Naturalism's Predicament

The great predicament of naturalism is that someone or something must be credited with bringing all things into existence. Consider a quote by Criss Jami who rightly explains the difference: “The whole war between the atheist and the theist comes down to this: the atheist believes a 'what' created the universe; the theist believes a 'who' created the universe.”

You cannot have something without someone—it is unnatural. Naturalists too believe there is an originator of the universe—a cause behind the existence of all things. What then do naturalists credit the production of all things? The Universe itself. Naturalists simply redirect the credit for the existence of the universe (including all people, human reason and intellect, consciousness, animals, and ultimately, the cosmos), onto the forces of mindless nature rather than an intelligent creator.

The problem with this view is that it credits mindless forces with creating things that are obviously engineered, designed, and complex (as even Richard Dawkins and other scientists agree). At the same time, naturalists hold that no proof of God exists. Take for example Christopher Hitchens’ statement:

“Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.”--Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Hitchens’ statement is actually spot on, but his expectation is misplaced. Hitchens expects others to prove the existence of God rather than naturalists proving God does not exist—which they cannot do. But again, the natural human expectation is that behind everything that exists, particularly if it is ordered and functional, there is a mind and intellect behind its existence. Hitchens and others hold that there is no evidence for God in the world. But, in fact, there is overwhelming proof of a cognitive mind and design behind all of existence. And, there are significant and reliable arguments for an intelligent mind behind the universe. Among those arguments are the following:

The Cosmological Argument: This argument states that something exists rather than nothing existing. As previously stated, this requires that someone brought all things into existence.

The Teleological Argument: This argument states that what exists has an obvious and complex design for every individual thing from the simple amoeba (which is not simple) to the highest living forms.

The Anthropic Principle: This argument states that the earth’s environment is fine-tuned allowing for human existence and all life forms. There is an incredible degree to which extraordinarily narrow environmental parameters must exist on earth for life to survive. These 400 parameters are so mathematically improbable that without intelligence behind such tuning, life on earth would be impossible.

Unfortunately, we are unable to discuss these matters in greater detail due to the need for brevity but I invite you to read about these arguments in Geisler and Turek’s book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Despite naturalist’s claims that no evidence exists for a cognitive creator, the opposite is true—there is overwhelming evidence for a creator. The evidence provided in these three arguments alone is exceptional and meets the demands called for by Christopher Hitchens. But I suggest to you that evidence, no matter how much is provided, will not suffice for naturalists.

The fact is, there are opposing philosophical viewpoints at work here. The divide can be easily recognized in two simple statements. Consider first the naturalist’s point of view.

Abby Hafer wrote an article that well represents the naturalist view. The article is titled,“No Data Required: Why Intelligent Design is Not Science”. In the article Hafer postulates that intelligent design, that is, the belief that the universe exists because a personality is behind its genesis, cannot be scientific (and therefore a reliable belief) because no scientific data exists to support the argument. Yet, as the current saying goes, “the elephant in the room” is that the very data or evidence for intelligent design is the very thing that makes such statements possible. Almost as someone while breathing declares oxygen does not exist. Maybe a poor analogy but an accurate one nonetheless.

Could it be more accurate to think that those who deny the existence of a creator have an ulterior motive for their beliefs? Consider Richard Dawkins’ statement: “The idea of a divine creator belittles the elegant reality of the universe.” Imagine if you can that a human being considers the universe belittled if a creator exists! That is tantamount to saying the Mona Lisa is belittled by Michael Angelo because the painting did not create itself. This statement reveals that naturalists prefer no creator exist, not because of insufficient evidence but because they do not want a creator.

Consider now the perspective of one of the most intellectually gifted men who ever lived, Isaac Newton: “Don’t doubt the Creator because it is inconceivable that accidents alone could be the controller of the universe.”

We can see in these two statements the opposing viewpoints of naturalist and those who believe there must be someone behind the production and operation of all things. One view holds that belief in a creator actually diminishes the elegance of natural universe. The other maintains that according to all human expectation, such complexity in order and design, whether found in vines that spell out words or complex cosmological and environmental parameters, must have an intelligent designer.

A question then arises that should be answered—"What is behind such contrary viewpoints?" We will answer that question, but let's first consider the naturalist’s opinion of life.

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