For some unknown reason, there has been a recent spate of weird people shouting “Plantinga!” at me. Has he said something idiotic lately that has inspired his idiotic fans?
Hi Paul. I hope you are well and having a good week. I am writing to you from the vicinity of Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
What is the origin of human faculty of reason? What authority or what reliability and warrant has our reason?
How can it be that what goes on in our tiny heads can give us anything near a true account of reality?
How can it be that a mathematical equation thought up in the human mind of a mathematician, can correspond to the workings of the universe out there?
You Paul essentially obliged to regard “thought” as some kind of neurophysiological phenomenon. For atheists pure blind chance is at the very root of evolution that produced such neurophysiology. Why should anyone think for a moment that the beliefs caused by that neurophysiology would be mostly true? After all if the thoughts in my mind are just motions of atoms in my brain – a mechanism that arisen by mindless random accidental unguided processes, why should I believe anything it tells me – including the fact that it is made of atoms. American philosopher Alvin Platinga sums it up: “If Paul is right that we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce – including Paul’s own science and his atheism”
Thus, atheism undermines the very rationality that is needed to construct or understand or believe in any kind of argument whatsoever – let alone scientific one. Reducing “thought” to nothing but neurophysiology leads to the demise of science, rationality, and belief in truth itself. There is no rational basis for truth. Science and truth are left without warrant.
By contrast, what is found in ancient Jewish manuscripts is coherent in its explanation of why the universe is (scientifically) intelligible. It teaches that God is ultimately responsible as Creator, both for the existence of the universe and the human mind. Human beings are made in his image: the image of a rational personal Creator; and that is why they can understand the universe, at least in part
And I think you’ll be happy to know that someone in Wales, United Kingdom, saw Jesus recently. It’s actually a true story in the context of a 5-year scientific study carried out by Dr Penny Sartori. Here is her 1-hour long presentation about it, given at a conference in US.
It also been published in a journal. Here is the link if you prefer to read about it
I don’t think Plantinga is actually talking about me — I suspect my correspondent made up the quote, cobbling together phrases Plantinga has said. But this is all just Plantinga’s stupid argument that basically claims that you can’t get order out of chaos; that something that arose by chance cannot possibly ever acquire properties that are ordered and rational. It also ignores the fact that even an irrational mind can develop orderly processes that allow it to discern and interpret patterns in the universe around it. His idea requires Plantinga to also ignore the fact that no one says evolution or neurophysiology are products of pure chance alone. But then who cares? Plantinga is quite possibly the dumbest philosopher on the planet. You might as well write to me citing Joel Osteen as your infallible authority — I’ll just laugh and laugh and laugh.
But I did read the cited paper anyway. It’s junk. It’s an anecdotal story of one patient’s lapse into unconsciousness and the happy and familiar confabulation he came up when he woke up. That’s it. It’s published in the “Journal of Near-Death Studies,” which sort of tells you what level of credibility it has, and it’s by Penny Sartori, NDE crackpot.
Long story short: Cancer patient in organ failure lapses into unconsciousness, and recovers three hours later. He then says that he saw his father and Jesus, and described medical procedures that were done while he was out cold. Furthermore, he was miraculously healed of a congenital condition.
The story falls to pieces pretty quickly, though. The medical procedures he described? 1) A doctor checked his pupillary response by flashing a light in his eyes, 2) a nurse swabbed drool from his mouth with a suction catheter, and 3) another doctor peeked around the curtains surrounding his bed.
Yep, that’s it. Mundane events in the world of the hospital. And he doesn’t even get the details right, but the author of the paper just ignores any deviation.
The consultant checked that the patient’s pupils were reacting by shining a light into them. He remarked, “Yes, they’re reacting, but unequal.” The patient reported hearing the doctor saying, “There’s life in the eye” or “something like that.” This was inaccurate, although this highlighted his interpretation of what was said and was a good comprehension of what the consultant meant.
Inaccurate, but a
good comprehension, so she ticks that off as one of her three examples of veridical confirmation. That’s the level of quality we’re talking about.
As for the magical healing, the patient was born with cerebral palsy that caused a constricture of his right hand; the muscles were in spasm so he couldn’t open it. After a traumatic event in the hospital in which his brain was fried by anoxia, he could open his hand! You know, that is not at all surprising, and can easily be explained by purely physical events — we don’t need to invoke Jesus.
By the way, the only interesting thing in the account is that the patient claims Jesus has
long, black hair, which needed to be combed. Yeah, you finally meet Jesus, and what do you do? Criticize his hairdo.