Filling Naturalism’s Void – Gary Habermas, PhD (video & transcript)

This is a lecture on world views, given by Dr. Gary R. Habermas at Liberty University in 2012.

Naturalism has been the predominant world view in western civilization universities throughout all of our lifetimes. There has never been a time, in all of our lifetimes when that has not been the case. It runs the western university. It does not run the whole world university system. Other places in the world are not like that. But in western North America, western Europe, Australia, and in other places as well, in China, in the old Russia- the University system encapsulates a naturalistic world view which says: The natural world is all that there is. There is no supernatural world and what we know, we usually know by sense experience. That has dominated education philosophically, it’s dominated western education since at least the 1930’s.

But, for the first time in our lifetime, there’s a new phenomenon that seems to be sweeping the western world right now. I wrote about it in 1988, in a journal article. You can find it on my website garyhabermas.com. But, the name of the article was ‘Changing Paradigms- A Challenge to Naturalism‘.  This was 1988, and I said there were some signs that naturalism was going out. Now, we have secular philosophers and other saying: naturalism’s dead. Now, I think that’s a little premature, but something does seem to be happening.

A lot of you know that I became a good friend of Anthony Flew‘s before he passed away. He came to Liberty University in 1985. He was the best known philosophical atheist in the world, and by the way, naturalism is the world view from which atheism…. I think of atheism as a subcategory . Naturalism is the philosophical Father of that sort of thinking. And Tony Flew was the best known philosophical naturalist (he was an atheist) in the world. He came to campus and we debated the topic of the resurrection of Jesus in 1985. It became a book with what was then Harper & Rowe. Over the years, Tony and I got to be very close. We used to talk about a lot of things. One day we did our last debate, in 2003. We debated 3 times, soon afterwards, a year later I heard that Tony’s view was changing. I called him one day on the phone and I said, „I heard that you don’t consider yourself an atheist anymore. He said, „Well, sort of, I don’t, but, I’m in a state of flux right now,” and he said, „about a month ago, I thought that was my view, but, now, I think I’m still an atheist, but, with really big questions.”

We talked in between, but I called him a year later, and he said, „This time I’ve made the switch.” I’m no longer an atheist. I believe in God. This book came out in 2004, and notice the word NO crossed out- And There is a God. The subtitle is ‘How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind’. Now, this was huge and it really bothered the atheistic community. If a Christian deconverted, I would be very sad about it , but I don’t think it affects the truth of Christianity. Somehow, the atheist group has acted like this has been … they tried to explain it other ways: He’s senile, he’s getting old… Jay Leno said in a joke on his show, „Hey, this well known philosophical atheist, he’s 85 years old. I guess if I was 85 years old, I’d get right with God too.” Well, the thing is that Tony Flew didn’t believe in an afterlife. So that was not his motivation, for doing this. (Photo via www.npr.org Order from Amazon here – http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Cosmos-Materialist-Neo-Darwinian-Conception)

Here’s a more recent example. Thomas Nagel, University Professor at New York University, in both philosophy and law. He published this book: Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Now, you have to know how influential of a person he is. He’s not Anthony Flew, but, he’s extremely influential. I should tell you that Anthony Flew wrote more material defending atheism than anybody whoever lived. What a moniker. But, Thomas Nagel is hugely influential, and yet he is saying, „Looks like we’re losing.”

To me, this is the one that really caught my eye. I know a person who knows David Brooks, and I understand He is not a Christian. He wrote an article in the New York Times called ‘The Neural Buddhists‘. Basically, he says: Some people think atheism is center stage in this country because of New Atheism. He says, „I’ve got news for you: Atheism is dead. Atheism is dead in the western world. Something else has already taken its place. And, he defined the 2 main takers, (which) he calls ‘Neural Buddhism’- which he says is made up of a number of sciences, but this is later brain research that is now allowing for supernatural areas, at least religious areas, he says, That’s one group.” And, he says, „The other group is the Judeo-Christian heritage. They are the 2 takers for filling naturalism’s void.” Look at some of these comments/quotes:

  • The cognitive revolution- you might think it’s good news because atheism is dead and religion is coming back in, but it’s gonna challenge Christianity, if we’re not careful.
  • The momentum has shifted from hardcore materialism (which is a species of naturalism). He says it shifted. Now, when he says this may not be comfortable for Christianity, what he says is: The 2 big views- Neural Buddhism, what we would probably call the New Age Movement (which is backed up by a number of empirical science studies), (so,) Neural Buddhism vs. some revelatory religion.- he uses the Judeo-Christian heritage. He keeps talking about the Bible.   Here’s what they both have in common. They’re both open to God because naturalism’s dead, they’re both interested and open to religion They’re both okay with prayer, general prayer, general worship, afterlife; that’s okay. But he says, here’s what Christians believe that Neural Buddhists don’t believe. He says, Christians believe that there are specific revealed doctrines that are true. Now, he doesn’t say that, but we would with things like reincarnation, deity of Christ, a God of the universe who reveals Himself to a people- the Israelites, and is concerned that people come to know Jesus Christ. He says, „Those specific doctrines are not shared by the Neural Buddhists. He says, „They’re gonna say that that’s your addition to evolutionary views of spirituality. And you can be spiritual. You can believe in God, you can worship. You can pray. You can believe in an afterlife (sort of, don’t be too adamant about it) . But, if you believe in particular doctrines, prove it!” That’s what David Brooks says in his article. „If you believe in particular articles of faith, show why those doctrines are true.” Because the other group doesn’t believe that, so the biggest rub is gonna be to show your specific religious views are true.
  • „We’re in the middle of a scientific revolution and it’s gonna be having huge cultural effects. It’s going on now.” What he’s saying is naturalists don’t know they’ve lost. They’re losing, but he says, „They’re not losing, they’ve lost. The world’s passing them by.”

How are we gonna fill this void left by naturalism?

  1. New Atheism – My question is: How are we gonna fill this void left by naturalism and this battle with such things as The New Atheism? They still have some influence, although numbers show that atheists are very small. One recent survey said that only 2% of Americans are atheists. I think it’s higher than that. But the New Atheists are having real influence with our young people (ages) 18-25.
  2. New Age 
  3. Postmodernism

Those are forms, minus the atheism, those are the forms that this is coming in. And David Brooks, whom I understand is Jewish, David Brooks says, „If you’ve got specific doctrines, prove it. If you wanna say what Neural Buddhists say, but more, tell us what more and why? Why are there more doctrines? Why should we believe it? (13:00)

I’ve been starting to work with a concept in the last 10 years, that basically says this: When I talk to you about apologetics in the area of philosophy or theology, which talks about evidences. Every religion has apologetics, but, Christian apologetics are: How do we know some of these general areas like God, and morality, and afterlife are true? And how do we know the specific areas, areas like incarnation, deity of Christ, the death and resurrection of Jesus, things that are central to our faith, how do we know these things are true? That’s the subject of apologetics. When I say apologetics, most people think – Bible. We think of it as largely defending a body of doctrine that closed about 2000 years ago. But, what I’m gonna argue is that apologetics is a contemporary aspect and there are many, many new subjects that we have not had research on, at least the kind of research I’m talking about, more recently than the last 30 years. When you think apologetics, you might not just think New Testament anymore, you might think some additional research today that evidences what we believe. (Transcript continues below video)

2012 – Lecture by Gary R. Habermas VIDEO by religionphilosophy

Consciousness does not cease to exist with death of the physical body

On the subject of near death experiences- these have now been written up. My last count of 5 years ago, the subject of near death experiences has been written up in at least 15-20 different medical journals. Now, why would peer reviewed secular medical journals run articles on these. Now, first, when these came out, everyone was talking, „Yeah, it’s interesting and we’ve got some interesting cases there. I’m not talking about people who died and saw a light, went down a tunnel, and ‘wow’, doesn’t that prove that it’s true? No, it doesn’t. It might just prove common physiology, or common neurology. But, in over 100 cases, I and another individual, who is the editor of the only peer reviewed near-death journal in the world (I’m a reviewer for that journal- in fact, it’s secular, it’s largely eastern, and marginally Neuro Buddhist. The two of us, between us (I’ve not seen her list), but, we both have a list of over 100 well evidenced near death experiences. They are incredibly evidential, where a person sees something while they claim to be in an out of body state. Some of them are incredible, the person reports things that happen miles away. This has very much surprised a lot of people. And, these have been written up in a lot of journals, but, what does it show?

This indicates for a lot of folks that consciousness does not cease to exist with death of the physical body.  You say, „Well, yeah, because the brain doesn’t die right away, and you might still see something for 2,3 or 4 minutes. Well, there are reports of these things going on for hours when the person is dead. Here is one of the evidential stories and according to a Gallup survey 20 years ago, 8 million Americans have claimed to have experienced near death phenomenon of some sort. Maybe they didn’t die, but, they’ve watched someone else describe this sort of thing. How about blind folks who have never seen anything in their whole lives until their near death experienceThey report something that happens down the road, they come back and correctly report it, and now they’re still blind, but they saw something during the experience. Some of these reports come with flat EEG and flat EKG’s. This is a general category. (19:25)

How about specific Christian categories? All in the last 20 or 30 years. You say ‘Resurrection’, that’s a New Testament study. I mean it is, but the latest New Testament research that is turned… I often give a lecture at universities called „The Resurrection that Changed a Generation of Scholars”. Today, more critics than not believe something happened to the risen Jesus. And that evidence is only about 30 years old. You might think the shroud of Turin is dead. Not so. A new round of experiments are being done right now, they’re not telling you much about them, but it could either make it or break it.

Documented miracle claims

Some of us have thought, „I’ve got a few cases like this in my family. I wouldn’t call it a miracle, but 3 things have happened in my family and I think they qualify as a miracle. And I think, for the most part, Christians have been very much influenced by this naturalistic mindset , and when things happen to us that are miracles, we very frequently, just like the naturalists, maybe not as radically, but we’ll just as frequently say, „Ah, crazy things happen, and we sweep it under the carpet and we forget about it. We don’t really count is as miracles, cause we just really doubt that miracles happen, so we don’t tell anybody. We sort of think miracles occur.

A New Testament scholar, Craig Keener, phD from Duke University in New testament, and a minor in classics, and this is amazing because the classics come into this study. Craig was doing a commentary on the Book of Acts- 3000 pages. Craig is famous for this. He wrote a book ‘The Historical Jesus’ 400 pages and the end notes were 400 pages. Well, his book on Acts has 100,000 parallels with classical studies. So, he’s going through the book of Acts and he comes across these miracle accounts. So, he decided to start collecting evidence for miracle cases. The result is a 2 volume work , that, if you’re interested in this topic, you’ve got to see it, it’s a masterpiece. It has come out in 2 volumes. It’s from Baker Academics, it’s entitled ‘Miracles’. It is 1,200 pages of evidenced miracle claims.

Many of these (miracles), and I know we have a lot of medical people here, if I told you some of these cases you would say, „Mmm, no this doesn’t happen.” Let me tell you one. A fellow who had a spleen removed for medical reasons and when he got out of the hospital, they took him to the church post-op, getting ready for his post-op checkup and they laid hands on and prayed for him. He went back there and he’s got a spleen. He’s got another spleen. No way. What do you do with it? Here’s the before, and here’s the after. They do have cases of where bones have grown on the spot. They do have cases where heart valves have been replaced on the spot. You say, „That can’t happen.” Well, the guy who spread that story- an MD, phD, professor from UCLA School of Medicine, who spent 4 years at Mayo Clinic.

When you read Craig’s accounts, 1,200 pages, after a while you think, Wow, there’s no more room for skepticism.” Or double blind prayer experiments. Not all have turned out very well. Some of the ones that are politically correct- the list of prayers, are from our viewpoint kind of odd, like witch doctors and medicine men. In one well known double blind prayer experiment , if you were prayed for, you were slightly more likely not to be healed. But, the only 2 that I know of double blind prayer experiments that have had statistical favorable healing results through prayer, both of the them, all the prayers were orthodox-Christian (not the orthodox denomination, but orthodox Judeo-Christian beliefs in God- ). I want to make this clear. I think God answers prayer for everybody. He did in biblical times. Jesus didn’t heal people by saying, „Are you a believer? If not, get out of line.” God answered prayer for everyone. Here’s the last line (in that report):

The findings of this double blind prayer experiment are consistent with prayer to the Judeo-Christian God.

This is in a medical journal. (26:00)

Conclusion

What are we doing to further the Christian message and let people know we have reasons to believe in these things?

  1. The best thing we can do to remedy this is to take David Brooks up (the guy from the New York Times), take him at his word, and to be able to show that theism is true, and to further the demise of naturalism. Or, why is theism true, and naturalism false?
  2. Let’s show that Christian doctrine, which no other religion has (we share some things with Judaism), but, for the most part, Christianity has some unique beliefs, Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, He died, was raised from the dead. Are we able to argue, not just the things that overlap with Neural Buddhism, but, worship and afterlife, but specific Christian doctrines, are we ready to do that?

In closing here, there is also an encouraging aspect. I love 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul ends 57 wonderful verses on the resurrection, the earliest most evidential resurrection passage in the New Testament. Paul ends by saying, „Therefore,” verse 58, ” be steadfast, immovable.” You’ve probably seen some of the reports, but between 60-90% of our young people, who go away to secular schools, they walk away from their faiths. Naturalism may be on the downslide, but they don’t know it. And Neuro Buddhism is not gonna be a lot nicer to us. It’s nice that we can believe in religion, but they’re not gonna be a lot nicer to us. Our young people are going away and sliding away from Christianity.

There’s a study that just came out that says many of them come back in their 30’s. But, first of all, many of them don’t, and those who do have lost 15 key years of from their lives. So, Paul says to be steadfast and immovable. But, why aren’t we the bastion of teaching our young people, that Christians have the best, the best possible message in the world? So many people write to me and say, „My professor attacked this, or that… What should I say?” I tell them over, and over again, there are good responses to these things. Read this, consider this. But I tell students, „Think about this, there’s a lot more to Christianity than what I’m gonna say. But, as long as the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus are true, Christianity follows. When someone attacks a periphery thing, I think we go after it 2 ways. We answer the complaint, and then we say to the young people, „That’s not a just reason for walking away form Christianity. Until someone can disprove the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the center of Christianity remains.”

Lastly, same verse, Paul says. „always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  First, he says, „Hang in there, be steadfast, immovable, and in his second point – your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Get out there and do something.”

Does Science Show That Miracles Can’t Happen? Alvin Plantinga

Speaker: Alvin Plantinga – The Heidelberg Catechism: „Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty–all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.”

Classical Christian idea here: Regularity, dependability; but also special action. Miracles in scripture: the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus’s walking on water and changing water into wine, miraculous healings, rising from the dead. But not just in Bible times: according to classical Christians, also now responds to prayers; healings; works in the hearts and minds of his children (internal testimony of the Holy Spirit; sanctification). God constantly causes events in the world. (photo via www.veritas-ucsb.org)

Alvin Carl Plantinga is an American analytic philosopher, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin College.

Born: November 15, 1932 (age 80), Ann Arbor

Education: Yale University, Jamestown College, Harvard University,University of Michigan, Calvin College

Ravi Zacharias – The scientific naturalist view does not answer our questions, nor prove God’s in existence

Zacharias ravi

Question from Ethan Kaiser:

Hello, I am a scientists and an atheist, and my question is: Since the Bible has been scientifically disproven, as far as all the claims, you know, the theory of evolution, and archaeology, you know, Noah’s ark, Adam & Eve, since we know this didn’t happen because of our science, my question is: According to the Bible, how do we have free will, if God is this omniscient being, that knows everything about us, everything that we will do, and he pretty much knows our outcome before we’re even created, so he creates us, knowing everything we will do, we can’t surprise him by our actions, we have no free will. Our choices have been predetermined, and that the act of judgment is completely immoral, because he knows what we’re gonna do, nothing can surprise him.

Ravi Zacharias:

It’s interesting that you began, by saying that, as an atheist, all of this has been disproved, and so you live with scientific materialism as your world view. I studied under John Polkinhorne at Cambridge University. You probably know the name- one of the world’s leading quantum physicists. He came to the exact opposite conclusion you did, while being a dean at King’s College, as quantum physicist, taking the same data you did. So, obviously, for a man of his intellectual ability, to come to a totally different conclusion, one would either have to say he is stupid to come to that conclusion, or else his empirical data is … I want to read to you what David Berlinski says about the scientific, naturalistic world view. He is one of the world’s leading physicists, who is an agnostic, but took issue with Richard Dawkin’s book „The God Delusion’, and wrote a book called „The Devil’s Delusion’. Here’s what he said,

  1. Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close.
  2. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close.
  3. Have the scientists explained why the universe is fine tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close.
  4. Are physicists and biologists even willing to believe in anything, as long as it is not religious thought? Close enough.
  5. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough.
  6. Has secularism in the secular 20th century been a force for good? Not even close.
  7. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy being taught in the opinion of the sciences? Close enough.
  8. Does anything in the sciences or the philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ballpark.
  9. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.

Ethan (questioner), what you are wrestling with is not uncommon. Many people from a scientific and materialistic worldview will say what you’ve said, and will come to that conclusion. The problem is, what you’ve mispositioned is your concern between  determinism and free will. Your application could have gone in many directions, but you came to that one for some reason, which was unfortunate. In Cambridge, I listened to a talk, in 1990, by Stephen Hawking. As you know, he can’t speak, he uses a speech synthesizer. His whole talk was on determinism and freedom. Do you know what he concluded? That the tragedy with scientific materialism , if we take its assumptions, is that we are not free, we are totally determined. That was the world’s leading physicist at that time, saying, „The very thing you are asking of the Christian faith, he pinned on your backs (the scientific atheists). You can go online and trace it. And he said, „The only escape I have is since I don’t know what has been determined, I may as well not be. The whole auditorium moaned and groaned, with an escape hatch that he gave for himself, after telling us that we were completely determined. That’s Berlinski’s issue, that is actually something that even people like Dawkin’s will concede. Or, you read Stephen Pinker and the others, totally determined. So the question is: Were you free to ask this question?

If you are totally determined, you are prewired to think the way you do. The nature means you are hardwired to come to a conclusion. Out of flux, nothing but flux. What you put into the computer has to come out. But, you have to ask yourself: Are you making a truth claim? If you’re making a truth claim, you’re rising above the subjectivity, and the moment you claim a truth claim, you’re violating determinism.

Ravi’s response comes at the 7:15 minute mark of the video-

An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism – Alvin Plantinga at USC

PlantingaSome points/notes from the Plantinga lecture, in which he argues that naturalism and evolution do not fit together:

–Plantinga defines naturalism (3:45) as the belief that there is no such person as God, or anything like God, Naturalism is stronger than atheism.  Naturalism entails atheism, but atheism doesn’t entail naturalism. You can be an atheist without rising to the heights of, or sinking to the depths of naturalism. For example, someone like Hegel, who thought there was this giant absolute that includes all the realities, but didn’t think there was an omnipotent, omniscient, holy, good person. Such a person would be an atheist, but would not be a naturalist. Naturalism, as I say is stronger than atheism.  Naturalism and evolution are usually thought of as bosom buddies, supporting each other. Evolution is always thought of as kind of a pillar in the temple of naturalism. I would argue that one can’t be a naturalist and also accept evolution, as evolution is ordinarily thought of. They conflict with each other. They go against each other. The conjunction of the two is self referentially incoherent. Christians should not only argue against naturalism, and only assert that naturalism is false, but Christians ought to provide arguments here. We’re enjoined in the New Testament to always be ready with a ‘reason for the hope that is within us’. So, I think the Christian community- Christian students and the like, should be willing to give arguments of this sort.

According to theism, we human beings have been created by a holy, good, all powerful, all knowing being, namely God, who has made us in His own image (made us like Him), and has aims and intentions- He intends certain things, aims that certain should happen, and aims that certain things should happen, and can act in such a way to accomplish those aims. That’s part of what it means to be a person. So there is God, on the one hand, in the theistic story, who has created the world, and on the other hand is creation, that which is created. You might think of naturalism as the theistic world picture minus God. Among famous, well known naturalists there would be the late Carl Sagan, with his portentous incantation ‘the cosmos is all there is or ever has been, or ever will be’, also the late Steven Jay Gould, David Armstrong, the philosopher, the later Darwin, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, John Lucas, a former philosopher at Oxford, who says that ‘naturalism is the contemporary orthodoxy  of the academy’. Naturalism is certainly strong in the academy, certainly among philosophers

My argument will have to do with cognitive faculties, memory, perception, the faculty by which one forms beliefs, the faculty whereby one knows things, memory, perception, insight, where you learn mathematical truths and logical truths, maybe reads sympathies- whereby you know what other people are thinking and feeling, induction- where you can learn by experience. So these would be cognitive faculties.

The structure of the argument

In brief, here’s how my argument will go. I’ll argue: If naturalism and evolution, if that pair of propositions, if they were both true, than it would be improbable that our cognitive faculties (memory and so on) are in fact reliable. That they give us, for the most part, true beliefs. Once you see that, then if you accept naturalism and evolution you have a defeater for this proposition  that ‘your cognitive faculties are reliable’, a reason to give that belief up, a reason to to believe it. Once you have a defeater for that proposition for that ‘that your cognitive faculties are reliable’, then you have a defeater for any proposition that you take to be produced by your cognitive faculties. Naturally, that’s all of them. I mean, where else would they come from. So, then you have a defeater for also for naturalism and evolution itself. So, you might say it’s self defeating. It’s self referentially inconsistent. (11:00)

YOU CAND READ more of these notes from here- http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/socialsciences

Video Published on Feb 23, 2013 http://www.veritas.org/talks – Alvin Plantinga is known for his work in philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics, and Christian apologetics. Notably, he has argued that some can know that God exists as a basic belief in the same way that people usually claim to know that other minds exist. VeritasForum·

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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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