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Argument from Reason

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

As we continue our scrutiny of Christian apologetics, we now find ourselves analyzing the various apologetic arguments. In our last post we reviewed the concept of philosophy, & its major areas of study, so we can properly discern these arguments. Now, we'll begin our investigation with the argument from reason.

The argument from reason is an attempt to demonstrate that belief in naturalism is unjustified; that is, it is a belief that cannot be trusted. This is done by showing that belief in naturalism is contradictory to confidence in human reason. This is an important point, as atheists often attempt to frame their worldview as more reasonable than one that holds to transcendent ideas.

Before we move on let's quickly go over the definition of naturalism, so we have the proper context. Naturalism can be defined simply as the view that there are no supernatural entities. The currently most fashionable form of naturalism is physicalism, which maintains that all that exists can all be understood in the terms of physics. This includes not merely matter but also energy, fields of force, physical processes and space/time. Three other important agreements among physicalists are that purposeful explanations are not basic to reality (no final causation); the physical level is causally closed (no physical event is caused by something non-physical); and that mental states, if they even exist, supervene on physical states (given the state of the physical, there is only one way for the mental to be). In other words, naturalism is the view that reality is nothing more than matter and energy.

Objections to this view that the naturalist ontology can account for everything have a long philosophical history. Plato, Descartes, Kant, Edmund Husserl, and Hilary Putnam are just some of the prominent secular philosophers who have challenged this view. When it comes to Christian philosophers, or apologists, we see names like Alvin Plantinga, Cornelius VanTil, Dallas Willard, J.P. Moreland, John Frame, James Anderson, and C.S Lewis.

Getting back to our topic, a general statement of the argument from reason would be as follows:

Either reason is merely an illusion of physics—in which case there is no justification for relying on it to produce truthful beliefs—or reason is something more than physical—in which case naturalism is false. If human reason is driven by mindless particle interactions, it does not necessarily correspond to truth. If we believe reason corresponds to truth, we cannot also believe reason is determined purely by physical means.

An even more concise phrasing would be the existence of reason itself argues against naturalism.

Because reason is an inextricable part of our understanding, the argument from reason heavily implies a metaphysical claim, as well. If reason is objectively valid—if reason is real—then naturalism would have to be unreal. If reason does not exist, why did humanity come to see it as we do: as a non-material, but real thing? If there were no such thing as light, we’d never know we were living in darkness; in fact, such an idea would be pointless to consider. Yet we distinguish between reason and irrationality.

The argument from reason is really a series of arguments, in different forms, voiced by both believers and non-believers. Each argument has its own strengths and weaknesses, but they all share a common theme. To suggest that literally everything about the universe is effectively random is to suggest that one’s own thoughts and conclusions are equally unreliable. One does not have to start from—or even conclude with—a biblical worldview to appreciate the logical force of this idea.

A notable version of the argument from reason was popularized by Alvin Plantinga: the evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN). Plantinga notes that evolution is driven by survival of the fittest, yet beliefs more fit for survival are not necessarily the same as those that are true. Therefore, if evolution is true, belief in naturalism is unjustified. In other words, at the very least, belief in naturalism logically contradicts itself, thanks to evolution.

May we establish, nurture, and grow a sincere love for the word of God, and study it lovingly & faithfully.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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