Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Snap: Mary Poplin's "Is Reality Secular?"

I'm rounding off the last revisions to Tekton's new website revamp, so I'm pleased to have another guest review by my ministry partner Nick Peters.


Recently, JPH sent me to review the book “Is Reality Secular?” by Mary Poplin. I found myself immediately impressed by the premise right at the start and the book impressed me so much that I have arranged for Poplin to be my guest on the Deeper Waters Podcast on May 10th, 2014.

The opening premise is that at the start, we have accepted so much about reality that it must be secular. This is the case with atheists who think that the Christian alone has the burden to prove their worldview. The atheist does not. They just have to show that they lack “God belief.”

Yet what if this is not so? How could someone establish that secularism is a true view of the world? It is just fine that the skeptic is one who is questionable about the possibility of miracles, but upon what basis can they make statements such as “We know that miracles don’t happen” or that “Today, science has shown us X” as if that clinches the whole debate. (This might be a shock to such people, but back in Biblical times, they knew dead people stay dead, virgins don’t give birth, etc.)

Poplin also points out that while such a view was meant to be tolerant, it turns out to be the opposite. When secularism reigns, all religions are indeed seen as equally false, but they are also seen as equally harmful. Want to know why you should argue against Christianity? Well look at what happened by Muslim terrorists on 9/11. Well yeah, it was a different religion, but the Muslim operated from faith and the Christian operates from faith and therefore, both are faith positions and both are evils to be avoided. (If you think this sounds bizarre, then why is it that Sam Harris’s “The End of Faith” was started on 9/11 and while there is a section in there on Islam, most of it is arguing against Christianity?)

Poplin takes us through four major worldviews. Those are materialism, secular humanism, pantheism, and monotheism. She examines each of them and in her own way has been a practitioner of each. She concludes that Christianity can not only explain itself, but the other worldviews as well and the other worldviews cannot understand Christianity from the outside.

Poplin also includes much of her own story in this such as her work with Mother Teresa that led to her conversion and the sinful mistakes that she made in her past. She is a highly candid writer who does not hold back and at the same time writes with a great thankfulness for the grace of God in her life.

Having said that positive, I do think at times that there can be some reliance on pop apologetics at times and I don’t agree with her views on Biblical matters, such as her views on the end times presented in the book, but those are more often than not side issues as she does react greatly with actual scholarship on the issues as well.

In conclusion, I do recommend Poplin’s book. The opening question is one that is worth discussing and Poplin’s style by making it personal can also be quite engaging. I encourage Christians and non-Christians to get this book and consider the arguments that are therein.

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