Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology

By J. P. Moreland

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Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology

By J. P. Moreland

... Show All

Rigid adherence to scientism—as opposed to a healthy respect for science—is all too prevalent in our world today. Rather than leading to a deeper understanding of our universe, this worldview actually undermines real science and marginalizes morality and religion.

In this book, celebrated philosopher J. P. Moreland exposes the selfdefeating nature of scientism and equips us to recognize scientism’s harmful presence in different aspects of culture, emboldening our witness to biblical Christianity and arming us with strategies for the integration of faith and science—the only feasible path to genuine knowledge.

Read Chapter 1


J. P. Moreland

J. P. Moreland (PhD, University of Southern California) is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Biola University. He is an author of, contributor to, or editor of over ninety books, including The Soul: How We Know It's Real and Why It Matters.

Product Details

Category: Academic
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 224
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 9.39 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-5690-1
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-5690-6
ISBN-UPC: 9781433556906
Case Quantity: 52
Published: September 30, 2018

Table of Contents

Tables and Illustrations
Foreword by Dan Egeler

1. The (Scientistic) Air We Breathe

2. Why Scientism Matters

3. How Scientism Changed the Universities

4. Scientism Is Self-Refuting

5. Scientism Is the Enemy of Science

6. Why Weak Scientism Is No Better Than Strong Scientism

7. The Availability of Nonscientific Knowledge

8. When Science Exceeds Its Reach: A Case Study

9. Scientism and First Philosophy

10. Examples of the Authority and Autonomy Theses

11. How Do We Explain Things?

12. Five Things Science Cannot In Principle Explain (But Theism Can)

13. Methodological Naturalism, Theistic Evolution, and Intelligent Design

14. The Importance of Integrating Christianity and Science

15. A Plan for the Integration of Christianity and Science

One Final Plea
Selected Bibliography


“Science is a wonderfully useful discipline, but in recent times it has been distorted into scientism, the view that science is the ultimate path to truth in any area of reality. Based on that false adulation of science, many have denied the value of religion and philosophy, and many have rejected the claims of divine revelation in the Bible. J. P. Moreland is a respected Christian thinker who has studied both science and the Scriptures in considerable depth. He clearly demonstrates the fallacies of the arguments for scientism. He shows how Christians can defend their faith against scientistic objections, while affirming genuine science as a gift from God.”
John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary

“Scientism is a silent killer. Despite its name, it is neither scientific nor rational. Yet it attempts to kill our knowledge of God and the good life by claiming that the methods of science are sufficient for any knowledge we may need to know. J. P. Moreland, one of our greatest living philosophers, exposes scientism for what it is—a self-refuting and knowledge-stopping claim. This judgment in no way undermines real science, but rather encourages it. Once more, we are in Moreland’s debt.”
Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary; author, Walking Through Twilight: A Wife’s Illness—A Philosopher’s Lament

“Moreland offers a brilliant critique of scientism and a comprehensive defense of theistic science. As valuable as this critique and defense is, I believe his book’s greatest contribution is his wake-up call to Christian leaders of how ‘scientism has forced the church to offer the gospel simply because it works rather than because it is true and can be known as such.’ Kudos to Moreland for equipping us to know through scientific evidence and philosophical reasoning that the Bible and the gospel indeed are true.”
Hugh Ross, President, Reasons to Believe; author, The Creator and the Cosmos; Improbable Planet; and Why the Universe Is the Way It Is

“J. P. Moreland is one of the great Christian philosophers of our time. He has shown persuasively that we can know God just as well as we can know anything else. If, as philosophers tell as, knowledge constitutes ‘justified true belief,’ Moreland has shown that we can have such beliefs about God—and, thus, objective, as well as subjective, knowledge of him. In this trenchant critique, he shows not only how the ideology of scientism undermines the justifiable confidence that people should have in their knowledge of God, but that scientism ultimately defeats itself. Scientism claims that hard sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology provide the only genuine knowledge of reality. Yet, as Moreland shows, scientism does not satisfy its own requirement, because it is not itself based upon scientific evidence or scientific method. Instead, Moreland shows with many concrete examples that many people in our culture simply assume that the hard sciences provide the only foundation for knowledge, leaving them with an impoverished and materialistic view of reality that denies them the joy, hope, and meaning that comes from the knowledge of God. For this reason, Scientism and Secularism is a philosophical treatise with a practical message for anyone wanting to live life more abundantly in accord with genuine knowledge of God. Highly recommended.”
Stephen C. Meyer, Director, Center for Science and Culture, Discovery Institute; New York Times best-selling author, Darwin’s Doubt

“Science is a gift from God, but scientism is an idolatrous perversion of that gift that is hostile to the Christian faith and to the proper practice of science. J. P. Moreland rightly contends that Christians need to understand what scientism claims, to recognize its pervasive effects in our society, and to expose its self-defeating pretensions. Moreland has been reflecting on these issues for decades, and I can think of no one better qualified to write on this topic. This incisive takedown of scientism is long overdue and most welcome.”
James N. AndersonCarl W. McMurray Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte

“If you’ve ever been tempted to dismiss a moral, philosophical, or theological belief because you were convinced only science gives real knowledge—or if it’s been done to you—then you’ve been taken in by scientism. This popular notion has crippled the confidence of multitudes of Christians, yet in Scientism and Secularism, philosopher J. P. Moreland handily exposes it for the fraud it is. Moreland cuts through the confusion with his characteristic clarity, insight, and surgical precision, deftly refuting the notion that only science can give knowledge while all else is mere opinion, feeling, or faith. Here is Moreland doing what he does best—dispatching foolishness with careful thought and rigorous assessment. For those taken in by the silliness of scientism, this book will be an eye-opener. Moreland’s effort also serves as a tutorial in the disappearing art of clear thinking for those floundering in the murky waters of secularism.”
Gregory Koukl, President, Stand to Reason; author, Tactics and The Story of Reality

“J. P. Moreland’s Scientism and Secularism should be mandatory reading for serious Christians who want to intelligently engage in the interface of philosophy and science. Moreland elegantly guides the reader through concepts typically reserved for serious analytic philosophers and academics. In doing so, he provides a desperately needed and highly accessible treatment of elite-level arguments that both seasoned philosophy veterans and enthusiastic amateurs will enjoy. Moreland thus demonstrates a rare ability to distill complicated and abstract philosophical concepts into a framework for everybody to understand. While scientists who are not philosophically inclined always tend to deride approaches that are not strictly empirical as superfluous, in recent years this tendency has accelerated. Major figures in both academic and popular science characterize philosophy as an anachronism to be abandoned, with only experimental or observable data worthy of discussion. Moreland argues expertly that not only are such claims internally inconsistent, this central dogma of scientism erodes the serious pursuit of knowledge. Scientism isn’t just poor science, it’s poor thinking. Moreland has crafted an eminently readable text that clearly demonstrates that this kind of crude scientistic thinking should be eschewed by all thinkers not dogmatically committed to worshiping at the altar of reductive physicalism. Scientism and Secularism is a book that should be read by any serious Christian who is motivated to integrate science, philosophy, and faith cogently and cohesively.”
Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD, coauthor, The Mind and the Brain and You Are Not Your Brain

“The greatest barrier to communicating a Christian message in our day is the fact/value split. It decrees that truth is to be found only in the fact realm, while relegating morality and theology to the realm of values, which it defines as subjective, private, personal preferences. The result is that when Christian speak, people do not even ‘hear’ them making objective truth claims. That’s why this book by J. P. Moreland is so important. Moreland challenges the fact/value split, showing that it rests on the untenable assumption of scientism. Then he makes a persuasive case that fields like philosophy, morality, and theology yield genuine knowledge.”
Nancy Pearcey, Professor and Scholar in Residence, Houston Christian University; author, Love Thy Body and The Toxic War on Masculinity

“With cross-disciplinary depth and precise argument, J. P. Moreland not only puts science back in its lane, he defines the lane—and in doing so rescues true science from self-destructive overreach. Anyone responsible for educating the next generation of scientists, theologians, or anyone in between needs this surprisingly readable book.”
David Schmus, Executive Director, Christian Educators Association International

“For decades, people have been weighing in on why children are leaving the faith in droves. J. P. Moreland gets to the core and offers information needed to stop the exodus. Every Christian parent and educator must read this book.”
Catherine Waller, Executive Editor, Defendable Faith Institute, DeepRoots Bible Curriculum for Defendable Faith; homeschool parent