Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Creationism, Pt 3

At this point in our little study of creationism, I would like to study an argument originally created by Chesterton and popularized by CS Lewis: the argument from reason. I will start with my paraphrase of Chesterton's illustration.

A child wearing a giant cowboy hat is walking happily under some large trees. Suddenly, he sees the mighty trees begin to tremble and then feels a breeze knock his hat off of his head. Looking up with tears in his eyes, he says: "Mommy! Turn the trees off!"

To us, it seems absurd. Of course the wind causes the trees to blow, not the other way around. But if we lacked the benefit of moden science, would it come so easy? Chesterton argues, and I concur, that the child's response is perfectly human. Human beings assume that the big and the tangible is the cause of the intangible and the subtle, not the other way around. Consider the belief that the firing of neurons is the cause of all thought - is there any objective reason for that argument to be anything more sophisticated than the trees causing the wind? Put another way, if we remove our natural bias, is there any reason to distrust the notion that the subtle and intangible (thought) causes the tangible (synaptic activity)?

With that little prelude out of the way, let us consider it completely possible for some intangible concept of reason to drive the brain and not the other way around. Much like Creationism, Part 1, this does little but show that what I propose is possible, that a mind could conceivably be some separate entity from the brain - a greater one, in fact. This argument lends itself to unusual rigor, so I will present it in a way to demonstrate the problem with refuting it. First, carefully examine my axioms. I believe you will find them all logically sound.

Axiom I - Everything created must be of the same type as the direct creator.
I treat this as an axiom to be accepted because I am not sure how to go about proving it. But let me elaborate with some examples. Electricity is able to induce a magnetic field only because they are both different forms of the same thing (electromagnetism). Likewise, matter and energy and interchangable only because they are ultimately the same thing. But no amount of matter will ever create time, because they are of different types. More relevant to this discussion, it is that if a computer is capable of decision making, it is only because humans are capable of decision making. A creature incapable of decision making would not be able to design a machine which

Axiom II - Human beings are capable of determining things as either true or false.
This one is neat. If you refuse this axiom, you are making a judgement that it is false (thereby treating it as true). So either you accept Axiom II or believe that all human experience is chaos. It is not possible to prove this, so it is a more proper axiom than Axiom I.

Axiom III - Matter is deterministic.
A ball does not roll to the bottom of a hill because it would like to, it does because it must. I am using the world deterministic loosely here because I do not know of a better one. This is not to discount randomness at the quantum level or chaos theory, but simply to say that a rain drop does not choose to fall. It simply follows the rules.

Proof I:
(1) Axiom III - Matter is deterministic.
(2) Something which is deterministic cannot make judgements of worth, it can only respond to natural laws (a restatement of Axiom III).
(3) Something which is deterministic will never produce anything which is not deterministic (by Axiom I). Really consider this one.
Conclusion I: The products of purely materialistic behavior will always be deterministic.

Proof II:
(1) Axiom II - Human beings are capable of determining something as being either true or false
(2) By the definition in Axiom III, this contradicts how we defined deterministic.
Conclusion II: Human reason is not deterministic.

Proof III:
(1) Conclusion I - the products of purely materialistic behavior will always be deterministic.
(2) Something not deterministic cannot be the product of materialist behavior.
(3) Conclusion II: Human reason is not deterministic.
Conclusion III: Human reason cannot be the product of materialist behavior.

Proof IV:
(1) Conclusion III: Human reason cannot be explained without appealing to some other reason.
(2) By Axiom II, only reason can create reason.
(3) Following back in time, we can only create an arbitrarily long list of reasons before hitting the "Prime Mover." The Prime Mover must be uncreated and therefore atemporal in order to resolve the situation.
Conclusion IV: Human beings have some rational, self-existant creator. This is a passable definition of deity.

In sum: The fact that you can use your reason to say "There is no God" proves that there is a God.

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