Monday, August 20, 2018

Sean McDowell on the WORLDVIEW of NATURALISM

Sean McDowell on the WORLDVIEW of NATURALISM
A generation ago, one of the most popular shows on TV was Cosmos.[1]  The host, Carl Sagan, began each episode by saying, “The cosmos is all that is, or was, or ever will be.”  In a nutshell, Carl Sagan was describing a worldview known as naturalism, which is the view that all that exists is the physical, material world in which there is no supernatural realm.  Naturalism is clearly the predominant view in western culture-shaping institutions like the educational system, the university, and even the media.
Naturalism offers non-supernatural answers to our four big worldview questions:
First, what is real?  According to naturalism the only things that are real are those that can be tested by the five senses.  In other words, only those things that have height, weight, extension in space and other physical properties.  So essentially, if something can’t be weighed on a scale or seen through a microscope it doesn’t exist.  So things like God, values, purposes, objective morality, demons, and the soul are not real.   But, of course, things like grass,  water, and sand are real. 
So, what is man?  On naturalism, man is not the purposeful creation intended by a loving God meant to be a relationship with God and with other people.  In fact, the late atheist Victor Singer captured the naturalistic view of man well.  “Darwinism implies that humanity developed by accident, contradicting the traditional teaching that humans are special, created in God’s image.” (Victor Stenger, The New Atheism (2009)) So essentially what that means is that you and I and all of creation is a cosmic accident. 
Now the third question is, “What happens at death?”  There are really three options of what happens to you when you die.  One would be to face some kind of judgment and go either to Heaven or Hell.  The other possibility is to go through some kind cycle of reincarnation.  And the last possibility is –that when you die you cease to exist.  So from the naturalist worldview, since there is no God and no soul when you stop breathing your last breath, your life is done.  Death is final.  In the 1970’s the band, Kansas, had a famous song in which they described human beings as merely “dust in the wind.”[2]  That all our dreams are a mere curiosity.  So we are like a drop of water in an endless sea.  All that lasts forever is the earth below and the sky above. 
So then our fourth questions is, “What is the basis for right and wrong?”  Since naturalists don’t believe in God, there’s no standard outside of mankind that determines right and wrong.  While there are a variety of different attempts to explain morality from the naturalistic worldview, essentially it boils down to what benefits mankind and helps propagate the species. 
Naturalism is nothing new.  In fact centuries before the time of Christ, there were some Greek philosophers who believed that all reality could be described as these small tiny atoms.  While naturalism may not be new it is in direct contrast and conflict with the Christian worldview.  The question is, “Can it capture reality both as we experience it and know it to be?”