The Unnatural Appeal of Naturalism

“So how could you ask me to believe in God when there’s absolutely no evidence that I can see? I do believe…that there are scientific explanations for phenomena that we call mystical because we don’t know any better.”
-Jodie Foster in an interview regarding her 1997 film Contact

Jodie Foster probably doesn’t realize that she has exchanged one source of faith for another. She excludes God because of a presumed lack of evidence, yet puts her faith in unseen future explanations. But does naturalistic science earn this show of faith? Naturalism actually disregards fundamental scientific principles and repeatable findings in favor of one-time miraculous events.

So why do skeptics continue to embrace naturalism? I think there are three basic reasons. The first is that nature makes no moral demands. It is easier to credit it as the source for everything than to make one’s self accountable to a relational, transcendent God.

The second reason is fear of the stigma of creationism. The simple Genesis creation account is portrayed as a childish, embarrassing alternative in a culture that accepts evolution as fact. Christians and non-Christians alike attempt to reconcile Genesis and evolution because they don’t want to be considered Bible-thumpers or ignoramuses. Consequently, they settle for God-guided (theistic) evolution. But is God-guided evolution a viable option? (See Bonus Point V, [p. 131] of Meet The Skeptic for why it is not.)

The third reason people choose naturalism stems from intellectualism. For intellectual skeptics, creationism and Intelligent Design seem like a cop-out. They appear to be intellectually vapid and simplistic (“God did it”). In actuality, however, these approaches  are unafraid to allow the possibility that non-natural causes can make better sense of the data. For example, I.D. is already used in  forensics, archaeology, cryptography, and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) to determine if events are random chance, natural law, or caused by intelligence.