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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Incomprehensibility of Naturalism (Quote)

Dallas Willard spoke at an academic symposium in 1998 dealing with the topic of "The Christian University in the Next Millennium." Willard's paper, entitled "The Redemption of Reason," laid out a powerful argument, with his thesis being "only the body of Christian knowledge and intellectual method can redeem reason. There, Willard said:

This is the fundamental fact of our time, from which reason must be redeemed: the incomprehensibility of reason and knowledge in naturalistic terms. Reason and knowledge are not to be found in the sense-perceptible world. It’s just that simple. If you have to understand everything in terms of the sense-perceptible world, reason and knowledge are gone. That is why you have the many strained and forced interpretations of knowledge and consciousness and reason, including all of the creative arts, and all of the areas of expression of the human spirit that we study in the academy—the forced interpretations of these as sociological, as behavioral, or even chemical. Even the interpretation of love has to be put in a naturalistic mold. I’m reminded of a man who said "Sawdust is wonderfully nourishing if you will substitute bread for it." When you try to put truth into the naturalistic mold, it’s gone. It is the same when you try to put evidence, when you try to put logic, logical relationships, probability, all of these fundamental things into a naturalistic mold. There are many dimensions of evidence, and many of them fall in a very variegated way within what we would call "sense-perception," but not sense-perception in the narrow sense that the naturalist wants to take it. And so we have to simply understand that the sociological, behavioral and chemical attempts to treat knowledge, reason, and creativity are due to the fact that the only categories available are the ones posed by the naturalistic world-view.

So of course, that’s why I say only the Christian knowledge-tradition can save knowledge in our time. If we don’t have that, we have a constant struggle within our Christian schools with what one writer has called "the problem of stemming the drift". The question comes up, "What is it about higher academic life that seems to make it such a hard-and-fast rule that given enough time, any institution, no matter how rooted in orthodoxy, will sooner or later slip away from its anchors?" In an article that appeared in "World Magazine" in May of 1997, Joel Beltz tries to address this. He quotes Gaylen Byker, President of Calvin College, on the problem. "The problem" is: How do you secure faculty for first-class programs in Christian colleges, without losing them to the secular mindset? When you’re hiring faculty you begin to think thoughts like, "Is it really important that a math professor hold to his school’s theological position?" With regard to experts in the various subject matters, Byker comments—and it’s very true in this simple statement he makes—"It’s hard to justify hiring a third-rate Christian when you can get a first-rate non-Christian." Those are his words, and I think we all understand this is a serious problem, not something to be dismissed.
Check out the rest of Willard' paper here.

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