Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Naturalist and his Religious Commitments

I have found that dialoguing with atheists can be very tedious and unsatisfying. Perhaps this is because they too have religious commitments, but they refuse to acknowledge them and yet cling to them as tenaciously as we cling to ours. This small piece of a dialogue reflects this problem and my exasperation.

I am saddened that we don’t seem to be able to find agreement on even the most obvious points. You again claim:

  • Naturalism is not a religion, and you know it is not. We've had that debate already. And naturalism is not imposed on the public - if by that you mean public school kids. Teaching evolution by natural selection does not in any way "impose" naturalism on kids.

Darwinism rests upon “natural selection” and “random mutation,” neither of which is provable. In fact, you lack even the slightest shred of evidence to support this claim that selection is just natural and mutations are just random. You have repeatedly failed to offer any evidence that these processes are not divinely guided.

This is merely an unsupported – and I would add insupportable – belief. As such, I call this a religious belief. However, it is a belief that is being pushed on our youth in the name of science, while science has nothing directly to say about it. If I am wrong and there is scientific evidence to the contrary, please show me.

Ironically, naturalism is an incoherent belief. It invokes “natural” processes when, as yet, there were none! Instead, our laws of physics give many indications – their elegance, immutability, universality - that they were intelligently designed and operate transcendently.

Where do these laws come from? How does naturalism account for them? The naturalist can only appeal to a vain hope – the multiverse – that there are an almost infinite number of universes. He reasons that, if this is the case, it is reasonable that one of them should have just the right set of laws – our laws. However, there are countless problems with such a theory/religious belief:

  1. There is no evidence for even a second universe, let alone an almost infinite number of universes.
  2. Besides, even if there are an infinite number of universes, it would still remain a mystery how a universe could generate immutable laws.
  3. There is no known mechanism to generate a universe.
  4. The laws are elegant and immutable. Explosions and their necessary molecules-in–motion nature fail to explain their creation and stability. Besides, temporal causes are always changing. Thus, they fail to explain our laws can be unchanging.

Recently, Scientific America commented about the vain attempt to explain the origin our universe naturalistically:

  • The real criticism of cosmological natural selection as a scientific hypothesis is its lack of direct evidence at this point. There is no direct evidence that the universe reproduces. Without that, no natural selection, even before issues of variation and selection come into play. True enough. But keep in mind that from a direct evidence perspective, cosmological natural selection is no worse off at this point than proposed scientific alternatives. There is no direct evidence that universes are created by quantum fluctuations in a quantum vacuum, that we live in a multiverse, that there is a theory of everything, or that string theory, cyclic universes or- brane cosmology even exist.

As such, the “multiverse” cannot be considered a scientific theory, but a religion. I am therefore surprised and saddened that you continue to claim that naturalism does not represent a religious commitment foisted upon us as science.

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