A Podcast By Christian Podcast Central
An Examined Life with Jeff Allen 54: Atheism, Humanism, Abortion and Christian Worldview with Nancy Pearcey, part 3
Nancy Pearcey, author of books such as How Now Shall We Live and Total Truth and visiting scholar at Houston Baptist University, joins us on today’s show.
Jeff Allen: So, what do you have on the horizon?
Nancy Pearcey: Well, I’m currently working on a book on ethical issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia. Most books on this subject are either about what the Bible says or moral reasoning. I’m showing the worldview, the view of the human person. You cannot really argue morality directly. A person’s morality is always derivative from their worldview. So, you need to go a layer deeper and argue for the worldview itself.
Now, it turns out that secular thinking is driven by a singular worldview that has a low, reductionist view of the human person. This gives us the possibility to make a positive argument for our worldview.
We need to get beyond “Don’t! It’s wrong! That’s a sin!”
That doesn’t work.
What we can do is argue that Christianity gives a much higher view of the human person and that Christian morality respects the human person and grants much higher dignity to the human person than the modern reductionist, materialist view does.
So, it’s going to give us an opportunity to shift to a much more positive argument that shows that Christianity is appealing, attractive, and inviting. I think it’ll give us a different tone as we approach not only secular people, but also other young people who are very confused about these issues.
Jeff: Well, that’s what changed my life. Really knowing that I was created and designed changed everything for me and gave me self-respect and dignity.
You are currently involved in the intelligent design movement, so what do you think of ethical humanism, the catchphrase for the humanist movement?
Nancy: We’re made in God’s image, so people can be good. But, they can’t justify it. They can’t explain why we are human beings or why there is an objective morality. In fact, they can’t be humanist, let alone the “ethical” part, because humanism is the view that humans have some sort of special dignity. There’s a contemporary British philosopher named John Gray, who is an extreme materialist, forever castigating humanists for being inconsistent.
He says, “You humanists are materialists, just like me. So, why do you think there is any basis for human status being higher than the rest of nature? Logically speaking, you have no basis for what you’re saying, and what you are saying you are grabbing from Christianity. The atheist attempt to have human dignity is just a derivative of Christianity.” He has countless articles on this subject.
In my book, I quote a man who is an atheist, Darwinist, and evolutionist, who admitted that survival of the fittest cannot be the basis for universal human rights and that he has “freeloaded from Christianity.” We need to help people see that these people do not have a basis and borrow from Christianity. In Finding Truth, I love being able to show this from the mouths of atheists. That’s one of the best ways to design your apologetics; look at the ways that people recognize that something is missing. When they reach over and borrow from Christianity, that is their way of admitting that their system does not give them a good basis for universal human rights or dignity. Then you know that you’re answering the questions that people really have.
Take the issue of abortion.
People say, “Well, abortion is okay, until it becomes a person.”
At which point you say,
An Examined Life with Jeff Allen: Christian Worldview with Nancy Pearcey, part 2
Nancy Pearcey, author of books such as How Now Shall We Live and Total Truth and visiting scholar at Houston Baptist University, joins us on today’s show.
Jeff Allen: You have stated before that you were a skeptic and at one point slipped into a period of nihilism. Could you explain this period?
Nancy Pearcey: When I was 19, I went to L’Abri and they knew the questions I had better than I did. As Christians, they had studied worldviews enough that they understood secular thought better than I did. So, for example, I would say, “You can’t say anything is right or wrong,” and they would inform that what I said was relativism, which I was completely unaware of at the time. Then, they’d take me back to where relativism came from and analyze the intellectual history that led up to it to give me a chance to think more critically about whether or not I wanted to really be a relativist. This is where Christians need to go. It’s like a sports team; not only do we need to know our own strategy, we need to know the strategy of the other side. If we know the other team’s strategy better than they know it, we will be prepared to counter it. That is the kind of education I got at L’Abri.
At that time, because I had been a Christian, I knew that if there was no God there was no basis for morality. It was obvious to me that I needed to be relativist. As a skeptic, I thought that if it was just my puny brain within the vast reaches of time and space, then how could I be able to know some eternal objective truth. I even got into solipsism at one point, which is the thinking that all you can know is basically the inside of your own head. I was in High School and I dooodled cartoons of the whole world as just a thought bubble inside my head. That’s nihilism. Nihilism is when you get to the point you don’t think anything is real. Moral nihilism is when you think that there is no right or wrong, no good or evil. Metaphysical nihilism is when you believe that you can’t know any truth.
I had definitely reached nihilism and there was no lower to go from there. I was obviously getting more and more depressed since I had no answers and thought there were none. This was an unpleasant, dark, and difficult time for me. I wouldn’t have lasted a whole lot longer if I hadn’t ran into questions that knew how to address such questions.
Jeff: What were your parents going through as you were going through this?
Nancy: My parents were clueless, which was part of the problem. People will say to me, “Wasn’t there anyone to speak into your life?” I always respond with “No, I was reaching out and asking questions and I couldn’t find any Christians that could answer my questions.” The main response when I asked these questions was, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you have more faith?” They treated my lack of faith as a moral failing and thought I had a problem. Therefore, I did not get people who treated intellectual questions seriously, and you can still see it today. Most youth groups act as though they just need to give children an intense emotional experience and a sense of belonging that will override their intellectual doubt. The statistics of those who drop away from of the faith when they leave high school to go to high are way too high. Obviously, it’s not working. We need to treat people with respect. Yes, we have a heart. Yes, we need to be treated well, emotionally, but we also have a mind. We need to respect that, the questions that young people have, and do the hard work to find the answers. A lot of times, we are scared that there are no answers or we just don’t want to do the hard work.
An Examined Life with Jeff Allen: Christian Worldview with Nancy Pearcey, part 1
Today, we welcome one of my favorite authors. I fell in love with her 2000 Gold Medallion Award winning book How Now Shall We Live? which she wrote with the late, great Chuck Coleson. Another of my favorites she wrote is Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. This amazing author, educator, and Christian worldview expert is a professor at Houston Baptist University, and just an amazing woman – Nancy Pearcey.
But, Nancy hasn’t always been the perfect representative of Christian worldview. She was raised in a Lutheran home and began questioning her parents’ beliefs and the structures she was surrounded with when she was in high school. So much so, that she claims that she actually “lost her faith” at that point.
At the time, she went to a public high school, didn’t have any Christian friends, and began asking the most basic of questions, like “how do we know Christianity is true?”
She wasn’t being rebellious. She wasn’t looking for an “out clause” nor wanting to escape Christianity’s moral restrictions. She was simply honestly pursuing truth.
Unfortunately, Christian Apologetics wasn’t anywhere near as accessible as it is today, so neither her parents nor pastors could adequately answer her questions.
At one point, she even asked a Christian College Professor why he was a Christ-follower and the best answer he could muster up was, “Well… it works for me.”
One Seminary Dean told her “Don’t worry… we all have doubts sometimes”, as if it were just a psychological phase that she was experiencing.
She couldn’t help but think, “If we all have doubts, then why don’t you have better answers for my doubts?!”
Without any good answers coming her way, Nancy simply concluded that if you don’t have good reasons to believe in something, then you shouldn’t say you believe it – whether it’s Christianity or anything else.
This all led to her trying vehemently to find the source of truth, ethics, morality and the like. Eventually, she concluded that there is no God, everything is relative, you do what’s right for you, and I’ll do what’s right for me. After all, scientists were proposing that we humans are just complex machines, anyway, so how could our tiny little brains even comprehend something as vast as “truth”?
All this to say, she slid quite rapidly from church-going Christian to extreme skepticism and relativism.
A couple years later, Nancy was going to school in Germany, and traveled to L’Abri in Switzerland, where she stumbled across the ministry of Francis Schaeffer. This was the first time that she discovered Christians who could engage with her intellectual questions regarding the Christian faith. These people were also into culture and art, and to top it all off, they were hippies, so that meant that they were cool!
After reading theologians like Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis, she dedicated her life to following Jesus Christ. She then decided to travel back to L’Abri, since that was where she began being grounded and realizing what a Christian worldview was all about.
In her book, The Soul of Science, Nancy discusses how Christianity gave rise to modern science, and the key ways it provided concepts like the Order of Nature. Yet, somehow, science eliminated God from the equation and along with Him, objective moral truth. All this was key to Nancy’s own conversion back to Christianity.
You see, before she could even consider whether or not Christianity is true,
An Examined Life with Jeff Allen 51: Laughing All the Way with Dobie Maxwell
Dobie Maxwell (aka Mr. Lucky) is one of my favorite comedians from one of my favorite cities, Chicago. Not only is Dobie incredibly funny, but he has a heart of gold.
For instance, a dog in Kentucky, who just had a litter of puppies, was shot in the head and left for dead. Amazingly, she survived and was nursed back to health at an animal shelter. Then, somehow, she was shipped up to Wisconsin. Now, Dobie has had some runs of bad luck in his life, so he does charity events whenever he can as a way to help lift up people who are where he once was in life. So, while he was backstage at a charity event for the Wisconsin animal shelter, he met one of the people who worked at the shelter and invited her to bring the dog to his radio show the next day. And the dog took over the show! When a dog takes over a radio show, you’ve got one incredibly charismatic canine!
What Dobie didn’t know was that this morning with the survivor dog would lead to an opportunity with the NSA… no, not the ones listening to our phone calls, but the National Speakers Association (Where Professionals Speakers Connect). Dobie’s story of how a father’s influence on a man can alter is course in life is incredibly impactful… plus he makes everyone laugh while hitting at the heart.
As a guy once told me in regards to relaying a convicting message along with my comedy set, “If you can make a group of people laugh for 45 minutes straight, you’ve earned the right to take 15 and share whatever you want – especially if it will benefit their life and touch their soul.” And I think that’s where too many speakers go wrong – they focus too much on their message and neglect any humor in their delivery.
In fact, back in September of 2001, I was working at a comedy club in Las Vegas the day that the Twin Towers came down. I went to the club owner that afternoon and asked what he wanted to do, and he insisted that I go out there and tell jokes, then tell more jokes. Make them laugh non-stop and never ever mention the terrorist attacks. (Only in Vegas, right?) That very night, I called my wife and told her I needed to find another place or another way to work. I needed something with more significance and meaning, so I asked my manager if speaking at churches made any sense… or any money. Since then, I’ve found that speaking to Christian audiences is a good fit for me. So, my hope is that this new opportunity with the NSA is as good of a fit for my buddy, Dobie.
I’ve found that the toughest part of this whole “show business” thing is the business side of it. Guys like Dobie and me have figured out how to put on a show and make people laugh but the business part of the equation is something that a lot of us don’t get right.
As Dobie puts it, it’s like being left-handed or right-handed. Very few people are truly ambidextrous and aptly skilled with either hand. Likewise, guys like us might be very skilled on one hand (telling jokes); but clumsy as all heck with the other (business). Finding the next job, getting to the next town, nailing down the right deal… this is all like speaking a foreign language while using our opposite hand to write everything down for most entertainers.
Not to mention the complexities of having a family while working in show business. Not a day goes by when I’m not extremely grateful that I married a woman who was willing to stick around. There was a point where she wasn’t going to – having me on the road 40 weeks out of the year took its toll and she didn’t realize what she was getting into when she said “I do”. So, after some tough discussions, I said, “Well, we can cut our lifestyle in half and I can cut my travel down to only 20 weeks away,” which seemed workable.
But, before I knew it, I was applying for a job at Dominoes Pizza. I had been a stand-up comic for sixteen years, but I h
An Examined Life with Jeff Allen 50: Dobie Maxwell, part 1
Today we have Dobie Maxwell better known as Mr. Lucky on the show today! I hear Dobie is headed to the National Speakers Association. What’s he’s learned there after being a comedian after all these years that sometimes as a speaker there is a comma in his pay check. Dobie is wondering where any symbol at all has been in his pay check over the years. I explain the difference between speakers and comedians is a speaker gives you something to think about after. I don’t really have message after all these years except maybe don’t kill anybody.
Dobie shares that his message to everyone is whatever he’s done in his life take that do the opposite and success will follow. Next we talk about an upcoming book Dobie has coming out! Dobie shares that the book is about a situation between him and his best friend from childhood. Dobie’s friend was the head of security at a bank and he robbed it, twice. He tried to frame Dobie for one of the robberies so Dobie ended up having to wear a wire and have his friend confess that he had done it. He went to court and put his friend away for 6 years in prison. I asked him how long ago this all took place. Dobie shared that it happened 20 years ago and the day he got out of prison was the day he was starting a new radio job.
I asked Dobie about how he got into comedy, he started in 1983 in Milwaukee but he moved to Chicago in 1985. He shares how easy it was to get bookings every week around that time. Which reminded me of my experiences and I tell people all the time if I had to start doing comedy today I don’t think I would have stuck with it. I was on the road after a year and a half to two years. I look back and people were getting punished every night and somebody was enjoying it I certainly wasn’t. Dobie goes on the share the origins of the title “Mr. Lucky” and all the situations in life that led up to adopting that name. We transition to talking about Dobie’s upbringing and how he was raised by his grandfather. I share about my experiences parenting and how I never got stupider in life than when my kids got hormones. They just woke up one day and the wondered how I managed to make it from day to day. Dobie and I talk about our up bringing and the differences in our childhoods. We share the dynamic of the both of us being being the baby in the family. We talk about how being the last child probably led to comedy and me being on the road 50 weeks out of the year in the 80 when I met my wife.
I then ask Dobie to share about how he’s not teaching comedy at a college, that came from a freak accident where he drove over live power lines he got in a big account and had to lear to walk gain. Someone wrote an article about the incident and a college saw the article and offered him a job while he recovered. He mades it clear to all his students that his class isn’t a class where they can learn to be funny but he was encourage and gave a few tools that have helped him and he’s able to share all of his short comings as lessons for others to learn from.
An Examined Life with Jeff Allen 49: Nathan Cochran of Mercy Me, part 2
Today we’re talking to Nathan Cochran from Mercy Me! We kick off our interview with talking about social media and what Nathan has to do to avoid the trolls of the internet. He shares how the band as a whole has to be careful about what they post online because they all represent each other and the wrong tweet or post could open the floodgates to critics. I shared some advice a friend gave me years ago, “Don’t preach and don’t do any political.” Because doctrine causes problems and politics cause problems.
Changing gears we talk about the new Mercy Me albums that were just released. Not only did they release a new album but they also made a new Christmas album at the same time. Nathan shares how it’s a little over whelming normally just releasing one album let alone two! We talk about the process it takes to make an album. Nathan shares that they make the musical track first, then Bart predominantly writes the lyrics.
I asked Nathan if that process takes a while, he shared that it can sometimes take a while but those tend to be the songs they love the most as a band. The fans tend to love the songs that come the easiest and are made in 5 minutes. But they keep playing the songs they love even though the crowd just sits there and stares at them because they love those songs.
We close out the podcast with talking about Nathan’s hobbies and family, including his five children.