The ‘Breakup of Truth’
We are in a fight and many may not even know it. Already, the losses have been great.
Nancy Pearcey, in her latest book Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals and Meaning, makes the case that the breakup of truth brought about by a global march toward secularism is the most crucial problem facing the church today.
Truth has been split in two, Pearcey writes. Science now claims sole supremacy in defining what is “true.” Everything else—including values informed by one’s faith or the common sense of right and wrong that every human feels—is snubbed as nothing more than a personal preference. We are left with a “fact/value split.”
The assault rages against our most basic understandings of right and wrong. Pearcey writes:
“We do not typically think of such foundational moral concepts as respect for marriage and family as distinctively Christian because in the past virtually everyone in America agreed. But today a monolithic secularism is challenging the basic social ethics once taken for granted” (p. 13).
This march toward secularism with its fact/value split is “radiating out from urban centers on every continent,” Pearcey writes, and no one will be able to escape its destructive path. [p. 3]
So what’s a Christian to do? How can Christians talk about a transcendent God and moral law when truth is reduced to what the senses can discern and what science can measure?
Pearcey contends that a first step is to understand secularism’s methods and its ultimate end goal—power over others. Saving Leonardo is “secularism’s playbook,” Pearcey offers, and a tool in understanding what we’re up against.
In Part One, Pearcey makes a case for how secularism has impacted every area of life and culture and looks closely at the “fact/value split.” Part Two traces secularism’s rise to power and trains the reader to detect the secular worldview as it is portrayed in the arts, movies, literature, and culture. Part One will be examined here.
Her challenge to Christians now facing this onslaught against truth is haunting: “Are we up to the task?”
Who’s the real bully?
In the past, detractors of Christianity demanded proof of the reliability of scripture or a defense of the resurrection. More often today, Christians are shouted down as bigots, tyrants who want to impose their views on others.
But who is the true tyrant? Pearcey asks in her chapter titled “Truth and Tyranny.”
With clear logic and an easy-to-read style, Pearcey gives numerous examples of the secular bully beginning with Hank the Cowdog, a long-time children’s favorite by John Erickson. When CBS made it the focus of a video series years ago, fans and author alike were dismayed to see that all references to the traditional family were removed: the story’s husband and wife heroes were rewritten as boss [the woman] and ranch hand [the man]; the child was written out completely. Secularism had imposed its worldview on Hank.
Pearcey points out that when moral laws or values [such as Hank’s traditional family] are reduced to personal preferences, or as evolutionists claim, nothing more than the product of natural selection to help us get along, then society is left to the mercy of its power brokers. The group that shouts the loudest, rules. Pearcey writes:
After all, secular people are just as eager to promote the moral causes they care most about—women’s rights, environmentalism, abortion rights, homosexual rights … As a result, the same people who aspire to be liberated from what they call oppressive moral codes are actually paving the way for new forms of oppression … All that remains is power and coercion—each group seeking to impose its own preferences on the others … A loss of objectivity in moral thought does not lead to liberation. It leads to oppression. Secular ideologies preach liberty, but they practice tyranny (p. 41).
“Time to Call their Bluff”
Secularists claim a monopoly on truth and insist their views are based on objective science. But, Pearcey writes, “It’s time to call their bluff” (p. 43).
The fact/value split that pervades society has blinded scientists to the faith status of their own views, Pearcey contends. Evolutionary naturalism attempts to interpret facts based on faith in itself: it insists there is a material explanation for everything because everything must be explained by material explanations.
Even worse, the insistence that morality is not grounded in objective truth is impossible to live by and leads to frustrated and fragmented lives.
Pearcey writes of Miranda Sawyer, a British broadcaster and pro-abortion feminist whose pregnancy experience coupled with scientific facts—embryos can be frozen, shipped cross-country, implanted in another woman’s womb, until finally a child is born—caught her in a crisis of belief about abortion.
Though science and reason guided Sawyer in other areas of life, she was forced to go against the facts of science, her own reason and intuition to justify holding onto her pro-abortion views, Pearcey points out. [pp. 48-49]
In her chapter, “Sex, Lies, and Secularism,” Pearcey explains how the fact/value split informs society’s view on everything from euthanasia and abortion to a casual-sex culture and leaves broken lives in its wake. Secularism fails because humans long for wholeness and meaning rather than living lives that compartmentalize the values they instinctively know to be true.
In Christ, a world longing for integrity and wholeness can find satisfaction.
Pearcey writes: “Christianity has the power to integrate our lives and create a coherent personality structure—but only if we embrace is as the ultimate, capital-T Truth that pulls together all lesser truths” (p. 44).
Saving Leonardo challenges and reminds the reader that the gospel will ring true as we offer true healing in Christ and encourage others to consider His invitation to “Come unto Me.”