Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is a "Faith-Based" Group? Let's Drop That Name

$70,000.  Or close to it.  That's how much money a campus group of atheists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is set to receive from the cauldron of cash collected from student fees.  The group, known as the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics (AHA) is set to cash in on $67,400 of funding from State U in order to promote the cause of secular humanist ideals in terms of advertising, campaigns, speakers and events.  Displeased however, are some Christians who ask, "What kind of funding will faith-based groups get?"

Probably not 70k, yo.  

But that's part of the problem: the term "faith-based."  Using the term "faith-based" rides on the assumption that the (AHA) group is "all about the facts" whereas "religious" groups are about "faith."  Translation: the good folks at the AHA actually do something for society by promoting science, research, and "facts" that benefit the good of mankind.  

Ya'll religious folk however, can do your "relijun" behind closed doors in your own privacy, but don't bring it to the public square.  

Nancy Pearcey, in her book, Total Truth, reminds us of the "fact/value" split made famous by Francis Schaeffer forty to fifty years ago.  The fact/value split, say Pearcey and Schaeffer, is like a house, whereon the main floor lie the "facts."  But upstairs is where the "values" (morals) are.  Thus, there is a split between the two floors, and never the twain shall meet.  Christians and secular humanists have both bought into this false dichotomy, and Christians need to start speaking in different terms.  When they say things like, "When will faith-based groups get that kind of money for their cause?"  The answer is NEVER.  Not as long as society believes in the fact/value split.  

So, as long as Christians call themselves "faith-based" groups, they buy into the assumption that faith is irrational and that secular groups hold the right to reason.  Christians groups might as well ask whether "groups that believe in ridiculous myths" can receive funding from the State?  Of course, philosophers like Alvin Plantinga (and Van Til before him) have shown that it is the naturalists who cannot give an account for things like reason, consciousness and ethics.  And where did natural law come from?  Oh.  It's "just there."  Right-O!

So,what then?  Naturalism is irrational, because it makes the attempt to say that nonrational matter gave rise to rational, thinking, philosophizing, language-making, mathematically musing, self-conscious beings.  We make bridges!  Out of steel!  

How then, should Christians speak in terms of campus groups receiving fundage?  Well, "faith-based" has got to go.  That's first order.  Now showeth I a better way to thee.

Easy: ditch the "secular/religious" dichotomy for something more pragmatic like, "additional campus groups" or "additional humanist groups" (as Christians were the first humanists) or, if you want to stick a quark in someone's brain, "additional religious groups."  By then you'll have to show your shocked and surprised interlocutor and money-handler that secular humanism is a religion too.  And that's easy too, because secular humanism is built upon the philosophical foundations of materialism and naturalism.  In some cases, it's built on the foundation of immaterial naturalism, wherein natural law is posited as an immaterial aspect of the cosmos.  Ok  And where did natural law come from?  Oh right--it "just is."  That's a "religious" (not empirically verifiable) stance if there ever was. 

So, congratulations, AHA, you just cashed in on 70k posing as a non-religious group, or even as an anti-religious group, all the while feeding on the secular humanist lie that naturalism is not a religion.  Bravo!

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