Can Atheists Do Psychology?

I’ve had this thought on my mind lately. I’ve been in a debate with someone where my contention is that thinking is evidence that the supernatural exists. This argument is found in C.S. Lewis’s book “Miracles.” Unfortunately, my insistence on this has not been understood, but I will explain it here.

If naturalism is true, matter is all there is and thus, all that is is the result of material activity. This would mean that there is nothing outside of matter acting on matter either or else matter would not be all there is. It is these material processes that brought about us through natural evolution.

Now if that is the case, then that would mean all that we are is the result of naturalistic processes. However, that would also mean that our brain is simply matter as well and all that goes on is naturalistic processes. It is practically determinism from the perspective of naturalism, which is why some naturalists even admit that if evolution is true, we have no free-will.

This would mean then that all our thoughts are simply the result of material processes. Why should I think then that my thoughts can adequately tell me information about the world? Why should I think they’re my thoughts even? They are simply chemicals going off and causing reactions in my brain.

The only way to think otherwise is to have some standard outside of thinking that validates thinking. In a naturalistic universe though, does such a thing exist? One has yet to be presented and if one is to be shown, let us see if it can validate thinking. (Of course, that leads us to a problem as we think it does validate thinking which our thinking is not really rational but still the result of materialistic processes.)

Ultimately then, there is also no “I.” I have no soul in naturalism. I am simply my body and all that I am is matter. I’m just arranged a bit differently than other pieces of matter. Everything that there is to say about me can be described in terms that relate to the five senses.

This leads to my question. Can an atheist do psychology? Now I don’t mean this in a general sense. I think atheists can of course study the field we call psychology. I think we can say Freud did psychology even if we think his psychology was bad. I think we can go to atheists and get many excellent psychological theories.

The question I ask is, is that consistent with the naturalistic worldview? If naturalism is true, then who is this psyche that one is trying to reach? One is not studying a person but simply a collection of molecules. If you want to know why a person thinks what they do, a physicist then is just as good as a psychologist.

If Christianity is true though, then many Christians would say that there is an “I” behind my body. I am not simply materialistic processes. I carry a soul and I am capable of grasping ideas about the world and relating to it and that is based on the nature of a God who does not deceive and has revealed himself in space and time.

Now does this prove naturalism false? No. It could be that matter is all there is and all our thinking is the result of naturalistic processes. It just simply shows that one cannot consistently live that out if they treat each person as if they have free-will.

Or one could simply be a naturalist and say “Matter made me do it.” I’ll instead stick with Christian theism where I do see an explanation for free-will and good psychology.

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