Thursday, September 29, 2005

No, No, A Thousand Times No

Twenty two Democrats voted against John Roberts' confirmation today. What legitimate reason could they possibly have had for rejecting someone this highly qualified? If they won't vote for Roberts they won't vote for anyone that Bush is likely to pick for O'Connor's seat. He could nominate Ted Kennedy and the Dems would still vote no just because he was Bush's pick. How can anyone take them seriously?

Self-defeating Nature of Naturalism

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost has posted another installment in his series on the self-defeating nature of naturalism. Carter revisits an argument made by, inter alia, C.S. Lewis and Alvin Plantinga, that one who embraces both naturalism and evolution must conclude that his reason cannot be relied upon to lead him to truth, and that logical argument leads to truth only by coincidence.

The argument is roughly as follows: If our reason is the product of blind, purposeless processes acting to promote human survival then the discovery of truth is not a function of reason, except, at best, incidentally. There's no logical connection between survival value and truth. When, then, someone argues that evolution is the explanation for the complexity of life most in tune with reason, the materialist has no grounds for thinking it therefore to be true. We cannot have any confidence in any conclusion based upon reason because the function of reason is survival, not truth, and truth is not necessarily related to survival.

Nor can we adduce any argument to justify our confidence in reason, of course, since to do so would be to beg the question. We'd be assuming that our reason is trustworthy in order to show that it is so.

Anyway, the first installment of Carter's series can be found here, the second here, and the most recent can be found here.

A reader at one of Carter's posts asks to be given an example of something which has survival value which is nevertheless not true. The reader is trying to make the point that in designing our reason to promote survival, natural selection perforce designs it simultaneously to discern truth. He is mistaken in this, though. Look at the question from the standpoint of a naturalistic materialist. Natural selection has evidently favored human belief in gods since such belief is ubiquitous in our species, and must, therefore, have survival value. Yet the naturalist considers such beliefs to be false and superstitious.

The upshot of all this is that naturalism, the belief that nature is all there is, is self-defeating. If naturalism were true then our reason would not be trustworthy and any argument we employ to defend naturalism would be suspect and probably wrong.