Does the Atheistic Worldview Make Sense?
by Al Serrato
Believers see a “grounding” problem in the atheistic worldview. In that system of belief, life and intelligence are accidents of evolution. Things just happened to come together, to change slowly over time, until one day the first abstract thought appeared. But this thought wasn’t fundamentally different than what preceded it; it was simply the next step on the path of nature. Before it, no thoughts existed. No “truth” existed, because there were no minds to behold the truth. But eventually, more of these thoughts came into being, and the minds that beheld these thoughts became increasingly organized, until one day these minds invented religion – a creator God – to make sense of what evolution had done.
Believers see a problem in this. Intelligence, in the skeptic’s worldview, along with logic and reason, are simply illusions. They appear to be a certain way, but only because evolution caused the minds presently in existence to happen to see things that way. Had conditions been slightly different, evolution would have followed a different track. Our brains and bodies might have developed differently, leading us to call good evil and evil good, for example. In other words, without an outside anchor to ground reality – to ground truth and knowledge and intellect – our individual beliefs are no different than our individual tastes – preferences and opinions, nothing more.
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But the modern skeptic seems pretty confident in his view. He says that science supports his claim, that science has put the lie to religion, or at the very least eliminated the need for it. But is this really the case? Does science presuppose a naturalistic worldview? Does it actually require one?
The first problem with such a conclusion is history. Science is based on certain presuppositions about the world, including: that orderly investigation of nature is possible through the use of our sense impressions; that these sense impressions provide reliable information about the way things really are; and that repeatability is possible. This means that some force that we cannot fully understand or explain is actually at work, guaranteeing uniformity of law, making sure that given the same conditions and actions, the same result should obtain. But why should this be so? Why should there be such uniformity? Why shouldn’t the same experiment under identical circumstances yield completely different results for no discernible reason? Why do our minds intuitively expect repeatability, that for instance every time I touch a hot stove, I will burn myself?
Indeed, the scientific method was formulated by people who were often deeply religious. They saw no conflict in believing in God. Quite the contrary, they made sense of the presuppositions of scientific experimentation through their understanding that an intelligent and personal Creator would want his creation to use their minds to understand him. Because he grounds reality, it makes sense to investigate, to learn more about him…
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