Mama Bear Apologetics, Chapter 6- Naturalism

Submitted by First Brethren on Tue, 11/03/2020 - 9:49am

Hello parents! In today’s Parent Email, we are discussing Chapter 6 of “Mama Bear Apologetics”, which covers the subject of “Naturalism”. Naturalism, as Hillary Ferrer describes it, “is the belief that natural causes are sufficient to explain everything in our world.” In other words, the belief that we don’t need to look to a God to find a cause for the universe’s existence, or meaning, or purpose, or truth. What you see is what you get, and you don’t need to look to anything you CAN’T see in order to explain everything you CAN see. In the chapter, Ferrer gives a brief history of how naturalism came to destroy a belief in objective truth, as well as a summary of several “alternative”, quasi-scientific explanations of how the universe came to be without God’s help. I would highly recommend reading these sections, and don’t have time here to describe them fully.

What I would like to do, however, is speak to a point Ferrer began to make on p. 105, where she states that naturalism (or evolutionism) didn’t originate in the last two centuries but was invented by the ancient Greeks. This is a key point we must be prepared to make when discussing science with our children. Contrary to what our kids learn in schools, Charles Darwin did not create the “theory of evolution”. He only used his observations and current scientific knowledge to repackage a philosophy that was created several centuries before Christ. Don’t believe me? Here are several quotes from some of the early church fathers…

“According to Epicurus [an ancient Greek philosopher], the atoms and the void are indestructible. Epicurus says that it was by a definite arrangement and adjustment of the atoms as they came together that all formations have been produced, including the body itself.”- Justin Martyr, 160 A.D.

“Man is not merely a rational animal, who happens to be capable of understanding and knowledge- as the croaking philosophers say.”- Tatian, 160 A.D.

“I cannot understand how so many distinguished men have been of the opinion that matter…was uncreated. That is, it was not formed by God Himself, who is the Creator of all things. Rather, they say that its nature and power were the result of chance…thinking that so great a work as the universe could exist without an architect or overseer.”- Origen, 225 A.D.

“Let Celsus [a pagan critic] then say distinctly that the great diversity among the products of the earth is not the work of providence, but that a certain fortuitous concurrence of atoms gave birth to qualities that are so diverse. Let him say that it was due to chance that so many kinds of plants, trees, and herbs resemble one another. Let him say that no governing Reason gave existence to them and that they do not drive their origin from an understanding that is beyond all admiration. In contrast, we Christians feel grateful for these things, for we are devoted to the worship of the only God, who created them.”- Origen, 248 A.D.

“Those who do not admit that the world was made by divine providence, either say that it is composed of atoms coming together at random, or that it suddenly came into existence naturally.”- Lactantius, 314 A.D.

There are several more examples I could give. The truth is, the basics of Darwinian evolution have been around for millennia- chance, endless time, even the idea that the earliest, unevolved humans lived in caves and had no speech. “But how,” you may ask, “could the Greeks have come up with these concepts without modern science? Without microscopes, telescopes, tools of archaeology and technology, without the scientific method?” Look, science is wonderful, and properly applied science can teach us wonderful things about God’s creation. But on the question of the ORIGIN of the universe, natural science can do little to provide answers, because that question is not one of science but of philosophy. Ancient philosophers created naturalism, Darwin and others wrapped it in “science”, but at its heart, naturalism is an attempt to free society from an allegiance to the God of Creation.

As our children ask us questions about the origin of the universe, it may be helpful to point out that evolutionary thought isn’t the result of man progressing to a better understanding of how all things came to be (through natural means). It is a recycling of ancient Greek philosophy, whose philosophers sought to throw off belief in an unseen Creator. Scripture speaks of this very thing in Psalm 2- “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One [Messiah]. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.’” (Psalm 2:1-3)

If you are looking for resources on this subject, is a good place to start. (This is the organization that built the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.) The important thing to stress with kids is that despite what is often taught, Science and the Bible are not in conflict with one another! Rather, Creation reveals the majesty of the Creator!

Here for you and your family,

Pastor Jeff