What Is Scientific Naturalism? |

What Is Scientific Naturalism?


 scientific naturalism christian naturalismThe overriding worldview of the postmodern world is naturalism, which encompasses a philosophy that assumes that “nature” is all there is, was, will ever be and all that is needed to explain everything that exists. Naturalism wears a veneer of science, but at its core it is actually a “religion” that presents itself as the only worldview that is supported by science.

“Naturalism assumes the entire realm of nature to be a closed system of material causes and effects, which cannot be influenced by anything from “outside.” Naturalism does not explicitly deny the mere existence of God, but it does deny that a supernatural being could in any way influence natural events, such as evolution, or communicate with natural creatures like ourselves. Scientific naturalism makes the same point by starting with the assumption that science, which studies only the natural, is our only reliable path to knowledge.”[1]

So, is it a no-brainer that we should believe scientific naturalism to be true? Let’s take a closer look at the two main tenets of this worldview:

1.  The natural world is “all there is”.

Since science is only concerned with the natural world, how then could science possibly prove that there is nothing beyond the natural world? Well, it can’t. So it would appear that the only way a person could hold this view is by faith. But of course, believing something by faith would be in direct contradiction to the second tenet that states that we should only believe what can be scientifically proven.

2.  We should only hold as true and believable that which can be scientifically proven.

This can be shown to be false, as there are lots of generally accepted truths that can’t be proven scientifically. For example:

Metaphysical truths, such as “there are other minds beside your own” and “the external world is real”
Ethical truths, such as “what the Khmer Rouge did was wrong”
Aesthetic truths, such as “beauty”
Scientific truths like the Theory of Relativity, which is based on the constancy of the speed of light between two points, which is unprovable
Mathematical and logical truths can’t be shown to be valid without using logic and math; science presupposes logic and math.

So it would seem that under closer scrutiny, the scientific naturalist’s claim that “the basis of knowledge is only on what can be observed” leaves much to be desired. As a matter of fact, the claim that “we should only believe what can be scientifically proven” is self-refuting, since the claim itself can’t be proven scientifically.

Food for thought…


William Lane Craig on Christianity vs. Scientific Naturalism


[1] Johnson, Phillip E., 1991. Darwin on Trial. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 220 pp.



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