Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy,
Being a Thinking Christian at the University
Truth is so obscure in these days, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth, we shall never know it—Blaise Pascal, Pensées.
I. The Importance of College Education
A. This will shapes your sense of life and direction crucially
B. You are given an opportunity for intellectual/spiritual growth
C. You need to have a renewed mind that responds to the challenges of unbelief (Matthew 22:37-39; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 3:15-16)
II. Truth and the University
A. Biblical view of truth
1. Objective (Romans 3:4)
2. Universal (Acts 4:12)
3. Absolute (John 14:1-6)
B. A biblical worldview
1. Creation (Genesis 1-2; Romans 1-2)
2. Fall (Genesis 3; Romans 3)
3. Redemption (Romans 4-8)
III. A Challenges to Your Christian Worldview: Postmodernism
A. Postmodernism (mostly in humanities classes, not sciences)
1. Truth is a matter of perspective and culture
2. Must avoid objective, universal, absolute truth claims
B. Logical response
1. This is self-refuting, and therefore illogical and false
a. “There is no objective truth”
· If an objective claim, it is false
· If subjective, why should I believe it?
b. “There are no facts, only relative interpretations”
· If this is a fact, it contradicts itself
· If this is only a relative interpretation it cannot apply across the board
IV. A Challenge to Your Christian Worldview: Scientific Naturalism
A. Negatively: there is no spiritual world: God, angels, demons, afterlife
B. Positively: reality is exhausted by material properties and relationships: what can be described by chemistry, biology, and physics
C. This makes Christianity false, since Christianity is supernatural: God, angels, demons, the afterlife
1. There is good scientific evidence for creation and design
a. The Big Bang needs a Creator to cause the universe
b. Design is seen at the large-scale (fine-tuning) and at the small scale (biology)
2. Naturalism is philosophically bankrupt
a. No account of moral values—only instinct and social conditioning
b. No account of the uniqueness and value of human persons; they are merely material beings who have evolved for no purpose
V. Staying Christian in College
A. Discern the worldview of your textbooks and what your professor’s teach
B. Note any challenge to your Christian perspective and research how to answer this. Read! See the following bibliography.
C. Pray for wisdom and discernment amidst the battle for the souls of human beings (Ephesians 6:10-19)
D. Be a strong, intelligent, knowledgeable Christian witness (Matthew 5:13-16)
Resources on Defending Christianity
1. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed. (Crossway, 2008). In-depth work defending Christianity scientifically, philosophically, and historically by a leading philosopher and debater. Also, see his web page: Reasonable Faith: www.reasonablefaith.org.
2. The Discover Institute: www.discovery.org. A leading organization propagating intelligent design and challenging Darwinism
3. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. InterVarsity Press, 2011. My magum opus on apologetics.
4. Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism. InterVarsity Press, 2000.
5. Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus.
6. J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind. NavPress, 1997. Cogent apologetic for an active and world-changing Christian mind by a leading Christian philosopher.
7. Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth. Crossway, 2004. How to apply a Christian worldview to all of life.
8. John Piper, Think, Crossway, 2010. Exegetically, pastorally-based defense of the life of the mind for the glory of God.
9. Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There, 30th anniversary ed. InterVarsity Press, 1998. A compelling approach to Christian witness in the intellectual world.
10. James Sire, The Universe Next Door, 5th ed. InterVarsity, 2009. Classic treatment of the Christian worldview in relation to other important worldviews.
11. Lee Strobell, The Case for a Creator. Zondervan, 2004. Interviews with leading thinkers on the scientific evidence for creation and design. See also the excellent DVD of the same name.
12. “Unlocking the Mystery of Life,” DVD. Illustra Media. On the evidence for design in biology. Available at: www.arn.org