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Through the Lens: Evolution, “Why Does Science Leave God Out?” (methodological naturalism) (Standard Definition)

Discussion Ideas

Before watching the video:

  • Review: Review and discuss the classic steps of the scientific method
  • Discuss: Methodological naturalism is considered by scientists to be a cornerstone of science. It provides great explanatory power as scientists investigate the natural world. This means, however, when scientists investigate the natural world, they only consider natural causes (not supernatural ones). From a scientist’s perspective, what would be the problems of allowing God to be an explanation for physical phenomena? (supernatural causes are not directly observable and measurable)
  • Discuss: Explain the concerns scientists have about Christians invoking a “God-of-the-gaps” kind of argument. 
  • Optional assignment: Read and discuss the “the worship of gaps” section in Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion. What are Darwkins’ concerns about invoking supernatural causes for natural phenomena?

After the video:

  • Ask students to summarize the main idea of this video: As Christians we want to support the general idea of methodological naturalism. It offers a great tool to explore God’s creation. However, Dr. Rana suggests we also adopt a modified version of methodological naturalism, what he calls a “weak” or provisional methodological naturalism. In this case, naturalistic causes are assumed but it allows for the possibility of a supernatural explanation in the presence of extraordinary empirical evidence.
  • Discuss: How can Christians guard themselves from simply invoking God as an explanation when what’s actually needed is deeper study of an issue?
  • Recommended Resource: What Darwin Didn’t Know (RTB booklet)

Return to Through the Lens.