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Education Reporter

Book Review
Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning, Nancy Pearcey, B&H Publishing Group 2010, 328 pages, $27.

Are your kids an easy mark for the secular worldview that is so pervasive in our culture? Are you? Some may be offended by those blunt questions, but before you dismiss them, here's a quick test: Have you or your teen ever agreed that something can be true for you but not for me?

If so, you or your child may be among the many Christians who attend church and study their Bibles, yet still absorb a secular view of truth from our culture. In this view, there are two distinct types of truth. The first category includes objective, scientific facts that are empirically verifiable and universally valid.

The second category includes things like morality, theology and aesthetics — personal values and arbitrary preferences considered "true" for some people but not for others. In other words, facts are true, but values are merely opinion. Since religion is typically placed in the personal preference category, even many Christians think it is disrespectful and bigoted to "impose" the Bible's comprehensive truth claims on a Buddhist or atheist.

The author's goal is to equip readers to "detect, decipher, and defeat the monolithic secularism" that so easily renders Christians culturally impotent. She does this in part by tracing the historical development of the fact/value dichotomy and showing how it has permeated politics, media and the arts (including music and movies). Learning to recognize non-biblical thinking in culture and in ourselves is important because, as Pearcey warns us, "Worldviews do not come neatly labeled. They do not ask permission before invading our mental space."

The book also illustrates how the secular dualistic view of the human body as biochemical machine and human person as autonomous self have led to greater acceptance of abortion, assisted suicide and anything-goes sexuality. For example, the hook-up culture is based on the idea that it is possible to have a physical relationship that is disconnected from the mind and emotions.

Recognizing the ways in which our culture and thought patterns are steeped in secularism goes a long way toward cultivating a robust biblical worldview, but the discussion would not be complete without tips and tools for convincing others that a secular worldview can't adequately explain human nature or the world. The book delivers on this count as well, demonstrating that people can't live consistently by a secular creed for even one day.

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