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Reductionism At Work In Christianity

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Whenever we try to explain away something that is true by dismissing or diminishing its existence, we are practicing Reductionism. Reductionism is defined as a means of “reducing a phenomenon from a higher or more complex level of reality to a lower, simpler, less complex level” (45). The main strategy for pushing this idea is to discredit that phenomenon. Reductionism happens every day all around us. 

We may be practicing it in some form and not realize it. When people cannot explain something, they use the “debunk or discredit strategy”. We “put things in a box and dismiss it” (45), when things are difficult or we are opposed to it.

I will go as far as to say this plays out every day in the battle of God against the liberals. First, God is dismissed (there is no God [ultimate reality]; hence no one to give account to). Now that we no longer have the highest form of deity, we must replace Him with something else. We cannot make another God; therefore, we move to create other gods. The first one is the idea that man is his own god (a lower reality). Next, we make up gods, as many as we can imagine; we worship them, we create religions around these gods, we create philosophies to support our beliefs, our media, and institutions are filled with people who can support and create stories to support these positions, and before you know it our lies become truths. Don’t forget, we have also made it clear “there is no such thing as absolute truth”.

What is absent from this picture is God – God and His Word. According to Ravi Zacharias, in our world Postmoderns “frame reality by naming aspects at his or her whim” (20). The strategy they have employed includes but is not limited to (1) The popularization of the Death of God movement; (2) The prevalence of religious pluralism; and (3) The changing of the way people arrive at the truth through the power to inform and the blurring of reality and imagination. The strategy of the Reductionists is brilliant – “educate out the knowledge of God by means of education and media” (31).

How does reductionism affect one’s view of human nature?

This philosophy devalues human life. Whenever this worldview is embraced, the truth is suppressed, feelings are suppressed and people live in denial. The truth about God is exchanged for a lie and so people “live in impurity and may dishonor their bodies” (Romans 1:24). Just look at how we live a treat each other! The prevailing view that we are not created in God’s image means we are not accountable to God. This leads man to act contrary to nature.

The Apostle Paul describes this type of reductionist behavior in Romans 1:29-31:
29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

With God out of the picture, “whatever does not fit into the box will be denigrated, devalued or dismissed as unreal” (46). An excellent strategy is teaching the Big Bang theory in schools from a young age. This curriculum tells us man was first an ape (devalued), yet God tells us we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27).

In the end, the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and power of this world. We fight this with truth, obedience, and faith in God. His strategy is the winning strategy despite the perception that the Reductionist worldview is winning. Take heart, we have already overcome the world (John 16:33b).


Carson, D. A.  Telling The Truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan (2000)

Pearcy, N. Finding Truth. Colorado Springs, CO: Davis C. Cook (2015)


Written by Dr. Kevin A. Hall



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