January 20, 2020
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Atheism Cannot Justify Reason and Truth

[Questioner] Mr. Zindler, if reason and logic are convention or custom or arise by evolutionary chance out of the material
universe, what is your reason for using reason for testing truth and reality? In
other words do you have a reason for your reason, or is it just your blind
faith? [Zindler] The ability to reason obviously was something that conferred selective advantage on various primate species.
Indeed the ability to reason and interpret sense data from the
environment accurately has been part of the vertebrate evolutionary scheme
itself. We find it perhaps most highly developed in the human species, but it
certainly exists in our primate cousins as well. We use it because it works; we
survive because this nervous system which functions according to what we
call conventionally now the rules of logic, because it works. It’s a very
pragmatic sort of thing. A species that evolved a logic or a nervous system that
supported a logic that was not valid would not survive. It would be weeded out
and replaced by a species that had a logic that worked better, and indeed one
of the famous philosophers of science Karl Popper has himself developed a
theory of epistemology, a the theory of knowledge, in which he accounts for these meta theories themselves in terms of evolution, that there is sort of a natural selection going on among logical systems, among philosophical systems. But actually my answer is a very simple pragmatic one; we use it because it works
and allows us to survive. [Craig] I think that the question points to a deep
incoherence in the atheist point of view. Namely, if our beliefs are formed
simply as a result of the selective advantage, that means that our belief-forming mechanisms don’t aim at truth, they aim at survival. So how do we know
that everything that we believe is not really true, it’s just something that
helps you to survive? In other words, there’s no reason to think that the
evolutionary story itself is true rather than just something that has survival
value. Worse than that, Mr. Zindler is a determinist,
and therefore everything that he thinks is just like, say, having a toothache or a
limb growing a leaf. There is no truth to it, it’s just all determined. So how do
you know that the views that you hold to aren’t simply the result of physical
stimuli rather than rationality? I think that atheism is ultimately destructive
of rationality itself.

Jean Kelley