Say It with Me: Cognitive Dissonance

This is the third installment of a series, introducing terms and ideas that may be unfamiliar to most but are increasingly necessary for the thinking Christian to understand.

“But they’re organic!”

Because we don’t have a Trader Joe’s near our house, whenever my wife can make a trip out to the closest one, she stocks up. I grew up on a steady diet of Crisco and high fructose corn syrup. So, when she introduced me to the reasonably-priced organic food store, I had a lot to learn. Joe-Joe’s, organic equivalent to Oreos, made the learning curve much easier.

They are not all that bad—as long as you haven’t had an Oreo in a while for comparison. And, did I mention they’re organic? Nutritious and delicious, right?

After polishing off the first box within a couple of days, my wife warned me to ease up. “But they’re organic!” My naivete must have been pitiful. “Organic doesn’t mean they are any less fattening,” she explained.

I compared the nutritional values of Joe-Joe’s with Oreos. Across the board, Joe-Joe’s had more sugar, more carbs, and more fat. As it turns out, self-control is just as important with organic products as it is with “the fake stuff.” What I thought would be a more waist-friendly option betrayed me.

I was crushed—crushed by cognitive dissonance.

Read more…
Advertisements

The Problems of Scientism

Few things earn you more credibility in a conversation than dropping a “scientists have found” or “studies have shown.” This is because our culture places such a high premium on scientific understanding. And, rightly so! Science has given us spectacular insight into our universe and has improved our lives in countless ways.

Do we value science too much?

In 1877, mathematician and philosopher W.K. Clifford published an article titled “The Ethics of Belief.” He stated in the article a principle that has since become more famous than he has:

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.”

Sparing the historical details (see René Descartes and Auguste Comte), Clifford simply said what philosophers had been thinking for some time. Namely that empirical evidence—that which is observed with the five senses and rationally interpreted—is the only reliable grounds for claiming to know anything.

It is a way of thinking called scientism.

In his book on the subject, Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland defines scientism as “the view that the hard sciences alone have the intellectual authority to give us knowledge of reality.”[1]

Moreland explains that scientism can be found in two forms, strong and weak. Strong scientism holds that science is the only way to know truth while all other claims to knowledge are simply irrelevant. Weak scientism holds that science is the best way to know truth while all other claims to knowledge merely opinion.

Economist E.F. Schumacher explained the concept this way:

The architects of the modern worldview…assumed that those things that could be weighed, measured, and counted were more true than those that could not be quantified. If it couldn’t be counted, in other words, it didn’t count.[2]

So, what is the problem? After all, science is definitively observable, measurable, and repeatable. The facts discovered by the scientific method are just that—facts. What else could be more reliable? What else could we need?

Here’s the thing…

Science is an unspeakably important means of discovery knowledge, but it is not the only one. It tells us a lot, but it doesn’t tell us everything.

Continue reading “The Problems of Scientism”

Thinking about 2019

What does the year 2019 have in store for us? What does the gospel of Christ have for 2019?

If there is one thing that 2018 taught us, it is that none one knows what a year may bring.

Yet, our culture would have us believe that it offers an abundance of solutions to bring clarity to the mystery, direction to the confusion.

The next smartphone will solve all your problems. A quick internet search will provide you with all the answers. This new app will connect you to the world and possibly your soulmate. Buy this, live here, go there, be like them…and you will be happy. If that does not work, drink this, take those, and stream that until you forget about it all.

Christian author Trevin Wax calls these the myths of our culture. These myths are essentially lies that we believe because they appeal to our deepest longings. Every day, it seems like we are barraged by countless myths each more believable than the one before.

When confronted by the culture at large, we Christians—especially in America—feel overwhelmed by the constant fluctuation. We know there is solid ground in the truth of God’s Word. However, it seems like we are daily challenged by some new idea or trend even further removed from a Biblical understanding of the world than the previous one.

Christians often oscillate as much as the culture does. Some reject as much of the culture as possible with little regard for the people the fail to reach. Others accept as much of the culture as possible with little regard for the truth they fail to affirm. Meanwhile, our responsibility to be salt and light to the culture is largely neglected.

As Wax writes,

When we feel uncertain and confused about our rapidly changing society, we lack confidence in the gospel and in the power of the church. Many of us wonder: Are we truly up to the task of being faithful in this time?

So, what does it mean to be faithful in this time?

Continue reading “Thinking about 2019”

Thankful for Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving! I love the rest. I love the time with family. I love the food–way too much.

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, which is always a good thing.

We all can point to ways in which our lives could have been vastly better. However, this is a time when we recognize that there are just as many ways, if not more, in which our lives could be devastatingly worse. This is a season in which we express how we are thankful that it is not.

The attitude and act of thanksgiving is a universal human experience. Gratitude is as human as an emotion as we can show. Whenever someone has a positive influence on our lives, by nature we have an appreciative response. Sometimes it is internal and unvoiced; sometimes its external and expressed. The point is that everyone, regardless of religion or worldview, can be—and should be—thankful to other people for their impact on our lives.

But, here’s the thing…

There is a difference between being thankful to and being thankful for.

This may seem like petty semantics, but the shift between these two prepositions, in this context anyways, is significant and worth our attention. Continue reading “Thankful for Thanksgiving”

Say It with Me: Plausibility Structures

This is the second installment of a series, introducing terms and ideas that may be unfamiliar to most but are increasingly necessary for the thinking Christian to understand.

The term will probably not work its way into your casual conversation any time soon. However, it may play a part next time someone talks to you about your faith. It should play a part next time you talk to someone about yours.

Continue reading “Say It with Me: Plausibility Structures”

Every Christian an Apologist

Last week, I mentioned the U.S. Marine Corps’ legacy of “Every Marine a rifleman.”

In my research on the phrase, I came upon one Marine’s explanation of what that means:

It means if needed any Marine regardless of job can stand a post such as convoy escort, guard duty, etc.
It means if your position were overrun by the enemy, you could stand up and defend yourself and your position without being completely lost.[1]

Here’s the thing…

As with theology, apologetics is a discipline in which every Christian should have some training. Christian apologetics is the personal discipline of giving a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. We are called on by Scripture–and by necessity at times–to defend our post, and to always be ready to do so.

Every Christian to one degree or another ought to be an apologist.
Continue reading “Every Christian an Apologist”