Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological seminary, and the man Time magazine once (weirdly) called America’s “reigning intellectual in the evangelical movement”, is a young earth creationist who recently wrote at his blog the following about Richard Dawkins:
Dawkins claims to be driven only by reason and “reality” in his worldview, but the actual arguments he makes show only the limits of autonomous reason when it comes to understanding ultimate reality.
But here are three questions about this curious (and circularly reasoned) statement:
- How could Albert Mohler possibly know whether Richard Dawkins’s autonomous reasoning accords with ultimate reality unless Mohler himself engaged in some process of autonomous reasoning in evaluating Dawkins’s arguments for himself?
- Can one reason in any other way than in one’s own head (that is, autonomously)?
- How can one ever know that one’s autonomous reasoning has brought you to an “understanding of ultimate reality”?
Further, if Albert Mohler discovered Richard Dawkins’s arguments are ultimately flawed (based on Mohler’s own efforts at autonomous reasoning), then it follows that autonomous reasoning is, indeed, efficacious (at least in the way that Albert Mohler uses it).
But we all know what Mohler meant to say: the Bible says it’s the ultimate reality, I believe it, that settles it. You need the Bible to reach ultimate reality. You can’t reach it unaided.
But how does he know this?
Well, you gotta have faith. If you go through a process of autonomous reasoning that brings you to a different conclusion than the Bible’s, it just shows the poverty of your epistemic method. The correct epistemic method is just to believe what the Bible says based on your inner witness and for no other particular reason at all (or for ad hoc reasons contrived by you after you’ve already decided to believe it).
Or, to put it bluntly, unaided reasoning is folly. Apart from the Bible’s guidance, reasoning is ultimately strident, leading one to sterile and empty conclusions. Here’s Albert Mohler again:
Let his [Dawkins's] stridency sink in, along with the sterile and empty “grandeur” Dawkins sees in evolution.
It’s very bad to be strident and to assert the conclusions of your autonomous reason. It’s insolent. And unlike Bible belief (which ends in eternal life and meaning), autonomous reasoning ends in death and nihilism.
Contra Richard Dawkins, that’s Albert Mohler’s position (arrived at by various whirls of his circular reasoning wheel).