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Science: Insufficient for Metaphysics

Sunday, May 23, 2010 | Comments (6)

It's hard to imagine anything more absurd than the naturalist's formula for the origin of the universe: Nobody times nothing equals everything. There is no Creator; there was no design or purpose. Everything we see simply emerged and evolved by pure chance from a total void.

Not long ago, when you asked the typical naturalist what he believed about the beginning of all things, you were likely to hear about the Big Bang theory—the notion that the universe is the product of an immense explosion. As if an utterly violent and chaotic beginning could result in all the synergy and order we observe in the cosmos around us. Today the theories have changed, but the common root of speculation remains the same.

I used to ask those who subscribed to the Big Bang theory, what was the catalyst that touched off that Big Bang in the first place? (And what, in turn, was the catalyst for that?) Something incredibly large had to fuel the original explosion. Where did that "something" originate? A Big Bang out of nowhere quite simply could not have been the beginning of all things. Apart from the eternal God of the Scripture, answers about ultimate origins are short in coming.

Is the material universe itself eternal, as some claim? And if it is, why hasn't it wound down? For that matter, what set it in motion to begin with? What is the source of the energy that keeps it going? Why hasn't entropy caused it to devolve into a state of inertia and chaos, rather than (as the evolutionist must hypothesize) apparently developing into a more orderly and increasingly sophisticated system as the Big Bang expands?

The vast array of insurmountable problems for the naturalist begins at the most basic level. What was the First Cause that caused everything else? Where did matter come from? Where did energy come from? What holds everything together and what keeps everything going? How could life, self-consciousness, and rationality evolve from inanimate, inorganic matter? Who designed the many complex and interdependent organisms and sophisticated ecosystems we observe? Where did intelligence originate? Are we to think of the universe as a massive perpetual-motion apparatus with some sort of impersonal "intelligence" of its own? Or is there, after all, a personal, intelligent Designer who created everything and set it all in motion?

Those are vital metaphysical questions that must be answered if we are to understand the meaning and value of life itself. Philosophical naturalism, because of its materialistic and anti-supernatural presuppositions, is utterly incapable of offering any answers to those questions. In fact, the most basic dogma of naturalism is that everything happens by natural processes; nothing is supernatural; and therefore there can be no personal Creator. That means there can be no design and no purpose for anything. Naturalism therefore can provide no philosophical basis for believing that human life is particularly valuable or in any way significant.

Here's the topic of discussion for the comment thread: Philosophical naturalism has invalidated itself from metaphysical inquiry by denying super-natural explanations a priori. Naturalism has no credibility in the field of metaphysics, and yet scientists and philosophers who hold materialistic and anti-supernatural presuppositions biases continue to transgress the limitations of their discipline. What would a research biologist, geneticist, or geologist think about being paired up with an antimaterialist? Wouldn't the antimaterialist's presuppositions lead to frustration in scientific inquiry?

In what way are many of today's scientists guilty of applying an anti-supernatural bias to the question of origins? What validity is there in trying to conform the Bible, the revelation of a super-natural God, to an anti-supernatural/materialist worldview?

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#1  Posted by Jay Butler  |  Sunday, May 23, 2010at 2:14 AM

The biologist, geneticist, and geologist would certainly be frustrated in dealing with a true antimaterialist. However, much like the atheist, I doubt that a antimaterialist could live out his beliefs practically. They have no answer for "first cause." They can not explain how their explanation of the universe goes directly against the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. And with the incredible fine-tuning we see around us, they continue to assert that this came by chance.

#2  Posted by Calvin Bell  |  Sunday, May 23, 2010at 8:33 AM

Jay Butler wrote: "They can not explain how their explanation of the universe goes directly against the 2nd law of Thermodynamics." Actually Jay, the rabbit they try to pull out of their hat on this one is to assert the mumbo-jumbo of the system being "open" vs "closed". Of course were still waiting for someone to produce a model system where the 2nd law of Thermodynamics ceases to exist. My favorite claim these guy's use is how the complex design we see here in the real world is an illusion. It only "appears" to be a design from a genius mind. It looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck but nope, no duck here! I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how any organizm could survive the evolutionary process when it has to be complete in order to survive for even an instant. Any living creature has to be fully developed from the beginning. How does the biologist get around this simple and basic truth?

#3  Posted by Garrett League  |  Sunday, May 23, 2010at 9:46 PM

"In what way are many of today's scientists guilty of applying an anti-supernatural bias to the question of origins?"

Sagan said it best: the cosmos is all there is, was, and ever will be. If that isn't pure paganism I don't know what is.

#4  Posted by Paul Tucker  |  Monday, May 24, 2010at 10:36 PM

Hi Folks: Since Carl Sagan has past the natural world and has gone into the supernatural realm, he is not an evolutionary, anti-supernaturalist. I really do not mean this as a joke, so please do not laugh. It is a sad truth.

The supernatural basis of the universe is unquestionable, no matter how it got here. The "Big-Bang" requires a cause. A infinite universe requires a supernatural explanation, (and that requires a lot more nothings becoming somethings on a regular basis). Maybe it would be more to the point to ask if infinitude has somehow been limited by such a view, I mean in a metaphysical sense?) Most cosmologist that I have seen limit the universe to the amount of time it would light to travel 14.3 billion years, approximately 193 billion light years, I think. They take this on faith as no one really knows since it is also acknowledged that the visible universe is only 28 billion light years broad. (And I don't know what presuppositions were used to come to that figure.) I agree with you bro. John, can't get there from an anti-supernatural here, and even Sagan's statement, as supplied by Garrett League demonstrates this supernatural belief in a anti-supernatural (supernatural) non-caused cosmos. (I have a head ache now) Just a thought.

#5  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Tuesday, May 25, 2010at 6:54 AM

While the topic is rather mind twisting in its presentation the heart of the issue at hand can be seen in the conflicts between theology and science which arose from Aristotilianism...that being the philisophical theories of double truth.

What I see happening today is a concerted effort to make the biblical accounts of history mesh with what empirical science has theorized (without evidence I might add...evolution for example) to arrive at "truth"...just look at what theistic evolutionists are doing for proof.

The actuality of the situation is that truth originates, is sustained, and ultimately returns/points to God...the God of the bible (not Allah as Avicenna postulated).

In other words, natural/common revelation (that which can be understood empirically) and supernatural/special revelation (that which comes from God and is found in His Word alone) are not at odds with each other and both are unified in the God of the bible alone.

As Romans 11:36 says: For from him and through him and to him are all things.

#6  Posted by Carol Gayheart  |  Tuesday, May 25, 2010at 8:30 PM

OK, it's late & I'm still in Physics kindergarten, but this whole "Big Bang" idea that we learned in school... (I need help from you scientists out there,) I'm trying to wrap my mind around this thought: oK, Man has accomplished splitting the atom. It creates power (energy?) & a big bang, but it didn't create any new galaxies did it? Isn't that basically what the "Big Bang" theory rests upon? Some micron being split?... As I said, it's late & my brain is tired, but I won't remember this question in the morning! And from the biology side, man has accomplished some cloning & test-tube babies, but always started with some material, as well as intellect/human participation guiding the outcomes. It is simply illogical to believe all things have developed by chance & began as nothing.

Christianity is a belief system & proving the existence of God is impossible to unbelievers - even though He has displayed His marvelous works before our very eyes in all that we see & touch & come to understand in this life. And this life is the preparation for the next life/an extension of this life - just a different type of existence - but an eternal one, in which we will have have eternity to praise God for His glorious attributes, but believers understand this & though we can't PROVE God's existence to unbelievers, we can share the certainty of His existence with those like us who have come to know Him & have witnessed His intimate work within our own lives. Unbelievers call those events "coincidences" & "chance happenings" or "providential" but believers KNOW without a doubt that God has directed/orchestrated these events. We must keep living with that confidence displayed for the lost to see what God has revealed to us. It's just another example of God's handiwork for us to marvel in & share with others.