-Reframing the debate-

By Dr. Ron Woodworth


One of the most important debates in our culture today is the naturalism versus creationism explanation of the universe. Naturalism suggests that the universe came from a series of random “acts” whereas Creationism posits the idea of God as the ultimate causality of all existence. In others words, even if there was a big bang—which to me seems probable—then God caused it! Indeed, someone has humorously observed that to believe that the entire ordered universe could result from a random act without reference to a creator is tantamount to believing that there could be an explosion in a print shop and an Unabridged Webster Dictionary could resultJ

The proponents of naturalism would have us “believe” that we are nothing more than a highly developed “species” of animals with brains that have been naturalistically programmed by millions of years of evolution. In fact, a renown author, whose book I have read, has even suggested that the brain is actually deceiving us into thinking–that we are thinking! The fact/truth is that what we perceive as cognitive processes is nothing more than chemically induced responses to external stimuli over the eons of evolutionary history. Indeed, man only has a (chemically reactive) brain—not a (contemplatively responsive) mindi.

Creationists, on the other hand, insist that man not only has a physical body, but also a non-physical soul/spirit. This they ascribe to the biblical account that man was created in the image of God—resulting from the combination of the ground and the in-breathed Spirit of God—thus constituting man as a living soul/being (Genesis 2:7).

In fact, the phrase, “and man became a living being” is just the opposite of naturalistic evolutionary assertion that “a living being became man”!

In my studies I have come to a helpful conclusion about the proofs for and/or against God in relation to the Creation-Evolution debate. That conclusion is based on what could be termed “the mutual limitations of science.” In essence, my argument is that scientific methodology [hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion] does not have, nor will it ever have, the tools to necessarily bring God into its laboratory of repeated experimentation in a controlled environment. As a result, science must remain silent about definitive conclusions regarding the existence of God and his activities.

After all, science can only deal with the physical dimension of matter—without speculating about the nature of transcendence—the ultimate reality. Indeed, the discussion of transcendence is left to the realm of philosophy, theology, and metaphysics. Consider for a moment that even the word “meta-physics” literally means “beyond the physical.”

In the final analysis, all scientific speculation about transcendence—or what might have been here before matter came into being—must be separated from the debate of evolutionism and creationism. For either view to claim the scientific high ground (which many from both sides are doing) as proof of correctness of one view over the other is, in my mind, an exercise in scientific futility. Indeed, for science to speculate about the question of transcendent realities is to transgress into the bounds of the religious enterprise. One could call such an effort the “religion of evolution.”ii

On the other hand, for Creationists to seek to scientifically prove the transcendent reality of God is to subject the divine to the limitations of man. Don’t get me wrong: I do believe that Creationists, based on the empirical date, can and should make a case for the scientific probability (vs. definitive provability) of God’s existence. However, such Creationists must, in my view, be more careful/humble not to claim more than science can produce. Not to do so will, in my mind, only extend the debate into a realm where neither side can win (by claiming the scientific high ground in the ultimately non-scientific question of origins)—and both sides lose (by science becoming religion and religion becoming science). There is compatibility, but only as both sides honor each other’s respective domains.

[To learn more about the greatest challenges to Christianity in our lifetime—as well as how to firmly establish your faith in the ultimate reality of Jesus Christ and his eternal kingdom purpose, see Biblical Christianity 101 @ www.ronwoodworth.org]

“Thou hast made us for thyself [Oh Lord];

And our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.”

(St. Augustine)

[i] GanzaniggaThe Brain: The Minds Past.

[ii] Johnson, Darwin On Trial. Johnson herein makes an interesting distinction between “scientific,” as a legitimate method of inquiry about the mechanics of the world—as opposed to “scientism,” which raises the status of science to that of a religion. However, Johnson himself still justifies the use of science as the foundation for an argument against evolution, which, from my perspective, is the same mistake that scientific creationism tries to make in defending a Christian truth that can only be ultimately grasped by faith—See Hebrews 11:3.