Naturalism Pt. 3

Continuing on the question of naturalism:

My contention, so far, is that if naturalistic evolution is true, then the rational faculties of human beings are not equipped to produce true beliefs. Thus it follows that human beings are incapable producing rationally justified beliefs that constitute ‘knowledge’. Here is a definition from a leading philosopher at Notre Dame:

A belief is externally rational if it is produced by cognitive faculties that are functioning properly and successfully aimed at truth (i.e., aimed at the production of true belief)—as opposed, for example, to being the product of wish-fulfillment or cognitive malfunction. Now warrant, the property enough of which distinguishes knowledge from mere true belief, is a property or quantity had by a belief if and only if (so I say) that belief is produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly in a congenial epistemic environment according to a design plan successfully aimed at truth. [(Plantinga, Alvin Warranted Christian Belief (p. 202). Oxford University Press)]

The key phrase is “successfully aimed at truth” and “in a congenial epistemic environment according to a design plan successfully aimed at truth.” Now, conceivably, a naturalist could come up with a design plan that is more congenial than naturalistic evolution; they could say that very intelligent aliens placed us here in a congenial environment (the way the predators made the aliens). But, when you couple naturalism with evolution as a explanation for the existence of life and sentient beings, then you simultaneously undercut the rational faculty that produced the explanation to begin with.

R: “R” Represents the rational faculties possessed by human beings, specifically the faculty that is responsible for producing beliefs; which beliefs are normally thought of as being rational and true.
NE: “NE” represents naturalistic evolution.

I could put it like this: “R” produces the belief “NE”; “NE” undermines the efficiency of “R” especially when aiming to produce beliefs that are true; “NE” itself is a belief that claims to be true, which was produced by “R”, so that, if “NE” is true, then belief in “NE” is irrational; and, if “NE” is false, it is still irrational.

If “NE” undermines “R” then “NE” undermines everything that “R” produces, including the belief in “NE” itself.

I will post an essay in which I explore C.S. Lewis’s ideas about this further in “Is Reason Reliable.”

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