Naturalism

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The Absurdity of Evolution, Illustrated From Daniel’s University Experience (An excerpt from a readable talk by D.W. Gooding)

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Commenting on Daniel’s rejection of Babylonian food (Daniel 1):

“Many of the forces and objects that the Babylonians worshipped as gods were real enough. Their fault was, as Paul would put it, ‘they worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator’ (Rom 1:25). Today atheists of one sort or another laugh at the ancient world for its polytheism and its idols. They have long since got rid of them. They think in fact that they have had the intellectual courage to go the whole road and they have banished not only polytheism but monotheism as well. They have got rid of the whole concept of god—one or many—and are left, so they think, with freedom. But what are they really left with? Well, just matter and energy—both of them by definition mindless, purposeless and irrational—so that everything and everyone that now is has arrived at its present state by evolution out of the basic constituents, matter and energy.

But what of this evolution? In the popular mind it is doubtless a goddess, every bit as much as an ancient goddess. Her name is frequently spelled with a capital letter, Evolution. She controls, directs, accounts for the change of this organ, and the function of that. Actually, she doesn’t exist at all. There is no such thing or force (still less, mind or purpose) as Evolution. At the best, evolution is only a name put by some scientists on a process through which they see, or think they see, matter going; and according to them the process is as blind and mindless as the matter and energy which is going through the process. What, then, controls this process? Ultimately, chance. Many of the ancients were inclined to agree, only they called chance a goddess. The difference is minimal. In the end what is the relation of man and his mind to this combination of blind matter and purposeless energy controlled by mindless chance? Does man control them, or they him? Obviously this is a question that we need to ask, if we are going to talk about gaining freedom to develop by getting rid of the idea of a personal purposeful creator. And the answer to the question is: without any doubt they control him at the practical level.

Naturally he does his best to control or at least cajole them, as the ancient did his gods. Eventually he dies, in spite of all his efforts, and there is nothing that he can do to stop it. At the logical level too, it is obvious that they control him. If man and his mind are nothing but the chance product of mindless matter worked on by blind forces, it makes no logical sense to talk of man controlling this mindless matter and these blind forces which constitute his own mind. Those who have the thoroughness to take their materialistic evolutionary theories to their logical conclusion hold that it is man’s cells and genes that determine him and his behaviour, and his so-called thinking. Man, they conclude, is a pre-set machine; he has no real freedom.

These mindless things are his masters, and by definition will always remain so. Of course he tries to understand them by his science so that he can then cajole them by his technology; but they prove endlessly more complex than he anticipates, and they remain his masters. But men have aspirations! Yes, and other men have other aspirations. Who shall say which are good and which are bad, which ought to triumph and which should be suppressed, when there is no ultimate court of appeal except blind matter and mindless forces? The only hope of a golden age would be if in the end the conflicting forces came into some kind of equilibrium. Till then you may expect the forces to fight among themselves every bit as much as the ancient gods and goddesses, and just as arbitrarily and irrationally as those gods and goddesses are reputed to have fought among themselves, with the battle going on all the time at a level beyond man’s power to control it.

The fact is that ancient man was talking ultimately about the same matter and forces as we are, though the ancients did not understand so much about them as we do (and we do not understand all that much). The ancients said that these things were in control of the universe and of man and man’s affairs. Since they were much more powerful than he was, he called them gods and goddesses, hoping that they were more sensible as well as more powerful, though it was rarely apparent that they were. The modern atheist agrees with the ancient polytheist that these things are in control. He calls them not gods and goddesses but atoms, protons, neutrons, cells, genes, forces—but it makes little difference. According to him they still produce and control this world, and beyond and above their mindless workings there is no Creator, no Mind, in whose love and wisdom man’s own love and reason can confidently trust.

Man is the prisoner of irrational forces. Why, then, do men believe the theory of atheistic evolution? Are they forced to it by the evidence, by rigorous inescapable logic? No! The theory, even according to some of its propounders themselves, is unproved and unprovable. To accept it as truth is as much an act of faith as believing in a Creator, except that by definition the atheist’s act of faith implies that his mind, logic and reason—his aesthetic sense and his love—are the products of blind forces working by purposeless chance upon mindless matter, and therefore ultimately meaningless. It is surely the strangest of strange things how this anti-intellectualist theory has come to be the unquestioned—and in some quarters the unquestionable—basic constituent in so many academic courses, and served up as though it were proven fact to schoolchildren, undergraduates and the general public. Isn’t it time that a few more people in the name of reason itself protested at the food?

Mercifully, there is scarcely an atheist living who is prepared to swallow his atheism neat and undiluted. Even the most extreme of them seem, in spite of their presuppositions, to hold that there are real values in life. Humanity, they maintain, is valuable and ought to be loved. Everyone ought to have a social conscience and love his fellow—or the state, or someone or ones. But then values and duties cannot be derived logically from their atheistic premises. You cannot logically turn an ought into an is. If the truth were told they have pinched these values and duties out of the temple of Jehovah and, like Nebuchadnezzar, installed them in the temples of their own ideologies where logically they do not belong. But you will never produce a golden age for man on the basis of atheistic ideology decorated with a few golden vessels stolen from the worship of Jehovah.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel & The King’s Food: Why All The Fuss? (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2016), 9-11. Download it in its entirety here.

The Moral Bankruptcy of Secularism & Naturalism (A quote from Ravi Zacharias)

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

“Not only has secularization brought us a silent universe with no voice from without, it has also brought us a silence from within as it has redefined the whole role of con–science. It has removed any possibility of an objective supernatural revelation and supplanted it with the so-called inner voice of reason. It was only a matter of time before there would be no way to differentiate between the inner voice of reason and the inner promptings of unreason. Let me sustain this argument, because now we will see not merely the theoretical incoherence of secularism and its primary carriers; we will see that it leads to a pragmatism that is unworkable and an evil that is devastating.

  As I have previously stated, implicit to the secularized world-view is not just the marginalization of any religious idea but its complete eviction from public credence in informing social policy. If an idea or a belief is ‘religiously based,’ be it in a matter of sexuality or marriage or education or whatever, then by that very virtue it is deemed unsuitable for public usage . . . How irrational. How repressive. How irrelevant to the secularized consciousness is the invocation of a religious belief when establishing social moral boundaries and imposing them upon the ever-shifting soil of ‘community standards.’ But we may well ask from which side the imposition and irrationality really comes . . . one cannot defend the particulars of a moral choice without first defending the theory in general upon which that choice is made. Secularism, on the other hand, can defend any choice because it is never compelled to defend its first principles, which are basically reduced to an antireligious bias. But secularists do not take into account that on their own terms no position needs to be defended if a commitment to it is sufficient reason in itself. If it is believed that all moralizing is purely one’s private view then ought not that view itself be kept private? The secularist never answers how he or she determines whether anything is wrong with anything except by sheer choice. Secular belief grants itself privileges that it does not equally distribute.”

Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us from Evil. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 58-59. [Italics original.]

“In a purely naturalistic universe there is nothing to transcend matter there is no soul or spirit because that would imply the supernatural. This dehumanizing ‘net worth’ is all that secularism has left when life is seen through the eyes of the Spirit of the Age . . .”

Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us from Evil. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 61.

“Granted, in some cases there is no difference between art and pornography, not because art is the same as pornography, but because some art is nothing more than pornography masquerading as aesthetics in the name of art. But here is the point. If an artist seeks to portray the unclothed human body as art while actually bringing to that rendering his or her own lustful and vile intentions, the unworthy motive of the artist cannot be denounced by the unthinking canvas. The canvas cannot come to the artist and say, ‘Stop.’ But by contrast, the undisguised purpose of pornography is erotic and seductive. One would like to hope that the unclad individual, used as such bait in the marketing of her flesh for the sensually insatiable, would raise her hands in embarrassment, saying, ‘Stop, please don’t do this to me.’ But that does not happen. Such objections are not forthcoming because when secularism has spawned its offspring, it produces a loss of a sense of shame. There is no voice within to say, ‘No, this is wrong. Don’t do this to yourself.’

  This pathetic, psychological, voiceless posture where shame is excised from our cultural intercourse, leaves behind a hell of possibilities and swings wide the door to evil in any and every form. This is the unworkable pragmatism of secular thinking. All attitudes and all behavior find avenues of unbridled expression, and no one reserves the right to say, ‘It is not enough to say you’re sorry–you ought to feel sorry and ashamed of what you have done.’ Ah! But this is too much to ask of the postmodern mind where self-congratulation is the mood engendered by irreligious social policies.

  Let us be certain: It is our philosophical commitment that ends up legitimizing shamelessness that puts an individual on the road to incorrigibility. The difference between criminals who try desperately to cover their faces when they are escorted into court and those who smile remorselessly as they strut into the courtroom is civilizations apart. The ones covering their faces or shedding a tear have at least a vestige of reachability. There is at least the hint of the possibility of change, because there is a point of reference for wrong, some shared meanings between the wrongdoer and society. For any corrective in behavior or for punitive measures to be effective there must be some point of hurt or undesired feeling within the one who has done wrong. Shame or remorse or society’s disapproval is powerless today to induce a desire to change, because the ideas that shape our culture make shame a hangover of an antiquated religious world-view . . . Shame is to the moral health of a society what pain is to the body. It is the sense of shame that provides an indicator to the mind. There is a powerful analogy even from the physical world of the materialist. It comes to us from the scanner theory of cancer causation.2 His theory propounds that an incurable cancer is not ultimately caused by the cancer itself as much as by a detection system that has broken down. According to this hypothesis, healthy cells in the body routinely be come cancerous. But built into the body is a system of detection and a mechanism that comes into play to identify the cancerous cells and destroy them before they take over. It is not the cancer but the breakdown of the detection system that proves fatal.

  How pitiful is the condition we have reached if we smother that sense of shame that was part of society’s scanner system to detect wrongdoing and deal with it. Is it any wonder that our news journals are filled with page after page of incidents that continually shock us and are steadily bleeding decency out of life’s mainstream?

  The loss of shame in a society is ultimately an attack upon all of civilization. Why is that so? Put succinctly, it is this. The man who molests a child and feels a sense of shame expresses that shame because he has denuded and defaced that one person. The person who commits this same act and feels no shame in effect denudes and defaces the whole world because he is thereby telling us that our self-respect and the sacredness of physical privacy are worthless. His loss of shame is an attack upon all of humanity, because shame was given to us as a guardian, not only of ourselves, but of our fellow human being . . . It can be carved into the national ethos that the loss of belief in the supernatural, which secularism implies, has led to an eradication of the sense of shame, which secularism cannot deal with. That may well have been the goal in the minds of some societal engineers, but let us be sure that it produces a completely different soil than the one that brought America to its greatness. The soil of shamelessness gives root to evil in its most violent forms. The unbearable reality of secularism’s consequential loss of shame is that the ones we victimize by evil can even be the ones we claim to love.

  To raise a child without shame is to raise one with no immune system against evil . . . This is the crime we end up witnessing when family members kill their own offspring or their parents. To remove shame is to perpetuate evil even toward the ones we love.

  The catalog of crimes within families and between friends is one of the most painful and incomprehensible. The evils we foist upon children at the hands of responsible adults are not crimes born of hate. They are passions unleashed and justified by a conscience bereft of shame or remorse. Any conversation with a police officer who investigates such criminality within families reveals horror stories that stun the mind. Almost every such officer I have met has said to me that if we were to know even a fraction of all that goes on in homes behind closed doors the knowledge would be heartbreaking. Shame is meant to protect the very ones we love. But our culture has killed it. With the name of God now unhallowed and His kingdom not welcome does it make any sense to cry, ‘Deliver us from evil’? . . . Through secularism, this mood of a society without shame now covers the land. We may analyze the carriers and progenitors that led to this state ad nauseum, but it all ultimately points back to the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis. The big question Adam and Eve were asked was, ‘Has God really said . . . ?’ When they questioned the reality of His voice and supplanted it with their own authority, they made themselves the measure of all things. No sooner had that choice been made and God’s voice overridden than the feelings of fear and shame overcame them, and they tried to cover themselves.

  Shortly thereafter, the Voice from Without came to them again: ‘Adam, where are you?’ God knew the answer to that, but it was an opportunity for them to recognize their transgression and to repent of it. God in His grace provided a covering for their sin.

  Just one generation later when Cain murdered his brother Abel, the Voice from Without came again: ‘Cain, where is your brother Abel?’

  Now there was no shame, no remorse. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ thundered forth the response, bereft of shame. There was no covering this time. The divine pronouncement was unequivocal. ‘You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’4 The silence would now be one of apprehension, of ever looking over his shoulder . . . It was Luther of old who once cried out, ‘Bless us, oh Lord; yea, even curse us, but please be not silent.’ Secularization the silencing of the supernatural–brings about an eerie silence.”

Ftnt. #2: Scanner theory is described by M. Scott Peck in A World Waiting to Be Born. (New York: Bantam, 1993), IO.

Ftnt. #4: See Gen. 4:9-12.

Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us from Evil. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 63-67. [Italics original.]

“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy Word is truth.” John 17:17

The Virgin Birth & Naturalism

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

“Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Materialists believe in the virgin birth of the cosmos. Choose your miracle.” Glen Scrivener, on his twitter feed, @glenscrivener, 5 January 2014.

*

“We find one virgin birth in the story of the Incarnation:

‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:38).

Admittedly, this is out of the ordinary. But criticism without alternative is empty; a hypothesis is only plausible or implausible relative to what alternative hypotheses present themselves. So what exactly is the alternative?

My colleague Professor John Lennox debated another Princeton professor, Peter Singer, one of the world’s most influential atheists. Lennox challenged him to answer this question: ‘Why are we here?’ And this was Professor Singer’s response:

We can assume that somehow in the primeval soup we got collections of molecules that became self-replicating; and I don’t think we need any miraculous or mysterious [explanation].1

Self-replicating molecules somehow emerging out of a primeval soup strikes me as leaving substantial room for mystery. In fact, without further clarification, this theory sounds not dissimilar to a virgin birth. Or take Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking’s latest attempt to propose an atheistic explanation for our universe:

‘…the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.’2

But physical matter doesn’t normally materialize out of nothing, so this account also presents itself as outside the realm of the ordinary. Is this a less miraculous birth than the story of Jesus?

Or, finally, consider the position of the prominent atheist philosopher Quentin Smith:

The fact of the matter is that the most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing and for nothing . . . We should . . . acknowledge our foundation in nothingness and feel awe at the marvelous fact that we have a chance to participate briefly in this incredible sunburst that interrupts without reason the reign of non-being.’3

That is a refreshingly honest characterization, but again it is not at all clear why a foundation in nothingness should be viewed as comparatively more reasonable than a foundation in God.

The fact is, we live in a miraculous world. Regardless of a person’s worldview, the extraordinariness of the universe is evident to theists, atheists, and agnostics alike. It is therefore not a matter of whether we believe in a virgin birth, but which virgin birth we choose to accept.

We can believe in the virgin birth of an atheistic universe that is indifferent to us—a universe where ‘there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.’4

Alternatively, we can believe in the virgin birth of a God who loves us so deeply that he ‘became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (John 1:14). Emmanuel, God with us.”

Ftnt.#1:“Is There a God,” Melbourne, Australia, 20 July 2011.

Ftnt.#2: Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam, 2010), 180.

Ftnt.#3: Quentin Smith, “The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism,” Philo 4.2., 2000.

Ftnt.#4: Richard Dawkins, A River Out of Eden (New York: Perseus, 1995), 133.

Vince Vitale, “Everyone Believes In A Virgin Birth,” 6/16/17, on the blog, A Slice of Infinity; electronic ed. accessed on 6/20/17 here: http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/everyone-believes-in-a-virgin-birth/ [Italics original.]

*Art: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gabrielle_et_Jean,_by_Pierre-Auguste_Renoir,_from_C2RMF_cropped.jpg [Labelled for noncommercial reuse.]

Secular Idolatry

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Try as they might, modern naturalists are unable to escape the concept of God. A quote from Stony Brook University’s late evolutionary theorist Dr. George C. Williams demonstrates this tendency:

Though a major expositor of evolutionary theory, Dr. Williams was always aware that his explanations were a work in progress and that they might in principle be superseded by better ones. Evolutionary theory, as stated by its great 20th-century masters Ronald Fisher, J. B. S. Haldane and Sewall Wright, ‘may not, in any absolute sense, represent the truth,’ Dr. Williams wrote at the conclusion of his book on adaptation, ‘but I am convinced that it is the light and the way.’[i]

In suppressing the truth of God, who is the true Creator, he ascribed divine attributes to unthinking, impersonal natural forces. The Lord Jesus Christ – “the way, the truth, and the life” – is supplanted by created things (Jn. 14:6); elsewhere He is called “the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12.) In essence, this is secular idolatry: assigning divine qualities to natural phenomena. For men to do this is nothing new, for Romans 1:25 details mankind’s past departure from the knowledge of their Maker: “[they]…exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

If men refuse to adore the true God, they will venerate lesser imitation deities, for they are created to worship. In the ancient world, humans deified air, water, earth, and fire. Today the names are more sophisticated – Evolution with a capital “E,” for example – but the principle is the same. In reverencing the creation, they cut themselves off from true light and truth, as well as the only way to God (Acts 4:12.) What is more, they have no salvation from their sin. They become like what they worship. Faith in evolution will never free one from addiction and self-destructive behavior; nor will it function as an incentive to righteousness. Only the Lord Jesus can save man and give him the power to consistently overcome sin.[ii]


[i] Nicholas Wade, obituary: “George C. Williams, 83, Theorist on Evolution, Dies.” The New York Times, published 9/13/10, electronic edition accessed here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14williams.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss Accessed on 9/14/10.

[ii] Like other unbelievers, evolutionists possess moral sense and often do “good” things. This is evidence of the conscience that God created within all men (Rom. 2:15.) Nonetheless, consistent righteous behavior requires the work of God by His Holy Spirit, Who is given to those who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (See Gal. 5 & Rom. 6-8.) Conversely, when genuine Christians behave unrighteously, they are living inconsistent with their salvation, and are ceding control to the flesh rather than the indwelling Holy Spirit.

To download the article in pdf., click on this link: Secular Idolatry