Discovery Institute Says: Abandon Reason

This may be the ultimate in mindlessness from the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. Their latest post is Darwinian Political Science Votes Itself Down to Defeat.

We’re not going to take you through the whole thing because it’s just too painful. The beginning is bad enough. After that you’re on your own, and you’ll be proceeding at your own risk. It starts like this, with bold font added by us and their links omitted:

A highlight of the new book from Discovery Institute Press, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism and Society, is its clear presentation of Lewis’s argument from reason.

We’ll ignore the opportunity to take a shot at the fact that the book is from the Discoveroids’ own vanity publisher. That’s too easy. But let’s pause for a moment to get oriented about C.S. Lewis’ argument. Wikipedia has an article on the Argument from Reason. It’s Lewis’ attempt to argue that reason is invalid.

Ponder that, dear reader. Somehow, Lewis reasoned himself into concluding that reason doesn’t work. The only way to really know anything is with the aid of un-reason, or Oogity Boogity.

Anyone who spends too much time on issues like that risks warping himself beyond recovery. Perhaps that was Lewis’ fate, we don’t know. Anyway, the Discoveroids like his thinking. You knew they would, because they absolutely despise reason and it’s proudest product, science. Okay, let’s return (but only briefly) to the Discoveroid article. It says:

The argument shows that any rational proposition advanced to support materialism undermines itself. John West summarizes in Chapter 7 (page 155):

[The Discoveroids quote West's words:] …Lewis argued that reason cannot be accounted for by an undirected material process of chance and necessity such as natural selection acting on random mutations. If reason could be accounted for in this way, according to Lewis, we would have no reason to trust the conclusions of our minds, including the conclusion that our minds are the products of a material process of chance and necessity.

Aren’t you glad we’re bringing this mess to your attention? Then the Discoveroids say:

This argument becomes almost self-evident the more you think about it. In the book, the comeback arguments are addressed in detail, leaving no escape for the materialist: affirm materialism, and you abandon rationality.

Isn’t that lovely? You abandon rationality unless you abandon the material world (all that evidence stuff) and embrace Oogity Boogity. Are you wondering who would spend any time entertaining such a notion? For some, it’s necessary. When you have no evidence for your “theory” of intelligent design, the best you can do is claim that thinking about evidence is a fallacy.

That’s as far as we can go with this thing because our brain won’t let us get past the threshold (it keeps insisting on coming along), so this is where we’re stopping. The Discoveroid article wanders off into genetics, politics, and other issues. If you can follow the whole thing, please do so and then let us know what you make of it.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Discovery Institute Says: Abandon Reason

  1. Charley Horse

    Martin Luther hit the nail on the head…
    “Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.”
    “Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason.”
    “To be a Christian, you must “pluck out the eye of reason.””

    Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore………
    “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

    “Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and … know nothing but the word of God.”

    Luther had more to say on that…but you get the gist.
    Stands to reason that DI and other cretins would think the same.

  2. doodlebugger

    Does this mean ol Westie is going to run a few traffic lights on the way home tonight?

  3. Doesn’t this argument apply with at least as much force in support of Scientific Storkism?
    After all, if our brain/thinking develops according to undirected naturalistic processes, then etc.

    On the other hand, if our brain/thinking was directed by intelligent design, what reason do we have for trusting that the goal of that intelligent design was that we think correctly? (I am influenced here by the Euthyphro dilemma. But also by the observation that, if humans were designed, they were designed to appear as if they were physically related to the rest of the world of life, and thus our designer wanted us to believe that; so, if that conclusion is false, then we were designed to think at least one false thought.)

  4. I read the article, and it’s stupid beginning to end. The anonymous author even works in mention of eugenics and Hitler, although not to make any useful point that I could tell. The conclusion is this gem:

    If Buchen and the editors of Nature believe that biology is capable in principle of explaining our rationality, then there is no reason to believe that biology explains anything — including the proposition that our reason arose from biology.

    Does that make sense to anyone?

    The problem with creationist’s beliefs that the mind is separate from the body, and comes from god, is that it does not explain the effects on one’s rationality and personality caused by numerous drugs, mental injuries, Alzheimer’s, and even ordinary hormonal cycles. Pretty much anything physical that acts on the brain produces a change in “mind”. I know that I, and probably most people, feel more socially gregarious and less rational after a certain amount of alcohol. Is not biology acting on our reason?

    Also, what about all the other intelligent animals on the planet? Clearly animals have intelligence of varying degrees, somewhat correlated to their brain size relative to their body. Does the D.I. postulate that the designer gave all of these other intelligent species carefully adjusted amounts of “mind”, that exist separate from their bodies? Do they then have souls? Isn’t it more reasonable to conclude that our closest relatives can be taught sign language, can solve problems, and exhibit general intellectual prowess because they are similar to us biologically, rather than because they have been separately granted “minds” by a creator in direct correlation to the relative size of their brains?

  5. Ed says: “Isn’t it more reasonable to conclude that …”

    Aha! There’s your problem. Thinking doesn’t work! You see, I read the article too.

  6. Ed, I must disagree. Many a summer night my neighbors and I gather together for a few drinks and solve all the world’s problems and it always seems rational at the time.

  7. If reason could be accounted for in this way, according to Lewis, we would have no reason to trust the conclusions of our minds, including the conclusion that our minds are the products of a material process of chance and necessity.

    But that’s true. If we could trust our minds, we wouldn’t need objective instruments. Or peer review. Or confirmation experiments. We do science because we can’t trust the reason of our minds. We give math tests because human reason is fallible. If it wasn’t,there’d be no need for these things. “If x, then our knowledge would be imperfect” is not a viable argument against x being true when our knowledge is actually, observationally known to be imperfect.

    And science is never represented as infallible either. We can’t trust the conclusion that our minds are the products of blah blah, if by “trust” one means “achieve philosophical certainty about.” Scientific conclusions are always tentative, open to revision should new evidence arise. They are philosophically untrustworthy. That, however, does not mean that all positions are equally well supported by evidence. Some are much better supported than others. So another thing going on here is the classic fallacy of the excluded middle. Some uncertainty /= complete uncertainty, and we can certainly rack and stack hypotheses as to the origin of the human mind by the evidence we do have, even if such evidence isn’t perfect or definitive.

  8. Then there can be no reason or rational basis for Intelligent Design, it is a product simply of unreason, a.k.a. religion.

  9. doodlebugger

    It is also rational for a bird in flight to swerve before hitting the tree in front of it. It sees the tree, it knows if it hits the tree, it would stop its flight, so it banks around it. So, yup, I don’t get the how does biology “explain rationality” thing either. However not being a Discoveroid philopseudoprof
    (or a peckerhead ‘er woodpecker) its probably because I just don’t have the irreducible wiring of brain circuitry that comes from familiarity with the magical designer’s intentions, known only to the wedgies of disaster, the masters of the improbable, the Lords of the Impenetrable Darkness, the ‘Tutlies(and certain other creationoids in the big tent of, ‘er, ignorance). :)

  10. This is in the same ballpark as Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, though Plantinga doesn’t cite Lewis in the linked lecture outline. The Disco Dancers love Plantinga, too, of course.

  11. RBH links to Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.

    That stuff gives me a brain-ache. I note that it was a lecture at BIOLA.

  12. “Somehow, Lewis reasoned himself into concluding that reason doesn’t work.”

    Absolutely not. He argued that because reason works, there must be a non-material source and guarantor for it (from memory, “that eternal reason which neither slumbers not sleeps”). He would be mortified to be quoted in favour of unreason.

    It’s not a great argument, but that’s a separate issue.

  13. Lewis on reason:

    Some pretty bad arguments in there, but it’s hard to argue that the guy who wrote that doesn’t believe in the utility of reason.

  14. Excellent, excellent, excellent post! The Discovery Institute should be an exhibit in a museum of mythology.

  15. Well, at least they are being more honest than usual.

  16. retiredsciguy

    Well, then, it is agreed by all — there is no “reason” to “believe” in an Intelligent Designer.