My weekly Narrative Foundation meditations on the Truth Project material can be found here in html or here in downloadable pdf, and all my various ruminations in response to the Truth Project materials are collected here.
Below you’ll find session-specific suggestions (most recent session first) for collateral reading, listening, and watching, but first, one global suggestion: if you’ve found the Truth Project material raising a lot of questions, and you’d like to get your hands on some meaty answers, get over to the Bible Framework site and start working your way through the material. The Bible is far, far richer than you’ve likely guessed; it’s just a matter of having eyes to see and ears to hear. The Framework material will help you to develop such eyes and ears, quickly.
As we turn our attention to nature, we find ourselves stimulated to praise the Creator. The psalmists had the same response; to see it given modern voice, listen to Sons of Korah sing Psalm 148. You can find out more about the band on their web site.
For those who want to dig a lot further, I’ve prepared a brief Annotated Bibliography of Creation Resources.
An attentive watcher will notice that a number of the key quotes from evolutionists or secularists are not directly sourced; instead the cite reads something like “Quoted in Noebel, Understanding the Times.” They really ought to have run down the primary sources for a film project like this, but anyway: Understanding the Times is as much of a gold mine as TTP’s citation practices imply. If you’ve never heard of David Noebel and Summit Ministries, this is a good time to get acquainted, and you can find Understanding the Times in their store, along with a lot of other great resources.
“Nothing that is true contradicts the nature of God.” Amen. To see this insight cashed out in a variety of different fields, read Angels in the Architecture (also available from Amazon) or — for the more academic pursuits — Foundations of Christian Scholarship. For a specific look at athletics, try The Human Body: Ascesis and Exercise. For aesthetics, try Doug Jones’ Asking Beauty series (scroll down the page linked; available in mp3 also). Mathematics: Is God Silent? addresses its title subject in detail. There’s plenty more where these came from, and a lot more work to do, too.
Tackett reviewed Dr. Provine’s claims from last week and focused on the claim that there is no free will. If that’s true, Tackett said, then Provine had no choice but to say what he did, and similarly believers have no choice but to object, and what’s the point of it all? C.S. Lewis makes this point brilliantly in his address “Is Theology Poetry?”, which you can find in The Weight of Glory (brief review here).
There were a couple of key points about evil that Tackett addressed, but didn’t really explain. Both are absolutely critical for the development of a Christian understanding of evil. First, Christianity offers a compelling and cogent answer to the questions about evil: Scripture explains how it arose, what its nature is, and how in the end it will be quarantined forever in the lake of fire, whilst a redeemed and maturing humanity lives in the light of God’s presence forever. Put this way, we aren’t the ones who have a philosophical problem with evil. Charles Clough’s Framework material deals extensively with this issue when working through the implications of the Fall.
Second, unbelief offers no such cogent understanding. What one bag of “star stuff” does to another bag of “star stuff” is just what happens; there’s no reason to call it good or evil. The self-actualization needs of a child molester, rapist or murderer are not necessarily any worse or better than the self-actualization needs of a law-abiding, productive citizen. From inside the Cosmic Cube, there’s no way to have a coherent definition for evil, no way to apply the label with any authority. Some pagan worldviews actually take this very tack, but real people find themselves unable to live by this. We are, in fact, outraged by certain events, often events that have nothing to do with us. So when an unbeliever wants to know how a good God can allow ___[insert evil event here]____, that unbeliever is assuming that there is such a thing as evil, and how does he know this, except that he’s assuming our standard of evil (or a mutated version of it)? When an unbeliever insists that evil proves a good God doesn’t exist, he is taking the concept of evil which he got from God in the first place and then using it to argue that God can’t exist. He is, in other words, sawing off the very branch he is sitting on.
To see this recently in action, read the email debate between Doug Wilson and Christopher Hitchens. If you prefer to listen, see Collision (when it’s finally out) or listen to the Bahnsen-Tabash debate. Tabash’s attack on Christianity focused on the problem of evil, so this turned out to be the major subject of that debate, the way rationality and logic were the major subject of the Bahnsen-Stein debate. The Wilson-Barker debate I mentioned under Session 2 also addresses this issue.
In the brief clip Dr. Tackett showed, an angry atheist named Dr. William Provine argued that at least he could hang on to rational thought. That issue arose also in the Bahnsen-Stein debate, where Greg Bahnsen definitively showed that only Christianity offers a basis for rational thought (see this review for some of his other works). The audio is here, and there’s a transcript available as well. It will be worth your time, I promise; there’s a reason Ravi Zacharias called it one of the most important events in the intellectual history of the twentieth century. Doug Wilson’s debate with Dan Barker also addresses this issue in somewhat more concrete terms, and is available for free download.
One of our group mentioned the need for a Christian counterpoint to Sagan’s Cosmos series. We don’t have one, that I know of, but there are some good resources we can use meantime. The Moody Science Classics series is still out there, and still pretty good. More recently, Reel Productions put out Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution. (If you want only one volume, you can find volumes one, two, and three sold separately as well.) CRI has also put out a number of narrow-focus DVDs that address specific aspects of the creation: Mt. St. Helens, the Grand Canyon, the living cell, and so on. One problem with all these is that they’re pretty overt attacks on evolution, and therefore tend to excite resistance. It would be nice to have something more subtle that puts nature, not creationism, in center stage, and allows the creationism to seep through everywhere. Their brilliantly laid-out book on the Grand Canyon comes closest to this ideal so far.
What we’re seeing here is a particular conception of worldview, one focused on how people think, how they answer “the big questions,” and then how they apply their answers (and whether they apply their answers) in real life. This is a crucial part of worldview, and kudos to Tackett and Focus for bringing it to churches round the country. But worldview is a great deal larger than that.
For a broader take, see Doug Wilson’s lecture on Christian worldview, or buy his series on the same subject. He is borrowing heavily from N. T. Wright, particularly the beginning of The New Testament and the People of God (see p. 124). For the record, I am not recommending Wright’s overall body of work, just commenting on Wilson’s antecedents. For a more missiological/anthropological look at the broader concept, check out Understanding Folk Religion and Transforming Worldviews.
My own very rudimentary take on a broader grasp of worldview is here: Toward a Full Worldview. Note that TTP focuses — as do Summit, Schaeffer, and most other Christian worldview writers and programs — on the blue axis. There are good pragmatic reasons for some of this, but in my experience it’s mostly a poor understanding of red axis topics, a lack of awareness of how the red axis ties in, and a consequent inability to convey red axis material without translating it into entirely blue axis terms.
Finally, “worldview” is a useful concept for organizing some aspects of the way that people think, feel, and live before God, but the concept is a bit novel, and has definite limitations. For a provocative discussion of this, see Peter Leithart’s critique of the concept of worldview.