Battlegrounds of Natural History: Naturalism


John K. Reed, Emmett L. Williams

Scientific creation battles the worldview of naturalism at the level of scientific fact and theory, but crucial battlegrounds are also found in the foundational concepts that shape the method and direction of science. One of these is summarized by the term “naturalism.” This debate is hindered by equivocal terminology, presuppositional inconsistency, and the use of secular premises by some Christians—typically from a desire to “triangulate” between biblical creation and atheism. Science is the child of Christianity, but enduring secular distortions have succeeded in convincing most people that naturalism is one and the same with science, and that it is legitimate to extrapolate from the scientific method to atheism. Those core distortions are protected by ancillary arguments; chief among them, a strategy of diverting Christians with arguments regarding the reality or possibility of miracles and with accusations of “god-of-the-gaps” reasoning. In response: (1) metaphysical naturalism is invalid because it fails logical truth tests, (2) methodological naturalism is an unnecessary accretion to basic attributes of science historically derived from Christian theology, and (3) the ancillary issues are defused by sound reasoning. The key to addressing the concept of naturalism in its totality is the recovery and application of the traditional Christian doctrine describing God’s providential relationship with creation.