Logic and Materialistic Evolution

“We should look at this question of the universality of logic in more depth. Let us consider what people might propose as alternatives. One alternative is to say that the principles of logic are simply principles for the operation of the human mind, and that our minds are the contingent product of mindless evolution.

What about the question of evolution? Did the human mind evolve gradually from apes, who evolved gradually from other mammals, and so on back? We cannot here enter into every aspect of the debates on evolution. The word evolution is slippery and has many meanings. In some contexts, it can mean merely change over time. We can speak of the “evolution” of the automobile or the “evolution” of communist ideology or the “evolution” of the solar system.

We must be more focused. Near the center of modern debates lies evo- lutionary naturalism, a worldview that eliminates God. Evolutionary natu- ralism does not merely say that we can breed dogs and see the development of a new breed. It does not merely say that God may have used processes like breeding. By “evolutionary naturalism” we mean a worldview that systematically eliminates the involvement of God. It is mainly within this worldview that people might propose that logic is merely the functioning of the human mind, and that the human mind is a product of undirected, purposeless evolution. They may then conclude that logic is an evolutionary product.

Do they think that logic is merely an evolutionary product and a prag- matic tool for survival? Or has the human mind—even if by accident—succeeded in touching something transcendent?

Evolutionary naturalism is in something of a dilemma at this point. One way or another we as human beings have become aware of logic. If this logic is transcendent, it threatens naturalism, because it suggests by its transcendence that it comes from God who is the source of transcendence. Logic reveals the attributes of God, and God comes flooding in.

So suppose naturalism says that logic is merely a pragmatic tool for survival. Let us think about what might help survival. Members of a primitive tribe might perhaps survive more effectively if they cooperate with one another. And they may be more willing to cooperate if they believe that their tribal god requires them to cooperate. Belief in their god promotes survival, but it may have nothing to do with real truth. Similarly, if people believe that logic is merely a pragmatic tool, they imply that logic promotes survival but has no transcendence, no necessary contact with truth. Then evolutionary naturalism, which uses logic for its erection, is merely a convenient means of survival, and has no guarantee of truth. The whole worldview collapses. In fact, any worldview that maintains that logic is merely accidental or unsta- ble loses all rational support.”

(Poythress, Logic, 102-03)


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