"The Argument From Consciousness"

Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli make the following argument:

  1. We experience the universe as intelligible. This intelligibility means that the universe is graspable by intelligence.
  2. Either this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence, or both intelligibility and intelligence are the products of blind chance.
  3. Not blind chance.
  4. Therefore this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence. (66)

The argument (which they call “The Argument from Consciousness”) is predicated upon their design argument presented prior to this one in Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1994). Thus the first premise of the argument sounds strikingly like the design argument in that the universe is said to be experienced as intelligible. Few would deny that the universe is experienced as intelligible of course. For example, order is typically a given in the (endless, obnoxious, peripheral) debate over biological evolution. Thus objections and responses to this argument may parallel those given with respect to the design argument.

Kreeft and Tacelli cite C.S. Lewis’s famous argument in Miracles and consider naturalism, “the view that everything – including our thinking and judging – belongs to one vast interlocking system of physical causes and effects.”

                If naturalism is true, Lewis argued, it seems to leave us with no reason for believing it to be true; for all judgments would equally and ultimately be the result of nonrational forces.

                Now this line of reflection has an obvious bearing on step 3. What we mean by ‘blind chance’ is the way physical nature must ultimately operate if ‘naturalism’ is true – void of any rational plan or guiding purpose. So if Lewis’s argument is a good one, then step 3 stands: blind chance cannot be the source of our intelligence. (66-67)

There is order and intelligibility in the universe even though the universe is not intellectually aware, but we grasp this order and intelligence which leads Kreeft and Tacelli to build this argument with “the presence of intelligence amidst unconscious material processes, and the conformity of those processes to the structure of conscious intelligence” in mind. (66)

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