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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Worldview Definitions: Rationalism and Naturalism

The worldview of theism powered humanity for much of its existence.  Even in primitive cultures, people looked to their gods as well as the world around them and tried to make sense out of both. But without divine revelation, they often got things wrong (expecting rain after performing a certain dance or something of that sort.) Christianity, with its foundations in the Jewish faith, taught strongly that God revealed Himself in two ways: through His creation and through His Word.1

Something happened, though, as Christians began to investigate God's world.  They started to discover more and more things in nature they had assumed were a result of a divine agency were really responding to laws of nature and biology and by altering the circumstances or the variables they could change the outcome of those processes. At the same time, they made great advancements in mathematics and they reawakened to the philosophy of Plato and the Greeks, which emphasized logic being the ultimate guiding force of knowledge.

Because so many achievements were coming from men thinking hard about their world, philosophers began to conclude that the ability to reason was all they needed in order to know everything there is to know about the world. Many believed God existed, but they felt that God's revelation was unnecessary for discovering truth.  They assumed that given enough time and thought, man would figure it all out on his own.  God was removed from being the primary source of truth as people became convinced that they were smart enough to discover anything with enough thought and analysis.

Naturalism: "God Doesn't Count as Knowledge"

The removal of God as the primary source of truth was a huge shift in thinking for the world. If all people need to discover truth is to identify facts and reason through them with a good mind, then focusing on nature becomes more important and focusing on God less so. Thus the Grand Story in western society shifted from God to Nature itself, just as Romans 1:25 warned. Therefore, since God wasn't needed to understand the ways of the world, many educated people took the next step and denied Him altogether.  If God doesn't offer any explanations to the ways of the world, why assume one needs to worry about Him? The worldview adopted by those who think this way is called "naturalism". The world is seen in purely mechanistic terms: this causes that just because the laws of the universe work that way. 

Naturalists, because of their worldview, now seek to explain everything without pointing to God at all.  Even in big issues, such as the origin of life on the earth, God cannot be accepted as a cause, because it violates their notion of "really" explaining things. Therefore, Darwinian evolution becomes the capstone in the search for a purely mechanistic way to explain how the diversity of life arose on the planet.  In fact, to say "God did it" is seen as a cheat; naturalists would object to anyone claiming the involvement of a divine being saying the person hasn't thought hard enough about the problem. They define knowledge of God as false knowledge.

You can see how important it is to understand worldviews!  Since naturalists are committed to not accepting explanations that involve God, their minds are closed to the existence of God before you even give evidence. The bias of naturalism is plainly seen everywhere today, even in popular culture.  Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, held to this view, and one of Star Trek's recurring themes is the evolution of man to his betterment.2 No religious belief system is  ever in view for the show's protagonists. Roddenberry believed reason alone would catapult mankind into this new utopia and his popular franchise has continued to preach his message ever since.


1. This idea of dual revelation is taught explicitly in Scripture.  Psalm 19 and Romans 1 declare how God reveals Himself thorough His creation, an idea known as "general revelation". But since all of creation is warped by the fall of man (Genesis 3:16, Romans8:22), it is an imperfect revelation. Therefore, God provides us with the more clear word of Scripture "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16)
2. See Bronislaus B. Kush' article "‘Star Trek' franchise an homage to humanist philosophy" in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette


  1. RE: "Naturalists, because of their worldview, now seek to explain everything without pointing to God at all."

    Imagine if God were allowed in science- then science would be reduced to religious bickering between Hindu's, Christians, Muslims, Native Americans, New Agers, etc. As it is, science aims to be objective, and any reasonable person from any religion can participate.

    More about how science destroys Christian theology is documented in this booklet:

    Lenny, do you still deny macroevolution, or accept it like evangelical Christian scientist Francis Collins?

  2. “Theism is based on faith, atheism on reason & evidence.".
    Atheists if theyre sincere, assume on blind faith that scientism & materialism (aka mindless matter) are the only game in town; But beliefs don’t change the facts. If one is rational, facts should change beliefs. The existence of metaphysical truths like abstract logic, maths & scientific laws weren’t invented by a physical brain, they were discovered. Being non-contingent & immaterial, their existences cant possibly be the product of mere brain chemistry.
    Nothing summaries the atheists meaningless worldview & vain attempt to prove he's nothing more than future worm fodder, than the statement by philosopher Jean Paul Sartre: “That God does not exist, I cannot deny, That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget.” Sartre also lamented "Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness & dies by chance." So why is a soul-less bag of chemicals in motion (Russell's term) so obsessed with trying to deny a an ultimate source of intelligence for a universe that exudes rational intelligibility?


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