|By: Jim Virkler; ©2011|
Naturalism has many qualifying adjectives such as metaphysical, philosophical, and ontological. Many secular organizations endorse naturalism and reject the existence of God explicitly and proudly. An example is this terse statement: “Naturalism implies that there are no supernatural entities.” One Merriam-Webster entry for the definition of materialism is similar: “A theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter.” The message is clear. Naturalism is bitterly antithetical to theism in any guise.
Evolutionists compose a substantial majority in the world of biological science. In most cases their unabashed worldview is the worldview of naturalism. Many take the time to comment on creationist and theistic evolutionist positions in their statements, blogs, articles, books, and speeches. Their message to creationists is one of predictable, explicit rejection. Theistic evolutionists fare no better. In reality, they are scorned more harshly.
Steven D. Schafersman appears on many web searches on “naturalism” as a spokesman for the naturalist worldview. At the Conference on Naturalism, Theism, and the Scientific Enterprise in 1997, he presented a paper entitled “Naturalism is Today an Essential Part of Science.” This lengthy paper outlined the practice of naturalism prevalent within the science profession. I present his statements as the view of naturalist scientists and not necessarily as my own view. The reader should make his own judgment. Schafersman asks, “How convincing is the argument made by theistic naturalists, individuals who believe in both science and the supernatural, that evolution–or any statement of science–is firmly established by a naturalist method in which they don’t really believe? Not very convincing.”
Following are three other passages drawn from Schafersman’s paper:
“I maintain that the practice or adoption of methodlogical naturalism entails a logical or moral belief in ontological naturalism, so they are not logically decoupled.”
“Do theistic evolutionists think they are playing a game, in which they do science during the day with naturalistic methods, but at night go home and leave naturalism behind in the laboratory, since they don’t really believe it describes a true picture of reality?”
“I merely want to suggest that supernaturalistic methodological naturalists may wish to examine their metaphysical beliefs more closely, since I think they are illogically engaging in self-deception.”
Another spokesman for the naturalist worldview is Laurence A. Moran, a self-described evolutionary biologist. In his paper “Theistic Evolution: The Fallacy of the Middle Ground” he makes these incisive remarks:
“Scientists, on the other hand, argue that an interventionist God who guides evolution violates the rules of science…Supernatural explanations of the natural world are not scientific.”
“As explained earlier, the scientific description of evolution does not rely on, or permit, the intervention of supernatural beings.”
“So is there a middle ground where an interventionist, personal God is compatible with modern science? Perhaps not. The conflict between religion and science certainly isn’t avoided by postulating a passive God who doesn’t play an active role in guiding evolution.”
“If one’s explanation of the natural world posits a God who created the laws of physics and chemistry, then one is not behaving like a scientist. Of course, there’s even more of a conflict if one’s God is supposed to have set up the universe in order to produce humans.”
“It seems as though there’s no room at all for religious explanations of the natural world as long as we agree that scientists have to stick to naturalism.”
“In my opinion, the term ‘theistic evolution’ is another oxymoron.”
What may committed naturalists teach Christians? With respect to Christians who accept theistic evolution, scientists such as Scafersman or Moran offer instruction on what the embrace of evolution really entails: Belief in evolution necessitates acceptance of a naturalistic worldview, and affirmation of the reigning philosophy that scientists may investigate only the natural world and arrive at only naturalistic conclusions. Creationism and intelligent design proposals are effectively ruled “out of bounds,” an athletic term better expressed as “not in play.” This blog is committed to the acceptance of creationism as “in play,” both scripturally and scientifically.