Darwin’s Doubt: Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (Kenneth Samples)

  • God created the universe with laws and logical principles
  • But, what if there is no God and the human mind is the product of a mechanistic, non rational process? Why should them, the human mind be able to correspond with the universe? These questions led me to the talk I am about to give here:
  • Some of you may not be aware that Darwin had doubts about his proposed theory of evolution. Darwin was a reflective individual by nature and he worried about the philosophical implications of his biological theory.
  • One of his genuine concerns was whether man’s cognitive  (or belief-producing) faculties which he believed had evolved from the lower animals, could be trusted to produce reliable, true beliefs about reality itself.
  • So then our question is: DO OUR COGNITIVE FACULTIES PROVIDE US WITH RELIABLE TRUE BELIEFS ABOUT THE COSMOS (THE WORLD, ABOUT REALITY)? If the Christian worldview is true and God created the universe and He created us in His image and He networked us together, then it makes sense that mathematics works, that the human mind has true beliefs about reality. And so, what if God doesn’t exist?
  • Self defeating. Several thinkers have argued that the worldview of naturalism (the view that nature is the sole reality and that no supernatural realities or entities exist) involves a fundamental state of epistemological incoherence or is self-defeating in nature. Why would an increasing number of theists think that evolutionary naturalism is potentially incoherent? Because it seems to fail to provide a viable pathway to ensure that humans develop reliable, true beliefs about reality. And the deliverances of science depend upon humans having reliable and true beliefs about the natural world. A physicist (not Christian and not a theist) at MIT recently raised a question, he said, „For creatures that were engineered by evolution to be able to pick bananas and throw rocks is to survive. Human beings seem far too intellectually endowed for naturalistic evolution to be an adequate explanation. I think, if we were engineered by evolution simply to survive, we seem to be incredibly, overly endowed.
  • The idea that atheistic evolutionary naturalism can reliably account for man’s rational faculties and explain how human beings can discover truth faces three potential defeaters. I think these are

The three defeaters when it comes to evolutionary naturalism:

  1. Naturalism postulates a non rational source for man’s rationality. If a person accepts the evolutionary naturalistic worldview, then he must also accept that the ultimate source of people’s reasoning faculties was not itself rational (endowed with reason), nor was it personal (self-aware, intelligent), and it was not teleological (purposive) in nature. Rather, the source was a non rational, impersonal, purposeless process consisting of a combination of genetic mutations, variation, and environmental factors (natural selection). Naturalism therefore postulates that a combination of random chance and blind impersonal natural processes (physical and chemical in nature) produced humanity’s rational faculties. However, presuming that a non rational, chance origin explains human intelligence raises legitimate questions about whether human reason can be trusted. According to the presumptions of science, an effect requires an adequate and sufficient cause, and indeed that effect cannot be greater than the cause. (The principle of causality)
  2. Evolution promotes a Species’ survivability, not its true beliefs. Evolution by natural selection is said to have taken billions of years to produce intellectual and sensory capacities in people. But that process operated solely in light of survival value and reproductive advantage. In other words, evolution functioned only to enhance a particular organism’s adaptation to its environment– thus promoting that species’ continued existence. What a particular species believes about its environment is nonessential to the process. Also, whether the organism’s convictions about reality are indeed true is highly questionable. In some cases reliably true beliefs might contribute to survivability, but in others the truths of the beliefs would be irrelevant.
  3. False beliefs illustrate evolutionary naturalism’s epistemological unreliability. Some naturalistic scientists and philosophers today have only served to heighten Darwin’s original doubt by suggesting that man’s inherent religious impulse is itself driven by evolution. In other words, beliefs in God, objective morality, and life after death are evolutionary generated beliefs that must have served some survival purpose in the distant past. (also the God gene). Richard Dawkins has gone further, arguing that belief in God is a mental delusion caused by a malfunction in the evolutionary process of the human brain. However, attributing man’s false religious beliefs (from the naturalist perspective) to the evolutionary process only adds suspicion to Darwin’s original doubt. If evolution is responsible for humankind’s virtually universal religious impulse, which from a naturalistic point of view is patently false ( and even pernicious according to Dawkins), then human history shows that false beliefs about reality have promoted human survivability more than true beliefs. Ex. If I have false beliefs, but those beliefs were generated by evolution to help me survive, why can’t I have serious doubt about evolution and the naturalist worldview? If evolutionary naturalism can cause a person to believe that which is false (such as religious oriented beliefs) in order to promote survivability, then what confidence can evolutionists muster that their convictions are reliable, true beliefs? And if evolution cannot guarantee true beliefs in a person’s mind, then how does one know that belief in evolutionary naturalism itself is a true belief  about the world?

This is a PowerPoint video of the lecture. The PowerPoint slides begin to change 3 minutes into the lecture.

Published on Jun 7, 2012 by 

How Darwinian evolution refutes naturalism and atheism. Titled: „Darwin’s Doubt: Can Naturalistically Evolved Human Minds Be Trusted to Yield True Beliefs About Reality?” Presented to CNS on November 15, 2010 by: Dr. Ken Samples, MA. Reasons to Believe, Glendora, CA 91740

A reflective person by nature, Charles Darwin initially had doubts about his proposed theory of evolution. Darwin worried about the philosophical implications of his biological theory. One of the areas in particular that bothered Darwin was whether an evolved human mind could be trusted to produce reliable truth about reality. This lecture by professor Kenneth Samples proposes that atheistic, evolutionary naturalism faces three potential defeaters in its attempt to explain humankind’s rational faculties in general and truth about reality in particular.

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