Naturalism – Everything from Nothing

Naturalism – Everything from Nothing [TRANSCRIPT]

Can something come from nothing? For that matter, is nothing anything? What can nothing actually do?

And if we were to flip some dice, outside of some game of chance, what does the result tell us about anything? What can it do? Does it DO anything?

These may seem like silly questions. But in fact, they are the basis of a worldview that is accepted by a large and powerful portion of our society. The questions remaining are, “Is it accurate? Should I trust in it?” And most importantly, “What’s the results of a world where these are the accepted norm?”

Join me today as I explore the philosophic ideas of Naturalism on Truth Matters.

Last week I began exploring notion of worldviews as it looks at the question of Origins. The question is simple. “Where did everything come from?” Whatever people may think about it or not, their perspective, their worldview is affected by the answer to this question. Centuries are shaped by it. The very founding documents of our nation speak about it. The Declaration of Independence’s opening two paragraphs talk to it. It says,
The separate and equal station to which the Laws of nature and of Nature’s God entitle them… (and it goes on)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

You would have to intentionally ignore the mention of God and a Creator to miss the importance placed upon the acceptance of a Creator. The ideas of equality and endowed rights come from self-evident truth derived from a Creator. In simple terms, without a Creator there is no self-evident truth, no unalienable rights. They must come from somewhere or someone else. And history tells us, that somewhere else is those in the positions of power.

The answer to the question of origins matter.

Now, last week I said that a Biblical worldview tells us that the question of origins is answered very simply. God is the Creator. He is the origin of what has been created. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Simple enough for a child to understand and firm enough for any person to establish a life on.

Any alternative worldview still has to answer the question of origin. Now, we are surrounded by a complex universe spanning the immensity of space. We live in a world packed with life from the tiniest unseen microscopic and subatomic activity all the way to the huge creatures that roam and have roamed our planet. And the question has to be answered. If there is no Creator, “Where did everything from?”

Now, last week I mentioned that an alternative origin has been offered other than the Creator God. The theories can go by many names but basically, they fall under a philosophical viewpoint called Naturalism.

Now, what is Naturalism? Naturalism is the understanding of reality that states that nature is all there is. Everything that we see, comes from what is here. Nature, in a sense, created itself. Now this may seem a bit circular… well… we’ll talk about that later.

To make the point, the question of origin affects the culture, understand that the viewpoint of naturalism is virtually unquestioned in the academic and natural sciences. The theory of evolution is a theory that rest completely on the assumptions of naturalism. To illustrate that, let me quote to you from Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson. He said,
The meaning of evolution, that is, the guiding premise of the branch of natural science that studies the history of life, is that man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.

Did you catch that? The process is purposeless and natural and did not have humans in mind. Mankind is merely a part a random result of the process. Feel better?

Douglas Futuyma, author of a widely used evolutionary biology textbook used for college students stated it this way,
Some shrink from the conclusion that the human species was not designed, has no purpose, and is the product of mere mechanical mechanisms – but this seems to be the message of evolution.

From the very beginning, the consequences of a naturalistic viewpoint move to inescapable conclusions. If you reject any notion of a Creator with a designed purpose, you must relegate such notions (the idea of a Creator) to the realm of myths and legends. Therefore, they turn to an alternative, Nature.

In 1995 the American National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) released their official position statement. Listen to this and tell me if worldview doesn’t matter. They said,
The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modifications that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.

Phillip Johnson in his book entitled Defeating Darwinism, concerning this very statement points something out that I found really interesting. He said,
The words unsupervised and impersonal were deleted from the statement in October 1997. Dr. Eugene Scott advisor to the NABT, he advised that they delete the words, these two words, because the statements by a Berkeley lawyer, Phillip Johnson that the words claimed to prove that their statement were inherently ideological. In his statement Scott continued to maintain that evolution is a “natural process” and that “natural selection has no specific goal in mind.”

You can play word games all you want, but the central premise remains. Natural evolutionary processes move without any direction or a any specific goal in mind. All of this is at the base of naturalism and is the derivative theory of evolution. In all of this, there is still no true answer to the ultimate question of origin. Evolution is a theory, a theory of process by which supposedly developed, changed and arrived at its present state.

It doesn’t really answer the question of where everything came from. For instance, “Where did all of the stuff within nature come from? How does non-material create material?” And most importantly, “How did life come from non-life?” That’s a huge gap that they really haven’t truly answered.

They’ve suggested theories, but that’s all they are. As Phillip Johnson put it,
In the last analysis, however, Darwinism is not really based on empirical evidence. Its true basis is the philosophy, and specifically the metaphysics of naturalism.

You know, theories and intriguing speculations are continually thrown out to try to answer this question of origin, intentionally deleting any notion of a Creator. We are surrounded by cultural powers that want to shut down any debate on this issue that does not conform to the assumption behind naturalism. They portray those who disagree with that governing scientific narrative. And any evidence that’s brought forward that’s contrary to that narrative is declared as purely religious which immediately shuts any debate down. “Science settles it. It says it and it settles it.”

Now, this in no way exhausts this topic. There are organizations dedicated to this debate and I would encourage you to read and look at the work that’s being done in this topic from a Biblical worldview. Let me just mention some organizations and authors that you can turn to and find out more. There’s the Institute for Creation Research also Answer in Genesis. These are two organizations that are doing great work in this area. I can also recommend Phillip Johnson who I have quoted from earlier. There is also Michael Behe, Stephen Myers, William Dembski, J. Warner Wallace and others. Once you begin looking you will see that there are responses that are thorough and challenges naturalism and its declarations.

But now I want to turn to what happens when a person consents to the popularly accepted viewpoint of naturalism. I mean, what life assumptions occur when someone agrees to the notion that life came from nothing, by chance, and has no direction? You see, ideas do matter. They have consequences. They lead people in a direction. They matter.

The great physicists for instance, Stephen Hawking, sought to get at the answer in his work, A Brief History of Time. He proposed that science could provide us with a unified theory to unite all of science to explain everything and give us “the mind of God.” But in the end the universe ends up being completely determined by the forces of nature and genetics. There really is no room for freedom in a deterministic world and universe. We continue to be meaningless somethings pretending to be free. But according to any naturalistic theory, matter and DNA determine who you are and nothing more.

Also, if your life is the result of time plus matter plus chance, it’s a spin of the dice… there’s no way to derive meaning from such an idea. When you throw a dice and it lands on a three or maybe a twelve, neither of those results tells you who you are or why you are important. You are merely a product of chance.

In the area of meaning, you are on your own. Nature has nothing to tell you except, good luck…maybe. Now, believe it or not there are some people want life to have no meaning. Aldous Huxley for instance said,
I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently, assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for these assumptions.
And if you read his works and his writings, you’ll discover that the reason that he provided was, that if life had no meaning, then it frees to pursue any and all of his erotic longings. “You only go around once in life, so grab for all the gusto.

It seems that if you abandon the Creator then you get to create your own reality… or do you? You still end up right here, with just you and with only right now. Some people want to relegate the Bible to the realm of ancient stories and moral platitudes. But actually, it speaks to the emptiness that is pervasive in our world dominated by the worldview of naturalism. Listen to the preacher in  b
Futility of futilities,” says the Preacher, “Futility of futilities! All is futility.” What advantage does a person have in all his work which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; And hurrying to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. All things are wearisome; no one can tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing. What has been, it is what will be, and what has been done, it is what will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? It has already existed for ages which were before us.

If this sounds cynical, it’s because it is. It’s the voice of someone declaring that if life here is all there is, then it’s empty, it’s futile. Mankind is on its own, it’s unable to provide meaning for their life. Neither nature or an individual came provide a meaning beyond itself.

But consider the alternative that so many work so hard to ignore or silence. What about God. If the answer to origins is the Creator, then it changes everything. The Creator has something in mind. We derive from someone who had a purpose in His creation. There is right and wrong and a difference between them. There are consequences.

This same writer in Ecclesiastes at the end of his writing gets to the point of his work in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.
When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.

In simple terms, what the writer is saying is that we are all accountable to the Creator. This should give all doubters a reason to pause and reconsider their position. Denying or ignoring God will not end well.

But there is a better way. You can know God. He’s not hiding under some mystery available only to an enlightened few. He revealed Himself through many across the ages but then He came in the flesh. Hebrews 1:1,2 says,
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world.

Our Creator has come to rescue us from our rebellion, to show us His way and His purpose for our lives. I invite you to call out to Him, to listen to Him and not the declarations of those who are seeking to hide the Creator or hide from Him.

Now, I’m not asking you to believe me. I’m inviting you to believe Him. Go to His Word and believe what He has said.

What you will discover is the Living God who provides the answers that you seek.
It’s the truth.
And Truth Matters.

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