[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
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Summary in 400 words or less:
The atheist Francis Crick once declared that, “’You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”1
Humans take for granted that we can arrive at truths about the world through logic and reason. Consider the following:
(i) All men are mortal.
(ii) Socrates is a man.
(iii) Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
Reason would allow a person to see the truth of (iii) based upon their acceptance of (i) and (ii). However, under materialism (iii) would not be accepted upon reason and the acceptance of (i) and (ii), but instead by physical causality. The attempt to rationally affirm a materialistic view of the world based on the acceptance of certain accepted facts, would be affirming a philosophy where facts and reason played no actual role. If humans can be reduced to matter, then all conclusions (including the conclusion of Crick) are never arrived at by means of logic.
Under Crick’s view of the world, man is a machine of saliva and blood pumping through glands and veins, organic in nature, but in essence no different than a machine. Rip open the chest and you will find nothing you can call man’s reason, but only his pieces and parts beating away before bleeding out in death. But to what difference did this death make? Life dances to one law, and death to another, but neither ever could reason the difference. If reason exists, then the ultimate cause of the universe must be a rational Mind and not matter. The materialist cannot use his reason and deny it too.
 Steward Goetz and Charles Taliaferro, Naturalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 22.
Scripture for YouVersion: Jude 1:19
Three questions (one fill-in-the-blank, one multiple choice, one discussion question):
1. The argument from reason argues that reason cannot find its ultimate source in a ___-____ cause.
2. Which of these, if their worldview is true, can affect what the materialist believes?
- The brain.
- The mind.
- Scientific investigation.
3. In principle, can science be used to disprove the argument from reason?
References for further reading:
- The Argument from Reason. Victor Reppert, C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason (IVP, 2003); Philosophia Christi 5/1 (2003): Symposium on The Argument from Reason; “The Argument from Reason” in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 344-390; “The Argument from Reason,” (1998). William Hasker, “What is Naturalism? And Should We Be Naturalists?” Philosophia Christi 15/1 (2013), pp. 21-34. Stewart Goetz, “The Argument from Reason,” Philosophia Christi 15/1 (2013), pp. 47-62.
Collaborators: Christopher Riggs
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