Naturalism as a philosophy pervades our world. What is naturalism, you may ask? Naturalism is the philosophy that what you see is the only thing that is. Naturalism has pervaded our world for many thousands of years, but its focus on our society sharpened considerably after the Reformation. As men learned things like germ theory and watched the star’s march through the universe they came to appreciate that many things heretofore unknown, were actually following regular and definable laws. Some improperly declared that all things must be observable, else they would not be true. People who are a lot smarter than I am have taken that statement: All things must be observable to be true, and asked is that statement observable? Since we cannot see that statement in our world and have no way of testing it, it cannot have the validity of its own words. It collapses totally as a philosophy since we cannot demonstrate its truth using our observations.
Many of our forefathers embraced the idea of strict observation to understand the world around them. Studies of the lives of Franklin, with his many inventions, as well as that of Jefferson, who I understand in his towering intellect, wrote some original calculus that is still admired today, show that we had forefathers who embraced observation of the world around them as a main means of understanding it. Nevertheless, such men, not renowned as Christians themselves, were also men to declare that we have “certain unalienable rights” that are derived directly from our Creator. They were by no means captive to naturalism; instead they boldly stated something never stated before: Man is endowed by rights that come from God, and government has no right to interfere with them. We do not understand the scope of this statement until we realize what it was implying—that justice and liberty come from God, and not from government. It was a statement that implicitly challenged the right of any government to govern apart from due regard to these unalienable rights. For the first time in history, a government was to be built on the premise of God-given rights. Whatever else they may have thought about Christianity becomes eclipsed under these unalienable rights. They were basing the foundations of our very government on the theme of rights coming from God, not rights granted benevolently from our government. Thus, the philosophy of our government was totally against the philosophy of today, that of naturalism.
When we look at many of the things government is trying to do to, and for, the people today, we can see just how far wrong the government has come in commanding what we “ought” to do. But that, as interesting as it is, is not the question I am seeking to answer. Is our faith in God reasonable? The answer to that question might come from naturalism, one of the biggest beliefs of our day. But naturalism has no place at all, properly speaking, since it is illogical and, as we saw above, collapses under its own weight. Life is certainly much more than what we see, and scientists are just beginning to understand how unique we are, in all of the universe. It used to be, in the time of C.S. Lewis, that men thought we were just one of a multitude of worlds, yet now, that idea is being seriously challenged. Our universe cries out for the hand of a designer.
Recently I did some repair work on my driveway, and a new patch of concrete was carefully laid. The name, Dwayne, appeared in a fresh piece of concrete repair to my driveway. When I looked and saw it, I did not assume that accident and mutation and chaos had created the name, “Dwayne” in my concrete. I knew that my grandson Dwayne had scrawled his name in it. I saw a design and correctly presumed a Designer. Similarly, when I was a young man of 17, in my third year of biology, I first observed something which struck me as unique, and perhaps not possible apart from being designed. I did not know it then, but I had been struck by the first cause argument. The first cause argument is one that draws us back to see something that has caused the event to occur. So it was when I was 17, and I first considered the general properties of water. Water, with its freezing point of 32 degrees, and a boiling point of 100 degrees, just fit the world in which we live. Though I did not fully understand the consequences, I could see that a five degree variation in the properties of water would have enormous, if not lethal, consequences on the world. Where would our water cycle be? Rain could become enormously more or less, according to the properties of water. What if water froze at 50 degrees? It would appear mostly as ice in our world, and most likely life as we know it would not be possible. It was the first time, as an adult, that I had looked at something simple in our world, the water molecule, and wondered how it came to be. It was screaming to me that design was in the properties of water—for it was simply incredible to me that it all happened by accident.
I have been reading an excellent book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist”, one of the very best books on Christian apologetics I can remember reading in my lifetime. In it, the authors give an excellent quote from Philip Johnson, “Phillip Johnson serves as the sharp edge of a steel wedge that is now splitting the petrified wood of naturalism in the scientific community. He correctly points out that “Darwinism is based on an a priori [prior] commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses.””1 Materialism, being another synonym for naturalism, is assumed by its believers, and cannot be proved. The evidence, even in the simpler blocks of cell life, screams for a Designer.
It takes much more faith to believe that an accident, with the right chemicals, with just the perfect situation, and with a precise measurement, was what started life on the earth. We have so much in our world, just as I wondered about the properties of water above that screams out that it has been designed. It can therefore be concluded that our faith in a Creator is perfectly reasonable. Notice that I have not got as far as Biblical revelation yet, and so I have not established that the Christian God is indeed reasonable. At this point all that can be concluded is that the evidence of the beginnings of life suggest a complexity that appears impossible for accident and chaos and mutation to work together and randomly create life. At this point, our intelligent scientists are still struggling to create anything like the beginning of life—it appears impossible. But even if it is possible, and they succeed at long last in creating some of the simplest forms of life, all they have done is proven that it takes intelligence to create life.
I have been overly simplistic for the sake of brevity, and again I point you to the book as being well worth your time if you have ever wondered about these basic questions. In my next post, I will try to show that the Bible can be reasonably taken as our sign from this Creator God, and that we can rely totally on its message.
1. Geisler, Norman L.; Turek, Frank (2004-03-12). I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Foreword by David Limbaugh) (Kindle Locations 2352-2354). Crossway. Kindle Edition.