Evolutionary Argument Against Theism

My goal here is to present an epistemic argument similar to Plantinga’s evolutionary argument naturalism (EAAN). The idea is that the truth of evolution undercuts belief in theism. In other words, it makes belief in God’s existence unreasonable. I call this argument “The Evolutionary Argument Against Theism” (EAAT). My goal is not to argue that the argument is sound. Rather it is designed to point out that something is wrong with Plantinga’s argument.

The basic idea is simple, and it can be formulated as follows:

1. Many people have a belief in theism, which is the result of biological evolutionary adaptations that are hyperactive in detecting agency (HADD).
2. Probably, if many people have a belief in theism, which is the result of biological evolutionary adaptations that are hyperactive in detecting agency (HADD), then they have a defeater for their belief in theism
3. Therefore, many people have a defeater for their belief in theism

Premise 2 is defended by noting that our belief in supernatural beings is largely unreliable. That is, most of our beliefs in such beings are false. Since most of the beliefs are false, our sensus supernaturaltatisis (sense of the supernatural) not a reliable cognitive faculty; it’s just not a good way of getting at what is true. In addition, the HADD implies that it is likely that we would believe that God exists, even if it were false.

Someone like Plantinga will immediately object that this argument assumes that theism is unwarranted even if God exists. This is wrong. Rather, this argument is saying that even if someone can be said to know that God exists or is warranted in believing that God exists, nevertheless, it would still be unreasonable for them to continue to believe that God exists. They have acquired a defeater for their belief (and knowledge) of God’s existence. Just because someone can be said to believe something in a rational or justifiable way at some point, and just because someone can be said to know something, that does not mean they can’t acquire epistemic defeat for their stance. In addition, many people in the western world are being unreasonable by even taking their belief to be true at face value precisely because they are aware such a defeater like my argument.

The upshot? Even if God exists and some can be said to know that God exists, that position is made to be unreasonable once one acquires the defeater like my argument.

Once again, the main reason I’ve proposed this argument is not to show that it is sound. Rather, the goal is to show that something is wrong with the reasoning involved in Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN). If Plantinga thinks there’s something wrong with what I’m saying, he needs to explain why his EAAN is different.


#Evolutionary Argument Against Theism #The Evolutionary Argument Against Theism #EAAT #Evolutionary Argument against naturalism flipped on its head #EAAN flipped on it head #The evolutionary argument for naturalism

7 thoughts on “Evolutionary Argument Against Theism

  1. I think I need you to clarify. What specifically is the element of the EAAN that is paralleled by the EAAT, so that an objection to the EAAT equally applies to the EAAN? Maybe you could give an example?

  2. That’s more broad than I was expecting. If that is the relevant parallel, then the implication is that any argument which utilizes evolution to argue for an epistemic state is flawed. Is that your intent?

      1. Ok, so getting back to the original question – I interpret your closing paragraph to be implying that there’s some parallel between the EAAN and the EAAT which could feasibly show an error in the EAAT but would also reveal an error in the EAAN. It isn’t clear to me what that is. Can you explain? Is there perhaps an example defeater that could be applied in some form to both arguments to help me see your point? Thanks.

    1. Understood. I’m just trying to get a better handle on how you’re going about that. I guess maybe the point was just to show a general analogy of how evolutionary history can be argued as leading one to doubt the veracity of a sense of the divine, just as Plantinga has used evolutionary history to argue for doubt in the veracity of our faculties at large. Fair enough.

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