Indoctrination Unavoidable?

October 18, 2011

Several weeks ago in a post about worldviews, I mentioned a statement by atheist, Richard Dawkins about indoctrination.  I would like to address the statement Dawkins made and deal with the subject of indoctrination.  In the ninth chapter of Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, Dawkins makes the following statement:

“Isn’t it a remarkable coincidence almost everyone has the same religion as their
parents?  And it always just happens to be the right religion.  Religions run in families.
If we’d been brought up in ancient Greece we would all be worshiping Zeus and
Apollo.  If we had been born Vikings we would be worshiping Wotan and Thor.   How
does this come about? Through childhood indoctrination.”

First, let’s define indoctrination before we discuss the quote by Dawkins.

Indoctrination – The act of teaching a doctrine, principle, or ideology, especially one with a specific point of view.

I would first like to concede that indoctrination does take place, in fact, I would like to add, that it occurs everywhere, through everyone, in varying levels.  Because of the way we can know something and not know something, we are limited in a semi-transcendent view of knowledge.  There is really no way to “get out of the box” as Ravi Zacharias puts it, in a transcendent way, and know everything about everything in life.  We can know things on a subjective level and we can compare them to a uniform experience that we have in our life and culture.  The varying levels of indoctrination that may take place can range from the highest and strictest of worldviews to the smallest and most trivial examples of allowing an opposing team’s uncle call the balls and strikes in a little league baseball game.

As a parent of three children, I want my children to own their own faith and not have the faith of their parents.  As they get older I will encourage them to do the work that I have done in my own searching, including all sides.   But that doesn’t mean that I am not going to teach them what I have found to be good, reliable trustworthy truth now.    I will help them, answer questions, give them resources to help them make their own decisions as they are ready.

Not everyone does their homework.   It has been apparent to me that not everyone that believes a particular worldview, including Christianity, knows what they believe and why they believe or at least can articulated it in a meaningful and understanding way.  On the surface level many worldviews can look and make sense, but in truth and reality, there can only be one worldview that is correct.  As you dig a little deeper you will no doubt encounter difficulties as you look for coherence in the worldviews that are incorrect.   For many people, the statement, ignorance is bliss, is true to life.  As I have stated before I will be digging deeper and looking at each of the major worldviews in the future posts.

Christianity stands out among other worldviews.   I would like to point out that many worldviews are very closed-minded to allowing opposing views to influence their captors.    Jehovah’s Witnesses will cut you off if you show any signs of doubt or begin to look outside the ideology they teach.  They have been even known to excommunicate their own family members if they reject the teachings.    This is nothing however to the Islamic world where if you leave your Islamic faith, could mean death if you are caught.  As I type this, there is a pastor in Iran who is in prison, in fear of his life because he left the Islamic faith for Christianity.  There is also the certainty of ridicule that will come from scientific atheism that if you renounce your atheism and still maintain your scientific beliefs.

Compare those to the words of Paul in the Bible as he challenged the Thessalonians “Test everything, hold onto the good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and then in Acts, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)   You will find no where in the Bible that it tells us to just believe and not examine the evidence.   One of my favorite verses, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)  Each of these scriptures shows the open, unafraid mindset of the Christian worldview.

So what are we to make of Dawkins’s comment that “almost everyone has the same religion as their parents… Religions run in families.”  Two things to consider.  First, for the worldview that is most coherent, and dare I say correct, people will examine it and stay with what they find to be true.  Secondly, I would challenge Dawkins’ assertion that almost everyone  has the same religion of their parents.  Consider what is taking place today in China and other countries like Russia and the former Soviet Union.   In 1966  through the leadership of the atheistic communist party in China, all books, Bibles, and any references to religion were burned and destroyed, its leaders declaring God is dead.   Today in China, Christianity is the fastest growing worldview than all others.  Nearly 100 million strong.  When there is a vacuum of truth, it is a most welcome breath of fresh air.

The last point I want to make with indoctrination is that there seems to be a conflict with the view of naturalistic determinism, of which Dawkins and many other of the new atheists claim to support.  If we can be indoctrinated by things outside ourselves like the Bible, religious parents, reruns of old TBN shows, etc., then we are  not locked into genetic determinism through our DNA.  If everything we believe and know is because of genetic determinism then we cannot be indoctrinated.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.  I will take a closer look at determinism and free will in my next post.

A Biblical Base for Apologetics

October 11, 2011

Years ago my brother who is also in ministry said something to me that stuck with me.  I didn’t really understand at that point what he was trying to tell me, but over the last few years I’ve seen just how important his advice is when it comes to engaging others with your worldview.  Tim, (my brother) said that when you talk and share with others and deal with questions about the universe and the existence of God, you always need to do it from a Biblical base.

Sharing from a Biblical base means that you align your illustrations, words, and actions with the Bible within the conversations you have with people.  The reason you do this is to show the coherence of the Biblical worldview to any situation or information we come across.  Let me clarify that I am not saying you should  bias your opinion of the evidence to reach a Biblical conclusion.  That would be a wrong approach and could also be faulty logic called Begging the question or Circular reasoning.

For example, lets say that  a conversation with your hairdresser or barber comes up because he makes the statement, “There is a lot of evil out there in the world.”  This will open up for you to share with them about what the Bible says about evil.  You can use questions like “Do you know what the Bible says about evil?” or statements like “the Bible says that there is a lot of  evil inside of us all too.”  These are great transitions into opportunities to share the real gospel of Jesus.

Even if you are dealing with the question of the existence of God, before even talking about evidence for Jesus or the Bible you can use the Bible to show how it lines up with the understood knowledge of the universe.   For example, scriptures that point to the earth being round (Isa 40:22) or that the earth is hung on nothing in space. (Job 26:7)

The reason you always need to talk and debate from a Biblical worldview is so that others see how the Bible is unique and is really  the best coherent “lens” in which we see our world.  You can use the Bible to compliment the evidence and reasons for your believe and worldview.  Areas like morals, ethics, truths of life, evil, and leadership are just a few of the subjects you can relate the Bible to.

As always questions, comments, and discussions welcome.

Defining Terms: Worldview

September 29, 2011

If you are just starting to learn about apologetics it is good to be familiar with several of the basic terms that are used in discussions, debates, and by many of those in the creation and evolution realm.  I will start out very basic with some of these words and gradually get deeper and more complex with the terms.  If I use a word in a recent blog I will include it in the Defining Terms blogs that  I create.

Worldview – The dictionary describes it as a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.  Everyone has a worldview whether or not they think a little or a lot about it.  I believe that a solid worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer basic questions about our past, present and future as well as give coherent meaning to all of the issues that we may face in our lifetime.   The human mind has a curious need to organize things and understand and make them coherent.

I have recently heard of a University of Florida student who was attending a lecture by apologist, Ravi Zacharias, and the student stood up and defiantly made the statement that “Life doesn’t have to be coherent” and demanded that Ravi Zacharias give an answer to why it should.  Dr. Zacharias responded that he would like to help the student, but before He answered that question, he had one question for the student.  Dr. Zacharias asked him, “Would you like my answer to your question to be coherent?”  The student stood quietly there for a moment and then just sat down.

What goes into making our worldview?  Everything.  Everything we experience from the time we are born until this very present moment that you are reading this blog accumulates to the sum of our world view.  Our Nurture, Our Nature,  Our Experience, Our Relationships with People (bosses, parents, peers, etc.), Our beliefs, Our Actions, the list could go on and on.  In my Christian worldview, God and the Bible,  have a big part of every single persons worldview on earth, whether they acknowledge God or not.  Someone who holds an atheist position would of course disagree.

A worldview does not have to be religious by nature.  By religious, I use the definition of a strict devotion to a supernatural being, higher power, God or gods.   Worldviews can be based solely on scientific laws and knowledge and whatever a person views as coherent and true.  For example someone who calls themselves a Darwinian evolutionist has a worldview that holds an atheistic or agnostic values.  Another worldview that I just learned about today are Raliens.  They believe that human life was seeded on this planet by extraterrestrials.

I am constantly self-examining my own worldview with the knowledge that I receive almost daily.  I want to make sure that I am as intellectually honest with myself about what I believe as I can be.  In other words, I like to keep an open mind.  Over the course of my journey in life I have found that my Christian worldview has for the most part stayed the same and I still feel that it is one that is the most coherent of all the worldviews I have examined.  The Christian worldview is durable, it can withstand the constant scrutiny from outside and internal sources.  Through out the months and weeks to come I will be examining the different aspects of my own worldview and also comparing them to other popular or mainstream worldviews.  I will do my best to offer the evidence, you can decide what you want to from the facts.

As always questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.  In the near future I will post a follow-up with this blog about the challenge by Richard Dawkins, that people basically take the worldview that they grew up with.  Indoctrination, as he calls it,  by those who raise their children into religion, he even goes to the lengths to call it child abuse.  Most likely for the reaction.

Why I believe

September 28, 2011

Why I BelieveStarting off from the gate I want to summarize why I believe, what I believe about the existence of God and my faith in the Christian God of the Bible, and His incarnate name given in the New Testament, Jesus.  This blog is meant to be a general one and I will spend the next months and years breaking it out piece by piece so that it can be swallowed and enjoyed bit by bit.

After studying many of the worldviews through books, articles, talking with people in person, I have concluded that my Christian world view is the most comprehensive, complete, and logical worldview of all the many different worldviews including atheism.  While it still holds some difficulties and challenges, it stands tall over all the other worldviews.  In no particular order, here is Why I Believe…

1. Faith.  Yes Faith, there is a dual definition of faith floating out in the sea of apologetics, in short a blind faith and a Biblical faith.  I will explain this in greater detail in a soon coming post, but in short I believe Christianity takes and uses both those types of faith. I am convinced that most people do not understand the true definition of Faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

2. Creation.  When I examine the world in which I live, I see evidence for a beginning of the universe, I see intelligence, and a mind behind the matter.  I have not found any answer in the material world that points to other trustworthy conclusions.

3. The Human Mind and Soul.  Why are we conscience? Why are we special?  Why do we have the ability to reason and think?  Why do we have  moral absolutes?  How do we judge what good and evil is?    In a world without God, these things are not possible.   The Bible describes the human condition perfectly.

4. The Bible.  The Bible makes the bold claim to be written  inspired word of God, but should we just except the Bible as God’s Word, because the Bible tells us so?  The Bible is a reliable book that is written in many different styles, by more than 40 authors, on 3 continents, over a period of about 1,500 years.  It is the most unique book ever written and for centuries it has stood the test of time and scrutiny by many.  When you compare the Bible to all other religious books, the Bible stands tall.

5. Historical Jesus.  Jesus was a real person, despite the constant attempts to blur the evidence.  But, Jesus made some bold claims about who He was and what His mission was about.  There are many sources, outside of the Bible that confirm the existence of Jesus and record some of the claims He made that are in the Bible.  Christians can even exclude even the evidence of the Bible and some of the other questionable secular documents and still make a case for Jesus existence, that is solid.

6. The Church. Yes, the church.  I realize that sometimes the church (people) can look pretty bad and can be rather disappointing, but the church (the people) has also made some great strides and impacts in the world in where we live.  Christians have been of the forefront leading the charge in several advancements for good in our world.  Slavery, Women’s rights, and even Science.

7. Religion.  Religion is mans attempt to come to God.  Religion shows how we have a yearning to get to God, just like we have a desire for food or procreation.  God gives us a desire that can be met by Him just like finding food and companionship.  Even though many people have wrongly been lead into believing in something that they haven’t researched, the desire for God is there.    I have always preferred the phrase, relationship over religion.

8.  The Empty Tomb.  Perhaps the greatest evidence for my belief.  The resurrection is key to Christianity.  Without it, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 , my faith is in dead.  When you examine the evidence for the resurrection you are not left with any other choices that make any sense at all.  Jesus made claims that would rise from the dead, something that  charlatan would not dare to do.

9. Personal Experience.   I realize that my own personal experience is not as strong a proof as some of the other items listed above.  For example, I could say that God answered a prayer request of mine, a Mormon could say the same thing.  Some personal experiences are subjective.  But, this doesn’t mean I should throw out the personal experience all together.

Let me stop you before you start to pick apart these individual items by saying that no single one of these proves anything.  No, I cannot in a denotative way point to God and say “see, there He is” like I might point out Bob who fixed my car or Larry who made me a sandwich.  (I will address why I think that this is perfectly how God designed it to be in a later post.)  Let me point out that each of these individual areas lead or point to a particular conclusion that God does exist, and that Jesus is who He claimed to be.  It is the sum of the conclusions that add up far better than any other worldview.  Biblical Christianity uses all the different methods of science, philosophy, reason, and reality to build a strong case for a Christian worldview.  No other worldview can claim that which Christianity does, they either fail in arguments in one or more areas by contradicting themselves or by not being able to produce the evidence that Christianity does.

If you are searching for answers, and want to start looking at different worldview, that is great, can I offer a suggestion?  Start with Christianity.  There is something about Jesus that most of the other major worldviews want to include him in their teaching.  To Muslims, Jesus was one of 28 prophets, In Hinduism Jesus is a good moral teacher, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons view Him as the Son of God, by which we can earn our salvation.  Jesus is the central feature in Christianity, not only because of his teachings but because of who He is, and claimed to be, God.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions welcome.  I am looking forward to the breakdown of these items that I have listed above.  In my next few posts I will give some basic information about apologetics and lay a foundation and order down for looking at the evidence piece by piece.