Naturalism Run Amok
|Author: Jon Saboe
Date: 2/23/1999 updated 5/21/2003
The seeds of naturalism began in the 17th century with Rene Descartes, who believed that all physical nature could be described in mechanical terms. Scientific method and the discovery of natural laws established a framework where naturalism could flourish. Scientific naturalism began with such great minds as Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo. Their discoveries and observations started a journey which quantified the laws of nature into rational, causal, and mathematical absolutes. (It should be noted that both Newton and Galileo believed that God was the Author of Natural Laws, and that by discovering and studying them, one gave glory to God.)
Orbital mechanics, calculus, and mathematical predictability fostered the view that the entire universe was like a giant clock that operated and responded exclusively to natural laws which only needed to be discovered. The outstanding success of this method led others to emulate them, and a comprehensive exploration of the universe began.
The biggest hurdle in ‘naturalizing’ the universe was biology, but a brilliant man by the name of Charles Darwin theorized that since varieties of life could be created via breeding or ‘artificial selection’, small changes could also be made via ‘natural selection’. He then theorized that larger changes, (new species or improved systems) might simply be natural selection PLUS environmental adaptations requiring large amounts of time.
The discovery of genetics completely demolished the belief that changes could occur in response to the environment. All features and traits are directly inherited from parental genes, and the idea that the environment affects one’s offspring became as impossible as a child inheriting a parent’s scar or loss of a limb.
This led to neo-Darwinism, which replaced ‘adaptation’ with ‘mutation’ and set about trying to show how chance mutations in the gene might create enough variations which might assist a species ‘survivability’; and if passed on, might flourish and ultimately replace a population group with a ‘better adapted’ one. However, with the discovery of DNA and the nucleotide language, this is becoming more and more untenable, since most mutations are damaging, the chances of mutation are very small, and the odds of one surviving long enough to replace a population group are practically zero.
Not Darwin’s fault!
Darwin must be forgiven, however, since he was limited by the science and paradigms of his day. Nobody then could have ever guessed the incredible complexity and information that resided in a living cell; something that was regarded as a ‘blob of protoplasm’. Darwin DID succeed in fostering a belief system which precludes any and all invocation of the supernatural or divine. This ‘methodological naturalism’, which is the bedrock basis for modern science, allows only naturalistic explanations in the pursuit of science, and this stricture forces scientists into some very ridiculous positions.
A major difficulty with naturalism is that it must insist that information is purely a component of matter and/or energy despite overwhelming observation and research indicating that it is a separate, fundamental component of our universe on par with matter and energy.
‘Methodological naturalism’ is horribly old-fashioned; based on the paradigms of 19th century philosophies which understood nothing about life sciences, information theory, or probability and design inference.
Founder: Evolution Is Dead