Why believe our minds work, on atheism?

Part 6 in 20 atheist answers to questions they supposedly can’t

9. How is independent thought possible in a world ruled by chance and necessity?

Short answer: I’ll tell you once you’ve finished beating your wife. (Evolution selects for truth-directed faculties, so it is no surprise we get them on naturalism).

Longer answer: The argument here is twofold. Firstly, that atheism cannot account for our sense of having independent thought (and so this is evidence against it), and secondly that ‘independent thought’ is some pre-requisite for having justified beliefs, and naturalism undermines that. The first line of argument I’ll deal with consciousness and free will later. The second argument is a not-very-strong version of the evolutionary argument against naturalism. So let’s talk about that instead. Continue reading “Why believe our minds work, on atheism?”

How did DNA, genetic codes and enzymes happen?

Part 4 in 20 Atheist answers to questions they supposedly can’t

4. How did DNA and amino acids arise?
5. Where did the genetic code come from?
6. How do irreducibly complex enzyme chains evolve?

Short answer: Science!

Longer answer: These three questions neatly cover the calling cards of the intelligent design movement. The big idea is that standard evolutionary mechanisms (mutation and differential survival repeated loads and loads of times) is just inadequate to explain how we got genetic codes, or replicators in the first place, or particular biological structures which have this feature called ‘irreducible complexity’.

It’s worth pointing out that these ideas only really carry favour amongst groups of (fairly evangelical) Christians, and are rejected all-but-unanimously by practicing scientists, and that doubt in evolutionary theory declines with education in general and biological background in particular. But let’s not solely rely on social epistemology steers, and talk about the merits themselves. Continue reading “How did DNA, genetic codes and enzymes happen?”