Pythagorus and God

One of the many arguments for the existence of God is the Argument from Reason. In essence, it argues that if the world is physical and nothing more, then everything must be explained by physical processes and the laws governing them. So atoms move and combine in accordance with the laws of physics and chemistry.

If that is the case, then that applies to the atoms in our brains. So if I come to a conclusion (say, a conclusion in Euclidian geometry, or that God exists or doesn’t exist), that conclusion must be, and is, explained by the movement of atoms according to those laws.

But for the conclusion to be true, it needs to be justified by logic and reasoning, not just by the movement of atoms. So, it is argued, the existence of the human ability to reason provides an argument that world is more than the physical (i.e. naturalism isn’t true), and that our brains are the creation of a reasoning God.

An argument from Pythagorus

Victor Reppert is a philosopher whose blog, Dangerous Idea, I have followed for many years. A few months ago he had an interesting post on this, The argument from reason and the triangular garden.

I think it is worth reading:

Consider, for example, a person who figures out the area of her triangular backyard garden using the Pythagorean Theorem. She decides how much of various kinds of seeds to purchase, in part, because of the area she has calculated for the garden she is going to plant.

So, protons, neutrons, and electrons in her body, not to mention other protons, neutrons and electrons, are in certain places because of her knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem. The Pythagorean Theorem is the ground of the beliefs she comes to hold, which produce considerable effects in the physical world.

But, if the physical is causally closed, how does the truth of the Pythagorean Theorem have to do with the occurrence of her belief as a psychological event? Protons, neutrons, and electrons are determined, not by the truth of the Pythagorean Theorem, but by the physical laws governing protons, neutrons and electrons. The Theorem is not in space and time, but protons, neutrons, and electrons are affected only by things that are in space and time.

Therefore, if naturalism is true, she cannot have used the Pythagorean Theorem to lay out her backyard garden. Since she did use the Theorem, naturalism is false.

You can read a larger discussion of this argument (and more!) in Free will, evolution and human rationality.

Photo: fauxels on Pexels.

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