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sábado, 11 de febrero de 2017

The humanities matter in a world dominated by scientific thought and technological advances


EX LIBRIS: Atheism Is Irrational (argued C.S. Lewis)


by Adam Andrews 



The humanities matter in a world dominated by scientific thought and technological advances because without the humanities we can't think about science and technology properly

In his 1947 book Miracles, C.S. Lewis tells a story about two men who both think that a certain dog is dangerous. The first man holds this opinion because he has often seen it muzzled and has noticed that the mailman avoids that house. The second man fears the dog because it has a black coat, and he was once bitten by a black dog in childhood.

All will quickly agree, argues Lewis, that the first man has good reasons for being wary, while the second man’s reasons prove nothing. The second man’s reasons are discounted as irrational, springing as they do from instinct and subliminal psychology rather than logical deduction.

Lewis uses this simple idea to mount a powerful critique of atheism, or, as he calls it, Naturalism—the belief that nothing exists outside the physical world of cause and effect. In the naturalist world, everything must have a physical cause, whether chemical, electrical, gravitational, or biological. Even human thoughts and explanations must spring from irrational sources such as electric impulses in the brain. A reason, to an atheist, is the same kind of thing as an itch, and the second man’s reason for fearing the dog makes just as much sense as the first man’s reason.

But Lewis argues that denying the rationality of human thought makes knowledge impossible. In order for men to know anything and then communicate that knowledge to others, they must be able to infer true things from their observations and then verify the truth of their conclusions. In other words, it must be possible to reason like the first man in the story of the dog. If it isn’t, then true statements are impossible; not because it is impossible to say something true, but because it is impossible to determine its truth. 

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