Scientific Evangelizing: How to Address an ‘Age-Old’ Problem with Modern Conservative Christianity

I’ve been reading Claude C. Hopkins’ classic little book on modern advertising: Scientific Advertising. “Classic” meaning that it was published in 1923. I’ve also been reading its slightly longer and slightly more recently published (1927) companion volume, My Life in Advertising.

Both of these should be read together, by the way, if they’re going to be read at all. Together, these two books form a cohesive unit. They complement and reinforce each other, in the sense that they both proclaim the very same message: a doctrine of modern advertising which says it no longer is to be based — as it was in the past — on unproven ideas, personal fancy or the baseless notions, “intuitive” instincts and intellectual consensus of the learned.

Hopkins proved from decades of field testing and reams and reams of data-driven, market-based experience that this kind of whimsical “shot-in-the-dark”, “will-of-the-wisp” approach to advertising was a royal road to failure. Success, if it ever came at all, was rare and unpredictable this way. It therefore could not be explained. For sure it could not be replicated, unless by accident.

From now on, all successful advertising could be based — confidently — on solid, enduring principles and proven, fundamental laws that transcended human nature itself … because they were based on real-world experience with human nature itself: buyers and sellers.

In other words, modern advertising could now be called scientific. Because it was based on facts, not fancy. Data, not dogmas.

Why was that important?

Well, because it meant that catastrophic losses (in sales as well as advertising revenue) could now be avoided … cheaply (through testing). Successes could now be made more predictable … and more common — and even bigger than expected — if one would simply observe and adhere to these fundamental laws and principles.

Successes could now be made more predictable … and more common — and even bigger than expected — if one would simply observe and adhere to these fundamental laws and principles.

Hmmm.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here.

Laws … and Gospels

What brings this to mind is a book mentioned this past week by Gary North in a brief online discussion about Moore’s Law and Bell’s Theorem in reference to his article on quantum computing.

The book he mentioned was one that he wrote — a treatise published in 1988 called, Is the World Running Down? Crisis in the Christian Worldview.

You can download a free PDF of that book by clicking here.

I pulled my hardcover copy of Is the World Running Down? from off of my righteous bookshelf, and began to look through it.

Have you read it?

I’ll be honest with you. Neither have I.

But that isn’t going to stop me from using it as a launch pad for gleaning a good Bible-based lesson or two.

One lesson is this …

Never pin your hopes, aspirations and expectations on the “immutability”, “infallibility” and “irrevocability” of any man-made law. None. Never.

Want an example of such a law?

How about the Law of Entropy. Otherwise known as Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The “Science” in Creation Science

Now, Gary has admitted — in print — that the only reason he went ahead and dealt with this eschatologically-infused subject in depth and in full-length book form in 1988 was because of Dr. Arthur Robinson. He says (in the book’s dedication) that Dr. Robinson essentially “pushed him into an intellectual corner, thereby decreasing his intellectual entropy.”

So, the way I see it, Dr. Robinson simply applied Newton’s First Law of Motion to Dr. North.

Why is this important?

In other words, why does the Law of Entropy matter so much?

i will tell you why.

It’s because, thanks to the influence (thank God for them) of the 1960s-and-beyond Creation Science movement, now practically ALL conservative, “Bible-believing”, six-day-creationist Christians have bought into the notion that the Law of Entropy– the Second Law of Thermodynamics — is an immutable, infallible and irrevocable law.

Which means, in spite of everything the Bible says about the “reformation” and “restoration” of all things and the gradual, inexorable advent of a “new heavens and a new earth” now that Christ the Lord has risen and ascended and reigns forever and ever as King of Kings … the universe is doomed.

Guess what. It isn’t.

By This Standard (Not That One)

Here is where we could easily get lost in the theological, eschatological and scientific weeds.

Don’t worry. We’re not going to go there.

At least, not today.

All I’m going to say is that … there are really two issues in play here, not one.

One is the issue of a pessimistic Newtonian worldview superimposed over what should be an eminently and consistently optimistic biblical worldview.

The trouble with this is, it has led to too many six-day-creationist Christians being what I call “Winnie the Pooh” believers — Tigger on the outside, Eeyore on the inside. “Eternity really looks amazing … but, gosh, things sure do look bleak in the meantime!”

Yes, this comes down to eschatology: last things. Your understanding of what is supposed to happen (and how it is supposed to happen) between now and Christ’s Second Coming. As well as what is supposed to happen after that (and how it is supposed to happen).

Let’s save that for another day.

The other issue is one of “laws” and “principles”.

And that comes down to this: Whose law governs the universe? Man’s or God’s. Which one of these can change? Which one can’t … and doesn’t … and won’t?

Exactly.

This brings me back to Claude Hopkins and his evidence-based, data-driven approach to advertising.

There’s Good News Tonight … and Tomorrow

We really need that same approach to evangelism and the Gospel.

Let’s start by identifying what is personal fancy, unproven, intuitive notions and the “intellectual consensus” of the learned — things that we might mistake for immutable, irrevocable, infallible facts and truths about the world around us and the universe we live in.

We have in our possession an infallible, immutable, field-tested, “evidence-based, data-driven” manual that was written especially for us to go into the marketplace and carry out our mission.

What’s more, the ultimate success of this divinely-appointed campaign is assured — and even predictable to a large extent (and will someday be more than we expect) — if we will simply observe and adhere to these fundamental laws and principles … which you will find in the pages of that manual.

You know, I want to spend more time on this. I also want to get into Dr. North’s book. After all, it is packed full of scientific evangelizing from cover to cover. Lots of good news!

But for now …

I’m out of time. The clock has run down.

Until next time. Download Is the World Running Down?. Or even better (my preference), buy a hard copy to read.

Keep it on your righteous bookshelf.

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