Can the worldview of naturalism rationally ground mind, meaning and morality?

J. Warner Wallace, author of “Cold Case Christianity”, explains why it can’t.

Here’s just one of the three troubles with naturalism:


If naturalism is true, morality is nothing more than a matter of opinion. All of us, as humans, have simply come to embrace those cultural or personal mores that best promote the survival of the species. There is no transcendent, objective moral truth. Instead, cultures merely embrace the values and moral principles that “work” for them and have resulted in the flourishing of their particular people group. If this is the case, one group of evolved humans has no business trying to tell another evolved group what is truly right or wrong from a moral perspective. After all, each group has successfully arrived at their particular level of development by embracing their own accepted moral standards. Arguments over which moral truths provide for greater human flourishing are simply subjective disagreements; there is no transcendent, objective standard that can adjudicate such disagreements from a naturalistic perspective.

Click the link to read the other two!

It is fun to put naturalists on the defensive. I think that the most odd thing about naturalism is that they think that all moral statements are true or false depending on personal preferences. For example, slavery. Whether to own slaves or not is really the slave owner’s choice, on naturalism. Some societies in some places and times allow it, and others don’t. Naturalism has nothing at all to say about which view is correct, because there is no design for humans on naturalism – no way we ought to be. Every view is as good as any other, because there is no one to decide.

The justification for moral values and duties is important because the justification is what helps us to do the right thing when it involves self-sacrifice and self-denial. Anybody can be good when it’s easy. Being good when it’s hard takes rationality, and naturalists don’t have that in their worldview. When a naturalists says “I’m a good person without God”, you have to understand that they are making that statement as a statement of preference. On their view, there is nothing right or wrong with anything, as a matter of fact. They have determined themselves what counts as good, and they are in compliance with their own arbitrary preferences. That’s what they mean by “I’m good”.

3 thoughts on “Can the worldview of naturalism rationally ground mind, meaning and morality?”

  1. Wow, Wintery, we are on the same page today! That’s pretty scary for you. :-) I really like the clarity of your last paragraph – thanks for posting!


  2. It is amusing watching atheists try to get out of this one. What they typically do is either avoid it altogether, or respond by misstating or misunderstanding the moral argument… for example, “How dare you say I can’t be moral!”, which isn’t the argument at all. This is exactly what Richard Dawkins did in “The God Delusion”. I remember reading that section and actually feeling kind of embarrassed for him.

    It’s also not surprising that the moral argument has been pivotal in converting some well-known atheists to Christianity, from C.S. Lewis to Francis Collins, and more recently Leah Libresco. It’s just an argument that you can’t get around if you really sit down and think it through. It’s one of the major reasons I could never be an atheist.


    1. As a former lost soul, I could not agree with you more. I knew something “wasn’t right,” that I was behaving in a hypocritical manner, that I was demanding objective morality and truth from others while reserving moral and truth relativism for myself. I didn’t know the apologetic terms, of course, because our world saturates us in relativism, making it so familiar that it is practically nameless – it seems so normal, that it MUST be in the natural order of things. Right?

      But, I came to a point where I asked myself: “Is there REALLY no unshakeable ground – ANYWHERE?” I finally concluded that unshakeable ground (like dry land in Waterworld) is NOT a myth! It exists in a Person to Whom I then turned my attention.

      When atheists so delude themselves as to violate Logic 101 – to say things like “the universe created itself” and later “a model of the universe created the universe,” and other odd assortments that a sophomore undergrad in a basic logic course could destroy, please keep in mind that it is a cry for help, a searching for that unshakeable ground, and a desperate plea not to be “dragged kicking and screaming” into the presence of their Creator. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” [Hebrews 10:31]


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