Objections to the Bible: Supernaturalism

by Kyle
published October 3, 2015


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There is a word that, depending on who you are, may draw you in, or it may push you away. To some it inspires fear and to others it awakens excitement: philosophy.

Whether the subject excites you or worries you, everyone is a philosopher. Everyone has a set of presuppositions and beliefs that shape the way they live their lives and how they make decisions. Not everyone, however, is a good philosopher. Some have unexamined presuppositions and beliefs. Still others have presuppositions and beliefs that don’t make sense together.

Consider this example: Only what I can taste, touch, see, smell or hear is real. Related to it is this assumption everything that is can be validated scientifically.

While I love science, beliefs like these presume that the natural world is all there is. In philosophy, people who believe this are called materialists or naturalists. There’s a slight difference between them, but I’m trying not to run of the people already scared of the word philosophy. A major objection to the Bible as the Word of God from this line of thinking is that the Bible presupposes a supernatural world that, at best, cannot be proven scientifically. Most materialists hold that it doesn’t exist at all.

The problem goes deeper. The natural world, according to the Bible, was created by supernatural forces, namely God. This presents a problem for materialists who regard belief in a supernatural world as superstitious and antiquated even though philosophical materialism in western thought predates Christianity by more than 300 years.

The problem with only believing in the natural world is that not everything materialists believe in — or at least act like they believe in — can be studied scientifically. There are myriad intangible realities that govern the way we think and live which are above the abilities of science to observe, predict or control. If we only believe in what science can prove, we lose a lot of important concepts.

One of the world’s most recognized and passionate advocates for naturalism, Oxford biology professor Richard Dawkins, was even so bold and honest enough to acknowledge this. He noted that the practice of eating placenta after a baby is born can be described scientifically as cannibalizing tissue cloned from the baby itself. He also added, “Science can’t tell you if it’s right or wrong to eat your own baby’s clone, but it can tell you that’s what you’re doing. Then you can decide for yourself whether you think it’s right or wrong.” The consistent materialist must discard any notion of right and wrong as objective, transcendent values. Morals boil down to the way my synapses fire versus your synapses, and they become worthless. Rape, murder, slavery, lynching, theft, terrorism — these things are no longer evil in a purely material world. They are just inconvenient to the majority rather than actually wrong. In a purely natural world, there is no logical reason to fight these things, and yet there are plenty atheists and materialists who betray their beliefs by acting morally.

Love also loses its meaning in a purely natural world. If love is only an excess of dopamine in my brain, it is worthless. Neurochemical reactions completely fail to account for the way we love and forgive people who don’t deserve it.

Consciousness and personality become an illusion in a purely natural world. Though they have plenty theories for where our own consciousness comes from, scientists readily admit that they don’t really even come close to understanding it. In a material world, my thoughts would only be the result of a complex chemical reaction. Ending that chemical reaction (e.g. killing me) would be no more wrong than ending any other chemical reaction. Life itself has no meaning or value, it just is and it makes no real difference whether it ends.

If good and evil, love and consciousness exist above and outside the material world, then it makes sense that there may be other things which transcend the natural world. In philosophy, the word for things that transcend the natural world is “supernatural.” Materialists rarely reject supernatural things like good and evil, love or consciousness, but as soon as they encounter supernatural things they find inconvenient, like a sovereign God who has the right to tell them how to live, the appeal to the senses is close at hand.

Atheists — who tend to be materialists — complain that Christians often accuse them of being incapable of living morally. I am not making that accusation here. The fact that many of them DO live morally is evidence that there are supernatural realities that govern the natural world.

When the philosopher does their work honestly, and they begin to see just how inescapable supernatural realities are, the jump to a personal God is not that far. Moral law makes more sense if there is a moral law giver. Love has meaning when there is a supreme lover. A conscious mind that governs the natural world makes sense when the natural world behaves rationally as it does. And if our conscious minds are able to communicate and record thoughts, then a greater conscious mind like God should also be able to communicate and record thoughts. That’s exactly what the Bible claims to be: recorded communication from God.

What do you think?

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