Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Chesteronian basis of Lewis's argument from reason

Jim Slagle, at Agent Intellect, wrote his master's thesis on the Argument from Reason for the University of Louvain, and in the process convinced me to change my mind about one aspect of the argument. At first I thought that Anscombe had shown that Lewis was misusing the term "irrational", in the first edition of Miracles, in  speaking of physical causes, but in fact Lewis was using a different, but perfectly acceptable sense of the word "irrational." Lewis in fact distinguishes the two senses of the word "irrational in The Abolition of Man."  Lewis did adopt the irrational-non-rational distinction when he revised the third chapter of Miracles, but, strictly speaking, he need not have done so.

In this post, he presents what he considers to be Chesterton's version of the AFR.


Gregory said...

I perused the article and I agree with the authors assessment. Chesterton is more explicit about the AFR in his book "Orthodoxy", particularly in an early chapter in which he discusses causation and freewill.

I wanted to comment, though, on one of the comments that was made about the article at that blogsite. One of the commentators said something like:

"If I immobilize neurons (i.e. the trees), then thinking stops (i.e. the wind)."

I think that is a really silly statement to make. I mean...what does mass, velocity and gravitation have anything to do with generating "thought", or with making logical connections between strings of given propositions? Furthermore, this kind of argument could very easily be used to prove that the universe might, or actually does, possess rational thought. Which, ironically, fits better with some kind of theism, perhaps panentheism, rather than atheism.

Or to put it another way: If the idea of "consciousness" arising from planetary mass, velocity and gravitational attraction strikes you as oddly absurd qua the possibility/actuality of a macro-phenomenal causation of Cosmic mental events, then why should micro-phenomenal processes fare any better in the alleged production of human mental events?

In fact, the Cognitive Science claims make the idea of Transcendent Thought (i.e. God) more coherent and plausible than the alternative (i.e. non-God)!!! Therefore, why should the theist be faulted for believing that a Transcendent Being hears, and perhaps answers, their prayers?

What I think the commentator suffers from is a dire confusion of categories.

Gregory said...

Science Fiction/Fantasy movie trailer concept:

They built it to discover.

"Sir, this place is a veritable Gold mine of scientific insight."

They built it to grow.

"My dear Dr. Lederman, we can build new vistas of human knowledge and technology."

They built it to last.

"Yes, this place is quite a fortress Doctor."

But they had no idea that what they were building would go horribly, horribly wrong.

"Oh God...oh God...I think....I think this place is alive!!!"

This Summer, be prepared to have your mind blown....

"We have to shut it down, sir!!"

"No. You don't understand. This place is too valuable to have you Lab-coated troglodytes ruin her. You must be exterminated."

....when the world's biggest experiment becomes the world's biggest experimentor!!

"Somebody get the Priest. God save us!!"

This Summer, be prepared for hell....

"The power of Christ compels you"

......in "The Exorcism of Fermi Labs Ghost". This time, we are the experiment.

Rated "R" for graphic violence, language and absurd plot premise.