Sunday, June 10, 2012

C.S. Lewis on Reasoning to Atheism

‎"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

—C.S. Lewis
The Case for Christianity, p. 32.

50 comments :

Phil Lost said...

I find it interesting how much Alvin Plantinga seems to have been influenced by C.S. Lewis.

Godfrey Babu said...

This is just outstanding... In a school of thought, when an idea is tried out and lacks fundamental reasoning, say, atheism, when all matter and its constituents centre to this one Powerful, Omnipotent and Universal Individual... Its just absurd and unreasonable to deny God's existence...

Lou said...

"But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism"
Interesting point, but the main reason I don't trust the arguments leading to atheism is that they generally don't seem to be very good arguments.

Anonymous said...

The key thing to always remember is that your mind can and does lead you astray. The human mind is flawed on so many levels it is amazing that we can tie our shoe each day. So Mister Lewis should question his ability to reason for a deity. Each of us should be constantly be asking ourselves " Is this true?". If we want to stay rational.

RosaRubicondior said...

Of course, he can't trust the arguments leading the Christianity either.

How odd that he neglected to mention that and relied on the credulity of his audience to get away with it.

ExistentialRandomist said...

@RosaRubicondior - "Of course, he can't trust the arguements leading the Christianity either." - C. S. Lewis did have belief in arguments for Christianity. I"m not sure that they were in a syllogistic form but nevertheless.

"How odd that he neglected to mention that and relied on the credullity of his audience to get away with it." - First phrase is moot, secondly; I'm not sure what you mean to express by this statement because it depends on your definition with "audience." Would you care to elaborate?

Brian Auten said...

Note that he is not saying that this proves God's existence. He is just saying that atheism/materialism gives you no ground to trust your own thinking. However, Christianity/theism (if true) would give you that grounding to trust your thinking, as God has created you to be a rational, thinking being.

JIMocracy said...

@Brian Auten - Thanks Brian for clarifying C.S. Lewis' position. I do agree that he is not making a case for god but rather showing some incredulity that a thinking brain could ever come about in a materialist, naturalistic universe.

Ironically, his point makes things ever more difficult for the theist and deist positions. If it is so unlikely that a thinking human brain could occur through naturalistic processes, it is even less probable that an infinitely powerful god who could have created our universe would ever have existed.

Theists like to calculate probabilities that cast doubt on any number of natural processes but they always forget that they are positing a god who by its very nature would have to be infinitely more complex and whose existence (if it could even be demonstrated) demands an explanation of its own (and one has never been provided).

Nar said...

The poster above appears to lack even a basic knowledge of classical theology and what philosophers/theologians had to say about God's "complexity". Looks like the knowledge of God's attributes here came from Dawkins instead, which is a pity.

Even failing to account for this, the criticism still misses the point because there's still obvious distinctions about necessity and ontology and different kinds of beings and what theism and atheism actually entail. Again, the argument is meant to show the incoherence of strict naturalism/materialism.

Good Old Da said...

People you are missing the mark. Lewis' argument is against those who use logic for not believing in God. If logic was the basis for God then they don't have a leg to stand on. The word of God says you come to know God by Faith, so don't try to mix or confuse logic with faith. His novels are about Faith, but this article is about if you rely only on reasoning (logic).

Brian Auten said...

@JIMocracy:

Thanks for your comment.

I'm afraid I disagree. He is also not "showing some incredulity that a thinking brain could ever come about in a materialist, naturalistic universe". He never says this. He is only talking about whether or not we have a good basis to trust our reasoning if it is the product of blind chance.

Probability doesn't come into play in this argument.

@Good Old Da:

I think I have a hard time agreeing with your statement. Faith and logic aren't the same, of course. But they both have their place. However, Lewis isn't talking about their roles here.

He is considering which woldview, if true, gives you a basis to trust your own thinking to be reliable.

Robert said...

Sorry to say, but this is one of Lewis's dumber arguments (among his many). How can we trust our thinking? We would not be here if our brains could not correctly and truthfully apprehend reality. We would have died out long ago, consumed by the beast whose danger we failed to appreciate or poisoned by the plant whose effects on our neighbor we did not recall. Nature rewards the rational and punishes the foolish.

We can trust our thinking but it's gotten us to where we are now. No god needed for that.

Brian Auten said...

Robert,
Isn't that like saying,

If our thinking was trustworthy, we would still be here today.
We are still here today.
Therefore, our thinking is trustworthy.?

Robert said...

Hi, Brian. No that's not really it.

It's more like saying,

If our thinking was untrustworthy, we would not still be here today.
We are still here today.
Therefore, our thinking is trustworthy.

Anonymous said...

Robert,

I suggest you read Alvin Plantinga's new book, "Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism." This work is essentially Plantinga's book-long version of the same argument Lewis is getting at here. In the book, Plantinga demonstrates many ways in which we might be fooled away from truth in a naturalistic scenario. He gives many examples of beliefs that may be advantageous for survival but could then turn out to be false.

Lewis' argument is quite good when you get into it and look at all the details. What is good for survival may not always be good for arriving at the truth. Evolution may give us reasons to discern truth in matters such as the catching of falling apples and things of that sort, but there are many instances where we can demonstrate that this is not the case. Even Darwin expressed dismay about the implications of trusting his own "mind" if it were merely a more advanced version of a monkey's brain, arrived at by mere random chance and time.

Robert said...

Hi Anon,

Your synopsis of Plantinga's argument, if accurate, makes it different from Lewis's.

Lewis's claim is that our thinking (by which I understand to mean our faculties for apprehending what's true) cannot be trustworthy under naturalism at all. A little reflection quickly obliterates this view.

It seems Plantinga's claim is that our thinking cannot be entirely trustworthy under naturalism. If that indeed is Plantinga's argument, I have no quarrel with it, and it's nothing new at all. Psychology is rife with experiments demonstrating how readily we reason to mistaken conclusions. This is why we've invented a variety of tools - chief among them, the scientific method - to weed truth from error. Is it Plantinga's claim that under naturalism, such tools could not have been invented?

Anonymous said...

This Lewis quote is a nice one. It spells out in a nutshell what Plantinga has masterfully developed over the last 20 years in detailed fashion.
I think other Christian authors have expressed this thought in similar nutshells. Chesterton. Gordon Clark in his book on Christian education, too.
But Plantinga methodically develops and defends the view that evolution combined with naturalism is self-defeating.

Anonymous said...

Robert,

Yes, there is much more to Lewis' argument on this count than this quote. He argues on this most fully, I believe, in Miracles. Plantinga's claim is even stronger, and as a philosopher rather than a layman, more technically rigorous - he says that Naturalism, taken to its logical conclusion, is actually incompatible with science. You seem like the kind of fellow that might really enjoy his argument, agree with it or not. Perhaps his book could be checked out a local library or something if you are not keen on buying it? There seems to be a lot of movement on this score lately. Did you see that famous atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel has a work coming out this fall that says that naturalism almost certainly can't be true? I'll bet his reasoning, at least in part, tracks with Plantinga's work.

dgfisch said...

Robert stated (and with a definite well-expressed wisdom): This is why we've invented a variety of tools - chief among them, the scientific method - to weed truth from error. Is it Plantinga's claim that under naturalism, such tools could not have been invented?

But to return to Lewis' point, naturalism swears by no degree of design (intelligent or natural) but came about through pure dumb luck. If this is true, how could the scientific method do a credible analysis of things we perceive? It would be tantamount to a study of the throwing of dice; we would see a marked tendency of "seven" coming up more often than say "two" or "twelve", and definitely never "one" or "thirteen." But we would fail at coming up with a predictive, repetitive sequence.

But the universe we study is no accidental mishmash. Lewis would have us recognize the intelligent construction of the cosmos as the fingerprint of the divine hand. Science does a laudable job in see such traces. It's the arrival at conclusions of how the natural world functions that is the hallmark of scientific achievement. But it take us beyond the limits of naturalism to understand all this with any degree of appreciation.

Good Old Da said...

Robert with regards to your statement "we can trust our thinking, it's gotten us this far. no god needed for that. Through out history the world has tried to make it without God and it has gotten us this far, of that I have to agree. Do I have faith in our thinking...I don't see much evidence for me to put my trust in our thinking based on how far the world has come. Trust God and we will think better. Just my humble opinion.

MaryLou said...

I look at it this way:

God is a rational being. He made us in his image. That means that we are rational beings. Unfortunately, our ability to reason has been warped by sin. It's the Holy Spirit who helps us to use the reason that God gave us correctly.

From the atheist perspective, we are mere products of random chance, dancing to our DNA, as Richard Dawkins puts it. Therefore, what makes one person's ability to reason better than another person's? What is the atheist grounding his ability to reason in?

As far as I can see, the atheist's argument regarding his or her reason is circular. It amounts to saying, "I know that my ability to reason is good because my ability to reason is good."

I think that is the point that Lewis was making. The atheist has nothing outside of himself on which to base his ability to reason and why should we believe that his ability is better than that of a Christian guided by the Holy Spirit?

Robert said...

@Anon,

I've only heard peripherally of Nagel, though I note he, like Plantinga, is no scientist, and both subscribe to the discredited pseudo-science of "intelligent design". It will be interesting to read Nagel, though I think it's a bit of a stretch to say there's been a "lot of movement" debunking naturalism lately.

I do find it odd that Plantinga claims naturalism is incompatible with science when he himself rejects the findings of its practitioners. What does it say about your argument when it posits a hypothesis almost universally rejected?

Robert said...

@dgfisch,

Actually, naturalism suggests apparent design not through "dumb luck" (by which I understand to mean "complete randomness"), but through an algorithmic process. The reason the scientific method is credible is because of its predictive and explanatory powers. "Dumb luck" hardly describes the achievement of landing tiny mechanical explorers on the surface of Mars.

Anonymous said...

Robert,

Plantinga and Nagel don't "dismiss science", they just disagree with the conclusions of many scientists. There are other scientists who also disagree on that score - real scientists, despite what the very aggressive anti-ID forces say. Also, as a fan of the scientific method, you must know that "the science is settled" is bunk on any scientific question. There is always room for some doubt on our understanding of certain phenomena, and the history of science is a history of overturning things we thought we knew with relative certainty before. Considering that, aren't you a bit cavalier for dismissing the possibility that the Darwinian account of the variety of life on earth might be overturned itself one day?

There are many prominent scientists now questioning many aspects of the theory, and its most basic tenets of "random mutation and natural selection" as the chief explanatory mechanism for biological evolution are on increasingly shaky ground. Note James A. Shapiro, eminent "real" scientist and no fan of IDs, recent book which says that that understanding of Darwinian theory is in crisis and we must find another mechanism, because the results of many empirical tests are simply not finding that random mutation is an adequate way to add the kind of information needed to make large changes. Shapiro tries to propose a different way in his work.

Science is never settled.

Robert said...

@Anon,

Indeed, science is never settled, but that does not grant one license to reject an entire scientifice theory. Would you cite that as an excuse to reject the theory of gravity?

To the contrary, Plantinga is dismissing science because he's dismissing its artifact: the theory of evolution. And he's not rejecting it because he has a better, more substantiated theory, but because it conflicts with his particular theological views.

Could Plantinga be right after all? Sure! But until science produces a theory that comports with Plantinga's philosophical and theological views, it would hardly be reasonable to accede to them. Besides, theology and philosophy are and have always been far more unsettled in their claims than science is.

Not anonymous said...

Robert,

You misunderstand Plantinga. He is not rejecting science in any way. He believes science, as a method to learn about the physical universe, has been extremely successful. But he also believes that we can only really DO science in the context of theism. Because God has created a universe that is rationally ordered (a given universe could've easily been random and chaotic in a way that would preclude us from being able to do science, but this one is not), and because we are rational beings created in the image of a rational creator, we have the foundation and ability to do science.

He does not thus question science, he questions naturalism. Because if naturalism is true, as his argument goes, we cannot do science. Since we can do science, naturalism is not true. That is what the entire book develops in argument.

Anonymous said...

The idea that the natural processes which culminate as the Theory of Evolution are based on mere chance show the depth of knowledge of evolution as one previous poster derided as follows:

"Looks like the knowledge of God's attributes here came from Dawkins instead, which is a pity."

Someone later posts some comments about Dawkins which demonstrate that their understanding of Dawkins goes about as deep:

"From the atheist perspective, we are mere products of random chance, dancing to our DNA, as Richard Dawkins puts it."

Dawkins explicitly, repeatedly, and pointedly states that evolution occurs as a result of selective pressures on a chain of reproductions which have been going on for billions of years. Chance has very little to do with it.

"As far as I can see, the atheist's argument regarding his or her reason is circular. It amounts to saying, 'I know that my ability to reason is good because my ability to reason is good.'"

Neither atheists, nor anyone who bases their understanding of the world on that which can be observed and tested, relies upon a good ability to reason to set that understanding. What they instead rely upon is the ability to alter their understanding of the world when observing new evidence which contradicts their then-current understanding.

The ability to dynamically adapt to an ever-changing awareness of new information is the hallmark of a free thinker. It leads to the desire to observe more, gain new insights, and grow.

Robert said...

@Not Anon,

If Plantinga does not reject science "in any way", then why does he reject one of it's well-established theories, the theory of evolution? It's because Plantinga's beliefs preclude the truth of this theory. He's stated it himself: if evolution is true, theism is false.

As for "doing" science, that's a whole different ball of yarn.

dgfisch said...

Robert,

I think you're missing the point of most of the posters in this line of dialog. My complaint is not with science, which you have declared a method in which we discover truth. Agreed. The argument is really with the philosophical foundation of modern science called naturalism, which is the idea that science can only observe the processes of nature. True enough. The only concern in dealing with this matter is the assumption that the entirety of what science can observe is also the entirety of all that is real. Thus, the concept of God, which is beyond the parameters of scientific research is delegated to the unreal. Thus science is forced to abandon its practical applications to weigh in on some philosophical issue. It is almost like using a microscope to open a can or crack a nut. I'm sure some scientist could employ the instrument to accomplish those aims, but it would be an abuse of the microscope.

Let's explore this issue from a different direction, Robert. Is it possible that science could be exploited? We have the example of T. D. Lysenko, who compromised basic genetics to follow a Lamarckian view of heredity under sponsorship of the Soviet Union in the days of Stalin. It sould be feasible that strict scientific procedures could be modified to meet the agenda of a political or social construct. It could be that the philosophical foundations Plantiga and Nagel have discussed in their books are so set that science is embraced more dogmatically than the pure pursuit of scientific research could sustain.

A point to ponder. Have a fine day.

Not anonymous said...

Robert,

I believe you are making a large error on this count. Plantinga does not reject the scientific method, and actually finds that it has been successful as a means to gain knowledge about the physical universe. But since he dares to reject a theory that you happen to agree with, you accuse him of "rejecting science" as a whole. It would be more accurate to point that charge at yourself in this case, as you are the one who is apparently taking the position that a certain scientific theory is "settled" and can no longer be questioned. Of course, this kind of position is itself a "science stopper". Now I don't for a minute think you are anti-science, but by accusing Plantinga of being so on the grounds you are using you are veering dangerously near that territory without realizing it.

It is part of the scientific method itself to always question assumptions. As I said previously, no scientific theory is ever really "settled", and the history of science is replete with supposedly well-established theories being overturned or broadened into something new by those who question the established paradigm. There are many actual scientists, including well known scientists and opponents of ID like James A. Shaprio, who doubt that Darwinian evolution is still a viable theory. Is Shapiro "anti-science"? Presumably, had you lived in the right age, you might have accused Galileo of being "anti-science" for overturning long held scientific thought derived from the Greeks! After all, from their point of view, he was "rejecting one of sciences' well-established theories," which the complaint you are now lodging against Plantinga.

As for "evolution", I think you need to define what you mean by that term before you can properly rake anyone over the coals over it. I find that people, particularly those who hold with Darwin's theory, use that word in a nebulous and very loose manner as a sort of a smokescreen, as depending on what you mean by it, "evolution" itself is not controversial, even by theists like Plantinga, whereas other potential meanings of the word, such as random mutation and natural selection producing all the variety of life on earth, are very much in dispute even by "real scientists". I find most lay people don't understand these distinctions when people merely toss the word "evolution" around, ill defined.

So what exactly do you mean by the term "evolution"?

Robert said...

@dgfisch

It seems there are quite a number of different points being made by the posters in this dialog - some even by the same person! :)

For example, you stated previously that the cosmos bears the "fingerprint of the divine hand" and that science does a "laudable job in see [sic] such traces."

But, most recently, you stated, "the concept of God, which is beyond the parameters of scientific research is delegated to the unreal." (emphasis mine)

It seems you wish to have it both ways. A God's handiwork is scientifically detectable; God is beyond the capabilities of science to detect.

Well, which is it?

The fact of the matter is, the reason most scientists are naturalists is not because of some dogmatic adherance to a social or political construct (while theistic scientists are wholly unbiased?) but because they've found there is no need to attribute the universe and its contents to the work of a deity. Alleged "handiworks of the deity" have always been found to have completely natural causes. Always.

Robert said...

@Not anon,

It would be one thing if Plantinga rejected evolution based on problems with the theory, disconfirming evidence, or the presence of a more robust theory, but as I've repeatedly pointed out, this is not the basis of his rejection.

He rejects evolution because it conflicts with his theology. In other words, for Plantinga, theology trumps science. It's not that evolution lacks evidence in its favor. Rather, no amount of scientific evidence would ever be sufficient to convince Plantinga that his theological beliefs are false.

To put my point in better relief, consider a theologian whose beliefs not only preclude evolution, but every other scientific theory as well, including the theories of gravity, relativity, atomics, plate tectonics, germs, big bang, etc. Though we could grant every defense you've mustered on behalf of Plantinga to our imaginary(?) theologian, Would we not say she in fact rejects science?

As for my understanding of evolution, it comes from the Talk Origins and U.C. Berkeley evolution websites. What is your understanding of evolution?

dgfisch said...

Robert,

You've stated: It seems you wish to have it both ways. A God's handiwork is scientifically detectable; God is beyond the capabilities of science to detect.

Well, which is it?

Do you see an inconsistency here? I do not, and I'll let you mull over the reason why there is none. Hint: consider the subjects of each sentence you've declared contradictory.

And, while you're at it, reconsider the definitions of science and naturalism. The method of science is sound and can observe many phenomenon in this vast universe of ours. I love the process of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and the curiosity that it produces. Naturalism is a philosophical filter, and only serves to eliminate a possible range of answers, if such be deemed supernatural. Thus the two statements stand.

Robert said...

@dgfisch

I suppose I see no substantive difference between "God's handiwork" and "God" itself. I would appreciate your understanding of the distinction. And given this distinction, how do you reasonably ascribe the cosmos to God and not some other entity or process? In other words, if God's handiwork is scientifically discernable, but God itself is not, then how did you conclude the "handiwork" is the product of God? (Without begging the question, of course.)

If naturalism is a philosophical filter, which inappropriately eliminates the possible range of supernatural answers, then supernaturalism is a philosophical filter, which inappropriately eliminates the possible range of ultranatural answers.

See? We can both play this game.

dgfisch said...

Robert,

I suppose I see no substantive difference between "God's handiwork" and "God" itself. Your own words. This may be the impasse on which we must disagree.

I am curious, however, about your use of the term ultranatural. Can you explain this term? Do you place it on a continuum between natural and supernatural?

Anonymous said...

Suppose there is a great and masterful artist painting a map of London - in milk if you like. Why should we trust that artist to give us an accurate map of London? Sure, he's masterful and all, but there's still a chance he could make a mistake, or take artistic license, or even deceive us for some purpose of his own.

Then suppose there is a satellite flying over London with a telescope and a photographic plate. Light rays bounce off of London and steadily etch an image of the city on the plate. In this case, the map of London arises bottom-up as each molecule conforms to the actual environment it was exposed to. We can trust this method to give us an accurate map of London because it was London itself that drew the map.

Lewis seems not to understand the theory of evolution.

Robert said...

@dgfisch,

Very well, but could you at least answer if God's handiwork is scientifically discernable, but God itself is not, then how did you conclude the "handiwork" is the product of God?


What is the "ultranatural"? It is the mirror reality of our own. As a mystery, it's not easily grasped our explained - just like the supernatural!

dgfisch said...

Robert,

I guess I would distinguish "God's handiwork" from "God" is the essential way that to not do so would confuse the matter as if we were approaching this matter from a theististic or pantheistic background. It would be the same as to noting the distinction between "Me" and "My house" which I built a few years back.

As to your point,"how did you conclude the "handiwork" is the product of God?" It is obvious that we both discern phenonmena of the nature about us. Take trees. Science allows both of us ample information. Photosynthesis. Orders of different tree phylla, order, class, genus. Methods of tree management. Science allows us a multitude of valuable information. Bravo science. We however have come to one area of disagreement. Origin. Whence comes the tree?

Are you aquainted with John Wisdom's "Garden Analogy" (and not Flew's parody of it). Two explorers walk a woods and come across a section of land that has appearances of having been tended. Enough well arranged flowers and shrubs to suggest placement, but also enough weeds to show that it lacks a perfect perspective of ever being a garden. Each argues for the presence or absense of a gardener. Flew objected to the difficulty of falsification in his response to Wisdom.

This is our point of disagreement. I hold to enough design (the teleological argument) to scoff at randomness. Your naturalism scoffs at any idea of any supernatural activity (though I thought your definition of "Ultranatural" very insightful).

And here I am happy to leave matters rest. Thank you for your engaging arguments.

Socoral said...

Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

Circular logic at it's finest. Who can argue with such a salient point. I wonder why God never wrote the schematics for the airplane in the bible.

That stuff must have come out of that thought that no one can ever trust. Also the idea that metal floats, who in their right mind would ever think metal could possibly float.

Unless Jesus was involed of course!

Brian Auten said...

Socoral—

Would you be willing to demonstrate how CS Lewis' argument is circular?

So far you have given us is ridicule and a straw man to back up your assertion.

Thanks.

Luis said...

This comment is about Robert's comment in June, which I show here.

"Hi, Brian. No that's not really it.

It's more like saying,

If our thinking was untrustworthy, we would not still be here today.
We are still here today.
Therefore, our thinking is trustworthy."
Monday, June 11, 2012 7:07:00 PM GMT+01:00

Robert, you have not thought this out thoroughly. We are here today because, fortunately, not many atheists have been involved in the history of man. We are here today because our thinking is indeed trustworthy, and that because we recognize God in our origin, our existence, and our end.

Luis said...

Robert, back on June 12 you said "Indeed, science is never settled, but that does not grant one license to reject an entire scientifice theory. Would you cite that as an excuse to reject the theory of gravity?"
But your comment shows the atheistic desperation: There simply are no solid challenges to the theory of gravity, and I don't mean it can't be tinkered with a bit, similar to the very serious challenges to the "theory" of evolution--the quotes meant to indicate that we are thinking it is less of a theory as every day and more research goes by.

Anonymous said...

"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind."

Done.

"In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking."

OK

"It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought."

Merely? What do you mean "merely?" I call that AMAZING!

"But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true?"

Exactly. Why should you? Why should anyone? Ever?

Why should you trust your thinking instead of doubting it at every turn and seeking new ways to think? Instead of exploring the world around you, like a child discovering it anew? Such youth is "wasted on the young," so way waste the wisdom you've gained on possible conceit of your own correctness?

"It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London."

(OK, this illustration does not make any sense.)

"But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism..."

Nor should you. A skeptic of any integrity would never ask you to suspend skepticism.

"and therefore [I] have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else."

Yes you can. It's called evidence.

"Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought...

Lewis just explained a few sentences ago how thought can exist apart from God.

"so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."

What was that entire paragraph for BUT reasoning what conclusions to rule out? Thought serves no higher purpose.

Ultimately I feel that Lewis is trying to doubt his way out of doubt.

Anonymous said...

That's illogical - first science has shown time and again the mind is not perfect. Second, if the mind was created 'perfect' (which it is surely not), the result in seeing a perfect mind in NO WAY attributes itself to a supreme being. Third, not in predicate logic, but informal logic it is a grave mistake to point out ONE out of infinite answers when he says he can't trust his thinking. Which of course must include thoughts about god. Fourth, even with imperfect brains, there's no need to make up a god to FEEL better about living in a world with so many unknowns. Fifth, whomever doesn't see the point of anti-theism isn't even trying - not even a little bit. Finally, lewis is right that you shouldn't believe in your own thoughts. This logically plugs into his equation: and therefore I cannot believe in God. A->B means ~B->~A

Anonymous said...

@Brian Auten -"Robert,
Isn't that like saying,

If our thinking was trustworthy, we would still be here today.
We are still here today.
Therefore, our thinking is trustworthy.?"

This is taking what he was saying out of context and trying to use logic to foster a b.s. point.
It's also making the incredible statment that THINKING IS TRUSTWORTHY is black and white, which you wouldn't dare say. What was being said is simply we have thrived BECAUSE as a species we are smarter than others. He further asserts, and you ignored with that rather lame response, that it's not NECESSARY to have a daddy figure. Lewis in no possible way made a convincing argument with his randomness babble. Further the assertion he makes on things being 'random' is complete nonsense. Evolution is all but hard fact now, and it is anything but random.

SinisterRainbow said...

For those who do not understand evolution. It is an extremely easy theory to understand, it can be seen instantly in virus mutations like the common cold, it even has brought about highly successful algorithms in computer science that make designing new products much stronger or interesting ones like pictures that start from nothing that turn into things. For those WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND: You all must remember how genes work at least a bit, you know you inherit traits from your parents, and they their parents and so on, and you have a chance to pass them on to your children. You must be alive to do so, and find a mate to do it with. If certain traits lead to death before reproduction, or make it hard or impossible to find a mate (such as a male with no sperm), those traits never get a chance to be passed on. Genetics shows us veritably that yes mutations/random happenings, however these are less prevalent then passing on more dominant traits. Since the worst random traits kill you before you reproduce, or make it unlikely you reproduce, those traits by very definition do not get passed on, or very unlikely get passed on. Which leaves the other traits, those that best fit a species for survival, to get passed on. When new random mutations do not benefit a species reproduction, they go by the wayside. When it allows for more likely reproduction, the are inherited. CS Lewis either did not understand this, or willfully ignored it.

This is the reason why Lewis's argument falls apart, not because of the predicate logic (anyone can use logic, but if you plug-in false premises, the conclusion is never held). And Lewis's falls apart because his premise:: "it's like tipping a milk jug and mapping a map of London" is false (and indicates a lack of knowledge in how things work) Rather than seek to constantly fill his head with discovering how the world works, he was content with assuming the larger premise that 'god exists' and writing books in poor attempts to rationalize it. Anyway, He says (because of that) "but if so, how can I trust my thinking?" In predicate logic that equates to (thus) "I cannot trust my thinking". But since his premise is false, the conclusion he derives has no connection, and all conclusions he bases later "therefore i cannot trust the arguments leading to atheism" also completely falls apart. It should be pointed out to that 'TRUST MY THINKING' is a terribly ambiguous statement. Were his premise even to hold (which it does not), how would he not trust his thinking? Not trust it to go pee? To eat food when the 'random thought of hunger' comes about? Cannot he not be reasonable or logical then? This is an awful conclusion. The problem with those trying to use logic to justify religion is they continue to assume a false premise 'that god exists'. Then even if their logic is correct (it often is not), then their premises are often false, as shown here.

(As a side note, humanity has reached a point where we are no longer functioning very much through evolution except in extreme cases of mutation. Our medical science has progressed to the point that it is far more powerful than the simple mechanisms in evolution. We can keep people alive much longer in all kinds of situations that would have killed us earlier and not been passed on through genetics. This means we are going to see more and more mutations in society, and we should be open to it, such as gay people. In fact, we are facing a very real and VERY large problem of over population, and we are more focused on quality of life now that this is all but conquered.)

Anonymous said...

All that reasoning got all of you - NOWHERE! Seek God and you will find Him. Close your eyes and you will forever be blind. Pretty simple. And if God does not exist - then there is no point to really anything you do or have done so have fun with that too.

Anonymous said...

Those who believe in God say,"There is an Intelligence behind my intelligence."

He says I can't even believe in thought,Unless I believe in God.I can't even believe thought can be true without God.Because without God it just can't be trusted,cause then I'm believing in myself,and what I think is true,I can't trust that,I'm flawed,I'm human,so I can't believe my own thoughts,my own thinking,it must be amiss and if it is amiss? what do I do with that?I'll believe no thought.Ah But if there is a great designer of such things,if there is one who created this thing called thought,then surely I can believe him,afterall he built such a thing,I'll go back to the source to He who made the thought.no better was before the thought....oh yes I can believe in that and I will...Now all thought can rest.Praise God
only

Anonymous said...

"‎... nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. ... But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, ... blah blah"

Why anyone praises this nonsense is beyond me. My answer: the scientific method will help you understand the validity of your thoughts. If your idea is rubbish you won't be able to define it, measure it let alone predict it.
Your brain isn't randomly designed either. It's evolved into a specialized organ that allows you to formulate innovative ideas, test them, and use them to your advantage in order to survive and thrive. Religion is just a quirk, a thought accident.

Luke Nath said...

I find it fascinating the amount of trust placed in scientific theories and technology from the atheistic viewpoint. Not to say ALL don't put trust in science and technology associated with it, I just happen to find the atheistic perspective so fascinating.
Also, throughout these discussions I can't help but wondering "In an Atheistic worldview, does anything truly matter?". If the answer is clearly "No." then why does it matter at all if a religious person sticks to their beliefs, faulty or not?

"Because it makes the world such a horrible place! Wars, murder, destruction, chaos! All from religion, I say!"

Well, what does it matter if we have no supernatural origin? It is all ultimately meaningless, correct? Why, atheist, the desperate need to actively "fight" religion when over the long haul it (i.e. the resistance to religion, as well as the religion itself) comes to no final account, no conclusion, no resolution, etc.? It will eventually cease to exist at some point. Although it may take billions to trillions of years (or more) for it to happen, the argument about a creator or lack thereof will be a pointless endeavor. No person will be able to say "See, I was right! No creator!", as we will all be long gone having been able to make no discernible impact on our measly little planet, let alone the universe at large. Or the creator himself will settle the dispute. One of the two.

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