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In Defense of Natural Theology 12: The Argument from Reason and Hume’s Legacy


I feel like this chapter was more flawed than most, although as always, without putting insane amounts of thought into it, I find it hard to precisely point out the flaws in the argumentation. Usually it’s little things here and there, and I need to work to show why it matters to the main argument.

The basic argument is that the proper functioning of reasoning assumes certain things that naturalism cannot explain, but theism can.

Many points, but I’ll address one. There is this constant assertion that in a naturalistic, deterministic world, our conclusions are caused by previous events, therefore we can’t rely on them. What? Wouldn’t we want our conclusions to be caused by something else? If it wasn’t deterministic, and you could choose causelessly one conclusion over another, then that would seem to erode coming reliably to truth. If, on the other hand, there is a deterministic mental function that leads reliably to truth when used correctly, then our problem is solved. I think Yudkowsky spends good time talking about the entanglement of reality and our cognitive functions. Why would this not be good enough?

The question of how this occurs is not easy, but given the current resolution of our understanding of the brain, we have just about the amount of understanding we’d expect if it was deterministic. There’s also recent work on the evolutionary psychology of reason that goes far in explaining where this stuff would come from, and what purpose it fulfilled. I think Plantinga’s objection that truth is not necessary falls short.

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