Explanatory Scope: Christian Theism vs. Atheistic Naturalism. (P2)


See part 1.
See part 3 (Coming soon)

1. Personhood.

Atheistic Naturalism: “Persons emerged from impersonal and unintelligent natural processes and forces.”

Christian Theism: “As a supernatural (Triune) being, God made human beings personal and intelligent creatures. “

Personal Commentary: One can certainly argue that it would stretch credulity to hold that impersonal forces of nature could somehow produce humans with emotions & feelings. It comes down to the atheists view on evolution. Evidently the atheist, or most of them, believes that evolution does away with the need for God. However, it would appear that evolution deconstructs his own naturalism & shows how explanatorily deficient it is for his naturalistic worldview has no answer to this dilemma. The atheist William Provine illustrates the depth of this dilemma and the implications that it has for the naturalist: “When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.” (5). If such is a true summation of life as an implication of the naturalistic worldview, then surely personhood cannot be grounded.

Yet, the Christian may argue that such a dilemma needn’t exist. The Christian can ground personhood as, according to philosopher Beck, “being made in the image of a truthful, rational, good Being…” God (1). On the other hand naturalism appears to fail to explain this, as Beck captures: “Intrinsically valuable, thinking persons do not come from impersonal, nonconscious, unguided, valueless processes over time.”

Either, according to the atheist-Christian debate, personhood is grounded in the impersonal forces of nature or in a creator God who made humans in such a way.

2. Minds.

Atheistic Naturalism: “Mindless and/or nonconscious natural processes produced beings with minds that are self-conscious.”

Christian Theism: “God’s infinite, eternal, and self-conscious mind is the cause of the finite self-conscious minds of his creatures.”

Personal Commentary: Biblical theology affirms that God created both the physical universe and the minds of human beings. Philosopher Kenneth Samples explains that “because people were created in the image of God, they have the necessary cognitive faculties and sensory organs to recognize the intelligible order of the universe” (2).

On the other hand philosopher Beck illustrates his confusion at the atheistic naturalist’s explanation: “I am assuming a trustworthy reasoning process to arrive at the conclusion that I cannot trust my reasoning!” (3). In other words, argues Beck, on what grounds can the atheist claim to trust his mind and thus his perception of reality? It would seem that such a probability would be incomprehensible for human beings to not only evolve through  blind, unguided, purely impersonal natural processes but also for those same  undirected processes to develop a human brain and mind capable of grasping the  very conceptual nature of the universe. Thus, Samples explains that: “Any worldview that argues for a rational basis of the scientific enterprise must account for the remarkable congruence between the universe and a human mind” (4). Does atheistic naturalism do that?

The atheistic answer is that mindless, physical forces of nature somehow produced our minds, whereas the Christian believes that the mind of a creator God is responsible for creating it.

3. Rationality.

Atheistic Naturalism: “Human rational faculties and sensory organs came from a blind, non-rational survival mechanism.”

Christian Theism: “Human rational faculties and sensory organs were created in the image of God.”

Personal Commentary: Christians argue that their worldview highly values logic and rationality since these traits find their source and ground in God. Philosopher Samples continues: “As the only creatures made in the image of God, human beings possess profound intellectual faculties. Humans alone read and think—pursue, discover, and reflect upon the truths of logic, mathematics, science, philosophy, and the arts. Only human beings develop a comprehensive world-and-life view and philosophize about whether their belief systems best match reality.”

However, it would seem that the atheist naturalist holds that his reason & rationality, the very foundation of his entire worldview, originates from mindless natural forces. In other words, his foundation is not itself rational nor was it personal. Rather, a combination of genetic mutation, variation, and environmental factors combined with impersonal natural process produced his rational faculties. Some have argued (particularly philosopher Alvin Plantinga) that this process is hardly concerned about true belief but rather survival. This would cause one to question whether or not their beliefs are reliable, Christian evangelist and apologist Tim Keller (a theistic evolutionist) explains that “Evolution can only be trusted to give us cognitive faculties that help us live on, not to provide ones that give us an accurate and true picture of the world around us” (7). Yet, it is quite evident that the naturalist assumes that his cognitive faculties are reliable in determining true belief when, as Keller points, out the very process he claims created his faculties undermines it.

On Christianity our rational faculties manifest from a rational creator being whereas according to atheism non-rational natural forces somehow produced rationality & reason.

To be continued…

1. Beck, D. in Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science (2010). p. 22.

2. Samples, K. 2007. A World of Difference. p. 302.

3. Beck, D. Ibid.

4. Samples, K. 2007. ibid.

5. Provine, W. 1994. Origins Research. p.9.

6. Samples, K. 2007. Ibid. p. 52.

7. Keller, Tim. 2009. The Reason for God.


3 responses to “Explanatory Scope: Christian Theism vs. Atheistic Naturalism. (P2)

  1. Pingback: Explanatory Scope: Christian Theism vs. Atheistic Naturalism. (P1) | Historical Jesus studies.·

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