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Book Critique

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Liberty University

Why not Advancement: a critique of The Advancement by L. Ross Bush

A paper submitted to Dr. Bruce Forrest in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Christian Apologetics APOL 500

Bobby Barnett
11/24/2013

Contents Section Page
Introduction……………………………………………………………………………3
Summary……………………………………………………………………………….3
Critique…………………………………………………………………………………6
Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………...10
Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………….11

Introduction The society of today has come a long way in many disciplines such as technology. While the human race basks in the advancements of these many disciplines, a real danger that once was an unthinkable travesty has become an unfortunate reality. The reality is that as society enjoys the advances in science and knowledge, these advances are not progress at all but a hollow attempt of a society that has willingly begun to extinguish the light of faith in order to live in darkness spiritually. This is the domain of The Advancement by L. Russ Bush. Bush coins the term “advancement” and defines this term as the age into which society has now begun to descend on the vehicle of postmodern thought. The danger that Bush presents as inherent in the change to advancement thinking is that regression both physically and spiritually is interpreted as progression within the previous modern and postmodern paradigm.
Summary
The Advancement by L. Russ Bush is a presentation. Bush presents the word “advancement” as both a worldview and an era much like historians refer to the Medieval Era, Renaissance Era, or any of the many eras referred to by historians. In fact, the preface and introduction of the book describe the word advancement in this exact way. Bush wrote the book upon the thesis that is most clearly stated in the Preface, “The fact is, many Americans and Europeans and others have simply adopted naturalistic philosophy in place of a theistic worldview, and the consequences are showing up everywhere. This is that about which I have tried to write!” The thesis of the book being that naturalistic philosophy has replaced a theistic worldview, Bush embarks upon a literary quest through the book discussing several areas of modern and postmodern thought and how these fall short of fulfilling their own purpose. The reader follows along with Bush, oftentimes finding themselves being dragged kicking and screaming through difficult topics to the end result where Christianity emerges victorious amid the various worldviews presented in the book. Bush covers many complex topics and organizes his discussion into a work of eight chapters, although the reader will find enough information in the endnotes to qualify this section as a separate chapter of the book in itself. Bush describes various issues within the worldview of Modern philosophy through chapter 1. Consequently, chapter 1 is also where the reader is exposed to Bush’s writing method for this book; that many of the concepts that have influenced humankind through many years under various labels are discussed. Bush also includes many of the historic figures of philosophy to trace the development of modern thought such as: Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Schleiermacher. The book continues as Bush describes the rise of advancement and illustrates the dependence of advancement philosophy on “uniformitarian thought” and “evolution”. The second chapter actually demonstrates that uniformitarian thought and evolution have denied the place of humankind within the larger context of creation. Humankind, according to these philosophies are not a creation in the image of a Creator, rather humankind has become the Creator who did not exist to begin with. Bush uses the following chapter to illustrate the value of science should God not exist. Bush points out that if God is no longer considered the source of objective truth then the objective truth arrived at outside and apart from God is unsound. The label “secular” can be applied to describe anything that has no religious or spiritual foundation, and the secular avenues of thought are shown to fail miserably at arriving at truth through the failings of secular thinking. Bush also points out that limitations that arise through denial of God present intense limitations on freedom, as the mind is defined by the processes within it therefore if the processes are of strictly a secular origin then the mind is limited and will never know true freedom. William Brown points out that Bush describes a compromise that Christians and Theists are “forced to adapt theologically” once they have accepted the truth of the naturalistic propositions. Process theology and open theism are next discussed within the text. Bush points out the fundamental flaws within these two models. Process theology, Bush describes, essentially replaces God with the interactions of subatomic particles as the source of truth. Bush gives the reader a definitive aspect of process theology, that processes inherent in atomic physics are ever present in the universe and representative of their equality with God insomuch that the processes become God as the source of the “fundamental structures of reality”. The Advancement continues with a discussion of open theism, naturalistic evolution, then provides a list of “Ten Axioms of Modern Scientific Thought” which all clearly point to a Divine Creator while the adherent of Modern and Postmodern thought deny a Divine Creator as well as a brief discussion of each of these. Naturalistic evolution is given ample space by Bush to describe the major beliefs, and the major issues with the concept. Is there a single statement made by the author that best summarizes his entire work? Bush provides many of these in the section designated as “Final Answers”. The Gospel is revealed by Bush in this section as the truth, and Jesus as the only viable reality as the source and truth of all things, “Jesus truly is the focus of the truth about God and the world. He was “God in the World” reconciling the world unto himself.”
Critique of The Advancement by L. Russ Bush Christianity, at one time, was considered important truth. In fact, L. Russ Bush noted in an interview that “Christians don’t understand what’s happened. The world around them is not like it was when they grew up, when there was more of a cultural consensus that Christianity was important truth. Now there’s more of a cultural consensus that it’s irrelevant and off to the side.” Such is the entire point that Bush is writing about in The Advancement. Many issues within the book lend themselves to criticism. First and foremost is Bush’s use of the term advancement. The author uses this term to describe both an “age” as in reference to a point in time, and to a philosophical system alternating between meanings. The alternating meanings become very confusing to the reader until one is left wandering repeatedly throughout the text just what is the meaning of advancement: advancement as a name for the age, or advancement as the name for a synthesis of modern and postmodern thought? While the meaning of the word advancement seems to change through the text, Bush provides his own rendering of the word as a label for the current worldview. Essentially the remainder of the book, at least until chapter 8, is a justification for the worldview of the advancement’s inferiority to Christianity. Bush provides this justification through a careful consideration of the various attributes involved with two different worldviews: Modern and Postmodern. Quite possibly the biggest issue with Bush’s work is that he presents an argument for the advancement age and how society has arrived at this age, although the author provides no clear discussion about the age from which humanity departed; Bush left no real description of what was left in order to arrive at the advancement other that the discussions contained within the text body on various aspects of modernity. The quote above presents Bush stating that there was a ‘cultural Consensus’ and such is alluded to in the book, however no proof is given for this generalization. Themes are present in The Advancement. Bush presents a discussion of advancement science, although he provides no real distinction of just what advancement science is apart from stating many scientific disciplines for examples and stating, “The concept that strictly natural cause-and-effect explanation must apply to every academic discipline…” The book does give the reader a really good description of materialism, uniformitarian thought, and evolution. In fact, Bush drives the point home about the fallacy of evolution by pointing out that to deny the image of a Divine Creator within the human being is tantamount to declaring that humankind is just another creature with no spiritual being at all. Bush points out that without an ultimate reality with which to define truth and knowledge then knowledge and truth become undefinable and the result of some “chemically describable” reality. Bush continues his book with discussions about the fallacies of Process theology, Open Theism, and natural evolution. Process theology could be a difficult subject to encounter; however Bush brings the reader face-to-face with the fact that within process theology the “deity” present is the sub-atomic process which “creates the structures of reality” which according to Bush produce the level of reality in which the human mind resides. Bush points out that if human thought is part of the process then there is no objective way to arrive at truth. Open theism is presented by Bush as limiting the capabilities of God by making the future unknowable to God. Naturalistic evolution is given a very fair treatment by Bush, as is several objections to it. Inevitable progress is discussed, very briefly, by Bush leaving the reader with only the most minor information aside from the statement that progress is not inevitable. The final chapter gives the reader Bush’s application of the Gospel to his message the Advancement. While the final chapter is perhaps the most complete of the entire book, it should be noted that in various places Bush offers “evidence” to prove his points, however offers no real contemporary scholarship that are in agreement with his views or disagreement with his views. This lack of challenge leads the reader to believe that perhaps sitting in his recliner Bush is looking at a report of the number of books sold and laughing out loud thinking, “Well they bought it all, think I am great, and no one has challenged me on any of it.” Bush should have made the book a direct and to the point discussion offering contemporary scholarship or peer review argument in a more organized fashion which would have enabled the reader to “cut through the hedges without going around the houses”. The book would have profited greatly from a clear definition of what exact era Bush was referencing and not the fact that he merely synthesized various views from different disciplines and packaged them together in a box called Modernism with a little existentialism thrown in for packing material, and presented this “new” idea (advancement) as the age that society is heading into. One could make the argument that society has been in the era of advancement since entering the Modern era, thus the ambiguity with Bush’s definitions and contexts. Such arguments do not limit the value of Bush’s work though. The Advancement would be, and is, a good read for anyone interested in philosophical thought and how the steady progression of philosophical and scientific thought have affected society and Christianity. The value of the work is no doubt subjective to everyone who might grace its pages, however the book is very worth the price and the time spent following Bush down the rabbit hole of philosophical discussion.

Conclusion While many works on philosophy, religion, and science lend themselves to realms of ambiguity for most audiences, The Advancement by L. Ross Bush is approachable, understandable, and a gift that will no doubt be included in many personal libraries. The book, although not absolutely perfect, makes a perfect beginning philosophical work for the student, or armchair philosopher to delve into who is interested in the impact of modern philosophical thought on Christianity. Bush argues, quite effectively, that modern society has slowly released the hold on Christianity and the truth inherent in it that it once held preferring rather to grasp the shaking rope of philosophical reasoning and rhetoric. Bush also points out that this change has been so slow so as not to alarm the Christian church to its presence, instead changing the way the Christian thinks about different ways of interpreting reality without them knowing it. While the book presents many very powerful viewpoints and their refutations, the book also offers no real opposition to the author’s views either. The author also presents no logical organization, rather seems to jump from point to point which can be taxing for the audience who picks up such a work with the mindset of reading slow for understanding. However, all things aside Bush’s work is very valuable for apologetics in that many of the modern objections to Christianity are discussed alongside proofs of their falsehoods. Bush has given in The Advancement a wonderful book that will provide exposure to such objections to Christianity which will help the field of apologetics by strengthening the apologist.

Bibliography
Brown, William. “Review: The Advancement: Keeping Faith in an Evolutionary Age” (2005), Faculty Publications and Presentations, paper 242.
Bush, L. Russ. The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in and Evolutionary Age. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003.
Smith, Kyle. “Modern-day ‘Advancement’ compared to absolute truth in new Bush book.” Baptist Press, (Sep. 22, 2013); electronic resource found at: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=16726.

--------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. L. Russ Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in and Evolutionary Age, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), 5, 17.
[ 2 ]. Ibid., 1, 5.
[ 3 ]. L. Russ Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in and Evolutionary Age, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), ix.
[ 4 ]. William Brown, “Review: The Advancement: Keeping Faith in an Evolutionary Age” (2005), Faculty Publications and Presentations, paper 242, p. 154.
[ 5 ]. Ibid., 2.
[ 6 ]. William Brown, “Review: The Advancement: Keeping Faith in an Evolutionary Age” (2005), Faculty Publications and Presentations, paper 242, p. 155.
[ 7 ]. L. Russ Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in and Evolutionary Age, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), p52.
[ 8 ]. Ibid., 1.
[ 9 ]. Ibid., 2, 55.
[ 10 ]. L. Russ Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in and Evolutionary Age, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), p72-76.
[ 11 ]. Ibid., 1, 105.
[ 12 ]. Kyle Smith, “Modern-day ‘Advancement’ compared to absolute truth in new Bush book.” Baptist Press, (Sep. 22, 2013), p1.
[ 13 ]. L. Russ Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in and Evolutionary Age, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), ix.
[ 14 ]. Ibid., 1, 109.
[ 15 ]. Ibid., 1, x.
[ 16 ]. L. Russ Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in and Evolutionary Age, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), 22.
[ 17 ]. Ibid., 1, 33.
[ 18 ]. Ibid., 1, 40.
[ 19 ]. Ibid., 1, 58-9.…...

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Critique

...titillate  and  amuse  citizens,  rather  than  inform  and  mobilize  them  for  reform.  The  constant  barrage  of  media  exposés  reinforces  the  “politics  of  permanent scandal,” where there is unending controversy and frenzy on the political stage but not  much  substantial  reform.  Instead,  scandals––just  like  elections––become  an  arena  for  political  struggle among elites, rather than a venue for mobilizing the public to push for change. 9 The danger,  as a Hungarian scholar writing about the Balkans put it, is that “when everyone cries wolf, the public  loses all interest in accusations of corruption and normalizes it. The very high level of government  corruption becomes a normal fact of life.” 10  More radical critiques of the media, on the other hand, say the opposite: that the media, far  from being hypercritical, actually rarely perform their watchdog role or question the existing social  order. Thus, they wonder whether the media’s purpose and organizing principle ought to be based  on what they do NOT do most of the time.11 The watchdog doctrine, after all, dates back to an era  when  the  “media”  consisted  largely  of  small‐circulation  and  largely  polemical  newsletters  and  the  state  was  dominated  by  a  landed  aristocracy.  The  argument  then  was  that  private  ownership  4  protected  the  press  against  state  intervention.  But  private  ownership  has  not  shielded  the  press  from  market  pressures, ......

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