Saturday, June 10, 2017

Evolution and Reason

It is often claimed by theists that if our reason is a result of evolution, we have no reason to trust its veracity. However, this is not at all obvious. A reasoning capacity has clear adaptive usefulness, such as solving problems like finding food, determining dangers, even winning mates.

It may be argued that this does not account for its usefulness in more abstract areas like philosophy. We must remember however that most people do not turn it to such lofty areas. In any case, side effects of things can outstrip their original functions.

It seems that reason is actually more understandable on atheism. For if, as theists claim, reason is a gift of God, why make it this faulty? I do not think anyone would deny how we can be mislead. This argument against reason having a natural origin turns on the theist. For if they are right, then this is exactly what we would expect to see-an imperfect reason.

One obvious use for reason, on theism, is knowing God. This is the purpose of natural theology. While some theists deny that God can be known by reason alone, many concede it has usefulness, or natural theology would not still be a field of study. Even if they do not, it must be a tool given by God. Why, in either case, give a faulty one?

The question becomes particularly pressing with the first probable use on theism, knowing God. From the vast diversity of belief regarding God, even just within Christianity, it becomes clear that our reason is not a sure guide. On the second use, the faultiness is less problematic, but even so why give us a defective gift?

Possible responses have been that reason does tell us God exists, but we deny because we want to sin. Another is that the manifold differences in regards to religious belief are less than I have made out. On the first, it does not seem to be well supported. What evidence has there been given for this? Many people by all appearances sincerely believe in God and wish to serve him, yet their conclusions about this still can differ greatly. The second is far weaker I believe. We need simply note that polytheism is far more common historically than monetheism.

In conclusion, I believe that far from being evidence for theism, our reason and its flawed nature are far better explained on atheism.

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