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The Fallacy of Scientific Naturalism

January 31, 2009

The modern scientific establishment has decided by scholastic fiat that naturalism [i.e. – atheism] shall be the basis of all science. In doing so, they have a priori excluded the possibility of the supernatural, of God. They have mandated that an entire body of possible explanation be banned from consideration. Only explanations consistent with pure naturalism will be allowed.

There are a couple of flaws to this approach:

1. If God exists, there exists the possibility that some problems will require a supernatural answer.

1a. This is not to say that all problems will require a supernatural answer [an appeal to God, if you will] or that no problems will have natural explanations.

1b. Given the intricacy and complexity of design observable in nature, but also the inter-relatedness of its systems, laws, ecologies and species, we should expect to see that a majority of the problems shall have natural solutions. To put it another way, since the supernatural [God] has set up [created] the natural world and its laws, processes, et cetera, and since we observe the natural world we inhabit and have limited or no access to the supernatural [here, being that which exists outside the natural] apart from God’s will and revelation, we should expect that most solutions of the natural world shall be natural.

1c. Since the world has a supernatural designer, a minority of data and problems shall certainly require a supernatural explanation [again, if God does indeed exist].

1d. Problems requiring [not possibly owing to] a supernatural explanation will be unexplainable by natural processes alone. [Note that this is not a “god of the gaps” approach or argument from ignorance. Problems requiring a supernatural explanation would not be explainable by naturalism. In other words, it would be found that naturalism was inadequate to explain the problem but that intelligent design did, not merely that naturalism could not explain it yet.] This would include things which are irreducibly complex or inconceivably improbable for natural processes to account for [as Dembski pointed out, why should naturalism get a free lunch?], such as elements of intelligent design [for example: irreducible complexity, unaccountable ascending orders of information, a “fingerprint” of homologous design elements incorporated into differing processes/entities and input of new information such as that required for the origin of the universe and life] or phenomena that may only be explained by intervention [an overruling of natural law and processes] by the supernatural.

2. If God exists, He exists whether He is allowed as a viable or valid explanation or not.

3. If God exists and the supernatural is a priori ruled out as a possible answer to any problem, science MUST needs be wrong at some point.

3a. If science a priori rules out the supernatural as a possibility, its methodology and bias will prevent it from coming to any conclusions, save naturalism.

3b. If God exists, the presumption of pure naturalism is incorrect.

3c. If science persists in its presumption of pure naturalism and refusal to consider supernatural explanations, it will become something other than science, something closer to dogma.

4. Ruling out the supernatural as a solution a priori is unscientific.

4a. True science follows the evidence wherever it leads, without regard for opinions, institutions or prevailing paradigms of the day.

4b. To state it another way, Freedom of Inquiry is a requirement of true science, since without freedom of inquiry science cannot be self-correcting.

4c. Ruling out a set of possible explanations a priori simply begs the question of naturalism. As such, it is a dogmatic denialism of all other possibility.

4d. Legitimately ruling out the supernatural as a possible set of explanation would either require omniscience on the part of scientists or the equivalent net result of omniscience, having explored all possible solutions, legitimately answered every question with naturalism and having ruled the supernatural out by default.

4d[i]. The first requirement would require an attribute of the supernatural [omniscience] which preclude  pure  naturalism from being the sole answer to all questions.

4d[ii]. The second requirement also requires freedom of inquiry in order to succeed, but would require the final solution and therefore the culmination [end] of all scientific inquiry.

4d[iii]. Ruling out the supernatural as a possible set of explanation without either omniscience or the completion of all scientific inquiry is simply a leap of faith or belief of bias and cannot be said to have been accomplished through proper scientific inquiry.

5. Ruling out the supernatural a priori as a possible is irrational.

5a. As has been demonstrated scientifically, the mind [consciousness/soul/sapience] is separate from the physicality of the brain or even the body. The soul [as consciousness] can be inferred from the scientific method yet the soul [being outside the realm of pure naturalism] is supernatural. [Assertions that consciousness arises naturally as the result of sufficient complexity of intelligence is mere conjecture/speculation based on assumptions of pure naturalism and must be taken by faith, as must all speculations of origins.]

5b. There are also problems and subjects which lie ooutside of natural science, which it may speculate about but could never conceivably prove or test, especially matters of origins. Naturalism may speculate about such metaphysical problems, but it makes an a priori assumption of pure naturalistic/mechanistic processes in doing so.

5c. The assertion that natural science will eventually attain sufficient knowledge and resources to determine all solutions as naturalistic is a statement of faith.

5d. The fact that neither Darwinism [limited specifically to the development of biology though not its ultimate origin] and naturalism [the assumption of purely natural solutions for all problems] is an adequate explanation for the whole of human experience [including the soul, why reason should be trusted, questions of significance, why universal morality exists and exists as it does, et cetera] should require, for the sake of intellectual honesty, an exploration of other theories and sets of possible explanation which might better account for the entire picture. The prohibition against such freedom of inquiry is irrational, as it must be pronounced based on a presumption of faith, not reason.

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Men and women are standing up for academic freedom. Academic Freedom bills are being introduced in states all over the country. In fact, there is a move to try to secure this freedom at the national level. At a website called AcademicFreedomPetition.com, you can add your name to a petition that reads:

“We, the undersigned American citizens, urge the adoption of policies by our nation’s academic institutions to ensure teacher and student academic freedom to discuss the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. Teachers should be protected from being fired, harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for objectively presenting the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory. Students should be protected from being harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for expressing their views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory in an appropriate manner.”

It’s a step in the only direction that is consistent with true scientific inquiry.

Make your stand.

–Rev. Tony Breeden

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2009 5:35 pm

    I agree with Sirius! In fact, I have been writing about similar issues in posts entitled The Psychology of Mass Delusions, A Far More Interesting Question, Intelligent Design vs. Stultifying Naturalistic Coercion, and What Darwin Got Wrong. Take a look! Go to http://andj4613.wordpress.com.

  2. Alex Mitchell permalink
    October 5, 2010 3:49 pm

    If ruling the supernatural out a priori is invalid, at what point is it valid to rule it out as an explanation for a particular phenomena? And by what method can we do so?

  3. October 5, 2010 11:07 pm

    I’m not sure you understand my point.

    My point is that if you rule out the supernatural from the outset that you would never arrive at the correct explanation if the supernatural was involved; contrariwise, if you conduct science by a philosophy of naturalism, which excludes the possibility of the supernatural by insisting on excusively natural explanations for all phenomena, you will again arrive at an incorrect answer if a particular phenomenon actually has a supernatural explanation; your presuppositions will cause you to imagineer an alternate explanation that is consistent with naturalism but ultimately wrong.

    Now to be fair, a miracle is an exception to natural law and is, by definition, rare. Supernatural explanations are exceptions to the rule. One presumes that no miracle has taken place under normative conditions; so a more fair question would be how do we determine when a supernatural explanation is warranted.

    Two conditions suggest themselves: special revelation and the Holmesian doctrine (“Eliminate what is impossible and what remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth”). Many of the the arguments for an intelligent designer falls under the latter condition. If the supernatural exists, then special revelation is possible. I won’t mince words: I am speaking of the Bible. To be fair, even Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog) stated:

    “It seemed to me then (as it does now) that “creation,” in the ordinary sense of the word, is perfectly conceivable. I find no difficulty in imagining that, at some former period, this universe was not in existence; and that it made its appearance in six days (or instantaneously, if that is preferred), in consequence of the volition of some pre-existent Being. Then, as now, the so-called a priori arguments against Theism; and, given a Deity, against the possibility of creative acts, appeared to me to be devoid of reasonable foundation. I had not then, and I have not now, the smallest a priori objection to raise to the account of the creation of animals and plants given in ‘Paradise Lost,’ in which Milton so vividly embodies the natural sense of Genesis. Far be it from me to say that it is untrue because it is impossible. I confine myself to what must be regarded as a modest and reasonable request for some particle of evidence that the existing species of animals and plants did originate in that way, as a condition of my belief in a statement which appears to me to be highly improbable.” [from Huxley’s The Reception of the Origin of the Species]

    That is, Huxley did not find the concept of special revelation (speaking of the Genesis account) to be impossible, though he dismissed it as improbable. In truth, the miracle of Special Creation is improbable; which is why we refer to it as a miracle. It was utter hubris for him to declare a miracle improbable.

    Here we must rest. This matter before us is not over evidence (we have the same evidence), but by which ultimate authority (special revelation or unaided reason) we will interpret science. If God truly exists, it would be utterly foolish to ignore the special revelation of the God who was there in favor of the grasping ever-changing notions of men who don’t know everything and weren’t there.

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