Reason Assumes a God (The Epistemological Argument)

Updated: Jan 13



We use reason every day. When our stomach growls—exclaiming our need for food, it is reasonable to then eat food so that we do not starve. When we drive a car and see that there is a red light coming up, we slow down—because it is reasonable to assume that, because there is a red light, it is dangerous to go through it. Lastly, when we talk to a friend, we reasonably assume that we should not start punching him without cause—because that would most likely end that friendship.


The reasonableness or axiom[1] of reason is often taken for granted. We do not seek the cause or source of reason’s reasonableness, instead we use it without a basis for using it. Is that reasonable? In the case of the atheist—who claims that science and reason is the only source of truth, how does he come to the truth value of science and reason? Surely science is not used to show its own scientificness, and surely reason is not used to show its own reasonableness. That would be begging the question. The fact that we know the difference between the reasonable and the unreasonable, assumes a truth value to it. It assumes that reason is an axiom. With the foundation of knowing that reason is an axiom, an exploration for the source is possible—using reason.


The Search for a Source

What can be the source or basis for reason? What can house the axiom of reason? To answer this question, it is best to first ask: “What can use reason?” Can an object reason? Obviously, an object cannot reason because it cannot think. Can an animal reason? Yes, animals can reason on a low and circumstantial level. However, since the reasoning of animals is unlike and of a lower caliber than the reasoning of humans, something like an animal cannot be the standard of reasoning as we know it.


How about AI (Artificial Intelligence)? Could it not be said that an AI can reason? What is reason? One of the ways in which Merriam Webster defines reason is: “the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways.”[2] Can an AI comprehend, infer, or think in orderly rational ways? IBM explains: “Artificial intelligence enables computers and machines to mimic the perception, learning, problem-solving, and decision-making capabilities of the human mind” (emphasis mine).[3] To mimic, is to copy something, and, in this case, the AI is mimicking or copying human reasoning. The only problem is that the foundation of the AI’s ability to reason is based on human reasoning. Even if there were AI not based on a human’s ability to reason, it would still be mimicking its creator’s ability to reason. So, something like an AI cannot be the source or basis for reason.


What about evolution? Since humans can reason, could it not be said that we are the source of reasoning? Could reason just be an aspect or “gift” of this stage of human evolution? First, to assume that reasoning came about by evolutionary causes assumes that human reasoning does not have a spiritual or non-physical component to it. So, let us first dive into the possible idea that formations of matter can produce a standard for reason.


Professor Haldane, in his book—Possible Worlds, says: “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”[4] What is he saying? Professor Haldane brings up the idea that if your thoughts are determined by the neurons firing off in your head, then “they” (the neurons) are the ones telling you what to think and even claiming that your brain is composed of atoms. How can you then trust the neurons in your brain? The neurons are, essentially, claiming their own validity. It is circular reasoning—like the example of a kid claiming the Bible is true or valid because the Bible says so. A claim of validity is merely an assumption—not proof. So, from a purely evolutionary standpoint: “[you] have no reason to suppose [your] beliefs are true…and hence [you] have no reason for supposing [your] brain to be composed of atoms.”


The Source of Reason

Looking back at AI being a possible, but ultimately false, source of reason, there is an important lesson that may have some use in this search. AI are not the source of reason, but do have a source for reason—humans. AI are mimickers of the mental processes of humans. Could the same be said about humans? Could humans be mimickers of something else?


Humans would have to be mimickers of the source if they want to claim that reason has any value or validity at all. This is because, since the value and validity of reason cannot be found in themselves, it must be found in someone else that “gave” or instilled reason into them. By “someone else” I mean a being capable of reason at or above the same level or caliber as a human’s ability to reason. As explained above, an animal type being cannot be the source for human reasoning because of its low caliber reasoning abilities. So, it must be an intelligent being. The source and value of reason must then be found in this being.


It could be asked: “How does this being bring value and validity to our ability to reason?” The same question could be asked by AI to humans. Humans created AI for a specific purpose. That purpose brings value to the AI’s ability to reason. Presumably, this intelligent being created and gave humans the ability to reason for a purpose. This purpose, then, gives value to our ability to reason. The validity of reason and why it is reasonable is found in its source—the intelligent being. Because reason has a source, it has a standard. This standard brings conformity to reason and therefore gives it a specific use. This means that reason now has a logical purpose and therefore is a valid tool—because it has defined parameters. In other words, this being “gave” or instilled the knowledge or the ability to know the reasonable from the unreasonable.


It may then be asked: “What is this being’s standard of reason?” or “Is this being not falling into the same problem that Professor Haldane brought up?” First, we must be careful not to go into an infinite regress of holders and standards of reason—for that would be illogical.


Second, we must go back to the AI example. The AI have a source of reason found in their creators—humans. Just like humans have a source of reason found in their apparent creator—the intelligent being. Does it then matter if the creator has a source? Maybe for the creator, but not for the created. The creator creates the rules, but that does not then assume that “he” is now under the same rules of the created. The creator creates from what he has. A painter can only express with the colors that he has. Those expressions of colors are from him—just like reason is from the intelligent being. The expressions of the painter are true to himself—just like the reason of the intelligent being is true to “himself.” The expressions of the painter do not have to be found or sourced in someone else to be valid (true to self); neither does reason from the intelligent being need to be found or sourced in someone else to be valid.


The source is only needed for the receivers or mimickers, and the source of reason needs to be known if one is to understand why reason is an axiom or universal—to the mimickers. It also reveals more of our purpose, in that we can now know that our ability to reason assumes a purpose.


Who is the Intelligent Being?

Using reason, what can we know about our creator—just from the fact that “he” is the source of reason? First, we can know that “he” is intelligent. As mentioned above, this being has to be capable of the same caliber or of a higher caliber of reasoning to be the source of humans’ ability to reason.


Second, it can be deduced that “he” is unchangeable—or else reason would lose its purpose and therefore value. This is because reason is a tool in which we are presumably supposed to use to fulfill or act out our design. If the source of reason disappears, then it does not make sense to use it—because the source of the purpose is gone. In a way, it is like when a business shuts down, the workers no longer have a purpose to carry out their tasks. Reason loses its purpose when its source is gone, just like the workers lose their purpose when the business is gone.


Third, “he” must be powerful to be able to create us.


Fourth, “he” must be interested in us in some way. Again, this is an intelligent being who created us. Why would “he” create us without a purpose for us that “he” wants to see be carried out? So, while it is not necessarily a fact, this being is most likely aware of “his” creation and is interested to see how we live according to our design.

To reiterate, this being is:

  1. Intelligent

  2. Unchangeable

  3. Powerful

  4. Interested

This being can be called, “God.” Though this argument alone does not claim a certain god, it does claim the existence of a god. If you wish to learn more about God, “The Network’s Foundation” dives deep into who God is and arrives at the conclusion that it must be the Christian God. Other essays like the “Moral Argument,” “The Nature of Beauty,” and “God’s Very Nature: A Foundation for Reality,” all dive into the nature of this being.


From this essay alone, it can be known that you and I have a purpose—an intended design and therefore function. Why are you here? Who am I? What is the point of life? These are some of the most important questions because the answers to them should fundamentally change how you see yourself, the world, and how you should act in it—if at all. Seek and understand this being, and you will find meaning, purpose, and therefore value.


Recap

  1. Grant that reason is reasonable, or live accordingly (this will lead to death)

  2. Within the reality of reason, a search for the foundation of reason can begin

  3. This search does not lead to man, but God



References

[1] An axiom is an inherent or self-evident truth. [2] Merriam-Webster, "Definition Of REASON," (Merriam-Webster.Com, Accessed December 30, 2020), https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reason. [3] IBM Cloud Education, “Artificial Intelligence (AI),” ibm.com, 3 June 2020, https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/what-is-artificial-intelligence. [4] J.B.S., Haldane, Possible Worlds, (Chatto & Windus 1927), 209, quoted in C. S. Lewis, C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, (HarperCollins Publishers, 2002), 314.

Bibliography

Haldane, J.B.S. Possible Worlds. Chatto & Windus 1927. quoted in Lewis, C. S. C. S. Lewis Signature Classics. HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.


IBM Cloud Education. “Artificial Intelligence (AI).” ibm.com, 3 June 2020. https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/what-is-artificial-intelligence.


Merriam-Webster. "Definition Of REASON." Merriam-Webster.Com, Accessed December 30, 2020. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reason.

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