Stephen E. Jones

Projects: "Problems of Evolution" (Outline): 2. Philosophy (3): Naturalism

[Home] [Site map] [Updates] [Projects] [Contents; 1. Introduction; 2. Philosophy (1), (2), (4), (5) & (6); 3. Religion (1) & (2); 4. History (1), (2) & (3); 5. Science; 6. Environment (1), (2) & (3); 7. Origin of life (1), (2) & (3); 8. Cell & Molecular (1), (2) & (3); 9. Mechanisms (1), (2) & (3); 10. Fossil Record; 11. `Fact' of Evolution; 12. Plants; 13. Animals; 14. Man (1) & (2); 15. Social; 16. Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography A-C, D-F, G-I, J-M, N-S, T-Z]

1.	Evolution and philosophy
2.	Materialism
3.	Naturalism (Anti-supernaturalism)
	1.	"Nature is all there is"
	2.	Evolution is dependent on naturalism being true
	3.	Refuted by supernatural
		1.	Biblical prophecies
			1.	Daniel's prophecy of the 70 `weeks' (Dn 9:24-27)
	4.	More problems of naturalism
		1.	Mathematics
			1.	The "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics"
			2.	Where are prime numbers?
	5.	Methodological naturalism?
4.	Uniformitarianism
5.	Reductionism
6.	Scientism
7.	Logical problems
8.	Fallacies used to support evolution
9.	Falsehoods used to support evolution


3.	Naturalism (Anti-supernaturalism)
	1.	"Nature is all there is"
Naturalism is the view that nature is all there is (Johnson, 1997a, p.15; Dembski, 1999, p.100; Geisler, 1999, 
p.522; Macdonald, 1984, p.750). Naturalism views nature "the whole show", as a vast, all-encompassing, 
interlocking closed system of matter and energy, space and time (Geisler, 1999, p.521; Nash, 1997, p.120; 
Mautner, p.377; Macdonald, 1984, p.750). Since nature is the sum total of reality according to naturalism, 
then the supernatural does not exist (Nash, 1997, p.120). Naturalism is thus an apriori metaphysical 
position, not a scientific theory based on evidence (Dembski, 1999, p.144). Nature, according to naturalism is a 
single sphere in which there cannot be incursions from outside by supernatural beings or agencies (Lacey, 1995, 
p.604). Since everything there is belongs to the natural world, only that which can be studied by the methods of 
the natural sciences is real and apparent exceptions can be explained away (Lacey, 1995, p.604). [top]

Metaphysically therefore naturalism is most akin to materialism (Lacey, 1995, p.604). However, naturalism occur 
in at least two forms, materialism and pantheism (Geisler, 1999, p.521). Because naturalism maintains that 
ultimately nature consists of nothing more than material particles, in this context the terms naturalism and 
materialism are interchangeable (Johnson, 1997a, pp.15-16). 

Naturalism denies the existence of supernatural beings (Mautner, 1996, p.377), including God, so naturalism is 
atheistic (Macdonald, 1984, p.750). Because naturalism claims there is nothing outside of nature, including a God 
who could intervene in nature's closed-system of natural cause and effect (Johnson, 1993b, p.116; Johnson, 1994, 
p.7; Johnson, 1995b, p.38; Dembski, 1999, p.67; Richards, 2001, p.105; Sire, 1988, p.93), naturalism rejects 
miracles outright (Geisler, 1999, p.521), irrespective of the evidence, regarded them as simply not possible and 
so they must be at best improbable natural events which have yet to be explained (Nash, 1997, p.120; Dawkins, 
1986, pp.159-160). By ruling out a spiritual part of the human person which might survive death and a God who 
might resurrect the body, naturalism also rules out an afterlife (Macdonald, 1984, p.750). Naturalism therefore 
does not leave one accountable to a God who punishes sin (Dembski, 1999, p.100). Indeed, naturalism dissolves 
the very concept of sin (Dembski, 1999, p.100). Because naturalism exalts the creation over the Creator, it is a 
form of idolatry (Dembski, 1999, p.226).

Since naturalism assumes the matter/energy that makes up the universe has never been created, it must have 
always existed in some form (Nash, 1997, p.120). It also follows that if nature is all there is, then nature must be 
self-sufficient to develop itself to its present state of order and complexity (Dembski, 1999, pp.17, 99).

Mental powers are also regarded as normal parts of the natural world describable by science (Mautner, 1996, 
p.377). Naturalism tends to deny human freedom on the grounds that every event must be explainable by 
deterministic natural laws (Macdonald, 1984, p.750).

Naturalism denies any absolute values that cannot be grounded in a world made up only of matter and energy 
(Macdonald, 1984, p.750; Lacey, 1995, p.604; Clark, 1993, p.14). Naturalism denies that the universe has any 
ultimate meaning or purpose because there is no God, or anything else which can give to give it meaning or 
purpose (Macdonald, 1984, p.750).

It follows that if the supernatural does in fact exist, for example if the supernatural miracles and predictive 
prophecy in the Bible are true, as claimed by Christianity, then naturalism is false. Or to put it another way, either 
naturalism is true, and then the Biblical conception of reality is an illusion, or the Bible is true and it is naturalism that is 
fantasy (Byl, 2001, p.224)! [top]

	2.	Evolution is dependent on naturalism being true
"The most singular of these, perhaps immortal, fallacies, which live on, Tithonus-like, when sense and force have long deserted them, is that which charges Mr. Darwin with having attempted to reinstate the old pagan goddess, Chance. It is said that he supposes variations to come about `by chance,' and that the fittest survive the `chances' of the struggle for existence. and thus `chance' is substituted for providential design. It is not a little wonderful that such an accusation as this should be brought against a writer who has, over and over again, warned his readers that when he uses the word `spontaneous,' he merely means that he is ignorant of the cause of that which is so termed ; and whose whole theory crumbles to pieces if the uniformity and regularity of natural causation for illimitable past ages is denied." (Huxley T.H., "On the Reception of the `Origin Of Species,'" in Darwin F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," [1898], Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. I., 1959, reprint, p.553) [top]
3. Refuted by supernatural 1. Biblical prophecies 1. Daniel's prophecy of the 70 `weeks' (Dn 9:24-27) The Jewish prophet Daniel in 538 BC, predicted that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (which had been destroyed by the Babylonans in 586 BC), to the coming of the Messiah, there would be a total of 70 `weeks', divided into three blocks of 7 62 1 = 70 `weeks' (Dan 9:24-27). The objectively best combination of: 1) terminus a quo (starting point) - the decree of Artaxerxes I in 457 BC authorising Ezra to restore and rebuild Jerusalem; 2) method of calculation of the 70 (7 62 1)`weeks' - each `week' is 7 ordinary solar years; 3) yields: a) by the end of the 1st week the post-exilic restoration of Jerusalem by 408 BC [457 BC(7x7) = 408 BC]; b) a terminus ad quem (ending point) of the 69th week at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry in 27 AD [(69x7) 1-457 BC = 27 AD], and c) Jesus' death in 30 AD [(69x7) 1 7/2-457 BC = 30 AD]; followed by d) the Jewish final rejection of their Messiah in the martyrdom of Stephen at the end of the 70th week in 34 AD [(69x7) 1 7-457 BC = 34 AD; or (70x7) 1-457 BC = 34 AD], and e) the consequent destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans after the 70th week in 70 AD! (Newman, 2002; Newman, 1997, pp.223-224; Archer, 1964, pp.386-387; Archer, 1982, pp.289-291; Archer, 1985, pp.111-119; Pusey, 1885, pp.184-229; Strobel, 2000, pp.248-249; Unger, 1966, pp.391-392; Finegan, 1964, pp.320,336,468-469). See also my work-in-progress, "Daniel's prophecy of the seventy `weeks' (Dn 9:24-27)." Since Jesus is the only person who ever claimed to be the Jewish Messiah and founded a world-religion (Newman, 1997, p.223), this is evidence beyond reasonable doubt, that naturalism (the denial of the supernatural), is false. The Jewish historian Josephus (37-c.100 AD), who lived through the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, realised this, that Daniel "wrote many years before [it] ... came to pass. ... concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them" and that therefore "the Epicureans [materialist-naturalists of his day] are in an error, who ... do not believe that God takes care of the affairs of the world... but say that the world is carried along of its own accord ... for if that were the case, that the world went on by mechanical necessity, we should not see that all things would come to pass according to his prophecy" (Josephus, 1999, p.357). [top] 4. More problems of naturalism 1. Mathematics 1. The "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" Naterialism has no explanation for "the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" (cf. Wigner, 1960; Hamming, 1980; Davies, 1992, p.141); Dembski, 1999b). Since mathematics is the language of science, Davies has extended this to what he calls "the unreasonable effectiveness of science" (Davies, 1992, pp.148- 144). Nature's underlying order is, as it were, written in a "cosmic code," which is "attuned human capabilities," such that the humans mind uniquely has been able t" "crack the cosmic code" (Davies, 1992, pp.148-149). But the problem is that if our minds are the result of evolution, in response to environmental pressures, this has nothing to do with understanding the underlying laws of nature (Davies, 1992, p.149). This is even more a problem because the human brain began to grow in size and complexity, far beyond that required for mere survival even today, in our pre-conscious hominid ancestors (Davies, 1992, p.149). Barrow asks, "Why has the process of natural selection so over-endowed us with mental faculties that we can understand the whole fabric of the Universe far beyond anything required for our past and present survival?" (Barrow, 1990, p.173) [to be continued] [top] 2. Where are prime numbers? Prime numbers, like other mathematical entities and principles are overwhelmingly spoken of as having been discoveredrather than invented. For example, recently the largest yet prime number was generated on a computer, and the science news headlines spoke of it as having been discovered: "7- million digit prime number discovered" (Knight, 2004), "Largest Prime Number discovered," (BBC, 2004b). This implies that prime numbers have an independent existence "out there" whether or not humans know about them (Davies, 1992, p.141). But in that case where are prime numbers located? Leading mathematicians/physicists such as Kurt Godel, Roger Penrose, Martin Gardner and John Barrow maintain that numbers exist in a higher platonic world, separate from the physical universe (Davies, 1992, pp.141- 144). [to be continued] [top] 5. Methodological naturalism? "It is true that evolutionary theory makes no reference to the supernatural. Like all science, it is naturalistic: it answers questions about the material or natural world using only material explanations. Problems arise when people confuse two distinct kinds of naturalism. *Methodological naturalism* simply requires that, in trying to explain any particular observation or experimental result, an investigator may not resort to miracles. It is the frame of mind that all scientific workers adopt on the job, and centuries of progress has shown its value. *Philosophical naturalism* asserts that the material world is all that exists--that there is nothing supernatural, no God or gods, no creator, no creation. Many people with science backgrounds describe themselves as philosophical naturalists, but many do not. Gregor Mendel decoupled methodological from philosophical materialism, and so do other scientists today. ... Being a philosophical materialist myself ..." (Scott E.C, "Monkey Business," The Sciences, New York Academy of Sciences, January/February 1996, Vol. 36, No. 1; pp.20-25, p.25. Emphasis in original. [Note Scott's explanation of the distinction (so-called) between "methodological naturalism" and "philosophical naturalism" (see above). Since "methodological naturalism", is "in trying to explain any particular observation or experimental result, an investigator may not resort to miracles", then if that is *consistently* applied, everywhere and always, then that is effectively the same as "philosophical naturalism", which "asserts that ... there is nothing supernatural ... no creation." IOW, if there was in fact "creation". e.g. "supernatural" guidance/intervention at strategic points in life's history, then a scientist adhering to "methodological naturalism" would have to deny it. So "methodological naturalism" is just applied "philosophical naturalism"! Indeed, *why* would a scientist adopt "methodological naturalism", such that "in trying to explain *any* particular observation or experimental result, an investigator may not resort to miracles" (i.e. "supernatural" guidance/intervention) even in *origin* events, unless "philosophical naturalism" was *true*?] 4. Uniformitarianism [top] 5. Reductionism Reductionism is the attempt to explain away something by reducing it to something else (Vesey & Foulkes, 1990, p.248; Mautner, 2000, p.475). Scientific reductionism is the claim that the scientific explanation of any phenomenon is the only valid one (Dembski, 1998b, pp.21-27, Holder, 1993, p.92). That is, if there is a scientific explanation of (say) the origin of life, then the reductionist claims it has been explained completely, with no remainder (Holder, 1993, p.92). This was termed "nothing-buttery" by MacKay (Mackay, 1974, p.21; Holder, 1993, p.92), because it is often expressed in reductionist language that we are "nothing but atoms and molecules." (Holder, 1993, p.92). Materialism (Mautner, 2000, p.474) and naturalism (Dembski & Richards, 2001, p.99) are reductionist. Therefore reductionism is dominant in science generally (Gould, 1983, p.176)) evolutionary biology in particular (Gould 1980, p.121; Gould, 1997; Eldredge, 1996, p.81; Goodwin, 1994, pp.x, 128; Dennett, 1995, p.195; Grene, 1983, p.11), although a minority are anti-reductionist (Johnson, 1995b, p.213; Gould, 1983, p.174; Eldredge, 1996, p.4). The fallacy of reductionism can be seen in the example of seeing a picture on a TV screen as "nothing but" the motions of all the electrons in the cathode ray tube and failing to see the program being transmitted (Holder, 1993, p.93). Scientific materialists are prone to a sort of blindness in which (for example) there is a tendency to imagine that the human brain can be fully explained in terms of electrochemical processes, such that concepts like free will and beauty lose their meaning (Holder, 1993, p.93). For example, Dawkins has reduced human beings down to "survival machines-robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes (Holder, 1993, p.94; Dawkins, 1995, p.76ff; Goodwin, 1995, p.88). However, while successful at lower levels like chemistry and molecular biology (Gould, 1987, p.123). reductionism won't work at higher levels, like human culture (Gould, 1987, pp.123, 157). Finally, like materialism, reductionism is self- refuting for the same reason, as Haldane observed, "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true ... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms" (Haldane, 1927, p.209; Holder, 1993, p.94; Lewis, 1960, pp.18-19; Ward, 1996). [top] 6. Scientism There is an implicit, if not explicit, scientism in evolutionists' attempts to marginalise its two main rivals, creationism and intelligent design, by categorising them as `not science, but religion.' Scientism is "the belief that science is or can be the complete and only explanation" (Appleyard, 1992, pp.1-2). Specifically, scientism is "the belief that the methods of natural science, or the categories and things recognized in natural science, form the only proper elements in any philosophical or other enquiry" (Blackburn, 1996, p.344). Since the only issue is whether or not creationism or intelligent design are true, the evolutionist must be using "science" and "religion" as synonyms of "true" and "false", respectively. But then, that is scientism. [top]

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Created: 3 November, 2003. Updated: 4 March, 2006.