It has been almost two decades since Mark Noll wrote his hatchet-job, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” which virtually mocked Bible-believing Christians – especially those who challenge evolutionary thinking and those who believe in predictive prophecy. Noll, once a prominent voice at Wheaton and now at Notre Dame, has long lamented that he feels too many Christians check their brains at the door.
Maybe he hasn’t met Nancy Pearcey.
Pearcey, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (among other things), has been an intellectual warrior in the culture war over origins teaching. She has developed her, may I say, apologist’s style of writing over the years, and stands today as one of the leading defenders of the Christian faith.
Pearcey’s latest book, “Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning,” takes a stand that secularism is destructive not only to our society, but also to us as individuals.
She has expertly woven the effects of this worldview as it applies to our everyday lives through film, philosophy, science, art and literature. Pearcey systematically takes each discipline and dissects them through the eyes of the humanist until the reader is able to completely understand where this way of thinking and interpreting originated, how it effects today and what we can learn and apply in our lives to combat this enemy within our society.
“Saving Leonardo” is particularly relevant right at this moment, with midterm elections a major topic.
Pearcey even explains why Americans hate politics: “Today, after decades of treating politics as value free, many political scientists reject the very concept of a transcendent good.”
Needless to say, our founders based our nation around this core concept. The “average” American is well able to understand this and recognizes that our current poisonous political climate is harming the nation.
The book is split into two sections: “The Threat of Global Secularism,” and “Two Paths to Secularism.” The first part shows how the growing international secularism affects all of us. It is a worldview that must be recognized and engaged. The concepts of splitting the facts from values is shown in “not only a view of truth but also a strategy for gaining power – and ultimately for imposing political control. … Secular ideologies preach liberty but practice tyranny.”
Further, Pearcey examines some fundamental keys: “The fact/value dualism is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a connection to controversial issues that threaten the dignity of human life – abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering and the destruction of the human embryos.”
These practices reflect the scientific view that humans are merely complex biochemical mechanisms, while ethically the human is treated as totally autonomous, making choices based on feelings and choices that lead to immorality, homosexuality, transgenderism and a loss of values.
Pearcey takes a very in-depth look at how these concepts developed throughout history. The rise of secularism is documented carefully as she dissects the modern worldview into two major groups: the Enlightenment and Romantic movements. The Enlightenment era was based on facts, whereas Romanticism focused on the values realm. Both paths led to secularism!
The author expertly traces these two to point out insights that shaped our modern world as it is today. The reader will be led through a course on detecting worldviews through the arts and culture. Art is thought of as expression of an artist’s thoughts and feelings, where in actuality it is a reflection of the thoughts belief system of his day. The worldview comes through the reflection of evolution and the dehumanization of man.
The reader of this magnificent treatment will be taught how to read those worldviews as they come to life through the arts. Illustrations of works of art are throughout the book and used as illustrations as Pearcey expertly shows how the writer/thinker/artist is reflecting worldviews that lead to secularism.
This leads one down the road to examine existentialism, Marxism, postmodernism, deconstructionism and New Age spirituality. The writers and artists make these views into the arenas of expressionism, surrealism and abstraction. The stories and paintings bring a reflection in a sense of reality that merely discussing a concept would not accomplish.
If all this sounds highbrow, it is. Yet Pearcey’s important treatment of these subjects is so profound and important, the book is very well worth the read. It doesn’t hurt that the publisher added an attractive package, so that the book has the feel of a “coffee table” book. The effort succeeds.
Popular culture is thoroughly addressed, as this is the area of greatest impact in our society today. Pearcey provides tools to equip parents in particular to recognize the worldviews being presented in today’s media – in particular movies, music and television. The book contains tips and enlightenment for the themes presented. Overall, “Saving Leonardo” in particular is a terrific resource for homeschool families.
Each person has the power to help shape the culture. The key is in understanding how we got here, what the hidden agendas are and educating others to the dangers that lie beneath our society.
Pearcey’s great love for the arts is apparent through her writing. Astute and attracted to beauty, she is able to help Christians truly enjoy art for its beauty and inspiration. It is OK to disagree with the message and yet see the skill and value in the piece.
She also encourages Christians not to settle for lack of quality in art just because it is religious in nature. Artists are in a position to stir a revolution in communicating messages that will help stir the churches out of their comfortable positions of complacency.
Jesus himself was a revolutionary against the status quo! Pearcey’s fabulous new book helps readers see how they can be as well.