A question posed on a discussion board regarding the rationalism and irrationalism of scientific naturalism.
Curt: Could anyone explain how scientific naturalism is characterized by both rationalism and irrationalism?
Thomas: Dear Curt,
Timely question, as I was just working through some study on this last evening.
The modern paradigm in which scientific naturalism has arisen is existential. The real world is not God’s creation but only what the scientific or philosophic mind imagines that creation to be. Hence, the rational is the real.
The problem, of course, is that having abolished God and His creation, who has the right to define what is either rational or real? Why should the conclusion of the scientist or the philosopher be any more valid than the homeless man or the criminal, the Christian theologian or the Wiccan priestess? It’s denial of absolute truth asserts that the only absolute wrong is an externally imposed set of values derived from God’s revelation or any institutions, such as the Church or Family, that is not a priori subject to the naturalistic scientists or philosophers existential premise. Hence, its absolute truth is and must be existentialism, all truth comes from the biology of man.
The governing thesis, then, is that the problem with man and society is not sin, but lack of knowledge. As science brings us more tools and advances technology for the advancement of knowledge, no true advancement is made because the use of that advance devolves quickly to the lowest common denominator. A good example is the internet, it’s public access started out and still is a primary medium for the dissemination of pornography. In turn science advances us to an ever increasing baseness of animal man. What once was limited to the seedy back alleys of run down slums, is now accessible in an instant from any of our home computers, and this is presented as freedom and advancement. It is a stark contrast to the development of the printing press for the dissemination of the Word of God, in what they call the “dark ages.”
They have replaced man created in the image of God with rational man, at the same time they undermine man’s rationality by reducing him to an animal and product of evolution.
When we adopted the premise of naturalistic science we abandoned a belief in the harmony of interests under God’s Providence and Predestinating Grace. A dog eat dog world has arisen presupposed upon a conflict of interests called “survival of the fittest.” But then it becomes wrong for the fittest to make extinct the spotted owl or the snail darter minnow, and man must act to save the environment, or else man may become extinct as well. We all go to work each day, in an economy presupposed upon this conflict of interests, and as we clock in or show up, we echo the salute of the Gladiators of old, “Hail Caesar, we who are about to die, Salute you!”, in the new Coliseum.
Starting upon the rationalistic premise that man is indeed his own god, and then evidentially discovering time and again that he is not, he fully embraces irrationalism to maintain the a priori assertion. Man as his own god defines his own reality and create facts in the very definition of facts. Civility is rapidly eroding in our country, and in the Church, because it requires a recognition of social obligations, a conscientious recognition that there is more to the world than our own feelings and annoyances. Descartes, “I think therefore I am,” becomes, “I feel therefore I am,” and finally “I rebel therefore I exist.”
Scientific naturalism’s rationalistic paradigm collapses on itself and ends in irrationalism because man’s autonomous reason ends up with nothing except itself.