Worldviews in Natural History
- John K. Reed
- April 04, 2020
The following article was published in the Creation Research Society newsletter, CreationMatters, Vol. 21 No. 3, May 2016.
How did the “historical sciences” gain such prominence? It can be traced to the Western conversion to the worldview of naturalism, combined with Christian blindness and apathy. Most of us dismiss worldviews as esoteric philosophies, but they steer the history of ideas. Finite, fallen creatures need a framework of belief to cover gaps in their knowledge and to suppress unpalatable truth (Romans 1). For centuries, Christianity provided this cultural consensus, but Enlightenment naturalism has displaced it (Reed, 2001; 2013).
Much of naturalism’s success came from denying its own nature! Positivism - the assertion that science is the only path to truth - negates theology, putting science on the pedestal once occupied by divine revelation. It reassures secularists that their rejection of “religion” is rational, not moral. Free from that “taint,” their knowledge is pure, as they gaze on their pitiful opponents, mired in superstition. Though logically falsified long ago, positivism remains a potent emotive force.
Another source of success is naturalism’s ability to keep debate on safe secular ground. Christians affirm science - truth is integral to Christianity - but they also affirm its modern distortions. And science is just one path, not the guaranteed truth of divine revelation (Hebrews 6:18). Christians who have fallen for that scam cannot both refute naturalism and retain science, so they retain science and “fix” the Bible. Paralyzed by accusations of a mythical war between science and religion, and by the insistence that “methodological” naturalism is inherent to science (cf., Reed and Williams, 2011), they have no effective reply, even though the “war” is a myth and naturalism is a parasite of science, not its foundation.
Naturalism relies on deception to overcome inherent self-contradictions in natural history. Early on, it faced two great barriers. The first was the Bible’s coherent frame work of the past, and the second was the inability to adequately test hypotheses about unique, unobserved past events (Reed and Klevberg, 2014a, b). Early secularists such as Lyell overcame both using
uniformitarianism. It twisted the well-accepted axiom of uniformity into a philosophy of history. It then claimed a sufficient similarity between past and present geological processes to guarantee a “scientific” understanding of ancient processes. This opened the door to the “scientific history” that displaced Genesis.
Theologians were largely asleep, mesmerized by “science,” or wolves in sheep’s clothing. Ongoing compromise allowed naturalism to displace Christianity. Today, a secular natural history that features evolution and billions of years is so well-entrenched that it is embraced by many churches.
If naturalism has evolved into the dominant system, why should Christians stand in its way? First and foremost, we should obey God. Second, naturalism as a worldview fails logical tests (Lisle, 2009; 2010;
Reed et al., 2004; Reed and Williams, 2012). These contradictions stem from naturalism’s reliance on science, which in turn relies on Christian axioms, such as the inherent rationality of nature. Science developed and thrived in, and only in, the Christian West. Therefore, its underlying presuppositions are justified only by Christian theology.
Creationism is fighting far more than twisted facts, incoherent theories, and incomplete forensic history. At root, it is a conflict between worldviews. In recent decades, we have seen the degradation of the old optimistic naturalism towards nihilism in the current postmodernist rejection of truth. Science cannot survive those forces; even now we see its vanishing integrity. Only a Christian worldview could create and contain science and its discoveries; only a robust Christianity can save it from naturalism.
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