the mysteries of naturalism

Sometimes I tweet silly things. But those of you who follow me already know that. Yesterday, after reading a brief article related to intelligent design, I excitedly tweeted thusly…

To which, my good friend Shane Wood responded with just one word:

Perhaps, (again, this will come as a great surprise to those who follow me on Twitter) I was a little hasty in my tweeting. In talking with skeptics and believers alike, the Trinity is a consistent stumbling block. It is essential to Christian belief yet it defies easy explanation or understanding. It is a profound mystery. And since it involves the nature of the God of the universe, there can be no greater mystery. In fact, I take no small amount of comfort in the mystery of the Trinity. To paraphrase Augustine (pronounced augusteen): If you can understand it, it ain’t God.

What I should have said is that naturalists are not exempt from having to deal with profound mysteries at the heart of their worldview. Naturalism is far from being a worldview that simply “follows the facts wherever they might lead.” What I should have said is that naturalism has a greater number of mysteries to account for. And what makes these mysteries so problematic for the naturalism is that they are brute facts of our existence.

Here is a list of some of those mysteries. Each one could have its own post (or book) written about it, but it’s a Friday in June, and I feel like being brief.

  1. something from nothing. Simply put, why does anything exist at all? Nowhere in our experience does something comes from nothing, yet naturalism requires that literally everything that exists is something that came from nothing.
  2. order from disorder. Not only is the universe full of stuff, that stuff also possesses an extremely and unusually high degree of order. This is true at both the extreme macro and the extreme micro level.
  3. life from non-life. Naturalism simply has no workable theory (despite what you might have heard) as to how life came about from non-life.
  4. rationality from non-rationality. I wrote up a post on this issue recently.
  5. should from is. A thoughtless universe is also an uncaring universe. The universe no more cares whether you love your neighbor or shoot him in the face. Nature can only give an “is.” Nature cannot give a prescriptive “should” but nevertheless we can’t seem to shake our annoying tendency to moralize.
  6. transcendence from immanence. Naturalism preaches physicalism. We are simply matter. Nothing more or less. How is it then, that we are stubbornly attracted to the transcendent and sublime? Totally immanent creatures could never have even dreamed up Plato’s cave.
  7. essence from aggregate. This one probably needs further elaboration (and thought), but to put it way too simply, naturalism says that we are machines – mere aggregates of parts. Yet identity requires essences which mere aggregates can never achieve.

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