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"Noebel" Intentions

Steven Mahone

How do you respond to a philosophy that seems to be based on the premise of "the truth can't possibly be found with those that disagree with me "? Well, in May 2001, Dr. David Noebel, of Summit Ministries and co-author of a new book with Tim LaHaye (of "Left Behind" fame), appeared on a local Colorado Springs Christian radio program and gave all of the indications that he utilizes just such reasoning.

Dr. Noebel provided an on-air analysis of freethought and he referenced many of the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs' articles that have appeared in the Colorarda Springs Independent (hey, that means somebody actually reads this stuff!). His conclusion was that freethinkers are anti-god, anti-Christian malcontents, who are attempting to infiltrate our public school system and undermine the authority of our traditional Judeo-Christian values. For good measure, he also added that the term "freethinker" is nothing more than a euphemism for an "atheistic-socialist." Gee, Doc - does that mean I should divest my stocks and private property, then lobby for the expulsion of all the Republicans in our group?

If Dr. Noebel is going to create his own definitions of what a freethinker is and what a freethinker stands for, then how can he possibly hope to accurately comment on what a freethinker truly represents? It would be as if I defined all Christian apologists as "anti-logic, anti-reason dogmatists, who want to scare the beejeebers out of our kids with unsubstantiated stories of eternal damnation and torment if they don't conform." Hmmm, actually that's not too far off ... but you get the idea.

Dr. Noebel even asserted that freethinkers have their own religion, one that worships the "god of naturalism and science." Isn't this just playing games with semantics? Religion is defined as "an institutionalized system of worship and faith offered to a Supreme Being or the supernatural." Naturalism and science, quite simply, are an accounting of the natural world that is devoid of any explanations which appeal to the supernatural. The good doctor has created a contradiction here that is purely of his own device! What's a freethinker to do?

While this is probably of little concern to those who are already sympathetic to Dr. Noebel's message, what I hope is not as acceptable is the radical interpretation that he offers for the first amendment to our Constitution. Noebel announced that "... no law respecting an establishment of religion ..." doesn't mean that the government can't "promote" religion! Thanks, Doc, I always wondered what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were REALLY trying to say with that one! Surely, any reasonable person can see that the "separation of church and state" is a governmental principle of neutrality that protects the Christian with just as much vigor as it protects the infidel!

If Dr. Noebel is going to rearrange definitions and terms to fit his purpose, then what can he hope to accomplish other than further distorting the beliefs and philosophies of others? We all believe something, no doubt about it! My impression from Dr. Noebel's on-air discourse is that it really doesn't matter much what those "other" beliefs are - especially if they challenge his own religious convictions. Perhaps this strict way of thinking serves Dr. Noebel just fine, but for most of us it offers no help whatsoever in discerning where the truth actually rests.

Published:
  2001-08-19

Categories:
  Christianity, Philosophy

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