The Idol of the Mind


I listened to a lecture on materialism yesterday. Materialism is a predominant worldview that informs many people who adopt a view of science that conflicts with faith. A materialist worldview sees no purposeful principles in nature, no designing influence, no God, no inherent moral or ethical laws and ultimately no meaning in life. The world, in essence, is arbitrary and capricious. It is “governed” by unguided processes and chance.

When I woke this morning, I began thinking about government. I am an attorney, and I represent local governmental bodies. One cardinal rule that applies to governmental bodies in the United States is this: they can never be arbitrary or capricious. Every law must have a rational basis and (at a minimum) an articulable reason for every law. If no rational basis exists for a law, it will be determined unconstitutional and void because it is arbitrary and capricious.

Ironic, is it not, that we would govern ourselves by such a standard and not believe in purpose, meaning, intelligent design, God or inherent ethical and moral laws. We govern ourselves by reason and design, but many of us believe we live in a world that has no reason or design.

Our “founding fathers” in the US created a new democracy based on the idea that human beings have certain inalienable (inherent) rights. They were assumed those rights as immutable facts, including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that are self-evident. Individual freedom was the supreme benchmark.

Were those principles invented, or do they exist in the universe to be discovered?

The founders of our country believed that those rights were established by God. Today, we have taken God out of the equation. To that extent, as with other things, we have taken the credit for them. Materialists would say we invented those principles, as anything that is not material (made up of matter and motion) is the invention of our own minds (begging the question about the source of our minds and how such minds might arise from mindless matter.)

Sir Francis Crick, a Nobel prize winning biologist, has stated that all joys, sorrows, memories, ambitions, personal identity – all emotions, beliefs and the idea of free will – are just illusions caused by nerve cells.

Tell that to a proud father or a grieving mother! I have heard the story of at least one former atheist whose materialist worldview began to collapse when she held her first child.

It may seem strange that intelligent people could come to such a seemingly absurd conclusion about the world. Dr. John Byl attempts to address that dichotomy based on the words of some of the leading materialists in the world in this segment of a lecture on competing worldviews.

Byl postulates, and I believe he is accurate, that the context in which we put science is not so much about reason as it is about our own desires. The facts are the facts. What we make of those facts is an entirely different matter. At the foundation of the materialist worldview is a desire that there be no God.

Thus, the materialist who is a scientist tells us such a conclusion is science! In reality, it is really only a worldview with a scientific façade painted by the scientist himself. Paul says of such a view:

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images [of created things]”. (Romans 1:20-23) (I paraphrased at the end.)

Paul called “images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles” idols. In modern times, we have long ago abandoned idols made of human hands for the more subtle and insidious idol of human intelligence. But, the human mind too is created by God who created us in His image. We are now our own idols.

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