What is the worldview of Naturalism and why does it matter?
Naturalism is the belief that nature is all there is. This pervasive worldview emphasizes scientific enquiry and sees the material world as the whole of reality. Nothing exists outside of the physical universe; everything that exists can be reduced to elementary, sub-atomic particles. That means you don’t have a soul; nothing spiritual exists. You live, you die, you rot. Not a very pleasant future!
Naturalism also claims science as its ally, investigating the physical universe, and learning from its experiments regarding the nature of things. Naturalism claims verifiable concrete knowledge about the universe.
Naturalism is not just the philosophical assumption of the sciences; it lies as the foundation for many academic pursuits. The intellectual disciplines in the majority of university departments around the country are pursued vigorously without a reference to the supernatural. God is never seriously considered in the academy. Naturalism is the only acceptable worldview of the university.
Today’s psychology and sociology professors teach their respective disciplines from the perspective that matter is all there is. Humans are simply DNA molecules trying to produce more DNA molecules to insure survival. How do you fix DNA behaving as DNA? Can DNA be dysfunctional? Can gangs of DNA be regulated? The entire GNOME project has science astir with the possibilities: Learning to manipulate the anger gene, the alcoholic gene, the compulsive gene, the rape gene, etc.
Part of the inadequacy of naturalism is its lack of comprehensiveness. Since it denies the spiritual aspects of reality, it is an incomplete worldview and unable to answer crucial questions that we ask ourselves everyday: Is there meaning to my existence? What is the basis for human dignity? Naturalism cannot answer these questions in a manner that comforts or encourages human beings. If naturalism is true, we are a compilation of molecules, the result of a cosmic explosion, with no meaning, no purpose. You are alone in the universe. There is no god, no right and wrong. Whatever is, is. There is no point to it at all.
Of course, the implications of naturalism are unlivable. Human nature cannot long exist under this weight of despair and will find solace in religious expressions and mystical experiences, even if these experiences are not valid according to naturalistic criteria. Naturalism provides no basis for morality; it cannot compel individuals to go against the animal drives that control them. If left to itself, naturalism self-destructs and takes its disciples with it.