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One of our finest Christian philosophers, J.P. Moreland, has clearly described the central problems with trying to explain human rationality with a purely naturalistic approach:
The recalcitrant nature of human persons for scientific naturalism has been widely noticed. Thus, Berkeley philosopher John Searle recently observed, “There is exactly one overriding question in contemporary philosophy….How do we fit in?….How can we square this self-conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles?” For the scientific naturalist, the answer is “not very well.”
The difficulty for scientific naturalism in accounting for these commonsense features of human beings has not been noticed simply by notable atheists. In fact, the nature of human persons has lead some to embrace theism. In the seismic book recounting the shift to theism by famous atheist Anthony Flew—There is a God—Roy Abraham Varghese notes that
“the rationality that we unmistakably experience—ranging from the laws of nature to our capacity for rational thought—cannot be explained if it does not have an ultimate ground, which can be nothing less than an infinite mind.”
Read the whole thing, and if you find it at all interesting, you can easily find many books and articles by Moreland.
The anthropic principle (really, more of an observation) points out that the universe seems eerily fine-tuned for human beings to inhabit. But the flip side of the anthropic principle is that we are able to notice the fine-tuning, and create the anthropic principle to reflect our observations. As Robert M. Pirsig pointed out in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (if you haven’t read this, you’re deprived), science is not sufficient to explain the existence of science.
To put it another way, naturalism is not sufficient to explain its own existence as a conjecture about the nature of the universe.
Do you suppose Someone is trying to tell us something?
The next post in this series is here.