By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC
Cogito, ergo sum.
Meaning: “I think, therefore I am.” The statement is the self-evident revelation of Renaissance philosopher, René Descartes. The Frenchman reduced all of life to nothing by doubting the existence of everything; however, he reconciled that, since he had the mental ability to doubt his own existence, then he must actually exist. He then reconstructed the existence of the world around him based on his conclusion to grant it reality.
In essence, Descartes made man the arbiter of reality, of truth. He was not the first philosopher in history to pursue the egocentrism of man. Plato, Aristotle, and others also shoved man to the center of their universe. All such brilliant minds, begging the question: How can so many really smart people be so … wrong?
Last week my family and I made our first-ever visit to the Creation Museum located in Petersburg, Ky. I obviously expected a strong apologetic for Christianity rooted in Genesis since the $27 million museum is owned by Answers in Genesis, the organization founded by creation apologist Ken Ham. However, I did not expect such a clear explanation of colliding worldviews, the Bible’s overarching story, and the centrality of the gospel.
Descartes and other philosophers only offered a description of man’s reality; they didn’t create it. Man’s current reality began when Adam and Eve were seduced to believe they could be “like God.” Man got what he wanted — or at least thought he got what he wanted. Adam and Eve quickly learned two absolute truths: (1) All existence revolves around God and (2) individuals and humanity in general are not the arbiters of truth. God has never ceased being God or shelved His sovereignty, allowing man to squeeze himself onto the throne of the universe.
The museum’s exhibits immediately establish the conflict between theocentric versus anthropocentric worldviews. Against this backdrop life’s big questions are asked, issues such as personal pain and suffering to the existence of evil in the world. The museum eventually reveals how a biblical worldview identifies these problems as the result of sin in the world and how an anthropocentric worldview identifies these problems as validation that an all-powerful God does not exist. Appeal is repeatedly made throughout to biblical authority. At one point in the exhibit, the comment is made that if you diminish the literal truth of the first 11 chapters of Genesis, you get the rest of the Bible wrong, you get the spiritual condition of man wrong, and you get the life and redemptive work of Christ wrong.
In essence, if you get the first 11 chapters of Genesis wrong then logically you can ultimately come to no conclusion regarding the death of Christ other than to side with the theological heresy espoused by the likes of Brian McLaren and Steve Chalke that the atoning work of Jesus was essentially “divine child abuse.” Therefore, why wouldn’t man be better off with himself at the center of his existence?
However, the Bible and the museum make crystal clear that the only thing man is at the center of is his own problem, and it was only by God’s grace on the cross that the problem is solved.
The museum’s exhibits continue the colliding worldview theme by offering a constant juxtaposition between the theory of evolution and the biblical account of creation. There is a fair representation of evolutionary ideas, and I tried my best not to impose my Christian worldview on the presentation of evolution versus creation. I tried to look as objectively as I could at the evidence presented on both sides as if I had to decide one way or the other. Unfortunately my effort soon collapsed under the overwhelming evidence for biblical authority and scientific veracity. It would be difficult for a seeker truly weighing the evidence of either worldview to not see evolution’s huge logical and scientific gaps. For the believer, the systematic flow of evidence from the beginning to the end of the museum serves as a visual discipleship course in apologetics.
Make no mistake, I appreciate the museum’s parsing of the big theological truths, but let me get pragmatic and break it down to the “Dad Level.” I have a 13-year-old daughter who came away more convinced that God exists, that He is completely in control of everything, and is the yardstick by which all existence is measured. God is Option A and there is no Option B. She received a healthy dose that this fallen existence in which we live is real and must be interpreted through a biblical lens to make any sense.
Personally, I came away with a firm reminder that there are competing worldviews vying for our hearts and minds and for the hearts and minds of our children. It is indeed unfortunate that by their rebellion in the garden, Adam and Eve launched the philosophical pursuit of Cogito, ergo sum. We would have been much better off if they’d set an example for how to pursue another Latin expression: Soli Deo gloria.
But fortunately, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, God grants to us that very opportunity.