Friday, September 9, 2011
Naturalism: The Desperate Refuge
So often, I’m challenged to provide evidence for the existence of God. There are many lines of evidence – the miracles and prophecy of the Bible, spiritualistic phenomena, after death experiences, answered prayer. However, here, I just want to ask the question, “Which accords best with the evidence – naturalism or supernaturalism (Intelligent Design - ID)?” These are the only two possibilities. Either things originated and operate naturally or supernaturally; either they are purposeless or they are planned and purposeful.
However, there is not one shred of evidence that our laws of physics occurred or operate naturally. Meanwhile there are many reasons to attribute them to the supernatural (ID) and transcendent mind of God:
1. OMINPRESENCE AND UNIFORMITY: Westminster Theological Seminary Professor Vern Poythress argues that our laws of physics possess the same qualities as does God, thereby pointing to their other-world-ness.
• The law, if it really is law and is correctly formulated and qualified, holds for all times and all places. The classic terms are omnipresence (all places) and eternity (all times). Law has these two attributes that are classically attributed to God.
Whenever we move away from a temporal non-transcendent source of energy, like a bonfire, its energy becomes less. Instead, it seems that our laws seamlessly surround us, exercising the same influence in any location. This would argue for their transcendent origin and operation and omnipresence. Naturalism is unable to account for this uniformity of influence. Furthermore, it is unwilling to acknowledge that there is anything transcendent.
2. IMMUTABILITY: Every atom is in motion and subject to change. Not so our laws! They act unchangingly upon the universe, but the universe does not act upon them! This again points to their extra-worldly qualities and away from this natural, material world. Naturalism has no way of accounting for immutability in this world of constant change. Poythress writes:
• The law does not change with time. It is immutable. A supposed ‘law’ that did change with time would not really be “the law.”
3. OMNIPOTENCE: The laws act irresistibly upon this universe. However the universe doesn’t act upon them. Again, this suggests a transcendence for which naturalism cannot account.
• The universe…conforms to laws already there, laws that are discovered rather than invented…If they are truly universal, they are not violated. No event escapes their ‘hold’ or dominion. The power of these real laws is absolute, in fact, infinite. In classical language, the law is omnipotent (‘all-powerful’). If law is omnipotent and universal, there are truly no exceptions. (Poythress, All the quotations are taken from “Redeeming Science,” 17-27.)
4. ELEGANCE: The laws are just so elegant, simple and harmonious. They operate together seamlessly. Energy equals mass times the speed of light, exactly squared. Why the simplicity? Why are these three parameters so harmoniously and simply related? All of this argues in favor of design. Explosions (Big Bang) do not create any appearance of design.
• The fact that there are rules at all to be checked is a kind of miracle; that it is possible to find a rule, like the inverse square law of gravitation, is some sort of miracle. (Nobel Laureate in physics, Richard Feynman)
5. ORIGIN: Something does not come out of nothing. Albert Einstein wrote,
• Every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.
Allan Sandage, widely regarded as the father of modern astronomy and discoverer of quasars, wrote,
• I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence – why there is something rather than nothing. (Quoted by John C. Lennox, “God and Stephen Hawking,” 44)
Naturalism/chance is unable to account for any of the above. In fact, there is no evidence that the natural even exists. In contrast to the claims of naturalism, the Bible asserts that God rules through the laws He has established.
The entire universe tends to wildly point beyond itself to the supernatural. Causes must be adequate to explain the effects. If they aren’t, it suggests that part of the effect is uncaused – something that science will not countenance. Naturalism says that things just happen. Hence, it never serves as an adequate cause. Lennox concludes:
• The world of strict naturalism, in which clever mathematical laws all by themselves bring the universe and life into existence is pure (science) fiction…a rather desperate refuge from the alternative possibility [God]. (43)
But who says that the natural can even claim the domain of mathematics! Perhaps this too is a logic emanating from the mind of God?
Naturalism’s problems don’t end here. It must also explain the origin and function of other phenomena like freewill, consciousness, life, DNA, the cell, moral absolutes, and the fine-tuning of the universe. The more we observe this world, the more we find design and the more naturalism reveals that it is nothing more than a “desperate refuge,” a king parading without any clothing.