[An apology to those who will read this and wonder WHERE ON EARTH DID THAT COME FROM??!! This is an attempt on my part to work through some "scientific" arguments posed by some of my peers, who deny the existence of God. The level of discourse is high, and I'm afraid this post may scare off some, but if those who read it can comment on its meaning to them, or if you have any comments, I'd appreciate the feedback.]
The Thinking Fish
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
Spend any amount of time in popular metaphysical literature, and you will find abundant reference to the notion that science precludes the existence of God. Conservative commentators must constantly wage battle with the notion that faith and science are mutually exclusive, the one a fool’s errand and the latter the only path to a true understanding of the world.
This text attempts to refute that notion, proving unequivocally that science is not only compatible with the notion of faith; but moreover that science’ dependence upon observation for understanding truth, coupled with the logic that undergirds its study, forces science to conclude the existence of a supernatural creator.
We will prove that naturalism is self-contradictory. In order to do so, and to prevent claims that we have manipulated its definition in order to facilitate our attempt, we will first clearly define naturalism. This will also provide a basis for further discussion should any naturalist desire to challenge the points made in this text.
Naturalism, according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), is a philosophy which holds that “all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.”
Stated more colloquially, naturalism holds that all events and objects derive from natural causes – that no event transpires for which an non-natural event provides ground. Even more strenuously, naturalism precludes the intervention of any non-natural force in the causation of all things we know and experience.
Further, naturalism holds that the ultimate and only source of knowledge is via rational inquiry. No source of revelation beside the actual scientific study of observation and logical conclusions that follow may be allowed to intrude on the reasoned discourse of man.
The means for refuting naturalism, then, must lie in the discovery of some physical phenomena for which it can be demonstrated that no natural cause exists. Such a phenomenon would then require as grounds for its existence some extra-natural event, something that naturalism is quite unprepared to accept.
The Heart of Naturalism
The deep core of naturalism beats around the notion of causality. Any object, any event can be defined as the confluence of causes and events that intersect with its existence. Yet this notion presents a deep problem that cuts at the very tenets of naturalism, for if naturalism is to hold, it must hold for all things natural.
A moment of clarification is necessary. Naturalism, if it is to hold, must be understood to provide an answer for any physical phenomena. Whether we can provide such an answer, it is enough if we can conceive that nature could produce such a reason.
Consider for a moment a single cause. Perhaps it is the brush of wind that caused a rock to skittle down a hill. The small grain of dust that overwhelmed a cloud’s capacity to contain the rain. Now consider the causes adjacent to that, and then adjacent to those, and so on, until you fathom the sum of all causes within the physical world.
This entity is known to us. It is existence. These causes, in their aggregate, are (according to naturalism) the very agents that cause us to be. So what of them? They can be observed to some degree, although we could not contain the whole of them within our comprehension. But the clarification above states that we need not comprehend the entirety if we can but conceive a means by which they might be explained.
Unfortunately, logic prevents us from doing so. Were there a cause for the totality of causes, would it not be included a priori within said causes and hence no longer be able to cause the rest, for certainly a part of something cannot cause the whole?
Naturalism however, demands that this event, this existence of the confluence of all causes, have a source. There are to be no free causal agents, those that cause but are not caused in return. Yet no such cause can be found, for to find such a cause would indeed be subsumed within the entity it seeks to cause.
As such, the demand of naturalism itself leads to the only conceivable conclusion, that something outside of nature inserts itself within our world to create existence.
The Death of Naturalism
So naturalism, as we know it, must die. To entertain the notion that all can be explained within the physical is to conclude that something must derive from the non-physical. Such contradictions ought not to be tolerated within the realm of science.
But what if we attempted to rationalize the supernatural into something akin to our natural world, a supernaturalism, if you will? What if we attempted to create a supernature about our nature, so that our physical world must operate within the confines of our natural law, punctuated by the occasional intervention from supernature, but that the agent within supernature that caused our existence is itself bound by some higher natural law? We might then still be able to salvage the character of naturalism, although its singular nature must needs surrender to the concept of some hierarchy of natures.
Unfortunately, this too is doomed to failure, for were our supernature to be constrained by its own form of naturalism, it would fall to the same argument that did in our own limited view of nature. It appears that postulating hierarchies of nature is sufficient only to complicate the question. It cannot free naturalism of its own inherent contradiction.
The only solution then by which we might save naturalism, is to appeal to some Alpha naturalism, the sum total of a potentially infinite hierarchy of natures, each punctuating and affecting those beneath it. Perhaps by its infinite nature, we can come close enough to God without having to concede his existence as well.
Such an infinite hierarchy of natures would indeed be complex, but mathematics and science are hardly strangers to the world of the infinite. This infinite world-within-a-world construct, while itself infinite, is and must be a single entity. Within its bounds is an infinite stream of worlds, but considered as a whole, it is singular, and according to the Alphanaturalism that would constrain it, must itself have a cause. We are back to the same difficulty.
The only conceivable means by which we can solve this dilemma is to stop. Stop attempting to harness a greater and greater world, and instead recognize the supernatural source, a free causal agent that causes without being caused, one that has Existed without requiring a beginning. Only such a source can provide the answer, and yet such a source is the ultimate defeat of naturalism.
Science And God
The commentary above demonstrates that the observable world and its laws must drive us to a conclusion. Namely, that a force unwillable by any other force, and with the power to affect all worlds beneath its scope, both willfully and deliberately created all around us. Such a force finds no place in the traditional scientific literature of today, but is freely accommodated in the world of Faith.
That Science leads us to God is no surprise to those who believe in God. Science and faith are not mutually exclusive. In fact, Science is dependent upon God both for the structure upon which it rests and for the logical grounds within whose constraints it operates.
This text says nothing of the nature of God. It does not demonstrate the truth of any particular faith. It merely points to God’s existence. And as such, Science fundamentally changes the nature of our discourse, for we can no longer deny the existence of God.
Our method of understanding God may vary from person to person, but indeed, only fools can claim that God does not exist, for Science not only demands the existence of deity, but depends upon It for its very survival.