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Naturalism, Realism And The Existence Of God

863 words - 4 pages

For centuries, many people, among many cultures and belief systems have argued about the existence of God. There are many different lines of thinking when it comes to the whether or not God really exists. Two schools of thought, that are polar opposites of each other are naturalism and realism. In realism, there is no God that controls nature. Ivan Karamazov, a noted naturalist explained his belief in one brief statement: “If God did not exist, everything would be permitted.” By this, according to Richard Harries, Karamazov means that “morality belongs to us as human beings.” There is no real need for God to govern our morality because humans make that determination. More religious ...view middle of the document...

" With this statement, he simply meant that in the universe, all physical things are governed by the laws of nature and that everything in the universe can be explained by those laws, not by control of an all-powerful God.
Obviously, other than naturalists, there are many doubters of this way of thinking. B.F. Skinner, a Harvard professor also known as the father of behaviorism disagrees with naturalism because he feels human dignity and freedom play a big part in what happens in nature. He says that, in naturalism, “we are explained purely in terms of biochemical or neurochemical reactions which follow the prescribed laws of nature. We are determined biologically and environmentally.” In a sense, with naturalism, everything is material, so all beings are simply stimulus-response machines and there is no room for freedom, shame or human dignity (Leffel, 1994).
In contrast to naturalism, realism is the belief that says morality is based solely on what God is thought to have commanded people to do. Reinhold Niebhur, known as the father of Christian Realism, laid out what he called “indeterminate possibilities”. He said that because God is alive in everyone, people could achieve great things. But even so, God does not have complete control over peoples’ lives. Realists believe they work to serve God and everything they do to make the world a better place is a task commanded by Him that is bigger than the individual.
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Niebhur attempted to justify this line of thinking by saying, “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our...

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