You CAN handle the truth: about Naturalism
You can handle the truth about Naturalism! What is it? It’s a view that believes the material universe is all that exists. According to Naturalism there is no such thing as a soul or a spirit. Therefore everything is explained on the basis of natural law. In other words, Naturalism rejects the supernatural.
Under the umbrella of Naturalism, subsets include Atheism, Agnosticism, and Existentialism. Atheism says there is no God, while agnosticism acknowledges that while God, the divine or the supernatural may exist, it is unknown and perhaps unknowable. Existentialism, in short, maintains that if there is any meaning for life, it comes from the individual assigning such meaning.
According to Naturalism, man is the result of evolution. Truth is basically only what science uncovers empirically. Additionally, no objective moral standard exists. This is the dominant worldview in scientific and academic communities. Additionally, many intellectual elites will adhere to some form of naturalism.
Does the bible say anything about Naturalism? Yes. In fact, Psalm 14:1 states, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Psalm 19:1-4, speaks of the revelation of God in creation:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In contrast, the Apostle Paul, in Romans 1, reflects on unbelieving man’s rejection of God’s revelation of His person in creation:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:20-22, 25).
As we’ve mentioned, a well-known apologist lists four foundational questions whereby we can objectively measure a worldview. How does Naturalism answer each?
- Where did we come from? There is no reasonable explanation. And if there is an explanation, it will basically communicate the following in so many words: time plus chance plus nothing equals everything!
- How does Naturalism provide meaning? Any meaning can only be attained through the lens of the individual (more specifically, this is existentialism – one expression of naturalism).
- What moral framework does Naturalism provide? No objective moral framework exists. If there is any moral framework, it is individually and therefore subjectively determined (existentialism).
- What is our ultimate destiny? Physical death is the end of life.
As you ponder engaging people who hold such a worldview, it’s good to begin – not with an answer in mind – but with a question. Remember it’s always good to ask people what they believe and why they believe it. Asking questions is key to understanding people and informing our witness. In addition to the questions above, here are two other excellent questions:
- What do you mean by that?
- How did you come to that conclusion?
Remember, all people believe in someone or something, and it’s ok to ask people to explain why they believe what they believe? Sometimes, asking people to articulate their own positions will, in fact, expose to them problems with their belief system that may result in creating doubt in their own heart. In addition, the Lord may use this tact to move that individual to ask sincere questions of us regarding why we believe what we believe.
And as you think about engaging those adhering to a Naturalistic worldview, remember our faith is not blind. Rather, by definition it is based upon substance and evidence: “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
God has given us many reasons to believe in Him. A good question for the Naturalist may be: “Would you be open to engaging some reasons I believe in Jesus?” If they say no, you’re done for now. If you have regular touch points, continue to love them and demonstrate God’s love to them, and continue praying for them – specifically that some soon tomorrow they’d be open to investigate the substance and evidence of our faith.
If they are open, there are a litany of great resources out there. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in providing material. You can go online, access, and share information via videos, books, and articles. I would recommend Christian apologists like Lee Stroebel, Josh McDowell, and the late Norman Geisler, as they have, for many years, defended the faith and answered many questions in a thorough fashion, including answering those adhering to Naturalism. As you take a little time and do research on your own, you’ll find other gifted ministries and people who are defending and sharing the faith.
For example, I googled “answering the naturalist”, and found this excellent article from the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM). It highlights an actual dialogue between a Christian apologist and a naturalist that highlights the tremendous use of questions in the evangelistic process – https://carm.org/nature-all-we-have. Enjoy!
In closing, we know something doesn’t come from nothing (Genesis 1:1)! Something has to come from something (Hebrews 11:3). The created order has a Creator. The Naturalist position is neither rational nor substantive when challenged. If you ask a Naturalist how the natural order began, they will not be able to give a cogent answer. We, however, have one: watch – watch maker, car – carmaker, creation – Creator.
So go out in confidence, lovingly engaging those in your sphere of influence who adhere to Naturalism.
And as you share the truth in love, may the Lord give you a word or words aptly spoken as He opens doors – for His Glory and for the benefit of that precious one who hopefully will soon see the emptiness of their naturalism and personally meet our supernatural God through faith in the Son!
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).