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Abstract

Metaphysical naturalism can be taken, roughly, to be the view that there is no God, and nothing beyond nature. Alvin Plantinga has argued that naturalism, in this sense, is self-defeating. More specifically, he argues that an evolutionary account of human origins gives the naturalist (but not the theist) compelling reasons for doubting the reliability of human cognitive faculties, and thus compelling reasons for doubting the truth of any of his beliefs, including naturalism itself. This argument, which has come to be known as the ‘evolutionary argument against naturalism’, has generated a great deal of controversy, and a substantial literature concerning it has grown up as a result. In this paper, I will introduce readers to this literature. I begin by explaining the argument itself, and making clear its intuitive force. I then survey the main objections to it, such as the Perspiration Objection, the ‘Can’t the Naturalist Just Add a Little Something?’ Objection, and the Tu Quoque Objection: in the course of this survey, I pay particular attention to the most interesting of these, a version of the Tu Quoque Objection according to which the problem of evil results in a form of epistemic self-defeat for the theist that is exactly analogous to the self-defeat with which the naturalist is allegedly faced in the evolutionary argument. I go on to suggest that, despite the wide range of objections in the literature, the challenge of the evolutionary argument against naturalism is still very much with us, and I conclude by describing some promising directions for future research.