The Blind Faith of Naturalism (Colson)

Growing up, I remember overhearing Chuck Colson’s “Breakpoint” from my mom’s kitchen radio.  Sometimes I would stop and listen.  I grew to appreciate his commentary, even though I didn’t always agree with all of it.  Here’s part of a previously unpublished memo of Colson’s from around 10 or 15 years ago:

It never ceases to amaze me that people are willing to bet their lives on naturalism; not only is it self-refuting, but to believe it is an act of supreme hubris.  I say supreme hubris because naturalism is the assumption that the only thing that can be known is that which you see and can validate with one of your five senses.  So what the naturalist is really saying is, if I can’t prove it’s true, then it can’t be true.  If I can’t, by physical observation, conclude something is real, then it can’t be real.

Of course, there are all kinds of things in life that we cannot see or apprehend with our senses that are nonetheless true, love being one of the most obvious.  The principle that allows an airplane to fly, the lift created by air traveling more slowly under the wings than over the wings, is a visible principle, but you can’t see the air actually moving.  It is measurable, of course, but still a certain amount of faith is involved in knowing anything.

Later Colson notes how naturalism is self-refuting because a naturalist presupposes that everything came about by chance, by evolution.  The naturalist says that reasonable, intelligent, and rational human beings evolved by chance mutations and evolutionary principles.  How can one prove this by physically observable facts?  Here’s Colson:

…To come to that conclusion, you’re relying on a brain and a thinking process that evolved by chance.  If it has evolved by chance, you have no idea whether it’s reliable.  Attempt to prove to me that an organ that evolved by chance is going to be reliable to always give you the right answer to any particular question.  Or prove to me that this organ has the capacity of knowledge, which is distinguishing what is real from what isn’t.  The answer, of course, is that you can never get there.

The naturalist is proceeding in blind faith.  He is defying what is self-evident, both in nature and the creation and in terms of our moral inclination.  He is, as C. S. Lewis said, like a man trying to lift himself up by grabbing himself by the collar and raising his hands.  He won’t get off the ground, but he will very likely strangle himself.

The naturalist is in the position of assuming that he knows everything he needs to know, and that everything that can be known is accessible to him through his senses.  It takes an extraordinary leap of faith to arrive at that conclusion.  But once you do, you have nothing.  You are defying the evidence.

Chuck Colson, My Final Word, p. 226-227.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI

Marriage, Sex, and Moral Nihilism

Here’s another helpful excerpt from one of Chuck Colson’s previously unpublished short essays:

“We have an absolute duty to start training our children in [the] biblical worldview when they are just beyond the toddler years.  They’ve got to start understanding that there are some basic truths in life, and that if we abandon them, the whole scheme of living unravels.  And marriage is a great example, because very, very few evangelicals, at least that I talk to, have ever heard of marriage talked about this way.  They see it as a covenant with one another and with God – the more devout see it that way – but very few people see it as part of the structure of life built into the fact that God has created us and given us, in His Word, an understanding of man and woman as one [in marriage], and why that is so, and the purpose of it.

“…But if we teach kids that sexual expression is just a matter of personal preference, that sex doesn’t have any moral component, nor does it have any natural or physical order to it, that we are whatever we want to be and may gratify ourselves any way we feel like it, then it’s impossible for marriage to be limited to a man and a woman.”

“In a very short time it will be impossible to preach that homosexual behavior is a sin.  How do you teach that something is a sin when society is saying it is simply a legitimate choice?  This is the camel’s nose under the tent.  This is why the homosexual issue is about a lot more than gay rights.  It’s about deconstructing the moral order of society, and the people behind it know that.  They really are moral nihilists at heart.”

Charles Colson, “An Absolute Duty,” in My Final Word.

shane lems

Anger, Consumerism, and Big Government

I’m very much enjoying Chuck Colson’s My Final Word, which is a collection of his previously unpublished short articles.  While I don’t agree with everything Colson wrote, much of it is wise, timely, and helpful.  For instance, in one short article from around ten years ago he noted a puzzling fact: even though the United States and Britain both were doing quite well economically, their leaders were detested by so many of their citizens.  Why is this?  Why are so many people so angry? Colson wondered.  Here’s his two part answer, which I’ve edited for length:

1) The more people have, the angrier they get.  Witness the fact that America is regarded as one of the most unhappy nations on earth, according to recent studies.  We take more tranquilizers than any other people, and yet we have an extremely high standard of living.  The happiest people, according to the same survey, turned out to be Nigerians, who have one of the lowest standards of living.  The problem is, we are spoiled rotten.  We’ve got everything we could possibly want.  But we’re not happy and we don’t know why, so we get angry at everybody else.

2) The second problem is that we have politicized everything.  We think nothing is going to happen that isn’t proposed in Washington, argued by the talking heads at night, and then voted on, and if they can’t deliver, then we know that we should have thrown the bums out anyway.  If you once get the notion in your head that there’s a political solution to everything, and you don’t have to do anything except let those people take care of everything for you, you will eventually be controlled by those people.  But in the meantime, government will get so big and cumbersome it can’t even function.  And that’s the point we’re at.

Excellent points!  True happiness does not come from possessions or political programs.  Elsewhere Colson notes that true joy and happiness only come in Christ and from being part of his body, the church.

The above quote was taken from pages 122-123 of Colson’s, My Final Word (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015).  [Note: as with some other books on this blog, I received this one for the purpose of blogging/reviewing, and I am not compelled to give a positive review.]

shane lems