by Jason Lisle
Non-Christian worldviews would make knowledge impossible. By this, I certainly do not mean that non-Christians can’t know anything. Clearly they can. But this is despite their worldview and not because of it. My point is that if reality were the way non-Christians claim it is, then knowledge would be impossible. The reason is that these unbiblical worldviews cannot justify those things necessary for knowledge. So while a non-believer might offer a reason for a belief, he or she cannot ultimately justify the reason itself from a non-Christian foundation.
For example, “I know Saturn has rings because I have observed them with my eyes through a telescope.” But this assumes that our eyes are reliable – a Christian concept. A person might say, “I know two contradictory claims cannot both be true because this violates a law of logic.” Quite right, but apart from Christianity there is no reason to believe that laws of logic are universally and invariantly reliable.
As a specific example, consider the most common secular worldview – that the universe is the result of a big bang, followed by billions of years of cosmic and then biological evolution. In this worldview, people are merely the inevitable unplanned result of chemistry acting over time. There is no grand scheme of things, no ultimate mind upholding the universe, and no ultimate objective meaning.
Can a person holding such a view ever have good reasons for his beliefs? Evolutionists do rely upon laws of logic, upon their mind and senses, and upon morality. And these are good reasons – in the Christian worldview. But in the secular worldview, can these reasons be justified? If not, then a secularist would be irrational to believe them.
Why in the secular worldview should we suppose that our mind has the capacity to be rational? Rationality involves choice; we consciously consider the various options and then choose the best. But in the secular worldview, the brain is simply chemistry – and chemistry has no choice. Chemicals always react according to prescribed laws of nature. In the secular worldview, there is no more reason to trust a human brain than there is to trust in reading tea leaves. Both are just the inevitable result of chemical reactions.
Should we trust that our senses are basically reliable? Not in the secular worldview. According to evolution, our sensory organs are merely the result of accidental mutations – those that did not decrease our survival value and were therefore not eliminated. Some people might suppose that our sensory organs are reliable because they have survival value. But this does not follow logically. Chlorophyll has survival value in plants; but this does not imply that chlorophyll reliably informs the plant about the outside world.
Should we trust in laws of logic? In a chance universe, there is no reason to expect there to be laws at all, nor laws of logic in particular. Even if we grant their existence, the secular worldview cannot account for their properties. Given that the universe is in a continual state of change, why should laws of logic be exempt? We all assume that they will be the same tomorrow, but this belief is unwarranted in the secular worldview. Why would they be the same everywhere? How can the human mind know about them? Why does truth always conform to laws of logic? The secular worldview just doesn’t have a good reason for such things. The existence and properties of laws of logic are unjustified in the secular worldview. And hence, any belief based on them is also unjustified in the secular worldview.
What about knowledge of ethics? Morality is about what should be, not what is. In a chance universe, who decides what should be? One person thinks that a particular behavior is commendable. But another person disagrees. Who is right? Morality can only be subjective in a secular worldview; it is relative to the individual. And of course, this isn’t truly morality at all – merely personal preferences. In a secular universe there can be no such thing as an objective “right” and “wrong.”