Very briefly, the argument from reason rests upon the fundamental differences between physical things and immaterial mental states.
For instance: How can a neuron recognize that an argument is valid? How can the laws of physics guide a brain to rationally calculate the likelihood of evolution? How can purposeless physical processes lead a thing to intentionally choose for ‘itself’? If everything is caused by the laws of science (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) then what does it mean for someone’s mind to be changed by a spaceless, timeless, immaterial argument?
As a summary on Wikipedia puts one main variant of the argument:
In short the argument holds that if, as thoroughgoing naturalism entails, all thoughts are the effect of a physical cause, then there is no reason for assuming that they are also the consequent of a reasonable ground. Knowledge, however, is apprehended by reasoning from ground to consequent. Therefore, if naturalism were true, there would be no way of knowing it—or anything else not the direct result of a physical cause—and one could not even suppose it, except by a fluke.
These are the kinds of questions that, when pursued, lead us to conclude that naturalism is false. By contrast, the argument from reason can lend support to the conclusion that Christianity is true.
As an introduction to the topic, this is a vast oversimplification; for more detailed and careful analysis, see the following links!
- Freedom in Thought by Greg Bahnsen
- Can atheists trust what they’re thinking? by William Lane Craig
- The Argument from Reason (PDF download) by John DePoe
- Against Neurobabble by Ed Feser. More: A collection of his articles on the mind-body problem.
- The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism (chapter three of Miracles) by C.S. Lewis
- Libertarian Free Will and The Argument From Reason (PDF download) by Angus Menuge. More: Apologetics315 interview with Angus Menuge and A compilation of links to his articles.
- The Argument from Consciousness by J.P. Moreland. More: Explanation of the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (YouTube video).
- “Naturalism is true”: A self-contradictory statement by Albrecht Moritz
- An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (PDF download) by Alvin Plantinga. More: A debate with Stephen Law on the EAAN and Content and Natural Selection (PDF download).
- The Argument from Reason (PDF download) by Victor Reppert. More: Another version of the argument from reason, Interview #1 (written transcript), Interview #2 (at Apologetics315), Interview #3 (Backpack Radio).
- Agents Under Fire, Materialism and the Rationality of Science by Angus Menuge
- Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False by Thomas Nagel
- Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism by Alvin Plantinga
- C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea by Victor Reppert
“The Last Seminary” has an outstanding collection of articles on The Argument from Reason (some of the more accessible ones are linked above).
The Argument From Reason by David Wood:
Alvin Plantinga on the EAAN:
We offer other great resources on the best reasons for the existence of God:
- Can We Know Truth? Is There Truth?
- Did Jesus Exist?
- Moral Relativism: Is There Right? What Is Right?
- The Bible: Is It True? Historical? Reasonable?
- The Cosmological Argument
- The Moral Argument
- The Problem of Evil
- The Resurrection of Jesus: Evidence, reasons and resources
- The Teleological Argument
- The Unique Life and Teachings of Jesus
- Why Apologetics?