Do women use tactics to catch their man? I know my wife did! Now, I’m not complaining or anything. We have been together for over thirty one years and she is still the love of my life. I know, I know, men do it too. But I think women are more adept at it.
She was very pretty, though a little younger than I, so I was really not pursuing her. But she, obviously had her eye on me. At that time, I was the president of our youth group at church and we had planned for the group to get together and hang some curtains in our youth building. When I got there, only one other person showed up. You guessed it. It was her. I thought it rather odd that no one else came, but I was naive enough to think that the others just didn’t want to do it.
That wasn’t the case. It seems that my cute little nymph who was responsible for telling the others simply didn’t so she could be alone with me. Well it worked. I asked her for a date and the rest is history.
When a person is involved in an activity, whether a relationship or anything else where there are winners and losers, people develop tactics to try and outdo the people who they consider to be their opponents and accomplish their desired outcome. This principle also applies to our beliefs. And in fact, this may be the most highly competitive arena in our world today. And not surprisingly, tactics are developed to accomplish this goal.
Evangelical Christians make no secret of their desire to engage people of other belief systems and share the gospel with them. The goal is nothing less than to give them an opportunity to convert to faith in Jesus Christ. But it is not just Christians. There are many other groups who are well known for their evangelistic fervor. But what about Naturalists? Now this is a group that is not typically thought of as being evangelists for their beliefs. But in actual fact, this image can be quite deceptive. The reason they are not usually thought of as evangelists is that Naturalism is not normally organized into groups that give visibility to the evangelizers. Christianity is generally associated with a church that people are encouraged to join. Naturalism doesn’t really have much in the way of organized groups.
That being said, Naturalists are just as religiously zealous as Christians and work hard to get others to believe like they do. In order to promote their beliefs they actually use a number of different tactics which are designed to break down another person’s faith and promote their own. Let’s look at some of the major ones.
One tactic is to look down on people who express a supernatural religious point of view. They characterize them as “superstitious” or “needing a crutch.” There is no intellectual element to this. It is simply designed to make the opponent feel stupid and helpless while making themselves feel superior.
A similar tactic to the previous one is intimidation. This is another maneuver which has no intellectual basis, but is simply intended to keep the opponent from fighting back. This tactic uses verbal or social pressure to try to make the adversary feel helpless.
Ignoring the Faith Factor in Naturalism
Since Naturalism is a worldview, its ultimate foundation is a set of faith assumptions. The primary one is that the supernatural does not exist. You would never get an admission from most Naturalists, however, that their belief is based on faith. They particularly like to boast that what they believe is built completely on observable fact and backed up by science. This simply is not true, but in most cases it is very difficult to get Naturalists to address the faith issues of their system.
The Assumption that Naturalism is True
Certainly every worldview assumes its own assumptions are true. But Naturalism tries to take one element of reality (the physical) and interpret all data in a way that eliminates the possibility that another worldview might be viable. Naturalism, though, is not the only worldview that has a high regard for physical reality. Our Christian Theism does as well. It is just that Naturalism asserts that Christians cannot legitimately interpret scientific data because they believe in something that goes beyond what science can analyze. There is certainly no objective basis for them to make this claim since Naturalism is also a faith position. But it is done just the same.
The Assumption That Science Is the Domain Only of Naturalists
This tactic emerges out of the previous one. Even though modern science was born out of the desire of Christian scientists to understand the wonders of God’s creation, Naturalists have tried to completely sever the natural and the supernatural to the extent that they claim science only for themselves. In doing this they simply dismiss the interpretations that Christians give scientific data if it conflicts with their Naturalistic views. In this way they try to marginalize the work of scientists who believe that God is the Creator of the material universe.
Ignoring Problems with the Naturalistic Worldview
There are some very serious problems with a Naturalistic worldview. Naturalism is unable to account for the existence of the substance that makes up the material universe, the existence of life, and the existence of human consciousness. There is certainly no shortage of attempts to come up with theories about how these things could have come into being. But they have not been able to come up with any demonstrable mechanisms which would give credence to a natural origin to these things. Typically if a Christian points this out, they will simply change the subject.
Ignoring the Problems of Evolution
It was Darwin’s theory of evolution that give plausibility to Naturalism when he proposed a way to connect this philosophy with physical science. At that point, people who wanted to be their own God had a plausible philosophy that they could hang their hat on. The only problem is, there are serious problems with the theory. There is no evidence that life is able to emerge from non-life. There is no known mechanism for how one species is able to emerge from another one. And there are many parts of biological organisms which are irreducibly complex and simply do not fit within Darwin’s theory. This tactic has gone so far that Naturalists have even gone to court to make sure that the problems associated with evolution cannot be taught in schools.
The Equivalence of Evolution and Natural Selection
Evolution and natural selection are not the same thing. Evolution proposes that life came from non-life, new species have gradually and steadily evolved from lower life forms and that consciousness has emerged from nonconscious matter.
Natural selection, on the other hand deals with biological entities which already exist. This is the phenomenon whereby an entity changes in some ways to make it better suited for different or changing conditions. It is important to note that it is limited in how far these changes can go and that the changes are generally reversible if conditions change.
The tactic here that Naturalists often use is to point to natural selection and say that it proves evolution. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. They are two entirely different things.
Putting Down Scripture
One final tactic that we will look at relates to how Naturalists try to interpret scripture in a way that makes the Christian faith improbable. This often works with people who are not well versed in their understanding of the Bible. The only problem is, the Naturalistic interpretations themselves are way off base. In some cases they simply assume their Naturalistic presupposition that there is no supernatural and simply dismiss miraculous events that are recorded in the Bible. In other cases they take passages out of context or simply do poor interpretations to suit their own ends.
Dealing with the Tactics of Naturalists
It is sad to say, but a very large percentage of people who claim to be Christians simply do not have the knowledge necessary to detect and thwart the tactics that Naturalists use to try and discredit the Christian faith. But the answer to this actually lies in the statement of the problem. The fact is, Naturalism does not hold up under scrutiny. There are serious flaws. But if Christians don’t know what they are and how to answer the challenges, atheistic Naturalism will continue to make inroads into society.
Learning how to deal with this is not that difficult. But it does take some effort. Christians need to take the time and make the effort to learn about worldviews and to become well grounded in their own faith. With this, the tactics of Naturalists will literally become of no effect and we will have the ability to effectively share our own faith with those who don’t know Christ.