The Allure of Non-belief

I recently read the book Science's Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism by Cornelius Hunter, and it was an enlightening experience. Though I disagree in some points with his "Inteligent Design" point of view, there is still much to be learned from his line of argument. The premise of the book is stated by Hunter as "naturalism in the sciences did not arise from an empiricist urge; it arose from several theological axioms and concerns." (p. 20) Hunter continues by stating that "a common misconception is that theological considerations were gradually dropped as modern science emerged in the seventeenth century, but actually the preference for naturalistic explanations was, and remains, theologically motivated and justified." (p. 20) He argues that beginning in the seventeenth century, as the foundations of the Enlightenment were being laid, philosophers created a picture of God that was based on what philosophy thought God should look like. These philosophers then proceeded to explore the world on the premise that if God is perfect, he would be predictable and all of nature would work in a consistent manner. And if God made things perfectly, then He would not need to intervene in His creation. Thus there is no need for revelation i.e. the Bible, or miracles, because this would give evidence that God considers what He made to somehow be imperfect.

What we now call "science" was founded on these premises, and it was a short step to discarding all belief in God, because anything that could be known, was only to be known within a closed system into which there could be no supernatural intervention. Thus a combination of rationalism and positivism/empiricism became the means of knowing, both with a somewhat built-in practical atheism. Generalizing a bit, science explored the world as if it were a machine that was predictable and could be understood through reason and sensory perception. For a number of topics, and areas of study, this system has worked. The technology we use today has come about as a result of these methods, and their accompanying assumptions. The fact that there were results, led to the argument that if it works, then it must be right.

There is an ongoing argument over the relationship of faith and science. Some have insisted that if the existence of God could be proven "empirically," then they would believe. To once again quote Hunter, "the problem with science is not that the naturalistic approach might occasionally be inadequate. The problem is that science would never know any better. . . . Science has no mechanism to detect the possibility of nonnatural phenomena. It does not consider the likelihood that a phenomenon might not be purely naturalistic." (pp. 44-45). Those who have adopted the aforementioned assumption ridicule  those who assume that there is indeed a God who intervenes in the activities of this world as ignorant and uninformed, or worse.

The assumption that there is a non-intervening god, if there is a god at all, is directly contradicted by the Bible both in its very existence, as well as by its content. It is in this environment of evaluation that Christians find ourselves with a response, because the Bible reaches the same conclusion that those who do not believe in God are "fools" (Ps 14:1-3). The passage goes on to describe the actions that come as a result of those who deny the existence of God. Other passages of the Bible also describe the immoral actions of those who deny the existence of God, and they bear a striking resemblance to the other passages in the Bible, as well as the environment of our world today (Rom 1:18-32; 2 Tim 3:1-7).

What I find troubling at times is the desire by Christians to be acknowledged, or even embraced, by the so-called "objective, intelligent people." Because those who have accepted the premises of rationalism and positivism have attributed to themselves the adjective "objective," then others, even Christians, want the input from someone who some call objective. There is nothing objective about presupposing that God does not intervene, it is by definition a subjective presupposition that can not be proven or disproven, one can not prove or disprove a presupposition. Therefore, a person who assumes that God does not intervene must conceive naturalistic explanations for incidents in which a person who believes that God does intervene would see God at work. With two different starting points, two different people, looking at the same incident, will reach different explanations for the causes of the incident.

It is both the hard sciences and the soft sciences that face this same problem in their interaction with the Bible. As long as the inherent difference is unacknowledged, the problem will worsen. There are not irreconcilible differences, in my opinion, between the practice of science and the Bible. The Bible encourages us to reason (Is 1:18), to learn (2 Tim 2:15), and to examine (1 Thes 5:19-21). There is knowledge that science has produced that is useful and helpful, and does not conflict with a belief in God. There have, in fact, been scientists who have made great discoveries in science while maintaining a deep faith in God.

We should examine our presuppositions, and choose them knowing what we are doing. We should also consider the presuppositions of those we listen to, and take those presuppositions into account as we evaluate what they say. I have chosen to believe that God exists, and that "He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb 11:6).