The real conflict – naturalism versus theism

Lennox makes clear that this section is very important, so let’s have a look at it.

With this we come to one of the major points we wish to make in this book which is that there is a conflict, a very real one, but it is not really a conflict between science and religion at all. For if that were so, elementary logic would dictate that one would find that scientists were all atheists and only non-scientists believed in God, and this, as we have seen, is simply not the case. No, the real conflict is between two diametrically opposed worldviews: naturalism and theism. They inevitably collide (28-29).

When is there smoke without fire? When it’s a smokescreen. The smokescreen here hides that there is no conflict, let alone the foreboding sounding very real one, except the one Lennox exploits to sell his anti-atheism book. A few outspoken atheists and theists do not a conflict make. All but a few scientists, and all but a few non-scientists, carry on with what they are doing because whatever one’s worldview, it doesn’t stop one being a scientist and it doesn’t matter to science. The conflict is only in the most abstract sense.

But let’s imagine a ‘what-if scenario’. What if there is a conflict between naturalism and theism? As an atheist I imagine the worst case would be that for a while there’ll be some really misinformed science. But that doesn’t matter to science; there is no time limit for discovering the truth. It took even Captain Kirk until Star Trek V to reveal that God is just the Wizard of Oz, so science can wait around, too. And the best case would be that science discovers the universe is a really much more amazing place than we atheists had thought. Because in all the hullabaloo that Lennox imagines about this conflict he forgets that scientists value science higher than atheism. Only the most strident atheist wouldn’t be totally wowed to learn that there is something beyond what we thought we could ever know.

2 thoughts on “The real conflict – naturalism versus theism

  1. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

    I think this is a place where Lennox could have defined his terms better.

    If “naturalism” is defined as the belief that “everything in the universe can be explained by things in the universe”, where “the universe” is defined as “that entity finite and unbounded in space and apparently infinite but bounded at one end in time which is theoretically accessible to our observation”, then it is a very weak position. It is as untenable as a definition of theism as: “An entity exists which has the precise properties as defined in Calvin’s ‘Institutes of Christian Religion’.”

    “Naturalism” defined as the principle that explanations for facts in the universe *can* and *should* be sought inside the universe is ironclad.
    As is “Supernaturalism” defined as the hypothesis that *something* exists outside the universe.

    Similarly, “atheism” defined as a rejection of Calvin’s hypothesis (or any narrow definition of theism) is a very solid position.
    “Atheism” defined as the dogmatic rejection of theism in any form is as unacceptable (and as acceptable) as the dogmatic acceptance of theism. The only truly scientific position is the one Marco proudly holds of “Permanently Agnostic on Principle”.


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