Naturalism as a philosophy¹ is the idea or belief that only natural laws and forces operate in the world. In other words, only material things are real. This is a worldview accepted as the truth and taught in secular education. It is the only thing science can tell us—what we experience materially with our five senses, or what can be observed, tested and re-tested. It’s considered the most reasonable way to discern reality.
However, it fails in describing all of reality. If naturalism is true, and only material things exist, how do scientists “measure” the existence of knowledge? Yeah… and here’s a list of more things that are “real” but not material:
- Laws of logic
- Morality (such as murder is wrong )
- Mathematical Principles
- Salvation (for Christians), or forgiveness
- Sanctification (for Christians)
- Grace (for Christians) or charity/altruism (for non-Christians)
- Mercy (for Christians) or clemency (for non-Christians)
- Soul/Spirit (for Christians), or consciousness/mind (for non-Christians)
- Commitment or loyalty
- Virtues (trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being)
- Creativity/Inspiration (referred to as “Muses” in secular lit.)
- Semiotics (study of meaning in signs and symbols)
…I am sure you could add your own examples to the list of things that exist yet are not material. These examples show how naturalism fails as description of reality. There are things that exist which are not empirical (verifiable by observation or experience).
Science has provided us with many wonderful improvements to our lifestyles. Christianity, when practiced as Jesus taught, has also given us guidelines on how to live as moral beings. Yet those who hold to faith-filled wordviews are considered foolish in naturalistic circles. And some people of faith seem to want to throw the baby out with the bathwater in science. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Science continues to grow in its knowledge of nature, as do Christians grow in their knowledge of the supernatural. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could both learn to respect each other instead of name-calling, or trying to eliminate the other branch of study? Mankind will never find all the answers to the many mysteries of life, but we should continue learning, while interpreting our discoveries in a quest for meaning. Faith and science together can show a bigger picture of reality if we’d only try to work together.
¹ Philosophy concerns itself with matters such as our existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language.