The view presented to us by the modern worldview is that God is either nonexistent or unnecessary. We are told that everything in the physical world can ultimately be explained by the natural sciences. According to this atheistic view, everything we experience can be explained ultimately by physics and chemistry. Such a view is called naturalism or physicalism.
Philosophers have wrestled for centuries with several concepts that give naturalism trouble, including:
- Consciousness from unconscious matter
- Beauty and quality of life
- The basis for morality
These things have been the subject of much discussion since ancient times. It is difficult for the naturalist to explain how one set of visual sense data can be more beautiful than another while still holding that they are all caused by natural forces. Often the conversation turns to survival of the individual or group. Survival seems to be a favorite motivator for naturalists when there is no other obvious explanation. Survival motivations present still more problems, as we have discussed previously (see here)
But for the sake of argument, let us assume that all that exists are natural physical forces such as gravity, electromagnetism, friction, and the like. We will even throw in survival, since it is so important to our naturalist friends’ worldview. If true, then natural forces would seem to explain all effects that we encounter, including the drive for survival and human consciousness.
Atheist guru Richard Dawkins has said “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” So according to naturalists like Dawkins, our thought processes just are, and we are dancing to their music. Atheists like Sam Harris go to great lengths to explain how humans do not have free will, since all our thoughts are determined by previous causes, which were in turn caused by physical laws of nature. Harris short book Free Will has a picture of the words free will being controlled by puppet strings, with the clear message that we do not control our own thoughts, but rather all our thoughts are controlled by natural forces.
As several philosophers have pointed out, the naturalistic explanation of human thought and action does not require our thoughts to be accurate, but only follow natural forces and promote survival. If all rabbits run from all lions because they think the lions are playing a fun game of tag, or because some bit of DNA causes them to suddenly have the urge to urinate underground, the effect is the same, but the reasoning is wrong. If God does not exist, human reasoning is ultimately from natural forces, and does not have to correspond to reality. It merely has to promote survival and follow natural forces. To the naturalist, we use our minds to come to the conclusion that minds do not exist.
Therefore if it is true that God is not necessary to explain human minds, then the conclusions of our minds are not because of a correspondence to the real world. The DNA to which we dance just happened to be the DNA that corresponded to survival, not necessarily the DNA that reports the world as it actually is.
Lest we think this a silly philosophical thought experiment, consider how many times a person is deceived, how many times we draw wrong conclusions about how reality works. We see the data, yet make conclusions that align with the data, and quite often false conclusions are held for someone’s entire life. Stage magicians have learned the art of fooling us because they know what we will perceive and what we will think happened, yet they are doing the trick right in front of us. Such situations are why some people wrongly hold to a coherence view of truth and claim that as long as a series of truth claims are coherent in reference to each other, it does not matter whether the truth corresponds to reality.
When the naturalists denies God, they deny the objective reference point that allows us to ground our thinking in the real world.
In reality, we think and view the world the way we do because God has created us separate from the world and given us a rational soul with the capacity to make judgments about the world.