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The Argument from Reason

The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism
by

julie miller

on 18 February 2013

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Transcript of The Argument from Reason

1. The claim of Naturalism is that in the Darwinian struggle for survival, reliable cognitive faculties conferred a selection advantage on certain organisms, and that organisms with generally reliable belief-forming faculties had an advantage over organisms with less reliable faculties.

2. Natural selection favors traits that help organisms survive and reproduce. It does not favor truth.

3. False beliefs are often just as effective as true beliefs. (examples?)
Hence, in the struggle for survival, cognitive faculties that produced false beliefs would have been selected whenever the resulting behavior was beneficial.

4. Hence, if Naturalism is true, human reasoning ability is fundamentally unreliable, for it is the product of a selection process that doesn't favor truth over falsehood.

5. Hence, if I affirm Naturalism, I cast significant doubt on my beliefs, including my belief in Naturalism. What do you mean by "Naturalism?" The Argument from Reason Against Naturalism The philosophical worldview that nature is all there is. Nothing exists beyond the natural universe. All of reality is a closed system. Everything can be explained by natural causes and laws. How does it account for our ability to reason? What is The Argument David Wood on Reason Greg Koukl John Lennox Alvin Plantinga Other Famous Doubters "With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" "The application of evolutionary theory to the understanding of our own cognitive capacities should undermine, though it need not completely destroy, our confidence in them. Mechanisms of belief formation that have selective advantage in the everyday struggle for existence do not warrant our confidence in the construction of theoretical accounts of the world as a whole." "All possible knowledge, then, depends on the validity of reasoning. If the feeling of certainty which we express by words like must be and therefore and since is a real perception of how things outside our own minds really 'must' be, well and good. But if this certainty is merely a feeling in our own minds and not a genuine insight into realities beyond them--if it merely represents the way our minds happen to work--then we can have no knowledge. Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true." "Materialist accounts of reasoning typically presuppose the existence of the very thing that they are trying to explain. According to materialism, the universe begins with no mental states and evolves them into existence through the shuffling and reshuffling of material particles. Suppose that rationality were on the ground floor of reality. Suppose the universe were the result of the activities of a rational being. If that were the case, then we could understand how such a rational being could bestow beings in the universe with a measure of its rationality."
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