've learned about Jesus through it. Speaker 1 00:06:16 And I'm going to give you the opportunity to download a free preview chapter of the book chapter two, which is titled Jesus astonishing love. And you can get that just by going to my [email protected] and looking in the sidebar for where you can sign up for thinking Christian podcast and blog updates. And if you do that, you'll also get a free preview chapter of too good to be false. So do that, go to thinking christian.net and check it out. So back to the table of the worldviews, this is going to be over simplified. I've already said that there's going to be an important takeaway at the end. I'm going to be narrowing down from Judeo Christian theism to just talking about historic Orthodox Christian theism. So don't be surprised if I concentrate on that one group, I'm going to ask several questions and give the answers. Speaker 1 00:07:16 As in general terms, these different worldviews would answer those questions ready? Okay. The first question is this, what is the basic nature of reality? Christian theism says that reality centers in God, the eternal Holy loving tri UNE creator, and that the visible world is God's creation. God spoke it into existence by his will. And for his glory scientific materialism answers by saying nothing exists, but matter and energy interacting, according to natural law and critical theory, most of its adherence would agree with materialists on that. If they'd given it any thought, although some would say there is a God, but as I've looked at what they write the God in whom they believe is malleable, he or it, or whatever, it looks a lot like someone who's there to go along with everything they believe I can justify that in a later podcast. I promise that was the first question. Speaker 1 00:08:16 Second question. Where did humans come from? Where did humans come from? Christian theism says that we are the special creation of God created in his image to be loved by him and to give honor to his glory. Scientific materialism says that humans evolved from prior organisms, not lower organisms evolution actually doesn't know anything about higher or lower that's. That's something you need to understand about evolutionary theory. No, we evolved from prior organisms by unguided, essentially random genetic variation, which was selected out by natural selection. Critical theorists, answer this question about where humans came from by saying, well, they would either agree with materialists in general about evolution, or maybe they have a vague kind of a God was their viewpoint. Honestly, functionally read the writings. It's almost as though for them, nothing actually happened until, uh, until 16, 19, when for the first time English settlers brought African slaves to Jamestown in America and not much matters before that. Speaker 1 00:09:27 Yeah. They know that humans came from somewhere before that, but you don't hear them talking about it much. So that's the second question. Third question is what does it mean to be human Christian theism says that well, because we are in God's image. Every human is an individual of inestimable worth. We have moral freedom, intellect and will, although all of that is constrained by sin. We are unique individuals intended to live in loving community with one another. What do scientific materialists say about what it means to be human? They say we're strictly material entities without souls. For many in this camp. What they would say is that we are essentially meat machines that free will is an illusion that our experience of moral purpose and even individual identity is all illusion it's been planted in us by evolution. Because, because having that illusion led to some kind of reproductive advantage among our ancestors, but it's not real. Speaker 1 00:10:32 It's just there as a sensation because it helps us to reproduce. And then what do critical theorists say in answer to the question of what it means to be human? Well, they'll say perhaps someone in line with what the, what the scientific materials will say, but they'll camp on the idea that persons nature and identity derived from the groups to which they belong, ethnic groups straight or gay orientation group membership, their sex, their gender identity, their age and so on. So each person is the product of group memberships. And when you hear talk of identity politics, the whole identity thing is crucial shul to critical theory, very much tied up, not in your individual choices, desires, skills, ambitions, and so on. It's really tied up in your group membership. Next question. What is the basic human problem? Christian theorists will say in one simple word, sin, sin, it's defined as attitudes and or actions active or passive that reflect and reinforce and live out our alienation and even rebellion towards a Holy God. Speaker 1 00:11:48 Scientific materialist will will say that the basic human problem is that we're fully evolved yet. We're or we're not fully educated, or we're not inculturated properly enough to get along and look, we're all going to die and be gone forever. Anyway, that's a problem. Critical theorist will say the basic human problem is racism and sexism and heteronormativity and quote, CIS normativity, and other forms of oppression imposed by dominant culture on marginalized group. That's the basic human problem in your viewpoint. Ask question by what means is the basic human problem solved? What's the solution? What's the answer. Christian theism says that God has initiated the solution to our problems, your Christ's death on the cross. Those who have faith in Christ receive forgiveness, the filling of the Holy spirit to enable more godly living. And ultimately we receive eternal life and mutual love and forgiveness can and should ease many of our interpersonal problems, although not in any final way until Christ's return. Speaker 1 00:12:59 And in the end, he will make everything right through his justice. The scientific materialists will say that the solution to the basic human problem is more evolution or better education or better cultural conditioning or something like that. And then, you know, we die and it's all over. Anyway, critical theorists would answer the question of the basic human problem by saying that whites have to become anti-racist, although they can't. So there's not much hope there. Similarly for male straight and CIS gender categories and members of oppressed groups need to throw off all oppression. Although there's not much hope of that either. So we just muddle along the, the oppressors being under a yoke of shame and the oppressed being essentially innocent. Uh, so they don't have much to solve really, other than all that oppression got a couple more questions for us to look at here now. Speaker 1 00:13:56 And the next one is, what is truth? And how do we access it? What is truth? And how do we know it? Learn it, access it. Christian theism says that truth is the expression of the way things are above all as existing and personified in God who reveals it through his word and through the consistent and rational nature of the world that he created. So we learn truth both through revelation and experience with revelation, having authority, the scientific materialist would answer the question about truth and access to it. By saying that truth is the way the world is from a scientific perspective. And if you think there's anything to reality, other than that, you're wrong, that's just it. And science is how we learn it. The critical theorists would answer the question of truth by saying the truth is a power game, the powerful use language and other means to impose and enforce their quote truths on others. Speaker 1 00:15:00 And that we would be a lot better off if we would understand that everyone on all persons have access to truth. Yeah. And that the truth isn't always what the oppressive class says it is. And there's special truth in marginalized. Person's lived experience that that really is a special way of accessing truth. And then finally, the last question, where is everything headed in the end? Where are we going from here? Christian theism says that we're heading towards an eternal, the state in which those who have entered a living relationship with God through faith, we'll live in eternal glory. And those who haven't will suffer lasting judgment for their rebellion against God scientific materialism just says, we're all going to die. That's it? That's it it's over. Ultimately the whole universe is going to die as well in the heat death of maximum universal entropy. And then it's all over. Speaker 1 00:16:05 It's over, over, over critical theorists, their answer to where's, everything heading in the end. It's kind of a, who knows probably what materialists say, unless there's a God in which we're all going to heaven with them. But, but, but why worry about that when there's all this oppression, now that's the end of my list of questions. My list of answers. Again, it's better presented in tabular form. You can go to the thinking Christian blog and find it there. The link to that will be in the program notes. So you can look at it there, but okay, what's the point? Where do we do with this? Is it just a list of differences? Yeah, it's a list. And I know someone's going to tell me that it's oversimplified. They're going to say I got their group wrong, or I left out some subgroups within these groups. Speaker 1 00:16:57 Don't worry. I know that already. But I also know that this comes close enough to take us to a very important question, which is this, what's it going to take for people in any of these groups to understand people in one of the other groups. Now I'm going to speak of this in missiological terms. Cause I'm speaking mostly to Christians here. I know missiological means that I'm speaking in terms of Christian witness. We want people to understand that Christ is their savior from sin, but in order to get there, they have to understand what sin means. They had to get there. They have to know what the word God means and the word Holy. And they have to understand God, not only as their creator, but as the one who's genuinely in charge. So he really does have the right and the authority in the to define what's good. Speaker 1 00:17:51 And what isn't. And if we tell these people in these other groups, that this is the truth, well, you know, they're going to have to reorient their whole understanding of what the word truth means. They see themselves as members of an oppressed group, they're going to want to know what God is doing to bring them justice. Do you see how much has to happen in order for someone to take that step of recognizing Christ as their savior? They've each one of these worldviews is a package deal and you have to take them as a package. You can't just take a little of one and inserted into another and make it work there. You have to take on the whole package. Similarly, if you don't take time to understand another person fully the package deal, you're probably not going to understand them at all. Understanding worldview basics. Speaker 1 00:18:45 Like these can give you a kind of a decent headstart, but we are so different in package kinds of ways, whole worldview kinds of ways. And they're not going to understand us either. If we think they're nuts for believing what they believe, don't worry. They think we're nuts too. And a lot of that has to do with trying to take pieces of our worldview and fit those pieces into theirs. So for example, we tell them, we believe Christ Rose from the dead materialists. Well, they know he couldn't, he couldn't have risen from the dead because no one can rise from the dead. And how do they know that? Well, because they know that reality is nothing but matter and energy and natural law, natural law doesn't allow for resurrections. So therefore Jesus didn't rise from the dead, but that's a case of trying to stick a resurrection by the power of God, into a worldview that doesn't have God, of course it doesn't fit. Speaker 1 00:19:46 We could ask which one of these worldviews is the most sensible, which one's the best. And you know, you're not going to get to the right answer by judging everyone. Else's worldview, by how well it fits into your own. Their worldview can't fit yours by definition. It can't right. Worldview would look wrong from the perspective of all other worldviews, because these really are all or nothing. Package deals. You can't fit bits of one into the other. You have to take them as a whole. So the only way you're going to know which worldview is right in my considered opinion, is you're going to have to find one that fits itself. It's consistent within itself. It explains reality, including human experience without contradicting itself. And I am convinced after very, very much study that Christian theism fits that bill Christianity, I think is the right worldview. Speaker 1 00:20:45 Because again, it's not going to fit the other ones. Of course it isn't. It's not meant to, but it fits itself. And it fits reality as we experience it, it fits what we know of history. It fits everything. So I'm satisfied that Christianity is true, but that's not why I'm telling you this year. Um, I'm telling it because I want to help us to see the kind of trouble that we're in. We're we're facing a whole lot of trouble and we're talking about overcoming the heat with light and what I want us to see and to hear and to experience is a sense of the distance that exists between us. There's a lot separating us. There's a lot too. We're not going to understand one another much less agree with one another. We're not going to appreciate one another. We're not going to take each other seriously unless we can take seriously. Speaker 1 00:21:48 The fact that we are all human beings in this together yet with vastly different perspectives on reality. So if you're looking for a takeaway, you should be, cause I promised you there would be one. And here it is. Think about this, reflect on it, consider what it means. These differences between us consider what it all means for your interactions, with people who see a reality differently than you do. Just think about it. Yes. I have more specific kinds of takeaways that I'm going to be suggesting in days to come, but there's a reason I'm not rushing there yet. There's a reason. And it isn't just that I've said plenty here for one podcast. It's because there's value for you in taking time to reflect on these things. Don't rush it, give it some thought by God's grace. I'll be back with more in a week or so, but this is going to be a journey. Speaker 1 00:22:56 And I've given you kind of a map of the obstacles we're going to face later on. We'll talk about ways to cross over them. I'm almost to the end here. Now, couple of things I do want to say for those who have wondered, whether I'm going to keep up my plans for a weekly podcast. Here I am. Last week, I was away helping my daughter with an unexpectedly complicated move to a new home, and we do have another family emergency moving forward in slow motion right now. It's my 97 year old dad's quickly declining health. I do plan to be back next week. If life circumstances allow it until then I do want to encourage you to go to thinking christian.net and look for that for that link to subscribe and to download a free chapter, a free preview chapter from too good to be false, sign up. Speaker 1 00:23:55 You'll get updates on thinking Christian podcasts and blog posts. And we can be in touch that way. You won't miss a thing. Let me encourage you to, to tell your friends, pass this along to your friends. If this has been helpful to you as made sense to you, help you make sense of the conflict that we're facing into. If it's even given you something new to think about, tell your friends, tell them about the podcast, tell them about the blog post that goes with it and let them know, uh, follow it on your podcast app of choice or subscribe, whichever word they use on your podcast app these days, uh, follow it or subscribe and give it a five-star rating. It helps an awful lot. That's it for today for the thinking Christian podcast. I'm Tom. Gilson think about these things and I'll be back soon. Thanks. Speaker 0 00:24:50 The thinking Christian podcast is copyright by Thomas Gilson for more information, visit the thinking Christian [email protected].

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