Explanatory Scope: Christian Theism vs. Atheistic Naturalism. (P1)


See Part 2.

This series analyzes the explanatory scope of the atheistic naturalist & Christian worldviews.

1. On the Origin of the Physical Universe.

Atheistic Naturalism: “The physical universe emerged from nothing, by no one, and without a specific plan or purpose.”

Christian Theism: “The universe was created ex nihilo by an infinite, eternal, and tripersonal God for his own glory.”

Personal Commentary: It’s not only true that atheists believe that the physical universe arose out of literally nothing but other atheists go against scientific evidence in order to postulate an eternally existing universe. For example, the American Humanist Association writes that “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created” (1). Likewise the naturalist Carl Sagan once dogmatically wrote that “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be” (2). Both these are faith based positions since modern science does not support these claims. Modern science cannot tell us that the physical universe is all that there is, and what we do know from modern science is that the universe had a finite beginning.

On the other hand many atheists try to explain away an initial origin of the physical universe by appealing to the unfalsifiable, speculative hypothesis of the multiverse. Not only does this require faith to maintain (since there is no way to actually scientifically prove that level 2 parallel universes exist) for the atheist but it also fails to answer the theory of an initial creation of the universe ex nihilo. In other words, the atheist pushes the origin of the physical universe one step back as a multiverse would also need to have an initial beginning. One should leave it to the atheist to explain this dilemma.

Many Christians, however, argue that Big Bang cosmology makes sense as it is affirmed by the very first sentence of their Bible (“in the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1)). Astrophysicist Hugh Ross to says “The Bible [that] was the first to predict big bang cosmology” (5). Or as the physicist Victor Weisskopf once said that “The Judeo-Christian tradition describes the beginning of the world in a way that is surprisingly similar to the scientific model” (6).

The atheistic worldview claims that universe is either eternally existing, whereas other atheists claim that they do not know how to explain the Big Bang. Christians continue to point out that Big Bang cosmology is not inconsistent with Christian theism.

2. Design in the Universe.

Atheistic Naturalism: “Order, regularity, and fine-tuning in the universe emerged coincidentally (possibly with other worlds).”

Christian Theism: “Order, regularity, and fine-tuning in the universe came from God’s creative plan and purpose.”

Personal Commentary: Apologists have argued that atheists must have a great deal of faith in order to affirm their naturalism in the face of insurmountable improbabilities of design in the physical universe. They seems to believe that design in the universe comes down to chance, namely that no intelligence was involved but instead unguided, careless forces of nature somehow produced it. The New Atheist Christopher Hitchens once remarked that “I think everyone of us picks the fine-tuning one as the most intriguing… you have to spend time thinking about it, working on it. It’s not a trivial [argument]” (3). Christian evangelist & intellectual Ravi Zacharias explains that “Every designed product in the human experience points to a designer. The argument is literally and figuratively as old as the hills. That is why it does not matter how loudly the intellectual community shouts “Chance!” They have not been able to conquer the dreadful void of determinism and end up giving designed arguments to argue against design” (4).

The atheist argues that blind forces of nature, by pure chance alone, produced the exquisite order in the universe. The Christian argues that such order is evidence of an all-powerful creator.

3. First Life.

Atheistic Naturalism: “Life somehow emerged accidentally from nonliving matter through purely natural processes.”

Christian Theism: “God, who possesses life in himself (as an eternal and everlasting being), created the various life-forms. “

Personal Commentary: At some point, argues the atheist, on our early Earth inorganic physical material somehow had to give rise to organic life. This position is required to be held by the naturalist since there is no other explanation (unless he goes with a supernatural explanation). The atheistic naturalist may say that he does not know how the first life on Earth came to be, but ultimately he has to then posit an unknown natural cause which is in itself a faith based position. The Christian believes that the miracle of life is possible if their God exists. In other words, a being that possesses the fullness of life is itself responsible for creating life.

Either life was created by God or it somehow happened by chance no matter the improbabilities.

To be continued…


1. American Humanist Association. Humanist Manifesto 1. Available. Quote: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”

2. Sagan, C. 1980. Cosmos. p. 4

3. Christopher Hitchens Makes a Startling Admission. 2012. Available.

4. Zacharias, R. 2004. The Real Face of Atheism. p. 118.

5. O’Niel, T. 2014. Big Bang ‘Gravity Wave’ Discovery Supports Biblical Creation, Say Old Earth Creationists. Available.

6. Victor Weisskopf quoted in: The World of Physics (1987). p. 300, 317.


5 responses to “Explanatory Scope: Christian Theism vs. Atheistic Naturalism. (P1)

  1. Pingback: Explanatory Scope: Christian Theism vs. Atheistic Naturalism. (P2) | Historical Jesus studies.·

  2. Pingback: Responding to Atheist Jerry Coyne’s Critique of my Article. | Historical Jesus studies.·

  3. Pingback: Meme Grinder #17 – ‘The Bible/Spiderman Fallacy.’ | James Bishop's Apologetics.·

  4. Pingback: Christianity vs. Naturalism – Ockham’s Razor | James Bishop's Theology & Apologetics.·

  5. Pingback: Q&A – Is Belief in God, Justice & the Afterlife Selfish? | James Bishop's Theology & Apologetics.·

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