There’s No Such Thing as a Naturalist
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms defines “natural science” as, “Collectively, the branches of science dealing with objectively measurable phenomena...” (2003, p. 1402). A naturalist, then, is a person who believes everything in the Universe must be able to be explained through purely naturalistic processes—with no supernatural help. Everything believed must be based on empirical evidence that is “measurable.” According to the National Academy of Sciences, “The statements of science must invoke only natural things and processes. The statements of science are those that emerge from the application of human intelligence to data obtained from observation and experiment” (Teaching About Evolution…, 1998, p. 42, emp. added). With this definition in place, any supernatural event from the past or the supernatural Entity that caused it is “off the table” as a possibility for scientific discussion (even if such a Being exists and such events happened—i.e., even if the truth is being ignored). There is no doubt that naturalists have hijacked modern science today in spite of the fact that many of the fathers of scientific disciplines were in fact supernaturalists (cf. Morris, 1990), and in spite of the mounds of evidence against naturalism (cf. Miller, 2013b). What is perhaps most ironic is the fact that naturalists actually believe in miracles, which are, by definition, supernatural occurrences.
For example, the empirical evidence indicates that the First Law of Thermodynamics is a natural law that governs, and has always governed, the Universe. “[M]atter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed” in nature (Jastrow, 1977, p. 32). One thermodynamics textbook, Fundamentals of Thermodynamics, says, “Many different experiments have been conducted on the first law, and every one thus far has verified it either directly or indirectly. The first law has never been disproved” (Borgnakke and Sonntag, 2009, p. 116). So, it would be unnatural (i.e., supernatural) for matter or energy to create itself. But the naturalist believes that that very thing happened in order for the Universe to exist. He believes in the miraculous. [NOTE: See Miller, 2013a for more on naturalism and the Laws of Thermodynamics.]
Another example: the laws of nature exist. Renowned naturalist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge Universe, Stephen Hawking, said:
[T]he Universe is a machine governed by principles or laws—laws that can be understood by the human mind. I believe that the discovery of these laws has been humankind’s greatest achievement…. But what’s really important is that these physical laws, as well as being unchangeable, are universal. They apply not just to the flight of the ball, but to the motion of a planet and everything else in the Universe. Unlike laws made by humans, the laws of nature cannot ever be broken. That’s why they are so powerful (“Curiosity…,” 2011, emp. added).
The laws of nature exist and are crucial in science. The empirical evidence, however, indicates that laws of nature do not write themselves. In a roundtable discussion on the Discovery Channel responding to Hawking’s presentation alleging that the Universe could create itself, naturalist and theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist of Arizona State University, Paul Davies, noted Hawking’s sidestep of the question of how the laws of nature could write themselves into existence. He said, “You need to know where those laws come from. That’s where the mystery lies—the laws” (“The Creation Question…,” 2011). It is a mystery to the naturalist answering how the laws of nature exist since the evidence indicates that they do not write themselves. So again, it would be unnatural (i.e., supernatural) for a law of science to write itself. But the naturalist must believe that that very thing happened in order for the Universe to exist. He believes in the miraculous. [NOTE: See Miller, 2012 for more on naturalism and the laws of science.]
Ironically, honest evolutionists have long admitted that naturalism seems to require miracles. Concerning abiogenesis (i.e., life coming from non-life in nature), the late, famous evolutionist Robert Jastrow said:
At present, science has no satisfactory answer to the question of the origin of life on the earth. Perhaps the appearance of life on the earth is a miracle. Scientists are reluctant to accept that view, but their choices are limited; either life was created on the earth by the will of a being outside the grasp of scientific understanding, or it evolved on our planet spontaneously, through chemical reactions occurring in nonliving matter lying on the surface of the planet. The first theory places the question of the origin of life beyond the reach of scientific inquiry. It is a statement of faith in the power of a Supreme Being not subject to the laws of science. The second theory is also an act of faith. The act of faith consists in assuming that the scientific view of the origin of life is correct, without having concrete evidence to support that belief (1977, pp. 62-63, emp. added).
Sir Francis Crick, who co-discovered the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule, conceded, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going” (1981, p. 88, emp. added). In his classic text, The Immense Journey, the late evolutionary anthropologist, Loren Eiseley, said the following regarding the idea of spontaneous generation:
With the failure of these many efforts, science was left in the somewhat embarrassing position of having to postulate theories of living origins which it could not demonstrate. After having chided the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create a mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what, after long effort, could not be proved to take place today, had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past (1957, pp. 201-202, emp. added).
Bottom line: naturalists must believe in unnatural occurrences to explain the Universe. They believe in miracles. Question: doesn’t that make them supernaturalists, just like us—only without any evidence for their blind belief? While the Christian can point to, for example, the supernatural characteristics of the Bible (cf. Butt, 2007) and the classical arguments for the existence of God (cf. Lyons and Butt, 2014) as evidence for his beliefs, the naturalist must blindly and irrationally believe in natural miracles without a miracle worker. All the while, he diverts attention from the inadequacies of naturalism by claiming supernaturalists are the irrational ones. If it is the case that naturalism is actually just another form of supernaturalism, why are “naturalistic” theories exclusively being taught in schools in science classrooms? Should they not be removed from the classroom also, if all religious models are being removed due to their being supernatural models? In truth, if there is solid evidence for the Creation model, whether or not the model is supernatural, it makes sense that it should be left on the table of scientific discussion.
Borgnakke, Claus and Richard E. Sonntag (2009), Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (Asia: John Wiley and Sons), seventh edition.
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“The Creation Question: A Curiosity Conversation” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
Crick, Francis (1981), Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature (New York: Simon and Schuster).
“Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
Eiseley, Loren (1957), The Immense Journey (New York: Random House).
Jastrow, Robert (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: W.W. Norton).
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2014), “7 Reasons to Believe in God,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=5045.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms(2003), pub. M.D. Licker (New York: McGraw-Hill), sixth edition.
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Laws of Science—by God,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4545&topic=93.
Miller, Jeff (2013a), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2786&topic=93.
Miller, Jeff (2013b), Science vs. Evolution (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Morris, Henry M. (1990), Men of Science Men of God: Great Scientists Who Believed in the Bible (El Cajon, CA: Master Books), third printing.
Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (1998), National Academy of Sciences (Washington, DC: National Academy Press).