I must ‘follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so’

Thomas Nagel, the prominent philosopher and atheist, agrees in the last chapter of his book The Last Word. He writes that to be sure my mind is telling me what really, truly is out there in the world, I must ‘follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so’. However, according to evolutionary biology laws of reason would have to make sense to us only because they help us survive, not because they necessarily tell the truth. So, Nagel asks:

[Can we have any] continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge about the nonapparent character of the world? In itself, I believe an evolutionary story [of the human race] tells against such confidence.


Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, Hodder, 2008, p.137


4 Responses to “I must ‘follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so’”

  1. Zachariah Says:

    Did I tell you, I read this book a month or so ago. Pretty good. He makes a good case for it being “Reasonable,” but I think the greatest thing I got out of it was just a ton more books on my to-read list…
    I got all my books from the library for Christmas break. One being “There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind” by Anthony Flew, have you read it? (I’m also going to read FF Bruce’s book on the reliability of the new testament).

    • soulangler Says:

      I’ve not read Flew’s book. I noted his change of view with interest since his works were part of the canon (you might say) of atheist opponents to Christian faith in the philosophy of religion.

      I’d be interested in whether he is a theist or a Christian. Is his a case of philosophical conversion to a theistic perspective or have his eyes been opened to the person of Christ?

      Theistic belief is a necessary but not sufficient condition of Biblical Christian faith. After all, the Muslim, JW and the Jew are theists…

      Merry Xmas if I don’t get a chance to speak before then – and God bless you (i.e. the true and living God!).

      • Zachariah Says:

        He switched to Deistic Theism basically. I’m interested to see someone, who as you said was considered a very rigorous thinker and part of the canon, switched.

  2. Zachariah Says:

    Oh, also maybe you’ve read seen these but here’s some articles I’ve read on the fellow. Two are new, one older, but I dug it up to complete the collection 😉

    http://nymag.com/news/features/62374/ (note 4 pages)

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