The OTF and Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)

Plantinga's EAAN argument is that "the combination of evolutionary theory and naturalism is self-defeating on the basis of the claim that if both evolution and naturalism are true, then the probability of having reliable cognitive facilities is low." Below you can find professor Stephen Law's critique of the EAAN along with him debating Plantinga on the program Unbelievable.

Some Christians think the EAAN prohibits my Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) from even getting off the ground, since if the convergence of naturalism and evolution give us no reason to trust our cognitive faculties, how can we even know if a critique such as the OTF works?

Later I'll hand the microphone over to Dr. Law on the EAAN itself. I want to focus on why the EAAN is utterly irrelevant in dismissing the OTF. Given the nature of the EAAN it is an all-encompassing argument. It can be used against any judgment that an atheist makes. Let's say we're discussing whether President Obama is a good President. The EAAN can put a stop to anything we say since what we say is not predicated on the existence of God. Thus the EAAN can be, and is, a discussion stopper. Why use any other argument against an atheist when you have the discussion stopper in your pocket? Let it be your one trick pony. Bone up on it. Use it all of the time. What movie is my favorite one? Just dismiss what I say based on the EAAN. What political agenda do I favor? Dismiss it with the EAAN. Just say I have no reason to trust my own judgments on anything, and I literally mean anything, even though my judgments and those of all others in the animal kingdom help us all survive.

So let's say we're discussing, say, which woman should be crowned Miss America, and I choose the one from the great state of Indiana. Dismiss my judgment based on the EAAN. Ignore it. Say I cannot trust my cognitive faculties based on the EAAN. For if evolution and naturalism obtains, as I think they do, there is nothing to discuss. The odds that I am correct about anything are low, very low, perhaps as low as being lucky if I end up being right.

So arguing that the OTF can't even get off the ground based on the EAAN is saying nothing different than that I cannot trust my own judgment about a Miss America contest. For the EAAN becomes a catch-all argument against any judgment an atheist makes. If that's the case then criticizing the OTF by virtue of the EAAN is not making a specific argument against it, that is to say, such a criticism is not one that is OTF specific. Therefore I do not need to answer the EAAN before I can make the argument of the OTF. At that point the EAAN is a separate argument to be dealt with separately for it is an all-encompassing type of argument unrelated to the OTF itself. Stephen Law is the go-to guy for that type of argument and I defer to him, see below.

Just the same, I don't even have to argue against the EAAN for it is utterly irrelevant to the OTF and the ensuing evaluative discussion based upon it. What Christians (especially conservatives, my target audience) utterly fail to realize is that the arguments I make are the same ones that believers make, and it cannot be said of them that they cannot make them because of the EAAN, since their arguments are predicated on God. Liberal believers like James McGrath, Thom Stark and almost all Catholic Biblical scholars make the same arguments I do. And so do Orthodox Jews, and Muslims. It can hardly be said that they cannot make their arguments because of the EAAN since they are believers.

So the EAAN is irrelevant to my arguments. You see?

The OTF is based upon that which believers all recognize. It's based upon that which all believers do. Believers like McGrath and Stark even acknowledge the value of the OTF. Even conservatives recognize the value in it. Several of them have said their faith passes OTF. Does it? Liberals argue forcefully that conservatives are wrong in their assessment. Evangelicals argue forcefully that liberals are wrong. Catholics ague forcefully against Protestants, and vice versa. Orthodox Jews and Muslims argue forcefully that Christians are wrong, and Christians argue forcefully that other religions are wrong.

All I do is point these things out, things they all agree about.

So your debate is with other believers, not me.

Don't kill the messenger, okay?


Now for Stephen Law...


Now for the debate: