Wednesday, August 10, 2016

CAN IRRATIONALITY PRODUCE RATIONALITY?






This is precisely what atheistic, naturalistic evolution maintains -- that mindless natural selection produced a thinking mind with billions of neurons and trillions of neuronal connections.

Atheist turned Christian, C.S. Lewis, doubted that this was possible. He compared mindless evolution to someone with a damaged brain:

·       "Whenever you know what the other man is saying is wholly due to his complexes or to a bit of bone pressing on his brain, you cease to attach importance to it. But if naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes. Therefore, all thoughts would be completely worthless. Therefore, naturalism is completely worthless. If this is true, then we can know no truths. It cuts its own throat."

Although I sympathize with his reasoning, I think that it will leave the naturalist undaunted. Why? Because he already believes that our eyes are able to perfectly mirror the physical world because of a mindless process. If our eyes can picture this world, why cannot our thinking also capture this world?

However, our thinking seems to transcend what our eyes can do. While our eyes can see, possibly because of deterministic and invariable laws of biochemistry, which do not require freewill, it is much harder to conceive of our thinking in this way.

Thinking can only be of a very rudimentary nature if it is entirely determined by unvarying biochemical forces. This would mean that our thinking is determined by laws locked into predictable patterns.

However, this is precisely what human thought is not! Rather, for thought to discover truth, it needs freedom and flexibility that deterministic laws do not allow. These forces simply repeat the same patterns. Instead, thought has to be able to take wings and break out of its social, biological, and psychological bonds.

I had this experience as I began to grow into Christ. As a new Christian, I had the strange realization that there were thoughts I wanted to think, but could not, places I wanted to take my mind, where it refused to go.

Over the years I have experienced a greater mental freedom to explore and to discover. I think that this is the same freedom an artist experiences.

However, if all thinking is predetermined, then it would have been impossible for me to experience in such a tangible way the liberation from my mental prison.

2 comments:

  1. “Can irrationality produce rationality?
    This is precisely what atheistic, naturalistic evolution maintains -- that mindless natural selection produced a thinking mind with billions of neurons and trillions of neuronal connections.”
    [It’s quite a big leap to gather “irrationality produces rationality” from the concept of evolution of the human brain according to natural selection.
    Irrationality does not describe “mindless” natural processes such as natural selection and evolution. Irrationality occurs in a world where specific guidelines in thought and a brain capable to conceive of them already exists. Saying that natural selection is “irrational” or “mindless” because it’s not based on intelligent design is semantically dishonest.]
    ““Whenever you know what the other man is saying is wholly due to his complexes or to a bit of bone pressing on his brain, you cease to attach importance to it. But if naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes. Therefore, all thoughts would be completely worthless. Therefore, naturalism is completely worthless. If this is true, then we can know no truths. It cuts its own throat.””
    [I don’t agree with Lewis’ assessment that thoughts become worthless when they are caused/effected by natural processes.]
    Although I sympathize with his reasoning, I think that it will leave the naturalist undaunted. Why? Because he already believes that our eyes are able to perfectly mirror the physical world because of a mindless process. If our eyes can picture this world, why cannot our thinking also capture this world?
    [This could use some clarification. The naturalist does not believe that the eye perfectly mirrors the physical world; there is plenty of room for uncertainty. The eye is but one tool we can use.]
    However, our thinking seems to transcend what our eyes can do. While our eyes can see, possibly because of deterministic and invariable laws of biochemistry, which do not require freewill, it is much harder to conceive of our thinking in this way.
    [Our eyes and brain are organs, both of which are constrained by laws of physics and biochemistry. That an eye can do and assess much less than the brain as a whole does not mean that it has “less free will.” Otherwise I’m not sure what this statement is attempting to prove.]
    Thinking can only be of a very rudimentary nature if it is entirely determined by unvarying biochemical forces. This would mean that our thinking is determined by laws locked into predictable patterns.
    [What is the basis for this claim?]
    However, this is precisely what human thought is not! Rather, for thought to discover truth, it needs freedom and flexibility that deterministic laws do not allow. These forces simply repeat the same patterns. Instead, thought has to be able to take wings and break out of its social, biological, and psychological bonds.
    [I don’t think you understand what determinism entails.]
    Over the years I have experienced a greater mental freedom to explore and to discover. I think that this is the same freedom an artist experiences.
    However, if all thinking is predetermined, then it would have been impossible for me to experience in such a tangible way the liberation from my mental prison.
    [Predetermined is not the same as determined. This is very important to reduce any cause for confusion.
    I think it’s good that you feel liberated in how you think but there’s nothing within determinism which would prevent you from doing so. I think you should gather a basic understanding of these concepts within your essay before denying/ascribing to them,. Things like Free will, determinism, naturalist, etc.
    There’s a very small book by the author Sam Harris that I recommend titled “Free will” or you could find one of his lectures on YouTube. I usually don’t recommend such things simply because I prefer to share my own thoughts about it and discuss, however this is a very complex topic and there’s a lot of confusion about what free will even is, much less whether people believe in it or not.]

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  2. “Saying that natural selection is “irrational” or “mindless” because it’s not based on intelligent design is semantically dishonest.”

    • Hmmm? For some reason, I didn’t realize that I was “semantically dishonest.”

    “Predetermined is not the same as determined.”

    • Once you reduce everything to materialism – bio-chemical processes – I cannot fathom any basis for the distinction you make. If everything is materialistically controlled, then there cannot be any freedom of choice or of thought. Instead, we are deterministically locked-in.

    • Besides, if I cannot trust my perception that I am making free choices, then I also cannot trust other obvious perceptions, like the fact that I exist.

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