Vic Reppert Presents a Teleological Argument from Minds

Is there a prima facie case for theism based on the existence of minds? Vic Reppert believes there is:

Now, how likely is it that minds should exist on the assumption that the basic causes are mental. Pretty likely, it seems to me. If theism is true, then from what we know of ourselves as rational creatures, we should expect that a rational being in charge of everything would create rational beings with whom He or She could communicate. But what if God does not exist, and the basic causes were non-mental. How there can be minds is at best difficult and at most impossible to explain. A lot of things had to happen just right in the development of the human brain in order for reason to be possible, if it is even possible at all. It looks, therefore, like the existence of creaturely minds confirms theism even if we cannot show that, for example, dualism is true. The existence of creaturely reason, therefore, confirms the mental character of the universe.

I think that this intuition- that minds are real and significantly differ from physical entities- does show that there is a case to be made for the teleological nature of the universe. Are there ways out of it? I think so. Russellian Monism may have significant difficulties, but it is not obviously plagued by the same problems as strict physicalism. Eliminative Materialism may skirt Reppert’s problem by deflating the ontological punch of the mind, but for some (ok, for most) this comes at too high a cost. One last “option” is too punt away the explanatory responsibility to forces poorly understood (Mysterians, Dennett):

“. . . the brain is an artifact, and it gets whatever intentionality its parts have from their role in the ongoing economy of the larger system of which it is a part — or, in other words, from the intentions of its creator, Mother Nature (otherwise known as the process of evolution by natural selection).”

Daniel Dennett, Kinds of Minds (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 52-53

This is your standard Dennettian non-answer, but I suspect this is what many professional philosophers have in mind when confronting what we all take to be genuine mental entities.


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