Monday, March 16, 2009

The AFR and the AFE

Some people have asked how I think those arguments compare. I answered that on the last page of my book!

" ... the arguments from reason do provide some substantial reasons for preferring theism to naturalism. The "problem of reason" is a huge problem for naturalism, as serious or, I would say, more serious, than the problem of evil is for theists. But while theists have expended considerable effort in confronting the problem of evil, the problem of reason has not as yet been acknowledged as a serious problem for naturalism" - Victor Reppert, C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea. In Defense of the Argument from Reason, Downers Grove, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 2003, p. 128.

9 comments:

Matthew said...

I would say, more serious, than the problem of evil is for theists.

Unfortunately, it's not as popular as "But who created God?"

I think Alexander Pruss gives a great explanation here:

http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2008/11/moral-evil-and-naturalism.html

Evil requires a life-permitting universe and the existence reason. Given theism, the probability of life and reason is 100%.
Given naturalism, it's incredibly low.

And "Well, it might be unlikely, but if it wouldn't be that way, we wouldn't observe it!" really is no way out here.

All things considered, I think the POE is close to a "naturalism of the gaps"-argument.

Anonymous said...

Victor,

Would you say that on the naturalistic view human reasoning is simply what we call physical activity in our brains and at the end of the day it is really no different than the way a tree seed
"reasons" (with the sun, soil, etc.)to grow into a tree?

Andrew T. said...

Victor: I plan to blog about this in more detail, since the AfR deserves to be taken seriously and deserves more than just a comment. But in summary: I don't think the AfR and the AfE are opposite sides of the same coin due to the constraining beliefs on either side of the argument.

The AfE works -- both intuitively and logically -- because God is said to be all-powerful and all-merciful. Thus, the existence of any real evil cannot help but make us doubt the initial claim. (I think this is true even of honest theists; they overcome that doubt, obviously, but every sincere Christian I know is truly, seriously troubled by things like the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.)

On the other hand, no one claims that human reason is perfect, or that our ideas and belief correspond perfectly with truth and/or reality. To the contrary: we know how easily our minds can be fooled -- by optical illusions, by brain-teasers, by brain-crippling accidents, and so on -- and thus we expect an imperfect, unreliable process. (That's why induction is induction and not deduction.)

It then doesn't seem strange that an imperfect process (evolution) can produce an imperfect sense of reason. The honest atheist should give pause to the AfR in that it asks a difficult question to which we have an incomplete answer. But again: this is what the atheist expects from life!

As a result, because the fundamental underlying claims are different, I'm not surprised that the AfR doesn't shake the "faith" of atheists as much as the AfE shakes the faith of believers.

Matthew said...

Does the theist expect no problems to which we have incomplete answers?

Ilíon said...

Andrew T "The AfE works -- both intuitively and logically -- because God is said to be all-powerful and all-merciful."

Do you even *grasp* what 'mercy' means?


It's just amazing (and amusing) that you silly strutting children imagine you can trip-up God in a logical contradiction when you can't even be bothered to know what you're talking about!



Andrew T "On the other hand, no one claims that human reason is perfect, or that our ideas and belief correspond perfectly with truth and/or reality."

There is no such thing as "human reason;" there is reason and it is perfect. That some human beings are unable or unwilling to comport themselves in accordance with reason is a different matter.

Andrew T. said...

Ilion: who peed in your Wheaties this morning, dude? Seriously: go back to tribalogue or something.

Ilíon said...

Dude, stop being such a blatant fool and then I'll stop pointing out that you're being a fool.

Andrew T. said...

Ilion: I understand it's the height of wit in middle school, but "I know you are, but what am I?" isn't considered much of an argument around these parts.

I gave several prima facie examples of how human reason is obviously imperfect -- optical illusions, for example. Rather than address them, you decided to engage in pointless namecalling. Twice.

So welcome to the killfile. And by the way, you might want to check out 1 Peter 3:15 and think about how well you're representing your faith to unbelievers by acting like a complete asshole.

Ilíon said...

Andrew T: "I understand it's the height of wit in middle school, but "I know you are, but what am I?" isn't considered much of an argument around these parts."

Andrew T, I don't concern myself much with what you passive-aggressive, whinging -- and dishonest -- people think, or say, about me.

Andrew T: "... Rather than address them, you decided to engage in pointless namecalling. Twice."

You (indivudually and collectively) are intellectually dishonest. You (again, indivudually and collectively) also seem to think that everyone else is stupid, or blind.


Here's a clue: stop being so blatant in your intellectual dishonesty and I'll stop pointing it out.