Natural or supernatural, what will it be?

What is naturalism?  I have heard it used synonymously with evolution.

Last Sunday we celebrated the supernatural event of Jesus Christ rising from the dead.  In Romans 4:18-20 Abraham, in hope, against hope, believed in the supernatural event of his barren wife having a child. Likewise, at the end of the chapter it says in verse 24 that righteousness will be imputed to those who believe in Him who was capable of the supernatural power to raise “Jesus our Lord from the dead.”  That is why Easter is the most meaningful of all events on the Christian calendar.  

1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be prepared to make a defense of the hope that is in us.  What is that hope?  We see in Romans 4 that the essence of the “hope” of the gospel message is a belief in Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection. In other words, an attack on the hope of the gospel is an attack on the heart of the gospel.

That is exactly what naturalism does.  It excludes God from any explanation.  Webster’s Dictionary defines naturalism as a philosophy: “the belief that the natural world is the whole of reality and that there is no supernatural or spiritual creation, value, control, or significance: it holds that scientific laws can explain all phenomena.”  Naturalism is “the doctrine that mechanistic laws of nature are adequate to account for all phenomena.” (p. 29 Biotic Message, Walter James Remine)

Evolution is explained by continual, natural processes.  Evolution is the scientific explanation of why we believe in naturalism.  Naturalism is the framework in which evolution is built.  Science has adopted naturalism to account for all phenomena.  Evolution has thus been misrepresented to include all biologic knowledge; it has become so vacuous as to account for every observation.  In doing so, they have re-defined science so as to prohibit any non-naturalistic explanation.

Creation becomes “unscientific” by definition and victory is won in the debate by default.  The fact is both models of origin use science to test and support their model.  But science can never reach a point of absolute certainty about the origin question because it is an event that happened in the past.

Walter Remine goes on to say, “This redefinition of science is wrongheaded.  Naturalism is not the criterion for science.  Science does not begin by assuming all phenomena are naturalistic.  Instead, the basis for science is the search for truth.”

Suppose a police detective investigates a missing car.  The naturalistic explanation for the missing car is that, perhaps, the parking brake failed and the car rolled down a hill off the road.  The detective is not restricted to this naturalistic explanation.  An intelligent being, a car thief is also to be considered.  The detective, like the scientist, is searching for the truth.  What unites them is that their explanations must depend on empirical science, observable evidence: evidence observable with our five senses.  Certainly, this dependence does not prevent them from considering an intelligent designer.  Historical sciences recognize intelligent design.  Archaeologists study artifacts to tell them whether natural means or intelligent beings created them.  There is no reason an intelligent designer should be allowed into archaeology but not biology.

Naturalism is not good science.  Science is the search for truth and Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.”  Thus, the logical endpoint in the search for truth is Jesus Christ.

Naturalism is also not good philosophy.  It’s self-defeating by definition.  If the only way of determining truth is by seeing and observing empirically, then as a philosophy it cannot be true because it cannot be empirically studied.

In naturalism man becomes just a part of this natural world.  Thus, it undermines the dignity of man and removes the basis of moral judgment.

The message of the cross is meaningless if we are not willing to accept the power of the Creator to perform the supernatural.  Naturalism provides a way to attack the gospel by attacking its foundation in Genesis.  It provides an overwhelming obstacle in evangelism.   Jesus said in Luke 16:31 “If they do not listen to Moses [who wrote Genesis] and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.”

We can be confident that what we observe in real science is best explained by the starting point that everything is explained by a completed, supernatural process with the mind of an intelligent designer.

Buddy Davis sums up believing in the supernatural in his song, “I Believe”: “I’ll not apologize for Scripture, all its teachings I’ll believe.  From the miracle that happened at Creation, to the miracle in John 3:16.  I believe my Jesus fed five thousand, and He turned the water into wine.  I believe my Lord walked on water, and opened up the eyes of the blind.  I believe He spoke and Lazarus listened, the grave gave up the dead at His command…I believe that Jesus rose again!”

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen