Is Reason Possible On The Atheist Worldview?
If you believe in Darwinism/Atheism/Naturalism/Secularism, then according to what you believe your brains are nothing more than a couple of pounds of biological meat that has somehow "evolved" from slime, chemicals, or whatever by various random mutations over time with no intelligent guidance whatsoever -- and your thoughts are no more than electrical energy that is being randomly generated by your brains. (Note: "electricity" and "intelligence" are two totally different things -- you have many electrical appliances in your home, but none of them can "think".) If this is the case, then why should anyone accept anything you say as being reasonable, logical, truthful, or sensible, when you are, according to your beliefs, simply responding automatically to whatever your meat-based brain (and its random, unguided, "evolved" electrical impulses) tells you to do? We might be just as chemically predetermined by our brain chemistry to believe falsehoods then we are predetermined to believe truths.
But how do we know who is predetermined to believe what is true and who is predetermined to believe what is false? Logic? Reason? Evidence? But then we're right back to the question of how we can reason properly when our brains are ruled by the laws of chemistry, firing neurons in addition to perhaps environmental factors. On the atheistic worldview, we're “molecules in motion” as Frank Turek likes to put it. We no more help what we think than a can of coke can prevent fizzing. If I'm irrational for believing in God, don't blame me. It's not my fault. I can't help what kind of brain chemistry I have. We cannot know what is true and what is false if the laws of nature, brain chemistry and other multiple environmental factors determine our beliefs rather than us forming our beliefs of our own free thought. In order to be a FREE thinker, you must have FREE will. And if there is no soul then there is no free will because as I’ve already point out, you’re just a meat machine. No soul, no free will. Just “molecules in motion". Your actions and thoughts are like a can of fizzing coke, or a paper bag being blown about by the wind, or water droplets running down the side of a window, or a raft floating about randomly on the sea, going wherever the winds and the current takes it. You’re being determined by mother nature to form your beliefs and you’re also being determined by mother nature to take action. Every move you make is just matter and energy moving about, not your soul making conscious decisions. Every single action we take is nothing but mere chemical, physical determinism.
Moreover, if atheism is true, natural selection may preserve a false belief if it happens to benefit the individual’s survival. If a false belief actually helps the survival of an individual, natural selection will preserve it. It will preserve it not on the basis on truthfulness vs. falsity but rather on the basis of what works, just as it would preserve body parts because they serve useful functions to the organism. Indeed. As Richard Dawkins pointed out in his book “The God Delusion”,
“Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.” -
Richard Dawkins is a terrible philosopher, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Dawkins is right when he said what he said. Those are precisely the implications of his worldview. If our faculties for reasoning are a product of natural selection, then they exist because they facilitate survival, which is not necessarily the same as them existing because they impart objective truth. Many animals can be conditioned towards a specific behavior through a stimulus/response mechanism utilizing their biological senses, which is how natural selection would work. We would be "trained" to keep certain mental processes because they produce a response to environmental stimuli better suited for survival, not necessarily because those mental processes produce objective truth . C.S. Lewis wrote "But it is not conceivable that any improvement of responses could ever turn them into acts of insight. The relation between response and stimulus is utterly different from that between knowledge and the truth known."
"Perhaps Paul very much likes the idea of being eaten, but when he sees a tiger, always runs off looking for a better prospect, because he thinks it unlikely the tiger he sees will eat him. This will get his body parts in the right place so far as survival is concerned, without involving much by way of true belief. (Of course we must postulate other changes in Paul's ways of reasoning, including how he changes belief in response to experience, to maintain coherence.) Or perhaps he thinks the tiger is a large, friendly, cuddly pussycat and wants to pet it; but he also believes that the best way to pet it is to run away from it. Or perhaps he confuses running toward it with running away from it, believing of the action that is really running away from it, that it is running toward it; or perhaps he thinks the tiger is a regularly occurring illusion, and, hoping to keep his weight down, has formed the resolution to run a mile at top speed whenever confronted with such an illusion; or perhaps he thinks he is about to take part in a sixteen-hundred-meter race, wants to win, and thinks the appearance of the tiger is the starting signal; or perhaps. . . . Clearly there is any number of belief-cum-desire systems that equally fit a given bit of behaviour." ~ Alvin Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Function. New York: Oxford University Press. 1993. pp. 225-226
In all of Plantinga’s examples, Paul would be believing something false, but because it contributes to his survival, natural selection would preserve that belief to future generations who may also run away from the tiger because they "think they are about to take part in a sixteen-hundred-meter-race and think the appearance of the tiger is the starting signal, or believe that running away from it is actually running towards it or whatever.
My Conclusion: Reason is impossible on atheism. Sure, we might think we reason, but it's all an illusion. An illusion produced by brain chemistry, as everything else in the conscious life is produced by brain chemistry and firing neurons according to the atheist. Fallacies are the result of bad brain wiring and how should I even know if they are bad brain wiring. I've been assuming the laws of logic the entire time I've been writing this thing. In fact, everything I said would be self defeating if I were correct. How did I come to the conclusion that reason is impossible on atheism? By using reason! The only way my claim would not be self defeating is if atheism were false. I happen to believe it is false, but if it were true, I'd have no way of knowing if my conclusion is true because I might just...by chance...have the kind of brain chemistry which would produce the false conclusion that "reason is impossible on atheism". Can you see the incoherency? It's a very complicated situation for the atheist. You have to assume a different worldview in order for reason to have any kind of coherency. On theism, our minds are reflections of the One perfect mind. We're made in the image of God. On theism, we're not molecules in motion. We have a soul and we have free will. On theism, our abilities to reason and form conclusions come from God Almighty, who, unlike natural selection and random mutations, is very much concerned with His creatures knowing truth, not just survival. Since as Jesus said, knowing the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
I also want to make clear that at no time in this post have I argued against evolution. This is not an evolution bashing post. This post is critiquing atheistic evolution. This blog post is critiquing atheism. Of course The theistic evolutionist could easily escape from the implications of the arguments I've just been giving because he too believes that God is the one who endowed us with the ability to reason. The theistic evolutionist believes that God guided the evolutionary processes in such a way so as to produce rational, philosophical creatures who had an awareness of objective morality and had the capacity to acknowledge and worship their Creator. These factors are what many theologians believe the term "Image of God" means. When The Bible says we're made in the image of God, these theologians say that it means that we, unlike the lower animals, have these capabilities (reason, moral awareness, a inclination to worship, etc.).