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Why the success of science does not prove naturalism

by Dr. Peter Payne
Institute for Credible Christianity

When people speak of “the worldview of science” almost always what they refer to is naturalism, the view that the physical world is all that exists and that ultimately everything can be explained in terms of natural laws
Those who argue that science strongly points towards naturalism typically do so because science has succeeded in providing explanations for nearly every facet of our world, from the smallest scale to largest. 

The conclusion of many, then, is that God is squeezed out of the picture, that there is nothing but the natural world. But does the success of science by itself provide strong support for naturalism? In this lecture it will be argued that it does not. Briefly it will be noted that the enigma of consciousness, of the conscious self, provides good reason to think that naturalism is not the last word. However, the majority of the lecture will develop the thesis that a key problem for naturalism is the conflating of what I call order-of-nature miracles and specific-point miracles. The former, if there are any, would be miracles that God needs to perform regularly or periodically to sustain the order of nature, the normal functioning of the natural world. The latter are miracles performed at specific points in time for specific purposes. The success of science provides significant support for the thesis that there are no order-of-nature miracles, but a “gapless” order of nature accords well with the biblical teaching about God. And the success of science does not address the question as to whether there are any specific-point miracles. That is a question that has to be addressed by historical investigation. The lecture will conclude by considering and responding to one objection to this thesis.


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