Pick Your Poison–Reason or Desire?

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“Just because you want something to be a certain way doesn’t make it so”. Frequently naturalists accuse theists of “wishful thinking”, or even delusion, because they believe that there is a God, want for God to exist, and want to have union with God. It is true that there is no necessary causal connection between our desires for objects and the actual existence of those objects; the existence, strength, or frequency of the desire does not cause the object of that desire to exist. But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any connection at all. Below I will argue that a dilemma emerges for naturalists who believe in darwinian evolution: either one should admit that the desire for God and immortality corresponds to something real, or one should relinquish the claim to believe in naturalistic evolution rationally.

Consider this argument, sometimes called the “argument from desire”:

P1. If a desire is natural, it corresponds to a real end that can be attained.

P2. The desire for eternal union with a transcendent being is a natural desire.

CP3. Therefore “eternal union with a transcendent being” is a real end that can be attained.

P4. If eternal union with a transcendent being is a real end that can be attained, then immortality and a transcendent being exist.

C. Therefore immortality and a transcendent being exist.

This argument’s main proponents are Peter Kreeft and C. S. Lewis.  Is this a good argument?  Let’s take a look at the premises.

Premise 1: Natural desires are the wants that properly-functioning human beings will tend to have regardless of external circumstances.  They come directly from human nature (our innate capacities) not from conditioning or exposure to external objects.  Examples of natural desires are the desires for food, water, shelter, friendship, and sex.

A learned desire is a want that develops in response to external circumstances.  Learned desires are for more specific things than natural desires.  They are wants we have that are for objects that we either perceive (a sports car, a specific partner, cheeseburgers) or conceive of through molding together the concepts we get from the objects we perceive (for instance: combine “horn” and “horse” and you get “unicorn”; and you can desire to give your kids a unicorn for Christmas, even though it doesn’t exist).

Premise 2: Notice that “transcendent being” does not specify all of the qualities that Christians ascribe to God.  All that is meant by “the divine” here is something greater than human beings that will always exist, which it is good to be united to. (Granted, I believe that the “transcendent being” spoken of in this argument, if successful, would end up being the Christian God after all; but I can’t argue for why that is right now)

Some people would challenge the premise that we have a natural desire for everlasting union with a transcendent being.  It is debatable whether or not it is accurate to describe the desire for immortal life with the divine as natural.  But consider the fact that most human beings have desired life after death and participation in the divine.  If this is so prevalent, is it really the result of conditioning from external circumstances?  Furthermore, think of the kinds of people who don’t seem so have a desire for union with God.  First of all, many of them have retracted this claim later in life; as Peter Kreeft mentions in his little essay on this argument, Sartre comes to mind, and his desire for God toward the end of his life.  Secondly, if there really are any people who don’t have the desire for the divine, then it seems they would be similar to people who condition themselves to hate food or water.  Their lack of desire seems to be an anomaly produced by external conditions—not something issuing from our innate capacities.

Naturalists and nominalists about human nature may challenge the validity of a natural/learned desire distinction.  The distinction may not be persuasive to someone who does not accept a realist metaphysics.  So instead of a defense of a specific metaphysics of nature, consider the following definition in replacement for the realist definition of natural desire that was given earlier: a natural desire is one that human beings are very likely to form, regardless of external circumstances, and that is very difficult to completely repress or eradicate.  Surely, the desires that were called “natural” above (for food, companionship, drink, etc.) fit this description; but not all desires do.

Even given the appropriate defenses and modifications of the first two premises, I must confess that I am not persuaded that the first can be established.  Actually, the biggest problem I can see with the argument is that there’s no guarantee that evolution won’t give us natural desires (whether you pick the first realist or the second reductive definition) for things that don’t exist.  It could be the case that the near-universal human desire for mystical union with God is the exception to the rule that “all natural desires have a real object that can satisfy them”.  Sure, there is food, water, shelter, etc. but maybe evolutionary processes gave us an irrational desire for a non-existent God.  There was something adaptively-advantageous about having this powerful desire for religious meaning and immortality, but it didn’t actually match up with reality.  Hominids with a propensity towards religious desires were therefore the ones that tended to survive.  However, their survival was the perpetuation of an irrational genetic strain in the human population.

Given this evolutionary explanation for the origin of human desire for immortality and transcendence, is the argument from desire therefore useless?

Suppose I am a naturalist and I hear the argument from desire.  I agree that the transcendent is illusory, and I admit that human beings have an overwhelming, natural desire for the transcendent.  God and immortality do not exist, and yet human beings crave experience of God and eternal life.  This seems the most plausible route for the evolutionary naturalist to take.

If this is so, I have at least one example of evolution being very unreliable in furnishing me with accurate cognitive faculties.  Most naturalistic evolutionists would insist that evolutionary theory, in order to be believable, must be reasonable.  And in order for theories to be reasonable to believe, the thinkers who form them must do their reasoning in a reliable way while they are trying to formulate their theories.  This implies that in order for it to be reasonable to believe in evolutionary naturalism, evolutionary naturalism must have an explanation for how human beings’ reasoning processes can be reliable given that those reasoning processes were formed through the Darwinian mechanism.  If naturalistic evolutionary theory implies there is a low probability that we will be reasonable (that our faculties will make our beliefs match up with reality), then this would defeat the validity of belief in evolution and naturalism.  After all, its truth would imply that we are probably irrational; and if it implies we are probably irrational, then whatever arguments we used to conclude that evolution and naturalism are true will be undercut by the fact that the position implies our own irrationality.

This is a version of the so-called evolutionary argument against naturalism.  It can be formulated as follows:

P1. If naturalism and evolution are true, then the probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable is low.

P2. If the probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable is low, then we should not believe the beliefs they produce.

CP3. Therefore if naturalism and evolution are true, then we should not believe the beliefs that our cognitive faculties produce.

P4. If naturalism and evolution imply that we should not believe the beliefs our cognitive faculties produce, then we should not believe in naturalism and evolution.

C. Therefore, if naturalism and evolution are true, then we should not believe in naturalism and evolution.

The author of the argument is Alvin Plantinga, (see here: www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga_alvin/naturalism_defeated.pdf ) and his version is much more sophisticated, employing probability calculus and the concept of “defeaters”. If evolutionary naturalism would make it improbable that human beings are rational, and if this indeed constitutes an objection to evolutionary naturalism, then alternative theories about the source of our cognitive faculties should be appealed to instead.  This doesn’t specifically prove theism, but it does point to some kind of designing agent.

The argument is considered to be very controversial.  The premise that is most often called into question is P1.  Some naturalists try to argue that evolutionary processes do make it more likely than not that our faculties will tend to be reliable.  But for the naturalist who rejects the argument from desire and claims that the desire for immortality and union with God is natural but doesn’t correspond to anything real, it doesn’t seem so easy.  After all, given naturalism, the desire for God and eternal life is a glaring, widespread example of our faculties being massively unreliable.

The argument from desire can therefore be used to create a dilemma.  Either you admit that natural desires correspond to reality, or you admit to the unreliability of evolution for producing reliable faculties.  If you admit that natural desires correspond to reality, you must believe in immortality and the Transcendent. Alternatively you must admit that evolution doesn’t tend to produce rationality; and if you opt for this, then you should doubt your own reasoning abilities.  But if evolution doesn’t explain how we can be reasonable, then alternate theories of how our faculties were formed should be sought instead.

If what I’m arguing is correct, then the naturalist has a choice of two bottles: reason or desire.  To his surprise, he will find that both are the same drink: God and immortality.

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19 Responses to “Pick Your Poison–Reason or Desire?”

  1. Joshua Says:

    There are many problems with this post:

    1. “This argument’s main proponents are Peter Kreeft and C. S. Lewis. Is this a good argument?”

    Well, I had the amazing opportunity to take a complete year off of college to study the Qur’an and the writings of C.S. Lewis. I read about approx 4500-5000 pages of his works. Lewis never supported (at least in this manner) logical deductions to prove the existence of a metaphysical (let alone God). I suggest reading his essays in God in the Dock and the Weight of Glory to better understand his reference frame. The closest we come to Lewis suggesting the existence of a metaphysical being is in Mere Christianity in the first few chapters when he explains that every human has a notion of Good and Bad (whatever that notion may be, e.g. Good to Kill, Bad not to Kill — whatever our notion is, we still have a notion of GOod and Bad). Lewis then asks what can this possibly mean? He says that he believes it shows that there is some existence of a metaphysical, although he realizes that there are many other explanations for such a phenomenon. (Later in Mere Christianity he rights about the complete absurdity of ‘pure reason’ and all the problems for Christianity such a reason brings forth).

    Actually, in the entirety of Lewis’ writings ( i must admit that i have another 1000 pages or so to go, though ) he fully debunks any notion of pure reason and pure knowledge and was not much for the atomistic aristotalean reductionism. I would suggest reading his Essay “Transposition” to get a glimpse into his logic.

    I’m interested to see if, wherever you found this information, it lines up with the normative view of Lewis’ writings. Please provide the cite — (not to be a jag, i’m actually curious! 🙂 )

    2. ” If evolutionary naturalism would make it improbable that human beings are rational, and if this indeed constitutes an objection to evolutionary naturalism, then alternative theories about the source of our cognitive faculties should be appealed to instead. This doesn’t specifically prove theism, but it does point to some kind of designing agent.” This is a horrible use of probability theory for many reasons. I can actually speak to this a little, since i’m also studying statistics. First off, evolutionary naturalism does not make it improbable that human beings are rational. Many theories in physics and biology, (ref Stephen Hawknig’s A Brief History of Time and Stephen Jay Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory) demonstrate that no matter what the initial conditions of the universe were, we would come out with the exact same universe as we have now — i.e. rational humans. I understand this is a theory, but to merely call it a theory would be to not understand the biology and the physics. All the proofs that they do have lead, logically, to this conclusion ( i disagree, understand, but it’s just to reference a point that mainly Alvin Plantiga, like William Lane Craig, are preaching to the only people, majority speaking, that believe them, i.e. Christians).

    Secondly, it’s impossible to use probability with something like “would evolution produce rational beings” lol. (that’s why the physicists and biologists have made, extremely powerfully so, theories that don’t rely completely heavy on probability or statistics). You can’t even use multivariate analysis for this! Think of all the different variables that there are! one more thing, we need to know the initial conditions to a T if we can even accurately use statistics here! (Save Fuzzy Set Theory, but that can’t be used here that well either).

    Hawking and Gould, and Carl Sagan talk much about the Christians misuse of mathematics and statistics in defending the existence of a metaphysical being, of whatever nature.

    3. As far as the rest of the article for reason or desire…well, i dont personally believe either one leads to God and immortality unless i’m coming from a paradigm that says they should lead to God and immortality. It’s not the naturalist’s only choice — many naturalist have chosen otherwise, and for very good reasons (although i don’t agree with their choices, their choices are making assumptions just like yours).

    We all have to make assumptions — it might be that some assumptions are better than others, but i find the naturalist and the Christian in the same position — guessing. The Christian has an amazing story (that there’s a lot of archaeological proof for) and seen through their paradigm, the world makes sense. The naturalist has equations, philosophy, etc…all make sense, too. Of course, because of Godel’s incompleteness theorems, in order for a system to be consistent, there has to be certain things we just DON”T know — and i like that, because that seems like the Christian God to me 🙂

    (as far as proving God’s existence, i think it’s absurd (although i realize that’s not completely what the article is about…since it started of with a transcendental being). although, i do think, seen through the eyes of faith alone, many things completely lead to God!!!!!)

    i hope this was not antagonistic, i did not mean it to be. I actually love this blog and deifyingdarkness.com, and think that all of the authors wanting to make a difference in academics is probably one of the most important things to do in our era! keep up the great work guys!!!!!!

    (lastly, i’m sure i missed something or left something out writing in this small post box…and i’m at work…so this was done in stages lol)

  2. MG Says:

    Joshua–

    You wrote:

    “Well, I had the amazing opportunity to take a complete year off of college to study the Qur’an and the writings of C.S. Lewis. I read about approx 4500-5000 pages of his works. Lewis never supported (at least in this manner) logical deductions to prove the existence of a metaphysical (let alone God). I suggest reading his essays in God in the Dock and the Weight of Glory to better understand his reference frame. The closest we come to Lewis suggesting the existence of a metaphysical being is in Mere Christianity in the first few chapters when he explains that every human has a notion of Good and Bad (whatever that notion may be, e.g. Good to Kill, Bad not to Kill — whatever our notion is, we still have a notion of GOod and Bad). Lewis then asks what can this possibly mean? He says that he believes it shows that there is some existence of a metaphysical, although he realizes that there are many other explanations for such a phenomenon. (Later in Mere Christianity he rights about the complete absurdity of ‘pure reason’ and all the problems for Christianity such a reason brings forth).

    Actually, in the entirety of Lewis’ writings ( i must admit that i have another 1000 pages or so to go, though ) he fully debunks any notion of pure reason and pure knowledge and was not much for the atomistic aristotalean reductionism. I would suggest reading his Essay “Transposition” to get a glimpse into his logic.

    I’m interested to see if, wherever you found this information, it lines up with the normative view of Lewis’ writings. Please provide the cite — (not to be a jag, i’m actually curious! 🙂 )”

    I think you might have misunderstood what I’m trying to do here. I am not appealing to “pure reason” or “pure knowledge” (whatever those are), or suggesting that Lewis believed in it. I don’t think humans are unbiased; nor do I think that we can assess things independently of our conceptual frameworks; and I don’t think we have to have some kind of strong conception of a priori justification to legitimize believing in the premises of these arguments (I think that addresses all of the things that a person could probably mean by “pure reason”… if you meant something else, please say so, and I can confirm or disconfirm that I believe in it).

    This argument is not a “proof” for the existence of God in the sense of something that is meant to grant certainty, or that is meant to show in a single swoop everything we know about God. Those immodest kinds of claims are unfortunately thrown around far too often–that God’s existence can be proven, etc. What I’m trying to do is just show that, if someone accepts specific premises, they should believe in some kind of transcendent being and immortality. It doesn’t matter if they are 100% certain the premises are true; all that has to be true is that the person considering the premises thinks they are more plausible than their negations. If the premises ential the conclusions, then the conclusions should therefore be believed.

    Have you read Lewis’ book Miracles? I think he has a similar conception of the role of reason in coming to belief in God as I do. Reason helps; it makes it easier to believe in God. But he never appeals to certainty as a quality of the premises or conclusions of his arguments. He gives arguments for mind-body dualism and for the existence of God (he appeals to the existence of consciousness and uses a Lockean-style argument from consciousness) in Miracles. And I would categorize the argument at the beginning of Mere Christianity as a moral argument for God’s existence, which is what most people take it as.

    Here’s the quote, taken from Peter Kreeft’s page on the argument from desire:

    “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, “Hope”)”

    Again, I don’t think Lewis is saying God can be proven in a deductive mathematical sense with 100% certainty. But he sure isn’t saying reason has no role, or that it has a negative role.

    You wrote:

    “This is a horrible use of probability theory for many reasons. I can actually speak to this a little, since i’m also studying statistics. First off, evolutionary naturalism does not make it improbable that human beings are rational. Many theories in physics and biology, (ref Stephen Hawknig’s A Brief History of Time and Stephen Jay Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory) demonstrate that no matter what the initial conditions of the universe were, we would come out with the exact same universe as we have now — i.e. rational humans.”

    Can you cite examples of these theories? I am not familiar with theories which say that the existence of rational embodied beings is physically necessary in the sense you are talking about. Everything I have heard about Hawking and Gould leads me to think they would not say that their theories *demonstrate* this.

    “I understand this is a theory, but to merely call it a theory would be to not understand the biology and the physics. All the proofs that they do have lead, logically, to this conclusion ( i disagree, understand, but it’s just to reference a point that mainly Alvin Plantiga, like William Lane Craig, are preaching to the only people, majority speaking, that believe them, i.e. Christians).”

    Sure, evolutionary biology is only a theory, and contemporary cosmology is theoretical. But I agree that they are more plausible than most of their alternatives. I won’t dispute the broad theories with you, though I might question some of the specifics, and whether or not specific claims are actually supported by the data, ie. does Hawking really have a good argument for the existence of imaginary time? Is the argument sound? (I doubt he still holds to imaginary time, though)

    Its important to question whether or not the assumptions and arguments that are being used by physicists and biologists actually work. If their arguments are invalid, or question-begging, then their conclusions shouldn’t be believed on the basis of those arguments. (though there may be other reasons to believe in their conclusions other than bad arguments–for instance, there may be good ones out there)

    Also, I realize that Christians frequently read Craig and Plantinga, and sometimes don’t read their opponents. But naturalists engage with them too. This is difficult to explain unless Craig and Plantinga have arguments that *seem* effective (even if they are ultimately flawed). Otherwise, why would there be dozens of journal articles and several chapters of books devoted to responding to them? The fact that Christians find their arguments appealing doesn’t mean that Craig and Plantinga’s arguments are invalid or unsound, or that they don’t understand scientific data and methodology, or that their arguments are actually unpersuasive. Some naturalists find some of their arguments persuasive.

    You wrote:

    “Secondly, it’s impossible to use probability with something like “would evolution produce rational beings” lol. (that’s why the physicists and biologists have made, extremely powerfully so, theories that don’t rely completely heavy on probability or statistics). You can’t even use multivariate analysis for this! Think of all the different variables that there are! one more thing, we need to know the initial conditions to a T if we can even accurately use statistics here! (Save Fuzzy Set Theory, but that can’t be used here that well either).”

    If its impossible to use probability with something like “would evolution produce rational beings” then doesn’t it seem suspicious that Hawking and Gould would have theories that seem to establish a probability of 1 that evolution would produce rational beings?

    It seems implausible to me that, given the preceding conditions of “there are cats with properties x1, x2,…xn where the x’s specify physical shape, survival and breeding habits” and “there are environmental conditions y1, y2,…yn” we couldn’t make an accurate guess about the probable genotypes of offspring. Similarly, I don’t think its ridiculous that we could make some kind of probability estimates about what would happen to the reasoning capacities of a hominid population in a specific environment. We would need to have good guesses about possible evolutionary courses that could be taken, but that’s not hard to do. For instance, it seems possible that the evolutionary mechanism could produce animals where any of the following four scenarios is true:

    1. Their beliefs are not connected to their behaviors at all.
    2. Their beliefs are connected to their behaviors in a way that does not have to do with the semantic properties of those beliefs.
    3. Their beliefs are connected with their behaviors in a maladaptive way.
    4. Their beliefs are connected with their behaviors in an adaptive way based on semantic properties, but the beliefs are not adaptive because they are true, but rather because the belief-desire pairs they are a member of misrepresent the world in an adaptive manner.

    These are just some of the variables that have to be taken into account in order for us to make accurate guesses about the probability that human beings will be rational. But consider: if all of these scenarios are just as likely, then there is only a probability of about .2 that human beings will be reasonable. If option #5 (beliefs are adaptive in virtue of the accuracy of their semantic content) is equiprobable with the others then there is a low probability that option #5 will actually occur, and hence that we will be reasonable.

    Even if our probability estimates are poor, this doesn’t refute the argument. For that would just mean that the probabilities are inscrutable. This would be a problem for naturalism too: if the probability that our cognitive faculties will generate reliable beliefs is inscrutable given naturalism, then this means that the probability that I believe rationally in naturalism is inscrutable. If the probability that I believe rationally in naturalism is inscrutable, then this lends credibility to other theories about the origin of our cognitive faculties that don’t tend to be self-defeating, and grant a fairly high probability to the proposition “human reasoning abilities are reliable”.

    You wrote:

    “Hawking and Gould, and Carl Sagan talk much about the Christians misuse of mathematics and statistics in defending the existence of a metaphysical being, of whatever nature.”

    Could you cite these sources? Though it is possible that I am depending on faulty arguments, I’m not sure that Plantinga’s argument is something that the abovementioned people have actually addressed. I realize that some Christians make confused arguments for God; but I don’t think Plantinga is falling prey to their traps.

    You wrote:

    “As far as the rest of the article for reason or desire…well, i dont personally believe either one leads to God and immortality unless i’m coming from a paradigm that says they should lead to God and immortality. It’s not the naturalist’s only choice — many naturalist have chosen otherwise, and for very good reasons (although i don’t agree with their choices, their choices are making assumptions just like yours).”

    I agree that their choices make assumptions. But for anyone who is willing to grant the assumptions this argument is based on (and surely there are some people who would at least find them plausible) this constitutes a possible reason to believe in the existence of a transcendent being and immortality. If they reject the assumptions, I would be interested in knowing what they would hold to instead.

    You wrote:

    “We all have to make assumptions — it might be that some assumptions are better than others, but i find the naturalist and the Christian in the same position — guessing. The Christian has an amazing story (that there’s a lot of archaeological proof for) and seen through their paradigm, the world makes sense. The naturalist has equations, philosophy, etc…all make sense, too. Of course, because of Godel’s incompleteness theorems, in order for a system to be consistent, there has to be certain things we just DON”T know — and i like that, because that seems like the Christian God to me :)”

    Sure, there is guessing involved. But for people who are starting from the assumptions that I used as premises in my arguments, if they want to be consistent and intellectually honest, they should give up some premises or accept the conclusion.

    Also, it is possible for a Christian or a naturalist to recognize recalcitrant facts. Many naturalists recognize that moral realism (if true) would imply that there are many facts that seem to conflict with the truth of naturalism. Many Christians recognize that the existence of evil is not easy to square with the goodness and omnipotence of God. There is conceptual dissonance for many naturalists when they consider the possibility that there are moral properties independent of human minds; and likewise for Christians who recognize that there is suffering.

    You wrote:

    “(as far as proving God’s existence, i think it’s absurd (although i realize that’s not completely what the article is about…since it started of with a transcendental being). although, i do think, seen through the eyes of faith alone, many things completely lead to God!!!!!)”

    As I’ve explained above, I don’t think that I’m giving “proof”. Every decision to believe has to based off of what seems most plausible, and usually this isn’t coextensive with what is certain. So good arguments aren’t necessarily proofs.

    Also, what concept of “faith” are you using?

    You wrote:

    “i hope this was not antagonistic, i did not mean it to be. I actually love this blog and deifyingdarkness.com, and think that all of the authors wanting to make a difference in academics is probably one of the most important things to do in our era! keep up the great work guys!!!!!!

    (lastly, i’m sure i missed something or left something out writing in this small post box…and i’m at work…so this was done in stages lol)”

    No worries. I think it is important for me to be careful not to be unneccessarily antagonistic in what I say. But if anyone says something offensive to me, I don’t use that as an excuse to not engage with them just because I don’t feel like it.

  3. The Scylding Says:

    MG,

    I think your answer here is quite good – arguments illustrating the inconsistency of a/non-theistic naturlaism/materialism are often mistaken for arguments for the existence of God. I did note that Joshua mentioned godel’s Incompleteness theorems here – and that is excellent, as I have long held that those theorems are a good illustration of exactly what you were trying to do here. My own approach, and I suspect yours too in this case, is not the prove the contrary (re the naturilist approach), but to upset the apple cart.

  4. Joshua Says:

    Where do I began? (p.s. this is such a long response, I’m not editing it haha)

    You wrote:
    “If someone accepts specific premises, they should believe in some kind of transcendent being and immortality.”
    First, true. haha. I mean, notwithstanding that syllogisms are quasi-pointless. Our premises can be false, and the conclusion true! Or, and I know there’s no table for this, our premises could be true, and our conclusion false! (I mean for you and I, as in, two premises specifically orientated at proving God doesn’t exist, even though we believe he does for our conclusion – then there’s the whole issue of how sound the argument is to, but we already know that lol). So if I accept the premises to be true, then I should believe in some kind of transcendent being and immortality, but that doesn’t mean there actually is one; it just means I have accepted the proposition (damn, I sound like Wittgenstein and I don’t like that haha). There’s an interesting book philosophical book by Cadwell (spell check on the name) called “Must we mean what we say?” It kind of talks about this; a little confusing, though. I think that is also my response to what you wrote:

    “If the premises entail the conclusions, then the conclusions should therefore be believed.”

    Yes, I have read Lewis’ book Miracles; I love it! I believe that reason CAN help; however, it is completely dependent upon the heart of the person. If you ever read anything buy Richard Feynman, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Douglas Hofstadter, Carl Sagan, Stuart Kauffman, Richard Dawkins, et al., they only use reason to come to the conclusions they come to. Their arguments are strong arguments for such a disbelief in a God figure — however they don’t say that 100% there isn’t one, because they know they can’t disprove the existence of God because it is impossible! So I think reason helping is directly proportional to the status of the person’s heart and the willingness to see truth (i.e. that God does exist). These men are jaded. (I’m not going into critiquing what they say or how strong their reasoning is because that would mean to analyze hundreds of thousands of pages).

    You wrote:
    “And I would categorize the argument at the beginning of Mere Christianity as a moral argument for God’s existence, which is what most people take it as.”
    I actually never heard anyone say this before until recently. I guess when I read Mere Christianity I was comparing it to the entirety of his work. Have you read Weight of Glory, Abolition of Man, God in the Dock, his critique of the Shakesperian Era – I guess I took his views in these books, among others, when I read Mere Christianity (as I said in the previous post), but it’s up for debate I understand.

    When you wrote the quote from Lewis (Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, “Hope.”) I would agree with what Lewis says. Not to play devils advocate, but since it seems most of the posts on Well of Questions delve into analyzing statements from a linguistic/philosophical position, let’s look at this quote.
    First, how do I know that there may be some desire in this world in which there is no way the world can satisfy said desire? Is there a proof for this? Is this an assumption? Do I need to use inductive reasoning, namely the categorical syllogism, to prove this? How many examples do I need of desires that can be satisfied to show to a certain degree of certainty that all desires of this world can be satisfied? Who sets the number of conformations to be reasonably high? Maybe it is possible, then, that creatures are born with desires that satisfactions do not exist for. (I don’t know if this is true or not.)
    Second, why must I be made for another world if I have some desire that cannot be fulfilled? The bigger question: What other world exist, then, that I was made for? (Oh boy, this would interesting. I bet Super String Theorists would absolute love that! Haha) I know though he says this is only a probably explanation – I’m just analyzing it.
    I agree with Lewis though, partially; however, we are a pilgrims in a foreign land, Heaven is our home – I have been made for eternity, not to perish on earth and never resurrect. There are some desires that cannot be fulfilled – Saint Augustine made this analogy when he said that we have this (metaphorically speaking, of course) Cross shaped whole that only Christ can fulfill, and it can never be completely filled till we reach heaven, but this is obvious!

    You wrote:
    “Again, I don’t think Lewis is saying God can be proven in a deductive mathematical sense with 100% certainty. But he sure isn’t saying reason has no role, or that it has a negative role.”
    Agreed.

    You wrote:
    “Can you cite examples of these theories? I am not familiar with theories which say that the existence of rational embodied beings is physically necessary in the sense you are talking about. Everything I have heard about Hawking and Gould leads me to think they would not say that their theories *demonstrate* this.”

    Chaotic Boundary Theory, is the first of many that comes to mind. It’s actually quite a famous theory logically based on the laws of physics. Also, I never said that the existence of rational beings is physically necessary, that’s not understanding science. All these theories, e.g. Chaotic boundary theory, are stating is that no matter what the initial conditions of the universe where, we would get everything that we have today. One of things that exist today are rational bodied beings (more on this later) of whatever nature – maybe they wouldn’t be bipedal or tall dark and handsome, but of some other physically look. Gould says in his Structure of Evolutionary Theory that we think we are so special because we think we are the only ones that exist in the universe (whether or not this is true – this is also called the Anthropic Principle – there are two versions, the strong version and the weak version – I would read Hawkings A Brief History of Time, or if you don’t have *time* to read it, read his A Briefer History of Time Chapter 11). This theory also puts an interesting twist on things (whether or not one excepts it, but that’s not the point here). Haha, back to Gould. Gould writes in his Structure that the organism that should be praised the most is bacteria since it has lasted since the beginning of earth – it is the strongest organism of all. Humans are just a blip on the radar screen of life.
    Anyways, what you have heard about Gould and Hawking is right, they wouldn’t say it’s necessary for rational beings to exist – it’s just a ramification from accepting certain premises that one would/should accept the conclusion (much in the same way as you said in the beginning of your last post…)

    You wrote:
    “Sure, evolutionary biology is only a theory, and contemporary cosmology is theoretical. But I agree that they are more plausible than most of their alternatives……..i.e. does Hawking really have a good argument for the existence of imaginary time? Is the argument sound? (I doubt he still holds to imaginary time, though).”

    I’m not sure how to respond to this. Evolutionary Biology is a specific concentration in biology, not a theory; in the same that Systematic Theology is not a Theory, but a specific concentration within Theology…so I’ll assume you mean Evolutionary Theory in general. Which part of evolutionary theory, though? Human Evolutionary Theory? Well, yes. It is only a theory, a theory with purportedly strong empirical evidence, but a theory. Microbiology? No…we know that bacteria evolves – if you put a bacteria, for example, in a dish and then put in an antibiotic and let it evolve over 4,000 generations (which occurs fairly quickly) the bacteria eventually evolves an immunity to the antibiotic! I would read Paul Famer’s Book “Inequalities and Infectious Diseases” or “Mountains beyond Mountains” (his biography by Tracy Kidder) to see how this works for TB and HIV/AIDS. This isn’t only a theory, but fact.
    Concerning contemporary cosmology…yes, much is theoretical, but much is empirical fact as well. You would need to expand more upon this. Do you mean Super String Theory, Big Bang Theory – which is only a theory inasmuch as we did not observe it, etc? Current Cosmology such as the Chandrasekhar limit, space-time, etc? The first are theoretical, the latter not so much theoretical as much as fact…
    One of the things that makes these *theories* theoretical is the realization that one cannot prove Causality (Thank you, David Hume!). If you ask a scientist if the sun will *rise* tomorrow (to speak in lay terms, of course), a scientist would only say there is a high degree of certainty it will.

    On Hawking and Imaginary Time:
    I’m sorry but your statement makes no sense. Imaginary time is not a philosophical time, but it’s based on the imaginary numbers. The only time that there is in high level physics. Hawking states that there are three arrows of time:
    1) The thermodynamic arrow, and the most important
    2) the psychological arrow, i.e. the times humans perceive,
    3) the cosmological arrow, the time in which the universe is expanding and not contracting
    (pg. 143-145 in A Brief History of Time).
    Hawking says that the fact that all three arrows SEEM to point in the same direction is meaningless to physics because time is not independent, there is only space-time (reference Einstein for this) which is the physical matrix out of which everything is made and, therefore time is relative on its own. Consequently, time is merely a dependent variable (based upon space-time because there is no such thing as absolute space and absolute time – read Hawking, Einstein, Feynman, and others for this) that is subject to empirical analysis. The only empirical analysis that works is one that uses the IMAGINARY number system. When ALL physicists, not just Hawking, talk about time regarding objects in the universe, they are talking about imaginary time and all that means is that you can best speak about space-time using the imaginary number system which, and here’s the awesome part, is orthogonal to the real number axis and is the best way, and only way, to talk about events that characterize events such as angular momentum, velocity and CPT symmetries. Imaginary is a specific number set, not a philosophical construct. So when you ask does he have a good argument for the existence of imaginary time, is the argument sound, and you doubt he still holds to imaginary time, it sounds like you don’t understand what imaginary time actually is. Which is not bad, it’s a complicated physics principle, not a construct made by Descartes sitting in an arm-chair, but based on reality. So I’m not sure what to make of your statement since it’s more of a non-sequitor/demonstration that it’s true that Quantum Mechanics shows that the world is structured in a way that is completely counter-intuitive to our intuition. I don’t know what else to say to this….reading the works of these men, and taking classes is the only way to really understand the material.

    You wrote:
    “It is important to question whether or not the assumptions and arguments that are being used by physicists actually work.”
    Of course. They do this all the time as well – it’s part of the scientific method..
    You wrote:
    “Also, I realize that Christians frequently read Craig and Plantinga, and sometimes don’t read their opponents. But naturalists engage with them, too. This is difficult to explain unless Craig and Plantinga have arguments that *seem* effective. Otherwise, why would there be dozens of journal articles and several chapters of books devoted to responding to them? “
    Well…if you go to Reasonable Faith, Craig’s website, and read what he has done…he’s not engaging with the top naturalists in their different fields, save Smith…but not all of Academics considers him Academia’s voice by any stretch of the imagination. Gould told Dawkins never to debate a Christian because they just used ad hominum argumentation…which is obviously apparent in the debates posted by Craig on his site. Sagan, Feynman, Hawking, etc., all hold this view, and that’s why the spokesmen for science never talk to them, only no names from Western Michigan University, Pepperdine, etc or a philosophy professor from Princeton in which the consensus by everyone except Craig was that the guy from Princeton won lol. I currently have a journal article under review critiquing Craig, I did this because it was easy and fun to write on – not because I felt some convincing statement he made and felt I was persecuted. I’m not saying they aren’t influential! I’m saying their arguments are lame – the only argument I like from Craig is when he talks about the fact of the Bible, which I have used to talk to people as well.

    You wrote:
    “If it’s impossible to use probability with something like “would evolution produce rational beings” then doesn’t it seem suspicious that Hawking and Gould would have theories that seem to establish a probability of 1 that evolution would produce rational beings?
    It seems implausible to me that, given the preceding conditions of “there are cats with properties x1, x2,…xn where the x’s specify physical shape, survival and breeding habits” and “there are environmental conditions y1, y2, …yn” we couldn’t make an accurate guess about the probable genotypes of offspring. Similarly, I don’t think its ridiculous that we could make some kind of probability estimates about what would happen to the reasoning capacities of a hominid population in a specific environment. We would need to have good guesses about possible evolutionary courses that could be taken, but that’s not hard to do. For instance, it seems possible that the evolutionary mechanism could produce animals where any of the following four scenarios is true:
    1. Their beliefs are not connected to their behaviors at all. 2. Their beliefs are connected to their behaviors in a way that does not have to do with the semantic properties of those beliefs. 3. Their beliefs are connected with their behaviors in a maladaptive way. 4. Their beliefs are connected with their beliefs in an adaptive way based on semantic properties, but the beliefs are not adaptive because they are true, but rather because the belief-desire pairs they are a member of misrepresent the world in an adaptive manner.
    These are just some of the variables that have to be taken into account in order for us to make accurate guesses about the probability that human beings will be rational. But consider: if all of these scenarios are just as likely, then there is only a probability of about .2 that human beings will be reasonable. If option #5 (beliefs are adaptive in virtue of the accuracy of their semantic content) is equiprobable with the others then there is a low probability that option #5 will actually occur, and hence that will be reasonable.
    Even if our probability estimates are poor, this doesn’t refute the argument. For that would just mean that the probabilities are inscrutable. This would be a problem for naturalism, too: if the probability that our cognitive faculties will generate reliable beliefs is inscrutable given naturalism, then this means that the probability that I believe rationally in naturalism is inscrutable. If the probability that I believe rationally in naturalism is inscrutable, then this lends credibility to other theories about the origin of our cognitive faculties that don’t tend to be self-defeating, and grant a fairly high probability to the proposition “human reasoning abilities are reliable”.

    Wow, ok. Let me write this out. First, Hawking and Gould don’t say 100% this will happen, they just say that given the assumptions that are accepted (like you stated about accepting assumptions one should accept the conclusion) the conclusion should be accepted based on the empirical reasoning. I’m not sure you understood the use of probability there.
    Your example with cats is confusing. All I need are the x’s…not even breeding habits….i don’t need environmental conditions either to have a probable guess of the offspring’s phenotype. This is basic Mendelian Genetics, accept it gets much more complicated in which we can only have a low degree of certainty in some situations…you need to take an Evolution course or read a book on this. I would suggest the book “On Human Emergence” because it took the books about 5 chapters to outline how this works. So the probability you are talking of here does exist, but is like apples and oranges when comparing to the initial conditions of the universe and the probability thereof!
    Concerning the probability estimates about what would happen to the reasoning capacities of a hominid population in a specific environment is also confusing… Are you saying that early hominid populations, such as the Australopithecus afarensis had no reasoning – or it developed better reasoning? Is this better reasoning in comparison with modern Homo sapien sapiens? There’s a field called Evolutionary Psychology that deals with this, and it unfortunately is used in anti-christian ways.
    Concerning your four scenarios and your conclusion that those are just some of the variables that have to be taken into account to make accurate guesses…let me explain probability (in a basic way) really quick.

    If a basketball player makes 150 out of 200 shots, what is the probability he will make the next shot? It is not .5, but .75 because it is dependent upon his experience prior. It would only be .5 if he had taken 10 or 15 shots, let’s say. Next, when a baseball player is batting a .280 (which is consider pretty darn good!) there is not a .5 chance he will hit the ball on his next swing, but a .28 chance he will hit the ball on his next swing. Let’s say after a series his BA goes down to .275, then next time he is up it is no longer .280, but .275, and the likely hood of him hitting the ball will be ever-changing. If I apply to Columbia’s medical school, there is not a .5 chance of receiving a yes or no, but (I’m not sure where it is not, but close to the following) .08 chance yes, .92 chance no. of that .08 chance, there is might be a .02 chance I have exactly what they are looking for and a .98 chance I don’t, nevertheless I am accepted.
    So, when you give your examples 1-4, then introduce #5, it’s MUCH MUCH more complicated than .2 probability! All those factors are dependent on an, perhaps, infinite number of other variables which allows you to make such a proposition, which would then allow for, let’s say, #2 having a higher probability than #5, throwing your analysis off. Also, the evolutionary mechanisms you described are…well…
    1.) when you say “their beliefs are not connected to their behaviors at all”…wo wo wo , wait. Are you only talking about hominids? I’m guessing so. But if you speak of animals, which hominid is classified as, you are speaking of animals in general here, too. You are presuming intelligence, and then the ability to choose morally. These are two a priori statements and neither have to be. When you speak of semantics, is this just for higher order beings? And when you say maladaptive, maladaptive in respect to what? This would take hundred’s of pages to respond to, but I don’t have to respond to this, you can read Gould’s 1,300 page Structure on Evolutionary Theory to realize that non of your scenarios are relevant to the evolutionary mechanism…actually, the evolutionary mechanism doesn’t have to work this way, I would suggest Darwin’s ON the Origin of Species to see how he outlines THAT evolutionary mechanism, namely, Natural Selection….

    Concerning your statement on probabilities being inscrutable…and it being inscrutable for naturalism, too…ok, the premises you have set up have no reality with probability other than the placement of the word in the sentence. “If the probability that our cognitive faculties will generate reliable beliefs is inscrutable, then this means that the probability that I believe rationally in naturalism is inscrutable”…well, maybe for you? All I see this as is an attempt to render sophistry logical and quasi-empirical, your statements have no connection in reality, other than semantically. And your statement that this lends credibility to other theories about the origin of our cognitive faculties that don’t tend to be self-defeating, and grant a fairly high probability to the proposition “human reasoning abilities are reliable” self-defeating! Let’s assume that the probability that our cognitive faculties will generate reliable beliefs is inscrutable given (x paradigm – which I could demonstrate, name the paradigm), then this means that the probability that I believe rationally in (x paradigm) inscrutable…let’s not stop there, we can semantically form a syllogism to demonstrate all other theories incredible. Probability, how you use it, doesn’t make sense. Nothing grants a high probability to the proposition “human reasoning abilities are reliable and self-defeating”! all the other probabilities could be exactly the same, by definition! I have no idea what notion of statistics or probability you are using here.

    You quoted Lewis in you original blog…well in mere Christianity he talks about the quantum mechanics of reasoning and how if it’s really just random atoms merely crashing into each other at random times with random spins, etc, why should I trust anything I believe? How does this chaos really bread cognitive abilities. He’s write, human reasoning is only partially reliable, maybe. Many physicist have actually had to respond to Lewis’ brilliant statement.

    You then wrote if I could cite the sources where hawking, gould, and sagan talk about Christians misusing math and facts. Structure of Evolutionary Theory I believe on page 963, it’s in the 900’s, just look in the index, he devotes a section to it, haha. I would have to quote much of Hawkings work, and wouldn’t even know where to begin. Watch Carl Sagan’s last two interviews before he died…

    As for your statement on naturalist to recognize recalcitrant facts (I’m not sure of the use of this word in this particular way in this sentence)…there’s nothing to really say on the manner because you are fair on both sides (the Christian and the Naturalist).

    You wrote:
    “Also, what concept of “faith” are you using?
    That meant, in the sentence, seen through the reality of the Gospel and Christ…..

    Anyways, Hawking said the on the last page in his new A Briefer History of Time (haha what a title, huh?):
    “Up to now, most scientists have been too occupied with the development of new theories that describe what the universe is to ask why. On the other hand, the people whose business it is to ask why, the philosophers, have not been able to keep up with the advance of scientific theories. In the 18th century, philosophers considered the whole of human knowledge, including science, to be their field and discussed questions such as whether the universe had a beginning. However, in the 19th and 20th centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for the philosophers, or anyone else except a few specialists. Philosopher reduced the scope of their inquires so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of the 20th century [this is debatable! lol ], said, “The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language.” What a comedown from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant!” page 142.

  5. Andrew Says:

    Joshua,

    I have deleted that which was inflammatory in your comment.

    Don’t get defensive. Don’t do it again. You can disagree all you want, but do so in a charitable manner.

  6. MG Says:

    The Scylding–

    you wrote:

    “I think your answer here is quite good – arguments illustrating the inconsistency of a/non-theistic naturlaism/materialism are often mistaken for arguments for the existence of God. I did note that Joshua mentioned godel’s Incompleteness theorems here – and that is excellent, as I have long held that those theorems are a good illustration of exactly what you were trying to do here. My own approach, and I suspect yours too in this case, is not the prove the contrary (re the naturilist approach), but to upset the apple cart.”

    Thanks for your kind words. Yes, it seems we agree about this. Showing problems with naturalism isn’t the same as claiming that there are arguments that grant 100% certainty that there is a God. No good apologist would claim something like that, anyway. Some anti-naturalist arguments might favor ascribing certain properties to God, but that’s far from the ridiculous claim that we can prove there is a God, or that we can argue to everything the Church knows about God via secular premises.

    Also, the Orthodox view of theistic arguments (see the series of posts I’ve been doing on “The Fathers and Theistic Arguments”) is different from that of much medieval and modern natural theology that claimed we could approach the divine essence through unaided human reason. Instead, we approach the divine energies, not the essence. And this is through coming into contact with them by God’s help, not apart from grace. Arguments for theism therefore are a way of motivating people’s intuitions to perceive God’s power and activity that is all around us, and constantly trying to break into our awareness.

  7. MG Says:

    Joshua–

    You wrote:

    “First, true. haha. I mean, notwithstanding that syllogisms are quasi-pointless. Our premises can be false, and the conclusion true! Or, and I know there’s no table for this, our premises could be true, and our conclusion false! (I mean for you and I, as in, two premises specifically orientated at proving God doesn’t exist, even though we believe he does for our conclusion – then there’s the whole issue of how sound the argument is to, but we already know that lol). So if I accept the premises to be true, then I should believe in some kind of transcendent being and immortality, but that doesn’t mean there actually is one; it just means I have accepted the proposition (damn, I sound like Wittgenstein and I don’t like that haha). There’s an interesting book philosophical book by Cadwell (spell check on the name) called “Must we mean what we say?” It kind of talks about this; a little confusing, though.”

    Sure, syllogisms are limited because of the conditions for their soundness. I suppose you would agree that scientific arguments are similarly limited? In neither case do I think that these limitations imply impotence; some people are indeed convinced by arguments of both kinds.

    You wrote:

    “Yes, I have read Lewis’ book Miracles; I love it! I believe that reason CAN help; however, it is completely dependent upon the heart of the person. If you ever read anything buy Richard Feynman, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Douglas Hofstadter, Carl Sagan, Stuart Kauffman, Richard Dawkins, et al., they only use reason to come to the conclusions they come to. Their arguments are strong arguments for such a disbelief in a God figure — however they don’t say that 100% there isn’t one, because they know they can’t disprove the existence of God because it is impossible! So I think reason helping is directly proportional to the status of the person’s heart and the willingness to see truth (i.e. that God does exist). These men are jaded. (I’m not going into critiquing what they say or how strong their reasoning is because that would mean to analyze hundreds of thousands of pages).

    I can’t speak (at least not from the perspective of a reader of their actual works–I’ve read about them, though) for any of the other people you listed except for Dawkins. Though it is true that Dawkins doesn’t think we can disprove the existence of God, he thinks that it is possible to show that its very unlikely that God exists. He thinks its tantamount to proof, even if not 100% certain. So he would probably say “we can’t disprove the existence of God just like we can’t disprove the existence of invisible purple unicorns that leave no physical traces when they scamper through Central Park”.

    Also, I don’t find his arguments particularly compelling. “The God Delusion” is rhetorically effective, but my perception was that most of his arguments are fairly weak; so I think I would disagree with your more positive assessment. All of the discussion of Dawkins’ main argument that I’ve read has confirmed my suspicion that it doesn’t carry much weight.

    Was there something he said that you find persuasive as a piece of atheology?

    You wrote:

    “I actually never heard anyone say this before until recently. I guess when I read Mere Christianity I was comparing it to the entirety of his work. Have you read Weight of Glory, Abolition of Man, God in the Dock, his critique of the Shakesperian Era – I guess I took his views in these books, among others, when I read Mere Christianity (as I said in the previous post), but it’s up for debate I understand.

    When you wrote the quote from Lewis (Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, “Hope.”) I would agree with what Lewis says. Not to play devils advocate, but since it seems most of the posts on Well of Questions delve into analyzing statements from a linguistic/philosophical position, let’s look at this quote.
    First, how do I know that there may be some desire in this world in which there is no way the world can satisfy said desire? Is there a proof for this? Is this an assumption? Do I need to use inductive reasoning, namely the categorical syllogism, to prove this? How many examples do I need of desires that can be satisfied to show to a certain degree of certainty that all desires of this world can be satisfied? Who sets the number of conformations to be reasonably high? Maybe it is possible, then, that creatures are born with desires that satisfactions do not exist for. (I don’t know if this is true or not.)”

    I think this is meant to be an intuitive appeal. Like you mentioned above, a person’s heart has to be in the right state. Some people are willing to admit they have this longing; others aren’t. So I suppose the justification for this premise is to be found in introspection. (not to be confused with a priori justification)

    “Second, why must I be made for another world if I have some desire that cannot be fulfilled? The bigger question: What other world exist, then, that I was made for? (Oh boy, this would interesting. I bet Super String Theorists would absolute love that! Haha) I know though he says this is only a probably explanation – I’m just analyzing it.
    I agree with Lewis though, partially; however, we are a pilgrims in a foreign land, Heaven is our home – I have been made for eternity, not to perish on earth and never resurrect. There are some desires that cannot be fulfilled – Saint Augustine made this analogy when he said that we have this (metaphorically speaking, of course) Cross shaped whole that only Christ can fulfill, and it can never be completely filled till we reach heaven, but this is obvious!”

    Seems like we agree on this one. I don’t think that just because we have the desire, that therefore we are made for another world. After all, evolution could severely mess up, the naturalist might concede. But if they do so concede, I think this would supply me with one of the crucial premises in Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism.

  8. Joshua Says:

    I will not be posting here anymore.

    For more on my views:

    http://www.breakingthehegemony.com

    that’s my site (along with the authors)

  9. Keith Brian Johnson Says:

    I got a little bit of the way through the comments, spotted this, and soon thereafter started to feel overwhelmed and skipped to my own comment on a paragraph that jumped out at me:

    “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, “Hope”)”

    The desire for life is simply the desire not to die–the survival instinct, which is satisfied by continuing to live. The desire for *everlasting* life is an extension of the desire to continue living–of the desire not to die now or in the near future–that is made possible by our being able to look ahead and foresee possibilities. Being able to look ahead and foresee possibilities clearly has survival value and is therefore consonant with evolution; the desire not to die now or in the near future clearly has survival value and is therefore consonant with evolution. The desire for everlasting life is then a side effect of two evolutionarily consistent developments: The ability to look ahead and foresee possibilities and the desire not to die.

    As for the desire for eternal union with a transcendent being, I have to deny that that is a natural desire and not a learned desire. I don’t have that desire. Am I simply a deficient specimen of human being? (I note that those who have denied the desire and then recanted that denial late in life might well not have sought union with God but rather life everlasting, a desire which seems entirely consistent with evolution.) The desires for food and sex produce physical urges in everyone, pushing them to seek the satisfaction of those urges; I don’t note any such physical urge in myself, and I rather suspect that whatever spiritual urges people feel are learned rather than natural.

    But suppose that the desire for eternal union with a transcendent being really were a natural desire. First, evolution doesn’t merely select for useful traits; it selects for non-harmful traits. A desire for eternal union with a transcendent being could have evolved without there being any way of satisfying that desire, and as long as it did no harm, the desire could propagate through generations. Second, such a desire could have no way of actually being satisfied, but the *attempt* to satisfy it could be evolutionarily useful. Perhaps the attempt to satisfy it leads people to help each other more, to care more about their communities, or simply to subserviate their own needs and desires to those of their families and social groups. (I would hate to think so, but it’s possible.) Third, even if it were granted that the desire for eternal union with a transcendent being really were a natural desire, and even if were granted that there corresponded to that natural desire a real end that would satisfy it, there would be nothing to guarantee that the real end satisfying the desire was in fact what the label “eternal union with a transcendent being” would seem to indicate. It could be that the desire is for something non-concrete, to which is applied that label; but that the something non-concrete that is desired is really something social or personal, like acceptance by one’s social group or communion with one’s social group or the feeling of doing something important and lasting or the feeling of union with God, all of which can be satisfied in ordinary life (the feeling of union with God being satisfied by having the feeling of union with a psychologically projected, imagined God).

    Hence, I don’t see the argument from desire as having any force. (As for the evolutionary argument against naturalism, I’m now reading Plantinga’s version.)

  10. David Says:

    Hi Keith,

    I’m not a member of this blog, so I don’t speak for MG or the others, but I saw your comment and thought I would chime in.

    You said: “The desire for everlasting life is then a side effect of two evolutionarily consistent developments: The ability to look ahead and foresee possibilities and the desire not to die.”

    This is an interesting suggestion, but I think you’ve missed the point of the Lewis quote. He isn’t merely talking about a desire to live forever, but rather a desire that cannot be fulfilled on earth in any normal, material way that we can think of.

    You said: “A desire for eternal union with a transcendent being could have evolved without there being any way of satisfying that desire, and as long as it did no harm, the desire could propagate through generations.”

    Exactly. So, it is possible for a desire to be formed in us by evolution for something that doesn’t exist. As you say, this can be so because it doesn’t harm us, and can actually aid in survival. But the point is that, however useful the desire may be, it is false. Thus, as MG said in the original post: “If this is so, I have at least one example of evolution being very unreliable in furnishing me with accurate cognitive faculties.” Some evolutionary biologists, in an attempt to explain why belief in God appears to be universal, have begun to suggest that evolution encouraged belief in God because it was useful to survival. The punch-line, of course, is that belief in God is no longer useful (and depending on which atheists you talk to, it may even be harmful now) and so we need to get rid of it. But once again we see the argument being made that evolution has encouraged a false belief in us because it is good for survival. But then, why think that atheism or evolution are actually true? Isn’t is just as likely that they are merely beliefs being encouraged in us by evolution for the purpose of survival?

    You said: “Third, even if it were granted that the desire for eternal union with a transcendent being really were a natural desire, and even if were granted that there corresponded to that natural desire a real end that would satisfy it, there would be nothing to guarantee that the real end satisfying the desire was in fact what the label “eternal union with a transcendent being” would seem to indicate.”

    I think Lewis attempts to deal with this elsewhere in his writings. The idea is that you feel a desire that you can clearly recognize as not being fulfilled by any of the things you mentioned. So Lewis is thinking of someone who enjoys acceptance within his social group, is perhaps a great humanitarian who has done very significant deeds by any human standards we could imagine, and yet still feels empty or lonely or what have you. Now, you could continue to insist that he just hasn’t found the right earthly or human end to his desire, but in many cases that would just seem implausible, or at least it wouldn’t seem any more plausible than that he truly is meant for something transcendent.

    You said: “(the feeling of union with God being satisfied by having the feeling of union with a psychologically projected, imagined God).”

    This suggestion seems to beg the question against the theist. After all, why assume that someone who claims to have encountered God really only encountered some psychological projection of their own, unless you’re assuming naturalism from the start.

  11. Keith Brian Johnson Says:

    Hi, David. Let me reply to just a little bit of your comment now–the part I regard as really crucial. You wrote,

    “You said: “The desire for everlasting life is then a side effect of two evolutionarily consistent developments: The ability to look ahead and foresee possibilities and the desire not to die.”

    “This is an interesting suggestion, but I think you’ve missed the point of the Lewis quote. He isn’t merely talking about a desire to live forever, but rather a desire that cannot be fulfilled on earth in any normal, material way that we can think of.”

    Lewis’s assertion that if he finds himself having a desire that cannot be satisfied in this world, then the most probable explanation is that he is meant for another, rests on the premiss P1–“If a desire is natural, it corresponds to a real end that can be attained”–of the argument from desire given in MG’s “Pick Your Poison” post. The idea seems to be that evolution would be expected not to equip us with desires that we could not satisfy.

    However, it would make sense for evolution to equip us with the ability to reason and to look ahead, and it would make sense for evolution to equip us with the desire not to die, and the desire for eternal life, while not satisfiable if there were no afterlife, would, thus, arise from evolutionarily sensible features. As long as a desire arose from evolutionarily sensible features, there’d be no reason to expect it to be satisfiable.

    The same point would apply to the alleged desire for union with a transcendent God, although I’m much more willing to accept the near-universality of the desire for an afterlife than of the desire for union with a transcendent God. All that’s required in order for the argument from desire to fail is that desires arise from evolutionarily sensible features–whether they’re satisfiable or not.

    Moreover, an unsatisfiable desire arising from evolutionarily sensible features wouldn’t provide an “example of evolution being very unreliable in furnishing me with accurate cognitive faculties.” Thinking and desiring aren’t the same. Evolution’s providing me with an unsatisfiable desire isn’t the same as evolution’s providing me with a false belief. A better approach would be to say that evolution has led one to a false belief, calling into question other beliefs that evolution has led to–including belief in evolution or in naturalism. But what’s really needed is evolution’s having led one’s rational thought processes to a false belief. It’s not enough for us simply to be fallible; I don’t think the argument is supposed to be, “Sometimes we make mistakes, so we shouldn’t be too sure about our beliefs in evolution and naturalism.”

    But still, we should remember that while evolution does select for reason, it doesn’t select for individual beliefs; it selects for overall cognitive function. The falsity of a particular belief would have to be taken as evidence that evolution selects for faulty cognitive function, rather than that it selects for good cognitive function which so far has not been perfectly instantiated (i.e., we’re not infallible yet), in order to call into question our belief in evolution or naturalism in any more than the “well, we sometimes make mistakes; maybe we’re mistaken about evolution and naturalism, too” way.

    And I wound up writing quite a bit more than I had intended to. Sorry.

  12. David Says:

    Keith,

    I would actually like to thank you for your responses. This is not a suggestion I’ve heard before, so It’s giving me something new to think about, which is always exciting (even if I don’t agree!).

    You said: “Thinking and desiring aren’t the same.”

    One immediate problem I see is that desire and belief cannot really be separated. Consider, if someone came to believe that God could not possibly exist, and so chose to become an atheist, do you think it’s possible for them to continue desiring communion with God? I don’t see how. No sane person could desire something they are convinced does not exist. As you have shown us already, any atheist who was aware of such a desire would likely attempt to shift its object to something else, such as social recognition, friendship, etc.

    This would seem to indicate that if evolution can supply us with desires to aid in our survival, those desires must necessarily be coupled with beliefs that in turn ensure that the desires are rationally acceptable to us.

    Naturally, evolutionary process would not care what any individual believes, so long as the beliefs continue to foster the beneficial desires. Add to this the fact that in a naturalistic system everything, including our use of reason to arrive at certain beliefs, is causally determined, and I think you arrive at MG’s first premise, that “If naturalism and evolution are true, then the probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable is low.”

    What we believe is a function of our brain chemistry, which is causally determined by, among other things, the forces of evolution, which promotes survival over truth-conducive cognitive faculties. If having the right desires is essential to our survival, then those beliefs which best promote those desires will be the ones selected by evolution.

    So, before everyone believed that they felt a desire for communion with something not of this world. Now, we still have the desire, but we’ve changed its object to something of this world after all. But the belief about the desire’s object is just that, a belief. Whose to say that the new belief is any more “true” than the old one?

    Obviously the important point here is the connection between belief and desire, coupled with the premise that beliefs are causally determined given naturalism. These are the two weak points that you’re welcome to argue against. Obviously you’ve already stated that evolution does not select for individual beliefs, but only cognitive function in general. But given naturalism, I can’t see how the forces of evolution would not bear on each individual’s beliefs just as much as on their overall cognitive function.

    One last thing. You said: “The falsity of a particular belief would have to be taken as evidence that evolution selects for faulty cognitive function, rather than that it selects for good cognitive function which so far has not been perfectly instantiated.” I’m not sure what reason we would have to assume the later. I would think that good cognitive functioning would simply produce good beliefs, and that bad functioning would produce bad beliefs. You could simply argue that as man continues to evolve his cognitive functioning is getting better, but the suggestion that our cognitive functioning has always been good and we just haven’t used it right seems implausible to me.

  13. Keith Brian Johnson Says:

    There’s too much to say! Let me focus on “the two weak points” that I’m given to argue against.

    I don’t buy the connection between belief and desire. I’d buy it between belief and *expectation*, but not between belief and desire. I don’t believe in an afterlife, and I’d be willing to bet against there being one, but I still *want* there to be one, very much. (One point Buddhism makes is that some suffering can be eliminated by ceasing to desire to have or to be those things which one cannot have or be.) It would just be irrational of me to *expect* there to be one, given that I don’t believe there is one, and I strongly suspect that my desire that there be an afterlife is forlorn.

    I do think beliefs are causally determined. However, different beliefs are different. Accurate beliefs about one’s physical surroundings will be selected for, because inaccurate beliefs about one’s physical surroundings might get one killed. Certain desires–like the desire for food, or the desire to mate–will be selected for, because organisms without such desires won’t do as well, either at surviving or at reproducing, as organisms with such desires. And substantially accurate beliefs about one’s physical surroundings will help one satisfy such desires, and grossly inaccurate beliefs about one’s physical surroundings will hinder one’s satisfaction of such desires. Thus, if organisms arise that can *reason* about their physical surroundings, reliable reasoning processes that give rise to accurate beliefs about organisms’ physical surroundings (thereby helping organisms satisfy their worldly desires) will be favored over unreliable reasoning processes that give rise to inaccurate beliefs about organisms’ physical surroundings (thereby not helping organisms satisfy their worldly desires).

    This sort of reasoning doesn’t apply to the formation of *other* desires or beliefs, however. One might expect that organisms wouldn’t evolve to waste valuable energy attempting to satisfy an unsatisfiable desire (like seeking union with a transcendent being, on the nontheist’s view); on the other hand, one might find beneficial side effects of such a desire (like bonding with and building trust with one’s neighbors, finding a mate more easily), just as a peacock’s energy-consuming tail has beneficial side effects.

    What one must hope is that the reasonably reliable reasoning processes about our directly-sensed physical surroundings that we would expect to have evolved are also reasonably reliable in reasoning further.

  14. MG Says:

    Joshua–

    Are we invited to participate in discussions on your site?

    Also, would you mind if I responded to your posts by writing posts of my own that link to yours and present analysis and counter-arguments?

  15. MG Says:

    Keith–

    You wrote:

    “I don’t buy the connection between belief and desire. I’d buy it between belief and *expectation*, but not between belief and desire. I don’t believe in an afterlife, and I’d be willing to bet against there being one, but I still *want* there to be one, very much. (One point Buddhism makes is that some suffering can be eliminated by ceasing to desire to have or to be those things which one cannot have or be.) It would just be irrational of me to *expect* there to be one, given that I don’t believe there is one, and I strongly suspect that my desire that there be an afterlife is forlorn.”

    Do you think that people’s belief-forming processes and subsequent decision-making can be negatively influenced by irrational desires?

    “I do think beliefs are causally determined.”

    I’m not sure that this accurately captures what we mean when we say that human beings are “rational”. If our belief-forming processes are causally determined, then it seems we are the passive recipients of beliefs; they are just *given* to us by external forces acting on our internal dispositions to generate beliefs. But if human beings are rational, then they must be able to form at least some beliefs based on reasons. If we form beliefs based on causal influences from outside, then it doesn’t seem that we can be said to actually form beliefs based on reasons. But then this seems to imply that if our beliefs are causally determined, they are not rational. What do you think of this argument?

    “However, different beliefs are different. Accurate beliefs about one’s physical surroundings will be selected for, because inaccurate beliefs about one’s physical surroundings might get one killed. Certain desires–like the desire for food, or the desire to mate–will be selected for, because organisms without such desires won’t do as well, either at surviving or at reproducing, as organisms with such desires. And substantially accurate beliefs about one’s physical surroundings will help one satisfy such desires, and grossly inaccurate beliefs about one’s physical surroundings will hinder one’s satisfaction of such desires. Thus, if organisms arise that can *reason* about their physical surroundings, reliable reasoning processes that give rise to accurate beliefs about organisms’ physical surroundings (thereby helping organisms satisfy their worldly desires) will be favored over unreliable reasoning processes that give rise to inaccurate beliefs about organisms’ physical surroundings (thereby not helping organisms satisfy their worldly desires).”

    As Plantinga points out, this seems to assume that beliefs can influence our actions in an adaptively-advantageous way in virtue of the accuracy of their semantic content (whether or not they represent the world accurately). But there are many other ways that beliefs could be connected to our actions that would be equally adaptively advantageous. Do we have a reason for assuming that evolution in fact selected for accuracy, and not adaptability of some other sort? Consider these options about the relationship between human beings’ actions their beliefs:

    1. Their beliefs are not connected to their behaviors at all.
    2. Their beliefs are connected to their behaviors in a way that does not have to do with the semantic properties of those beliefs.
    3. Their beliefs are connected with their behaviors in a maladaptive way.
    4. Their beliefs are connected with their behaviors in an adaptive way based on semantic properties, but the beliefs are not adaptive because they are true, but rather because the belief-desire pairs they are a member of misrepresent the world in a way that influences the organism to respond appropriately to his environment and survive.

    All four of these options are possible given the evolutionary mechanism. Why think that the fifth option (beliefs are connected with our behaviors in an adaptive way based on the accuracy of their semantic properties) is the one that actually happened?

    And lets say it did happen with respect to, say, empirical beliefs. Why think that it happened with respect to beliefs about metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics? Surely none of these three things are adaptively advantageous, or encourage survival and flourishing (at least not in any direct way). I, for one, don’t find myself at a reproductive advantage in virtue of the apparent knowledge I have of metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical truths (its probably a reproductive disadvantage).

    You wrote:

    “This sort of reasoning doesn’t apply to the formation of *other* desires or beliefs, however. One might expect that organisms wouldn’t evolve to waste valuable energy attempting to satisfy an unsatisfiable desire (like seeking union with a transcendent being, on the nontheist’s view); on the other hand, one might find beneficial side effects of such a desire (like bonding with and building trust with one’s neighbors, finding a mate more easily), just as a peacock’s energy-consuming tail has beneficial side effects.”

    Do you think that the concession that evolution might give us unsatisfiable desires has any bearing on its reliability in giving us reliable faculties, in light of the first question I asked at the top?

    “What one must hope is that the reasonably reliable reasoning processes about our directly-sensed physical surroundings that we would expect to have evolved are also reasonably reliable in reasoning further.”

    But given the scope of genotypes for which the Darwinian mechanism will tend to select, shouldn’t we be surprised if we have advanced reasoning abilities about philosophy? And hence, even if naturalism doesn’t totally destroy our claims to rationality about some empirical matters (though I’m inclined to think it does) shouldn’t it be considered to destroy our claims to rationality about more abstract matters?

  16. Keith Brian Johnson Says:

    “Do you think that people’s belief-forming processes and subsequent decision-making can be negatively influenced by irrational desires?”

    I think they *shouldn’t* be, but, alas, it seems all too clear that they often *are*. It’s exasperating, frankly. Desires shouldn’t affect beliefs about the world. My desire for an afterlife shouldn’t affect my belief as to whether or not there is one.

    “I’m not sure that this accurately captures what we mean when we say that human beings are “rational”. If our belief-forming processes are causally determined, then it seems we are the passive recipients of beliefs; they are just *given* to us by external forces acting on our internal dispositions to generate beliefs. But if human beings are rational, then they must be able to form at least some beliefs based on reasons. If we form beliefs based on causal influences from outside, then it doesn’t seem that we can be said to actually form beliefs based on reasons. But then this seems to imply that if our beliefs are causally determined, they are not rational. What do you think of this argument?”

    I do not have a good theory reconciling physical and mental; the best I have is probably an epiphenomenalist view, but not well worked out. There is clearly a connection between my physical brain-processes and my mental mind-processes, and if I trust my own rationality, then I must also accept that my physical brain-states corresponding to my rationally-held beliefs have come about in some rule-governed way, according to some rule-governed physical brain-processes that are reliable generators of brain-states corresponding to rational beliefs and that themselves correspond to rational mind-processes (i.e., to rational thinking). And I trust that those rule-governed brain-processes have themselves evolved in response to and in interaction with their environment in ways such that that evolution has in fact given rise to certain brain-processes that reliably generate brain-states corresponding to rational beliefs that themselves are reliable beliefs about reality. In brief, I trust that my physical self has evolved in such a way as to give rise to reliable, rational belief-forming processes.

    I haven’t finished reading or evaluating the Plantinga article yet. But your point that the adaptivity of our belief-forming mechanisms for *empirical* beliefs might not carry over to our belief-forming mechanisms for *other* beliefs–say, metaphysical ones–is a good one. (I wouldn’t put ethics in the same boat, as good ethical reasoning, like good empirical reasoning, might very well be adaptive.) I tend to be very wary of metaphysical reasoning for precisely that reason–it isn’t testable, so we can’t tell if we’re getting it right. I know how easy it is for scientists to come up with plausible-seeming but, upon further testing, false theories; when a metaphysical theory seems plausible but is untestable, we should take it with a few very large grains of salt, I think.

    “Do you think that the concession that evolution might give us unsatisfiable desires has any bearing on its reliability in giving us reliable faculties, in light of the first question I asked at the top?”

    Not if one is careful to disengage his *reasoning* and his *beliefs* from his *desires* and from his *desired ends*. However, I have no doubt that some people *do* let their desires affect their beliefs.

    Either biological or social evolution might very well give us the tendency to seek objects of desire that don’t exist, and we might counterproductively assign importance to such fruitless seeking and might devote resources to such fruitless seeking. This might happen, for example, if the seeking of a particular nonexistent object of desire nevertheless pays dividends, benefiting individual or group survival or group cohesion. One can even imagine a false belief’s having evolutionary value: The belief that a rival group is composed of demons who must be destroyed, rather than of persons to be valued, might contribute to one’s group’s emerging victorious in group competition. This is one reason why *how we arrive at our beliefs* is at least as important as *what beliefs we arrive at*.

    “But given the scope of genotypes for which the Darwinian mechanism will tend to select, shouldn’t we be surprised if we have advanced reasoning abilities about philosophy? And hence, even if naturalism doesn’t totally destroy our claims to rationality about some empirical matters (though I’m inclined to think it does) shouldn’t it be considered to destroy our claims to rationality about more abstract matters?”

    As I said, I haven’t finished evaluating the Plantinga article yet. But I would entirely agree with a form of metaphysical skepticism that looked *very* critically at all metaphysical claims, in view of their nontestability, even when they sounded plausible, and I would certainly want to stress *how* claims are arrived at, since we can at least check how well fundamental forms of reasoning work in testable domains. We just have to hope that modus ponens gets us to the truth in abstract domains as well as it does in concrete ones.

  17. Διονυσιος Says:

    KBJ –

    You wrote:

    “I think they *shouldn’t* be, but, alas, it seems all too clear that they often *are*. It’s exasperating, frankly. Desires shouldn’t affect beliefs about the world. My desire for an afterlife shouldn’t affect my belief as to whether or not there is one.”

    I won’t pretend to give any kind of sophisticated response, because I’m simply not prepared to do so. However, it seems like you have, in essence, granted that desires do have a role in forming beliefs.

    Unless I am much mistaken, this is the basic admission that forms the foundation upon which Michael builds the second argument (that is, Plantinga’s evolutionary argument). Am I beating a dead horse you had already noticed? If so, I apologize for the repetition.

    Also:

    “But I would entirely agree with a form of metaphysical skepticism that looked *very* critically at all metaphysical claims, in view of their nontestability, even when they sounded plausible, and I would certainly want to stress *how* claims are arrived at, since we can at least check how well fundamental forms of reasoning work in testable domains. We just have to hope that modus ponens gets us to the truth in abstract domains as well as it does in concrete ones.”

    What do you think about phenomenologically grounded metaphysical claims?

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    – Dionysios

  18. Keith Brian Johnson Says:

    “If we form beliefs based on causal influences from outside, then it doesn’t seem that we can be said to actually form beliefs based on reasons. But then this seems to imply that if our beliefs are causally determined, they are not rational.”

    (1) Causal influences may come from outside or may come from inside (inside our own brains and bodies). A minor point.
    (2) A causal chain may correspond to reasoning, just as a computer can use “logic gates” to mimic using logical operators. More complicatedly, a computer’s programming can cause it to perform actions at the physical level that translate into reasoning at the output level (as, for example, if a computer is programmed for modus ponens). Perhaps the annoying point is that we want to think of our own reasoning as being under our control (at the program-execution level) rather than simply caused (at the machine-language-execution level)?
    ————–
    One version of the argument seems to run as follows: Suppose one desires an afterlife. Suppose one also believes that belief in an afterlife would be unjustified (and that the desire is unsatisfiable). Suppose one further believes that evolutionary theory is correct. (This much does not generate the problem; an unsatisfiable desire is not the same as an unjustified belief.) Suppose, further, that evolution would not produce unsatisfiable natural desires, and that the desire for an afterlife is a natural desire. If evolution would not produce an unsatisfiable natural desire, and if one nevertheless believes himself to have an unsatisfiable natural desire, he will have to note an incompatibility in his beliefs–and, since he knows directly that he desires an afterlife, he’ll be expected to jettison his belief in evolution.

    I would question both that the desire for an afterlife is a natural desire and also that evolution would not produce an unsatisfiable natural desire. But my main reply, in this case, would be this:

    What evolution produces is the desire to continue living beyond the present moment–the survival instinct–which is certainly a natural desire and which is satisfiable, and also the ability to look ahead beyond the present moment (foresight) and the generalized ability to think (and imagine possibilities), neither of which is a desire but each of which has survival value. All of this is in accord with evolutionary theory. And all of this is sufficient to account for the desire for an afterlife. Hence, evolutionary theory is sufficient to account for the arising of this particular unsatisfiable desire. (So that either the desire for an afterlife is not a natural desire or it is not true that evolution cannot give rise to unsatisfiable natural desires.)

    When the desire for union with a transcendent being is thrown in, I’m not sure what to do with it, because I don’t seem to have such a desire. I’d certainly doubt that it was a natural desire!
    —————-
    I think a better version of the argument would use belief instead of desire, and might run something like this: Suppose one is aware that some people hold what one views as unjustified beliefs. Suppose one holds the belief that evolutionary theory is correct. Then he must accept that some people have evolved to hold unjustified beliefs, and he must call into question the reliability of their belief-formation processes. He must, then, call into question the efficacy of evolution in producing in those people reliable
    belief-formation processes; but then, since he thinks his own belief-formation processes have evolved according to the same evolutionary mechanisms that have given rise to those people’s evidently unreliable belief-formation processes, he must also call into question the reliability of his own belief-formation processes, and must then call into question his own beliefs, including his own belief that evolutionary theory is correct. (I don’t have a reply to that yet; I’m just trying to formulate a better version of the argument.)
    ————–
    The whole argument strikes me as an argument from fallibility–as though evolution wouldn’t be expected to produce fallible, but still fairly reliable, believers.

    Moreover, it can be rewritten against belief in God instead of belief in evolutionary theory: Suppose one is aware that some people hold what one views as unjustified beliefs. Suppose one holds the belief that God created human beings. Then he must accept that God created some people to hold unjustified beliefs, and he must call into question the reliability of their belief-formation processes. He must, then, call into question the efficacy of God in producing in those people reliable belief-formation processes; but then, since he thinks his own belief-formation processes are attributable to the same process of creation by God that have given rise to those people’s evidently unreliable belief-formation processes, he must also call into question the reliability of his own belief-formation processes, and must then call into question his own beliefs, including his own belief that God created human beings.
    ——————–
    I don’t know quite what is meant by “phenomenologically grounded metaphysical claims,” Dionysios. Can you give me a clearer sense of what you have in mind?

    Sorry to have written so much!

  19. Should We Change Belief-Systems? Part 2 « The Well of Questions Says:

    […] and here for more information on this kind of evolutionary argument about the inadequacy of naturalism to […]

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