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Emerging Worldviews







Introduction

L. Russ Bush provides an excellent concise assessment of advancement thinking as it pertains to new and emerging worldviews in his book entitled The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in the Evolutionary Age. Specifically, Bush’s assessment shows how advancement thinking took root and how it eventually has become a dominating worldview. This is especially true in the Western civilization where Christians no longer hold a majority consensus (Bush, 5).

Bush provides a roadmap of advancement thinking that parallels scientific and technological developments from recent history to our present age. The roadmap is marked with several important landmarks of philosophical advancements in thinking where we see a gradual shift from a theist foundational view of science to a naturalistic foundational view of science. Along the way, Bush provides counterpoints of the Christian worldview, which are important in the development of apologetic responses.


Worldviews

Bush provides the first traces of advancement thinking found in the Middle Ages where a strong cultural movement began. This movement eventually led to the “eighteenth-century Enlightenment characterized by a decisive shift toward a more secularized form of theology” (Bush, 7). This shift was inspired by “rapid developments in science that seem to challenge the theological systems” (Bush, 8). The objective teaching of Scripture was gradually replaced with a theology based on experience and opinion. Soon, intellectual models and worldviews materialized. As the intellectual models grew in popularity, Bush noted the new worldviews presented challenges to theologians. What once was commonly accepted truth as prescribed by the Bible, was now being challenged. Scientist began to challenge many parts of the Bible, calling them mythological. Theologians were forced to defend their beliefs like never before.


Science and Knowledge

In chapters two and three, Bush describes in more detail how the rise of advancement science and the theory of knowledge influenced advancement thinking. Those known as Deists adopted a naturalist worldview where “God was transcendent, but he was not imminent” (Bush, 21). This belief was “the first noticeable … shift from a Christian [worldview] to a naturalistic worldview within the church” (Bush, 21). Scientifically, a belief in God, as the intelligent designer of the universe, was challenged. Modern materialism and uniformitarianism where ideas that caused many scientist to pause and consider their value in support of the naturalist worldview. Eventually, the evolutionary worldview was developed. This worldview’s foundation was largely made from supporters of Charles Darwin’s biological theory of evolution. Although initially opposed by many scientist and religious leaders, Darwin’s theory eventually was accepted and soon moved from theory to a widely accepted “philosophical basis for all life” (Bush, 30). Bush notes for this theory to be true, it would be “a feat nothing short of the miraculous. What modern secular scientist believe is far more incredible than any biblical miracle accepted by the simple Christian believer” (Bush, 29).


Evolutionary Worldview Fallacies

There are many fallacies regarding the evolutionary worldview. One in particular philosophical idea developed by Herbert Spencer was the evolutionary ethic. This ethic claimed inferiority of one group over another resulting from the natural development of knowledge. The phrase “survival of the fittest” was coined by Spencer, which was synonymous for Darwin’s theory of “natural selection”. This philosophical idea was used to infer inherent inferiority. Bush defends the Bible by stating “the Bible does not distinguish between the races of mankind” and the “Bible argues that people are from one blood created in the image of God” (Bush, 31).


Argument against Scientific Knowledge

Bush provides a good argument against scientific knowledge as it explains living things as a set of natural valorizations of organic matter. Bush explains that the naturalistic theory only distinguishes life and nonlife as “a complexity of … special molecules, the active chemical features of carbon, and the distinctive interactions of this specific set of organic molecules as opposed to other sets of in organic molecules” (Bush, 39). If the naturalistic theory was true, “then the mind is not an independent observer, no matter how complex or sophisticated it may be” (Bush 39). Bush provides an example by saying a Great Dane and a Yorkshire terrier are both dogs, but they are very different. In the same sense, “atheism and theism would simply be examples of natural variations of human thought, and one could not be more true than the other in any objective or absolute sense” (Bush, 39).


Naturalistic Evolution

In Chapter 5, Bush provides the seven assumptions that make up the framework of the modern evolutionary model as follows: (1) Physical similarity among living beings is an indication of a historical biological linkage; (2) Modern vertebrates and invertebrates had a series of common ancestors; (3) Metazoan life spontaneously arose from the protozoans; (4) All life on earth is genetically related and thus arose from a common ancestor; (5) Nonliving matter spontaneously gave rise to living matter; (6) Spontaneous biogenesis occurred only once, the whole of present-day biological life has arisen from a single primeval cell; (7) The process by which all multicelled life forms developed from one another was one of spontaneous random mutation and natural selection. These assumptions “are clearly elements of a philosophical theory, for none of these seven axioms can be proven experimentally” (Bush, 71). The assumptions are simply elements of a worldview but must be held true by those who support naturalistic evolution or it cannot stand at all.


Objections to Naturalistic Evolution

In Chapter 6, Bush provides simple objections to naturalistic evolution. First, materialism is not self-evidently true; in fact it likely is false. Second, artificial section in a controlled environment has not been proven capable of producing an absolutely new kind of life-form. Third, encoded information, not chance, directs cell chemistry today, and this appears to be a necessary precondition for biogenesis as well. Forth, the necessary source of codes and information retrieval systems is precisely what is not found in nonliving matter. Finally, under no known conditions does information arise spontaneously from noninformation (Bush, 81-82). These provide strong apologetic arguments against naturalistic evolution and highlight the more credible form of intelligent design theory.


Why Not Advancement?

Finally, Bush states “the correct worldview is the one that does not contradict, misunderstand, or deny any part of reality” (Bush, 85). If contradiction exists, then the worldview is self-defeating. The only way to get around self-defeating contradictions, is to formulate your own truth relative to your desires, which is irrational. Bush’s concluding remarks at the end of Chapter 7 takes us to the epicenter of his stance against advancement thinking. He says: “Advancement thinking stands in radical contrast to biblical thought patterns. The modern view does not grow necessarily out of the facts available. It is relativistic and self-defeating. For these reasons, among others, advancement thinking should be abandoned” (Bush, 94).


Conclusion

As our world continues to advance in areas of science and technology, the likelihood of existing and new worldviews will provide significant challenges to the Christian worldview. With this book, Bush provides an excellent tool available to all who want to defend the Christian faith against any element of advancement thinking.


Pastor Andy Horton

Waco Baptist Church

Waco, Georgia


Bush, Russ L. The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2003.


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