It continues to dumbfound me that so many atheists fail to realize the intellectual bankruptcy of their belief system—when that system is followed to its logical conclusion. This is a particularly glaring problem with those who have made a career out of spreading the “gospel” of naturalistic evolution—the view that all things are the result of blind natural processes and laws acting upon matter.
In 1994, Dr. Alvin Plantinga of Notre Dame University wrote a paper entitled Naturalism Defeated. His argument (and I’m simplifying and paraphrasing here) was that if our human minds are the products of naturalistic evolution, then we cannot trust our minds to produce reliable truths about the external world. The most we could expect, Plantinga asserted, is that our minds are reliable enough to promote survival and reproduction. Therefore, the claim that naturalism is true is being made by an unreliable mind. The bottom line is that naturalism is self-defeating.
Plantinga wasn’t the first thinker to point out this conundrum of atheism. In an essay entitled “Religion Without Dogma?” the late C.S. Lewis said:
It would be impossible to accept naturalism itself if we really and consistently believed naturalism. For naturalism is a system of thought. …if naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes. Therefore, all thoughts would be equally worthless. Therefore, naturalism is worthless. If it is true, then we can know no truths. It cuts its own throat.
I remember once being shown a certain kind of knot which was such that if you added one extra complication to make assurance double sure you suddenly found that the whole thing had come undone in your hands and you had only a bit of string. It is like that with naturalism. It goes on claiming territory after territory: first the inorganic, then the lower organisms, then man’s body, then his emotions. But when it takes the final step and we attempt a naturalistic account of thought itself, suddenly the whole thing unravels.
Well said, Jack, well said!
The self-defeating nature of naturalism is a serious inconsistency for the atheistic worldview. Only with a purpose-driven intelligent agency being responsible for the minds of men can we have confidence in the truths we ascertain about ourselves and about the world. True rationality cannot come from non-rational natural processes. Intelligence cannot come from non-intelligence. The effects cannot be greater than the cause.