Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy
Roots of Biblical skepticism on Campus
I. The Importance of the University
A. Charles Malik, A Christian Critique of the University
B. J. Gresham Machen(1881-1937)
II. Academic Culture Today
A. Secularization of the academy. See George Marsden, The Soul of the
American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief ( , 1996). Oxford
B. Academics are more secular than the general population
C. Worldview (philosophy of life)
1. Naturalism (philosophical materialism)
2. Postmodernism (Nonrealism)
D. Academic view of religion
1. Harmful or harmless delusion: naturalism
2. Relative, contingent social construction: postmodernism
3. The divided field of knowing
Faith, spirituality, subjective values (opinion)
Fact, rationality, science, objectivity (knowledge)
III. Roots of Unbelief: Philosophical
A. Decline in natural theology
1. David Hume (1711-1776) skepticism about God (Dialogues on Natural Religion); unbelief in miracles (Enquiry on Human Understanding)
2. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): God is unknowable, but a postulate of practical reason: “I have denied knowledge to make room for faith,” Critique of Pure Reason
B. Religion as a romantic ideal or feeling apart from reason (F. Schleiermacher, Soren Kierkegaard)
IV. Roots of Unbelief: Scientific Trends
A. Scientific revolution wrought by theists, many Christians:
B. The Christian philosophical orientation to nature
1. The physical universe is an objective reality, which is ontologically distinct from the Creator (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1).
2. The laws of nature exhibit order, pattern, and regularity, since they are established by an orderly God (Psalm 19:1-4).
3. The laws of nature are uniform throughout the physical universe, since God created and providentially sustains them.
4. The physical universe is intelligible because God created us to know himself, ourselves, and the rest of creation. (Genesis 1-2; Proverbs 8).
5. The world is good, valuable, and worthy of careful study, because it was created for a purpose by a perfectly good God (Genesis 1). Humans, as the unique image bearers of God, were created to discern, discover, and develop the goodness of creation for the glory of God and human betterment through work. The creation mandate (Genesis 1:26-28) includes scientific activity.
6. Because the world is not divine and therefore not a proper object of worship, it can be an object of rational study and empirical observation.
7. Human beings possess the ability to discover the universe’s intelligibility, since we are made in God’s image and have been placed on earth to develop its intrinsic possibilities.
8. Because God did not reveal everything about nature, empirical investigation is necessary to discern the patterns God laid down in creation.
9. The intellectual virtues essential to carrying out the scientific enterprise (studiousness, honesty, integrity, humility, and courage) are part of God’s moral law (Exodus 20:1-17).
C. Charles Darwin (1809 -1882), Origin of Species, 1859
1. Attempt to explain speciation apart from design
2. Natural selection (mutation and adaptation)
3. Theological agenda: the problem of evil in animals and humans
4. Result: methodological naturalism (metaphysical naturalism)
5. Richard Lewontin, prominent biologist
V. Responding to the Challenge
A. Know the opposition (Acts 17:16-34; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
B. Out argue the opposition (1 Peter 3:15: Matthew 22:37-40). Next lecture.
1. Postmodernism: show that it self-destructs
2. Philosophy: defeat naturalism;: defend natural theology
3. Science: defend intelligent design, defeat Darwinism
- James Collins, God in Modern Philosophy. Greenwood Press Reprint; New edition, 1978.
- Stephen T. Davis, God, Reason, and Theistic Proofs.
: Eerdmans, 1997. Grand Rapids, MI
- Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay.
: InterVarsity Press, 2000. Downers Grove, IL
- Doug Groothuis Blog: The Constructive Curmudgeon: www.theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com
- Cornelius Hunter, Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil.
Grand Rapids, MI: BrazosBooks, 2002.
- Charles Malik, A Christian Critique of the University.
: InterVarsity Press, 1983. Downers Grove, IL
- George Marsden, The Soul of the
: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief . American University New York: , 1996. Oxford
- Ronald Nash, Faith and Reason.
: Zondervan, 1988. Grand Rapids, MI
- Francis Schaeffer, How Shall We Then Live?The Rise and Fall of Western Culture
: Crossway, 1976. See Doug Groothuis view at: http://www.denverseminary.edu/article/how-should-we-then-live. Wheaton, IL
- Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There, 30th anniv. ed.
: InterVarsity Press, 1998. Downers Grove, IL
- John Sommerville, The Decline of the
. Secular University New York: Press, 2006. Oxford University
- Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God.
Press, 2004. Princeton Univ.
- Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth.
: Crossway, 2004. See Doug Groothuis review at: http://www.denverseminary.edu/article/total-truth-liberating-christianity-from-its-cultural-captivity. Wheaton, IL
 "The Scientific Preparation of the Minister" was delivered September 20, 1912, at the opening of the one hundred and first session of Princeton Theological Seminary. It is found in the Princeton Theological Review, Vol. XI, No. 1, 1913, p. 1.
 For more on this dichotomy, see Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There, 30th anniv. ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998); Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (
 See Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (
 On the significance and depth of the creation mandate, see Francis Nigel Lee, “The Roots of Culture,” chap. 1, in Lee, The Central Significance of Culture (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1976).
 On the presuppositions of science, see also J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987), pp. 198-201.
 Richard Lewontin, ‘Billions and Billions of Demons,” The