According to Wikipedia, Naturalism is “the idea or belief that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual ones) operate in the universe. Adherents of naturalism assert that natural laws are the only rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural world, and that the changing universe is at every stage a product of these laws.”
In this episode, I’ll take a look at some of the good points and valid concerns of Naturalism. Then, I’ll discuss how it falls short, and what corrections it needs.
Valid Concerns and Good Points
One of the good points of naturalists is that we can attribute most things to natural laws and forces. Every little thing that happens doesn't have to be a supernatural intervention. And, we know it isn't random due to the consistency of events.
There is a time in pagan cultures when everything was attributed to the supernatural. Even in the Judeo-Christian world much of the natural order was attributed to angel's intervention. I don't begin to say that I know how Heaven governs this world and it's laws. But it appears to me that there are natural laws and that God created the world with a discoverable order. When looking into that order, it is good to work within it's bounds, which is why we have science.
Errors of Naturalism
The cause of why I burn my tongue on hot coffee or the sun rises everyday can be naturally accounted for. But, the fact that all these beings exist as well as the laws that govern them, none of which fully account for the existence of the universe, has to have some other explanation. Naturalism cannot account for that. Instead, it seeks for a self-explaining cause that's within the natural order.
Furthermore, there are well-attested events that do not fit into the natural world. Inexplicable miracles are one. But, there are phenomena like love and beauty that we do experience. However, the naturalist cannot explain these fully by neurons and brain chemistry. We need a deeper, spiritual explanation if we want to cohere with our universal experience.
There is one major correction a naturalist needs to incorporate all truth into his worldview. That is a recognition of the spiritual. Miracles, religious experiences, emotions, and beauty aren't simply natural phenomena. Rather, they are true experiences of something outside of the natural order. To see this in art, read The Soul of the World, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to see how this plays out. They demonstrate that there is more to this world than the naturalist can explain. And, they do it both with philosophy and story-telling.
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