Naturalism is self refuting.

by Matt Slick

Naturalism is self refuting because it undermines the foundation for proper logical inference by restricting the human brain to operation within the properties of the physical laws yet physical laws do not produce proper logical inference.

In order to expand on this I must define my terms.

  • Naturalism - "Naturalism is the position that nature is all there is, and there is no supernatural realm. It says that all of human experience can be described and understood through natural laws, science, and human reason. It asserts that biological evolution is true and that there are no supernatural realities."1
  • Chemical Properties - The characteristics of chemicals that determines the way they behave and are discovered through interaction with other chemicals.
  • Physical Laws - Physical Laws are descriptions of behavior of the material realm.  "A physical law or scientific law is a scientific generalization based on empirical observations of physical behaviour (i.e. the law of nature [1]). Laws of nature are observable," 2.These descriptions are derived from scientific inquiry via observation, hypotheses, testing, and repeatability to describe consistent behavior which is then codified as Physical Laws. Laws describe the behavior of the physical properties.
  • Physical Properties - Properties are characteristics that exist in relationship to an object and/or phenomenon. Examples of physical properties would be density, electric charge, hardness, mass, momentum, reflectivity, temperature, etc.  Properties are dependent upon their objects.  Properties are measurable.
  • Physical Realm - The universe and everything contained within it.
  • Reason - "Reason is that part of the human mind where mental faculties are used to examine phenomena, think through them, and draw proper conclusions about them.  It is the capacity of logical thought.  Reason can also be a statement offered to explain something."3.

Naturalism undermines the rational basis for proper logical inference because it reduces rational processes to neurochemical reactions of the physical brain.  But, can one electro-chemical state that leads to another electro-chemical state in the brain, produce proper logical inference? If so, how?  How is it possible since different brains have different neurochemical wirings, yet there seems to be a common set of Logical Laws that different brains must appeal to in order to validate or invalidate conclusions?  This Implies that various physical brains either appeal to these logical laws, discover them, and not produce them.  But This works against naturalism's necessary assumption that the physical brain somehow produces proper logical inference.

Furthermore, another problem is that if a so-called "logical conclusion" is produced in a person's brain, then the conclusion is automatically "true" to that physical brain because it is the necessary result of that particular brain's neurochemical wiring. There then is no means to verify the truth or falsity of such a conclusion unless a source outside of that person is consulted. But this means that the person must appeal to a standard of logic that is absolute and external to himself and not dependent on that particular physical brain's neurochemical arrangement.  But how is this possible in naturalism?

To makes this even simpler, "Naturalism undermines proper logical inference by reducing brain behavior to the laws of physics, but the laws of physics don't produce proper logical inference."

So, atheistic naturalism is, ultimately, self refuting.

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About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.