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Total Truth

Liberating Christianity from its Cultural CaptivityNancy Pearcey

In this award-winning book, Nancy Pearcey, a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, presents an analysis of the impact that Darwinism has had upon our culture. Pearcey starts by observing that our culture has separated “truth” into two categories. In the “upper story” is noncognitive experience. This is the realm of private truth which ranges from favorite ice-cream flavors to one’s preferred religious denomination. Our culture believes this realm is purely subjective and unverifiable. But in the “lower story” is what our culture considers to be verifiable: hard, factual, scientific knowledge.

If Darwinism is true, Pearcey observes, religion and “moral values” become merely irrational and subjective claims, subjugated to the “upper story.” Darwinists try to convince the religious world that this is an acceptable fate because as long as moral values are in the upper story, they cannot be rationally scrutinized. Thus, the religious are reassured that religion is “safe” from the claims of scientific Darwinism.

Not so, says Pearcey, who exposes how fields such as evolutionary psychology are now invading the “value” realm by purporting to account for all of human behavior. Sociobiologists are even trying to account for the origin of religion itself in evolutionary terms. Human behavior, such as altruism must be accounted for in evolutionary terms. Richard Dawkins now calls religion a “virus of the mind.” According to Pearcey, the “fact” realm is mounting an assault on the “value” realm, and it is thus dangerous for religious people to engage in “cognitive bargaining” that banishes religion to the “value realm.” This is because the Darwinists are not interested in keeping their end of the bargain.

But if Pearcey is right, religion has nothing to fear from the “fact” realm. In fact, Darwinism is deficient as a science in many ways. The scientific evidence, as Pearcey shows, points towards intelligent design, not a cosmic accident. The take-home message is that religious thinkers would do better to carefully scrutinize the scientific evidence than to engage in philosophical bargaining with Darwinists.