The Human Intellect Argument

posted in: Apologetics | 0

logic-homework-1416930Why do humans have the ability to ask and analyze such a question as whether or not God exists? What is the meaning of such words as cognitive faculties, memory, perception, intuition, sympathy, introspection, testimony, induction, or moral sense?

Each and every day humans make use of all of these capacities and trust them to be reliable. The theist sees this as most natural. After all, according to the Christian creation story, the human is made in the image of God (imago dei) and is thereby endued with divine qualities, such as intellect and awareness.

However, naturalism, the worldview excluding God or any supernatural reality, lacks an explanation for this raw fact. Evolution could conceivably explain the animal development of the ability to feed, flee, fight, and procreate. However, there does not seem to be any evolutionary advantage to anything like the reasoning power of humans. As Darwin himself admitted to a friend, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”1

In the naturalistic, materialistic worldview, human perceptions and values are simply the lingering effects of neural states, the particular configuration of electrons whirling around the human nervous system. Your “ideas” are merely the content of those states. A dog also has a nervous system, and as such has neural states, the particular configuration of which must now – out of fairness to dogs – be called “ideas” or “beliefs.” If you are willing to believe that dogs have such things as beliefs, would you also be willing to believe that they are true or reliable? If not for the dog, why for the human? Why do you trust your neural state?

Why do you think you can think?

In short, this argument points to a particular feature of our reality we are well acquainted with, the human cognitive faculties. This feature is easily explained if there is a God, but not at all explained if there is not. The more sophisticated you believe you are, the more pronounced is this fact! As Paul Davies, professor of mathematical physics, writes,

We human beings are able to grasp at least some of nature’s secrets. We have cracked part of the cosmic code. Why this should be, just why Homo sapiens should carry the spark of rationality that provides the key to the universe is deep enigma. We, who are children of the universe – animated stardust – can nevertheless reflect on the nature of that same universe, even to the extent of glimpsing the rules on which it runs. How we have become linked into this cosmic dimension is a mystery. Yet the linkage cannot be denied.2


  1. In a letter to William Graham dated July 3rd, 1881.
  2. Paul Davies, The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 232.
Follow Benjamin Williams:

Pulpit Minister for Glenpool Church of Christ (Glenpool, OK); BS in Astrophysics from University of Oklahoma; MDiv in Ministry from Oklahoma Christian Graduate School of Theology

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.