Monday, April 15, 2013

Naturalism, The Cruelty of Evolution, and the Soul…

If we are trapped in a closed system, the supposed system of naturalism, even with all its possible universes, multiple or infinite, then the end result of existence is abysmal. All the hopes and dreams of future, for our children and their children, the future of all precious life, as well as the future of love and of hope, of joy and of peace, all the hopes for the objects of our love are ultimately trumped by death. All the great things in my heart, if I am without a real future, will die with me. Even if I make a mark on this world, this world too shall pass.  Death awaits it all. Collapse is inevitable. Darkness will envelop life and love. The lights will go out. Maybe not today, but on a day, and if that is the case, what does it matter what day that will be?

I know that this assessment is not the obvious conclusion to which everyone will come when reflecting upon and possibly accepting a naturalistic worldview. The naturalists often have great faith, perhaps greater than some Christians, in an ultimate hope that one day, somehow, humans will unlock ultimate happiness and find a utopia that will be without end. You and I will not be there, of course, but at least we, if we get on board with the process, helped get our progeny there. The possibilities of science become their great narrative by which the faithfully optimistic naturalists live. I am further aware that my conclusion is not simply pessimistic, but comes from my worldview, which is vehemently opposed to the world of naturalism (for reasons, among many, I will explain presently). While many a naturalist has gone the way of nihilism, this is not the move many have decided to make, especially today.

Naturalism is being packaged with an optimism—as perverse, in my opinion, as it might be—which rivals the hope of the Judeo-Christian worldview that is steeped in Resurrection. Instead of the renewal of all things, as in the case of Resurrection, all things that come to be are merely stepping-stones to that ultimate hope. This is the naturalist myth of progress centered in human accomplishment. Contrary to my opinion, many naturalists are quite satisfied with the end result that naturalistic existence brings. It is as radical as the idea of the “Son of Man” ruling as our ultimate King. It is a Star Treck-esque reality, in which we find the keys to the universe (or universes) and finally tap into the potential of stars, and galaxies, and beyond.

It is not as airtight a hope as the Christian hope, since the great possibilities that the naturalists are hoping for cannot be certain. This hope can only be possible if humanity gets on board, only if we leave behind our outmoded and myopic visions of reality that leave us stuck in the past, religious “nuts” being the worst offenders of keeping us in that nasty past. We need to move on. Otherwise, we might, in our radicalism, blow each other to bits. Even though their optimism is clouded by a possible failure, this, they would say, is at least an honest reflection upon reality, unlike the guaranteed victory, not of the human race, but of the Creator and King of the human race, which the Christian assumes. And, as some would suggest, even if our reality fails, life somewhere, somehow will win.

However, let’s be honest about it. If naturalism is the proper worldview, contrary to popular thought spurred on by recent scientific discovery, it can never be proven to be the case. We are forever left with a nagging doubt. Perhaps we are not the pinnacle of our own reality. But, if we are in a closed system, by definition, we will never be able to prove its closed-ness, because we will never be able to get beyond it to prove nothing is on the outside. There is always the possibility of more, which plagues our souls, fooling us into reflecting on what it might be like to have our hopes continue into eternity, which, for the naturalist, is only a cruel thought brought by the survival instinct. Naturalism’s greatest hope for happiness is to ignore the possibility of something more.

The cruelest reality of naturalism, if it happens to be the case, would be the naturalistic, evolutionary development of the soul. Call it what you will, but we all have a soul.  It is that part of ourselves that cares for the self and others. It is that part of us that says, “These things matter.” For the naturalist, this might be the inevitable development of the mechanism that higher life forms need to care for survival, nothing more than survival instinct in its most complex state (so far). But, this care to survive goes beyond mere proliferation of the species. It is care for more than survival. If we were geared to really wish nothing more than procreation of the species, eugenics would make perfect sense, but, as is, it repulses most people, even the naturalist. Instead, our soul—that supposed naturalistic instinct—desires justice for the oppressed. It wants happiness for those people who are otherwise (by the very definitions of naturalism) a drain on our survival (the mentally and physically handicapped for example).

The soul is nothing more than a torture device for those convinced of the reality of naturalism. It is something that must be suppressed and denied. Why would the great author of life, evolution, ever care to give us such a careless gift, such a gift that is more than superfluous in a closed system? All the treasure of the soul, which the soul cares about, even beyond itself, the soul knows, if it is convinced of a closed system, will perish. They have no lasting value; no matter how much the soul wishes they did. The soul is, therefore, nothing more than a device of torture. A much better and less superfluous gift would be a mind geared towards sheer logic, a logic that moves towards survival, a calculating system that cares little for feeling. This could get the job done, probably all the better.

The naturalist would suggests that feelings, that part of us that emotes when reflecting on the things we love, are simply clever devises triggered by chemical responses in the brain that make us “feel” we care. We are simply machines responding to stimuli. It is trickery, at worst, meaningless, at best. But, the idea that our mind is tricking us is a contradiction of naturalism itself. That we are only fooled into thinking we have a soul, a part of us that loves and cares and goes beyond self, cannot be true. For the naysayer says things like, “Our mind fools us,” setting the mind apart from the being, which, in a strange, and perhaps too Greek sense, affirms the soul, but it affirms the soul nonetheless.

In the end, I truly believe, that we all affirm the soul in our deepest being, this is why so many naturalist feel so hopeless, and turn to despair. As dangerous as religion is in the mind of the naturalist, so too, in the mind of the Christian, is the soul left feeling hopeless. Because of the worldview that they have given over to, they know they feel they matter. They know that they feel that the things they care about matter, but in the end, all those things have no hope in the face of death. In a naturalistic world, the soul is our ultimate reminder that death wins, that for us, the lights will go out, not just from our eyes, but upon all that we ultimately care about: Upon our children, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends and our world, upon love and joy and peace and hope itself. All is lost.

In the Christian world, the soul can also be a source of torture. It is the ultimate reminder that I cannot be my own man, that I am dependent, that I cannot always have my way. Just as the body, which reacts painfully in the presence of a fire that is too close, the soul is full of pain, as it drifts further from the source of life, God, and towards the consuming fires of sin. In the end, we must answer the question for ourselves: “Why do I have a soul?”

“Let God be true, but every man a liar” –Paul (Romans 3:4)