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Why Naturalism Is False (And Why It Matters) Part 1

According to the naturalistic worldview, God does not exist, miracles are impossible, and the entire created world just "happened" by random chance. Many people today accept naturalism -- often unknowingly -- but in fact it is completely false. In this talk, Dr. Holly Ordway explains the difference between naturalism and theism, and shows that there is a philosophical and logical argument for theism as opposed to naturalism. This lecture (and its second part) provide a foundation of apologetic argument for the existence of God that is based on what everyone can observe in the physical world around them.



I began to listen to your lecture. Towards the beginning you characterize naturalism as the view that the physical world is all that exists, that naturalism entails that everything came about by "random chance," and that this is the view pushed by "secular academia."

This does not at all match my own experience in secular academia.

For example, most non-religious people in the university take for granted that there are laws of nature. Whether or not such laws can be reduced to merely physical stuff, they certainly introduce something besides "random chance." Secular academics also frequently refer to mathematical and moral facts, and it is not generally assumed (or believed) that these reduce to merely "physical" facts. So, just for these reasons alone, I don't find naturalism, at least as you have defined it, to be the "aggressively favored" view in academia. While there are a lot of non-theists in academia, we mustn't conflate non-theism with the naturalism that you have described.

CT, I do admit that it's a bit of a generalization. It is interesting to note that mathematicians and physicists are often the LEAST aggressively naturalistic - for the very reason that you note. It is difficult to observe the laws of nature in operation and still believe that all is based on chance. In this respect, I'm probably skewing the picture a bit since all my degrees are in English, so I am most familiar with academia in the humanities and social sciences.

If you listen further into my lecture, you'll see that a key aspect of naturalism is that most naturalists are inconsistent! That is, people will assert the some aspects of naturalism while fudging on other parts. However, if you push an naturalist into a corner, in the end it is hard to avoid coming down to "random chance" being the source of all that is. An essential part of naturalism (or materialism) is that the physical world is all that there is. If that is the case, how did we get matter, life, etc? The favored view in academia is some form of evolution through natural selection, in which the raw material for natural selection to operate on is provided by random mutation. Thus, the patterns that we observe in nature (according to naturalism) are the product of chance plus time.

If someone is willing to recognize that the universe truly IS fundamentally orderly, then that person is on his or her way to no longer being a naturalist... because naturalism has no good explanation for why there should be order and why we should be able to understand it. Naturalists do science on the assumption that indeed there is order... but without being able to say why there is order.

Theism, however, does have an answer to that question.

I hope you'll be willing to listen to the rest of the lecture! :)

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Dr. Holly Ordway is a professor of composition and literature. She speaks and writes regularly on literature, especially fantasy literature and poetry, and literary apologetics.