Monday, December 11, 2017



Both naturalism and the theory of evolution maintain that, through natural selection, we evolved a brain that has conferred upon us many survival advantages. Consequently, we can derive accurate sense data and adaptive thinking about our world.

However, according to the naturalist, there are other aspects of our neurological wiring that produces irrational thinking. Theologian and pastor, Timothy Keller, has written about their 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)

Keller points to the absurdity of evolutionary thinking (natural selection): Irrational and erroneous beliefs (like the belief in God) can have survival value. However, irrational intuitions and erroneous beliefs fail to help us to productively adapt to our environment and life’s challenges. Just try driving a car without accurate visual feedback! Our beliefs and intuitions also provide us with essential feedback. If I believe that my mailman wants to kill me, I will act irrationally. Irrational beliefs produce irrational, maladaptive actions.

Besides, if we cannot trust our thoughts about God, how can we trust them about anything else? C.S. Lewis also reflects on this same naturalistic/materialistic inconsistency when it comes 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.

According to Lewis, a naturalistic meaningless universe does not accord with our intuitions/beliefs about it. Are these intuitions, which infuse life with meaning and fullness, feeding us a distorted, self-deluding message? Taking the problem further, if our brains are deluding us in these vital areas, how can we trust them to not delude us in other areas upon which our survival depends?

The naturalistic evolutionist also claims that our bio-chemically determined perceptions and intuitions delude us in other ways. Our intuition that we are, to some degree, freely making choices is another “erroneous/irrational” belief. Although we have the intuitive sense that we are freely making decisions each time we go to the restaurant and order a Big Mac with french fries, our genes have deluded us.

Are we mistaken? Have our genes deceived us, of course for survival reasons? If so, because these intuitions of free choice are so basic, if we doubt our freewill, what then can we not doubt? Should we not doubt that perhaps we are individuals 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? Such doubts would undermine our ability to get out of bed in the morning and go to work, but this is where naturalistic skepticism would lead us.

Consequently, if we doubt our intuitions about freewill, love, the “air of significance” we experience from music, and the existence of God, perhaps we should also doubt everything else about our lives. Everything is then up-for-grabs.

This same problem exists in the area of morality. Naturalism denies the existence of objective moral laws. Instead, it is another erroneous but “adaptive” belief that our genes have imposed upon us.  Consequently, we erroneously intuit that when we violate our conscience, we violate absolute moral laws and deserve punishment. We sense that Someone greater than us is condemning us.

Interestingly, while the naturalistic evolutionist believes that this assortment of erroneous beliefs had once conferred upon us a survival advantage, he is convinced that he has transcended the need for them.

However, it is hard to understand how erroneous thinking and beliefs could possibly give us a survival advantage. Why? Ordinarily, our massively and genetically “deluded” human intuitions should severely interfere with our ability to understand and to make positive adjustments to our environment. And if we are as deluded as the naturalist suggests, how can we trust anything about our thinking! How then can we trust our instincts about human rights, justice, injustice, love, compassion…?

Besides, building costly temples to our God, composing music, and writing poetry to our beloved distract us from the “ultimate” goal of survival. Altruistic behavior might also bring premature death to those who evolve the “deluded sense” that there is something greater than their own immediate welfare.

In contrast to naturalism, the Christian worldview regards all of these intuitions as necessary perceptions about reality and, consequently, our ultimate well-being. These intuitions/beliefs do not delude any more than our ears or eyes delude. Instead, they enrichen our lives immensely, far beyond mundane survival. They allow us to experience depth, awe, the wonder of sunsets and the changing seasons, enjoyment of food, music, and friendship.

If fact, many studies suggest that Christians experience improved physical and mental health and even improved family relationships and sex lives. If Christian beliefs are out-of-step with reality, we should not expect such benefits. While in the short run, rose-colored glasses might temporarily smooth over life’s rough places, in the long run, such glasses present a high price tag in the forms of denial and bad decisions.

Where did these intuitions come from? Not from a blind naturalistic process, which doesn’t care at all about us, but from a God who does care! They enrich us with a sense of purpose and meaning. They even afflict us with guilt and shame when we violate His imprinted moral law and enable us to meaningfully grasp the life He has bestowed upon us.

Even when we were His enemies, hardening our heart and thoughts against Him, He loved us enough to die for us, having given us minds and feelings so that we can seek Him, understand Him, and enter into a glorious and liberating relationship with Him.

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