I’ve never been to keen on philosophy. Whether it was Aquinas in confirmation class, Plato in high school, or Popper and Searle in college I always found the whole discipline overly complicated, self-serving, and frankly of little utility. But I think I’m starting to get the hang of it and even starting to enjoy it now.
Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism has certainly presented me with an argument that I think is free of needless complicatiion, of great utility and foolproof. To summarize the argument, take the following definitions:
SN -super-naturalism, the idea that there is a God or something like God that cannot not be defined in solely material terms
TE -theistic evolution, the belief that human beings have created with either the complete or partial guidance of a supernatural being
R -the proposition that our cognitive faculties are reliable
So, what is the probability of R given the condition that we accept both SN and TE:
Given our acceptance of SN we also accept that we cannot, by definition, access the mind of an immaterial God. Consequently it can not be known whether our beliefs, which are the product of a super-natural process TE, are true. In other words there is no reason to presume that a God which created human beings necessitates that such a God also created us with true beliefs. There is one instance in which our beliefs would be true and therefore reliable:
1) God is an omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent being who created humans (or at least the human mind) in his image.
However the probability of this is low given that there are many other options, some of which have a great deal of evidence to support them. In each case the result would be compromised or unreliable beliefs in the human mind:
2) There is not one but many gods who have conflicting goals or designed by committee leading to the development of unreliable faculties.
3) God is limited in his knowledge, kindness, or power and therefore can not create a human mind in which all beliefs are true.
4) God is malevolent and purposefully creates untrue beliefs (example, the problem of evil).
5) God delights in deception (example, Cartesian demon).
6) God is a hipster who enjoys ironic humour (example, external male genitalia, duck-billed platypus)
7) God is incompetent. There is copious evidence to support this assertion including pseudogenes, vestigial organs, a circuitous male reproductive tract, redundant pathways in the brain, etc.
Given these options it is highly probable, in fact one might say likely, that the supernatural designer of theistic evolution is error prone. As a consequence it is highly probable that human beliefs, which are the product of an error-prone supernatural being, are also in error. Therefore given the belief in both SN and TE it is highly improbable that our cognitive faculties are reliable or:
P(R/SN&TE) is low
Given that this is proven the person who believes SN and TE has a defeater for R and should not trust their beliefs. Since SN and TE are themselves beliefs there is no good rationale to accept both that there is a God and that God had a hand in the evolution of human beings.
It makes sense to me and I’m glad Plantinga argued the point so thoroughly. If you believe in God, you can’t believe God created humans. If you believe God created humans, you can’t believe in God.
Wait, no that’s not right ...