By David A. Noebel<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Our primary goal at every Summit Student Leadership Conference is to help Christian young people really understand what is going on in the world around them and why it matters. Over the 2-week period, we delve into six worldviews that are vying for their hearts and minds (we contend that both heart and mind are cognitive elements of the soul) and argue (peacefully) that an understanding of Christianity, Islam, Secular Humanism, Marxism, New Age, and Postmodernism will provide a birds-eye view of the world and what's happening in it.
Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was convinced that there were some twenty to thirty "predominate currents of thought or attitudes of mind" that provided for the structure of history "and held the key to explaining it." Most of these ideas or thoughts were "either religions or substitutes for religion" (Robert Schuettinger, Lord Acton: Historian of Liberty, p. 174).
At <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Summit, we want to provide our students with "the key" to explain history in this century and believe that the six worldviews listed above, along with their accompanying ideas, do as well as any to provide an understanding of exactly what is transpiring before our very eyes. Lord Acton was right. The ideas that contain the key to explain history are indeed religious or substitutes for the religious. In other words, ideas do indeed rule the world, and as we know from the experience of history, ideas have consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences.
The Secular Humanist worldview is one that we explain in some detail (primarily because it has America's public education from kindergarten to graduate school by the throat). We present secular humanism to our students using a baseball metaphor. This opposing team consists of John Dewey pitching, Isaac Asimov catching, Paul Kurtz holding down first base, Corliss Lamont at second base, Bertrand Russell covering third base, Julian Huxley roaming at shortstop, Richard Dawkins fielding left, Margaret Sanger playing center field, and Carl Rogers holding down right field. (In reality, they're all in left field with Dawkins, but to make the game work, we spread the players around.)
In past years, we assigned Ted "Christianity is for losers" Turner as manager. That is, until this summer. Now we need a change of management because Ted has changed his mind. Let me explain. According to the Associated Press (April 2, 2008), "Ted Turner who once called Christianity a 'religion for losers' launched a $200 million partnership with Lutherans and Methodists to fight malaria in Africa, apologizing for his past criticism of religion and calling faith a 'bright spot' in the world."
Ted Turner now apologizes and says he regrets anything he said about religion "that was negative." Now I don't know if he needed to go that far (religion has caused its share of misery), but I've decided to replace him as manager of the Secular Humanist ball team with Christopher Hitchens, author of god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Chris will appreciate this new role although I'm not quite sure where he stands at any given time. His latest article in Free Inquiry magazine (April/May 2008) is quite good-he takes on "the fastest-growing dictatorial system in the modern world"-Putin's Russia!
But just a few articles past Hitchens' is one by Shadia B. Drury, rebuking Hitchens' claim that "religion poisons everything." Drury says that Secular Humanists are "often tempted to ally religion with all the evils of the world." Well, that sounds like Hitchens, all right! But the truth is, says Drury, "Some religious people live decent and upright lives. Some people have been inspired by their religions to do great things, such as fight against slavery, promote civil rights, create the Red Cross, or establish the Social Gospel movement. William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was a British politician who was inspired by his faith to abolish slavery; in 1833, a month after his death, Parliament passed a bill that ended slavery throughout the British Empire." She goes on to mention James Shaver Woodsworth (1874-1942) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) as further examples of religious leaders who did not "poison everything" they touched. She concludes, "As these examples show, religion cannot simply be dismissed as pure evil or the ally of all evils in the world. Life is not that simple."
But let's admit it, atheism is on a roll, and Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and others are all in favor of throwing Christianity overboard and painting Christians as war-mongers among other things. And this in spite of the fact that of the world's nearly 1,763 wars in recorded history, only 123 can properly be labeled "religious wars." (See Phillips and Axelrod, Encyclopedia of Wars) That's a mere 6.8 percent of the total number of wars recorded in all of human history. And the secular wars of the secular governments upon their own people just within the past century count the dead in the tens of millions! Unfortunately, Dawkins and Hitchens want their atheist church to believe that the Stalins and Hitlers of the world were Christians. Atheism, not Christianity, is the culprit as recorded by R. J. Rummel in Death by Government. The human propensity for myth making is indeed a deeply fixed human condition.
But I digress! Let's get back to Summit's "key" to understanding history. If you investigate the ideas promulgated by the six major [proselytizing or missionary] worldviews, you will achieve a good understanding of what makes our world go around. And isn't that exactly what we want Christian young people to grasp? Unfortunately, most young people (and I'm referring primarily to the evangelical community) have no understanding of these competing ideas.
Christian young people need to know how to respond to the charge that "there is no God" (Psalm 53:1). They need to know that the world's number one atheist, Antony Flew, is no longer an atheist, and they need to read his explanation of why he changed his mind (There Is a God: How The World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind).
They need to know that Richard Dawkins is pulling their leg when he claims that Albert Einstein was an atheist when Einstein himself said, "I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws" (Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion, p. 48).
Once again this summer, these ideas from the six competing worldviews will be the focus of Summit's Student Conferences (7 sessions in Colorado, 2 in Tennessee, 1 in Ohio, and 1 in Virginia). Our approach is instructed by St. Paul's goal of "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" so that we are able to overthrow the reasoning of those who argue against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Summit Ministries also conducts Summit Semester, a more in-depth three-month academic camp in the fall. Summit Semester is geared to prepare recent high school graduates intellectually and spiritually for the secular humanistic college experience.
New this fall (September 2008) is Summit Oxford, a semester-long study experience at Oxford University (U.K.) for qualified college juniors and seniors and college graduates.
Visit Summit Ministries' web site at <http://summit.org> or call (719) 685-9103 for further information and dates for all Summit Ministries programs.
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