By Jim Gabbard
The debate between the naturalist and the supernaturalist has been going on for centuries and will probably continue to the end of time. Who is right? And how can we know?
We cannot know of an absolute certainty until the end of time, but we can look at the great overwhelming body of evidence and then come to an intelligent conclusion if we do so diligently and without prejudice. And let me just note that the naturalist/evolutionist looks at the exact same evidence that we do. There’s only one set of evidence.
It would be useful at this point to look at some definitions.
A naturalist is one whose philosophical theory affirms that all beings and all events in the universe, whatever their inherent character may be, are natural, and can be explained by scientific method. He believes that all knowledge of the universe falls within the pale of scientific investigation. He totally denies the existence of any supernatural being and he believes that there is no other world reality of any kind. Paul mentioned the naturalist in 1 Corinthians 2:14 in these words, “But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” By definition the naturalist cannot accept the things of the Spirit. In order to do so he would first have to be converted from a naturalist to a supernaturalist and that would require a type of learning which would go against his strong prejudices.
A supernaturalist is one who believes that there is a supernatural being. He also believes that there is another world realm. He believes that there is more than science can tell us. Christians are supernaturalists.
Now to the Evidence
First, it would be useful to define “evidence.” Evidence is the result of accumulated circumstances that seem to justify a reasonable inference, or if strong enough, to constitute proof.
Two Kinds of Evidence
There is first analytical or mathematical evidence. Analytical evidence means that things are true by definition. Who would argue that 2 + 2 does not = 4? No question about that. Also there are such things as shapes, sizes, colors, measured distances, solids vs. liquids, etc.
Second there is empirical evidence. Empirical evidence is systematic proof which deals with a proposition or issue that is true based on a preponderance or superior amount of circumstantial evidence. The evidence is examined to see if the evidence is sufficient to support a claim. Unlike mathematical proof, knowledge derived through empirical means can never produce 100% certainty.
Almost everything we know came to us from empirical evidence; science, medicine, history, law, and just about everything else rests upon empirical proof. When our doctor makes a diagnosis, he does so based on empirical evidence in the overwhelming number of cases. When a jury reaches a verdict, it does so based on empirical evidence. When a man says that man ascended through a process of evolution he does so based on very flimsy empirical evidence. We see overwhelming empirical evidence that man was created by the Almighty God of Heaven. It takes more than some imagined anatomical similarities and a few fossilized bone fragments to convince me of such a momentously important topic, on which so very much is resting.
A Look at Some of the Evidence
The Design or Teleological Evidence. Everything in the universe and the universe itself exhibits great design. It is thus axiomatic that there is a great designer. The sharpest critics agree that the universe could not exist without order. Since the universe has design and order, it follows that there must of necessity be intelligence behind it. (A chaotic happening, such as a big bang, would destroy, rather than cause design and order).
The Ontological Evidence. This was first expressed by a man named Anselm, an Italian born British church man (Archbishop of Canterbury) in 1088. It basically says, “God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” (Prosligium or “Address” or “Allocutin”). That is really a very profound argument. If nothing greater than God can be conceived, then there is nothing greater than God.
The Cosmological Evidence. Since there is change in the universe, and since every change is the effect of some cause, then there is a great chain of cause and effect. That chain moves in a series that either never ends or has a first cause. It is totally irrational to think it had no starting place. Therefore it had a first cause and we believe that there is sufficient evidence to strongly believe that first cause was God.
The naturalist can go no further back than his imaginary big bang which he admits had to have a cause. But which he also admits he has no idea what that cause was.
The Moral Argument
This argument was put forth first by the Greek philosophers, but most eloquently by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-25. Verse 17 tells us that God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, meaning that we learn God’s righteousness from the gospel, that great body of truth (the faith) which produces subjective belief or faith in us, thus from faith to faith. Verse 19 tells us that the human predicament is not the result of ignorance which could be remedied by learning or education. Verse 20 tells us God has made knowledge of himself available through the creation. While the natural man is aware of a divine being, God limits his knowledge to eternal power and divine nature.
Instead of honoring and worshiping God and giving him thanks for supplying them with everything they had or needed, including life itself, they fell down on their knees and worshiped the creeping, crawling creatures. That’s exactly what the naturalist/evolutionists do today.
The moral argument was stated in philosophy by Immanuel Kant in 1750. It basically rests on obligation or moral duty. All people everywhere, in all times, feel very similar moral obligation. Why? Paul argues that all can know moral duty from observing what God has done. Kant said that obedience to obligation coincides with happiness.
Verse 18 tells us man’s unrighteousness suppresses the truth. People want to be happy and they constantly search for happiness. A very great many people are searching in the wrong places, out chasing illusions. Happiness is within the reach of every man, woman and youth. All one has to do is learn his duties (all his duties, including the duties to God) to do them diligently, and happiness will come to him. Solomon, the wise king of Israel, says come to the house of God and be quiet and listen (Eccl. 5). Don’t come rushing in like a fool trying to tell God and all mankind how it is or ought to be. Come and listen quietly and you’ll learn what your life means.
We have not mentioned the greatest of all evidence, the Bible. It is a very reliable source of evidence, if for no other evidence, its superior age and availability in ancient manuscript forms compared to all other kinds of literature known today.
There is good and sufficient evidence to believe in God.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 14 p. 14-15
July 17, 1997