The Not-So-Deep Thinking of Naturalism

Man’s mind cannot completely discern all that is real in this universe any more than a slug’s “mind” can be the filter for reality. At some point, if we are truly humble, we will have to acknowledge that there is some higher reality than mankind. There is a spiritual domain that is outside of the categories of science.

Several years ago I spoke with a college student who told me bluntly, “I don’t believe in God.  I don’t believe in anything unless I can perceive it through the human senses or through s

cientific inquiry.”  “Really?” I said.  “Do you believe in love?”  He glanced at me with a rather vacuous expression, put his head down, and walked away quietly.

The world of scientific academia today is clearly driven by the concept of naturalism, the notion that everything we see around us was brought about by natural causes rather than supernatural causes.  Naturalism does not allow for spiritual explanations for the physical world in which we live.  To breath any form of theism within the scientific community leads to condemnation from the elitists and eventual expulsion from their ranks.

The irony of this is that, while naturalists claim to have the most superior and intellectual approach to reality, they actually hold to a very shallow form of thinking.  Naturalism is, in fact, a very simple-minded outlook on what is truly an incredibly vast universe.

From the untold billions of galaxies which are tens of millions of light years away to the intricate workings of the smallest cells that we can observe within the human body, we are completely surrounded by profoundly complex realities that our minds cannot even begin to comprehend.  We do not know what causes gravity, but we know that it exists.  We do not know what holds the nucleus of an atom together, but we know it remains intact.   There is clearly much more that we do not understand than there is that we do understand.

It is nearly impossible to understate the level of complexity that we find in our universe.  To say that even the most brilliant person who has achieved the status of “genius” has a strong grasp of the disciplines of math or science would never begin to compare with the ability to unearth the unimaginable mysteries of the universe.  Even brilliant men such as Albert Einstein or Stephan Hawking could never have begun to truly grasp every reality that is contained within the universe.   There is such a seemingly endless amount of information out there that we don’t even know what we don’t know.

The marvels of the universe are beyond imagination, and yet naturalists believe that the only things that are real are the things that can be perceived, measured, comprehended by human intellect.  This seems to be a bizarre conclusion by those who should have enough sense to know better.  These people use the mind of man as a screen that determines what is true and what is not true.  That is, if something cannot be perceived through the human mind and human senses, then it does not exist.  This becomes an incredibly simple screen or bottleneck for truth. I wonder if slugs believe the only truth that exists are the truths that can be comprehended, recorded, and perceived through their senses!   Naturalism poses too shallow of a solution regarding truth and how it can be discerned.

To be clear, the only rational conclusion we can truly make is that the innumerable mysteries of the universe demand a cause that is beyond the scope of human perception and comprehension.  The suggestion that the only reality that exists is a reality that can be empirically measured by the human mind is, at best, an absurd notion.  It demonstrates a true naivety and shallowness to the true scope of the universe.  When one is on an honest pursuit of truth and contemplates the intricacies of the universe, atheism turns out to be just too simple.

As C.S. Lewis once pointed out, a naturalist’s unwillingness to consider supernatural explanations for reality is like a drunken man who has lost his keys and insists that they must be under the light.  Because, after all, it would be too difficult to find those keys in the dark.  Therefore, they MUST be in the light.

Science does not have a mechanism capable of testing or measuring the supernatural, therefore, naturalists tell us that the supernatural does not exist.  Now, it is one thing to assert that science cannot measure the spiritual or supernatural, and it is another thing entirely to insist that science has proven that it does not exist.

Ultimately, this shallow pursuit of truth through naturalism becomes a journey of blind faith.  How so?  Let me give you a few examples.  A naturalist must place blind faith in the following:

  • Faith in one’s own reason which can be verifiably proven to be incomplete and imperfect.
  • Faith in the reason of people who are “smarter” than you which can also be demonstrated to be incomplete and imperfect.
  • Faith in the evidence that has not yet been found but naturalists “expect” to find (such as vast numbers of transitional fossils that clearly show a transition from one species to another species).

Another problem with using human reason as the filter for what is real is that there are different levels of intelligence from one human being to another.  If human intellect gives the ultimate certification to what is true or real, then we would naturally expect that those with a higher level of intelligence would possess a greater apprehension of truth.  This may be appealing to those who are in the world of academic puffery, but it ends up as a futile notion when it is played out in real life.  For instance, if this were the ultimate way to perceive what is real, then the person with the highest level of intelligence in the world would be the person who is ultimately right about everything.  If two elitist intellectuals disagree about any issue, the quick and easy solution to the dispute would be to compare their IQ scores.  The one with the highest IQ would, then, be right.  But we know that that’s not the way reality is.  A higher level of intelligence does not necessarily certify that a person is right.

One great thinker from over a century ago, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, commented that the highest and loftiest attainment of human intellect is to exercise the mind in the discipline of prayer.  While naturalists may love to stroke their own egos with claims of superior intellect, the truth is that their position is just too simple.  The greatest reaches of human intellect are into the realm of that which is spiritual – the supernatural.

Chris Russell

Veritas Church of Cincinnati

2 thoughts on “The Not-So-Deep Thinking of Naturalism

  1. Another flaw with the naturalist’s perspective is that they begin their understanding as “Themselves” as the starting point. This is biased deductive reasoning. For all things stemming from this perspective amounts to selfishness; ego, pride, conceit, envy, etc… We should start from the perspective of who God is: Love, Creator, Sustainer, etc… But to do this, people would have to deny self and that, my friends, is the real story of this life, isn’t it?

    1. People certainly are inclined to reject a worldview that involves self-denial … especially in America. That’s just not a part of “who we are as Americans,” is it?

Leave a Reply