Both naturalism and the theory of evolution maintain that, through natural selection, we have evolved a brain that has conferred upon us many survival advantages by enabling us to accurately perceive and to rationally think about our world.
However, there are other forms of our neurological wiring that the naturalist dismisses as irrational, although perhaps adaptive. Theologian and pastor, Timothy Keller, has written about this inconsistency:
· Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it’s only because that [irrational] belief helped us survive and so we are hard wired for it. However, if we can’t trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about God, why should we trust them to tell us the truth about anything, including evolutionary science? If our cognitive faculties only tell us what we need to survive, not what is true, why trust them about anything at all?
· What is not fair is to do what so many evolutionary scientists are doing now. They are applying the scalpel of their skepticism to what our minds tell us about God but not to what our minds are telling us about evolutionary science itself. (The Reason for God, Dutton, 2008, 137-38)
The evolutionist claims that both rationality and irrationality (for example, the belief in God) have enabled us to successful adapt. Keller points to the fact that the evolutionist is not applying his scalpel evenly. If our brains and their beliefs have enabled us to successfully navigate this world and even to understand more abstract things, why not also apply this to our intuition or belief in God? According to the evolutionist, this form of irrationality had once conferred a survival advantage, but how could irrationality – seeing the world through a distorted lens – do so? Perhaps then, their own theories are irrational, serving only a temporary purpose?
Besides, the evolutionist takes his scalpel to many other ideas or intuitions that do not fit into their naturalistic worldview. C.S. Lewis reflects on this tendency in regards to love and music:
· You can’t, except in the lowest animal sense, be in love with a girl if you know (and keep on remembering) that all the beauties both of her person and of her character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by the collision of atoms, and that your own response to them is only a sort of psychic phosphorescence arising from the behavior of your genes. You can’t go on getting very serious pleasure from music if you know and remember that its air of significance is a pure illusion, that you like it only because your nervous system is irrationally conditioned to like it. (141)
According to Lewis, a naturalistic meaningless universe does not accord with our intuitions about it. It is these intuitions that take us beyond what is evolutionarily “rational” and infuse life with meaning and fullness. Are these hot-wired intuitions feeding us a distorted message? Does evolution “win” by tricking us? Are our brains filled with evolutionary distortions? If so, won’t these “distortions” intrude into all other areas of life? And won’t such “irrational” thoughts distort the rational?
Today, based upon the naturalistic worldview, many deny the existence of freewill. In a materialistic world governed entirely by the laws of science, there is just no room or basis for freewill. Instead, although adaptive, believing that we have freewill is just another necessary prank of evolution.
However, we have the intuitive perception that we are freely, at least to some degree, making freewill decisions. Are we mistaken? If so, because these intuitions are so basic, if we doubt our freewill, what then can we not doubt? Should we not also doubt that perhaps we are an individual person rather than part of a corporate consciousness? Should we not also doubt that a physical world exists and that our thoughts and perceptions are all just imaginary?
Consequently, if we are to doubt our freewill, love, the fullness of vision we receive from music, and the existence of God, perhaps we must doubt everything else. But perhaps we should also doubt doubt itself.
Perhaps, instead, these beliefs are not only “necessary,” but they are also an accurate reflection of reality. And to doubt them is also to doubt everything else that we believe in.
This same problem exists in the area of morality. Naturalism instructs us that there are no objective moral laws. Instead, morality is just something that we create, even if largely based on our biochemical intuitions.
Instead, we intuit that when we violate our conscience, we violate objective moral laws, which exist beyond our biochemistry, and deserve punishment. We sense that something or Someone greater than us is condemning us, and that we need to confess our wrongdoing. This sense is so powerful, that when we don’t confess, we find ourselves forced to justify our misbehaviors. We are not able to simply say “who cares!” and walk away. Instead, the sense that we have done something wrong is so vivid and compelling that we have to address it in some way.
Does this sense grant us an accurate picture of reality? According to the naturalist, it might be necessary, but it is also irrational, since there is no Judge, no objective means of judgment, and no ultimate punishment.
The naturalistic worldview forces them to regard these various intuitions as necessary but also as irrational. But how can so many irrational beliefs have survival value? And won’t they permeate into what is “rational,” undermining our entire existence? And if these intuitions are irrational, perhaps also the naturalistic worldview?