Four colossal errors--all of them profound shapers of contemporary society--keep marching blithely on, oblivious to their rootlessness in factual data and supporting evidence.
Lesbian Deb Price, for whom the Detroit News inexplicably syndicates a regular column, reminded me with one of her pieces two weeks ago how uncritically folks have come to accept the airiest of arguments. Ms. Price explained in detail how she and her full-time partner Joyce have concluded that they no longer have to feel a sense of obligation as a couple to "have children." "We are childless by choice," she says with a tone of moral superiority.
When you start out believing a lie, of course, you'd better get ready not just for that which is untrue but also for that which is preposterous. When people deliberately ignore God's explicit words and the plain evidence of the creation around them, as defenders of homosexual behavior clearly do, it's no wonder they end up thinking incoherently. "I suppose they're also announcing that they've chosen to quit walking on the ceiling," said a friend of mine on hearing about Ms. Price's announcement. But my friend was only 12 years old; you don't have to be terribly sophisticated to see the hollowness of what goes for argumentation these days.
Or take the perennial issue of origins. It would be one thing if there were a genuine hungering and thirsting for truth on the matter. Instead, we face an incredible propaganda machine that grinds genuine truth-seekers into the dust of embarrassment.
Just ask Michael Behe, the molecular biologist from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., who dared to be skeptical of the accepted wisdom about evolution. Instead, he reported what he actually saw through his microscope--something so incredibly complex that it simply didn't fit any of Darwin's theories or any modern updates of those theories. But Mr. Behe also had the nerve to report something else he saw: a total silence in the professional literature about how such complex organisms ever came to be.
So what has Mr. Behe earned for his efforts to ask the kinds of questions honest scientists are supposedly supposed to ask? Scorn from many of his colleagues. The Real Issue, a newsletter from Christian Leadership Ministries, reports on the response of the British popularizer of evolution, Richard Dawkins. Mr. Dawkins first refused to appear on TV with Mr. Behe. But in a solo interview, Mr. Dawkins was quick to jump all over Mr. Behe, who reports: "During the interview, which I had an opportunity to see recently, the show host asked him about my book. He seemed to grasp the idea of irreducible complexity pretty well. However, he said it was cowardly and lazy of me to come to a conclusion of intelligent design, and he said that if I thought for myself I would realize that there must be a Darwinian explanation out there somewhere, and I should get off my duff and go out and find it."
So much for the rigors of honest scholarship, academic fairness, and objective truth-seeking.
The parallel refusal of abortion advocates to engage the real question--does abortion involve the taking of a human life?--has long been the main obstacle to honest public discussion of this monumental issue. Only by constantly diverting discussion to matters like freedom to choose, birth deformities, the plight of poor mothers, teenage pregnancies, clinic violence, and other tangential issues can abortion backers avoid the main topic.
But such diversion--which characterizes the big TV networks, the major media, and nearly all entertainment forms--is precisely the point. Any even-handed moderator would suggest instead that no question in the debate should be ruled out of bounds. For pro-lifers, the only question that really matters has regularly been excluded from discussion.
Even in the environmental debate, an honest discussion using countable data and actual findings of the sort scientists, journalists, and historians are supposed to deal in has been eclipsed from the public view. Ask Julian Simon, featured in the February issue of Wired magazine--certainly no right-wing rag but an avant garde cheerleader for technology and a libertarian challenger of the status quo. Wired applauds Mr. Simon as a "doomslayer" for his fearless attacks on prevalent politically correct assertions about overpopulation, future food shortages, and the depletion of other natural resources. What drives Julian Simon crazy, says author Ed Regis in Wired, are "people who know in advance what the truth is, who don't need to avail themselves of any 'facts.'" But because Mr. Simon loves facts and figures, he is also regularly shunned by the media, the scientific community, and fellow academics.
All of which is a simple reminder that we do not live in a culture that seriously values truth. From the early days in the Garden, men and women have preferred the lie to the truth. Reason has its place, and Christians should always seek to be reasonable people. But it will always be God's Spirit--not the cleverness of our arguments--that turns around people's hearts and minds.