A Biblical Response to Naturalism

Naturalism may well be the epitome of mankind’s stand against God.

Just think of it: human beings, endowed with exceedingly great intellectual capacity, creative ingenuity, and moral reasoning (exceeding all other animals on earth), stand on their two feet and announce through those God-given abilities, “Only the mindless natural forces of the universe brought the universe into existence and gave us life—we have no creator!” Truly, it is a remarkable and short-sighted declaration to insist that no one brings anything into being, much less everything into existence.

But what does the Bible say about created beings who proclaim that they have no creator? The Scriptures most basic response is simple. Take these two as examples:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? (Psalm 53:1-4 ESV).

I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes. In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good (Psalm 36:1 NIV).

Is the Bible’s response too harsh? Is God's response to those who disparage him too grave? It might if you consider yourself in this group. Without question we have two perspectives that oppose each other.

The Bible’s clear response to naturalism
To understand what the Bible says about naturalists, we need look no further than the first chapter of the book of Romans. Here Paul explains numerous points about those who cast off God as the creator. While Paul’s description was of people during his day and earlier, it is just as accurate for our day as his. The lie about God has simply been altered somewhat. The only real difference was those in Paul’s days worshiped polytheistic gods who they believed created all and upheld the universe. The naturalist of our day simply transfers credit for God’s creative works to another entity—the universe itself. The apostle Paul summarizes all crediting for Creation to anyone or anything but God (italics added).

Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised (Romans 1:19-25 NIV).

Using this short Romans passage we can make five biblical points that summarizes the biblical response to naturalist’s position regarding their view of life and their opinion about God.

1. Naturalists stand in direct opposition to the Bible.
The Bible clearly states that all that exists was created by God and that the matter is clearly apparent because of what exists. When a person or group of people state that no creator exists, that person or group opposes the Scriptures and place their opinions above the Bible as the authoritative source.

2. Naturalists are without excuse.
The Bible says that naturalists have no excuse for their failure to credit God with creating all things. Interestingly, naturalists know and publicly acknowledge the world and biological beings appear to be designed by an intellect. The point is, of course, the world appears to be created because it is created. Naturalists must say that it only “appears” to be the case so their postulations against a creator can be maintained. Nevertheless, they are without excuse and will not be able to claim ignorance because of the evidence they acknowledge.

3. Naturalists profess themselves to be wise, but become foolish.
Naturalists publicly claim to advance and achieve greater degrees of knowledge and wisdom by throwing aside belief in the designer and builder of the universe. Unfortunately for them, the biblical response is to accuse them of becoming foolish. Much the same way that someone who sees a country club’s building covered with vines that spell out the name of the club and consider it a natural occurrence. Or when someone believes a light bulb invents itself or the Mona Lisa painted itself. When naturalism attributes the astounding creative accomplishments within the universe, and particularly regarding the design of the earth’s environment to sustain life in an otherwise unlivable universe, to mindless forces of nature, foolishness or a lie has set in—or, as the Bible depicts, both.

4. Naturalism changes the truth about God into a lie.
Naturalism can only exist if God does not—you cannot have both. God is true or naturalism is true. The two views cannot co-exist. Naturalism, and those who ascribe to the view, in an effort to prove and maintain their point, exchange the truth for a lie. Naturalism gives all credit to the natural forces of the universe for its own creation. Naturalism also withdraws all credit from God for the existence of all things. Not only do they credit nature for all things, naturalism stands in awe and reverence towards the universe for its elegance and beauty. Accurately does the Bible say, “…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25).”

5. Naturalism has a darkened heart.
When a person or group denies the creator, darkness of heart sets in. This is a vital issue to be considered. When darkness (or misunderstanding) of heart exists, the other issues and questions of life are profoundly impacted by that fundamental belief or view. This occurs in many areas of life and people often make poor decisions based upon inaccurate information. Plainly put, accurate foundational information is the basis for making accurate follow-on decisions. Inaccurate information will always lead to inaccurate decisions.

When a person considers the most important questions of life, the answers in large part are dependent upon the most basic premise. Oxford Language Dictionary defines premise as “a previous statement or proposition from which another is inferred or follows as a conclusion.” The dictionary goes on to use a general statement of fact: “If the premise is true, then the conclusion must be true.” And this is our point. If the most basic premise is correct, the other questions of life are profoundly influenced and are more likely to be correct. If the foundational premise is incorrect, the answer to the most important questions will be incorrect. This is clearly seen in human philosophy. For example, if a person believes no God exists, then it naturally leads to nihilism, the belief that there is no meaning in life. After all, how can there be meaning if the existence of all things has no rational mind behind it?

One other point should be mentioned regarding darkened hearts. God, as the creator, will not give his glory to another. When a person credits nature with creation, that individual goes no further with his or her understanding about God. That individual runs into a brick wall, as it were. This in turn causes an even greater disbelief and inner darkness. The person will conclude that God does not exist or if he does, then he hides himself so thoroughly that he does not want to be found. Let me close with an example of this.

Richard Dawkins, the famed British biologist and Darwinist, participated in a 2008 video documentary titled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” produced by Ben Stein. The video project was designed to allow viewpoints of both sides of the Darwinist perspective. A number of atheists and naturalists participated alongside numerous well regarded Christian theologians. The video puts on display the line drawn between creationism and Darwinism and explains how evolutionary and naturalistic thinking has grown in Western society.

Near the end of the documentary Stein asks Richard Dawkins a question and says, “If you are wrong [about your Darwinist views and disbelief in God] and you one day find yourself face to face with God, what do you think you will say to him after all you have said about his non-existence?” Hawkins stopped and thought about his answer. To his credit, he did not make a knee-jerk reaction or say something silly or defensive. Hawkins carefully constructed his response and said, “I suppose I would ask him why he so thoroughly hid himself.”

Here is the point. When an individual refuses to give God credit for the creation of the world, not only does spiritual blindness set in, but a darkness so profound that a person can conclude that the world and all biological systems look intelligently designed, but are not. In a world where God announces that no person has any excuse for disbelief, even the Creation is not sufficient evidence for those with a darkened heart.

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 KJV).

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV).

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11 ESV).