If a Christian has not taken the time to learn the basics of his or her faith, it is very easy to become confused when Naturalists begin throwing out “proofs and evidence” that there is no God. They employ a number of different approaches to do this. They try to give evidence that the Bible is not true or reliable, they put forth “scientific evidence” that evolution is true, they use intimidation and a number of other tactics to try and destroy the faith of Christians.
Let’s start, then, with a basic and profound principle. All of the tactics that Naturalists try to use are based on a set of presuppositions which assert that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality. The most important thing to understand, though, is that every argument that they make is based on a set of faith assumptions. Many of their arguments may seem very powerful and persuasive when argued in the context of their own faith assumptions. However, when the context is bared, Naturalism is exposed for the religious faith that it is.
Here is the context that Christians must keep in mind:
- Naturalism is built completely on a foundation of faith.
- Naturalism cannot prove that there is no supernatural reality.
- Naturalism cannot account for: the ultimate existence of matter, the existence of life, the existence of consciousness, or for how various life forms came into existence. Their assertions in all of these areas are not based on science – they are pure faith.
In spite of the fact that these statements are true, Naturalists strongly advocate for their position and try to put down the Christian position. Below are a sampling of the many of the kinds of arguments they will use. This is by no means a complete list, but hopefully it does provide enough examples to help you understand the basis of the Naturalistic assertions and the way Christians can deal with them.
Arguments Based on Putting Down Christians or the Work of Christians
1. Numerous researchers and authors have written about proofs that what is in the Bible is not true. Many of these authors were, themselves, once Christians but have seen the error of their former beliefs.
- This is a generic argument and doesn’t give any kind of specific information that can be affirmed or refuted. Making a general statement that “numerous researchers and authors have done this or that” has no meaning whatsoever. If you want to make an argument, then give specifics about who and what you are talking about.
- Also, if a person is going to assert a generalization like this, it is not improper for a Christian to assert a generalization back. That is, the evidence that these authors give is based completely on faith presuppositions and speculation. It is not supportable in any empirical sense.
2. As I read many Christian authors who try to give a defense of Christianity, I am not convinced by their arguments.
- The truth of Christianity is not based on the arguments of any particular human author. It is founded upon the validity of the Bible. All the various authors are trying to do is to organize their material in a way that makes Biblical principles easier to understand. If there is a particular author that a non-Christian does not “click with,” that has nothing to do with the actual truth or falsity of the Christian faith.
- The fact that an individual is not convinced by a particular author or argument also has no meaning as it relates to the validity of the argument. Many people don’t accept legitimate arguments simply because, for one reason or another, they intentionally ignore credible evidence.
3. I have come across material that debunks Christianity and am convinced by it (ex. http://skepticsannotatedBible.com).
- Websites like this one are completely bogus. The kinds of arguments they give are mostly personal opinion based on emotional rants with no scholarship whatsoever behind them. They are so bad that they are not even worth a response. This reply is not an attempt to avoid a discussion. Literally, in cases like this, there is nothing rational to discuss.
4. There are people who have been Christians, some even preachers, who have later disavowed Christianity because they came to believe that it could not be supported.
- Individual motives for changing one’s personal belief foundation are varied. Some people change because it provides them some kind of personal gain. There are also some who change because they don’t want to have to live up to the moral demands of the Christian faith. There are other similar reasons why people change which have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual validity of the Christian faith.
- Of course, there are those cases where the change is completely sincere. However, an individual’s decision to change worldviews has absolutely no bearing on the actual truth or falsity of the worldview itself. It is certainly possible for people to make a change and be completely wrong.
5. There have been many people who have claimed to hear a word from God and have turned out to be very evil people (ex. Jim Jones). It is really impossible to know who is really hearing from God.
- Just because a person claims to have heard from God does not make it true. The Bible is the ultimate expression of God’s revelation of himself, and no one is allowed to arbitrarily interpret it. The interpretations must be based on solid hermineutical (interpretive) principles. It is quite irrational to reject God because some person who claims to have heard a word from God turns out to be an evil person.
- The same argument can be made concerning some who hold Naturalistic belief systems, as well. Some of the most vicious and murderous tyrants that the world has ever seen were Naturalists. If the argument above holds for Christians, then all Naturalists must also be murderous tyrants.
- It is certainly possible to know who is really hearing from God. It is the ones who take their cues from Scripture and follow it faithfully. The fact that there are people who do not do this in no way discounts the objective reality of the truth of the Biblical message.
6. Christianity can’t be right because of all of the people killed in wars based on it.
- It is ironic that a person advocating an atheistic philosophy that is responsible for far more deaths through war and genocide is bringing this claim.
- While it is true that unjust wars have been fought in the name of Christianity, whenever that has happened, it has been by people who went against the tenets of the faith to do it. When the same thing has been done by adherents of atheism, it was consistent with the belief system.
7. It is unreasonable to believe in Christianity because there are so many hypocrites who claim to be Christians but whose lives reflect very unchristian values.
- This kind of argument is totally ridiculous. The truth of Christianity is not based on the actions of any individual. The Christian faith stands on its own. Anyone who would base their evaluation of the Christian faith on the acts of unfaithful and inconsistent people is dealing with some kind of personal moral issue, not with the truth of the Christianity itself.
8. There are Christians who are teaching information about the universe which is scientifically untenable. This undermines the credibility of the Bible and of Christianity.
- Wrong teaching (if it is actually wrong teaching) by an individual does nothing to change the truth. The credibility of the Bible and of Christianity is based on its own teachings, not on the statements of some individual.
- Much of what is termed “wrong teaching” by Naturalists is actually not “wrong” at all. It is simply a different interpretation of the data based on Theistic presuppositions rather than on Naturalistic ones.
Arguments Based on the Superiority of Science
1. Science is the best way to get at all truth because it uses a methodology which tries to disprove itself. Any system which does not have a means of self-validation which includes the possibility of disproving itself cannot be right
- This statement is only partly true. First of all, many scientists do ignore contradictory evidence in order to advance their own pet ideas.
- Secondly, science is a methodology that is, by definition, confined to the material world. It is incapable of even dealing with questions related to issues outside of material reality. In order to deal with the issues of origins, life and consciousness, it becomes necessary to move beyond science and into theology and philosophy. Naturalism , itself, does this but tries to hide the philosophical core with a veneer of science. You simply cannot answer any question about the nature of ultimate reality using the scientific method.
2. If Christianity were true, you would have empirical or statistical proof that God answers prayer.
- If there truly is a God, this assertion makes no sense at all. In order to make a statement like this a person would have to require that God work only through natural means. This assertion requires a Naturalistic worldview foundation and there is nothing to back it up.
3. Among all biologists with refereed research publications, the percentage which supports ID (Intelligent Design) is very small. The vast majority of Christian biologists that have reached the research level support evolution.
- The fact that a large majority of scientists in the various fields of biological science are Naturalists does not make them right regarding issues related to evolutionary theory. Theories become accepted throughout the scientific community, at any given point in time, based on the interpretation of data through the most popular worldview filter. The tendency in our current day is for the majority to use the Naturalistic filter. The number of scientists who accept it does not determine its truth.
- There have been many, many instances throughout time where later discoveries have debunked previous theories and caused everyone to shift over to a new one. One major theory that comes to mind is the makeup of the atom. Not too many years back, it was believed that the atom was only made up of a few simple particles. Virtually all scientists believed it and this theory was taught at virtually every level of the educational system. As regards evolutionary theory, the number of scientists lined up on one particular side of the line or other is not the factor that determines truth.
- A Naturalistic worldview colors the research and the interpretation of a lot of the research that is done. If most of that research is done by people who start with Naturalistic presuppositions, the results will necessarily support a Naturalistic conclusion. Scientists who are committed Naturalists simply will not allow the assumptions of other worldviews to even be debated.
- It is a fact that most academic publications which accept articles for publication are run by people with a Naturalistic worldview. Many of these publications will not even accept articles written from a Theistic perspective. This fact makes the argument above a case of comparing apples and oranges. You simply can’t get a fair reading or make a valid comparison on the writings of biologists based simply on refereed research publications if people with dissenting opinions are not allowed to be published.
Arguments Based on Denigrating the Bible and Biblical Scholarship
1. A detailed study of the evidence for the Christian faith demonstrates a weak foundation.
- This is a generalization that cannot be backed up. Anyone who makes a statement like this should be forced to give specific examples. A proper generalized rebuttal is that a detailed study of the evidence for the Christian faith actually demonstrates a very strong foundation.
2. The claims of Christians that the Bible is true is simply one of several possible ways to look at Biblical interpretation. The truth of the Bible simply cannot be solidly proven by the evidence.
- This is another generalization that cannot be backed up. A person who makes this claim should be forced to give other methods of Biblical interpretation and why these other ways are viable.
- The fact is, there is all kinds of solid evidence to back up the truth claims of the Bible. These include archeological evidence, eyewitness evidence, outside corroboration, historical evidence, fulfilled prophesy, and others
3. There is no decisive evidence for Christianity, otherwise everyone would believe and it would no longer be called faith, it would be knowledge.
- This assertion requires the Naturalistic presupposition that the only decisive evidence is what can be demonstrated in a science lab. If you insist on using only evidence that a committed Naturalist will accept, you eliminate, out of hand, many of the lines of evidence that Christians put forth. Limiting the evidence to what is only allowable on the basis of a Naturalistic worldview is not, in any sense, a valid way to approach this topic.
4. You can’t reconcile the idea of a loving God with the tremendous amount of violence (much of it committed or ordered by God) in the Old Testament.
- This statement is evidence that the one making the accusation does not understand the complete nature of God and is imposing his own personal values on God. It is essentially saying, “My way of looking at reality is right and what is taught in the Bible is wrong.” To get at the truth about God, it is necessary to see things from his perspective, rather than from one’s own. It is necessary to reconcile his love with his holiness and justice. It is also necessary to understand the absolute horror of sin. If the entire context of the Bible is understood, the violence that is recorded there is completely understandable.
- Because there are no moral absolutes in Naturalism, it is really unclear why a Naturalist would have any problem with any kind of violence as long as it accomplishes the purposes of the one who is in control.
5. A worldview in which violence and genocide is OK because it’s committed by a good God is impossible to adopt.
- This is a very interesting statement coming from a person who advocates a worldview in which morality is simply a whim. Under Naturalism, how does one come to the conclusion that even something that is generally held to be evil (violence on innocents and genocide) is bad. In fact, the Nazi and Communist genocides of the 20th century were all based on Naturalistic philosophy. Under Naturalism there is no basis whatsoever for making any kind of absolute moral claim that something is wrong, even violence against innocent people or genocide. Under Naturalism, morality is simply what the ones in power want it to be.
- This is another case where the ones making the accusation do not understand the complete nature of God and are imposing their own personal values on him.
6. To find the actual truth of the resurrection of Christ, you have to study the evidence presented both by believers and by skeptics.
- Scholars have done this extensively and the evidence given by the skeptics simply does not hold up. What this assertion is really asking is for the evidence given by skeptics to receive the same weight as that of believers. But that is only valid if the evidence itself holds up. Every piece of evidence put forth must stand on its own. It is ridiculous to require that one arbitrarily accept a line of reasoning just because it comes from a skeptic.
7. We know that killing infants is wrong. And so is killing people for crimes committed by their distant ancestors. Those are the only assumptions I need to reject the idea that the Bible is inspired by a good God.
- Under Naturalism there is no basis for making that kind of assumption, even though most people would agree with it. It is totally and completely an arbitrary moral statement. Under Naturalism there is no such thing as objective right and wrong. Any moral statement is nothing more than a matter of personal preference. Coming from a Naturalistic worldview, choosing to reject what is in the Bible is totally arbitrary.
8. If God had wanted us to believe that he exists, he could have given us undeniable evidence.
- There is tremendous evidence for the existence of God for those who are willing to look at it. Typically, Naturalists dismiss, out of hand, much of the evidence as inadequate because it does not have an empirical basis.
- No matter how good the evidence is, a person who does not want to believe can spin it in a way as to deny it.
9. A loving God would not create hell and send people there.
- There is no empirical basis for a Naturalist to make a statement like this.
- This assertion simply shows a lack of understanding of the nature of God and the nature of love.
- God does not “send” people to hell. The opportunity to enter into a relationship with God is offered to every human being. The determining factor is the personal choice that each person makes. It is not God’s fault when a person decides to ignore his offer of eternal life.
10. Giving the unbeliever an afterlife in a place where there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth” serves no purpose.
- On what basis or authority can a Naturalist make this assertion? This statement, itself, has no evidence behind it and is nothing more than an expression of a personal preference. It indicates a total lack of understanding of the nature of God, the nature of man, and the nature of eternity that is taught in the Bible. If a person reads and understands the Bible, the purpose of the existence of a place outside of the presence of God is very clear. Not liking the fact that a place like that exists is not a valid reason for saying it serves no purpose.
11. Regarding the actual historicity of the formation of the early church, God made sure not to leave any real evidence behind. There are no texts that date in the same decade, no evidence that most of the apostles even existed, etc. It appears as if God doesn’t want everyone to believe in it.
- This assertion shows a real lack of knowledge and understanding of the very strong and compelling archeological and other historical evidence that is available concerning the origins of the early church. There is stronger evidence, by far, for the accuracy of the Biblical text than for any other ancient text in existence.
12. There are hundreds of contradictions in the Bible.
- There are not contradictions in the Bible. People who make this claim are simply using an approach to Biblical interpretation which calls certain things contradictions which are actually not.
- Not everything in the Bible can be fully explained, but that is not the same thing as a contradiction.
- Many of the things which are called contradictions are easily reconciled and explained.
- People who assert contradictions are basing their assertion on a set of presuppositional ideas which cannot be supported by facts.
13. When people believe in the Bible and all of its obvious contradictions, it is proof that they do it strictly based on emotions.
- This is a statement that has no basis in fact and is, itself, an emotional outburst. The Bible is not full of contradictions, and Christians have solid scholarship and tremendous evidence that it is, in fact, true.
14. When Christians try to explain the contradictions in the Bible, they are simply pulling together ad hoc explanations to finesse the things they can’t explain.
- That kind of accusation is grossly unfair. In trying to give an explanation to someone who makes this kind of accusation, there is literally no way to make a valid point. The questioner has already decided ahead of time that any and every answer is invalid. If a person does give a direct answer to a supposed “contradiction,” he is immediately accused of trying to “get rid of an inconvenient fact.” No answer that is ever given will satisfy the question and everything will be perceived as trying to “explain it away.” When being attacked that way, the answer really doesn’t matter because the person has already decided that no answer could possibly be valid.
15. A good God would never order Abraham to kill his son.
- This kind of interpretation of scripture indicates a complete misunderstanding of the point of the story, and a totally wrong interpretation of the passage of scripture about Abraham. God never intended for Abraham to kill his son. This was simply a test to see if he was willing to follow God no matter what.
- This is another moral judgement made by someone with a worldview which doesn’t recognize any absolutes related to morality. How can a Naturalist make a moral judgement that what God did was wrong? It is totally inconsistent.
16. A good God would never advocate what is written in Psalm 137:8-9. (O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. NIV)
- This is, again, a place where there is a complete misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the passage. This expression is an idiom (a figure of speech), not a command for people to kill babies. It does not express the desire of the Psalmist to massacre infants, but is a call for God’s justice to destroy an evil empire.
- This is another moral judgement made by someone with a worldview which doesn’t recognize any absolutes related to morality. How can a Naturalist make an absolute moral statement related to any kind of moral issue? It is totally inconsistent.
17. Luke dates the birth of Jesus to 6 A.D. Matthew dates the birth of Jesus to 6 B.C. (or some year before 4 B.C.). No historians, except fundamentalist Christians, dispute that.
- In spite of the forcefulness of this remark, the fact is, it is impossible to determine the exact year of the birth of Christ based on the Biblical record. The assertion of a contradiction related to this topic is not based on absolute historical fact. This assessment is nothing more than conjecture based on certain historical events that are mentioned in the Bible in relation to the birth of Christ. There are possible ways to reconcile the various passages of scripture if one does not dismiss those possibilities out of hand.
18. It is obvious that the authors of Genesis had a geocentric view of the cosmos, believed that the stars sit in a dome in the sky, believed that there was water “above” that dome which is where rain comes from, etc. Biblical inerrancy is simply impossible to believe.
- Of course the authors of Genesis had a geocentric view of the cosmos. The modern scientific way of describing things had not yet been established. To expect a scientific rather than a descriptive explanation of the cosmos in an ancient document is patently absurd. Even today we sometimes use descriptive rather than scientific terminology to describe cosmic events (ex. We often talk about “the sun rising” when in actual fact what is happening is that the earth is spinning on its axis. This does not make the description wrong, it is simply another way of expressing the idea.).
19. As you read the Bible, the descriptions of the world are not accurate (the authors of the Bible thought that the earth was at the center of the universe, that the stars were little lights in the sky small enough so that they could fall to earth, etc.). This is proof that there are errors in the Bible.
- Human understanding, technology and perspective has changed over the centuries to the point where we now look at things through a modern scientific lens. They didn’t have modern science back then with all of our telescopes, satellites, etc. But the fact that they described what they saw does not make the descriptive narratives wrong. It is just descriptive in a way that is not modern science.
20. There is no such thing as fulfilled prophesy. There are no instances where something was predicted in the Bible then later happened.
- This assertion simply shows a gross lack of knowledge of the Biblical text and of history.
21. Christian apologists are very selective with the evidence for the resurrection. They leave out key pieces of evidence in a way that goes far beyond the bounds of academic scholarship. If one includes all the evidence, the case for the resurrection becomes very much weaker.
- This is simply not true. In fact, it is the other way around. There is very strong evidence for the resurrection. Those who try to dismiss that evidence have to resort to very unscholarly gymnastics to try and make their case.
Assertions of the Superiority of Naturalism
1. Agnosticism and Atheism are not positions of faith, they are based on scientific fact.
- Agnosticism and Atheism absolutely are positions of faith. They claim categorically that there is no God, or that it is impossible to know whether or not there is a God. However, this is, itself, a truth claim which is made with no scientific facts to back it up. There is absolutely no empirical evidence that the truth cannot be known. These are philosophical positions based on faith.
2. People believe in God because they have some kind of psychological need for a crutch.
- This is an unsupportable assumption based on a set of faith presuppositions. It starts with the unsupportable assertion that there is no God. Now, if God really does not exist, then perhaps belief in God is a crutch. But if God does exist, then it is simply an acknowledgment of the truth. In rebuttal, the opposite argument could also be made. Putting aside belief in God is a crutch which allows people to set aside guilt for accepting a set of moral values which is contrary to Biblical values and conscience.
3. The question of origins is not that important in dealing with everyday life issues.
- On the contrary, the question of origins cannot be avoided. If a person believes there is no God to create the material universe, then there is no transcendent moral lawgiver and there is no absolute foundation for morality. In that case, humans have no choice but to make up their own moral values. When that is done, morality is based only on the desires of the ones who hold the levers of power. This affects every part of everyday life.
4. Naturalism’s assumption that matter simply exists is just as valid as Christianity’s assumption that God simply exists.
- The two assumptions are not equal. The God that Christianity posits is assumed to have an eternal existence and power to create the material universe, so it is very reasonable for Christians to assert this position. On the other hand, Naturalistic assumptions discount any possible non-natural explanations of any part of reality. The problem is, under Naturalism, there is no empirical reason for matter to exist. Since Naturalism can’t explain the existence of matter from science, all that is left is just to say, “I don’t know how it exists, it just does.” That is not acceptable. If Naturalism is going to assert that there is no supernatural, it must have some empirical foundation to base it on, not simply a philosophical presupposition. The Naturalistic assumption is nothing more than a faith statement with no foundation whatsoever.
5. It is okay for Naturalism to make unsupported assumptions as long as they are testable.
- A distinction must be made, though, concerning which assumptions are being dealt with. Assumptions about the material world are fine to make in order to run tests. However, assumptions about origins and other faith matters are not testable and Naturalism has no objective means of even acknowledging their existence. It is not permissible for Naturalism to assume a philosophical set of assumptions and tout them as objective science.
6. If “might makes right” is good enough for God, why can’t Naturalists use the same approach?
- Here, we are talking about the very structure of reality. If Naturalists can prove there is no God, then there is nothing left but for man to make his own way. However, if God does exist as the Creator, then he established the created order to exist in a certain way and any effort to go against that goes against an actual objective reality. Humans can decide on their own whether or not they want to follow God. But they can’t just decide on their own how reality is structured.
- The whole idea of accusing God of using a “might makes right” methodology of sustaining the operation of the universe is absurd. It is not a matter of might makes right. It is a matter that the universe has to exist in some objective form, and whatever form that is must be sustained based on that objective reality and not some other one.
7. There are countries where most people don’t believe in Christianity anymore, and yet the abortion and crime rates are lower, and aid to the less fortunate is higher.
- Making a statement like this does not make it true. In many of those countries, much of what used to be considered crimes have been legalized. If nothing is a crime, crime rates are bound to be low. The thing that must be known, here, is what standard is being used to define morality (the crime rate). You can’t make comparisons of the crime rates in two different places using two different sets of standards.
- This kind of generalization is totally unfair. In order to answer the assertion it is necessary to have the specific information as to which countries are being referred to and what specific crimes are being compared.
8. It is hard to believe that as massive as the universe is, that the whole thing was created so that human beings would have a place to call home.
- This might seem a bit extravagant for some. But if God is the one who is revealed in the Bible, the material universe is a very small thing for him and only comprises a tiny fraction of the totality of reality – and that only for a limited amount of time. Size, in this case, is strictly a matter of perspective. Just because it seems big to a human being does not mean that it is such a big thing in the eyes of God.
9. If there is a God, he would be more clear about letting me know that he exists.
- God has been very clear about his existence. Anyone who would make a statement like this is simply not willing to accept the evidence that he has put forth. An unwillingness on the part of someone to accept the evidence that exists does not invalidate that evidence.
10. There is no evidence that there is a supernatural reality, therefore it is very unlikely that it exists.
- It is impossible to even consider the possibility of a supernatural reality if all you acknowledge is natural reality. In Naturalism, the supernatural is excluded by definition. No matter what evidence is brought to bear is is not accepted. This kind of statement is based purely on a set of faith presuppositions.
11. If it’s OK for Theists to simply assume that something exists, why is it not OK for a Naturalist to assume that something exists?
- The reason that the Theistic position is able to assume the existence of God is that it is part of the very framework of the Christian faith. God is, by definition, eternal. On the other hand, Naturalism explicitly excludes anything that is not natural, yet bases its entire framework on an assumption that cannot account for the very existence of the natural world. How can one logically make an assumption based on everything being natural when the assumption cannot even account for itself?
12. Christians look at the earth (or the universe) and say “there has to be a reason for all of this.” Then they look at themselves, and say again “there has to be a reason for this.” From this, they conclude that the earth and the universe were created specifically to function as a home for humans, and that humans were also created for a reason.
- This is an entirely flawed understanding of how Christians deal with this issue. Christians do not get their cues about the nature of reality from looking at the universe. This is an attempt to use Naturalistic logic to define Christian thinking. Christians certainly do look to nature to try and understand its physical properties. But we look outside of the natural world for the “why” answers. God has revealed the “whys” in his revelation.
13. The way Naturalism is normally defined relates only to what happens inside of physical reality.
- That is not true. Naturalism is a comprehensive worldview that may try to ignore the problem of ultimate origins, but cannot get away with it. It positively asserts that there is nothing outside of material reality. If it is going to discount a supernatural reality, it must account for physical material in a natural way.
14. Naturalism is a legitimate worldview alternative to Christianity regardless of the fact that it can’t account for the origin of material reality. The claim of Naturalism is that anything that affects what happens inside our physical reality is itself part of our physical reality. In other words, there are no supernatural forces acting inside our physical reality.
- That is simply not a valid definition of Naturalism. Naturalism can’t be divorced from the question of origins. It requires that everything, not just everything in the material universe, have a natural explanation.
- Naturalism cannot bring any evidence to bear which proves that there are no supernatural forces acting inside of our physical reality. It is an assumption based purely on faith.
15. Naturalism does not need to explain why material substance exists because no worldview explains why something exists. Christianity does not explain why God exists. It simply assumes that he exists.
That is simply not an accurate representation of the concept of worldview. Christianity does not need to account for “why” God exists. The very basis of the Christian worldview is that God has no beginning and is self-existent. This explanation does not satisfy the Naturalist who insists on some kind of empirical evidence of God’s existence. However, Naturalism insists that everything must have a natural explanation, which then requires that it also give a reason why it is possible for physical material to exist.
Assertions Based on Science
1. Altruism (unselfish concern for others) benefits the spread of one’s own genes, so it is to be expected from a Naturalistic point of view.
- This statement is completely arbitrary. Under Naturalism, it could just as easily be argued that people are not naturally altruistic and that altruism towards people outside ones own group is detrimental to the survival of the group. It could be argued, and actually has been in certain circumstances, that even the genocide of an opposing faction helps the survival of ones own group. Without a transcendent set of regulations for society, there is no compelling reason to see it one way or another.
2. The DNA evidence (e.g. comparisons of endogenous retroviruses [ERVs] – also sometimes referred to as “junk DNA” [these are DNA particles which scientists don’t yet fully understand]) proves the common ancestry of all living things beyond any reasonable doubt.
- No it does not. In fact, there is an increasing amount of evidence that so called “junk DNA” is not junk at all, and that it performs essential functions.
- To make the assertion that common ancestry is provable requires that people ignore a tremendous amount of evidence that debunks evolutionary theory. When an interpretation of the data starts with the assumptions of Naturalism, it naturally ends with Naturalistic conclusions. But there is no actual validation that ERVs prove common ancestry of all life.
3. The tree-structure derived from the fossil record, as it relates to ERVs matches the tree-structure that computer programs derive from our DNA. That proves common ancestry beyond any reasonable doubt.
- This is purely a case of taking evidence and running it through a Naturalistic filter to try and make the answer come out the way a Naturalist views reality. Basically all this assertion does is to start with a Darwinistic set of presuppositions about how reality is structured and make arguments based on that. Even computer programs are created by people who program them in ways that influence the outcome. The fact is, there is still too much that is not known about the nature of ERVs and the fragments that are found in DNA to make the kind of sweeping conclusions in this assertion. In order to make these claims, there are certain assumptions that have to be made about the origin and nature of viruses that are simply not known. There are other possible explanations for the specific placement of ERVs, not the least of which is that these viral fragments actually do have a function that is not yet known.
- This assertion treats the data as if it is observable science and can be demonstrated in a laboratory. This is simply not the case, and this kind of historical data simply can’t be treated that way. The asserted conclusion is only correct if the Darwinist presuppositions are correct. There are at least six alternative possibilities that can be deduced about this data given a different set of presuppositions. There is no way one can be so definitive as to say it absolutely shows common ancestry. From a Christian perspective, it better reflects a common designer than a common ancestor.
- There is an even larger problem as it relates to the assertion of common ancestry. The entire notion that one life form, or even one species, has evolved from another lacks any scientific verification. There is no fossil evidence of even one intermediate form. And after decades of work trying to induce mutations, attempting to create environments from which life could emerge, formulating theories about where and how life originated, and formulating theories about how mutations could incrementally generate new species, there is still no known biological mechanism which could produce evolution. This, in itself, is evidence that the conclusion that ERVs point to common ancestry is not true.
4. Humans have a gene for making vitamin C. Yet, due to a mutation, this gene doesn’t work, and therefore we need food that contains vitamin C. So why even have such a gene if it doesn’t work? Well, for the same reason as we have a tail bone. It’s a left-over that was useful for our ancestors long ago.
- This is another case where unproven Naturalistic presuppositions are being used to interpret the data. What we have here is another case of using the “junk DNA” argument. This assertion simply takes incomplete information and attempts to draw sweeping conclusions based on it. As research continues, much of the so called “junk” DNA is being found to actually be functional. The primary reason much of it hasn’t been looked at in the past is because the scientists who were studying it started with an evolutionary mindset and simply assumed that it was leftovers from mutations when it is actually functional genetic material. In the case about the gene designed to make vitamin C, it is not at all certain that this is what is supposed to happen in this case. What is being called a gene to make vitamin C very well may have a different function.
- From a Theistic point of view, it would be perfectly logical for the Creator to use the same DNA to code for the same proteins. The differences between organisms lie in when, where, how and why the various proteins are expressed. What seems to be emerging is that the places in the DNA where that kind of regulatory information is located is in the so called “junk” DNA.
5. The very same genes which lead to limbs in mammals, lead to fins in fish.
- This statement may be true, but the opposite is also true. There are situations where completely different genes lead to homologous (the same) body parts (such as the body segments in insects). On top of that, there are also cases where the same genes lead to non-homologous body parts. This is all interesting information, but it still has to be interpreted based on the whole body of data. You can’t just pick out one subset and draw these kinds of sweeping conclusions about the evolutionary process.
1. Material reality comes out of the Big Bang, which in turn is initiated by something called the inflation field. This accounts for the existence of material reality.
- Not really. In Naturalism, the material that makes up the inflation field must also be accounted for by some kind of natural mechanism. All this argument does is to move the problem back one step. It still does not account for the existence of material reality.
2. It is hard to understand why a Universe created by God instead of by an inflation field should have the particular patterns we see in the background radiation. I can see no reason why God would insert those particular patterns.
- Since scientists don’t have any clue as to how and why the background radiation even exists, it seems kind of strange to question why God might have done it in the particular way he did. You need to have a reason for a things existence before questioning why it was done one way rather than another.
3. The idea of God and the supernatural simply does not fit the facts of what we know about the structure and operation of the universe.
- In order to make a statement like that, you have to take the faith position that the presuppositions of Naturalism expresses the actual truth about the nature and structure of reality. There is no empirical evidence that can be brought to bear to support this assertion. In order to assert this position, a person must bring arbitrary “facts” to the table and leave out other possibilities
1. There was never a time that physical reality didn’t exist because time is a part of physical reality.
- This is a faith presupposition if there ever was one. There is no empirical evidence that this is true, and no way to even get at using empirical means to address the issue.
2. In Hawking’s description of cosmology, there is no time of creation in the universe.
- People can create descriptions without there being any basis for them. It is called fiction. Hawking can certainly speculate about the origin of the universe if he wishes, but once again there is nothing here but a presupposition built on faith.
3. The concept that there was once nothing and some time later there was something cannot be reconciled with modern science, because if there’s time, there’s space, and if there’s space, there’s something. It can’t be that there exists nothing and that there exists time at the same time.
- This statement is based on a presuppositional bias. The assumption is that if it can’t be reconciled with modern science it can’t be true. This is purely a faith statement that cannot be empirically verified. The Christian faith says that there is such a thing as an eternity which exists outside of time, and that the material universe is a temporary phenomenon where time exists. Time has no meaning in an eternity.
1. The pictures showing how various animal life have evolved over time (based on the fossil record) is proof that Naturalistic evolution is right.
- Pictures can easily be lined up in a way to suggest evolution, but that kind of evidence is totally arbitrary. There is no objective reason to line them up that way rather than some other way. The bigger problem is, there is no known mechanism to prove that the pictures involve evolution. In fact, there is not one shred of evidence that can be given to prove that a Naturalistic interpretation of this kind of pictorial data is correct. There are other possibilities for interpreting the data based on a different set of presuppositions.
- Natural selection is not evolution. Changes and variations occur within a single species, but is limited. A Christian Theist, can look at those pictures and see different species which were each individually created, not creatures which evolved one from another.
- Based on Naturalistic presuppositions, changes in an organism which lead to the formation of a new species must give some advantage for natural selection to keep them. When one merely looks at pictures of various organisms, there is no evidence behind the pictures that they are actually intermediate forms. That kind of information simply cannot be demonstrated. In order to come to the conclusion that intermediate forms exist, one must start with the unprovable presupposition that Darwinian evolution is at work.
2. Dogs have evolved into many diverse varieties in just 15,000 years which is only a blink of an eye on the geological time scale. Their appearances are already very different from one another, so much so, that if you didn’t already know that they all have a recent common ancestor, you’d never guess that this is the case. Given enough time, some kinds inevitably become no longer interbreedable, at which point they are separate species.
- In spite of a great deal of diversity, dogs are still dogs and the differences are simply variations within a species – the result of natural selection, not of evolution. The whole idea that given enough time they would inevitably become a separate species is pure Darwinian Naturalistic assumption. There is no proof for this. There is nothing to prove it in the fossil record and no known biological mechanism which can support Darwinistic evolution. This theory emerges straight out of the presuppositions of Naturalism.
3. Evolutionary theory gives proof that a god was not necessary for life to form on earth.
- Evolutionary theory is just that, a theory. Its biggest problem is that it really does not give scientific answers to how life emerged on earth. There is no known mechanism for how life emerged out of non-life, how consciousness emerged out of unconsciousness, or even how one species of life could have emerged out of another species. All Naturalism can do is speculate based on a set of faith assumptions.
4. Natural selection is the biological mechanism that proves biological evolution.
- Looking at natural selection, all that can be empirically demonstrated is that it works in a very narrow framework, and much of it is actually reversible depending on climactic variations. What evolutionists have tried to do is project the natural selection that we can observe into a broader framework. In doing this, they claim that the process is responsible for the emergence of life and for the gradual evolution of higher and higher life forms. The only problem is, there is no observational support for the process and no known mechanisms capable of producing this result. The only reason Naturalists use the Darwinistic evolutionary model is because the idea of a creator is rejected out of hand. As a result, the “natural selection model” is the only mechanism that they can imagine in which their presuppositions can be supported. The presuppositions come first, then the attempt to find a way to justify them.
5. Random mutations are the mechanism which makes evolution work and it is settled science that over time it can develop far enough to create new species. The DNA of a child does not match exactly with that of the parents. There will be approximately 100 random mutations.
- Since the DNA of two parents combines to form a child, of course the child’s DNA is going to be different than that of either parent. This cannot legitimately be designated as a mutation. It is simply the result of the natural combining of the DNA of parents to form a new person.
- To be classified as a mutation, there must actually be something about the child which is totally different from the parents.
- As for the mechanism of natural selection, it certainly does take place within a species. But this has very defined limits which do not lead to changes that are able to generate a new species. Farmers, ranchers and scientists have worked for centuries developing hybrids. There has never been a situation where an actual new species of life has been created – or even come close. After a certain point, the changes simply won’t go any further.
6. All of the information found in life forms is the product of chance and is the result of random processes.
- This statement is a pure faith assumption with absolutely no hard science to back it up.
- Chance has never, in any circumstance, been demonstrated to produce complex information. To the contrary, chance events tend to scramble information.
7. Natural selection has been experimentally demonstrated. Evolution has been observed. Of course, only on (by geological standards) short time scales, but nevertheless, evolution has been observed.
- Absolutely, natural selection has been demonstrated. That has never been disputed. But you cannot equate evolution and natural selection. They are two entirely different things. What is being referred to as “things which have been observed” are matters which relate to natural selection, not to evolution. Evolution relates to descent with modification over a very long period of time which leads to the development of new species and new life forms which did not exist before. This is entirely different than natural selection. You simply cannot use natural selection as evidence to support evolution.
8. Cancer cells have been observed to evolve a pump that specifically pumps out anti-cancer drugs. This happens on a human time scale. These pumps are by no means simple constructions.
- What is being called the evolution of a pump in a cancer cell is simply not the case. Some cancer cells do have a pump that pumps out cancer drugs. But they did not evolve a pump specifically to do that. The pumps were already there when whey changed from a normal cell to a cancer cell. When the cells mutated, they changed in a way that caused them to pump out the cancer drugs rather than the material that they pumped before. In the process of change they actually lost specificity – not gained it. Mutations do not add information.
- It is also interesting to note that the end result of the entire process with cancer is to destroy the organism. There are not going to be too many genes passed on to the next generation when cancer kills the organism.
9. All of the information found in life results from laws which act from within matter itself.
- This statement is a pure faith assumption with absolutely no hard science to back it up.
- The assumption for this assertion is that given the right preconditions, life will arise automatically and inevitably. This, though, doesn’t make sense because, in principle, laws of nature do not give rise to information. Rather, laws are regular, repeatable and predictable. By contrast, information (ex. DNA) is a message that is irregular and non-repeatable. There are no laws of chemical attraction and repulsion that can cause the letters in DNA to link in any particular pattern. We know why they stick to the helix, but not why they are sequenced the way they are.
1. How is it possible that a flood can sort animals not with respect to size, but with respect to complexity? How does an ordering with regard to complexity arise in the rock strata?
- These are rhetorical questions designed to disprove that the flood spoken of in the Bible during Noah’s time was not a true event. This Naturalistic assertion assumes that wherever we find fossils, they must be sorted by size if the Biblical account is to be considered true. Again, everything depends on the presuppositions. The fact is, there are different ways that fossils are sorted in different places. These must be accounted for based on the individual situation. The generalization that is being asserted is not necessarily true. It is certainly possible to hold that fossils can be sorted related to complexity rather than size and still hold a Biblical worldview.
2. There are 40 different techniques for dating things based on radiometrics. On top of that there are tree rings, varves, ice cores, etc. The ages from the fossil record can be compared with the ages derived from DNA data (molecular clocks). If common ancestry is false, then it must be the case that the Creator literally constructed hundreds of pieces of evidence for common ancestry.
- The reason those numbers may not be consistent is because radiometric data itself is very biased and unreliable. The science behind radiometric dating is not as reliable as many want to make it out to be. Beyond that, there are many other methods of dating, and over 90% of those methods indicate a world less than billions of years old. The argument from trying to date rocks is not as strong as some make it out to be.
3. Why should the data obtained from the rocks match the data obtained from DNA (the tree structure, the ages)?
- Once again this is an assertion that all of life has a common ancestry. And, once again, this line of argument is based on unprovable Naturalistic presuppositions. The whole argument falls apart when you start with a different set of presuppositions. And, as before, operational science can only tell us so much about historical science. You can’t do experiments on the data that is collected, you can only interpret it based on some set of presuppositions. Even with that, you can’t be totally be sure of the context of all of the historical data. At the very best, we are looking at “best guesses” based on a particular set of presuppositions.
© 2007 Freddy Davis