Monday, June 21, 2004

Plantinga's Argument Against Evolutionary Naturalism

Philosopher Alvin Plantinga's argument against evolutionary naturalism goes like this:
1) If purely natural, random evolutionary processes created our cognitive faculties, then our cognitive faculties are not reliable tools for finding truth.
2) Evolutionary purposes do not have truth in mind, only adaptability anbd survivability.
3) Therefore to use our cognitive faculties to attempt to discover truth is to use them in a way contrary to their nature.
4) The evolutionist must therefore agree that any use of one's cognitive faculties to argue for the truth of evolution is misguided.
Plantinga writes: “if the general reliability of our cognitive faculties is under question, we can’t hope to answer the question whether they are reliable by pointing out that these faculties themselves deliver the belief that they are, in fact, reliable.”

That would be logically contradictory.

As Louis Pojman says in his philosophy of religion text, Plantinga’s argument against the belief that evolutionary naturalism is true goes like this:

1. Naturalistic evolution caused us to develop our cognitive faculties in ways conducive to survival, not truth.
2. If naturalistic evolution is true, there is no reason to believe that our cognitive faculties are reliable.
3. If you’ve used your cognitive faculties to come to believe in evolutionary naturalism, you have a defeater for the conclusion that evolutionary naturalism is true.
4. Therefore you ought not believe that evolutionary naturalism is true.
Darwin wrote: "With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"