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Finding Truth: 5 Principles For Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, And Other God Substitutes (2015)

Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes (2015)

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4.41 of 5 Votes: 1
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0781413087 (ISBN13: 9780781413084)
david c. cook

About book Finding Truth: 5 Principles For Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, And Other God Substitutes (2015)

“Professing to be wise, they became fools.” (Rom. 1:22)If you were to only listen to the media, and its secular hosts and guests, on the viability of religion then you would get the idea that it is inept, childish, and anti-intellectual. Religion only takes center stage in the news when it is the focus of negative press and ridicule. When the views it espouses are considered backwards and arcane. It is claimed that Christianity is a religion of wishful thinking. That is teaches its followers to “just believe” rather than using their minds. But is this true?Within the secular university it is assumed that one must check their religion at the door of education in order to be educated. Secular education, and the history of fields like biology, seem to have forgotten that they owe much of their success to religion, namely, Christianity. For people who claim to be so concerned with finding truth, secularists and their various religious-like representatives seem to find everything but the truth. In fact, they seem to suppress it at every turn. While they may be good at discovering things within the world God has made, they cannot give meaning to it. In their search for truth they step on it at every turn.But this observation is not new. In fact, it is at least as old as the New Testament. Paul observes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that, while God has clearly revealed Himself to man in nature, man, having seen it, suppresses that truth. Having suppressed it, he replaces worship of God with worship of the creation itself. Sin causes man to turn the world upside down. In trying to run from worshiping God, man simply replaces Him with the worship of Gods creation.To help us unpack the God-substituting that man engages in teacher and author Nancy Pearcey has recently written Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes (David C. Cook, 2015). Following her earlier books The Soul of Science, Saving Leonard, and Total Truth, Nancy speaks to believer and unbeliever alike about truth and its foundation in God Himself.Who Is This Book For?To the believer, Nancy wants every Christian to reject the attitude that they should never know anything about any religion except Christianity. As one of her students put it, “Exposing the mind to ideas is like exposing the body to germs. Its the way to build immunity.” (60) Its like those who work with counterfeit money. They first study real money so they know what it is in look and feel. They do so under the assumption that they will encounter counterfeit money. They are not trying to avoid a counterfeit, rather, they want to be able to spot it when they see it. The same goes for Christians and other religions and ideas. We always need to know our own faith more than another but we don’t master our faith with the idea in mind of never knowing anything about any other religion. We need to be able to spot counterfeit ideas to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we will never be able to if we never engage them. Citing G. K. Chesterton, Nancy points out that “ideas are actually more dangerous to the person who has not studied them.” (255)To the unbeliever, Nancy wants every atheist and secularist to see that by rejecting God’s existence they are rejecting the very foundation upon which their entire life and all of reality is built on. They have rejected worshiping the God of creation only to turn around and worship everything in creation. As Nancy’s husband, J. Richard Pearcey, says in the foreword, “Finding Truth argues that no secular worldview adequately accounts for the phenomena of man and the cosmos – what we know of human nature and physical nature. For these worldviews see only a slice of reality and then try to direct human beings into measuring themselves by that narrow slice and living accordingly.” (19) When we reject God as the maker and sustainer of reality then we lose the ability to account for all of reality.Unmasking to Find TruthThe book is built on 5 principles to unmasking idolatry and finding truth based on Romans 1. Here is a summary of each principle:Identify the Idol – Idolatry is the act of worshiping anything other than God. When man rejects God he is not rejecting worship but is rejecting the right object of his worship. Man in turn worships everything else but God. When man worships God’s creation then he turns those things into gods to be worshiped. These objects of mans idolatry are found in the ideas, philosophies, and worldviews man creates in a effort to replace God.Identify the Idols Reductionism – Ideas like materialism, rationalism, and humanism are all God replacements that reduce all of reality to a sliver of reality and seek to understand all of it in light of that sliver. Idolatry is inherently reductionistic. Because idols are reductionistic they lead us to destructive behavior. “Idols always lead to a lower view of human life,” says Nancy, and “when we reduce people to anything less than fully human, we will treat them as less than fully human.” (98-99) Idolatry seeks to absolutize a part of creation and “then everything is defined in its terms.” (45)Test the Idol: Does It Contradict What we Know About the World? – Having identified what a particular worldview has reduced reality to, we then ask if it is true to reality. A reductionistic worldview “is like trying to stuff the entire universe into a box, we could say that inevitable something will stick out of the box.” (47) For example, materialism reduces everything to the physical world. Since reality is only physical then there is no room for free will or even an explanation for the thoughts of a person since you can’t observe them. The Christian worldview is the only worldview that consistently takes into account all of reality.Test the Idol: Does It Contradict Itself? – This is the idea that idol-based worldviews are self-refuting, collapse internally, and commit suicide. For example a cultural relativist may claim that there is no universal truth. This claim of course is a universal truth and contradicts the statement itself.Replace the Idol: Make the Case for Christianity – If we are going to knock down idolatrous worldviews then we must offer something in their place. This is where the Christian worldview enters in. We must show why the Christian worldview is the only one that is coherent and comprehensive. This it is the only one able to make an account for all of life in a holistic, not reductionistic way. One way to do this is to show that while idol-based worldviews reject God and Christianity, they actually need and use them both to exist. This is the idea of borrowed capital. Greg Bahnsen used to say that atheists “are breathing God’s air all the time they are arguing against them.”ConclusionSo must Christians check their religion at the door in order to become educated and in order to gain respect in the world? Is Christianity just wishful thinking? Are Christians required to withhold thinking in order to “just believe”? The answer is a resounding no and that what Finding Truth is all about teaching. Christianity is the only worldview that can consistently provide a comprehensive view of reality that accounts for what we know of man, nature, and beyond. Christianity does not hinder exploration, education, or advancement. Rather, it makes it possible.Finding Truth is truly one of the best apologetics books to date. An apolotist in the line of Francis Schaeffer, she shows herself to have a clear understanding of the Christian worldview and an undeniable ability to communicate it. She models how to love God with your heart and mind. She is faithful to the text of Scripture and writes from a genuine desire to help atheists and secularists see the hollowness of their ideas while calling them to the truth as found in Jesus Christ.This is one of those books that I wish I could out into the hands of every Christian. Additionally, this is the perfect kind of book to go through with a atheist or secularist friend who wants to know more about Christianity and is open to critique of their own worldview. Nancy wants everyone to see that knowledge of God provides a universal framework” for seeing, understanding, and living all of life to its fullest. (270)I received this book for free from David C. Cook for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Nancy Pearcy’s biographical sketch, woven into the pages of Finding Truth, chronicles her journey from agnostic, teenage skeptic to professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University — but that is not the point of the book. Her goal is to make a case for critical thinking in the church. Offering her memoir as exemplar and Romans 1 as a training manual, she follows the Apostle Paul’s arguments and presents his diagnosis of the human condition: those who “do not see fit to acknowledge God” will adopt Creator substitutes, ending up with “two-story worldviews that are not defensible as logically consistent, coherent, or realistic.” Pointing to alarming statistics regarding teens who have fallen away from Christianity (32% say they left the church because of doubts and questions), Nancy makes a strong case for the inclusion of apologetics in the curriculum for high school and college age learners, and then stresses the importance of equipping the church (particularly parents) to be open to all the questions that arise in our post-Christian society.Her Five Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes referred to in the subtitle are a tool for organizing one’s thoughts in analyzing a worldview — either a religion or a philosophy. Following the trail of logic laid in Romans 1, Pearcey invites her readers to begin by identifying the “idol,” i.e., “What has this worldview put in the place of God?”(Principle #1). Then, because this idol is a “lesser god,” it follows that human life and all else will also be devalued (Principle #2). The resulting philosophy or religion with its reductionism will not fit the contours of our real world (Principle #3), and will ultimately contradict itself (Principle #4). Once revealed in this way, the leap of faith and the rationalizations required to sustain one’s belief in the false system are obvious: adherents must exempt themselves from the critique they apply to everyone else, and, furthermore, they must live “as if there actually were a God” or “as if a Christian epistemology is true” in order to make their worldview work. The chart below demonstrates the process by which Principles 1-4 unmask and test the idols of a philosophy, a religion, and a political theory. The idol The reductionism Cognitive dissonance Post-modernism (a philosophy) The forces of culture or community Humans are merely products of social forces If there is no universal/objective truth, who can believe post-modernists? Pantheism (a religion) The universe (The “One” or The “All”) Individual self has so little value, it should be dissolved into “The One.” Can they really regard their children and loved ones in this way? Nazi-ism (a political theory) Race Those who don’t fit into prescribed box are suppressed. Ultimately leads to tyranny and death Once the idol has been unmasked in this way, it can be replaced with Truth, and this is, perhaps, the most important section of Nancy’s approach to defending the faith. Making a case for Christianity (Principle #5) involves responding to the weak points of a reductionist worldview and offering Christ as a path to intellectual credibility. To shore up our confidence, Nancy Pearcey details examples in which foundational tenets of the Christian faith have been “borrowed” by secularists. The idea that life has an ultimate purpose, the existence of an objective moral standard, the idea that God speaks and that the heavens are open are all uniquely Christian claims that have been borrowed because adherents cannot live within “the cramped confines” of their secular worldview.I have come away from my reading of Finding Truth very grateful for Nancy Pearcey’s clear (but not simplistic) work in training her reader to think like an apologist. With Romans 1 conveniently in the appendix and a complete study guide in the back, this book is perfectly designed for classroom or small group use. Additionally, when I stumble upon a book that has 44 pages of footnotes and discover that there is so much “good stuff” back there that I stick a bookmark to keep me from missing anything, I think of it as “bonus material.” I don’t have the intellect or the rapier wit to produce the incisive retorts that I have long associated with well-known apologists, but it turns out that that’s o.k. “A gentle answer turns away wrath,” and it is a far better thing, following Nancy’s five steps, to find the deficiencies in an unbeliever’s worldview, and then — gently — to offer Christ. “Here, let this truth fill your vacuum. Let His love fill your heart. Let His purpose fill your life.”This book was provided by David C. Cook in exchange for my honest review.

Do You like book Finding Truth: 5 Principles For Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, And Other God Substitutes (2015)?

This is a powerful book. For those who want to learn critical thinking regarding modern philosophies, this is the book. I really liked the way Pearcey tackled worldviews and showed how they do not really describe reality as we know it. Only Christianity has the better answers to the questions about life and reality. I liked how she took each philosophy to its logical conclusion and how she showed that they contradicted their own principles. There is an extensive study guide so this would be a good book for home schooling, youth groups, and adult Sunday school classes.See my complete review at received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

This is an excellent book on apologetics designed for a post-modern age. The entire structure of the book presumes that the people we talk to may be modernist or post-modern, and thus does not presume a common ground. Rather it looks at the presumptions of non (or anti) Christian world-views and where they fail. They will be at times inconsistent with the reality that we experience. They will also be philosophically inconsistent (like scientism, whose very basis contradicts its claims). The apologetic challenge is to identify the deficiencies and then eventually show or demonstrate that the Christian world-view provides a more intellectually honest framework for the world we find ourselves in. The book seems to be designed for an introduction to Christian Apologetics course, with a prerequisite of some philosophy. The book even ends with a study guide followed by an example exam. I recommend it to any Christian who is interested in apologetics in the 21st Century. While I have given it my highest rating, the book is far from perfect. Too many of the scriptural references were inappropriate in their context, and appeared to be included after doing a word search. I would caution the reader regarding the context of the quotations.
—Frank Peters

Outstanding. A very thoughtful and useful commentary on Romans 1. The notion that all "isms" which attempt to replace God with some part of the created order are ultimately reductionistic (making humanity less than it is) took a while to compute. After a good deal of thought and rereading the book (and others) it makes perfect sense. If you make God less than He is then anything He has created becomes less than it was created to be. The book's other mind-blowing concept, that all the same isms commit propositional suicide, isn't new to Pearcey. It isn't too difficult to understand that moral relativism ("There are no moral absolutes") is itself making an absolutist claim and is, therefore, self-refuting, however Pearcey shows how that is not just an accidental twist of philosophical fate but a direct result of Pauline theology. I highly recommend it to anyone who has had any background in apologetics and/or epistemology.
—Brian Mercer

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