The Intellectual Suicide of Secularism

Secularists label those of religious faith as committing intellectual suicide; they say any cause outside of materialism for explaining reality is a mindless appeal to mysticism. Yet relativism and naturalism, the twin engines of secularism, are really the major contributors to the general dumbing down of society. These philosophies may be suffocating existence into sterility.

Science has done wonders in understanding our natural world. But what many people don’t realize is that modern science has a philosophy and agenda behind it. It’s not just purely observing data and disclosing it. Science is much about interpretation as much as it is about empiricism, depending on one’s worldview. Relying solely on a material explanation for phenomenon is becoming an increasingly self-defeating problem. Naturalism’s close sibling, relativism, is also laden with intellectual contradictions when examined. Let’s start with naturalism.

Naturalism is the notion that life and material matter are formed by random chance and natural laws. The majority of the academic elite subscribe to naturalism as the backbone of modern science. Today science is defined as the “pursuit of materialistic explanations for natural phenomena through empirical observation and rational theorizing”. The theory of evolution is the lovechild and prized offspring of naturalism.

But the premise is atheistic driven and incapable of explaining some of the most important phenomenon. Let’s consider a just a few of the many examples where the fatal errors in naturalism surface. One classic observational difficulty for Darwinists to explain is the DNA code in the living cell. DNA is needed to create new cells, yet new cells seem to be created with the DNA. Proteins are needed to create DNA yet DNA creates proteins. Which comes first? This creates a classic chicken or the egg scenario, and can only be solved if DNA is the product of design.

Another dimension of DNA is that it is a message bearing medium or information coding system. That is, it carries a message that tells a cell what kinds of proteins to make and when to make them. If DNA carries a message, then the message cannot be the product of the chemicals that make up the DNA; it would not be a message at all. In other words, the message cannot be an outgrowth of the medium- just as the words on this page don’t arise from a keyboard and a computer screen.

Since DNA is a code, a genetic language, it’s identity as a language cannot be accounted for on the basis of chemistry or physics alone, just as the message “Mike loves Rebecca” cannot be accounted for on the basis of physics alone. Information always has intelligence behind it. Life contains information rich codes; non-life does not. This physical-intelligence gap cannot be explained by any materialistic explanation, because it is statistically impossible for life to have evolved from non-life in the time allowable. Lewis writes, “meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them to two other words”. Applying this principle to the meaning of just the DNA name, why is it called DNA and not DAN or AND? There is meaning behind the arrangement from an intelligent source, and that’s what we see in the cell.

And there’s another conundrum about DNA. Even if this mystery was explained, there is still not enough time even with long ages of gradualism for life to happen. Neo Darwinist Haldane drew this principle from his studies called “Haldane’s Dilemma”: Using long evolutionary time tables for speciation, Haldane’s Dilemma states that it takes a staggering number of mutations in a relatively small number of generations for evolution to have a chance. Assuming man and apes had a common ancestor, 40 million separate mutation events would have had to take place and become fixed in the population in only 300,000 generations. This is an average of 1.33 mutations locked into the genome every generation! This is absurd and something we have never observed in the fossil record or in species today.

Mind Over Matter

Let’s consider the human brain. Evolutionary biologists are continually baffled as to how could thought, conceptualization, reflection, consciousness, intuition, reason, logic, temptation, vision, guilt and shame can be mere products of chemical reactions. Scientists are stumped because they’re operating from an assumption of naturalism as the only reality that explains life. If thoughts and feelings are solely the product of electro-chemical reactions, how do you measure the strength of one’s will?

When we think a true thought, or follow a sound argument, the brain is active to be sure. But the results of that activity are not determined by the properties of the chemicals but by something transcendent over those properties. When we make a sound moral judgment, and choose to do what’s right, we’re not just expressing what’s in our genes; we’re taking a share in something that transcends our bodily mechanism. One philosopher said, “A moral statement made by a human constitutes a thought in the mind. How can a true statement exist apart from some kind of mind?” This means that your brain activity is not the same thing as your thinking and choosing; it’s the vehicle of your thinking and choosing. The brain is involved but is not the sole source of thought. Theologians say the brain is the spiritual physical interface in human beings.

It’s interesting that Neo Darwinist Haldane again commented on this difficulty: “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

Science Is More Than Just Data, It’s About Philosophy

The conclusion that an intelligent mind is behind the design of DNA and the brain is the most likely explanation when the evidence and data are seen. Even if science managed to make some sense to the “x’s” and “o’s” of these phenomenon, it would only be one explanation. There may be multileveled explanations of the same event, one from the natural and one from the spiritual world. The same event may have both scientific and theological explanations. Science does well when it stays with what it knows, such as explaining material phenomenon. But it’s specialty is methodology, not metaphysical reality.

Whenever the argument for design and intelligence enters, naturalistic scientists criticize it as a “science stopper.” But one philosopher rightly noted, “Western science, since the Scientific Revolution and right up until Darwin, proceeded very well without methodological or philosophical materialism. Sir Isaac Newton, for example, was a theist who explained his laws of physics according to design. The metaphysics of Western culture was generally theistic, not naturalistic.”

There are real philosophical problems with atheistic evolution. The first is that life itself does not contain the answers to the questions of ultimate meaning. A material explanation is never the most satisfying explanation. Plus, in trying to take God out of the picture, atheism has to assume God in order to disprove God, thus testifying to theism. In other words, a skeptic presumes to judge God by a standard that does not exist apart from God. If naturalism is true, why is there something rather than nothing? Random chance has no causal powers of its own. It’s a descriptive term from statistics and applied to mathematics.

Also, it’s not really about data but a philosophy of science issue. If you don’t want God, you need to substitute Him with a system of thought, all the while trying to make people think they’re committing intellectual suicide for seeing design as the best explanation. One professor observed, “Darwinism is more than a biologic theory. It is integral to the secular worldview of the western intellectual elite that wants to marginalize religious faith as having a claim on knowledge”.

Is Nature Supreme?

One doesn’t have to be an intellectual to be affected by the notion that materialism is the highest reality. Scientific materialism bleeds into social materialism. The average person lives as though this life is all there is which has a host of social consequences: a man seeks his own vengeance when wronged (the rise in cultural indecency), it leads to a culture of entitlements, people are more inclined to express the base nature such as lust, adultery, murder, stealing etc. There is no moral law. And if it’s natural, it must be right. Naturalism is deadly.

One example serves to highlight the deadly nature of naturalism and atheistic evolution in a culture. In an interview before he was killed in prison, mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer said, “I believed the lie that we came from the slime. I reasoned that what’s the point of trying to modify my behavior if there is no judgment or a Creator to be accountable to?” This rationale, based on atheistic evolution and abiogenesis as the cultural norm, is behind all kinds of pathologies.

Is nature really supreme? Feces aren’t natural and nobody eats those as a staple in their diet. Cancer is natural, but nobody wants that for a lifestyle. Arsenic is found in apple seeds  but few munch on these as a snack.” If naturalists reply that imperfection is part of the evolutionary process of getting things right, then this is really a philosophy of science issue which is the point from the beginning.

The naturalists should look into a Christian worldview of the data for a more realistic and comprehensive meaning of the data. This is because not all phenomenon demand naturalistic explanations. The present world is good and has elements of brilliance, but also shows signs of stress fractures throughout from a fall which man is responsible for. The Christian worldview has the most balanced explanation as to why life is good, has order and capable of study yet is cursed with evil infiltrating to the smallest of molecules.

You Have Your Truth And I Have Mine

The other philosophical pillar of our modern culture is relativism. Is the statement “you have your truth and I have mine” itself true? How do we know if there are no such things as absolute statements, which the statement itself makes? We live in an age of supreme individuality where self is supreme. We live on our terms and demand our rights. We are our own creators, and amoral beings that are neither good nor bad. Truth is not anterior but relative, which claims that moral judgments are dependent on social and historical arrangements. Judgments are only culture specific and morality depends on what you think. Cultures have no access to objective, absolute moral truths but are locally and culturally defined. Fueled by atheistic anthropology, morality is human made, culturally relative and revisable according to postmodern assumptions. But how can we trust these statements if truth is relative? Are there really no universals?

Some think language as part of the hindrance and claim that just as cultures choose different syntax, phonetic, and semantic elements in their language, so they also choose different norms of morality. No one is a being from nowhere, but everybody is acultural and a product of their environment, we’re told. But is morality nothing but a product of culture?

Consider the notion that the “the sky is blue”. Different cultures have different words to describe it, but a blue sky taps into a universal that everybody senses regardless of the cultural expressions. The diversity of symbolic forms in no way jeopardizes the blueness of the sky. Language appears to capture reality not create it.

Or take the following example. A tribal group may believe putting to death elders before they get old insures them a better place in the afterlife in order avoid a difficult state of fragility. Contrast that with a Christian worldview that has a different belief on old age, the value of life and the afterlife. We can camp on the different results, but the universal is that both cultures have a common moral principle of respecting their elders and doing what they think is good. The principle has different applications and results in different rules, but we see the common trait.

A relativist may point out that stealing in one culture is OK and stealing in another culture is not. He may even believe it’s OK to steal from you. But if you steal from him and he is morally outraged over it, he is a walking contradiction. Truth is not just relative. Where does that reaction come from if there is no objective moral order that has been transgressed? It’s possible a person may realize that stealing is wrong and not know the ultimate source for that wrong.

People may have fewer differences concerning fundamental moral values than first thought. Philosophers have noted that benevolence, duties to elders, justice laws, duties to children, and mercy are universal traits that transcend cultures. One anthropologist has identified striking moral values among people groups and writes:

“Every culture has a concept of murder distinguishing this from execution, killing in war, and other ‘justifiable homicides.’ The notions of incest and other regulations upon sexual behavior, the prohibitions upon untruth under defined circumstances, of restitution and reciprocity, of mutual obligations between parties and children- these and many other moral concepts are altogether universal.”

Tolerance is a buzz word today that captures the idea of relativism. It’s perhaps the highest virtue in America. If you’re the most “tolerant” in your company, your considered very relevant and popular. Yet cultural relativists usually don’t tolerate intolerant worldviews. They condemn intolerance. Aren’t they being intolerant when they don’t tolerate those who are intolerant? How is this intellectually reasonable given the premise of relativism? Tolerance sounds reasonable, but relativism cannot grant tolerance the status of an objective moral principle or an absolute.


Relativism feeds into naturalism and scientific atheism because it denies any immaterial forms of reality. It’s difficult to see how atheistic scientists can be relativists with any consistency, since the very scientific method that seeks to discover truth assumes truth is discoverable without, and that there are universal constants such, as physical laws, that guide material reality. Why not moral law as well? Are we to believe that we exist with complex intelligence and a propensity to abstract moral law as products of random chance and purely material and unintelligible processes?  Non mind cannot create mind.

There are singulars and universals that transcend cultures. The ideas of “good” and “better” only stem from an ideal by which we can discern what is good and better. And moral facts exist apart from any personal arbitrators. Reality is more than what you see in a test tube, or through a microscope or telescope. You can’t hold a clump morality in your hand but we know moral law is real. The very concept of moral law implies a lawgiver to whom we are subject. As one philosopher said, “No human can create objective value; he or she might as well try to create a new primary color.” It just exists.

Naturalists try to corner the science market with airtight explanations, but maybe it’s a cover to rationalize away moral law and give intellectual approval to live any lifestyle we want without restraint.

We have shown that to deny objective moral reality is illogical, unlivable and logically unsustainable. Wouldn’t it be easier to conclude the obvious that there is more that sustains life than meets the eye or empirically verifiably. The only logical conclusion is that God is the basis of objective reality.

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About Scott Chandler

As a trained academician, Scott speaks to the issues of our culture with an emphasis on apologetics.
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One Response to The Intellectual Suicide of Secularism

  1. Pamela says:

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