Friday, November 5, 2010

Why Many Christians Opt out of Public Schools (2)

Post 22--
Post 21 was a bit theoretical and vague. I made a big point of the fact that all human beings, including Secularists, Humanists and Atheists, are believers. We all build our lives on a set of values that we believe, but that we cannot prove. We call that total package of beliefs our “worldview.” Christians are very aware of that; most Secularists—from here on in this blog I use this term to refer also to Humanists and Atheists—are not. That is their blind spot and serious weakness. They believe in autonomous reason and in its ability to potentially understand everything and determine good and evil, but few realize it is a belief they have not proved and will never prove. Christians, on the other hand, recognize that the human race went through a serious fall or break with God, with themselves, their neighbours and all of the universe way back when in our history. The first chapters of Genesis are a poetic or mythical representation of that tragic event. That fall also created a serious disconnect between our reason and reality, a disconnect that can only be restored with the help of divine revelation.
This divine revelation comes in two forms: the Bible and the book of nature or creation, often called “natural revelation.” The knowledge gained in the second form requires correction from the Bible. These two supplement each other. It is the same God who reveals Himself, His wisdom and His will in both.
What does all this mean in practical terms? It means that Secularists draw conclusions with the aid of their autonomous self-directed reason about what is good and wise in this world, while Christians also check out the Creator’s will and wisdom for this world by consulting the Bible. This difference drives the two groups towards different conclusions. Let me illustrate the point by random use of abortion as an example.
Secular abortionists defend the practice of wholesale murder, a less euphemistic term than “abortion,” of human fetuses on basis of the priority they have placed on the freedom of women to control their own bodies. Probably in reaction to centuries of restricting the freedom of women, they now advocate total freedom for women to control their own bodies. Away with all restrictions! In view of the history of women in most or even all cultures, this attitude seems to make some rational sense. If you have no point of reference beyond yourself, your community or science, that’s kind of a natural way for you to go. The human race is like a pendulum that keeps swinging from one extreme to another without ever resting at a balanced situation. So, from centuries of chains, as some would interpret the history of women, to complete unrestricted autonomy over my own body.
Christians on the other hand…. Well, many Christians, not all. Many have been taken in by the powerful rationalism of secularism. The practice of abortion has become so widespread that it has lost all shock value. Many of us have gotten used to it. The horror associated with this wholesale destruction of human beings has evaporated. It’s become as common as making a grilled cheese sandwich. These two factors, the secular air that we all breathe in and the daily practice of abortion have led even people who want to take God’s Word seriously at other fronts, to accept abortion, though they will tell you they don’t really like it. But, they may argue, you can’t tell others what to do or not to do!
Oh, you can’t? Why can you tell people not to kill that same fetus that has just now made its way into the world? On what basis? What is the difference? The difference lies in your point of reference. Autonomous reason and autonomous women’s bodies? Off to the clinic we will go. The Word of God? Then the life of the fetus trumps the freedom of the woman. Freedom is part of the Christian message, but it is freedom within the law of God and within His priorities.
Most Christian denominations in the world--as well as most other religions-- oppose wholesale abortion. Though they also wish to see women enjoy freedom, there are other considerations that they pick up from the Bible. There is the Biblical emphasis on the absolute sacredness of life that has priority over female freedom to abort a life already started. These Christians are also pro-choice, but the choice is made at the time of sexual intercourse leading to pregnancy. That’s when they make their choice. If pregnancy results, a new life has been started that is sacred from its inception. It is God’s gift that is to be accepted with gratitude and faith and as a challenge.
So, the difference is not that some people are cruel and others nasty. Or that some prefer women; others, babies. The difference is our point of reference, autonomous reason or reason guided by the Word of God. But both are matters of belief. This same difference crops up in many social, political, sexual, cultural and economic issues.
Many Christians and people of other religions opt out of the Public Schools, because there the autonomy of Secularism holds sway. God’s Word may not serve as a point of reference. All things religious are banned, except perhaps some cultural residues like Christmas trees. But the main atmosphere is that of Secularism—all the way from kindergarten through university. In fact, in most of those quarters religion is scoffed. We Christians have high regard for reason and for the scientific enterprise, but we prefer our reasoning to be directed by the Word of God and reject autonomous reason.
The next post will try to explain why my secularist friends from World Views Collaborative are unhappy enough with a Public School system to change it, even though it is based on their worldview!

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