As human knowledge evolves and varied thoughts, knowledge and ideas becoming more widely available, it can become increasingly difficult to remain on top of our thinking and ideas to ensure they are consistent. Our thoughts must have a logical consistency, otherwise we can’t be sure if we are following truth and fact or if our thoughts are being affected by emotions, faith-based conclusions, whims, peer-pressure or any other of the myriad factors that affect our thinking on a day-to-day basis. It need not be said that such factors don’t have as much weight when ascertaining truth as does a logically consistent and rational worldview.
One cannot simply have a different standard of truth in one area of their lives and have a totally other one in another area. Well, actually one can, and many do, but then, we cannot claim that we are being completely logical and rational. We can only claim that we are sometimes being completely logical and rational. In simpler terms we would be having double standards.
When this realisation is used as a lens to observe human behaviour, we can see it prevalent in many situations. Besides the more obvious examples of inconsistent thinking, such as knowing sugar, junk food, alcohol and drugs are all bad for us yet indulging in them, there are still more obscure and hidden ones. People from many religions have irrational views yet could be world-class scientists, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and the like and they may not find any problem between the two. Then there are those that want their own ideas to be heard and accepted yet cannot bear to even hear out opposing ideas – if my ideas warrant to be heard, then so do those of others, with all else being equal between us. And for the criminal, who believes he deserves the protections and benefits society provides yet on the other hand, deprives fellow humans of the same privileges, we would call that, well criminal.
In fact, it is extremely difficult to be consistent in one’s thinking and behaviour. And neither are atheist evolutionists absolved in this regard. I am really referring to scientism as a whole – the view that we can grasp truths through the use and methods of science that fit into a consistent and logical framework.
Contemporary philosopher, Edward Feser, has gone into depth of four problems it faces. Of only one which we will really delve into in this article. Let us take the popular notion that life came into existence through macro-evolution. That is to say, humans have evolved from other species, directed by natural selection. It has guided our creation into becoming human beings with the qualities and characteristics that best suit our survival. Which is key to unravelling the whole idea. If our minds have been formed in a way which is best for our survival, that means the mind works primarily to ensure survival. Which in turn must mean that any understanding, observation, theory or rule we deduce about the world – whether through science or otherwise – may not necessarily be true, rather it is what our minds show us to be true to ensure our own survival.
There could be an entirely different world out there, outside of our minds, that if we were to know the true nature of, it could undermine our existence entirely. Or they may not be. The point is with science as our only basis of knowledge, we do not know, but more importantly, we cannot know.
Our minds, being the product of natural selection, only work in what is in the interest of our survival, not in grasping of truth – but the definition and understanding of such scientists themselves. A clear paradox and contradiction when science is used as a tool to understand reality on the one hand, but on the other must logically conclude that the mind itself cannot be a reliable tool to grasp reality at all.
These flaws of the mind are already well-documented. Open any psychology textbook and take a look at the symptoms of anxiety for example. Anxiety and panic attacks can occur when the human mind mistakes an ordinary event as a real and severe danger, making the heart to pump faster, injection our system with adrenaline, getting us in gear to ‘fight or flight’. But many times, this perceived threat by the mind is the giving of a speech, or a wide-open space, or a lofty height or social interactions – none of which on their own warrant such a severe reaction from the mind. But the mind has misjudged reality entirely and given a dramatically unrealistic view to the poor soul who has to suffer with these panic attacks, sometimes many times a day.
So, according to the views of scientism, they must either conclude that yes, the human mind can never deduce accurate truths of the universe because the human mind was never geared to understanding reality but rather geared to survival, or reject the idea that it was natural selection, survival of the fittest, that has guided and controlled the evolution of the human race for millennia.
One may think that it beggars belief – how can ‘nature’ or reality and the human mind work in tandem to veil reality from all humans at all times? How can knowing reality even be a threat to our existence?
In regard to the latter question, there are many things, if we know the reality of, they could destroy us mentally. If we knew for example, we would die in a month, it could entirely destroy our mental health, remove our aspiration to eat healthy, exercise, be a socially valuable member of society, push us to drugs, alcohol, crime. Why care if I am going to leave this world in a few days? Best to make the most of it while I can. Of course, not everyone would think that way, but enough would to make a massively negative effect on society. In fact, if every person knew the day he would die, I daresay the effect would be disastrous for humanity.
A further example is all the knowledge we hide from our children. We don’t tell them about death, drugs, sex etc, in a well-intentioned effort to protect them from these things. And to not trouble their delicate beings with burdens before their times.
One could also argue, the knowledge of nuclear technology is a great threat to man’s existence and it we would be much better off if we never learnt how to split the atom. There could be countless more threats in the universe that if we knew the reality of, Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Chernobyl would pale in comparison.
Which brings us to the first question. Can nature and our minds really cloak us from realities and knowledge that would be a threat to our existence? Following on from the deductions of scientists, it can very easily be so. If ‘nature’ through natural selection can create human beings, each with a different face, a brain more powerful and complex than a computer, a filtering system like the liver that can also regenerate itself, litres of blood that serve a myriad of purposes, with an always switched on heart directing it around the body, all nicely wrapped up in a regenerating, waterproof, touch-sensitive skin – a human being that is integrated with the universe as a whole in terms of air, water, light, nutrients, vitamins, plant and animal foods – if ‘nature’ is so brilliant and ingenious to do all that, then hiding realities from us would be a piece of cake and totally in agreement with the ‘wisdom’ it would so obviously be imbued with.
Sources: Footnote 3, An Introduction to Islamic Theology, Imam Nur al-din Sabuni, Translation by Faraz A. Khan