Science Made Me A Naturalist

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! I’ve said I’d like to look at some atheist sound bites. Fear not however. I will be looking at some Christian ones as well and there very well could be more Christian sound bites that cause me grief than atheist ones. Tonight on the atheist side, I’d like to look at the topic of how some claim science makes them naturalists.

The problem with this statement is that it is actually a statement that assumes a certain kind of theology. Whenever I deal with such people, I like to grant them as much as I can for the sake of argument. You believe in macroevolution? Fine. I’ll accept that. You believe in an eternal universe? Fine. I’ll accept that. You believe in a multiverse instead? Fine. I’ll accept that. Whatever they believe, I will accept.

Now what’s their argument?

The idea is that God must be necessary to fill in some gaps in the scientific record. Somewhere along the way of natural processes, there must be some sort of gap and lo and behold, this is where God steps in. Now let’s be fair here. It could be that there are some gaps in science in which the answer is that God did indeed act. I believe every Christian scientist should be open to that. I do not see how this should be seen as a science stopper. We can ask how he did it instead if possible.

Or, we can look and use science as a tool to ask why he created something that way. Imagine for instance if somehow we could find the very first cell that ever was and somehow know that God made it the way it is fossilized. We would all want to study that cell and compare it to cells today and say “This is the prototype. Why is it this way? Is this the best or is it meant to improve from here?”

The Christian can be open to any way however. If God did do it, whatever it is, then fine. He did it. However, the atheist cannot be open to any way. The answer cannot be that God did it. While the Christian can often be accused of being closed-minded, it is the atheist who must be closed-minded. His system cannot admit of any supernaturalism whatsoever. The Christian system can freely admit of naturalistic hypotheses.

However, let us suppose natural causes were found for all that goes on in our universe. The Christian is not in trouble and the atheist is still making a leap from a physical claim to a metaphysical claim. He can say that he thinks it less likely that God exists. To say that science demonstrates this is nonsense, a lesson it would have been good for Victor Stenger to learn.

Consider Dawkins in the same way. Dawkins has a whole book on this called The Blind Watchmaker. Dawkins believes that once he has demonstrated macroevolution, then theism is dead. Even the Christian who does not believe in macroevolution need not fear Dawkins. Evolution can be an instrumental means for instance. God could have used evolution to bring about humanity. Some might find the idea abhorrent or just flat-out wrong, but even if you do, why not grant it for the sake of argument? Your goal is not to get your potential convert and disciple to affirm a scientific view but to affirm a theistic view.

Ultimately, the problem with this idea is that it defines God by function rather than by essence. Christians believe God would be God even if He had never created a universe. Why? What is it about Him that makes it so that he just exists even if nothing else does? Just think about it. Does he have a derived existence or not? Does God have a nature plus existence? If so, can God’s nature, which is to be, be without being? (Note that He says it is His nature to be in Exodus 3:14)

I am not saying the ontological argument is valid. I do not believe the idea of God can produce the reality of God. However, if by our reasoning we come to see that God is that which exists by nature, then it naturally follows that God exists. He cannot not exist. Of course, I refer the reader to my studies in the Summa Theologica on this blog for more information.

For too long scientists have been the new priesthood. I fear that when we give science the highest authority, then we are stating something not just about God but about man and reality as well. We will be stating that the greatest matters are those which are purely physical. None of us I know of believe that, but in giving science the highest grounds, we affirm it.

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