Reason’s Reliability: Naturalism PT 4

Reason’s Reliability

On what basis does a naturalist/materialist believe that the ability to reason is reliable? When you hear a sound, why should you believe the ear is detecting actual vibrations, and how can one be sure that every noise is not “tinnitus” (an inner ear malfunction that causes you to hear ringing in your hear when no real noise exists). After this, why should one rely on the mind to interpret these vibrations? The reliability of human reasoning is based on an assumption.

If the brain exists due to purely unguided processes, and is now the result of random motions of particles; why is it reliable? If nature itself is created by completely unguided processes, and there are no laws outside of it, governing it, why should one believe that it exists in a systematic way? On what basis is our reason reliable? What grounds are there that our thoughts are accurate insights into realities as they exist outside of us?

It seems that naturalists have argued that there are no arguments. Naturalist work for years relying on their reasoning skills, assuming that the thoughts they have are accurate insights into reality. Then they develop a theory of reality that completely discredits their ability to reason itself, and by extension they destroy their own theory.

If someone responds by saying that their thoughts are something that has demonstrated reliability in the past up to this point, and therefore are reliable: for example, when they see a person they can speak and communicate with that person or feel and touch that person and so on. And they say they can do this because that person is actually there; and by a uniform and repeated experience they have an adequate proof that their sense perception and their ability to reason are reliable.
My response to this is: Are you saying the only proof that your ability to reason is reliable is reached by your reason which appears to have been reliable up to this point? Your reason’s ability to accurately perceive reality was never grounded in the first place. That is an assumption reached by your current reasoning. Why do you believe that your reasoning has ever accurately perceived reality? If you say, “because it has worked before”. How do you know that it worked? Didn’t Your reason deduce that? You see, making an argument for the reliability of your rational faculties is impossible.

Let’s continue:
According to Naturalism, consciousness is a late comer in nature. Therefore, reason was also a late comer. “Your ability to reason was not designed to produce a mental behavior that can find or identify truth”. In fact, until there were thinkers, there was no such thing as truth or falsehood. [Lewis].

By definition then, thoughts at one time were not rational. Natural selection doesn’t provide anything in the formation of this phenomenon, called reasoning. An example: an improved ability to hear may come out of natural selection; however, that is utterly distinct from a knowledge of sound. They are completely different. Knowledge of sound is achieved by inferences and experiments, not by noise. That would be like saying that people who hear really well know the most about sound. It’s not. It’s those who have studied and learned a lot about sound.

If thoughts at one time were not rational; i.e. they were not events that took place in the mind consisting of accurate insights into reality as reality; then, when did they become rational? Natural Selection doesn’t have the ability to produce this. Let me distinguish reason from Pavel’s experiment with the salivating dog. Stimulus and response repeated to the point where stimulus causes expectation is not the same as reason. Let me show this. A=B, B=C, therefore A=C is not something that I believe because of past experience.

One can use stimulus and response over a millennia to describe why we think the way we do. However, one cannot explain why we are justified in thinking this way by stimulus and response. “How can the evolutionary product you describe be a power of seeing truths”? “If the value of our reasoning is in doubt, you cannot establish it by reasoning.” Reasoning is our starting point. [Lewis]
Once you develop a system that undermines the validity of reason, you have cut yourself off from, not only reason, but also from the system that you developed by reason.
For the Theist, reason is not a rather recent development. Reason, God’s reason, is older than Nature and is the ground/cause of the orderliness of Nature, which alone enables us to know Nature because this ability is derived from this. For him, the human mind in the act of knowing is illuminated by divine reason. Our concept of nature depends on our reason. Our ability to reason depends on God’s reason in the way He established Nature and Our Reason.

A few presupposed Definitions for the interested reader:

A thought is an event. A true thought is an event that takes place in the mind as an accurate account of reality. A thought as an event is connected to previous thoughts. A brain has, as it were, a psychological history. Every thought that has ever passed through your mind would be a part of this history. [What we mean by a true event is actually referring to the truth of the “account” of the event, not the event itself.]
Truth and Falsehood are only possible when conscious beings exist. Until then, there are only events that are. [events that simply exist]
Knowledge is- a thought that defines/identifies a reality outside of itself. Knowledge is only possible if the thought concerning reality is a real insight to what reality actually is.
Are the noises that my ear hears noises that actually exist? Tinnitus is a case where the noises are actually malfunctions of the vestibulochochlear apparatus in the ear. The noises are not vibrations picked up by the ear. In this case, they have the illusion of noise.
A thought is an event in the mind that can be either true or false. If this event is true, this means the thought in the mind about reality is an accurate insight of reality. An event can’t be true or false. It either exists or it doesnt; it exists as a part of history or it does not exist as a part of history. A thought on the other hand, can be true or false.
Knowledge is only true if the thoughts about reality are accurate insights to reality. [unless knowledge is limited to our present sensations only, to which no naturalist I know agrees.]

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