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July 1, 2011 / Daniel

Alvin Plantinga on Darwin’s Doubt

Alvin Plantinga is a Christian philosopher at the university of Notre Dame.  He’s best known for his Reformed Epistemology and his explanation of the problem of evil.  Here’s a lecture by him.

In his book Warrented Christian Belief, Plantinga argues that if naturalism and evolution are true, then there is no reason to be sure that our minds are reliable devices for giving us accurate information.  He nicknames his argument “Darwin’s Doubt.”    Darwin once said,

With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind…?

Naturalism argues that this world has only natural causes.  There is no mind or consciousness that planned this world or designed it.  It’s purely an accident.   Evolution tells us that our brains are needed for only four things.  The four F’s.   “Feeding, fighting, fleeing, and er, um… reproducing.”   Accurate knowledge outside of those four things isn’t needed for survival.  So if naturalistic evolution is true, we have no way of knowing if our minds are reliable information-gathering devices.    Would you trust a computer that developed by accident?

According to Plantinga, if naturalism is true, then science is impossible, because the scientific method assumes that the brain is reliable.

Here’s a Wikipedia article on Plantinga’s argument.

This is a reposting of a post I wrote on May 24, 2007. 

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